Category Archives: Science And Society

For Deluded Warmists

A handy primer:

CO2 levels were steady during these wild swings and throughout the Holocene at roughly 280 parts per million (ppm) until 130 years ago when a stuttering increase to 400 ppm today began. In other words, Holocene temperature changes, and the wild variations that preceded them, were not linked to CO2 changes. This prompts the question: if CO2 changes did not drive these temperature shifts, why all the fuss about CO2 emissions?

The answer owes much to the complexity of the climate system and the wish for simple explanations to explain its variability and with which to make predictions. But climate is not simple. There are many interacting parts that make it a ‘coupled non-linear chaotic system’ in which small variations of any part can create big, unpredictable changes. In the search for something simple to blame, like increasing CO2 levels, this ‘coupled non-linear, chaotic’ nature of climate is often played-down, overlooked or ignored. Things like solar variations, ocean heat transfers, cloud cover and the like – things that may well be the main drivers of climate – seldom get the respect they deserve.

The effect of the sun, the sea and clouds on climate is known and accepted – the Gulf Stream being a well known example – but more precise knowledge suitable for computer models is a different thing altogether. But what can be said for sure, is that the sun, the sea and the clouds are all very important and CO2 is only one player in a big game, not the control knob on the Earth’s thermostat. It is true that CO2 contributes to the greenhouse effect, but its heating effect is small (when compared with water vapour, the main contributor) and drops off logarithmically as its concentration increases. The more there is, the less additional heating effect it has.

It’s almost as though there’s some sort of political agenda that has nothing to do with science or reality.

[Update a while later]

This is interesting: Pruitt doesn’t want to attempt to overturn the endangerment finding:

Pruitt, with the backing of several White House aides, argued in closed-door meetings that the legal hurdles to overturning the finding were massive, and the administration would be setting itself up for a lengthy court battle.

A cadre of conservative climate skeptics are fuming about the decision — expressing their concern to Trump administration officials and arguing Pruitt is setting himself up to run for governor or the Senate. They hope the White House, perhaps senior adviser Stephen Bannon, will intervene and encourage the president to overturn the endangerment finding.

Trump administration officials have not totally ruled out eventually targeting the endangerment finding. Conservative groups have petitioned the EPA to look at reopening it, one source said, and the agency may eventually be compelled to respond to the petition. Axios first reported the news of the petition.

“Getting rid of the Clean Power Plan is just not enough,” said Myron Ebell, the director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the former leader of Trump’s EPA transition team.

I agree. It was based on junk science. In fact, they should be trying to get a rehearing of Massachusetts versus EPA when they get Gorsuch on the court.

NAD+

Reversing aging in mice:

In the latest paper, the scientists revealed new details on how NAD+ works to keep cells young. Sinclair put drops of NAD+ into the water of a group of mice, and within a couple of hours, their NAD+ levels started to rise. Within the first week, the scientists saw obvious age reversal in muscle and improvements in DNA repair. “We can’t tell the difference between the tissues from an old mouse that is two years old versus a young mouse that is three to four months old,” Sinclair says.

I’ve started taking it myself. And this is interesting, too:

“The idea is to protect the body from radiation exposure here on earth, either naturally occurring or doctor-inflicted,” he says. “If I were going to have an X-ray or a CT scan, I would take NMN beforehand.” He already has plans to go even farther than earth: NASA is collaborating with Sinclair’s group on the human tests to see if it’s possible to insulate astronauts from the effects of cosmic radiation in space.

That would be nice.

[Sunday-afternoon update]

This looks like a promising similar breakthrough.

[Bumped]

Persecuting The Heretics

It’s crazy that a bill like this should even be necessary:

Lockman, however, wants to protect all people with opinions on global warming and prevent a Republican attorney general from conducting a similar investigation.

“I don’t want to see a Republican state attorney general issuing subpoenas for the records of progressive or liberal think tanks or public policy groups to chill their free speech,” Lockman told AP.

“It’s about Citizens United and the government abridging speech,” Lockman said. “It’s not about climate science. It’s about climate policy.”

Maine Democrats and environmentalists oppose Lockman’s bill, so it doesn’t have much hope of passing. Some environmentalists apparently want state prosecutors to be able to investigate “climate deniers.”

“Clearly an attempt to provide cover for climate deniers,” Dylan Voorhees, with the Natural Resources Council of Maine, told AP. “I see a trickle down from the Trump administration that has emboldened some folks to make climate denial statements.”

Calling skeptics “deniers” is slanderous, unscientific, and trivializes the Holocaust.

The Death Of Expertise

Thoughts from Glenn Reynolds:

In the realm of foreign affairs, which should be of special interest to the people at Foreign Affairs, recent history has been particularly dreadful. Experts failed to foresee the fall of the Soviet Union, failed to deal especially well with that fall when it took place, and then failed to deal with the rise of Islamic terrorism that led to the 9/11 attacks. Post 9/11, experts botched the reconstruction of Iraq, then botched it again with a premature pullout.

On Syria, experts in Barack Obama’s administration produced a policy that led to countless deaths, millions of refugees flooding Europe, a new haven for Islamic terrorists, and the upending of established power relations in the mideast. In Libya, the experts urged a war, waged without the approval of Congress, to topple strongman Moammar Gadhafi, only to see — again — countless deaths, huge numbers of refugees and another haven for Islamist terror.

It was experts who brought us the housing bubble and the subprime crisis. It was experts who botched the Obamacare rollout. And, of course, the experts didn’t see Brexit coming, and seem to have responded mostly with injured pride and assaults on the intelligence of the electorate, rather than with constructive solutions.

By its fruit the tree is known, and the tree of expertise hasn’t been doing well lately. As Nassim Taleb recently observed: “With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30 years of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating at best only 1/3 of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers.”

There was also the failure of the CIA to see the Iranian revolution coming. And certainly the “experts” in charge of space policy haven’t been covering themselves in glory, at least if the goal is to expand humanity’s economic sphere into the solar system (as Marburger once said).

Stem Cells

in spaaaaaaaace:

“Stem cells are inherently designed to remain at a constant number,” Zubair explains. “We need to grow them faster, but without changing their characteristics.”

The first phase of the investigation, he adds, is answering the question: “Do stem cells grow faster in space and can we grow them in such a manner that they are safe to use in patients?”

Investigators will examine the space-grown cells in an effort to understand the mechanism behind microgravity’s effects on them. The long-term goal is to learn how to mimic those effects and develop a safe and reliable way to produce stem cells in the quantities needed.

Just once, it would be nice to discover something that can be done in space that can’t be later mimiced on the ground. I hope that Made In Space has found one.

And of course, as I point out in the book, this kind of research could be accelerated if they added one more crewperson to ISS. The only reason they haven’t is lifeboat requirement, something that doesn’t exist in Antarctica.