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Comment Time Fuse (Score 4, Interesting) 235

is a short story by Randall Garrett. The crew of the first starship narrowly escape the supernova from their destination star by escaping back into warp. They realize that this isn't a coincidence: their warp drive blew it up on arrival. (They eventually realize that it blew up their origin star too: the Sun.)

Comment Re:Math (Score 4, Insightful) 576

That doesn't take away from Silver's math, though, considering that the polls all had Obama and Romney neck and neck and Obama won by a huge margin.

But the polls didn't have them neck and neck, if you looked at the state level and added up the electoral votes. That's what Silver's math was based on. He does have some non-poll information in the mix too, but Princeton Election Consortium got the same results using pure polls.

Comment Re:Is it anthropogenic? (Score 1) 771

There have been many articles written recently about increased solar flares, etc. It's much more likely Sol is causing global warming.

No, it's not "much more likely", it's incredibly unlikely. Solar irradiance does not agree with how the climate has changed since the mid-20th century. And solar flares have nothing to do with it.

Most of the radical environmentalists I know are watermelons

Sigh. You're a prime example of what TFA is talking about.

Comment Then you support a carbon tax? (Score 1) 771

So you support a carbon tax, then? A true libertarian would admit that's the purest form of a free market solution you can find: correct the market distortion introduced by a negative externality by sending a price signal that internalizes the costs. Then let the market respond freely to that price signal to find the most cost-effective solution.

P.S. Your historical revisionism about "phony" past environmental problems is delusional.

Comment Re:Ice Tea... (Score 1) 370

Why does everybody forget that we're still in an inter-glacial period?
Of course it's warming. That's how we got out (and are still getting out) of the ice age.

Gee, if only paleoclimatologists knew about interglacials!

Oh wait, they do.

The interglacial already peaked 8000 years ago. We've been very gradually cooling since then, on average (with century-scale variability superimposed), as predicted by the Milankovitch cycles.

If we can stop the ice coming back, that would be good, wouldn't it?

If you really cared about that, you'd argue for saving our fossil fuels for later, when we need them, instead of using them all up now, when we don't. If you wanted to prevent the next glacial period, you'd slowly dole them out over thousands of years to stabilize the climate. And you certainly wouldn't use all of them (far beyond what's needed to prevent a glacial inception).

Comment Re:Let's not be alarmist just yet. (Score 1) 370

There's quite a few actually.
1. Cloud cover
2. Solar output (lagged of course, driving El Nino) variation
3. Ocean oscillations (related to solar output)

All of those fail miserably. There isn't the necessary long-term secular trend in cloud cover, at least as far back as satellites can see. Solar output has been flat for many decades and no amount of lagging is going to fix it. Ocean oscillations do contribute on decadal timescales, particularly to certain regional climates, but not enough to be responsible for the main trend. And they're not driven by solar output either (nor is ENSO).

As the graph is measuring atmospheric temperature, one can only conclude that the record low is not air temperature driven, which is the crux of the anthropogenic global warming argument.

No, that's the crux of your strawman argument. Sea ice minima depend on many things other than surface temperature, including ocean circulation (export of ice out of the Arctic), ocean temperature, and cloud cover, all of which are affected by AGW. Extreme minima often coincide with extreme weather events (short-term climate), but they are also preconditioned by the climatically-induced mean sea ice decline.

Comment Re:Wow. (Score 1) 370

A new paper published in Nature Geoscience finds "From about 50,000 to 11,000 years ago, the central Arctic Basin from 1,000 to 2,500 meters deep was ... 1â"2C warmer than modern Arctic Intermediate Water."

That's irrelevant to the extent of Arctic sea ice. It only has to do with water at intermediate depths, not the surface temperature, nor sea ice extent. The Arctic surface was indeed colder than today during the glacial period, and there was more sea ice (to the extent that we can reconstruct from paleo proxies).

This finding is particularly surprising because it occurred during the last major ice age.

Not completely surprising. Cooling at the surface induces ocean circulation changes that can warm at depth. For example, the warmer Atlantic water could be forced deeper and warm the Arctic depths. The paper discusses a number of hypotheses for how this may happen.

Comment Re:Why is NASA studying things best left to the NO (Score 1) 122

We'll never get manned space travel back with attitudes like yours.

Maybe so. I favor NASA's science mission over manned exploration. Both would be nice, but if it has to be one, I vote for science.

And yes, I feel that earth observation satellites are just an expensive way of masturbating.

Clearly you see no value in geoscience. I think that point of view is ridiculous.

Comment Re:US Freezes to Death (Score 1) 347

Perhaps I'm mistaken. I recall an entity that wanted to build a wind farm but the shortest path to a population center meant crossing a national park or something.

Yeah, probably there have been individual transmission line bans for reasons like that. Which are entirely legitimate, by the way. But it's not the main thing holding wind power back.

Of course no private entity stepped up to build a uranium fuel reprocessing plant. If no one is able to build a new nuclear power plant then who is going to buy the reprocessed fuel?

Companies have been able to build new nuclear plants for years, permits have been issued, and some construction has taken place. TFA is about a recent freeze which isn't expected to last long. The reason you don't see more nuclear plants is economics.

My "beef" is not with the Department of Energy specifically, it's with the federal government in general. The Department of Energy gets special attention today because of this ban on nuclear power plant permits, the ethanol subsidies (making the news because of the drought in the Midwest), the solar power subsidies, and because of the subsidies to a foreign electric car company.

The DOE does not regulate power plant construction; that's the NRC. The DOE does not provide ethanol subsidies; that's a Congressional handout to the farm industry. (Incidentially, those subsidies expired this year, although the Renewable Fuel Standard that Congress passed is still here.)

The DOE does subsidize solar power and electric vehicle companies. I don't agree that none of them produce real benefit, but that aside, that's not the only thing the DOE does. Most of its budget is actually nuclear national security, it does R&D, etc.

The Department of Energy did[n't] ban the fracking for natural gas but the federal government is doing its best to stop the construction of any new oil wells.


While oil wells produce crude petroleum they also produce vast quantities of natural gas. If we can't drill for oil then we can't drill for natural gas either, they both come from the same hole.

Most of the long-term growth potential of natural gas in this country will come from fracking, which isn't banned by the federal government.

Comment Re:US Freezes to Death (Score 2) 347

Wind power might actually pan out as cheap and viable if only the federal government would let someone run the wires from where the wind blows to where the people need the electricity.

Wind power isn't expensive because of the government banning transmission line installation. Take Texas, for example. It probably has the largest "bottleneck" of wind supply due to lack of transmission lines. But they've received permission to install plenty new capacity. The main problem is lack of regional demand for renewables, which are still more expensive.

Natural gas seems to be booming despite the best efforts of the federal government to stop that too.

What are you talking about? The federal government hasn't tried to ban natural gas or tracking. They've very recently (April) started putting in environmental regulations to govern fracking. Are you arguing that these are unnecessary and companies should be free to operate using whatever process they want with no oversight? Heck, even the American Petroleum Institute welcomed the move, as an improvement over a patchwork of organizations that have been looking at regulations.

The problem of nuclear waste is a creation of the federal government. They decided that we cannot recycle the "spent" fuel from current reactors.

Incorrect. Carter instated a ban on nuclear reprocessing (due to proliferation concerns). Reagan rescinded it.

We supposedly have a Department of Energy to solve these problems. What are they doing for us?

The DOE awarded a contract for a MOX reprocessing plant in 1999. The contractors went way over budget and still haven't finished the project. For that matter, no customers stepped up even with government subsidies.

We need to trim down the size of government, getting rid of the Department of Energy is as good of a place to start as any.

Yeah, like nuclear reprocessing is the only thing the DOE does. Let's wipe out the whole department. What's your beef with them anyway? Note that the DOE doesn't regulate power transmission, fracking, or nuclear power plant licenses; those are FERC, a new interagency working group (maybe eventually to be transferred to the EPA), and the NRC, respectively. And the nuclear reprocessing example I gave above is really an issue with the private sector, not the federal government.

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