Democrats & Liberals Archives

Science And Technology Links 2-8-2010

For quite some time now, I’ve been publishing a column of science and technology links, in the interests of informing people about current events in that area. This is really a non-partisan enterprise, but I do believe that politics could do with a bit more information and learning, and a bit less dependence on top-of-the-head opinion making done with out much consideration of conditions on the ground. Ignorance is not bliss in politics, it’s accidents and catastrophes waiting to happen. Read as few or as many as you want.

Popular Science-

Superinsulating Aerogels Arrive on Home Insulation Market At Last

Sony's New Internal Wireless Tech Snips Wires Inside Your Gadgets

By Stimulating Stem Cells, Bioactive Nanogel Regenerates Cartilage in Joints

New Armored Wall System Assembles Like Legos, Could Replace Sandbags in Afghanistan

Wonder Material Graphene Becomes Lighting for Future Devices and Homes

California Utilities to Store Off-Peak Power In Blocks of Ice

Discover Magazine-

How Henrietta Lacks’s Cells Became Immortal and Changed Medical Science

Looks like the Sun is in its teens again

SDO launches on February 9

In a First, Ground-Based Telescope Measures Alien Planet’s Atmosphere

Dew-Spangled Spider Webs Could Inspire High-Tech Water Collection

Scientific American-

The Advantages of Being Helpless

City Dwellers Drive Deforestation in 21st Century

CERN Gears Up Its Computers for More Atom Smashing

Moving forward with electronic health records

Better Broadband: New Regulatory Rules Could Change the Way Americans Get Online

Popular Mechanics-

Toyota Cites Brake Software Problems in New Prius Recall

The MV-22 Osprey Finds Purpose In Disaster Relief

The New NASA: A Path To Anywhere, And Everywhere

Solar-Powered Circuits Charge by Sunlight in Real-Time

The Science Behind 7 Winter Olympic Events

Technology Review-

Micro Solar Cells Handle More Intense Sunlight

U.S. Solar Market to Double in the Next Year

Graphene Transistors that Can Work at Blistering Speeds

Biofuels from Saltwater Crops

"Melting" Drywall Keeps Rooms Cool

Ars Technica-

The lost souls of telecommunications history

Microsoft: your battery is the problem, not Windows 7

AMD reveals Fusion CPU+GPU, to challege Intel in laptops

Contextualizing the copyright debate: reward vs. creativity

Royalty-free codec still needed despite no-cost h264 license

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at February 9, 2010 1:47 PM
Comment #295368

A couple of interesting links for fact seekers:

Posted by: gergle at February 9, 2010 5:16 PM
Comment #295374

For the non-partisans in all of us and another good link…just copy and paste(not good at links)

Posted by: Kathryn at February 9, 2010 8:35 PM
Comment #295375

Not that I expect any Democratic Radio or TV Pundits to bring up any of those links in conversation. I would like to see a Democratic and Independent Spokesperson to debate folks like Glen beck and Sara Palin about how these innovations can lead America to address the questions of enlightenment asked by the 21st Century.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at February 9, 2010 9:19 PM
Comment #295389

Stephen, I will take a few parting shots at politicizing some of these:

“New Armored Wall System Assembles Like Legos, Could Replace Sandbags in Afghanistan” and surround American national monuments, government buildings, and communications infrastruture in the even Republicans ever rise to majority power again. :-)

“Superinsulating Aerogels Arrive on Home Insulation Market At Last”. Keep this stuff away from Sara Palin. That gal needs to CHILL (and get a more discrete hold on her crib notes).

“By Stimulating Stem Cells, Bioactive Nanogel Regenerates Cartilage in Joints”. Any chance this stuff will work on Tea Bagger’s brains?

“California Utilities to Store Off-Peak Power In Blocks of Ice”. The weight of which, along with their deficits, should be just enough to finally cause it to quake and drop into the Pacific Ocean. A 70’s fantasy finally realized.

“The Advantages of Being Helpless”. This is a new discovery explaining Republican obstructionist behavior, right?

“City Dwellers Drive Deforestation in 21st Century”. Huh! Cities were deforested centuries ago. Well, except for a patch in Manhattan.

“The MV-22 Osprey Finds Purpose In Disaster Relief”. Now that’s depressingly funny for fiscal conservatives such as myself.

“Solar-Powered Circuits Charge by Sunlight in Real-Time”. As opposed to what? Avatar Time? Narnia Time?

“The Science Behind 7 Winter Olympic Events”. I get it. This is about the explosion of births in August and September, right? (It’s a Northern Hemisphere joke.)

“Royalty-free codec still needed despite no-cost h264 license”. Your kidding. There is such a thing as a free license in America? Guess the politicians missed one.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 10, 2010 2:18 AM
Comment #295395

Henry Schlatman-
Here’s my philosophy: Politicians will appeal to what’s popular, or what they think will appeal to the populace. So, if I raise the level of awareness about these technologies here and elsewhere (this has also been posted in essentially the same form on Daily Kos) then I can spread enough awareness to get people excited about these things. And having gotten excited, politicians and their helpers will investigate what’s getting them excited. Hybrid technology was in the tech news LONG before it became commonplace as it is in the marketplace. So has wind and solar. Take Technology Review, for instance. I think my grandfather got me a one-year subscription to it as a present, back in 2002, and they were talking about newfangled things we’re discussing and using now there.

Application of technology is often a path with many twists and turns, but being aware of it, I think, helps us to dispel this notion that this country is simply standing still. Slowly, but surely, the country is changing, the way we relate to one another is changing. When C+J in the red column pooh-pooh where solar’s going across the Red Column, it’s articles like those above in Technology Review that back my faith in it’s progress.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 10, 2010 8:13 AM
Comment #295396

Thanks. Its nice to take a break from all that “condesending” to conservatives,you know,demanding logic and pointing out actual facts,etc.

Posted by: bills at February 10, 2010 8:24 AM
Comment #295400

SD, I heard of a company which is replacing silicon in solar panels with algae, using photosynthesis to generate the power. My guess is, if this is successful for mass production, it will dramatically lower the initial cost of solar panels, and that will dramatically speed up our progress toward energy independence.

Algae based solar panels on electric and hybrid vehicles could continuously recharge batteries on sunny days whether the car is moving or parked. We may one day have to figure out how to build parking garages that let sunlight in to all the decks, instead of shutting it out.

Jobs, jobs, and more jobs!

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 10, 2010 9:58 AM
Comment #295402

David R. Remer-
Speaking of algae and quantum effects, check out this recent discovery about Photosynthesis in Algae

What I like about science is that it Democratizes thing. Just about anybody can learn it, given the time and effort. It demands the same thing of everybody: test your conclusions, test your logic, test your measurements, make sure they’re right on the merits. Whether you’re right or wrong doesn’t depend so much on what the current politics is, it’s how close you are to reality with your theories.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 10, 2010 10:07 AM
Comment #295404

I don’t know why you guys think you own this stuff.

I like your thing about insulation. I listened to a lecture about “climate deniers” a while ago. They identified various groups ranging from those very excited by the issue to those who were doubters. The interesting thing was that the “doubters” had taken more steps (such as owning an efficient car or insulating their houses) than the other groups.

As I explained to Stephen in a post below, it is not science to extrapolate from some evidence to government policy.

I object to guys like Al Gore who bowdlerize science by unwarranted extrapolations and politicalization.

BTW – Pew Research has a very easy science quiz. Both C & J got 100% and it is hard to understand how anybody could get less. But only 10% got all the questions right. Since we assume that more than 10% of the population is liberal and at least some of the 10% who got the questions right is made up of conservatives, at least some liberals much be in that abysmal science group.

BTW - anybody who doesn’t get all the questions right should reconsider thinking they have even basic science knowledge.

Stephen & others

I would also explain something to you about time. If you study the history of science, you see that it takes some time for an innovation to become generally available. The U.S. has been one of the places where innovation is most rapidly translated into general use, BTW.

I know that you think that innovations should immediately become part of our daily lives, no matter the cost, but you are wrong for logical reasons.

Technology changes and improves. If system-wide you immediately adopt the latest, you are locking yourself into yesterday’s technology. It is better to apply new technologies in an iterative fashion, learning and adapting as you go. To think otherwise is … unscientific.

My house was built in 1997. Some really good innovations have come along since that time and if we built a new house, we would incorporate them. But we are not planning to tear down our old house to update. That is why it takes a while for innovations to become widespread. It would be very stupid to try to update a whole system at once and then tie yourself into the old tech.

Think of the the government ethanol program. It is a good thing they were unable to get this going faster. Or what about the synfuel debacle?

One of the dynamics of our system is that new technologies can leap frog older ones. The most advanced system of today will be backward ten years from now. That is why smart people don’t lurch into new technologies. They plan a iterative process.

Posted by: Christine at February 10, 2010 10:15 AM
Comment #295407

The Buddhists and Hindus may be proved right after all, that our senses perceive an illusion which we call reality, and where reality is something quite foreign to both our senses and finite object oriented mental processes. Of course, I knew that already after my first 3 mushroom trips in the 1960’s. The irony is that our senses and empirical science are able to penetrate the world of quantum mechanics, at all. There are certain leaps of faith that have to be hurdled to justify even conceptualizing quantum mechanics as opposed to Einstein’s goal of a unified theory of general relativity. Einstein couldn’t and wouldn’t take that leap. (Which in no way diminishes his contributions to the history of human knowledge.)

I still contend that Freud was the lynch pin figure who brought civilization and human knowledge out of the middle ages more than any other single person, despite the fact that all the particulars of his theory rejecting black box representations of the human mind, were patently wrong or imagined.

Real empirical science requires eliminating the projections of the human mind from the observation, measurement process. (Ballentine’s interpretation of the Heisenberg Principle, is an excellent example.)

Another way of exemplifying Freud’s contribution is to ask: Is the Heisenberg principle a product of the real mechanics of a particle’s wave packet, or, an implicit flaw introduced by the human mind’s limitations in formulating the concept of a wave packet?

That is a question that philosophers of empirical science might never ask were it not for Freud’s tectonic shift in locus of causes of human behavior, from external invisible influences like demonic possession, voodoo and witch craft, to internal brain function and dysfunction in behavioral decision making and responses to internal and external physical world stimuli.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 10, 2010 10:37 AM
Comment #295409


Gore nearly single handedly brought climate change science into the awareness of every citizen paying any attention to public policy at all, where it needs to be, based upon the evidence.

It is not nearly as important whether Gore’s citations were all valid and proved correct over time, as it was to get the issue in the scientific community into the living rooms and minds of voters, so that politicians the world over would be forced to address this monumentally costly issue facing humankind and secure the best available data upon which to act sooner, than later.

Don’t lose sight of the importance of the living forest for the dead trees within it.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 10, 2010 10:47 AM
Comment #295410

Christine, btw, I agree, for what its worth, with everyone else you said on the topic. Change is costly. Ergo, change, unless imminent threat to life or health is posed, should be by reasoned plan and not gut response.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 10, 2010 10:49 AM
Comment #295413

Nobody owns it. That’s what’s great about knowledge. What a liberal typically prides themselves on is the belief that they’re paying attention and taking it in, rather than objecting to it based on ideological concerns. We pride ourselves less on what we have, and more on what we don’t throw away.

The truth is, though, if you do not shape policy according to your best picture of reality, you will almost certain end up screwing up something you don’t have to, creating a problem that might snowball into a catastrophe.

As a technologically advanced society, we cannot afford to believe that ignorance is bliss, because our lives often literally depend on the systems around us. At best, though, the failures of that system can reduce the level of our prosperity, snarl the connections that make our lives easier.

I believe that we benefit from doing at least part of our interpretational work for ourselves, not depending on politicians or pundits for our understanding. That way, people aren’t merely advocating in situations like this for what’s advocated by politicians who might be serving special interests, but can take it from an angle beyond the party politics, to an approach that takes account of real world science and engineering.

As far as the advance of technology goes?

You do me a disservice assuming that I’m aiming to just wreck everything and go. You talk about the obsolescence of technology over time, but I think that’s a fairly superficial gloss.

I work in Information Technology. from my experience over the last five years, the transitions are far slower than you think. When I got here, many computers in our system were still running Windows 95 and 98, operating systems that were 7-10 years out of step with the most advanced PC operating system at the time, which was XP. Now, we are only just now setting up the transition to Windows 7. In the meantime, much of our hardware will still be running an OS nearly a decade old.

The truth of the matter is, technologies hang around as long as they are useful, if things are left to themselves. Sometimes this is a good and natural thing. But sometimes, as a society, we’ve got to decide that we’re going to get everything up to speed.

Take broadband, for instance. Other countries are hooking their citizens up to hi-speed internet that runs at 10 to 20 Million bits a second. By contrast, the top you can get on ordinary DSL in my neck of the woods is 6Mbs. That slowness limits what we can do with our computer technology, while competitors in other countries move ahead by leaps and bounds.

Take NASA, for instance. If you look at that Popular Mechanics Op-Ed about NASA, you see the guy complaining that the now-cancelled constellation plan was essentially trying to be Apollo on Steroids. He talks about rethinking the whole thing, moving America into a new, more up to date model of space travel, using our four to five decades of advancement to move past the technology that powered our first moonshots.

Right or wrong, he’s got a points. Sometimes we should just stick with what we have, but sometimes we need to make an official, government commitment to the advancement of our society.

I understand the situation with technology, better than most. Economics and the continued utility of superseded technology make too much rushing difficult to justify. But I don’t think it’s easy to justify sticking with our current status quo, or waiting for innovation or implementation to catch up with our needs on its own time schedule.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and she’s been nine months pregnant for long enough. It’s time for a new generation of technological development in this country.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 10, 2010 12:30 PM
Comment #295418


The “particulars” of Freud’s theories were kind of important and they were mostly wrong. We literally tortured generations of patients who had biological problems because we though we could change them.

Re Gore and climate change - why didn’t he do more about it when he was VP if he thought it was so important.

And Gore advocated Kyoto, which was harmful to the environment had it actually been believed.

Actually you attitude toward Gore and Freud as similar. They are wrong in most important details but you like how they brought something to wide public attention. While you may like them, what they did is more like PT Barnum than science.


I don’t think changes are far slower than I think, since I think it takes a couple decades for them to work through.

Apply your own point re computer systems to general systems. Aren’t you glad that we didn’t all install the “best” system universally when they came along?

I don’t think we disagree at the base. I just ask you to apply your scientific thinking and knowledge of lag times to the more general society and economy. It can take decades for something to make it from Popular Science to general use and sometimes they don’t work at all. Other times they are things people don’t really want or cannot use.

Pointing out scientific advances is easy. Translating science into technology into usable stuff is hard.

It is fairly clear that technologies in the development stage today will not be widely deployed for several years. In the short term, we can raise the price of fuel so as to create conservation. In the medium term we can deploy more nukes and natural gas. In the long term … who knows?

BTW - we have deployed some wonderful technologies in the last decade. A furnace you can buy today is a lot more efficient than the best you could buy ten years ago. My car can get 44 miles to a gallon on the highway. You and I have computers and communications networks that are fantastic. About ten years ago they were talking about how the Internet was going to crash our communications. We are much bigger now and it didn’t crash. We are always learning and adapting.

BTW 2 - science gives options but we have to decide among them. Science tells us the world will get warmer. What do we do?

Posted by: Christine at February 10, 2010 4:53 PM
Comment #295420

I spent the better part of the last decade waiting for the digital transition. The truth was, we were ready technologically long before then. But the Bush Administration was fairly soft on the transition, for various reasons, so everything got pushed forward to a later date.

Telecom companies like AT&T got sweetheart deals and were allowed to conglomerate again, with the condition supposedly being that they would improve their broadband services. They didn’t. Now America is behind other countries on a technology we originate.

The pace of technological expansion and advancement is based on many factors. Among those factors is government support for advancement. There isn’t just one speed for the progress of this technology, and a lack of funding and/or incentives for research can have a problematic effect on it sometimes.

I think you take the systems and the progress we make in them too much for granted.

Solar technology is out there, and online. So is wind. Once you get past some of the Nimbyism, Folks know how to put this stuff together, and in real terms these kind of facilities are far cheaper, and inherently far safer than fission-nuclear.

While I acknowledge that technology will not develop just overnight, or get cheaper, etc., I don’t buy the assertions that the technology isn’t already here in a widespread form. As a matter of fact, as one of my links indicates, the market for solar has doubled in the past year.

As for “science gives us options…”, well, here’s my philosophy: science is all about the feedback between what we believe, and what actually happens.

Science doesn’t merely give us the tools to tell that the world is warming up. It gives us the tools to analyze how and why. It gives us the ability to figure out the range of possibilities and probabilities, given a certain response by us.

In other words, it lets us figure out what the dynamics of a system are, in response to what we do. It doesn’t merely tell us that something will happen. It tells us something of what will happen if we do certain things, and not others.

It aids and supplements our judgment. That’s what I keep emphasizing here. Science isn’t just a passive body of knowledge, it’s an active approach to what we observe in the world, meant to filter out the bad habits of human thinking to reveal the truth, as best as we can discern it.

It’s not merely a matter of telling us what our options are, but what the consequences of those actions will be. The whole reason why the oil companies and everybody else pour money into the pseudo-science they push is because they fear that their business will suffer because of the logical implications of what the science says.

It makes sense that they see to their interests in this way, but it poses a problem nonetheless: they are trying to protect harmful practices and products, often enough. We can’t simply ignore our interests in those regards, because like it or not, the public can bear considerable consequences on account of what these businesses do, especially in terms of the global implications of climate change.

One of the main points of government is to curtail selfish behavior that endangers the welfare of society as a whole. The question I would pose to you is whether the Right is allowing the government to do its job there, and prevent the harm to society as a whole.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 10, 2010 5:45 PM
Comment #295421

Christine asked: “Re Gore and climate change - why didn’t he do more about it when he was VP if he thought it was so important. “

I don’t know. But, I would guess that it was because a lot of the data and replicative research needed to establish consensus was not yet there yet. It was after all, current climate change that is, a very new area of research. We had lots of data of historical climate change and more was and is still coming in every year. But, compiling the data when sufficient data was available to crunch for predictive modeling purposes to be applied to our time, was just getting underway in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

Consensus was slower in coming too due to the fact that climatology data has to come from many scientific disciplines, paleo-biology, geology, earth science and astronomy, and evidence from each of these fields needed to be synthesized into a centralized knowledge base and tested and correlated across disciplines for verification purposes. Then, and only then, could the new statistical models be developed consistent with history and prehistoric records to accommodate predictive modeling. The early predictive modeling tests demonstrated that more refinements and adjustments were needed in order to provide predictions which could be measured and tested in years, not eons.

In short, VP Gore did not have access to the kind of reliable data that would hold up under continued empirical testing. That consensus came only in the last 10 years, and is still being worked and refined. It is after all, a statistical probability model we are working with here and developing models with high reliability and validity measures in an infinite variable laboratory is no small, simple, nor easy thing to develop.

Much like earthquakes, the record can reliably and validly predict that specific quake zones will shift, but, predicting the day, year, decade, or century when it will next occur is a difficult probability model to design with any reliability or validity, until the the tremors (evidence) or seismic activity actually begins to show signs of occurring, often without much warning.

Climatology is not like earthquake prediction modeling in many ways. I draw the parallel only to demonstrate the time and effort that is required to establish reliable and valid probability models that achieve a consensus amongst the scientists researching the evidence. This was a new area of scientific cross-disciplinary science when Gore was VP, and while the data and some modeling was beginning to achieve consensus, there was still a great deal yet left to do to make predictions that would hold up against the most ardent skeptics and special interests invested in invalidating any consensus on the matter, like the Oil, Gas, and Coal industries, not to mention Ranchers and waste management corporations.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 10, 2010 6:25 PM
Comment #295422


Of course that was a rhetorical question. Gore is largely responsible for Kyoto, which he KNEW could not be ratified by the Senate because they told him 97-0 before he signed on.

It is true that less was known in 1998, but the problem was fairly well know since 1988.

About that consensus – it is changing. Science doesn’t stop. The problem is that we had the UN (IPC) get involved and the process got ossified. The development crowd has not got a hold of it and they want to use it as a means of global redistribution.

We should make sure we address climate change and not get sucked into the development trap. You know, those guys have had so much success in Tanzania, Haiti etc. We don’t want them getting in on the climate change.

Posted by: Christine at February 10, 2010 7:33 PM
Comment #295424

The Problem here is that you’re getting caught up in the political rhetoric. The political rhetoric is that it’s a bad thing to deal with the developing countries. But if you look at two of the biggest potential emissions sources…

They’re developing countries.

If they develop short of some framework for developing cleanly, they’re going to develop with dirty technologies. And they sure are not going to do as we say and develop clean technology when we’re not doing it either.

So, by virtue of the political position you’ve already taken, you’re blocking your own way to meeting your goals.

The truth of the matter is, the developing world’s going to seek first world prosperity, and first world prosperity currently comes at a steep cost, in terms of carbon and energy. Hell, we can’t sustain it when we’re the first or second biggest emitter of CO2.

I’m not beholden to Kyoto. But whatever we do in the aftermath of Kyoto’s failure, we’ll have to do it with a mind to how the world as whole is going to work it out.

As far as the energy companies go, here’s my opinion: The real harm being done here, politically speaking, is coming from the fact that the energy companies are dragging their heels on this, rather than devoting their time and energy to figuring out how to adapt to the problem.

The basic policy, bipartisan as it has been, to ignore external problem in favor of an abstract focus of optimizing the economy. What we’ve found to our horror is that we can’t externalize the economy from the real world it’s integrated into. Pollution costs people in terms of health problems and health costs. Health problems take people out of the game economically, add to our entitlement burden. Healthcare costs make it harder for employers to hire people.

All the problems we’ve been shoving to the side so big companies can make more money are becoming the problems that plague us as a nation, and drag our economy down.

The truth of the matter is that you can’t treat the economy as a law to itself. You can’t simply give all the other problems we face as a society a miss, and hope it doesn’t come back to bite us.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 10, 2010 8:44 PM
Comment #295425

You asked “science gives options but we have to decide among them. Science tells us the world will get warmer. What do we do?”

Well, starting with American Coal the Corporations could build Bio-Mass Farms beside the plants that burn the fossil fuel to not only provide CO2 for the plants, but work with scienctists to grow plants that will thrive on the pollutants.

In fact, Big Business and Government would do ggod to look at some of the ways Americas’ Small Business Owners and Consumers have incorporated what was once waste to increase their bottom line and have a cleaner impact on their environment.

The questions Americans need to ask themselve this November is can their Candidate or Incubment see the Big Picture or are they still living in a Limited World?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at February 10, 2010 8:53 PM
Comment #295431


John grows biomass and would be delighted IF there was enough of it to replace coal.

A lot of that is being done already and more can be done, but it is no panacea.

Posted by: Christine at February 10, 2010 10:10 PM
Comment #295433

Christine said: “Gore is largely responsible for Kyoto, which he KNEW could not be ratified by the Senate because they told him 97-0 before he signed on.”

No! The science was largely responsible for people in all nations in the scientific community calling for an international agreement to deal with the human contribution to climate change, since, climate changes and extremes will be enormously costly and dangerous, as we can now see on the S.D. Indian Reservations and in Wa. D.C. and Va., where all those tax dollars are paying government to stay home due to the record snow fall.

Trust me, Al Gore didn’t do the science. He only spoke about it, and raised public awareness of it. He backed a plan for an international response to a global problem. Just as GW Bush put forth an awareness campaign to educate the public to both the necessity and obligation to deal with this global problem with an international response. It was simply the appropriate thing to do, for Both Bush and Gore.

Waiting for perfect solutions to national and international problems growing in size, is the perfect path to take to insure those problems get the better of us all. That is the new Republican philosophy of politics first, nation and solutions last, nothing is going to pass on Democrat’s watch. Just about the most Anti-American stance I can conceive of a prominent American political party taking.

Yes, and that record Snow Fall? It is a result of January’s record high average global temperature, which put more moisture into the atmosphere than normal for this time of year, which in turn, combined with freezing temperatures, which are normal for Winter in the Northern half of the U.S., WILL produce record level snow fall.

The exact opposite of what some Ignorant, Uneducated, Stupid, Righties are claiming, which is that you can’t have global warming and record snow fall at the same time. It would be hilarious except for the fact that there are so many of them subscribing to this Kindergarten reasoning on climate change, and many of them will vote based on their ignorance and lack of education. That is inherently a liability for any democratic elected government, to sustain and encourage such ignorance and lack of education amongst its electorate. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, we still have a semi-functional democratic republic; the question is whether we can keep it going forward with the growing volume of ignorance, lack of education and reason in our political system.

Adam Smith has to be betting this experiment in democracy in America could soon fail, as a result of “enlightened self-interest” being abandoned by so many.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 10, 2010 10:56 PM
Comment #295436


Kyoto was just the wrong response. We agree that climate change was a problem. Kyoto did nothing to address that. It became a give away. You cannot exempt the world’s big future polluters and in fact reward them.

Re the snowfall - you know as well as I do that any particular weather event is neither proof for or against the theory. If you think that data that shows the world is getting warmer is proof of the climate change theory and that the world getting cooler is proof and that more rain is proof and that less rain is proof, you don’t have science. If every event is included, you cannot make distinctions.

Was January a record warm month? Do you have a link. I know that 2009 was NOT a record warm year.

Besides, this year has been pretty nice. We had a cooler, wetter summer, which made everything grow very well. The snow is something we can adjust to. Milwaukee and Chicago are not crippled by that kind of thing.

Of course, now you are talking about global cooling. If we could have global warming with a little more rain, it might be good too.

BTW - as I write this, I am watching an old rerun of “The World at War”. They were talking about the record cold and snowfall - in 1940-1.

Posted by: Christine at February 10, 2010 11:39 PM
Comment #295438

Christine said: “Kyoto was just the wrong response. We agree that climate change was a problem. Kyoto did nothing to address that. It became a give away. You cannot exempt the world’s big future polluters and in fact reward them. “

The U.S. under Republicans would not step up to the plate. Why, because they insisted everyone else step up first. That is not leadership. That is followership that leads the leader and following, NOWHERE! Also, because Republicans allowed the absence of perfection to impede progress.

We could have stepped up to the plate with nominal contributions to do our part, with the assurance that if the other BIG contributors did so also in the future, we would up the ante. That arrangement would now be producing modest results not only in the U.S. but, many other nations who were ready and willing to do what they could afford to.

Some progress is better than no progress. And its not like Republicans don’t know this. After all, they are now invoking the converse with Democrats, blocking any progress at all, since even some progress by Democrats is viewed by Congressional Republicans as a political loss for themselves. Never mind that the nation and her people will suffer from their NO PROGRESS minority strategy.

Time to revoke the 60 vote cloture rule, and make it 51, if at all possible.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 11, 2010 12:29 AM
Comment #295439


97-0 - that is how much the U.S. Senate rejected Kyoto preemptively. ALL the Democrats voted against it. YOu cannot blame Republicans for this one. But there is no blame anyway. It was right.

The U.S. emitted less CO2 after eight years of Bush than before and we are emitting less CO2 this year than we did in 1999. The EU is not doing as well, despite Kyoto (or maybe because of it)

I know you dislike my repeating it, but China will emit more CO2 in the next couple of decades than the U.S. did since the start of the industrial revolution. China is exempt from Kyoto. So are Brazil, Indonesia & India. Russia got all sorts of extra credit for being so filthy and backward under the communists, so that they also are defacto exempt. In other words, ALL the future big polluters are exempt from Kyoto. And you wonder why it doesn’t work?

Kyoto was just a very bad idea and the idiots that negotiated it for us did the world a disservice. That is why all the Democrats in the Senate voted against it.

I regret that people have cravenly and cynically played politics with it for so long.

Posted by: Christine at February 11, 2010 12:59 AM
Comment #295442

The bio-mass is not there to replace coal, but offer Americas’ Commerce and Industries a long term solution to the limited resources of our Parents and Grandparents.

For why I do believe over the next 100 years Mankind will discover the difference between non-organic carbon, orgabic carbon, and pure carbon. Seeing that burning coal and natural gas to create steel and other products is needed for the short term (10-50 years). Having seen some of the things the Children of the 21st Century can do with Bio-Mass today, besides eliminating the air and water pollutants from burning fossil fuel I do look forward to the day when Bio-Mass Materail replaces the plastic cars of the 20th Century.

Maybe those who oppose the idea of global warning would like to explain to me why I remember when America had a White Christmas, but now get those blizzards in Mid-Febuary. Should we change Winter from Dec. 21 to Feb. 21? For I really want to know why the Northeast of America now enjoy 60 degree Christmasses.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at February 11, 2010 2:08 AM
Comment #295447


It was Bush responsible for representative involvement in the Kyoto Conference. Our representative did not lead, our representative did what Republicans are doing now, laying down terms no one can or will meet. Obstructionism was our W.H.’s intent because GW Bush wasn’t buying into the cost of addressing climate change by denying global climate change.

That is an entirely different topic than whether our Senate would approve the terms drafted without American leadership toward progress on an issue our WH did not believe should be an issue.

And, your comments are either ignorant of, or purposely evading what really happened in referencing the initial Kyoto Protocol proposal prior to the U.S. nixing it in Mar. 2001. There was a second draft of the treaty, to whit:

However, in July 2001, the European Union, Japan, Canada, Russia, Australia, and 170 other nations reached an agreement to proceed with the treaty. In order to secure the support of highly industrialized nations, the European Union was forced to make substantial concessions. The targets for emissions reduction were reduced by two-thirds from the original goals, and countries were given the option of planting carbon-absorbing forests to earn pollution credits, in lieu of reducing emissions.

The European Union and other nations continue to pressure Bush to adopt the Kyoto Protocol. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has passed a unanimous resolution calling for him either to sign on to a revised version of the Kyoto Protocol, or to develop a new international agreement for reducing greenhouse gases.

As reported in the Wa. Post at during the respective periods.

Bush chose instead to tell U.S. industries to voluntarily do what they can to reduce emissions. What a JOKE! Eh? And he payed lip service to CO2 emission sequestration technology moving ahead in the private sector.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 11, 2010 9:07 AM
Comment #295449

Christine, I amend my first sentence in my comment above which was incomplete. It should have read: “It was Bush responsible for representative involvement in the Kyoto Conference, which killed the initiative for a globally enforced effort.”

Kyoto conferencing began in 1997. Bush was in office 2.5 months before killing the whole thing. Sorry, but, Bush was not that fast a learner with all the other Presidential items taxing his new presidency, to have brought himself up to speed on the issues at the heart of the Kyoto negotiations for 4 years. Clinton was involved in those negotiations and therefore, it was NOT worth pursuing according to Bush’s advisors and the puppet responded as his corporate and military lackey advisors pulled the strings.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 11, 2010 9:14 AM
Comment #295452


The Senate would never have ratified Kyoto. Remember 97-0.

I do think Bush made a mistake not signing it, however. From the strictly cynical point of view, we would not have had to do anything more than we did over the past ten years and we could have pretended we were hard at it, as the others did.

A lot of that negotiation is just “rain dancing”. it keeps a lot of the NGO folks employed and gives them nice places to vacation.

If you look at the subsequent Copenhagen negotiations, you see that Obama didn’t give any more than Bush and he did the right thing.

As I wrote in a post on the other side, we should get in front of this issue because our emissions will be coming down anyway, as technologies come on line and we convert some of our consumption to the newly abundant natural gas, which is about 1/3 less carbon intensive. We can then claim the moral high ground and blame the Chinese. We can play that game too.

Posted by: Christine at February 11, 2010 10:31 AM
Comment #295455

You seem to be confusing some issues.

One reason why I posted this particular entry was to get us away from the politics somewhat to look at these issues from a practical perspective. You keep on talking about Gore and Kyoto, and quite frankly, I couldn’t care less.

The evidence tells us we have a challenge to meet, and the means to meet it now, or to at least make the start while the going’s good.

Some are going to say, well, the results might be beneficial!

Well, maybe they will be. Except, the thing is, we can’t predict those results with any certainty.

We don’t know which areas will have what climate, in what way. We don’t know for sure which areas will become desert, which will be indundated with rains. We don’t know what the patterns over the course of the year for different places will be.

We are messing with the way things have been for about eight thousand years, since the end of the last ice age. We have pushed ourselves into truly uncharted territory, and it may take literal centuries worth of adaptation for the World, much less this country to figure out how things are going to shake out.

But it will be more than figuring things out.

You yourself indirectly reference this, by talking about the economic and social constraints of upgrading technology. Consider that nearly every civilization on the face of this planet, currently supporting a society is dependent on a long standing ecological order that meant they could find water in particular places at particular rates of flow, coming from particular sources. They could raise crops in certain areas, irrigate them from certain watersheds and whatnot.

The question is not whether there will be beneficiaries of warming. the question is how much expense, how much heartache, how much turmoil and displacement will America and all the rest of the nations of this planet suffer as we are force to rearrange our whole pattern of civilization on this planet to suit the new climate patterns.

Like you said with changing energy, it won’t be easy or quick. People will continue to rely on many of these systems until their collapse leaves them no other choice but to either abandon their old cities and towns, starve and go thirsty, or take the economically expensive step of reorganizing and rerouting their dependencies.

It’s an example of pay me now, or pay me later. We can either reorganize the way we get energy and fuel, or we can take on the much more complicated and expensive task of dealing with climate change on a scale even greater than any Medieval Warm Period or Little Ice Age.

We can continue to play politics until our atmosphere brings the reckoning, or we can do something intelligent about our situation.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 11, 2010 11:54 AM
Comment #295460

Christine said: “The Senate would never have ratified Kyoto. Remember 97-0.”

Ahh, your crystal ball! I see. Despite the treaty being rewritten and more accommodating to the U.S. and the Senate Committee’s endorsement. You have every right to your speculations as I do mine.

But, you know, leadership in America has accomplished what even a majority of Americans resisted and didn’t understand, only to have the majority embrace the value of that change after the fact.

If, and when, America is able to get the economy going again, climate change already costing tax payers larger and larger sums, is going to move back up on the public’s priority list, especially for those Americans living and working in coastal low lands or record breaking climatic shift areas. Just a little over 10 years ago, my Mom, in a flood plain could get flood insurance for less than $100 per year. Today the premiums are over $500 per year. Of course there are many reasons for this, but, one some major contributors are, the excessive droughts in areas and fires denuding mountains and hillsides setting up flood potential not seen before, and record breaking snow accumulations in mountain areas with earlier and more sudden onsets of Spring warming, hastening the melt into floods, and of course the small rise of ocean levels along coastal areas which have compounding effects on sea encroachment through higher tides and swells, and dramatically greater reach inland during hurricanes - All a result of global climate change and average temperature global warming.

We could have paid the Kyoto Price then, or we can continue to pay the escalating prices of physical losses and rising taxes for natural disasters in perpetuity. An international approach to reductions will only reap cost and property and live savings if enacted soon enough to make a difference in longer term forecasts.

Very likely, once our CO2 emissions get high enough to unleash massive methane emissions, a runaway climatic change scenario will unfold that human intervention will not be able to slow or stop. 100’s of millions, perhaps a billion people will suffer horribly as a result. Simple humanity demands that the nation’s of the world address these potential consequences and do what is necessary and possible to prevent and mitigate them, and elongate the adaptation time-line.

Dislocations of millions of people in a short period of time will result in widespread disease, shortage of life sustaining resources, wars and predation, and enormous costs in both private and public relief aid to try to mitigate those consequences. The drought and famine in Somalia, the Tsunami in Indonesia, the drug based economy and struggle for power in Afghanistan, and the millions without power in the U.S. in Winter, are just small down payment examples of what is to come in the absence of an international treaty akin to Kyoto.

Pay now, or pay far more later. America, and especially conservatives, seems to be in love with the concept of paying far more later. Republican’s more than 5 trillion dollars in deficit spending, more than half of which was entirely unnecessary in their 8 years, and fostering a Great Recession requiring trillions more in deficit spending to keep Americans from the ravages of a Great Depression, being a prime example.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 11, 2010 2:14 PM
Comment #295461

Christine, claiming the right to complain about others is not Leadership which leads to solutions. Please, tell me Republicans have a better plan than this.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 11, 2010 2:15 PM
Comment #295475

Kyoto was worse than nothing. There should be a kind of Hippocratic oath for politics - first do no harm.

What we need is a carbon tax. The best proposal I have heard so far was from Democrat Maria Cantell. The Democratic leadership won’t go for it.


You speak as though climate change is a choice. The scientists tell us that there is ALREADY enough CO2 in the air to create warming no matter what we do. Economists and politicians know that countries like China will produce as much CO2 in the next decades as the U.S. has produced since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

We have to get used to the changes, because we cannot stop them.

If we want to moderate future changes beyond that, we need to drive up the price of carbon relative to other fuels. I understand that your position is that we can find fuels that are cheaper than carbon fuels are today. I would be delighted if that was true, but there is no reason to believe it is. I think that we will have to push up the cost of carbon.

Posted by: Christine at February 11, 2010 9:35 PM
Comment #295476

David, you wouldn’t be talking about the large amounts of methane trapped below the ocean floor off the west coast of the US for example. Of course a massive earthquake or maybe even a nuclear detonation could set those off. But why in the world are we even calling CO2 a greenhouse/toxic gas when the majority of plant life needs it in order to help produce the O2 we all breathe. This is beyond belief - if they want to regulate it - plant more greenery, especially trees and grasses. Forget about climate change for now - the data on that is all skewed and has lost credibility in the scientific world. Obama is about the only one still blowing that horn because it benefits his plans.
Science should not be part of politics.

Posted by: Kathryn at February 11, 2010 10:04 PM
Comment #295477

Oh, I forgot to mention - has everyone forgotten about the effect El Nino and El Nina patterns have on our weather?
El Niño is expected to continue at least into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2010.

I can’t remember the last time I heard a wx type person even speak of this issue instead it is the DREADED GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE not an almost yearly ocean temp change off of South America.
Come on folks get off of the political hype bandwagon and see what is really going on. Bernanke is beginning to talk about rate hikes…hmmm- they go up - unemployment is horrendous- more foreclosures- less ability for folks to purchase - credit card rates go higher —- inflation starts creeping…..dollar value once again begins to fall— wouldn’t be surprised to see hyper-inflation within a year, maybe two….so what is the more immediate problem climate? finanacial health? family stability? health care reform? or insurance reform? food security? home security?

Posted by: Kathryn at February 11, 2010 10:25 PM
Comment #295478

>so what is the more immediate problem?


A stagnant Congress?

Posted by: Marysdude at February 12, 2010 12:28 AM
Comment #295479

“So what is the more important problem?”

The Youth of the 60’s and Silver Spoons of the 70’s to grow up.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at February 12, 2010 12:44 AM
Comment #295494

Kathryn asked: “David, you wouldn’t be talking about the large amounts of methane trapped below the ocean floor off the west coast of the US for example.”

No. I had in mind the decomposition of the Arctic Tundra organic masses. As the Arctic temperatures rise, the permafrost that kept millions of square miles of dead vegetation in frozen stasis, melts, setting off massive decomposition of the organic material contained in the soil of the Tundra, which in turn, will release massive amounts of methane. Methane as a greenhouse gas is very many times more potent than CO2.

The problem with CO2 emissions rising is that their greenhouse effect triggers the release of the far more potent greenhouse gas, methane, which happens to be a major component of atmospheres on some lifeless planets and moons in our solar system.

As for your CO2 comment and vegetation being fed by it, I will only reply with the fact that our RainForests which consume enormous amounts of CO2, are retreating at an alarming rate. Arctic Tundra contains massive amounts of vegetation which absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere a very long time ago. With its melting, that CO2 will also be released back into today’s atmosphere along with the vastly more potent greenhouse gas, methane.

The combined release of these greenhouse gases from earth’s past into today’s atmosphere, is a big part of what accounts for climate scientists dramatically shortening their time horizons predicted just 20 years ago, as to how long we have before reaching a deadly tipping point and runaway greenhouse effect. Add to this Greenlands land mass, and then later, the Antarctic’s Tundra, and runaway greenhouse effect is likely to be well underway and unstoppable by human intervention.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 12, 2010 10:56 AM
Comment #295495

Kathryn, FACT: the recent history of El Nino’s and La Ninas shows El Nino’s are lasting longer, raising temperatures, and La Ninas are getting shorter in duration (cooling temperatures). More evidence of annual average global warming. Your link above represents a data point in that trend now underway.

Your comment reflects a lack of understanding of the import of these duration changes taking place with El Ninos and La Ninas.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 12, 2010 11:03 AM
Comment #295497

Kathryn said: “so what is the more immediate problem climate? finanacial health? family stability? health care reform? or insurance reform? food security? home security?”

This is a question a person capable of only addressing on priority at a time might pose. In reality, humanity must address a vast array of issues simultaneously, immediate and long term. Some long term threats can not be averted if they are not addressed immediately. The ability to manage multiple issues and priorities at the same time is what complex challenges require as a response if humanity is to insure and protect its present and future, rather than pursuing a “live for today, and let our children deal with the consequences of our actions today, tomorrow” philosophy.

Protecting the future for our children should be one of our highest and most important obligations in the present. It is a fundamental theme in our Declaration of Independence, and U.S. Constitution, which seeks to secure a more peaceful, prosperous, and free future for those who come after us.

Dealing with, and paying for, control of global climate change today, is a sacred duty and responsibility of Americans living today to future generations, who will have to try to live in the climate which results from our actions today.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 12, 2010 11:13 AM
Comment #295510

What’s the difference between the effect of human produced CO2, and naturally produced CO2?

Actually, there is none. Same quantum properties, same molecular characteristics. Nature doesn’t care either way.

What’s the difference between the heat that’s kept in by human-produced greenhouse gases, and the heat that comes into the system by other means?

Not much, really. Same infra-red energy scattered and re-scattered.

Natural variability hasn’t called it quits, just because we’ve brought our influence to the table. In fact, one of the many predictions of climate modellers is that El Nino events would increase.

Natural variability works with artificial forcings like our own. The atmospheric systems still work in complex, chaotic ways, with implications down the line.

And the truth of the matter is, that means things are going to become normal that otherwise wouldn’t. Rain will far where and when things used to be dry. Sun will shine where peple want rain. Fish will shift to move with the currents, and crops will have to be moved to suit.

Things are simply not going to work like they used to, how we’ve built our civilizations to have them work.

That’s going to be the price of not attending to this issue.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 12, 2010 5:17 PM
Comment #295525

>Kathryn said: “so what is the more immediate problem climate? financial health? family stability? health care reform? or insurance reform? food security? home security?”>Kathryn said: “so what is the more immediate problem climate? financial health? family stability? health care reform? or insurance reform? food security? home security?”>Kathryn said: “so what is the more immediate problem climate? financial health? family stability? health care reform? or insurance reform? food security? home security?”>Kathryn said: “so what is the more immediate problem climate? financial health? family stability? health care reform? or insurance reform? food security? home security?”


They all tie together…it is a package…think, the economy cannot recover as long as health care and insurance are not remodled…any economic recovery depends upon fresh, renewable energy that limits climate change…home security has little meaning without economic recovery, as it will become weaker the longer our economy stays in the tank. We have a bundle of problems that require a coordinated approach, and a Congress that wishes to be reelected so it can carry on the nothing it is currently doing to solve all these problems.

What is the highest priority? Getting Congress off its fat behind. If Congress can be convinced that the voting public is fed up with the clap-trap currently in session, most of these problems can be taken care of in short order…it ain’t rocket science…but, it does require work and a steady hand to guide the work. I was hoping President Obama would be that steadying hand, but he cannot seem to get a lackluster, corrupt and lazy Congress to respond. Apparently we need someone with a whip, at the top.

Posted by: Marysdude at February 12, 2010 11:24 PM
Comment #420964

They all tie together…it is a package…think, the economy cannot recover as long as health care and insurance.

Posted by: login at October 24, 2017 5:40 AM
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