Moving to WordPress

Since I’m playing around with a lot of blogging stuff, I thought I’d try out the accomodations over at WordPress.

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A sense of scale

A palate cleanser… a new and highly accurate video depicting a trip from Tibet to the ends of our event horizon, 13.5 billion lightyears away.  Be sure to use the High Def option.

It reminds me of the earlier Powers of Ten video.  This one not only goes out, but takes us down past the atomic nucleus.  Each square is either a factor of ten larger or smaller than the last square.

Enjoy!

p.s., I will figure out how to make the template wider when I get a few moments.

Now here’s some climate change

More than a decade ago, this ScienceDaily article reported some impressive climate change.

The evidence from the greenhouse gas bubbles indicates temperatures from the end of the Younger Dryas Period to the beginning of the Holocene some 12,500 years ago rose about 20 degrees Fahrenheit in a 50-year period in Antarctica, much of it in several major leaps lasting less than a decade.

Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is what Mama Nature can do; 20 degrees F in 50 years.  And it wasn’t restricted to the Antarctic.  Similar changes happened in the Greenland according to the ice core data.

Here is the home of the Taylor Dome Ice Core Project.

UPDATE: I found a nice PNAS paper on Ice Core evidence of abrupt climate change.

How can Ice Cores tell us the temperature?

NASA’s earth Observatory has a quick explanation of how Oxygen isotope ratios can be used as a proxy for temperature.

Water molecules containing light oxygen evaporate slightly more readily than water molecules containing a heavy oxygen atom. At the same time, water vapor molecules containing the heavy variety of oxygen condense more readily.

A quick tour of ice core hockey sticks.

A narration of hockey sticks over time, using ice core data.

Hockey Sticks are de rigueur for AGW

Well, de rigueur isn’t quite the right word.  A Hockey Stick graph is essential to the claim of AGW.  The A up front, Anthropomorphic, requires that we know humans are causing most of the warming.  If mama Nature can change world average temperature[0] faster than is currently happening, well, we can’t know with certainty that humans are causing the warming.  The Mann hockey stick was the proof positive of AGW — before it was debunked.  Now, AGW proponents argue hockey sticks don’t matter.

UPDATE: Mann and crew published a paper in 2008 building the hockey stick using a wider data set.  Of course, this was before we found out that Dr. Mann was happy to play games with his graphs and data sets, so I’m not really sure how much trust we should extend to this latest effort until it has been vetted by actual disinterested statisticians.  Somehow, peer-review has gone seriously awry in the climate science field.

In case you, gentle reader, want to build your own hockey stick — perhaps using pseudorandom red noise, perhaps using temperature data — here is a nice intro to the art of making hockey sticks via statistical analysis.  Try it, and you will learn something about the whole sausage making process.  Plus, you’ll have a nice hockey stick at the end, and you will understand why.

[0] – whatever that statistical creature is defined to be

An oldie but a goodie

Dr. Derek Lowe writes about Climategate and scientific conduct shortly after the story broke.  Read the whole thing for a reasoned and rational prespective by a practicing scientist.  One quote…

I do not want the future of the world economy riding on this. And what’s more, it appears that the CRU no longer has much of their original raw data. It appears to have been tossed over twenty years ago. What we have left, as far as I can see, is a large data set of partially unknown origin, which has been adjusted by various people over the years in undocumented ways. If this is not the case, I would very much like the CRU to explain why not, and in great detail. And I do not wish to hear from people who wish to pretend that everything’s just fine.

 Exactly so.

Liquids down, people

This is not a keyboard and screen safe post.  From RealClearPolitics:

When leaked e-mails recently exposed talk of manipulating scientific evidence on global warming, Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at The National Center for Atmospheric Research, argued that skeptics and other evildoers had cherry-picked and presented his comments out of context.

To rectify this injustice, I sent Trenberth (and NCAR) a Freedom of Information Act request asking for his e-mail correspondences with other renowned climate scientists in an effort to help contextualize what they’ve been talking about.

Surely the tragically uninformed among us could use some perspective on these innocuous comments by Trenberth: “We can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment, and it is a travesty that we can’t”; “we are (not) close to knowing where energy is going or whether clouds are changing to make the planet brighter.”

 I’ll let you guess at the response from NCAR.

Maybe the CRU will open peoples’ eyes

The DailyMail runs a Special Investigation on climate change and the scientific basis for the Catastrophists’ claims.

Climate science is complicated, and often the only way to make sense of raw data is through sophisticated statistical computer programs. The consequence is that most lay individuals – politicians and members of the public alike – have little choice but to take the assurances of scientists such as Davies on trust. He and other ‘global warmists’ often insist that when it comes to the IPCC’s main conclusions – that the Earth is in a period of potentially catastrophic warming and that the main culprit is man-made greenhouse gas emission – no serious scientist dissents from the conventional view.

 Well, the news outlets are finally starting to question that last point, as the article goes on to say…

In fact, there is a large body of highly-respected academic experts who fiercely contest this thesis: people such as Richard Lindzen, Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a disillusioned former IPCC member, and Dr Tom Segalstad, head of geology at Oslo University, who has stated that ‘most leading geologists throughout the world know that the IPCC’s view of Earth processes are implausible if not impossible’.

Wow, now that’s what I’m talking about.  Let’s have a heaping serving of skeptical inquiry and critical thinking.  Do the catastrophists’ claims really hold up under scrutiny?  Let’s hope we see more of this in major news outlets.

Scientists should be skeptics

This seems about right:

… everyone involved needs to embrace the idea that all scientists are skeptics; that all scientific theories are open to doubt; and in particular that future projections of climate change are subject to considerable uncertainty. Furthermore, the economic and environmental impacts of warming are also uncertain, as are the costs of CO2 mitigation. When scientists hide these uncertainties, or simply don’t discuss them, they lose credibility. Climate scientists are clearly unable to “save the world” alone. But they are stewards of key data that are essential to shape wise policy. Their credibility is much more important than their political opinions.

The climate for discussion has become so polarized that rational, skeptical inquiry is extremely difficult.  If you aren’t for Copenhagen, you must be against it.  I take a different view; the climate is almost certainly warming, and it has been since the Little Ice Age.  Much less certain is the contribution from human emissions, CO2 in particular.  Remember, correlation is not causation.  The historic pattern has been for CO2 to lag climatic changes rather than drive such changes.  I would also urge a skeptical approach to the proposed dangers of warming.  There are certain to be positive aspects to a warmer climate.  The economics and human cost of mitigating CO2 emissions are yet other arenas where a dispassionate, skeptical approach would better serve humanity than alarmism.