peristaltor: (Default)
Spent yesterday puttering about the yard listening, among other things, to Chris Martenson's Peak Prosperity podcast. In a recent one, he interviewed G. Edward Griffin, author of The Creature From Jeckyll Island. Despite the silly name, it has been cited by many in the "alternative" crowd as a major influence on them, especially those with a focus on finance's domination by private banking.

Full disclosure: they're right, at least about how finance has warped the public's understanding of banking. A lot of money has been spent covering up what banks actually do, probably because of the lesson provided by the Bank of North Dakota. If a State (or any other municipality, for that matter) can own a bank, cycling the profits involved in lending directly into the State itself, why would that municipality bother paying interest and fees to private entities? It's a good question, one a few here in Seattle are considering.

But never mind that. Let's get back to Griffin.

In the interview, he revealed something that should be better known considering Wikipedia:

Now, Wikipedia is fine on, I guess scientific information, or... Historical information. As long as it doesn’t impact on the control mechanism of this elite that we’re talking about....

Now, once you get into those areas, then Wikipedia becomes the lapdog of those forces. Because all of the major corporations, I think that’s fair to say. Have to admit though, I haven’t check all of the major corporations to see if this is true. But I believe it is, that all of the major corporations, especially those that are dealing with ideas and products that relate on this control mechanism.... I’m talking about money. I’m talking about healthcare and that kind of thing. They have full-time people contracted to monitor Wikipedia 24-7. There’s always somebody from those corporations watching it.

So, the minute any entry is made touching on their sphere of influence.... They immediately change it or correct it. And they have, because they have done that so often, and they’re paid to do it, so they can devote their lives to it. They move up in rank and become editors because they do spend time doing it. And they become the ones who are the gatekeepers for the information on Wikipedia.

(I emboldened and deleted removed Martenson's conversational noises.)

Conspiracy in private industry is not unknown, of course. What turned Griffin on to this, he says, was a whistle-blower, one who called him one day. She said,

"I’m an editor of Wikipedia."... She says, I don’t know if you know it or not, but we’ve become deeply involved in a controversy among the editors at Wikipedia. I said, really? Over what? She says, over you....

Me? Why me? She said, well, she said, we didn’t know anything about you, but we thought when we saw your biographical information, the way it was being changed, we thought it was curious. So, we started to look into it. And we thought that it was very biased on the part of a small group of other editors in our organization....

So, we started to challenge it. And she said, if you’re interested, she said, it’s all on the internet. Most people don’t know, but the challenging mechanism by which one editor challenges the other is all available if you know the codes to get into the back room.... So, she gave me the codes. And my gosh, this is a roaring fight going on.... It was like a cat and dog fight over me.

I thought, well, that’s interesting. So, anyway, they fight, she lost the battle. She and her friend were told that if they didn’t drop this line of argument, they would no longer be qualified as editors.

(I did it... again.)

This fact that there are professionals out there who do nothing but scrub new media for the benefit of their employers should come as no surprise to anyone. That these industries can afford enough people to do the job that they insinuate themselves into that new media, also not surprising. Where billions of dollars are at stake, a few tens of thousands a year makes for a worthy hedge investment.

And so, today, we have Griffin's name somewhat tarnished with the following: "G. Edward Griffin (born November 7, 1931) is an American far-right conspiracy theorist, author, lecturer, and filmmaker." And indeed, given the bulk of his views, I would say that this description seems accurate.

For even though he is absolutely correct in describing the Federal Reserve's function, those other items of his interest? Holy crap. HIV/AIDS denial? Climate Change denial?! What the flying fuck?

And that got me to thinking. He has experienced a life changing event few get even close to witnessing: the discovery of a for-realz practice that, if broadened beyond private industry, could do wonders for our civilization.

And the blow back he got from the literally vested interests must have put the whammy-jammy on his brain, perhaps causing him to see conspiracy freakin' everywhere.

I must say, though, the interview was entertaining in Martenson's response to some of Griffin's nonsense. When he came out and started ticking off the Climate Change Denial talking points, Martenson, a phD scientist himself, got very polite. I like what commenter ParaDime had to say:

Griffin appears to be in the global warming skeptic camp. Chris handled this part of the interview in a gentle way, but did gingerly probe at the possibility that "faith-based skepticism" (my words, not his) might be putting in an appearance.

peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
Recently, I commented on a comm. I shouldn't have. It was just another citation of yet another scientific theory that has been embraced with way, way too much enthusiasm by outlets beholdened to that sweet, sweet advertiser cash. And many if not most of those sponsors are somehow complicit in the carbon economy. The less this irritating Anthropogenic Global Warming theory is quashed, discounted, and thwarted, the better for business, if not our future. (Either way, we'll see.)

So I found I need to read a book, William F. Ruddiman's Plows, Plagues & Petroleum: How Humans Took Control of Climate. Why? I'm weird. )
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
Just about every time I toured a church or cathedral in Europe years ago and saw beautifully carved pews, screens and other ecclesiastic detritus, I thought about how well such preserved structures sequestered carbon within the wood itself. The trouble, of course, is volume.

Take this example from a Seattle landmark (now demolished). Those curving struts holding the ceiling are laminated and bolted wood, heat pressed and formed by design to give an interior quite a bit more inspiring than the simple drop-down acoustic tile plaguing most interiors. You see them a lot in churches. That's a lot of wood, and that wood sequesters a lot of carbon dioxide. Still, if you want to accelerate such sequestration, you need to think even bigger. For example, skyscraper size.

No one builds wooden skyscrapers. Yeah, why don't we have wooden skyscrapers?

I guess we do, now.

Still, from a goofing-around perspective, wood has its drawbacks. It's more expensive, for one. And it's difficult to mold it into easy-to-use shapes. Now, cardboard? That's easy! I've done that myself. What if one were to scale up from a simple dust collector?

It's a bit more than a dust collector.
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
I haven't been following the news lately, but last I checked our atmosphere hit a milestone in human history by finally reaching the 400 parts per million concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide. In doing some preliminary research for this entry, I find that the number has since been revised downward . . . to 399.89 ppm.

Well, excuse us. That's entirely different, but still, as the article fairly explains, it's not the number captured in amber and preserved for all time that matters most, but rather "the rate of rise that is most important." That, sadly has not really slowed.

Ah, but I'm not here to boom all gloom and doom on y'all. I'm here now to crow about what is talked about, but not enough, and what should be heralded across the intertubes as more important than an arbitrary odometer moment: There is good news to be had.

You see, a rich guy has offered a prize for a viable process to remove CO2 from our atmosphere. $25 million will be granted in the Virgin Earth Challenge to the most viable candidate. So far, there are eleven finalists. First, lets winnow out the least likely challengers, and point out why they fail. )

Next, let us inject some much needed optimism. )

X-Posted to [ profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (Default)
Dear Mr. Randers,

I just finished your book, 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years. I found it informative and an innovative approach to the challenges facing the human race in the years to come.

One area, though, I found questionable, but in ways that will hopefully improve our outlook and perhaps your calculations once you factor the new data into the system. In your book, you noted:

It is worth noting that carbon capture and storage (CCS) is capable of reducing the emissions of CO2 dramatically. By capturing the CO2 from the exhaust emissions from coal- and gas-fired utilities and other point sources of CO2, and storing it permanently underground, one can reduce CO2 from power production and manufacturing by more than 80%. . . .

In wood-fired power stations, it works as follows: When wood (or any other type of biomass) grows, it sucks CO2 from the atmosphere and converts it to plant material. When the material is burnt, the CO2 is released into the exhaust gas. When the exhaust gas is sent through a CCS plant, the CO2 is captured. It s then compressed into a liquid and injected into deep underground reservoirs.

(Jorgen Randers, 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012, pp. 116-117.)

Further in your book, though, you quote David Butcher:

On the positive side, science will provide some relief through the development of improved plant strains, more efficient irrigation techniques, effective fertilizer use, and efficient pyrolysis of vegetation in order to increase soil carbon.

(David Butcher's essay "The Limits to Protein", quoted in 2052, p. 138, emboldening mine.)

In all likelihood, Mr. Butcher is referring the production of biochar, the name given the ancient practice of producing terra preta as a soil amendment. Albert K. Bates' The Biochar Solution notes that biochar production need not be a drain on resources to produce; if you don't have time to read the book, this entry of his provides a good overview.

To apply biochar production to your informative CCS sidebar, wood-fired power plants would not necessarily need to burn the wood in order to capture the carbon; a pyrolizing plant can easily produce heat or power and simultaneously sequester a portion of the carbon as biochar that need not be recaptured from the exhaust and later liquified, and all with low-technology requirements. The energy lost from this incomplete burn will be a fraction of the energy lost in the capture, liquification and sequestration process you outline in your book, which does not begin to factor in the benefit to crops the waste product provides.

Something to consider.


Perry Staltor
peristaltor: (Default)
Bad Astronomer Phil Plait debunked the notion of an approaching ice age recently, a spurious theory based on misconceptions regarding the sun's magnetic cycle:

The Sun has a magnetic cycle, its magnetic field waxing and waning in strength roughly every 11 years. The strength and complexity of the solar field governs a lot of the surface activity, including sunspots, solar flares, prominences, and coronal mass ejections.

Right now, in 2011, we’ve just left a period of an extended minimum, and the next max is due in late 2013 and early 2014. . . .

At this point you may be asking, so what? If the Sun has fewer sunspots and no flares, what difference does that make here on Earth? And how could it possibly trigger an ice age?

Yes, a good question. Plait goes on to explain. )
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Just finished Albert K. Bates' The Biochar Solution (following up the cool stuff I heard about in another post). In it he listed a few new products that use or create biochar. Some I'd heard about already. Others. . . .

This is the inventor showing off his LuciaStove, a pyrolytic stove. These stoves don't actually burn fuel in the traditional way; instead, they heat the fuel and burn the flammable gases separately, leaving the solid fuel waste behind as a chunk of nearly pure carbon.

Ah, but the beauty is in how this stove burns. The flame, curlicuing on itself like twining serpents -- I could watch that for hours. And one can burn just about whatever fuel fits through the flame. It's both a simple and subtle. And they have a barbeque version!
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[ profile] kmo had another great podcast over at the C-Realm the other day, interviewing long-time guest Albert K. Bates. This time Bates talked about something of which I've heard not even a peep: Biochar.

From one of his blog posts on the topic, Bates describes biochar as a charcoal formed from inactive, crystalized carbon. The end result of the biochar process produces a fractal structure with amazing longevity and pourosity: "One gram of biochar has a surface area of 1000 square meters." Once amended to the soil, this surface area provides the dirt with great advantages for growing plants, including crops:

In the soil, biochar’s cavities fill up with nutrient foodstocks for microbes, much like a kitchen pantry. The microbes move in, and pretty soon hyphae of fungi appear. The hyphae are a fast road for nutrients and moisture – a trade exchange route to plant and tree roots. Examination of biochar-amended soils a few months after treatment found that vigorous fungal colonization was common.

If you can imagine the char as providing a coral reef-like structure, full of tiny polyps and crevices, it attracts all manner of soil organisms to it. If the pantry is empty, then those microbes will go to work to stock it, which is why biochar denitrifies over-fertilized, burned out farmland and replaces it with slow-release fertility . . . .

Bates quoted this article on the topic, which notes the almost enigmatic discovery of this ancient agricultural practice. Biochar was produced and introduced to the soil thousands of years ago producing "Terra Preta:"

Terra Preta ("black earth") was discovered by Dutch soil scientist Wim Sombroek in the 1950's, when he discovered pockets of rich, fertile soil amidst the Amazon rainforest (otherwise known for its poor, thin soils), which he documented in a 1966 book "Amazon Soils". Similar pockets have since been found in other sites in Ecuador and Peru, and also in Western Africa (Benin and Liberia) and the Savannas of South Africa. Carbon dating has shown them to date back between 1,780 and 2,260 years.

Terra preta is found only where people lived - it is an artificial, human-made soil, which originated before the arrival of Europeans in South America. The soil is rich in minerals including phosphorus, calcium, zinc, and manganese - however its most important ingredient is charcoal, the source of terra preta's color.

Terra preta's promised improvement to soils seems almost too good to be true:

This year food shortages, caused in part by the diminishing quantity and quality of the world's soil, have led to riots in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. By 2030, when today's toddlers have toddlers of their own, 8.3 billion people will walk the Earth; to feed them, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates, farmers will have to grow almost 30 percent more grain than they do now. Connoisseurs of human fecklessness will appreciate that even as humankind is ratchetting up its demands on soil, we are destroying it faster than ever before. "Taking the long view, we are running out of dirt," says David R. Montgomery, a geologist at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Journalists sometimes describe unsexy subjects as MEGO: My eyes glaze over. Alas, soil degradation is the essence of MEGO.

Another topic that induces this MEGO phenomenon: Global climate change. And here terra preta steps in and offers an intriguing possibility; low-tech carbon sequestration. After all, these carbon crystals survived for thousands of years in Amazonian and Australian soil. What if this burying of charcoal were revived not only to revive crashing farm yields, but to simply remove carbon from the atmosphere? Bates quotes Tim Flannery:

Professor Tim Flannery told the gathering that even if we shut down every coal plant and stop all emissions of greenhouse gases from industry worldwide, the dangerous warming of our planet would continue for centuries. “That is the point at which you realize that biochar is really, really important,” he said.

Flannery suggested that 8 percent of CO2 is currently going into terrestrial vegetation, but if we could double that, we could buy ourselves time to work on moving away from coal and oil. Flannery said that we have to be mindful of the historic debt incurred by the one billion people whose ancestors made the industrial revolution. “That carbon debt to the other 6 billion could be repaid at 5 percent per year with biochar,” he said. (Emphasis mine.)

And that, as Bates told [ profile] kmo on the C-Realm, could reverse atmospheric carbon concentrations to pre-industrial levels in a matter of decades, not centuries. And at a fraction of the cost of some proposed schemes.

I'll be reading Bates' new book on the subject as soon as it is available. Fascinating stuff.

X-Posted to [ profile] boiling_frog.

Addendum, the next day: An anonymous poster shared a raft of info. I invite you to peruse. The links are in the comments. I especially like the science from the 2009 char study test field, which shows some impressive growth differences between just 5% and 20% char and additives. Never mind the sequestration angle, that's some difference.
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I got a lesson in life last night. Weirdly, I got it from playing with the Nintendo Wii.

The Wii has wireless networking and a few games that take advantage. One is Everybody Votes. It's simple. People submit questions and answers. Nintendo sifts through the submissions and finds about one a day to put to the people. Players at home then have the option of voting on which answer they think is right (What is a rhino's horn made of, bone or hair?) or sharing their personal habits (When do you usually shower or bath, at night or in the morning?).

There's another feature. After you've given your vote, you get to guess how the majority of voters responded. I find this feature far more interesting than the actual voting. First, it forces you to guess the demographic makeup of the voters. Next, you have to put yourself in their demographic shoes. I like it for the same twisted reason I liked this ill-fated game show.

Last night, we got the answers from an old question, "Which was invented first, shampoo or the telephone?" Shampoo won. That is, more people guessed shampoo was older on the first round of polling. Ah, but I guessed they would say that in the polling's second round. I originally guessed the telephone.

So I won twice.

You see, this question has an answer. An answer that does not rely upon the whims of those that accept an answer, but rather the answer that exists outside of public opinion. A quick Google search finds that "the first successful bi-directional transmission of clear speech by Bell and Watson was made on March 10, 1876", while "shampoo originated in England in 1877".

The telephone wins. I win. I doubly win because I correctly suspected that most people would not suspect or know this. My Mii jumps for joy.

But my wife pointed out a problem. Her Mii was also jumping for joy, even though she originally guessed "shampoo." Wasn't she right, too?

And that was a problem. In answers testable in the real, physical world, opinion doesn't matter. Opinion may in fact be so very wrong that it clouds one's judgment, interferes with one's ability to see the answer staring them in the face. There are so, so, so very many issues that can be simply or painstakingly tested (depending upon how subtle the science of detection in the specific arena has become) that are being obfuscated because people have already determined the "truth" of the issue and do not wish to confront the hard physical realities that bitch-slap their opinions into submission.

Ah, but the Telly News does not work that way. If you don't agree in the science of anthropomorphic climate change, natural selection as the originator of species diversity, or coming shortages in primary energy supplies, you get just as much air time as experts in their fields. Never mind that there are ten, twenty, perhaps a thousand experts who would disagree with you -- you get just as much time to present your case (or more likely, to try and obfuscate, belittle and dismiss theirs).

The Telly News is wrong to do this. They have probably been cowed by vested interests (which keep funding them through advertising and therefore can yank their leash and chokechain). Their news budget dedicated to actual investigative reporting has been slashed and burned, even though their revenue expectations continue to rise. They are being punked (and I mean that in the proper prison meaning, not as a more recent synonym for "practical joke") by their owners, corporations and individuals who have a very meaty vested interest in seeing public opinion kept ill-informed simply because that ignorance means dollars in their pockets.

Life is not fair. Reality is not balanced. It doesn't matter how many people agree with you: If you hold an opinion on a topic that attempts to directly contradict demonstrable physical evidence, you are very simply just wrong.
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"Thus, the bold and beautiful speculation has been made an experimental fact."

So said John Tyndale almost 150 years ago. What speculation did he demonstrate as fact? Global warming:

On 10 June, Tyndall demonstrated his experiments before a packed meeting at the Royal Institution, with Albert the prince consort in the chair. "To the eye, the gas within the tube might be as invisible as the air itself, while to the radiant heat it behaved like a cloud which it was almost impossible to penetrate. Thus, the bold and beautiful speculation has been made an experimental fact. The radiant heat of the sun does certainly pass through the atmosphere to the Earth with greater facility than the radiant heat of the Earth can escape into space."

Notes Mike Hulme, founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, UK:

"Many people think the greenhouse effect is a late 20th-century invention. Yet the physical basis for anthropogenic global warming was established six months before Darwin published On the Origin of Species," says Hulme. "Unlike Darwin, Tyndall's findings didn't cause a revolution in thinking. It was a long, slow process before people recognised the implications."

More than any researcher responsible for making us aware of the possible consequences of our accumulating carbon release, Tyndale's forgotten name deserves the recognition he has so far failed to receive.
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I heard something the other day which gave me pause, but can't find reference to it now. Blast.

Here's the concept: The Mayan Civilization grew rapidly from the 5th century A.D. From Jarod Diamond's Collapse, focusing on just one section of the sprawling empire:

As judged by numbers of house sites, population growth in the Copán Valley rose steeply from the 5th century up to a peak estimated at around 27,000 people at A.D. 750-900. Construction of royal monuments glorifying kings was especially massive between A.D. 650 and 750. After A.D. 700, nobles other than kings also got into the act and began erecting their own palaces . . . .

. . . the last that we hear from any Copán king is A.D. 822. . . the royal palace was burned around A.D. 850. However, (various pieces of evidence) suggest that some nobles managed to carry on with their lifestyle after the king's downfall, until around A.D. 975.

. . . The estimated population in the year A.D. 950 was still around 15,000, or 54% of the peak population of 27,000. That population continued to dwindle, until there are no more signs of anyone in the Copán Valley by around A.D. 1250. The reappearance of pollen from forest trees thereafter provides independent evidence that the valley became virtually empty of people, and that the forests could at last begin to recover.

(Diamond, Collapse, Penguin Books, 2005, pp. 168-170, emphasis mine.)

I'll now suggest that rainforests are better able to sequester carbon that previously thought, especially when sparsely occupied, and that the forests would have, no doubt, retaken the former bustling metropolises and supporting farmland the shrinking number of Maya would abandon.

With me so far? Okay. Now let's consider that carbon gases take time, once released from a felled tree, to affect climate. Isn't it weird how the growth and peak of Mayan civilization preceded by one or two hundred years the Medieval Warm Period, a warm period from roughly 800-1300?

It gets more interesting once we consider that even more time would be needed for a forest retaking its former cultivated land to reabsorb those carbon gases released hundreds of years earlier. Once re-sequestered in the forest, though, whole weather patterns would be affected. Here's a few more quotes from Collapse:

In the U.S. Southwest . . . cultures that underwent regional collapses, drastic reorganizations, or abandonments at different locations and different times include Mibres around A.D. 1130; Chaco Canyon, North Black Mesa, and the Virgin Anasazi in the middle or late 12th century; around 1300, Mesa Verde and the Kayenta Anasazi; Mogollon around 1400; and possibly as late as the 15th century, Hohokam. . . . (Ibid, p. 137.)

Between A.D. 800 and 1300, ice cores tell us that the climate in Greenland was relatively mild, similar to Greenland's weather today or even slightly warmer. Thus, the (Viking) Norse reached Greenland during a period good for growing hay and pasturing animals. . . . Around 1300, though, the climate in the North Atlantic began to get cooler and more variable from year to year, ushering in a cold period termed the Little Ice Age that lasted into the 1800s. By around 1420, the Little Ice Age was in full swing, and the increased summer drift ice between Greenland, Iceland, and Norway ended ship communication between the Greenland Norse and the outside world. Those cold conditions . . . were bad news for the Norse, who depended on growing hay. (The) onset of the Little Ice Age was a factor behind the demise of the Greenland Norse. (Ibid, pp. 219-220.)(All emphasis mine.)

Interesting, eh? Purely speculative, but interesting nonetheless.

Addendum, July 26, 2009: Perhaps their growth led to a positive feedback loop that allowed for their further expansion. Still just speculation.

X-Posted, just for chuckles, to [ profile] boiling_frog.
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In England, a professor publishes a paper on an unusual situation, a period of both high carbon dioxide levels coinciding with glaciation:

The covering of ice and snow stops rocks being weathered by carbon dioxide: weathering is the key process that uses up this gas which is continuously released into the atmosphere from volcanoes. So, during an extreme glaciation (probably triggered by low levels of greenhouse gas in the first place), levels of carbon dioxide progressively rose to unusually high levels (Hoffman et al., 1998). (Emphasis mine.)

I emboldened and selectively underlined that parenthetical remark for a reason. Look how the Telegraph headlined their synopsis of the paper:

Greenhouse gases could have caused an ice age, claim scientists

Three paragraphs into their story, this ironic zinger hits: "Such glaciation could happen again if global warming is not curbed . . . ."

One more time: The original paper says low levels of carbon dioxide caused glaciation; the Telegraph -- supposedly quoting the same paper -- says high levels ("global warming") will cause glaciation again.

Here comes the real zinger. Ben Goldacre at Bad Science brings up this frightening point about the case:

People in the “public engagement” community often talk about how scientists should do more to communicate with the media. I take a different line: scientists have good grounds to be extremely nervous, and some entities and journalists could quite fairly be blacklisted.

Here’s just one more example. It doesn’t stand out, I get sent plenty every week, and when I get a moment I’ll find a way to archive the tips efficiently online: but I’m posting this one here because the Telegraph have misrepresented a scientists work, refused to correct it when he writes to them, and then refused even to let him post an online comment on the article which misrepresented his own work. This strikes me as harsh. (Emphasis, yet again, mine)

Harsh? Yes, I would agree with that; but I take an even darker view. This strikes me as deliberate. There is a massive amount of money floating out there ready for people with compromised scruples willing to misrepresent the growing body of evidence supporting anthropogenic climate change brought on by our release of ancient carbon, mostly from businesses that acquire, sell and burn that carbon. To refuse a print correction can be written off (maybe the publisher assigned a noob to the editorial desk while on vacation); to refuse an online correction -- when allowing 23 others unrelated to the original article to "comment!" -- strikes me as more nefarious. Such message control speaks volumes about possible motives and behind-the-scenes influence.

I've seen this happen before. Once published, specious pieces like this will be referred to long, long, long after they are refuted. It gives deniers a weapon to pull in a pinch. Anyone unfamiliar with the contraversy is forced to concede that, since it appeared in otherwise reputable media, it needs to be investigated before refuted, gaining the deniers some time . . . and perhaps a convert or two.
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A few weeks ago, [ profile] kmo had a great interview on his C-Realm Podcast with Dennis M. Bushnell, chief scientist of the NASA Langley Research Center. Mr. Bushnell is, to say the least, an immensely qualified individual. Just listen to the introduction [ profile] kmo gives him. (If you don't have time for that, someone was good enough to transcribe the interview here. You can read instead or listen. I'll be using that transcription for my quotation source, with some corrections.) Mr. Bushnell touches on quite a few topics that interest me -- global warming, alternative energy, to name just a couple -- so I found myself listening to it on the iPod thingie more than once.

After the second listen, something started nagging me, a concept with which I found myself quite unfamiliar. Though he speaks well and concisely, Bushnell kept making references to atmospheric conditions I didn't understand. I thought it best to go and read the source Bushnell lists in the interview:

(T)here is a book which, I believe, will be considered a milestone in this whole energy and warming discussion and that is Peter Ward's recent book called Under (a) Green Sky.

I've read a few other Ward books, so this wasn't too much of a hardship. What I read scared the living crap out of me. )

After I read Green Sky, I put on the headphones and went for a walk with Dennis Bushnell once again. As low as Ward got me, something I missed from Bushnell hit me that much harder. )

X-posted to [ profile] boiling_frog.
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As I mentioned some time ago, there is a fellow named Tom Harris of the NRSP, a group that seeks to become

a high profile, independent and professional non-profit entity . . . that can effectively counter the government relations and communications of today's powerful and well-funded environmental lobby.

What they don't mention in that strategy blurb is that they are a well-funded "enviromental" lobby.

Well, Tom and many of his buddies from the NRSP contributed to a BBC "documentary" called The Global Warming Swindle. I can't get it on the Netflix yet, so the only source I have to follow regarding its veracity are the numerous scientific bitch-slaps I've read over the months and this little interview (in two parts) with the director, Martin Durkin.

Tom also wrote a little ditty that continued to quote his friends, continued to raise concerns addressed long ago, and continued, in general, to be Tom and the NRSP. For the curious, an article in the Science Blogs rebuts the points Tom tries to make in his article.

It's nice when scientists can come so easily to the defense of science, isn't it? Love the interwebs!

Oh, and for the record, Tom has yet to address the inquiries I made so very long ago, and even cites the "evidence" in his article. If the point I raised on water vapor were so supported by evidence that he saw fit to quote it again and again, one would think he would address the concerns raised specifically about it? Gotta wonder.
peristaltor: (Default)
. . . Lie through your teeth.

Or, more specifically, commit perjury before congress.

From [ profile] beachofdreams, a bit of a tale from a scientist regarding what happened to him during a debate:

In late 1998, I was asked to debate the well-known greenhouse skeptic Dr. Patrick Michaels of the University of Virginia. . . .

I agreed to participate in this debate with Dr. Michaels after learning that he had used (or misused) a figure of mine in testimony to the United States Congress. . . .

(W)hen Pat Michaels testified to congress in 1998 and showed our 1988 predictions (Fig. 1) he erased (data), and showed the result only for (one of three scenarios). He then argued that, since the real world temperature had not increased as fast as this model calculation (shown in the remaining data), the climate model was faulty and there was no basis for concern about climate change, specifically concluding that the Kyoto Protocol was "a useless appendage to an irrelevant treaty".

(Emphasis mine. -P.)

Below, I present the graph in question. It's clear the original predictions erased from the testimony provided enough of a spread to account for observed weather patterns.

The original illustration -- in testimony,
lines B and C had been erased

This is what many people do not understand about Global Warming skeptics. Many of these skeptics feel lies are perfectly acceptable in the battle against what is becoming more and more clearly a war of a vast amount of evidence verses well-entrenched and well-funded special interests.
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Back in (IRRC) Philosophy 102, Logic, we learned the dirty little secret of Victorian literature. Sherlock Holmes sometimes got it wrong.

Seated to the Right,
An Entertaining Occassional Mis-Speaker

You see, he was widely quoted as presenting the conclusions he based upon evidence as a "deduction." That is incorrect. A deduction is specifically used to remove evidence or conclusions from consideration. For example, if Mary has a solid alibi for being elsewhere during the crime, and the time of the crime can be solidly established, one can deduce that Mary cannot have been the perpetrator.

However, when it came to reconstructing the scene of a crime, Sherlock's speciality, the addition of detail was necessary. One needed to know more than who didn't do it. One needed to know who did.

This, folks, requires induction.

Furthermore, when one induces based upon evidence, one does not "prove" anything. An induction is a speculative reconstruction based upon evidence; by definition, proof is deductive -- and therefore conclusive -- not speculative.

Evidence of more. )
peristaltor: (Default)
Carl Zimmer eloquently notes that the media noise machine seems to be very selective about what science it decides is newsworthy:

Two forces are at play here. One is that the huge premium in the science writing world on stories about new ideas. It was such a shock to think that methane was churning out of plants, particularly with global warming becoming such a hot topic. The science writing machine is much worse at follow-up. Does the editorial unconscious say, "Hey, we've already written about that. Let's move on"? Or perhaps it would look bad to say, "Remember that story with the big headline a while back? Well never mind, looks like it may have been wrong."

This concerns a story first published -- and widely, widely touted -- last year that suggested methane from plants may have been a big contributer to GW gasses, now corrected amidst almost no fanfare a year later.

At times like these I believe we need a law: If a reporter/pundit/editorialist is found to be factually inaccurate about any topic, they should be forced to correct the record with as much coverage as was given the original, invalid report. Front page headlines correcting inaccurate front page reports. No fair burying the humble pie where no one will think to look.

Grrr. . . .

X-Posted to [ profile] boiling_frog, with interesting commentary.


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