How Technology Will Change Our Lives

…in the next decade. Prognostications from Ray Kurzweil. This is the part I like:

We won’t just be able to lengthen our lives; we’ll be able to improve our lifestyles. By 2020, we will be testing drugs that will turn off the fat insulin receptor gene that tells our fat cells to hold on to every calorie. Holding on to every calorie was a good idea thousands of years ago when our genes evolved in the first place. Today it underlies an epidemic of obesity. By 2030, we will have made major strides in our ability to remain alive and healthy – and young – for very long periods of time. At that time, we’ll be adding more than a year every year to our remaining life expectancy, so the sands of time will start running in instead of running out.

For those of us interested in space, we’re going to need it, because one thing that doesn’t seem to be improving over time is government space policy.

Avoiding Tickets

Drive one of these cars. This would be more interesting if there were some theoretical basis as to why they’re less ticket bait than others, as opposed to (I assume) empirical data. It’s not clear what else they have in common.

My theory of ticket avoidance is a) don’t drive a red car — they stand out and look fast even sitting still and b) don’t cruise the left lane on the freeway — that’s where cops are looking for speeders. I’ll never rent a red car if I can avoid it. I rarely drive below the speed limit, and I get a speeding ticket about twice per decade or so (a rare enough event that it has no effect on my insurance rates, let alone my driving privileges).

I recall back in the early nineties, when a well-known space activist (who will remain nameless to prevent embarrassment) and I were driving from DC up to Princeton for Gerry O’Neill’s funeral in his rental. We were going through Maryland, which is renowned for speed traps, and I warned him to use the left lane for passing only, but he didn’t heed me, and blithely cruised in it, until he heard the sirens behind him. And while we were pulled over, yet another well-known space activist passed us, saw who was sitting in the driver’s seat, and laughed.

And this all confirmed my theory, sort of, at least to me. I’ve only gotten two speeding tickets on a freeway in my entire life — all the others have been on open two-lanes, or passing through towns and not slowing down enough.

The Hockey Stick

in historical context.

Bring on the warming.

[Via Planet Gore]

[Update mid morning]

Here’s my question for those who insist that the current warming trend is a result of the Industrial Revolution: if so, then what is your explanation for all of the previous temperature spikes? Why should we assume that this one, and this one only, is a result of CO2 build up, and not simply part of the natural cycle (which is what it appears to be in the longer view) and a coincidence?

[Update a few minutes later]

You, too, can cash in on AGW alarmism:

[Another update a couple minutes later]

And why should we not get to see the models and data?

…soon after my request was fired off, I was informed by NCAR’s counsel that the organization is, in fact, not a federal agency—because its budget is laundered through the National Science Foundation—and thus is under no obligation to provide information to the public.

“Why don’t you put all your e-mails online for everyone to see?” Trenberth helpfully suggested to me. “My e-mail is none of your business.”

Now, generally, I would agree. It’s every American citizen’s hallowed duty to mind his or her own freaking business—except in those rare instances when one of those citizens happens to be a taxpayer-funded eco-crusader utilizing his appointed station in life to promote policy that sticks its nose into the lives of every American.

I’m afraid snarky columnizing, on the other hand, is not federally funded—at least not yet.

In fact, Trenberth’s work is one reason the nation is moving toward rationed energy use via cap-and-trade legislation. His work is one reason the Environmental Protection Agency, through its endangerment findings on carbon emissions, can regulate industry by decree. It is Trenberth’s government-financed science that drives public policy across this country. Yet Trenberth has less accountability to the public than the local parks department.

He is not alone. The Competitive Enterprise Institute—one of those troglodyte-funded, big-screen-television-loving outfits—was forced to file three notices of intent to file suit against NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, demanding the organization provide documents and raw data that were requested under the Freedom of Information Act three years ago.

Chris Horner, an attorney and senior fellow at CEI working on the NASA case, says of NCAR: “Without government, these jobs would not exist; that is a reasonable threshold test to determine whether documents should be available to the taxpayer.”

But if they release it to us, we might know just how extensive the fraud is.

[Update early afternoon]

Now Russian papers are claiming that the CRU cherry-picked Russian thermometers:

Analysts say Russian meteorological stations cover most of the country’s territory, and that the Hadley Center had used data submitted by only 25% of such stations in its reports.

Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.

The data of stations located in areas not listed in the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature UK (HadCRUT) survey often does not show any substantial warming in the late 20th century and the early 21st century.

Gee, whyever would they do that?

It would certainly explain the “warming” in Siberia. More Mann-caused phenomena.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Wait a minute. I just reread that. It wasn’t the CRU — it was the Hadley Centre. So, is this collusion, confirmation bias, what?

Hiding The Decline

…is even worse than it first appeared. It would appear that tree rings are worse than useless as a proxy for temperature.

[Late afternoon update]

The data has been tortured, and it has confessed:

Continent after continent, researchers are seeing no warming in the unprocessed data (see one thorough analysis here).

For years, I have been a true skeptic on the subject. That is, I wasn’t convinced that the planet was warming, but I was willing to concede the possibility, even probability, and be convinced, though I never thought that it justified the costly and draconian, even totalitarian measures being proposed to deal with it.

I’ve reached a tipping point. Now consider me a “denier.” The burden of proof has shifted, completely. The climate scientific community has clearly been engaged in a toxic combination of groupthink, overadoration of their theories and confirmation bias, and outright fraud, not to mention hiding a lot more than the decline. Whoever finally blew the whistle on them last month is, in my opinion, an unknown hero to humanity.

I’ll have more thoughts on this, and the implications for national and global policies, at PJM in the morning.

The Boondoggle

…that is high-speed trains in California:

Those hoping to ride the state’s high-speed train next decade will have to dig much deeper into their wallets than officials originally thought, a harsh reality that will chase away millions of passengers, according to an updated business plan released Monday.

The average ticket on the bullet train from San Francisco to Los Angeles is now estimated to cost about $105, or 83 percent of comparable airfare. Last year, the state said prices would be set at 50 percent of comparable airfare and predicted a ticket from San Francisco to Los Angeles would cost $55.

As a result of the higher fares, state officials now think the service will attract 41 million annual riders by 2035, down from last year’s prediction of 55 million passengers by 2030.

Finally, the cost of the project — recently pegged at $33.6 billion in 2008 dollars — is now estimated at $42.6 billion in time-of-construction dollars.

The voters were crazy to approve that bond issue. Does anyone really believe that those numbers aren’t going to continue to rise, and ridership fall, into a death spiral that will turn it into a subsidized Amtrak (with subsidies probably coming from airfares between northern and southern California)? And this was supposed to be stimulus? Your government at work, and the country’s in the very best of hands.

When Science Becomes A Casualty Of Politics

Cathy Young has some thoughts, but she makes the same mistake that many in the media do when discussing the issue:

I will freely admit that I don’t have enough knowledge of science or familiarity with the scientific method to be able to come to a truly informed conclusion at to which version of “ClimateGate” is right. Neither, I suspect, do some 95 percent (or, more likely, 99 percent) of people who have spoken out on the issue, on either side. That means they are likely to go with their political instincts and listen to those “experts” who reflect their own preconceived opinions. Conservatives and libertarians, who see the crusade against global warming as an attack on capitalism and freedom, are very likely to think that the hacked emails are devastating to the case for human-made global warming; liberals and leftists, who see global warming denial as an attempt to protect greed and unbridled consumption, are very likely to think that the only real scandal is the deniers’ shameless manipulation of public opinion in an attempt to discredit solid science.

It’s always the “hacked” (as opposed to released by a whistleblower) “emails,” which while quite disturbing enough, are not the smoking cannon that has shown what these people are doing as non science. It’s the bogus models and made-up data, and the inside look at them provided by Harry_Read_Me.txt.

Jim Lindgren has a useful challenge to the defenders of these people:

…if I were Professor Mann’s dean at Penn State, I would try to determine whether he has fully shared his data, metadata, and computer code. To the extent that he hasn’t already, I would try to make him do so – at least for his most important or most controversial articles in recent years. And, for reason #3 above, I wouldn’t take Mann’s word for it. I’d call his critics and ask them to name the few most important Mann papers for which the data and computer code are needed for replication.

If Mann is still withholding the data and code necessary for replication, I’d ask him to replicate his most important or most controversial recent work (certainly not everything) and to release the data and code so that others might do so. If Mann couldn’t replicate his own work, I would ask him to announce that fact to the scientific community, so that serious scientists would know whether his work is replicable.

Thus, if I were Professor Mann’s dean, probably the only power I’d use would be to further the scientific enterprise. And even that would not be necessary if ethical standards were higher in the subfield of paleoclimatology.

Unfortunately, the subfield seems to have devolved into a religious cult, attracting second raters.

Why Not Just Fund The Program Of Record?

Chris Kraft weighs in with a “common sense approach”:

NASA should essentially stay the course that has been pursued for the past several years. It makes good common sense to preserve and continue the use of the present NASA assets. Specifically, NASA should:

* Continue to operate the space shuttle until a suitable replacement is available, and initiate a study to consider a modernization program aimed primarily at reducing the operating costs.
* Operate and maintain the international space station until it ceases to be economically reasonable and scientifically productive.
* Continue to push forward with orderly haste to accomplish the goals set forth by the Constellation program.
* Initiate an aggressive research and development program aimed at the technology required to make space exploration to Mars and other deep-space objectives rational and affordable.
* Estimate a realistic set of budget requirements for the total NASA program based on the above goals and the other elements and goals of the agency.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t explain how much this would cost (it would cost billions to get the lines started again to keep Shuttle flying alone, even ignoring the orbiter-aging issues), or where the money would come from. Without doing any analysis, I’m guessing that it would require a doubling of the current HSF budget, or on the order of an additional ten billion dollars per year, for a system that will continue to cost billions per mission.

Jon Goff, on the other hand, explains why Kraft’s proposal is a non-starter, and fiscally insane:

Where I come from, we tend to think that getting a heck of a lot less while paying a heck of a lot more is usually the sign of a sucker. I just wish that a few space pundits and public figures didn’t keep enabling Senator Shelby and his ilk from hijacking NASA’s budget to enrich his campaign contributors at the rest of our expense.

Unfortunately, it’s more than a few. He also has a good question for Chris Kraft and other America bashers:

Why does Congress trust Russian commercial space more than American commercial space, btw?

Obviously, Russians are much better than American entrepreneurs and businesses. The latter can’t be entrusted with the vital duty of spending billions of dollars per flight on unsafe vehicles to protect jobs in key states and congressional districts.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!