Week in review – science edition

by Judith Curry

A few things that caught my eye this past week.

In the news

No study supports global warming affecting Himalayas [link]

Salmon face warming waters, changes to El Niño patterns in fight for survival –  [link] …

Too Hot in Washington: A Climate Mystery? [link]  Interesting read from @CatoMichaels, follow-on to:[link]

Sucking carbon from the sky doesn’t stop climate change [link]

Cyclone #komen, rain kills hundreds in India, Bangladesh and Myanmar; landslides kill dozens in Nepal + Pakistan [link]

New material could make electronics much more efficient, decrease losses from heat [link]

“The number of volcanoes erupting right now is greater than the 20th century’s YEARLY average”  [link]

The @NewYorker on @NatureClimate research on why thermostats being based on male metabolic rates matters [link]

Study finds fish can swim to deeper, colder waters if they need to [link]

Iceland is having its coldest summer since 1992[link]

New papers

Crucial ocean acidification models come up short [link]

Status of CO2 storage in deep saline aquifers [link]

Water balance-based evapotranspiration reconstruction over USA [link]

New paper shows how peatland can act as either a carbon source or sink [link]

How can we better understand low river flows as climate changes? [link]

New paper finds “rapid-transgenerational adaptation” of corals to changes in temperature & pH [link]

New paper: “observed changes in subtropical stratocumulus clouds since the 1980s may be due to natural variability”  [link]

New paper finds “large” natural climate cycle of ~17 years in the North Atlantic [link]

New paper finds climate model predictions of crop pests are bogus [link]

Descent toward the Icehouse: Eocene sea surface cooling [link]

Synchronization of forest carbon losses from hurricanes, Amazon fires  [link]

New study calculates the speed of ice formation [link]

Cryospheric Mass Variations from GRACE, 2015 MSc thesis [link] Reduces errors in GRACE estimates of Greenland ice melting.

About science

Bioethics accused of doing more harm than good [link]

Achieving Escape Velocity: Breaking Free from the Impact Failure of Applied Philosophy [link]

How we broke the climate change debates. Lessons learned for the future. [link]

Feynman explains misuse of “Is consistent with” in economics. It applies equally well to climate science. [link]



226 responses to “Week in review – science edition

  1. About all those erupting volcanoes…

    The story has been debunked heavily.

    Debunked: Significant Increase in Volcano Eruptions” — He shows the actual data from the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program (GVP_ database of eruptions, Most of these stories compare “very different things. ‘Eruptions per year, as counted by the Smithsonian’s GVP” is not the same thing as “erupting right now, according to Volcano Discovery’.” The former is science; the latter is a volcano tourism website.

    For a larger perspective see “Has there been an increase in volcanic activity in the past few decades?” at the Ohio State U “volcano world” page.

    “The scientific consensus is that there has NOT been a recent increase in volcanic activity. There are many factors at work here and it is all too easy to present data that appears to say something that it really doesn’t. … More importantly, nearly every inch of the Earth is now monitored by many satellites so volcanic activity occuring in even very remote areas, with little or no population, is instantly reported to volcano monitoring agencies. … Also, there is the natural randomness of natural events. …”

  2. David Wojick

    The Michaels mystery is fascinating. Could we be seeing a new kind of politically motivated adjustment, namely adjusting the thermometers themselves?

  3. “Study finds fish can swim to deeper, colder waters if they need to”

    Imagine that. Fishermen have been trying to tell NOAA wtf NOAA that for a while. Now they actually have a “scientific” reference. Next thing you know we might be able to teach NOAA how to count.

  4. The Feynman quote on ‘is consistent with’ is from his 1974 Caltech commencement address, also known has his Cargo Cult address. The entirety is even better than the linked excerpt. Transcripts easily available.

  5. I don’t know if this qualifies for your “science” list of links, but it’s nicely written: “The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm” by Robert Hunziker at CounterPunch, 3 August 2015. Opening:

    The oceans of the world are currently experiencing a “perfect storm” that is nasty, real nasty with too much warming, too much acidification, too much CO2, too much fishing, too many chemicals, too much Ag runoff, too much radiation (Fukushima), and too little ice (Arctic Ocean) bringing on too much methane (CH4). Whew! How much can the oceans handle?

    The answer to that question may be coming to surface. According to ABC News, May 19, 2014, Mysterious Mass Animal Deaths All Over the World: “Millions of birds, fish, crabs and other small marine life have been turning up dead in massive numbers from the United States, through Europe and down to South America.”

    • Editor, I am going to track this one down if possible. Has a strong warmunist stench. But doing transgenerational corals (comment below) was about the limit for one Friday evening. Will get back here or there if anything turns up tomorrow.

      • Rud,

        I’d like to see the science behind this. I agree it has that doomsterish tone that smart skillful writers use — because that is clickbait, and clickbait means survival in today’s media and political worlds.

        Either way I’d like to post a note about whatever you find, with due credit to you of course.

      • Rud

        As this predates it I suspect this pile of junk is the original source of the story from the Editor


        I have never heard of mass animal or fish deaths in Britain or Europe and I live right on the coast in a fishing town.


      • Tonyb, thanks for another searching entry point. I will be on it… Tomorow morning my time. And will let you know what if anything is found. In the spirit of many other essays in ebook Blowing Smoke.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Editor of the Fabius Maximus website | August 7, 2015 at 5:34 pm |

        I don’t know if this qualifies for your “science” list of links, but it’s nicely written: “The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm” by Robert Hunziker at CounterPunch, 3 August 2015. Opening:

        The oceans of the world are currently experiencing a “perfect storm” that is nasty, real nasty with too much warming, too much acidification, too much CO2, too much fishing, too many chemicals, too much Ag runoff, too much radiation (Fukushima), and too little ice (Arctic Ocean) bringing on too much methane (CH4). Whew! How much can the oceans handle?

        The answer to that question may be coming to surface. According to ABC News, May 19, 2014, Mysterious Mass Animal Deaths All Over the World: “Millions of birds, fish, crabs and other small marine life have been turning up dead in massive numbers from the United States, through Europe and down to South America.”

        There are several points about this that set my urban legend detector ringing like crazy.

        First one is the title. Too well calculated for effect, too well designed to appeal to the lowest emotions.

        Next, he mixes real threats (overfishing, ag chemicals) with things that might have an effect in fifty years (“too much acidification, too much CO2”), as well as with things that are just fantasy (globally, ocean warming is tenths of a degree, and Fukushima will only have local effects).

        And then to top it all off, he claims that all of that is “bringing on too much methane” … say what? There’s no evidence of some big jump in methane levels, he’s just making that up.

        Finally, I’ve been a commercial fisherman a good chunk of my life, as well as being both a commercial and a sport diver, and a lifelong surfer. Like tonyb I live by the ocean, and I’ve followed the oceanic news in various ways throughout my life.

        Periodically over the years I’ve seen this “the ocean is dying” claim come up more than once … with about as much effect as Paul Ehrlich’s warnings about the population bomb.

        To summarize: Is the ocean overfished? Most definitely, particularly for certain species and certain areas. This is overwhelmingly the biggest threat to the ocean for a number of reasons. In addition to the amount removed, we’re preferentially targeting the top predators, which is generally not good for ecosystems. Overfishing has also led to things like wiping out parrotfish in many coral atolls, the very parrotfish who chew up the coral and make (or used to make) the lovely white coral sand beaches … the health of the reef controls the emergence, the ongoing persistence and the disappearance of the coral atolls.

        Next threat to the ocean is inshore pollution. While the open ocean is large enough to dilute even Fukushima to a meaninglessly low level, inshore near the pollution source it’s a different matter. One big problem around the globe are shrimp farms whose effluent often goes out through the mangrove swamps to the ocean. These mangrove swamps are fish nurseries, so any problems there have far-reaching effects. And unfortunately, shrimp farms are far from the only agricultural runoff which is causing inshore damage.

        Compared to those real threats doing real damage today, the possibility of slight neutralization of the ocean in fifty years due to CO2 is a meaningless threat.

        Is the ocean in good health? Nope. But the threats are not those listed by Robert Hunziger, and he mis-states relative importance. That’s just the National Enquirer version of the truth, everything in hyped headlines with 48-point type …

        Regards to you,


    • Editor

      Hunziker’s paper is mostly amplification of scary MSM headlines (ABC, NYT) or warmunist webstuff (State of Oceans.org, ecoeconomics.org). The only ‘sciency’ stuff are the papers by Fay et al and Hoenish et al.

      Fay et. al. concerns mass mortality events (MME), PNAS (2014). It has nothing to do with climate change, and little to do with oceans since also covers birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. This study of 727 MME found (per the abstract) that MME are associated with disease emergence, biotoxicity (like red tides), and multiple stressors. The apparent rise in number of MME events may be a statistical fluke, or more likely a result of increased detectability and reporting. Hunizker’s use of it is completely misleading. He went off the MSM headlines, which misrepresented the substance.

      Hoenish et. al. is a long, fairly sophisticated review of the past 300 million years wherever geological evidence points to a rise in CO2 (various proxies) and ocean acidification (proxies like nature and degree of calcification in, e.g. foraminifera). Many useful caveats and q ualifications. The main conclusion is that the two events most similar to the potential for ‘abrupt’ CAGW and ocean acidification by 2100 are the PETM and the great Permian extinction. The paper concludes (paraphrase), “next century (CAGW) is potentially historically unparalleled (with respect to rate of change). Scary, and probably wrong. Warmunist propaganda at the end of an otherwise carefully done geological survey review. Just look in more detail at the PETM and the Permian.

      The PETM occurred about 55.8 mya, and recovery took about 120-170k years. Onset was very abrupt, possibly as fast as 13 years. A number of benthic foraminifera went extinct in less than 1000 years at the outset. Temperature rose suddenly at least 5C, and 13C depleted carbon rose sharply. Wright and Schaller in PNAS 2013 is a good discussion, as is Wikipedia. The most probable speculated cause is the eruption of the Lac de Gras kimberlite pipes in northern Canada, associated with massive mantle CO2 outgassing.

      The great Permian extinction took place about 252mya. Real bad, aka the ‘Great Dying’. Temperatures rose abruptly by ~8C, CO2 increased abruptly by ~2000ppm, and oceans acidified sharply and abruptly. Burgess et. al. PNAS 2014. The cause is strongly suspected to the Siberian Traps flood basalt eruption(s), which also ignited massive Siberian coal seams. Strong evidence for the massive coal fires in Grasby et. al. in Nature Geoscience (2011). Ocean acidification would have been caused by SO2 as well as CO2. Goodbye, trilobites.

  6. kirbyslotman

    Descent toward the Icehouse: Eocene sea surface cooling inferred from GDGT

    Paleoceanography, published: 27 July 2015

    Authors: Gordon N. Inglis, Alexander Farnsworth, Daniel Lunt, Gavin L. Foster,
    Christopher J. Hollis, Mark Pagani, Phillip E. Jardine, Paul N. Pearson,
    Paul Markwick, Amanda M. J. Galsworthy, Lauren Raynham, Kyle. W. R. Taylor,
    Richard D. Pancost

    From the paper conclusions:

    “Our compiled TEX86 compilation indicates that between the early and late Eocene, high-latitudes SSTs cooled by ~6°C and low-latitudes SST cooled by ~2.5°C. Global sea surface cooling during the Eocene is not in agreement with by fixed-CO2 HadCM3L model simulations. Therefore, our study provides indirect evidence that drawdown of CO2 (or some, as of yet unidentified, other factor(s)) was the primary forcing for long-term climatic cooling during the Eocene. Our data set, combined with forthcoming model simulations under a range of different CO2 levels, paves the way to reconstructing atmospheric CO2 evolution through the Eocene”

    …am I missing something here or are the authors really saying that the falling CO2 levels in the atmosphere caused the temperature decline during the Eocene? Is this the Al Gore ice core CO2 reconstruction story all over again – i.e., as CO2 rises/falls the temperature follows? As the oceans cool don’t they absorb more atmospheric CO2? I thought CO2 followed temperature?

    • No way to tell from 40 to 50-million year old data, the sample interval is greater (10Kyr to 1Myr) than any lead or lag time.

    • The site is down for maintenance so I can’t open it at the moment, but I skimmed it yesterday. I noticed one figure showing temperatures v time. If I recall correctly, it showed CO2 starting at 1100 ppm and 6C temp drop decrease.

      Since life thrived and food was plentiful at 1100 ppm CO2, it seems to me very hard to support an argument that GHG emissions are dangerous, learnt alone catastrophic.

      Another chart showed 6C temp increase in a million years at the start of the Early Eocene. From what I seem to recall life boomed during the warming periods. Life loves warming. Looks good to me. I am finding it very hard to believe the doomsayers – like Steven Mosher and Vaughan Pratt.

      • I’ve now opened the paper again. I’m looking at figures 7 to 9. The CO2 concentration was “prescribed” as 1120 ppm. The SST increased by 6C over about 1.5 million years at the start of the Eocene, but that was in the high latitudes. There was much less change at low latitudes. So even less to worry about.

        Re Steven Mosher beliefs and opinions:

        I am still waiting for Steven Mosher to say what he believes is the risk of GHG emissions, now that he admits he doesn’t believe GHG emissions or AGW are dangerous. So, if he doesn’t believe they are dangerous, what does he believes is the risk caused by GHG emissions? What does he believe is the justification for advocating for his beliefs in the mitigation policies he believes in and believes we should support?

        One thing is clear: Mosher has very firm beliefs. He is so sure of his beliefs he likes to leave out admitting they are his beliefs. He clearly believes he is so smart he can state his beliefs as statements of facts.

  7. Still not of Biblical proportions, even the earthquakes are nothing but a side show. Models are being built to project future outliers. Answers coming soon I am sure.

  8. The transgenerational coral adaptation paper may be breakthrough science.
    At first my reaction was, Lamarckian v. Darwinian evolution deja vue! Worse, Lysenkoism revived!! Pure junk.

    But then I thought more. Why publish a hopeful paper in the runup to Paris?

    So spent a delightful hour rapid updating my ‘genetics’ knowledge from supervising the MOT gene chip initiative in the late 1990s.

    A little high level updated genetic science. Genes code proteins. Proteins (and their relative expression proportions in cells) determine all life, including but not limited to tissue generation, tissue function, and tissue repair. Even in viruses, for which the simplest ‘naked’ forms are just capsid proteins wrapped around some minimal genetic material (DNA, RNA, reverse RNA). Naked Viruses not really alive until the protein ‘capsid coat’ enables them to penetrate a living cell and take over its replication ‘machinery’. You will be well aquainted with the ‘naked’ family of rhinoviruses. They cause about 60% of all human colds.

    Now, human DNA is amazingly only 3% genes coding proteins. The rest was thought ‘junk’. Wrong! The ENCODE project has shown that much of the rest is gene up/down regulator stuff telling genes what to do when under what circumstances. This new field is called epigenetics.
    Add another high level piece to the puzzle. DNA methylation is the process by which genes are ‘permanently’ switched off. Without it, multicellular tissue differntiated organisms would be impossible. Fundamental to embryology. You exist because of methylation during gestation (and some thereafter as you grew up–else you you woild be still growing up and basketball woild have a huge (literally) problem.
    So, suppose simple organisms like corals methylate their ‘junk DNA’ transcription stuff in reponse to environmental factors. Then suppose that methylated stuff gets passed on.
    Now, the first supposition is easy to think correct. Has also been shown in other simple animals including planarians and nematodes. The second is very unlikely for gametes (back to Lamarck v. Darwin).
    BUT corals reproduce two ways. Gametes and budding. (see http://www.floridakeys/noaa.gov/corals/reproduce.html for details and pictures.) In which case all methylated genes/transcription factors are passed directly on from stress responding parents to the new generation/colony. WOW!

    Observational science at its best. All I have done is provide the ounderlying explanatory mechanism for most interesting experiments. U. Hawaii would have hit a home run had they done so. Did corals evolved this environmental defense mechanism in response past climate change? Probably. Nature is inherently antifragile. Or it and we would not be here.

    • The second is very unlikely for gametes (back to Lamarck v. Darwin).

      IIRC quite a bit of it has actually been observed in gametes. Including some instances where sections of DNA from the male (or female) parent get “reinitialized”.

      I could be recalling wrong, but I doubt it.

      • Dunno. Did not dive that deep before dinner. If so, even more evidence that the science is not settled. Thanks for the additional research clue into gamete ‘reinitialization’. More Robert Frost ‘miles to go before I sleep’–metaphorically, since no way tonight. Budding gives a trivial easy reproductive solution. Reinitializtion, got to research that. TY. Another new idea (to me, anyway, mostly just a low life business guy). Like simply extending coral epigenetics through asexual budding reproduction.

      • http://artksthoughts.blogspot.com/2009/05/dna-methylation-and-cellular-memory.html

        Some of the links are broken, although the pictures, at least the ones I checked, could be found on Wayback.

      • Reinitializtion, got to research that. TY. Another new idea (to me, anyway, mostly just a low life business guy).

        Here you go, Rud. From TET enzymes, TDG and the dynamics of DNA demethylation also linked below:

        Several reviews have described the biological context in which active DNA demethylation may take place[5–7]. Establishing and editing genomic methylation patterns seems to be particularly relevant in several stages of mammalian embryogenesis. Initially, after the sperm penetrates the egg and before the merging of paternal and maternal genomes, the paternal genome goes through a complex remodelling process that includes deposition of histone H3.3 and remodelling of DNA methylation patterns[8]. Here, a rapid loss of 5mC staining is observed in the paternal, but not the maternal, genome, suggesting an active 5mC editing process[9,10]. After implantation, and early in development, a subset of posterior epiblast cells is instructed to become primordial germ cells (PGCs). PGCs have to go through a complex epigenetic reprogramming process, including erasure of genome-wide DNA methylation patterns[11], to prepare them for germ-cell-specific processes, such as meiosis. Besides global loss of DNA methylation in zygotes and PGCs, DNA demethylation has also been observed at specific loci in rapid response to environmental stimuli or in post-mitotic cells, supporting the relevance of active demethylation in various biological settings in the absence of cellular replication[12–14].

      • AK, my belated complements. Spent today on Editors ocean catastrophy thing elswhere on this thread. You are another truth digger. Your last comment was waaay above my ‘genetic pay grade’. Regards.

      • Thanks Rud. I want you to understand I’m not “playing climateball”. I got the impression you can dig your way through technical articles, and this one sort of demonstrates the existence of “[r]einitializtion,”, as well as providing references.

        As my linked blog post (above) demonstrates, this is a subject of great interest to me.

    • ristvan,
      I’m very excited about methylation because it would affect not only outwardly visible physical development but intellectual and personality development too.
      Not too long ago Dr Thomas Sowell, the black conservative, blogged about the never-ending cycle of maladjustment in ghetto societies. (Yes I do follow Sowell even though I’m a far-lefty because I enjoy listening to commonsense and learning from it, no matter who it comes from. He’s the black pearl on the otherwise rather obnoxious Patriot Post website.)
      I commented on the blog that stress to the mother during gestation and to the child in early life might result in just this sort of methylation effect, dooming the person to a life of being a misfit.
      Going back to your coral. I understand you to say that because the methylated genes only get passed on via the asexual budding pathway, an organism with methylated genes will not pass them on to descendants via the sexual reproduction pathway.
      You also say that this is a reason why an adult whose growth genes have been switched off can produce a child with fully-functioning growth genes. As a non-biologist I’d always thought that growth was caused by hormones, external to the gene, that switched on and off at various times.
      You’ve been working hands-on in exactly this field of study. I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts and hope that Dr Curry gives you the opportunity to write a complete article about corals and methylation.

      • Asexual coral budding is known. Human equivalents are not. How human gametes might be environmentally methylated is either unknown or “impossible”. But what do I know on that science frontier? Nothing.

      • Let me be clearer. I am an avid Sowell reader. You pose a version of his nature/nuture conundrum. I personlly think nurture wins. So answers include fixing unbroken homes, male role models,…
        Although I also think nature has a major influence (low hereditary IQ, and all that related scientifically shown but very unPC stuff.) Just look at data.
        We have a habit of ‘seeing’ black or white. The world is actually greyscale.

      • David Springer

        Methylation is not the only epigenetic mechanism. Regulatory RNA is a big one. Perhaps bigger. And unlike methylation it’s heritable through meiosis by the simple mechanism of zillions of regulatory RNA molecules floating around the cytoplasm that is divided equally among daughter cells during meiosis.

      • In my early days as an engineer I spent a lot of time in DC and would gravitate to the natural history museum, prompting a great interest and course of self study . I stumbled onto epigenettics some years back and was quite captivated by how it tied to what we knew, but turned some things on their head,. Some of our knowledge is very strong and likely immutable, but then within that immutable framework, there are ways for things we think cant be to have merit. Unfortunately I can’t remember half of what I read but I do remember articles on a tie between environment and depression. Here’s a link on that subject http://www.whatisepigenetics.com/the-epigenetics-of-depression/

      • My major point above is that experience is a big reason why I cringe at notions of “settled science” Granting the basic point that it’s time for action based on strong evidence and high likelihood of future catastrophic harm as correct, it would be far better to use language that spoke of a high degree of certainty, abundant evidence, or the like. People who refer to settled science make me very suspicious as to whether they know anything about science, or if they are just talking politics (whether their job description says scientist or not).

      • How human gametes might be environmentally methylated is either unknown or “impossible”.

        Methylation is fundamentally inheritable. There are enzymes that carry the methylation on one side of a DNA string (inherited from the original) to the other after DNA replication. If those enzymes are expressed, methylation will be inherited during mitosis. Also, gametes will posses it if their parent cells in the germ line do.

        Methylation can be added, during development or lifetime by, e.g., de novo DNA methyltransferases DNMT3A and DNMT3B. If they are added in the germ line, they can be inherited by sexual offspring. (Note that mechanisms for such “epigenetic” inheritance have to be present as the result of prior genetic evolution.)

        Methylation can also be removed:

        DNA methylation is one of the best-characterized epigenetic modifications and has been implicated in numerous biological processes, including transposable element silencing, genomic imprinting and X chromosome inactivation. Compared with other epigenetic modifications, DNA methylation is thought to be relatively stable. Despite its role in long-term silencing, DNA methylation is more dynamic than originally thought as active DNA demethylation has been observed during specific stages of development. In the past decade, many enzymes have been proposed to carry out active DNA demethylation and growing evidence suggests that, depending on the context, this process may be achieved by multiple mechanisms. Insight into how DNA methylation is dynamically regulated will broaden our understanding of epigenetic regulation and have great implications in somatic cell reprogramming and regenerative medicine.

        This is an active field, with plenty of exiting work

        DNA methylation has a profound impact on genome stability, transcription and development. Although enzymes that catalyse DNA methylation have been well characterized, those that are involved in methyl group removal have remained elusive, until recently. The transformative discovery that ten-eleven translocation (TET) family enzymes can oxidize 5-methylcytosine has greatly advanced our understanding of DNA demethylation. 5-Hydroxymethylcytosine is a key nexus in demethylation that can either be passively depleted through DNA replication or actively reverted to cytosine through iterative oxidation and thymine DNA glycosylase (TDG)-mediated base excision repair. Methylation, oxidation and repair now offer a model for a complete cycle of dynamic cytosine modification, with mounting evidence for its significance in the biological processes known to involve active demethylation.

    • David Springer

      You should stop right now. Mistake after mistake. I lived and breathed this stuff for years.

      A lot of non-coding DNA is still aptly called junk.


      From extrapolations we estimate that 8.2% (7.1–9.2%) of the human genome is presently subject to negative selection and thus is likely to be functional, while only 2.2% has maintained constraint in both human and mouse since these species diverged.

      Deactivated remnants from endogenous retroviruses that infected germ cells account for about 8% of the human genome.


      Proteins aren’t the whole story either. There are many classes of RNA aside from the well known classes involved in protein synthesis. A whole slew of regulatory RNA classes have been identified.


      Methylation is not permanent in the way that DNA is permanent. Methylation is normally heritable through mitosis (somatic cell division) but not through meiosis (germ cell division). In other words a stem cell is methylated to become a liver cell which is a permanent change to that cell line but is not heritable in egg and sperm cells except in a few special cases.


      The rapid response through epigenetics in coral which reproduce through either sexual or asexual pathways is interesting but not breakthrough science. Fungi do the same thing which has been long known. A fungal colony adapts its digestive enzyme suite for the substrate it is on through methylation and can reproduce through budding which preserves the epigentic methylation. The colony can also reproduce sexually via spores which generally resets the epigenetic adaptations.

      Speaking of RNA, regulatory RNA molecules are abundant in cytoplasm. During meiosis the cytoplasm of the diploid mother cell is given in equal portion to diploid daughter cells along with the current mix of regulatory RNAs floating in the cytoplasm. In this manner regulatory RNAs produced in response to environmental stimuli become heritable. Lamarckian evolution, discarded long ago, turns out to be alive and well after all.

      • Thank you David Springer. And for the excellent links.

      • During meiosis the cytoplasm of the diploid mother cell is given in equal portion to diploid daughter cells along with the current mix of regulatory RNAs floating in the cytoplasm.

        AFAIK this technically isn’t true for mammals, and IIRC most vertebrates. Almost all of the cytoplasm from the original mother cell goes to a single egg, while the other 3 suites of DNA are discarded as polar bodies.

        But it’s true in principle, since instead of 1/4 or 1/2 of the regulatory RNA, the egg gets all of it.

      • David Springer

        haploid daughter cells

    • In lab studies it has been observed that even in a monoculture, the rate of adaptation by small organisms (say, drug resistance of the malaria parasite) can depend on the size of flask being used.

      …Which makes good logical sense when the population is looked at, not as a single genome, but as a population of different genomes to be selected from. With a flask the size of an ocean this makes adaptation projections a lot harder in the real world.

      The same studies also find that when the selective pressure is removed for many, many generations, even at the cellular level in such organisms, genetic memory is still retained that allows a rapid reversion if necessary.

      All this is is nothing new to a lot of scientists, but seems to be forbidden knowledge for catastrophists.

      • David Springer

        P. Falciparens, the eukaryotic malaria parasite, is said to be most widely studied animal other than humans. It has a genome of approximately 27 million base pairs. Eukaryotic single point mutation rate is about one per 10^9 replications. There are approximately one trillion replications in a single human being with malaria. So in a single bout of malaria every possible single point mutation gets tried on for size many times over. All the drugs we have to combat malaria require at least 2 interdependent single point mutations for the parasite to resist. It has somehow managed to find and propagate those. With 100,000,000 people infected each year there’s a good chance of developing resistance in some individual but there’s another filter stopping it. A mosquito has to bite an individual with drug resistant parasites and then pass it along to someone else. Sexual reproduction of the parasite occurs in gut of the mosquito. It’s all asexual in the human host.

        This kind of illustrates the limits of Darwinian evolution. One of the most prolific animals on the earth hasn’t been able to evolve around the need to have mosquitos host it for part of its life cycle. There are more malaria parasite reproductive events every year than all the reptiles that ever lived.

      • One of the most prolific animals on the earth hasn’t been able to evolve around the need to have mosquitos host it for part of its life cycle.

        It’s (probably) only been “[o]ne of the most prolific animals on the earth” for a few thousand years.

        Maybe it was only created 6000 years ago, along with the rest of the Earth?

      • David Springer


        Effect on protein folding[edit]

        Protein folding in vivo is vectorial, such that the N-terminus of a protein exits the translating ribosome and becomes solvent-exposed before its more C-terminal regions. As a result, co-translational protein folding introduces several spatial and temporal constraints on the nascent polypeptide chain in its folding trajectory. Because mRNA translation rates are coupled to protein folding, and codon adaption is linked to translation elongation, it has been hypothesized that manipulation at the sequence level may be an effective strategy to regulate or improve protein folding. Several studies have shown that pausing of translation as a result of local mRNA structure occurs for certain proteins, which may be necessary for proper folding. Furthermore, synonymous mutations have been shown to have significant consequences in the folding process of the nascent protein and can even change substrate specificity of enzymes. These studies suggest that codon usage influences the speed at which polypeptides emerge vectorially from the ribosome, which may further impact protein folding pathways throughout the available structural space.

        Codon Bias and Heterologous Protein Expression


        Claes Gustafsson*, Sridhar Govindarajan & Jeremy Minshull
        DNA 2.0, Inc. 1455 Adams Drive, Menlo Park, CA 94025

        The expression of functional proteins in heterologous hosts is a cornerstone of modern biotechnology. Unfortunately proteins are often difficult to express outside their original context. They may contain codons that are rarely used in the desired host, come from organisms that use non-canonical code, or contain expression-limiting regulatory elements within the coding sequence. Improvements in the speed and cost of gene synthesis facilitate the complete redesign of entire gene sequences to maximize the likelihood of high protein expression. Redesign strategies including modification of translation initiation regions, alteration of mRNA structural elements and use of
        different codon biases are discussed.

      • David Springer


        Article you linked:

        Among the invertebrates to which the ancestors of the malaria parasites became adapted were probably aquatic insect larvae, including those of early Dipterans, the taxonomic order to which mosquitoes and other blood-sucking flies belong. These insects first appeared around 150 million to 200 million years ago. During or following this period, certain lines of the ancestral malaria parasites achieved two-host life cycles which were adapted to the blood-feeding habits of the insect hosts. In the 150 million years since the appearance of the early Diptera, many different lines of malaria and malaria-like parasites evolved and radiated.

        Seems that malaria parasite ancestors have been confined to blood sucking insects and blood bearing hosts for over a hundred million years. You’d think it could have branched out since then. In essentially the same period of time mammals evolved from reptiles encompassing a huge range of biological novelty. In the meantime P. Falciparum’s lineage changed little remaining bound to blood sucking insects.

      • Seems that malaria parasite ancestors have been confined to blood sucking insects and blood bearing hosts for over a hundred million years. You’d think it could have branched out since then.

        Let’s see: if you divide 100,000,000 by, say, 5000 you get 20,000. Do you suppose the invention of agriculture might have increased the effective population of malaria parasites by more than ×20,000? Given the enormous increase in population of vectors, as well as hominid hosts?

        Not to mention that there’s a narrow limit within which dangerous diseases must keep their evolution: if they get too lethal, they kill off their hosts. In the case of malaria, if the infection load kills the host before it has a chance to spread, via one of those rare mosquitoes, it doesn’t reproduce.

    • http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51LvhyS38vL._SX339_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg


      Slightly tangential to the topic, but very interesting, and it highlights some of the ways evolutionary science remains not settled.

    • The role of miRNAs and endogenous siRNAs in maternal-to-zygotic reprogramming and the establishment of pluripotency by Petr Svoboda & Matyas Flemr EMBO reports VOL 11 | NO 8 | 2010

      RNA silencing is a complex of mechanisms that regulate gene expression through small RNA molecules. The microRNA (miRNA) pathway is the most common of these in mammals. Genome-encoded miRNAs suppress translation in a sequence-specific manner and facilitate shifts in gene expression during developmental transitions. Here, we discuss the role of miRNAs in oocyte-to-zygote transition and in the control of pluripotency. Existing data suggest a common principle involving miRNAs in defining pluripotent and differentiated cells. RNA silencing pathways also rapidly evolve, resulting in many unique features of RNA silencing in different taxonomic groups. This is exemplified in the mouse model of oocyte-to-zygote transition, in which the endogenous RNA interference pathway has acquired a novel role in regulating protein-coding genes, while the miRNA pathway has become transiently suppressed.

      MicroRNAs control de novo DNA methylation through regulation of transcriptional repressors in mouse embryonic stem cells by Lasse Sinkkonen, Tabea Hugenschmidt, Philipp Berninger, Dimos Gaidatzis, Fabio Mohn, Caroline G Artus-Revel, Mihaela Zavolan, Petr Svoboda & Witold Filipowicz Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 15, 259 – 267 (2008)

      Loss of microRNA (miRNA) pathway components negatively affects differentiation of embryonic stem (ES) cells, but the underlying molecular mechanisms remain poorly defined. Here we characterize changes in mouse ES cells lacking Dicer (Dicer1). Transcriptome analysis of Dicer−/− cells indicates that the ES-specific miR-290 cluster has an important regulatory function in undifferentiated ES cells. Consistently, many of the defects in Dicer-deficient cells can be reversed by transfection with miR-290 family miRNAs. We demonstrate that Oct4 (also known as Pou5f1) silencing in differentiating Dicer−/− ES cells is accompanied by accumulation of repressive histone marks but not by DNA methylation, which prevents the stable repression of Oct4. The methylation defect correlates with downregulation of de novo DNA methyltransferases (Dnmts). The downregulation is mediated by Rbl2 and possibly other transcriptional repressors, potential direct targets of miR-290 cluster miRNAs. The defective DNA methylation can be rescued by ectopic expression of de novo Dnmts or by transfection of the miR-290 cluster miRNAs, indicating that de novo DNA methylation in ES cells is controlled by miRNAs. [my bold]

    • Most interesting sub-thread. David Springer’s thoughts on the malaria virus is great reading. All parasites obviously can’t survive without a host and the malaria virus is a classic example of how a genetic characteristic is hard wired to accommodate its host mosquito.

      • David Springer

        Genetics is a fascinating real science moving forward by leaps and bounds. Global warming science is more of an actuary study that is moribund with essentially no progress in refining ECS estimates made in 50 years.

        Some of the “holy crap” moments I’ve had keeping up with genetics is that protein coding genes are poly-functional. Reading in one direction produces a useful protein while reading in the opposite direction produces another. Frame shifting so codons (base pair triplets encoding individual amino acids) begin at a different point can produce yet another functional protein all out of the same coding gene! The vast majority of amino acid sequences produce nothing useful so the same 300 or so average base pair coding gene sequence being read in different directions and different starting points producing useful 5-dimensional building blocks is astounding.

        Even so-called silent mutations have effects. There are 32 possible codons which translate to 21 amino acids. So there is some redundancy where two different codons translate to the same acid. The interesting thing is that the processing speed of the ribosome, the cellular machine that reads RNA like a paper tape and assembles a protein from it, is different for redundant codons. The output of a ribosome is like grease coming out of a grease gun where the speed influences how the protein folds coming out. Ribosomes in bacteria differ slightly from ribosomes in animals so when we started inserting human genes for say insulin into bacteria to manufacture it the result was a useless precipitate that hadn’t folded right. So we had to introduce silent mutations that caused the bacterial ribosome to produce the properly folded protein we wanted.

        The complexity of what goes on in even the simplest free living organism almost defies imagination.

      • “The output of a ribosome is like grease coming out of a grease gun where the speed influences how the protein folds coming out.”

        That might well be true. I think it probably is. I’ll go as far as certainly.
        But it has too often been ignored by many protein-folders because it is simply too hard to solve, when they can’t even do the simpler problems (like climatists). Again, nothing new.

        David (Springer), do you have some recent references for that?

      • David Springer

        Michael. I’m trying to find out from who or where I heard the ribosome/grease gun analogy. I talked about it in 2007 in one of my many “published essays” on the subject. The author Dave S. on that blog is me. I was top administrator on it for several years or, as head of National Center for Science Education referred to me in an email (Richard Dawkins was on the email address list) I was “Dembski’s Cerberus” the multi-headed dog that guards the gates to hell in Greek and Roman mythology. I took it as a compliment since US Marines are referred to as Devil Dogs.


        I also have many more “published essays” on global warming on the same blog. I called “the hiatus” ahead of most people. It was evident to me back then there was a cyclical component approximately 60 years in duration where the general warming trend since the end of the Little Ice Age was accelerated and decelerated and that its last downswing into deceleration was approximately 1940 so another downswing was due beginning around Y2K. The downswing appeared to have started by 2007 when I was looking at the data so I went out on a limb and said it would probably repeat the cycle despite only having an SST record of 2.5 cycles (150 years of Atlantic SST measurements) which, with that few cycles to go on, is not certain evidence of a repeating cycle.

        Anyhow, I’m I read the bit about silent mutations being needed in producing human proteins through human genes inserted into bacteria somewhere like NIH but the grease gun analogy might have been given to me in personal conversation with possibly John Sanford, a Cornell geneticist whose claim to fame is the invention of the Gene Gun which decades ago was used to insert genes from organism into another.


        Kind of sad that Wikipedia talks more about Sanford’s religious beliefs and support for Intelligent Design than his accomplishments at Cornell, Duke, and the biotech companies he founded. I don’t agree with my friend John, a former atheist who came to believe in young earth creation after his retirement in 1998, about the age of the earth but I do agree that his book “Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome” raises valid points about why humans aren’t extinct due to genetic entropy. I simply think the mystery is how it, and any similarly complex genome, survives for an average of ten million years (the average residency time of individual species in the fossil record). One of the great mysteries in paleontology is how species appear suddenly in the record, persist with very little change for an average of ten million years, then vanish as suddenly as they appeared. The late great 20th century paleontology professor Stephen Gould referred to that as the trade secret of paleontology:

        “‘The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. … to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.” ~Gould 1970

        “‘The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution.” ~Gould 1980

        This lead to his evolutionary hypothesis “Punctuated Equilibrium” or
        “Punkeek” for insiders.


        Stephen Jay Gould (/ɡuːld/; September 10, 1941 – May 20, 2002) was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist and historian of science. He was also one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation.[1] Gould spent most of his career teaching at Harvard University and working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. In the later years of his life, Gould also taught biology and evolution at New York University.

      • David Springer


        One reference from a university text, on silent mutations and folding. Not the one I read. I seem to recall making insulin in bacteria a silent mutation was required to make it work. Still looking.

        from “An Online Introduction to Advanced Biology”


        NOTE on silent mutations: although a substitution may change a codon for one amino acid to one that also codes for that amino acid, there is evidence that the change in base sequence can affect how the mRNA gets spliced or read; it may slow down or speed up translation, and therefore the rate of gene expression, or even affect the way that the protein ultimately folds up. These silent mutations may not always be as neutral as was thought.

        Looks like one of the several biology professors I knew in the underground ID world made the grease gun analogy cause I can’t find a reference to it on the intertubes by anyone but me and I know I didn’t conceive the analogy. There used to be a quite active underground network of academics from all fields, about 300 of them, who were supporters of Intelligent Design but afraid to come out of the closet for fear of career repercussions. I don’t know if it still exists. I was a member for several years but became too controversial as the token agnostic member of the group and tended to be harsh with the young earth creationist members. So I got kicked out circa 2009. Old earth creationism I have no problem with.

      • I seem to recall making insulin in bacteria a silent mutation was required to make it work.

        Folding issues aren’t the only potential cause of something like that. A good deal of RNA editing appears to be based on tertiary structure. It could be that the human insulin gene’s transcript looked to much like some ribozyme to some editing enzyme. Given that bacteria seem to have lost almost all their ancestral ribozymes except for those used in protein translation, it may have been one of those. A “silent mutation” WRT codon translation could easily have a powerful effect on tertiary structure.

        IIRC the editing of the translation ribozymes in Eucaryotes takes place in the nucleus, while I would assume insulation creation is in the Cytoplasm. So it might well be that a similar problem might occur if translation tried to take place in the nucleus.

      • PD, a little late downthread riff from a Biology 101 slacker. Malaria is NOT a virus. But its parasitic dependence on both sexual (gamete, mosquito) and asexual (human) reproduction does teach biological permutation and evolution limits.
        A related interesting observation. Darwinian evolution is better exemplified by Roundup resistant weed evolution over less than 30 years in the US. Look it up in Gaia’s Limits. Even footnotes. MSRA, VRE, CRE bacterial antibiotic reistance is similar. Except unlike weeds (AFAIK) bacteria can also cheat by exchanging genes between species. Frightening for the future of hospital medicine, and at the core of one of my two companies.

      • Point taken about the Malaria parasite Rud. Its neither a virus or a bacterium but its transmission seems to be through mechanisms that are quite similar in respect of both types of contagion.

      • Fascinating stuff. I’ll throw in a couple more. There is a little known trivia among epidemiologists studying neural tube defects that of a man has a very poor diet with low folate intake his daughter’s babies have a higher risk for a neural tube defect. There is also evidence that sperm can carry in regulatory RNA. There is also not just DNA methylation, there is histone methylation and acetylation affecting gene expression as well.

  9. Craig Loehle

    Ristvan: of course when one desires to get a particular result, “consistent with” is mighty convenient. What Feynman recommends is bending over backwards to show what else might explain your results. Another way of saying this is that other explanations need to be ruled out. This is what controlled experiments were designed for.

    • Craig, been there and done that. My issued patents on energy storage carbons (for improved Ucaps) are just one physical sciences example. The basic mechanism understanding was wrong, (the elegant physics math was wrong). Rather like climate science. In hindsight, easy to prove. I did, in four separate ways from the literature before providing an elegant additional experimental lab proof. Ergo issued energy storage patents in Japan, Korea, Russia, US….Unfortunately, the much improved energy density of Ucaps does not solve the renewable intermittency problems PE and I have been guest posting about. Alas…reality bites. Regards.

      • Rud, for one of my projects, an Ucap module made both technical and economic sense. So far it seems to be working like a champ. On the other hand, I’ve been looking at energy storage options as part of a rooftop PV system, don’t see anything that makes economic sense.

        I find “consistent with” to be useful at the start of a debugging session, helps greatly to have an initial guess about the cause of the problem that’s consistent with what has been observed up to the start of the debugging session. Once the debugging work starts, it becomes very important to look for things not consistent with the original guess (hypothesis).

      • David Springer

        I couldn’t find any patents with you as inventor other than in the area of wireless medicine.


        I was on the patent committee at Dell for a few years when the heat was on to build up a patent portfolio to escape hundreds of millions in royalties being mostly to Texas Instruments and IBM. The committee was a group of 12 engineers plus a paralegal and IP attorney who reviewed all the patent abstracts submitted by employees worldwide. I voted up about 300 of the 1000+ I reviewed. As far as I know all 300 were eventually granted. I was a tough sell especially regarding novelty. We were successful. IBM wanted our “Build To Order” patents in a bad way and eventually did a cross-license deal. Michael Dell said the day he no longer had to pay $100,000,000/yr to IBM in patent royalties was the best day of his life at Dell. IMO patents are generally a racket where individual patents don’t mean much it’s just a numbers game played by big corporations who reach cross-license agreements with each other to avoid ruination and then use prosecution of individual patents as a barrier to entry for smaller businesses. Reality does indeed bite.

      • Rats. An extra 9 in the last patent number. Fat iPad fingers. Or something.

      • Very nice Rudyard. We need more ideas and more innovation, like you have been doing. I am confident that we will invent our way out of this problem by coming up with cheaper ways of producing non-CO2 energy.

        That is really the only plan we need. Make energy cheaper than coal, natural gas and oil, that doesn’t emit CO2 and people will naturally flock to it.

      • DS, there is obviously stuff in the above diatribe illustrating how much you do not know about the real world. Thanks for confirming your main sore point. Let me repeat it: ID is pseudoscience, held so by Delaware Courts, explained in my Arts of Truth, backed by evolution including explicitly a separate book disproving ID’s favorite example, the eye. You have obviously not read (but should): Parker, in the blink of an eye, 2011. Or just read Arts of Truth pp 44-47 (on my iPad copy). As said there, if there is/ was an intelligent designer, (he/she/it) surely favored the cephalopods over all vertebrate eyes. For multiple amusing reasons. Else humans would not suffer blind spots, macular degeneration, retinal detachments, and such. Have a nice day.

  10. A new paper links the observed increase in geological activities to surface temperature rise:

    Ridge Push Engine of Plate Tectonics
    Geotectonics, 2015, Vol. 49, No. 4, pp. 342–359. © Pleiades Publishing, Inc., 2015.

    Another new paper links the geological activities with the solar cycle:

    Association of Seismic Activity with Solar
    Cycle and Geomagnetic Activity
    Development in Earth Science Volume 2, 2014, pp. 14-19

    There is an opposite relationship between the Solar Constant and surface temperature. It appears that the geological activities vary in opposing fashion to the Solar Constant.

  11. Bioethics accused of doing more harm than good [link]

    “Hank Greely, a law professor at Stanford University in California…”

    Notice! bioethics involves lawyers, think “pain and suffering” the bread and butter of lawyers compensation: half of the award? three quarters? ninety nine percent?

    Back when, medical students were the subjects in experiments. Medical students know the lingo and can at least begin to understand what the experiment was about. Besides, experimentologists were generally unwilling to harm their own. Risks, and there are always risk; i.e. there is a possibility of a bad outcome, at least can be explained.

    Today, there is no informed consent. Subjects of medical experiments are either desperate off shore participants who would and do sell their children into prostitution as well into a medical experiment recruited by a native company who frankly is willing to exploit vulnerable people, or medically desperate people who have little choice with regards to their survival.

    The Food & Drug Administration sends me 5 days a week further nuances of informed consent that, frankly, due to extensive paperwork and reporting requirements, discourages patient enrollment into studies. A large proportion of medical experiments in the US fail to meet minimum enrollment targets primarily due to the elaborate recruitment process requirements. And then there is the feeding frenzy of lawyers espousing: “You should have known….” Digging their fingers into the liability pie, even for a morsel.

    Bioethics has a “home” centered on straw man arguments about possible outcomes for unlikely participants.

    If one wants to encounter over-zealous bureaucrats with considerable power and latitude, begin a discussion with a Food and Drug Administration staffer.

    • Favorite pet peeve of mine. Used to be the PhD geneticists would meet with the clinicians and we would discuss cases and decide if maybe we should do some kind of research and then ask for money. I would contact a mother and tell her about a proposed study and ask if she wanted to participate. if she did, she did, if she didn’t, it was “Have a nice day.” We’d apply for a grant if we got enough positive responses. Human ethics boards came in and they began adding layer after layer. I had to get permission from a woman to view her records to see if she might be suitable for the study. I always already knew because of direct clinical discussions but I had to go through the motion of asking her for her permission to review the records for the purpose of doing research. If she said yes, then I had to get permission from her to contact her about participating in a study. Then if she agreed to be contacted about being in the study, I could finally send her the information about the study itself. We had a typical 30% nonresponse on each contact. So by adding the three layers of permissions the ethics board reduced our response rates to 2.7%, too low to be considered representative of the population, hence killing a lot of research. Also we had to have the ethics permission completed in advance of making any decision to apply for a grant. Basically, all direct PhD/clinical MD geneticist and immediately clinically relevant research, crashed and burned. Anything that did happen got delayed by a few years while the paperwork was put in order. I recall spending four months preparing one research ethics application submitting it and then being informed I had to redo it because the board had created a new form, which they hadn’t put on their website yet, so sorry the IT was busy. Some days I am so happy I retired.

      • Interesting…good intentions and unintended consequences, hand in hand.

      • I never got the feeling it was good intentions. I always got the feeling it was about power and control over us and a need to impose rules and regulations on us. That’s what is felt like anyway.

      • That needs a bit more explanation. They came in with all their rules and ours on paint confidentiality and informed consent, the ones developed over many years that all of us had to abide by, were a whole lot stricter than theirs were. They didn’t like that.

      • They came in with all their rules and ours on paint confidentiality and informed consent, the ones developed over many years that all of us had to abide by, were a whole lot stricter than theirs were. They didn’t like that.

        Do you know what “NIH” stands for (in the tech world)? Hint: it’s not National Institute(s) of Health.

      • AK. If you’ve ever been forced to use vendor-supplied “tools,” you might understand why NIH is appropriate in some cases.

      • I have and I do. But not always.

      • Never Invent Here: the even-worse sibling of “Not Invented Here”

        The NIH archetype is the enterprise architect who throws person-decade after person-decade into reinventing solutions that exist elsewhere, maintaining this divergent “walled garden” of technology that has no future except by executive force. No doubt, that’s bad. I’m sure that it exists in rich, insular organizations, but I almost never see it in organizations with under a thousand employees. Too often in software, however, I see the opposite extreme: a mentality that I call “Never Invent Here” (NeIH). With that mentality, external assets are overvalued and often implicitly trusted, leaving engineers to spend more time adapting to the quirks of off-the-shelf assets, and less time building assets of their own.


        The core attitude underlying “Agile” and NeIH is that anything that takes more than some insultingly small amount of time (say, 2 weeks) to build should not be trusted to in-house employees. Rather than building technical assets, programmers spend most of their time in the purgatory of evaluating assets with throwaway benchmarking code and in writing “glue code” to make those third-party assets work together. The rewarding part of the programmer’s job is written off as “too hard”, while programmers are held responsible for the less rewarding part of the job: gluing the pieces together in order to meet parochial business requirements. Under such a regime, there is little room for progress or development of skills, since engineers are often left to deal with the quirks of unproven “bleeding edge” technologies rather than either (a) studying the work of the masters, or (b) building their own larger works and having a chance to learn from their own mistakes.


        To the bad, it makes it hard for engineers to progress beyond the feature-level stage, because meatier projects just aren’t done in most organizations when it’s seen as tenable for non-coding architects and managers to pull down off-the-shelf solutions and expect the engineers to “make the thingy work with the other thingy”.


        Thus, if most of what a company has been doing has been glue code and engineers are not trusted to run whole projects, then by the time the company’s needs have out-scaled the off-the-shelf product, the talent level will have fallen to the point that it cannot resolve the situation in-house. It will either have to find “scaling experts” at a rate of $400 per hour to solve future problems, or live with declining software quality and functionality.


        With core infrastructure (e.g. Unix, C, Haskell) I’d agree that it’s best to use existing, high-quality solutions. I also support going off-the-shelf with the relatively small problems: e.g. a CSV parser. If there’s a bug-free CSV parser out there, there’s no good reason to write one in-house. The mid-range is where off-the-shelf solutions are often inferior– and, often, in subtle ways (such as tying a large piece of software architecture to the JVM, or requiring expensive computation to deal with a wonky binary protocol)– to competently-written in-house solutions.


        The failure, I would say, isn’t that technology companies use off-the-shelf solutions for most problems, because that is quite often the right decision. It’s that, in many technologies, that’s all that they use, because core infrastructure and R&D don’t fit into the two-week “sprints” that the moronic “Agile” fad demands that engineers accommodate, and therefore can’t be done in-house at most companies. The culture of trust in engineers is not there, and that (not the question of whether one technology is used over another) is the crime.


        The never-invent-here attitude is stylish because it seems to oppose the wastefulness and lethargy of the old “not-invented-here” corporate regime, while simultaneously reaffirming the fast-and-sloppy values of the new one, doped with venture capital and private equity. It benefits “product people” and non-technical makers of unrealistic promises (to upper management, clients, or investors) while accruing technical debt and turning programmers into a class of underutilized API Jockeys. It is, to some extent, a reaction against the “not invented here” world of yesteryear, in which engineers (at least, by stereotype) toiled on unnecessary custom assets without a care about the company’s more immediate needs. I would also say that it’s worse.

      • We use Agile. It works for long or short projects. The current project will take over a year and we are using Agile. The problem is that we are using a vendor-supplied suit that is woefully inadequate.

        In this case, we could have more fruitfully spent time to write our own. It would have been easier to maintain and contain only the features we need.

        Oh well, too late now.

  12. New paper shows how peatland can act as either a carbon source or sink [link]

    Now someone produces a paper saying the party line (which would benefit CAGW I deology?), maybe a lame paper. The big guys cite him. He becomes truth.

    Welcome to consensus science, thank you fir playing….

    • The worst book I’ve ever purchased and read!
      By Gani – July 2, 2015
      Amazon Verified Purchase
      This book should be titled “The New Communist Manifesto.” I’m not a climate change denier so I was looking forward to hear what ideas the author had for combating climate change. I do believe that climate change is happening and the results of our changing world are all around us.

      However, here was her first plan – Worldwide wealth distribution (it was even stated that way) – whereas developed countries pay the undeveloped countries for the pollution that the developed countries have already and continue to create. However, the author fails to note the PEOPLE living in those developed countries would have to PAY as government gets its money from taxing its productive citizens.

      FORCE, FORCE, FORCE – she uses it several times – Force Social Change – Force the 1% – Force businesses – I don’t know if anyone mentioned to her that FORCE and REASON are OPPOSITES. If I can prove to a business (or business person) by using fact and reason that by applying specific environmental energy upgrades would save money, then there’s no need for me to FORCE them to do upgrades or make changes. They make a CHOICE to do so on their own. Extremely disappointed. This book could have been so much more.

  13. No doubt the “salmon face warming waters…in fight for survival” in the Columbia River, where dams have helped warm the waters. Washington has been in a warm spell “unprecedented” since the 1920s. That was before Grand Coulee and Chief Joseph dams completely blocked the annual salmon runs up through the Colville Indian Reservation where residents had depended on it for generations.

    Outside of that fishery, however, the salmon have been doing fine. I have a good supply of wild-caught Keta salmon fillets in my freezer, purchased FRESH for $1.99/lb at a local market in Arizona. And Alaska may have a record catch this year.

  14. David L. Hagen

    Atmospheric water
    Intercomparison of Total Precipitable Water Measurements Made by Satellite-Borne Microwave Radiometers and Ground-Based GPS Instruments

    We have performed a detailed comparison of TPW measurements made by satellite borne microwave radiometers and ground-based GPS stations.
    The overall agreement between GPS and satellite measurements is better than between GPS and radiosonde measurements, particularly at high values of TPW, where the standard deviation of the differences is significantly less.
    Our results demonstrate that such intercomparisons are useful for validating
    the accuracy and stability of satellite measurements.
    By plotting the satellite – GPS differences as a function of satellite- derived wind speed and rain rate, we were able to identify a small wind
    – speed dependent bias in the satellite data,
    and a problem with
    retrievals in the presence of rain for the AMSR-E instrument.

  15. David L. Hagen

    Recent global warming hiatus dominated by low latitude temperature trends in surface and troposphere data

    Omission of successively larger polar regions from the global-mean temperature calculations, in both tropospheric and surface data sets, shows that data gaps at high lat-itudes can not explain the observed differences between the hiatus and the pre-hiatus period. Instead, the dominating causes of the global temperature
    hiatus are found at low latitudes. The combined use of several independent data sets, representing completely different measurement techniques and sampling characteristics, strengthens the conclusions.

  16. Oh what a wicked web we weave
    When in our head we do believe
    That we can rule another’s mind
    And with some hoaxsters lead the blind
    To fear and tremble at the warning
    That CO2 does all that warming
    By sending all its radiation
    Fooling leaders of the Nation
    ‘Til they from flooded houses sailing
    Join the weeping and the wailing
    While Mother Nature calmly ruling
    Turns that warming into cooling.

    • David Springer

      Stuff it, D0ug. Note to moderator “retiredphysicseducator” is banned commenter D0ug C0tt0n. Roy Spencer busted him under that name on his blog last week.

  17. “New paper finds “large” natural climate cycle of ~17 years in the North Atlantic”

    17 years is the strongest string that I have found in monthly CET, followed by 13 and 23 year strings. For example look at July’s 2006, 1989, 1972, 1955 etc until 1853, add 1yr and restart at 1852 and continue…
    (Cicada brood cycles come to mind)

    • And I can show that these monthly CET anomalies are solar forced and not internal.

    • “New paper finds “large” natural climate cycle of ~17 years in the North Atlantic”

      JC mis-introduced that paper. It is about a cycle produced by a climate model , NOT a cycle in climate.

      The title of the paper is clear: “A mechanism of internal decadal variability in a high resolution coupled climate model”

  18. The thesis on “Cryospheric Mass Variations from GRACE” is a reminder of the importance of data corrections and adjustments (e.g., instrument resolution limits and model assumptions for the imperfectly spherical globe) for satellite-derived estimates of ice mass loss.

  19. David L. Hagen

    Bias in modeling clouds
    Zhang et al. discovered a 15% bias in CMIP5 modeling of cloud brightness.
    Xuanze Zhang, Xiaogu Zheng, Zhian Sun, and San Luo, 2015: Trends of MSU Brightness Temperature in the Middle Troposphere Simulated by CMIP5 Models and Their Sensitivity to Cloud Liquid Water
    J. Atmos. Oceanic Technol., 32, 1029–1041. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JTECH-D-13-00250.1

    the two approaches for estimating modeled MSU T2 are evaluated. For each CMIP5, it is shown that there exists a model-simulated static weighting function, such that the MSU T2 trend using the weighting function is equivalent to that calculated by RTM. The effect of modeled cloud liquid water on MSU T2 trends in CMIP5 simulations is investigated by comparing the modeled cloud liquid water vertical profile and the weighting function. Moreover, it is found that warming trends of MSU T2 for CMIP5 simulations calculated by the RTM are about 15% less than those using the two traditional static weighting functions. By comparing the model-derived weighting function with the two traditional weighting functions, the reason for the systematical biases is revealed.

    • Normally I wouldn’t challenge one of your links, but I had a hard time believing this until I read the calculations. It is difficult to put my arms around the numbers emmitted by just those 16 ships, especially against the total for autos but it sounds correct.

      The comment by William WRT volcanic emmissions, if true, are equally interesting.

      • Actually the total is under estimated since intermodal transportation of individual containers causes about as much or more pollution than the ships, at least pollution with human health impacts. Most of the asthma hot spots in the US are likely related to port and rail yard emissions from virtually unregulated diesel industrial engines. Intermodal didn’t get much notice until around 2005 and it will be around 2020 before we known how well new regulations are working.

    • An area that seems to have escaped fossil-fuel clean-up so far. Maybe some sensible regulations will improve things.

      • So far your version of “sensible” regulation is to kill something that has helped reduce the problem. In the EU, the idjits even promoted diesel to make the problem worse.

        If you want cleaner air you might want to jump ship and get with the gang that isn’t trying to get much press.

    • I feel for all the children living day in and day out within a few acres of super ships.

  20. Michael Mann was interviewed on Bill Maher’s show last night. Unfortunately it was all quite tame as everyone just agrees with each other on the need to do something about climate change.

    • Other than Mary, did you really expect anyone to have any critical thinking skills sufficient to take on the Left Wing Orthodoxy? I assume the hymnals were provided next to the kneelers.

      • Hansen sprinkled everyone with Holy Arrhenius Water from the East River, blessed with the Spirit of Back Radiation from ACO2. Afterwards, they kissed His Ring.

    • To their credit, they didn’t use much red-meat anti-denier rhetoric. That would have livened it up a bit for their audience, but it was just a conversation. Maher talked about the polls that rank climate as a low priority. Mann was able to respond other polls that showed most people want to regulate GHGs. It just depends on how the question is asked.

      • stevenreincarnated

        Yes, all you have to do is ask it in such a way to where it doesn’t make it sound like they have to pay for it.

      • Yes, they don’t know that even trying to gradually shift to alternatives will collapse the global economy like your lot insist.

      • stevenreincarnated

        Jim, I have a lady that works for me that used to be a big supporter of combatting global warming. She listens to MSNBC and swears only they speak the entire truth. I asked her so how much more are you willing to spend for energy to fight global warming? I’m not paying anything what are you talking about? That roughly was how the conversation went. But don’t take my word for it. We discussed your poll previously, remember?

      • The people who have actually done the economics suggest that climate change is an order of magnitude more of a drag on the global economy than mitigation on a year-by-year basis going through 2100. Recently, I have used the analogy of bailing out a boat taking on water. Adaptation is just bailing out, which costs money, ad infinitum, while mitigation is plugging the hole and cuts the losses. Plugging the hole makes more sense economically. This is if you use GDP as a measure, which is not a good way of aggregating actual losses incurred by people in poorer nations, and taking account of that tilts it even more towards mitigation on moral grounds.

      • stevenreincarnated

        Tell her about it, Jim, And tell the millions just like her. After you convince them then take a new poll.

      • I am not sure what your answer to her was. She probably isn’t paying noticeably any more for it and the transition has already started. Note that sticking with depletables guarantees rising prices as global competition increases for dwindling and harder-to-get resources. Some thinking ahead is needed here.

      • Jim D. How much did global warming cost us in 2015? I’m pretty sure the extra CO2 was a benefit to crops. The droughts around the world have all happened in the past, so they can’t be blamed on ACO2.

        Where’s the problem?

      • You could equally ask how much reducing CO2 emissions cost us in 2015.

      • stevenreincarnated

        Jim, I asked her just like I said. I think we have 7 coal plants heading for shut down here. We’ll see what happens to our energy costs then. Probably will go from a swing state to a hang the democrats and let them swing state.

      • Coal to gas should reduce costs. She may be happy.

      • stevenreincarnated

        Are gas prices going to be the same if gas is used to replace coal? There is also the expense of building new plants we will all get to pay for. I doubt she’ll be too pleased. We will see.

      • Gas surpassed coal around 2010. Nobody noticed. Emissions declined. These trends continue.

      • Switch to nat gas required zero government intervention. Leave it that way.

      • stevenreincarnated

        So decrease the supply of energy and prices won’t go up? Cool.

      • Jimd

        you said

        ‘The people who have actually done the economics suggest that climate change is an order of magnitude more of a drag on the global economy than mitigation on a year-by-year basis going through 2100.’

        Could you provide links to 2 credible papers that assert this. Needless to say don’t bother with Stern.


      • tonyb, you can work it out yourself from even a low social cost of carbon of $10 per tonne, and the IPCC WG3 costs of mitigation which is 0.06% of global GDP when annualized. Given this, what would your position be on mitigation versus adaptation?

      • Regarding the transition to less GHGs, it looks like fossil fuels will die a natural death in the next few decades, but part of what helps speed it up is the global realization of their impacts on climate, not just that they are depleting and getting more costly while the other technologies are getting cheaper and use unlimited fuel resources. I think even the skeptics are seeing the way energy is going now.

      • steven says “So decrease the supply of energy and prices won’t go up? Cool.” Yes, exactly, the big deal being made against CPP is basically to keep coal as a jobs program regardless of its cost to the energy consumer. Don’t be fooled.

      • stevenreincarnated

        Jim, save it. You aren’t going to convince me that supply and demand isn’t a legitimate concept. If they thought supply and demand was enough then why waste the ink in the pen and the energy to charge the phone?

      • steven, there is supply and demand, but there are other pressures too, as to how that supply is being produced and whether it is moral. This also impacts the marketplace.

      • stevenreincarnated

        Jim, we have now gone full circle. Try convincing the easy targets like the lady that works for me first. I am a harder mark.

      • JImd

        No, it was you who made a sweeping assertion so I am looking to see two credible papers confirming what you asserted.

        In the absence of that, I must assume that its just what you believe to be true.


      • David W, coal is central to the BAU scenario that leads to 700 ppm and 5 W/m2 by 2100 giving us 4 C not long after. Further increased coal leads to the RCP8.5 scenario. This is what it is all about. You can have coal, but climate change comes with it. There is a cost.

      • Jim D:
        Boats do take on water. Mitigation is sealing the boat completely which is not practical or economical on most working boats. Adaptation is automatic bilge pumps. We recognize the boat takes on water, especially in rough weather. We aren’t getting rid of the bilge pumps.

      • You can have coal, but climate change comes with it. There is a cost.

        So you think. And others. But if you want to fix the problem, you’re going to have to put up with the coal, or replace it with something that doesn’t cost (much) more.

        Or, perhaps, something where the cost can be deferred until the world’s been industrialized.

      • tonyb, if you haven’t seen multiple estimates, even linked on this site, of the social cost of carbon well above $10 per tonne, or the IPCC AR5 WG3 synthesis of papers that gives 0.06% GDP for mitigation, that would be you not putting two and two together. I gave you these sources, but they should not be surprises either.

      • IPCC AR5 WG3 synthesis of papers that gives 0.06% GDP for mitigation, […]

        That’s socialism in a nutshell: lump everybody together into one GDP and count the cost to that.

        As long as they can fool voters into thinking they won’t get the shaft, they can get votes. Once voters understand that “GDP” isn’t the same as their pocketbook, either the socialists go, or they turn totalitarian.

      • Ragnaar, in this case your bilge pump is a money drain, and a drag on the economy. Adaptation, which includes late adaptation aka disaster recovery, is not a situation you would want to sustain when there is an alternative that turns those pumps off.

      • AK, as I mentioned too, GDP is not the whole story. It is the preferred language of pro-fossil capitalists, who tend to be on the denialist side, so I think that is why it is often framed that way. It downweights poor countries to the extent that their damage is almost not considered.

      • JimD – at a minimum , mitigation has cost the government subsidies to companies like Solyndra and other failed companies in addition to on-going subsidies for “renewables.” There is no demonstrated loss due to ACO2. And don’t even bring up tax breaks for fossil fuel companies. The subject is costs imposed by ACO2 vs cost of mitigation of ACO2.

      • Jimd

        So when you said

        ‘The people who have actually done the economics suggest that climate change is an order of magnitude more of a drag on the global economy than mitigation on a year-by-year basis going through 2100.’

        As can be seen you had nothing at all to back up this sweeping assertion. Subsequent Hand waving at the IPCC reports is all very well but lets have some tangible figures that show what you asserted.


      • 700 ppm
        Current CO2: 401.3, CO2 rising at 2.05ppm per year, for 85 years,
        yields 575.6, so 700ppm is wrong.

        and 5 W/m2 by 2100
        Roughly 2.7W/m GHG forcing since pre-industrial and GHG forcing rising at 0.033 W/m^2 per year, so for 85 more years, yields 5.5 W/m^2 for 2100.

        giving us 4 C not long after.
        Since 1945, temperatures are rising at around 1.2C per century, which would work out to about 1C from today to 2100. Rise since pre-industrial? Probably not well known.


        The trends since 1945 are a reasonable start time because global industrialization and subsequent GHG emissions accelerated at that time:

        These reflect continuation of very recent trends.

        However, some other trends we should also consider.

        Most countries on the planet have fertility rates which are less than replacement and nearly all countries have falling fertility rates. Population will likely be less in 2100 than today.

        Also, developed economies have increased efficiency and that trend would seem likely to continue.

        As a result, most developed economies tend to have decreasing emissions and as undeveloped economies develop, they too would appear to have decreasing CO2 emissions.

        Also, CO2 uptake continues to increase. CO2 uptake will likely be higher in 2100 than today.

        So, “business as usual” includes a lot of trends which would point to lower CO2 forcing the a simple linear trend would indicate.

      • You can take the per capita CO2 to keep growing at its current rate, and the projected population growth rate, and it is hard to avoid 700 ppm. Even freezing CO2 at its current per capita level gets us to nearly 700 ppm for a growth to a 10 billion population by 2100, and that freeze would require a policy of some sort to allow developing countries to increase their well below average per capita rates, while developed countries reduce theirs. It is just difficult to see a non-policy scenario that stays below 700 ppm.

      • It downweights poor countries to the extent that their damage is almost not considered.

        Let’s see, is that the same “poor countries” whose populations are most lacking in, and most likely to gain, power for their lights, washing machines, refrigerators, and air conditioning from all those new coal power plants?

      • My guess is that almost everybody who saw my comment had seen the linked presentation, but while I was searching for a similar one for “lights”, I found this:
        What do you think?

      • You could equally ask how much reducing CO2 emissions cost us in 2015.

        Reducing CO2 emissions saved us because the reason we have reduced CO2 emissions for the last ten years is because we are using cheaper natural gas. The market did this already.

        Now, in much of the rest of the world, coal is cheaper than natural gas, and therein lies a problem for those who believe CO2 poses a risk: the US portion ( and for that matter, the entire developed world’s portion ) of CO2 emissions are less and less a percentage of the global total. But economic development itself leads to increased efficiency and lower population, so we want the developing world to continue to develop even if they use fossil fuels to do it:


      • You warmists need to stop with the tales of future doom. We’ve been emitting ACO2 in significant quantities for well over a century. Show some damage now or shut up.

      • tonyb, I keep telling you, I have two well known numbers to back it up.

      • AK, no these countries can’t afford fossil fuel-driven electrical power grids. Western biases give a completely wrong concept of how they can best develop their energy needs.

      • Reducing fossil fuels is not collapsing the US economy, nor will it collapse the global economy. In the long run it saves costs while transitioning to unlimited and clean fuel resources. This won’t happen tomorrow, but over the next decade or three.

      • Western biases give a completely wrong concept of how they can best develop their energy needs.

        Do you wash your clothes by hand?

      • TE, you make the case for the necessity of a global agreement on CO2. The developed countries can provide the technology to the less well developed countries to enable this. Everyone sees that 700 ppm is not a good place to be, so there is motivation enough.

      • There is no scientific case to limit ACO2.

      • The developed countries can provide the technology to the less well developed countries to enable this. Everyone sees that 700 ppm is not a good place to be, so there is motivation enough.

        Sure, but China “can provide the technology to the less well developed countries to enable” coal-fired power. And they are. And their workers are getting the benefit of wages that might be paid to western countries’ workers, but aren’t.

        Nobody’s going to wait on your THEORETICAL BULLSHIT. And the Western world doesn’t think they can afford to spend extra to provide “clean power” to the backwards parts of the world, because they’re too busy spending money on your environmental bullsh1t.

      • Are you in favor of China doing that? How about if China sells cheap solar panels to Africa instead? Would you be disappointed or encourage that as a better option for climate and health?

      • David Springer

        “Do you wash your clothes by hand?”

        Sometimes. My mother washes hers by hand all the time. In the bathtub. With a plunger. She eschews modern appliances. Doesn’t have a television either. I did manage to get her hooked on a microwave a few years ago but I bought it while on vacation there for a winter ($40 @Walmart). Thank God she draws the line at a refrigerator, gas furnace, and telephone and owns one each of those.

      • Are you in favor of China doing that? How about if China sells cheap solar panels to Africa instead? Would you be disappointed or encourage that as a better option for climate and health?

        If African power companies want to by solar PV, I’d see it as a positive, and they should buy it from the least expensive vendor.

        China has subsidized their PV industries in ways even the US hasn’t, it’s no wonder their manufacturers can make them so cheap.

        But Africa isn’t going to have reliable power from solar without pumped hydro, or some other way of storing power, that doesn’t yet exist. Meantime, they need reliable power, and unless somebody wants to spend the money to set up reliable supply lines for gas, most of them are going to buy coal. For the moment.

      • The reason they are not using coal already is because it is too expensive to build an electrical grid which is the only way coal is going to be cost effective. Local microgrids with solar power look more in reach. This is similar to how they jump past land lines to cell phones, and past cable or TV masts to satellite TV in less developed countries. Just as effective with less infrastructure.

      • JimD, “The reason they are not using coal already is because it is too expensive to build an electrical grid which is the only way coal is going to be cost effective.”

        Given the political and economic situation, every thing is too expensive for many Africans. That is pretty much what makes the “third” world the third world. There are electric grids in Africa complete with Coal, Hydro and even a lonely little nuke plant. If China is crazy enough to finance infrastructure, coal is a serious option.

      • Jimd said

        ‘tonyb, I keep telling you, I have two well known numbers to back it up.’

        Way back you made a sweeping assertion. I asked you to validate it with actual studies. You hand waved and didn’t provide these. Its an important topic and if the facts are as you say it would be expected that there are numerous peer reviewed studies to validate them as they would form an important plank of govt policy

        In the total absence of your providing the two samples I requested your premise remains an assertion.


      • The reason they are not using coal already is because it is too expensive to build an electrical grid which is the only way coal is going to be cost effective. Local microgrids with solar power look more in reach.

        They aren’t reliable. The moment the sun goes down, they stop.

        Those micro-grids need storage, which is still way too expensive, on a general scale. Full sized grids connected to coal plants will be cheaper, once you scale it up past a few pilot villages.

        Or they could be connected in small batches to gas turbines. Gas is more flexible, can shut down or back when the sun is shining. But you need some sort of gas distribution system.

        AFAIK a nation-wide gas distribution system combined with a mix of CCGT and open-cycle gas would be much cheaper than a full electrical grid system, even paying for the extra capacity needed to handle local peaks. And it would make much more economic room for PV, as well as storage.

        But the supply line would have to be built, along with some sort of price guarantees. Otherwise, a national grid with whatever hydro-power they can get and otherwise coal appears to be what everybody’s building.

        If you want them to build something else, you can’t ask them to wait. You need to offer them a cheaper and equally dependable alternative right now.

      • This is similar to how they jump past land lines to cell phones, […]

        Got that wrong!

        Cell phones require a great deal of infrastructure. They may be able to skip lots of “last-mile” cable, but for high capacity they need fiber to connect the towers, there just isn’t enough bandwidth for more than local connectivity.

        Or satellites. But satellites are very expensive infrastructure, and they have bandwidth limitations too.

        I’ll agree that the new infrastructure doesn’t have to look like the old. But nobody’s developed new infrastructure yet. In developed countries, they use the existing grid. No scalable alternative has yet been offered.

      • David Wojick

        JimD, given that I do not believe in AGW I find your responses basically meaningless. In any case our US coal will still be there when we need it, so running out of fossil fuel is not an issue. In the meantime I applaud the poorer countries for burning their way out of poverty. Burn baby burn.

        As for African solar micro grids, the question is storage? Batteries are expensive and short lived. Or should they just use juice in daytime, and be thankful for that? It is very useful at night. I imagine they will go the way we went, which is to start with the cities.

      • Jim D, you should perhaps try to find out a bit about Africa before offering your completely ignorant opinions.

      • Jim D, in Africa they’ve now even jumped past power grids, and are harnessing their electricity directly from lightning, as illustrated in this link:


        We can certainly teach them a thing or two, yessirree! ;-)

      • You can take the per capita CO2 to keep growing at its current rate, and the projected population growth rate, and it is hard to avoid 700 ppm
        CO2 per capita is falling in the countries accounting for the greatest emissions ( US, Europe, now including China ). The lesser developed nations will continue to increase – until the become developed, when, if they follow the pattern exhibited by most other countries, their per capita emissions will decrease also.

        Even freezing CO2 at its current per capita level gets us to nearly 700 ppm for a growth to a 10 billion population by 2100
        Well, the UN offers three ‘variants’ of population ‘projection’ for low, medium, and high fertility rates.

        But here’s the thing, the UN estimates of current fertility are higher than the CIA estimates of fertility.
        Global total fertility is getting very close to the replacement rate.
        I have plotted the CIA versus UN ‘variants’:


        which suggests peak population and falling levels by 2050.

        It is just difficult to see a non-policy scenario that stays below 700 ppm. Factors which may keep CO2 from even reaching 500ppm, which are trends which don’t require any policy include:

        increased efficiency of energy use ( using less energy overall )
        slowing population growth ( and decreasing population? )
        decreased CO2 in fuel ( frackable natural gas is world wide )

    • The developed countries can provide the technology to the less well developed countries to enable this.

      Already done.

      It’s called fracking


    • David Springer

      Thanks for the tip, re Michael Mann. In the background I hear my wife listening to the latest episode as we speak. I’m going out to rewind the old DVR to Mann’s segment.

    • Meanwhile Stossel is now doing another Green Tyranny segment. He already has had clips from Curry (still aghast at Climategate) and Michaels (assures us he is in the 97%).

      • David Wojick

        Michaels is a lukewarmer, so he indeed believes in AGW. But not CAGW. Since I do not believe in AGW we avoid that issue when we work together.

  21. On the Ocean Acidification issue [[ Crucial ocean acidification models come up short — link == http://www.nature.com/news/crucial-ocean-acidification-models-come-up-short-1.18124 ]] 465 studies were consider in the review — only 27 were found to have “an appropriate experimental design “. That is ~6%. Only SIX percentage even started out with an appropriate design.

    Crushing news for Science — millions of precious research dollars wasted.

    I did not see this study highlighted in the New York Times……

  22. We need to bookmark this article to see if the hand-wringing worries come to fruition or if it’s just more left-wing propaganda. From the article:

    Japan is about to do something that’s never been done before: Restart a fleet of mothballed nuclear reactors.
    The first reactor to meet new safety standards could come online as early as next week. Japan is reviving its nuclear industry after all its plants were shut for safety checks since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that wrecked the Fukushima Dai-Ichi station north of Tokyo, causing radiation leaks that forced the evacuation of 160,000 people.

    Japan’s restarts are being closely watched as the Fukushima disaster snuffed out what was then called a global nuclear renaissance. Success in Japan might allow the industry to re-emphasize nuclear as carbon-free energy before international climate talks in Paris this year, where almost 200 nations will negotiate emission standards.

    The first Japanese reactor to restart is at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant on the southern island of Kyushu. It could be back online as soon as Aug. 10, according to the company.

    As problems can arise with long-dormant reactors, the NRA “should be testing all the equipment as well as the operator beforehand in preparation,” Macfarlane of the U.S. said by e-mail. Although the NRA “is a new agency, many of the staff there have long experience in nuclear issues,” she said.

    “If a car isn’t used for a while, and you suddenly use it, then there is usually a problem. There is definitely this type of worry with Sendai,” said Ken Nakajima, a professor at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute. “Kyushu Electric is probably thinking about this as well and preparing for it.”


  23. Interesting paper here:
    Spring tension 1: Antiphase movement
    Spring tension 2: Chimera state
    Spring tension 3: In-phase synchrony
    Spring tension is suggested to be the climate regime control. Antiphase is equilibrium. Inputs equal outputs. In-phase is a warming or cooling regime. Inputs do not equal outputs. The chimera state is the climate regime transition.

    • Ragnar, thanks for the very interesting link! I couldn’t find anything about climate models and chimeral states – maybe I need to look harder. I did look at some lists of associated papers and found the name of Steven Strogatz as a coauthor on some. He has written a very accessible book on the subject entitled “Synch” – It is an interesting read which I highly reccomend.

  24. David Springer

    Michael Mann on Bill Maher show.

    Funny stuff! If Maher is a friend then Mann doesn’t need enemies. He asked Mann if global warming was “super super settled science” and Mann agreed. HAHAAHAHA – so much for all the warmists saying no real climate scientists ever called it settled science. Mann agreed it was super super settled.

    Then Mann said there was still time to save the planet through emission reductions and Maher countered that Jim Hansen said in 2003 that there’s only a decade left to reverse course before the damage was irreversible and that decade had passed. So he left Mann sitting there trying to figure out how to not call Hansen, the father of global warming, a total tool.

    Classic. Maher gets an icon of global warming science on the show then can’t help but trip him up. I’m reminded of the saying “Oh what a tangled web we weave once we practice to deceive”. Global warming science is one mofo of a tangled web at this point in time.

    Super super settled science… ROFLMAO

    • That’s to be expected when two dimowit bulbs collide.

    • Reminds me of, double secret probation.

    • I thought it was interesting that Mann dealt with the “Hansen” challenge by calling him “optimistic” – meaning we have more time. That should revel some sort of disconnect between rhetoric and understandings. For the most part bad predictions get the Teflon treatment – meaning nothing sticks.

      Back then I heard the ten years or it’s too late “pleas because of irreversible” damage”, my response was “We’re not going significantly to change in ten years, and I doubt we’ll be too late.” Such pronouncements would get horrified reactions from my environmentally “aware” friends as to how I could ignore the clear evidence and why I might not be behind doing
      all we could” to reduce CO2..

      Now those words have proven true – we did not change that much in ten years (net energy to make renewables to date has offsets their energy production) and as they are saying now – it’s not to late. Would we have been better off with crash CO2 reduction programs at the turn of the century? I doubt that case can be made. Look how far the technology has come since then and how marginal it is. Don’t underestimate the impact of having the better renewable sites taken over by older less efficient technology.

      Now we are getting the message again as we did in 2003 but this time “they really mean it”.

  25. Steven Mosher

  26. From the article:

    Most voters like Clinton’s ambitious plan to combat global warming but admit the issue isn’t of high importance to their voting decisions.


  27. From the article:

    Security researchers from Trend Micro wondered what kind of cyberattacks might target one of our most common and vital pieces of infrastructure: gas pumps. So, they set up some honeypots to find out if and how gas pumps were being attacked. The researchers ended up getting more than they bargained for. Between February and July, there were at least 23 distinct attacks on their honeypots alone (PDF). This included identifications, modifications, and DDoS attacks. “In their research, they found that a DoS or DDoS attack could disrupt inventory control and distribution, which means gas stations may not have enough supply on hand. Changing pump names could result in the wrong fuel being added to a tank—such as putting Unleaded inside Premium, or vice versa. Drivers wouldn’t like that. Or changing the pump volume could result in tanks being underfilled.”


  28. This is very interesting:

    “The number of volcanoes erupting right now is greater than the 20th century’s YEARLY average”  [link]

    Some simple thoughts from the vulgate:

    1. The volcanoes are soil building and fertilizing events and could perhaps enhance some tired soils.

    2. Global trade, especially in agriculture, is a risk reduction strategy.

    3. War makes everything worse – it is economic growth in reverse.

    4. Typing on the iPad stinks.

    I would love to hear the thoughts of the denizen geologists, and everyone else, of course.

  29. Tomas Milanovic said words to the effect of, an infinity of oscillators to describe the climate. What do they look like?
    A few of my thoughts on Antiphase and In Phase Synchrony here:

  30. This week saw the release of this NEW VIDEO which provides COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE of JUST PRECISELY WHAT IS WRONG with the GREENHOUSE CONJECTURE and what the new 21st CENTURY PHYSICS TELLS US – it’s all in 22 minutes at: https://youtu.be/QtXwN10qnLw

  31. Judith is selective about what she posts as news. It makes me wonder how selective she is about what she reads. Nothing about the mass salmon die off. Nothing about the new solar study.

  32. Pingback: Week in review – science edition | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  33. A positive effect of glaciers melting:
    Nutrient-rich water from melting Antarctic glaciers nourishes the ocean food chain, creating feeding “hot spots” in large gaps in the sea ice, according to a new study.

  34. http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?language=en#t-486839
    He focuses on the Why you do something, leading to success. What is the Why of the skeptics, lukewarmers and warmists? Failed persuasive campaigns often wrongly start with the desired results, the What. Is that the reason the warmists don’t have the followers they think they should have?