## If we don’t protect Nature, we cannot protect ourselves’

Harrison Ford‘s speech, at the Climate Action Summit, below:

“… Don’t forget Nature.”

“If we don’t stop the destruction of our natural world, nothing else will matter.”

“We need to include Nature in every corporate, state, and national climate goal.”

## Another reason we need to stop developing: If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest emitter in the world.’

Much of the focus on reducing Carbon Dioxide emissions is upon reduction and elimination of fossil fuels. Many do not realize that reducing emissions to zero also means offsetting emissions from agriculture, and especially curbing use of cement. Cement production yields an enormous about of CO2:

In 2015, it generated around 2.8bn tonnes of CO2, equivalent to 8% of the global total – a greater share than any country other than China or the US.

Zeroing it either means curbing development or finding substitutes, and probably, given how things go, a combination of the two. This is a reason why I am so virulently anti-development, in addition to ecosystem destruction and putting people, assets, and revenue base at risk in a serious flood plain.

Apart from concerns for climate impacts, there are documented health effects from the production of cement near where limestone is mined and the cement is produced, and for incidental emissions, such as non-exhaust particulate matter from the heavy road traffic which carries it. See, for instance,

Thorpe, A., & Harrison, R. M. (2008). Sources and properties of non-exhaust particulate matter from road traffic: A review. Science of The Total Environment, 400(1-3), 270–282.

This is a matter pertinent to the quality of life in the Town of Westwood, Massachusetts, where I live, and nearby towns through which Route 109 (“High Street”) and Hartford Street pass:

In particular, there is a cement production facility in Medfield which accounts for a significant portion of heavy truck traffic:

The Town of Westwood is already exposed to unhealthy particulates from the nearby Interstate 95/Route 128 traffic which streams 24/7. This additional burden of particulates, produced by trucks passing several per five minutes in both directions on High Street, travelling in excess of the 30 mph speed limit, poses an unnecessary risk to the people of the Town particularly children.

It is not appropriate for this post, but, in the long term, I intend to measure this traffic, the exceedance cement truck traffic over speed limits, impacts to care of roads, and estimate health effects. That traffic travels faster than legal speed limits is no surprise (MIT), but in the case of cement trucks, this practice can be particularly dangerous, setting aside risks of particulate pollution.

## Dr Glen Peters on “Stylised pathways to well below 2°C”’, and some solutions from Dr Steven Chu (but it’s late!)

Stylized pathways to “well below 2°C”

Dr Peters has also written about “Can we really limit global warming to well below’ two degrees centigrade?” An excerpt and abstract:

Commentary: Yes, but only in a model. We have essentially emitted too much carbon dioxide already, and the most feasible pathways to stay “well below” two degrees all require removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at an unprecedented scale.

See the article for more details. And, note, I’ve written about how extraordinarily expensive negative emissions industry is, in two articles. Even assuming the engineering technology and practical rollout for such a huge global project are developed, something which might take decades by itself, we’re talking about multiples of Gross World Product to make an appreciable dent in atmospheric CO2 at projected prices. Dr Peters is not optimistic either.

And see the stylized pathways’ article for how hard it is to keep emissions below some threshold — and so mean global temperature below some threshold — if there are delays in emissions reduction.

Dr Steven Chu gave a presentation recently at Amherst College on the risks, and concerning possible solutions:

###### (Dr Chu begins at time index 445.)

Notably, apart from reforestation and improvements in agricultural practice, Dr Chu does not address negative emissions technology as a feasible solution but he speaks to the difficulty. Reforestation and improvements in agriculture can help with 8% of CO2 emissions, specifically:

Restoring Carbon in soils has the potential to sequester 20 Gt of CO2 (~ 8% of cumulative CO2 emissions …)

## A quick note on modeling operational risk from count data

The blog statcompute recently featured a proposal encouraging the use of ordinal models for difficult risk regressions involving count data. This is actually a second installment of a two-part post on this problem, the first dealing with flexibility in count regression.

I was drawn to comment because of a remark in the most recent post, specifically that

This class of models require to simultaneously estimate both mean and variance functions with separate sets of parameters and often suffer from convergence difficulties in the model estimation. All four mentioned above are distributions with two parameters, on which mean and variance functions are jointly determined. Due to the complexity, these models are not even widely used in the industry.

Now, admittedly, count regression can have its issues. The traditional methods of linear regression don’t smoothly extend to the non-negative integers, even when counts are large and bounded away from zero. But in the list of proposals offered, there was a stark omission of two categories of approaches. There was also no mention of drawbacks of ordinal models, and the author’s claim that the straw man distributions offered are “not even widely used in industry” may be true, but not for the reasons that paragraph implies.

I post a brief reaction here because the blog also does not offer a facility for commenting.

First of all, as any excursion into literature and textbooks will reveal, a standard approach is to use generalized linear models (GLMs) with link functions appropriate to counts. And, in fact, the author goes there, offering a GLM version of standard Poisson regression. But dividing responses into ordinal buckets is not a prerequisite for doing that.

GLMs are useful to know about for many reasons, including smooth extensions to logistic regression and probit models. Moreover, such an approach is thoroughly modern, because it leaves behind the idea that there is a unique distribution for every problem, however complicated it might be, and embraces the idea that few actual “real world” problems or datasets will be accurately seen as drawn from some theoretical distribution. That is an insight from industrial practice. Understanding logistic regression and GLMs has other important benefits beyond applicability to binary and ordinary responses, including understanding new techniques like boosting and generalized additive models (GAM).

Second, the presentation completely ignores modern Bayesian computational methods. In fact, these can use Poisson regression as the core model of counts, but posing hierarchical priors on the Poisson means drawn from hyperpriors is an alternative mechanism for representing overdispersion (or underdispersion). Naturally, one needn’t restrict regression to the Poisson, so Negative Binomial or other core models can be used. There are many reasons for using Bayesian methods but, to push back from the argument of the blog post as represented by the quote above, allaying fear of having too many parameters is one of the best and most pertinent. To a Bayesian, many parameters are welcome, and each are seen as random variables contributing to a posterior density, and, in modern approaches, linked together with a network of hyperpriors. While specialized methods are available, the key technique is Markov Chain Monte Carlo.

There are many methods available in R for using these techniques, including the arm, MCMCpack, and MCMCglmm packages. In addition, here are some references from the literature using Bayesian methods for count regression and risk modeling:

1. Ä Ãzmen, H. Demirhan, “A Bayesian approach for zero-inflated count regression models by using the Reversible Jump Markov Chain Monte Carlo Method and an application”, Communications in Statistics: Theory and Methods, 2010, 39(12), 2109-2127
2. L. N. Kazembe, “A Bayesian two part model applied to analyze risk factors of adult mortality with application to data from Namibia”, PLoS ONE, 2013, 8(9): e73500.
3. W. Wu, J. Stamey, D. Kahle, “A Bayesian approach to account for misclassification and overdispersion in count data”, Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2015, 12(9), 10648–10661.
4. J.M. Pérez-Sánchez, E. Gómez-Déniz, “Simulating posterior distributions for zero-inflated automobile insurance data”, arXiv:1606.00361v1 [stat.AP], 16 Nov 2015 10:50:40 GMT.
5. A. Johansson, “A Comparison of regression models for count data in third party automobile insurance”, Department of Mathematical Statistics, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, 2014.

## Today, now, and what of the future?

From Aldo Leopold in his A Sand County Almanac:

One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.

Among many other notable efforts, Aldo Leopold attempted to reconcile Ecology with economic imperatives. I still, however, cannot stomach the encouragement of hunting which Leopold’s post mortem Foundation pursues.

## Fast means, fast moments (originally devised 1984)

There are many devices available for making numerical calculations fast. Modern datasets and computational problems apply stylized architectures, and use approaches to problems including special algorithms for just calculating dominant eigenvectors or using non-classical statistical mechanisms like shrinkage to estimate correlation matrices well. But sometimes it’s simpler than that.

In particular, some calculations can be preconditioned. What’s done varies with the problem, but often there is a one-time investment in creating a numerical data structure which is then used repeatedly to obtain fast performance of some important kind.

This post is a re-presentation of a technique I devised in 1984 for finding sums of contiguous submatrices of a given matrix in constant time. The same technique can be used to calculate moments of such submatrices, in order to support estimating statistical moments or moments of inertia, but I won’t address those in this post. Studies of these problems, given this technique, can imagine how that might be done. If there’s an interest and a need, with comments or email, I’ll some day post algorithm and code for doing moments.

#### The Algorithm

Assume there is a square matrix, $\mathbf{A}$, having flonums. Accordingly it has both $m$ rows and $m$ columns. Produce from it a transformed matrix $\mathbf{A_{1,2}}$ in two steps, first producing a transformed matrix, $\mathbf{A_{1}}$, and then the transformed matrix, $\mathbf{A_{1,2}}$. Do this by first forming $\mathbf{A_{1}}$ as $\mathbf{A}$ but with its $j^{\text{th}}$ column replaced by the cumulative sum of the $j^{\text{th}}$ column of $\mathbf{A}$. That is,

$\mathbf{A_{1}}_{i,j} = \sum_{k=1}^{i} \mathbf{A}_{k,j}$

To form $\mathbf{A_{1,2}}$ do something similar, except with rows:

$\mathbf{A_{1,2}}_{i,j} = \sum_{k=1}^{j} \mathbf{A_{1}}_{i,k}$

$\mathbf{A_{1,2}}$ is then the preconditioned version of ${A}$. Specifically, if the sum of any contiguous rectangular submatrix of $\mathbf{A}$ is sought, say, with its upper left coordinate within $\mathbf{A}$ being $(i,j)$ and its lower right being $(k,l)$, then lookup the value of $\mathbf{A_{1,2}}_{k,l}$ and subtract from it the value of $\mathbf{A_{1,2}}_{i-1,l}$ and the value of $\mathbf{A_{1,2}}_{k,j-1}$, and then add back in, because of the principle of inclusion and exclusion, the value of $\mathbf{A_{1,2}}_{i-1,j-1}$. If any of these are off the premises of $\mathbf{A_{1,2}}$ because $i-1$ or $j-1$ are too small, treat the corresponding subtrahends as zero.

Because there are only two sums involved in the calculation of the sum of any submatrix, the algorithm does this in constant time, irrespective of the sizes of the submatrices. There are dynamic range tricks that can be applied should the sums of values in the preconditioned matrix get very large in magnitude.

R code is below. I’ll put it up in my Github repository some time.

 ############################################################################################### # This section of code up to the next group of #### marks is owned and copyrighted by # # Jan Galkowski, who has placed it in the public domain, available for any purpose by anyone. # ###############################################################################################

 fastMeansFastMomentsPrecondition<- function(X) { # # (From Jan Galkowski, Fast means, fast moments'', 1984, # # IBM Federal Systems Division, Owego, NY. Released into the public domain, 1994.) stopifnot( is.matrix(X) ) M<- nrow(X) stopifnot( M == ncol(X) ) AX1<- apply(X=X, MARGIN=2, FUN=cumsum) # AX2<- t(apply(X=X, MARGIN=1, FUN=cumsum)) AX12<- t(apply(X=AX1, MARGIN=1, FUN=cumsum)) return(AX12) } fastMeansFastMomentsBlock<- function(P, iUL, jUL, iLR, jLR) { # # (From Jan Galkowski, Fast means, fast moments'', 1984, # # IBM Federal Systems Division, Owego, NY. Released into the public domain, 1994.) # # P is the preconditioned AX12 from above. # stopifnot( is.matrix(P) ) M<- nrow(P) stopifnot( M == ncol(P) ) stopifnot( (1 <= iUL) && (iUL <= M) ) stopifnot( (1 <= jUL) && (jUL <= M) ) stopifnot( (1 <= iLR) && (iLR <= M) ) stopifnot( (1 <= jLR) && (jLR <= M) ) # iUL1<- iUL-1 jUL1<- jUL-1 iLR1<- iLR-1 jLR1<- jLR-1 # if (0 == iUL1) { W.AL<- 0 W.A<- 0 if (0 == jUL1) { W.L<- 0 } else { W.L<- P[iLR,jUL1] } } else if (0 == jUL1) { W.AL<- 0 W.L<- 0 if (0 == iUL1) { W.A<- 0 } else { W.A<- P[iUL1,jLR] } } else { W.AL<- P[iUL1,jUL1] W.A<- P[iUL1,jLR] W.L<- P[iLR,jUL1] } # W<- P[iLR,jLR] + W.AL - W.A - W.L # return(W) } # Self-test FMFM ... cat("Fast means, fast moments self-test ...\n") Z<- matrix(round(runif(100, min=1, max=100)), 10, 10) Z.P<- fastMeansFastMomentsPrecondition(Z) stopifnot( sum(Z[1:4,1:5]) == fastMeansFastMomentsBlock(Z.P, 1, 1, 4, 5) ) stopifnot( sum(Z[8:10, 8:9]) == fastMeansFastMomentsBlock(Z.P, 8, 8, 10, 9) ) stopifnot( sum(Z[4:7, 3:5]) == fastMeansFastMomentsBlock(Z.P, 4, 3, 7, 5) ) rm(list=c("Z", "Z.P")) cat("... Self-test completed.\n") ############################################################################################### # End of public domain code. # ############################################################################################### randomizeSeed<- function() { #set.seed(31415) # Futz with the random seed E<- proc.time()["elapsed"] names(E)<- NULL rf<- E - trunc(E) set.seed(round(10000*rf)) # rm(list=c("E", "rf")) return( sample.int(2000000, size=sample.int(2000, size=1), replace=TRUE)[1] ) } 

wonkyRandom<- randomizeSeed() 

So, there’s a little story of how this came to be public domain.

I used to work for IBM Federal Systems Division, in Owego, NY. I worked as both a software engineer and later, in a much more fun role, as a test engineer specializing in hardware-software which did quantitative calculations. IBM, as is common, had a strong intellectual property protection policy and framework.

Well, in 1994, Loral bought Federal Systems from IBM. As former employees, we were encouraged to join the new organization, but, naturally, were asked to sign a bunch of paperwork. To my personal surprise, there was nothing in the paperwork which had to do with IBM’s rights to intellectual property we might have originated or held. All they wanted was for us to sign onto the new division, part of Loral.

Before I signed, therefore, I approached corporate counsel and pointed out there was no restriction on intellectually property or constraints upon its disposition. They, interested in making the transition happen, said “Yes”. I went off and prepared a document of all the material and algorithms and such which I thought I had developed while on IBM time in which they hadn’t expressed any interest, including offers to put it up for patenting or whatever. It was a reasonably thick document, maybe 100 pages, and I still have a copy. I asked the attorneys to sign over the intellectual property rights of these to me, and they did. It was witnessed. I had made my coming to Loral contingent upon doing this, and they seemed happy to do it. I signed once I had this in hand. I still have a copy.

I did not know at the time, but Loral’s interest was in purchasing Federal Systems, and they had every intention of “flipping it”, as one might a house, to another buyer in a short time, and they apparently didn’t care about this.

But, as a result, this algorithm, for fast means and fast moments, which I had developed in 1984 while doing some image processing work, became mine. And I have always treated it as public domain, available to anyone for any purpose. And, here, with this post, I put it out there for your public use, for any purpose whatsoever, without constraints. Very open source. Commercial or otherwise.

Enjoy.

It would be nice to credit me, but you don’t have to do that.

## Heat has no hair (from Eli Rabett)

See Eli’s post.

Excerpt:

We can summarize the data in the figure above adding that ~40 W/m2 go directly from the surface to space as IR radiation of the 398 W/m2 leaving the surface. In and out in the table … [AT THE POST] … means into and out the surface the atmosphere and space respectively. In is taken as a positive addition to the heat content and negative a decrease …

… The important point is to realize that surface IR radiation absorbed in the atmosphere is rapidly (10 μs) thermalized and converted into random motion of the molecules in the atmosphere, just as is latent heat from condensation of water vapor and from sensible heat. Very little, less than a part per million, is directly radiated back to the surface and we can neglect that.

The 342 W/m2 of back radiation is OBSERVED, so this ain’t a model or a theory, where does it come from? It comes from ALL of the sources pushing heat into the atmosphere, from the convective and radiative heat transfer from the surface.

###### (Emphasis in the original.)

Perhaps it’s just my physics training, but I never understood the primacy some (even scientists) put on the primacy of convection in terms of climate. I mean, sure, a Bunch of energy can come into the convective-dominated part of the climate system, and it might reside there for a duration, perhaps even long, but, really, that doesn’t matter. Eli’s point is that if a different bunch of the same amount doesn’t leave the climate system, it’ll warm. And it doesn’t matter how long the first bunch is in the climate system, or what path it takes through it, or anything of the kind.

So, to me, this idea that the various oscillations, like NAO or PDO or ENSO somehow have something substantial to do with the overall climate and problem is specious. Yeah, there are big energy flows from one part of the system to the other, just as there are big flows of Carbon to and from oceans to atmosphere, but that’s just slosh, and the point is the net balance. And human emissions of (about) 10 GtC per annum are affecting that a lot.

## Blackbody radiation and the greenhouse effect, via plates (from Eli Rabett)

See Eli’s post.

Excerpt:

Eli can keep on adding plates, Ms. Rabett has gone out to buy some extras. Here is the red plate special. If somebunny works it through they will find that b’=3/4 a, go another plate and, as Christian pointed out, now b’ has increased to 4/5 a and so on.

Eli has not said anything about how the heat is being transferred, radiation, convection or conduction but since heat transfer, no matter the mechanism, is always proportional to temperature, the temperature of the blue plate must increase as more plates are added.

## The Democrats have no plan to address Climate Change (either)

… [T]he Democratic Party does not have a plan to address climate change. This is true at almost every level of the policy-making process: It does not have a consensus bill on the issue waiting in the wings; it does not have a shared vision for what that bill could look like; and it does not have a guiding slogan—like “Medicare for all”—to express how it wants to stop global warming.

Many people in the party know that they want to do something about climate change, but there’s no agreement about what that something may be.

This is not for lack of trying. Democrats have struggled to formulate a post-Obama climate policy because substantive political obstacles stand in their way. They have not yet identified a mechanism that will make a dent in Earth’s costly, irreversible warming while uniting the many factions of their coalition. These problems could keep the party scrambling to face the climate crisis for years to come.

This remains true. The only Democrats in the national view who keep mitigation of climate change in focus are Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. In fact, Senator Sanders and Senator Whitehouse are the only ones with plans, this being Senator Sanders’, and this being Senator Whitehouse, quite contrary to the impression The Atlantic article gives. Also, the claim that “Unlike Clinton’s policies, Sanders would surely have required a Democratic Congress to enshrine his policies”, is completely disingenuous. Only the most limited policies can be enacted without Congress, but that never should be a reason for failing to champion them or make excuses for why they can’t be done, like President Obama’s insistence that we cannot sacrifice economic growth in the pursuit of climate mitigation.

So, I would suggest that what The Atlantic and I mean here is that the standard, vanilla-flavored Democratic Party has no idea about what to do, and it doesn’t really care. What it cares about is winning, and it will compromise on policy in order to make that happen.

This is predominantly why Claire and I are so supportive of Bob Massie as Democratic candidate for governor of Massachusetts. See his position on climate change.

It’s more tiring to say it again than it is to listen to it, but we are running out of time and the economic costs to do something real in time to stop awesome, amazing, and recurring harm from climate change increase by the month.

We determine the point of no return (PNR) for climate change, which is the latest year to take action to reduce greenhouse gases to stay, with a certain probability, within thresholds set by the Paris Agreement. For a 67% probability and a 2K (Kelvin) threshold, the PNR is the year 2035 when the share of renewable energy rises by 2% per year. We show the impact on the PNR of the speed by which emissions are cut, the risk tolerance, climate uncertainties and the potential for negative emissions.

In short, both political parties — and especially the Democrats, since they claim to know better — are failing the United States Constitution and the people of the United States:

Preamble. We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Amendment XIV (Ratified July 9, 1868)

Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Indeed, given this situation, as I’ve mentioned before, I really wonder if the Constitution of the United States is up to this challenge, because it lacks the mechanism to achieve this. Of course, given that Congresses and Presidents disregard the Constitution, notably

Article. VI.

… This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

with respect to, say, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change”, which remains one of the treaties in force’ considered so by the U.S. State Department (page 515).

This is why Juliana v United States is so essential. See the compact details.

## “Why we need Jean-Luc Picard in 2018”

See the story, by Daniel W Drezner. On CBS All Access.

Yes, “Make it so.”

## What will happen to fossil fuel-fired electric bills everywhere, eventually, including those fired by natural gas

See Cost of Coal: Electric Bills Skyrocket in Appalachia as Region’s Economy Collapses, by James Bruggers at Inside Climate News. Excerpt:

The common denominator is American Electric Power, one of the nation’s largest utilities. It owns Kentucky Power, along with two subsidiaries in neighboring West Virginia, Wheeling Power and Appalachian Power.

In May, Wheeling Power and Appalachian Power requested permission from the Public Service Commission of West Virginia to boost their monthly residential bill 11 percent because of declining sales. That was on top of a 29 percent increase between 2014 and 2018.

Customers in both states are furious that the regulators are going along.

“Our jobs available in this state are not a living wage, and many are working two, three jobs just to make it,” wrote Elizabeth Bland of Beckley, West Virginia, in her protest letter to the commission. “Please turn down this request from Appalachian Power for the sake of all West Virginians.”

Rising rates are just part of the problem.

Kentucky Power’s monthly bill also includes surcharges, and a line for each customer’s share of the utility’s fixed costs. These add up in precious dollars.

They’re doubling down on coal at a time when coal is not competitive,’ said James M. Van Nostrand, a professor at the West Virginia University College of Law with decades of experience in the energy field. It’s really tragic.’

The average bill per customer at Kentucky Power has been among the highest in the nation for an investor-owned utility, according to 2016 numbers from the U.S. Energy Information Agency, the most recent comparisons available.

We’re hit hard,’ Alice Craft, a Whitesburg-area resident, told InsideClimate News. The power companies, they are just greedy, greedy, greedy.’

This will inevitably happen to all regions depending primarily upon fossil-fuel fired electricity, including Massachusetts, with consequences for the public, for utility shareholders, for local real estate property values, and for local business expansion. Accordingly, the actions of the Massachusetts House on recent energy legislation is incredibly myopic to say the least, and does not support the stated goals of House leadership, especially those of Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo to look out for the little guy’. His actions say he’s looking out for utility and energy companies, and the interests of AIM, whatever he says his motivations are.

## Censorship of Science by the administration of President Donald Trump

… President Trump has directed EPA and DOI to reconsider regulations adopted to control greenhouse gas emissions, despite the wealth of data showing that those emissions are the key cause of climate change. Faced with this contradiction, both agencies have sought to downplay the science, including by restricting the availability of information (for example, by removing climate data from websites and deleting references to humans’ role in climate change from reports). Similar action has also been taken by a raft of other entities, with the SST indicating that at least 20 different federal bodies, including both Congress and the White House, have attempted to restrict access to scientific information or otherwise silence science …

## “All of Monsanto’s problems just landed on Bayer” (by Chris Hughes at Bloomberg)

Monsanto has touted Roundup (also known as Glyphosate but more properly as $\textbf{\texttt{N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine}}$) as a safe remedy for weed control, often in the taming of so-called “invasive species”. It’s used on playfields where children are exposed to it, including, apparently, in my home town of Westwood, Massachusetts.

There are more than 450 court cases in progress alleging harm from the product, and a jury in one, DEWAYNE JOHNSON VS. MONSANTO COMPANY ET AL (Case Number: CGC16550128), has found Monsanto, et al guilty with a US\$289 million award. It’s long been known to affect fish and amphibians, and recently physicians have gotten concerned, particularly in its connection with cancer in humans.

###### Image by Benjah-bmm27 – Own work, Public Domain, Link

This has repercussions for Bayer, as Hughes explains.

But it is perhaps most foolish to think wishful environmental management justifies releasing such toxins where kids, adults, pets, and wildlife are exposed.

For more, check out Beyond the War on Invasive Species: A Permaculture Approach to Ecosystem Restoration by Orion and Holmgren, 2015.

## Local Energy Rules!

As John Farrell says, Keep your energy local. If you want to take back control of your democracy, a priority is taking back control of your energy supply. Centralized energy centralizes political power and influence.

Listen to more from a recent podcast:

There are now 52 podcasts about the primacy of local energy at ILSR.

## Erin Gallagher’s “#QAnon network visualizations”

### See her most excellent blog post, a delve into true Data Science.

###### (Click on figure to see a full-size image. It is large. Use your browser Back Button to return to this blog afterwards.)

Hat tip to Bob Calder and J Berg.

## On lamenting the state of the Internet or Web

From time to time, people complain about the state of the Internet or of the World Wide Web. They are sometimes parts of governments charged with mitigating crime, sometimes privacy advocates, sometimes local governments or retails lamenting loss of tax revenues, sometimes social crusaders charging it with personal isolation, bullying, vice, and other communal maladies.

Certain people have made the pointing out of Web ills their principal theme. Jaron Lanier has long done so, and has written many books on the matter. Cathy O’Neill is a more recent critic, not only of the Web but of businesses which employ it and other data collecting mechanisms to mine imperfectly and abuse their intrinsically imperfect pictures for profit.

Others have underscored the effects of what is predominantly sampling bias. The thing about that is this should be no surprise. What is a surprise is the companies involved don’t see and respond to this as the statistical problem it is. How representative a sample actually is of a population of interest is perhaps the key question in any statistical study. That these companies settle for samples of convenience rather than validated one shows they are practicing very weak data methods, no matter how many people with doctorates are associated with these projects.

There is also the criticism from Professor Lawrence Lessig who understood early the social and legal ramifications of how the Internet and Web are built, particularly in such incisive books as Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace,
Code: Version 2.0
, and Remix. In Code: Version 2.0 Lessig continued and reemphasized the warnings issued in Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace that given the way the Internet and Web were technically structured and funded, the idea of a free market of ideas was slipping away and it was becoming more regulable, more subject to influence by a few big groups, and the user-as-product problem with which Powazek, among others, has taken issue.

Perhaps Lessig has come closest to it, but what the audience of these critics should understand is that the shortcomings they articulate are inherently implied by the technical design of the Internet and Web as they are. The Internet and Web at the experiential level are constructed using the Big Ball Of Mud design anti-pattern. Accordingly, as when any ball of wet mud is subjected to sufficiently large outside forces, it deforms, and becomes arbitrary shapes. Given their present size, however, such deformation is having big social implications, whether China’s aggressive censorship, or foreign influences of United States elections, probably from Russia, or sales of private user data, whether wittingly or not, by large Internet presences.

The thing of it is, there were people who thought carefully and long about how such all-connecting networks should operate and devised specific and careful design principles for them. While there were several (see history), one of the least known, particularly today, is Theodor Holm Nelson. “Ted” Nelson conceived of a non-anonymous network of producers and consumers of content whereby, through a technical device he termed transclusion (coined in Literary Machines), readers would make micropayments to reader or otherwise access content produced by others, with the bulk of these going as compensation to producers and some used for managing the network apparatus. This was termed Xanadu and Nelson and colleagues made several attempts to realize it and several technically related and useful ideas.

This is a difficult problem. Such a structure, if it is not to be defeated or subjugated, needs mechanisms for this built into its technical structure, along with a strong authentication (public key cryptography?) built into it to both prevent theft and identify the party both sending and accepting payments and content. The Internet and Web grew up and grow in a combination of deliberate and careful crafting with haphazard, business-driven choices. Just study how companies operating their innards are paid, and how it got that way. Imposing a rigorous design would make growth expensive, slow, and difficult, demanding a large number of readers and consumers before there was anything to read. Accordingly, Xanadu not only didn’t happen, it couldn’t happen.

However, look where the Internet and Web are now? Spam, malicious attacks, election interference, theft of credit card information, identity theft, viruses, cryptocurrency-driven consumption of excess electrical energy, tracking of individuals by their phones, targeted advertising are some of the places we’ve gone.

What’s intriguing to me is the possibility that Ted Nelson was right all along, and the kind of careful design he had in mind for Xanadu may one day become necessary if the Internet and Web are to survive, and not just splinter into a hundred subsidiary networks each controlled by the biggest Local Thug, whether that is a government or telecommunications giant. Nelson himself believes we can still learn many things from Xanadu.

So, in many senses, the Internet and Web did not have to be the way they are. There were other, better ideas. In fact, considering that, and considering what we’re doing to Earth’s climate through our unmitigated worship of Carbon and growth, if humanity ever needs an epitaph, I think it ought to be:

## “Space, climate change, and the real meaning of theory”

##### (From The New Yorker, 17th August 2016, by the late former astronaut Dr Piers Sellers)

Excerpt from “Space, climate change, and the real meaning of theory”:

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The facts of climate change are straightforward: there’s been a warming surge over the past hundred years, with a dramatic uptick in this new century. We are seeing the effects in the shrinking of the summer Arctic sea ice and the melting of the Greenland glaciers. That melt, in turn, has been partly responsible for the three-inch rise in sea levels since 1992. The Earth is warming, the ice is melting, and sea level is rising. These are observed facts.

Are we humans the cause of these changes? The answer is an emphatic yes. Many climate-research groups around the world have calculated the various contributions to climate change, including those not related to humans, like volcanic ash. It has been shown repeatedly that it is just not possible to explain the recent warming without factoring in the rise in anthropogenic greenhouse gases. If you left the increase in carbon dioxide out of your calculations, you would see a wobbly but, on average, level temperature trend from the eighteen-nineties to today. But the record—the reality—shows a steeply rising temperature curve which closely matches the observed rise in carbon dioxide. The global community of climate scientists, endorsed by their respective National Academies of Science or equivalents, is solid in attributing the warming to fossil-fuel emissions. Humans are the cause of the accelerating warming. You can bet your life—or, more accurately, your descendants’ lives—on it.
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Newton’s ideas, and those of his successors, are all-pervasive in our modern culture. When you walk down a street, the buildings you see are concrete and steel molded to match theory; the same is true of bridges and machines. We don’t build different designs of buildings, wait to see if they fall down, and then try another design anymore. Engineering theory, based on Newton’s work, is so accepted and reliable that we can get it right the first time, almost every time. The theory of aerodynamics is another perfect example: the Boeing 747 jumbo-jet prototype flew the first time it took to the air—that’s confidence for you. So every time you get on a commercial aircraft, you are entrusting your life to a set of equations, albeit supported by a lot of experimental observations. A jetliner is just aluminum wrapped around a theory.

Climate models are made out of theory. They are huge assemblies of equations that describe how sunlight warms the Earth, and how that absorbed energy influences the motion of the winds and oceans, the formation and dissipation of clouds, the melting of ice sheets, and many other things besides. These equations are all turned into computer code, linked to one another, and loaded into a supercomputer, where they calculate the time-evolution of the Earth system, typically in time steps of a few minutes. On time scales of a few days, we use these models for weather prediction (which works very well these days), and, on longer time scales, we can explore how the climate of the next few decades will develop depending on how much carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere. There are three items of good news about this modelling enterprise: one, we can check on how well the models perform against the historical record, including the satellite data archive; two, we can calculate the uncertainty into the predictions; and three, there are more than twenty of these models worldwide, so we can use them as checks on one another. The conclusions drawn from a careful study of thousands of model runs are clear: the Earth is rapidly warming, and fossil-fuel burning is the principal driver.

But theories are abstract, after all, so it’s easy for people to get tricked into thinking that because something is based on theory, it could very likely be wrong or is debatable in the same way that a social issue is debatable. This is incorrect. Almost all the accepted theories that we use in the physical and biological sciences are not open to different interpretations depending on someone’s opinion, internal beliefs, gut feelings, or lobbying. In the science world, two and two make four. To change or modify a theory, as Einstein’s theories modified Newton’s, takes tremendous effort and a huge weight of experimental evidence.
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Dr Piers Sellers space flight experience.

Dr Piers Sellers in Greenland:

We need more knowledge in and of Space and Earth, not more force.

## Love means nothing, without understanding, and action

Can’t get enough of this video. It may be a corporate, Ørsted promotion, but it is beautiful.

And I continue to believe, that, as the original sense of the corporation, or benefit society suggested, contrary to (U.S.) popular progressive belief, corporations can be agencies for good.

The place we all call home needs love, but love means nothing — without action.

## big generation day … first complete with WSS II online

Our additional 3.45 kW solar PV is up and generating today, collecting substantial numbers of photons (500 kWh) by 0800 ET.

###### (Click on figure to see a larger image and use browser Back Button to return to blog.)

It’s a good thing! Today is a peak day! At present we are using 1.3 kW for cooling and general house stuff, and generating 9.5 kW, in net pushing 8.2 kW to help our non-solar neighbors to cool their homes without Eversource needing to supply them.

See here and here to follow these data series yourself.

## +10 PV panels! Now at 13.45 kW nameplate capacity

In addition to our 10.0 kW PV generation, we just added an additional 3.45 kW, via 10 additional SunPower X21-345 panels. The new panels are tied to a separate SolarEdge inverter, an SE3800H-US. (The older inverter is an SE10000A-US. The old panels are also X21-345s.) These were all designed and installed by RevoluSun of Burlington, MA. (They are great.)

Here’s are some photographs of the panels, with the new ones marked:

We also got consumption monitoring with the new inverter, although that’s not yet set up in my software.

Overall, the layout now looks like:

Inside, the inverters look like:

This additional increment is intended to offset our air source heat pump hot water heater and especially the charging of our Chevy Volt.

## typical streamflow series, and immersive Science

What is that impulse in streamflow actually about? How typical is it? How frequently has it happened in past? How often will it reoccur? What are it’s implications for floodplain planning?

There’s been a bit of discussion, here and there, about what we should or can expect the electorate of a representative democracy to know about Science. Surely, there’s “school learnin”’, and that’s valuable, but some of the most meaningful interactions with Science come from an individual’s experience of it, in vivo if you will. I recently described, in a comment at a blog how certain experiments as an undergraduate Physics student meant an awful lot to me, even if I had mastered the theory in a book. These were emotional connections. Sure, I had been prepared for this, and had already exhibited some kind of emotional commitment in my desire to remain up, late at night, our in winter, in the cold, in order to observe various stellar things, as part of a local Astronomy club. It’s hand in hand: You can’t do decent amateur Astronomy in New England except in frigid winter, because of the Summer humidity and the associated skyglow from places like Providence and Boston. I’m sure it’s worse now. Going deep north in New England is a help, and I’ve sometimes wondered why people there haven’t tried to capitalize on that.

But, I digress.

There’s something about this, whether it’s streamflow measurements, or taking your own weather measurements at home, or amateur Astronomy which bonds a body to the phenomena and to the process of knowing.

The Web and Internet interactions, despite offering superior measurement technology, never quite replace this experience. There is, I think, something to be argued for this kind of immersive experience in Science.

Maybe they don’t. Most people don’t. On the other hand, there’s little more to them than understanding skeet, realizing aiming where the clay pigeon is now is a useless tactic for hitting it. Aim where the pigeon will be is more useful.

Consider one Massachusetts state Representative Thomas Golden, present House Chair of the Telecommunications, Energy and Utilities Committee. During an SOS Climate Disaster: Vigil & Rally on 26th July 2018, addressed the assembled and the public, saying “The Climate Crisis is not an emergency, only a ‘situation.”’

Perhaps he believes that.

Then again, perhaps he is being disingenuous and simply saying, instead, This is not my problem. This is someone else’s problem. I can only respond to what I see. Why might that be disingenuous? Because any child knows there are optimal points to push a swing to kick it higher. If a forest fire is going to consume an island, it’s not effective or even useful to wait until the island is half consumed to act.

Even a rudimentary understanding of causation implies delays are important and a consequence of it.

University of Massachusetts, Boston and their Sustainable Solutions Laboratory has been commissioned to tell leadership what they see. They are apparently not listening, choosing to go with the short term easy road of insubstantial, pretended actions.

This is not anything new. If a leader doesn’t know how to deal with it, they should ask someone who does, unless, of course, Representative Golden, you really want to be a Champion of Ignorance.

## “The Unchained Goddess”, Bell Science Hour, 1958

A tad nostalgic, for the day where humanity could have stopped a bunch of harm from climate change. Also, although from a STEM perspective, the entire show is worthwhile, only the last seven minutes are pertinent to climate change. Moreover, they address it in a flippant kind of way. I’d say this is not a definitive presentation.

Still, collectively, maybe we deserve what’s going to happen, even if those most responsible are likely to dodge the harm of the early repercussions. But, eventually, they or their children or their grandchildren will feel the full wrath of their poor choices.

The physical, material world does not read or believe in that misleading, pathetic thing, called the Bible.

Yeah, I’m an atheist. Better (or worse?), a physical materialist and a humanist. And all I’ve learned and been taught about Christianity suggests to me it is a fundamental charade. Buddhism is better, but it has its problems.

But I mostly abhor the sense of domination people have had over other species, something I think is at root representative of all that is ill with humanity, in its ignorance of its tiny place in the Universe. If want to hear more of that perspective, I advise Carl Sagan’s dramatic, narrated video.

## On Records

This is a reblog from Eli Rabett, one of the post On Records, with additional comments and material from the author-moderator of this blog, 667-per-cm.net:

A distinguishing mark of a new record in a time series is that it exceeds all previous values another is that the first value in a time series is always a record.

Given a stationary situation with nothing except chance, aka natural variation, the number of new records should decline to zero, or pretty close, as the series extends in time.
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###### (Click on figure to get a larger image, and use browser Back Button to return to blog.)

The above is from:

S. I. Seneviratne, R. Wartenburger, B. P. Guillod, A. L. Hirsch, M. M. Vogel, V. Brovkin, D. P. van Vuuren, N. Schaller, L. Boysen, K. V. Calvin, J.n Doelman, P. Greve, P. Havlik, F. Humpenöder, T. Krisztin, D. Mitchell, A.r Popp, K. Riahi, J. Rogelj, C.-F.h Schleussner, J. Sillmann, E. Stehfest, Climate extremes, land–climate feedbacks and land-use forcing at 1.5°C'', Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 2nd April 2018, $\texttt{DOI: 10.1098/rsta.2016.0450}$.

While Seneviratne, et al approach the estimates with a deeper and far more nuanced analysis, it’s been known that as the globe warms, land will warm faster:

And the travesty and tragedy are we’ve known about this a damn long time and have done nothing:

That’s from 1958.

H. D. Matthews, K. Zickfeld, R. Knutti, M. R. Allen, Focus on cumulative emissions, global carbon budgets and the implications for climate mitigation targets'', Environmental Research Letters, January 2018, 13(1).

## CO2 efficiency as a policy concept

I listened to the following talk, featuring Professor Kevin Anderson, who I have mentioned many times here before:

While I continue to be hugely supportive of distributed PV as an energetic and democratic solution, as inspired by John Farrell at ILSR, there is something to be said, in my thinking, for migrating a version of electrical energy efficiency to the CO2 realm. What does that mean?

What it means is choosing to not use a kWh of electrical energy, or a kJ (kiloJoule) when one could. It also means being sensitive to energy intensity. Sure, if I drive to the store up the street, or I walk to the store up the street, the point is that I get me from here to there and back. But the overhead and speed of using the automobile, in contrast with walking or using a bicycle or taking the electrical streetcar that runs down the route is so much higher than do any of those, is something where I, as a responsible member of a climate sensitive society, need to properly evaluate the value of my personal time against polluting The Commons.

Unfortunately, the technological Zeitgeist is to fix all these problems by slathering on additional techno-fixes, and justifying them with techno-casuistry so the lifestyles are preserved. I’m suggesting that a full systems analysis suggests little beats simply choosing to slow down and not use the energy to save time or feed a personal impatience to begin with.

This is worth a look at, both for practical and personal reasons. I, for instance, as a matter of personal discipline, always cross walks at corners now only when the urban lightings permit me to do so.

One of the most interesting things about the MIP ensembles is that the mean of all the models generally has higher skill than any individual model.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all models are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creators with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are a DOI, Runability and Inclusion in the CMIP ensemble mean. Well, not quite. But it is Independence Day in the US, and coincidentally there is a new discussion paper [cite ref=(Abramowitz et al)]10.5194/esd-2018-51[/cite] (direct link) posted on model independence just posted at Earth System Dynamics. …

Source: Model Independence Day

## These are ethical “AI Principles” from Google, but they might as well be technological principles’

### Objectives

1. Be socially beneficial.
2. Avoid creating or reinforcing unfair bias.
3. Be built and tested for safety.
4. Be accountable to people.
5. Incorporate privacy design principles.
6. Uphold high standards of scientific excellence.
7. Be made available for uses that accord with these principles. (See important additional explanation at the primary source.)

### Verboten

1. Technologies that cause or are likely to cause overall harm.
2. Weapons or other technologies whose principal purpose or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people.
3. Technologies that gather or use information for surveillance violating internationally accepted norms.
4. Technologies whose purpose contravenes widely accepted principles of international law and human rights.