Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

Updated

It could be the premise is not correctly stated. What I was thinking of as the state motto is more typically called the state nickname. Answer the Quiz Question by supplying the state nickname instead of the official state motto. Hint, Texas is the Lone Star State.

science-usmap-02

Geography questions are easy to come by. Hence, another one. Every state (there are 50) state in the union has a “motto.” These mottoes go something like, “The ____ State.” Without fleeing to Google or a reference book, let’s see who knows the mottoes of all 50 states. Here is a list. Create a comment below and copy the list to your comment and enter the state’s motto after each name. The person who gets the most right wins. Two wrong, and you are disqualified.

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

science-liquidoxygen

Photo from Wikipedia

Everybody knows that liquid oxygen is very cold and also that it is a powerful oxidizing agent. There is another property of liquid oxygen that is not as well known.

What amazing property does liquid oxygen possess?

Post your answer as a comment below.

Update

Nobody posted the obvious answer to this week’s Quiz Question. The answer to what is liquid oxygen’s amazing property is that it is paramagnetic. You can pick it up with a magnet. Who would have thought?

The Age Of Embarrassment

Seventh of a series

politics-sciencealgoremeltingice

I title this series The Age Of Embarrassment to reflect on our divergence from a different era, which historians now call The Age Of Enlightenment. I mainly concentrate on foolish arguments against anthropogenic global warming (AGW), but I am not required to.

Recently I did an  overview of a book (pamphlet) by conservative columnist Ben Shapiro. The short title is How to Debate Leftists, and it deals with what the title indicates. In my review I bore down on some of Shapiro’s comments on AGW. He’s opposed. Which brings him into focus for this discussion.

From Wikipedia, “On September 21, 2015, Shapiro founded The Daily Wire and started serving as its editor-in-chief.” The result was that The Daily Wire appears to be a likely source to mine for Shapiro’s thinking on AGW. A rich vein it turns out to be:

The Most Comprehensive Assault On ‘Global Warming’ Ever

It made sense.  Knowing that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that our industrialized world is adding a large amount of it to the atmosphere on a yearly basis, I accepted the premise that this would cause global temperatures to rise.  But one day about 7 years ago, I looked at the ubiquitous graph showing the “global” temperature of the last 150 years and noticed something odd.  It was subtle, and as I found out later, disguised so that it would be overlooked.  There appeared to be a period of about 40 years between 1940 and 1980 where the global temperatures actually declined a bit.  As a data analysis expert, I could not ignore that subtle hint and began to look into it a little more.  Forty years is a long time, and while carbon dioxide concentrations were increasing exponentially over the same period, I could not overlook that this showed an unexpected shift in the correlation between global temperatures and CO2 concentrations. Thus I began to look into it a little further and here are some of the results 7 years later.

The author is an adjunct professor of physics and more. From the article:

Mike van Biezen is adjunct professor at Compton College, Santa Monica College, El Camino College, and Loyola Marymount University teaching Physics, Mathematics, Astronomy, and Earth Science.

That should be impressive enough. Let’s see what Mr. Biezen has to say about AGW. There are ten points:

  1. Temperature records from around the world do not support the assumption that today’s temperatures are unusual.
  2. Satellite temperature data does not support the assumption that temperatures are rising rapidly:
  3. Current temperatures are always compared to the temperatures of the 1980’s, but for many parts of the world the 1980’s was the coldest decade of the last 100+ years:
  4. The world experienced a significant cooling trend between 1940 and 1980:
  5. Urban heat island effect skews the temperature data of a significant number of weather stations:
  6. There is a natural inverse relationship between global temperatures and atmospheric CO2levels:
  7. The CO2 cannot, from a scientific perspective, be the cause of significant global temperature changes:
  8. There have been many periods during our recent history that a warmer climate was prevalent long before the industrial revolution:
  9. Glaciers have been melting for more than 150 years
  10. “Data adjustment” is used to continue the perception of global warming:

I will go though these in turn, but the reader will need to go to the original article to get the complete wording. Start by noting that Mike van Biezen does not have a Ph.D. in any of the topics mentioned in his connection with his teaching at Loyola Marymount University. In fact, he does not appear to have a Ph.D. in any academic field. His current position is program manager for Raytheon Corporation, a company he has worked for since 1984. He is not a full time professor at Loyola. Not having a Ph.D. is not exclusionary. It is not required that Biezen have a Ph.D. for us to take his arguments seriously. All that is necessary is that he be right. He is not. Start with number 1.

Number 1. Contradictory to what Biezen says, temperature records from around the world support the conclusion that today’s temperatures are unusual, higher than in recent history.

science-globaltemperature

The plot and the following are from NASA’s climate site:

This graph illustrates the change in global surface temperature relative to 1951-1980 average temperatures. The 10 warmest years in the 136-year record all have occurred since 2000, with the exception of 1998. The year 2015 ranks as the warmest on record. (Source: NASA/GISS). This research is broadly consistent with similar constructions prepared by the Climatic Research Unit and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Mr. Biezen provides his readers with misleading information:

The all-time high temperature record for the world was set in 1913, while the all-time cold temperature record was set in 1983.  By continent, all but one set their all-time high temperature record more recently than their all-time cold temperature records.

Start with the all-time high record:

On 13 September 2012 the World Meteorological Organisation disqualified the record for the highest recorded temperature, exactly 90 years after it had been established at El Azizia, Libya, with a measurement of 58°C. The official highest recorded temperature is now 56.7°C (134°F), which was measured on 10 July 1913 at Greenland Ranch, Death Valley, California, USA.

So, Biezen’s record high was recently eclipsed by a new record, which he failed to notice, but which does not matter in this discussion. Biezen’s all-time low record is still valid:

The lowest natural temperature ever directly recorded at ground level on Earth is −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F; 184.0 K), which was at the Soviet Vostok Station in Antarctica, on July 21, 1983. Analysis of satellite data indicated a probable temperature of around −93.2 °C (−135.8 °F; 180.0 K), in East Antarctica, on August 10, 2010; however, this reading was not confirmed by ground measurements.

After all that has been said, this turns out to be irrelevant. What matters to the global climate is the average taken over the entire planet. Individual highs and lows can occur in contrast to record high and low global averages.

Mr. Biezen has deliberately misled his readers, and Ben Shapiro, as editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire, has facilitated this subterfuge by promoting Biezen’s scam.

Number 2. I’m not too sure I want to follow up on Biezen’s number 2. He uses the weasel word “rapidly,” as in “temperatures are rising rapidly” However, assuming “rapidly” means “rising,” here is a plot showing the rise, seemingly in contradiction to Biezen’s assertions:

science-surfacesatellitetemperaturemeasurments

Number 3. Here’s what Biezen has to say:

If the current temperatures are compared to those of the 1930’s one would find nothing remarkable.  For many places around the world, the 1930’s were the warmest decade of the last 100 years, including those found in Greenland.  Comparing today’s temperatures to the 1980’s is like comparing our summer temperatures to those in April, rather than those of last summer.  It is obvious why the global warming community does this, and very misleading (or deceiving).

Again Biezen is being intentionally misleading. If his deception is not intentional, then it is a result of gross incompetence. Had he been reading this blog he would have been better informed and not fallen victim to such false and misleading information. I wrote:

This is interesting. Government agencies, NASA (National Aviation and Space Administration) and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), have been tweaking scientific measurements to give the false impression that global temperatures are rising. That would be scientific misconduct at best and criminal misuse of governmental authority at worst. If only it were true.

Besides already knowing the background, I picked up on an obvious clue in the last paragraph above. “[T]he hottest decade in the US was in the 1930s.” Taking first that the statement is true, how does this bear on average global  temperatures over the past hundred years or more? The world wonders.

From that point forward this item from Breitbart needs additional scrutiny. The facts may not be as interesting as Breitbart, but they have the advantage of being facts. The NOAA has posted an explanation of the process so recently assailed by that reputable scientific source, Breitbart. Here is an excerpt:

Monitoring Global and U.S. Temperatures at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information

There are several factors that are important in monitoring global or U.S. temperature: quality of raw observations, length of record of observations, and the analysis methods used to transform raw data into reliable climate data records by removing existing biases from the data. An additional process takes the multiple climate data records and creates U.S. or global average temperatures.

Yes, this is the same Breitbart news outlet previously involved with Ben Shapiro. Here is a graphic from the previous posting:

science-agw-smith-and-reynolds-2002-001

Number 4. Biezen writes:

Many places around the world experienced a quite significant and persistent cooling trend to the point where scientists began to wonder if the world was beginning to slide into a new ice age period.

And more. Again, Biezen wants to point to regional trends, ignoring that the G in AGW stands for “global.”

Number 5.

It has been shown that nighttime temperatures recorded by many weather stations have been artificially raised by the expulsion of radiant heat collected and stored during the daytime by concrete and brick structures such as houses, buildings, roads, and also cars. Temperature records from around the world do not support the assumption that today’s temperatures are unusual.

For the fifth time, what Biezen says flies in the face of known fact:

Many global warming skeptics have long claimed that the urban heat island effect is so strong that it has skewed temperature measurements indicating that global warming is happening. The skeptics argue that efforts to curb global warming pollution are therefore unnecessary, citing their pet theory that surface temperature stations were swallowed by, or moved closer to, cities, thus skewing surface temperature records on the whole.

The BEST papers – which still must go through rigorous peer review – confirm what climate scientists have correctly stated previously, demonstrating without doubt that “very rural” temperature stations miles from any new “UHI” towns or cities have also recorded warming at 0.9 degrees Celsius over the last century.

Number 6.

Contrary to what would be assumed when listening to global warming banter or while watching An Inconvenient Truth, higher temperatures increase atmospheric CO2 levels and lower temperatures decrease atmospheric CO2 levels, not the other way around.  Any college freshman chemistry student knows that the solubility of CO2 decreases with increasing temperatures and thus Earth’s oceans will release large amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere when the water is warmer and will absorb more CO2 when the water is colder.

And more. Really? Consider the Keeling Curve:

875px-Mauna_Loa_Carbon_Dioxide_Apr2013

In 1958 Charles David Keeling started keeping a record of CO2 measurements taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. This is about 11,000 feet above sea level, out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. That annual cycle in CO2 levels in the atmosphere is due to the greening of deciduous plants in the Northern Hemisphere on a yearly cycle. The Northern Hemisphere land mass is larger than the Southern Hemisphere mass, and has more plant growth. When trees in the north put out leaves in the spring and begin to take CO2 from the atmosphere, the level goes down. When the leaves fall a few months later the CO2 extraction slows down, and the natural introduction (decaying leaves and dead plants) of CO2 into the atmosphere continues. At no point does the Keeling Curve support Mr. Biezen’s number 6.

Number 7. He says:

The CO2 molecule is a linear molecule and thus only has limited natural vibrational frequencies, which in turn give this molecule only limited capability of absorbing radiation that is radiated from the Earth’s surface.  The three main wavelengths that can be absorbed by CO2 are 4.26 micrometers, 7.2 micrometers, and 15.0 micrometers.  Of those 3, only the 15-micrometer is significant because it falls right in range of the infrared frequencies emitted by Earth.  However, the H2O molecule which is much more prevalent in the Earth’s atmosphere, and which is a bend molecule, thus having many more vibrational modes, absorbs many more frequencies emitted by the Earth, including to some extent the radiation absorbed by CO2.

Which is true, but again misleading. Water in the atmosphere accounts for much more of the greenhouse effect than CO2. This planet’s surface (oceans and atmosphere) would be many degrees cooler without the greenhouse effect of water vapor. As a student in college I was once required to compute the difference,, and I recall it was in the order of 40 C—other sources have 60 C. See the Wikipedia article on the greenhouse effect.

The problem with Biezen’s explanation is that it ignores that water vapor in the atmosphere has been a more or less constant factor for millions of years, and certainly throughout human history on this planet. The natural mechanism of rain removes water vapor from the atmosphere as fast as it is introduced, and the atmosphere is in steady-state with respect to water. This is not so for CO2, which does not have such a mechanism for removing it. Human activity is upsetting the natural level of CO2 by removing carbon from the surface (petroleum, natural gas, and coal) and introducing it into  the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane. The greenhouse effect of these gases is added on top of the existing effect of water, and that’s what the concern is all about.

Number 8. Biezen says:

Even in the 1990 IPCC report a chart appeared that showed the medieval warm period as having had warmer temperatures than those currently being experienced.  But it is hard to convince people about global warming with that information, so five years later a new graph was presented, now known as the famous hockey stick graph, which did away with the medieval warm period.

For the record, here are two plots of Earth temperature records:

science-paleoearthtemperatures-02

 

science-paleoearthtemperatures-01

The first of the above shows temperatures going back millions of years. The second is an enlargement of the right-hand part of the first, and it shows temperatures going back a million years (and beyond). Note the spikes, representing the temperature fluctuations concurrent with the history of the ice ages. Note the more recent period, following the previous ice age. There are fluctuations over a 10,000-year period, terminating in a recent up-tic. The spike at the right margin is a projection due to the effects of AGW. The second plot fairly well covers the Medieval Period.

This one, the so-called hockey stick plot, also covers the Medieval Period.

science-agwrecenttemperaturehistory

Regardless of any report from 1990, the best information available shows the up-tic in global temperatures due to human activity. Mr. Biezen continues to be dishonest in his presentation of the argument. He is lying.

Number 9. Biezen says:

The notion of melting glaciers as prove positive that global warming is real has no real scientific basis.  Glaciers have been melting for over 150 years.  It is no secret that glaciers advanced to unprecedented levels in recent human history during the period known as the Little Ice Age.

Let’s assume without verification that the above statement regarding glacier activity is true. Whenever has Biezen lied to us before? Glaciers are melting, but their melting is not necessary to demonstrate AGW. Biezen’s post is advertised as “The Most Comprehensive Assault On ‘Global Warming’ Ever.” His 9th argument hardly fills the bill, and I will stop here without additional comment.

Number 10. Biezen complains:

After years of painstaking gathering of data, and relentless graphing of that data, I discovered that I was not looking at the originally gathered data, but data that had been “adjusted” for what was deemed “scientific reasons.”

And more. Again, this is another issues that has already been addressed in a prior post, and Biezen completely ignores the facts of the matter. Here is what I had to say before:

Oceans make up more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, and NOAA is increasing its attention to sea surface temperatures. In years past temperatures were measured by pulling a bucket of water from the sea and measuring its temperature. Sea surface temperatures are now routinely obtained by measuring water at ships’ engine coolant intake. What was found when the two measurements were compared was that the bucket method produces lower temperatures than the intake method. In years past temperatures had been measured with a bias toward cooler rather than warmer. The plots show what happened when the measurement bias was removed. The heavy-line plot, showing a greater temperature rise, was replaced by the lighter-line plot, showing less warming with time. The plots are linked to a paper published by Smith and Reynolds, for those interested in reading the complete background.

If Breitbart is to believed, the NOAA has been caught fixing the data to make a warming trend apparent. In this case, the opposite has occurred. None of this is mentioned in the Breitbart news item. We can imagine Breitbart felt it unwieldy to burden its unsophisticated readers with a load of fact.

If these were the only data corrections, the evidence for global warming would be undercut. There is more. The NOAA also adjusted for bias caused by a shift from measuring temperatures in the afternoon to measuring temperatures in the morning. Obviously, temperature measurements are going to be higher in the afternoon than in the morning. The plots show a shift in the percentage of stations from afternoon to morning. See the following plots.

An associated plot, repeated from above, was included:

science-agw-smith-and-reynolds-2002-001

In his book, How to Debate Leftists, Ben Shapiro complains about how liberals (scientists?) put down people like Biezen (and Shapiro), who dispute AGW:

This is a more useful question, and it also avoids the left’s preferred line of argument on global warming, which is a variation on their preferred line on gun control: “Global warming is man-made. Don’t agree? That’s because you’re stupid and hateful.” As a general matter, the left’s favorite three lines of attack are (1) you’re stupid; (2) you’re mean; (3) you’re corrupt.

[Page 24]

Forget about his numbers 1 and 2. Biezen is corrupt. He is lying. By implication, so is Shapiro. With his stewardships of Breitbart and The Daily Wire, Shapiro has abetted the promulgation of lies against legitimate science and the people who support it.

People ask me (maybe they do not) why I am a liberal. My response has to be that one reason, and one only, is that being liberal gets me as far away as possible with what has become a political philosophy underpinned by corrupt thinking. In my younger years I became disgusted with conservative politics, because every time I saw a politician standing in the school house door blocking the entry of a black child, that politician was avowedly conservative. Ever time I learned the identity of racists who killed four black children in an Alabama church or murdered civil rights advocates, those people were avowed conservatives. More recently whenever I have seen a politician promoting the use of tax money and government authority to proselytize for religion, that politician has been an avowed conservative. My personal study of opposition to the modern science of biological evolution has revealed that conservative politicians and those who profess themselves to be politically conservative are the most inclusive of this movement. More recently the conservative contingent in this country has elected a politician who has demonstrated himself to be a habitual liar, and conservatives find no problem with this, even denying he has lied.

What was in the past a political ideal of limited government, individual freedom, and fiscal responsibility, has taken on the baggage of of the lowest levels of American society. Opposition to the science behind anthropological global warming is just the tip of the iceberg.

A pox on your house. Wallow in your ignorance. My aim is to promote your misery as long as I can draw a breath.

And may Jesus have mercy on your souls.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Update: I fixed some flawed language in this posting.

Sixth of a series

science-agw-scottadamsmodel

This keeps coming up. Makes my day. Dan Kuttner likes to jump on items supporting the denial of AGW (anthropogenic global warming). For that I am thankful.

This time it relates to a post on the Scott Adams blog. Scott Adams, if you recall, is the cartoonist/commentator who has for over two decades ragged American corporate structure and our idiosyncratic social fabric. No scientist, himself, he likes to take on AGW, which he appears to doubt. Here’s the item in question:

SCOTT ADAMS’ BLOG

I keep hearing people say that 97% of climate scientists are on the same side of the issue. Critics point out that the number is inflated, but we don’t know by how much. Persuasion-wise, the “first offer” of 97% is so close to 100% that our minds assume the real number is very high even if not exactly 97%.

That’s good persuasion. Trump uses this method all the time. The 97% anchor is so strong that it is hard to hear anything else after that. Even the people who think the number is bogus probably think the real figure is north of 90%.

But is it? I have no idea.

So today’s challenge is to find a working scientist or PhD in some climate-related field who will agree with the idea that the climate science models do a good job of predicting the future.

Notice I am avoiding the question of the measurements. That’s a separate question. For this challenge, don’t let your scientist conflate the measurements or the basic science of CO2 with the projections. Just ask the scientist to offer an opinion on the credibility of the models only.

Remind your scientist that as far as you know there has never been a multi-year, multi-variable, complicated model of any type that predicted anything with useful accuracy. Case in point: The experts and their models said Trump had no realistic chance of winning.

Your scientist will fight like a cornered animal to conflate the credibility of the measurements and the basic science of CO2 with the credibility of the projection models. Don’t let that happen. Make your scientist tell you that complicated multi-variable projections models that span years are credible. Or not.

Then report back to me in the comments here or on Twitter at @ScottAdamsSays.

This question is a subset of the more interesting question of how non-scientists can judge the credibility of scientists or their critics. My best guess is that professional scientists will say that complicated prediction models with lots of variables are not credible. Ever. So my prediction is that the number of scientists who ***fully*** buy into climate science predictions is closer to zero than 97%.

But I’m willing to be proved wrong. I kind of like it when that happens. So prove me wrong.

I pasted as much as I consider pertinent on the possibility it will be withdrawn in the future.

As you can see above, I posted a response to Dan’s posting on Facebook, inquiring whether he felt safe in venturing into this wilderness again. This considering his performance in a prior exchange:

In a previous conversation Dan made some claims related to atmospheric science. One went something like this (I do not have the exact quote), “Carbon dioxide weighs [some number] more than the rest of the atmosphere.” That statement struck me as odd to the extreme. The German physicists Wolfgang Pauli is noted as having said something like, “Das is nicht einmal falsch,” that is not even false (wrong).” It related to something so absurd that it went beyond not being true. Dan’s statement regarding carbon dioxide and the atmosphere is such a statement. Some explanation.

Carbon dioxide is a chemical compound, not a physical object. The atmosphere is a physical object. Any statement comparing a non-physical object with a physical object is beyond false. In this case there was no way for me to respond to Dan’s statement. The conversation unraveled from there.

So Dan has asked, “Did you answer his challenge?” I responded that I am in the process now, which is what this is. I need to answer Scott Adams’ challenge.

But first, what is his challenge? That may take some deciphering. The critical language is:

So today’s challenge is to find a working scientist or PhD in some climate-related field who will agree with the idea that the climate science models do a good job of predicting the future.

A trivial response to Adams’ challenge would be to find “a working scientist…” who will naively proclaim the models do a good job of predicting the future. I will not go that route. The matter concerning AGW is worth more attention than that. It is also worth more attention than Adams’ challenge. As stated, it would be impossible to address. For example, we would all have to agree on the meaning of the word “good” used to assess the quality of the models. Everything breaks down from there.

If Scott Adams will propose a challenge with more precise, even lucid, wording, it would be something everybody could work with. Something that would have to go would be any requirement that a model predict frequency and severity of hurricanes, future drought or flooding with great accuracy. Once again, an unquantifiable adjective is “great.”

Scott Adams’ challenge is really a phony challenge. Less than what he demands would be adequate. All Scott Adams needs to do to challenge the reality of AGW is to refute demonstrate one of the following:

  • Carbon dioxide, methane, and other such gases do not trap heat from solar radiation in the atmosphere.
  • The concentration of these gases is not increasing and has not been steadily increasing for the past 50 years and more.
  • Human activity is not contributing significantly to the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Specifically, human activity is not responsible for the increase of carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere represented by the Keeling Curve.
  • The temperature of the combination atmosphere and hydrosphere is not increasing and has not been increasing for the past 50 years and more.
  • Events beyond human control are alone responsible for the warming.

An additional point that is not part of the science behind AGW is the following:

  • The increase in global temperatures will have little or no impact on human well-being.

And all of this has nothing to do with models.

Update

As I was in the process of working this up, additional comments came in. Here is one:

David Varner The idea of constructing models without measurements sounds like something Dilbert’s pointy haired boss might have come up with.

As a retired scientist and engineer I  take exception to David’s remark. Properly, constructing a model does not rely on measurements. I have constructed models, computer simulations, that presuppose initial conditions. The idea of the model is to determine the consequence of a set of initial conditions, the measurements.

If by “measurements” David means measurements of the atmosphere and such to assess the validity of models, then he has not been keeping up with the science. Atmospheric/oceanographic models are constantly assessed against progressive measurements.

Update:

Dan posted a comment on the Scott Adams blog:

I challenge your basic assumptions.

1. The term “Fossil Fuels” was coined by John D. Rockefeller. He wanted to emphasize the supposed scarcity of oil in order to inflate its price.

2. Many old “dry” oil wells are filling up FROM THE BOTTOM. There’s evidence going at least back to Immanuel Velikovsky that petroleum has a non-organic origin, probably low in the Earth’s mantle.

What is to be said of this? I hope it is meant as a joke.

  1. What difference does it make who coined the term and for what reason? Petroleum, natural gas, and coal are fossil fuels. Fossil is a well-defined scientific term.
  2. Citing evidence going back to Immanuel Velikovsky is like citing evidence going back to Miguel de Cervantes. Does anybody care to follow up on that?

This post, and the ones in this series are titled The Age Of Embarrassment for a reason. Let’s not take that as a challenge and try to outdo each other.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

redphone

Geography is a lot of fun, so I will stick with it for a while. Last week’s Quiz Question asked which was the second largest island on the planet,  after Greenland. The answer was, of course, New Guinea. This question is only slightly easier.

Of the two islands, which is larger, Great Britain or Sumatra?

Again, you are required to do this one from memory. Don’t go running to Google or even a world globe. Post your answer as a comment below and not on Facebook, where every jake leg is going to see your answer. When the contest closes I will moderate the comments to make them visible to all readers.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

godzillavsmegalon-04

Lurching into geography again for this week’s Quiz Question. Geography is always a safe bet, because almost nobody knows a bunch of geography. This week’s Quiz Question is about islands.

First, geographers do not consider Australia an island. The other big stuff is continents. Greenland is the largest island. What is the second largest island?

The answer can be found in five seconds with Google, but you are supposed to know this by closing your eyes and imagining a world map. Don’t go to your world map or globe, either. Examine all the large islands and determine which is larger than all the others. Then post your answer as a comment below. Don’t use Facebook, because that will clue everybody in the world to the correct answer.

After you post your answer you can go to Google and see if you were right.

Update

And of course, Byron Black, who lives in the region, provided the correct answer. New Guinea is the second largest island, after Greenland.

Interesting Conversation

A continuation

ScienceLiberalConspiracy

I’ve been over this before:

Daniel G. Kuttner

October 8 at 7:27pm ·

Given two evils, I’ll take the guy who 11 years ago talked about consensual touching, over the woman who enabled and covered up her husband’s actual violent assaults on women, and also threatened or publicly humiliated the victims who dared to speak out.

It would be interesting but space-consuming to recount how that devolved to this:

John Blanton Dan, the sound of silence you are hearing is yourself, failing to follow-up. I gave you a list of assertions, any one of which you were invited to challenge. Your unwillingness or inability to respond is telling. Shades of AGW?

Like · Reply · 19 hrs

Daniel G. Kuttner John: I don’t know the abbreviation.

Apparently you didn’t read MY answer to your unsupported assertions.

Do you only have an output port? Or is your input filtered to only accept responses which coincide with your “directed skepticism?”

Like · Reply · 19 hrs

John Blanton Dan, the abbreviation stands for Anthropogenic Global Warming . We were discussing it a few weeks ago. Your responses established a baseline against which current conversations are bring measured. And I did read your ANSWER. I’m assuming the word is supposed to be all caps. Yes, I did put up a list of unsupported assertions. Assertions you are unable to refute. If you are unable to put the lie to them, then I’m going to assume you accept them as true. Your recourse is to refute at least one of them. Only one. The ball is in your court. I await.

Daniel G. Kuttner Where’s your science?

It is not one’s burden to disprove a theory or to prove a negative.

The burden is on those proffering the assertion.

The crickets continue to chirp. It’s their job.

In a previous conversation Dan made some claims related to atmospheric science. One went something like this (I do not have the exact quote), “Carbon dioxide weighs [some number] more than the rest of the atmosphere.” That statement struck me as odd to the extreme. The German physicists Wolfgang Pauli is noted as having said something like, “Das is nicht einmal falsch,” that is not even false (wrong).” It related to something so absurd that it went beyond not being true. Dan’s statement regarding carbon dioxide and the atmosphere is such a statement. Some explanation.

Carbon dioxide is a chemical compound, not a physical object. The atmosphere is a physical object. Any statement comparing a non-physical object with a physical object is beyond false. In this case there was no way for me to respond to Dan’s statement. The conversation unraveled from there.

Back to the present. On 1 December (last  week) a mutual friend started a new conversation. Here is as much of it as I was able to capture. Follow the link for a PDF copy. Here are some pertinent excerpts:

John Blanton A perspective from Freethought Blogs http://freethoughtblogs.com/…/the-righties-get-their…/

Like · Reply · 1 · December 2 at 4:01am · Edited

Daniel G. Kuttner As I expected, that article slung some nice mud, without citing one error in Breitbart’s article.
Further, he (?) says, “This lefty gets his climate information from published, peer-reviewed science” Yet… he gives not one example of such a source.
Global Cooling/Warming/Climate Change is pseudo scientific drivel, used to further expand governmental power, shut down parts of the economy, line the pockets of insiders, and of course, further subjugate Us, the People.
Has anyone checked Algor’s Nobel Prize winning predictions lately? He still has those ocean-side mansions, last I heard, and they’re not flooded yet.

Like · Reply · December 2 at 3:24pm

I reminded Dan of his previous attempt at interpreting science:

John Blanton Daniel, if I could be sure you are sincere, and not just pulling a joke at our expense, I would respond to your comments about global warming (AGW). Give me a clue if you are really interested in this topic but recall how it went the last time you took a stab at it.
https://skeptic78240.wordpress.com/…/interesting…/

What was most interesting was Dan’s response to my quoting him in my prior blog post:

Daniel G. Kuttner John, I am, but no need to respond.
I certainly would appreciate, if there is a next time, that you ask before using my name in a blog, too. I would do the same for you.

Like · Reply · December 3 at 12:13am

John Blanton Dan, this is Facebook. Anything posted here is open to the world.

Like · Reply · December 3 at 3:41am

Daniel G. Kuttner John: It is open, but common courtesy is not outlawed.

Quoting and deriding someone by name is still trolling, and rudeness is still rudeness.

What is interesting is a comparison to Dan’s own posting etiquette:politics-conservativesdankuttnerfacebook-01

Lest the point be missed, somebody has created a cute meme that associates an image of candidate Hillary Clinton with the word “cunt.” Get it? Hillary Clinton and “cunt.” Apparently Dan thought this was appropriate, and he posted it on his time line and indicated toward it favorably. Need I say there are additional examples? This is the person who finds it offensive when his own statements are handed back to him publicly.

But Dan has a rationale:

Daniel G. Kuttner What’s wrong is, somehow, I can’t get certain things through to you. I’m sure there’s a way. I will not give up on this challenge! You are an intellect worth reaching.
Let me rephrase what I meant: Quoting someone is one thing. Usually, without permission, I may just say “a friend said… ” You may’ve seen, I had one friend out himself by objecting to THAT!
What you did,though, wasn’t just quote me. It seemed, as I recall, you took bunches of my statement out of context, and held them up to derision. That’s a whole different kettle of fish.
Days or a week later, I happened to catch it*, and I think I did say one or two things in rebuttal.
(* you might have pointed it out in a discussion such as this)
That is way different.
I know how sensitive you are. I doubt you’d have let it slide if I’d publicly been that disrespectful to you.
You may note I said nothing at the time. Reason? It was already done, and I figured at some time I’d just mention it to you.
I’m doing that now.

[Emphasis added]

Pay attention to the text I emphasized above: “It seemed, as I recall, you took bunches of my statement out of context, and held them up to derision.” Pay particular attention to the reference to “derision.” I looked the word up in some on-line references to be sure I understood what it means. It does mean ridicule and mockery. Does anything Dan said in the conversation deserve ridicule and mockery? I will leave it to readers to decide:

Daniel G. Kuttner I’ll concede the context, I should have said “as I recall.” I will correct the above comment.
You must be kidding, though, about CO2 not being heavier than air. You’ve used a CO2 extinguisher, right? You have to know molecular weight, right?
Here’s a part of the calculation (didn’t want to buy the paper):
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/…/JZ062i003p00351/epdf…

In any case, most of the air at sea level is composed of mostly N, about 15% O2, and only about 1% being other gases. Its average molecular weight is 28
A molecule of CO2 has a molecular weight of 12 + (16)2 = 44. So CO2 is about 1.4x the weight of air.
http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/molecular-weight-gas…
Your rebuttal?

Like · Reply · December 3 at 5:55pm

My rebuttal was this:

John Blanton Dan, I do not deny that CO2 is denser than air. However, you did not say, in your argument, that CO2 is denser. You said that CO2 is so many times heavier than the rest of the atmosphere. It’s not the same thing, and it’s not the kind of statement you want to make when arguing a technical point. Apparently your field has been in communication, and taking care what you say is a big part of communicating clearly. You are a non scientist, and you are arguing technical points with scientists, including me. You need to have at least as much knowledge about the subject as the scientists in order to make a successful argument. I get the impression you are pulling text from questionable sources and passing it off as knowledge. You need to pull from reliable sources if you hope to make headway in this kind of discussion.

Like · Reply · December 3 at 6:40pm

Then the conversation began to get really weird:

Daniel G. Kuttner I never said it was denser. I still don’t. It is heavier. My link shows that.
Density is a function of altitude and temperature.
Part of my proof also involves a thing called Partial Pressure. At altitudes of “greenhouse” effect, CO2 is less abundant, as is Oxygen and other heavier gases. This is one reason why humans require supplemental oxygen at altitude. CO2 is heavier than O2, so it’s even less abundant at altitude, resulting in a lower partial pressure of the CO2.
Just add the molecular weights in the table I linked.
Gosh, I’m beginning to sympathize with that religious guy. Can you please stay on topic and not change the argument each time? Maybe even answer a question or two?
Try to stay off the ad hominem, too. Calling someone a “non scientistt” and oozing condescension while YOU’re being non scientific doesn’t bolster your argument, nor refute theirs.
OK.. You get the last word.

And I did get the last word, but only because at some later point Dan and I  both concluded that further discussion was pointless. Dan came back with additional comments after I had this to say:

John Blanton Dan, calling somebody a non scientist is not ad hominin. It is not an insult. It’s just a fact of life in your case. You never made a serious study of science, and you never obtained a degree in science. I’m merely pointing out this fact as a precaution you need to take when wading into a discussion of matters scientific with one who does have considerable training and experience in the field. When you make these kinds of remarks, such as the ones regarding weight, density, carbon dioxide, the mixing of gases in the atmosphere, the problem becomes apparent. Your discussion of concentration variation illustrates you are not acquainted with principles of gaseous diffusion, for example. It’s high school science. As a result, your assertions regarding the distribution of carbon dioxide are completely wrong, and undermine the remainder of your argument.

Like · Reply · December 4 at 3:43pm

Daniel G. Kuttner You have no idea of my qualifications. You throw your ample supply of tomatoes at me, rather than my assertions, which are backed BY science (e.g. that engineering reference link). Thus, you were replying ad hominem, literally.
I could be a bum on the street and still report correct – or incorrect – science. My lack of a white lab coat has no import.
If you are so full of science, where is your scientific refutation of my numbers? All I see from you is condescension and sarcasm.
Saying something is “clearly wrong” is not refutation, it’s disagreement; an opinion. You are, of course free to have those.
This has not been a learned debate or even a discussion, in my book. Sad, actually, because I’m convinced you DO have the capability. It just appears you have an agenda you accept, and won’t accept anything that conflicts with or undermines that belief.
That’s not Science, that’s Scientism; a religion, of which there are many practitioners on the talking-head box.
Your political positions I’ve seen are supported the same way: Talk down to the opposition and question their credentials according to some amorphous standard.
Again, I await your analytical critique of my numbers. Maybe you can also support why the key members of the Global Warming “science” supporters have been caught THREE TIMES falsifying or cherry-picking their data.
That’s the only type of refutation I’ll answer hereafter on this subject.
PS: I was also hoping at some point you’d reply to my IM about your inventions. I am definitely interested in those!

Like · Reply · December 4 at 5:49pm · Edited

John Blanton Additionally, I am working off-site and am forced to keep my responses brief. Details later.

Like · Reply · December 4 at 3:45pm

John Blanton Once again, I’m on a short leash here. I don’t have access to my computer, so I will respond as I can for the time being. You are conflating weight and density. Keep the two straight. CO2 is denser than air, as you have discovered. You are wrong in concluding that CO2 is unevenly distributed. Below 90 km the gases remain evenly mixed. The remainder of your argument falls apart from there.

Like · Reply · December 4 at 7:06pm · Edited

John Blanton Once again on the ad hominin [sic] – I am not stipulating that you are wrong because you have insufficient scientific training. I am saying you are wrong. I am further concluding (can possibly be wrong) that a contributing factor is your lack of scientific training. Good to see you are acquainted with the concept of partial pressure as it relates to gases. I am sure you learned that in pilot training. The concept explains why pilots go on pure oxygen above 10,000 feet.

Like · Reply · December 4 at 7:15pm

Dan made the excellent point that the source of a statement is not what qualifies it. What qualifies a statement is whether it is true or not. He cites a “bum on the street,” and he is correct. A bum on the street making a true statement is still right. What Dan is ignoring is the requirement that the statement be true to be valid. He brings up that I am making statements without offering proof. True. In my world  some statements do not require additional  elaboration:

  • The Earth is not flat.
  • The sun does not revolve around the Earth.
  • In the atmosphere carbon dioxide is not concentrated at the lower levels.

There is some basic knowledge of science lacking in Dan’s statements, and it’s I problem I encounter on a regular basis dealing with people denying the science behind AGW. You cannot argue with somebody who continually brings up incorrect conclusions, stipulating them as fact.

The conversation is interesting to some. A yawn to many. It would be nice if we never had to engage in these kinds of discussions. That would only happen if the preponderance of the population had a better grounding in basic science and human knowledge. Unfortunately that is not the case, and fortunately, for me, it is raw feedstock for this blog.

Keep reading.

A Source Not So Bright

politics-conservativessabinabreitbart-01

I see some of this on Facebook. Conservative thinkers posting references to Breitbart as an authority. I figure it’s time for a reality check. First, about the source:

Breitbart News Network (known commonly as Breitbart News, Breitbart or Breitbart.com) is a politically conservative American news, opinion and commentary website founded in 2007 by conservative commentator and entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart. It also has a daily radio program on the Sirius XM Patriot channel called Breitbart News Daily.

In short, Breitbart is a conservative propaganda outlet, confused by some with straight news. This type of thing is not limited to conservative politics, liberals have them, as well. My own history is that conservative America has trouble with some basic facts:

  • Endorse religious dogma (biblical story of Genesis) as fact.
  • Promote the idea that proliferation of guns makes society safer.
  • Deny biological evolution.
  • Deny modern cosmology.
  • Deny facts behind anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

This last is an exemplar that popped up recently. I have no record of who posted it, but a link showed up on Facebook:

Scientists at two of the world’s leading climate centres – NASA and NOAA – have been caught out manipulating temperature data to overstate the extent of the 20th century “global warming”.

The evidence of their tinkering can clearly be seen at Real Science, where blogger Steven Goddard has posted a series of graphs which show “climate change” before and after the adjustments.

When the raw data is used, there is little if any evidence of global warming and some evidence of global cooling. However, once the data has been adjusted – ie fabricated by computer models –  20th century ‘global warming’ suddenly looks much more dramatic.

This is especially noticeable on the US temperature records. Before 2000, it was generally accepted – even by climate activists like NASA’s James Hansen – that the hottest decade in the US was the 1930s.

This is interesting. Government agencies, NASA (National Aviation and Space Administration) and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), have been tweaking scientific measurements to give the false impression that global temperatures are rising. That would be scientific misconduct at best and criminal misuse of governmental authority at worst. If only it were true.

Besides already knowing the background, I picked up on an obvious clue in the last paragraph above. “[T]he hottest decade in the US was in the 1930s.” Taking first that the statement is true, how does this bear on average global  temperatures over the past hundred years or more? The world wonders.

From that point forward this item from Breitbart needs additional scrutiny. The facts may not be as interesting as Breitbart, but they have the advantage of being facts. The NOAA has posted an explanation of the process so recently assailed by that reputable scientific source, Breitbart. Here is an excerpt:

Monitoring Global and U.S. Temperatures at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information

There are several factors that are important in monitoring global or U.S. temperature: quality of raw observations, length of record of observations, and the analysis methods used to transform raw data into reliable climate data records by removing existing biases from the data. An additional process takes the multiple climate data records and creates U.S. or global average temperatures.

What the NOAA report explains is why and how historical data have been adjusted to account for systemic bias in the measuring process. For example, see the following plots from the NOAA report:

science-agw-smith-and-reynolds-2002-001

The figure shows that the impact of the adjustment to remove the cold bias from bucket sea surface temperature measurements warms the historical data, decreasing the amount of global warming the data indicate. From Smith and Reynolds, 2002

Oceans make up more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, and NOAA is increasing its attention to sea surface temperatures. In years past temperatures were measured by pulling a bucket of water from the sea and measuring its temperature. Sea surface temperatures are now routinely obtained by measuring water at ships’ engine coolant intake. What was found when the two measurements were compared was that the bucket method produces lower temperatures than the intake method. In years past temperatures had been measured with a bias toward cooler rather than warmer. The plots show what happened when the measurement bias was removed. The heavy-line plot, showing a greater temperature rise, was replaced by the lighter-line plot, showing less warming with time. The plots are linked to a paper published by Smith and Reynolds, for those interested in reading the complete background.

If Breitbart is to believed, the NOAA has been caught fixing the data to make a warming trend apparent. In this case, the opposite has occurred. None of this is mentioned in the Breitbart news item. We can imagine Breitbart felt it unwieldy to burden its unsophisticated readers with a load of fact.

If these were the only data corrections, the evidence for global warming would be undercut. There is more. The NOAA also adjusted for bias caused by a shift from measuring temperatures in the afternoon to measuring temperatures in the morning. Obviously, temperature measurements are going to be higher in the afternoon than in the morning. The plots show a shift in the percentage of stations from afternoon to morning. See the following plots.

science-agw-vose-et-al-2003-image002

The figure shows the change in observing times at U.S. weather observing stations using two different methodologies, both of which indicate a shift from afternoon observing times to morning which impart a bias in the data, a bias which needs to be removed. From Vose et al., 2003

These plots are linked to research published by Vose et al. Here is the link.

Some explanation is required. The heavy solid line shows the percentage of stations taking measurements in the morning. The thin solid line shows the percentage of stations taking measurements in the afternoon. The percentages shift in the interval from  1970 to 2000. The broken line plots correspond to the inferred temperatures resulting from the solid line plots. As stations shifted from afternoon to morning the cooling bias increased. This cooling bias has been accounted for in new NOAA reporting. The NOAA report includes links to two additional research papers:

The NOAA report is additionally revealing:

The two plots below are of global temperature time series, the top one uses the adjusted version of GHCN [Global Historical Climatology Network] and the bottom one uses the raw GHCN data. Both time series reveal that the earth is warming. This indicates that the observed warming cannot be an artifact of the adjustment process as the unadjusted GHCN version shows similar amounts of warming and the adjustments applied to raw ocean data decrease the amount of indicated warming.

And here are the two plots:

science-agw-mntp-90s-90n-jan-dec-adj

science-agw-mntp-90s-90n-jan-dec-raw

Of course, this is for those who read.

What brings this matter to the front today is the announcement that Steve Bannon, former president of Breitbart News, is being promoted as president elect Donald Trump’s “chief strategist and senior counselor.” This is not a party function. Bannon will be a government employee, working in the White House and advising President Trump on critical matters. What makes this interesting is what makes Steve Bannon interesting:

For the last six months, Republican leaders walked a careful line supporting Donald Trump. They supported his campaign and loved his running mate, Mike Pence, but they didn’t agree with his positions on banning Muslims or mass deportations, or with the far-right figures who backed them.

That line was easy enough to maintain when it was just campaign rhetoric. But now Trump is signaling that the far right wing of the party will be going with him to the White House, where it will have a chance to influence policy, as well.

Steve Bannon, former president of the incendiary Breitbart News and more recently chief executive of Trump’s campaign, is taking on a role as “chief strategist and senior counselor.” Bannon’s ascension is the clearest sign yet that Trump will maintain his ties to the populist white nationalism that helped propel him to the White House against overwhelming opposition from party leaders and traditional media.

From all appearances, president elect Donald Trump is bringing Breitbart to the White house. We can hope the White House Bannon is not going to be the fact-deprived Breitbart. We have been wrong before.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

Science-SugarAndSpoon

This week’s Quiz Question takes a jog into chemistry. Forget about the transuranium elements, some of which have existed briefly in quantities of a few atoms. What is the scarcest naturally occurring element on this planet?

Post your answer in the comments section below.

Update and answer

Nobody had a clue, so I’m posting the answer. Here is why you don’t find bottles of astatine sitting around on the chemistry laboratory shelf:

Astatine is a radioactive chemical element with the chemical symbol At and atomic number 85, and is the rarest naturally occurring element on the Earth’s crust. It occurs on Earth as the decay product of various heavier elements. All its isotopes are short-lived; the most stable is astatine-210, with a half-life of 8.1 hours. Elemental astatine has never been viewed because any macroscopic sample would be immediately vaporized by its radioactive heating. It has yet to be determined if this obstacle could be overcome with sufficient cooling.

Additionally, astatine is a halogen,  following fluorine, chlorine, bromine, and iodine.