Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Climate Science Emails Debate and the Real Debate

I believe the "leaking" of Climate Research Unit emails was a PR hatchet job meant to discredit the scientists and their research. So does this guy. Even if some climate scientists out of all those in the field committed fraud via biased data analysis and mismeasurement (and I am not implying that these specific individuals did), the majority have not. In any scientific field, 10-30% of the results will be garbage depending upon funding or the lack of funding, human or instrumental mismeasurement, errors based on erroneous assumptions, etc. In this modern era for the natural sciences, it is rare for the consensus to be wrong. When the rarity happens, and the consensus is wrong for twenty or thirty years due to a few who sway the majority, even then, eventually the facts prevail. And these instances are usually in a small or growing field such as molecular evolution (Carl Woese), quantum mechanics (Max Planck), or general relativity (Einstein). Climate science has been around longer than 20 or 30 years and there are geologists and meteorologists going out into the field and finding corroborating evidence that Mankind is changing the climate. When you cut down or burn down a forest to produce meadow lands, you are changing the local climate and environment. Do it on a big enough scale and the microclimatic changes become global. It is thought that the aborigines produced the Great Outback by burning down the interior forests. The loss of the forests meant that the monsoon would not come south into the Australian interior. It has not been proved yet, but it is likely that something similar may have happened to the grasslands that once existed in the Sahara. What if there were forests in Northern Africa and men burned them down to create grasslands? Alternatively, perhaps the Sahara was created naturally when the African monsoon changed direction.

The thing that people are forgetting here is that Life alters the environment - the Gaia Principle. Most carbon dioxide output is due to volcanoes, and most warming is due to solar irradiation, but left to itself, the plant life will consume that anaerobic gas and excrete oxygen, and Life itself will try to maintain a favorable environment for itself, or at least adapt, if the environment becomes unfavorable. If Man comes along and chops down all the trees and burns them, then carbon dioxide levels will rise and the Earth's poles get warmer. Less ice means more sunlight gets absorbed rather than reflected back into space and you get a positive feedback warming loop. If Mankind were not in the loop, how would things be different? We are a perturbation on the natural system that currently exists whether we wish to admit it or not, even if we are a small input. However, in nonlinear systems, small perturbations can have enormous unintended effects. That is what is being debated.

Disclosing one side's emails without disclosing the critics' emails is not democratic, fair, or balanced. It's a cheap trick to discredit the scientists by showing that they are human beings. Science being a human affair is messy and political just like all human affairs are. What makes Science different from most other human affairs is that facts trump opinion and belief. This is the only way knowledge and wisdom progress. If you don't believe me, then compare any physical science to economics. How many scientists are generally right most of the time? The answer will be quite a lot. Compare that to economics where the majority got blindsided by the Great Financial Crisis. Ninety-nine out of 100 economists didn't see the crisis coming despite warnings from 2005 and 2006. The economists who predicted the meltdown were derided or ridiculed by their peers only to be proven right, but there were very few of them.

Climate science is a physical science, it is not economics. There is a preponderance of facts backing up the case for manmade climate change. The evidence does not depend upon belief or opinion for its validity. It is a body of physical concrete facts. The debate is over what are we going to do as a collective group to dampen the effects 9 billion humans are or will have on the planet. It is just one part of a larger debate we should be having about Man's place in the natural world and what should we preserve and what should we destroy. After all, it is far easier to destroy than it is to create. What kind of world will our descendants inherit when all the wild tigers and their forests are gone, all the cod and salmon are fished from the oceans, all the arable lands turned to desert? it took 4.5 billion years to make a tiger, a panda, a shark, or a fish. It'll take us less than my generation to finish them all off. When they are extinct, is Humanity far behind?


Predator Video Downlink Intereception Analysis

Bruce Schneier has an interesting blog post about the Predator video interception. He even links to this NewYorker article about the uses and implications of using these drones for reconnaissance and assassination. There's a human machine being created around these machines to make assassination less personal, dehumanizing, and automatic. God help us if we are foolish enough to automate humans out of the system entirely, and we are all just targets for a smart calculator. Of course, being able to kill anyone at the push of a button isn't much better, and is only one step removed from automating the process. Perhaps this is better than the alternative which would be killing millions, if not billions, at the push of a button with nuclear missiles, or even the alternative of death by Tomahawk cruise missile which is also an area effect weapon due to the size of the warhead. It's all rather horrifying and psychotic when one starts to think about it. Who's the greater monster in this play? The guy being executed by Hellfire missile, or the guy on the other end of the video feed approving the assassinations or killings on a daily or weekly basis? How many have mistakenly died due to operator error? It's too bad that there's no policy debate on these drones. We assume that they are being used for good, but we have to take the CIA's and DIA's word on it. Unfortunately, both are tarnished for providing poor intelligence and policy guidance ever since the Cold War ended due to bureaucratic infighting and other intragovernment politics. We have to hope that the blowback will be minimal and that the killings are worthwhile. We won't know the truth until I am an old man, if that.

Meanwhile, the drug cartels can avoid the Border Patrol's Predators on the US-Mexico border by eavesdropping on their video feeds with $26 software and a satellite dish.


Jerry Randel Moore

Jerry Randel Moore died last Tuesday, December 22, 2009. He was my uncle and my Dad's younger half-brother. His obituary was written by my sister. It's a nice writeup. I think he recognized her, but it's doubtful that he recognized me or my Mom. He was unconscious at the time we visited. His death was not peaceful. He died drowning as fluids filled his lungs, with labored breathing. His kidneys were failing and he was swelling up from fluid retention. The bacterial infection in his lungs was spreading. This was on Monday. I know why he died this way, but I hope that I have a better death than he did when it's my time to go. A quick death is a blessing to the dead. A slow, lingering death is only a blessing to the family and loved ones, not the one dying. He's returned to that from whence he came.

See you around Uncle Jerry. Be in Bliss always.




Terry Pratchett Interview

Terry Pratchett is one of my favorite authors and is quite prolific. Here's part of an interview that is quite profound where he is asked his views on religion and his belief system. He seems closer to the truth than most.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sneaky Political Tricks

I heard about this from Pauldotcom. Governor Schwarzenegger in California used steganography to answer a political opponent. He vetoed the guy's bill. This is the article about the missive and this is the letter.


Book Publishing Fail

Book Publishing Fail

I purchased online and received Network Security Assessment from Borders last Sunday. Today, I glance at the spine while listening to an IT Security podcast from I'm pretty sure that assessment is spelled with four s's. Look's like I have a collector's item now.

I wonder what if it's OReilly's fault or Border's print on demand system. I wonder how common this error is.

Just ignore this line.


Tiger Woods SNL Skit

Egad! There's nothing really newsworthy. The best thing I've seen to date is this SNL skit on Tiger Woods.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

What ISPs Don't Want Their Customers to Know

Two companies are fighting an FOIA request about the prices they charge law enforcement for wiretaps. Prices from other companies range from $1,000 to $3500 per month. Sounds pretty lucrative for the phone companies. Are we taxpayers benefiting from any of this, or are we just being victimized? It may be possible for knowledgeable people to thwart a wiretap. If this happens, do the cops get a refund?


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Seeking What is Already There

From Daily Zen:

Each of you should individually
reduce entanglements and
not talk about judgments
of right and wrong.
All of your activities everywhere
transcend Buddhas and Masters,
the water buffalo at the foot
of the mountain is imbued
with Buddhism; but as soon
as you try to search, it's not there.
Why do you not discern this?

- Foyan (1067–1120)


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