Rationalists, wearing square hats,
Think, in square rooms, 
Looking at the floor,
Looking at the ceiling.
They confine themselves
To right-angled triangles.
If they tried rhomboids, 
Cones, waving lines, ellipses--
As, for example, the ellipse of the half-
Rationalists would wear sombreros.

-- Wallace Stevens, "Six Significant Landscapes"
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dead bodies vs economic integrity

From The Financial Times.

Posted in pandemic, population biology, population dynamics, SARS-CoV-2 | Leave a comment

“A Matter of Degrees”

A Matter of Degrees” is a new climate change mitigation podcast, created and produced by Drs Katharine Wilkinson and Leah Stokes.

The first episode, “Give up your climate guilt“, is auspicious.

Check it out.

Fair disclosure: I have been pretty negative about Project Drawdown of which Dr Wilkinson was and is a major participant. I specifically don’t buy the afforestation take, and I believe a lot of research has come out since describing and documentation those limits.

Posted in #sunrise, #youthvgov, Amory Lovins, being carbon dioxide, Carbon Cycle, climate activism, climate change, climate disruption, climate economics, climate mitigation, climate policy, global warming, liberal climate deniers | Leave a comment

Tesla 3 to Ithaca, NY and back

Claire and I visited my older son, Dave, and partner Mary Ellen in Ithaca, NY, over the weekend. Great trip with Tesla 3, supercharged all the way.

Glad we did not go farther afield:

An assortment of photos, from sailing on Canandaigua Lake, views of the north shore of Seneca Lake, looking out over Cayuga Lake from Cayuga Heights, shots at Taughannock Falls State Park near Ithaca, and Buttermilk Falls State Park, and a vid of Claire feeding chickens.

Posted in Autumn, New York State, Tesla | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Für alle ohne maske

h/t Professor Christian Robert.
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Opposing Canadian hydropower, an opposition which supports local renewables?

Ilana Cohen of the Pulitzer prize-winning Inside Climate News reports how some environmental activists in northern New England are concerned about the progress of tapping Canadian hydropower to feed the electrical needs of New England. Opposition is also voiced by Canadian indigenous communities. (See article.) One reason given by activists is

Sierra Club’s Atlantic Chapter has raised concerns around the use of carbon-intense fossil fuels by HydroQuébec to substitute for hydropower if the Canadian company deems it necessary to meet New England and New Yorkers’ electricity demand. The group also warned that reliance on Canadian hydropower “would undercut financial incentives for developing local, distributed energy” as an alternative to fossil fuels.

(Emphasis added.)

That’s all well and good, Mr Sierra, but what if there’s local opposition to the “local, distributed energy” you seek for reasons similar to why hydropower has been opposed? Sure, New England needs zero Carbon energy. Fossil and nuclear generation is closing. Without rapid build-out local sources, particularly big solar farms and batteries, New England will back into the arms of natural gas generation or Canadian hydropower.

So, if northern environmentalists really want to see this happen, I recommend they contact their New England — and, in this case, eastern Massachusetts counterparts — and suggest they get with making the necessary trade-offs. These not only include solar farms in suburbs, but liberalized rules for placing solar PV on homes and on ground mounts in yards, and better solar access legislation which gives homeowners a right and priority to solar, over public or neighbor’s trees, for example, whether or not there are wetlands. And it also might support land-based wind turbines. Why not?

Otherwise the outcome will be a perfect division of environmental objectives, something which could have been orchestrated by carefully placed donations and whispers from an arch-enemy of the natural world like the Koch Brothers machine. And the result will be more natural gas burning and more pipelines.

A planned approach is the reason why I think ecomodernism is the way to go. And that’s the realm of technocrats. And, yes, I think that’s a good idea.

Posted in an ignorant American public, an uncaring American public, being carbon dioxide, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, bridge to nowhere, carbon dioxide, cliamate mitigation, climate business, climate disruption, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Cult of Carbon, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, development as anti-ecology, distributed generation, ecocapitalism, Ecology Action, ecomodernism, electrical energy storage, electricity, electricity markets, emissions, energy utilities, fossil fuel divestment, fossil fuel infrastructure, gas pipeline leaks, global warming, greenhouse gases, Hermann Scheer, indigenous peoples, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, liberal climate deniers, local generation, local self reliance, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, mitigating climate disruption, Nathan Phillips, natural gas, regulatory capture, rights of the inhabitants of the Commonwealth, science denier, solar democracy, solar domination, solar energy, solar power, solar revolution, sustainability, sustainable landscaping, the green century, the right to be and act stupid, the tragedy of our present civilization, utility company death spiral, zero carbon | 1 Comment

Solar PV, Agriculture, and Enhancing Pollinator Habitats



Stephen Herbert, professor of agriculture at UMass Amherst, right, shows farmer Pat Canonica of Boxford how raised solar panels allow for the land underneath to remain in agriculture as vegetable gardens Aug. 31, 2017 at the UMass Crop and Animal Research and Education Center in South Deerfield.
Posted in agrivoltaics, agroecology, decentralized electric power generation, solar democracy, solar domination, solar energy, solar power, solar revolution, zero carbon | Leave a comment

“Charlie, the jogger, the killer, and the journalist” — Xi’an’s Og

I was deeply angered when I heard of this atrocity, to the degree that I had tears in my eyes. It was bad enough when Salman Rushdie had to go into hiding and adopt elusiveness as a lifestyle for the crime of publishing stories and having a fatwa drawn against him, but this attack stands as an offense against Western values, notably comic satire, and against rationality itself.

The loss of the actuality of Charlie Hebdo if not its memory is sufficient reason to mourn.

As I write atop this blog:

I live and die as a being of reason or I have no reason for being.

From Xi’an’s Og

The trial of the suspects of the Charlie Hebdo killings of 7 January 2015 (and of the subsequent days) has started several weeks ago, involving people accused of helping the main culprits, who died on 9 January. In the long flow of witnesses and victims, a case remains a mystery, the shooting of a random […]

Charlie, the jogger, the killer, and the journalist — Xi’an’s Og

Update, 2020-10-18

A day of mourning, by Xi’an, including quote from Salman Rushdie.
Posted in humor, rationality, reason, satire | Leave a comment

“Babbage: Pandemic’s progress”

From \text{\texttt{Babbage}} at The Economist, a podcast episode:

Pandemic’s progress

Sep 23 2020 28 mins

As the global covid-19 death toll nears 1 million, The Economist’s healthcare correspondent and health policy editor explain what scientists are still investigating about the virus, how long-lasting is the immune response and how the pandemic can be tamed. And, the model of Taiwan—is it “post-pandemic”? Kenneth Cukier hosts.

Brought to you by Podcast Addict, my favorite pod wrangling tool.

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Opposition to solar PV field at new Hanlon-Deerfield school, Westwood, MA

(Updated 2020-10-07, 17:36)

This is sometimes was called the “Shuttleworth Solar Field Project”.

In addition to building a combined pair of schools on Town of Westwood property, there is a proposal for building a 2 MW solar array on adjacent land, some of which has trees. There will be 11.4 acres of trees removed, with up to 2 acres needing to be removed to accomodate the school itself.

This array, after capacity factor considerations, will generate 2.46 GWh of electricity per year, with a production rate of about 216 MWh per acre per year, and will offset emissions of 590 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Below shows the general area. The school expansion will replace the existing Hanlon school:

There is opposition. Some concerned loss of Carbon sequestration, but that’s negligible in loss of 12 acres of trees:


The remaining opposition is a little mixed, having to do with Town of Westwood politics and administration, but there is opposition to the solar array as an “industrial facility”, including claims which are egregiously false, coming from out of date and questionable sources. More on that below. To see the particulars, here’s the text of a related petition being circulated for signature, in its entirety. I have added emphasis to one paragraph.

Reconsider Location of Solar Field Project

To: Members of the Select Board, Members of the Planning Board, Christopher Coleman Town Administrator, Open Space and Recreation Plan Committee, Thomas Philbin Westwood Energy Manager
CC: Westwood School Committee Members, Emily Parks Westwood Superintendent,

Regarding: Installation plan for Solar Field at Shuttleworth location

To whom it may concern,

Recent information about the plan for the installation of a solar field at the Shuttleworth land location has led to a large concern and discussion among Westwood residents. We are asking you to reconsider this project and allow the town residents to have a say in whether this project should proceed in the currently proposed location of Shuttleworth Field.

Our concerns stem from 3 main areas;

1. The clearing of an additional ~12 acres of established trees and wooded area

While we appreciate the Town of Westwood’s focus on renewable energy, we feel that the carbon offset and cost savings that the installation of a solar field on the Shuttleworth property provides, does not adequately justify the destruction of established growth forests and wildlife habitats. We are not disputing the benefit of solar energy, it is the location and the destruction of forests and wildlife habitat that are of concern here. We would ask that instead, other areas (building rooftops, already cleared areas) should be considered for the installation of solar panels.

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources “strongly discourages locations that result in significant loss of land and natural resources, including farm and forest land, and encourages rooftop siting, as well as locations in industrial and commercial districts, or on vacant, disturbed land. Significant tree cutting is problematic because of the important water management, cooling, and climate benefits trees provide.” (“Model Zoning for the Regulation of Solar Energy Systems”, Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs December 2014).

There are also concerns about the production of toxic wastes, including coolants, antifreeze, rust inhibitors, and heavy metals, that can affect wildlife adjacent to or far from the location of the facility (Abbasi and Abbasi 2000).

The town is already committed to the highly vetted Elementary School Building project which will utilize approximately 9 acres of the Shuttleworth property. The town determined this project to be an acceptable and valuable way to use this land when community members voted to allocate significant funds for the project at the 2018 Town Meeting, knowing that Shuttleworth Field would be a potential site for the new school. Fully clearing an additional 12 acres in the same area for a Solar Field would have an unacceptable and negative impact on the environment as well as having a negative impact on the new elementary building which was not designed to be near an industrial solar field, but rather is intended to be a “school in the woods”.

The community has not had the opportunity to vet the solar field project or to understand the environmental or potential health impacts of a solar field. No environmental impact studies have been presented to the community.

2. Possible Loss of Millions of dollars in state funding for New School Building Project

It was discussed in the Select Board meeting on July 13th and indicated in the “Solar Power In Westwood Municipal and School Facilities” presentation that the land would be transferred to the School Department and the solar field and the Hanlon school project would be linked. That transfer of land would require a vote at town meeting. This left most citizens believing, incorrectly, that they would have an opportunity to hear more and have a say in the matter at town meeting and also that the Solar Field had become a new component of the School Building Initiative.

In the August presentation deck “SOLAR POWER IN WESTWOOD MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL FACILITIES Thomas Philbin Westwood Energy Manager August 2020” there is no further discussion of a land transfer. Instead the next steps indicate, “Approval by Select Board to proceed with Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and land lease that Ameresco can proceed with: a. Design Approval by Eversource b. Town of Westwood Planning Board site plan review”. There is nothing indicating that the plan will be vetted with the community and in the absence of a land transfer, there is no requirement that the Select Board bring this to town meeting for a vote. Nothing in the presentation deck addresses any of these changes or the removal of the School District as a partner.

This has created confusion among residents. There is concern that residents may now believe that the Solar Field and School Project are linked and that they will mistakenly undermine the school project in their efforts to stop the solar field. The town is on track to receive millions of dollars in state funding for the new school building. For comparison sake, the Solar Field is expected to save the town $70,000 a year. Even if we received a conservative $10 million in funding for the new school from the MSBA, we would have to run the solar field for approximately 140 years to reap the same financial benefit from the solar field as the state support for our new building. The town simply can not afford to lose state funding for the School Building due to the confusion that has been created in the absence of effective communication.

3. The rights of the town members to vote on this project

We elect the members of the Select Board, the Planning Board, and the other committees in town to serve as our representatives and to look out for the best interest of Westwood. We also expect regular two way communication so that our elected officials understand the pulse of the community. Many of us have feel strongly that there has been weak public outreach and general lack of transparency for the solar field project. To the best of our knowledge there was no effort made to reach out to stakeholders, including the School Committee, townspeople who use the impacted trails and land, or taxpayers in general.

The current project that the Select Board is looking to initiate does not support the ideals of the town of Westwood residents to develop land prudently and judiciously and does not provide sufficient benefit to warrant the destruction of established woods and wildlife habitat.

We urge you to examine the impact the solar field project would have on our town and our families and reconsider it in its current proposed location. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Concerned residents of Westwood

Twitter – @SaveShuttlewor1

Model Zoning for the Regulation of Solar Energy Systems – Department of Energy Resources Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. December 2014. https://www.mass.gov/doc/model-solar-zoning

Abbasi SA Abbasi N. 2000. The likely adverse environmental impacts of renewable energy sources. Applied Energy 65: 121–144

That article is included below as a PDF. It makes reference to two others, one by Harte & Jassby (1978), also included below, and another key one by Siddayao (1993) which is not publicly available.



They are old, and some of the claims regarding environmental effects of solar PV arrays are simply not applicable to modern solar PV.

In any case, where this was circulated, in an e-democracy.org forum called “Westwood Neighbors, I put in two comments, both of which are reproduced below. They remain in moderation as of 18:30 23:39 on 29th September 2020, despite having been submitted 3 hours ago. (The moderators are, of course, volunteers.)

The first comment challenged the facts in the emphasized paragraph above:

I’d like to object to the text of the petition on some points of information, specifically the paragraph that reads:

There are also concerns about the production of toxic wastes, including coolants, antifreeze, rust inhibitors, and heavy metals, that can affect wildlife adjacent to or far from the location of the facility (Abbasi and Abbasi 2000).

Firstly, both Abbasi and Abbasi (2000), and the primary references upon which they rely (Harte, 1978 and Siddayao, 1993) are old and entirely speculative papers, not having the benefit of having actual solar energy systems to assess. Harte (1978) does no calculations, and simply declares a comparison. The Siddayao report cannot be criticized, because individuals cannot obtain access to it. (It’s only available to institutions who subscribe to the World Bank eLibrary.) Indeed, we don’t know what it says.

Second, no matter, actual, modern PV systems have no coolants, have no antifreeze, have no rust inhibitors, and some manufacturers use no heavy metals, e.g., SunPower,


Also, panels are pretty well sealed so it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where these could leak out or rust, so whoever the manufacturer is, the claim about affecting wildlife is egregiously false.

Claire and I opted for SunPower panels on our home because of their sustainability record. Also, technically, at the end of their life, our purchase contract says SunPower gets the panels back so they can recycle them.

Third, contrary to what’s implied in the statement from Massachusetts DEP that “…. loss of land and natural resources, including farm and forest land …”, solar panels are entirely compatible with farms and farming, albeit a new kind called agrivoltaics. See additional references below:

Smart solar installations don’t use pesticides. They use goats.

Fourth, it’s entirely possible to have solar farms coexist with and support pollinators:


That was one comment I made and, as shown, it objected to incorrect facts.

A second comment I made was an opinion, and it is based upon the unfairness of using wealthy (predominantly white) to consume electricity generated near neighborhoods of relatively less well off:

I just sent in a post questioning facts in the petition statement. In this post, I’d like to offer an opinion. Because it’s an opinion, I did not want to associate it with the other.

Specifically, I think it’s interesting that residents of wealthy suburban towns don’t want their views “spoiled” by appearance of solar PV farms. Surely the towns and residents use electricity.

Where does that electricity come from? Most of it comes from natural gas combustion and some from oil fired combustion. These are fed by pipelines and trucks.

And where are these plants located? Everett, Ludlow, Charlton, Blackstone, Bellingham. Billerica, Chelsea, Braintree. As fractions of the median household income of Westwood ($129,000, per Wikipedia), these have median household incomes of 0.38, 0.47, 0.72, 0.56, 0.62, 0.68, 0.37, and 0.63. The plants produce ACTUAL airborne and water pollution, and harm the families and children growing up there. Oh, and the people there have beautiful views of belching smokestacks.

Fair is fair. It’s time that people in suburbs began taking responsibility for the energy they consume, particularly now that it can be generated in a quiet and clean manner.

We’ll see where this goes.

On 5th October 2020, the Select Board of the Town of Westwood stopped the Shuttleworth solar project.

The Town is looking for other places to build solar farms. I wish them luck, and will support them, but, given the opposition to such in other towns in the area, I see an uphill fight.

See this more recent blog post regarding another aspect of this.


I’m not sure many in Westwood will believe me, but there are economic reasons for putting up solar fields, too, ones which go well beyond the revenue from electricity generation. As solar energy, broadly defined, comes to dominate electricity generation, and as electricity use expands, for transportation, for heating, for manufacturing, towns and homes without ample locally sourced and clean electrical energy will depreciate in value.  We are already seeing how homes with solar PV appreciate in worth when they sell, as documented by NREL and especially LBNLZillow says homes with solar panels sell for 4% more.

It is not difficult to imagine how, as the solar wave begins to dominate and distributed microgrids more the rule, towns and places to live which are self-reliant and “with it” are judged up-and-coming and more attractive to buy homes in and to live.

This is particularly important for Westwood, since nearly every towns around it has by-laws and programs to encourage development of solar. Soon the same will be true of battery storage.  Soon the same will be true of EVs versus ICE vehicles.  Noise ordinances could be tightened.  After all, you can buy electric motorcycles.

Above: Solar installations in the Town of Natick, Massachusetts.


The Town of Westwood school board has decided to sever the development of the Hanlon-Deerfield school from the solar project. While this does not necessarily foreclose on the solar project there, it makes it far less likely.

What “denouement” refers to, however, is the revelation I had while attending the

I attended the “Climate Cocktails” event at the
Climate Adaptation Forum, a combination of UMass Boston Sustainable Solutions Lab, and the Environmental Business Council of New England. I came away more depressed than I have been in years. In short, in addition to constraining solutions to global warming to not proceed until climate and environment justice issues are co-resolved, to providing jobs, and avoiding “industrial solutions” or supporting big corporations in their solution, now the environmental progressives of Massachusetts — and possibly New England — have decided that build-out of inherently less spatially dense zero Carbon energy ought not disturb natural ecosystems. The reason is not practical, but seems to be motivated by some kind of idealistic purity, but probably has a lot to do with the unpopularity of building solar farms and the like in wealthy suburbs, per the above.

Accordingly I despair for our being able to get these solutions deployed in time. It is especially discouraging because we have inexpensive answers in hand, and the opposition to deployment in fields and forests is not based upon biologic science but, rather, some kind of naturalistic aesthetic.

What this means, of course, is that as these are delayed we will continue to emit greenhouse gases from fossil fuels, coming primarily from natural gas, and this will demand additional gas plants and additional pipelines. Moreover, in the end, it will be additional nuclear power, and exceeding temperatures that are safe checkpoints in trying to curtail climate disruption. We cannot do it by 2050, let alone 2035, and 2070 is more likely the place we’ll land.

What this means, in the end, is that solutions for global industrial scale drawdown of CO2 from atmosphere will be necessary, and there is a dangerous place where solar radiation management (“SRM”) may be a tempting option. And this will mean +4C is the place we should be seriously thinking about, not +2C.

This is not understood or appreciated. Just as it is not understood and appreciated that planting a trillion trees won’t do the job, and won’t make a dent as long as those natural gas plants continue to spew their burnt byproducts.

In summary, this is a bad day for Massachusetts, New England, and, to the degree this is now the settled sentiment of climate activists, the world. If I were Greta Thunberg, I would be very worried. For activists, if they get their way, have just tied the hands of the people who can solve the problem.


It is also entirely possible that my perspective was disregarded in this forum because I’m an “old white guy”, steeped in engineering, maths, and science. That’s too bad. I have a lot to offer. And, in the sessions, I was told, essentially, that “data doesn’t matter”.

I wish these mirror images of the Republican Party and the Trumpists luck. They are going to need it.

Posted in agrivoltaics, American Solar Energy Society, an uncaring American public, being carbon dioxide, bridge to somewhere, Carbon Worshipers, climate activism, climate disruption, climate economics, climate justice, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, decentralized electric power generation, distributed generation, ecocapitalism, ecomodernism, ecopragmatism, fossil fuel divestment, greenhouse gases, Greta Thunberg, Hermann Scheer, investment in wind and solar energy, ISO-NE, John Farrell, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, local generation, NIMBY, On being Carbon Dioxide, Our Children's Trust, photovoltaics, solar democracy, solar domination, solar energy, solar power, solar revolution, Talk Solar, Tony Seba, Westwood | 1 Comment

“Mad as a Hatter” : Larkin Poe

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Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week

h/t Professor Christian Robert

Posted in Banned Books Week, Open Mind, The Freedom to Read | Tagged | Leave a comment

Peter Kane’s net positive energy, CO2-free custom built home

Posted in American Solar Energy Society, climate mitigation, climate policy, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, ecomodernism, energy storage, energy utilities, global warming, investment in wind and solar energy, keep fossil fuels in ground, Mark Jacobson, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, mitigating climate disruption, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Peter Kane, solar democracy, solar domination, solar energy, solar power, solar revolution, Talk Solar, technology, the green century, zero carbon | Leave a comment

Rebekah Jones

From Rebekah Joneskeynote at the Data Science for COVID-19:

Florida COVID Action

The COVID Monitor

Google COVID-19 Open Data Project

Posted in epidemiology, ethical ideals, ethics, Rebekah Jones, whistleblowing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

‘How a Plan to Save the Power System Disappeared’

Peter Fairley reports in The Atlantic:

A federal lab found a way to modernize the grid, reduce reliance on coal, and save consumers billions. Then Trump appointees blocked it.

“This article is a collaboration between The Atlantic and InvestigateWest.”

But a transformation of the world’s energy system to zero Carbon sources will come, whether the processes blessed by the Constitution of the United States want it to or not:

What the world needs:

(From M.Z.Jacobson, M.A.Delucchi, M.A.Cameron, et al)


The Earth is approaching 1.5°C global warming, air pollution kills over 7 million people yearly, and limited fossil fuel resources portend social instability. Rapid solutions are needed. We provide Green New Deal roadmaps for all three problems for 143 countries, representing 99.7% of world’s CO2 emissions. The roadmaps call for countries to move all energy to 100% clean, renewable wind-water-solar (WWS) energy, efficiency, and storage no later than 2050 with at least 80% by 2030. We find that countries and regions avoid blackouts despite WWS variability. Worldwide, WWS reduces energy needs by 57.1%, energy costs from $17.7 to $6.8 trillion/year (61%), and social (private plus health plus climate) costs from $76.1 to $6.8 trillion/year (91%) at a capital cost of ∼$73 trillion. WWS creates 28.6 million more long-term, full-time jobs than are lost and needs only 0.17% and 0.48% of land for footprint and space, respectively. Thus, WWS needs less energy, costs less, and creates more jobs than current energy.

Regarding the implied and possible inability of the Constitution of the United States being able to deal with this problem, here is an excerpt from my welcome at the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston, celebrating the judicial action and trial Juliana v United States:

For should the plaintiffs of Juliana fail, the last government branch, the judiciary, abdicates responsibility for solving this urgent problem. And so the Constitution will have failed one of its existential requirements: To provide for the common defense. For Nature has laws, too, and we have been breaking them for a long time, ever more intensely. But Nature does not have courts of grievance or redress. Nature just acts. In a catastrophic sea level rise, perhaps triggered by a collapse of a distant ice sheet, Moakley Courthouse itself, the land you stand on would be lost, and all that there [gesturing towards Boston inner harbor].

While disappointing, were Juliana to be overturned, this should not be a reason for despair. It would not mean the Constitution should be replaced. It would just mean it is useless for solving certain kinds of critically important problems. Its failure would imply the Constitution is becoming a dusty, old thing, irrelevant, like the Articles of Confederation are to us, a ceremonial relic. Let’s hope not.

There will be solutions for solving climate in any case, Constitution or not. They may well be horrifically expensive. And, while there’s no solution without first zeroing emissions, solutions will exist. These will lie beyond the Constitution, I hope Chief Justice Roberts and his colleagues understand the import of that.

Posted in Green New Deal, InvestigateWest, investment in wind and solar energy, Joseph Schumpeter, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, Mark Jacobson, Peter Fairley, The Atlantic | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘The virus is their new hoax’

And note that the variant of SARS-CoV-2 which has taken over the world is a more virulent, more damaging, and more infectious variant of the virus which infected Wuhan.

From the viruses’ perspective ….

Hoax. Yeah, right.

Hoax? Yeah, righhhhhhhht.

Posted in American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Statistical Association, an ignorant American public, climate disruption, coronavirus, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 | Leave a comment

Good news, and a beacon of progress, with hope for more to come

That’s Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google and Alphabet.

Ørsted : “Love your home”

Posted in afforestation, agrivoltaics, Alphabet, argoecology, Ørsted, being carbon dioxide, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, bridge to somewhere, Buckminster Fuller, carbon dioxide sequestration, climate change, climate disruption, climate education, climate mitigation, climate policy, ecocapitalism, ecomodernism, ecopragmatism, electricity, emissions, engineering, fossil fuel divestment, Global Carbon Project, global warming, global weirding, Green New Deal, greenhouse gases, keep fossil fuels in ground, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, Mark Jacobson, moral leadership, solar domination, solar energy, solar power, solar revolution, Sundar Pichai, sustainability, technology, the green century, wind energy, wind power, zero carbon | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

David Corliss on “Getting started in Data for Good”

Data for Good.

Statistics without Borders.


Posted in Data for Good, DataKind, Statistics without Borders | Leave a comment

Green New Deal Energy Plans for 143 Countries

Impacts of Green New Deal Energy Plans on Grid Stability, Costs, Jobs, Health, and Climate in 143 Countries

  • Mark Z. Jacobson
  • Mark A. Delucchi
  • Mary A. Cameron
  • Indu Priya Manogaran
  • Yanbo Shu
  • Anna-Katharina von Krauland


Global warming, air pollution, and energy insecurity are three of the greatest problems facing humanity. To address these problems, we develop Green New Deal energy roadmaps for 143 countries. The roadmaps call for a 100% transition of all-purpose business-as-usual (BAU) energy to wind-water-solar (WWS) energy, efficiency, and storage by 2050 with at least 80% by 2030. Our studies on grid stability find that the countries, grouped into 24 regions, can match demand exactly from 2050 to 2052 with 100% WWS supply and storage. We also derive new cost metrics. Worldwide, WWS energy reduces end-use energy by 57.1%, aggregate private energy costs from $17.7 to $6.8 trillion/year (61%), and aggregate social (private plus health plus climate) costs from $76.1 to $6.8 trillion/year (91%) at a present value capital cost of ∼$73 trillion. WWS energy creates 28.6 million more long-term, full-time jobs than BAU energy and needs only ∼0.17% and ∼0.48% of land for new footprint and spacing, respectively. Thus, WWS requires less energy, costs less, and creates more jobs than does BAU.

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Has maintaining economic growth been worth it?

From Our World in Data article “No sign of a health-economy trade-off, quite the opposite“.

Have the countries experiencing the largest economic decline performed better in protecting the nation’s health, as we would expect if there was a trade-off?

The chart here shows the same GDP data along the horizontal axis. Along the vertical axis is the cumulative number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths per million people.

Contrary to the idea of a trade-off, we see that countries which suffered the most severe economic downturns – like Peru, Spain and the UK – are generally among the countries with the highest COVID-19 death rate.

And the reverse is also true: countries where the economic impact has been modest – like Taiwan, South Korea, and Lithuania – have also managed to keep the death rate low.

Notice too that countries with similar falls in GDP have witnessed very different death rates. For instance, compare the US and Sweden with Denmark and Poland. All four countries saw economic contractions of around 8 to 9 percent, but the death rates are markedly different: the US and Sweden have recorded 5 to 10 times more deaths per million.

Clearly, many factors have affected the COVID-19 death rate and the shock to the economy beyond the policy decisions made by each government about how to control the spread of the virus. And the full impacts of the pandemic are yet to be seen.

Posted in coronavirus, COVID-19, economics, epidemiology, pandemic, policy metrics, politics, SARS-CoV-2 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment


Updated, 2020-08-31, 13:30 EDT

A bit of an apology … I was working to produce a couple of more blog posts and had hoped to have one out, reporting on the uncertainty clouds for the phase plane plots of COVID-19 deaths I had done earlier, but the Moirai intervened.

My 10 year old HP p6740f Pavilion Windows 7 Home Premium system has gone dark. I won’t recount the travails of the system in its death throes. I worked essentially all the business hours of two weeks to try to bring it back. It was a software death, but it did not directly have anything to do with a virus (hint: it began because the software update of an anti-virus and firewall product went badly awry), and it looked promising for a time. But, then, a side effect of a repair caused some driver complications, and then fixing that caused the system to become unbootable.

There is a replacement on order, but it won’t be here until 23rd September 2020. It’s a custom built Dell Precision 3630 Tower with Intel Core i7-9700K, 32 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD, NVIDIA Quadro RTX4000, 8GB.

I will be running Windows 10 64-bit, and mostly R.

So, apologies for the delay.

Meanwhile, I’m devoting the time to long overdue tooling of textbooks I’ve been wanted to get to do. I may post a write-up about an idea I got during the Data Science for COVID-19 Conference I attended yesterday. I need to develop it a bit first, though.

Update, 2020-08-31, 13:30 EDT

Since the above is a discussion of Which Machine/Which OS, I thought it appropriate to include a response I gave to an R mailing list when someone asked:

I need a new computer. have a friend who is convinced that I have an
aura about me that just kills electronic devices.

Does anyone out there have an opinion about Windows vs. Linux?

Here’s what I said. It records my experience.

This ends up being a pretty personal decision, but here's my advice.

I have used Windows of various flavors, and Linux in a couple of versions. I have also used four or five Unixen, in addition to Linux. I've never spent a lot of time using a Mac, although in many instances most of my colleagues at companies have. It's invariably a cubicle-like environment, so when they have problems, you know. I also have a Chromebook, which is what I am using to write this, and while awaiting the arrival of a new Windows 10 system.

I have used R heavily on both Windows and Linux. On Linux I used it on my desktop, and I still use it on various large servers, now via RStudio, before from the shell. In the case of the servers, I don't have to maintain them, although I sometimes need to put up with peculiarities of their being maintained by others. (I rarely have sudo access, and sometimes someone has to install something for me, or help me install an R package, because the configuration of libraries on the server isn't quite what R expects.)

My experience with Linux desktops is that they seem fine initially, but then, inevitably, one day you need to upgrade to the next version of Ubuntu or whatever, and, for me, then the hell begins. In the last two times I did it, even with help of co-workers, it was so problematic, that I turned the desktop in, and stopped using the Linux.

Prior to my last Linux version, I also seemed to need to spend an increasingly large amount of time doing maintanence and moving things around ... I ran out of R library space once and had to move the entire installation elsewhere. I did, but it took literally 2 days to figured it out.

Yes, if Linux runs out of physical store -- a moment which isn't always predictable -- R freezes. Memory is of course an issue with Windows, but it simply does what, in my opinion, any modern system does and pages out to virtual memory, up to some limit of course. (I always begin my Windows R workspaces with 16 GB of RAM, and have expanded to 40 GB at times.) I have just purchased a new Windows 10 system, was going to get 64 GB of RAM, but, for economy, settled on 32 GB. (I'm semi-retired as well.) My practice on the old Windows 7 system (with 16 GB RAM) was that I purchased a 256 GB SSD and put the paging file there. That's not quite as good as RAM, but it's much better than a mechanical magnetic drive. My new Windows 10 has a 1 TB SSD. I may move my old 256 GB SSD over to the new just as a side store, but will need to observe system cooling limits. The new system is an 8 core Intel I7.

Windows updates are a pain, mostly because they almost always involve a reboot. I *loved* using my Windows 7 past end of support because there were no updates. I always found Windows Office programs to be incredibly annoying, tolerating them because if you exchange documents with the rest of the world, some appreciable fraction will be Word and Excel spreadsheets. That said, I got rid of all my official Microsoft Office and moved to Open Office, which is fine. I also primarily use LaTeX and MikTeX for my own documents authored, and often use R to generate tables and other things for including in the LaTeX.

On the other hand, when using Linux, ultimately YOU are responsible for keeping your libraries and everything else updated. When R updates, and new packages need to be updated, too, the update mechanism for Linux is recompiling from source. You sometimes need to do that for Windows, and Rtools gives you the way, but generally packages are in binary form. This means they are independent of the particular configuration of libraries you have on your system. That's great in my opinion. And easy. Occasionally you'll find an R package which is source only and for some reason doesn't work with Rtools. Then you are sometimes out of luck or need to run the source version of the package, if it's supported, which can be slow. Sometimes, but rarely, source versions aren't supported. I have also found in server environments that administrators are sometimes sloppy about keeping their gcc and other things updated. So at times I couldn't compile R packages because the admin on the server had an out-of-date gcc which produced a buggy version.

Whether Linux or Windows, I often use multi-core for the Monte Carlo calculations I run, whether bootstraps, random forests, or MCMC. I have used JAGS quite a lot but I don't believe it supports multi-core (unless something has changed recently). I use MCMCpack and others.

The media support for Windows is much better than Linux. (At least Ubuntu now *has* some.) And it is work to keep Linux meda properly updated. Still, I don't use Windows Media Player, preferring VLC.

And there are a wealth of programs and software available for Windows.

No doubt, you need a good anti-virus and a good firewall. (Heck, I have that on my Google Pixel 2, too.) I'm moving to the McAfee subscription my wife has for other systems in the house.

Note, while R is my primary computational world, by far, I do run Anaconda Python 3 from time to time. It can be useful for preparing data for consumption by R, given raw files, many with glitches and mistakes. But with the data.table package and other packages in R, I'm finding that's less and less true. The biggest headache of Python is that you need to keep its libraries updated. I also have used Python some times just to access MATPLOTLIB. I prefer R, though, because, like MATLAB, its numerics are better than Python's NUMPY and SCIPY.

As I said, I don't know Mac at all well. But I do know that, when Mac released a new version, somehow the colleagues about me would often degenerate into a couple of days of grumbling and meeting with each other about how they got past or around some stumbling point when updating their systems. Otherwise people seem to like them a lot.

I think all operating systems are deals with the Devil. It's what you put up with and deal with.

As you can see, I opted to go the Windows route again, for probably the next 10 years.


Posted in Dell 3630 Tower, Windows 10, Windows 7 | 2 Comments

Origins of “modern” hypothesis testing

In their interesting article for CHANCE from July 2020, Debra Boka and Harold Wainer cite, in a footnote, that:

In 1710, Dr John Arbuthnot used the number and sex of christenings listed at the bottom of the Bills to prove the existence of God and, in the process,
invented modern hypothesis testing.

This is based upon:

Arbuthnot, J. 1710. An argument for Divine Providence taken from the Constant Regularity in the Births of Both Sexes. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 27, 186–190. London: The Royal Society.

It’s good to know that hypothesis testing and its extreme reduction, significance testing, had an origin in 1710 by invoking the Divine, and not a 1925 invention by Someone Else.

It also appears that Principle explaining the “equality of numbers of the sexes” named for the Someone, was anticipated by Arbuthnot a bit earlier.

Of course we credit Someone for inventing the term “Bayesian”, but he did not do it in tribute.

Posted in Bayesian, hypothesis testing, John Arbuthnot, Ronald W Fisher | Leave a comment

Professor Mark Z Jacobson on 100% zero Carbon energy, at North County Climate Change Alliance

With respect to some of the comments below the video:


Consumerwatchdog.org thinks that 100 million $ from ExxonMobil to fund Stanford and Mark Jacobsens research weakens public trust in his research results.


https://bit.ly/2YdPkmy This report at same site shows that the assertion was incorrect or based upon misunderstandings.


Suing an academic critic isn’t only wrong, it’s also unjust – critical article written by a group of highly regarded experts, Mark jacobson singled out and sued the only author who lacks the legal backing of an institutional employer. Atmospheric scientist and Stanford professor Mark Jacobson escalated an academic dispute out of the peer-reviewed literature and into the courtroom.


Well, because the criticism in PNAS was (a) uncharacteristic of criticism of any other paper there, (b) was rammed through at the last minute without warning, (c) amounted to effectively career and character assassination, and (d) eventually got set aside by independent groups of scholars. In fact, while they were not part of the critique paper in PNAS, some critics of Jacobson, Haegel, et al (2019, see above), came over after evidence over the next couple of years proved the Jacobson team correct.

Posted in carbon dioxide, clean disruption, CleanTechnica, climate change, climate disruption, climate economics, fossil fuels, global warming, investment in wind and solar energy, Mark Jacobson, solar democracy, solar energy, solar power, solar revolution, Tony Seba, wind energy, wind power, zero carbon | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Noam Chomsky wants you to vote for Joe Biden and then haunt his dreams”

At Ink.

You compare those forces, and it looks like, How could this even be a struggle? But that’s the wrong measure. There are people, and they make a difference.

We can go back to my favorite philosopher, David Hume. His Of the First Principles of Government, a political tract in the late 18th century, starts off by saying that we should understand that power is in the hands of the governed. Those who are governed, they’re the ones who have the power. Whatever kind of state it is, militaristic or more democratic, as England was becoming. The masters rule only by consent. And if consent is withdrawn, they lose. Their rule is very fragile.

I should say that today’s masters of the universe, as they modestly call themselves, understand this very well. Every January in Davos, the Switzerland ski resort, the great and powerful gather to go skiing, enjoy themselves, and congratulate each other on how wonderful they are. Top CEOs and media figures and entertainment figures and so on.

But this year was different. The theme was different. The theme was: We’re in trouble. The peasants are coming with their pitchforks. As they would prefer to put it, we’re facing “reputational risks. They’re coming after us. Our control is fragile. We have to provide a different message. So the message at Davos was: Yes, we realize we’ve done wrong things during this whole neoliberal period. You, the general population, have suffered. We understand that. We’re overcoming our mistakes. We’re now going to be committed to you, the stakeholders and working-class communities, we’re really committed to your welfare. We’re becoming deeply humanitarian. We regret our mistakes. You can put your faith in us. We’ll take over and work for your benefit.

Posted in politics | Leave a comment

Isaias and Oak Island, NC

h/t to Professor Rob Young, Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University, via LinkedIn.

Posted in coastal communities, coastal investment risks, coasts, hurricanes, Robert Young, shorelines | Leave a comment

Got ya!

Non-Tesla drivers seem not to know (or care?) that because of the capability to do self-driving, all Teslas have a constellation of cameras all about the vehicle. These not only operate while driving, they also monitor activity about Teslas when they are parked, and record extra footage whenever anything approaches the car. They also have some, ahem, creative anti-theft devices built in.

Well, I was returning from a grocery pick up this afternoon in our Tesla Model 3, using the curbside pickup service of Roche Brothers in West Roxbury, MA. Along Route 109 where it crosses Interstate 95, I moved into the right lane, since in Westwood, the left lane drops off. I was not really intending to pass the vehicle I did on the right. It’s just the speed I was going and the speed it was going. However, a little drama ensued as you can see below. This was grabbed off the recording of the Tesla dashcam.

I annotated the license plate, but it zips by pretty fast, so I grabbed it.

Posted in Tesla | Leave a comment

“Inferring change points in the spread of COVID-19 reveals the effectiveness of interventions”

J. Dehning et al., Science 369, eabb9789 (2020). DOI: 10.1126/science.abb9789

Source code and data.

Note: This is not a classical approach to assessing strength of interventions using either counterfactuals or other kinds of causal inference. Accordingly, the argument for the effectiveness of interventions is weaker than it might be.

Posted in American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Statistical Association, Bayesian, Bayesian computational methods, causal inference, causation, changepoint detection, coronavirus, counterfactuals, COVID-19, epidemiology, SARS-CoV-2, state-space models, statistical series, time series | Leave a comment

Larkin Poe Interview


Posted in Larkin Poe | Leave a comment

Indiara Safir: “Amazing Grace”, “Carlos & Maria”, “Time”

Posted in Blues, Indiara Safir | Leave a comment

Political and demographic associations with changes in COVID-19 rates at the tails

A few days ago, I wrote a post about poltical and demographic associations with changes in COVID-19 rates over all U.S. counties. Today, I’m augmenting that. For here, rather than considering all counties, I limited the study to counties with demonstrably large increases or decreases in COVID-19 prevalence.

Rather than working with 3083 counties, this works with 742 of them. Essentially the cutoff was that the response calculated had to exceed 7.02 in magnitude:

Two regressions were repeated. The first was a standard linear regression of response versus all the remaining predictors. The improvement in R^{2} compared with the linear regression done with the complete dataset was remarkable: Adjusted R^{2} was 0.47 rather than 0.16. The second was the random forest regression. Here, too, the improvement in R^{2} was substantial: 0.71 versus 0.54 previously.

Here’s the result of the linear regression:

And, while the number of variables selected in the importance screening did not change, the ones having a consistent (monotonic) effect did. Those contributing to an increase in COVID-19 became:

  • otherpres16
  • otherhouse16
  • hispanic_pct
  • PerCapitaDollars
  • PctChgFrom2017

Those contributing to a decrease in COVID-19 became:

  • repsen16
  • rephouse16
  • black_pct
  • clf_unemploy_pct
  • lesshs_pct
  • lesshs_whites_pct

Note, for contrast, the random forests regression based upon all the counties had those variables contributing to an increase being:

  • otherpres16
  • otherhouse16
  • hispanic_pct
  • PerCapitaDollars
  • PctChgFrom2017

The random forests regression based upon all the counties had these variables:

  • demhouse16
  • black_pct
  • clf_unemploy_pct
  • lesshs_pct
  • lesshs_whites_pct
  • trump.obama.ratio

contributing to a decrease in COVID-19 prevalence.

The current choices make more sense, in addition to being more statistically notable because of the increased R^{2}. But increase in Republican Senate and House support associated with decrease in COVID-19? Hmmmm.

Posted in Five Thirty Eight, Tamino | Leave a comment