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Solar Technology is Great Choice, Except When It Isn’t

1280px-Nellis_AFB_Solar_panels

Solar power is pretty awesome — when its use is determined by free minds in a free-market.

However…

Why The Solar Roadway Is A Terrible Idea

COST

Solar Roadways seem to take the problem of generating solar power, and put it into conditions that maximize cost.

[…]

I may have missed a few points. Read this.

Those solar-panel-covered shade structures that are popping up in church parking lots all over Tucson are looking smarter by the minute. The solar panels are mass-produced in China for a couple dollars a watt, and the structures are simple cantilevered steel I-beam ramadas. No fancy computers are needed, no worries about damage from tires, no hacking into can happen, and they are not blocked by pedestrians, cars, trees or buses.

Save your $5 for a good cause.

Under capitalism, in the “long run”, it is the rational decisions that eventually win. If people wish to put their own money into making roads solar, that is their right. Not a smart choice given the present context; but their choice none the less.

Portrait of a “Catastrophic Global Warming” Sceptic

Paul Mulshine at the Star Ledger on Freeman Dyson:

Freeman Dyson is a physicist who has been teaching at the Institute for Advanced Study  in Princeton since Albert Einstein was there. When Einstein died in 1955, there was an opening for the title of “most brilliant physicist on the planet.” Dyson has filled it.

[…]  in the late 1970s, he got involved with early research on climate change at the Institute for Energy Analysis in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

That research, which involved scientists from many disciplines, was based on experimentation. The scientists studied such questions as how atmospheric carbon dioxide interacts with plant life and the role of clouds in warming.

But that approach lost out to the computer-modeling approach favored by climate scientists. And that approach was flawed from the beginning, Dyson said.

“I just think they don’t understand the climate,” he said of climatologists. “Their computer models are full of fudge factors.”

[…]

Dyson said his skepticism about those computer models was borne out by recent reports of a study by Ed Hawkins of the University of Reading in Great Britain that showed global temperatures were flat between 2000 and 2010 — even though we humans poured record amounts of CO-2 into the atmosphere during that decade.

That was vindication for a man who was termed “a civil heretic” in a New York Times Magazine article  on his contrarian views. Dyson embraces that label, with its implication that what he opposes is a religious movement. So does his fellow Princeton physicist and fellow skeptic, William Happer.

“There are people who just need a cause that’s bigger than themselves,” said Happer. “Then they can feel virtuous and say other people are not virtuous.

To show how uncivil this crowd can get, Happer e-mailed me an article about an Australian professor who proposes — quite seriously — the death penalty for heretics such as Dyson. As did Galileo, they can get a reprieve if they recant.

[…]

In fact, there’s more solid evidence for the beneficial effects of CO-2 than the negative effects, he said. So why does the public hear only one side of this debate? Because the media do an awful job of reporting it.

[…]

The problem, said Dyson, is that the consensus is based on those computer models. Computers are great for analyzing what happened in the past, he said, but not so good at figuring out what will happen in the future. But a lot of scientists have built their careers on them. Hence the hatred for dissenters. [Climatologists are no Einsteins, says his successor | NJ.com]

 

 

 
 

 

CROSS: Earth Day Founder Was Into Composting…People

From NBC News:

Ira Einhorn was on stage hosting the first Earth Day event at the Fairmount Park in Philadelphia on April 22, 1970. Seven years later, police raided his closet and found the “composted” body of his ex-girlfriend inside a trunk.

A self-proclaimed environmental activist, Einhorn made a name for himself among ecological groups during the 1960s and ’70s by taking on the role of a tie-dye-wearing ecological guru and Philadelphia’s head hippie. With his long beard and gap-toothed smile, Einhorn — who nicknamed himself “Unicorn” because his German-Jewish last name translates to “one horn”  —advocated flower power, peace and free love to his fellow students at the University of Pennsylvania. He also claimed to have helped found Earth Day.

But the charismatic spokesman who helped bring awareness to environmental issues [2]and preached against the Vietnam War — and any violence — had a secret dark side. When his girlfriend of five years, Helen “Holly” Maddux, moved to New York and broke up with him, Einhorn threatened that he would throw her left-behind personal belongings onto the street if she didn’t come back to pick them up.

[…]

Although Einhorn was only the master of ceremonies at the first Earth Day event, he maintains that Earth Day was his idea and that he’s responsible for launching it. Understandably, Earth Day’s organizers have distanced themselves from his name, citing Gaylord Nelson, an environmental activist and former Wisconsin governor and U.S. senator who died in 2005, as Earth Day’s official founder and organizer. [Remy Melina, Earth Day leader killed, composted girlfriend – LiveScience | NBC News]

 

“Big Bang” Confirmed

Assistant Professor Chao-Lin Kuo surprises Professor Andrei Linde with evidence that supports cosmic inflation theory. The discovery, made by Kuo and his colleagues at the BICEP2 experiment, represents the first images of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time. These waves have been described as the “first tremors of the Big Bang.”

Speed Cell Data 1,000-Fold

From Wired Business:

Steve Perlman is ready to give you a personal cell phone signal that follows you from place to place, a signal that’s about 1,000 times faster than what you have today because you needn’t share it with anyone else.

Perlman — the iconic Silicon Valley inventor best known for selling his web TV company to Microsoft for half a billion dollars — started work on this new-age cellular technology a decade ago, and on Wednesday morning, he’ll give the first public demonstration at Columbia University in New York, his alma mater. Previously known as DIDO, the technology is now called pCell — short for “personal cell” — and judging from the demo Perlman gave us at his lab in San Francisco last week, it works as advertised, streaming video and other data to phones with a speed and a smoothness you’re unlikely to achieve over current cell networks.

“It’s a complete rewrite of the wireless rulebook,” says Perlman, who also helped Apple create QuickTime, the technology that brought video to the Macintosh. “Since the invention of wireless, people have moved around the coverage area. Now, the coverage area follows you.”

[…]

One thing’s for sure: the idea is a complete departure from the current way of doing things, the sort of invention Perlman is known for. His San Francisco lab is called Rearden — a nod to Hank Rearden, the fictional magnate in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged who invents an alloy that’s stronger than steel — and this tiny tech incubator is always looking for ways of overturning the status quo. It has already given rise to OnLive, a service that lets you streams game and other software over the internet rather than installing it on local devices, and Mova, which helped transform movie and game effects by providing a means of digitally capturing facial expressions, and now, it hopes to turn the wireless industry on its head.

With today’s networks, each antenna — perched atop a building or tower — creates a massive “cell” of wireless signal. This is essentially an enormous cone of radio waves that spans several city blocks, and it’s shared by all phones in the area. But Perlman’s invention discards the arrangement, giving each phone its own tiny cell, a bubble of signal that goes wherever the phone goes. This “personal cell” provides just as much network bandwidth as today’s cells, Perlman says, but you needn’t share the bandwidth with anyone else. The result is a significantly faster signal. [This Man Says He Can Speed Cell Data 1,000-Fold. Will Carriers Listen?]

CROSS: When Does “Settled Science” Become Dogma?

The unsettling truth about “settled science”: Charles Krauthammer | OregonLive.com

If climate science is settled, why do its predictions keep changing? And how is it that the great physicist Freeman Dyson, who did some climate research in the late 1970s, thinks today’s climate-change Cassandras are hopelessly mistaken?

They deal with the fluid dynamics of the atmosphere and oceans, argues Dyson, ignoring the effect of biology, i.e., vegetation and topsoil. Further, their predictions rest on models they fall in love with: “You sit in front of a computer screen for 10 years and you start to think of your model as being real.” Not surprisingly, these models have been “consistently and spectacularly wrong” in their predictions, write atmospheric scientists Richard McNider and John Christy — and always, amazingly, in the same direction.

Settled? Even the U.K.’s national weather service concedes there’s been no change — delicately called a “pause” — in global temperature in 15 years. If even the raw data is recalcitrant, let alone the assumptions and underlying models, how settled is the science?

Last Friday, Obama ostentatiously visited drought-stricken California. Surprise! He blamed climate change. Here even The New York Times gagged, pointing out that far from being supported by the evidence, “the most recent computer projections suggest that as the world warms, California should get wetter, not drier, in the winter.”

CROSS: GOP leadership is on a suicide mission

Republicans are now focused on fixing Obamacare rather than repealing it.

From In shift, GOP wants ObamaCare fix | TheHill

Republicans have shifted their strategy on ObamaCare. Weeks ago, many Republicans — including Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) — said ObamaCare was too broken to fix. But now, the GOP is drafting legislation that aims to do just that. The GOP wants to rebuild its political capital and public credibility by solving ObamaCare’s implementation problems. This pivot comes after Republicans took major hits in polls following the government shutdown. The House this week will vote on a measure called the Keep Your Health Plan Act. It aims to do what the president promised years ago: If you like your healthcare plan, you can stay on it. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are pushing for a vote in their chamber. That measure has already attracted Democratic support.

Due to the insurance market and ObamaCare mandates, millions have recently lost their healthcare coverage. Many of these dropped people will obtain coverage through the new ObamaCare health exchanges, but some, if not most, will pay higher premiums. After their costly political strategy to defund ObamaCare, GOP lawmakers are more willing to support measures that will repair the president’s signature healthcare law, political science Professor Jack Pitney said. “Republicans took a look at the polls. They finally realized that defunding ObamaCare was unpopular, but a measure like this [is] very popular. They realized that, despite all the brave talk, that the shutdown did not work to their advantage, and now they are trying to get on the right side of public opinion,” he said.

[…]

Some Republicans believe that with full enactment of the law — and the inability to defund it — the party won’t be hurt politically with attempting to solve the problems arising from ObamaCare. “Before [ObamaCare] went into effect, the only goal is to stop it; now the goal is still stop it, but I don’t want to treat people harshly,” Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) explained. The House legislation that is scheduled for a vote this week is sponsored by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.). More than 100 Republican lawmakers have already endorsed it.

Of course, what they don’t understand is that they are playing right into the Democrats’ hands – the Democrats election strategy is to admit that ObamaCare has flaws, promise to repair them and argue that Republicans will only make things worse. (See link I will post in first comment). Once the public sees that both Republicans and Democrats accept Obamacare, acknowledge its flaws and seek to fix it, there will be no compelling difference between the parties this November and no reason to vote for Republicans over Democrats. And worse: Democrats will always club Republicans by saying or implying that Republicans’ secret desire is to repeal Obamacare, whereas the Democrats want to “protect” it and “reform” it.

The GOP leadership is on a suicide mission. — Ed Mazlish

 

Warming Predictions vs Real World Science: Who is the Flat Earther?

Write Richard McNider and John Christy at WSJ.com:

…who are the Flat Earthers, and who is ignoring the scientific facts? In ancient times, the notion of a flat Earth was the scientific consensus, and it was only a minority who dared question this belief. We are among today’s scientists who are skeptical about the so-called consensus on climate change. Does that make us modern-day Flat Earthers, as Mr. Kerry suggests, or are we among those who defy the prevailing wisdom to declare that the world is round?

Most of us who are skeptical about the dangers of climate change actually embrace many of the facts that people like Bill Nye, the ubiquitous TV “science guy,” say we ignore. The two fundamental facts are that carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere have increased due to the burning of fossil fuels, and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a greenhouse gas, trapping heat before it can escape into space.

What is not a known fact is by how much the Earth’s atmosphere will warm in response to this added carbon dioxide. The warming numbers most commonly advanced are created by climate computer models built almost entirely by scientists who believe in catastrophic global warming. The rate of warming forecast by these models depends on many assumptions and engineering to replicate a complex world in tractable terms, such as how water vapor and clouds will react to the direct heat added by carbon dioxide or the rate of heat uptake, or absorption, by the oceans.

We might forgive these modelers if their forecasts had not been so consistently and spectacularly wrong.

Read the rest of Why Kerry Is Flat Wrong on Climate Change.

Nutcrackers

Wild crows inhabiting the city use it to their advantage – David Attenborough – BBC wildlife:

Many birds adapt to metropolitan life, in this clip you can see how crows in Japan have integrated city life into their behaviour. From the BBC.

 

How Obamacare Will Hurt doctors

Writes Dr. Mark Siegel in the NY Daily News:

A study just published in the prestigious journal Science reveals that new Medicaid patients in Oregon were 40% more likely to use the emergency room than the uninsured were. This finding is not a surprise to me or most physicians — we have known that truth for years.

But it does undermine one of the basic philosophical and practical underpinnings of Obamacare: the notion that expanding insurance will invariably unclog ERs, improve primary and preventive care, prevent diseases and lower costs.

The study underlines the findings of a prior survey by the PricewaterhouseCoopers consulting firm that indicated that Medicaid patients are 35% more likely to use the ER unnecessarily than are the uninsured.

The reason for ER overuse is simple: Medicaid patients (like all insured patients) feel that their insurance card entitles them to health care anytime they want it. When office doctors aren’t available to provide it, they go to the hospital to get it.

Read the rest of How Obamacare will hurt doctors.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is Not a Scientific Organization But a Political Lobbying Group

John McLean, author of three peer-reviewed papers on climate and an expert reviewer for the latest IPCC report elaborates on how a Lack of accountability clouding the climate change debate.

He explains how the “world’s so-called authority on climate change engages in exaggerated science and has become a political tool.”

 

The [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s] charter from the outset has been ”to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation”.

The IPCC’s focus is therefore very specific – any human influence on climate. It has no mandate to examine other causes of climate change. IPCC assessment reports claim that the human influence is significant but look closely and we find the claims are based on the output of climate models that the IPCC admits are seriously flawed, that the IPCC often asserts a level of certainty that the data cannot sustain and that as ”Climategate” showed us, a clique of scientists has in the past sought to control the material cited by these reports.

What starts out being a scientific report becomes a political instrument because after a hard-core group of IPCC supporters draft the Summary for Policymakers, government representatives discuss, negotiate and eventually agree on the wording of each sentence. The scientific component of the report is then modified to better align it with the thinking of government representatives.

If the IPCC reports were accepted for exactly what they are – exaggerated science with a large dollop of politics – this would be the end of the matter. Unfortunately, various bodies actively encourage us to believe the reports are entirely scientific, accurate and completely authoritative on all climate matters, this despite the IPCC’s charter and the political interference.

Foremost among those who imply that the IPCC has a wider remit than it does is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). At its inaugural meeting in 1992 the UNFCCC declared that anthropogenic emissions of CO2 were causing significant and dangerous climate change. This statement had no factual basis. […]

The UNFCCC’s deceit continues via its annual conferences that try to pressure countries into reducing carbon dioxide emissions despite the absence of any clear evidence that warrants such action.

He then goes on how various government bodies (i.e., Department of Climate Change the now-privatised Climate Commission), environmental “green” organisations (Greenpeace and WWF), sustainable energy industry, and scientists  (whose “income and reputation rest on the IPCC’s position”) have vested interests to endorse and “push the IPCC view, implying it’s the ultimate authority on climate matters.”

The reality is that the IPCC is in effect little more than a UN-sponsored lobby group, created specifically to investigate and push the ”man-made warming” line. With no similar organisations to examine other potential causes of climate change, it’s only the IPCC voice that is heard. But the IPCC’s voice isn’t heard in context and with all the necessary caveats; it’s distorted via the UNFCCC and others who imply that the IPCC is the sole scientific authority on climate matters.

Of course those with vested interest support it, which include governments, politicians, government bodies, ”green” groups and many scientists. Ultimately it’s the unquestioning media, or perhaps a media unwilling to admit that the UN and its agencies might be dishonest or wrong, that misleads the public into believing the IPCC is something it’s not.

Read the full article: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/lack-of-accountability-clouding-the-climate-change-debate-20140102-307ja.html#ixzz2pZDoQ0f5

Fossil Fuels Make Us Safer From The Climate

Another one from Alex Epstein in Forbes:

I explicitly acknowledged the phenomenon of global warming. And if you read the work of the rest of the “deniers,” you’ll find that most if not all of them do, too.

The real point of contention is not whether there is some global warming and whether human beings have some climate impact, but a) whether warming is a problem and b) whether fossil fuel energy should be restricted. My answers are a) “No” and b) “No!” As I explained in the column Rolling Stone cited (but may not have read):

Our cultural discussion on “climate change” fixates on whether or not fossil fuels impact the climate. Of course they do—everything does—but the question that matters is whether it is becoming safer or more dangerous. Here, the data is unambiguous—in the last 80 years, as fossil fuels have increased the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere from .03% to all of .04%, we have become 50 times less likely to die because of climate-related causes. Give thanks to the proliferation of climate-protection technology (climate control, sturdy homes, weather satellites, drought-relief convoys, modern agriculture), which are made possible by fossil fuels.

And, as I also explained in the column, Rolling Stone cited, not only do fossil fuels make us safer from the climate, they dramatically improve human life across the board.

The average life expectancy of a human being without electricity–and there are 1.4 billion in this category–is 48 years old. In the last 30 years, thanks to a tripling or more of electricity production in countries throughout the developing world, mostly using coal, over 2.5 billion people have added 6 years to their life expectancy. Think about someone you love that you lost early, and think about what 6 more years would mean. Now multiply that by 2.5 billion people.

Around the world, hundreds of millions of individuals have gotten their first light-bulb, their first refrigerator, their first year with clean drinking water or a full stomach, their first decent-paying job thanks to coal-based electricity. Without coal, none of that would have been possible. In the US, 30 years ago the average household had 3 electronic devices—today it has 25, overwhelmingly thanks to fossil fuels.

If Rolling Stone has a counter-argument to the economic and environmental case for fossil fuels, let it make it. But to pretend that case doesn’t exist, to pretend that its advocates deny basic scientific facts, is dishonest.

Read the rest of Rolling Stone Attacks Global Warming ‘Deniers’ As Anti-Science, Then Commits Big Scientific Blunder.

What is racism?

Best-selling philosopher Ayn Rand on racism:

Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage—the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.

Racism claims that the content of a man’s mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited; that a man’s convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control. This is the caveman’s version of the doctrine of innate ideas—or of inherited knowledge—which has been thoroughly refuted by philosophy and science. Racism is a doctrine of, by and for brutes. It is a barnyard or stock-farm version of collectivism, appropriate to a mentality that differentiates between various breeds of animals, but not between animals and men.

Like every form of determinism, racism invalidates the specific attribute which distinguishes man from all other living species: his rational faculty. Racism negates two aspects of man’s life: reason and choice, or mind and morality, replacing them with chemical predestination. [“Racism,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 126]

More Guns, Less Crime?

From Richmond Times-Dispatch: Central Virginia:

Gun-related violent crime in Virginia has dropped steadily over the past six years as the sale of firearms has soared to a new record, according to an analysis of state crime data with state records of gun sales. The total number of firearms purchased in Virginia increased 73 percent from 2006 to 2011. When state population increases are factored in, gun purchases per 100,000 Virginians rose 63 percent. But the total number of gun-related violent crimes fell 24 percent over that period, and when adjusted for population, gun-related offenses dropped more than 27 percent, from 79 crimes per 100,000 in 2006 to 57 crimes in 2011.

The numbers appear to contradict a long-running popular narrative that more guns cause more violent crime, said Virginia Commonwealth University professor Thomas R. Baker, who compared Virginia crime data for those years with gun-dealer sales estimates obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

[…] “My opponents are constantly saying, ‘If you got more guns on the street, there’s going to be more crime.’ It all depends on who has the handgun,” Van Cleave said. “As long as it’s going into the hands of people like you or me, there’s not going to be a problem. Criminals are going to continue to get their guns no matter what.”[…]

“From my personal point of view, I would say the data is pretty overwhelming,” said Baker, who is new to VCU and studied under Florida State University professors Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, whose nationally recognized research on guns and homicides in the District of Columbia was cited in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2008 that overturned the district’s handgun ban. “But we’re pretty cautious in the social sciences in talking about causality. We only talk in probabilities.”

The multiple years of data for gun purchases and gun-related crime help strengthen the premise that more gun sales are not leading to an increase in crime. Using what Baker calls the “lag model,” the data show that an increase in gun purchases for one year usually is followed by a decrease in crime the next year.

[…] Gun-control lobbyist Goddard, whose son was wounded during the Virginia Tech massacre five years ago, doesn’t dispute the numbers but questioned their significance.”It’s quite possible that you can sell a whole lot more guns and crime is still going down,” Goddard said. “But is the crime going down because more people are buying guns, or is the crime going down because the crime is going down?”  [Gun-related violent crimes drop as sales soar in Va. –]

So is he saying that guns don’t cause crime, but criminals do?