Paths To Knowledge (dot Science)

What is actually real in Objective Reality? How do you know? Now, prove it's real!

Archive for February, 2009

Darth Vader in a Dark Mood

Posted by pwl on February 28, 2009

Posted in Fun, Video | Leave a Comment »

Saving the world with science, what you need to know

Posted by pwl on February 28, 2009

Posted in Ethics in Science | Leave a Comment »

We stand in front of the limits of predictability

Posted by pwl on February 28, 2009

[Henk] Tennekes, more than any other individual, challenged the models that climate scientists were constructing, saying models could never replicate the complexity of the real world. What was needed was a different approach to science, one that recognized inherent limits in such scientific tools and aimed less to regulate the environment.

In a landmark speech to the American Meteorological Society in 1986, [Tennekes] argued that meteorology was poised to be the first of the post- Newtonian sciences because it was “at odds with the mainstream of the scientific enterprise of the last 300 years. One goal of science is to control nature, but we know we cannot control the weather. The goal of science is prediction, but we stand in front of the limits of predictability.

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Posted in Climate Science, Definition of Terms, Ethics in Science, Humbled by Nature, Ignorance to Knowledge, Proofs Needed | Leave a Comment »

Climate Change: The Role of Particles and Gases

Posted by pwl on February 28, 2009

“July 1, 2008 Berkeley Lab lecture: A member of the Atmospheric Sciences Department in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD), Surabi Menon’s work focuses on the human contribution to increasing impacts of climate change. Her talk will focus on what humans can do about the effects of global warming by examining anthropogenic influences on climate and future anticipated impacts, using a climate model and her own observations.”

Posted in Climate Science, Proofs Needed, Video | Leave a Comment »

Come over to the Dark Side of the Force and Rule the Universe!

Posted by pwl on February 28, 2009

“The revolutionary discovery that the expansion of the universe is speeding up, not slowing down from gravity, means that 75 percent of our universe consists of mysterious dark energy. Berkeley Lab theoretical physicist Eric Linder delves into the mystery of dark energy …”

Posted in Dinosaurs, Energy, Hard Science, Video | Leave a Comment »

The Maunder Minimum had almost no Sun Spots

Posted by pwl on February 28, 2009

“The Maunder Minimum is the name given to the period roughly from 1645 to 1715, when sunspots became exceedingly rare, as noted by solar observers of the time. It is named after the solar astronomer Edward W. Maunder (1851–1928) who discovered the dearth of sunspots during that period by studying records from those years. During one 30-year period within the Maunder Minimum, for example, astronomers observed only about 50 sunspots, as opposed to a more typical 40,000–50,000 spots.”

Given this graph it sure looks like temperatures are driven by the Sun, that huge ball of fusion going crazy at the center of our solar system that has 98+% of the mass of said system. A long slow bumpy progression trending upwards.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Climate Science, Definition of Terms, Energy, Ethics in Science, Exercise for the Reader (that's you), Humbled by Nature, Ignorance to Knowledge, Proofs, Terraforming Earth | Leave a Comment »

Scams Rely Upon Belief Systems

Posted by pwl on February 28, 2009

Since the financial market’s own version of 9/11, the collective belief in free market capitalism has taken quite a hit. Not surprisingly, the professional absurdists have shown more common sense than the business press. “The stock market’s just a consensual mass delusion based on fictitious valuing of abstract assets,” noted fictional news reporter John Oliver on The Daily Show. Yet, even now, financial advisors and business press shills are still humming the same old tune, which might as well be Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’. No matter how bad the financial news gets, the bull market will return one day, we’re told. Two years, say some. Three years, say others – seven years on the outside. Just have faith and buy low.

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Posted in Ignorance to Knowledge, Politics, Scam? | 2 Comments »

The End is Nye! Global Climate Change

Posted by pwl on February 27, 2009


Finally someone insightfully tackles today’s issues from a scientific perspective. In Bill Nye’s new show The Eyes of Nye, Bill shows the science involved in Global Warming, debunks the myth of sun-caused climate change, and how we and our obsession with cars and oil are by far the main contributors, especially in the U.S. The world is getting warmer. Is it our fault?” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Climate Science, Energy, Ethics in Science, Exercise for the Reader (that's you), Fun, Humbled by Nature, Ignorance to Knowledge, Proofs Needed, Video | 4 Comments »

Building Better Worlds: Vaporous Action

Posted by pwl on February 27, 2009

We all want to make the world better — but how? Jamais Cascio looks at some specific tools and techniques that can make a difference. It’s a fascinating talk that might just inspire you to act.

“We need better documentation about what is happening to the planet if we are ever going to have a chance at repairing the damage.” – Jamais Cascio

Damage? What damage exactly? How are you going to fix it? You’re not serious are you? Act how? Towards what goal? For what purpose? Control? Power? Out of Wisdom or Fear? How many will die if you act? How many will die if you don’t? What actions? How do you know you are Building a Better World? Really, are you so sure? What if you’re wrong, even a little bit wrong?

Building Better Worlds
[The colony on LV-426] is what we call a Shake’n Bake colony.” – Van Leuwen, Chairman of the Interstellar Commerce Commission Board

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Climate Science, Ethics in Science, Proofs Needed, Terraforming Earth, TerrorForming Earth | Leave a Comment »

Exercise: Algae, Yummy Icky, Sticky, Slimy Algae! The Stuff of Life!

Posted by pwl on February 27, 2009

Believe it or not, your life depends on algae! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Climate Science, Energy, Exercise for the Reader (that's you), Food, Humbled by Nature, Ignorance to Knowledge, Terraforming Earth | Leave a Comment »

Exercise: Climate Science at Scripps

Posted by pwl on February 27, 2009

Scripps Institution of Oceanography has been a world leader in climate research since the 1950s, when Charles Keeling began his pioneering measurements of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Climate Science, Exercise for the Reader (that's you), Humbled by Nature, Ignorance to Knowledge, Learning about Science Organizations, Politics, Proofs Needed, Video | Leave a Comment »

Most scientists engaged in the design, development, and tuning of climate models are in fact unlicensed software engineers

Posted by pwl on February 27, 2009

Atmospheric scientist Dr. Hendrik Tennekes, a scientific pioneer in the development of numerical weather prediction and former director of research at The Netherlands’ Royal National Meteorological Institute, and an internationally recognized expert in atmospheric boundary layer processes, took climate modelers to task for their projections of future planetary doom in a February 28, 2007 post on Climate Science.

I am of the opinion that most scientists engaged in the design, development, and tuning of climate models are in fact software engineers. They are unlicensed, hence unqualified to sell their products to society. In all regular engineering professions, there exists a licensing authority. If such an authority existed in climate research, I contend, the vast majority of climate modelers would vainly attempt certification. Also, they would be unable to obtain insurance against professional liability,” Tennekes said.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Climate Science, Ethics in Science, Ignorance to Knowledge, Politics, Proofs Needed | 2 Comments »

National Science Teachers Association on Informal Science Education

Posted by pwl on February 27, 2009

NSTA Position Statement: Informal Science Education

The National Science Teachers Association [NSTA] recognizes and encourages the development of sustained links between the informal institutions and schools. Informal science education generally refers to programs and experiences developed outside the classroom by institutions and organizations that include:

* children’s and natural history museums, science-technology centers, planetariums, zoos and aquaria, botanical gardens and arboreta, parks, nature centers and environmental education centers, and scientific research laboratories

* media, involving print, film, broadcast, and electronic forms [such as blogs and science oriented web sites]

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Climate Science, Definition of Terms, Ethics in Science, Ignorance to Knowledge, Politics | 4 Comments »

You either believe it’s the end of the world unless we do something about it right now, or you’re a denier.

Posted by pwl on February 27, 2009

“A new report from Japan’s Energy Commission reveals that Japanese scientists are rejecting U.N. and Western-backed theories of climate change.

Three out of five researchers do not agree with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s hypothesis that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are primarily responsible for warming patterns, the UK’s Register reports.

One scientist likened computer climate modeling to ancient astrology, while others criticized the U.S. for lacking ground temperature data to support its claims. Several contributor said the mid-20th century warming trend has ended.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bad Science Attitude, Climate Science, Ethics in Science, Humbled by Nature, Ignorance to Knowledge, Proofs Needed | Leave a Comment »

Climate Change: Statement of Dr. William Happer before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

Posted by pwl on February 25, 2009

CLIMATE CHANGE

Statement of William Happer Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics Princeton University

Before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Senator Barbara Boxer, Chair

February 25, 2009

Madam Chairman and members, thank you for the opportunity to appear before the Committee on Environment and Public Works to testify on Climate Change. My name is William Happer, and I am the Cyrus Fogg Bracket Professor of Physics at Princeton University. I am not a climatologist, but I don’t think any of the other witnesses are either. I do work in the related field of atomic, molecular and optical physics. I have spent my professional life studying the interactions of visible and infrared radiation with gases – one of the main physical phenomena behind the greenhouse effect. I have published over 200 papers in peer reviewed scientific journals. I am a member of a number of professional organizations, including the American Physical Society and the National Academy of Sciences. I have done extensive consulting work for the US Government and Industry. I also served as the Director of Energy Research at the Department of Energy (DOE) from 1990 to 1993, where I supervised all of DOE’s work on climate change. I have come here today as a concerned citizen to express my personal views, and those of many like me, about US climate-change policy. These are not official views of my main employer, Princeton University, nor of any other organization with which I am associated.

Let me state clearly where I probably agree with the other witnesses. We have been in a period of global warming over the past 200 years, but there have been several periods, like the last ten years, when the warming has ceased, and there have even been periods of substantial cooling, as from 1940 to 1970. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased from about 280 to 380 parts per million over past 100 years. The combustion of fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas, has contributed to the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. And finally, increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere will cause the earth’s surface to warm. The key question is: will the net effect of the warming, and any other effects of the CO2, be good or bad for humanity?

I believe that the increase of CO2 is not a cause for alarm and will be good for mankind. I predict that future historians will look back on this period much as we now view the period just before the passage of the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution to prohibit “the manufacturing, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors.” At the time, the 18th amendment seemed to be exactly the right thing to do – who wanted to be in league with demon rum? It was the 1917 version of saving the planet. More than half the states enacted prohibition laws before the 18th amendment was ratified. Only one state, Rhode Island, voted against the 18th amendment. Two states, Illinois and Indiana, never got around to voting and all the rest voted for it. There were many thoughtful people, including a majority of Rhode Islanders, who thought that prohibition might do more harm than good. But they were completely outmatched by the temperance movement, whose motives and methods had much in common with the movement to stop climate change. Deeply sincere people thought they were saving humanity from the evils of alcohol, just as many people now sincerely think they are saving humanity from the evils of CO2. Prohibition was a mistake, and our country has probably still not fully recovered from the damage it did. Institutions like organized crime got their start in that era. Drastic limitations on CO2 are likely to damage our country in analogous ways.

But what about the frightening consequences of increasing levels of CO2 that we keep hearing about? In a word, they are wildly exaggerated, just as the purported benefits of prohibition were wildly exaggerated. Let me turn now to the science and try to explain why I and many scientists like me are not alarmed by increasing levels of CO2.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Climate Science, Humbled by Nature, Ignorance to Knowledge, Politics, Proofs Needed | 44 Comments »

Physics Professor William Happer Has Some Tough Words For Scientists Who Believe That Carbon Dioxide Is Causing Global Warming

Posted by pwl on February 25, 2009

All the evidence I see is that the current warming of the climate is just like past warmings. In fact, it’s not as much as past warmings yet, and it probably has little to do with carbon dioxide, just like past warmings had little to do with carbon dioxide,” [Physics professor William] Happer explained.

Happer explained that his beliefs about climate change come from his experience at the Department of Energy, at which Happer said he supervised all non-weapons energy research, including climate change research. Managing a budget of more than $3 billion, Happer said he felt compelled to make sure it was being spent properly. “I would have [researchers] come in, and they would brief me on their topics,” Happer explained. “They would show up. Shiny faces, presentation ready to go. I would ask them questions, and they would be just delighted when you asked. That was true of almost every group that came in.

The exceptions were climate change scientists, he said.

They would give me a briefing. It was a completely different experience. I remember one speaker who asked why I wanted to know, why I asked that question. So I said, you know I always ask questions at these briefings … I often get a much better view of [things] in the interchange with the speaker,” Happer said. “This guy looked at me and said, ‘What answer would you like?’ I knew I was in trouble then. This was a community even in the early 1990s that was being turned political. [The attitude was] ‘Give me all this money, and I’ll get the answer you like.’

[Physics professor William] Happer said he is dismayed by the politicization of the issue and believes the community of climate change scientists has become a veritable “religious cult,” noting that nobody understands or questions any of the science.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Climate Science, Ethics in Science, Humbled by Nature, Ignorance to Knowledge, Proofs Needed | 1 Comment »

Those who resist, fear, avoid or ignore questions of their science are no longer scientists …

Posted by pwl on February 25, 2009

Those who resist, fear, avoid or ignore questions of their science are no longer scientists, they are activists, politicians or religious demagogues who want their science to be accepted on belief and faith just because they say it’s so – they are the worst kind of high tech priest especially if their science turns out to be correct or partially correct. This is a sign to question their science even more intensely! People committed to science and science education embrace questions as questions from others are a tool and opportunity for sharpening and improving their science and a way of teaching it to the ignorant masses which at first even includes other experts in their field! Question Authority! The worst that can happen is that some or all of their science is falsified which simply makes them better scientists. Either way the scientists learn something or the ignorant have an opportunity to move from ignorance to knowledge and eliminate the enemy of knowledge and us all, belief and faith. Question Authority! Question Science, Scientists and Science Educators!” – pwl

Many thanks to the endearing Associate Professor PZ Myers and his wonderful group of true believers at pharyngula for inspiring this quote with their endarkened policy towards the ignorant masses known as “Open Season on Fresh Meat”.

Posted in Bad Science Attitude, Caustic Scientists, Climate Science, Definition of Terms, Ethics in Science, Ignorance to Knowledge, Quotations, Science Missions | Leave a Comment »

Ever Wanted an Extra Limb To Do More? Really?

Posted by pwl on February 24, 2009

Wow, Nature is really a harsh mistress. Still, oh so cute…

David Suzuki once talked about adding extra limbs to his body to get more done. Are we so sure? Well here is a human with three arms? They sure do seem real.

So much for a compassionate Intelligent Designer, I guess he was busy answering someone’s prayer when this baby’s DNA was being mixed up.

Posted in Humbled by Nature, Intelligent Designer - Yeah Right | Leave a Comment »

Rise and Fall of the Nazi Dinosaurs in Antarctica Of All Places

Posted by pwl on February 24, 2009

It’s a truism on the Internet that every discussion eventually mentions Nazi’s, so let’s just get it over with. 😉

“Produced in five days, with $20. Submitted to UBC Totem Park residence “film festival” 2009.”

The Ethics in Science violation here is don’t create Nazi Dinosaurs!

Posted in Dinosaurs, Ethics in Science, Fun, Nazis, TerrorForming Earth | Leave a Comment »

Carbon Capture and Storage can Kill

Posted by pwl on February 23, 2009

“Carbon capture and storage, however, is not as green as it seems — underground burial of carbon dioxide presents immense new risks to society. If the carbon dioxide is stored in deep ocean masses, as sometimes proposed, environmentalists fear that ocean acidification could devastate marine eco-systems. If the carbon dioxide is stored in geologic formations near fossil fuel plants, as is more commonly proposed, the harmful effects would directly affect human life: Research at Columbia University by one of the world’s leading geohazard scientists ranks carbon storage as one of the five top coming causes of man-induced earthquakes, a prediction all the more scary because the earthquakes would tend to occur near the fossil fuel plants, and population centres. In another potential danger, some fret about the consequences of an accidental release of carbon dioxide from underground storage facilities. In Cameroon in 1986, 1,800 people died after an unexplained release of carbon dioxide from beneath Lake Nyos, which has deep stores of carbon dioxide beneath its bottom.

“Ironically, carbon capture technology would not only worsen air quality and more rapidly scar the tar sands landscape, it may also harm the global environment if it is successful in its goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide stimulates plant growth and leads to a greening of the planet. In fact, satellite measurements now show the planet to be the greenest in decades. Little wonder that, in surveys of scientists, the great majority view carbon dioxide as a beneficial gas that’s indispensable to plant growth, and insignificant to any deleterious global warming.”- Lawrence Solomon, National Post

Posted in Climate Science, Ethics in Science, Humbled by Nature, Ignorance to Knowledge, Terraforming Earth, TerrorForming Earth | 1 Comment »

Scary Plans to Terraform Earth Underway

Posted by pwl on February 23, 2009

Think of all the scary scenarios of terraforming Earth, the one place we can exist in the known universe! It’s simply a bad idea terraforming the only place you can exist without knowing the consequences of our actions!

By “simply a bad idea” I mean probable suicide.

Scientists Rank Global Cooling Hacks

Hacks to Terraform Earth without knowing the consequences! Yikes.

Oh gee, they are actually planning to terraform the Earth without knowing WTF they are doing… this could start actual wars – seriously.

This is why it’s important that the politicians get out of the way and that everyone let the debate rage on till the science is rock solid (if that’s even possible) and proven.

Those who resist, fear, avoid or ignore questions of their science are no longer scientists, they are activists, politicians or religious demagogues who want their science to be accepted with belief and faith just because they say it’s so. This is a sign to question their science even more intensely!” – pwl

Updated version of the quote:

Those who resist, fear, avoid or ignore questions of their science are no longer scientists, they are activists, politicians or religious demagogues who want their science to be accepted with belief and faith just because they say it’s so. This is a sign to question their science even more intensely! People committed to science and science education embrace questions as questions from others are a tool for sharpening and improving their science and a way of teaching it to the ignorant masses which at first even includes other experts in their field! Question Authority!” – pwl

Posted in Climate Science, Ethics in Science, Humbled by Nature, Ignorance to Knowledge | Leave a Comment »

Living in the Shadow of [Climate] Soothsayers

Posted by pwl on February 23, 2009

“A soothsayer is a person who claims to speak sooth: specifically one who predicts the future based upon personal, political, spiritual, mental or religious beliefs rather than scientific facts.” – Wikepedia

We are of course “Living in the Shadows of Soothsayers”. Waiting till the future arrives is sometimes the only way to predict the future, especially with Natural Systems! Stephen Wolfram proved that in his book, “A New Kind of Science”, Chapter 2.

One of my favorite mythological characters, Asterix, has a entire book devoted to the wonderful topic of soothsayers: “Asterix and the Soothsayer“. The story is quite involved but here is a bit of it that relates to our current crisis in climate science.

If only politically we could learn, but then most political leaders accept the notion of, and take advice from people who have, invisible friends, so it really should come as no surprise that they are unequipped critically and rationally evaluate the organized “consensus”.

Heck, as someone who has been emerged in science for his whole life I’m finding it a challenge to understand let alone properly evaluate the extreme claims of “global warming alarmists”. The Carl Sagan Principle applies: “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof by those making the claims”.

Asterix and the Soothsayer
One stormy day, the Gauls — with the exception of Getafix, who is at his annual druid meeting — are huddled in the chief’s hut, fearing for their lives. But then, a man enters the hut in a burst of lightning – it is a soothsayer, who promptly proceeds to see the future for our superstitious Gauls. He predicts that “when the storm is over, the weather will improve.” But not all are impressed; Asterix alone dares question the qualities of this soothsayer, who is in fact a fraud.Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Climate Science, Definition of Terms, Ethics in Science, Ignorance to Knowledge | 1 Comment »

Don’t Panic – Flaws In Catastrophic Global Warming Forecasts

Posted by pwl on February 23, 2009

The Plugging in of “man made up data” to support desired soothsaying forecasts seems to have lead to much panic. This article makes the case for the response of “don’t panic”.

A very interesting article.

The question is, how does a rational critical thinking person know what to think about all of the climate claims and counter claims? The scientific method suggests a way forward with experiments and proofs. So how do we test the claims and counter claims? Anyone?

Posted in Climate Science, Ethics in Science, Ignorance to Knowledge, Proofs | Leave a Comment »

Our Lumpy Graceful Earth

Posted by pwl on February 22, 2009

Lumpy Earth - GRACE Gravity Map of Earth - Americas

Lumpy Earth - GRACE Gravity Map of Earth - Americas, Pacific Ocean

Measuring Gravity With Grace
“It’s an assumption that has made introductory physics just a little bit easier — the acceleration of a body due to gravity is a constant 9.81 meters per second squared. Indeed, the assumption would be true if Earth were a smooth sphere made of uniform elements and materials.”- NASA

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Climate Science, Humbled by Nature, Ignorance to Knowledge, Science Missions | 51 Comments »

Simple Systems Can Generate Complexity

Posted by pwl on February 22, 2009

Even extremely simple programs can produce behavior of immense complexity
“Everyday experience tends to make one think that it is difficult to get complex behavior, and that to do so requires complicated underlying rules. A crucial discovery in A New Kind of Science is that among programs this is not true—and that even some of the very simplest possible programs can produce behavior that in a fundamental sense is as complex as anything in our universe. There have been hints of related phenomena for a very long time, but without the conceptual framework of A New Kind of Science they have been largely ignored or misunderstood. The discovery now that simple programs can produce immense complexity forces a major shift in scientific intuition.” – Stephen Wolfram, Quick Takes on Some Ideas and Discoveries in A New Kind Of Science (NKS)

The proof, yes proof, of this is Chapter 2 of NKS.

Posted in Climate Science, Humbled by Nature, Ignorance to Knowledge, Proofs | Leave a Comment »

Humbled by Nature at Sea

Posted by pwl on February 22, 2009

“The Bahamian-registered ship is carrying 776 passengers and crew, 480 of them Spanish. Some sustained minor injuries when the ship sailed into the storm at 8am UTC on February 14, 2005.”

Posted in Humbled by Nature | Leave a Comment »

Climate verses Weather: Getting Everything Right

Posted by pwl on February 22, 2009

I’ve been chastised a number of times for using terms from “climate” and “weather” interchangeably. People harangue you and insist that these really are two entirely distinct fields and they always make them sound unrelated too. A little research goes a long way to an understanding of this distinction, and towards showing that my understanding and usage were just fine.

I like how NASA sums it up:

“The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere “behaves” over relatively long periods of time.”NASA

David Lindley, in “Calculating the Future” has an interesting observation about the fuzzy blurring of weather and climate:

“The steadily increasing resolution of GCMs is blurring the already fuzzy distinction between weather and climate. …many medium scale phenomena in current GCMs cannot be calculated directly but must be dealt with by ‘parametrization’, meaning that important aspects of small-scale physics are in essence approximated and averaged over grid cells. … In addition to using computing power to calculate on an ever-finer scale, climate researchers can always think of more science to put into their simulations. … Getting everything right is still years away. … ‘The programming model we use [now] is not viable anymore in the next couple of generations of computers,’ says Bader.” – David Lindley, “Calculating the Future”, Communications of the ACM, January 2009, Vol 52, No. 1, (selected quotes not in any particular order).

So one can say “what is the weather like this week” and also say “what is the climate like this week” and mean essentially the same thing. It all depends up the explicit or implicit time horizon that is being discussed.

It seems that as the computer climate models increase their “reality resolution” and “reality breadth” they approach modeling what most people call weather.

Another point of the article touches on the Limits of Computation which equates Climate Models as akin to “soothsaying with high tech entrails” – take it with a pinch of salt to improve the taste. These limits will never go away for “The Map Is Not the Territory” and never will be. That’s for another post though.

Update
To those of you who still cling to the void idea that “weather is not climate” you need to bring yourself into the latest state of the art in climate science and computer science.

The steadily increasing resolution of GCMs is blurring the already fuzzy distinction between weather and climate. Researchers are beginning to calculate models with 50-kilometer resolution over periods of decades, enabling them to see how climate change might affect the frequency and intensity of extreme storms or the statistics of droughts. Such information, rather than the more abstract concept of global average temperature, starkly conveys the tangible consequences of global warming.

– David Lindley, “Calculating the Future”, Communications of the ACM, January 2009, Vol 52, No. 1.

As we see the geographic area, the size of the computational cell, used for climate models and even just tracking current weather is shrinking. Unfortunately the Earth, or maybe that is fortunately the Earth, is not made up of “grid cells” in a regular matrix to make your array math easy. The Earth is comprised of many irregularly shaped “climate volumes” that interact with each other, some more than others. The size of these volumes is different as well. For example, the Big Island of Hawaii is known for it’s many different “climate types” (supposedly a taste of all climates except arctic). One can move from one “climate zone” to another just by crossing the road!!! I know, I’ve been there and done it. Lush jungle on one side of the road, dry hills with desert like conditions on the other. Tropical rain forest in the river valleys not far away. Three distinct climate zones within hundreds of meters of each other!!!

To properly track and model the climate of the Earth the computer programs must use the actual shape of disparate climate zones which is difficult since they are fuzzy and likely change shape with the seasons and under other conditions such as storms. Regardless a fuzzy volume with the resolution at the level of precision needed for each particular physical attribute being tracked/modeled. In other words temperature needs to be tracked at the volume resolution with sufficient detail to eliminate the need for averaging. That provides high resolution with variable volume size and and fuzzy potentially overlapping shape.

Now for time. Along the time axis any time a volume being tracked changes one of it’s parameters that change needs to be tracked on that time scale of precision. In other words if the temperature is being tracked and it changes on a minute by minute basis then track it that way, if it’s changing on an hourly by hourly basis track that. In other words track every change that occurs.

Of course sensor technology and deployment must catch up with the needs of modeling and tracking science. While we won’t ever be perfect we can achieve a lot with today’s technology.

The time scale for climate/weather is what ever it naturally is and is not the arbitrary distinction that we apply when we attempt to call one thing climate and the other thing weather. It’s a fuzzy distinction at best.

One can also speak of the climate last month being warmer than the same month last year. Remember that words are not always their pedantic meaning that overly-pedantic focused people like to make it out as. Words are flexible.

In addition to using computing power to calculate on an ever-finer scale, climate researchers can always think of more science to put into their simulations. Historically, the growth of computational capacity allowed researchers to integrate previously separate models of ocean, atmosphere, sea ice, and land, and that trend continues on a number of fronts. At the moment, for example, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is applied to climate models as an external parameter, derived from the work of scientists who add up emissions from tailpipes and smokestacks and, taking into account the natural processes that absorb and release the gas, try to estimate how much CO2 will be in the atmosphere 10, 20, or more years from now. But this approach misses all types of crucial feedbacks. Changing temperatures of the oceans affects how well they hold dissolved CO2, while changes in the world’s vegetation cover, due to a warming climate, influence the amount of carbon that ends up in the atmosphere rather than being taken up by biomass. Climate modelers are beginning to integrate parts of this complex network of feedbacks into GCMs, so that ultimately they will be able to input human CO2 emissions directly into the models, and allow the computer to figure out where it all ends up—and how that disposition changes in a changing climate.”

– David Lindley, “Calculating the Future”, Communications of the ACM, January 2009, Vol 52, No. 1.

Posted in Climate Science, Ignorance to Knowledge | Leave a Comment »

A Sea Level Calculator

Posted by pwl on February 22, 2009

I found this Sea Level Calculator over at Junk Science that takes issue with the Jerome J. Schmitt ice melt calculations. Interesting. I’ll likely have to recalculate how many nukes will be needed to do the job.

It’s a very interesting article actually with a variation on the calculations – a refinement.

Here is one sample calculation performed by it. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Climate Science, Ignorance to Knowledge | 4 Comments »

How could we melt enough ice for a 20ft rise in sea levels?

Posted by pwl on February 22, 2009

In a comment on Climate realism from biologist and polar researcher Bernard Stonehouse I posted some comments which I’ll reproduce here. They were in response to someone complaining about the phrase “…accumulated cold…” with the comment “Ha ha. There is no such thing! Cold is simply the lack of heat”; now I’m not sure what the author of the article meant exactly about that but that lead me to wonder the following (re-edited into article form).

“When ice melts, it absorbs as much heat energy (the heat of fusion) as it would take to heat an equivalent mass of water by 80 °C, while its temperature remains a constant 0 °C.” – wikipedia on ice

WOW! That’s a serious amount of energy required and a big speed bump to the common simplistic misconception that “when the temperature rises above freezing, ice melts”.

“When you heat a material, you are adding kinetic energy to its molecules and usually raising its temperature. The only exception is when the material reaches its melting or boiling points. At those two temperatures, the heat energy goes into changing the state of the material. After the state has changed, the temperature will rise again with added heat. The rate temperature changes is the specific heat of the material. The amount of heat required to melt the material is called the latent heat of melting.” – Ron Kurtus

It takes a lot of energy to melt ice. Melting the antarctic will take a huge amount of energy. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Climate Science, Ignorance to Knowledge | 2 Comments »

Mann Made Science Faulted

Posted by pwl on February 22, 2009

Very illuminating.

Lawrence Solomon: Under oath, North faults Mann too
By Lawrence Solomon

Of all the scientists who have come to Michael Mann’s defence, none have more impressive credentials than those of Gerald North, a former Head of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University. North, a physicist, has not only spent decades addressing the dangers of climate change, he has done so through his work in climate models and his knowledge of statistics, a suite of qualifications that make him particularly well qualified to comment on Michael Mann’s statistics-based work. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Ethics in Science | Leave a Comment »

Two Faces of Associate Professor PZ Myers

Posted by pwl on February 22, 2009

Two Faces of Associate Professor PZ Myers: By Day A Commitment to the UMM Code of Conduct & By Night Crude & Brash Basher of the Ignorant with the Open Season on Fresh Meat

Associate Professor PZ Myers By Day – UMM Code of Conduct: “UMM – GUIDING PRINCIPLES. Values. In carrying out the institution’s research, teaching, and public service mission, members of the University community (community members) are dedicated to advancing the University’s core values. These values embrace commitment to: excellence and innovation; discovery and the search for the truth; diversity of community and ideas; integrity; academic freedom; stewardship and accountability for resources and relationships; sharing knowledge in a learning environment; application of knowledge and discovery to advance the quality of life and economy of the region and the world; and service as a land grant institution to Minnesota, the nation, and the world. Commitment to Ethical Conduct. Community members must be committed to the highest ethical standards of conduct and integrity. The standards of conduct in this Code, supported through policies, procedures, and workplace rules, provide guidance for making decisions and memorialize the institution’s commitment to responsible behavior.”

Associate Professor PZ Myers By Night – Open Season on Fresh Meat Policy: “ I want my commenters to be uncivil. There is no virtue in politeness when confronted with ignorance, dishonesty, and delusion. I want them to charge in to the heart of the issue and shred the frauds, without hesitation and without faltering over manners. These demands for a false front of civility are one of the strategies used by charlatans who want to mask their lack of substance — oh, yes, it would be so goddamned rude to point out that a huckster is lying to you. I am quite happy that we have a culture of being rude to frauds here.”


Do we detect an ethical delima here that can’t possibly be resolved nor justified by anthing in the UMM Code of Conduct – YES WE DO!!! There are limits which Associate Professor PZ Myers has – in our view and the views of many others – violated. Ethical limits broken. Commitments to a Code of Conduct obliterated and rendered nullified. Shame on you Associate Professor PZ Myers, shame on you.

Posted in Bad Science Attitude, Caustic Scientists, Ethics in Science, Ignorance to Knowledge | Leave a Comment »

The Loathsome Pit of Perversity of Associate Professor PZ Myers

Posted by pwl on February 22, 2009

To Associate Professor PZ Myers

“No one has yet uncovered the loathsome pit of perversity I keep in the basement” – PZ Myers

Well [that is] because you keep it out in the open with your horrific anti-science education policy known as “Open Season on Fresh Meat”. Your caustic attitude towards people is your pit of perversity Associate Professor PZ Myers.

Now your dogs will pounce on me but they are irrelevant as they are just stooges following your nasty lead. I’m sure that many are. It leaves me wondering how many of your students feel that you uphold your commitment at school to the principles in the code of conduct? It makes one wonder especially considering that your posts occur all the time, likely when you are on campus which means that you are bound to those commitments and yet here everyday is the evidence that you are in blatant violation of your commitment.

While you might be 100% correct about all of your science, you’re a 100% rotten apple when it comes to your attitude in interacting with people sir Associate Professor PZ Myers. You are a disgrace to science educators everywhere. It’s time to change your attitude sir. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Bad Science Attitude, Caustic Scientists, Ethics in Science, Ignorance to Knowledge | 9 Comments »

What is science? What is it to be a reasonable scientist?

Posted by pwl on February 22, 2009

Originally posted by pwl on Sat Feb 14, 2009 1:31 am

Hi,

Today [actually about a week ago on Sat Feb 14th, 2009] I spent a considerable amount of time and energy interacting with a group of people I had respect for as scientists, or at least what I had perceived to be a group committed to comprehending objective reality, over here: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/02/i_marvel_every_time_at_a_presi.php. After the discussion my notions about them and respect for them suffered and adapted downwards, in some cases significantly.

What surprises me the most isn’t that they have a really solid point of view that their are right about human caused global warming (AWG), it’s the manner in which I was treated as someone who was asking questions and being up front with them that I don’t know what to believe about AWG. I am asking questions and reading all points of view on the topic. The immediate and rapid labeling of me as a “denier”, “skeptic”, “put up or publish”, “liar”, and more was a powerfully potent drum beat of a coordinated offensive in their debating style that left no room for even the most basic questions or notions of auditing. I am very shocked by their manners considering that they (a few of them anyhow) are supposed to be educated scientists pursuing science.

Now I don’t need any supportive comments to confirm what I already know through the experience of interacting with them I am deeply curious about the reaction to what should be a basic aspect in the approach to science using the scientific method and a rational scientific process. I gather that I was deeply and profoundly mistaken that scientists are committed to actually questioning their processes of thought and methodology and their hypothesis, data, and their conclusions.

I am a systems scientist with a deep background in writing software systems of all kinds including systems that have built in auditing, engineering systems, of the program execution context and ongoing process. I apply both intuitive processes as well as the hardest evidence based development processes that any other hard science uses when they need it. So while I’m not a climate scientist – as I freely admited before entering the discussion – and I’m not a physicist or a chemist I do have the skills and tools of the hard evidence based approaches of computer science in my skill set and experience in my career.

What I’m interested in knowing from working scientists is what you consider science to be, what your teachers taught you, what you’ve learned from them and on your own, how you approach science and the scientific method – rationally and intuitively – and the process of vetting your thought processes and the steps of validating your hypotheses and assuming the data confirms your hypotheses how you go about testing your theories and validating OR invalidating them with falsifications. How do you falsify your own hypotheses? How do you design your experiments?

As of now I don’t know enough about climate science to properly debate the substantive issues. One of the issues is that it’s very challenging to know what to believe without being able to test the claims being made from the various people making claims. This is a serious issue, and not just in climate science. How can someone test the claims of climate science on one’s own?

Just about anyone can test Newton’s theories and equations of gravity, f=ma for example, using high school physics.

How can someone test the claims of climate science on one’s own?

What is science?

What is a scientist?

What is a fair “attitude” that a scientist could take when being questioned by others who don’t know their subject or whom disagree with their conclusions?

What does it really mean to be fair and open to criticism in science? What is not fair play?

If, for example, you are a chemistry teacher and have a student who asks you to “prove that atoms exist” what do you say or do to the student or even to a stranger who asks you while you are busy going about your day? Do you call them a “denier” of the existence of “atoms”? Do you teach them the atomic theory? (Which atomic theory or level of it do you teach?) Do you teach the student how to prove the existence of atoms on their own so that they might teach others the same? Do you tell them that it’s not possible to prove that atoms exist and that you must take it on faith or because that is the way it is or do you take it on authority? When and how and in what situations can the student learn the knowledge in a manner that empowers with knowledge and skill rather than endarkens with belief? When and how do you leave someone empowered with an insight into objective reality that actually enables them to think critically for themselves? Or do you even try?

What is the process of science? When do you give up one idea and adopt another? Have you been through that process? If so please expand upon the details of what you experienced with highlights of what was gained and lost in the process, or other details you feel were/are relevant?

Have you ever falsified your own hypotheses, and if so how did you do it? If not, why not and how did you avoid or disprove the falsification (if that makes sense in your case)?

What should a person committed to science stand their ground and not back down to the challenges? How do you know that you are on the right track with that? How do you know you’re not pursuing a blind alley? How is evidence on your side and when can you tell it isn’t? How do you reconcile the different views of the various parties in a conversation of science? Do you trust people or do you test the hell out of what they say? Does that piss them off? How do you know you’ve gone too far? Is it possible to go to far? If so how do you know?

Obviously there are many strategies and styles for doing science that the many scientists – educated or not – follow in arriving at their answers. Ultimately objective reality is the final judge as that is the play ground within which we exist for real. Ultimately our perceptual “views” that we think are “real” ultimately aren’t. How do you really know that what you perceive is actually real or not?

I don’t necessarily expect answers to any or all of these questions. I’m more posting to focus my thoughts and open a dialog with any that are interested in the process of science and your experience thereof in a challenging field, climate science or whatever field you are in. How do you know you are connected to reality and not a set of belief stricken dreams of grandeur? How do you slice and dice your dreams with critical though and the testing of evidence to arrive at a rational view of existence?

Also your comments on the known and proven facts of climate science might be a good place to start with home testability of claims?

I thank you in advance for your kind attention and for your time and cognitive process thinking about these and any other questions or criticisms you might offer.

All the best,

pwl

Posted in Ethics in Science, Ignorance to Knowledge | Leave a Comment »

What are the paths to knowledge that actually get you closer to Objective Reality?

Posted by pwl on February 22, 2009

How do you know that what you know is real? I don’t mean real in your beliefs, or simply in your perception as these can be distorted, but real in the sense that it’s actually exists in objective independent of you? Hard cold reality, how do you know?

Let’s explore.

Posted in Ethics in Science, Ignorance to Knowledge | Leave a Comment »

 
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