Thursday, January 31, 2013

Nothing, Nothing At All

A while ago, one Gerhard Wisnewski was trying to somehow, but not really, blame the Weasel, for the German Wikipedia agreeing that the European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE) was no more a source of reliable information than, say Willis Eschenbach and that links that cited EIKE were verboten.  Eli and the Weasel flipped them off, but Willis thinks that Wisnewski's best was worth posting on the world's funniest science denial site.  Before the comments wandered off into the libertarian shrubbery even Russell would have a hard time keeping up with the queer. 

Nothing surprises me as regards that weasel (sic) character! Wall, first and coming revolution spring immediately to mind!
Carrick would insist that was a love note
In writing a short Wikipedia article on New Zealand Climate Science I referred to Professor Bellamy as a renowned botanist, which of course he is. That bastard Connolley changed that to television presenter.

Herr Prof. Dr.  Lewandowsky is warming up his grist mill.  Gerhard Wisnewski believes that the moon landing was faked, Kopp On Line where Willis found his truth is a nest of anti-vaxxers and a one stop shop for denial
The publisher describes itself as a source of general literature and textbook about conspiracies and secret societies (including many about which news has not come to Earth-ER). They publish books on pre-astronautss, ufology, the fictional Middle Ages, creationism, astrology, geomancy and Germanic mythology, of Islamism, the free economy (Prof. L. knew that was coming-ER) and "revelations" such as "left-life lies".
Willis, well listen to the video and Willis will explain it all.  Of course, the Weasel and Eli can't comment over there, but be good bunnies and annoy the acolytes.

There is more over at Stoat.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dr. Denial's Kids Do Kickstarter

A wonderful investment opportunity for the inhabitants of VVattsWorld.

Eli suspects this is a one time opportunity.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Adding to the war on science: gun research, pregnancy-rape connection....

Keith Kloor is tired of people talking about the war on science. I'd think that he would have a point if other people stopped committing a war on science. It took the news events from the last year to let me know about several fronts in the war on science that I hadn't known:  limits on health research funding that might show gun control as reducing violence (something Obama is trying to get around but is still in the law) and the claim that women couldn't or rarely became pregnant from rape.

Another recent attack, although more of a war on math, is the claim that dividing up the electoral vote from states with a slight Democratic lean by congressional district instead of awarding all the votes to the victor will result in more attention to rural conservative districts. The reality is that attention only goes to electoral votes that are truly in play - you ignore the areas that are certain wins or certain losses. Conservative districts in battleground states have a at least a shot at attention - their votes now make a difference, but not when their effect could be taken for granted.  As has been noted, this issue is just an attempt to skew the national election at the expense of the local interest.

To be fair, the question remains of when a stupid claim by some people on one side, like the pregnancy-rape thing, can be considered a joint responsibility for that side of the spectrum.  I think when it rises to the level of being made repeatedly by the political elite, Congressmen and senatorial candidates, then I'd say they at least have a problem.

Shutting down funding as in gun research takes the attacks on science to another level, from denial to an active refusal to let other people understand the issue (UPDATE:  corrected from "shutting down funding entirely", per a comment request below). Climate denialists must be jealous, although I do recall Republican attempts to shut down earth-monitoring satellites.

Threats to science providers such as bogus referrals for criminal prosecution by powerful senators are the near-worst, though.

Stop making war on science, and I'll stop talking about it.  Calling them out on it is the small good thing that can be done in response.  I think it shows in the general intellectual dissatisfaction with the Republican Party elite, and someday the Republicans will have to come around.

UPDATE:  one missing aspect of the gun research discussion is the political signalling that goes beyond the letter of the prohibition on certain results from research.  The original prohibition is/was a signal of political strength by gun nuts and a warning to government-funded researchers to stay away.  If you fund studying of drunk driving and effect on public health safety, then you get a pat on the head no matter how good or bad the work is.  Fund a study on whether more guns result in more accidental shootings/suicides/illegal guns, and expect to see your work analyzed with great bias, and expect the agency to face funding cuts in the next cycle.  Obama's action is a bit of contrary signalling.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Driverless cars, high speed rail, and climate comedy

1. I'm more inclined than not to support high speed rail in California and elsewhere - we need to get people out of the sky.  OTOH, I've wondered for several years whether the otherwise-beneficial role of driverless cars could turn HSR into a financial dinosaur.  Those driverless cars could hook up together as a pod, and even if they can't go 200 mph, they could go faster than humans could drive them and be an acceptable way to travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles when you can make productive use of the entire time.

Maybe building HSR in stages makes sense so we can cut our losses if needed.

2. Marginally related subject:  American University and Sierra Club are running an Eco-Comedy Video Competition for the funniest, under-three minute original video educating people about climate change.  I plan to submit 179 seconds of Joe Bastardi talking, but maybe you can think of something even funnier.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bringing 21st Century coal to Newcastle. I mean, to China.

To the Point had a discussion of the effort to take American coal, which is currently having trouble competing with natural gas, and export it to China.  Stanford's Frank Wolack says that it may not be so bad from a climate perspective.  His argument is that China is so hungry for power that bringing new coal to there will not really change its carbon emission patterns but will have a beneficial effect of raising the cost of coal in the US market and therefore assist the transition away from coal.  Opponents cite University of Montana's Thomas Power to argue that China's coal usage is very price-responsive and their energy usage is very inefficient.

So, dueling profs, and what to do.  I've attempted Eli's sneaky trick to RTFA with only partial success.  Power's work is here:

....One recent study found that a 10 percent reduction in coal cost would result in a 12 percent increase in coal consumption. Another found that over half of the gain in China’s “energy intensity” improvement during the 1990s was a response to prices. In other words, coal exports will mean cheaper coal in Asia, and cheaper coal means more coal will be burned than would otherwise be the case.... Lower coal costs will encourage investments in new coal-burning facilities in Asia—which in turn create a 30- to 50-year demand for coal.... 
Energy usage per unit of GDP across the Chinese economy is almost four times that in the United States and almost eight times that in Japan. The Chinese government and the large state-owned enterprises that produce, distribute, and use larger amounts of energy are well aware of the burden that high and rising energy cost can impose on the economy. The energy policies embodied in the last several five-year plans have focused heavily on improving overall energy efficiency in order to effectively control energy costs. Lowering coal costs to China would undermine these valuable energy efficiency efforts....


Wolack's technical work eluded me, although there's plenty of mainstream press about it.  I didn't find it on his academic website or elsewhere, but maybe it's out there.  The gist seems to be that China is so power-hungry that its coal demand is relatively inelastic to price, while the US demand is elastic.  Prof. Power obviously disagrees, and I doubt I have the econ chops to sort through it rigorously.

That won't stop me though from first pontificating, and then maybe adding two possibly useful points.  Pontificatingly, I accept the premise that a fast-growing economy is going to have a desperate and therefore more inelastic demand for energy, but not all other things are equal.  In a far poorer society, energy input is a much greater relative cost than in a richer, expensive-labor economy, so its price will drive decisions more in the poorer economy.  Furthermore, the choice of what energy source you use to construct brand new power sources under conditions of growing demand (China) is much more elastic than the choice of whether you will walk away from a recently-constructed coal plant and use a different energy source (America).  Both of these factors weigh in favor greater price elasticity in China.

Possibly-useful point #1:  in the radio podcast, Wolack says opening up US coal to the international market isn't a large enough new supply to reduce overall coal prices and increase consumption.  The problem with this is the choice of scope compared to impact.  Lawyers do this - if they want an environmental impact to look small, they increase the overall area of comparison.  My choice of buying an SUV or an electric vehicle, for example, isn't by itself going to significantly affect the overall vehicle market, but it does matter in the context of many other decisions.  The same is true with a much bigger economic impact of putting more coal on the international market.

My other point is political.  Wolack says "China's increased [coal] imports have almost no impact on how much coal China uses (and thus its emissions from coal) – only on where it comes from."  I dispute that - in the long run.  Humanity's future depends in large part on how much coal is still in the ground 50 and 100 years from now.  As a political matter I think it will be easier to keep a lump of American coal in the ground than it will to be keep of lump of Chinese coal down under.  So, if I have a choice, I'd prefer to take the action right now that keeps more American coal in the ground. This could also be relevant to price elasticity - China's demand growth will eventually slow down, and anything that reduces locked-in preferences to coal could be helpful in the future.

So count me as someone who needs more persuasion on this idea.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sing It Tonight - Eli promises it will work

The Web Page Editors Invite George Will to Bend Over and Cough

George Will has written another absurd and ignorant column on environmentalism and climate change.  He is, as the bunnies say, against doing anything about it.  So what did the web page editors use as a picture to flog the column?  A picture of some really polluted, hung over city, maybe Beijing where you can taste the smog.

A conservative revival A conservative revival

"Obama’s ideas on climate change will come back to haunt Democrats."

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Throws Itself Into the Trash

The editors of the EGU Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, specifically Athanasios Nenes has thrown the journal and it's open review system into the trash pit, which will take some effort to climb out of.  Nenes has agreed to publish a paper “Where do winds come from? A new theory on how water vapor condensation influences atmospheric pressure and dynamics” by A. M. Makarieva et al., under the delusion that jackels can be enticed to walk peacefully with lambs.

As you may recall, this was a paper that was the hit of a while ago, and our Judy made explicit mention of this in a review she submitted

This paper (M10) has been discussed extensively in the blogosphere, with participation
of the paper co-authors (including Makarieva):
The authors are to be commended for their willingness to engage in extensive public
discussion of their paper. 
As ER has remarked, this paper is an archetypal of a class of nonsense which attracts axe grinders, obsessives and the willing to be confused
Eli has learned over the years that all sorts of strange people write the same paper, very long, very hard to follow and very wrong. These papers and their defenders play the Gallileo card early and often. No one can follow the algebra (these things always hide under a blizzard of algebraic incantation), but you can look at the assumptions, and when you do this carefully you find some amazing stuff, not believable, not correct, but amazin.
Such documents provide endless streams of diddle because they are unclear, full of logical jumps, and anyone coming to them can weave infinite elaborations out of them.  Hydrinos, did Eli mention hydrinos?  You can even make a business of it.

Nick Stokes pointed out that Eq. 33-37 were the key and Isaac Held agreed that it was the jump at that point that made the paper equation salad, but, being a kind person he was not direct enough in his verdict
Recommendation: Reject
The authors make an extraordinary claim that a term that is traditionally considered to be small, to the point that it is sometimes neglected in atmospheric models and, even when not neglected, rarely commented on, is in fact dominant in driving atmospheric circulations.  . . .  A claim of this sort naturally has to pass a high bar to be publishable, given the accumulated evidence, implicit as well as explicit, that argues against it. I am afraid that this paper does not approach the level required.  I have done my best to keep an open mind, but do not see any cogent arguments that overturn the conventional wisdom. I do applaud the authors for questioning the foundations of our understanding of the atmosphere and provide some unsolicited advice on how the authors might proceed to clarify some of these issues.
 Nenes, did Eli mention that Nenes is Georgia Power Professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Physics at Georgia Tech, has a remarkable justification for publishing this thing
The authors have presented an entirely new view of what may be driving dynamics in the atmosphere. This new theory has been subject to considerable criticism which any reader can see in the public review and interactive discussion of the manuscript in ACPD. Normally, the negative reviewer comments would not lead to final acceptance and publication of a manuscript in ACP. 

After extensive deliberation however, the editor concluded that the revised manuscript still should be published – despite the strong criticism from the esteemed reviewers – to promote continuation of the scientific dialogue on the controversial theory. This is not an endorsement or confirmation of the theory, but rather a call for further development of the arguments presented in the paper that shall lead to conclusive disproof or validation by the scientific community. 

In addition to the above manuscript-specific comment from the handling editor, the following lines from the ACP executive committee shall provide a general explanation for the exceptional approach taken in this case and the precedent set for potentially similar future cases: (1) The paper is highly controversial, proposing a fundamentally new view that seems to be in contradiction to common textbook knowledge. (2) The majority of reviewers and experts in the field seem to disagree, whereas some colleagues provide support, and the handling editor (and the executive committee) are not convinced that the new view presented in the controversial paper is wrong. (3) The handling editor (and the executive committee) concluded to allow final publication of the manuscript in ACP, in order to facilitate further development of the presented arguments, which may lead to disproof or validation by the scientific community.  (italics added)
Eli confidently looks forward to the avalanche of crank papers from the Oliver Manuals and Tallblokes of the world which will soon inundate ACP. They asked for it, go give it to them guys.

For those of us who favor the open review system, this will be a disaster.  The predictable outcome is that people are going to cite this example as a reason to throw ACP invitations to review into the trash pit.  Open review required that the referees put their reputations on the line.  Their reviews are out there for everyone to read.  If the editors ignore them, why do so?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Rev Al Explains Climate Change

FWIW, Mrs. Rabett Eli's mom, taught Al in elementry school. Her verdict was "a born instigator".

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Eli Is Not A GeoEngineer But . . .

The MIT CoLab is running a series of contests for the best ideas about how to deal with climate change

Anyone can join the Climate CoLab community and participate. Community members are invited to submit and comment on proposals outlining what they think should be done about climate change. In some contests, computerized simulation models project the environmental and economic outcomes of the proposed actions proposed. Experts review and evaluate the proposals, and both experts and community members select the most promising proposals. For more, see How the CoLab works.

Among the contests are those dealing with building efficiency, reducing emissions from cement, industrial efficiency, adaptation and civil groups, transportation efficiency (ride a bike), efficiently using fossil fuels, decarbonization, resilient cities, ag and forestry, local action, and, of course geoengineering.

Bunnies can submit plans, criticize or praise the plans of others, vote for finalists and more.  Eli may have some fun with a few of these:)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Putting bad air down under (in the Up-Goer Five Way)

(I made this in the Up-Goer Five way, using Up-Goer Six.  Also, Up-Goer Five does let me say "Mr. William" and "Goer", so there.)

Mr. William says putting bad air way down under takes too much money, and then says why keep trying it?  One answer would be that it's not working out right now but may in the future, and given we use so many things that make bad air, it's too important to stop.

An even better reason to me is do it because it could make good party-office sense even if it doesn't make the best money sense.  It will be a lot less hard in party-office work to put the bad air business through change that will hurt it than to kill it (not to mention the fire air business down the road that we will need to do something with too).  It's the same reason for saying yes to getting power when we break apart really really small things - the only little-bad-air choice that the party-office right does like - I'll say yes to some of it as part of a big deal to act on bad-air change.

As I've done before, I see this as a lot like the office-party stuff at my water office-work.  We have the most-big city in the US that hasn't put stuff in its water to help keep the hard part of our mouth we use to eat from getting hurt because of the sweet things we eat or drink.  A poor part of the city has many problems in children with this.  While a personal story is not very good way to help reason out this party-office fight, I can say I've felt really bad mouth pain and would never want a small child to feel the same.  So we're going to put that stuff to the water.

But, many people are very angry about this and come when we meet to try to either change our mind or tell us what bad people we are.  One reason they give is that of the three things we can use in the water to help the hard part of our mouth, the one used most is just no-good stuff that comes out from the end of making other no-good stuff, and they say we're being made to drink bad water just as an easy way to throw away the no-good stuff.

I don't really buy that reason, but right now I might say that if we have to pay only a little more for the other two things than that one thing they don't like, then we should use those instead.  As a matter of party-office things, it gets us to a good choice when the "perfect" money-sense choice might cause a lot more of a party-office fight.

For a decision on how to fix bad air over a long time, same thing - we can't keep the party-office side out of it.

Jerry Ravetz, Roger Pielke Jr. and the Diggers Game

George V. Higgins wrote about scufflers and their lawyers.  In one of them, Eli either remembers or hallucinates, Higgins explained property transfer, something along the lines of

You take something of value from one person and give it to another and then do the reverse.  The beauty of it is that magic moment  when the things of value are in your hands and you get the chance to rip off a chunk for yourself.
UPDATE:  Carrot Eater below points out that Eli was hallucinating and this was from Kurt Vonnegut.  So it goes.

Many, many years ago as a young bunny the Rabett read this and recognized truth.  Jerry Ravetz and Roger Pielke Jr. made careers acting as property transfer agents between science and policy makers.  Attempts from either side of the gulf to contact the other directly without paying the toll threaten their magic moments, explaining their antipathy to folks like Phil Jones and Al Gore.

And what better way to close this post than an actual quote from George V. Higgins
We are surrounded by nitwits, Matt. It is not a good idea to consider how much time we spend correcting the results of their idiocy

Inaguration Day Music

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Reader Rabett

Some good stuff out there including Science of Doom's wonderful series on atmospheric radiation (a nine parter and growing) and the return of Sylvia T writing on Post Normal Times

While at the [Heartland] conference, I happened to sit next to a very pleasant woman from the Ayn Rand Institute, who gave me a book entitled The Logical Leap – which seemed a fitting description of the entire affair. Although PNS does speak about certain kinds of science in negative terms, my overall argument is that the tale of corruption in climate science, as told by cranks and contrarians of various persuasions, only appears to fit this negative narrative if one takes a flying leap over crucial distinctions between the kinds of science that have led to unintended consequences – in which risks tend to be downplayed, and the kinds of science used to understand and address those consequences. It is also important to consider distinctions between different types of knowledge, uncertainty, and peer review – all distinctions that Jerry himself has observed.

That tale of corruption is only believable because of unrealistic public images and expectations of science, e.g., that it provides “proof”, or that it is some sort of a crystal ball. Although skepticism is inherent in the practice of actual science, for reasons that should be obvious, I also argue that many of those who call themselves “skeptics” are actually cranks and contrarians who are performing something like a parody of science. Missing is the crucial wink/nod to indicate it as such – thereby crossing the line from parody to outright deception (see Nachmanovitch 2009), as the act gets mistaken for the real thing by those least informed, and/or cannot tell the difference. The paradox is that parody only sticks when it has some element of truthiness, which means there are lessons in all of this for the practice of science as it enters the policy arena.
with an expanded must read essay and  a  profoundly ignorant and oblivious reply from Jerome Ravetz 
I have written at great length on ‘climategate’ without convincing Sylvia of my case, or even of my rationality and integrity, so this time I will make only a few brief remarks.   I think that our deepest difference is in our perceptions of the opposed sides in the debate.  She sees a consensus of the established, high-quality scientific community on the one hand, with an assortment of cranks, prostitutes and self-deluders (as myself) on the other.  By contrast, I would argue that one important source of strength and conviction among the opposition has been the perception of bad practice among the mainstream.  
Ravetz evidently has been hiding under a rock for the past fifty years.  The major political controversies about scientific issues have emerged from high class science only after a considerable study and formation of a strong consensus.  They are characterized by a need for action which threatens major industries.  Among them have been tobacco, air and water pollution, cfcs, climate change.

It is important to recognize that controversies where the second element was lacking have not become poster kids, including for example, vaccination causing autism.  the causes of AIDS/HIV, etc..  There was considerable choosing up side in the Pre Normal Science stage before the scientific consensus emerged, but beyond a few bitter enders (and Eli knows about South Africa) they did not take hold.  DDT, not being tied to a large industrial complex, the chemical manufacturers had better things to do, was dragged out only as a distraction for the tobacco companies by Roger Bate and by Bjorn Lomborg supporting the fossil fuel industry's opposition to legislation regulating CO2 emissions.

As Eli and many others have pointed out, the key characters, Fred Singer, Fred Seitz, CEI, the Heartland Institute will help the Jerry Ravetz's of the world on any issue supported by their funders. 

Ravetz cannot admit that the play for payers have sucked him in so he blames the scientists. The entire approach of the hookers has been to convince Ravetz not to trust the scientists.  They have a ton of money and many cranks to help them.  They have succeeded. 

Mann vs. National Review and CEI pleadings

As promised, here are Michael Mann's (well his lawyers) responses to pleadings for dismissal by CEI and National Review

Opposition to National Review Motion to Dismiss
Opposition to CEI Motion to Dismiss

John Mashey and Deep Climate get a footnote

30. John R. Mashey, “Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report (SSWR): A Façade for the Climate Anti-Campaign”, available
The motions to dismiss
For Failure to State a Claim
Under the DC Anti-SLAPP Act

The original complaint

UPDATE:  To those coming in here is a clear explanation about why climate change can have catastrophic effects

If you only have to read one (they are repetitive and actually bunnies don't HAVE to read any) the CEI one has a bit more information

You read it here first (or before these other guys, anyway)

(A little update:  a cooking fire from our Vietnam trip.  Time for biochar instead.)

One.  Eli says in 2009 that the developing world's role in climate mitigation should focus on reducing their emissions of black carbon by 90% or more in a decade, and now we learn that black carbon could be the #2 bad guy in the climate biz, displacing poor methane.  For my part, this is one of the few climate issues where I'm pretty optimistic.  Assuming the peak energy arguments are wrong, then economic development means wood burning cookfires and the like are gradually going to be less prevalent.

Another.  I argued last November that Obama should go big on immigration reform, getting immigrants who've been here for a long time on a reasonable path not just to legalization but to citizenship, and that seems to be what he intends.  Personally I doubt even the less-xenophobic faction of the Republican leadership will really go along with a real path to citizenship, despite the extremely vague statements of some.  To the extent they're obstructive, they'll pay the political price, but to the extent we get new voting citizens, it'll take a while before the Republicans live down their past practices.  Gun control is a good example that extends beyond immigration - the new groups are very supportive, especially Latinos.

A third.  At the same post above in November I did my own little calculation to determine there was only a 52% chance that all five conservative Supreme Court justices would defer escape to the Choir Invisible in the next four years, and last week Slate's slightly fancier look found a 54% chance that none would be no more in four.

Good enough for now.  I could add that Libya is looking good while Syria isn't, but maybe another time.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Eli Has Been Asked

to comment on Mann vs. National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute.  Well actually John and Eli have pretty much stated the facts of the case, and Eli believes that even with the increased cost of popcorn due to climate change induced crop failure it is well worth the entertainment value. 

Yesterday's release of Michael Mann's response to NR and CEI requests for dismissal under the DC anti-SLAPP statue give no reason to change a bunny's mind. (Link to follow)

The response brings to the fore that there are two separate causes of action, first the odious comparison to Jerry Sandusky which has occupied the forefront of discussion, is cited for causing emotional distress, but, perhaps more importantly are claims of defamation

  • Defendant Simberg’s statement, published by CEI on, that Dr. Mann
    had engaged in “data manipulation,” “academic and scientific misconduct,” and was
    “the posterboy of the corrupt and disgraced climate science echo chamber.” Compl. ¶
  • Defendant Steyn’s statement, published by NRO on National Review Online, that Dr.
    Mann “was the man behind the fraudulent climate-change ‘hockey-stick’ graph, the
    very ringmaster of the tree-ring circus.” Compl. ¶ 60.
  • Mr. Lowry’s statement, published by NRO on National Review Online, calling Dr.
    Mann’s research “intellectually bogus.” Compl. ¶ 72.
  • Defendant CEI’s press release, adopting and republishing the above statement by Mr.
    Lowry calling Dr. Mann’s research “intellectually bogus.”
Given their long history pursuing Mann, NR and CEI are going to have an interesting time claiming they didn't mean it.  In this regard, Mann's lawyers point to the many investigations, importantly to one in particular, claims by CEI contesting the basis of the EPA's greenhouse gas endangerment finding that lead to an investigation by the EPA
As EPA’s review and analysis shows, the petitioners routinely take these private e-mail communications out of context and assert they are ‘‘smoking gun’’ evidence of wrongdoing and scientific manipulation of data. EPA’s careful examination of the e-mails and their context shows that the petitioners’ claims are exaggerated, are often contradicted by other evidence, and are not a material or reliable basis to question the validity and credibility of the body of science underlying the Administrator’s Endangerment Finding or the Administrator’s decision process articulated in the Findings themselves Petitioners’ assumptions and subjective assertions regarding what the e-mails purport to show about the state of climate change science are clearly inadequate pieces of evidence to challenge the voluminous and well documented body of science that is the technical foundation of the Administrator’s Endangerment Finding.
Although CEI appealed this to the DC Circuit, which rejected their appeal.  This considerably weakens their arguments because you  cannot bring a matter before the courts and then reject the court's decision (note:  a petition for en banc review was denied in December but there still may be a further appeal to the Supreme Court) 

Appeal to the Bunnies

There has been some comment down below on the latest outrage, Anthony "Bad Science" Watts' unhappiness with Greg Laden for saying that Watts believed the tripe he published at his blog.  It's complicated, but as Russell points out, you have to consider the sauce.  For the scientific analysis go to Phil Plait on Bad Astronomy.

"Bad Science" is asking his readers for advice.  Now the fact is that his readers knew the bad science "Bad Science" was publishing was BAD, so cut the dears a break, but "Bad Science" needs help.  He has asked his readers what he should do, but given them a limited (you expected something else, when you fall off the carrot truck) set of choices

Should I sue the pants off Greg Laden?

Eli thinks the bunnies can help by suggesting alternatives.  One of them, seen at Romm's was grow up and has been added.

UPDATE:  The Weasel does a better job, and since he ripped Russell off, Eli will do so also

Friday, January 18, 2013

Always Use Protection

2012 was a bad for the Heartland Institute.  Greg Laden listed their troubles as one of the most important climate stories but only about 12% of the bunnies agreed it was top (melting of the Arctic is in first place with 55%).  Among other things it's role as a conduit in the League of Wingnut Welfare was exposed and it lost sponsorship in several of its "service" areas, retaining pretty much only tobacco and denial.  Eli Lehrer took his insurance practice and fled early, pharma checked out, with the last one to close the door being PfizerForecast the Facts has been running a successful campaign to encourage the remaining others. To Eli, the tell was how Bast described two of his fund raisers
Heartland added Sam Schulman to the department in March 2011 as an independent contractor and fundraising senior advisor. Sam is highly connected in conservative social circles and made many contacts on our behalf, but succeeded in raising only one gift for
$10,000. We allowed our agreement to expire in 2011, but are paying him a small amount in early 2011 to follow-up and close on some prospects.
Bruno Behrend, hired in January 2010 to fundraise on school reform, was unsuccessful in doing so in 2011. He was moved to part-time and then to volunteer status by the end of the year. He continues to speak at public events and talk to donors, but we do not expect him to be sufficiently successful to return to paid status in 2012.
It is very bottom line.  As Rick Perlstein puts it
And yet this stuff is as important to understanding the conservative ascendancy as are the internecine organizational and ideological struggles that make up its official history—if not, indeed, more so. The strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers points up evidence of another successful long march, of tactics designed to corral fleeceable multitudes all in one place—and the formation of a cast of mind that makes it hard for either them or us to discern where the ideological con ended and the money con began.
 For Heartland the annus horribilis started with Peter Gleick publishing a bunch of Heartland documents that he had obtained by social engineering, e.g. calling the receptionist and asking, while misrepresenting himself.  The ensuing storm drove the Heartland management to an act of seppeku, putting up the billboard of shame, and painting a target on their own backs.

Doubling down is always a possible defense, and Joe Bast, the Institute President can parse an argument with the best of them and the Heartland Institute, noticing the success of the US National Rifle Association has come out bleating.  For a lesson in how to deal with such,  Brian Angliss took Bast's argument apart at Scholars and Rogues, however, Heartland has also decided that social engineering makes for fine farce, setting Alyssa Carducci on Mike Mann's booking agent Jodi Solomon.  According to Solomon
Alyssa Carducci was the person who called the office and spoke with me directly. She said she was from the Association of Air Conditioning Distributors in the state of Florida and she was helping to plan their upcoming event for 300-500 people. She gave me this email to be in touch with her:
According to Carducci she was told that Mann's fee for that event was 10K$.  Carducci denies she represented herself as the being from the Association of Air Conditioning Distributors
On January 2, I called Mann’s agent Jodi Solomon about booking Mann to speak at a meeting for my family’s air conditioning business. Environmental issues are a strong concern of ours, and global warming-related regulations are an important concern of air conditioning specialists in general.  
For those into more detail, Brian Angliss has it.

So Carducci and Daughter must be a pretty big company, like say with 500 people who will pay $20 each to hear about the Hockey Stick Wars.  To get an idea where this fee falls in the food chain  Sean Hannity gets 100K$, Mark Spitz 20K$, and, of course fees are negotiable.  His fee schedule (5-10K$) puts Mike in the range of an average author, not a best seller (20K$).  Eli must polish his pitch.

Still the beast is stirring, with fewer funds, increasingly climate weirdness,  the coming of the USGCRP and the AR5 drafts, and more, our buddies, and not just Heartland, are looking for distractions. FOIAs have become a cottage industry with lots of dry wells, and spitting indignation, but the rent seekers are still looking to use the uses "the coercive power of the state to force other people to give them gratis, the fruits of their labor."

But wait, there may be more.

Eli hears that there is a sizable spike in the last month of phishing and breaking attempts against climate scientists and climate blogs (nononono, not our friends at Tony and Judy's places, well there might be but they have to speak for themselves) from the same general direction as purloined the UEA emails.  With AR5 being baked and visions of a second UEA grab dancing in their heads, our friends at Heartland and Mrs. Calabash wherever she is, might have some interesting tales to tell? 

Perhaps?? Perhaps not??  As Tony would say this needs to be confirmed by others in the science community before it can be taken seriously.

But the best advice comes from Doctor Ruth: "Always use protection"

Thursday, January 17, 2013

What the C Stands For

The truth of the matter is that WG1 which considers the physical basis of how humans drive climate change is now a side show.  In spite of the spittle that our good friends from FUD splatter on the inside of our LCD monitors, our understanding of this is more than enough to conclude that increases in greenhouse gases will drive global temperature, changes in the weather patterns, sea level rise and more.  The debate, such as it exists is how fast, but anything on a scale of less than a few centuries screws us (or our kids) right to the wall.  The Earth abides, the people in it, well, there is a problem.

But to really understand the catastropic potential of the climate change people are driving you have to look at the biological part of the problem, something that most of the blogs most of the bunnies follow are weak on and you have to look at WGII, the consequences, to begin to get a clue.  Eli is talking mostly about ecology.  Jeff Harvey who comments at Deltoid made a clear statement of the issues in the January open thread,

“And what mix of mitigation and adaptation is the most likely to be effective?”

This argument misses the point entirely. BFPM appears to believe, like many so-called deniers, that the ability of humans to persist on the planet in light of the myriad of assaults our species is inflicting on it, will depend largely on our ability to ‘adapt’ to these changes. But the truth is, given what most ecologists know, is that its out of our hands. Essentially (her I go again for the billionth time but for the D-K crowd it NEVER sinks in), humans are utterly dependent on a range of critical conditions that freely emerge from natural systems and for which there are few, if any technological substitutes (and even where there are, they are prohibitively expensive). These conditions are generated over variable spatial and temporal scales by infinite numbers of interactions involving large and small scale populations and individuals of species. From them we already know that services permitting humans to exist and survive are produced.

Now, as I have said many times before, many from the adaptionist school appear to think that humans are exempt from the laws of nature. They ignore the manifest consequences of climate warming, habitat destruction, eutrophication, wetland loss, invasive organisms, various forms of pollution etc. on ecosystems and the organisms that make them up. In their thinking, humans can cover much of the planet in concrete and significantly alter the chemical composition of the air and water and that somehow, through technology, we will adapt to this massive assault.

Its clear that the mainstream media is doing a piss-poor job on educating many of the masses, or else we scientists are not getting the message through ourselves, but the comment made by BFPM is one that is shared by a huge proportion of laypeople out there. They appear to think that the main values of nature are consumptive and aesthetic; that any other value in economic terms is limited or even non-exitstant.

I don’t know what can be done to get across the point I am making. I’ve repeated this argument so many times on Deltoid alone that I am getting sick and tired of doing so. Clearly many of the nay-sayers don’t read out side the ‘box’. These cornucopians don’t know much about systems or population ecology, and they’ve been so insulated in their cozy urban lives that any notion of human existence hinging on conditions emerging from nature are alien to them.

In summary, what I am saying is that humans don’t have a choice. We must mitigate as much as possible, for adaptation is NOT an option, not if continue on a business-as-usual path into the mid to long-term future. The consequences of this is that Homo sapiens will be lucky to survive another century, let long 5 more centuries. The average shelf life for a species is 1 to 10 million years; for mammals perhaps slightly less. Our time for extinction will certainly come, but for me it seems to be folly that we appear to be doing everything in our power to hasten its realization in the short-term. Ultimately, if we continue along the current trajectory, we will so simplify natural systems that the services we take for granted will sputter and wither away. Once this happens, our species will go into free fall. No species depends on or utilizes more from nature than does Homo sapiens. The irony is that we will be one the earliest and biggest casualties of our own stupid actions. Nature of course will persist long after we have extinguished ourselves, but why we seem intent on going over the cliff in light of what we know are likely to be the consequences is for me one of the great mysteries of our time.
Remember how long Biosphere 2 lasted as a closed system and repent lest the roaches inherit the Earth. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

'Bout What Ethon Expected

Just when Ethon was getting set to go into business, his Christman liver shipment arrived from Roger Jr.  Roger is not pleased about the USGCRP draft report and, well, he is doing his usual Steve McIntyre imitation.  It is really hard with those guys when they get going to wipe the spit off the inside of the LCD monitor.

Anyhow, this is but a very short take on the thing and there will be updates, Eli is even willing to outsource the work to the Bunnies, but, reminiscent of old times, Roger Writes

To underscore its conclusion, the draft report includes the figure at the top of this post (from Hirsch and Ryberg 2011), which shows flood trends in different regions of the US. In a remarkable contrast to the draft USGCRP report, here is what Hirsch and Ryberg (2011) actually says:

The coterminous US is divided into four large regions and stationary bootstrapping is used to evaluate if the patterns of these statistical associations are significantly different from what would be expected under the null hypothesis that flood magnitudes are independent of GM [global mean] CO2. In none of the four regions defined in this study is there strong statistical evidence for flood magnitudes increasing with increasing GMCO2.
Now some, not Eli to be sure, might assume that there was a computer malfunction, because what Hirsch and Ryberg 2011 added to that was (emphasis by Rabett)
The coterminous US is divided into four large regions and stationary bootstrapping is used to evaluate if the patterns of these statistical associations are significantly different from what would be expected under the null hypothesis that flood magnitudes are independent of GMCO2. In none of the four regions defined in this study is there strong statistical evidence for flood magnitudes increasing with increasing GMCO2. One region, the southwest, showed a statistically significant negative relationship between GMCO2 and flood magnitudes. The statistical methods applied compensate both for the inter-site correlation of flood magnitudes and the shorter-term (up to a few decades) serial correlation of floods.
Of course, a drying of the US southwest is one of the base predictions from the IPCC AR5.

 Eli intends to dig into this, but even by eye, part of this result appears to be the arbitrary division of the US into four parts.  The west coast has been a bit wet (El Ninos?) but the area west of the dividing line and east of the Sierra is very dry, and  there are strong indicators of a wetter trend north of the Ohio River Valley and in the northeast.

UPDATE:  Tom Fiddaman points to his comments on Hirsch and Ryberg.  They are not in praise, but it is very interesting, as Tom did, to look at the pattern of how precipitation will change predicted in the AR4 WG I Fig. 11.12 in comparison
FURTHER UPDATE:  Also see Romm on Hirsch and Ryberg

Still a great example of Pielkeball.

News from the North

Ethon has been troubled by the rising cost of liver.  Given the US Post Office's problems he thinks that setting up an air post service might be useful.  The Bird has noticed that with winter, cold snow and dark, Alaskans have no trouble finding time to write letters, and he has his first customer, Whitebeard, who sends this message to all the Rabett Runners

Dear Eli and Bunnies,
Some news from the north:  Friday last, Fairbanks sitting US District Judge Ralph Beistline voided the 2010 US Fish and WildlifeService’s designation of critical Polar Bear habitat.  The critical area was mostly continental shelf in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas plus a coastal strip from Canada to Barrow, covering 187,000+ square miles, a bit more than California.  The management plan, or at least the designated area over which the plan applies, goes back to F&W for a do-over with fair odds of another round in court following.  F&W had no immediate statement, nor did the Center for Biological Diversity which joined with the Service.  The coalition of native entities who brought suit, the State of Alaska’s administration which joined with the natives on the case, and some of the plaintiffs’ political supporters made statements repeating the argument for challenging the designation.

For readers who may not have been following, the area designation is part of a required recovery plan flowing from the November 10, 2008 listing of the big white bruins by the US Interior Department as “threatened” under the Endanger Species Act.  Breistline, born in Fairbanks in 1948 and nominated to the Federal Bench late in 2001, found the area included in the designation was excessive and showed “a disconnect between the twin goals of protecting a cherished resource and allowing for growth and much needed economic development.”

Really, this is another round in the epic, decades long struggle waged in the fed and public opinion courts to fashion belt and suspenders into a chastity belt.  What’s interesting is that over half dozen local native corporations (individual villages) and the 4 regional native corporations with coastline from the Canadian Arctic border to the northern entrance of Bristol Bay in the Bearing Sea were plaintiffs.  Wearing other hats, many of the same folks are often in the courts, with various environmental organizations in opposing the oil industry over things like permits to do off-shore drilling.

Some background.  The entire State is split into 12 regional native corporation areas (not reservations, although one legacy reservation covering Annette Island in the SE panhandle exists) who are the big private land owners. The twelve have all subsurface rights for the total of 69,000 square miles of native owned land.  Each Alaska Native is a share holder in one of the 12, created in 1971 by the AK Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA, pronounced ank-sa) and each has 100 shares of unalienable, dividend paying, voting stock.  There are also about 200 independent native village corporations, that were formed at the same time with similar structure.  Each native individual is also a share holder in one of these.  Village corporations selected surface title to each village’s surrounding hinterland or nearby “available” Fed land, with selection area based on the number of share holders.  Regional corporations mostly selected lands with an eye toward exploitable value in the general economy and anything village parcels was theirs already.  The actual selections of the regional and village corporations’ were to a patchwork of parcels, some very large, some small, mixed with those of the Fed and State.  As well, cities sites, and other small parcels, often in especially desirable spots, are in the mix.  The State land ownership break down is: Fed Agencies - 59.2%; State of Alaska and trusts - 28.0%; Native Corporations - 11.7%; Others - 1+%

Diligent readers of the first Charles Monnett v Agent May transcript who still having some functioning cortex remaining after the experience perhaps recall Monnett’s mentioning native power at the beginning.  A lot of that derives from land ownership. In addition, native corporations own webs of subsidiaries scattered about the general economy, but most heavily in area providing services the Federal Government.  Collectively, natives got just short of a billion ’70s era bucks to seed the various corporations.  But that’s another
CliffsNotes set, altogether.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Key the extremes to their context

(via Climate Central.)

I'm not sure yet what I think of Mark Kleiman's post about how people always accept their side's arguments on a position and assume a contrary argument means the arguer is on the other team.  I'm no fan of centrism-worship, or of contrarianism-for-its-own-sake.  OTOH, a critical eye on the arguments used for our own side has some moral value.

In that sense, the 2012 record warmth in the lower 48 states, a record for 1.58% of the planet's surface for a single year, is getting overplayed.  At least, the key front and center should be context, that year after year, record highs generally exceed record lows, and that generally consistent result is significant additional support to the mountain of evidence for climate change.  What's important about 2012 in the lower 48, outside of bringing the American public mainstream a little a closer to the scientific mainstream, is how it reminds us of that context.*

Lose the context and you get big pronouncements like this from Watts Up:  "Low temperature records overwhelm highs in the USA this past week" (emphasis added).  Context may not cure foolishness, but it might help a little bit.

*One exception is if the 2012 record highs are so unprecedentedly big that natural variability couldn't ever explain them, equivalent to rolling two dice and having them come up 13.  That would be important, but I've missed any in-depth discussion of that possibility.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Honest Broker Celebrates

Ethon came flying in with a couple of paragraphs that he found while chewing on his favorite liver.  Unfortunately, he had gummed up the rest of the article so the Bunnies will have to read the rest at Maribo

Suspicions of doping cost climate extremes chance at fame

NEW YORK (CP) - At an annual meeting held last week, scientists chose not to induct two of the top events in climate history into the Hall of Fame due to suspicions of doping. The U.S. weather of 2012 and the Arctic sea ice decline, which each broke numerous climate records during their long, illustrious careers, fell well short in the voting among eligible scientists.

Courtesy: UCAR
The strong consensus signifies an important change in the willingness of the scientific community to attribute individual climate achievements to drug use. It leaves behind the controversial election of other climate events suspected of doping, including the Russian Heat Wave and Pakistani floods of 2010. . .

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Aaron Swartz on DDT

The suicide of Aaron Swartz under pressure from Federal Prosecutor  Carmen Ortiz and her deputy Steven Heymann, who pushed this prosecution.  Swartz at the age of 14 was substantially responsible for configuring RSS, and his contribution s over the next 12 years (he died at 26) were many and important.  In a short 14 year period he met and touched many people as the outpouring of grief and the many memorial recollections that have appeared in the last few days.  Just to pick one, a tweet from Sir Tim Berners Lee

Aaron dead.
World wanderers, we have lost a wise elder.
Hackers for right, we are one down.
Parents all, we have lost a child.
Let us weep.

Eli was reading Caleb Crain's Postscript in the New Yorker when he learned that Swartz had written an essay on the political misuse of DDT in 2007.

Quoting the entire piece here would be wrong, quoting enough to send you to Swartz's blog where you can sample more of this remarkable young man's mind is what is needed.

DDT's dangers

These myths can have serious consequences. For one thing, despite what is claimed by the right, DDT itself is quite harmful. Studies have suggested that prenatal exposure to DDT leads to significant decreases in mental and physical functioning among young children, with the problems becoming more severe when the exposure is more serious (American Journal of Epidemiology, 9/12/06; Pediatrics, 7/1/06), while the EPA classifies it as a probable human carcinogen.
For another, resistance is deadly. Not only has DDT's overuse made it ineffective, but, as noted, it has led mosquitoes to evolve "cross-resistance": resistance not only to DDT but also to other insecticides, including those with less dangerous environmental effects.
And perhaps most importantly, the pro-DDT line is a vast distraction. There are numerous other techniques for dealing with malaria: alternative insecticides, bed nets and a combination of drugs called artemisinin-based combination therapy, or ACT. ACT actually kills the malaria parasite fast, allowing the patient a quick recovery, and has a success rate of 95 percent (World Health Organization, 2001). Rollouts of ACT in other countries have slashed malaria rates by 80 to 97 percent (Washington Monthly, 7/06).
But such techniques require money and wealthy nations are hesitant to give it, especially when they think they can just avoid the whole problem by unbanning DDT. "DDT has become a fetish," says Allan Schapira, a former senior member of the malaria team at the World Health Organization (Washington Monthly, 7/06). "You have people advocating DDT as if it's the only insecticide that works against malaria, as if DDT would solve all problems, which is obviously absolutely unrealistic."
As a result, senators and their staff insist that DDT is all that's necessary. And the new director of WHO's malaria program, Arata Kochi, kicked off his tenure by telling the malaria team that they were "stupid" and issuing an announcement that "forcefully endorsed wider use of the insecticide DDT" while a representative of the Bush administration stood by his side. Half his staff resigned in response (New York Times, 9/16/06).
There are genuine issues with current malaria control programs: incompetent administration, misuse of funds, outdated techniques, a lack of funding and concern. And, much to their credit, many on the right have drawn attention to these problems. Africa Fighting Malaria has frequently called for more effective monitoring, and conservative Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Ok.) has used his influence to fight corruption in anti-malaria programs.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

They Don't Really Care About Us

But We Are Going to L1

The US Government has responded to a petition to "secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016."

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn't on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:
  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. 
  • We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it. 
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets. 
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?
. . . .Even though the United States doesn't have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we've got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we're building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.
Which brings Rabett Run to the point of this post.  Somewhat under the radar, DSCOVR nee Triana aka Goresat has been taken out of mothballs and readied for launch in 2014.  Al Gore's original concept was to place a satellite in a stable position at the Lagrange point L1 to beam back real time pictures of the whole Earth.  While the science basis of the concept was, shall Eli say, lacking, the social implications were strong as was clear to anyone who thought about the effect that the original and newer blue marble images have had on support for the space program, science and most importantly understanding of how the Earth system is complex, beautiful and isolated.  IEHO, opposition to Triana was driven by those who were determined to avoid such an outcome.  Well that and the science lack, however, it was quickly realized that there was important science to be done from a satellite looking at the whole Earth from L1, in particular measurements of the whole disc albedo and total IR emission and TRIANA was reconfigured (e.g. the instrumentation).   Of course, the Bush administration was never going to let DSCOVR be launched.  DeSmog has a continuing series on the politics surrounding the mission cancellation, but although the mission was cancelled, the satellite was mothballed and sat in a warehouse at the Goddard Space Flight Center in "stable suspension".

Which brings Rabett Run to 2011, when it was realized that ACE, the primary satellite that observes space weather (e.g. energetic particles, etc emitted from the sun) was twelve years beyond its due date and likely to fail soon.  While space weather produces spectacular displays in the sky, Earth beings also have come to rely on assets, such as Earth weather satellites, GPS systems and more which are subject to damage and shutdown from space weather.  NOAA and NASA were very concerned.  They realized that while DSCOVR was earth facing, being at L1 it was also sun facing and had in its original configuration appropriate instrumentation.  DSCOVR offered the right mission configuration, and even better it was already built so it could be, in terms of normal process, relatively rapidly launched.

Some administrative ju-jitsu was applied to the mission description
Continue solar wind measurements in support of space weather requirements providing 3-dimensional distribution function of the proton and alpha components of the solar wind; 3-dimensional magnetic field vector and 3-dimensional electron velocity distribution. Secondary objective is to observe the Earth from the unique Earth-Sun L1 perspective. Tertiary objective is to measure the energetic particle environment.
NASA  is refurbishing the Earth observation instruments, NOAA is handling the space weather components.  Quang-Viet Nguyen gave a mission briefing last February.  The instruments NOAA wants to fly are
Primary Mission Instruments required by NOAA (“Threshold Requirement”):
• Faraday Cup to measure the time-resolved 3-dimensional distribution
function of the proton and alpha components of the solar wind plasma
• Fluxgate Magnetometer to measure the 3-dimensional magnetic field vector
of the solar wind
The Earth Observation instrumentation suite
Secondary Mission (“Objective Requirements” – optional ):
• Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC)
- Global Ozone Levels
- Aerosol Index and Aerosol Optical Depth
- Cloud Height over Land and Ocean
- Vegetation Index and Leaf Area Index
- UV Surface Radiation
- Aerosol and Ozone Plume Tracking
• NIST Advanced Radiometer (NISTAR) measures UV, visible, and IR reflected solar irradiance
• Electron Spectrometer (electrostatic analyzer 3 eV to 3 keV range)
• Pulse Height Analyzer (PHA) monitors effect of high energy particles on spacecraft electronics
The potential catch is that
• NASA does not have any appropriations to expend on DSCOVR, hence
direction as to which instruments will fly are at NOAA’s discretion.
 The good news is that the launch contract has been signed with Space X

Friday, January 11, 2013

Start Reading

The draft US National Climate Assessment Report was released today.  RTFR.  Comments are open.  Slow news day.  That is all.

Eli is thinking of trying to organize a crowd sourced review of part of the Report.  The first step, of course is to find a part or parts of the report where the Rabett Run hive mind could contribute.  It is worth remembering that a few years ago we actually got a paper published this way and it would be fun to try something like that again. 

Dancing in the Train

Crowded crowd-funding for solar projects

On Monday, Mosaic announced it would do the first-ever crowd-funding of solar projects, with a $25 minimum investment.  Yesterday I tried to buy in myself but their four new projects are fully funded.  They look like they might be having the same problem that Kiva used to have - more money than projects (it also seems like a different model than Kiva, the money goes directly to the projects rather than paying for a general fund).

Crowd-funding seems like a good way to get micro-investors involved in startups that would otherwise be impossible, to open up a new source of money for investment, to fund smaller projects that are too small for traditional investors, and to fund entirely new and different ventures that venture capital funders find uninteresting.  My impression is that Mosaic serves all but that last interest.  Obviously no one knows if it's going to succeed but it's just as obviously worth a try.  Maybe eco-grandparents will start buying Junior shares in solar projects instead of a stock as a college investment.

The other advantage is for people who want to do something renewable but can't do it on their own property.  Our townhouse has a small roof facing east/west with shading on the east - not an ideal place for solar.  Mosaic might be a better use of money to offset our emissions, and as an offset that others can use.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Aunt Judy of the Attic has found a blog she likes, Mathbabe, aka Cathy O'Neill, and has quoted therefrom extensively, or at least one article someone sent to Atlanta

Distrust the experts.
Why? Because you don’t know their incentives, and they can make the models (including Bayesian models) say whatever is politically useful to them. This is a manipulation of the public’s trust of mathematics, but it is the norm rather than the exception. And modelers rarely if ever consider the feedback loop and the ramifications of their predatory models on our culture.
Well you can go over there and have a peek,  but Eli thought he would RTFB a bit, and it was interesting.  O'Neill is a data scientist, someone whose skill set involves structure and extracting useful information from the mass of glop called today's INTERNET or the data base of the week.

The blog was interesting, a bit off the area where Eli has much to say, but can learn a little by reading,
However, however,

There was another post with the Rabett Run class title,Data Science explained by the media, or: why I might just screw your wife while you are at work points to an article in Forbes (why this is so delicious the bunnies will see in a nonce) by Ray Rivera, Data Science:  Buyer beware, which is a slightly more skeptical brew and one O'Neill is unhappy, but a bit uncomfortable with

Rivera starts with an easy shot at everything else
Any field of study followed by the word “science”, so goes the old wheeze, is not really a science, including computer science, climate science, police science, and investment science.
so he obviously has little use for natural, physical or social science. but what the hell, data science for his is perilously close to management fad of the week and an outgrowth of the devil itself Business Process Reengineering (BPR), go read if you want details. but
Data science is the spry third generation of BPR, responding to vastly increasing IT capacity, unprecedented ability of businesses to create data, widespread realization that data is a valuable resource, and the burdensome need to extract data from storage in order to realize business value. Yet, data science belongs to a family tree of business practices that for over a century have been governed by technocrats who view organizations as machines, desiring to automate everything and eliminate people wherever possible. Data science is shaping up to be a redux of its grandfather BPR, with the same structural features (BPR was never really engineering, nor as we shall see is data science really science), and its propensity for sin and indulgence.
Patience, this is Rabett Run and we get there, bunnies enjoy the trip, but Eli does get there and hopefully everybunny learns a bit along the way.

Oh yes, here it is, Rivera points out that
As BPR morphed into knowledge management, the virtue of simplicity was reversed, and complexity came to indicate merit. Data science promises to deliver value by unpacking some of that complexity. Yet like the two generations of fads that preceded it, data science tries to create value through an economy of counterfeits:
  • False expertise, arising as persons recognized as experts are conversant in methods and tools, and not the underlying business phenomena, thereby relegating subject matter knowledge below methodological knowledge,
  • False elites, arising as persons are summarily promoted to high status (viz., “scientist”) without duly earning it or having prerequisite experiences or knowledge: functionaries become elevated to experts, and experts are regarded as gurus,
  • False roles, arising as gatekeepers and bureaucrats emerge in order to manage numerous newly created administrative processes associated with data science activities, yet whose contributions to core value, efficiency, or effectiveness are questionable,
  • False scarcity, arising as leaders and influencers define the data scientist role so narrowly as to consist of extremely rare, almost implausible combinations of skills, thereby assuring permanent scarcity and consequent overpricing of skills.
Great, let's look at the those
Seen that have we.  Demands for the laying on of statistical high priests in climate studies who don't have a clue about why carbon dioxide doesn't sink in the atmosphere, freaky econometricians, mining investors, and more.  Eli could go on and on and on, but you, dear readers can fill in the blanks
  • False elites, arising as persons are summarily promoted to high status (viz., “scientist”) without duly earning it or having prerequisite experiences or knowledge: functionaries become elevated to experts, and experts are regarded as gurus,
 IPCC Expert Reviewers:) (not all of them, of course, but certainly those who proudly proclaim the title)
  • False roles, arising as gatekeepers and bureaucrats emerge in order to manage numerous newly created administrative processes associated with data science activities, yet whose contributions to core value, efficiency, or effectiveness are questionable,
Auditors, FOIA demanders, rent seekers the ones, who in the words of the idiot tracker
uses the coercive power of the state to force other people to give him, gratis, the fruits of their labor. He does not produce himself — he uses the data of others, repackaged and sensationalized,
and finally
  • False scarcity, arising as leaders and influencers define the data scientist role so narrowly as to consist of extremely rare, almost implausible combinations of skills, thereby assuring permanent scarcity and consequent overpricing of skills.
Anybunny seen Honest Broker hereabouts?