Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Global Warming: Here's a better story

I think we need to change the story we are using to solve the anthropogenic climate change (ACC), global warming problem.  What do I mean?  Well, a story needs:

  • A good problem or conflict to resolve
  • A character that:
    • We can identify with 
    • Who ends up being the hero that solves the problem
    • Who grows and learns about themselves in the process
  • The story needs to be believable, credible.
What is the ACC story?

We are facing the worst ecological disaster since the extinction of the dinosaurs.  People caused this by our reckless burning of fossil fuels.  People must give up driving cars and all modern conveniences and become vegans in order to stop the disaster.  We also need to give politicians more power so they can be the heroes.
Not a very fun or engaging story.  It reads more like a sad tragedy or horror.  The failures are:
  1.  A character we can't and don't want to identify with.
  2. Our character isn't the hero.
  3. We didn't learn anything good about ourselves.
  4. There's not a credible hero or solution to the problem.  
  5. The conflict seems exaggerated since it puts all blame on humans leaving out other causes such as the earth being in a 400+ years of thawing since the last ice age, polar bear deaths are due to hunting for population control, etc.  You can read my previous post here on these facts.

Here's a better story:

As our population grows and third world countries rise above poverty, our resources will need to be shared more effectively.  This includes food (from farms and fishing), fresh water, raw materials (metal, plastic, wood, etc.)  As always, we find a way to adapt.  This includes sustainable processes, new technologies, new economies, open scientific exploration and understanding of the problem, etc.  Through this transformation we realize that mankind has been continually evolving, from hunter gatherer, to farmer, to cities; traveling on foot, then on beast, then on machine.  As borders disappear due to cities overlapping, continued legal migration, the Internet and social media, we learn that greater collaboration is needed.  
Why is it better?
  1. We can better identify with the character.
  2. The hero actively solves the problem.
  3. The hero grows and learns about themselves.
  4. The story is more believable because we are addressing current observable trends instead of a future calamity predicted by a computer model. 
This second story may not be perfect; but I prefer it over the current (first) story and I think it has a greater chance of actually saving the world.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Review of Glacier Change and Sea Level Rise (live public talk) by Dr. Alex Gardner

This is a review of a talk found on YouTube “Glacier Change and Sea Level Rise” by Dr. Alex Gardner from JPL.

Accepted Facts

The science in this presentation is very impressive. 
The following are facts that I accept

  • CO2 is increasing
  • Global Temperatures are rising
  • Oceans are rising
I agree that this can have an enormous economic impact as we try to address increased flooding in coastline areas and other costs.
Some helpful points from the video:
At 4:58, The discussion of solar heating and thermal cooling.
At 7:38, the presentation of ice cores for determining climate history (CO2 levels and temperature levels)
At 10:42, the current CO2 levels
At 15:28, the presentation of rising temperatures and the discussion of the hiatus.
At 16:39, the discussion of how much of an impact a small temperature change can have.
At 17:08, the discussion of rising sea levels
At 19:24, the mostly negative effects of climate change.  I give Dr. Gardner credit for actually showing a positive consequence, such as more land and improved agriculture (this shows intellectual honesty).
At 21:03, the melting of the glaciers
At 25:37 to 27:59, the discussion of the impressive sensors that NASA has to measure glacier loss and sea level rises.
At 28:00 to 33:30, the discussion of what is happening today
At 43:40 to 46:44, presents impressive future satellites that will be deployed to help measure changes.
At 47:20 An argument for the attention to Climate Change is that the attention has resulted in investment that has contributed to improvements to the science. 

Disputed Science

I dispute the public discussion of climate change science because it excludes the following points:

  1. Ice loss has been occurring for 400 years and is primarily due to an over accumulation of ice in the last mini ice age
  2. As the earth warms, the thermal emissions get proportionally greater with an increased counter cooling effect.
  3. Model predictions of the future are unreliable.
I discuss these points in further detail.

Lacks full Disclosure of Causes for Climate Change

The IPCC technical report states our current glaciers are out of balance since the build up during the “Little Ice Age” and have been melting for about 400 years and will continue melting even without man-made warming . 
“There is high confidence that current glacier extents are out of balance with current climatic conditions, indicating that glaciers will continue to shrink in the future even without further temperature increase.”[1]
The IPCC technical report is the only place I’ve seen this information and I’ve never heard it discussed by climate change supporters.
59:45 A question was asked about when was the last ice age.  This would have been a perfect opportunity to talk about the “Little Ice Age” but the question wasn’t answered.

Model predictions of the future are unreliable

I have over a decade of experience in scientific modeling.  This experience includes using real world data to validate the models.  All models use approximations and the smallest thing can result in an inaccurate model.  The “Butterfly Effect” is proof of the instability in predictive models for complex systems.  While the power of modern computing and sophistication of the science that goes into models is awe inspiring, it can blind the scientist to these limitations. 
35:00 “What happens next?” The presentation begins a lengthy discussion of numerical modeling which is used to predict 50 to 100 years in the future.
Dr Gardner shows his bias towards the value of models with statements like:
·         “One thing we can be certain of” (13:18),
·         “Fantastic ocean models” (39:56)
·         “We know where it’s going in the future” (35:57)
·         “The question is not if this is gonna happen.. That was already determined” (47:44)
The problem that I have with model predictions is that you can’t predict the future.  While CO2 levels and temperature are strongly correlated, there are many other factors that prevent models from predicting decades into the future.
1.       Water is a more significant greenhouse gas than CO2, yet our models can’t tell what will happen as the earth warms.  Will more water evaporate, creating a blanket that blocks the sun and results in cooling?
2.       There are large natural cycles in CO2 and temperature.  What natural forces were at play?  How will nature respond to increased CO2 over the coming decades?  For example, increased CO2 results in more plants.  Will a greener planet clean up the CO2 naturally?
I might accept a model predicting trends a few years into the future but decades as shown in:
·         Presentation of temperatures at the end of the century (13:18)
·         Shows a 1 to 2 meter rise in sea levels over the next century (18:31)
·         Simulation of melting glaciers runs to the year 2500 (36:55)
Dr. Gardner does provide acknowledgement of some of the limitations
·         “The problem is that we only have a very short record” (38:56)
·         “We’re working on the details of how much and how fast” (47:44)

Disregard for Thermal Cooling

As the earth heats up, the amount of thermal cooling is proportional to the 4th power of temperature.  I ran MODTRAN simulations to determine that temperature changes were about a quarter of the predictions found in the literature at the time (2009).[2] The latest IPCC technical report seems to have corrected this mistake, however there seems to be a general disregard for this powerful cooling effect.
At 50:00 in the video, the first question from the audience was regarding runaway temperatures after all of the ice melts.  Dr. Gardner’s response included no insight on how the earth temperatures would be moderated by thermal cooling.  It’s not the ice that is keeping earth cool.
At 51:42 in the video, Dr Gardner does allude to this cooling by stating that temperature rises more slowly as CO2 levels get higher and higher.  

Attitudes of Alarmist and Deniers

I also take issue both Climate Change Alarmists and Climate Change Deniers on the following points:
·         The attitudes they take towards each other
·         The sensationalism of information
·         Ignoring information
·         Taking a balanced approach instead of all or nothing
An example of attitudes toward others is found at 3:24 when Dr Gardner tells the story of his surgeon asking if humans are contributing to climate warming.  He then refers to climate change as “a done deal” and wonders why “we haven’t been able to reach these smart individuals”.  The audience laughs.  He brings up his surgeon again in a dismissive tone at 20:46.
Regarding sensationalizing, both sides use it to support their viewpoints.  For example, a climate change denier might point to a freezing winter scene and ask sarcastically, “What Global Warming?”
At, 23:40 a video of an iceberg calving is shown.  It’s stated that this represents 1% of all the ice in New Zealand, but the video is of a glacier in Greenland.  Creating a statistic using an unrelated smaller land mass is sensationalizing.  Dr. Gardner states that the calving event was so large that it was measured by a seismograph in North Dakota.  This is sensationalizing the event.  Is climate change creating much larger seismic calving events or do regular, seasonal calving events also trigger seismic readings? 
Extreme events happen so let’s be honest when they are due to normal seasonal changes.


At 48:03, the perspective is given showing that on a tiny spec of a planet, all known life exists.
I believe that man has stewardship over the earth and a responsibility to take care of it.  The problem is that if we put an imbalanced focus on climate change, we may allocate more attention on this problem than potentially more critical environmental concerns such as managing our resources: the oceans, forests, etc.  and limiting other sources of damaging pollution.
Let’s be more honest about climate change.  Man doesn’t have as much to do with climate change as the alarmists claim and we can’t know what will be happening 50 to 100 years in the future.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Which is worse, Gun or Dog violence?

As I was petting my friends loving pit bull this morning, I couldn't help but think about the stories I've heard of people getting mauled by this breed of dog.  I have been influenced to fear this dog.  If this breed is so bad,  Why not ban it?   The same with guns.  Why not ban them?   The merits of gun and dog ownership may be different, tempting you to reject this analogy, however people get joy and comfort from both.   What about the negative effects?   Dogs bite over 4 million Americans each year,  resulting in 20-30 deaths.  There are far fewer gun injuries,  less than 100,000, yet guns are more often fatal with over 30,000 deaths from guns (including suicide).  I would say guns are worse.  

The question is how to reduce violence while respecting the rights of the millions of owners of non threatening guns/dogs.  Why do responsible gun/ dog owners have to be treated like criminals,  with their liberties taken away?  

What if something you or I enjoy was used for evil causing its use to be restricted or banned all together.   This has already happened.   Congress decided that making too many electronic transfers of my money is bad,  so my bank restricts me.   Even if my son in college was in dire need.   What evil am I being prevented from perpetrating?  When I fly,  I'm treated as a potential terrorist.   If I bought a gun,  I would be treated as a potential mass murderer.  Do we really want to restrict our citizens  and treat them as a composite of all potential evil?  I hope not.  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Until I met one

I looked down on Black people.  Until I met one.
I made fun of Mexicans.  Until I met one.
I was afraid of Russians.  Until I met one.
I laughed at the Polish.  Until I met one.
I thought Iranians were crazy.  Until I met one.
I thought Jews were weird.  Until I met one.
I thought Muslims were scary.  Until I met one.
I really hate your kind of people...
You know what to do.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Are You a Croaker?

Ever since I read the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, I've tried NOT to be a "croaker".  I've given up on trying to predict the future.  Instead, I think that today is the best time in history to be alive and I feel good about the future.  Tough times come and go, but if you sit and wait for the worst, you might miss out on prosperity.

Here's an example from over 200 years ago.  
There are croakers in every country, always boding its ruin. Such a one then lived in Philadelphia-a person of note, an elderly man, with a wise look and a very grave manner of speaking; his name was Samuel Mickle. This gentleman, a stranger to me, stopt one day at my door, and asked me if I was the young man who had lately opened a new printing-house. Being answered in the affirmative, he said he was sorry for me, because it was an expensive undertaking, and the expense would be lost; for Philadelphia was a sinking place, the people already half bankrupts, or near being so; all appearances to the contrary, such as new buildings and the rise of rents, being to his certain knowledge fallacious, for they were, in fact, among the things that would soon ruin us. And he gave me such a detail of misfortunes now existing, or that were soon to exist, that he left me half melancholy. Had I known him before I engaged in this business, probably I never should have done it. This man continued to live in this decaying place, and to declaim in the same strain, refusing for many years to buy a house there, because all was going to destruction; and at last I had the pleasure of seeing him give five times as much for one as he might have bought it for when he first began his croaking.

Friday, January 20, 2017



  1. (in bridge, whist, and similar card games) a playing card of the suit chosen to rank above the others, which can win a trick where a card of a different suit has been led. 
  2. a valuable resource that may be used, especially as a surprise, in order to gain an advantage. 

It's ironic that our new president's name is Trump, "a suit chosen to rank above the others" and "may be used, especially as a surprise".

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Marshmallow Test Debunked

I'm sure you've heard of the marshmallow test from the 1960's - children are told by a researcher "You can have one marshmallow now or if you wait until I come back, you can have two marshmallows".  The children that delayed gratification proved to be more successful in later life and less likely to succumb to problems such as drugs, teen pregnancy, etc.  The conclusion:


Recently (2012), this formula was questioned by researchers at the University of Rochester.  They modified the marshmallow test.  First, kids were put in a room with art supplies.  The children were told by an adult "I'm going to get better supplies.  Wait until I get back".  The kids were split into two groups:

  1. The adult came back with better art supplies
  2. The adult came back with a lame excuse and no better art supplies
The children were then given the marshmallow test.  The results were that the kids with the reliable environment were significantly more likely to wait to get two marshmallows.  The conclusion:


and the corollary would be:


So if we want our next generation to be successful, we need to create an environment where they believe that any sacrifice or effort they make will be worth it.  This is a good message for parents.  It is also a good message for policy makers that want to help our communities that can't seem to rise above poverty.