Friday, August 19, 2016

Risk, Hazard and Jill Stein

The difference between Hazard and Risk bedevils the public driven by journalists, politicians and grifters with agendas.  Combinations of the three are not uncommon in Eli's experience.  Cancer risk is the playground most populated.  A recent article in Science by Kai Kupferschmidt (go ahead, it is open) lays this out

Officially released at 3 p.m. EST on 15 June, the news immediately raced around the world, spread by hundreds of websites. Judging by reader comments, many found it reassuring, whereas others were spooked. The message: Coffee doesn't give you cancer after all, but very hot drinks might, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization.
But scientists grumbled that the hot drink verdict left the public none the wiser, because IARC couldn't say how big the risk is.  
So the IARC has now moved coffee from "possibly carcinogenic" to  "not classifiable as a carcinogen", which, of course in click bait country is taken as "maybe carcinogenic".  Proving something not something or other is about impossible, there is only a single material that the IARC classifies as "probably not carcinogenic", and not a few willing to say that "probably not" means maybe.

There are any number of folk willing to claim that all chemicals are carcinogenic.  This has lots of downsides because folk think that all chemicals, foods, what nots have the same risk profile, which means they avoid to their detriment many things that can benefit them, and indulge in many things that they should be using a ten foot pole to avoid.  Eli is not the only Rabett to have noticed
It has become a recurring pattern: an IARC announcement, followed by confusion, controversy, and criticism. In October 2015, IARC made headlines when it declared processed meat a carcinogen, putting it alongside plutonium and smoking in its classification scheme. Statisticians and risk communication experts, however, were quick to point out that the risk was very low. A few months earlier, IARC announced that glyphosate, the world's most widely used herbicide, was “probably carcinogenic,” a verdict that helped fuel efforts to ban the chemical in the European Union, but was at odds with that of many other agencies, including BfR and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Jill Stein is only an issue because of the remote possibility that she may tip the US election to Donald Trump in one state or another.  That and the annoyance that her Jill Boys (aka former Bernie Bros) cause in places where no sane bunny goes, AKA Twitter.  So Eli has been in a set two with a bunch of em who are leaning on Stein's tweet
Chris Mooney had a fine take down of this going into detail and ending
Any presidential candidate, from Trump to Clinton to Stein, has every right to dig in and explain all of this. Moreover, that candidate could easily justify the conclusion that we have good reason to worry that sea level rise by 2100 could be considerably worse than the IPCC suggests — if we don’t get our acts together. That is the way the sea level rise story is trending these days. br />

But what’s more questionable is to cite only a worst case scenario, without explaining the state of the evidence or scientific opinion overall.
Of course, the three meter by 2050 comes from the extreme estimate of Hansen et al, which has been well discussed pretty much everywhere, the operative paragraph being
We hypothesize that ice mass loss from the most vulnerable ice, sufficient to raise sea level several meters, is better approximated as exponential than by a more linear response. Doubling times of 10, 20 or 40 years yield multi-meter sea level rise in about 50, 100 or 200 years. Recent ice melt doubling times are near the lower end of the 10–40-year range, but the record is too short to confirm the nature of the response.
Everybunny else remotely suspected of having a clue thinks maybe 2 m at most by 2100 and much less by 2050, which is bad enough, but Stein cherry emphasizes a ten year doubling rate.  So, Eli is trying to arrange a bet with Steve Bloom and maybe Brad Johnson (nah, Brad is too clued in but he is not above confusing hazard with risk).
Oh yeah Jill Stein got into trouble trying the same finesse confusing hazard and risk on vaccination and homeopathy

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sinking Santa

Eli, as the bunnies know, has been wondering about 2016 Arctic sea ice.  As Neven and Jim Hunt point out there is a large storm blowing up there which is doing interesting things.  Today there is blue water up to 85N in a large area on the Siberian side.  More to the point it looks like Santa's workship is flooding, with broken ice up to the pole, to the extent that a small sloop could probably make it (perhaps with some aid from a large icebreaker here and there)

Since toy shipping has to start in September to reach the children in December, this is indeed a threat to Christmas.  Santa (Jim Titus) many years ago prerecorded a message:

If you don't see the player your browser does not support the audio element. Listen here

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Slight blogging break for Brian

I probably won't be blogging for a few weeks, but I'm sure Eli will find carrots to chew on.

If any of you solve climate change while l'm gone, please leave a note. We wouldn't want to forget how to do it if needed again.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Pros From Dover Once More

So recently Reiner Grundmann is playing the Roger Pielke Jr. Pros from Dover bit about how physical scientists need leave the hard work of getting anything done on climate change to the social scientists because the physical scientists are so bad at it.  The origin of the phrase, although made famous in the movie M*A*S*H comes from the book

"Hawkeye would walk confidently into a pro shop, smile, comment upon the nice condition of the course, explain that he was just passing through and that he was Joe, Dave or Jack Somebody, the pro from Dover. This resulted, about eight times out of ten, in an invitation to play for free. If forced into conversation, he became the pro from Dover, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, England, Ohio, Delaware, Tennessee, or Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, whichever seemed safest."
Frankly, this ploy has been long used by social scientists (not all, but enough) and policy types (lots and lots) who have not the least idea about how to handle problems based on physical and biological reality but would like to cut themselves a piece of the pie, as large a piece as possible. 

It would, at least for Eli, not be a bad thing if the ones playing it actually knew what they were doing and might save the Congressman's kid, but the Rabett is exceedingly unimpressed by the players of this ploy who at least to his jaundiced eyes are mostly trying to control the debate.

Of course there were tweets, and several people, including Eli were a bit miffed, but Eli was at least nice enough to invite Reiner to the party.  Oliver Bothe had a winner
As soon as Eli finds a good bass player RaptorClan will definitely go on tour but till then on to the blogs, including ATTP and of course Klimazweibel

The Rabett finds this pretty boring, has other stuff to do, note the lack of posts, and really has not contributed much.  If anybunny wants to know, Eli just pointed out, rather obliquely, that Grundman, like Pielke Jr and Kahan only seems to look at one side without really considering what makes (climate, ozone, tobacco, acid rain, etc) for a hard problem is the well organized and financed opposition to action and that what has/is being done to try and find solutions must be evaluated against that mark, not in isolation, but whatever.  Still in the middle of this Hans v. Storch came out with the amazing:
In other words: physicists (and other natural scientists), back into your baracks! If you individually want to be part of the social processes of choosing among options and of deciding, come back without the attiitude of knowing better than others of what is an appropriate response to the problem. The same applies for social scientists, even if their field of knowledge is different from that of natural scientists but also important.
As Eli remarked there are half a dozen ways of Godwinizing that one, but, never fear gentle readers, what better way than what Sherry Rowland said in 1998 in a White House meeting on climate change
"Is it enough for a scientist simply to publish a paper? Isn’t it a responsibility of scientists, if you believe that you have found something that can affect the environment, isn’t it your responsibility to actually do something about it, enough so that action actually takes place?… If not us, who? If not now, when?"
Eli knew of that quote a long, time, but when the Bunny went looking for a source, lo and behold, what popped up was another Klimazweibel post, an appreciation of Rowland written by, you guessed it, Reiner Grundmann.  Even within the Grundmann's context, v. Storch is scorched
His advocacy probably serves as role model for some activist climate scientists. There is one big difference. Rowland operated as individual scientist, not as part of a wider institutionalized body (such as the IPCC). He was an open advocate for CFC controls and did not hide behind 'the science'. He knew that there was controversy about the science and that his research was not shared by many, for quite some time. This did not deter him from making his case patiently, without trying to demolish his adversaries. And adversaries he had many, both inside and outside academia. 
and further in the comments
you are welcome to post Rowland's engagement with regard to climate change.

He did not strike me as a main protagonist in climate change debates, neither was climate change his main area of research. He was very much interested in questions of air pollution, examples are Mexico City and methane leaks from pipelines. In all these cases he made policy proposals that were practical. And he did the same the CFC case.
 which is just utter nonsense.  First of all, and a minor point, it is Luisa and Mario Molina who have been key to both investigating and helping control air pollution in Mexico City, not Sherry.  Second, Sherry Rowland's research on methane leaks was in the context of their contribution to climate change
Since methane accounts for up to 25% of the gases causing the so-called greenhouse effect, plugging leaky pipes in Eastern bloc nations could make an important dent in efforts to forestall global warming, the UCI scientists reported today in the scientific journal Nature.

"Methane is different," said research team director F. Sherwood Rowland, the UCI chemist who discovered in the mid-1970s that the Earth's protective ozone layer is being destroyed by chlorofluorocarbons, another variety of chemicals also implicated in global warming. "Because its lifetime is about 10 years, if we take away just 10% of (the world's methane) emissions, we can get methane in the atmosphere back in balance."
Rowland was concerned greatly with greenhouse gas driven climate change in 1990, but also Rowland was actively engaged, as is Molina today, in trying to both delineate and solve the problems.  Eli would refer Reiner to the summary of the 1997 White House meeting and Rowland's comments endorsing the IPCC as authoritative and calling to action

And as far as Rowland not being a part of wider institutionalized bodies, one only has to read the National Academy press release memorializing him
Rowland was elected to the NAS in 1978 and served as foreign secretary from 1994-2002. The Institute of Medicine elected Rowland in 1994. In 1995, he was a key figure in the creation of the InterAcademy Panel, an international organization of national science academies that has since grown to include the academies of more than 80 countries.
Sherry Rowland was a very nice guy, but he also was a strong advocate for policy based on science and not the paper cutout that Grundmann has sitting in his office.  Kind of reminds Eli of the Republican version of Martin Luther King.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Oh yeah!

This being close to the beginning of the new academic year in the US, Eli thought a comment or two on things academic might be in order. Over at ATTP, Guthrie had, what to Eli, was an interesting comment, though not, to Eli, interesting in the context of what was being discussed over there, but interesting in the context of the new term coming up

This also reminds me of the complaint about history of chemistry I heard recently, which is that it’s been taken over by historians. Which is something I agree with, it has rather been historianised, which can lead to imbalances in what is studied and how it is studied and a loss of focus on the science.
Interesting because the traditional approach of teaching chemistry, sequentially running through any number of simple models for chemical bonding and reaction follows the historical development of the science. As each model is stacked on the next to extend them and handle myriad exceptions to each, students struggle. Why each of these simplifications works and their limits of applicability is not obvious, or at least not so until the course reaches the last few weeks when instructors rush through the quantum basis of atomic and molecular structure.  At that point, perhaps in the last lectures of the term, when it is explained how each of the historical models is an expression of quantum mechanics everyone, hopefully nods their heads and says "Oh yeah".

At least intellectually the Atoms First method, which starts by teaching baby quantum chemistry, Aufbau principle and all that, is cleaner.  It has been around roughly fifteen to twenty years although early examples no doubt existed and increasingly gchem textbooks come in two flavors, traditional and Atoms First.

Atoms First is harder to grok for students at first because, well quantum is weird (as in not harder than you think but for some harder than they can think).  However, students today do not swim in the same water as Eli did, when Sienko and Plane was the first gchem text to even talk about aufbau (and no, Eli is not going to haul down his copy of Pauling to check that, besides the only thing that Pauling ever pushed in his book was electronegativity on the Pauling scale, and the Bunny prefers the Mullikan scale because it can be explained).

To be honest there are two things that make Atoms First a bit of a pain to deal with.  First, as mentioned, is quantum weirdness.  Why is hard to get across.  Second is that it is hard to think up labs for the first few weeks that support the text and for lab to have any value it must support what is being taught concurrently.

The later may not be such a biggie, because this ain't 1960.  Everybunny is hunting Pokemon.  Students accept, nay they flourish in virtual reality, so to them applets are hands on, and there are some really good atomic and molecular structure applets out there to transport down to the atomic scale.

Here is one from pHeT

Monday, August 08, 2016

Eli Don't Think You Wanna Go There Chip

Following Eli noting that Pat Michaels let one of the Denialists cats out of the bag over at Willard Tony's there has been a bit of tweeting going on trying to tease out who drew up the hit list Michaels purportedly saved Tom Karl from in the Bush administration.

Now some, Eli to be sure, fully intend to keep on pointing to Pat's faux pas here, and indeed Pat'swhole thing is a piece of self puffery as Michael McCracken, who was there, pointed out in the comments to Eli's post. At base Michaels claim to have "corrected" Karl wrt the 2000 National (US) assessment is the "hiatus" thing, evaluate any climate data over a short time period and you get drivel.  McCracken concludes that

Those of us involved in the meteorological aspects of the National Assessment wrote a peer-reviewed BAMS article to explain all of this (MacCracken, M. C., E. Barron, D. Easterling, B. Felzer, and T. Karl, 2003: Climate change scenarios for the U. S. National Assessment, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 84, 1711-1723). That Pat still fails to understand this is pretty pathetic. Tom Karl has done a very commendable job and deserves our gratitude. 
Magma snuck one in at WTs
A hit list, you say? More details please. This window into potential corruption and undue influence on the careers of federal public servants on the part of ‘skeptics’ and contrarians with ties to right-wing lobby groups and Republican politicians could be very interesting.
There is, however, a human need to dig deeper holes, something well illustrated, so, on the Twitter, Chip Knappenberger appears.  Chip is the one that Pat sends onto the field when it gets sticky because somebunnies still view him as more credible than Pat, lat least nicer and not so devious. YMMV Anyhow Chip tweeted and Eli replied:
As fate would have it, such tweets can lead to interesting things, so Eli did the Google thing and came up with a news article in Nature from the distant past, 2002, about how when everybunny thought that Bob Watson was a cinch to be renominated for chair of the IPCC, the US administration  (e.g. the Bushies) would not renominate him but left that for Portugal.  In the knife fight that followed Rajendra Pachauri won by 76 to 49 votes.

What is interesting in that article, especially in view recent revelations are two paragraphs.  Eli will give a helping hand with the bolds
Watson's former role as associate director for environment at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Bill Clinton is thought to have deterred the Bush administration from putting him forward. But evidence has also emerged that ExxonMobil, the US oil company, lobbied the administration not to renominate Watson. 
The campaign against him continued at the election meeting in Geneva. "Oil-industry representatives were there lobbying for Pachauri," says Bert Metz, a climate-policy expert at the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment in Bilthoven, the Netherlands, and co-chair of the IPCC working group on mitigating climate change.
Eli don't think Chip wants to go there but there is always new hope.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Remember the Great Republican Light Bulb Freakout? They don't.

A little reminder from Amy Ridenour of the National Center for Public Policy Research in an Op-Ed successfully farmed out to over 30 newspapers: she claimed that compact fluorescents caused seizures and were toxic, and that "LEDs have particularly expensive up front costs now, although manufacturers say the price will come down after their main rivals have been banned for a while. They say that's because more will be sold; others say that's not how supply-and-demand works."

Plenty more like that if you care to look. By the way, they failed to notice it wasn't even a ban of incadescents, it was an energy efficiency standard where incandescents just  failed to keep up. This type of performance-based regulation is considered more market-friendly than prescriptive regulations, but the Republicans missed that.

So fast forward to now, and Joe Romm's article on the LED lighting revolution:

“The rapid adoption of LEDs in lighting marks one of the fastest technology shifts in human history,” Goldman Sachs stated in a new report. The accelerated deployment of light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs is on track to save U.S. consumers and businesses $20 billion a year in electricity costs within a decade, which would lower U.S. CO2 emissions by some 100 million metric tons a year!....As recently as 2009, this country didn’t have even 400,000 installations of common home LED bulbs... by 2012, we had 14 million — and by 2014 we had whopping 78 million installations.

... Since 2008 alone, prices for LED lightbulbs have dropped a remarkable 90 percent.... 

Joe says power consumption for lighting is projected to drop 40%, a big deal when lighting is 17% of overall power consumption. Read the whole thing etc.

Interesting to guess what people like Ms. Ridenour will get paid to publish in response. Being flat-out wrong certainly doesn't stop denialists from reasserting claims endlessly. In this case though it's a little harder to deny what's in front of the face of anyone who enters a hardware store, or just looks around at night: LEDs are everywhere, cheap to buy, cheap to use, and last forever. My guess is it'll be a version of the "improved air quality proves the Clean Air Act was unnecessary" argument we've heard before. LEDs would've mysteriously fallen from the sky in the absence of technology promotion and incentivization. Seems pretty unlikely, but what they can't argue is that there's been any harm from this regulation.

Another casualty with reality is the Jevons Paradox adherents, saying environmental benefits from energy efficiency will go away due to increased use. An example from alleged "skeptic" Guy McCandle titled "Why Are Eco-Fascists Trying to Ban Incandescent Bulbs?" is typical. Now we see what actually is happening. As is typical with bad arguments, the Jevons thing isn't completely bogus, but its overuse is very annoying.

One generalization from this is that regulation can work. A carbon tax might be better, is better, but when Republicans stop that avenue, we can make other approaches work.

And in today's unrelated closing comment, a Tweet:

Eli Does the Sou Thing

With Tom Karl's retirement the folk over at the Watt's Shop are busy with the time machine, coming up with the idea that Tom Peterson is going to be the follow on.  Peterson, of course retired about a year ago himself.  Zeke pointed this out to only moderate grumbling and Tony Willard (cause he is a backwards kind of guy) did some strikethrough action.  Bunnies can read all about it at Sou's

Now some, ok Eli to be sure, have the lack of sense to go back to the original, and indeed great fun to be had, among which Roger Sr. still grumbling that TomP really didn't respect him in detail.  Roger, of course, runs the forgettery about his dissing all and sundry, but the treasure is the last comment from Pat Michaels.  To be more to the point the last line in the last comment, but just to help, here is the whole thing which has some interesting implications:
pat michaels August 4, 2016 at 5:40 pm
Hey, Tom, I’m pretty sure you’re reading these comments.  Some are a bit ad-hom. But I have important questions for you. 
You were the science chief for the first (2000) National Assessment. I found that the two models used, the CCM2 and the Met Office one, resulted in a larger residual error AFTER applied to 10-year running means of the global temperature average than what was in the raw data. In other words, they added noise to signal. 
You wrote back that indeed I was correct But you went forward. This is EXACTLY like a physician prescribing a treatment that he or she knows will cause more harm than good. It’s unethical, pure and simple. What you did was noticed and created a great distrust of anything out of NCDC. 
Why did you do it? Was it worth it? 
Pat M. 
I saved your job in 2000. You were on a hit list and I had you taken off because I thought you were a straight shooter. Seven months later what is detailed above happened.
Hmm. Hit list, 2000. . . got Bob Watson but appears to have missed Jim Hansen too, so this is probably something that pat had a hand in putting together in his dream of getting a real job, but who has the Emails?

An imaginative bunny might even think about who or what was on the drafting team.  The link to the incoming Bushies was almost certainly through the Marshall Institute and ran through Dick Cheney via Star Wars links.  Fred Seitz and Jastrow were still alive but if Pat Michaels was involved, then it is not a bridge too far to believe that a few august members of the American Association of State Climatologists of which Pat Michaels was an unusual member were also involved.  Perhaps Eli would enter the name of R A Pielke Sr.   Be good bunnies and drop the guy a line, he don't listen to Eli anymore ont he Tweets.  Other names that occur are Roger Srs. buddies George Taylor and David Legates.