December 30, 2009

What a great book: “Denialism” by Michael Specter. The subtitle is “How irrational thinking hinders scientific progress, harms the planet, and threatens our lives.”

He focuses on the mistrust of science held by many around the world. For centuries, the general view has been that science was neither good nor bad as it just supplied information and understanding. Now science is viewed by many as a special interest group that doesn’t always serve our best interest. He covers, as examples the Vioxx incident, vaccines, organic food fetish, and other topics.

A Beautiful Presentation of the AGW Debate

December 23, 2009

Just published at “Information is Beautiful”. This is absolutely the clearest, cleanest, and simplest explanation of the debate on anthropogenic global warming I have ever seen. It’s also beautiful. Recommended.

Tom Friedman Starting to Shift

December 20, 2009

I enjoy Tom Friedman’s articles and books but I don’t always agree with his assertions and conclusions. Today, writing in the aftermath of the recent Copenhagen conference, he’s starting to re-think reasons why the world needs to move on.

Even if the world never warms another degree, population is projected to rise from 6.7 billion to 9 billion between now and 2050, and more and more of those people will want to live like Americans. In this world, demand for clean power and energy efficient cars and buildings will go through the roof.
We need more, not less, energy.

Scottish Oil Club in the Blogsphere

December 20, 2009

While I would hardly characterise the membership of the Scottish Oil Club (of which I am the Executive Secretary) as “oil men”, we do appreciate the mention on Andrew Montford’s Bishop Hill Web Site.

"Breaking the Law of Averages"

December 18, 2009

I’m doing some reading to remind myself how probability and statistics works. The last time I did this in earnest was in graduate school where I took an awful course on “Probability” which was full of equations I frankly never got my head around. I barely got through the experience.

Therefore, it was with serendipity that via my readings on climate change number crunching I came across the book “Breaking the Laws of Averages” by Dr. William M. Briggs. The subtitle is “Real-Life Probability and Statistics in Plain English”. Indeed it is. Recommended.

"Madness of Crowds"

December 12, 2009

Martin Cohen provides a fascinating perspective (bold marks are mine):

Is belief in global-warming science another example of the “madness of crowds”? That strange but powerful social phenomenon, first described by Charles Mackay in 1841, turns a widely shared prejudice into an irresistible “authority”. Could it indeed represent the final triumph of irrationality? After all, how rational is it to pass laws banning one kind of light bulb (and insisting on their replacement by ones filled with poisonous mercury vapour) in order to “save electricity”, while ploughing money into schemes to run cars on … electricity? How rational is it to pay the Russians once for fossil fuels, and a second time for permission (via carbon credits) to burn them (see box page 36)? And how rational is it to suppose that the effects of increased CO2 in the atmosphere take between 200 and 1,000 years to be felt, but that solutions can take effect almost instantaneously?
We live in interesting times with so many non-thinking people.

Hard to Discern the Truth

December 6, 2009

Last evening’s BBC News had a long report on the melting glaciers in Bolivia and how people there were going thirsty due to the greedy people, like us, who pump carbon into the air. Their message was clearly that “it is all our fault and unless we make Copenhagen succeed, Bolivians and the world is doomed”.

We all know that it takes temperatures in excess of freezing to melt glaciers. So I went Googling for temperature data for the Chacaltaya Glacier in Bolivia–finding in the blog posting “Chacaltaya Melting”. Here temperature data shows that there is no warming–in fact, there is cooling.
The author, Lykee Anderson, concludes that the evidence (receding glaciers, decreasing temperatures) are fully consistent with Svensmark’s cosmic ray theory–a theory rejected by the “consensus-orientated scientists” since there is no anthropogenic component to sunspot variation and its affect on our climate.
Typical of the BBC to ignore the evidence, except to spin it for their own purposes.