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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Priorites, priorities

"Fears were raised that green energy concerns were prioritised ahead of safety as it emerged that cladding used to make the building more sustainable could have accelerated the fire."  This is from an article about the Glenfell Tower fire, by the UK Telegraph

One of the great things about sovereignty is that people cannot just sue you for every little catastrophic disaster.  The great thing about theoretical science is you are not responsible for anything significant enough to be sued for when you are off a touch.

About five people in Michigan are being indited for involuntary manslaughter for the spike in Legionnaire's at a hospital with water supplied by Flint, Michigan's water plant. 

Just for grins, imagine you are a politician that promoted renewable energy and you ignored on opinion by one advisor that mentioned a power outage could cause about 90 deaths and that your project increased the odds of a prolonged outage by 100% or so.  Small odds, but thanks to over hyping to get one's way, people use the 100% or double the chance, instead of providing actual probability and uncertainty. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

It saves lives -

After a bit of a blog issue, it is the US withdrawal from the Paris Accord. 

Arab Spring was related in part to energy price spikes that were a result of climate policy decisions that were not all that well thought out.  When a nation the size of the US or a confederation of nations like the EU make policy decisions that impact food and energy costs, the global ripple effect can be disastrous. The coup in Honduras was related to US efforts to get Honduras to increase palm oil plantation sizes and increase hydro-electric production. Bio-diesel tends to increase NOx emissions and policy that focus on CO2 instead of all emissions is creating air quality problems in several EU nations.

When you consider US states as independent states, the impact of policy is reduced while individual states pursue their own best environmental outcomes.  When the US sets policy the world tends adjust but when California sets policy, most of the world yawns.

The Trump election highlighted the Urban versus Rural divide in the US which should also highlight the different approaches available to Urban and Rural environmental policy.  Wood and biomass energy where there is low population density is viable, but in Urban areas, things like district heating and possibly cooling are a better approach.  Mass transit is only efficient when there are masses so that is not a Rural "solution."   All electric vehicles might solve issues in cities, but not where there might be a 50 mile commute just to visit a grocery.

Grow local, buy local, saves a great deal on transportation emissions which isn't much different than hire American, buy American.  In general, the "global" approach needs to die in favor of a local approach. 

North America produces about 7% of Mercury emissions, including natural emissions, while the majority is produce by "artisan" mining operations in third world countries.  Nearly half of "global" coal emissions are produced by third world residential and commercial use, and the impact of third world trash burning to salvage metals is a growing concern.

The world would benefit greatly from a return to standard clean air and water policy on a local scale with more nations and states minding their own business.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

More still at it - Equilibrium

After years of battling skeptics, you would think the climate change pundits would have a better source of boiler plate responses to commonly asked questions.  How valid is the assumption of equilibrium gets brought up fairly often.

Radiant equilibrium is what is being assumed.  This is Ein = Eout at the top of the atmosphere which is assumed to be approximately 20 kilometers in altitude.  The energy in is predominately short wave electromagnetic and the energy out is predominately long wave electromagnetic.   Since there is a constant flow of energy in and energy out, there is no assumption of thermodynamic equilibrium.

Ein is provided by an assumed constant power source, the Sun.  The solar "constant" is about 1361 +/- 50 Wm-2 over one year and 1361 +/-0.5 Wm-2 over a solar cycle of approximately 11 years.   Since Ein isn't completely constant, you need to define a period where the average of Ein over that time period would equal the average of Eout for the same period.

The current energy imbalance is ~ 0.6 +/- 0.4 Wm-2 or Ein = Eout + 0.6 +/- 0.4 Wm-2.    So there is an assumed radiant equilibrium that doesn't exist.   It is assumed that the imbalance is due to something, mainly greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere by man.

Some assumptions have to be made with any complex system and the radiant equilibrium assumption is not a bad choice.  However, every assumption has the potential for error so it isn't a bad idea to revisit assumptions from time to time to determine how valid and useful they are.

Rosenthal et al. for example have done a great deal of paleo ocean research and found that ocean heat content varies on long time scales.  Since the oceans would absorb/release most of the imbalance, a preexisting imbalance would need to be considered to see how much impact it would have on ALL the calculations and add on assumptions related to the radiant equilibrium assumption.   Most of those would be small enough errors to ignore, but if the preexisting imbalance is 50% of the assumed mankind induced imbalance, that is more than enough to warrant some study.

To a lay person like myself, explaining the limits of an assumption would inspire more confidence in the person(s) using the assumptions to justify a trillion or so dollars worth of "mitigation" as opposed to adaption. 

Now there are other issues with radiant versus thermodynamic equilibrium.  The zeroth law isn't met, so assuming some average global surface temperature will always produce the require Eout is a bit of a stretch.    It is quite likely that a range of surface temperatures can produce the desired Eout since  the temperature range used to produce the average goes from ~-80C to +50 C and includes latent, convective and mechanical energy.    This can easily be an uncertainty of 0.3 C or roughly 1 Wm-2 which is nearly 1/3 of the total estimated man made forcing produced to date.

Unfortunately, the early estimates of "sensitivity" ignored these issues so all warming is assumed to be "forced" by changes in the radiant energy budget.  All of these potential errors would tend to reduce sensitivity much like estimates of transient climate sensitivity are currently indicating.    A fairly small group of climate scientists have rather meekly pointed out the trend in reduced sensitivity, but the more vocal advocates still highlight the increasingly less probable "fat tail" extreme range. 

To many, the math involved is a fun puzzle to ponder and they would like to see more debate over the most likely impact instead of horror stories about the least likely impact used to inspire political policy.   If climate scientists want to have less rehashing, they should expand their frequently asked questions list to include uncertainty that is friggin' obvious.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

They are still at it - Equilibrium

It is the 19th of April 2017 and there are still people discussing how useful an assumption of climate equilibrium happens to be.  Many of the pro equilibrium crew are obviously liberal arts majors.

Equilibrium is very useful if the initial condition assume to be at equilibrium is valid to some degree of precision that is much more accurate than the change one is trying to measure. 

At the Top of the Atmosphere you have Ein ~ 240 Wm-2 and Eout ~ 240 Wm-2 if you average both over a reasonable period of time.  Both Ein and Eout vary by close to 5% over the course of a year and the change being made will be about 1% of the potential energy at the surface.

The surface energy is roughly 390 Wm-2 based on an average temperature of 288K degrees plus about 88 Wm-2 of latent energy on average plus around 20Wm-2 of energy related to convection.  There is another 4 Wm-2 or so of mechanical energy related to ocean and atmospheric currents and several small sources of energy.  Just using the bigger guys, you have 390 + 88 + 20 = 498 Wm-2 that will produce the ~240 Wm-2 at the top of the atmosphere.  The uncertainty in that 498 Wm-2 is about +/- 17 Wm-2 based on Stephens et al 2015 I believe.

So the answer to is the equilibrium assumption useful question, depends on how many knock on assumptions are based on the initial assumption and how much error there can be because of the initial assumption multiplied by the sensitivity of knock on assumptions to that error. 

The simple answer is still maybe it is valid, maybe it isn't.  Time will tell.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

But its all so complex!

Theoretical Physics is one of those grand social endeavors to discover the universal truth of nature.   Michio Kaku is one of many theoretical physicists who side line as futurists and front men for theoretical science funding.  Since the dawn of science, scientists have had to suck up to power and with the rise of democracy and a free press, that means they have to suck up to the people.  This isn't a good or bad thing, just the way things have evolved.

There is a lot of competition when you go straight to the people which have pretty diverse levels of education and intellect.  Since most people dislike being called, common, uneducated, uninformed or "anti-science", claiming to be scientifically valid works great for raising funds from the common, uneducated and scientifically uniformed masses.  Sex up your presentation with futuristic things that will happen long after you are dead and you are on your way to be a great fund raiser. 

As Stephen Schneider stated, On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.  Since the science isn't being sold to the monarch, dictator or grand poobah, but to the masses, science is politicized.

Scientists need to recognize the degree they have become political prostitutes and become more informed on their social, including political science, responsibilities.  All of those billions of masses they are sucking up to, need day jobs so they have money to be bilked out of.  If you kill the economy you, kill your funding, and there is a chance that a few of the less ignorant masses might catch on and terminate science or scientists with extreme prejudice.

Now Michio, co-founder of String Theory, likely the deadest of dead ends in theoretical physics, is of course an expert on everything sciency on the television.  He always uses the worst of worse cases to keep the masses in awe of the awesomeness of science.  Recently he mentioned that extreme weather in the future will be 500% worse that ever recorded in human history.  He didn't bother mentioning that thanks to inflation, nearly everything is 500% worse, as in more expensive, than it was previously.   Neither did he mention that advances in technology can combat inflation, much like "climate scientists" avoid mentioning that advances in existing technology can combat Carbon Pollution, by more efficiently using "Carbon Pollutants." 

To qualify as a real polymath today you need economics, psychology and marketing with a bit of religious training on prophesy and end of days scenarios.  You are selling to an extremely diverse audience, some with fundamentalist tendencies.  The old ban religion to simplify science sales ploy has lost its steam. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Global at the expense of regional - Throwing out the baby with the bath water

When you interpolate, you average which can be called smearing if you are looking for detail.  I had a client show up with a brand new Kridged version of NOAA ocean bottom charts and wanted me to show him how to bottom fish.  My first advice was to throw that smoothed crap away and get a "real" chart, that shows all the warts, wrinkles and bottom "features."  The world and the ocean bottom isn't as smooth as a baby's butt.  Those "warts" are beauty marks to a bottom fisherman.

Climate products are the same deal Lucile.  California for example has paleo, observational and anecdotal evidence of century long variation in precipitation extremes.  The winter of 1861 and 1862 is known as the Great California Flood.  For a few months there was Lake San Joaquin and quite a few home owners abandoned their first floor and built on top.  Cities tried to increase their elevation by 15 feet or so, just in case.  Then there are decade long droughts that make the flood wary folks look stupid.  Nature is good at that, making people look stupid, often in very cruel ways.

Since "Global" Climate Change is the catastrophic cause of the day, smart people that nature tends to have an affinity for making look stupid, are putting all their eggs in the global basket while neglecting the mundane local and regional baskettes where people tend to live.  Using long range interpolation tends to make local and regional pictures of past climate look rosier that reality.

Think about this, "The Little Ice Age was a regional event."  Wonderful, "Globally" it didn't exist so all you morons with regional concerns are wasting your time worrying about that kind of stuff happening again, think Global!!  Ever wonder why there is a populist movement?

Now that there is a new administration in town, "Globalists" are going to have a lot of explaining to do.  I expect to see climate scientist types out there counter protesting natural gas pipelines that reduce emissions and are a bridge to those elusive energies of the future.  Perhaps a few fighting for sensational press releases of "it isn't as bad as we thought" research to calm the irritable masses.

Will we actually see any rational leaders emerge?  Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The War on Science!

The NOAA ERSST temperature product is still hot news.  John Bates, the NOAA whistle blower, has outed himself and contends that NOAA didn't follow procedure.  Procedure is pretty important in government service and since the NOAA historic ocean temperature product is liable to be around for another one to two hundred years, revising history can be a problem.

The Hadley Center in the UK also produces temperature products using different methodology, so theoretically, these are two independent temperature products.  As time goes by, more and different means of determining temperature "globally" come to be and if everything works out as planned, the new "history" will complement the "old" history unless there is some exceptional discovery of screw ups, accidental or intentional.  So maintaining an accurate archive of data and methods so that 23rd century scientists can use 21st century data which includes 19th century data can understand exactly what the hell went on is the noble goal.

Global tends to get the focus because of politics.  The polar regions with sparse data gets a lot of attention because sparse means uncertain, new products should reduce uncertainty in these poorly covered areas.  The tropics should be close to rock solid, so any new version should have very little impact on the historic record in the not sparsely cover areas like historic trade routes. 

Above is the difference between the new and improved ERSSTv4 and the formally cutting edge ERSSTv3b.  Something appears to be wrong when there is 0.4 C difference peak to valley reducing to near perfection at the point highlighted for political purposes, 1950 to 1999, pre-"pause" being compared to 2000 to 2015 post "pause."

In typical back patting and cover your ass fashion, defenders of the science steer the debate towards the most modern portion of the historic record and avoid discussion of the real issue of the integrity of the historic record as a whole.  "Fixing" part of the record to the detriment of the rest of the record without explaining or even recognizing the difference appears to be evasive.  Evasiveness in politics is normal, in science, not so much.

Asking what the fuck happened to the rest of the history isn't declaring a war on science, but evasiveness can lead to war. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Year new Stuff to Compare

 Out with the old ERSSTv3b and in with the new ERSSTv4.  These are ocean temperature products used by NOAA/NASA to determine the rate of "Global Warming."  Once upon a time, HADiSST (British) and ERSST ('Merican) ocean temperature products were pretty close except for the WWII interpretation and a little less warming after 2000. Now with new and improved finesse, ERSST takes the lead as the warmest ocean temperature product EVAH.  In addition to buckets versus engine intake versus satellites versus buoys, different types of measurements that have to be combined by the products, the new version tries to deal with masking (what's ocean versus what's land) and sea ice versus not sea ice issues because ocean isn't ocean all the time.  Many crusty engineering types try to avoid all that noise and focus on the portion of the ocean that actually remains ocean the majority of the time, 60S-60N.  Crusty engineering types are also hung up on actual temperature references and are not fond of temperature anomalies that can be fudged around for effect.  For the oceans, models and temperature products include real temperature estimates, land not so much.

Engineers, who can be sued should they screw up also tend to focus on the largest potential screw ups.  It is in our nature but some of the newer generation find looking for potential mistakes to be stressful and counter productive for career advancement besides, narrative is so much more fulfilling.

The biggest thing that jumps out and grabs an engineer is the area around 1910.  1910 and earlier could be part of the pre-industrial reference period used to determine just how bad human caused warming might be.  The difference between the new and improved ERSSTv4 with sparkles is half of a degree C @ 20 C degrees using the CMIP5 model reference.  CMIP5 is the latest model version of future climate projections.  The half degree temperature difference is approximately 2.85 Wm-2 energy difference or a substantial portion of the estimated human caused forcing related to CO2.

The next thing is the so called "pause".  The pause is the brain child of a British journalist that noted that UK MET (and the Hadley Center, the HAD in HADiSST) predictions of "children will never know snow", promises of barbecue summers and warmer temperatures made in the early 2000s were not being realized in 2014.  Pause isn't a scientific measure or term, it is a creation used for poking fun at failed predictions of world renown experts.  Basically, in the HADCRU product for global mean temperature anomaly there was a lack of warming.  Many in the scientific community noted something similar and called it the stand still, slow down or hiatus in warming.  If you look at the period from ~2000 to 2016 you can see that HADiSST doesn't increase as much as predicted.  For the ERSSTv4 product, the actual temperature of the ocean surface (tos or SST) never catches up with the predicted temperature for the 60S-60N portion of the oceans.

During the battle to eliminate the pause, slow down, stand still or hiatus, some scientists noted that the models of "surface temperature" didn't compare well with observed data used to create a combination of SST and "near surface" temperature measured over land that ranges from sea level to Mount Everest.  "Skeptics" had noticed the problem for some time and started using the area from 60 degrees south to 60 degrees north, because there were few and not very reliable measurements for the polar regions.  Since the ocean make up the majority of the surface, ocean temperature is a lot less variable than "near surface" temperature and the vast majority (~1000 times as much as air) of energy is contained in the oceans.  Using just 60S to 60N is a useful simplification.

Dr. Judith Curry has an interesting post on her blog ClimateEtc. entitled, "Skin in the Game."  The engineering types understand her point because they can be sued, have their licenses revoked and generally be forced out of the profession with a significant screw up.  Climate scientists, especially activists Climate scientists can screw up quite a bit without repercussions.  Possibly because of their lack of skin in the game, they have a tendency to over-sell their work a bit.  Temperature anomaly can be a useful over-selling tool.

 Using anomaly, warts like missing half of a degree and 2.85 Wm-2 for the majority of the Earth can be ignored and since the model anomaly was tuned to the period prior to 2007, the discrepancies before and after tuning doesn't attract much attention.  However, the climate system is driven by fluid and thermodynamics that require real, actual, temperatures in order to determine energy flow.  Anomalies are a useful tool in climate modeling, but can be abused by implying a greater sense of accuracy than can be realized, especially when combining temperature anomalies of different things measured different ways at different times.

Over-selling accuracy and under-selling uncertainty is a tactic to inspire policy and unite the masses around a common cause.  It gets good press essentially, that is dramatic and compelling.  Just like miracle cures and gadgets sold on late night TV, listing down sides tends to cut into sales.  You need that irritating Sham WOW! kind of presentation to make headlines in this internet age.

The biggest problem for the over-sellers is that climate science is evolving, so something you sold might end up being obsolete, then you have to un-sell.  Your demographic includes activists and radicals who are more cause oriented than most and can be extremely inflexible.  If you have over-sold the catastrophe of using ANY form of fossil fuel and suddenly find much cleaner natural gas that can alleviate human suffering with less environmental impact while searching for the ultimate "solution" you have screwed the pooh, to use colloquial NASA terminology.  Now you have to find some rational way to chill out people that aren't known for being rational or chillin'.  When you say things like the "the coming climate catastrophe and our last chance to save humanity" there are some that will find that fits their favorite end of days theory.

However, life and nature have a way of leveling playing fields and hoards of end of days believers can create ways to get your skin in the game.  Be careful out there, hear?