Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pre-Proterozoic Political Proletariat

For those not familiar with old Earth geology, the conglomerates of the Jack Hills contain detrital zircons, and the 1% of those zircons which are older than 4 billion years consume 95% of the resources used to study these mineral grains. Clearly, this is the longest-running example of economic inequality on this planet.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The trouble with climate models

For the past 20 years or so, people who have not wanted to consider the possible issues relating to increasing the atmospheric load of carbon dioxide and other IR-adsorbing gasses have tried to play down the dangers of potential climate change by pointing out that the computer models used to predict it were not very accurate.

The implication behind this argument is that the uncertainty in these models will overestimate potential changes. What will happen in a future where the models underestimate climate changes in generally unmentioned.

Luckily, we don't need to look to the future to investigate that possibility anymore. The above graph (from Neven's excellent Sea Ice Blog) shows the actual decline in summer arctic sea ice, relative to various computer model predictions. As this graph shows, ice is now melting much faster than any of the models had predicted.


Of course, the most persistent pro-pollution propagandists tell us that this proves that the computer models are useless, which means that climate change can't be real, which means that any effects we see must be caused by the warming fairies instead of exhaust gasses.


What we, as scientists, would really like is this: We would like to be able to predict the effects of pollution on the climate before they happen. That's why we get into science. The whole purpose of the field is to make predictions about the natural world and then test them. So if y'all cook the Earth faster than we can make decent predictions about the warming, then we get very disappointed. Not as disappointed as all the retirees on the Jersey Shore who just lost their houses, but still not real happy. So folks, here is a request.

Could y'all please slow down the warming of the planet just enough so that we, the research community, can actually catch up and figure out who is happening to this atmosphere?We would much rather predict doom and gloom for the future than look at last week's disaster and shrug , "Yeah. We should have thought of that."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It has been a year since the solar panels on our house were installed. In that year, we consumed about 2750 kWh of electricity, and produced about 3370 kWh.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

If only politicians led by example

How great would it be if all the politicians running for office cancelled any new TV ad buys, and donated the money to hurricane relief instead?  With an estimated 6 billion dollar price tag for this year's elections, a the damages inflicted by Frankenstorm Sandy will still need additional funding, but it would certainly make a dent in the enormous damages that stretch across half the eastern seaboard and west through the Appalachians.  And putting that money into building new homes, fixing infrastructure and preparing the nation for the next superstorm would be a far better use than 2000 more hours of cheezy attack ads being beamed into space.  Sure, some of those ad buys have been paid for already- but visionary candidates, parties, and PACS can choose to run public service ads in that time.

Seriously, folks.  If takes just one candidate to tell all his supporters to fund the red cross instead of him, and suddenly his opponent is turned into the Grinch if he buys attack ads instead of charity appeals.  So which American leader is going to step up first?