Monday, May 30, 2011

Ken Caldeira, reframing the climate problem. Ask your conservative friends this.

From 2009 in The Economist's Is it worth it? What economists have to say about mitigating climate change :
"Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution, puts the same point a different way. “If we already had energy and transportation systems that met our needs without using the atmosphere as a waste dump for our carbon- dioxide pollution, and I told you that you could be 2% richer, but all you had to do was acidify the oceans and risk killing off coral reefs and other marine ecosystems, risk melting the ice caps with rapid sea-level rise, shifting weather patterns so that food-growing regions might not be able to produce adequate amounts of food, and so on, would you take all of that environmental risk, just to be 2% richer?” He has, he says, often asked audiences this question; nobody has ever answered “yes”."

Mind vs. machine (on the Turing test)

From the March 2011 Atlantic, via Grist, read Brian Christian's Mind vs. Machine; it does bring to mind certain online communities and commenters...
Among the findings reported: computers are really good at starting & maintaining a fight.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Twisters & climate change, in NY Times

"...the consensus of fair-minded research — ignored by those who assume to know better in the Republican Congress — is that an earth warmed by an excess of man-caused carbon emissions will cause more weather extremes. Warm air holds more water vapor than cold air — that’s an axiom that a congressman with a set of talking points paid for by Exxon cannot wish away. Torrential flooding in all parts of the world could easily be part of a new phase brought on by just a few upticks in ocean temperatures. The forecast is simple: You ain’t seen nothing yet..."

- from Timothy Egan's Twister's Tale: Violent Weather and Common Sense NYTimes commentary piece

Friday, May 27, 2011

Data - Tornados in California, 1950-2011(so far)

In case you're curious - I wanted to see what kind of trend we've seen.

(ignore the big blue square that's thinking outside the box; that was an accident.)

Source data here - which, following more or less in Tamino's footsteps, I extracted from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center's archived data, and from 2000+, year-by-year data, available as annual reports/maps - e.g. nationally for 2011, or, just for CA, e.g. for 2011 so far (11)

Apparently tornado detection is more sensitive than it used to be, so the apparent increase in numbers for Calif. might not reflect an actual increase.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tonight's Tea Party Patriot meeting, and a cultural difference

These people have patience far beyond mine; I am in awe.

Bryan Welch (of Utne & Mother Earth News)

At the New Life Eco Fest last weekend I caught the Saturday talk by Bryan Welch, publisher of magazines Mother Earth News, Utne Reader (e.g.: Get the Koch Brothers Out of Your Gear ), & Natural Home and Garden.

Ben Santer, on why it matters

My Ben Santer interview piece did air tonight, but without the "why it matters" section:
"Anyone who has kids, or grandkids, has some investment in the future; you really need to have some understanding of what the climatic shape of things to come is going to be like in the 21st century.

If you try to get that understanding from one person alone, or one source alone, you may be misinformed; and you may miss the opportunity to really have some say, in what kind of world you leave behind for your kids and grandkids. And that would be a great shame."

Year of the twister

"America's deadliest tornado season since 1953 continued its relentless onslaught of violent tornadoes yesterday. Numerous destructive and deadly tornadoes raked Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, and Arkansas..."
- Jeff Masters today (link)
It's not just in the midwest and the east.
"There's a tornado warning for Tehama County..."; "tornado warning for Butte County..."; "tornado warning in Nevada County..."

"The preliminary [U.S.] count for April 2011 is 875 tornados, which is more than three times as many as the previous record of 267 back in 1974. Yeah, more than three times as many. This year’s April count is only preliminary, and may well be revised downward as duplicate reports are identified. But it’s still one hell of a hockey stick."

See Tamino for the rest.

Also recommended for big picture: Bill McKibben's Keep Calm and Carry On

Sunday, May 22, 2011

If you have a voluble climate-delayer friend, I have a request

In the Santer interview critique, someone suggested leading into it (and/or into other such interviews) with the voice of someone asserting one of the typical climate myths. And since the only climate-confused person I talk to these days, I don't see regularly...

I'm looking to make/get a recording of one of the following claims -

"But Al Gore's house..."
"Humans emit just a tiny fraction..."
"We should be cautious, and wait until we know more..."

Yes, it likely won't be too hard to find someone who holds these beliefs & will share them, but if your friend wants some time in the limelight...

Tonight, CBS 60 Min. - NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake

For details, see the Climate Science Watch post National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake appearing on CBS 60 Minutes May 22 in his first television interview -
"...[Drake] disclosed evidence of multi-billion dollar corruption and mismanagement in the NSA and illegal domestic surveillance...faces retaliatory prosecution under the Obama administration’s war on whistleblowers...will be appearing on a special two-hour episode of 60 Minutes..."

Reasons to use a human-powered lawnmower

Why I love human-powered lawnmowers -
  • Free exercise
  • No unpleasant internal-combustion exhaust fumes
  • You can mow in early a.m. without irking your neighbors
  • and finally...the rote work of it is, somehow, ideal for facilitating rumination (of the cognitive variety, if you lack livestock; or of both types, if you've got them.)

    Update: Yow - I had no idea. It turns out that rumination, of the psychological variety, means chewing over upsetting experiences; I'd thought it just meant sifting for pattern & understanding.
    (Which it also does: "to meditate or muse; ponder." (link))

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Critique my Ben Santer "how to get reliable climate info" intervew, please

Dear reader, I have a favor to ask: I need feedback on this interview, which I'd like to optimize for airing on KVMR. It won't take long, it's only about 6 1/2 minutes.

See over here at my other blog for details, links, feedback so far, etc.

(I've also got material for another Santer piece, and for one or more (equally) short pieces featuring Ken Caldeira; stay tuned.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Peak Oil's Orlov and Ruppert to speak Sunday, at Green Life Eco Fest; Orlov also Sat.

Yow! From the APPLE email (links added):
Keynote Speakers [at Green Life Eco Fest] Include:

Michael Ruppert authored "Confronting Collapse" and "Crossing the Rubicon". Michael spoke in Grass Valley a few years ago to a sold out crowd at the Vets Hall.

Dmitry Orlov authored "Reinventing Collapse" and "Hold Your Applause"

They are speaking on Sunday May 22nd at 11:00 AM
[Judith Kildow will be speaking at 10am Sat.]

Tickets are available at the gate and at the APPLE Center. Adults are $8 and children are free.
Here is Ruppert's flyer for the event.

Orlov says:
"I'll be at the Eco-Fest this Saturday and Sunday. ... I'll be speaking on making the best of your Energy Elves (they are like the old fossil-fueled Energy Slaves except much smaller; I seem to have made my peace with them) on Saturday at 11:15."

If you could ask a climate scientist one question, what would it be?

I've been doing an informal survey on this; what would your question be?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

National Academy to US.: for heaven's sake, wake up

"The risks associated with doing business as usual are a much greater concern than the risks associated with engaging in ambitious but measured response efforts. This is because many aspects of an 'overly ambitious' policy response could be reversed or otherwise addressed, if needed, through subsequent policy change, whereas adverse changes in the climate system are much more difficult (indeed, on the time scale of our lifetimes, may be impossible) to 'undo.' "
For more: NPR's Top U.S. Scientists To Nation: Global Warming. Really. We Are Not Kidding - or Skeptical Science, National Academy of Sciences on Climate Risk Management - or Climate Progress, National Academy of Sciences slams climate disinformation campaign, flawed media coverage:
...“Many factors complicate and impede public understanding of climate change”:

"Most people rely on secondary sources for information, especially the mass media; and some of these sources are affected by concerted campaigns against policies to limit CO2 emissions, which promote beliefs about climate change that are not well-supported by scientific evidence. U.S. media coverage sometimes presents aspects of climate change that are uncontroversial among the research community as being matters of serious scientific debate. Such factors likely play a role in the increasing polarization of public beliefs about climate change, along lines of political ideology, that has been observed in the United States."

Or see the report itself.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Climate scientists who've been interviewed on KVMR

I want to settle a disagreement, in which I'm pretty sure of my position, but without more data it's hard to be certain. It'd help to have a (much) more complete list, of who's been interviewed about climate science on KVMR in the last several years; if anyone has more info...?

Monday, May 09, 2011

Productive thinking: Mercier on how to avoid confirmation bias

Don't think alone; and do seek out people who disagree: (link)

"People mostly have a problem with the confirmation bias when they reason on their own, when no one is there to argue against their point of view. What has been observed is that often times, when people reason on their own, they’re unable to arrive at a good solution, at a good belief, or to make a good decision because they will only confirm their initial intuition.

On the other hand, when people are able to discuss their ideas with other people who disagree with them, then the confirmation biases of the different participants will balance each other out, and the group will be able to focus on the best solution. Thus, reasoning works much better in groups. When people reason on their own, it’s very likely that they are going to go down a wrong path. But when they’re actually able to reason together, they are much more likely to reach a correct solution."

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Meckler/McClintock Tea Party Patriot town hall meeting - talks and Q&A

A report of the on-stage parts of the Tea Party Patriot town hall meeting held last week on Wednesday, April 27, 2011: talks by Mark Meckler and Tom McClintock, followed by a joint Q&A.