All posts by Rand Simberg

NASA’s Non- #JourneyToMars

Eric Berger reports on Wednesday’s House hearing.

If NASA is smart, they’ll be putting a plan together for a return to the moon, to present to the next administration, preferably with a lot of public/private partnership.

[Update a few minutes later]

Keith Cowing had a roundup related links yesterday. And here‘s Doug Messier’s summary and Jeff Foust’s story.

George Washington’s Winters

What is the right climate?

Why are we defining ‘dangerous climate change’ with respect to the climate of the 18th century, which was the coldest period in the last millennia, with wicked winters? Why not use a reference point of 2000 or 1970? The IPCC doesn’t provide a convincing explanation for the overall warming between 1750 and 1950; according to climate models, human causes contributed only a very small amount to the global warming to during this period (so presumably this overall warming was caused by natural climate variability). Co-opting the period between 1750 and 1950 into the AGW argument muddies the scientific and the policy waters.

It would make much more sense — from a scientific perspective, from the perspective of adaptation and engineering, and in the public communication of climate change — to refer to warming relative to a more recent reference period. Since the emissions reference periods are between 1990 and 2005, this also adds to the argument of citing a more recent reference period for defining ‘dangerous’.

The argument that human caused warming is already ‘dangerous’ — widely made by politicians, the media and some scientists — flies in the face of scientific evidence reported by the IPCC AR5 and SREX. Extreme weather events were worse earlier in the 20th century, and sea level has been rising for millennia, with recent rates of sea level rise comparable to what was observed in the middle 20th century.

It’s almost as though there’s some sort of political agenda at work.

The Death Of Academia

This is a few weeks old, but I missed it at the time: a disturbing interview with Jonathan Haidt:

JONATHAN HAIDT: The big thing that really worries me – the reason why I think things are going to get much, much worse – is that one of the causal factors here is the change in child-rearing that happened in America in the 1980s. With the rise in crime, amplified by the rise of cable TV, we saw much more protective, fearful parenting. Children since the 1980s have been raised very differently–protected as fragile. The key psychological idea, which should be mentioned in everything written about this, is Nassim Taleb’s concept of anti-fragility.

JOHN LEO: What’s the theory?

JONATHAN HAIDT: That children are anti-fragile. Bone is anti-fragile. If you treat it gently, it will get brittle and break. Bone actually needs to get banged around to toughen up. And so do children. I’m not saying they need to be spanked or beaten, but they need to have a lot of unsupervised time, to get in over their heads and get themselves out. And that greatly decreased in the 1980s. Anxiety, fragility and psychological weakness have skyrocketed in the last 15-20 years. So, I think millennials come to college with much thinner skins. And therefore, until that changes, I think we’re going to keep seeing these demands to never hear anything offensive.

They won’t survive the real world.

The Science-Correction Process

It’s as broken as peer review.

As with civil (and military) space, we have a 20th-century system in place for the 21st century.

Update a few minutes later]

Related: Why scientists hide their doubts about global warming from the media.

[Update a cuple minutes later]

Sorry, HTML was broken for first link, should be fixed now.