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Freeman Dyson, Global Warming Heretic

[Am back from vacation, experiencing climate change directly. Missing that ocean view, the salty air, the seabreeze...]

There's a full page ad in today's Post, signed by a pack of scientists and paid for by the libertarian Cato Institute, objecting to President Obama's characterization of the consensus on climate change. Obama said last November, "Few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than combating climate change. The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear." The scientists say this isn't true, that surface temperatures haven't risen for over a decade, that computer models forecasting rapid temperature change are wrong, and that Obama's "characterization of the scientific facts regarding climate change and the degree of certainty informing the scientific debate is simply wrong."

This comes in the wake of a fascinating story yesterday in the Times on the physicist and futurist Freeman Dyson, who, at the age of 85, has added his voice to those who think that the dangers of global warming have been overstated.

There's a common thread in both the ad and the Dyson story, seems to me. Let's discuss -- but feel free to jump in and disagree.

First, Dyson. I've interviewed Freeman Dyson a number of times in person and on the phone and have found him to be just as the Times reporter describes: Extremely polite, thoughtful, and intellectually playful. He's great fun and very smart. And he specializes in the fantastic: He once told me that, someday, most of the intelligent life in our solar system will live in the Oort Cloud, that hypothesized realm of cometary material that is far beyond the orbit of Pluto. Why the Oort Cloud? Because that's where most of the real estate is, when you add it all up, and presumably by then the human species will have modified itself to live in exotic environments.

Of course, that's a rather fanciful scenario. This is Dyson's niche in our culture, coming up with ideas that stretch the imagination. He famously came up with the notion that advanced civilizations facing resource depletion will build shells that surround their star and capture its energy -- the inspiration for Larry Niven's novel Ringworld.

He told me that, if we discover intelligent life somewhere out there in the universe, it won't be by listening for radio signals. We'll see it with a telescope. We'll see something that we know cannot be natural.

He's a terrific writer. A favorite of mine is "Infinite In All Directions." He's something of a technophile, and perhaps a utopian. In Dyson's mind we live in the best of all possible universes.

Here's what Dyson isn't: An expert on climate change.

He's freelancing. Which is fine, so long as everyone understands what's going on. Strictly speaking, he doesn't know all that much about climate.

Now back to that ad in the Post: Who ARE these people? "Scientists," is the answer, but what kind of scientists? Are they climate experts?

Let's take a look at "Michael Monce, Ph.d., Connecticut College":

"His area of expertise lies in atomic and molecular physics, particularly atomic collisions."

Probably a smart guy. But why do we care what he thinks about climate change? How many of these people have actually published something on climate change in a peer-reviewed journal?

I agree with Dyson that it is wrong to let global warming devour all of our environmental attention. There is no reason to predict environmental calamities 50 years from now when they're happening right this minute, everywhere. (I made that point in an Outlook piece and was pilloried by some on the Left. This is obviously a delicate matter. I can understand the concern of those who fear the public momentum to deal with climate change will be lost if people lose focus or are told that there's not really a crisis. But I think the broader environmental crisis is more Hydra-headed than some people may realize.)

Note that in the Times article, Dyson makes a passing reference to the notion, briefly in play in the media in the mid-70s, that an Ice Age might be nigh, and compares this to the current belief in global warming. George Will recently made a similar argument. But that's absurd: The Ice Age fears were a momentary blip and should not be equated with the steady emergence over the past two decades of a general consensus that human beings are contributing to global warming and that this could be economically and environmentally calamitous.

Science is not a business of certainties. The error bars are huge when it comes to predicting the effects of climate forcings. That's why mitigating CO2 and other greenhouse gases is increasingly seen as an insurance policy against catastrophic climate change. You don't have to know for certain that something dire will happen to take action to reduce its likelihood.

--

More on Dyson at John Tierney's blog.

--

Some boodle comments:

ScienceTim writes: 'Climate has been known for a long time to be one of those complex systems with emergent behaviors, doing things that basic physics wouldn't predict. Until the development of complexity as its own field, the general form of presentation to us baby-physicists was that there were so many variables that you couldn't know the initial conditions well enough -- but in principle, it might be possible. Since the arrival of complexity, it is more like quantum mechanics, with determinism a dead letter.

'Meaning: without the specialized methods required for a statistical interpretation of a complex system, the average physicist (even an above-average physicist) probably is not equipped to make any meaningful predictions. Equilibrium conditions are predictable, but climate and weather are all about the process of transition between equilibria. That's very hard to predict, and the non-specialist physicist, more or less, simply is equipped with a more precise language than the layman in which to say "I don't know anything about this." '

Engelmann writes:

'I find it unsatisfactory to dismiss the 1970s ice age discussion as a "blip" and "absurd". From my reading, those articles had two main points: first, that the emerging consensus was that we are at the end of the current interglacial period; and second, that an ice age was imminent.

'The second proposition was debunked; the first remains true.

'The climate data from the last 600,000 years cannot fail to impress. Here's the data from ice cores: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vostok-ice-core-petit.png

'Literally everything we associate with civilization, all of recorded human history, stands atop a little climate island in an otherwise ice-choked sea. The low periods of the ice ages had average temperatures around eight degrees below current temperatures, for thousands of years on end.'

--

Here's Freeman Dyson himself, at the close of a New York Review of Books article:

'Environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion. And the ethics of environmentalism are fundamentally sound. Scientists and economists can agree with Buddhist monks and Christian activists that ruthless destruction of natural habitats is evil and careful preservation of birds and butterflies is good. The worldwide community of environmentalists--most of whom are not scientists--holds the moral high ground, and is guiding human societies toward a hopeful future. Environmentalism, as a religion of hope and respect for nature, is here to stay. This is a religion that we can all share, whether or not we believe that global warming is harmful.

'Unfortunately, some members of the environmental movement have also adopted as an article of faith the belief that global warming is the greatest threat to the ecology of our planet. That is one reason why the arguments about global warming have become bitter and passionate. Much of the public has come to believe that anyone who is skeptical about the dangers of global warming is an enemy of the environment. The skeptics now have the difficult task of convincing the public that the opposite is true. Many of the skeptics are passionate environmentalists. They are horrified to see the obsession with global warming distracting public attention from what they see as more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet, including problems of nuclear weaponry, environmental degradation, and social injustice. Whether they turn out to be right or wrong, their arguments on these issues deserve to be heard.'


By Joel Achenbach  |  March 30, 2009; 10:45 AM ET
 
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Next: Many Earths Needed

Comments

One thing about Dyson -- no matter what you think of his ideas, he's got some serious spheres.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | March 30, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

What a nice piece, Joel. It is, to me, the "food processor" of thought that you can put so many arguments these days.

Thanks!

Posted by: russianthistle | March 30, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Anyway, I'm not taking a formal position on this Global Warming thing until I hear what Prof. Irwin C. Corey has to say.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 30, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

That's where I agreed with Dyson, too. And I knew you would too, Joel. Around here it's not the climate that's killing frogs, it's Roundup. The salamanders are probably gone; I haven't seen one in years. I am hugely jealous of your opportunities to interview geniuses.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 30, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

"Back off man. I'm a Scientist."
- Bill Murray in Ghostbusters.


The term "scientist" is kind of like the term "physician." Both are very broad terms that suggest little about specific areas of expertise. Unlike Mr. Spock or the omniscient Scientist of old movies, real scientists are incredibly specialized. Once scientists move out of their area of expertise, they lose most of their street cred.

Again, think about doctors. You wouldn't go to a gynecologist for advice on a brain tumor right? (Trust me. The answer is no.) So don't look to an astrophysicist for guidance on climate change. Especially since scientists are just, if not more, susceptible to psychological self-delusion as anyone else.


That said, there are legitimate limitations on what computer models can predict. Just as the term "scientist" can imply expertise that is lacking, the term "computer simulation" can imply certainty that is also lacking.

Sims are most useful in scenario planning. They are tools for determining which factors matter and which factors do not. And while the specific outcomes may be doubtful, the observation that CO2 levels matter - a lot- is not.

It's all a matter of risk-benefit, or as Joel accurately puts it, insurance. Which is why it seems as if reducing the CO2 level really is a prudent thing to do.

And you can trust me, cause, you know, I'm a Scientist.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 30, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

There's also a non-linear chaotic-like dependence on various ecological problems, I suspect. That is, one problem can influence another problem in a very complicated way. So if we clean up our act in some ecological matters, it just might make the other problems that much easier to solve. Or at least tolerate.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 30, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Ah yes, the issue of dealing with Argument from (very often Irrelevant) Authority.

Such fun.

*SIGH*

Hope everyone enjoyed the Boston tune cootie at the end of the previous Boodle. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 30, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I recently tracked down and read David Archer’s book “The Long Thaw”, so I do have a couple comments to make later today.

Posted by: engelmann | March 30, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Back about 1984, when I started graduate school and Freeman Dyson was a spry and intellectually supple young man of 60, the hot ferment in physics was all about the science of complexity. We had frequent colloquia showing that certain relatively simple differential equations could be demonstrated to result in chaotic solutions -- that is, trivial changes to the parameters or initial conditions of the equation could result in numerical solutions with wildly divergent results.

Climate has been known for a long time to be one of those complex systems with emergent behaviors, doing things that basic physics wouldn't predict. Until the development of complexity as its own field, the general form of presentation to us baby-physicists was that there were so many variables that you couldn't know the initial conditions well enough -- but in principle, it might be possible. Since the arrival of complexity, it is more like quantum mechanics, with determinism a dead letter.

Meaning: without the specialized methods required for a statistical interpretation of a complex system, the average physicist (even an above-average physicist) probably is not equipped to make any meaningful predictions. Equilibrium conditions are predictable, but climate and weather are all about the process of transition between equilibria. That's very hard to predict, and the non-specialist physicist, more or less, simply is equipped with a more precise language than the layman in which to say "I don't know anything about this."

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 30, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-autos/idUSTRE52T3H320090330
On Cerberus and Chrysler

"like a rich guy getting food stamps because his refrigerator is bankrupt." (my partial repost)

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 30, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

RD, with predictive climate science being as imprecise as it is, one could use your 11:50ayem as an argument for doing nothing, since doing anything *might* make things worse.

I agree with you that we should be working to clean up our (human) act. And I believe there is a significant climate change underway, and that there is clear human comtribution to it.

But I can also see Dyson's and others' perspective that they don't see data that clearly leads them to conclude there's a problem, much less that there's a human component.

One of the beautiful and frustrating things about the human condition is for two people to Observe the same events or to share an experience, and for each of them to draw two completely different conclusions. [Just ask my ex.]

One other thing that interests me about the human experience is the ability to hold opposing viewpoints in one's mind, and to believe them both.

bc

bc


Posted by: -bc- | March 30, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

A less than meticulous reader might come away from this kit under the impression that Prof Dyson was among the pack of scientists who signed the Cato Institute adifesto.
Ok, It's me. Judging from the Times article I doubt the good man signed. Dyson doesn't deny warming he just looks at ecology like I look at grammer.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 30, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I may have to start taking the long view regarding my spelling too.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 30, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

RDP, the more worrisome thing is that cleaning up our act in some areas may make other things worse. The temporary cooling observed in the 70's was real, caused by aerosols created by pollution from coal-burning power plants (at least, this is my understanding). Cleaning this up was good -- acid rain was eroding our monuments and concrete structures as well as altering stream acidity (thereby hurting fishes and killing off freshwater shelled organisms), while mercury from coal poisons our fisheries. But. The aerosols were masking the general trend of atmospheric warming.

Complexity, complexity, complexity.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 30, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

*Tim, I hate to correct you on a point of science (ahem), but your posit that "...it is more like quantum mechanics, with determinism a dead letter." may in fact not be completely correct.

Wheeler-based Many Worlds Interpretations of QM do in fact allow for determinism, where all possible events occur along branching universes/timelines. You can see more here...

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/achenblog/2008/05/multiple_worlds_and_black_hole.html

bc

Posted by: -bc- | March 30, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

As I take it, Joel (followed up by RD and ScienteTim) is saying that just because someone is a Scientist doesn't mean their opinion is a valid rebuttal to that of other Scientists in a particular field. It all depends on what you know.

I heartily agree. In every highly specialized field of knowledge, less really is less. As I've mentioned before, even well-educated attorneys with a good grasp of general law are not necessarily to be trusted outside their specialty (would you want a criminal law attorney to do your taxes? Trust me, no). I have great respect for Dyson and nothing against the Scientists who've apparently decided to chide Obama. That doesn't mean I belive their opinion on the nature and status of global warming has much more validity than, say, my own.

I also agree with Dyson and others that one shouldn't focus on golbal warming to the extent of ignoring other environmental issues. I don't see that observation as an excuse or permission to avoid global warming, however. It is possible to concentrate on more than one thing at a time, and even to do it well.

Convincing people of this is often an uphill battle.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 30, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

My apologies for the typos. I blame it on allergies, which have attacked me today and made my head even less functional than usual. In turn, I think I'll blame the allergies on global warming. Or perhaps I should refuse to do so. Either way, I'd be on Kit.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 30, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

You made sense to me Ivansmom. Of course, I'm kind of allergic to staying awake right now.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 30, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

No, bc, I don't think my comment could support doing nothing, and this is why:

We know what the climate is like with CO2 levels similar or somewhat lower than what we have now because of the recent historical record. What we do not know are the effects of raising the CO2 level. This is where the uncertainty exists. True, this might not matter. Or, heck, maybe higher levels could even be good. But the least risky approach is still to keep ourselves from finding out.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 30, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

On the do-something/do-nothing debate, I note that the Earth has maintained a viable environment, despite sometimes harsh treatment, for approximately 400 million years. That is not a track record to be ignored lightly, especially when we have the nearby example of Venus showing an alternate form of atmospheric equilibrium. We know that the type of influence that we have on our atmosphere (increasing CO2 concentrations liberated from mineral deposits) leads to a warmer equilibrium. The question is whether the Earth's natural processes would inhibit runaway greenhouse. We cannot look to the past as our guide, because the Earth of very long ago (1) had a very different atmospheric composition, and (2) was warmed by Sun that was substantially dimmer. Venus tipped over the edge into runaway billions of years ago. Maybe that can't happen to the Earth. Maybe it could. I don't want to do the experiment.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 30, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Possibly problematic CNN headline:

"Students play doctor using high-tech aid"

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 30, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

While it may be true that removing particulates enhanced global warming, I do not accept the implied argument that this was a bad thing to do. The near-term impact of particulates of both human health and the ecosystem is well documented. The correct thing is to clean up both particulates and keep CO2 from going up. Both will return the system to a known state of stability.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 30, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

"You don't have to know for certain that something dire will happen to take action to reduce its likelihood."

That would be a logical thing to do if the costs of 'stopping climate change' were insignificant. However, reducing C02 outputs to less-than-1990 levels worldwide is incredibly expensive and will reduce the standard of living for most of the world.

We should be pretty damn sure before we do that.

Posted by: LA_SD | March 30, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I think I know what that hi-tech aid is, Scottynuke.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 30, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

There is always a well-known solution to every human problem--neat, plausible, and wrong.
--- H.L. Mencken 1920

I reference this all the time in the world of technology after someone spouts out: "Why can't you JUST do this?"

I think what I am hearing is some agreement that the CO2 level and the temps and how the levels got there may not be a neat little package OR that one can fix or explain the other, but, I would "think" that the insurance policy that controlling future increases will make other direct battles of cause and affect much easier.

Of course, in arguments, the best and handiest manner to win an argument is to first mis-characterize a competing position as something totally simplistic and wrong.

Then, whip that one.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 30, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

LA_SD don't forget to add in the potential costs of doing nothing, failed crops, damage from increased intensity in storms etc, higher health costs due to pollution, shorter lifespans. Doing nothing is not necessarily the cheaper alternative - just lets out children and grandchildren pay for that which we chose to ignore.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 30, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

You ever had an MRI, Scotty? There's a lot of banging goes on inside that machine, I can tell ya. (Of course, you're not supposed to move...)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 30, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I think it has something to do with the interwebz, Wilbrod...

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 30, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge! *nearly faints with joy*

Posted by: Yoki | March 30, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

*faxing Yoki smelling salts*

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 30, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Big Bang theory?

Posted by: russianthistle | March 30, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

This Scientist believes in "climate change" arising from human activity but, ever the cynic, also believes that action is futile at this late date.

Thus, I am putting half of what few retirement savings I have into Coppertone stock. The other half is going into Preparation H.

Invest in the inevitable!

Posted by: wgmadden | March 30, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Whoaaaaaa -- It's a Mudge siting!!!! Who-hoo! We have missed ya, although your reference to the MRI now makes us all curiouser and curiouser. I've had an MRI on my knee, and I can attest to all that banging that goes on -- I had the attendant (or whatever one calls him/her) to make sure that the music which was coming through the earphones was gentle classical (I get entirely too involved with the Brandenburg Concerti, and I know I would have wanted to get up and dance were those dulcet tones to appear).

I so enjoy reading Freeman Dyson. He is simply a treat for the brain.

And, now, back to what I was doing (what was it again????).

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 30, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

SCC? Could that be "sighting"?

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 30, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Hey Mudge! Welcome back!

Posted by: slyness | March 30, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Hey Mudge. About time.

Let's see. In your absence, RD gave up boxes for knitting, dr gave up knitting for boxing, frosti boxed up some snow for kbertocci, someone's ears got boxed, and Wilbrodog had puppies. In a box.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 30, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

But ftb, I *am* sitting, if that helps.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 30, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

What? No bawks of boox?

I love it when the Boodle goes box to basics.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 30, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Some of Obama;s programs can have unintended consequences for global warming. David Owen's article in the March 30 New Yorker points out during the high gas prices and the economy downturn people drove less hence less CO2. Improved economy and lower car prices will result in higher amounts. Russia and former soviet union countries will have a easy time meeting their 2012 Kyoto Protocol goals because their smokestack industries have collapsed. Canada has spent $billions on climate initiatives, its greenhouse-gas output has increased to 122% of the 2102 goal. Present tech for electric cars just transfers the source of greenhouse-gas output.


http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2009/03/30/090330taco_talk_owen

Posted by: bh72 | March 30, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Whoa, RD! Note that I didn't say that reducing aerosol pollution enhanced global warming. It enhanced our ability to notice it. The cooling effect was a Northern hemisphere phenomenon, due to the longtime concentration of coal-burning in the North. CO2 effects, however, are worldwide.

LA_SD: "...will reduce the standard of living for most of the world" Note that this is true only so long as you maintain the assumption that there is no such thing as new technology. Technically, we don't even need new technology -- photovoltaics, solar-thermal heating and electrical generation, wind power, geothermal, tidal power (have I forgotten anything?) are well-known concepts that need 'only' an application of engineering to make them workable on a large scale. The problem is that the well-entrenched infrastructure of fossil-fuel usage makes it hard to overcome initial barriers. A huge help would come from a rich nation like the US taking the plunge to develop these technologies against the immediate financial penalties. We can do well by doing good, because we would then be the prime purveyors of low-emission distributed power-generation technologies, for which the economies of scale in manufacturing components and installing facilities would already be achieved by our investment.

Besides, there is a helpful analogy: feed one flock of chickens until they are fat and happy and healthy, while feeding another flock poorly. Continue to feed one flock richly while leading them into a giant oven, while the other flock continues to be fed poorly. Within a few hours, which flock has the better standard of living? We are the chickens. Which flock do we want to be in?

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 30, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

MUDGE!! I hope Scotty won't mind if I borrow the snoopy dance for a little bit.

bh - the rise in output in Canada - did it break it down, I understand the the growth in the Oilsands what a significant contributor to that increase.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 30, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

bh72, I would be surprised if the past tense "spent billions" regarding climate change initiatives in Canada is accurate. For the last 20 years we have varied between "all talk, no action" and "no talk, no action".

Posted by: engelmann | March 30, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I'm really glad you haven't died yet! (um, you started that discussion a while back yanno)

Posted by: Windy3 | March 30, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I was just quoting David Owen in his article. He didn't footnote his source of the stat.

Posted by: bh72 | March 30, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Er... I boxed up some puppies and sent them C.O.D. to Canada.

There's no puppy-having for me, thanks.

-Wilbrodog-

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 30, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Lab puppies are welcome wilbrod, it's a kind of homecoming.
I don't remember spending billions in emission reduction but I have a short attention span. Us Canadian-type buy more smaller imported cars mostly because gasoline is heavily taxed (to pay for socialised medicine, no doubt) and we are basically, well, cheap.

The Very Large Puppy has started to emit large quantities of methane almost exactly 2 years ago. It might have counterbalanced any reductions we gained from having smaller imported dogs. You know, all those boxes of cheap chihuahua imported from Mexico.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 30, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, it's good to see you here.

RD, about that 11:50 again - I guess you're taking the specific about C02, whereas someone playing Devil's Advocate might latch onto the idea that if one does not know exactly what effects changes may have on such a complex system, can we be certain anything we do to mitigate climate change and/or global warming (or even those C02 levels) won't inadvertently make things worse?

I personally disagree with this argument, but I think some folks might feel this way.

Granted, it's lazy rhetoric, which is all I have time and energy for at the moment.

bc


Posted by: -bc- | March 30, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Science Tim, I'm entirely with you.

I don't appear to be one of the healthy chickens right now, tho. Woke up with a sore throat, but otherwise feeling just fine -- no fever, no nuttin'. I can't tell yet whether it's an incipient cold coming on (and I haven't had one for absolute ages) or whether it might be allergy-related.

So, c'mon Mudge -- dish! We wanna know where you've been and how you are.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 30, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

*happily taking my shingle off the Shop Steward door*

Uh, *Tim?

"photovoltaics, solar-thermal heating and electrical generation, wind power, geothermal, tidal power (have I forgotten anything?)"

Ahem. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 30, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Greenhouse gas emissions by region for Canada,

http://www.ec.gc.ca/pdb/ghg/onlinedata/downloadDb_e.cfm

Posted by: dmd2 | March 30, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Nothing much to report, ftb. Been working on my novels and a long pome. It's amazing what you can get done when you aren't boodling.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 30, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Particulate reduction is something I have mentioned before. (By the way, will that volcano dim the sun substantially over the next year or two?) Lest I be thought in favor of particulates, I will say I think these crazy ideas of reducing global warming by planned release of aluminum dust (or whatever these wackos ae proposing) in orbit, won't do the farmers any good. Dim light means poorer crops, doesn't it? And it won't help the generation of solar power, either.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 30, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

One thing that is in short supply in climate science discussions is serious discussion of what the projected global climate would be in the absence of human-caused global warming.

Obviously, I am no climate change scientist. I do, however, spend a fair amount of time considering issues of causation. Doing so requires attempting to determine what the present or the future would be in the absence of the considered factor. This is often imprecise, and decisions are made on imperfect information.

I was therefore particularly interested in reading David Archer’s book “The Long Thaw”, since it seemed to me to be finally a reputable source for some information about the base line of climate. The problem that I have had since started reading on this subject is that no one wants to talk about anything further out than the next couple hundred years at most.

Archer’s conclusion is that there is an overwhelming moral duty on humanity to realize that the current CO2 producing era will have significant effects on global climate for the next 100,000 years. He further advocates that there may be numerous unpredictable effects of global warming, and that we are in the middle of a massive uncontrolled experiment. I add here that I am paraphrasing without the benefit of direct reference to his book.

It’s an interesting read, and goes beyond the near term to discuss long term effects, which is what drew me to the book in the first place.

More to follow.

Posted by: engelmann | March 30, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, what about -- piezoelectrics?

Letcher mind run with that one.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | March 30, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Mudge!
I will take your word on anything MRI related. I do recall having one done on my knee but I wasn't paying much attention.

bc,
Not only does Dyson have great spheres, his vacuums suck a lot too.

The skeptic on global warming meme has a lot of appeal. I had that very conversation with a coworker on a long ride home. Since he was driving and it was too far to walk, I was respectful of his obviously Limbaugh-aided position that even if there is global warming we are rather conceited to think we are the cause of it.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 30, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

bh72 notes: "Present tech for electric cars just transfers the source of greenhouse-gas output."

That is absolutely true, but there are some caveats:
(1) A stationary powerplant is easier to scrub emissions.
(2) Power-generation for a stationary powerplant does not need to compromise on efficiency vs. weight.
(3) On the other hand, there are power losses during transmission, battery storage in the electric car, and recovery from the batteries.
(4) But on the good side, even present-tech electric cars create a system that is preadapted to take advantage of alternative stationary power-generation technologies as well as distributed micro-generation. Nuclear, wind, solar, and geothermal power sources are poor ways to power a gasoline-fueled car, but will work perfectly well to power an electric car.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 30, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

My Part II was held for review - a new experience for me as my usual flippant comments are brief enough to get past. I'll try breaking it up.

Posted by: engelmann | March 30, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Part II

Now for the longer range climate discussion.

Personally, and with continued and due respect to JA, I find it unsatisfactory to dismiss the 1970s ice age discussion as a “blip” and “absurd”. From my reading, those articles had two main points: first, that the emerging consensus was that we are at the end of the current interglacial period; and second, that an ice age was imminent.

The second proposition was debunked; the first remains true.

The climate data from the last 600,000 years cannot fail to impress. Here’s the data from ice cores: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vostok-ice-core-petit.png

Literally everything we associate with civilization, all of recorded human history, stands atop a little climate island in an otherwise ice-choked sea. The low periods of the ice ages had average temperatures around eight degrees below current temperatures, for thousands of years on end.

So what of it? What does Archer have to say about the future, with and without human effects?

Posted by: engelmann | March 30, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Part III

The key graph in his book on this issue is a modeling of sunlight intensity in the northern hemisphere, past and future. Such intensity is driven by the tilt of the Earth’s axis and whether our orbit around the Sun is circular or elliptical. Where sunlight intensity in the northern hemisphere dips below a critical point, the likelihood of snow remaining for the summer increases. When that happens, in addition to similar likelihood the next year you have the compounding effect of more reflection of sunlight off snow, which sets off a downward spiral of cooling. According to this model, we are currently at what we might call a “borderline” era. The model predicts that a significant dip into conditions that could precipitate a new ice age will occur in about 3,000 years. A much more significant dip is expected in about 25,000 years.

The effect of the additional CO2 in the atmosphere is that the threshold for such conditions is raised. Even if no more human-caused CO2 emissions were to occur, the next dip 3,000 years hence no longer reaches the critical zone for glaciation. If CO2 emissions continue to increase, even the 25,000 year sunlight intensity low no longer is in the critical zone.

I, for one, find it interesting that humanity may have driven the global car into a global warming tree, while avoiding the glaciation cliff, all while not realizing until very recently that it had done either. Of course, one possibility may be that we will make life unendurable for cold-weather species, and then have an ice age in any event.

Also interesting is that to paraphrase Archer, the key decision over the next hundred years will be the extent to which coal reserves are utilized. Such reserves significantly exceed oil and gas (which he assumes will be consumed).

I accept that the problem with any serious discussion of a new ice age is that such talk presents a very large straw for global warming skeptics to seize. I think the better and more accurate approach, however, would be to say that the dominant problem for the next 1,000 years is global warming.

Posted by: engelmann | March 30, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, *Tim. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 30, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

MRIs are creepy...even though it feels like you're inside of a pizza oven, it sounds like you're suspended in a clothes dryer that someone is attempting to dry rocks in. Somehow centrifugal force works on the rocks, but not on you, and you end up worrying the buzzer is going to go off and all those rocks are going to drop. Keeps your mind off of whatever has you getting an MRI in the first place.

Posted by: LostInThought | March 30, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, you may note that in my 3:49 I included technologies that I might have forgotten in earlier postings.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 30, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

There's all kinds of confusing boodling out of order!

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go think about Venus.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 30, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

The Goddess of Love!

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 30, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Shocking Blue, or Bananarama?? :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 30, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

The one in Blue Jeans? The one Rising from a clamshell?

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 30, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

All this speculation that there is some mysterious process that forces cyclical ice ages. No mechanism is proposed that I can see, except for albedo differences between ocean and land (N & S hemispheres). "Higher dust levels are believed to be caused by cold, dry periods"

There is this on the '70s
http://ams.allenpress.com/archive/1520-0477/89/9/pdf/i1520-0477-89-9-1325.pdf

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 30, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Al Bedo? Is that our Al we say hello to?

Hey, Al. Long time no see. You still working for the Mob? Say hi to the missus and the kids (Tito, Alfredo, Guido, Fredo and Speedo).

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 30, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

LiT -- funny imagery there about the rocks ultimately falling on one in an MRI. It reminded me of when I was in law school in the very late 1980s. IIRC, I had a huge Olds Cutlass (1975, perhaps?) -- what we used to call a "Detroit Chrome Boat" -- and I decided to change the oil and filter all by myself. I got a book and studied it (BTW, this is way back when my knees actually work much, much better than they do now and I could get down on the ground and scrunch myself under the chassis -- and, get back up again), bought the new filter and new oil (in cans then) in the correct W factor and then I settled myself into place under the car in front of my apartment. The critical thing to remember here is that I did *not* have it on risers. It was firmly on the ground. Everything went well, I drained the old oil into a plastic gallon jug (which I gave to friends who lived on a dirt road, and which they used on said road to cut down on dust, I think), installed the new filter (I still have the "oil filter wrench") and was ready to slide out from under when I got this incredibly weird feeling that this car (which, remember, was on the ground) was going to crash right on top of me. I never thought I was claustrophobic before, but that may have triggered a bit of it then and there. I still remember that experience 30 or so years later.

The funniest thing about it, tho, was when I told my father and brother about it. They looked at me like they were really, really impressed that someone of my gender would and *could* change the oil and filter in a car. Cracked me up -- I mean, you guys, it's not like it's rocket surgery or anything. You read the recipe, you get the ingredients and you make the dish. Not a problem. Geez. (*copious amounts of laughter*)

Of course, I took my current car to the station this morning to have *them* do it. The knees just ain't what they used to be. But my point was, indeed, made.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 30, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Oh Carp!! I was in law school in the very late 70s fer cryin' out loud! (incipient age-related Monday-moments occurring, causing global-related issues)

grrrr

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 30, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Good thing you didn't have any forgotten BBs in your nose from childhood, Mudge. Those big magnets would have put a world of hurt on you. Ouch! Glad to see you.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 30, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

There is a mysterious process that forces cylcical ice ages. Unfortunately, it is accurately described by "mysterious." Leading contenders include weird long-term climatic oscillations, variations in Earth's obliquity (axial tilt), and chaotic variations in ocean circulation patterns. The last one is worrisome, because global warming could potentially trigger a vigorous counter-balancing effect to restore equilibrium. Wouldn't that be a good thing? Maybe. But it might be like driving a steamroller part way up the wall of a valley (global warming), then letting go (restoration of equilibrium). The steamroller will resume maintaining an equilibrium centered on the valley floor, but you wouldn't want to be standing in the road while the steamroller is in the midst of establishing equilibrium.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 30, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm still a bit ticked off about the MRI, Jumper. No one told me to take out my bellybutton piercing.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 30, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I bet you had forgotten all about it years ago, Mudge.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 30, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, you're darn lucky you didn't end up in the burn center. Makes me hurt to think about it!

Posted by: slyness | March 30, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm taking notes. "Remove all metal jewelry from body before taking an MRI."

Posted by: Yoki | March 30, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

ftb, of course you could change the oil. Don't you just love the little dears who think women get dizzy standing on a curb? The litte mental disconnect...you were in law school, but must not be able to follow directions because the subject matter was car maintenance. Ironically, I find that these are the same people who, when asked to start the dryer, ask which one is the dryer (and the answer 'the one without the water' isn't sufficient.)

Posted by: LostInThought | March 30, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Addendum...bc, I'm not sure I can't figure out how to change the oil in my car. Probably can't figure out how to change the windshield wiper blades, or put air in the tires either. Or figure out where brake fluid goes. Nothing. Please feel free to take the car and do these things for me. Lest I break down in the middle of nowhere. Without cell phone coverage. Or a flashlight. While wearing heels. And being chased by an axe-wielding lunatic. Thanks.

Posted by: LostInThought | March 30, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

bc - unexpected side effects are why I oppose any of the Terribly Clever Schemes to counteract CO2 - like dumping Iron in the oceans. What I advocate is not slowing or halting the current anthropomorphic increase in CO2. I guess in some bizarre scenario the world would suffer because we haven't pumped enough new CO2 in the atmosphere, but personally, I'll risk it.

SciTim - I accept, of course, your interpretation of what you were trying to say. But I don't see the relevance, then, to my claim that we need to "clean up our act."

Speaking of cleaning up, this evening is the inaugural mowing of the 2009 season.

Woohoo.

Of course, I keep pointing out that a sheep would be more ecologically correct. Not to mention more fluffy.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 30, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Oh those pesty nots. Scratch that. Reverse it.

I meant, of course That I *do* advocate slowing down or halting CO2. I do *not* advocate schemes to extract it through bizarre means.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | March 30, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

bc...add 'while carrying Dear Child.'

Posted by: LostInThought | March 30, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

in a blizzard.

Posted by: LostInThought | March 30, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

about a half mile from the Bates Motel.

Okay. I'll stop now.

Posted by: LostInThought | March 30, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Ha!, LiT! I will get my hands dirty, but I'm not fond of getting them greasy. If there are people who will change my oil and put air in my tires and generally maintain my car for reasonable fees, I'm delighted to let them do it.

I'm actually rather fond of my maintenance shop; they do a good job and have never let me down. That they are a block from the office is just icing on the cake. Nowadays, when something needs to be done, I let Mr. T take the vehicle in. But I pay.

Posted by: slyness | March 30, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Exactly, LiT! Very funny, really.

Well, I think all the symptoms point to a cold, rather than those pesky allergies. Gonna go drink a copious amount of herbal tea tonight (forcing fluids without staying up due to all that caffeine) -- we'll see if I have a voice tomorrow. Kinda funny, really, that when I do have a cold which affects my voice, I am told that my voice is sexy. While that may be true, I wonder whether it is a requirement to be sick in order to get that told, you know, to one.

*getting a wee bit grumpy, which must confirm the diagnosis, and going to make some comfort food for dinner*

Cough at you and Al tomorrow. . . .

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 30, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

I'll be over to let you breathe on me momentarily, ftb!

Posted by: Yoki | March 30, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Dag, LiT, did you just pick DC up from Camp Crystal Lake?

Tell you what -- I can handle the car, the axe-wielding lunatic, the blizzard, the cell phone, the light, getting back to the middle of somewhere and Jason Voorhees.

You can handle Norman (I *know* you can handle him. And his mother.) and DC.

And the heels.

(I wouldn't be as graceful as you in them, but I'm a bit better than serviceable. Granted, you'd look far better than I in them, but again, my gams ain't half bad.)

bc

Posted by: -bc- | March 30, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

I still haven't gotten very far into it, but Archer's book seems the best introduction to climate change and its consequences. It's certainly organized in a very businesslike way.

Princeton University Press has another book, Plows, Plagues, and Petroleum: How Humans Took Control of Climate by William F. Ruddiman. It argues that human activity, starting quite a while ago, might have forestalled the upcoming ice age.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 30, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Wow.. what a great kit and boodle today. I can't believe I just don't have time at work to join in these days.

The idea of experts spouting off in the wrong direction (i.e., a field they're not expert in) reminds me of a seminar I went to last week. It was given by a company that sells a certain kind of system for businesses (not our vendor but a competitor).

The founder and CEO of the company did most of the talking and he introduced himself and his staff all called him Dr. XXX. I wondered what kind of Doctor he was, as the product of this vendor doesn't really bring a PhD to mind.

So when I got him I looked up the company's website and found that his PhD is in... Oceanography... not even close to what he works in now. Now I know that getting a PhD is a lot of work (believe me... I've lived through one in my household) but I think you lose a little credibility when you insist on folks calling you Dr. when you're not even near the ballpark you studied in.

Oh.. I've done plenty of car repairs myself... oil changing, switching out a couple of alternators, etc. But these days I pay someone else to do it... as I also pay someone else to clean my house.

Posted by: -TBG- | March 30, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Nah, bc, she had a play date with Danny Torrance up at The Overlook Hotel. Nice parents.

Posted by: LostInThought | March 30, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Heeeeeeere's bc!
[Snorting about Torrence/nice parents reference.]

I'm more than happy to take care of the car maint, LiT.

I was going to say it's easy, until I remembered that I was going to be doing your car maintenance in B movie plot twist he!!.

Er, your car isn't a red '59 Plymouth Fury that goes by the name of Christine, do you?

I'll still do it, of course, I just won't say it's easy.

Of course you *can* do it if you really had to, just like you could change a distributor cap and rotor and the spark plug wires.

ftb, I've done oil changes without jacking the car up, too. You're right, it ain't rocket surgery (You did make me laugh at that one, Dr. McCoy.). Believe me, if it were as difficult as doing taxes I sure as heck wouldn't be doing it (note to self: hire someone to do yer taxes fer goodness' sake instead of spilling your money in a big puddle all over the driveway).

And I don't like grease on my skin either, but I find that a liberal coating of olive oil beforehand helps it wipe off later, though it can make handling wenches somewhat tricky.

bc


Posted by: -bc- | March 30, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

argon purpose.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 30, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

arc welding?

Posted by: Yoki | March 30, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Point taken, bc. Hehehe

Posted by: slyness | March 30, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

bc,
I'm sure you can handle wenches just fine no matter how much EVOO you've applied.

LiT,
Be careful of that hitchhiker in the red and black striped shirt and the very long fingernails.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 30, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

"But I think the broader environmental crisis is more Hydra-headed than some people may realize."

Good point. In the past ten years, global warming has become the overriding priority for major environmental groups that I belong to. I think it overshadows other, more immediate concerns too much. So we're not focusing on preserving living habitats/wild places as much as we used to. It's as if we think those places won't matter if we don't stop climate change, so we focus on climate change as the way to save them, only to lose them to other disruptions.

Also, energy sources like biofuels and windpower have been rated as positive by enviros because they will supposedly cut CO2 output. I tried to warn about ethanol years ago, because I could foresee what it would mean for the last of the native prairie here in the Great Plains--conversion to food/fuel crops. I'm sadly being proven right, and fellow enviros are now coming around, since they've seen what the biofuels industry is doing to rainforests around the world.

Posted by: michaelmelius | March 30, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Okay, I studied Paleontology, which means that to a certain extent, you also study ancient environments (it's part of how we figure out/guess how dinosaurs and other ancient life lived). Not an environmental scientist, but not completely clueless, either.

So I don't deny global warming, but I do think some of the hype is, well, hype. 60,000 years of ice core data and an odd hundred years of direct observation against 4+ billion-odd years of Earth? Not much data by comparison. There is simply so much we don't know about the atmosphere and its interaction with the land and water masses that make up this planet. It's where chaos theory was born - trying to understand such a complex system.

Now, does that mean we should "drill baby, drill", or that I think scientists are doing bad science. Nope, not at all. The fact is society has risen in the past two centuries based on non-renewable fossil fuels. With technology where it is today, it would be foolish to not explore renewable or alternative energy sources while there's time to gracefully move us (and by "us" I mean humans in general, not just the USA) to a new energy platform.

It also makes sense economically for the USA (if not for the OPEC nations or Russia). The fact is we don't manufacture as much as we used to - to develop and manufacture some high-end technology would do us some good.

Mostly, I love when people say "We have to save Earth!" I usually reply - "You didn't finish that sentence - you meant 'We have to save Earth for human habitation.'" The Earth will survive without us if we make it inhospitable for human habitation.

Humans - dating back to the earliest forms - have been around 2 million years at best, 200,000 years if you're just counting Homo sapiens. The dominant reptiles of the Mesozoic era lived and died over the span of 160 million years. Hell, famous dinosaur genera like Tyrannosaur and Triceratops each existed for about 3 million years individually. So far, Homo sapien 19th and 20th century fossil fuel consumption is a statistical start of the blink of an eye. To ignore that thought is to ignore the complicated systems that run the planet.

We need to be a bit more humble, much smarter, and remember the old slogan: "It's not nice to mess with Mother Nature."

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | March 30, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

michaelmelius:

Oh I'm with you. I live in the Midwest and the whole ethanol thing just pisses me off. It's not overly efficient and it's actually ungodly expensive.

But hey - you don't get a POTUS candidate in the primaries without pleasing corporate farmers, apparently...

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | March 30, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Yup. Right above Froomkin, right below Dionne.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 30, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

slyness, getting burned was the least of my troubles inside the MRI. I probably neglected to mention that my navel piercing was also a naval piercing -- it was a cast-iron sea anchor about 4 inches high and attached at the top with a ring so that when I danced the Sailor's Hornpipe, it really was anchors away.

At any rate, the moment they turned the MRI on and those magnets kicked in, they sucked my anchor up to the top of the MRI tube, with the rest of me reluctantly following. And then the thing began that reciprocating back and forth, wham, wham, wham, and it's flinging me around inside like a passenger in a carnival ride, that see-saw one with everybody screening.

Inside the MRI, of course, the only one screaming was me, And being sound-proofed like it was, nobody heard me. So for about 20 minutes that bad boy flipped me around in there like a jai-lai fronton. Somewhere right around minute 14 I invented six whole new swear words that have never been heard before (or since). One of them was so foul it even made *me* blush.

Long about minute 17 I started to get into the zen of the thing, yanno, kinda being at one with a giant magnetic and resonating like a the bells in a clock tower.

And then of course at the end of minute 20 the ride was over. As it happened (of course) I was in the middle of the arc up at the top on the tube, and fell down onto the gurney, and passed out.

And so when they came in to get me, I appeared to be sleeping, which they all thought was humorous as all get-out. And after a few minutes, after they looked at the MRI photos and realized what they were seeing was a human being's innards being throttled around from side to side, with -- to say the least -- and incredible amount of bl;urring, they came and woke me up and told me the films turned out bad and they had to do the MRI all over again.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 30, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, once again your story has me ROTFLMAO.

I hope you explained to them about the anchor before they started the machine up again.

Posted by: slyness | March 30, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Wow, you have one tough bellybutton, Mudge.

Navel centrifugations aren't anything to sneeze at.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 30, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

My objection to any proposed regime that limits our economic options to fight "climate change" is purely, utterly practical: we haven't shown the ability to control almost anything in our environment. Particularly, we can't seem to clean up man made environmental problems in systems small in comparison to global weather.

I give you the Chesapeake Bay and the Everglades.

How can we be so overwhelmingly arrogant to think we can control the temperature of the planet?

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | March 30, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Yes, they removed it, slyness. Of course, by this time my 4-inch sea anchor was over 11 inches long, and shaped pretty much like that alphabet letter the Artist Formerly Known as Prince uses for his name.

And yes, Wilbrod, I do have a very tough navel. However, by the end of the first MRI, it was located in the vicinity of my collarbone, and was wide enough to put a small soup bowl in it, with room for a couple of oyster crackers.

Fortunately, they can do wonders with plastic surgery.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 30, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Ummm...I don't know who that *;52 poster is, but needless to say, it ain't me, babe.

Houston, I think we may have a problem.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 30, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

How many people do you know who can take an impromtu joke and turn it into a sustained witty story in a mere hour or two?

I only know one. Curmudgeon.

Posted by: Yoki | March 30, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, it's what for dinner.

Mudge's in his boodle
All's right with our heaven.

Back in the saddle....


----

Frosti said sugar beets, and here is the Sesame Street version of that veritable cash crop of the northern plains.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZR6qg33yI0


Contrast this with the C&H sugar campaign of the sixties.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kl6oXu9NnA

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 30, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

As one who lived through the "Ice Age" hysteria, let me assure Joel that it was exactly comparable to what's happening with the "global warming" overkill. Back in that time, however, we didn't have the Internet and other media to spread this ridiculous green religion like we do today. Gore would have been on the Time or Newsweek cover, talked about for a few weeks, and then gradually forgotten as common sense prevailed. (Anyhow I thought we were supposed to run out of food way before now, not to speak of certain minerals, blah, blah, blah.) Science is full of self-important propagandists.

Posted by: rraustin1 | March 30, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

3 minute clip of BBC show (2006) on the Orion Project:

Arthur Clarke and Freeman Dyson:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3Lxx2VAYi8

The Orion project propose -- and tested -- space travel by atomic propulsion.

I am on kit!

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 30, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

I guess you aren't famous until you get a stalker.

argon purpose means the "r" in "wrench" was "gone" "on purpose."

Don't forget the ice is melting. Every time ice melts, it gets cool around there. That doesn't mean things aren't heating up. A hundred pounds of ice in two hundred pounds of water is the same temperature as 10 pounds of ice in 290 pounds of water. But the latter is indeed "warmer." I imagine when the ice STOPS melting, it will start to warm up around here noticeably.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 30, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

The piece in yesterday's NYT magazine is terrific. Freeman Dyson definitely makes my list of people I'd really like to have a beer with.

He makes a really salient point about experts being subject to group think and given that climate involves physics, chemistry and biology I'm inclined to give reasonable amount of respect to the views of PhDs in those disciplines. When it comes to discerning the validity of their assertions I'm far more concerned with whether or not they work for a think tank (“Doctor... Venkman. The purpose of science is to serve mankind. You seem to regard science as some kind of dodge... or hustle. “ Dean Yeager).

Both President Obama and the CATO add miss the point. Science is almost never “beyond dispute”, in fact science is at its best thrives on dispute (therein lies the fundamental problem of turning science into religion). That being said the general consensus on climate change is that it's real, humans are exacerbating it and the cost of doing nothing is worse that most of the prescriptions. Arnold Schwarzenegger put it best when he said “Imagine your child is sick with a rising fever. If 98 out of 100 doctors said that the child needed immediate treatment and two doctors said that the child was just fine, who would you listen to? The 98 or the two?”

Posted by: foxn | March 30, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Wow, cool new posters who are making sensible remarks! I love it! Thanks to all of you for your contributions.

This English major is doing the best she can to contribute to the solution. I'm not quite as hardy as CqP, but the thermostat is set on 68 in winter during the day and 64 at night, and 78 in summer during the day and 73 at night. We've replaced the windows, insulated the attic, put in water-saving shower heads and low flow toilets. My vehicle is as energy-efficient as I could persuade Mr. T to purchase, and we use it as much as we can in lieu of his truck, unless we need to haul something.

Posted by: slyness | March 30, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Welcome home Mudge. I had serious Mudge withdrawal symptoms so I'm happy you escaped from the MRI. Your anchor is probably worth serious money now but I'm sure you'd rather keep it for sentimental reasons. My one experience with an MRI made me think of a noisy coffin and apparently titanium doesn't interfere or I would be sporting a very twisted hip.

Posted by: badsneakers | March 30, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

The climate change "skeptics" are not skeptics. They are ideologues whose ideology does not include a requirement of being serious about the things they say. They're not clever, not cute, and in no way deserving of the attention they have been given by the mainstream media, whose cowardess on this subject is exceeded only by its mindlessness.

Posted by: rjoff | March 30, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Mudge home, and Global Warming Monday...it's almost too much. And I have absolutely nothing to say.

Yup, thought about it. Nothing.

Well ok, Kerric and his brother picked up keys to their new rental abode, and are starting to move. I will give them a nice case of premium cola to celebrate. They are not the champagne type.

It feels like this time is going to be for good. they deserve the space of their own, and it is time. In a way I am sad, but I'll get over that shortly.

Posted by: --dr-- | March 30, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Man, am I ever late on this. LA_SD writes:

'"You don't have to know for certain that something dire will happen to take action to reduce its likelihood."

'That would be a logical thing to do if the costs of 'stopping climate change' were insignificant. However, reducing C02 outputs to less-than-1990 levels worldwide is incredibly expensive and will reduce the standard of living for most of the world.

'We should be pretty damn sure before we do that.'

I have a rather opposite view. It seems to me that global warming, if it's true, will be incredibly disruptive to human society as we know it. Take a 5-10-20 meter rise in sea level plus melting mountain icecaps, and so forth like that. (How could California survive without the Sierra snow pack? Not the way it does now, by any means.) Because it's so potentially disruptive, it's worth taking action to prevent it, even if the evidence isn't entirely certain at this point. If we learn later that it's not really a risk, then we can all take the SUVs out of storage and do wheelies. To me, that's a conservative attitude, from this political liberal.

LTL-CA

Posted by: Jim19 | March 30, 2009 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Couple of quick comments -

Indeed RD, I agree with you, I'm just saying that - as others point out, and I'd meant to do earlier - there's little in science that's "beyond dispute," despite what our President posits (Sadly, he's not a scientist either.). And in that little bit o' wiggle room, people can argue for darn near anything and put it down to some sort of "science," even if it really isn't.

CP, I didn't look at the link, but if I remember project Orion correctly (I am a long-time Space Geek, you understand), the idea for that form of nuclear spacecraft propulsion was to toss nuclear bombs out of the tail of the ship and catch the blasts on a big thick plate (presumably having some sort of shock-absorbing mechanisms), shoving the spacecraft assembly forward. I presume that this would be done with some frequency to provide consistent accelerative impulses - a sort of Infernal buzz bomb, I suppose.

I'd love to see the EPA impact statement from a ground launch of *that* baby.

The EPA review would be amusing, too:

"You want to detonate a sequence of *how many* nuclear bombs in the open atmosphere at *what* frequency and at increasing altitiudes in order to send a spaceship *where?*"

KaBoom, indeed.

And Jumper, 'argon purpose'?
Me? [bc doing his best innocent look]

All this MRI clothes dryer/rock tumbler stuff is making my fillings hurt. I'm going to continue to deny the evidence and believe what I thought I knew when I was 5 -- that we're solid all the way through, like a potato.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | March 30, 2009 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Sesame Street jumped the shark when they stopped showing those cool videos like Sugar Beet and Hard Working Dog
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUFsqgohGeA

Mudge!!

No snow yet, but it's now due in around midnight. (Very funny comments RT in the last boodle)

On the economic front, thanks to stimulus $ Our Fair City is going to have summer youth employment! Since our teen employment rate is 0% this is knock your socks off special. Time to call it a night. If I don't spend any time on city business tomorrow I will have earned 50 cents an hour this month in my gummint job.

Toodles boodle and sweet dreams.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 30, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Hello, friends. Just wanted to pop in to say all is well, and me and the g-girl are getting ready for bed.

Mudge, so glad you're back, and you know we missed you a bunch. I laughed at your story about the MRI. I don't like that test. I have to travel pretty far to have one because I can't stand the one where you're pushed in like a turkey. I need to see outside.

A wonderful kit, but so wonderful I honestly cannot add anything to it. Not one thing. I do have a question. If global warming isn't a problem, why are the glaciers and ice at the Poles melting? Is that something different?

Time for bed, I will dread getting up for school in the morning. Have a goodnight's sleep gang. Sweet dreams.

Posted by: cmyth4u | March 30, 2009 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Look, Achenbach: People on the left go to these same tired arguments all the time. The guy you mention is not a climate scientist. So ... he must shut up? Great! I agree. So then, how about Steven Spielberg: You shut up. Most of Hollywood: YOU shut up. Most of the editorial board at the NY Times: Are any of you climate scientists? How about the leaders of the American left, in any and ALL guises? Any of you who are not climate scientists: Shut the hell up. Etc. Etc., Because that's the new rule. Right? Or is that the rule only when it is time to yank out such a defensive argument, because some of the rest of us are sick and tired of being lectured to about this, and being called "heretics" if we don't toe this idiotic line. We don't. And we won't.

Posted by: Craig_Colgan | March 30, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

I went and uploaded my most recent San Francisco pictures and here is one of Maya Lin's 'landscapes' that is currently at the Corcoran.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/yellojkt/3399889744/in/set-72157616045998719/

For a sense of scale, here is a guy working on the assembly:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/yellojkt/3399082113/in/set-72157616045998719/

Posted by: yellojkt | March 30, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Front page alert! (Kind'a late)

I like these new commenters. Come back soon, peeps.

Posted by: Yoki | March 30, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Colgan - please consider rereading the blog post completely and considering the possibility that the word "Heretic" may have been employed as a bit of sarcasm; part of an overall thread of humor woven through the piece.

And, perhaps, some of the comments.

Thanks,
bc

Posted by: -bc- | March 30, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

easy there, craig. It's not personal.

Posted by: -jack- | March 30, 2009 11:34 PM | Report abuse

And while I'm showing off pictures, this is my new computer wallpaper:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/yellojkt/3399099969/in/set-72157616045998719/

It was taken back in October from the dock in Tiburon while waiting for the ferry.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 30, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Further response to Mr. Colgan -- JA didn't say that Freeman Dyson had to shut up. What he said (I am translating for you) was that declaring the PhD-holding scientist status of these various global-warming skeptics is a false appeal to Authority, because they lack the relevant specialized expertise to claim authority on this subject. That means that their opinion is not an expert opinion (as it is being sold), it is merely a sophisticated layman's opinion. They *do* have the expertise to evaluate data, form and test relevant hypotheses and so forth, but it is incumbent upon them to furnish reasoned arguments to support their claims. Climate scientists routinely furnish those reasoned arguments. The fact that you (and I, for that matter) lack the ability to fully understand those arguments does not mean that *everyone* suffers from that lack. It is part and parcel of science that we all try to prove each other wrong, so I am encouraged that the genuinely knowledgeable guys are not cutting each other to pieces. There is a lot of money going to lobbyists to promote climate-change skepticism and foot-dragging -- plenty enough money that an honest scientist would be willing to take it if he felt he could still do his work honestly with biased money in his bank account. I don't really see that happening.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 30, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Aw, dr, they do move on. Feel for you.

Cassandra!

Posted by: Yoki | March 30, 2009 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Sarcasm? Humor? When did that trend start around here?

Posted by: yellojkt | March 30, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

*Tim -- well, yeah, then there's *that.*

Ok, now *I'll* shut up.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | March 30, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

"The climate change "skeptics" are not skeptics. They are ideologues whose ideology does not include a requirement of being serious about the things they say."

Some of them are some of them are not. Freeman Dyson clearly is not an ideologue. For that matter many climate change believers are simply mindless sheep who believe in it because it's 'liberal'. i.e. ideologues.

The sad irony of the whole dispute is that most of the resistance to attempting to mitigate global warming is over limiting fossil fuel use. Never mind that fossil fuels, particularly oil are:
Of a limited supply, of which we only own 3%(including what's in ANWR)
Sought after by an ever increasing number of Chinese and Indians
Largely controlled by autocratic regimes in unstable parts of the world.

Even if the best thing we could be doing was to pump as much CO2 into the atmosphere as possible, reducing our dependence on Oil would be a good thing.

On the other hand the answer from the left seems to be mostly centered on Conservation. I've been a bike commuter for 20 years, my wife commutes a compressed schedule in a hybrid civic, we live in a medium sized house (~3K sq ft) in a very walkable neighborhood, have every light not on a dimmer using a compact florescent, shop at our local farmers market, have a summer vegetable garden, never turn the heat above 68, and don't have AC (full disclosure: we're in Seattle where temps above 80 constitute a heat wave, and we have no concept of humidity without precipitation so no one has AC). When I plugged all of our numbers into a carbon footprint calculator we still came back needing 2.5 Earths to sustain the entire population at our rate of consumption. Adjusting the numbers down about as far as I'd be willing to go with out being forced, I still couldn't get that much below 2 Earths. So unless we want to keep the rest of the world in poverty, we can't simply conserve our way out if this.

Posted by: foxn | March 30, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Regarding sufficient expertise to understand -- recognizing that this is a problem, James Hansen does not deal exclusively with complex computational climate models. He also references the climate record from the past half-a-million years to show what conditions were like that went along with different levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Conditions were perfectly tolerable, either lovely warm and summerlike, or cold and wintry and skiable. All perfectly livable, but requiring very different social adaptations to live in it. The problem is not, really, the conditions: life has adapted to these conditions time and again. The problem is that adaptation by evolution is a nasty and brutish process, involving lots of death in order to eliminate inappropriate adaptations, reinforce appropriate adaptations, and adjust to the biological carrying capacity of the available plant life. Death of individuals, death of species, death of genera.

Regarding whether it's arrogant to think "we could make this horror happen":
(1) That's what people kept people killing passenger pigeons, Great auks, Steller sea cows, dodos, etc., until they were entirely wiped out. "Man lacks the might to damage God's creation." Turns out, God is willing to let us do stupid things, from which we might (eventually) learn.
(2) In a sense, it isn't us, so it's right for us to be modest. What we are doing is liberating CO2 that our planet's ecology buried in earlier ages. The CO2 is what's doing the job. All we are doing is blunderingly setting it free.
(3) It always is easier to commit random destruction than controlled creation.
(4) Life (and civilizations) make poop. Despite what you may have heard, no physical construction of man is visible from the Moon, not even the Great Wall of China (unless you use a telescope, which is kind of cheating on the word "visible"). However, the signs of life and technology are fairly easily detected, all sorts of chemical pollutants that we have injected into the atmosphere. Junk stays in one place. Gases spread.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 31, 2009 12:02 AM | Report abuse

yello -- stunning sail boat picture!

Posted by: nellie4 | March 31, 2009 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Flying Night Patrol. All is safe.

Sleep well, Boodle.

Posted by: Yoki | March 31, 2009 1:43 AM | Report abuse

It is cold up on this yonder mountain tonight,hopefully a little warmer tomorrow.Spring had better get here soon for I am almost out of wood.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 31, 2009 2:06 AM | Report abuse

*yawn* Morning all!

Schadenfreude alert!! I have to admit, this doesn't generate a great deal of sympathy on my part...

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/31/business/31hummer.html

The NukeAbode's going to get an energy audit tomorrow. Can't say I'll be surprised if the auditor suggests starting from scratch. *SIGH*

*off-to-the-shower-the-flight-line-and-then-the-salt-mines-once-again Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 31, 2009 4:59 AM | Report abuse

"Here's what Dyson isn't: An expert on climate change."

What makes you think anyone is? What makes you think an expert on the atmosphere can predict changes in the solar "constant" or gases in space or even the orbit of the earth?

What makes you think that ignoring the most logical question in the world takes an expert to discover. Anyone who knows logic will ask "What if we want it war,er?"

Where do you see that question asked in science?

If it has been asked and is settled, I have seen no evidence. That is a failure of reporting.

If not, we should ask it.

Why would we want warmer, you may ask?

How about longer growing seasons. Japan gets one crop of rice each year. Vietnam can have three.

That is an advantage to a warmer climate.

We might even have an ice age on the horizon. Warmer might save us.

Remember it is not the same risk in each direction. Warmer may aggravate. Ice will kill most who are alive.

Not an expert?

Who is?

And why do they miss the most fundamental questions?

Posted by: GaryEMasters | March 31, 2009 5:06 AM | Report abuse

"As I take it, Joel (followed up by RD and ScienteTim) is saying that just because someone is a Scientist doesn't mean their opinion is a valid rebuttal to that of other Scientists in a particular field. It all depends on what you know."

If you do not agree with someone and they have good credentials, you can still ignore them. Just repeat the magic mantra - "not an atmospheric scientist."

Posted by: GaryEMasters | March 31, 2009 5:10 AM | Report abuse

"The Ice Age fears were a momentary blip and should not be equated with the steady emergence over the past two decades .."

How can we be sure they were wrong?

The fellow saw a snake and picked up a stick to fight it off. It turned out to be a stick. But what he picked up was a snake.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | March 31, 2009 5:14 AM | Report abuse

" that an ice age was imminent."

Not true? How soon is imminent? With climate 50 years is imminent.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | March 31, 2009 5:18 AM | Report abuse

Scotty,
Maybe all those Hummer dealers can sell Tatas instead.

http://www.economist.com/business/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13381522

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2009 6:19 AM | Report abuse

I wake up to hummers and tatas...

Help me Rhonda!!!!

Posted by: russianthistle | March 31, 2009 6:32 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Weed!

Such good and furious discussion, that's what we come to Achenblog for!

I wish I had something to add to it, but I don't. Just trying to do my part. And I'll be an early adopter of new technology that reins in CO2 liberation.

Busy morning ahead, including a funeral. I am of an age that my friends are losing their parents. This morning's will be the fourth such funeral I've attended since New Year's. Yikes.

Posted by: slyness | March 31, 2009 7:12 AM | Report abuse

My condolences to your friend, slyness.

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 31, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

I still get those dreams too, weed.

Nellie thanks for the props on the sailboat photo. I had a day to myself in SF last fall and I rode a rented bike from Fisherman's Wharf to Tiburon via the Golden Gate. I just missed the penultimate ferry, so I had a bunch of time just to take pictures of the water. Here are other photos are in this perhaps too large photoset:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/yellojkt/sets/72157616045998719/

While posting the photos I also photstitched some panoramas. Here is one of Alcatraz taken from the ferry boat:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/yellojkt/3399913286/in/pool-panoramas/

And this one panorama is five pictures stitched together of the SF waterfront. The full image is over 16,000 pixels wide.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/yellojkt/3399090665/in/set-72157616045998719/

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Slyness,
My prayers go to your friend. It's sad to think of how our social obligations go from birthday parties to weddings to funerals.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2009 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Some nice pictures Yello - have just a few moments to click through but spotted your heron photo - very nice.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/yellojkt/3399082639/in/set-72157616045998719/

Posted by: dmd2 | March 31, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

The snow started just as I was typing "the snow hasn't started yet." Looks like this one might be all that was predicted as the wind picked up last night.

Lots to do, but on the bright side-if I get completely snowed in I'll have plenty of time to boodle.

What's wrong with warmth? I for one would not want to live without rhubarb. For the time being the rhubarb line is approximately the same as the Mason-Dixon. Already most of the world is deprived. Then there's that pesky rising sea level bit. I suppose it would be more cost effective to move the majority of human kind that lives near an ocean to higher ground than to attempt to mitigate the causes. My guess is we'll end up doing both but some future owners of Chez Frostbitten south may still find themselves with waterfront property.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | March 31, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

I had frost on my windshield this morning. I wasn't expecting that. Yesterday was so windy I cut my bike ride short because I feared getting blown into traffic.

What happened to going out like a lamb?

That heron was in a portion of Golden Gate Park that was natural and serene. Just a little further east were some ballfields filled with street people and their shopping carts drinking from brown paper bags and smoking oddly shaped cigarettes. It was like a company picnic for the homeless. I found it fascinating, but my wife found it frightening. I didn't get any pictures of that tableaux.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Wonder why ... back on that energy and global warming thing ... we can't get a better deal putting electricity back into the grid.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 31, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Scotty and Yello. This particular funeral is for the man who coached football at my high school when I attended. He was the quintessentially successful teacher/coach and a great guy. His wife, also a teacher, died last spring. Their daughter, whom I've known since we were kids, retired from teaching last year.

The foundation of our society depends on people like them, who dedicated their lives to ensuring that their students acquired the knowledge and ethics to be good citizens and good people, from their classes and their examples.

Posted by: slyness | March 31, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Sorry I missed reveille; I tried, I really did, but my home computer was being cranky and refusing to reload pages. Been cranky ever since I installed a wireless router so my son could use *his* laptop. So now it appears he sucks up all the bandwidth (tho' he is complaining about reloading, too).

At any rate, thank you, slyness, for the country ham and biscuits in the Ready Room this morning. Always one of my fav breakfasts.

And yes, I, too, am quite disappointed with March's performance these past few days. Entirely too leonine, and entirely lacking in any sense of lambiness whatsoever. Right now it is only 44 degrees, and although sunny it is blustery. I may have to send Mother Nature a sharply worded e-mail.

I've reluctantly come to the conclusion that there are just too damn many pundits out there opining their little butts off, and not only do we all suffer from information overload (which, at least, is still information), but we have a serious glut of punditry, with waaaay too many people constantly rendering waaaaay too many opinions. It's getting to the point where the entire lefthand column of the WaPo home page is nothing but various sundry opinions, and I'm pretty much at the point where I want to tell ALL of them, of whatever stripe, to just please go away.

With all the talk about dying newspapers, I think one problem is they forgot what their primary job is: supplying news, not more [sphincter] pundits and their [expletive delted] opinions. Much as I love Howie Kurtz, I can barely bring myself to read his column any more: it has become [Sphincter] Roundup Time.

There. I feel better already. Now, to demolish some poor engineer's copy and reduce him to tears.

As you were.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 31, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, I can so identify with you when it comes to funerals. The silver lining for me is that I am now in regular contact with extended family members I hadn't seen for decades. And it is wonderful. Some contact is through regular email but Facebook is helping tremendously...an absolute must--try it, you'll like it!.

While one cousin has parents who just celebrated 68 years of marriage--wow--I will never accomplish that feat, most of us are now the oldest living generation (aaggghhhh) and we are looking to each other for friendship and strength, as well as, some reminiscing about childhood memories. And yet, many family members from our kids generation also communicate with us and all of us reach out to an ever lengthening list of Facebook friends and acquaintances (yes, A-blog mother of invention...TBG, you too !)

Just when you think life sucks it gets even more interesting. :-)

Posted by: Windy3 | March 31, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Just wanted to poke my head in and say hi, before flying off to meetings.

Is it me, or is it getting warm in here?

Perhaps Global Warming Days should also have a "Causal Dress/Clothing Optional" aspect to it.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | March 31, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Gee bc, I thought hot flashes only happened to women of a certain age.

Well, I'm off to work and more studying for this certification exam I have had to postpone twice. 'Get it over with' is now my motto.

Have a productive day, all!

Posted by: Windy3 | March 31, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Windy, my only hope is 68 years of divorce, but I don't think I can pull that one off either.

Posted by: russianthistle | March 31, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

bc,
The problem with global warming as opposed to nuclear winter is that you can always put on more clothes to keep warm, but once you've gone to buck-nekkid, there's not many other ways to stay cool.

And as any Seinfeld fan will tell you, there's good naked and bad naked and there is a lot more of the latter than the former.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Cold Rain and Snow

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5p0AryAE6Bw

Posted by: russianthistle | March 31, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

It seems that all the punditry pundits away on GM and Chrysler this morning.

Another newspapers chain bites the dust:

http://www.thestar.com/business/article/610978
"NEW YORK–The Sun-Times Media Group , parent of the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper, filed for bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, earning Chicago the distinction of being the first U.S. city served by two insolvent newspapers."

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 31, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I'm at the schoolhouse and can't see your link, weed. I know of only one song titled CRS. Well done. The early versions of that song are soooo different than thet later versions.

Posted by: -jack- | March 31, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Well, as I expected, my engine is sputtering today. Still feeling snorff-ish and my sinuses are chock full of god-knows-what. I wonder if Freeman Dyson knows what to do.

Fluids are being forced and I'd just rather take another wonderful hot shower and/or go back to bed. Maybe at the same time. . .

I suspect I'll be lurking. Or something.

*asking the Omni-Mudge for a magic remedy while I continue groaning 'cause I don't feel good today*

I promise not to infect you all. You'll have to do that all by yourselves.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 31, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Weeds link made me think of a song I wanted to hear but cannot recall the title or singer - but I did find this, Amanda Marshall - Let It Rain - love this version.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WB8m-y7exww&feature=related

Posted by: dmd2 | March 31, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Peter Rowan and Crucial Reggae

It's tough when you were around when The Dead and New Riders were doing your stuff in the early days... Panama Red and so many more. What can't he do well... No Woman No Cry

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhHWHGfL5nA

Posted by: russianthistle | March 31, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

*faxing ftb a large tureen of weapons grade chicken soup it couldn't hurt, and then adding "snorffish" to the Official Boodle Dictionary*

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 31, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

ftb, the only recommend that works for me is a hot unsweetened herbal tea.

Posted by: omnigood | March 31, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Snorf:

To shoplift a small item by hiding it up the nose

Also the offspring of a Smurf and a Snork,

Posted by: omnigood | March 31, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

ftb, all I can say is that a Babel fish goes in the ear, not the nose

Posted by: omnigood | March 31, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Mudge and Omni. Actually, Mudge, I had considered doing a SCC for snorffish, as I wonder whether it makes more sense to have it read "snorfflish" with an "l" in it.

Oh, to have some chicken soup laced with Tabasco -- that'll open up the sinuses, eh? I have the Tabasco, but not the chicken soup, alas. Don't feel like going out and getting it, either.

But tons of tea I do have. Whole Foods sells some brand with different flavors, and I seem to be fixated on a black tea with ginger and peach. It is lovely. Later on in the afternoon, I'll switch to herbal tea, tho. I have some peppermint and I have chamomille, which I do like.

Just one of those days, I guess.

*cough* *cough*

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 31, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

* also throwing into the fax to ftb some matzah to go with the chicken soup ICH and a lead-lined container of medicinal grade maror [horseradish] two weeks before its normal deployment at Passover. The maror will clean out those snorffish sinuses in a jiffy. As everyone knows, grated horseradish root releases enzymes from sinigrin, a glucosinolate, to produce allyl isothiocyanate (mustard oil, not to be confused with mustard gas of WWI fame), which irritates the sinuses and eyes. This weapons grade concoction is mixed with vinegar, and has a half-life of approximately 90 days. HAZMAT procedures are advised, especially rubber gloves and safety glasses. Disposal of depleted maror is best accomplished by packing it in heavy-duty 55-gallon drums and storing it in a salt mine under Yucca Mountain. Environmentalists naturally are opposed to this, but we have to find *some* way of the long-term disposal of depleted horseradish. And god help us if the Iranians or North Koreans ever get their hands on it. It has long been rumored they want to build a horseradish enrichment plant for nefarious purposes*

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 31, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

It's pretty sad to think that each time someone has the snorffle a chicken has to die.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 31, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

You guys are sooooo sweet. I've been chuckling between all the coughing, which really helps, btw.

I don't have the maror and don't have horseradish (shame on me!). But I do have Kimchee. That might be a good substitute.

I do agree with you tho, Mudge. Horseradish, well placed, could be dangerous. Maybe I *should* go out and get some.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 31, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

ROTFL, shriek. Very nice.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 31, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Sunny and chilly but very, very nice. Will bike soon to clear my head of student-paper-fog. Tabasco does not work on that nor Chinese mustard. But, a brisk ride will do the trick.

Bradford pears in a frothy riot. Mid-season daffies up and peeking:

Albert Einstein
Tresemble
Thalia

And, I see the red bud -- aka Judas Tree -- setting forth crimson-cerise flowerlets upon his bark.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 31, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Redbuds CP? I am so green with envy.It may be several weeks before those lovely trees grace our view.I have tried for years and years to plant,replant those in my yard.But the deer love them even more then I do.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | March 31, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of deer love (weren't we?):

There's a very funny video on the "icanhascheezburger" site. The camera is watching a cat door as a normal-size cat comes through...

followed by a fawn that then walks right up to the camera.

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | March 31, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

You folks make me giggle. Great one, SD!

I'm going to have to add *snorffish* to the daily vocabulary.

I'll be right back; Mr. T planted an abelia yesterday and forgot to water it, so I'll do it...

Posted by: slyness | March 31, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Snorffish, rocket surgery, and sheep on the lawn. It's a good Boodle.

Snorffish can also refer to a fish, you know; one with clogged gills. The Scandinavian variant is snorrfish.

Posted by: Ivansmom | March 31, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

ftb, gross as this sounds, it really helps with colds and sinus infections. It doesn't hurt and you'll breathe much better afterwards.

http://www.natlallergy.com/product.asp?pn=1520&eid=bizrate&tid=bizrate&bhcd2=1238518603

I've used it for years, the ENT surgeon who did FESS for me recommended it.

Posted by: -dbG- | March 31, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I use the "punk rock" or "Abu Ghraib" technique. This involves spraying the shower in my nose until I feel like I'm drowning, and then choking, coughing and spraying and gasping. Repeatedly. I have found very few colds can survive this. Usually I barely survive this myself.

I noted the solar border concept on my website:
http://jumpersbloghouse.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 31, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

The average mass of the atmosphere is about 5 quadrillion metric tons or 1/1,200,000 the mass of Earth. According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, "The total mean mass of the atmosphere is 5.1480×1018 kg with an annual range due to water vapor of 1.2 or 1.5×1015 kg depending on whether surface pressure or water vapor data are used; somewhat smaller than the previous estimate. The mean mass of water vapor is estimated as 1.27×1016 kg and the dry air mass as 5.1352 ±0.0003×1018 kg."

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 31, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget s'morefish - the traditional Swedish camping treat.

Herring between two graham crackers, served cold, in the rain, in despair.

Posted by: engelmann | March 31, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I'll take your matzoh concoction and top it with the spicy tuna roll with extra hot wasabi at my favorite Japanese place that will do that same trick.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I calculate that the weight of the average column of air atop each square meter of the total surface of the earth is about 10,000 kg. Then I calculated that this mass is equalled by the top 3.88 meters of rock (on land) and about 10 meters depth of sea water. Of course the heat capacity of air, rock and water are all different. But I think I'm in the ball park. Unless I'm off by a decimal. A constant danger when doing quick calculations. Anyone want to duplicate the equation? (my fast and dirty number for the density of rock is 2.6)

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 31, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Thanks anyway, dbG, but I think I'll pass. Besides, there are a number of saline nasal sprays OTC, one of which I'm using, and which don't gross me out. Yep, taking the easy way out (*cue the percussion section*).

Hmmm, s'morefish -- I think I had that under those exact circumstances in the woods somewhere outside of Stockholm.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 31, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Alrighty, then! This is what I'm talking about....as Andrew Sullivan says, someone deserves a raise for this ad.

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/03/hit-and-run.html

Not on kit at all, but I couldn't help myself.

So glad Mudge is back, Shrieking D. made me laugh out loud and I hope ftb feels better soon. Snorffish- what a great word!

Posted by: Kim1 | March 31, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

That's slices of bloated herring right?

If fresh herring can be used for s'morefish I'll feel cheated.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 31, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm a steam man, meself.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 31, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

My personal comment of the day award goes to engelmann.

Posted by: Yoki | March 31, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Sure, y'all call it "nasal irrigation" if you want. I know waterboarding when I see it!

Posted by: bobsewell | March 31, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Engleman gets the truthy award of the day too. Smores with a Kierkegaardian layer. I would laugh but that would be against the dark, Scandihovian dolor.

Off to teach a seminar; may they learn and not despair.

Posted by: CollegequaParkian | March 31, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Englemann, I believe I saw that movie back in the 60's. "Wild s'morefish." Directed by Bergman, right?

Posted by: nellie4 | March 31, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

shhhhhhhhhh

ooooooooh

*wind whistling through dark silhouettes of trees set out against gloomy grey sky*

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | March 31, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Are we kit starved?

Posted by: russianthistle | March 31, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Weed, that's never daunted us before.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 31, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Well, I'm rather fond of the following line from the story about the circumcision opponents:

"The arguments touch on human rights, bodily integrity and public health. Strong emotions are just the tip of the issue. "

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/30/AR2009033003312.html?hpid=topnews

Posted by: bobsewell | March 31, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

LOL Bob

Still a little queasy thinking about s'morefish.

Posted by: dmd2 | March 31, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Bob -- your comment equating nasal irrigation with water boarding got my laugh-o-meter to go on high. It kinda masked the coughing. Very, very funny, guy.

As for circumcision, well -- I thought one of the comments which appeared to equate male and female circumcision was completely off the mark. Male circumcision (and, of course, since I am of the female gender, this is theoretical, 'cause you guys have to chime in here (although Mudge will be required to chime in twice, dontcha know)) is not completely destructive of the male genet@lia (WaPo may be able to print that word, but I'm not sure that WaPo would approve of my doing it) as is the complete removal of the female genet@lia -- What is done to females is *not* circumcision; it is c@stration.

Well, somehow, I still can muster a bit of outrage, even though I'm not feeling top notch. Although now I seem to be coordinated enough (and smart enough to bring the tissue box *much* closer to me) to get to the tissue before the sneeze hits (the last one had to be 7.8 on the Richter scale).

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | March 31, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I believe the male equivaltent of female circumcision would be removing the glans along with the prepuce.

They'll have to pry mine out of my cold, dead fingers.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 31, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I have nothing whatsoever to add to this discussion.

Hate to be a mohel-sport.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 31, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

*footnote for those of you who are Yiddish-challenged: "mohel" rhymes with "spoil." I don't know why. I just does. Deal with it.*

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 31, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

*ducking out from under the car to say hi. 'cause mhoel need changing.*

Posted by: -jack- | March 31, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

*and no, it isn't "moe-hell*

*although perhaps it should be*

*If the government required them, I suppose they could be considered a "reduction in force."*

*or a manpower shortage*

* actually very much like the AIG executives who were asked to give back half of their...

Oh, never mind.*

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 31, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

There's strange things done.

Posted by: Boko999 | March 31, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

In the Torah it says that Moses's wife, Zipporah, did her son's with a rock. I can never read that passage without a very strong drink in my hand.

(It is said that Mo Junior was in therapy for many years, not unexpectedly.)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 31, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of "gone but not forgotten," RIP Maurice Jarre, who won three Oscars for the scores of Lawrence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago, and A Passage to India. Truly great soundtrack composer.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | March 31, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

They let women do those things? Musta been one sharp rock. Maybe like the Stone Age folks used to make spear and arrow points. Hurts to think about it...

Posted by: slyness | March 31, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

GaryEMasters asks "But what if we want it warmer?" and bemoans the lack of attention to this question.

This question has in fact, been asked and answered ad infinitum. You are late to that conversation, sir.

Anyone who has ever had office space with shared thermostats knows that there are warm zones and cool zones and not everyone agrees on what is a comfortable temperature, leading to endless strife and petty bickering. The natural environment is somewhat like this, except that temperature and environmental issues are a matter of life and death for many species. Just because *you* would like it a little warmer where *you* live, doesn't mean that people in India want it any warmer, or people in Alaska and the Arctic, or multitudes of species that have adapted to current climate conditions and will be wiped out by rapid change. Along with the increase in temperature, the folks in Bangladesh and living on Vanuatu and many other islands are not too thrilled by the prospect of the sea level rising sufficiently to wipe out their homes. Most of the possible sea-level rise, by the way, appears not to come from Antarctic and Greenland melt-water, it will come from thermal expansion of the ocean water. Temperature goes up = water becomes less dense and volume increases.

Posted by: ScienceTim | March 31, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_sheets

This has some estimates of total mass of ice on earth.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 31, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Hi, Mudge, glad to see you're back! I always thought it was pronounced moe-hell. Interesting. "Moil" somehow just makes me think of the Fiddler lyrics "the tailor Motl Kom-zoil." Please forgive the phonetics.

My youngest is safely back from Costa Rica. The airline apparently overbooked the first flight and, even though she had been issued a boarding pass, was with a group of 12, and is ***fourteen years olds*** (!!!) they refused to board her. Left her standing at the gate crying and ordered her group on board. The group boarded without her! Eventually the adults in the group conferred and one teacher decided to take a later flight, requiring her to take a cab from the San Jose airport to the hotel in the middle of the night. But the airline thought my child could handle this.

Some letters have been fired off to the parties concerned.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | March 31, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

"Most of the possible sea-level rise"
Those estimates are extremely conservative, Tim. Because the researchers want to be responsible in the extreme. If Greenland goes ice-free those numbers go up a lot.

Jesse Helms used to say that extinctions were "natural." He wrote an op-ed that ran here in Cackalacky stating as much. I got the fire in my eyes and my retort was in the letters. That the current rate of extinction is hundreds of times greater than the "natural" rate. There's a certain type that views loss of species as bleeding-heartism. This makes me crazy.

I'm done with this topic for today. My head is ready to pop.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 31, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Wheezy,
That is pretty incredible. I have seen some awful gate decisions, but that takes the cake.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to wander on topic and post this link:

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/03/christianist-watch.html

Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) believes that God will not allow a flood through global warming because God promised Noah he wouldn't. He also said that carbon dioxide levels in the times of dinosaurs were 4000 ppm. I'm surprised he believes there were dinosaurs.

Posted by: yellojkt | March 31, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Wheezy, what were they expecting a 14 year old to do, when they refused to let her board? That's amazingly stupid. I certainly hope you were stern and to the point in your letters!

Posted by: slyness | March 31, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Wheezy - glad your daughter is back safe.


Great video ode to Obama and the moment in history from some Toronto school students.

http://www.thestar.com/article/610833

Posted by: dmd2 | March 31, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

New microkit coming momentarily

Posted by: joelache | March 31, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, my letter to the airline was pithy. Very pithy.

I'm just glad I didn't hear about the incident until 9 days after, when the child was happy again. Although she cried again when telling me about it.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | March 31, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Frankenmicrokit?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | March 31, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

New Kit(ten)!

Posted by: -dbG- | March 31, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

hey, I'm boodlehogging the new kit and its only been what, 10 minutes?

Get yourselves over there...

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | March 31, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

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