Very large bird

June 30, 2010

DFW Airport - Kenny Darrell leaves for Greece

Kathryn, Kenny, Kenny's grandfather Ken Knowles, under the giant wishbone at DFW Airport

Actually, he’s been in Crete now for two weeks, and he’s deep into training for how to teach.  I’m just slow on getting the posts up.

Kenny left for Greece, despite the lack of visitor facilities on either side of the TSA checkpoints, we all went along for the ride and the farewell, Kathryn, Kathryn’s father Ken Knowles, and I.  Airport art and history displays always fascinate me — there are some great pieces hidden away in U.S. airports.  Sometimes the airlines even spring to pay for the stuff (I wonder how much this thing cost).

A great place for a photo of a family  wishing someone bon voyage. A wishbone, how appropriate.  Was this just a coincidence, or is it a little, pricey arty joke?  “Silver bird.”  Oh.  Right.

It’s metal.  I think it’s the wishbone of a Boeing 767.

Kenny leaves for Greece - detail - IMGP2085

Kenny Darrell and his grandfather, Ken Knowles; DFW Airport, under the giant wishbone -- Kathryn snapping a shot at the right.

Bon voyage, Kenny!

Terry Allen sculpture, Wish, 2005 (DFW Airport)

Terry Allen sculpture, Wish, 2005 (DFW Airport)

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Desperation shows in the anti-warming camp

June 30, 2010

Willis Eschenbach, whose credentials I do not know, is back for another guest post at Watt’s Up With That.

Eschenbach contests conclusions drawn by the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, about the effects of warming in New England.

In a probably-unintentionally humorous way, Eschenbach shows just how desperate grow the anti-warming camp.  The purloined e-mails show no wrong-doing, and worse for denialists, no significant errors in the case that global warming occurs and is problematic.  Legislation to fight climate change has a chance of passing this Congress.  EPA promulgated rules on measuring CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s resolution to stop EPA failed in the Senate.  There was the hoax about the fourth-grade science project claimed to refute Nobel-quality research, and then there was the bungled story that mistakenly claimed a solar-energy company sent a non-working bomb to an economics professor in Spain in revenge for his paper against government support of green energy.  One can see how such a string of losses might set back the hopes of even the most delusional denialist.

Either ignorant of Godwin’s Law, or so desperate he thinks it worth the gamble, Eschenbach quoted somebody (did he ever name who?) going on about the Big Lie technique attributed to the Nazis in establishing policy in Germany before and during World War II.

Mike Godwin, discoverer of Godwin's Law - Wikimedia image

Mike Godwin, discoverer of Godwin's Law - Wikimedia image

Is there a more plaintive or pitiful way to say one is over one’s head and has run out of argumentative gasoline?

Eschenbach’s case is not particularly strong — he pulled temperature data (he said) from the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) to make charts showing, Eschenbach claimed, there is no 4°F rise in average New England winter temperatures since 1970.

After a couple of skirmishes to see whether Watts’ watchdogs still prevent my posting, I offered a small rebuttal that, of course, slipped quickly into the abyss of Watts Moderation.  It may eventually escape that particular eddy, but in case it doesn’t, here’s the post:

Tim Neilson asks:

PS Ed Darrell – do you have any evidence refuting the post?

Most claims of someone practicing “big lie” tactics are self-refuting, the opposite of a self-proving document under the law. Is this any exception? Mr. Eschenbach offers no evidence to suggest that a committee of Congress publishes material it knows to be wrong for propaganda effect. (The quotes relating to Hitler comprise a grand rhetorical tactic known as “red herring.” The mere presence of that material, were we to apply Godwin’s law, refutes Mr. Eschenbach’s case.)

There is no evidence to refute.

Mr. Eschenbach offers a few jabs at data that show the effects of warming in New England, but he does not appear to bother to look at the data the committee used. This is a bait-and-switch tactic of argumentation that most rhetoricians would label a spurious. Does Eschenbach rebut or refute the committee’s data? How could anyone tell?

The site of the committee, the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, offers several arguments to suggest changes in New England from warming might pose problems. So far as I see, Mr. Eschenbach addresses only one of those arguments, and that one incompletely.

1. The committee claims that average winter temperatures in New England have risen by 4 degrees F since 1970. Eschenbach offers a chart that, so far as I can tell, confirms the committee’s claim — but Eschenbach uses a chart that covers a much longer period of time, and offers it in a way that makes it difficult to determine what temperatures are, let alone what the trend is (IMHO, the trend is up, and easily by 4 degrees in Eschenbach’s chart). Oddly, he illustrates the chart by showing a surfer in a wet suit, surfing in winter in New England. Surfing is generally a warm-weather enterprise, and though the man has a wetsuit, and though the Gulf Current would warm those waters, the picture tends to deny Eschenbach’s claim, doesn’t it? If it’s warm enough to surf in winter, it’s warmer than the Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

And look at the actual numbers — Eschenbach confesses a rise of 2.7 degrees, roughly 9/13 of the rise he intends to deny. Heck, that nearly-three degree rise is enough to cause concern, or should be.

2. The committee notes warmer temperatures would put more precipitation as rain, and not snow. Eschenbach offers no comment on this. Ski seasons in New England have suffered recently because it’s been too warm to keep natural snow, and too warm to make artificial snow (68 degrees F on January 6, 2007). (This is a national concern, by the way.) If the committee errs in this claim, Eschenbach offers no data.

And especially, he offers no data to back his “big lie” claim, that the committee knows differently from what it says.

3. The committee notes that warmer temperatures produce later autumns — a huge impact on tourist revenue in New England, where an enormous travel industry has built up around watching the changing colors of the trees. Such a change would be consistent with other long-term observations, such as those by the Department of Agriculture and Arbor Day Foundation, that the plant zones across America show warming (and some cooling).

Eschenbach doesn’t contest this in any way. Should we presume this is Eschenbach’s agreement that this claim is not a “big lie” claim?

3. The committee refers to warming oceans, and the potential effects on certain parts of the fishing industry, especially cod and lobster. This is caused by ocean warming, not atmospheric warming — so Eschenbach is again silent on this claim. The committee’s claim tends to undercut Eschenbach’s claim of a “big lie” here, and Eschenbach offers no support for his own argument.

4. The committee refers to greater storm damage due partly to rising sea levels. Eschenbach offers no rebuttal of any sort.

Eschenbach fails to make a prima facie case for his big lie claim, and his rebuttal is restricted solely to one measure of temperature that Eschenbach fuzzes up with an unclear chart.

May I ask, since you style yourself a skeptic, what evidence you found in the post that makes a case at all?

Will it ever see light of day at WUWT?

Update: Yes, it sees the light of day at WUWT.  Maybe all my kvetching had an effect.

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Full moon, sailing tide for Democrats in Corpus Christi

June 29, 2010

Moon over Corpus Christi Bay, June 25, 2010 - photo by Ed Darrell

Moon over Corpus Christi Bay, June 25, 2010 - photo by Ed Darrell; use permitted with attribution

This is the scene that greeted delegates to the Texas Democratic Convention as they left the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, at about 8:00 p.m. last Friday, June 25.  (Natural light photo, handheld, 1/60th exposure at ISO 400)

The Moon was near full, and the tide was good for sailing.

Delegates had just heard Bill White accept the party’s nomination for governor.

In my brief period as a Sea Scout, I most enjoyed evening and night sailing.  Water is astoundingly quiet at dusk and later, when sailing.  In Corpus Christi I got a half-dozen shots and lamented I didn’t have a tripod, to get a better shot of the Moon.

Actually, the tide was on the way out at 8:00 p.m. — it had peaked about about 1:10.  But it was still good for sailing.

I thought of Shakespeare:

There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

(Julius Caesar, Act IV.ii.269–276)


Quote of the moment: Frank Zappa, on hydrogen or stupidity

June 29, 2010

Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.

Cover of The Real Frank Zappa Book

Cover of The Real Frank Zappa Book - Wikimedia image

–  Frank Zappa and Peter Occhiogrosso: The Real Frank Zappa Book , 1989, page 239

Actually, I think the claim is that hydrogen is the most common element in the universe, since it’s so simple.  Its abundance is a result of that simplicity.

Physics in 2010 would probably go for dark matter as even more plentiful than hydrogen, but so little is known about dark matter.  As we learn more about dark matter, we could discover Zappa was a physics theorist before his time.  It’s a short line from Zappa to Zwicky.

______________

I’m relieved to have a credible source for the quote — I had found it attributed to Einstein, another case of Darrell’s Law of Quote Misattribution (“any good quote whose source is unknown will be attributed to Jefferson, Lincoln or Einstein; consequently any quote attributed to those people should be sourced before being taken as accurate”).

A couple more I’d like to put to bed, both attributed to Einstein:

  • “The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits” (from a coffee mug I got years ago at the late Shakespeare, Beethoven & Co.).
  • “Coffee makes me smart” (from another coffee mug).
Simulation of the distribution of dark matter haloes - Max Planck Institute

Simulation of the distribution of dark matter haloes - Max Planck Institute

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EPA posts greenhouse gas reporting requirements

June 29, 2010

What’s that racket, that squealing, that ‘stuck’ pig noise?

Orbitals model of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) - Wikimedia image

Space-filling model of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) - Wikimedia image. Sulfur hexafluoride is one of the most powerful greenhouse gases known, with "global warming potential" 22,800 times that of CO2. EPA proposes to measure SF6 emissions as a first step toward reducing emissions. Warming deniers propose to stop the regulations.

EPA published regulations for measuring greenhouse gases as part of its CO2 emission regulatory program — and the noise is the reaction of the anti-warmists.

Here’s EPA’s press release — notice the links to longer explanations, and note especially that the regulations are not final yet, but are instead open for public comment.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2010

EPA Issues Greenhouse Gas Reporting Requirements for Four Emissions Sources

Agency also to consider data confidentiality

WASHINGTON The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finalizing requirements under its national mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting program for underground coal mines, industrial wastewater treatment systems, industrial waste landfills and magnesium production facilities. The data from these sectors will provide a better understanding of GHG emissions and will help EPA and businesses develop effective policies and programs to reduce them.

Methane is the primary GHG emitted from coal mines, industrial wastewater treatment systems and industrial landfills and is more than 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide at warming the atmosphere.  The main fluorinated GHG emitted from magnesium production is sulfur hexafluoride, which has an even greater warming potential than methane, and can stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years.

These source categories will begin collecting emissions data on January 1, 2011, with the first annual reports submitted to EPA on March 31, 2012.

In a separate proposed rule, EPA is requesting public comment on which industry related GHG information would be made publicly available and which would be considered confidential. Under the Clean Air Act, all emission data are public. Some non-emission data, however, may be considered confidential, because it relates to specific information which, if made public, could harm a business’s competitiveness. Examples of data considered confidential under this proposal include certain information reported by fossil fuel and industrial gas suppliers related to production quantities and raw materials. EPA is committed to providing the public with as much information as possible while following the law.

The GHG reporting program requires suppliers of fossil fuels or industrial GHGs and large direct emitters of greenhouse gases to report to EPA.  Collecting this data will allow businesses to track emissions and identify cost effective ways to reduce emissions.  EPA is preparing to provide data to the public after the first annual GHG reports are submitted in March 2011.

There will be a 60-day public comment period on the proposed rules that will begin upon publication in the federal register.

More information on the final rule to add reporting requirements for four source categories:

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/remaining-source-categories.html

More information on the proposal on data confidentiality:

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/CBI.html

R227

These regulations are those complained about and proposed to be stopped by critics of the campaign to stop global warming.  Alaska’s pro-warming Sen. Lisa Murkowski introduced a resolution to stop these regulations, with the support of junk science lobbyists including the National Center for Policy Research.  Fortunately, on June 10 the Senate voted 47-53 to reject a motion to consider the resolution, S. J. Res. 26, “A joint resolution disapproving a rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to the endangerment finding and the cause or contribute findings for greenhouse gases under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act.”

Both of Texas’s senators were suckered by the junk science.  Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison both co-sponsored the losing resolution.  Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott filed suit to stop the regulations.  Abbott’s opponent in the 2010 elections, Barbara Ann Radnofsky, probably the only one of these Texans who might understand sulfur hexafluoride’s role as a pollutant, criticized the suit and urged Abbott to spend his time protecting Texas oil fields from oil company sabotage.

Help control emissions from climate “skeptics,” and spread the good word:

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Educating for a creative society

June 29, 2010

Just as a reminder about what we’re doing in education, I hope every teacher and administrator will take three minutes and view this video (that allows you some time to boggle).

Surely you know who Tom Peters is.  (If not, please confess in comments, and I’ll endeavor to guide you to the information you need.)

Technically, Texas’s early elementary art standards are not so bad as Peters describes them.  But, check this document, from the Texas Education Code (§117.1. Implementation of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Fine Arts, Elementary).  Do a search of the Texas standards and count how many times students are expected to stay “within guidelines.”


Community colleges pushed to become diploma mills

June 28, 2010

Zeno at Halfway There describes a terrible situation in California community colleges — not unlike the situation Texas high schools face.  Don’t tell Texas Republicans, they’ll want to adopt it for community colleges, too.

State senator Carol Liu is the author of SB 1143, a measure which would somehow incorporate course completion rates in the formula for computing state funding for community colleges. Think about that for a moment. (Try giving it more thought than our legislators do.) Colleges that pass more students through their curriculum will get more funding. Colleges that pass fewer will get less. At first blush, that might seem reasonable.

Liu forgot, however, to include any quality standards in her bill. Schools that are willing to become diploma mills will prosper under her dollars for scholars program. The pressure to lower standards will be intense.


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