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Unforced variations: May 2016

Filed under: — group @ 4 May 2016

This month’s open thread. Usual rules apply.

370 Responses to “Unforced variations: May 2016”

  1. 51
    Edward Greisch says:

    38 BPL: The name “sociobiology” has been used for more than one thing. This is not the other one that you are thinking of.

    “The Genetics of Altruism” by Scott A. Boorman, Paul R. Levitt. “Genes, mind and culture” by Edward O. Wilson. If you have too many or too few altruism genes, you will be at a genetic disadvantage.

    The Library of Congress
    URL: http://www.loc.gov/

    Sociobiology is a new science, but it is a science. Give it a few years.

    The Brights project on ethics and morality without god. http://www.the-brights.net/morality/

    Too few breeding pairs have a high chance of going extinct. “So the billionaire who doesn’t care if the rest of the world dies, so long as he and his ten girlfriends survive,” are not likely to have great grandchildren. But they might. This billionaire of yours is a psychopath. He doesn’t care about anything, including his own children. Up to a point, more people are better. Inbreeding can lead to problems, but not every time. There is a medium number of people that is the right number. It may be a wide plateau. A species needs enough variation to have a variety of immune systems, so that bacteria cannot “learn” to defeat one immune system. Variation need not be extreme. At our worst bottleneck, there were 1000 to 10,000 people total, if memory serves. Genetic Eve was one member of that tribe. Genetic Adam was one member of that tribe at a different time, thousands of years from genetic Eve.

    Selection at the species level vs the individual level: A great debate in biology has been raging on that point. Both are important. Darwin didn’t have the last word. Altruism is one way that groups matter. One human alone in the woods is dead. It takes a tribe to survive.

    “Rethinking the Theoretical Foundation of Sociobiology
    The Quarterly Review of Biology
    Vol. 82, No. 4 (December 2007), pp. 327-348
    Published by: The University of Chicago Press
    DOI: 10.1086/522809
    Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/522809
    David Sloan Wilson
    Departments of Biology and Anthropology, Binghamton University Binghamton, New York 13902 USA dwilson@binghamton.edu
    Edward O. Wilson
    Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA
    ABSTRACT
    Current sociobiology is in theoretical disarray, with a diversity of frameworks that are poorly related to each other. Part of the problem is a reluctance to revisit the pivotal events that took place during the 1960s, including the rejection of group selection and the development of alternative theoretical frameworks to explain the evolution of cooperative and altruistic behaviors. In this article, we take a “back to basics” approach, explaining what group selection is, why its rejection was regarded as so important, and how it has been revived based on a more careful formulation and subsequent research. Multilevel selection theory (including group selection) provides an elegant theoretical foundation for sociobiology in the future, once its turbulent past is appropriately understood.
    …….
    DARWIN perceived a fundamental problem of social life and its potential solution in the following famous passage from Descent of Man (1871:166):
    It must not be forgotten that although a high standard of morality gives but a slight or no advantage to each individual man and his children over the other men of the same tribe … an increase in the number of well‐endowed men and an advancement in the standard of morality will certainly give an immense advantage to one tribe over another.
    The problem is that for a social group to function as an adaptive unit, its members must do things for each other. Yet, these group‐advantageous behaviors seldom maximize relative fitness within the social group. The solution, according to Darwin, is that natural selection takes place at more than one level of the biological hierarchy. Selfish individuals might out‐compete altruists within groups, but internally altruistic groups out‐compete selfish groups. This is the essential logic of what has become known as multilevel selection theory.”
    …….
    “A WORD ABOUT TAINTED WORDS
    ….
    It is a natural human tendency to avoid associating oneself with people or ideas that have acquired a bad reputation in the past. Thus, there are evolutionists who study social behavior, but avoid the term “sociobiology,” or who study psychology, but avoid the term “evolutionary psychology,” because of particular ideas that were associated with these terms in the past, including their supposed political implications.”

  2. 52
    Richard Caldwell says:

    Kevin: MacMurray,

    Richard: They call it Fort MacMoney. The wage rate and everything else is sky high when times are good. The housing loss is going to put a big squeeze on life, but folks live as packed as needed when Money is involved.

    I’m “sure” they have fire suppression for the goop-ponds, if needed, but if they burned, it would be way dirty.

    I’ve always speculated that they need a few nuclear piles up there. They’re cheap and foolproof and could certainly supply most of the energy needed to mine bitumen and also to evaporate contaminated water. Top it off with fossil, especially in winter, and it’s a reasonable system, as compared to other fossil fuels. It would totally invalidate Keystone XL opposition. Keystone would be just another pipeline efficiently and safely bringing more or less standard-emissions-level oil to market.

  3. 53
    Adam R. says:

    @ 47 SecularAnimist:

    Disagree that Victor is aware he’s posting ignorant nonsense. He in fact exhibits all the classic signs of sincere crackpottery. Most telling is his belief that brave little Victor is right and the Goliath of science is wrong — together with the usual symptoms of D-K syndrome.

    But I do agree he’s nevertheless a waste of time and belongs exclusively in the bore hole.

  4. 54
    Russell says:

    41. Thank you for the oportunity to confirm my initial suspicion: For openers, Solar Impuse 1 was flown home to Switzerland’s Dubendorf AFB in a cargo jet big enough to carry , well, a solar powered airplane.

    The Solar impulse II circumnavigation in turn spanned over a year, during which an entourage of dozens and tons of spares followed it around the world on commercial jets.

    At fifty passenger miles per gallon, this means a logistical carbon footprint reckoned in the hundreds of tonnes, so in fossil fuel terms , depite Rutan’s weird view of climate science, his flight was roughly ten times greener than Piccards.

  5. 55
    Richard Caldwell says:

    On forest soil:

    This source says typical(?) US forests, while under standard(?) forest management (harvesting), store 6-10 tons of carbon in the soil per acre. There’s an additional 0.8 tons of carbon in the products and 6 tons of “tree carbon”. That’s before the fire cycle, I assume. See figure 24.1:

    http://tinyurl.com/z6e2sdc

    So yes, forests build soil in significant amounts, even if they are harvested. The amount depends on the forest. Tropical forests are famous for having poor soil. The Amazon thrives on a constant dusting of African fertilizer.

    On coal:

    Peat is the first stage in coal formation, but all peat isn’t created equal. It seems swampy, but with intermittent drier periods is best:

    “Peats are generally considered to be partly decomposed biomass (vegetation). They show a wide range in degree of decomposition. Kurbatov (1968) briefly summarizes 35 years of research into the formation of peat as follows: “The formation of peat is a relatively short biochemical process carried on under the influence of aerobic micro-organisms in the surface layers of the deposits during periods of low subsoil water. As the peat which is formed in the peat-producing layer becomes subjected to anaerobic conditions in the deeper layers of the deposit, it is preserved and shows comparatively little change with time”. According to this theory the presence of either aerobic or anaerobic conditions decides whether any biomass will accumulate and in what form. Distinction is made by Kurbatov (1968) between forest peat which is more aerated and therefore more decomposed, and peats formed under swampy conditions with strongly anaerobic conditions. In forest peat, lignin and carbohydrates appear to be completely decomposed so it generally has a low content of such organic compounds, whereas under swamp conditions peats are characterized by high contents of cutin and the presence of much unaltered lignin and cellulose (Table 3).”

    http://www.fao.org/docrep/x5872e/x5872e05.htm

    Since these areas exist, yes, coal is being formed today, or at least the first step is being taken. However, I’m sure we’re mining more peat than is being formed. I’ll go with, “There’s probably negative net initiation of coal formation today.” Since “net” is what counts, I’d say Steve Fish was being conservative.

  6. 56
    Thomas says:

    31 Edward Greisch.

    Ed, when I pull the covers up over my head, Donald Trump no longer exists. :-)

    Creating our own idealized worlds isn’t that hard to do. But as soon as the covers come down the real world is still there anyway. Wishing the real world aligned with our own idealised belief system is no more effective as thinking that denying climate science will solve the AGW/CC problem.

  7. 57
    Richard Caldwell says:

    BPL,

    Using your religion as a reasonable yardstick, what are the odds that any of us “measure up”? What is the ethics/wisdom/morality of admitting that fact and using it to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of our efforts? Isn’t the goal to find and work around/strengthen our weaknesses? I don’t like pompous BS like yours. When talking about systemic changes caused by the next degree, nothing goes anywhere without Eemian support. Getting rejected and then not searching out Eemian support shows counter-productive tendencies that hurt this site, either by spreading false panic or withholding the critical information that would let us see your light.

    On to the macrocosm:

    The axioms which define how science is played were set in a very different age. Analysis of social structures and the mind didn’t go like climate science, where the first guys who considered it did some math and got it pretty much right on the first try. But people and how they interact? That’s the “unsettled science” denialists dream of and exploit.

    With all the complexity of this essentially new science, what are the odds that a simplistic formula which is proudly self-described as “dragging us kicking and screaming” is the most efficient technique? Wanna buy a bridge?

  8. 58
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    Still feeding the trolls I see…sigh!

  9. 59
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    6: Mike. Well said! We are certainly in a state of acute climate emergency. I quick glance at the CO2 hockey stick since 1900 will tell you that. I haven’t seen a graph of global biodiversity loss yet, flora and fauna since 1900. That should also sound the alarm bells. Yes, Alberta, the great barrier reef, sinking pacific islands, heatwaves in the middle east and Africa, biblical droughts and floods in many other regions of the planet is precursor of what’s around the corner. The country’s been drying out over the past decade and this also shows why the arctic regions have been getting so little snow this past winter. It is now a unstoppable hard wired pos. feedback loop. Even if we all are to go cold turkey with our fossil fuel use it would be of little use. I’ve been following Prof.Wadhams for quite a while now and his experience (not withstanding gut instinct) in this field is massive. Some people can just visualise what’s happening and it’s imminent consequences and some cannot it seems… he can! Still for us who are fascinated by climate science and understand the systems at play, it’s very perversely interesting indeed. Good luck with your grapes, mine on the sunshine coast qld get eaten by all and sundry airbourne pests. Cheers!

  10. 60
    MA Rodger says:

    mike @48,
    The difficulty with following your advice is that Victor the Troll is more than happy to operate without food. Look into the Bore Hole.
    Of course, it is difficult identifying that somebody is truly a troll, like it is with a liar. In both cases the true intentions of the suspected troll/liar need to be deduced when, by the very nature of trolls/liars, their true intentions are masked.

    Ever since his arrival 20 months ago, Victor has proved unable to interact here.
    Explanations of why his assertions (which have increasingly turned crass and insulting) are wrong (explanation like that given by Kevin McKinney @43) are ignored or sidestepped.
    Requests for him to explain himself, even in the simplest of terms; they go unanswered. (The most recent such request by myself @5, to name the “distinguished scientists” he invokes in his arguments, is hardily a big ask.) But This inability to interact shows all the signs of resulting from Victor being an exceedingly stupid fellow and there is in my opinion no evidence that Victor is truly a troll.

    Yet Victor the Troll is so persistent with his stupidity that he surely has no place here. He is effectively become a full-blown troll and I would suggest he be returned to the Bore Hole.

  11. 61
    MA Rodger says:

    Richard Caldwell @40.
    The NSIDC post you link to has been quickly superseded as ‘latest post’. The specific link is now required – here.
    Of course, the reduction of 4th year & 5+year sea ice extent under the new analysis (and also reduction in 2nd & 3rd year SIE) shown there in Fig 4b is for but one week – 2015#36. What will be more of interest is the impact of the new analysis on the decline of Ice Age over the decades (as per here (usually 2 clicks to ‘download your attachment’)). I assume the revised data will also feed into Sea Ice Thickness averaging and Sea Ice Volume models.

  12. 62
    Chrstopher says:

    with a respect due the importance of the conversation generated by RealClimate, if I may ask question, can anyone here please direct me to a blog of similar integrity that is engaged in discussing the reduction of greenhouse gases?

  13. 63
    Geoff Beacon says:

    I got some interesting answers from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change. My first question

    Am I correct in thinking that some of these feedbacks were not used in the models that calculated the “remaining carbon budgets” – as used in the IPCC AR5?

    Their answer

    That’s correct, the models used vary in what they include, and some feedbacks are absent as the understanding and modelling of these is not yet advanced enough to include. From those you raise, this applies to melting permafrost emissions, forest fires and wetlands decomposition.

    Carbon budgets: A straightforward answer from DECC

    I’m not used to such frankness from UK government departments. Things must be bad.

    These feedbacks will eat further into the IPCC remaining carbon budgets. Given the relation between economic activity and greenhouse gas emissions, it looks like we should accept a fall in world GDP. See Green growth or degrowth?

    Does anyone here think “green growth” is possible?

  14. 64
    Richard Caldwell says:

    MA Roger, thanks for the update. Yes, one minimum doesn’t mean much. There’s so much variability when wind is blowing some of the thickest ice through narrow gaps. My Fantastical Solution for saving the Arctic Sea Ice is to string nets in appropriate places, such as the Fram Straight, to stop icebergs. ;-)

  15. 65
    Hank Roberts says:

    Oops.

    …. We hypothesized that mineral soil C pools would be lower in forests that had been harvested in the last one hundred years vs. forests that were >100 years old. We collected mineral soil cores (to 60 cm depth) from 20 forest stands across the Northeastern United States, representing seven geographic areas and a range of times since last harvest. We compared recently harvested forests to >100-year-old forests and used an information theoretic approach to model C pool dynamics over time after disturbance. We found no significant differences between soil C pools in >100-year-old and harvested forests. However, we found a significant negative relationship between time since forest harvest and the size of mineral soil C pools, which suggested a gradual decline in C pools across the region after harvesting. We found a positive trend between C : N ratio and % SOM in harvested forests, but in >100-year-old forests a weak negative trend was found. Our study suggests that forest harvest does cause biogeochemical changes in mineral soil, but that a small change in a C pool may be difficult to detect when comparing large, variable C pools. Our results are consistent with previous studies that found that soil C pools have a gradual and slow response to disturbance, which may last for several decades following harvest.

    GCB Bioenergy

    Volume 7, Issue 6
    November 2015
    Pages 1283–1293

    Mineral soil carbon pool responses to forest clearing in Northeastern hardwood forests
    Authors

    First published: 28 September 2014
    DOI: 10.1111/gcbb.12221
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcbb.12221/

    Plenty more if you search. Remember, avoid the bubble: clear cache, sign out of Google, restart your browser, then search, to avoid being fed more of the stuff you like to click on. Then something like this for a start:
    https://www.google.com/#q=forest+soil+carbon+loss+logging%3F

  16. 66
    Victor says:

    #47 “Victor” is in fact a textbook example of a “troll”.

    This is getting tiresome. Over and over the “troll” bit. Not sure why this garbage isn’t consigned to the bore hole, because it’s totally redundant and certainly adds nothing to the discussion of climate and climate change.

    It should be clear by now that I’m not a troll. I irritate lots of people here because I refuse to accept the prevailing theory. That’s not being a troll. It’s participating in the debate. Almost everything I write is based on scientific papers and related reports, which is supposed to be what this blog is all about — the science. If you truly believe debate over this issue is trolling, then stop claiming to defend “the science,” because without debate there is no science, period.

  17. 67
    Thomas says:

    I’m curious who this Victor Grauer is on RC?
    http://www.amazon.com/Victor-Grauer/e/B005D78656 ??
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neomodernism#Victor_Grauer and
    http://doktorgee.worldzonepro.com/MODERN.htm ??
    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/29/climate-trade-obama/comment-page-2/#comment-192051
    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2014/10/07/what-is-the-role-of-the-deep-ocean-in-global-warming-climate-science-deniers-get-this-wrong/#comment-525284
    links to
    http://amoleintheground.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/common-sense-on-climate-change.html post by a Doc-G
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4F64s4iVcZTX_XSXctbObQ
    and Victor Grauer1 year ago
    First of all he doesn’t really answer the important questions. He just deflects them. And ultimately the whole thing becomes just too hokey to be taken seriously. What begins as a reasonable analysis turns into blatant propaganda.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=UG&page=4&hl=en-GB&v=7nnVQ2fROOg (among others)

    also
    http://www.nature.com/news/2007/071210/full/news.2007.359.html
    uuoohhmm – this is the masterful blogbook by Dr. Victor Grauer – http://soundingthedepths.blogspot.com.au/

    There be more than one of course, which is why I ask.

  18. 68
    Steve Fish says:

    Re: Comment by Piotr — 5 May 2016 @ 12:08 AM, ~#14

    I was curious about your explanation of how the formation of aragonite releases CO2 and decreases pH. This seems counterintuitive relative to the long term carbon cycle whereby calcium carbonate deposition in the ocean is the primary mechanism for the long term reduction of atmospheric CO2. This is way out of my area of expertise, but this paper: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4034600/ seems to say that the pH shift is compensated by for by photosynthesis required for coral metabolism. If you, or anyone who is conversant with these processes could explain this more simply, I would be greatful. Steve

  19. 69
    mike says:

    Forest soil, peat to coal formation etc at 55 indicates the problem that I have with the assertion that biomass burning is carbon neutral. I think the record with biomass left on ground where it falls strongly suggests that a significant portion of it ends up sequestered at ground level and below. Creating more CO2 emissions to scoop it up, then burn it creates additional emissions even if the byproduct of biochar or biomass residue is sequestered. Maybe I am wrong about this?

    be that as it may, these numbers look bad to me:

    Daily CO2

    May 5 2016: 407.37 ppm

    May 5, 2015: 403.95 ppm
    April CO2

    April 2016: 407.57 ppm

    April 2015: 403.45 ppm

    but, hey Dude, it’s just a really bad month, or really bad year or maybe three. Or, in Alberta, it’s only one town that has burned to the ground. We should not make too much of it.

    Another beautiful, warm day in the Pac NW. Strawberries are jumping in size. Life is good.

    Warm regards,

    Mike

  20. 70
    Michael Schnieders says:

    #43 Kevin McKinney,
    I was paying attention to that this morning. Totally amazing that there no deaths.
    The extent to which the fire is growing, and with the change in wind direction, now potentially putting more of the oil company projects at risk, started to make me wonder though.
    Can anyone answer this:
    Is it possible for the weather conditions, in the area of the McMurray wildfires, to carry the smoke and fine ash to the ice pack?

    If so, is it possible for the particulants to provide an effect to the ice melt this summer?

  21. 71
    flxible says:

    The Fort Mac fire is miles from any petro site, not likely the oil companies will lose any infrastructure, in fact one of the first places townfolk fled to was the work camps, underused since price drops resulted in large layoffs – additionally, the town was not destroyed, there’s lots standing, particularly the downtown and major facilities – one report I saw mentioned about 20% of residential properties affected overall

  22. 72

    Michael Schneiders (can’t see post number at the moment, as I’m in what I take to be mobile format.)–

    It is amazing that there are, as yet, no fatalities known to be directly due to the fire. (Unfortunately, a pair of young people died in a traffic accident while evacuating.) Give the populace and authorities some credit, I guess.

    Your question about the possibility of soot affecting the sea ice melt intrigued me. A little searching turned up this:

    http://firesmoke.ca/forecasts/

    The national level modeling shows some of the PM 2.5 reaching the shores of the Arctic Ocean, so maybe it could have at least a local effect. While the fire is a large, hot ‘beast’, it’s current area is comparable to that of a metropolitan area–large in human terms, but not compared to total area of the region. I suspect that the soot output is still lots smaller than that of southeastern Asia–but of course it’s also much closer to the ice pack, implying that local or regional concentrations may yet be comparable (or for all I know, even worse.) Yet another ‘interesting’ thing to watch.

  23. 73
    Richard Caldwell says:

    Hank’s cite: found that soil C pools have a gradual and slow response to disturbance, which may last for several decades following harvest.

    Richard: So they say the soil “fully” recovers as long as the harvest cycle is long enough, at least by one measure?

    It reminds me of when I was going into the woods to dig up oak trees to transplant in the trailer park. All those stories about burying somebody in the woods… as if. Roots are everywhere and I’m sure the ecosystem is balanced just right when we come in and chop down most mature trees in an area. That seriously warps the dead-to-alive root-ratio, so your cite makes sense. I suppose post-fire scenarios would be similar, though there you have a yummy ash layer to eat.

    ——-

    Mike, I hear ya. But Reality is what it is. The fact is that in many forests, given current conditions, the choices are to either strip excess biomass and organic debris, or fight the inevitable massive conflagrations. Use the bounty wisely or get burned, eh?

    I like the idea of building firebreaks into our forests. They could be rolling, so harvests are every century or so. 100 strips of cohorts to a forest management area…

  24. 74
    Thomas says:

    66 Victor says: “because without debate there is no science”

    LOL a correction: Without debate, discussions, meetings, peer-review and the sharing of knowledge BETWEEN Scientists such as in published Papers in scientific Journals there is no science.

    Despite the extent of uneducated unscientific fools who base their entire beliefs on false beliefs and their non-stop hubris across social media there is still science.

    Ignorance and Denial isn’t Debate. It’s simply ignorance and denial and not ‘science’.

    The absence of evidence, because one either refuses to look at it or because they do not understand it, is not evidence of absence.

    a Paper on Relationships between Religious Belief, Analytic Thinking, Mentalizing and Moral Concern suggests:
    Quoting from the paper first from the abstract: “These studies are guided by a theoretical model which focuses on the distinct social and emotional processing deficits associated with autism spectrum disorders (mentalizing) and psychopathy (moral concern). To our knowledge no other study has investigated both of these dimensions of social and emotion cognition alongside analytic thinking.”

    and from under the subheading General Discussion “According to our theoretical model, moral concern represents one broad dimension of social cognition distinct from mentalizing. This view is supported by the observation that moral concern and mentalizing relate to distinct neuropsychological profiles, such that a deficit in moral concern is the primary personality characteristic of psychopathy, whereas a deficit in mentalizing is thought to be a key characteristic of Autism Spectrum Disorders. To our knowledge, this is the first series of studies to simultaneously test these three cognitive constructs—analytic thinking, moral concern, and mentalizing—in order to test the extent to which each independently contributes to religious and spiritual belief.

    The studies presented here establish a clear positive association between moral concern, using a variety of specific measures which represent components of this broader construct, and belief in God and/or a universal spirit. This relationship was found to be robust even when controlling for the previously established link between analytic thinking and religious disbelief. Further, no evidence was found supporting the view that either direct or indirect measures of mentalizing predict belief after taking into account measures of moral concern.”
    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0149989#abstract0

    A global conspiracy involving climate scientists to bring down the capitalist system via a global network of devious morally corrupted groups using flawed science is a “moral concern.” No ‘Analytic Thinking’ required.

    But endless mentalizing or trolling about the conspiracy helps feed the desire to maintain a litany of incoherent beliefs held to religiously, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

  25. 75
    Mal Adapted says:

    Barton Paul Levenson:

    BPL: Except that sociobiology is essentially a pseudoscience. Untestable. As when sociobiologists say any given behavior is to aid kin, and if you do it to aid non-kin, it’s the same behavior “misfiring.”

    Citation needed. Sorry, BPL, but I mostly support EG here. From the two years I spent in the PhD program in Ecology and Evolution in the early 1980s (dang, time flies when you’re getting old) and my ongoing amateur interest in the subject, I can tell you that “sociobiology” means something different to an evolutionary biologist than it does to the lay public. And human sociobiology, now called Evolutionary Psychology, is hardly pseudoscience. Per T. Dobzhansky’s dictum “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution”, the evolution of human behavior is a legitimate subject for investigation. It has to be done with empirical rigor, of course. As with any scientific sub-discipline, not everything that makes it into the peer-reviewed literature is sound. Sciency popular books should be read with skepticism, as always.

    With respect, Barton, you’ve demonstrated sufficient scientific meta-literacy to find all this out for yourself. Beware the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  26. 76

    On my earlier comment–I said that the smoke plume seems to be reaching the shore of the Arctic Ocean. Should have been a little pickier: it’s not, yet, but is forecast to do so by Tuesday. Here’s a screen shot of the page to which I linked earlier:

    Photobucket image

  27. 77
    Victor says:

    #67 Yeah, that’s me all right. There’s only one Victor Grauer. Thanks for the free publicity. And no, my background is not in climate science, but musicology, anthropology, semiotics, film-making, musical composition, poetry, etc. If you do a search on my name you’ll find a lot more than what Thomas dug up. The book that’s relevant to this blog, however, is the one I wrote on climate change, which you’ll also find at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Unsettled-Science-Climate-Change-Critical-ebook/dp/B00YOARTPQ

    If you read that book then you’ll see very full discussions of the topics I’ve only been able to touch on here. The reason for the blank blog posts at Mole in the Ground is that my climate book contains material from the blog that was later revised. So I removed those posts to avoid confusion. The blog is mainly devoted to political, economic and also poetic issues, and almost all the other posts are still there. Well worth reading, imo.

    And yes, I’m an arrogant SOB, in case you haven’t noticed. No more so than many others posting here I’m afraid. :-)

  28. 78
    Edward Greisch says:

    70 Michael Schnieders: Yes and yes on the smoke from that fire dirtying the snow on Greenland. Find a recent picture of Greenland. It isn’t white any more, but it sin’t just from one fire. Same as dust from Sahara fertilizing the Amazon and smoke from California making my lungs feel bad in Illinois. Heavier particles like pollen, grass ground up by lawnmowers and mold spores tend to be very local, as in within 50 feet or something like that. The oceans filter out the big particles but not the really fine particles. Dust science is a good research topic. There is a lot more to know that I don’t know. On the big end, somewhere in the midwest in the past 2 weeks there was softball [baseball? really?] sized hail, per TV weather.

  29. 79
    MA Rodger says:

    Victor the Troll @66.
    Your contribution here is overwhelmingly that of a troll. You may argue that this cannot be so because your intentions are not those of a troll, but your protests are simple cobblers. It may be solely because you are too stupid to mend your ways, but your comments are those of a troll and that is an end to it. If you wish to relinquish your troll status, you will have to put your brain in gear and stop acting like a troll.
    So how would that be?
    The basic argument you present here of late is that AGW is “riddled with controversy”, that there are “distinguished scientists on both sides of this debate and both sides deserve to be heard” suggesting there are scientists (or perhaps a whole ‘side’ of scientists) being ignored.
    Your argument remains wholly trollish until you describe what you mean by it. What are these ‘controversies riddling AGW’ and why do they remain controversies? Who are these “distinguished scientists” you speak of and which of their papers, which of their grand theories are you suggesting are being ignored?
    Unless you can oblige us with answers to these questions, unless you can engage with the comments here properly, you will remain a troll who (by your own very telling words) “refuse(s) to accept the prevailing theory” yet (contrary to your own words) is not “participating in the debate.” (The latter is entirely evident from an examination of this and the previous Unforced Variations thread.)
    If you cannot achieve this, Victor, your continued trollish contributions deserve to be bore-holed with all the other “garbage.”

  30. 80

    RC: Then I explain your self-induced stupidity

    BPL: You are, in fact, the stupidest person in the room. Your stupidity is so dense, not even intelligence can escape–the stupons have collapsed into pure stuponium. You have gone beyond stupidity as we know it and into whole new dimensions of stupidity. You emit more stupid in one post than our entire galaxy emits in a year.

    Please, don’t stop. If there’s one thing this blog needs, it’s more Dunning-Kruger.

  31. 81

    EG 51: If you have too many or too few altruism genes, you will be at a genetic disadvantage.

    BPL: Which chromosomes are the altruism genes located on?

  32. 82

    RC 57: Using your religion as a reasonable yardstick, what are the odds that any of us “measure up”?

    BPL: 0. Romans 3:23.

  33. 83

    V 66: I irritate lots of people here because I refuse to accept the prevailing theory.

    BPL: No, Victor, you irritate lots of people here because you refuse to engage or to acknowledge it when we engage. If we answer what you bring up, you ignore it, wait a while, and then bring up the same point later–classic troll behavior. You never acknowledge that you’re wrong on any point, howsoever trivial. You don’t understand the science and you don’t want to learn. You’re great at selective quotation, but there’s no sign you’ve ever learned how to study–how to get the concepts the papers you yourself cite are talking about.

  34. 84

    MA 75,

    The human evolutionary specialization is flexibility of behavior. E.O. Wilson was an ant specialist. Ants are entirely hardwired; humans are not. The whole point about humans is that they’re programmable.

    As for the respectability of sociobiology, it’s amazing how frequently socibiology is used to prop up conservative social biases. Some examples of leading sociobiologists since Wilson:

    Richard Dawkins is a militant anti-religion crusader and has a pathological hatred of Christians in general and Roman Catholics in particular. He supported the work of anti-Semitic sociobiologist John Hartung and backed a scientific boycott of Israel, though he later backed away from the latter. He blamed the World Trade Tower attacks on belief in an afterlife and has stated that he would abolish “sectarian” schools if he had the power to do so.

    William D. Hamilton. In his memoirs, which Dawkins was instrumental in suppressing, Hamilton called for a worldwide eugenics program using infanticide and euthanasia. He stated that a defective child was better off dead, despite himself having a congenitally ill son. He also said he regretted the death of a single giant panda more than that of a hundred “Chinamen.”

    John Hartung. This editor of the premier “evolutionary psychology” journal spends a great deal of his time complaining about how awful the Jews are and what a terrible religion Judaism is. He has called the Bible “the most evil book ever written” and writes articles with titles like “Rape and Cuckoldry in the Torah and Midrash Rabba.” He positively reviewed Kevin MacDonald’s crackpot books about the Jews and wrote editorial letters supporting Holocaust denier David Irving.

    Kevin MacDonald writes books about how Jews are pursuing an “evolutionary strategy” which makes them enemies of every other group, including the suggestion that the Holocaust, though, of course, simply awful, was really an understandable reaction by the German people. He also testified on behalf of Holocaust denier David Irving (another anti-Semite endorsed by Hartung) when Irving sued historian Deborah Lipstadt for “defaming” him by calling him a Holocaust denier.

    Want me to go on? Some of the “findings” of sociobiology are that rape is natural, racism is natural, war is inevitable, etc., etc., etc. And again, the main flaw is not the fact that its proponents have an agenda. It’s that the vast majority of these propositions ARE NOT TESTABLE. Are there widespread customs against incest? Must be genetic. Are first-cousin marriages preferred in many cultures, and is incest widespread even in areas that ban it? Well, of course, since if you reproduce with a close relative the offspring has more of your genes than a random member of the population. Whatever the evidence, it always proves sociobiology. That’s the mark of a pseudoscience.

  35. 85
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    77:victor. It’s your self admitted arrogance and bloody mindedness which is blinding you to the obvious reality of our worsening climatic situation. For Christsake sometimes admit that you could be wrong man!

  36. 86
    Chuck Hughes says:

    “I irritate lots of people here because I refuse to accept the prevailing theory.”

    Comment by Victor — 7 May 2016 @ 11:36 AM

    Then you do not know what “Scientific Theory” is or how it works or what it means. What you do have is a computer, the internet and an oversize ability to be annoying . I would rate you as a highly successful gadfly.

    Hopefully you’re a better musician than you are a “climate expert”.

  37. 87
    Michael Schnieders says:

    To Kevin McKinney,
    Thanks, that’s a great site. I never seem to word my searches properly. Looking at it this morning, it looks like the ash might affect the ice in Hudson Bay more.

  38. 88
    Edward Greisch says:

    74 Thomas: Nope, I don’t “believe” that morals require religion, unless they are talking about people with average [low] IQs. For normal people, meaning people smart enough to be scientists, there is no connection between religion and either morals or ethics. I will finish reading the paper later. Since religion is off-topic, I will just point you back to sociobiology and http://www.the-brights.net/morality/

  39. 89
    Nemesis says:

    @Barton Paul Levinson, #84

    ” Richard Dawkins is a militant anti-religion crusader and has a pathological hatred of Christians in general and Roman Catholics in particular. He supported the work of anti-Semitic sociobiologist John Hartung and backed a scientific boycott of Israel, though he later backed away from the latter. He blamed the World Trade Tower attacks on belief in an afterlife and has stated that he would abolish “sectarian” schools if he had the power to do so.”

    Exactly. He is exactly as much a fundamentalist, as some religious people are fundamentalists. Richard Dawkins shows very little tolerance, but very much in-tolerance and fundamentalism. I say that as someone without any religous preferences whatsoever.

    @Edward Greisch, #88

    ” Nope, I don’t “believe” that morals require religion, unless they are talking about people with average [low] IQs. For normal people, meaning people smart enough to be scientists, there is no connection between religion and either morals or ethics.”

    And, sorry, you obviously show some of the very same in-tolerance and arrogance, Richard Dawkins is showing^^

    I don’t like christianity (because it is a bastard of roman and jewish religion mixed together)- but do you know, that modern science evolved in christian monasteries? There is more kinship of science and christianity/religion than you might imagine. The christian god is a technocrat too, sitting up there in heaven, pusshing miraculous buttons, ruling the planet exactly like modern technocrats. I can tell countless relationships of modern science, politics, ideology and christianity.

  40. 90
    Victor says:

    #86 “For Christsake sometimes admit that you could be wrong man!”

    This possibility is, in fact, the topic of the final chapter of my book. But of course you dare not actually read the book for fear there might possibly be something in it that might change your mind. Keep those barriers up my friend, to protect you from anything that might challenge your smug certainties.

    I see lots of wailing and whining but NOTHING of any substance from anyone who’s chosen to attack me here. Just lots of the usual ad hominems. Read my book and then feel free to review it in any manner you like. If you dare.

    But no. You won’t give me the satisfaction, will you? Fine with me. But then please don’t assume you know what I’m thinking or what it is that keeps me from following the herd.

  41. 91
    MA Rodger says:

    Steve Fish @68.
    I see no chemist coming to the rescue to “explain .. these processes .. more simply” so in their absence, here is a non-chemist trying to explain it.
    CO2 dissolves into/out-of surface waters to reach an equilibrium which is based on a whole bunch of factors – temperature, pressure (with depth), alkalinity, etc. There is another equilibrium process (again dependent on a whole bunch of factors) between the dissolved CO2 and carbonic acid/bicarbonate/carbonate. It is the presence of the bicarbonate that causes the majority of the acidity in the ocean. The chemical equation for the various states of CO2 in water looks something like:-
    CO2 + H2O ↔ H2CO3 ↔ H(+) + HCO3(-) ↔ 2H(+) + CO3(–)
    Now the oceans can get rid of the bicarbonate by forming (usually biologically) calcium carbonate (& calcium carbonate can be dissolved the other way by carbonic acid):-
    Ca(++) + 2HCO3(-) ↔ CaCO3 + H2CO3
    But note that calcium appears as a positive ion so the process forming calcium carbonate, by using up a conservative ++ion reduces the total alkalinity of the ocean (which is not the same as the pH-above-7 people commonly talk of as being alkalinity). Lowering the total alkalinity boosts the acidity. (Fresh water, for instance, that has zero total alkalinity is far more acid than sea water whose total alkalinity is mainly because of a 0.4% imbalance between Na+ & Cl-. At 350ppm atmospheric CO2, fresh water would be 5.6 pH but sea water would be 7.5 to 8.5 pH depending on salinity, because of those excess Na+ ions.)
    The next bit is beyond my pay grade although it makes sense. Piotr @14 was saying that this added acidity from forming calcium carbonate would affect the CO2/carbonic acid/bicarbonate/carbonate equilibrium, reducing the oceans capacity to absorb CO2.
    What is missing from this account so far is the process that fixes the Ca(++) in the oceans, the weathering of silicate rocks which is more widely known than the above (& if not see this SkS post). This is the process that adds the Ca++ and so the alkalinity which the calcium carbonate formation destroys. The chemistry looks something like:-
    CaSiO3 + CO2 + H2CO3 → Ca(++) + 2HCO3(-) + SiO2
    (The SiO2 is silica, so happy to dissolve out to form rock.)

    These then are the processes which will draw down our CO2 pollution back into the geology but they work far more slowly at draw down than we do at polluting (something like 100 times more slowly).

  42. 92
    Hank Roberts says:

    Richard Caldwell wrote above: 7 May 2016 at 8:07 PM

    Richard: So they say the soil “fully” recovers as long as the harvest cycle is long enough, at least by one measure?

    You could read it that way, if you wanted to spin optimism out of lack of data.
    But who would want to do that?

    You could read it to say that soil carbon might recover, if the harvest cycle were long enough, and that as harvesters don’t wait that long, soil carbon won’t recover, and since they don’t wait that long, there’s no evidence that if they did wait X years it would be back to its initial level.

    You should recall the goal is to increase the soil carbon, not decrease it.

    How long would that take?

  43. 93
    Nemesis says:

    Obviously, in climate discussions there are optimists, pessimists and realists- but what about the train driver?

    http://tinyurl.com/jq32kup

  44. 94
    MartinJB says:

    BPL, you are WAY out over your skis on sociobiology. It’s like you’re denigrating evolutionary biology because some social darwinists used it to justify eugenics and the like. Sociobiology, as a discipline, covers anything from ant eusocial organization to human behavior. It has created numerous, testable (and tested) hypotheses. Your screed on the alleged (don’t know if they’re true; don’t care) misdeeds of 3 or 4 people is as irrelevant to the validity of the science as an appeal TO authority would be to justify an affirmative position.

    Having studied sociobiology as an undergrad (I concentrated in ecology and animal behavior before switching to marine biology for graduate school), including with EO Wilson, I can say that your interpretation of it bears little to no resemblance to what most of the debate in the discipline is actually about. You seem (and look, I’m just basing this on my observation of a few posts here, so apologies if I’ve misread your view) to have painted the entire discipline with the extremist views of a handful of people. In fact, it is a rich and developing field of science that has spawned a lot of interesting and useful work.

    Finally, to dismiss EO Wilson because he’s an ant specialist is ridiculous. He is a brilliant and flexible thinker who has put serious time and effort into a range of fields. Honestly, it’d be more fair to dismiss anything you’ve said because your a science fiction writer. (Which I am NOT doing)

  45. 95

    #90, Victor–

    I see lots of wailing and whining but NOTHING of any substance from anyone who’s chosen to attack me here.

    Apparently you’ve forgotten that you were patiently given the equivalent of a Cliff’s Notes to Stats 101. (To be fair, though, you showed no sign of absorbing any of it at the time, either.)

    And ‘nothing of substance’ is pure pot-calling-the-kettle, Mr. “I Don’t See A Perfect Correlation.”

  46. 96
    Thomas says:

    88 Edward Greisch, the title is a catch cry, the study is about how people think and how they operate at levels of Belief. Some call that neurosceince others human psychology et al.

    “Religion” is besides the point plus religion was not the subject of the paper itself – just look at the science in the paper and the 100+ referenced papers and put the biases aside while applying one’s high IQ and analytic reasoning (thinking) to the content of the scientific paper.

    Besides that, please try to not put words in my mouth. :-)

  47. 97
    Thomas says:

    84 Barton Paul Levenson: This is an invalid logical ‘argument’ “Whatever the evidence, it always proves sociobiology. That’s the mark of a pseudoscience.” Change the word sociobiology to climate science and you have a ‘denier’ of the obvious. You have someone who is very selectively cherry-picking for ‘effect’ their personal interpretations of what others may have said, which totally ignores the actual content of the scientific/academic papers in sociobiology or climate science. imo pseudoscience is an event that happens when people ignore the actual science aka the valid evidence under discussion and what that may mean.

    Here’s another example of the same thing: “As for the respectability of sociobiology, it’s amazing how frequently socibiology is used to prop up conservative social biases.” One can also see the same kind of logically weak approach being said about climate science being falsely connected to ‘lefties’, anti-capitalists, environmentalists and vegans. The clear Bias is to be found in the people who raise such pseudo-arguments in the first place. They choose to ignore the evidence and the science and prefer instead to argue from a position of self-righteousness. That’s an entrenched personal ‘belief’ at work not scientific rigor or logical analytic thought.

    If I may add a few personal views to the mix. I am not aware of any the examples listed. That a belief in an after-life is somehow interrelated to the WTC attacks seems to me to be so obvious as to be self-evident. While I do hold to a belief acceptance in some kind of an ‘after-life’ I would also ban ‘sectarian schools’ if I was the world’s dictator.

    More realistically I would support their right to exist but would remove all taxpayer funding of them. Make a choice iow. Finland’s education performance and national cohesion suggests this would be a positive social change across the world.

    I happen to think that all religions are ‘terrible’ Judaism included. My view is that they are almost all founded upon thousands of years in amateur pseudo-psychology mixed in with reams of BS, political intrigue and over-inflated egos in the leadership of which leans towards psychopathology. Maybe there is a paper on this somewhere already?

    Lastly one doesn’t need detailed science nor analysis to work out, based on known human history alone, that rape is natural, incest is endemic, child sex abuse is natural, racism is natural, and war is inevitable…” To state that is neither a recommendation nor a moral excuse being given.

    I recommend some analytical thinking be applied to this paper and the 118 references. Then come back to “mentalyzing” about why there is such a divide in opinion about the current state of climate science and what it means or doesn’t mean.

  48. 98
    Thomas says:

    I recommend some analytical thinking be applied to this paper and the 118 references.
    http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0149989#abstract0

  49. 99
    MartinJB says:

    Victor, the reason no-one here is likely to read your book is that you have demonstrated time and again that you have nothing to contribute to the debate. Although you don’t specify if you do physical or cultural anthropology, here’s an analogy you might understand: Imagine if you were discussing human origins and someone kept insisting that that piltdown man was the ancestor of modern man. You’d dismiss them as a crank. Would you waste your time reading their treatise explaining how what everyone else dismissed as a hoax was really the secret of understanding human evolution? If so, you have way more time to waste than I do.

  50. 100
    Thomas says:

    One of the most flawed illogical arguments ever put to me by an anti-climate science delusional ‘Troll’ was:

    “LOL! you true colors are coming through, comrade. No, totalitarians are those who try to impose communism, who want to jail/kill/silence opposition, those who try to impose world governance throw Lysenko-like “science”…. Those of us who have seen the ugly mug of slavery recognazi it when we see it again. But, thatk God, with your Soros and Gates, with your UN and EU, with the goebbelsian media propaganda machine, you are not winning this war. And you will NOT win it.
    [inserted various videos of state sponsored murder – but no holocaust vids]
    Yea, and the US Government, the Vatican, the UN, the bancs, Gates, Soros, Steyer, the EU, all push “climate change” scam. So, when you cite them as totalitarian, you are kinda on the money”
    from
    http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/he-thought-his-beliefs-about-global-warming-were-based-on-science-science-proved-him-wrong-310.3171/page-26#post-90427

    This extreme lunacy began with this earlier comment:
    1) Naaaa, don’t reverse it on me, the true nazis are those who demand detention, trial, imprisonment and murder for dissidents. Or those who say that humanity should be exterminated. Or those who say Ebola doesn’t work fast enough. You know, the guys you like so much. Like this guy: George Bernard Shaw and “the Humane Gas” in 1934 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgpaKkrZex4
    2) This subject, as many competent scientists affirm, is more of a political issue, disguised as science, as above posted links demonstrate.
    3) Yep, let’s call the stuff you don’t like BS. Probably, you should declare me “denier”, “enemy of the people”, (враг народа) and send me to GULAG. :) :) :)
    http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/he-thought-his-beliefs-about-global-warming-were-based-on-science-science-proved-him-wrong-310.3171/page-8#post-89551

    Whether it is a AGW/CC denier or one who supports the science on these pages, I always draw a line at such low brow ‘arguments’ usually based upon biased belief states.

    I created a poll to prove my point at the skeptico website – deniers have never even read the IPCC reports let alone any climate science papers.
    Have you read every one of the five IPCC reports, in full, yourself?
    The Poll: http://goo.gl/MN1069 – Results: http://goo.gl/lxM1jA
    In fact the 20+ naysayers and the owner of the website (Alex) could not even bring themselves to admit to it by taking the Poll.

    The point? There’s no point in arguing with people who do not know what they are talking about. There’s no point in trying to tell people things they do not want to know. Sure ignore the ‘trolls’ but even better, ignore the social media loonies (and delusional politicians) that are out there too. :-)