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Comment Re: s/drug trials/climate change/g (Score 1) 289

Shifting the goal posts, are we? I'm pretty sure there's no falsified predictions about hurricanes in the Atlantic specifically before 2020, so I'm not sure what you're getting at. As we get further into the red zone, there's some evidence to suggest that hurricane intensity might increase, though frequency is less certain.

Maybe you should skim through the IPCC AR5 WGII impacts summary, to see what we're actually expecting. There's much more to be concerned about than just hurricanes, and the risks and damages far outweigh any small plant growth benefit we might expect from boosted CO2 (which is discussed in Chapter 7 - studies suggest that food production will see a net negative effect).

Comment Re: s/drug trials/climate change/g (Score 1) 289

Consider that the global average land+sea temperature for this month (February), averaged over the entire 20th century, was 12.1 C. In a chaotic system, one would expect a roughly equal probability of seeing a cooler temperature as a hotter one, individually or averaged, though the average of large numbers of readings are less likely to show outliers. Seasonal and other cyclical factors would skew temperatures one way for a while, then the other way, balancing out over time.

For 2015, the globally-averaged temperature for February was 0.86 C higher than that 20th century average. If that was a single reading, or a local average, that wouldn't be at all noteworthy. Even averaged across the entire globe for the month, it was merely the second-highest February recorded, next to 1998. Similarly for land-only average temperatures, though with larger variations.

But when you consider that 2015 was the 30th hotter-than-average February in a row, the odds shift dramatically. If there's a 50/50 chance that we would see a hotter-than-average February any given year, then there's 1 chance in 2^30 that we would get 30 hotter "heads" in a row - ridiculously improbable. There hasn't been a cooler-than-average February since 1985 - and February 2016 was even hotter, setting a new record at 1.21 C above the average. Clearly the global average temperature isn't stable, but is showing a long-term underlying rising trend, which makes the new highest-temperature-ever records not only more likely, but bound to happen eventually. (Incidentally, if you use yearly averages instead of just February, it's now been 38 years of above-average temperatures.)

So the existence of a rising temperature trend is virtually certain. Whether it's anthropic or caused by a hitherto-undiscovered long-term natural cycle is a separate discussion, but the probability of the former is very high indeed.

Comment Re: s/drug trials/climate change/g (Score 1) 289

You'd expect *occasional* records - and increasingly infrequently, as each new record would require an ever-more-unlikely combination of random variables, like flipping coins and getting a new record number of heads in a row.

What we're actually seeing today is a steady progression of new records, each slightly exceeding the record set only a few years earlier - so commonly that people like yourself are starting to dismiss this situation as "expected". It is absolutely *not* expected from a normal Gaussian distribution of chaotic variables - unless you add a rising trend underneath. Then a whole stream new records is no longer ridiculously improbable, but inevitable.

Comment Re:It will fail (Score 1) 149

AR may be the culmination - so long as it's also capable of replacing all your reality, instead of only some of it. While AR is a much broader category, and useful in a vast variety of fields, there's still some very large niches for completely virtual reality, such as games, education, tourism, semi-interactive entertainment, many categories of desk work; nearly anything that benefits from a focus on information, rather than nearby people or surroundings. And there's a lot of jobs, hobbies, and entertainment like that.

Comment Re:Not obvious (Score 1) 149

While you're not wrong, it's hardly unexpected that such an expensive, small-userbase piece of hardware hasn't brought in megabux for developers yet, and AAA publishers will likely keep waiting.

However, I think the more important gaben quote is this:

“Developers are super excited. There’s nobody who works in VR saying, ‘oh I’m bored with this.’ Everybody comes back. For every idea they had in their first generation product, they have ten ideas now.”

So it's clear that developers at least are still absolutely willing to experiment, and we can expect numerous interesting and innovative VR indie games to keep people interested while hardware gets better and cheaper. So long as developers remain keen, hardware vendors will keep working on improvements, and the userbase will eventually grow enough for larger publishers to experiment on

Comment Re:Waiting for the hypocrites (Score 1) 56

Not so much. For one, willow bark contains salicin, and though it has been used since Egyptian times, is less potent and causes side effects like gastric distress and potentially heart issues. Salicylic acid is a more potent extract, but still causes side effects. Aspirin is a derivation of this - acetylsalicylic acid, which eliminated most of the side effects but wasn't medically tested until nearly 1900.

ASA was ineligible for patenting in its country of discovery (Germany), but was patented in the UK and US. I'm unaware of any FUD or other efforts to discourage the use of willow bark though, and it's unlikely that anyone would bother, due to aspirin's much greater effectiveness, lower side effects, and the intense bitterness of willow.

Comment Re: Well, once the panels are installed (Score 1) 415

No sources for your costs?

First, solar panels are under $0.80/watt, so let's call it 5 kW for $5k, and average 4.92 solar hours per day in New Orleans (1795 productive hrs/year), typical 80% inverter efficiency, so 215.6 MWh over 30 years.

Second, a short ton of coal costs on average $45.66 delivered, and generates 1,927 kWh per ton, so $5k will get you 109.5 tons and 211 MWh.

Third, your whole premise of comparison is bogus, because it doesn't include any supporting costs: installation + inverter for the solar, and the entire cost of the power plant for coal, not to mention all the mining and transport infrastructure investment, which makes a pretty dramatic difference to final costs. A more reasonable comparison would be the Lifetime Levelised Cost of Energy of solar PV vs coal - and coal does pretty poorly there.

Comment Re: Well, once the panels are installed (Score 1) 415

Yes, and of course captured solar energy would be a lot lower, not unlike how the Carnot limit stops us capturing anything like all the energy from the coal reserves. Both require corresponding investments in infrastructure, equipment, distribution etc to make use of it too.

My point was more about how the sheer difference in magnitude makes arguments about abundance largely irrelevant.

Comment Re: Well, once the panels are installed (Score 1) 415

Levelised cost, before any tax credits, is $84.70 / MWh for solar PV, vs $139.50 / MWh for coal - which makes it very clear that new solar is much cheaper than new coal. That is, nobody would ever want to build a new coal plant, at least not in the US, when there are so many alternatives that are so much cheaper.

Obviously, existing solar plants are far cheaper than existing coal plants, per MWh, since solar has near-zero generation cost.

The only way coal could win any comparison is by comparing only the fuel & running costs of an existing coal plant to the full amortised cost of building & running a new solar plant - and only if you ignore all those massive external costs too. And even then, solar still wins that comparison in some regions (onshore wind wins in quite a lot of regions).

So please be more specific about what you're claiming?

Comment Re: Well, once the panels are installed (Score 4, Interesting) 415

it's our cheapest and most abundant energy source

Sorry. Not even if you ignore coal's hundreds of billions annually in externalised costs.

It's not even the most abundant. There are roughly 2.4x10^19 BTUs of known coal reserves. We get that much energy from the sun every 8.25 days - just on the land surface alone, not even counting oceans.

Comment And it's still nonsense (Score 1) 415

Given that approximately zero people are required to actually generate that 0.6% of solar power, I'd say coal is the one looking inefficient - look at all the manpower required simply to keep a coal power plant maintained and running, let alone constantly fed with coal that's been surveyed, mined, processed, and transported to the plant.

Maybe try comparing manpower needed by each to actually add a MW of capacity, instead of to generate a MWh - then you might have a comparison that doesn't look so appalling for coal. Oh, and be sure to stick to utility-scale installations too, since residential coal power isn't popular.

Comment Re:That is *terrible* news (Score 1) 364

Look at the full lifetime levelised costs per MWh - you'll find that solar thermal is nearly twice the price of solar PV, despite its greater efficiency. Thermal has its place, but since PV panels got so ridiculously cheap, PV makes more sense in a lot of cases, not least due to flexibility, wide scale, and ease of installation.

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