by Judith Curry
A few things that caught my eye this past week.
Mullers on fracking
Richard and Elizabeth Muller have written an article on tracking: Why Every Serious Environmentalist Should Favour Fracking. Summary points:
Environmentalists who oppose the development of shale gas and fracking are making a tragic mistake.
Some oppose shale gas because it is a fossil fuel, a source of carbon dioxide. Some are concerned by accounts of the fresh water it needs, by flaming faucets, by leaked “fugitive methane”, by pollution of the ground with fracking fluid and by damaging earthquakes.
These concerns are either largely false or can be addressed by appropriate regulation.
For shale gas is a wonderful gift that has arrived just in time. It can not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also reduce a deadly pollution known as PM2.5 that is currently killing over three million people each year, primarily in the developing world.
This air pollution has been largely ignored because PM2.5 was an unrecognized danger until recently; only in 1997 did it become part of the US National Ambient Air Quality Standards. It is still not monitored in much of the world. Greenhouse warming is widely acknowledged as a serious long-term threat, but PM2.5 is currently harming more people.
Europe shares an ironic advantage with China – the high price paid for imported natural gas, typically US$10 per million BTU (compared to US$3.50 in the US). At those prices, the cost of shale drilling and completion can be much higher and still be profitable. Europe can therefore be the testing and proving ground where innovative technology can be tried and perfected while still profitable.
As both global warming and air pollution can be mitigated by the development and utilization of shale gas, developed economies should help emerging economies switch from coal to natural gas. Shale gas technology should be advanced as rapidly as possible and shared freely.
Finally, environmentalists should recognize the shale gas revolution as beneficial to society – and lend their full support to helping it advance.
Looks pretty common sense to me.
Climate of middle earth
From Bristol University comes a very interesting article: Scientists simulate the climate of middle earth. A teaser:
Ever wondered what the weather and climate was like in Middle Earth, the land of hobbits, dwarves, elves and orcs, from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings? Climate scientists from the University of Bristol, UK have used a climate model, similar to those used in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, to simulate and investigate the climate of Middle Earth.
This is actually quite interesting, and a good bit of fun.
Trenberth and Fasullo on the hiatus
Trenberth and Fasullo have an overview of the hiatus in a new online journal Earth’s Future [link]. It is good to see mainstream climate scientists taking the hiatus seriously (unlike the IPCC). This paper is well worth reading, it is very readable and written for a broad audience.
Bursting the bubble that protects us from opposing views
Technology Review has a very interesting article How to burst the filter bubble that protects us from opposing views. Subtitle: Computer scientists have discovered a way to number-crunch an individual’s own preferences to recommend content from others with opposing views. The goal? To burst the “filter bubble” that surrounds us with people we like and content that we agree with. Excerpt:
The results show that people can be more open than expected to ideas that oppose their own. It turns out that users who openly speak about sensitive issues are more open to receive recommendations authored by people with opposing views, say Graells-Garrido and co.
They also say that challenging people with new ideas makes them generally more receptive to change. That has important implications for social media sites. There is good evidence that users can sometimes become so resistant to change than any form of redesign dramatically reduces the popularity of the service. Giving them a greater range of content could change that.
This article suggests to me that checking the people that an individual is following on twitter is a litmus test for your filter bubble. Would be an interesting thing to diagnose for those tweeting on climate.