Friday, September 30, 2016

Latest Study Shows Earth Is At Its Hottest In 120,000 Years

A new study shows the Earth is on track to be warmer than it has been in about 120,000 years, and is locked into eventually hitting its hottest mark in more than 2 million years. Carolyn Snyder, as part of her doctoral dissertation at Stanford University (she's now a climate policy official at the EPA)), created a continuous 2 million year temperature record, much longer than a previous 22,000 year record. Snyder’s temperature reconstruction, published Monday in the journal Nature, doesn’t estimate temperature for a single year, but averages 5,000-year time periods going back a couple million years.

Snyder based her reconstruction on 61 different sea surface temperature proxies from across the globe, such as:  ratios between magnesium and calcium (Mg/Ca), species makeup and acidity. But the further the study goes back in time, especially after half a million years, the fewer of those proxies are available, making the estimates less certain, she said. Snyder, unlike the climate change deniers, also acknowledged her estimates are rough with large uncertainties. But she also found that the temperature changes correlated well to carbon dioxide levels.

Snyder found that temperatures averaged out over the most recent 5,000 years — which includes the last 125 years or so of industrial emissions of heat-trapping gases — to be generally warmer than they have been since about 120,000 years ago. Also, two interglacial time periods, the one 120,000 years ago and another just about 2 million years ago, were the warmest Snyder tracked. They were about 3.6 degrees (2 degrees Celsius) warmer than the current 5,000-year average.

Using the link to carbon dioxide levels and taking into account other factors and past trends, Snyder calculated how much warming can be expected in the future. Assuming climate factors are the same as in the past, she found that Earth is  headed for 7 degrees (about 4 degrees Celsius) of warming over the next few thousand years. Lest anyone believe this is incomprehensible, let's recall a Reuters report from July, 2010:

"the Met Office Hadley Centre and other climate research centres  imposed (a projection of 4C temperature increase) on to a Google Earth layer. It's a timely arrival, with warnings this month that current international carbon pledges will lead to a rise of nearly 4C ."

A new interactive Google Earth map showing the impacts of a 4°C world
Google maps projection of 4C greenhouse world  - showing from five years ago that Snyder's figures are in the ballpark for realistic expectations.

Meanwhile, a Guardian UK article from May 17, 2015 bluntly pointed out:

"A paper used for guiding future business planning at the Anglo-Dutch multinational assumes that carbon dioxide emissions will fail to limit temperature increases to 2C, the internationally agreed threshold to prevent widespread flooding, famine and desertification. Instead, the New Lens Scenarios document refers to a forecast by the independent International Energy Agency (IEA) that points to a temperature rise of up to 4C in the short term, rising later to 6C."

The message?  Given that once a runaway threshold is hit (which it likely will be once we pass 4C and continue to 6C)  these numbers will settle into a permanently heated planet- inexorably leading to the condition of a second Venus. See e.g.

In other words, all the quibbles aside, Carolyn Snyder's figures are definitely plausible, and may even be too low, given the Hadley,, IEA findings disclose a 4C rise by 2100. Snyder herself observed:

This is based on what happened in the past, In the past it wasn’t humans messing with the atmosphere.”

Yes, well it was mainly  volcanoes - but even now they can't compare to humans. A good parameter is the "ACM multiplier" (cf. Volcanic Versus Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide in Eos: Transactions of the American Geophysical Union( Vol. 92, No. 24, June 14, 2011, p. 201)   The essential data of the paper is shown in the accompanying graph, for which the dots show a time series of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide CO2 multiplier (ACM) calculated from time series data on anthopogenic CO2 emission rates and Marty & Tolstikhin's (1998) study of preferred volcanic emission rates.

In their paper appearing in Chemical Geology (Vol. 145, p. 233) the latter authors gave a preferred estimate of 0.26 gigaton per year for present day global volcanic emission rate and injection. Their study encompassed CO2 emissions from divergent tectonic plates, intraplates (plumes) and convergent plates - e.g. displaying volcanism.

Moreover as the Eos paper observes, their computations "assessed the highest preferred minimum and maximum global estimates, making them appropriate high end volcanic limits for the comparisons with anthropogenic CO2 emissions covered with in this article".

To that extent, the Eos author (Terry Gerlach of the U.S. Geological Survey)showed from his time series that the projected anthropogenic CO2 emission rate of 35 gigatons per year is 135 times greater than the 0.26 gigatons per year emission rate for volcanoes, plumes etc. This ratio of 135:1 (anthropogenic to volcanic CO2) is what defines the anthropogenic multiplier, an index of anthropogenic CO2's dominance over volcanic inputs.

It is also worth mentioning how the ACM data show an astounding rise in the CO2 multiplier from about 18 in 1900, to roughly 38 in 1950, which parallels the vastly enhanced use of automobiles as a primary mode of personal transport - with the planet now saddled with nearly 600 million vehicles! Every manjack in a third world nation even seeks to own one!

Interestingly the only volcanic event which even came close to human emissions in the last several decades  was the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1992. It generated CO2 emission rates roughly between 0.001 and 0.006 gigaton per hour, or closely approximating to the 0.004 gigaton anthropogenic per hour (e.g. based on 35 gigatons per year).Thus, as the Eos article observes:

For a few hours individual volcanoes may emit as much or more CO2 than human activities. But volcanic emissions are ephemeral while anthropogenic CO2 is emitted relentlessly from from ubiquitous sources..

Which means human activity is a vastly more significant source of CO2 and the major reason we are approaching a CO2 concentration (taken to be from 550- 600 ppm)that marks the threshold to the runaway greenhouse effect.

Scientists have given various reasons for past changes in carbon dioxide and heat levels, including regular slight shifts in Earth’s axial tilt. But on the evidence, including the work done by Prof. Gunter Weller in the 1980s at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, it now appears increased CO2 from carbon combustion dwarfs all other factors.

Prof. Gunther Weller at the Geophysical Institute - UAF, ca. 1986

Prof. Weller first presented this in his detailed ice core measurements in a 1987  research report and showed that the Arctic temperatures (then) were some 7F warmer than rest of the world. The ice cores available at his Atmospheric Physics lab (part of the Geophysical Institute in Fairbanks) were extracted from Arctic ice at depths corresponding with geological time frames dating back over 80,000 years. His results showed that the greatest ambient temperatures corresponded to the highest CO2 concentrations in the ice cores. Also the largest increases in ambient temperatures have occurred over the past 50-60 years, during which the CO2 increases have been largest. Since then this relationship has only been further corroborated.

Flash forward now and at least four outside scientists praised the Snyder study’s tracking of past temperatures, with assorted caveats that its becomes less certain it is as one gets deeper in the past. Jeremy Shakun of Boston College said “Snyder’s work is a great contribution and future work should build on it.”

But many of the same scientists said Snyder’s estimate of future warming seems "too high". Shakun called it unrealistic and not matching historical time periods of similar carbon dioxide levels. But the point he is missing is that this isn't a "similar period for CO2 levels". (Especially given greenhouse gases such as methane- with even higher forcing factors-  are now increasing at even faster rates than CO2.)  See e.g

 Outgassed methane, say from melting permafrost, delivers roughly the same forcing (nonlinear)  'punch' in 20-25 years that CO2 does in 100 years. Prof. Weller's own Arctic measurements project a melting Arctic and runaway greenhouse onset within a century. And once the runaway threshold is hit there is no turning back, there will be no going back to "ice ages".  The point? Extended five thousand or two million year records will be impossible to assess anyway because no humans will be around to do it! The runaway greenhouse effect will take out human civilization, making it an extended "extinction event" as real as a Torino 9 asteroid strike.  So if there are any "caveats"  they ought to focus on the uncertainties in Snyder's past record assembly, but not her temperature projections going forward.

Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, called the study "provocative and interesting" but said he remains skeptical until more research confirms it.  I believe more research has done that, as with Weller's work and also the forecasts of the Hadley UK Met Office and the  International Energy Agency.   Mann found the future temperature calculations “so much higher than prevailing estimates that one has to consider it somewhat of an outlier.”

But my 0.02, and I admit I am not an atmospheric physicist (but I do plow through many climate papers), is that it is smack square in the realm of realistic expectations, so not an "outlier" at all as we will soon see in the coming decade.

Newsflash: 2016 Election Voting Has Already Begun

Image result for "I voted" stamp
 Even as we learned yesterday that Libertarian Gary Johnson further disqualified himself from serious presidential candidate consideration, there was 103 year old Rulene Steineger putting most everyone younger to shame as she pushed her walker to the polls in Iowa. She was one of the earliest voters in a state (among eleven) for which voting is already going on. These  include: Iowa, Idaho, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Vermont and Maine.

As for Rulene,, her reasons for early voting were pretty clear:

"I'm a hundred and three. That's the reason I'm voting early. I'm not taking any chances."

Indeed, and she's made clear her vote is for Hillary Clinton, so she's not taking any chances that  the Trumpster clown will sneak in by even one vote in Iowa - grabbing its electoral stash.  Meanwhile, for the first time in its 34-year history, USA Today's editors have come out against a presidential candidate, writing:


"Trump unanimous consensus of the Editorial Board, unfit for the presidency".

The paper also referred to a "dangerous demagogue" and a "serial liar' who "traffics in prejudice". With Clinton, the board split, half for half against. The main complaint was "Clinton's sense of entitlement and her lack of candor and her extreme carelessness."

The paper made it clear, however, they were not endorsing Clinton, but "disendorsing Trump'> They are basically okay with voters making any choice other than Donald J. Trump.  Meanwhile, we learn the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson (who for some reason many millennial Sanders' voters seem to be attracted to) has now confirmed his status as a clown and dunce.  See e.g.

In the most recent iteration, Johnson was asked by MSNBC host Chris Matthews, "Who's your favorite foreign leader?" To which Johnson grew pop-eyed, stared at Matthews and burbled "I...I...I'm having a brain freeze!"  He never could get a coherent response out though at one point he said "the former Egyptian President", but got hoist on his own petard when asked: "Which one?"

Does this guy belong anywhere near the oval office? I don't think so, not if he has to take a crash course in current world leaders and their nations. And certainly not if he couldn't even reference the Syrian crisis city of Aleppo (see previous link).  Yet, despite these major pratfalls, Clinton is still having to dispatch special teams to try and get the younger set on board who appear entranced by Johnson. Well, let's hope they soon wake up. Or as Bill Maher put it two weeks ago< "what the hell are you thinking?"

The general election is technically 39 days away, but in theory could well be decided before then, by virtue of early voting. I already identified eleven states for which it is already going on.  The early voting calendar and provisions, conditions can be found here:

In all, 37 states and the District of Columbia allow early voting for this general election. Here in Colorado, wifey and I are also early voters - by mail. Colorado being one of only three states that permits mail balloting with no special excuses attached. We decided some years ago to go this route because often Colorado ballots are laden with special district issues and state referenda (this year including Amendment 69 for single payer health care, Amendment 70 to increase the state minimum wage, Amendment 72 to raise cigarette taxes to $2.94 a pack and Proposition 106, the medical aid in dying initiative.) Given the ballot complexity we opted to fill them out at home then mail them in. We will received our mail ballots from 18-22 days before election day, November 8th.  Our votes will be in well before then, signed, sealed and delivered. No traffic hassles, no standing in line - like many poor souls had to do in Florida in 2012, for hours.

Why don't more states offer the convenience of mail ballots and early voting? Who knows? But my suspicion is basically they want  to make it difficult to vote for certain demographic groups they don't trust - such as African-Americans. They have been in the sights of Reeptard gubernators since they helped bring in  electoral wins for Obama in 2008 and 2012. Of course, the primary instrument used for voter suppression is "voter fraud" which has been proven to occur only roughly 0.00000013 % of the time see e.g.

This may or may not be a close "2000 type" election. My bet is that it won't and the plurality of Americans - if they haven't come to their senses after the Monday debate- will vote HRC on election day, especially early voters. In that view, I believe Hillary should have this election sewn up well before November 8th.

See also:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hillary Got Debate Questions Beforehand? One Of The Dumbest Conspiracy Theories Ever

by Mike Keefe (
The sure sign of a sore loser is to confect dumb,  sour grapes excuses for a loss - like in a debate- or to confabulate stupid conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact or rationality. In the case of Donald J. Trump himself, we already heard his lamo excuse following Monday's debate with Hillary that "they" gave him a bum mic.  But as Hillary stated after hearing his absurd excuse, when you start blaming the mic "you know you are having a bad day".

Now we also have assorted Trumpies promoting the latest conspiracy theory that "a secret Fed-Ex courier delivered the debate questions to the Clinton campaign and Robby Mook days beforehand."  They have actually further conjectured this "courier" was a Clinton campaign intern or some such rot. Honest to god, if people have to invent this level of bare bullshit to explain Hillary's total composure and their hero acting like a half-crazed ape,  this country really is in need of general therapy.

It appears the Trumpies, like Trump himself, disavow and reject the virtues of preparation for a debate.  So because THEY or their master wouldn't do it, they can't conceive anyone else spending 4 days sequestered like Hillary did to prepare. But recall Trump mocked her over those 4 days (Thurs.- Sunday) bragging he didn't have to conduct mock debates and he wasn't going to "over prepare".  His exact words, quoted from The Washington Post, were that "he thinks preparation is overrated and that a 'seat of the pants' approach makes sense for the most important debate of his life'".

Well, it sure as hell showed in his abysmal, incoherent, ranting performance Monday night - in between his incessant sniffling.. Indeed, Trump's own advisers - to his discontent  - have talked openly in the aftermath of how he didn't prepare enough and basically "blew it".  So, there is no need to drag in ridiculous conspiracy theories concerning Hillary getting debate questions early. It's stupid, unseemly and irrational bollocks.

But rather than give HRC credit for her diligent, heavy prep these yokels confabulate the nonsense she was "given debate notes beforehand". Who did it?  They don't say.  The Federal election commission? NBC - the network carrying the debate? Or some nefarious guy in a  trench coat handing the folder off in a darkened car park (a la Watergate's "Deep Throat")?   These characters ought to be writing pulp crime fiction!

That Hillary did it all on her own, is beyond their comprehension, because frankly they have no idea the intensity with which she historically prepares for debates. In his Sunday Review NY Times piece "The First Face Off", former Obama political strategist David Axelrod  writes how Obama was crestfallen after one of his early debates with her in the primaries in 2007. According to Axelrod, Obama told him: "Hillary looked like a president up there, and I didn't"

Both attributed her crisp and composed showing to her relentless preparation and holding mock debates before hand - which also put her in good stead in Monday's showing. Why any outside observer would refuse to give credit to serious prep for such an event is beyond me. Choosing instead to believe some bull pockey that she was "handed questions beforehand". (And, of course, they are unable to account for how - if that was so- she managed to fumble on the issue of the TPP and get caught in the fib she never said it was the "gold standard" for trade. Certainly if she really had questions before hand she'd have avoided that pitfall)

But again, this goes to the heart of the Trumpie trope - mainly that because Trump himself is a lazy asshole who takes short cuts every other power person or politico must be too- and that means taking short cuts like Trump does. So, because Trump would cheat if he could - given he didn't prepare at all - others including Hillary would too.

But in the NY Times yesterday, one read the headline "New Debate Strategy for Donald Trump: Practice, Practice, Practice".  The piece notes "Campaign advisers to Donald J. Trump, concerned that his focus and objectives had dissolved during the first presidential debate on Monday, plan to more rigorously prepare him for his next face-off with Hillary Clinton. They intend to drill the Republican nominee on crucial answers, facts and counterattacks, and coach him on ways to whack Mrs. Clinton on issues even if he is not asked about them"

In other words, Trump's own people concede he got his ass beat by Hillary (described as a "beat down" by the Washington Post) because he refused to prepare and chose to skylark instead, playing the fool.  But even after that drubbing, Trump's advisers are "concerned that he will be open to meticulous practice".

The fact is, Trump blew his one -on -one chance to knock Hillary off her game big time. And contrary to the fantasies of his delirious followers that chance won't come again - where he squares off one -on -one against HRC. The reason is that the next two  formats will be different, and won't allow for it. The next debate will actually be in the format of a Town Hall meeting, taking questions from the audience. In that scenario Trump dare not get too uppity and aggressive with Hillary when voters in the audience will want him to address their specific questions. (Which includes facing them in the course of his response, not getting in Hillary's face.)

If he instead uses his time to try to attack Hillary - especially to get knocks in that he should have on Monday - he will live to regret it.  So, what really accounted for Trump's pathetic showing Monday? Was it Lester Holt (sic),  a "secret mole" for the Democrats? (Holt is actually a registered Republican). Is it that Hillary got crib notes from a "secret Fed-Ex messenger"  before hand? In fact, Trump's own advisers - as the Times piece put it:

"blamed his overstuffed schedule, including a last-minute rally in Virginia that was added days before the debate. They blamed the large number of voluble people on his prep team, including two retired military figures with no political background. And they blamed the lack of time spent on preparing a game plan in the first place"

Ah, the truth at last! Maybe the Trumpies will read it and use their heads for once, that their man failed simply because he didn't prepare. Like a lazy ass physics student who thinks he can just walk into an exam and ace it without opening a book, or working a problem.  And the comparison is more than apt, as Axelrod observes (ibid.):

"In the end, presidential debates are less a trial of fact than a televised final exam for the most exacting job on the planet. They offer Americans a window into how each of these candidates would deal with excruciating pressure."

Well, from what I beheld on Monday night there's no issue of who would deal with pressure better. A woman with decades of experience who knows how to prepare for debates or a con man braggart who dodges preparation then invokes supercilious nonsense to excuse his performance. Would I want such a turkey around the nuclear 'football'? Hell no!

But as Axelrod also points out, ultimately it may not matter if too many of the uninformed simply judge the debate by crude impressions and don't even see it to the end. In his words:

"The hell of our political process is the brevity of too many Americans' memories and the shallowness of their engagement, which could be a final stroke of good fortune for a con man who has been too lucky already."

See also:


"It was probably the moderator who gave him a bad microphone. Also, Hillary ate his homework. She did......he was the best prepared candidate ever, but the biased moderator did not ask him the questions for which he was prepared."

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

We Shouldn't Dismiss People Who Deny Facts? Why The Hell NOT?

A recent irritating, short essay in TIME (Sept. 12-19, p. 26) insisted rational and fact-based people need to give all the zombies,  knuckle draggers, and ignorant buffoons among us a 'break' and not dismiss them.  So, for example, we must give a pass to those who "believe things that are factually incorrect". Say like those who believe that vaccines cause autism, or to one innominate,  self-proclaimed genius of Intertel who is 100 percent convinced that "scientific conspirators falsified their data on which they based their alarming findings."  Or -from the same genius: "these scientists manipulated the peer review process to keep valid research against global warming from being published."

But anyone who's  been involved in serious climate science research would know the latter two beliefs are pure balderdash and definitely merit no respect. Especially if they issue from people who are members of a high IQ group.  They ought to have known or found out that denier papers are rejected because they don't meet minimum publication standards, including: use of proper mathematical or statistical techniques to assess data, use of coherent and testable physical models and/or simulations and assessment of errors in each of the preceding. But it's easier for deniers simply to believe denier research papers are left out because the review process is "manipulated."

While ordinary people may be partly excused for their beliefs, a high IQ person cannot be similarly excused, and he or she merits the full hammer of criticism and opprobrium. He has effectively misused his high intelligence to 'go off the rails'  and not conducted sufficient self-checks on his claims. Nor used his intelligence - with sufficient energy - to do his own research to first seek to disprove his many superficially -based beliefs.

Why? Because by virtue of their very intelligence they ought to fucking know better!  They actually possess the necessary intellect to ferret out the truth and DO the research but are too god damned lazy to do it. They don't want to read 15 or 20 papers that thoroughly debunk their idiotic beliefs, they'd rather just go to climate denier websites, imbibe the misinformation and repeat it. Especially with the conspiracy aspect.

The authors of the TIME essay ('We Shouldn't Dismiss People Who Deny Facts') claim:

"If we really want to change how they think, we need to take an honest look at what's driving those beliefs. Because it's not ignorance, it's psychology."

Actually, in the case of the genius climate deniers (or their  soft soaping allies who aren't as denial -based but still think "the jury is out")  it's politics that's to blame. Specifically Libertarianism,  which most of them espouse, whether in Mensa or Intertel.  This leads them to collect — even inventbad information to flesh out what they already believe to justify their economics theories.  Their aim isn't scientific pursuit but rather defending an economic system they believe will unravel if practical solutions to global warming became law.

My point? Their  interjection and invocation of politics means they can no longer be afforded special consideration, and this distinguishes them from say, the vaccine skeptics. The TIME authors, Sara and Jack Gorman, claim we are all subject to the same principles that "cause scientific denial".  They add:

"Research has shown that humans are distinctly uncomfortable with events or phenomena without clear causes - and when we don't  know something we tend to fill in the gaps ourselves. Take autism. Since we don't know why it occurs it becomes easy to misplace blame."

Fair enough, but autism is not global warming, for which we KNOW the cause is ever increasing CO2 concentrations that cause the atmosphere to retain more moisture and heat creating a thermal blanket that heats the Earth like a mammoth greenhouse. Indeed, the source of the greenhouse effect has been known for nearly 120 years, from the time of chemist Svante Arrhenius, e.g.

This issue also transpired in the debate Monday night when Trump tried to deny he had earlier called global warming a "hoax".  This, despite the fact an old tweet of his was dug up where in he babbled:

"the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese."

Why recite such crap? Because it served a political advantage. But sorry, you don't get any breaks nor are you spared criticism when you go that route. The same applies to Libertarians in Mensa and Intertel who have banged the denier drum until they're blue in the face. They do it precisely because they don't wish to acknowledge that - if true (which it is) - economic sacrifices will have to be made in the short and long term interest of future generations.  The upshot of their unquestioning belief in market economics leads them to craft a pseudo-scientific narrative ( in the guise of real science) to attack genuine climate science. To accomplish this trick they make use of  the data, papers of proven scientific whores and hacks, willing to sell their dubious skills for a few shekels to the highest capitalist bidders or think tanks e.g.

One of the best exposes of their methods and dynamics has come from Yale Law school prof and science communication researcher Dan Kahan.  He has concluded that their information processing is almost entirely determined by their deep-seated political values and cultural identities. Thus, a white libertarian member of  Intertel, for example, will see global warming science as just one more vehicle of  subversive force backed  by the "untermenschen"  to be used against his precious economic values and Eurocentric ideals. All of this is then attributed to "global warming alarmism", as an expeditious cover for his own abysmal laziness, ignorance and cynicism. At this point, his thinking is already so corrupted and contaminated it's almost impossible to break through on any rational or critical thinking level.

From Kahan's theory, these pseudo skeptics don't really have the time to evaluate every piece of evidence that comes before them (say ice cores containing CO2) so basically punt. Instead of rationally and objectively evaluating the evidence they side with the top bananas in their political group  - in this case folks like Charles Murray- and use their generic  economic arguments (i.e. against taxes as "theft" and "force")  to attack climate science or more precisely the climate science consensus that human induced warming is real, e.g.

One of their most used shticks is to clump all federal science agencies (like NOAA, NASA, EPA  etc.) together and "in on the scam". This makes it easy so they don't have to use their brains or  time plowing through separate specialist climate papers. Why do that when you can kill five birds with one stone?

Driven by this short cut mental modality, they then seek out those oddball contrarians (like Willie Soon, Sallie Baliunas, Richard Lindzen) who do sound off against the climate consensus, even though they are dead wrong and have been proven so.  The stage then emerges for the next phase: cherry picking only the data which conforms to their economic or political values. By now we have  a self-reinforcing mechanism: the more the Libbie genius gets exposed to the faux science that  supports his economic and political stance the more he continues to adopt that position and related ones further out. These include such far out, paranoid ideations that one's opponents "demand that Western Industrial Civilization commit cultural suicide by adopting the crippling constraints sought by the global warming conspirators."  in the words of Kort Patterson.

Meanwhile, by extension, misinformation in public life isn’t the exception, it’s the rule, according to a study published in Social Science Quarterly  which employed a “knowledge distortion index” and looked at two competing explanations for why this is so — one top-down, the other bottom-up.  The researchers used three Washington state initiatives from the 2006 general election cycle to examine the dynamics of what is going on in this particular sort of political environment.  The study, “How Voters Become Misinformed: An Investigation of the Emergence and Consequences of False Factual Beliefs,” found that “voters’ values and partisanship had the strongest associations with distorted beliefs, which then influenced voting choices. Self-reported levels of exposure to media and campaign messages "played a surprisingly limited role,” despite the presence of significantly mistaken “facts,” which were used to help construct the knowledge distortion index.

Lead author, Justin Reedy in one interview stated “Both of these theories recognize that citizens can develop distorted factual beliefs because of their political views, but they disagree about how those distortions might happen. Heuristics researchers generally think that citizens have limited attention for politics and try to process information quickly and efficiently.”
Again, this reverts to Kahan's theory of why intelligent climate deniers give short shrift to deep research that might change their minds - if they only got off their butts and put their high IQs to use for an activity other than denial. But because simple denial consumes less time (one can get denier "misinformation" quickly and efficiently from numerous websites) then their denier behavior is more likely to be reinforced. That means they will be less likely to expend time or effort on difficult independent  research that might change their mind.

The Gormans assert Iibid.):

"Rather than chastising people for focusing so heavily on stories, we should figure out why we are all so drawn to stories in the first place. Changing minds requires compassion and understanding, not disdain."

A sentiment with which I wholeheartedly concur. And that's why I often make allowances for those like the anti-vaxxers because they aren't privy to detailed biological science nor are they likely to understand autism if they did access research. So they must confabulate "stories" and these often support their false beliefs. However, I am not about to extend the same generosity to a Mensan or Ilian - especially one who cynically uses his intelligence to spread misinformation and misbegotten conspiracy theories about "global warming alarmists".

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hillary At Hofstra Debate Shows Who Deserves To Be President

Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on Monday.
Trump is on the defensive after Hillary lands a potent blow to do with his tax issues.

Let us concede first that,  for the ardent Trumpie, his standard bearer did "amazing" at the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. He hoisted Hillary on her own petard. He "didn't skip a beat" and hauled her "over the coals"  for every and any bit of dissembling she's done in the past 30 years.  He even caught her out in a major whopper, as when she declined to admit she originally embraced the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, and referred to it as the "gold standard".  But, one or two opportune jabs - usually attained by going over one's allotted time - do not a debate victory make. (Never mind those bogus online polls in which reddit users tried to spam the targets and distort the outcomes.)

Now let's transfer to the parallel universe in which reality rules over PR and propaganda. Where global warming is as real as a heart attack, and reason and disciplined rhetoric triumph over harangues, demagoguery and disdain for basic financial facts - such as that trickle down economics and tax cuts do not work, see e.g.

In this parallel universe where objective perceptions trump Trump's insanity it was almost like seeing a mama alligator eat an impudent pup in the first presidential debate last night. Even long time Republican strategist Steve Schmidt noted how Trump had descended into "babbling and complete incoherence" by the end of the trade and tax segments.  Before that, Trump barely held his own - and he only managed that because the lackluster moderator (Lester Holt) allowed Trump to drone on and monopolize the time with no checks made. In the end it didn't matter, because all most of us heard was the Trumpsters's incessant sniff, sniff, sniffing.  At some point we wondered if he needed an O2 tank.

But certainly the sniffling display showed us he didn't merit being considered for President, even on the basis of stamina. If a guy has to sniff for oxygen (or maybe he had a cold, even worse) even 25 minutes into a 90 minute debate how the hell is he going to hold up in a 6 hour critical meeting with Vladimir Putin?  Will he tuck himself in bed and let Donald Jr. handle it? But beyond the sniffling, there was the spectacle of the guy devolving into bombastic replies that were more apropos of  a three year old pitching a tantrum than thoughtful responses in a presidential candidate.

By contrast, Hillary evinced confidence and appeared cool, calm and collected, Her answers were crisp-  mostly within the time (2 mins.) allocated - and showed a thorough grasp of the issues, whether on the economy, trade, taxes, national security or cybersecurity. She also easily rebuffed Trump's desperate attack lines, often themselves misplaced, distorted or outright lies (e.g. the one about Sidney Blumenthal having originated the birther bilge on Obama- and Trump himself being responsible for Obama producing his birth certificate )

Here, Lester Holt finally grew a pair and pointed out that Trump was blabbering about the birth certificate issue even five years after Trump claimed to have resolved it. Holt also went after Trump's rhetorical jugular when he insisted (on his "Law and Order" shtick) that 'Stop and Frisk' was just fine and a judge's original ruling was overturned. But Holt pointed out to Trump: "Stop and frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young people."

Trump insisted . "You're wrong, it went before a judge who was very against police and it was taken away from her."

But simple fact checking discloses he's a liar. In 2013 a district judge ruled it was unconstitutional saying 'stop and frisk' violated the 4th and 14th amendments, against unreasonable searches and equal protection, respectively.  Subsequently a higher court upheld that ruling, as noted last night by Justice Dept. specialist Pete Williams.

In the initial economics segment Trump reverted to his usual past talking points - heard in the Reepo debates- about monumental tax cuts. Of course, we've seen that one before - during Bush Junior's reign, which fueled a $3 trillion plus deficit we're still trying to manage. Hillary had the perfect phrase for this recycled trickle down malarkey:  trumped-up, trickle-down.

Regarding efforts to return jobs and prosperity Trump appealed to the old trope of cutting corporate taxes, and pushing the bunkum that the corporations are too impecunious (because of taxes) to create new  jobs. In fact, they have been sitting on more than $1.3 trillion and been using to do share  buybacks rather than invest in new plants or labor. Putting the country in further fiscal jeopardy by cutting corporate taxes will merely make matters worse.

What I loved most is seeing how Hillary got the Donald to lose his cool on multiple occasions, often leading to increased sniffling, interruptions and aimless demagoguing rather than debating. For example, at one point Hillary got a jab in noting how Trump declared climate change to be a "hoax". This elicited the instant Trump response: "I did not say that!"   (He did, in 2012.)  The idiot actually fired off a tweet to the effect that "the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese."

In fact, if this ignorant twit knew anything, he'd have known that the "concept" was actually proposed more than a century ago by Svante Arrhenius, see e.g.

But in any case, Trump was caught in another lie. Overall his lie ratio to Hillary's was something like 25:1, if anyone was actually counting.

Trump went on to claim he "believes in all forms of energy" - which means the most CO2 generating fossil fuels including coal, shale oil and tar sands crap. All of which also implies he cannot take seriously their proven impacts on global warming.

What I hated the most was a (mostly) meek moderator (Lester Holt) who repeatedly let this bombastic clown talk over his time limit and interrupt his opponent.  I could maybe tolerate Holt overlooking Trump's parade of lies and exaggerations (which later fact checkers would expose), but when he permitted Trump to exceed his two minute limit for about the tenth time, I got fed up. As wifey asked: "What is wrong with Hillary? Why doesn't she interrupt him?" I had to point out she was probably drilled in proper debate decorum and told not to be so boorish. But as we know, Trump, on the other hand,  makes up his own rules as he goes along. Of course, this appeals to his "basket of deplorables".

One woman in a focus group this a.m. on CBS, asked what advice she would have given Trump last night, offered:

"I'd have told him to answer the question asked, then STOP talking!"

Bingo! She summarized Trump's primary debate defect in one sentence. The boor's predilection to talk over one's debate opponent as well as the moderator. As CBS political guru Bob Schieffer put it: "A debate with the worst decorum I've ever seen."  (Thanks to Trump).

The most amusing part was to do with Trump's taxes and him trying to compare his not releasing his tax returns with Clinton not releasing her emails. In fact, that's a false equivalence. Hillary's emails have already been litigated, both by the Justice department (FBI) and by the media. On the other hand, Trump has kept his tax matters a virtual state secret so we don't even know who he is beholden to, or if he even paid any taxes at all. When Mr. Holt asked him why he would not release his tax returns, as other presidential candidates have done for four decades. “I don’t mind releasing — I’m under a routine audit,”

Hillary correctly pointed out this is total balderdash as the IRS has made it patently clear a person  undergoing audit is perfectly free to release his or her tax returns. So, that was an invalid excuse, and we must wonder what nefarious aspects Trump is trying to hide. More worrisome, what mass of information might he keep from us if President? A nuclear deal with North Korea?  Maybe giving them lower yield nukes (which might fit on rocket warheads) if they turn in higher yield ones?

Who the hell knows? This is a character who - by his current refusal to disclose - would offer the only reply as "Trust me".  As Hillary put it:  "It must be something really important, even terrible, that he’s trying to hide. If he were to get near the White House,” she continued, “what would be those conflicts? Who does he owe money to?”

When Trump criticized Hillary for using a private email server, Hillary didn't hem and haw this time, but came out directly and admitted: “I made a mistake using a private email,”

Almost every media observer and commentator in the days leading up to last night all agreed Trump had one major task: to persuade uncommitted voters that he had the competence and temperament to be commander in chief. Most everyone also agreed that was a relatively low bar for a traditional nominee to pass, but a critical one for Trump given his history of making inflammatory and insulting remarks to almost every demographic group. Alas, for Trump groupies he failed to even meet that low standard last night.

Best debate moment? When Trump brought up Hillary's stamina and she retorted: "When you travel to 112 countries and sit through a House committee for eleven hours then you can talk to me about stamina."

Don't let the spinners blind you: in a crucial venue to decide the next President, Hillary Clinton made a superior case, even with her foibles. She was well prepared, had the majority of facts at her command, while Trump was grossly unprepared - opting for rambling repeats of his earlier Reepo rhetoric. Worse, he was easily rattled - often losing his train of thought -  making one fear what would happen in a ferocious encounter with Putin or the Philippines' Duterte (a Trump mirror image).  Hillary isn't perfect by any means, but anyone who watched last night's debate and doesn't believe she's better prepared to be President than Donald Trump either needs a brain transplant, or a psychological exam.

In the choice offered in this election, she clearly trumps Trump. The rest of the world and most rational people know it. We can only hope there are enough sensible voters left in the U.S. to ensure this clown doesn't emerge a commander -in -chief.

See also:


Monday, September 26, 2016

About That Snowden- Leaked "Top Secret" Video With The English Speaking Alien

Image of EBE on Snowden's recently released file video from June, 1964

The unusual "top secret" alien video released by Edward Snowden on Aug. 21  - prefaced as "Project 220675" -  has incepted a lot of ruckus in cyberspace. It was evidently uploaded by Snowden as part of his recent NSA files release and still has millions of viewers puzzled, and debating its credibility. The take appears to be about 5 to 1 that the "alien" (actually an EBE or "extraterrestrial biological entity" - which claims to be from Earth's past) is either a puppet or CGI creation.  Both presumptions are nonsense as I will show, and probably explained by the fact those offering them weren't alive or watching TV back in 1964. Nor did they have an appreciation for 1964 technology.

First, let's start eliminating complaints that don't hold water:

1) "It was made in 2016 and fake-dated June 9, 1964"

Nope. It was indeed, made in June, 1964 as the cover title indicates. The diction of the "interrogator" as my linguist friend "Rebecca" observed,  "places it totally in the 1960s" including the cadence, accentuation, nasal emphasis and mid-Atlantic origin for that time, as well as turn of phrase, e.g. "Try me"  One seldom, indeed, hears anyone saying "try me" these days. At least I haven't and wifey admits the same.

2) "There was no really good color TV back then"

Not true! The 'Bonanza' western was very popular in 1963-64 and in full color. Walt Disney's 'Wonderful World of Color' had been airing since 1959.  The color in the Snowden -leaked video file is certainly not a patch on what one saw back then, but that is what 52 years storage can do.

3) "The 'alien' is  either a puppet or bad CGI"

Actually, neither. Not CGI because the technology didn't exist in  1964. Nor a puppet because the blinking eyes and mouth motion make it improbable.  It was likely a carefully costumed human, of which many were seen on sci -fi TV shows ca. 1963- 64 including 'The Twilight Zone' and 'The Outer Limits': See e.g. this "alien" from the latter show:
Please Stand By: 7 Essential Episodes of THE OUTER LIMITS

Note the dimensions of the expanded skull in relation to the narrow jaw, which is somewhat similar to the 220 675 "alien".  Some have commented that the latter's "glowing eyes" had to be cgi, but this again isn't true. Check out the Outer Limits episode 'The Galaxy Being' featuring a microwave alien with glowing eyes. It would be within 1964 TV technology to have those superposed on a skull such as shown above, and 'Voila!' we have Snowden's EBE. Well, at least a fair approximation.

See also this image below from  the Outer Limits episode 'Nightmare":

Before continuing, I sent my Barbadian friend John Phillips (a bio-geneticist and biologist)

the file video link, e.g.

He vehemently disagreed with my take. According to him:

"Your hypothesis is a clever debunking but doesn't hold up. This thing, whatever it is, is quite real. Look at the articulation of its limbs. More important,  pause it and examine the scale (width)  of its limbs and the contours of head and neck in relation to its shoulders. There is no normal, non-deformed  human that could fit into any such costume.  If not an actual alien, it is clearly a genetic experiment gone  awry.  A mutant? Maybe carried out at Area 51? Who knows? But it's definitely not a human in make up!"

I pressed him also as to whether it might be a puppet but he concurred with my own assessment that the blinking eyes make that - if not impossible- about as likely as our having another major hail storm at our location before the end of the year.  (However, as I summarize at the end, it could have been one of the earliest animatronic robots - which appeared at Walt Disney World by the early 1970s. Wikipedia also notes that by 1965 the first animatronics figure of a person was created by Disney. This is not to say prototypes weren't around before then - and they certainly weren't beyond the capacity of the military or security state to create - say for simulation or training purposes).

Perhaps the most trenchant objection widely seen on the net is:

4) "Look how few people are interested in it, no big news media are touching it!"

This is the key point for why few people are going to take it seriously even IF it was real.  My argument is that the video file IS real in that it was made in June, 1964 as the date cover stamp indicates.  But it is not real in the sense of a literal interrogation of a real alien from Earth's future. The giveaway is the label tag at very bottom of the cover title lead -in, which identifies the source as:

Air Technical Intelligence Center  (ATIC)

But as anyone who's investigated UFO claims knows, that designation was changed on September 21, 1959 to Aerospace Technical Intelligence Center.  The failure to alter the source label tells me that what we are looking at is indeed from June, 1964 but is a simulation of an alien interview, not an actual one.  (Or, if you prefer, a mock interview.) Another clue that it's just a simulation is the "MAJ 12" on the same title, which refers to Majestic 12. This was supposedly a covert group of top specialists, scientists, government honchos,  military who were keeping alien, UFO files from the public. But up to now no one has proven this secret group exists, although my now deceased middle brother Jerome (who served in the USAF)  did show me some documents headed "Majestic 12 - Secret Eyes Only" in 1986. Alas, I've been unable to independently confirm the authenticity. (If I can locate the files I will post scans.)

Barbadian psychologist Dr. Pat Bannister - who also proposed a theory of mind linking lying and conspiracy awareness,, e.g.

Once told me that the constant debunking of events "at the extreme spectrum of believability"  e.g. like alien abductions (which a few of her patients claimed) and UFO -alien visitations, meant that if actual evidence ever was revealed it would be unlikely to be accepted. She called it the "cry wolf" template. Repeat a wild claim often enough, have it or some variation repeatedly debunked, and ultimately when the real claim is validated no one will believe it anyway.

In Ufology the hoax examples are endless, from the George Adamski scam to more recent UFO and alien abduction hoaxes and claims - which anyone can find by googling.

But what interested me more than the imagery was the content of the ATIC agent's exchange with the purported EBE. I found most of the EBE's answers compelling and logically coherent - as I will show -but way too prolix for a genuine EBE or alien. It appeared to me more like a human (or disguised human voice)  delivering prepared responses that were intended to push the interviewer to hone his own questions. Again, more like a simulated questioning than a real one.

The  ATIC interrogator first demands: "State planet of origin." To which the EBE replies: "Earth."   My initial reaction was "Hogwash!" - as it followed too closely the 'Conquest of the Planet of the Apes' script where three ape astronauts from Earth's distant future end up on Earth in its past (ca. 1972). However, before passing immediate judgment I wanted to hear more:

The ATIC agents then states, "OK, yesterday and I quote, you told us, and I quote, 'thousands of light years to get here.'" The EBE answers "Yes." The ATIC  interrogator then demands that the entity tell the truth, and delivers a threat ("I'll wring your damned neck!"  ?? ) that has been subject to audio distortion. The EBE answers, "It is truth. I am from Earth. From your future. To travel in time is to travel in space. Offset spatial divergence."

This is a correct description of  relativistic displacement through time, which also involves movement through space back to where an object was during the target time, or forward to where it will be. Thus, movement can occur in time, and have a space offset. For example, stay where you are- maybe sitting on a chair -  and let one minute elapse on your watch. You have performed a 'movement in time' and a corresponding movement in space of 460 m, based on Earth's rotation rate of roughly 1,000 mph. (I.e. you are not simply sitting on a stationary Earth but a rotating Earth).

This imaginary spatial displacement can also be easily be computed, using the speed of light c:

Im(x) = i(300,000 km/s x 60 s) = 18,000,000(i) km

That is, you have traversed 18 million imaginary kilometers or 11.25 million miles in imaginary space. (Im(x) is the symbolic representation for an imaginary space (x) transition. This concept can also be used to invoke hypothetical extraordinary distances (and velocities, i.e. v = 2c) to show imaginary times can be obtained- but this would necessitate backward displacement in time.

For time dilation we have from special relativity:

t' = t [1 - v2/c2]½

Let, v = 2.0 c  (the EBE's  rate of displacement) so:

t' = t [1.0 – 2.0]½ = t [-1.0]½ = it

There are 9.5 x 1015 meters per light year

Take D = 2,000 LY:

D = (2,000 Ly) x (9.5 x 1015 m/Ly)= 1.9 x 1019 m

Or: D = 1.9 x 10 16 km

The time t' required is imaginary – worked out from::

(-1t/2.0) x (1.9 x 1016  km) / (300,000 km/s]  =  -i3.1 x 1010 s

On this basis it appears the EBE is referencing a "space-like interval" between two events: his own origin event departure point, and his (past) Earth arrival event.   From Wikipedia:

"When a space-like interval separates two events, not enough time passes between their occurrences for there to exist a causal relationship crossing the spatial distance between the two events at the speed of light or slower. Generally, the events are considered not to occur in each other's future or past. There exists a reference frame such that the two events are observed to occur at the same time, but there is no reference frame in which the two events can occur in the same spatial location.
For these space-like event pairs with a positive spacetime interval (), the measurement of space-like separation is the proper distance, :
   (proper distance)".
The ATIC agent  then asks, "So aliens took over our future?" The response is "No" and the entity then explains that it evolved from us.  In the spacelike interval context given above this makes sense. It evolved from us perhaps over millions of years and came from our future in imaginary time - i.e. as if using a faster than light mode of spatial displacement.  In essence then, when the time between two events is shorter than that which light would take to traverse them (at c = 300,000 km/sec) the interval is "spacelike" and no causal relationship exists. Thus the previous example using v = 2c fits this mode.

The EBE is then asked what it is doing here on Earth now. It answers, "Observing. Since evidence was destroyed." The ATIC interrogator asks "How?" and the EBE's answer is "Nuclear war." When asked to expand on that, the EBE responds: "Dogma. Political and religious dogma. It is the root of all major conflict of your species. In your next century, access to weaponry of mass destruction by states that are ruled by dogma will destroy your species".

Note first the EBE's reference to "the next century". Since the interview year is 1964 and the comment was made in the 20th century then the "next century" is the current one - the 21st. Right now, the stage is already being set for possible nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan. Each has 50-150 nuclear weapons and (as reported, p. 11,  in the latest TIME) moved closer to conflict after 18 Indian soldiers were slain in Kashmir in a recent attack by Pakistani-led terrorists, Jaish -e-Muhammad.  Quote: "Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now under pressure to retaliate with military force."

Another "dogma" state, North Korea, has recently conducted its 5th successful nuclear test and is working toward mounting nuclear warheads on ICBMs that can reach the U.S. Nations such as Pakistan, North Korea and Iran are all ruled by dogma, and all possess, or are attempting to possess, nuclear weapons.

Most interesting to me is when the question is asked, "So you know how the universe was created?" To which the entity responds: "Yes." The ATIC questioner then asks, "So you've seen God?" The EBE's answer is "We have evolved past a need for superstitions, the need for a god and other myths."

This suggests that the EBE or its impersonator is indicating that beyond a certain evolutionary stage the brain will have advanced beyond the need to entertain deities. Recall that this tendency is a particular property of the OAA or orientation association area. (See e.g. Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief’.  by Andrew Newberg and Eugene Daquill). For more on this see:

The  ATIC interrogator then suggests, "How about we concentrate on your time?" The entity responds, "You are not capable of accepting or understanding the discoveries of my time." The interrogator responds, "Try me." The EBE's response is, "the nature of the universe, the origin of so-called life, it is known."

The ATIC interrogator also asks the EBE, "So how was the universe created and why is it so perfectly made for us?"

This has been suggested by some (e.g. Whitley Streiber) to be a clue that the video is a hoax because  the fine tuned universe idea  "didn't arise until much later" (likely with Fred Hoyle's 1984 book 'The Intelligent Universe'). But in fact, the idea had been around since 1961 when physicist Robert H. Dicke claimed that certain forces in physics, such as gravity and electromagnetism, must be perfectly fine-tuned for life to exist anywhere in the Universe.  This was then refined to the "anthropic principle" - proposed in Poland ca. 1973-   that  held only we on Earth have benefited from such fine tuning.

The EBE's response is direct and takes note of the modern multiverse proposal:

"There are an infinite number of universes.. Each with different physical properties. Virtually all do not support like, such as you know it We exist in a universe that does support so-called life."

The EBE (or EBE impersonator) is not referring to Hugh Everett's 'many worlds' interpretation of QM but rather actual parallel cosmi incepted from the selfsame primordial vacuum state (via inflation) as our own universe. Thus, an actual primordial vacuum - not a human observer or consciousness making observational choices- is the source of the real parallel universes. Hence, all putative parallel universes plausibly emerged from the primordial vacuum the way ours did, e.g. from the Big Bang. See e.g.:

Just as interesting is when the ATIC agent inquires: "What happens when we die?"  Whereupon the EBE replies: "Death is a human construct. It does not exist. You will experience, you have experienced, every instance of a so-called life."

The ATIC agent seeks clarity,  asking: "So let me get this straight. There's no death and we all experience each other's lives". To which the EBE responds, "In essence, yes."

This is rather esoteric but might refer to Frank Tipler's notion of "eternal return" discussed in his book, The Physics of Immortality. A Wikipedia summation can be found here:

An alternative interpretation is one I explored four years ago,  As I noted:

"(Stuart) Hameroff's basic argument then, is that death doesn't mean the final termination of consciousness, so much as the end of its localization. If that is so, you cease to be a "person" or an individual identity and instead merge with other dispersed quantum wave forms (I have called them "B-waves" or de Broglie waves) to enter an "oceanic" state. "

I added that this oceanic state was identified as the "implicate order" by physicist David Bohm, in his superb book 'Wholeness and the Implicate Order'.  It referred to a higher dimensional reality into which we are subsumed. 

At another point the ATIC agent interjects: "So you know the meaning of life?" The answer is, "Not meaning, nature." The interrogator responds, "What's the difference?" The EBE's  answer is, "Meaning is ascribed. Nature is the objective reality."

This is a subtle point that might be missed by many. "Meaning" is what our limited brains impose on physical reality to make it more accessible.  Our brains' frontal lobes  evolved to parse meaning  seek it out  It is often culturally or religiously molded and often independent of actual facts, evidence. Nature is associated with objective physical reality, i.e. independent of our brains' filters on that reality.  For example, human brains have evolved to search for meaning or purpose in the universe which is a major reason they cling to God or promote the invention of gods. These artifacts help us to assign meaning to our lives which - to the brain - would otherwise be "meaningless".

Another crucial interlude opens when the ATIC interrogator asks, "What do you base your morality on?" The answer is "Compassion and evidence."   The first part could easily be traced to Buddhism where compassion - for all living things - is the primary virtue taught. As an example, the compassionate person extends and enhances life for all things, even insects, birds, rats etc.. He is also incapable of hateful or destructive thoughts or inimical beliefs toward others. On the other hand, the angry person entertains hate and vicious beliefs, including that his beliefs are superior to all others and indeed, that if others don't cooperate with them they will suffer grievous future harm - perhaps in a "next life". To the Buddha, this sort of thinking exemplified the epitome of desire turned inward toward spiritual arrogance and pride.

The second aspect, "evidence" has been a long time element of scientific Materialist morality, meaning that we predicate behavior on the evidence that it is constructive for the whole community not a small part of it.  An evidentiary morality, indeed, would most likely be based on provisional ethics, see e.g.

In summary, this video is definitely entrancing but I simply don't buy that it is a literal interview with an actual EBE. (Apologies to John Phillips, but I believe he is wrong - as he is on global warming- which he claims is "not all human-induced").  My conclusion is that it is an elaborate simulation of a potential future encounter in which an EBE might be interviewed. Perhaps ATIC intended it as a training exercise just in case a genuine EBE turned up. What is this EBE in the simulation? Possibly an audio animatronic robot, into which a pitch-altered human voice has been piped (though some insist an analysis was done which rules that out, but they haven't cited any specific source).

Or it could be a severely anorexic person made up as an EBE.  Who knows?   In any case, what was encouraging was to at least behold answers, responses to the ATIC agent  that would do any actual EBE (or alien) proud.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Colorado Climate Change Future: Grim - According to New Report

A house is fully engulfed by the Black Forest Fire.
Fires like this will be common in Colorado in 25-30 years.

A newly released report (on Thursday) commissioned by three Front Range cities forecasts grim climate conditions for Colorado - certainly for the Front Range, and likely the entire state. This according to the Louisville, CO-based Rocky Mountain Climate Organization.. The forecast includes an increase in the average number of days with temperatures over 100 F, as well as increased precipitation for other areas, i.e. featuring severe winter or summer storms. Already, here in the Springs - two months ago- we were lashed with the worst hail storm in memory with hail stones up to the size of softballs.

We just had our entire roof repaired following hail strikes with pits, holes that one roofer compared to "meteorites" - an exaggeration but he got the point over to us. Now, we are awaiting one entire south side of the siding to be replaced after it was literally ripped into multiple holes by the hail. According to the insurance company (Hartford) hundreds of homes have been affected putting enormous pressure on roofers and others in the area, now forcing wait times of many weeks to complete repairs.  This is only a taste of what's to come if the RMCO projections turn out to be even 50% correct, and there's more reason to believe the probability will be a lot higher.

Much of this isn't surprising in that NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) made similar predictions, including for the entire Rocky Mountain  West, some six years ago. They projected hotter, drier conditions with extended droughts and enhanced fire danger especially as the forests ravaged by the mountain pine beetle spread. See, e.g. this report on the pest.

What this pest does is nothing short of horrendous, in converting living plant tissue into highly flammable dead bark for which the slightest spark can start a conflagration. Those readers interested in a detailed account of the trepidations of this pest can get hold of the superb book: The Dying of the Trees.  You can read a shorter account here:

The point is the beetle is a major catalyst for all the ongoing and uncontained Colorado wild fires, including the nearby Waldo Canyon fire  four years ago.  At the time I posted that thermal currents and winds also dispersed parts of the fire's burgeoning smoke plumes eastward, toward the east side of Colorado Springs where we live. 
Basically, if heat-trapping emissions into the atmosphere keep increasing, the northern Front Range climate by 2050 will be fundamentally different. According to lead  researcher Stephen Saunders, director of RMCO,:

By the middle of the century, summers here will be as hot as summers have been recently in El Paso.  Half the houses in Denver today do not have air conditioning. We’re going to be facing serious threats to people’s health because of these temperature increases,”


Temperature increases also will drive wildfires, increased evaporation from reservoirs, changes in snowpack, and enormous increases in energy use for air conditioning. These temperature changes will affect every aspect of our life.”

Already, Denver's average summer temperature has increased. This year, the average temperature in Denver for June, July and August was 72.7 degrees — 1.5 degrees higher than the annual average of 71.2 dating to 1872, said Kyle Fredin, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Boulder. If current trends in heat-trapping emissions continue, Denver residents by 2050 will face an average of 35 days a year where temperatures hit 95 degrees or hotter, the study found. Right now, the average is five days a year.

Boulder by 2050 will have an average 38 days a year with temperatures exceeding 95 degrees and, by the end of the century, an average of 75 such days a year. The studies found Fort Collins by 2050 will have an average 24 days with temperatures exceeding 95 degrees and 58 days on average by the end of the century.

These numbers may not significantly impress many people, but they should given they mean vastly more demands on the power grid, already stretched energy sources. Currently, half the houses in Denver lack air conditioning as noted above by RMCO Director Stephen Saunders. The proportion is even greater here in Colorado Springs (65%). That means more health problems for those who don't install it, but it also implies the probability of more power outs if all those people do. This is something the deniers need to register as they keep pooh-poohing consequences of a rapidly changing climate.

According to a Denver Post account (Sept. 23, p 1A) the RMCO report was commissioned for the purpose of:

"helping Colorado prepare and are based on government temperature data and university consortium climate models. RMCO does advocacy work in favor of limiting greenhouse gas emissions in addition to climate research. Denver environmental health officials commissioned the Denver climate analysis. Boulder and Fort Collins analyses were done as part of a $57,300 project run by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

Denver officials commissioned this study for $9,000 “as a way to frame our actions on climate, both for the mitigation of climate altering greenhouse gas emissions and the adaptation to a warming, altered climate,” city spokeswoman Kerra Jones said. “This study was intended to bring real data into models that could project what that might specifically mean for Denver and the metro area.”

Officials in the three cities that commissioned the study are also painfully aware of the role of increased CO2 emissions. (An appreciation that's been slow to emerge in the right wing City Council members here in the Springs). Prompted to act,  Denver officials last year issued a Climate Action Plan calling for citywide cutting of emissions by 80 percent, below 2005 levels, by 2050.

 Unfortunately, as the Post notes, "local efforts to reduce emissions from vehicles, factories, the oil and gas industry and other sources in Colorado likely would make a small difference because climate change is driven by global-scale increases in heat-trapping gases." So unless thousands of other municipalities around the planet  take action, the difference in conditions will hardly be noticeable. It is a global problem.  According to Saunders, quoted in the Post:

All this depends on global emissions. However, people around the world will be looking to see what we do here in response.”

Indeed. A prime reason we moved to Colorado 16 years ago was because we believed it to be one of the few places - given its mean altitude - that might weather the worst excesses of climate change. It now appears we were wrong, but when we look around and see the likely impacts on other areas -including Barbados - we still realize we probably have been relatively lucky. Besides, neither of us are likely to still be around when the worst arrives!