Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Ignoring the Obvious

Rabett Run has always been a quiet and peaceful place where old bunnies can munch their carrots, but perhaps, just perhaps it is time to stir things up again so here are a couple of thoughts for the careless.  In the end, they are tied together by a convenient ignorance of the obvious

Eli could start with the Nature Climate Change jeremiad by Shinichiro Asayama, Rob Bellamy, Oliver Geden, Warren Pearce and Mike Hulme Why setting a climate deadline is dangerous,  Now the last three of these are well know climate change ostriches, it won't be so bad, or at least I will be dead by then types, the other two are not as well known hereabouts, perhaps they should be. The first of them, who probably won't be dead by then, essayed the Twitter long form in quite the good style.   ATTP has a useful dissection of some of the frog princes who essayed and Sou emerged from time out to to whop them good.  But you know Eli, that's not his way.  Eli begins by evaluating an argument not by its conclusions, but by its assumptions

If you read the paper it is a wonderful exercise in strawmanning, exceeded in many respects by the Newsweek (or was it Time, Eli forgets.  It's kind of what happens at this time of life) said that we were entering a new ice age.  The usual nutpicking shell game also so you can ignore it on those grounds alone.  Yet, the argument fails on a basic point, they claim that you can't usefully set deadlines for tough problems, but they ignore the lessons of the Montreal Protocols which succeeded by a) establishing that there was an emergency and b) dealing with it by setting deadlines. Indeed Montreal also set up a mechanism to modify and expand the deadlines to cover other stratospheric ozone de-enhancing emissions.

To argue that something should not be done because it won't work while ignoring an example where it has been done and worked is a basic error.  Given that the defenders of that piece claim that it establishes yet another example of how scientists ignore the worthy products of social scientists (poke about on Twitter) it seems more to prove that scientists ignore the crappy arguments of the usual suspects.  Well, OK, sometimes we laugh at them, sometimes we fret, and most of the time we face palm.

Which brings Eli to part two, the recent paper by Geoffrey Heal and Wolfram Schlenker, Coase, Hotelling and Pigou: The Incidence of a Carbon Tax and CO2 Emissions, which asserts that

Using data from a large proprietary database of field-level oil data, we show that carbon prices even as high as 200 dollars per ton of CO2 will only reduce cumulative emissions from oil by 4% as the supply curve is very steep for high oil prices and few reserves drop out. The supply curve flattens out for lower price, and the effect of an increased carbon tax becomes larger. For example, a carbon price of 600 dollars would reduce cumulative emissions by 60%. On the flip side, a global cap and trade system that limits global extraction by a modest amount like 4% expropriates a large fraction of scarcity rents and would imply a high permit price of $200.
The basic idea being that since oil reserves can be depleted and are valuable, eventually all will be used up.  Arthur Yap took this on as an example of "science news cycle" (his words, not Eli's) telephone from the paper, to the public affairs office, to the newspaper and so on, but he took it seriously, trying to examine what drove the results.  Eli, Eli looked for what was not there, which is often the case.

There are first order drivers other than how much oil will be burnt.  The first is that coal will disappear as a power source, it will still be around for as a reducing agent for ore processing, but no one is going to burn coal if a carbon tax is set at $200/ton CO2

The interesting one is that $200/ton CO2, makes direct air capture and carbon capture and storage look profitable.  It's another example of why a systems approach is needed to for dealing with climate change.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Trump Facts: His New Lows from 2015-2020

This post will get updated over time - it's based on Kevin Drum's quick list of Trump's new lows. The list below started with Kevin's, made a few changes, a lot of additions, and added links in all cases.

I hope this will be helpful to record some of the worst of Donald Trump in recent years. My rule is 12 lows a year to keep it manageable. I'm open to suggestions for new lows in any of these years, but I'll only add it when it's worse than one of the existing lows. Gates open in full again when January 2020 rolls around - we'll see how long it takes for him to hit 12 lows.

And please, I really hope I can ignore Trump after November 2020....

The Lows of Donald Trump
Starting the Year He Became a Politician

June 16: Starts presidential campaign by calling Mexican immigrants "rapists."

July 20: Attacks John McCain for being a POW:

August 6: Says Megyn Kelly has "blood coming out of her whereever."

September 9: Tells media that people can't vote for Carly Fiorina because of her looks, then denies that was what he said.

September 16: Says vaccines cause autism.

November 13: Compares Ben Carson to a child molester.

November 21: Opens the possibility of a Muslim registry.

November 22: Falsely claims (again) that Arab Americans cheered 9-11 on television.

November 23: Falsely claims that 81 percent of white people are killed by blacks.

November 25: Mocks a reporter’s disability.

December 3: Stereotypes Jews as "negotiators".

December 8: Calls for ban on Muslim entry to the US.

February 1: Encourages supporters to physically assault opponents (first of several occasions).

March 8: Defends his penis size in nationally televised debate:

March 23: Insults Ted Cruz’s wife's looks, implies he would reveal her past mental health issues.

March 30: Says that women who get abortions should be punished.

May 3: Suggests that Ted Cruz’s father killed JFK.

June 3: Attacks federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel for his Mexican ethnicity.

July 27: Asks Russia to please find and release Hillary Clinton’s 30,000 emails (they responded within hours).

July 31: After Khizr Khan accuses Trump of never sacrificing anything for his country, Trump attacks Khan and says that he has too made a lot of sacrifices, such as “building great structures.”

August 9: Suggests his supporters might want to shoot Hillary Clinton.

October 8: “Grab ’em by the pussy” tape.

October 12: More women accuse Trump of sexual assault (and more women since then).

October 19: Invites President Obama’s estranged half-brother to final debate.

January 23: Claims without evidence that 3 to 5 million fraudulent votes were cast in 2016 for Clinton.

February 22: Attacks transgender children, forcing them away from bathrooms they identify with.

March 4: Accuses Obama of tapping his wires (he later admits he had no evidence).

May 25: Shoves Prime Minister of Montenegro out of the way to get better position for photo.

June 29: Accuses Mika Brzezinski of “bleeding badly from a face-lift” during a New Year’s party.

July 2: Retweets video of CNN being physically attacked.

August 15: Suggests that there were “very fine people on both sides” at Charlottesville.

September 30: Attacks mayor of San Juan after Hurricane Maria hits Puerto Rico.

October 5: Urges Senate use investigation powers against press for his false 'Fake News' allegations.

October 13: Ends Obamacare cost-sharing program in attempt to disrupt Americans' medical care.

November 29: Retweets three anti-Muslim videos from the leader of an extremist British group.

November 29: Continuing to promote racist anti-Obama birther claim in private.

January 12: Trump Wants Fewer Immigrants From ‘Shithole’ Countries, More Norwegians.

May 7: Announces they'll begin separating children from their parents at the border (later revealed that they have no plans to reunite them.)

July 17: After Trump insists on meeting with Vladimir Putin with no one else present, he says he trusts Putin on election interference, then claims he misspoke.

September 13: Says the 3,000 dead from Hurricane Maria is “fake news” invented by Democrats.

September 27: Caps refugee admissions to the US at lowest number in three decades.

October 13: After murder of Jamal Khashoggi, reminds everyone that Saudi Arabia is a good customer (and promises severe punishment if the Crown Prince is responsible).

October 19: Calls Stormy Daniels “horseface.”

October 19: Applauds Rep. Greg Gianforte’s body slam of a reporter.

November 1: Runs racist ad just before midterm elections.

November 16: Suspends CNN reporter Jim Acosta's press pass, action overturned by judge.

November 12: As wildfires are raging, threatens to cut off federal aid to California unless they change their “forest management” practices.

December 29: Says any deaths of children along the border are strictly the fault of the Democrats.

March 8: Accuses Democrats of being the “anti-Jewish party.”

March 20: Attacks John McCain yet again.

July 14: Tells Democratic congresswomen to go back where they came from.

July 14: Falsely accuses Rep. Ilhan Omar of praising al Qaeda.

July 25: Pressures Ukrainian president to 'investigate' Joe Biden while withholding military aid against Russian forces occupying Ukraine.

July 27: Persists in using the descriptor "infested/infestation" when referring to people of color.

August 8: Told press that hospital visit wasn't a photo op and then used it for a promotional video.

August 10: Spreads conspiracy theory that Bill Clinton had Jeffrey Epstein murdered. (And later says it was "fine" for him to have spread the baseless rumor.)

August 16: Pressured Israel to ban two American congresswomen from visiting because of their political beliefs.

August 21: Promotes claim that Jewish Israelis love him like a King of Israel and Second Coming of God.

August 28: Tells subordinates to commit crimes on his orders, promises pardons, lies and claims it was a joke.

August 30: Suggests his presidential term be extended because he was investigated.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Point Counterpoint

Point:  From Paul Price on Twitter, about a recent polemic from Mike Hulme that ATTP is going on about

Mike Hulme's parting words to me (after a talk in which he failed to acknowledge climate risk and I asked why): "the reason you and I disagree about climate change is that you care about future generations and I don't."  
Time wasters don't like the deadlines we need to care about. — Paul Price (@swimsure) 

Monday, July 22, 2019

Cruise the Northwest Passage

Eli notes there is still time to drop $28,824 per person to cruise the Northwest Passage in August on the Roald Amundsen, the new flagship of the Hurtigruten.  Since the ship has a hybrid propulsion system even the CO2 emissions are (relatively) low. 

The Hurtigruten are now a cruise line, but used to be the post boats that supplied northern ports in Norway, sailing from Bergen all the way up to Kirkenes and back even in the winter.  They continue to do so, offering cruises there, but have added cruises to Antarctica and other polar  locations

Of course, there is a real chance that the Northwest Passage won't open, but the Northern Sea Route along the Russian Arctic coast is already wide open and the chances look good that the bunnies can spend their money.

The point being that the Arctic ice is fragile enough that such a cruise could be scheduled.  That is worrisome

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Norway report

My wife and I spent 10 days in Norway, so now I'm clearly an expert and have things to say.

Mainly, travel in rural Norway so far does not yet support my theory that internal combustion engine cars will start being inconvenient, at least at the current level of EV market penetration for rural Norway. We rented an ICE car and didn't have trouble finding places to fill up. I did see places for EV charging in rural areas, but I think doing the same trip in an EV rental would've been difficult. OTOH, rural travel and overnight stays in unfamiliar areas without a defined routine and planned itinerary is the worst scenario for EV use. An Oslo resident, hopefully, has a different experience.

The other interesting aspect is how much the public can use private land, matched with how little public land actually exists. My day job in California consists in significant part of getting political support for public land purchases, partly so the public will access and use of the land. In Norway, that's not neccesary - the public has the right to use private land already, short of physically altering it. So there's a lot less public land. Not necessarily a better or worse system, but definitely very different.

We also went to Sweden - I asked my wife's Swedish relatives if a private landowner outside a city could subdivide their land and create a sprawl suburbia (fighting that is an even bigger part of my day job). They said no. I assume that environmental interest groups there would focus more on regulating private land and less on acquiring public land.

Last thing on Norway - they're still eating whale meat and selling it to tourists. Not good on the part of Norwegians (they're not expressing an oppressed indigenous culture, although even that isn't sufficient reason) and inexcusable on the part of tourists to buy it. Aside from that, Norway was wonderful.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Systems Thinking, Lumpers and Splitters, Systems Education

One of Eli's favorite figures comes from the Australian Academy of Sciences and neatly captures the way in which greenhouse gases can be both an initiator and a feedback to global climate

Part of the problem many scientists have explaining such to the average family member and students is that physical science and engineering STEM folks tend to be splitters, aka reductionists, tear something down to the bare bones to understand how it works. 

With a subject that links many areas and ideas together, it simply takes too long to bring folks up to speed on enough parts of the problem that they (to use a 60s word, ask grandpa) can grok the thing.

Peter Mahaffy and colleagues at the King's Center for Visualization in Science are lumpers, establish the connections to teach about the entirety, then learn about the individual parts.  They have a chemistry centered article in Nature Sustainability on Systems thinking for education about the molecular basis of sustainability
The primary activities of chemistry involve analysing, synthesizing and transforming matter, yet insufficient attention has been paid to the implications of those activities for human and environmental well-being. Since a core element of addressing sustain-ability challenges requires attention to the material basis of society, a new paradigm for the practice of chemistry is needed. Chemistry education, especially gateway post-secondary general chemistry courses, should be guided by an understanding of the molecular basis of sustainability. A Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education framework illustrates one way to integrate knowledge about the molecular world with the sustainability of Earth and societal systems
Eli, a splitter to the bone, nonetheless sees great advantages of this approach, not only for climate change but for other issues which impact on the world in general.  There are lots of great points and images in this paper.  They have a great map that brings together the systems involved in the carbon cycle

 The emphasis is on how the systems are linked, us splitters can fill you in on what is in the lumps, oh if you have a few days, but you really almost don't need to know to understand how each part works to have a great understanding of how they work together.