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Unforced variations: Apr 2011

Filed under: — group @ 1 April 2011

This months open thread. There are some Items of potential interest::

or whatever you like.

525 Responses to “Unforced variations: Apr 2011”

  1. 151
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “And if fear is sufficient to cause human beings to reject reality, then what hope can we have for the long-term survival of the species?” – 132

    Fear is the mind killer, and always has been. I doubt if this will ever change. Our machine replacements may decide to keep us as pets rather than eradicate us.

    Fear the primary motivating factor behind denialism though. Fear of change, fear that one’s ideology is incompatible with reality, fear of the unknown… fear. fear.. fear…

    Denialists are not only irrational. They are cowards. It is highly advisable that they be publicly labeled as such.

  2. 152
    Ron R. says:

    Ray Ladbury — 6 Apr 2011 @ 5:27 PM said “Given the way the Rethuglicans are holding the government hostage right now, I’m afraid ignorant is just too charitable a term for me to use toward them.”

    Note: if the following comment is too far off-topic the moderators may feel free to delete. I have a “theory” about what’s going on with the Repugs. Here it is: I think, in my increasingly cynical and paranoid mind, that this whole economic meltdown thing may have been contrived, planned and executed by the neocons and extremist Repugs in the last adminstration (I refer to them and their teabagger goons as “meaniacs”, that’s a maniac on steroids). I mean the Bush Gang took an economy that was booming pre-2000 and found a way to bring it to its knees in eight short (okay looong) years. Why? Because a country that is bankrupt cannot pay for those programs which the Repugs hate so much: things like food stamps and school lunches for the poor, things like environmental protection, things like public radio, even things like libraries etc.

    And that brings us to this shutdown. Remember that it was Gingrinch that orginally oversaw the first one of these back in Clinton’s days. We all know these guys hate the government. All that anti-governmentism, all that talk about “local control” and “states rights”. I would submit that the hard right actually hates the United States itself, since they are trying so hard to divide it. I think these people are confederates to the core, always have been. They’ve been chaffing ever since they lost the civil war. All this Dixie and “the south shall rise again” stuff. All those guns they’ve been amassing all these years was for a reason.

    [Response: Off topic indeed! But I’ve let this comment stand because it serves as a useful illustration for something. You sound no less crazy that ‘Jeff Id’ does, only in reverse. You’re both giving way to much credence to the advance planning of the right wing (in your case) and the left wing (in his case). Sorry, but I just don’t see any evidence that the supposed masterminds of all these conspiracies are smart enough to have it all planned out so well. –eric]

  3. 153
    adelady says:

    Thank you eric.

    Whenever we have a choice between conspiracy and FUBAR, fubar is the better wager every time.

    Occasionally there *is* a conspiracy – but it’s usually about something else and the thing that worries you is merely a consequence or collateral damage.

  4. 154
    Andrew Dodds says:


    Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity…

    But loosely speaking, what has happened in the western world (not just the US, we have plenty going on in Europe) is something that has been done to the rest of the world since the 1970s; a debt fueled boom is induced, government ends up borrowing too much on the back of it, the boom turns to bust, and in the fallout there is a savaging of various government programs and a fire sale of assets.

    Not sure if it’s exactly planned or just a natural consequence of financial services deregulation.

  5. 155
    Deconvoluter says:

    Re: #52 and #57 ‘Rationing’

    [political but short]
    I don’t agree with part of Eric’s inline comment after #52. Why follow in the footsteps of Frank Luntz? As advisor to George.W.B., he had a preference for ‘climate change’ over ‘global warming’. In the case of rationing energy, the criterion should be accuracy and avoidance of ambiguity, not appeasement; real or imaginary evidence of spin is not a good idea.

  6. 156
    Lars T. says:

    What to do when there is no sun and wind on (or too much wind)? How about Biogas, IOW burning excess methane. And various energy storage technologies to store the excess energy from when there’s more sun or wind than we can use at the time.

  7. 157
    Didactylos says:

    Ron R.: I think you just underlined my point.

    Your home installation may be great for you, but it has no measurable impact on global warming.

    The economies of scale mean it is very difficult for home generation to compete with wind and solar farms. And siting issues mean that home generation does not provide the same opportunities for everyone.

    I’m confident that in time, and particularly with new build housing, home generation capacity will be added where it makes sense. But please don’t mistake it for a panacea.

  8. 158
    Scotch says:

    “Could we perhaps educate politicians by… trying to educate politicians? I’m not talking about the handful of rabid deniers who are beyond hope, but rather that disinterested majority who are sitting on the sidelines and letting the ignorant and politically motivated lead the way.”

    Good luck!

    The parallels between climate research and intelligence analysis are quite striking! In both disciplines, fabulous products are written and disseminated, but no one on the policy side reads them…unless they’re distilled down to a power point presentation with no more than 10 slides.

    The “hearing” mostly dealt with analysis methods…so where was the defense (or advertisement) of products like the US Climate Change Science Program’s “Climate Models: An Assessment of Strengths and Limitations”? Maybe the US Climate Change Science Program should create power point presentations instead of .pdf files :).

  9. 159
    Snapple says:

    The America Lung Association has published this press conference.

    “A coalition of nearly 500 organizations concerned about congressional proposals to weaken the Clean Air Act sent a letter today urging Congress to uphold the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to protect Americans from toxic air pollution.”

  10. 160
    Susan Anderson says:

    While I’m interested in the political discussion, endless energy is expended on trying to figure out why scientific illiteracy reigns and nature is being ignored; how wealth promotes self-interest at the expense of the future; and what can be done about it. Had to look up FUBAR, and I’m afraid that’s not useful either. I’d tend to agree that people at the top of the pyramid are casual about the quality of life (and lives) of people they exploit for profit, but that’s nothing new.

    Perhaps my request for information was too idiotic to be answered, but was hoping for some knowledgeable response about the freshwater pool in the Arctic. I see the Guardian has now taken it up. It might be helpful, as this is just the kind of “alarmist” worry that I know in the past has been labeled as hype. Could someone who understands this stuff enough take a gander and include some simplification for those less versed in the science as well, inasmuch as that is possible? (Well, I see the Guardian has made a stab at it, so is it credible?)


    Once upon a time I thought of moving to Cornwall, but as northern weather looked diffy, I desisted. This was part of that thinking but at the time I learned the possibility of losing the overturning currents, especially the Gulf Stream, was remote. It seems a lot less remote now.

  11. 161
    Ron R. says:

    Sorry, but I just don’t see any evidence that the supposed masterminds of all these conspiracies are smart enough to have it all planned out so well

    You might be right Eric @ 11:49 PM but there are a lot of people right now who think that the Repubs are trying to sabotage the economy just to defeat Obama in 2012. Google Republicans economic sabotage. If true that would show that they don’t mind hurting the economy for political purposes. I mean they have amply demonstrated that they are not above sabotaging the future of the entire planet for personal gain either right? The motivation? No more government, no more taxes, no more regulation. The wild west (or the dark ages) all over again.

  12. 162
    Ron R. says:

    Didactylos — 7 Apr 2011 @ 8:32 AM said:

    Your home installation may be great for you, but it has no measurable impact on global warming. The economies of scale mean it is very difficult for home generation to compete with wind and solar farms. And siting issues mean that home generation does not provide the same opportunities for everyone.

    I we’re talking past each other D. I know that my one solar heater has no measurable impact on GB. But again, the point is that if everyone that could also installed some kind of clean alternative system that would add up. The more, the better. This is not new math here. I think we all know that we are not even close to what we could be doing.

    Cost has been a big issue. Cut subsidies going to dirty energy, cut the money going to redundant weapons and stupid wars, divert it to helping people purchase these systems.

    BTW, I said earlier that we turn off the gas from the beginning of April to the end of November. It’s usually the first of April to the first of November. Seven months.

  13. 163
    SecularAnimist says:

    Ron R. wrote: “Of course, compared to giant power plants someone’s home solar system may be very small scale – but it’s enough for them.”

    There is a middle ground between “giant power plants” and residential rooftop solar that seems to be neglected in these discussions.

    Residential solar installations are typically in the low KW range, perhaps 3 KW.

    “Giant power plants” are in the hundreds of MW to GW range, like the Brightsource Ivanpah solar thermal power plant (392 MW) or the Blythe Solar Power Project (1000 MW).

    In between, are muncipal-scale solar power plants in the low MW range, like the 1 MW solar thermal power plant in St. Paul, MN, or the 5 MW Sunset Reservoir PV power plant in San Francisco.

    There is HUGE potential for building lots of 1 – 20 MW solar power plants, located close to existing municipal utility infrastructure, often on degraded “brownfields” or other unused (or dual-use) urban/suburban land, at lower per-KW cost than individual residential installations but with many of the same benefits of distributed power generation that is close to existing grid infrastructure and to point-of-use, and without the potential environmental impacts of building “giant power plants” in ecologically sensitive desert areas.

  14. 164
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    Susan Anderson #161. Rabe et al is summarised here. The Guardian’s report seems to be broadly accurate: there is more freshwater in the arctic. It will affect global climate, but there is considerable uncertainty as to how.

  15. 165
    Michael Hillinger says:

    There is a posting at WUWT that seems a little crazy (ok, I know).

    This reprints a piece in the WSJ that attempts to argue that the temperature anomaly data is being incorrectly analyzed. For example, the author says

    “Likewise, in order to determine if the global temperature series is increasing significantly, we must first state what we know about what causes those temperature movements.”

    This seems a little nutty to me since I always thought that statistical tests looked at the size of an effect related to the variance in the data.

    Ayway, as usual, the author makes the case that the anomaly data should be analyzed using a time-series rather than a regression.

    It has been quite a few years since I was in Stats so I would be interested in more knowledgeable reactions to the piece.


  16. 166
    Septic Matthew says:

    164, Secular Animist: There is a middle ground between “giant power plants” and residential rooftop solar that seems to be neglected in these discussions.

    I am glad you wrote that.

  17. 167
    tamino says:

    Re: #166 (Michael Hillinger)

    The WSJ article seems to be based on the now-old canard that global temperature is a random walk — but the author doesn’t give enough information for his claim to be tested. Frankly, it’s a truly idiotic idea which is rather easily refuted, another example of “mathturbation.”

    We should note that he insists on knowing what causes temperature movements, then deliberately ignores all the knowledge that we *do* have in favor of some ridiculous statistical model.

    Perhaps we should also point out to Anthony how strongly he objected to BEST releasing preliminary results with no peer-reviewed publication to back it up. Looks like his objection was just “sour graphs.”

  18. 168
    JCH says:

    I have always thought this RC article was one of the most interesting I’ve read here, and, that I know of, no promised followup has ever been done.

    One prominent skeptic suggested that since Minnett never published the work in a peer-reviewed journal, he must be wrong. Well, I believe this is the article. If so, any chance of getting Minnett back for a follow up?

  19. 169
    Brian Dodge says:

    @ Michael Hillinger — 7 Apr 2011 @ 2:00 PM re WUWT/DOUGLAS J. KEENAN

    “Nowhere in the IPCC report is any testing done on the changes in global temperatures;”

    It’s a rehash of “if we take the derivative of the temperature, hiding the trend and emphasizing the short term noise, we can pretend that the trend doesn’t exist”

    He states “The alternative assumption I tested does make use of the changes in global temperatures and obtains a better fit with the data.” Well, no. He uses changes in ice volume as a proxy for temperature changes, without realizing that ice volume integrates temperature, so changes(derivative) in ice volume map to temperature, not changes in temperature.

  20. 170
    Dan says:

    A very sad state of anti-science affairs in Virginia where Roy Spencer was actually invited to speak at the “Environment Virginia Symposium”…to “bring balance” to the subject of climate change.,0,5755730.story

    “”This is a highly politicized area of science,” he said. “There is so much about climate change that we don’t know.”

    Spencer, who now works for the University of Alabama in Huntsville, addressed a few hundred people Tuesday at the 22nd annual Environment Virginia Symposium. The three-day event draws a who’s who of academics, industry leaders, government officials and activists in Virginia.

    While maybe counterintuitive to an environment conference, state officials sought out Spencer to bring “balance to a subject that is generally one-sided,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Douglas Domenech.

    Spencer lends scientific weight to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s administration, which is fighting federal attempts to counteract Earth’s rising temperatures.”

  21. 171
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 168 JCH – one thing that “One prominent skeptic” should consider is that some things are too obvious or already too well known to be published farther. I just looked back at that RC post – I didn’t read all the details, but the basic idea that of course LW forcing can heat the oceans (given that wind-driven motions mix heat downward, solar heating commonly occurs through a greater depth, and that this heat must be flowing back out to space eventually – through convection, conduction/diffusion (at the surface), and also generally (global average) ocean surfaces would tend to emit more LW than they absorb (and also that the forcing at the surface, with atmospheric adjustment, could include both LW and convective changes, in response to LW forcing at the tropopause level)) is, I would think, one of those things. Like 1+1=2 – It’s not considered a major discovery anymore. (Similarly, (I would think) there wouldn’t have been any need (except for the lay audience) to publish a rebuttal to G&T, as they were preemptively falsified by physics – although that has been done.)

  22. 172
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “But again, the point is that if everyone that could also installed some kind of clean alternative system that would add up.” – 162

    Every watt of energy obtained by the sun is a watt that is not obtained from non-renewable sources.

    A typical U.S. home will use around 2 kilowatts of power per day for water heating.

    Here is a fine summer alternative for the entire country, and a winter alternative for the sourthern states.

    Exposed to direct sunlight, the water in these evacuated tubes will boil. No concentrating mirrors or lenses are required.

    If installed on 1 million homes in the U.S. this equates to an energy savings of 2 terrawatt hours per day.

    There are 130 million homes in the U.S. putting the total potential savings at 130 terrawatt hours per day (rougly compensating for winter)

    Total energy savings (expressed in dollars) equates to roughly $16 million per day. $5.7 billion per year.

    With a cost per installation of less than $1,000 (lets presume $1,000) then a government grant program covering full installation at a cost of $5.7 billion per year, will install 5.7 million units per year.

    All homes in America would then be fitted within 22 years.

    Over that period (Presuming no growth in electricity demand), the equivalent of 42 gigawatt power generators could be shut down across the country, or re-tasked for other purposes.

  23. 173
    adelady says:

    Climate communication? This neat little analysis of a couple of surveys tells us something I’ve suspected for quite a while. What people think about climate change or climate science really does depend on the situation outside their window.

    …”This myopic focus on their immediate experience suggests that people’s beliefs can be as mercurial as the weather,” the researchers wrote.

  24. 174
    J Bowers says:

    #172 Vendicar Decarian

    Thanks for that :)

    Make a simple solar water heater with easy to find materials

    Solar Water Heating is a fantastic way to obtain free hot water and to save fossil fuels. The following simple design for a solar water heater requires no pump or difficult to find materials, and it can be built in just a few hours by anyone with basic DIY skills.

    All you need is some black pond liner, plywood, a plexiglass sheet, a big bucket, and some hoses and clamps. In total it will cost around £30 assuming that you have to buy all of the materials you use (rather than recycling junk). For your efforts you will have a solar water heater which will heat up a 5 gallon bucket of water to well over 40 degrees celcius (the temperature of a hot bath).

    One thing I like about that – if you built it, then you’ll probably know how to fix it.

  25. 175
    Jeremy says:

    Tennessee House Bill 368 weasels around a stock list of inconvenient truths:

    “The teaching of some scientific subjects including, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning, can cause controversy.”

    And then vague (but utterly nothing to do with any “religious or non-religious doctrine,” no sir!) allowances to teach the controversy. Public welfare, indeed.

    [Response: I love the ‘not limited to’ part. –eric]

  26. 176
    Ron R. says:

    Vendicar Decarian @ 1:15 AM: “Every watt of energy obtained by the sun is a watt that is not obtained from non-renewable sources.”

    Bang on!


    [ Clean Energy Is a Target of Ryan Budget Plan]

    A long-term Republican budget plan released this week by Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin calls for drastic cuts in federal spending on energy research and development and for the outright elimination of subsidies and tax breaks for wind, solar power and other alternative energy technologies.

    Big Dirty Energy to Republicans: “Who’s your daddy!”

  27. 177
    thingsbreak says:

    Remember when Richard Muller said, re: cutting off the Briffa proxy data when it stopped tracking temps and adding the instrumental record, “You’re not allowed to do this in science”?

    Here’s Muller in an interview with ScienceInsider describing how the BEST project deals with problematic temperature data:

    R.M.: [NOAA, GISS, HadCRU’s goal is] to generate long continuous methods. … If there was a change, [like] a station moved, they would adjust the data to try to eliminate that. [But] it makes me very uncomfortable when you adjust the data. … [So] we just cut the data at that point [and create two shorter records].

    So, it’s perfectly fine for him to drop data after he believes they have been compromised, but when the paleo people did it, it was completely unscientific.

  28. 178
    thingsbreak says:

    Last comment is apparently incorrect, as someone more familiar with the BEST methodology has pointed out.

  29. 179
    Septic Matthew says:

    CleanTechnica again on recent progress and reasonable expectations for the near future in Solar Power:

  30. 180
    Jack says:

    Is there any absolute understanding of why the Arctic stratosphere is so cold this year, leading to the record 40% loss of ozone? I take it we never get an absolute answer to such a question, but any ideas nonetheless?

    [Response: It’s related to planetary wave activity. If you get a lot of ‘incoming’ it disrupts the polar vortex in the lower stratosphere, and you get a lot of mixing with warmer air. This is the normal situation (which is why you don’t generally get an ozone hole in the arctic. This year seems to have been anomalous, and the polar vortex was quite strong, leading to more cooling, PSC formation and significant springtime ozone loss. We discussed this issue back in 2005 when something similar happened. (search for ozone loss 2005). -gavin]

  31. 181
    spyder says:

    Even Burning Man helps with climate science: this just in from burning nerds group:

    *Dust storm over the Black Rock Desert: Larger-scale dynamic signatures*
    John M. Lewis, National Severe Storms Laboratory, NOAA, Norman, Oklahoma, USA
    Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada,
    Michael L. Kaplan, Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada,
    Ramesh Vellore, Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada,
    Robert M. Rabin, National Severe Storms Laboratory, NOAA, Norman, Oklahoma, USA
    Space Science and Engineering Center, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
    John Hallett, Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada,
    Stephen A. Cohn, Earth Observing Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research,
    Boulder, Colorado, USA
    A dust storm that originated over the Black Rock Desert (BRD) of
    northwestern Nevada is investigated. Our primary goal is to more clearly
    understand the sequence of dynamical processes that generate surface winds
    responsible for entraining dust from this desert. In addition to reliance on
    conventional surface and upper-air observations, we make use of reanalysis
    data sets (NCAR/NCEP and NARR)—blends of primitive equation model forecasts
    and observations. From these data sets, we obtain the evolution of vertical
    motion patterns and ageostrophic motions associated with the event. In
    contrast to earlier studies that have emphasized the importance of indirect
    transverse circulations about an upper-level jet streak, our results
    indicate that in this case the transition from an indirect to a direct
    circulation pattern across the exit region of upper-level jet streak is
    central to creation of low-level winds that ablate dust from the desert. It
    is further argued that the transition of vertical circulation patterns is in
    response to adjustments to geostrophic imbalance—an adjustment time scale of
    6–9 h. Although unproven, we suggest that antecedent rainfall over the
    alkali desert 2 weeks prior to the event was instrumental in lowering the
    bulk density of sediments and thereby improved the chances for dust ablation
    by the atmospheric disturbance. We comprehensively compare/contrast our
    results with those of earlier investigators, and we present an alternative
    view of key dynamical signatures in atmospheric flow that portend the
    likelihood of dust storms over the western United States.

  32. 182
    Daniel Bailey says:

    @ JCH

    Dunno if this helps, but I located a full copy of the Minnett et al 2010 paper here


    The Yooper

  33. 183
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    Re: 152, 176

    “We need to manufacture an crisis in order to insure that there is no alternative to a smaller governmnet.” – Republican Jeb Bush – Imprimus Magazine 1995.

    Google “Starve the beast”.

    Bankrupting the U.S. government as a means to end social programs in the U.S. has long been a goal of many Libertarians and Republicans.

    Hence the rallying cry… “Starve the beast”.

  34. 184
    dhogaza says:


    Bankrupting the U.S. government as a means to end social programs in the U.S. has long been a goal of many Libertarians and Republicans.

    Yes, indeed, Grover Nordquist being a visible example. They’ve been very clear: cut taxes while not addressing the deficit/national debt until desperation economics (read: the need to feed debt service) becomes so onerous that there’s no choice that reasonable people will move to Europe … oops, I mean, that we’ll sit here and let them screw us.

    This isn’t an opinion, they’ve stated this as their strategy for well over a decade. They know the programs they want to end are popular, so in essence they need to convince us that we’re poorer that countries like costa rica …

  35. 185
    One Anonymous Bloke says:

    re: Prof Schmidt’s response to #180. PSC = polar stratospheric cloud? It’s not in your acronym index. As for the response in general, I can sense another learning curve – or several :s – coming on…

  36. 186
    Ron R. says:

    Holy Cow Vendicar @ 9:42 PM. A+! I Googled and there it is, 114,000 references. I feel so stupid. Apparently this has been a Republican strategy since 1978! Why this hasn’t been trumpted from the housetops is beyond me.


  37. 187
    Radge Havers says:

    Ron R. 186

    Why this hasn’t been trumpted from the housetops is beyond me.

    Frustrating. There are structural problems with journalism, but you can never underestimate the stultifying power of groupthink. The comfortable groove of stenography, boxed thinking, and self-censorship is designed to promote entertaining outrage without actually rocking the boat or posing challenging problems for of journalists.

    Interesting quote. Talking about finance, but could apply to handling risk in general:

    We have little empirical basis for judging rare events, so it is difficult to arrive at good estimates. In such circumstances, more than wishful thinking can come into play: we might have few incentives to think hard at all. On the contrary, when others bear the costs of mistakes, the incentives favour self-delusion. A system that social_ises losses and privatises gains is doomed to mismanage risk.

    reCAPTCHA: razatat ideology

  38. 188
    Hank Roberts says:

    You should try citing the actual source, not posting paraphrases (which are far easier to find and far more often repeated than the actual quote). Success making stuff up and propagating it is not something to be proud of.

    Reality suffices.

    In this case, reality is more revealing than the fiction *cough*tax*breaks*millionaires*cough

    … if Republicans merely redirect the flow of public largesse from traditional Democrat constituencies to traditional Republican constituencies … then the American people will have been witnesses to a tawdry palace coup rather than a glorious revolution.

    … We need to create a “crisis” that will ensure that there are no alternatives to less government.

    — Jeb Bush
    June 1995–Deinventing Government
    Jeb Bush, Chairman, Foundation for Florida’s Future

  39. 189
    Ron R. says:

    Well I did a little looking around on this. Here are some quotes:

    First, Paul Krugman:

    “The starve-the-beast doctrine is now firmly within the conservative mainstream. George W. Bush himself seemed to endorse the doctrine as the budget surplus evaporated: in August 2001 he called the disappearing surplus “incredibly positive news” because it would put
    Congress in a “fiscal straitjacket.”

    “Like supply-siders, starve-the-beasters favor tax cuts mainly for people with high incomes. That is partly because, like supply-siders, they emphasize the incentive effects of cutting the top marginal rate;
    they just don’t believe that those incentive effects are big enough that tax cuts pay for themselves. But they have another reason for cutting taxes mainly on the rich, which has become known as the “lucky ducky” argument.”

    “Here’s how the argument runs: to starve the beast, you must not only deny funds to the government; you must make voters hate the government. There’s a danger that working-class families might see government as their friend: because their incomes are low, they don’t
    pay much in taxes, while they benefit from public spending. So in starving the beast, you must take care not to cut taxes on these ”lucky duckies.” (Yes, that’s what The Wall Street Journal called them in a famous editorial.) In fact, if possible, you must raise
    taxes on working-class Americans in order, as The Journal said, to get their ”blood boiling with tax rage.”

  40. 190
    Ron R. says:

    dhogaza — @ 11:30 PM mentioned Grover Norquist:

    (from wikiquote)

    We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals — and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship.” quoted in John Aloysius Farrell, “Rancor becomes top D.C. export: GOP leads charge in ideological war,” Denver Post, May 26, 2003

    Our goal is to inflict pain. It is not good enough to win; it has to be a painful and devastating defeat. We’re sending a message here. It is like when the king would take his opponent’s head and spike it on a pole for everyone to see.” from the National Review, quoted in The Republican Noise Machine by David Brock, Crown Publishers 2004, pg. 50

    Bipartisanship is another name for date rape.” Farrell, John A., “Rancor becomes top DC export: GOP leads charge in ideological war”, The Denver Post, 26 May 2003, p. A-01.

    [Democrats] will only become acceptable once they are comfortable in their minority status. Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they’ve been fixed, then they are happy and sedate.” As quoted by Paul Krugman, November 10, 2006

    My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.

    Can’t you feel the love? Maybe David Icke is right (Just kidding – well maybe not).

    I had to pass this one on from Sourcewatch quoting Slate:

    Even within conservative circles, Norquist’s combative personality has made enemies. Conservative columnist Tucker Carlson once called him a “mean-spirited, humorless, dishonest little creep … the leering, drunken uncle everyone else wishes would stay home.”

  41. 191
    Septic Matthew says:

    Here is an interesting summary of the change in American electrical production in 2010:

    Notice that the author reaches the wrong conclusion.

    Here is one sentence: The amount of power they supplied to all consumers rose in the whole year from 1.89% to 2.32%, an increase of only 0.43%, less than half of one percent.

    The change from 1.89% to 2.32% is a rate of increase of 23%. If this rate of increase can be sustained (and American manufacturing capacity in solar and wind is each increasing faster than that), then in 20 years the alternatives will be contributing 114% of American consumption.

    It’s not too likely that these calculations will be followed exactly by the real development. But they do show that the ongoing conversion of the American electrical power industry to non-conventional sources is non-negligible.

    In case you think this is too fanciful for consideration, recall that from 1945 – 1965, the airlines took most of the trans-oceanic passenger travel away from the sealines. For passenger traffic, the sealines are retained mostly for cruises.

    There’s more to trans-oceanic traffic than passengers, and there is more to the American energy economy than electricity, and all analogies break down in multiple ways. Nevertheless, the article shows that there is great potential for, over two decades, dramatically reducing American use of coal for electricity generation without impoverishing America.

  42. 192
    Hank Roberts says:

    Useful numbers:

    hat tip to commenter Cyril R. at Barry Brook’s

  43. 193

    Prof. Stefan Rahmstorf at EU Geosciences conference: global sea level rise likely between 0.75 and 1.90 metre by 2100:

  44. 194
    Ron R. says:

    Don’t know how useful it is Hank.

    Though Fukushima had happened just 16 days previous and was and still is big news he makes no mention of it. Odd to say the least. Meanwhile

    He does say though (though I didn’t read it all the way through),

    •Low-dose repair time is on the scale of a day or so
    •Doses below threshold (100mSv) cause no damage.

    Then he goes on to uncritically quote from an article which states at the end that it appears that significant beneficial health effects may be associated with this chronic radiation exposure.. Known as “radiation hormesis” the idea has been debunked by knowledgeable people in science (although recently in response to Japan’s crisis professor Ann Coulter thinks that has merit :-)

    A preponderance of scientific evidence shows that even low doses of ionizing radiation, such as gamma rays and X-rays, are likely to pose some risk of adverse health effects, says a new report from the National Research Council. In living organisms, such radiation can cause DNA damage that could eventually lead to cancers. The report provides a comprehensive assessment of these risks based on a review of the scientific literature from the past 15 years. It is the seventh in a series of assessments from the Research Council called the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation.

    To me it looked like propaganda from nuclear cultists.

  45. 195
    Didactylos says:

    Ron R.: The reference to “significant beneficial health effects” was unfortunate, since the paper was outdated. The truth, as you might expect with science, is a whole lot more complicated.

    But even if you double the most ridiculous estimates from Chernobyl, or triple it to account for some future accident – even then, nuclear deaths still compare favourably with all forms of power, and continue to blow the coal and oil safety record out of the water.

    And have no doubt – those “worst case” estimates thrown around by some of the more hysterical environmentalists are sheer fiction. The true number is far lower (although possibly higher than official estimates).

    Fukushima is quite useful in reminding us that even when the worst happens, it isn’t the end of the world. Nuclear power isn’t “safe”, it’s just safer than nearly all other forms of power.

    Apologies for pointing all this out, but I do get rather tired of old CND people playing the denier game and trying to turn people’s deaths into propaganda, trying to fuel that fear of the unknown that radiation represents to so many people.

  46. 196
    Karen Street says:

    What do you think if Environment Canada’s new study showing that peak CO2 = 450 ppm in 2050 will increase temperature 3°C (2.3°C after 2005)?

    The paper finds that reaching that goal would require that greenhouse emissions “ramp down to zero immediately” and that scientists deploy means, starting in 2050, to actively remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Previous modeling efforts have already highlighted the difficulty of reaching the 2˚C goal. But the new study is unique in several ways. Most important, it relies on the first published results from the latest generation of so-called Earth System climate models, complex programs that run on supercomputers and seek to simulate the planet’s oceans, land, ice, and atmosphere. The model in this study, Canadian Earth System Model 2, also incorporates updated data on volcanic eruptions, and it simulates in a more sophisticated way the biosphere’s ability to take in or emit carbon.

  47. 197
    Joe Cushley says:


    “Fukushima is quite useful in reminding us that even when the worst happens, it isn’t the end of the world.”

    You make some fair points about environmentalist exaggerations and the terrible safety record of fossil fuel energy production. But this is just silly. This isn’t the worst that could happen. Far worse could happen. Terrorists could commandeer a jet and crash it into a nuclear installation, or military planes could bomb one, or two…or…. Or believe it or not, there could have been a complete meltdown of several nuclear reactors in an earthquake and tsunami-hit region…

    I get tired of nuclear-advocates brushing problems under the carpet.

  48. 198
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Joe Cushley,
    The force of the magnitude 8.9 earthquake followed by a tsunami is far worse than would be inflicted even by a direct-hit airline crash or bombing raid. What is more, the consequences at Fukushima are attributable far more to the stupidity of the utility operators than to the failures of the design.

    FWIW, I agree, this is far from Worst-Case. However, the disaster was sufficient to derail the 3rd largest economy in the world–it is not surprising it had consequences close to the epicenter.

  49. 199
    Hunt Janin says:

    Re #195 above:

    What would be the impact on sea level rise of a higher global temperature?

  50. 200
    Didactylos says:

    Joe Cushley: they do test for that sort of thing, you know.

    In the case of Fukushima, I believe some serious questions are being asked about the tsunami and earthquake magnitudes the reactors were designed for. I’m all in favour of oversight, and that looks like a big failing. You don’t build on the ring of fire and fail to take these into account. You just don’t. (Yet they did!)

    I’m not a “nuclear advocate”. I’m just a realist – and some parts of the world will need (more) nuclear power in their energy mix until something better comes along. If you are lucky enough to live somewhere that the sun shines all day or the wind blows in abundance, with convenient wide open spaces to harness it – then you are lucky, and should campaign against nuclear power locally. But please don’t confuse the local argument with the global argument.

    And a brief postscript: I am all in favour of nuclear disarmament. We don’t need nuclear weapons. We never did. But the old links between warhead manufacture and nuclear power are irrelevant. We need to move on from those attitudes, no matter how difficult it is to acknowledge changing circumstances.