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12/24/2004

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This week, Gary Becker and Richard Posner are taking on the issue of global warming. Posner went first and discussed his preferred response to global warming; namely that the United States should go ahead and ratify the Kyoto Protocol: What... [Read More]

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James

Isn't the main problem with nuclear power that it is unsuited to our economic and energy needs? From a private investment point of view, it's a total nonstarter: the plants require a huge initial investment that cannot be recouped in a reasonable timeframe without a lot of government subsidization. From the consumer's point of view, we need power sources that are able to fluctuate along with our usage. Power plants using coal and natural gas can be shut down during off-peak times and then fired up during higher usage periods. Nuclear plants cannot do this. They can provide our baseline power needs, but are otherwise wasteful. To ensure that more of our power will come from nuclear plants will require either building an economically inefficient number of plants or harsh regulation to moderate power usage over the course of the day to reduce the peaks and troughs. France does that, which is how they manage to get the majority of their electricity from nuclear plants, but I doubt the American economy would react favorably to that.

Bob

Without being able to comment on the merits, the following study purportedly demonstrates a fundamental mathematical flaw in the Michael Mann procedure.

Source: http://technologyreview.com/articles/04/10/wo_muller101504.asp?p=0

"...scientists Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick have uncovered a fundamental mathematical flaw in the computer program that was used [by Michael Mann] to produce the hockey stick..."

"...McIntyre and McKitrick created some meaningless test data that had, on average, no trends. This method of generating random data is called Monte Carlo analysis, after the famous casino, and it is widely used in statistical analysis to test procedures. When McIntyre and McKitrick fed these random data into the Mann procedure, out popped a hockey stick shape!"

"...In standard PCA, each data set is normalized over its complete data period; for key climate data sets that Mann used to create his hockey stick graph, this was the interval 1400-1980. But the computer program Mann used did not do that. Instead, it forced each data set to have zero mean for the time period 1902-1980, and to match the historical records for this interval. This is the time when the historical temperature is well known, so this procedure does guarantee the most accurate temperature scale. But it completely screws up PCA. PCA is mostly concerned with the data sets that have high variance, and the Mann normalization procedure tends to give very high variance to any data set with a hockey stick shape. (Such data sets have zero mean only over the 1902-1980 period, not over the longer 1400-1980 period.)"

Alex Rau

Muller's article on the Mann procedure is nothing new -- there have been many attacks in the past claiming that the so-called hockey stick is broken. He makes it sound as if this is breaking news that undermines the very core of the scientific consensus that anthropogenic emissions are contributing to rising global temperatures.

But climate science is not like physics or mathematics, where a single flaw in some foundational axiom undermines the whole theoretical understanding of the problem. It works on a huge body of scientific evidence, and the consensus of scientists who analyze and interpret that data. And that consensus is overwhelming.

And on the specific question at hand, Muller notes that no matter what data set is input into the PCA analysis, out pops a hockey stick. So it doesn't imply that the hockey stick is not there, just that the procedure needs to be redone. It apparently has been although I would have to track down a more solid reference on that.

So it's good to have had this pointed out, especially since that figure is one of the most widely circulated figures [from the IPCC]. But it doesn't undermine any of the scientific arguments for controlling greenhouse emissions.

Bob

Per Alex comment:
"the procedure needs to be redone. It apparently has been although I would have to track down a more solid reference on that."

Thanks

James

The critical worry in climate areas, it seems to me, is a possible shutdown of the thermo-haline pump in the north Atlantic. If memory serves, this probably caused the last sudden cooldown (the Younger Dryas?). If that happened again, much of Europe would become uninhabitable. This also seems like a good example of a discrete event that could lead to multiple equilibria.

Bob McKeand

No nuclear power! Huge downside and the upside
is not as good as wind/solar.

The political climate is such that only a very
foolish country would start building nuke-plants
again.

Jacob

From Mr. Rau:


"But climate science is not like physics or mathematics, where a single flaw in some foundational axiom undermines the whole theoretical understanding of the problem."

"And on the specific question at hand, Muller notes that no matter what data set is input into the PCA analysis, out pops a hockey stick. So it doesn't imply that the hockey stick is not there, just that the procedure needs to be redone."


So, Mr. Rau, is there anyway to disprove your beliefs?

I do think "beliefs" in this case is a reasonable term, since they are apparently non-falsifiable.

Brett Bellmore

Addressing the waste storage issue:

Current nuclear "waste" consists of three components:

1. The bulk consists of moderately radioactive "fertile" and "fisile" isotopes. In other words, fuel. This is where most of the volume, and long term radioactivity, of the "waste" derives from.

Only madmen would run a nuclear power cycle, and bury fuel along with the waste. The only reason anyone considers doing this is political pressure from anti-nuclear activists, who hope to choke the system by prohibiting fuel recycling.

2. Most of the initial radioactivity derives from a mix of short half-life isotopes, which while extremely dangerous at first, will be largely gone in a few hundred years. So we don't have to worry about storing them for tens of thousands of years.

3. Finally, the bulk of the genuine waste consists of isotopes with extremely long half-lives, and corrispondingly low levels of radiation. These are materials that are more dangerous from a heavy metal poisoning perspective, (Remember, the half-life of arsenic, for instance, is forever.) than because of their negligable radioactivity. Again, storage is no problem, because they are not particularly dangerous.

In short, the nuclear waste disposal problem, as it currently exists, is an artificial problem created by political constrates on fuel reprocessing. It's not a big problem if we chose to rely on a rationally operated nuclear fuel cycle.

DANEgerus

I find the arguments made to support such a fundamentally flawed treaty bizarre in the extreme.

Signing onto Kyoto assumes that human contribution to "Global Warming" is a reasonable theory and that the planet wouldn't be better off with environmental conditions the planet has experienced that are now dramatized as a 'threat. A scientific research big-budget generating 'threat'.

Eugenics used to be a reasonable theory too...

Undermining Kyoto are the exemptions for the world's worst pollutors, India, China and Brazil.

As most of the worlds nations are tyrannies... and as almost all of the 3rd world nations are tyrannies... and they conveniently have 'pollution credits' to "sell"... Kyoto is exposed as an international taxation scheme.

Specifically the 'scheme' is to circumvent controls on the distribution of aid to tyrannies exempting them from the inconvenience of answering for their human rights abuses.

Foreign aid as an entitlement? To solve a 'problem' that probably doesn't exist? To support tyrannies... How very UN.

How do you respond to Michael Crichton's State-of-Fear? Yes it's fiction... but so is Secular fundamentalist faith based "Global Warming" theory.

eMergy (Howard Odum's ghost)

In short, the nuclear waste disposal problem, as it currently exists, is an artificial problem created by political constrates on fuel reprocessing.

Shorter version:
You ignore the issue of creating a 10,000 year civilization and ignore for the fissionable material to get here on earth needs STARS to die. (thus creating a supply problem)

Please actually address the concerns expressed rather than blame "the government".

Jim S

russ, there's at least one problem with your "science". SEPP is a fake. Not interested in real science at all. Otherwise the first thing I saw when checking their section on global warming wouldn't have been the citing of satellite readings that disagree with ground station readings. Why is that a problem? That issue was basically resolved over a year ago by studies showing what was producing the anomalous satellite data. I've seen that a lot in the politically motivated sites like SEPP. Even though science has marched on somehow the facts that disagree with their viewpoint never make it onto their web site.

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