Friday, December 09, 2016

Climate change escalating so fast it is 'beyond point of no return' | The Independent

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Trump's personal favorability far lower than that of past president-elects

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Yes, Antarctic sea ice extent is at record lows right now for it's date, but its trend is still very much upward. Which lately some people (ie. Chris Mooney, who has been an exaggerating hyper-alarmist his entire career -- here for November -- while being utterly ignorant of basic physics) wants to overlook the long-term trend for short-term results. Don't we castigate deniers for the same every day of the year(?):

Maybe there is some tipping point. I haven't seen anyone explain that -- have you?

Otherwise Antarctic sea ice is going to have a statistically signifant positive trend for a very long time.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Every US State Had a Top 10 Hottest Year

Well, at least up through November:


Personally, there's no reason to base a year on the 12th month that ends a so-called messiah's birth. All the major temperature indices, I think, have reached highest-in-record 12 months moving averages, this year.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Arctic Sea Ice Volume Now Down 45%

Using my nifty-difty equation for the fractional loss of a quantity that has a linear trend, Arctic sea ice volume is now down 45% since the record started in January 1979.

(Have I said yet how crappy Windows 10 is? And Excel 365? They are barely worth a beta release; I will never buy anything made by Microsoft ever again. Same with Hewlett Packard -- I bought an HP ENVY in late June for $700, and so much doesn't work on it that I'd like to throw it across my fence and be done with it. Extremely disappointing. I've bought HP products before -- a laptop and more than one printer -- but this product is a complete piece of junk. And, no, I'm not willing to spend endless hours on a phone with a technician trying to make all the mistakes better.)

 Anyway, Arctic SIV is declining steadily and scarily. In less than just 40 years.

Fred Singer's Nobel Prize

"John Christy, my fellow skeptic and fellow co-recipient of this year's Nobel Peace Prize (by virtue of having our names listed in IPCC reports) in the WSJ [ITEM #4]"


Sunday, December 04, 2016

A Sticking Point About the Movie "Alliance"

I saw the movie Alliance a couple of weeks ago. It's pretty good, especially if you like good, mostly hard science fiction. But somethings still bothers me about it.

This isn't giving anything away that's not in the trailers, until I warn you. In the picture to the right is symbol containing a sentence (or some complicated thought) of the alien's language. The plot evolves around a linguist's (Amy Adams) ability to translate such symbols and so try to communicate with the aliens. Before this she approached them with a whiteboard on which she'd write her name or a word from English, but that didn't work.

Instead she works on translating their language. The way they show her doing this is good stuff -- she tries to break down parts of the loop (and they're always loops) into individual "words" or "thoughts" or "feelings" or the equivalent. Eventually she succeeds somewhat, but it's too late and the politicans of the world take to aggressively dealing with what they see as a massive threat to the and to Earth. (There are about 12 of these ships at various points around the globe.) Of course that ruins everything.

Now you should stop here if you don't want to risk any spoilers.

Slate had a interesting interview with a real linquist who gave some insight into how different language structure words or thoughts. And a summary of what the plot means.

Apparently the aliens experience "nonlinear time." (I didn't get this this until I read about the movie afterward.) Their loops contains subsymbols that aren't necessary in a linear time order -- the aliens think about time cyclically instead of in a straight line. Slate: "As Louise [the lingust] learns the language, she also begins gradually experiencing visions of her future, a sign that she too is beginning to experience time differently."

I don't know what nonlinear time is. I don't see how it wouldn't violate causality. I don't see how the speed of light could be a constant in all reference frames, as we know it is. (Einstein assumed that as a postulate of special relativity, and by the accuracy of its predictions we take it now as a fundamental property of the universe.) If time is cyclic, couldn't you, in particular, travel from where you are today and when and come back to the same place and time? Or at least the same time? What then if you didn't do the same thing you did the first time? How can these aliens be just a few feet from humans and experience time so radically different?

That's just one thing that bothered me. The other is that, here are these aliens who managed to come here, en masse, from who knows where in the universe. They also know something about antigravity, or altering the direction of gravity, as the early parts of the show make clear; also their spaceships hang silently several meters above the ground.

So these beings know how to do all this, and we have to translate their language?? They can't translate ours? Nonlinear time presumably has linear time as its zeroth-order leading term, and but they don't understan that? They are clearly very intelligent compare to us, but they can't translate a simple linear language?

I didn't find that convincing. Of course, the plot hangs on the struggle to understand their language before Earth's countries try to bomb them to hell out of them (trivial for them to handle). Without that struggle, the plot would collapse into much less than it is, and probably not enough.

So in these senses the movie isn't exactly hard scifi -- it alters reality for the sake of its plot. Just when they started getting to the good stuff, they pull a deus ex machina. The fact that a lot of people needed the plot explained to them afterward shows this didn't really work.

Still, it's a movie well worth seeing.

"You're sitting in a CHAIR in the SKY"

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

Krugman Does It Again

From today's New York Times:

And he has an almost school-boyish, smartest-kid-in-the-class aversion to ever being called wrong:

Trump was elected on 11/8. That night the Dow futures tanked, as did the Nikkei Index. But on 11/9 the S&P 500 went up 1.1% from its previous close. The next day it was up another 0.2%. At that point Krugman cried "uncle." Not very impressive.

But he's sure in the long run Trump will be a disaster. I'd like to think so too, but it's not clear to me at this point. Already he is showing signs of compromising his campaign promises -- on the wall, on the Affordable Care Act, on a Muslim ban, and on same-sex marriage.

Anyway, Krugman says Trump will bring "runaway climate change." If he means "runaway" in the scientific sense, a la Venus, he's wrong -- the Earth isn't close enough to the Sun to undergo such a runaway (but only by a few million km). Even if we burn all the fossil fuels available -- about 12,500 Pg carbon, according to Swart and Weaver 2012 -- we'd get 9 to 33 C of warming. Serious shit, but not runaway.

Maybe Krugman thinks Trump will keep us on RCP 8.5. Probably, but the world is on that anyway. Nothing the US can do individually to stop it, and I don't see the US killing the Paris agreement alone. If anything there might be some retaliation. I hope there is -- that's the best way to enforce a global carbon tax.

Passing the Torch