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Comment Re:Climate science, consistently misleading (Score 1) 141

there is no consensus on what the level of warming will be

nor is there consensus on the idea that the changes are harmful/damaging to our interests

There is an enormous amount of disagreement here, scientific disagreement

honest truth is we do not know what impacts are likely to be

None of the above is true - except about the precise numbers involved. The IPCC AR5 report widely surveyed the published studies to date, and shows very clearly and with "high confidence" that business-as-usual emissions will result in a temperature rise of 2 to 4 degrees. This conclusion is not disputed by any scientific organisation, nor are there any studies showing anything short of broad agreement among climatologists about this.

Likewise, the WG2 section shows with "high confidence" that many unique and threatened ecosystems are at "very high risk" once warming reaches 2 degrees, that heat waves and coastal flooding will increase further, that we risk extensive biodiversity loss and economic damage at 3 degrees as well as risking large-scale tipping points, plus high risks of decreasing crop yields and water availability with particular impact for disadvantaged communities. Again, there are no large scientific groups disputing these results, as it is merely a summary of their own published work.

Climate science discussion is so slippery, constantly confusing

That I agree with, if you're talking about the political and layman's discussion. But that is not relevant to the science, where the evidence has been piling up and the debate has long since reached agreement on "will it be bad" and moved on to "exactly how bad will it get?"

Comment Re:Anarchy in Science (Score 1) 141

That statement is logically incorrect.

It's actually mostly correct - which is my entire point. Few things are so black & white.

They already state why incorrectness matters

Limitations and assumptions do matter of course, but misleading usage of the term "incorrect" is the issue I'm referring to. Unless if by "incorrectness" you mean "the degree to which this differs from perfectly correct in all cases", in which case you could maybe try out the term "accuracy" instead.

To the contrary, it is more often a valid, scientific reason for rejecting the model in question.

I still feel you're arguing about something I'm not. To restate, declaring something to be "incorrect" because it's not 100% perfect in every way is not a valid, scientific reason to reject a model.

a universal problem with climate modelling is the lack of empirical testing of these models

Well, except their predictions are empirically tested against new observations constantly. Of course no scientist expects them to match perfectly, since they are of course simply approximations that make well-understood assumptions like "short-term weather and cyclical patterns such as ENSO and PDO by their nature do not affect long-term trends". That does not make them useless for predicting long-term trends, which is why said empirical testing usually leads to further refinement instead of rejection due to not being 100% perfectly correct.

You may even find that actual, practising climatologists understand the limitations of their own models far better than you do. So you may have to come up with a more accurate reason than "your models are incorrect because you don't test them empirically" to be convincing.

Comment Re:Anarchy in Science (Score 1) 141

Newton's model of gravity was incorrect

This is not a useful assertion, as you could say that about everything outside of pure mathematics. Newton's model of gravity turns out to be still quite useful, as it is mostly correct - good enough for most terrestrial uses. Likewise, we already know General Relativity isn't perfect either, but it's a better approximation, sufficient for most non-terrestrial uses too.

Most people are well aware that there no absolutes in reality (certainly most scientists), so declaring commonly-used models to be "incorrect" or "disproven" does not advance the discussion - rather, it seems to more often be used in attempts to undermine the scientific case against the declarator's beliefs.

Comment Re:Anarchy in Science (Score 1) 141

Models aren't "proven or disproven", they're not found to be 100% correct or 0% correct, they're approximations. They can of course be tested by making predictions - which will also not be 100% or 0% correct. The only relevant question is, are the predictions accurate enough to be useful?

Your model of how science works appears to be a poor approximation, as science has indeed turned out to be useful.

Comment Re:It's simple... (Score 1) 159

Actually, you can change nuclear power pretty quickly (provided you don't want a complete shutdown) you just shove the rods in a bit and it cools down quite rapidly.

The problem is that it just makes the electricity more expensive when you do that; when you run at 80% power, the energy is 20% more expensive, and it wasn't cheap to start with.

Comment Re:Not quite ready (Score 1) 159

They're called 'peaker plants'. They're inefficient hydrocarbon plants that are relatively cheap to build that kick in when all else fails.

But not all places need them. For example, if there's hydroelectric dams nearby you can just vary the hydroelectric output; it doesn't use any more water, it averages out.

Denmark for example is on 40% wind power right now; they use Norway's hydro to even out their power. Norway doesn't on average supply them any power; but at any instant, Denmark will be powering them, or they will be powering Norway.

Other schemes also work; having some biofuel around also helps, or batteries or pumped hydroelectric etc. etc.

There's lots of ways to skin this cat.

Comment Re:It's simple... (Score 1) 159

Actually nuclear energy is more expensive than wind, and the lead times on nuclear reactors are huge, whereas wind turbines can be put up in a few years at most.

Wind is not a direct replacement for nuclear, but it mostly doesn't matter. Also, variable power sources don't mesh well with nuclear reactors; nuclear reactors are expensive infrastructure, and have to be run flat out to be cost effective.

For these reasons, as well as others, we're unlikely to see large widespread deployments of nuclear reactors any time soon, and renewables can be expected to continue to grow exponentially for perhaps a decade or so.


Slowing Wind Energy Production Suffers From Lack of Wind 159 writes: Gregory Meyer reports at the Financial Times that electricity generated by U.S. wind farms fell 6 per cent in the first half of the year, even as the nation expanded wind generation capacity by 9 per cent. The reason was some of the softest air currents in 40 years, cutting power sales from wind farms to utilities. The situation is likely to intensify into the first quarter of 2016 as the El Niño weather phenomenon holds back wind speeds around much of the U.S. "We never anticipated a drop-off in the wind resource as we have witnessed over the past six months," says David Crane. Wind generated 4.4 per cent of US electricity last year, up from 0.4 per cent a decade earlier. But this year U.S. wind plants' "capacity factor" has averaged just a third of their total generating capacity, down from 38 per cent in 2014.

EIA noted that slightly slower wind speeds can reduce output by a disproportionately large amount. "Capacity factors for wind turbines are largely determined by wind resources," says a report from the Energy Information Administration. "Because the output from a turbine varies nonlinearly with wind speed, small decreases in wind speeds can result in much larger changes in output and, in turn, capacity factors." In January of 2015, wind speeds remained 20 to 45 percent below normal on areas of the west coast, but it was especially bad in California, Oregon, and Washington, where those levels dropped to 50 percent below normal during the month of January.

Comment Re:Three Seashells (Score 1, Insightful) 225

Well, if by "trees" we mean large swaths of Douglas Fir or Poplar monoculture, sure. If we mean a mature and diverse climax forest, no.

And so what? Why should any non-hippie care. It's not a theme park for your amusement.

If, by "renewable", we mean "we grow as many board feet as we harvest", again, no. Not even close,

Yes, 90%+ of all wood used in the US comes from tree farms now, and basically all paper (it's just cheaper for paper).

is nowhere near actually replacing what was lost.

Sure, that's not the job of the paper company anyhow. Most forest land lost over the centuries, and with farms now being very small compared to "peak farmland", forests are coming back (the natural process isn't quick, but more every decade since the 50s).

Comment Re:Probably not (Score 1) 72

Thing of it is, it's not the phone that's interpreting the voice, it's servers at the other end of a long network connection that take the recorded sound bite and convert it into text.

So no, right now it's not terribly feasible because there are not enough servers to handle more than specific requests.

We know the NSA records every phone call, transcribes everything, and has a searchable DB, for multiple countries including the US, thanks to the Snowden leaks. Voice just isn't that much data, when you buy drives and servers in billion-dollar lots. Your tax dollars at work.

Comment Re:Three Seashells (Score 3, Insightful) 225

Not sure about the seashells, however I wonder if there might not be benefit in using say bamboo instead of traditional trees for paper products such as bumwad. It grows substantially faster and by my reckoning would translate into a smaller footprint required to produce.

No, it's not even relevant. As much as hippies like to pretend there's something you can do in your home to help the environment, this is not a US problem. Forest coverage in the US has grown substantially since the 50s, as crop yields increase there is simply less farmland, and more forest.

Almost all paper used in the US comes from tree farms, which are just a different kind of cropland, raised and harvested on a longer cycle than corn, but still a normal-ish cash crop.

At this point, increased paper use in the US likely increases forest coverage, as more land is used for tree farms to meet demand.

Most forest loss is simply not about paper use, but about clearing land for people to live and (mostly) farm, and we've seen that the pendulum eventually swings the other way, with high-tech farming taking so much less land.

If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker to come along would destroy civilization.