Conundrums

February 24, 2017

Not that these keep me awake at night, but they do irritate.

conundrums-1


 

A model to explain the end of an ice age (but not yet to predict when one may start)

February 23, 2017

That the onset of glacial (cold) and interglacial (warm) periods on earth are a consequence of the Milankovitch cycles is almost certain. Researchers have now developed a model which seems to be able to explain why and when glacial periods end to give interglacial conditions. Exactly what cause glacial conditions to be triggered remains to be discovered.

P. C. Tzedakis, M. Crucifix, T. Mitsui, E. W. Wolff. A simple rule to determine which insolation cycles lead to interglacials. Nature, 2017; 542 (7642): 427 DOI: 10.1038/nature21364

AbstractThe pacing of glacial–interglacial cycles during the Quaternary period (the past 2.6 million years) is attributed to astronomically driven changes in high-latitude insolation. However, it has not been clear how astronomical forcing translates into the observed sequence of interglacials. Here we show that before one million years ago interglacials occurred when the energy related to summer insolation exceeded a simple threshold, about every 41,000 years. Over the past one million years, fewer of these insolation peaks resulted in deglaciation (that is, more insolation peaks were ‘skipped’), implying that the energy threshold for deglaciation had risen, which led to longer glacials. However, as a glacial lengthens, the energy needed for deglaciation decreases. A statistical model that combines these observations correctly predicts every complete deglaciation of the past million years and shows that the sequence of interglacials that has occurred is one of a small set of possibilities. The model accounts for the dominance of obliquity-paced glacial–interglacial cycles early in the Quaternary and for the change in their frequency about one million years ago. We propose that the appearance of larger ice sheets over the past million years was a consequence of an increase in the deglaciation threshold and in the number of skipped insolation peaks.

Onset of Interglacials Tzedakis et al

Onset of Interglacials Tzedakis et al

Science Daily reports:

…. In a new study published today in Nature, researchers from UCL (University College London), University of Cambridge and University of Louvain have combined existing ideas to solve the problem of which solar energy peaks in the last 2.6 million years led to the melting of the ice sheets and the start of a warm period.

During this interval, Earth’s climate has alternated between cold (glacial) and warm (interglacial) periods. In the cold times, ice sheets advanced over large parts of North America and northern Europe. In the warm periods like today, the ice sheets retreated completely.

It has long been realised that these cycles were paced by astronomical changes in the Earth’s orbit around the Sun and in the tilt of its axis, which change the amount of solar energy available to melt ice at high northern latitudes in summer.

However, of the 110 incoming solar energy peaks (about every 21,000 years) only 50 led to complete melting of the ice sheets. Finding a way to translate the astronomical changes into the sequence of interglacials has previously proved elusive. 

Professor Chronis Tzedakis (UCL Geography) said: “The basic idea is that there is a threshold for the amount of energy reaching high northern latitudes in summer. Above that threshold, the ice retreats completely and we enter an interglacial.”

From 2.6 to 1 million years ago, the threshold was reached roughly every 41,000 years, and this predicts almost perfectly when interglacials started and the ice sheets disappeared. Professor Eric Wolff (University of Cambridge) said: “Simply put, every second solar energy peak occurs when the Earth’s axis is more inclined, boosting the total energy at high latitudes above the threshold.”

Somewhere around a million years ago, the threshold rose, so that the ice sheets kept growing for longer than 41,000 years. However, as a glacial period lengthens, ice sheets become larger, but also more unstable.

The researchers combined these observations into a simple model, using only solar energy and waiting time since the previous interglacial, that was able to predict all the interglacial onsets of the last million years, occurring roughly every 100,000 years.

Dr Takahito Mitsui (University of Louvain) said: “The next step is to understand why the energy threshold rose around a million years ago — one idea is that this was due to a decline in the concentration of CO2, and this needs to be tested.”

The results explain why we have been in a warm period for the last 11,000 years: despite the weak increase in solar energy, ice sheets retreated completely during our current interglacial because of the very long waiting time since the previous interglacial and the accumulated instability of ice sheets. …..

Milankovitch Cycles (Wikipedia)

What would cause the current interglacial to end remains to be discovered. It’s only my speculation of course but I suspect that a trigger event is probably needed. Possibly 2 or 3 major (VEI >6) volcanic eruptions over a short period, with large amounts of dust, which in turn led to a a few “years without summers”, could provide such a trigger for an unstoppable process. However the onset of full glacial conditions would still take a few thousand years. The availability of high energy densities would probably make it (relatively) easy for humans to continue to thrive and prosper (as they have done through other glacial periods with much lower energy availability).


 

Trump wasn’t wrong about Sweden (just a little early)

February 21, 2017

Fake news in Sweden is nothing new  – it is mainly by omission of course. Politically unpalatable stories are generally ignored or downplayed by a docile main stream media which never questions the basis of political correctness. They have also made a god of multi-culturalism and cannot (or will not) distinguish between multi-ethnic and multicultural (A “society” – to be a society – can be multi-ethnic but not multicultural).

After what seemed to be another “ignorant” Trump comment about Sweden, he has been proven to be correct in substance if not in timing by the extensive riots in Rinkeby (an immigrant dominated suburb of Stockholm) yesterday. What he said was “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible”. His reference to “last night” was wrong but the rest was spot on. Of course there was high indignation from Sweden in general and from the liberal/left in particular, but their high dudgeon may prove to be badly misplaced.

Meanwhile, Rioting Breaks Out In Sweden

It would appear the mainstream media (along with several celebrities and Swedish politicians) is going to be apologizing to President Trump once again.

Having spent the entire new cycle trying to ignore the immigrant crisis facing Sweden, and pin the ignorant tail on Trump, both Dagbladet and Expressen reports riots breaking out in the highly immigrant concentrated Stockholm borough of Rinkeby, Sweden with police firing warning shots as 100s of young people throw stones and burn cars.

During the evening hundreds of young people gathered in the center of Rinkeby, well known for its high concentration of immigrants and people with immigrant ancestry. In June 2010, Rinkeby was the scene of riots and attacks against the local police station and Rinkeby is the region in which the ’60 Minutes’ crew were attacked in 2016.

……. warnings of increasing radicalization among Sweden’s Muslims – warnings he started to broadcast a decade ago – now seem eerily prophetic in light of an Associated Press investigation that found Stockholm to be a breeding ground for jihadists among Swedish Somalis. 

According to the AP report, which first ran Jan. 24, an al-Qaida-linked group is busy recruiting anti-government fighters among Somali youths living in Rinkeby. A suburb of Stockholm, Rinkeby has earned the nickname of “Little Mogadishu” because of the number of Somalis living there. Rinkeby is also the center of the recruiting efforts of al-Shabab, a group with ties to al-Qaida.

Rinkeby is a known problem area in Stockholm. It was here NRK journalist Anders Magnus was attacked with stones last spring, and here the police never go in the evenings without reinforcements from other patrols according to Dagbladet. A freelancer the newspaper spoke to, described the situation as serious. …

Rinkeby riots Feb 20th 2017

Rinkeby riots Feb 20th 2017

As an immigrant in Sweden, I find a decided lack of courage among Swedish politicians and the main stream media when they will not talk about the immigrant problems (which are primarily issues with Muslim immigrants, and religion is not irrelevant) because:

  1. they cannot bring themselves to admit that the multicultural meme  that they have religiously propounded is shallow, lazy and discredited (as opposed to multi-ethnic but with an evolving mono-culture), and
  2. they believe that keeping silent may make it go away.

Donald Trump is not big on academic, rational, logical thinking. He reacts from the gut and, at least in this instance, his gut emotions about Sweden are not wrong.


 

South Australian blackouts due to over-reliance on wind and solar were predicted 2 years ago

February 13, 2017

I see that in South Australia some people have been complaining about the “record” heat with temperatures of 44ºC. Of course they take this as “evidence” of global warming. Never mind that some 120 years ago without any urban heat effects and without any industrialisation, the temperature reached 48-49ºC. It wasn’t global warming then.

In any event, South Australians and their elected representatives must get used to the fact that they have only themselves – and their political correctness – to blame. Winning greenie points seems to take precedence over common sense.

The SA blackouts caused by unreliable solar and wind were predicted two years ago in the journal Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, and every MP in the Parliament was told.

The Telegraph: 

100,000 SA customers blacked out because of reliance on unreliable wind and solar power in our network – more than a third of SA’s generation capacity.

IT is hard to disagree with the blunt assessment of Business SA that South Australia has been caught on electricity planning like a frog in boiling water. The story goes, with mixed results in scientific experiments, that a frog suddenly put into hot water will jump out but if heated slowly it will not figure out the danger.

The state was warned of the electricity-shortage crisis – and consequent blackouts – yet ignored the warnings, according to Business SA executive Anthony Penney.

“The most frustrating aspect of this most recent event is that it was anticipated by many businesses and other energy industry experts well in advance but, like the frog in boiling water, nothing happened in time,” he says.

This week the SA frog boiled. About 100,000 customers were blacked out because of the reliance on unreliable wind and solar power in our network – more than a third of SA’s generation capacity. ……….

Ben Heard, a doctoral researcher at the University of Adelaide also runs environmental non-Government organisation Bright New World – which supports the use of nuclear – explains the problem. He says the SA blackouts caused by unreliable solar and wind were predicted two years ago in the journal Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, and every MP in the Parliament was told.

“Back when wind generation was providing only 28 per cent of SA’s electricity supply, we flagged the risk presented by low supply in extreme heat conditions,’’ he says. Mr Heard said it was well known that extreme heat conditions in SA were accompanied by very little wind. “Our expectation at the time was that this would make it impossible to retire other generators from the market because of the security risk. Instead, the generators were allowed to retire, we took the risk, and we have started paying the price.”

Trans. Royal Society of South Australia

sa-royal-society


The essence of human sapience lies in having opinions

February 12, 2017

When the answer to a question is not thought to lie in the field of “certain” knowledge, we expect our best specialists in the field (doctors and lawyers and judges and scientists and engineers and even economists) to have considered opinions and accept that different specialists may have differing opinions. If a specialist declines to address a question in his field and express an opinion, we think the less of him and consider him lacking in “expertise”. On the other hand when lay persons or non-specialists have intransigent opinions we consider them “opinionated” and that they have “closed minds”. Human opinions can change – though slowly – and generally due to a change of starting conditions. The same lawyer, for example, may well change his opinion about the same matter at a different time or if given different facts to address the question.

An opinion is a judgement, a conclusion about the unknown, based on knowledge and the application of intelligence and reason. We take opinions to be something characteristic of being human. We don’t expect a computer, no matter how well-programmed, to have an “opinion”. The computer (artificial intelligence) may be able to present an “answer” to a question as being most probable, but it always presents the same “answer” given the same inputs and that answer is not considered an “opinion”.

It is having an opinion which is, I think, the mark of sapience.

I take sentienceknowledge, intelligence, valuesjudgement, wisdom and sapience to be different – if sometimes connected – qualities. I take these to be as defined here.

sentience is the presence of consciousness. All living things are not sentient. While most mammals and even fish and birds and even insects seem to be sentient, it is not apparent that trees or sponges or algae have consciousness. A brain is necessary. It seems theoretically possible for a non-living artificial intelligence to become conscious, but that has yet to be achieved.

knowledge is an accumulation of observable, verifiable facts about the surrounding world. Knowledge can be recorded and stored in a variety of media including in the memory of brains (both living and artificial). It would seem that all sentient entities possess knowledge. (I take science to be the process by which some area of ignorance is investigated and converted into knowledge. Thus, a tiger exploring new territory is engaged in science).

intelligence is a composite, cognitive skill. It requires knowledge. It is a measure of an entity’s skill in solving problems by the application of its knowledge together with its ability to reason, its speed of reasoning, its language abilities and its capability to learn. Knowledge is essential and the greater the knowledge, the greater the entity’s potential intelligence. However, intelligence is a composite skill and a treasure trove of knowledge without the ability to reason would give no intelligence. A brain is required, but for intelligence to be manifested, sentience is not.

values is an internal set of referents that an intelligent, sentient entity may have. The set of values becomes an ethical code where these values allow the distinctions of the three fundamental ethical values (right and wrong, good and bad, and just and unjust). The set of values may include many distinctions and referents based on learning and experience.

judgement is the ability to compare some knowledge or event against some reference values and to make a conclusion about that piece of knowledge or event. A set of inbuilt values becomes a necessity to be able to make a judgement. The conclusions to be reached by means of making a judgement are relative and qualitative and often abstract (right, good, just, better than, more beautiful, tastier, safer, friendlier, …..).  Judgements which lead to quantitative conclusions, in contrast, are just new pieces of knowledge (faster, higher, heavier, …). Having a set of values is a necessary ingredient for the exercise of judgement which then becomes the value derivative of knowledge. Knowledge and intelligence are both required but sentience is not.

wisdom, I take to be the accumulation of knowledge about the quality of judgements. It is thus the second value derivative of knowledge, and requires not only knowledge, intelligence and a set of values, but also an accumulation of previous judgements to which values can also be applied.

And so we come to sapience. In the hierarchy of these qualities, humans are first sentient, then accumulate knowledge (by the practice of learning or of science) and have intelligence. However to be able to then move on to making judgements and accumulating wisdom, something else is required. An internal set of values is necessary. But just the capability to make judgements is insufficient. There must also be a drive to make these judgements and draw conclusions. It is this propensity to make judgements and draw conclusions which gives sapience. Sapience is not wisdom. It is the ability and the drive to make judgements (have opinions) and judgements when valued and accumulated give wisdom.

The drive to take what is known and leap in to what may be, in the form of opinions, is the essence of sapience. Having opinions is what makes us human.

And that also means that to decline to have an opinion is a denial of sapience.

sapience

 


 

Unicorns were real

February 8, 2017

The Siberian Unicorn could have been alive some 29,000 years ago. Elasmotherium sibiricum was thought to have become extinct 350,000 years ago, but the discovery of a skull in the Pavlodar region of Kazakhstan suggests they were around till fairly recently.

Siberian Unicorn - painting by Heinrich Harder

Siberian Unicorn – painting by Heinrich Harder

The Harappan Unicorn was of course around much more recently (less than 10,000 years ago).

Harappan Unicorn seal

Harappan Unicorn seal

Big animals, living in small groups rather than in a herd, not very aggressive, and herbivorous rather than carnivorous with the single horn as their defense against predators?

A furry unicorn for Siberia and a summer-adapted, tame one for the Indus-Saraswati Valley?


 

“92% of radical, left activists still live with Mommy” – Bild

February 8, 2017

German newspaper, Bild, reports on a new analysis from the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV). Apparently 92% of radical, left activists still live at home with their mothers. A third were unemployed.

Bild:

The number of crimes committed by violent leftist offenders is increasing: In the period from 2009 to 2013, a total of 1523 cases were recorded, more than twice as many as from 2003 to 2008. “Most politically motivated violent crimes come from the left-wing scene ,” says Interior Senator Frank Henkel (52, CDU).

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution , has determined in a study that the profile of the average, left perpetrator:

He is male, 21 to 24 years old, despite average maturity usually no job – and 92 percent of them still live with their mothers.

Linksradikale – image Berliner Kurir

The report also shows that:

Of the 873 suspects identified, 84% were men, 16 % were women and 72 percent were between 18 and 29 years old.

► Nine out of ten were not in any relationship.

► 34 percent have average maturity, 29 percent have a high school diploma. One in three is unemployed.

► One in ten had committed more than one act of violence, and one offender even twelve. Four out of ten were awaiting other punishment.

► Between 2009 and 2013, left-wing assassins attempted eleven murders and two attempted homicides.

► 902 violent acts (59 per cent) were directed against persons.

► Four out of five  were acts against policemen.

►15 percent were against right-wing extremists.

► In the case of violence against objects, car fires are the most common offense with 62 percent. In 58 cases police cars were torched.


 

Hans Rosling — RIP

February 7, 2017

Hans Rosling passed away today. He was born July 27, 1948 and was just 68.

He was, I think, to be compared with Richard Feynman for his ability to communicate difficult concepts to laypeople.

RIP.

From Gapminder:

Sad to announce: Hans Rosling passed away this morning

We are extremely sad to announce that Professor Hans Rosling died this morning. Hans suffered from a pancreatic cancer which was diagnosed one year ago. He passed away early Tuesday morning, February 7, 2017, surrounded by his family in Uppsala, Sweden.

Eleven years ago, the three of us, Hans Rosling, Ola Rosling & Anna Rosling Rönnlund founded Gapminder. In 2007 Hans decided to “drop out” of university to work only 5% as professor at Karolinska Institute. That was a great decision. The 95% he worked for Gapminder made him a world famous public educator, or Edutainer as he liked to call it.

Across the world, millions of people use our tools and share our vision of a fact-based worldview that everyone can understand. We know that many will be saddened by this message. Hans is no longer alive, but he will always be with us and his dream of a fact-based worldview, we will never let die!

We kindly ask you to respect our need for privacy during this sad time of mourning. Gapminder will announce info about memorial plans later.

Stay updated on Gapminder’s twitter and facebook

— Anna R. Rönnlund & Ola Rosling, Co-founders of Gapminder

For more info, please contact Karolinska Institutet.


 

“Dilbert” withdraws his support for Berkeley

February 7, 2017

Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) got his MBA from UC Berkeley but he is not amused by the shenanigans there. He suggests Berkeley is closer to Hitler than the right wing Milo Yiannopoulos they stopped (by rioting).

dilbert-blog

Berkeley and Hitler

Here’s the best article you are likely to read about the absurdity of calling ANY American president Hitler. This is the sort of persuasion (sprinkled with facts) that can dissolve some of the post-election cognitive dissonance that hangs like a dark cloud over the country. Share it liberally, so to speak. You might save lives.

Speaking of Hitler, I’m ending my support of UC Berkeley, where I got my MBA years ago. I have been a big supporter lately, with both my time and money, but that ends today. I wish them well, but I wouldn’t feel safe or welcome on the campus. A Berkeley professor made that clear to me recently. He seems smart, so I’ll take his word for it.

I’ve decided to side with the Jewish gay immigrant who has an African-American boyfriend, not the hypnotized zombie-boys in black masks who were clubbing people who hold different points of view. I feel that’s reasonable, but I know many will disagree, and possibly try to club me to death if I walk on campus. 

Yesterday I asked my most liberal, Trump-hating friend if he ever figured out why Republicans have most of the Governorships, a majority in Congress, the White House, and soon the Supreme Court. He said, “There are no easy answers.”

I submit that there are easy answers. But for many Americans, cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias hide those easy answers behind Hitler hallucinations. 

I’ll keep working on clearing the fog. Estimated completion date, December 2017. It’s a big job.

As he says, the privileged elite, Trump-haters need to come to terms with the reality that most of the US Governors, both houses of Congress, the White House and most of (soon) the Supreme Court are Republican.


 

The faking of climate data before the Paris conference

February 5, 2017

The “global temperature” is calculated by dividing the world into a grid, determining the temperature applying to each grid element and then “calculating” (not a simple average) a “global temperature” to apply to the world. The problem is that there are actual measurements (raw data) for just about 20% of the grid elements. These 20% are then used to “fill in” temperatures for all the other grid elements. There are algorithms devised first for “correcting” the raw data, then there are those governing the manner in which the corrected data are to be combined to fill in empty grid elements, and further algorithms to be used when combining all the elements of the grid to give a single “global temperature”. The accuracy of the raw data is only about 0.1ºC while the “global temperature” is presented to 0.001ºC, and differences of the order of 0.001ºC are used to make conclusions for  “policy” decisions. Climategate 1 revealed how data has been cherry picked and fudged for the first time. The deception continues.

Dr John Bates (formerly of NOAA) is now blowing the whistle on how the NOAA has manipulated climate data:

John Bates received his Ph.D. in Meteorology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1986. Post Ph.D., he spent his entire career at NOAA, until his retirement in 2016.  He spent the last 14 years of his career at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (now NCEI) as a Principal Scientist, where he served as a Supervisory Meteorologist until 2012.

…….. NOAA Administrator’s Award 2004 for “outstanding administration and leadership in developing a new division to meet the challenges to NOAA in the area of climate applications related to remotely sensed data”. He was awarded a U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal in 2014 for visionary work in the acquisition, production, and preservation of climate data records (CDRs). He has held elected positions at the American Geophysical Union (AGU), including Member of the AGU Council and Member of the AGU Board. He has played a leadership role in data management for the AGU.

He has a guest post at Judith Curry’s blog.

Climate scientists versus climate data

by John Bates

A look behind the curtain at NOAA’s climate data center.

I read with great irony recently that scientists are “frantically copying U.S. Climate data, fearing it might vanish under Trump” (e.g., Washington Post 13 December 2016). As a climate scientist formerly responsible for NOAA’s climate archive, the most critical issue in archival of climate data is actually scientists who are unwilling to formally archive and document their data. I spent the last decade cajoling climate scientists to archive their data and fully document the datasets. I established a climate data records program that was awarded a U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal in 2014 for visionary work in the acquisition, production, and preservation of climate data records (CDRs), which accurately describe the Earth’s changing environment.

The most serious example of a climate scientist not archiving or documenting a critical climate dataset was the study of Tom Karl et al. 2015 (hereafter referred to as the Karl study or K15), purporting to show no ‘hiatus’ in global warming in the 2000s (Federal scientists say there never was any global warming “pause”). The study drew criticism from other climate scientists, who disagreed with K15’s conclusion about the ‘hiatus.’ (Making sense of the early-2000s warming slowdown). The paper also drew the attention of the Chairman of the House Science Committee, Representative Lamar Smith, who questioned the timing of the report, which was issued just prior to the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan submission to the Paris Climate Conference in 2015.

In the following sections, I provide the details of how Mr. Karl failed to disclose critical information to NOAA, Science Magazine, and Chairman Smith regarding the datasets used in K15. I have extensive documentation that provides independent verification of the story below. I also provide my suggestions for how we might keep such a flagrant manipulation of scientific integrity guidelines and scientific publication standards from happening in the future. Finally, I provide some links to examples of what well documented CDRs look like that readers might contrast and compare with what Mr. Karl has provided.

Background …..

Read the whole post here.

Of course the mainstream, politically correct media have no time for this. However David Rose of the Mail on Sunday is one of the few reporters who still has the nerve to question the fanatic, religious orthodoxy on this subject.

Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data 

  • The Mail on Sunday can reveal a landmark paper exaggerated global warming
  • It was rushed through and timed to influence the Paris agreement on climate change
  • America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration broke its own rules
  • The report claimed the pause in global warming never existed, but it was based on misleading, ‘unverified’ data

The Mail on Sunday today reveals astonishing evidence that the organisation that is the world’s leading source of climate data rushed to publish a landmark paper that exaggerated global warming and was timed to influence the historic Paris Agreement on climate change.

A high-level whistleblower has told this newspaper that America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) breached its own rules on scientific integrity when it published the sensational but flawed report, aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015.

The report claimed that the ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in global warming in the period since 1998 – revealed by UN scientists in 2013 – never existed, and that world temperatures had been rising faster than scientists expected. Launched by NOAA with a public relations fanfare, it was splashed across the world’s media, and cited repeatedly by politicians and policy makers.

But the whistleblower, Dr John Bates, a top NOAA scientist with an impeccable reputation, has shown The Mail on Sunday irrefutable evidence that the paper was based on misleading, ‘unverified’ data.

It was never subjected to NOAA’s rigorous internal evaluation process – which Dr Bates devised.

His vehement objections to the publication of the faulty data were overridden by his NOAA superiors in what he describes as a ‘blatant attempt to intensify the impact’ of what became known as the Pausebuster paper. …….

NOAA data manipulation (from David Rose - Mail on Sunday)

NOAA data manipulation (from David Rose – Mail on Sunday)

There will be more whistle-blowers now stepping out from behind the woodwork.


 


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