“Industrial-era decline in subarctic Atlantic productivity”, by Osman, Das, et al


Marine phytoplankton have a crucial role in the modulation of marine-based food webs [1], fishery yields [2] and the global drawdown of atmospheric carbon dioxide [3]. However, owing to sparse measurements before satellite monitoring in the twenty-first century, the long-term response of planktonic stocks to climate forcing is unknown. Here, using a continuous, multi-century record of subarctic Atlantic marine productivity, we show that a marked 10 ± 7% decline in net primary productivity has occurred across this highly productive ocean basin over the past two centuries. We support this conclusion by the application of a marine-productivity proxy, established using the signal of the planktonic-derived aerosol methanesulfonic acid, which is commonly identified across an array of Greenlandic ice cores. Using contemporaneous satellite-era observations, we demonstrate the use of this signal as a robust and high-resolution proxy for past variations in spatially integrated marine productivity. We show that the initiation of declining subarctic Atlantic productivity broadly coincides with the onset of Arctic surface warming [4], and that productivity strongly covaries with regional sea-surface temperatures and basin-wide gyre circulation strength over recent decades. Taken together, our results suggest that the decline in industrial-era productivity may be evidence of the predicted [5] collapse of northern Atlantic planktonic stocks in response to a weakened Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation [6–8]. Continued weakening of this Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, as projected for the twenty-first century [9,10], may therefore result in further productivity declines across this globally relevant region.

(Emphasis added.)

Article about the investigation at WHOI.

The paper using a technique devised by Chaudhuri and Marron called SiZer.

There is an R package for it.

Hannig and Marron published a more recent article, and Marron has studied its applications extensively.

The figure below is from

N. J. Abram, et al, “Early onset of industrial-era warming across the oceans and continents”, Nature, 2016, 536, with corrigendum in 2017.

where SiZer is used in a geophysical application cited by Osman, Das, et al.

Posted in science | 1 Comment

I am joining up to support the local Green New Deal teams

As anyone who has read my posts here know, I have reservations regarding the Green New Deal, from its lack of specifics, its overly ambitious scope, and its settings of expectations for preventing climate harm which are misleading, because of damage already in the climate pipeline.

That said, like Bill Nye in the previous post, I cannot remain on the sidelines and do nothing.

So I’m jumping in, beginning with support of a Green New Deal Town Hall at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Dedham, Massachusetts, on 12th June. And I will help out organizing it.

That, my commitment as a solar revolutionary, and the upcoming course on “Climate Science for Climate Activists” I’m teaching is simply what I have to do.

“Because the place we all call home needs love, but love means nothing, without action.”

Posted in Anthropocene, Ørsted, being carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide, climate activism, climate change, climate disruption, climate economics, climate grief, Ecology Action, ecomodernism, ecopragmatism, ecopragmatist, Emily Shuckburgh, global warming, Green New Deal, Greta Thunberg, Humans have a lot to answer for, Hyper Anthropocene, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, solar domination, solar revolution | 2 Comments

Bill Nye, properly losing patience

Tamino has been here already. But this is a different view:


ClimateAdam, who I respect a lot, is critical of Bill Nye’s rant. My views on this are in a comment at his YouTube page.

Posted in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Anthropocene, Bill Nye, climate change, climate disruption, global warming, Hyper Anthropocene | 1 Comment

“Climate Science for Climate Activists”

I am planning to teach a course by this title online using the Zoom platform. I have a half dozen or so expressions of interest, but I wanted to put the outline up and in a place that can be accessed easily so people could have a look at it and see if they are interested. If you want to tune it, either:

Once I have this material, I’ll probably do it again. I don’t have any notion of a minimum class size, but I cannot accommodate more than 99 with my Zoom account. (Don’t think there’s much danger of that.) This is, of course, not for any kind of course credit.

The course, based upon Professor David Archer’s book and online course, Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast, and Professor Archer still has available a Coursera version. That course has enrollments, deadlines, etc.

The idea of the course is to introduce sufficient amounts of climate science into a UU and activist context so participants might be able to (1) discriminate among policy choices intelligently, (2) converse intelligently about the hows and whys of climate change, including being able to parry denier or warmist rhetoric, and (3) appreciate the marvel and beauty of the Earth system, with joy and awe.

Here’s an outline, one which I am continuing to develop and tweak. I have begun developing slides according to this. I still need to check those interested in the first round, but, tentatively, I’m thinking of a kickoff some time in early June 2019.

1. Overview and Why.
   1.1 "Fun and Awe"
       1.1 Continental shelf image, off Cape Cod. Our neighborhood, and a bit of history of science.
           1.1.1 Seamounts.
           1.1.2 Hotspots.
           1.1.3 Plate motion.
           1.1.4 A need for a sense of temporal scale.
       1.2 The Sverdrup as a unit of flow. 
           1.2.1 A need to be QUANTITATIVE
       1.3 The "Gulf Stream", a part of the AMOC and its flow. 
   1.2 Why _this_ course. 
       1.2.1 Now, and especially now, y'can't be an advocate for 
             climate action without understanding the science and 
             the engineering of climate change
       1.2.2 This course deals with the science. The engineering will
             need to be left to another day.
       1.2.3 It's my judgment that many climate and environmental 
             activists get the idea, however way they've gotten there, 
             but they do not have the details. This handicaps them, 
             both in being able to deal with the emotional 
             implications, and in being able to respond with judgments 
             about policy.
       1.2.4 After all, the idea of a representative democracy is
             in part that the electorate gains some understanding 
             of the problem at hand and expresses their take on 
             policy choices based upon that understanding.
       1.2.5 Climate and its science is too important to leave it 
             to others to understand, taking it on authority.
       1.2.6 I emphasize that, because if you want to go into 
             Professor Archer's course, online, or delve deeper 
             into Professor Pierrehumbert's course, I heartily 
             encourage you to do so. You can verify these things 
             for yourself, using your own calculations. That's how 
             Science works, or should work. 
   1.3 The sources and origin
       1.3.1 Prof David Archer, GLOBAL WARMING: UNDERSTANDING
             THE FORECAST
       1.3.2 Prof Ray Pierrehumbert, PRINCIPLES OF PLANETARY CLIMATE 
       1.3.3 B.S., Physics, 1974
       1.3.4 Courses in Geology and Geophysics, 1992-1994.
       1.3.5 Personal study since, lectures, online coursework, etc.
   1.4 Given talks before: https://bit.ly/2VIdGEE
   1.5 This course will be revised and will be repeated.
   1.6 I *like* the online format: Bigger reach, encouraging online 
       community, fewer greenhouse gas emissions for travel.
   1.7 Format and style is to circle around a few key ideas, diving 
       deeper on each revisit.
       1.7.1 Intended to reduce overload effect.
   1.7 HOMEWORK FOR THIS SECTION: Why are you taking the course? 
       What do you want to get from it?  
   1.8 There'll typically be some kind of Homework or Problem Set 
       given at end of each section, due by the start of the
       next.  The due date system is to give me a chance to look
       them over and comment. This communication and submission
       will be written and by email or attaching files. If you'd
       prefer some other submission mechanism in addition, let
       me know.
   1.9 Technical difficulties with ZOOM: I can help a bit with any
       connection or setup problems, but Zoom has excellent help 
       resources and an online chat. They also can, I believe, "look
       over your shoulder" on the ZOOM platform to see what might
       be the problem. I cannot. 
2. Heat, Light, Energy, Blackbody Radiation, and Atmospheric Transfers.
   2.1 Let's begin at the beginning: Energy transfer through a vacuum. 
       How does it happen?
       2.1.1 "Radiation".
       2.1.2 Stars, starshine, sunshine. 
       2.1.3 Matter as ensembles of musical instruments.
   2.2 What happens when radiation interacts with matter?
       2.2.1 Rocks in Space.
       2.2.2 White rocks in Space.
       2.2.3 Black rocks in Space. 
       2.2.4 Resonance and coupling
   2.3 Looking closely at molecules.
       2.3.1 Radiation energy interacting ("hitting") a molecule.
       2.3.2 Different kinds of molecules: O2, N2, CO2, CH4.
       2.3.3 Molecules as musical strings. 
       2.3.4 Coupled vibrations.
       2.3.5 What happens to sound if you open the front doors in a 
             big music hall?
   2.4 Other kinds of energy transfer
       2.4.1 Conduction: For instance, solid Earth
       2.4.2 Convection: For instance, ocean currents
   2.5 Blackbody radiation
       2.5.1 Why don't rocks in space melt?
       2.5.2 An application of Law of Conservation of Energy: Balance of energy flows
   2.6 Observations of greenhouse gases and Earthlight.
   2.7 HOMEWORK: 
       2.7.1 What do you think the average temperature of Earth's 
             surface would be if atmosphere was all Oxygen and Nitrogen 
             without trace gases or water?
       2.7.2 Given your answer to 2.4.1, what are some physical 
             implications of your answer?
       2.7.3 What would happen if water were present? Physical
       2.7.4 Suppose there were no oceans and, somehow, water was 
             tied up in the ground and did not flow. Apart from 
             desertification, what do you think the climate of Earth 
             would be like? I don't expect a definitive answer to this: 
             Just think on what you've learned in this section, and 
             reason through what might be the effects. That said, 
             by end of course you should be able to give a definitive
       2.7.5 It's been proposed that JATROPHA CURCAS (see Wikipedia) 
             be planted in arid regions because it does well there, 
             does not require care, and produces an oil which might be 
             usable as biofuel. Given what you've learned in this 
             segment, what might happen to climate if the deserts of 
             the U.S. Southwest and Saudi Arabia were completely 
             planted with JATROPHA?
3. A Simple Climate Model.
   3.1 Why models?
   3.2 We've already seen a simple climate model: The bare rock.
       3.2.1 Models as analogies. 
       3.2.2 Models as verifiable stories. 
   3.3 Layer models of atmosphere.
       3.3.1 Single layer, and energy balances. 
       3.3.2 Suppose there are two layers?
       3.3.3 How about 4 layers? 8 layers?
       3.3.4 Towards continuity
    We'll eventually see why the atmosphere 
                     doesn't fall out the sky two sections 
                     from now.
       3.3.5 Cross-sections, mean free paths, and how far a 
             photon can travel.
   3.4 Preparatory aside: On the variety of greenhouse gases.
   3.5 HOMEWORK:
       3.5.1 Maps as models. Is a map the real world? Can maps 
             be useful? What might make a particular map more or 
             less useful for a particular application or problem 
             than others?
       3.5.2 Planets as models. Mars' atmosphere is thin, even 
             though the proportion of Carbon Dioxide it has by volume 
             is higher. Venus' atmosphere is thick and the atmosphere 
             is almost entirely Carbon Dioxide. If the they 
             were placed at the Earth's distance from the Sun, if 
             their atmospheres were transparent (*), and they were 
             initialized at the same temperature, how would their 
              temperatures change over time?
                    [(*) Verbal clarification during lecture.]
       3.5.3 How do you think physical laws regarding Blackbody 
             Radiation were discovered?  It was codified by the same 
             Gustav Kirchhoff who gave us the laws of electric 
             circuits which are named for him. 
             Check out an original: 
4. The Steady Atmosphere and the Historical Role of Natural 
   Greenhouse Gases.
   4.1 Where does CO2 come from and where it goes: A dead simple 
       Carbon Cycle. 
       4.1.1 Respiration, in the most general sense, including 
             decay and plants.
    CH4 + 2O2 --> CO2 + 2H2O
       4.1.2 Volcanos and seeps.
       4.1.3 Important to understand these reservoirs and time scales 
             because otherwise accounting gets done wrong.
   4.2 Carbon Cycle balances and equilibration.
       4.2.1 Sources of CO2.
       4.2.2 Temporary sinks of CO2.
    Water at surface, oceans to 1000 meters
    People and their stuff
       4.2.3 Long term sinks of CO2.
    Forests (maybe)
    Deep oceans
    Calcium Carbonate in shells
    Subducted tectonic plates
   4.3 Time scales
   4.4 Before people.
       4.4.1 Ice ages. 
       4.4.2 Causation doesn't work well as an explanatory device 
             for many coupled systems. It's not a sufficiently
             POWERFUL IDEA.
   4.5 The occasional cosmic accident.
   4.6 The occasional geologic disruption.
   4.7 But weathering of rocks by tectonics is a big driver. As 
       is the occasional redirection of major ocean flows.
       4.7.1 Who knows about tectonics?
       4.7.2 [Aside]
   4.8 There's a lot We don't know: How did life develop in a 
       world lit by a dim young Sun?
   4.9 HOMEWORK: ... (to be provided) ...
5. Perturbations of a Steady Atmosphere.
   5.1 Earth's temperature rises in proportion to the number 
       of CO2 doublings.  In other words, temperature is 
       proportional to log(CO2 concentration).
       5.1.1 Band saturation, pressure broadening, and pro-rata 
             effects of warming.
       5.1.2 Why CH4 is more potent a GHG than CO2, as long 
             as it is stable. 
   5.2 The atmospheric lifetime of CO2 (Archer; Solomon)
   5.3 Some implications and what people seem to get wrong a lot
       5.3.1 Policy implications
       5.3.2 "Energy intensity" is a meaningless measure for 
             environmental policy
       5.3.3 Presentation of why, at this point, the need for 
             some kind of CLIMATE REPAIR seems inevitable
   5.4 HOMEWORK: (Handout of problem data)  Try to calculate for 
       yourself the cost of reducing atmospheric CO2 by 100 ppm.
6. Structuring of the Atmosphere, Lapse Rate, and Energy 
   Transfers by CO2 and Water.
   6.1 Energy transfers among CO2 and other atmospheric species.
   6.2 What is the lapse rate?
   6.3 Lapse rate and the greenhouse effect.
   6.4 Surface and atmospheric water.
       6.4.1 Water as a greenhouse gas.
       6.4.2 Water as a heat transfer pump.
       6.4.3 Clausius-Clapeyron.
   6.5 HOMEWORK: Consider having a warmer atmosphere and more 
       water vapor aloft as a result of climate change. What 
       might you think are some of the implications for 
7. Atmosphere, Oceans, and Land; Weather and Climate; 
   Slow Response
   7.1 General behavior of fluids on a spinning Earth (or 
       any other spinning planet)
   7.2 The Oceans. 
       7.2.1 Why oceans flow as currents
       7.2.2 Circulation time 
8. Ice sheets.
9. The Idea of a Feedback; Examples on Earth, Such as 
   Albedo and Otherwise.
   9.1 Remember white rocks and black rocks?
10. Kinds of Carbon; Kinds of Oxygen; the Carbon Cycle.
    10.1 Evidence for human tampering.
    10.2 Carbon isotopes.
    10.3 Oxygen isotopes
    10.4 What plants do, and why. 
    10.5 What shellfish do and why.
    10.6 Shellfish and tectonic cycles.
    10.7 Carbon-14.
    10.8 Fossil Carbon.
    10.9 The Keeling Curves.
    10.10 HOMEWORK: ...(to be provided)...
11. Perturbed Carbon Cycle, and our CO2 Legacy.
    11.1 An aside about the Keeling Curve for CO2. 
    11.2 Long choices and our CO2 legacy
12. Options for Avoiding Further Impacts: Mitigation 
    and its Costs.
13. How Bad Can Things Get? How Fast? Some Reasons 
    for Optimism.
14. Choices and Options if Things All Go Wrong.
15. Personal Choices versus Collective Action.

While the course will be based upon Professor Archer’s book and course, it will be less quantitative, less technical, and will touch more upon policy than his science course. However, there will be homework assigned, and I will comment upon these, even if saying I’ll “grade them” is a bit strong.

Sessions are anticipated to be an hour apiece, with 20 minutes or so for discussion and questions thereafter.  All will be done on Zoom.us. Details on that will accompany an announcement. There is already a Zoom room for general discussions, although holding a meeting requires my participation.

Number of sessions per week and duration will depend upon the class and levels of interest regarding various parts. I estimate there will be at least 10 sessions, and at most 17. I am planning to run the class if I get at least two people interested. 10-17 sessions may seem like a lot, but attending all isn’t necessary. I would recommend at least attending

  • Section 1, “Overview and Why”.
  • Section 2, “Heat, Light, Energy, Blackbody Radiation, and Atmospheric Transfers”.
  • Section 5, “Perturbations of a Steady Atmosphere”.
  • Section 8, “Ice Sheets”.
  • Section 12, “Options for Avoiding Further Impacts: Mitigation and its Costs”.

and then electing based upon interest. I will hold a session even if no one shows up, because I’ll record it and have it available for viewing later. Of course, students won’t get the benefit of interaction, and there’s only so many questions I can answer by email or at the start of the next session. On the other hand, and particularly if the class size is small, flexibility in when every session is held is something I hope we can do. It’s not like it necessarily has to be, say, Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. each week. We can talk about it in the same way that committee meetings are held.

Someone suggested a more compact course format, and I want to avoid that.

First, there are a lot of compact or “crash courses” on climate out there and, if that’s done, ultimately the student needs to take something on authority. I want to avoid that. I want students to have a deep enough understanding that they can see why certain recommendations by the IPCC or U.S. NCA or deep policy people are made.

For example, if you understand the material of Section 2 (“Heat, Light, Energy, Blackbody Radiation, and Atmospheric Transfers”) and Section 4 (“The Steady Atmosphere and the Historical Role of Natural Greenhouse Gases”), I hope you’ll understand why there’s beginning to be some talk of “Climate Repair”. As Section 12 (“Options for Avoiding Further Impacts: Mitigation and its Costs”) will explain, if greenhouse gas emissions are zeroed, deterioration in climate conditions will be arrested, but they won’t get better for hundreds of years. (Even this is a tad bit oversimplified, because climate inertia means deterioration has a lag to when emissions are done, a lag that’s typically a decade or two.)

Second, the reaction I sometimes get from the “crash course” approach is that students are overwhelmed. That’s the last thing I want to do. I want to go slow enough so people can grok the material.

Finally, as mentioned, I very much intend to do this again — this is not a one-off run — and hope that if someone is interested they’ll tune in sometime.

Posted in Anthropocene, being carbon dioxide, climate, climate activism, climate change, climate disruption, climate education, David Archer, Ecology Action, global warming, Ray Pierrehumbert | 4 Comments

Handel, 2018, “As the seas rise, can we restore our coastal habitats?”

Professor Steven Handel presents:

Hint, hint: A subtle plug for allowing evolutionary dominance to advance, including permitting hearty invasive species to Do Their Thing.

Indeed, it is my opinion, that the supposed plague of “invasive species” and associated regulations is yet another manipulation on the part of herbicide-making companies to enshrine a market for their products in legislation and so-called “sustainable practice”.

I’ve written about this before.

By the way, Kill Your Lawn.

Posted in agroecology, Aldo Leopold, an ignorant American public, an uncaring American public, Anthropocene, argoecology, Botany, bridge to somewhere, Cape Cod, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, corporations, corruption, ecological disruption, Ecological Society of America, ecology, ecopragmatism, environment, environmental law, evolution, fragmentation of ecosystems, greenwashing, herbicides, Humans have a lot to answer for, Hyper Anthropocene, invasive species, living shorelines, Nature, pesticides, Peter del Tredici, population biology, population dynamics, quantitative biology, quantitative ecology, regulatory capture, shorelines, sustainability, sustainable landscaping, the green century, the tragedy of our present civilization, tragedy of the horizon, wishful environmentalism, yves tille | Leave a comment

Sir David King on `Climate Repair`

Interview with Sir David King at Ecologist on the climate restoration agenda.

Posted in adaptation, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, American Meteorological Association, American Statistical Association, an uncaring American public, Anthropocene, APCC, being carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide capture, climate, climate change, climate education, David Spiegelhalter, differential equations, global warming, Hyper Anthropocene, investments, risk, Sir David King | Leave a comment

`Investors’ Guide to the End of the World`

David Snowball, at Mutual Fund Observer:

  1. Part 1.
  2. Part 2.
  3. Thoughts from BlackRock.

“I amar prestar aen, the world is changed
Han mathon ne nen, I feel it in the water
Han mathon ne chae, I feel it in the Earth
A han noston ned gwilith, I smell it in the air

much that once was is lost,
for none now live who remember it.

Prologue, from “Fellowship of the Ring”, Lord of the Ring, J. R. R. Tolkien, P. Jackson

Posted in capitalism, climate, climate business, climate change, climate disruption, climate economics, ecomodernism, ecopragmatism, fossil fuel divestment, global warming | Leave a comment

`Our Own Worst Enemy`

(Repost of message from APCC’s Andrew Gottlieb of 16 April 2019)

Our Own Worst Enemy

“Fight climate change, save the planet.” We hear that all the time and it sounds about right, so what’s the problem? The trouble is that the message doesn’t resonate sufficiently to result in serious, committed, transformative and durable change at the political level. If you are reading this you probably already think climate change is one of the great existential issues of the day, and it is. The catch is that it’s not just about saving the planet. The planet will continue on one way or the other, with or without us. The planet was here before we arrived, and it will be here after we depart. What we should be concerned about is saving the human species.

As a species we are pretty focused on us. So why should we expect a campaign about saving something else, in this case the planet, to resonate in a way that drives real change? For better or worse, to get the climate issue taken seriously, the messaging has to make it more about our survival because that is what gets people to pay attention. And sadly, I’m not talking about protecting our grandchildren or great- grandchildren because we needn’t, and often don’t, look that far down the road. I’m talking about us and our kids. It is time to realize that we, and the people who currently are alive that we actually know and profess to care about, are threatened by the impacts of changes in the climate already underway. We must take action. Our survival, yours and mine, is what is at stake and it’s about time we started to act that way. Until and unless we realize what we are facing, nothing will change.

Regardless of what we do, the planet will continue on. It might be warmer and stormier than it would have otherwise been without us, but it will keep spinning with another mix of life forms on it, different than what we currently have. The planet has served as host to many different life eras and the only difference right now is it is being dominated by a species that seems driven to eliminate the very ecosystems needed for our own survival. In fact, one could look at it from a perspective that the Earth is reacting to rid itself of the irritant causing the changes the planet is experiencing. That irritant is us. The Earth doesn’t need us to save it. We need the Earth way more than it needs us. When you talk to people about the urgency around climate change, think about encouraging them to do it for all the right reasons, and to save themselves. The only way to do that is to take better care of the planet and the ecosystems we rely on for our existence.

Mr Gottlieb is the Executive Director of the Association to Preserve Cape Cod and is a four term Selectman for the Town of Mashpee, Massachusetts.

Posted in APCC, Cape Cod, climate, climate change, climate education, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, global warming | Leave a comment

plastic-hating environmentalists as pawns and collaborative distractors of the Trump administration

Andrew Wheeler, 45‘s head of the Environmental Protection Administration and former coal industry attorney and legal advisor to Senator Imhofe, famed climate denier of the U.S. Senate, has stated it quite simply:

Clean drinking water is a higher priority for the Trump administration than climate change, according to Andrew Wheeler, the top US environment regulator, who called for scientific debate about the models used to assess global warming.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Wheeler expressed concern that the focus on climate change and the need to limit warming were detrimental to other big environmental challenges, such as potable water and affordable electricity.

“We cannot lose sight of the other environmental issues facing the world,” said Mr Wheeler, confirmed in March as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. “Water issues are the number one environment crisis.”
Ahead of a meeting of G7 environment ministers this weekend in the French city of Metz, Mr Wheeler called for more focus on issues such as clean drinking water, access to electricity in the developing world, and the proliferation of plastic in the oceans.

“I’m afraid that internationally, when people think about environmental issues, they only focus on climate change. They do not look at the other issues,” he said.

Polls show climate change ranks relatively low on US voters’ list of concerns. Forty-four per cent of Americans thought climate change was a political priority, according to a Pew survey conducted this year, while 56 per cent said the environment as a whole was a priority.

[Emphasis added. Quote is from an article in the Financial Times. (Probable paywall.)]

So there you have it: The administration is using plastics-in-oceans to distract people from the absolute, hair-on-fire preeminent environmental issue of our time.

Okay, plastic bag ban people, how does it feel to work for Wheeler and 45‘s administration? You’ve been tricked by following the bright shiny emotionally satisfying thing.


This is not a new idea, nor one unique to me.

Posted in American Petroleum Institute, an ignorant American public, an uncaring American public, anti-science, bag bans, climate change, Environmental Protection Agency, global warming, greenwashing, Greta Thunberg, oceans, plastics | Leave a comment

What’s good for each subgroup can be bad for the group: Simpson’s

Why? Simpson’s “paradox” or observation

There’s actually nothing odd about this. While interpretation depends upon the semantics of individual measurements, it should be expected that, at times, improving things for the overall group will mean as a matter of policy that subgroups will end up being less well off. Conversely, in some circumstances, if policy insists subgroups be more well off in each instance, the result can be that the group overall is worse off.

The obvious case is vaccination. It is true that for some subgroups the risk to the subgroup is higher than it would be were it merely exposed to the risk from the surrounding population. However, that risk increases if there is substantial abstinence from vaccination in some subgroups.

Posted in abstraction, statistics | Leave a comment

A proposal: Challenge for the Green New Deal

There is a climate emergency. There are many ways of looking at this, from the big investments perspective (see also a Fed view), to human harms perspective (see also), to what it might cost to reverse these changes if they prove to be horribly bad in their consequences, more than anyone imagined. It’s long been known that grassroots initiatives cannot fix it.

Consider 2018:

And these are our present options:

What troubles me about the Green New Deal, as explained, is (a) it seems timid, and (b) it is not sufficiently challenging and explicit in what it wants.

So, here, I’m making a proposal. It’s the kind of thing I’d like to see in a Green New Deal proposal, one worthy of its name. And, note, Green New Deal or not, it is not the only game in town. There are other proposals, such as Manhattan 2.

But, as a social proposal, here are some specific suggestions.

  1. Given that there is a climate emergency, and cumulative fossil fuel emissions by people are the cause, I propose that all permits for extraction of fossil fuels of all kinds within the United States expire on 1 January 2030. I further propose that all imports of fossil fuels of any kind, oil, coal, natural gas, also be prohibited as of the same date.
  2. Furthermore, effectively immediately with the passage of the legislation, extraction and imports of fossil fuels per annum will be capped at no more than 10% more than the smaller of either 2018’s rates were or median amounts per annum between 2018 and when this legislation is adopted.
  3. Given that many people will be unemployed as a result of market disruptions resulting from disenfranchisement of fossil fuels, immediately there will be established a federal jobs retraining fund enabling businesses or employees whose livelihoods were previously associated (by SIC and NAICS codes) with either fossil fuels extraction, shipment, delivery, sales, or consumption, or with transportation previously powered by fossil fuels and their support (parts, delivery, repair) to pursue alternative employment via training at centers of professional and higher education with full reimbursement.
  4. Given that compensation for livelihood and families will be needed in a transition period, a guaranteed minimum annual income is hereby established and set to US$75,000 per annum in 2018 dollars. accepting this income excludes the participant from eligibility of all other government assistance programs, including health, child income benefits, and food supplements, with the exception of tuition reimbursement.
  5. Given that these programs will need to be funded, this proposal hereby assigns an income tax premium of 2.5% on all annual incomes in excess of one million dollars per annum assessed prior to deductions and adjustments of all kinds, whether such income is earned in the United States or elsewhere, and severs sheltering such income by corporate or business pass-through provisions or other tax shelters.

I also suggest, that since Science deals with uncertainty as well as certainty, a serious effort be mounted to ascertain what kinds of measures might be available for climate repair should all measures, despite best efforts, fall short of temperature targets, or climate sensitivity or other effects prove to be unusually severe. These should be pursued despite the present estimates of their horrific expense, requiring, for example, at most optimistic estimates and using as yet unproven technologies, multiples of the Gross World Product to draw down atmospheric CO2 concentrations dozens of parts per million.

Posted in alternatives to the Green New Deal, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, American Meteorological Association, American Solar Energy Society, American Statistical Association, Amory Lovins, Anthropocene, basic research, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, bridge to somewhere, carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide capture, cement production, Clausius-Clapeyron equation, clear air capture of carbon dioxide, climate, climate business, climate change, climate data, climate disruption, climate economics, climate education, Climate Lab Book, ClimateAdam, consumption, David Archer, decentralized energy, demand-side solutions, ecological disruption, ecomodernism, ecopragmatism, electric vehicles, electrical energy storage, electricity, energy storage, environment, flooding, floods, food, food scarcity, geoengineering, geophysics, Glen Peters, Global Carbon Project, global warming, insurance, investing, investment in wind and solar energy, investments, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, local self reliance, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Our Children's Trust, planning, policy metrics, politics, population biology, population dynamics, radiative forcing, rationality, real estate values, rhetorical statistics, science, stream flow, sustainability, SVD, the right to know, UU Ministry for Earth, UU Needham, zero carbon, ZigZag | Leave a comment

Hypothetical toxins from plastics? Perhaps actual sources of toxins should be concerns …

… Like ocean heat-induced red tide and blue green algae (cyanobacteria). The problem of things like cyanotoxins is particularly bad in Florida, but Massachusetts Buzzards Bay has seen its share of problems. Quoting:

  • Blue-green algae are laden with microcystins that are a cause of non-alcoholic liver cancer. The algae blooms also produce BMAA (β-Methylamino-L-alanine), a toxin that is linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, ALS and Parkinson’s. Last year, Drs. Paul Cox and James Metcalf of Brain Chemistry Labs reported that microcystin levels in samples from Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie canal were 300 times the level recommended as safe by the United Nations.
  • BMAA is a documented cause of Alzheimer’s and ALS. The University of Miami Brain Endowment Bank reported that the BMAA toxin is found in the brains of people with neuro-degenerative diseases.
  • Dr. David Davis, a neuropathologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, reported that monkeys fed BMAA developed early symptoms of ALS. Another study, from 2017, documented that monkeys given BMAA developed the amyloid plaque and “tau tangles” that are the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Last month, Dr. Davis’ team reported that detectable levels of the BMAA toxin were found in the brains of dead dolphins that displayed degenerative damage similar to Alzheimer’s, ALS and Parkinson’s in humans.
  • High concentrations of BMAA have been found in the seafood in South Florida waters where blue-green algae blooms occur. Ingestion of BMAA contaminated food is known to lead to Alzheimer’s and ALS.
  • Toxins in blue-green algae are airborne: Dr. Elijah Stommel of Dartmouth reported that people living near bodies of water with heavy blue-green algae blooms had a 15 times greater chance of getting ALS. Research by Prof. Mike Parsons, a Florida Gulf Coast University marine biologist, found airborne cyanobacteria toxins a mile from retention ponds and three miles from the Caloosahatchee River. A study of air filters near bodies of water infected with blue-green algae along the Caloosahatchee River taken during the heavy blooms in 2018 by Dr. Larry Brand of the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Atmospheric and Marine Science is expected soon.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) is studying this problem, too, one of many climate-change-related ones.

Figure 1: Cyanobacterial assemblages (A–D) showing the unicellular as well as filamentous Cyanobacteria in the biofilms and morphology of some dominant cyanobacterial cells such as Synechocystis sp. (E), Scytonema sp. (F), Nostoc sp. (G), Gloeocapsa sp. (H), and Gloeocapsopsis sp. (I). Scale bars = 10 μm.


Quoting from second reference above:

… [C]ultural eutrophication from domestic, industrial, and agricultural wastes as well as global climate change can play a major role in the global expansion of harmful algal blooms and toxin production.

Hat tip to Professor Robert Young of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines for the reference.
Posted in algal blooms, Anthropocene, blue-green algae, BMAA, climate, climate change, climate disruption, coastal communities, coastal investment risks, coasts, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, cyanobacteria, global warming, harmful algae, Hyper Anthropocene, living shorelines, marine biology, marine debris, ocean warming, oceans, pollution, red tide | Leave a comment

CO2 = garbage

CO2 is garbage, not “plant food”.

It is recycled by photosynthesis using renewable solar energy.

From Eli. And it’s something with which I heartily agree! Plants do not `eat food`. If they did, they wouldn’t be plants. Moreover, any experiment where plants are exposed to an enriched CO2 atmosphere in the absence of sunlight (or equivalent light) produces nothing. See below the figure for references on what happens to vegetation in an atmosphere with increased or variable CO2 concentrations. Note that elevated Oxygen levels can also be toxic, not only for plants.

Two references:

Posted in American Chemical Society, being carbon dioxide, bridge to nowhere, carbon dioxide, Carbon Worshipers, climate change, climate disruption, climate education, global warming, solar energy, solar power, waste management | Leave a comment

California Marine Debris Prevention: Banning Plastic Bags is Not Enough

NOAA has a full page of videos on marine debris and how to prevent it.

The state of California has a 2018 plan on preventing marine debris. Here are some highlights.

There is a good deal more in the report, such as the excerpt below. I think the point is this illustrates the substantial difference between the aspirational and wishful environmentalism of some organizations.

In particular, regarding various proposals in Massachusetts, such as plastic bag bans and despite the supposed embrace of metrics as management and policy tools, there is no effort underway to quantify statewide what the baseline or base rate and composition of plastic bag use is, so there is no way to judge effectiveness or ineffectiveness of policy. All that remains is legalistic rhetoric.

Note I’ve written about some of this with respect to Massachusetts before.

Posted in American Statistical Association, Life Cycle Assessment, life cycle sustainability analysis, policy metrics, public welfare, shop, shorelines, solid waste, solid waste management, South Shore Recycling Cooperative, spatial statistics, statistical series, statistics, supply chains, sustainability, the right to know, wishful environmentalism | Leave a comment

Greta: `All political movements in their present form have failed’

Posted in Anthropocene, being carbon dioxide, bridge to nowhere, bridge to somewhere, carbon dioxide, Carbon Worshipers, climate, climate change, climate disruption, climate economics, climate grief, Cult of Carbon, fossil fuel divestment, fossil fuels, global warming, Greta Thunberg, Humans have a lot to answer for, Hyper Anthropocene, investments, panic | Leave a comment

Earth Day 2019: So how do people transition to the new energy economy?

I’ve been pretty hard on the Green New Deal. That’s partly because its proponents don’t seem to see that a transition to a new zero Carbon energy economy is inevitable. It’s opponents don’t see that either. It may not come as quickly as we might want it to come, but it will come. The thing of it is, a piece which Green New Deal has correct is that there is a need to prepare for the transition.

Because we are late doing it, the transition is going to need to be faster than we might otherwise want it to be. And, given that there are no governments really guiding the transition at present, that it is presently wholly embedded in a Schumpeterian flow, there are many people whose livelihoods could get radically displaced, really quickly. The 2020s are going to be a uproarious technological time, particularly with regard to the evaporation of the internal combustion engine vehicle industry, its supply chains, and its repair shops. Government could make the transition gentler, by providing free education, universal basic incomes, universal health care. Right now, that’s not on easel of government leadership, at least not set in a positive light.

But, known or not, there are a set of companies and corporate alliances, none of them fossil fuel companies or chemical companies, who are taking this seriously, working to set up such a transition.

Witness The B Team‘s Just Transition Guide, and Virgin Unit are planning for and lobbying for governments working on such a transition at home. It won’t stop with the automotive industry, but will extend to energy, even to relocation of personal wealth and lives from areas at risk.

There’s a lot of practical stuff which has been thought about and planned here. We oughtn’t start from scratch.

One way to start to do this now is to encourage people to take their energy local. That cannot supply all our energy needs, but it will make the energy system easier to transition and send powerful signals to those who benefit from centralized control of energy that their time in the limelight is ending. Some big energy systems, notably large wind farms and solar farms and hydropower will be needed, unfortunately or not, because, again, we are collectively late to the change.

It’s also useful to engage with the big players, and begin a conservation, or a negotiation if you will. Sometimes there’s distrust and stereotypes on both sides.

Happy Earth Day.

Love your home.

And act.

Posted in Amory Lovins, an ignorant American public, Ørsted, capitalism, climate business, climate change, climate disruption, climate economics, climate justice, compassion, corporate citizenship, corporate litigation on damage from fossil fuel emissions, corporate responsibility, corporate supply chains, corporations, ecomodernism, electric vehicles, engineering, ethics, extended producer responsibility, extended supply chains, fossil fuel divestment, fossil fuel infrastructure, Gaylord Nelson, global warming, Green New Deal, Hermann Scheer, investment in wind and solar energy, investments, John Farrell, Joseph Schumpeter, LBNL, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, local generation, local self reliance, Mark Carney, Mark Jacobson, microgrids, New England, NIMBY, organizational failures, Orsted, percolation theory, planning, public education, public welfare, RevoluSun, Richard Branson, science, solar democracy, solar domination, solar energy, solar power, Sonnen community, SunPower, sustainability, sustainable landscaping, Talk Solar, technology, temporal myopia, Tesla, the energy of the people, the green century, the right to know, the value of financial assets, Tony Seba, tragedy of the horizon, utility company death spiral, UU, wind energy, wind power, zero carbon | Leave a comment

So, y’say you want a Green New Deal …

There isn’t a lot known about the Green New Deal or “GND”. Its proponents are certainly making the rounds, but it is light on specifics, heavy on urgency, heavily coupled with advancing jobs and justice, racial, climate, and environmental.

As readers of this blog know, I’m a climate hawk, but, as our collective opportunities for containing emissions have slipped away, I am an increasingly pragmatic one. And despite blogging about GND before mostly with a pessimistic riff, I continue to be a so-called and self-described solar revolutionary, agreeing with John Farrell and ILSR that democratization of power generation is critical for helping restore our representative democracy.

Recently, the GND has been reviewed by others:

It’s the remarks from this Green City Times which concern me here, not in an antagonistic way, but in an embellishing, enhancing way. I don’t agree with their comments on natural gas as a needed backup, for example, something about which I strongly disagree, but in many other respects they are looking properly at the pragmatics of rapid transition.

Speaking of antagonism, I’m not fond of many opinions at Berkeley-Haas, and I’ve written so there in the comments, particularly with respect to their negativity towards full scale renewables rollout and their critiques of the proposals by Professor Mark Jacobson of Stanford University. I have looked a life cycle emissions from these, as well as potential environmental impacts. That said, a number of the Berkeley-Haas points on GND are notable.

But the observations of Green City Times concern me in other ways. Green City Times clearly understands (that link is cited from their remarks) that zero emissions plans mean much more than renewables electricity and transportation, extending to heating and building. Their remarks raise serious concerns about the “command economy” approach which GND advocates champion, let alone the distractions of trying to solve social inequities at the same time. GND’s thinking on this is clearly in line with the Naomi Klein anti-markets This Changes Everything.

Surely, racial, social, environmental, and climate justice are important concerns and need to be addressed. But, as I’ve repeatedly noted, my judgment is that well-meaning people who think we can afford, as a fraction of U.S. GDP, to do a transition to zero emissions, and repair damage from climate change already baked in, and prepare the infrastructure of our towns and cities for future damage, and undertake a heavily funded campaign of implementing social, racial, climate, and environmental justice measures do not understand the scale of forthcoming threats climate will present. Justice is important to pursue, as is protection of small ecosystems, but survival of civilization is going to need to take precedent. Pursuit of justice will, unfortunately need to go slower than we might like, and some small ecosystems will need to be sacrificed. Large scale built-out of wind and solar energy does have ecosystem impacts, even regional ecosystem impacts. (Afforestation is much worse.)

Returning to the GND, as described, please consider five particular concerns I have.

First, by dismantling markets wholesale, as seems to be proposed, GND would also destroy market incentives for technological innovation for energy and transport. What would replace them? Government grants?

Second, the same might well eliminate incentives for people to continue to use solar PV on their roofs? What are SRECs (and WRECs) for that matter but market incentives? No markets; no incentives.

Third, GND is really in a hurry. I understand the urgency. But my concern is that GND is in a unthinking, emotionally-charged hurry. Accordingly, in their huge ambitions they might well create lateral and unintended consequences contrary to their principal ethical goals. In a rush to roll out EVs without supporting a steady stream of innovation, they might well lock EVs into use of a supply chain dependent upon Cobalt from the Congo and other conflict minerals.

Such use is being managed, now, by companies like Tesla, but doing so slows down the renewables rollout, not something people in a rush want to hear. Moreover, the ultimate goal of EV technology is to get free of these expensive and conflicted materials, which can in principle be done, but it demands market incentives to do it. For example, wind turbines use of rare earths, which are frequently mined in conflict regions, is no longer leading practice. Dr Amory Lovins has documented this.

Fourth, if an energy transition is to be done in an environmentally sustainable way, the assessments of environmental impacts, like it or not, are going to take some time. This can be done, but it will slow down the transition. I’m not saying that deployments necessarily need to preserve all local ecosystems, such as the ecosystems a solar farm will disrupt, but some consideration of larger impacts should be retained. A headlong rush won’t leave time for consideration. Big changes make big impacts. Unavoidable.

Fifth, the energy transition needs engineering skills and expertise currently employed by big energy companies, many of them with fossil fuels at their profit core. Is someone going to be disqualified to participate because they worked for these companies? Perhaps not, but I’ve seen this done locally, when anti-pipeline groups sought environmental impacts of proposed natural gas pipelines and excluded any companies which had done work for energy companies. Carbon sequestration technology and engineering needs experts on drilling and pipelines.

If the objective is to get free of fossil fuels as quickly as possible, and minimizing social justice impacts, this needs to be carefully thought about and planned. Moreover, it needs to be recognized from the start that these objectives are in strong tension: We will never get to fossil fuel free as quickly if this is coupled to environmental justice concerns. Everyone needs to recognize it will be slower with racial, environmental, and climate justice coupled in.

Like it or not, the transition will take a good deal longer than GND proponents imagine, no matter how it is done, command economy or not, justice concerns coupled in or not. I don’t agree with fossil fuel companies claimed that their products will continue to be needed for decades. No. But there is no evidence zeroing emissions can be done by 2050. Should we give up? Of course not.

I’d be in favor, for example, despite my concerns about GND above, of declaring that the permits for any fossil fuel extraction will be zeroed by 2030, and with rates of extraction capped per annum by a ceiling consistent with limiting the total amount of consumption, this being governed by a linear ramp beginning in 2020. This would effectively stranding those assets, cause a spike in price, whether or not there was a Carbon Tax.

“We don’t have time for a revolution.” — David Wallace-Wells.

Posted in American Solar Energy Society, Amory Lovins, Anthropocene, anti-intellectualism, Ørsted, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, bridge to somewhere, cement production, clean disruption, CleanTechnica, climate business, climate change, climate economics, corporate citizenship, corporate litigation on damage from fossil fuel emissions, corporate responsibility, corporate supply chains, decentralized electric power generation, demand-side solutions, destructive economic development, distributed generation, ecomodernism, ecopragmatism, ecopragmatist, education, electric vehicles, electrical energy storage, electricity, electricity markets, energy utilities, engineering, environment, extended producer responsibility, fossil fuel divestment, fossil fuels, Gaylord Nelson, George Monbiot, global warming, Green Tech Media, Hermann Scheer, Hyper Anthropocene, ILSR, investment in wind and solar energy, John Farrell, Joseph Schumpeter, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, local generation, local self reliance, Mark Jacobson, Mary C Wood, Peter del Tredici, population biology, quantitative biology, quantitative ecology, rationality, rhetorical mathematics, rhetorical science, rhetorical statistics, solar democracy, solar domination, solar energy, Spaceship Earth, stranded assets, sustainability, sustainable landscaping, T'kun Olam, Talk Solar, Tesla, the energy of the people, the green century, the value of financial assets, wishful environmentalism | 1 Comment

Happy Earth Day: Doubt climate change? Just be patient and watch

And know that, because of our collective inaction, even if we were to fix everything immediately, now, because of the built-up momentum in the climate system, things will get steadily worse for two-to-four decades after we stop.

Don’t like those odds? Then stop, now.

Some of them were angry,
At the way the Earth was abused
By the men who learned how to forge her beauty into power.
And they struggled to protect her from them, only to be confused
By the magnitude of her fury in the final hour
When the sand was gone and the time arrived …

Remember, the amount of human emissions in atmosphere has doubled since 1992, about when the leaders of the world claimed to begin to take this seriously.

Posted in adaptation, American Association for the Advancement of Science, an ignorant American public, an uncaring American public, climate change, fossil fuel divestment, global warming, Humans have a lot to answer for, Hyper Anthropocene, science, The Demon Haunted World, the right to be and act stupid, the right to know, the tragedy of our present civilization, tragedy of the horizon | 1 Comment

One of the best moments of my week …

Falcon Heavy from SpaceX delivering Arabsat, and landing 3 for 3 …

This is the triumph of Mathematics and physical reality over all the other crap and nonsense we hear about.

This is what will always win first, despite anything else, in the long term.

Posted in science | Leave a comment

12 km Burgess extension

Saturday’s run, warm weather, about 20℃. One stop for water. 12.1 km. 1h40m. I was slower than mean because it was warm.

Up 130m altitude and back.

(Click image for view of interactive version of run map in new tab. Click on “speed” tab to see speed, etc.)
Posted in running, Westwood | Leave a comment

On the Ministry of Silly Walks : Brexit

The John Cleese reference came from this week’s treatment of comic self-deprecation in the UK post-Brexit, in The New Yorker.

Posted in Brexit, bridge to nowhere, Britain, populism, the right to be and act stupid, the right to know, UK, unreason | Leave a comment

Five Thirty Eight podcast: `Can Statistics solve gerrymandering?`

Great podcast, featuring Professor and geometer Moon Duchin, Nate Silver, and Galen Druke. If the link doesn’t work, listen from here or below:


Professor Duchin has written extensively on this:

Posted in FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver, point pattern analysis, politics, statistics | Leave a comment

Overleaf: `#FuturePub London returned to a full house!’, 10 April 2019

I have switched from basic desktop MikTex to Overleaf for most of my day-to-day \LaTeX needs.

They recently had a FuturePub session in London.

I’m enthusiastic about their capability and degree of support, especially in their documentation.

Posted in collaboration, LaTeX, Overleaf, ShareLaTeX | Leave a comment

Dan Fleisch says you don’t know the power of … the Dark Side Tensors

This is a fun motivating lecture:

See also his A Student’s Guide to Vectors and Tensors, with related podcasts. It’s available on Kindle, by the way. (Save some trees.)

eigenchris has another series of lectures on Tensors.

Posted in Dan Fleisch, physics, tensors | Leave a comment

I just chose to support Climate Adam!

I just chose to support ClimateAdam.

You can, too!

One of my many favorite videos by Climate Adam:

Here’s another:

Why is supporting Climate Adam and talking about climate so important?

Here’s one reason why:

Backing this up:

Posted in American Association for the Advancement of Science, climate, climate change, climate education, ClimateAdam, geophysics, global warming, public education, sustainability, the right to know | Leave a comment

October 2013 retrospective … Karl Ragabo on ‘Talk Solar’ podcast, regarding value of solar generation

In October of 2013, Karl Ragabo was interviewed on the Talk Solar podcast from Beth Bond of Decatur, GA. This was shortly after the first version of the Value of Solar report was issued by IREC. Listen to it below:

This presentation is particularly valuable for people, like municipal regulators, who sometimes interact with, purchase from, and make decisions affected by utility company practices yet do not know from where many of them are coming, and how much of a business model disruption distributed PV generation and storage threatens.

Mr Ragabo’s deep history with renewable rate setting and PV generation is summarized here.

‘Wärtsilä introduces new hybrid solar PV and storage solution’

(Image courtesy of Wärtsilä, and you can read more about the above solution here.)

Readers may notice the PV farm in the figure above was placed in a sparsely treed area, resulting in trees being cut down. An interesting discussion might ensue, either here in the comments or in a future post, if there is enough interest, regarding the costs and benefits of substituting large scale PV farms for a relatively undisturbed natural ecosystem.

Another interesting point is whether or not losing ground to zero Carbon energy generation is indirectly a cost of failing to address and cost-in climate change. Companies and people look to things like Carbon pricing and Carbon taxes as the most direct effects, or increases in rates to pay for zero Carbon incentives. On the other hand, to the degree to which zero Carbon energy is, hands down, the best long term bet an energy investor or consumer can make (see below) means companies which ignore this, particularly utilities, have a lot to lose.

Posted in Beth Bond, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, bridge to somewhere, Buckminster Fuller, CleanTechnica, climate disruption, climate economics, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, distributed generation, ecomodernism, ecopragmatism, energy storage, energy utilities, engineering, investment in wind and solar energy, investments, Joseph Schumpeter, Karl Ragabo, microgrids, public utility commissions, regulatory capture, resiliency, RevoluSun, solar democracy, solar domination, solar energy, solar power, Sonnen community, Stewart Brand, stranded assets, Talk Solar, the energy of the people, the green century, Tony Seba, utility company death spiral | Leave a comment

Repeat of Long Mill 1, on a moderately warm day

(Click on map to be taken to my Ride with GPS site where you can interact with the route display.)

I am, by the way, steadily changing my displays to present data in Metric Units rather than English Units. I began with temperatures, and now I’m moving on to distances and speeds. I want to get good enough to have a sense of how far, say, 12 km is without converting to miles or feet.

Posted in Massachusetts, Nature, running | Leave a comment

Weekend break: Theme for Earth Day

By John Williams:


Posted in agroecology, Aldo Leopold, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Statistical Association, an uncaring American public, argoecology, biology, Botany, Buckminster Fuller, climate, David Suzuki, dynamical systems, E. O. Wilson, earth, Earth Day, ecological disruption, ecological services, Ecological Society of America, ecology, Ecology Action, ecomodernism, ecopragmatism, ecopragmatist, Eli Rabett, environment, Equiterre, evolution, fragmentation of ecosystems, global warming, green tech, greenhouse gases, greenwashing, invasive species, investing, investment in wind and solar energy, investments, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lotka-Volterra systems, marine biology, Mathematics and Climate Research Network, microbiomes, NOAA, oceans, Peter del Tredici, Peter Diggle, Pharyngula, physical materialism, quantitative biology, quantitative ecology, rate of return regulation, scientific publishing, Spaceship Earth, statistical dependence, Stefan Rahmstorf, Tamino | Leave a comment

Still a climate hawk, and appreciate all my climate friends: To the climate deniers, the greenwashers, the liberal environmental opportunists, and the environmental purists who will never compromise …

“Not ready to make nice” (Dixie Chicks)

I stick by my friends in these hard times:

Losing Earth: The decade we almost stopped climate change.

Posted in American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Statistical Association, Anthropocene, Bayesian, climate change, climate disruption, climate economics, climate grief, coastal investment risks, ecological disruption, ecological services, ecomodernism, ecopragmatism, engineering, environment, flooding, global warming, Grant Foster, Humans have a lot to answer for, Hyper Anthropocene, investment in wind and solar energy, investments, Joseph Schumpeter, Mathematics and Climate Research Network, mathematics education, personal purity, population biology, quantitative biology, quantitative ecology, regulatory capture, risk, riverine flooding, sampling without replacement, Scituate, secularism, shorelines, solar democracy, solar domination, solar energy, Solar Freakin' Roadways, solar power, SolarPV.tv, Spaceship Earth, statistical dependence, SunPower, the energy of the people, the green century, the tragedy of our present civilization, the value of financial assets, tragedy of the horizon, Unitarian Universalism, unreason, utility company death spiral, UU Needham, Wally Broecker, Walt Disney Company, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, ``The tide is risin'/And so are we'' | Leave a comment

Another reason why the future of Science and STEM education in the United States is cloudy

From Nature‘s “Universities spooked by Trump order tying free speech to grants“, with the subheading “White House policy will require universities to certify that they protect free speech to remain eligible for research funding”, comes this chilling news:

US President Donald Trump signed an executive order on 21 March that requires universities to certify that they protect free speech, or risk losing federal research funds.

Public institutions will have to certify that they are following free-speech protections laid out in the First Amendment of the US Constitution, and private institutions must promise to follow their stated policies on free speech, a White House official told reporters on 21 March.

The order applies to 12 research agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and NASA. It affects only money for research, not financial aid for students.

“We’re dealing with billions and billions and billions of dollars,” Trump said in a speech just before signing the order. “Taxpayer dollars should not subsidize anti-First Amendment institutions.” He said that the order was the first in a series of steps that his administration intends to take to “defend students’ rights”.

Clearly, this is an attempt to magnify the pseudo-standard of “fair and balanced” so badly invoked in media to elevate unsubstantiated and illogical claims from scientifically illiterate and innumerate minorities to the status of powerful political voices. Witness the collective disposition of climate change.

Worse, though, it is another step of encroachment of an hitherto economically unsuccessful populist world view, one which coincides with basically large scale sour grapes, upon the Success Centers of United States culture. These are overwhelmingly Blue, self-made, urban, and diverse, even if they still allocate their wealth unfairly. It is an extended exercise of spiting oneself for, without these technologies, military safety and economic success won’t continue.

But, people aren’t going to wait for that to be rectified in some hypothetical future — and probably Democratic — administration. This is a dynamic business world, and people seek their own comfortable surroundings and fortunes.

And, so, there is a Brain Drain beginning from the United States to elsewhere. (This is also known as human capital flight.) First, it was limited to the rejection or imposition of discomfort of brilliant and ingenious technical entrepreneurs from India and Pakistan and China, who thought nothing better than coming to what once was the haven and incubator for free enterprise and free ideas and founding a fortune. But, now, even the best and the brightest of full born Americans, young bright minds and spirits who know how to succeed, are beginning to see the rest of the world as more inviting and accommodating, and are making the hard choice to uproot and go, emigrate.

I applaud them for their foresight. The idea of blind loyalty despite cultural sins and political idiocy is itself idiotic. It is not living, it is a self-deprecating religion.

And, so, I was not at all surprised that Nature also carried an extended article chronicling how five scientists had wrestled with the idea of moving to another country to improve their futures.


Posted in American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Mathematical Society, American Statistical Association, an ignorant American public, an uncaring American public, anti-intellectualism, anti-science, climate change, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, emigration, European Union, mathematics, science, United States | Leave a comment