Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hawaiian Electric gets Mainlandized

Hawaiian Electric Company has been Oahu’s power company for as long as I can remember and I can remember Hawaii in July of 1960.  Back then, Hawaii was going to stop using oil to generate electricity as soon as the population could justify a Nuclear Power Plant.

Nuclear long ago lost its luster and now the magic bullet has become clean energy.   Hawaiian Electric has been supporting all sorts of green alternates and has been saying whatever the local politicians wanted to hear.  Political realities have trumped economic realities and the Hawaii public has been paying for it all with higher rates.

Late last year Hawaiian Electric agreed to be purchased by NextEra Energy.  I’d suspect NextEra saw what I noticed….a company that ignores the real world in favor of the political.   NextEra says they like green energy, but they want all the subsidies eliminated.  Locals are  questioning whether the NextEra execs are being truly honest.  The local papers are full of it.

Solar power without adequate storage is not a viable solution for Hawaii’s energy problems for all the reasons I stated in my last post.   Hawaii has an after sunset peak that must be met with oil based generation. Dirty nasty oil.  Solar provides power when it isn’t needed and cannot provide it when needed…until better batteries are developed.

Hawaii has been following the German model.  Two complete energy systems, one renewable and one that uses fossil fuels operate side by side.  Germany has enough solar and wind to meet their peak when it is all working….but it never is all working at once.

Wind and solar power cannot be relied upon, day in and day out.  Utilities base load with other more reliable generation.  Whenever the wind blows in Germany, they get more power than is needed.  The utility is required by law to take it, which creates an energy imbalance. German Utilities sells the surplus to  neighboring utilities, something Hawaii will not be able to do.  The price of power at the German border moves around wildly.

In January of 2013, and again in 2014, the utilities bought power from the wind providers and could not find willing buyers.  They actually had to pay their neighbors to take the surplus power.  Utilities are slowly and steadily destroying their balance sheets as they are forced to buy high and sell low.

Too much solar power creates a similar problem for Hawaiian Electric.  The utility is forced to limit the number of rooftop solar installations…and the locals don’t understand why.  Too much power entering the system at unplanned places stresses the utility grid and provides no relief for peak demand.

Because the utility takes power when it isn’t needed and gives it back on peak, it is essentially buying high and selling low.

The utility is forced to maintain the old system and counts on it at peak, but there is less total generation using the grid.  Peak demand continues to rise, which forces additional investment from the utility. Costs go up but the revenue base fails to keep up as off peak demand actually goes down.  Throw in generous state tax credits for solar installations and you have a recipe for economic disaster if you are a power provider.

The new system doesn’t provide any peak assistance and yet it is heavily subsidized by everyone in Hawaii.  And since the utility and the State have not been particularly forthcoming about the negatives associated with green energy, the public doesn’t understand.   Unreasonable expectations are everywhere.

It looks like NextEra is going to try to finesse this problem by sounding positive on green energy but really being less positive than Hawaiian Electric has been.   Neither utility’s position is particularly truthful, but NextEra’s approach understands the economics of power generation.

I wonder though.  Island politics are tricky.  Perhaps Hawaiian Electric was right to stick their head in the sand and pretend the problems didn’t exist.  Hawaii’s politicians might simply shoot the messenger.  Time will tell.

 

 

 

New Climate Science Rule — No Anecdotal “Proof” allowed

Mr. Obama gave a speech at the UN yesterday.   I didn’t see the speech, but I did read the Washington Post article covering it.  We heard that climate was

  • changing faster than our ability to address it
  • The alarm bells are ringing, we cannot pretend we do not hear them
  • the once distant threat of climate change has now moved firmly into the present.

The article went on to say that Mr Obama:

ticked of a list of recent U.S. weather disasters – from Hurricane Sandy to the drought in the West – as evidence that the once-distant threat of climate change has “now moved firmly into the present.”

I felt like I was in a 2006 time warp, watching An Inconvenient Truth, and listening to Al Gore talk.  The approach and the key talking points were virtually indistinguishable.   So many mistakes.  Mistakes Al Gore made in 2006, and Mr. Obama repeated some 8 years later.

  • The change in climate is not accelerating.   The opposite is happening.  The world warmed rapidly in the 1990’s and peaked in 1998.  Since then the world has had virtually no change in world temperatures.   Carbon levels are higher, but climate has not changed.  The 2014 UN Climate Assessment blames the dampening of the Ocean’s and insists that the warmth will come some day.   Right now the world is not warming.
  • Hurricane Sandy was a relatively routine storm as far as Hurricanes go.   Atlantic hurricanes have become less frequent in recent years.  Florida has not had a hurricane hit its shores in 9 years, a record.  2013 set records for low activity and 2014 has continued the trend.   This does not mean they won’t accelerate in the future, but it does mean that, so far at least, Atlantic hurricanes have not increased in intensity or frequency because of climate change.
  • Multiple recent studies show that the drought in the West is consistent with the historical weather pattern of the region.   Last month I visited Mesa Verde National Park.   The Indians that lived in Southwest Colorado for close to 1000 years, moved away some 800 years ago after 24 years of drought.

The world is a big place.  Anecdotal evidence can be found to support any climate argument you want to make.  Ice in the Arctic is melting more rapidly than in the recent past, but at the same time Antarctic Ice is growing at record rates.  Both are short term localized events that prove absolutely nothing.

Sure it’s warmer than it was and man is probably partially responsible.  But the climate changes wildly all by itself.   It’s really difficult to distinguish between natural climate variation and man caused events and so far at least, UN computer models have been inconsistent in their predictions.

1709 was a really cold year in Europe.  Really cold.  And the world was warmer than it is today some 10,000 years ago.  Both were part of the world climate changing without the assistance of man.   Anecdotal evidence doesn’t really prove anything.   Let’s stop pretending it does.

Yes carbon is accelerating and it would be better, probably, if it weren’t.  And we should try to do more to impact our planet less.  But are we really sure that Mr. Obama was correct when he said:

There’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other; and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.

Maybe, maybe not?   My favorites are destruction of the Oceans and over population.  If we could get  people in the poor countries of Asia and Africa to procreate less, I’d like our chances better.     Let’s meet in 86 years and see who’s right.

Climate Change Studies?

Much money has been spent in recent years studying climate change.   We are oft bombarded with gloom and doom courtesy of these studies.   Most studies I’ve read blame rapidly changing temperatures  caused by man.  Carbon dioxide is responsible for whatever disaster they happen to be promoting.

Suppose, just suppose, that the climate hasn’t been changing as rapidly as advertised.

Let’s look at some temperature data.   I’d like to state up front that I think all land based temperature data is wild ass guess data.  The Earth’s temperature is simply too difficult to calculate.   Most thermometers are located in the developed world.  Much of Africa is sparsely covered and coverage in Antarctica is spectacularly sparse,  only a single location for then entire continent. World temperature wild ass guessing is a virtual certainty.   That said, lets begin with some NASA data that relies on weather stations and ocean buoys:

Fig C

Yep, this chart shows a shift in world temperatures in the 1990’s.  But if  the chart had been started a year later in 1997 instead of 1996, then there would be no real change.   Yep, no net change in climate since 1997.   The last 17 years have been surprisingly stable.   More stable than at any time in the last 170 years as this East Anglia University data shows:

Natural variation; here, there, everywhere.   I particularly like the changes in the 1870’s and 1880’s.   Ocean temperature data stunk back then (it’s not that great today) so we know the data used to prepare this graph is jam packed full of guesses.

Climate change before 1950 is presumed to be natural climate variation by the same experts that are trying to scare us now. My personal favorite,  the stretch from 1907 to 1943.  It seems eerily similar to the data from 1976 to 1998.

Don’t like the NASA or East Anglia Data?   Let’s look at some Satellite Data.  Here’s the University of Alabama at Hunstsville (UAH) Satellite global data for the lower atmosphere:

UAH_LT_1979_thru_April_2014_v5

Fairly stable weather until Mt. Pinatubo erupted, then rapid cooling followed by rapid warming.   And still no net change since the second half of1997.

One key premise of man caused global climate change states that the climate will change more at the poles than in the tropics.   It certainly has been true in the Arctic.   I’d argue that soot and pollution from Asia (mostly) are partly to blame.  Recent studies support this notion as does Satellite data from Antarctica.   If the Arctic is changing due to additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, then Antarctica should change too…. and in a similar way.

Take a look at the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) Satellite data for Antarcita.

https://i1.wp.com/data.remss.com/msu/graphics/TLT/plots/RSS_TS_channel_TLT_Southern%20Polar_Land_And_Sea_v03_3.png

Almost flat line.  Now look at the Arctic Data also courtesy of RSS.

https://i1.wp.com/data.remss.com/msu/graphics/TLT/plots/RSS_TS_channel_TLT_Northern%20Polar_Land_And_Sea_v03_3.png

No change in Antarctica, wild change in the Arctic.  Ice core data supports the notion that the Antarctic has not been warming for hundreds of years.   Hmmm.

Most studies I’ve seen, including most IPCC handiwork, start with observed changes in the world around them.  This change is then attributed to man produced greenhouse gases which is supported by computer models that assumed carbon was important.  Round and round we go.  Make an assumption and build a model based upon that assumption and then use that model as proof of the assumption….just a tad circular.

If carbon dioxide is the primary driver of climate change, the data at both poles should be similar.  The data has been diverging for the entire 36 year history of Satellite Data.

Maybe, just maybe, something else is going on.

 

 

 

Sea Level Questions Continue

Yesterday, I read a piece in our local newspaper discussing the problems rising sea level will cause.   Built into the article were two assumptions, both of which are probably  incorrect.

  • Assumption 1 – Sea level could rise by as much as a meter by the year 2100
  • Assumption 2 – Man can take actions to alter this in some significant way.

When I look at sea level data I see confusion.   Today was no exception.   My inquiry began with a look at Satellite data courtesy of  Colorado University.

Sea level, according to CU, is rising at a rate of about 3.2 millimeters a year (plus or minus 12.5%).  That’s about an 1/8 of an inch per year or about a foot per century.  Plus or minus an inch or two.  Not exactly a meter, but coastal regions will have difficulties.  Sea level has been rising since the Little Ice Age ended some 250 years ago.   If I had land in Key West, I’d be worried.

But sea level in Key West isn’t rising at 3.2mm/yr, it’s rising at 2.24 mm/yr.  And the trend has been steady for the 100 years of the data.

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 8724580 - Key West, Florida

Key West may be under water at some date in the future, but the rate of change appears to be much less than predicted by IPCC scientists.  I suppose Key West could be an oddity, but it’s unlikely.   I visited the NOAA web site and checked many places I thought might be interesting.   Places like Bermuda, Honolulu, San Francisco, Venice.   Yep, Venice, well Trieste, it’s just across the bay.

http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/trends/270-061.png

Trieste’s rate is less than 40% of the Satellite predicted rate.

1.24/3.4 = .397 or 39.7%

The margin for error is half the satellite data rate (.2 mm vs .4mm)

Every place I checked  had a trend rate that was less than the satellite data.   In most cases the predicted margin for error was less than the satellite data too.    A few select data points have a longer history too. I tabulated the results

City                                            rate of change       data history

San Francisco                             2.01 mm/yr       160 years                                              Honolulu                                       1.50 mm/yr       110 years                                                     New York                                     2.77 mm/yr       120 years                                                 Bermuda                                       2.04 mm/yr         70 years                                          Narvik, Norway                       -2.06 mm/yr          60 years                                          Cochin, India                              1.71 mm/yr          70 years                                                Hong Kong                                  2.92 mm/yr          60 years                                        Nagasaki, Japan                        2.20 mm/yr         45 years                                          Sydney, Australia                     0.65 mm/yr         130 years                                     Auckland, New Zealand         1.29 mm/yr         120 years

This data doesn’t tell the full story of the confusion.  Individual sites provide lots of conflicting data.   Honolulu has been trending down since about 2002:

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 1612340 - Honolulu, Hawaii

The NOAA presentation of the Bermuda data a bit odd:

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 2695540 - Bermuda,

Most of the increase shown in Bermuda happened before 1960.  Had the data set begun in 1955 instead of 1934 the trend line would have shown nearly no net change.  Sea level rose fairly rapidly from 193o until 1955 and has been relatively stable since then.  Go figure.

Virtually every city I checked showed a less ominous looking trend line than the satellite data.  This land based data has it’s limitations.   Many international cities have tiny data sets, particularly in South America and Africa.   Only one data point exists for all of Antarctica

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 999-003 - Argentine Islands, Antarctica

I would argue that the Antarctica data doesn’t really suggest a trend but NOAA calculates the trend at  1.43mm/yr.  When I look at the data I see no net changes since 1960.  Sounds kind of like Bermuda’s data to me?

Something is wrong.   Every land site I checked showed less overall change than the satellite data.   How can that be?   The satellite data is an average for the whole world.   Some specific locations should be higher and some places should be lower.

Northern locations like Alaska and Norway are showing reduced sea level due to reduced gravitational pull from the Arctic Ice Sheet (presumably).  Where are the equatorial places that are compensating for that reduction?   I can’t make sense of the data.   Satellite data and measurements at land interfaces don’t tell the same story.

Sea level is extraordinarily difficult to calculate.   Sea level changes in one part of the world can take years and years  to impact the ecosystem.  I understand that storms and changing ice sheets impact the data.  Change that can take decades to correct.

WHY is the satellite data very nearly ALWAYS significantly higher than the land data?

The Satellite data has been higher every year since the data began in 1993.   Every year! Most places I have checked disagree by about 1 mm per year.  After 20 years of data the sources disagree with each other by about 20 mm.  or about .78 inches.  The longer this condition exists, the less I trust the data sets.

It really is difficult to make accurate predictions about sea level if you don’t have the ability to accurately graph the underlying trend line.  Sea level, almost certainly,  has been rising since the end of the Little Ice Age some 250 years ago.  But by how much?   Almost no statistical data exists before the Civil War. I suspect SWAG.

Sea level has been steadily rising for probably 250 years.   How much has been man’s impact? I don’t know and I’ll go a step further…nobody knows!

I am not convinced that we have the tools necessary to accurately predict the future course of events as it relates to sea level.    Sea level appears to be an indicator that follows rather than leads climate change.   How much of today’s changes in sea level were impacted by global temperatures of 20 or 50 or 100 years ago?  I don’t know.  I see guessing here, there and everywhere.

IPCC scientists might have the trends right….but even that is…I fear …. a guess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering Katrina and climate change politics

Ray Nagin, the Mayor of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck the city,  was just convicted of corruption.  Twenty counts.  All related to Katrina reconstruction contracts.  I must admit, I wasn’t surprised.

Katrina is a classic example of people not preparing for a likely event simply because it is infrequent.  Politics is all about immediate problems.  Politicians do not do well preparing for events that only come along every 100 years or so.   A relatively large hurricane struck a city adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico.  A city with sections below sea level.   It has happened before and it will happen again.  Someday.

Katrina and Al Gore are inexorably linked in my mind, because of Mr. Gore’s film.   An Inconvenient Truth linked human tragedy with climate change.  Lots and lots of newsreel footage of Katrina suffering, with Mr. Gore narrating.   George Bush and global warming shared the blame, according to Mr. Gore.

Mr. Gore’s approach begins with little bit of science.  He then provides lots of anecdotal information.  He then uses that information to support his gloom and doom climate change thesis.  The science may or may not have anything to do with the subject at hand, but it seems like the two are linked together.   The process works well.

The Katrina section of the film opened with a graph.  The graph displayed the changes in worldwide ocean temperatures.  The graph showed a rise in recent years.   That graph was the only specific data provided.

Tropical systems need warm water to form.  Mr Gore asserted that because  the oceans are warmer,  there would be more storm systems.  Videos of suffering in New Orleans; pictures of suffering in Asia. Many  tropical systems were featured.  The storms themselves were all the proof Mr. Gore needed.

Multiple problems immediately come to mind.

  • Global average ocean temperature is a bad proxy.  Most warming since the end of the Little Ice some 250 years ago  has occurred in temperate and Arctic locations.  The Tropics have been remarkably stable.
  • The IPCC 2007 Synopses Report, released a year after An Inconvenient Truth,  called tropical cyclone data  inconclusive.  Mr. Gore’s favorite UN agency contradicted him in their most recent report.
  • Mr. Gore’s ocean temperature chart went back to the 1940’s.   Ocean data before the 1980’s must have been a wild guess because before that date very little data existed.

But Mr. Gore’s central problem is this; statistical data does not support his premise.   Tropical systems have not been becoming more frequent.   In the years since his film was released, worldwide activity has decreased by a small amount.   Globally, tropical systems have been surprisingly stable for at least 40 years.

How do I know this?

Scientists use ACE (The Global Tropical Cyclone Accumulated Cyclone Energy) to track worldwide total tropical cyclone activity.  This data takes into consideration both the strength and the number of cyclones all over the world.  It’s a mathematical way of calculating the yearly impact tropical systems have on our environment.  24 month running sums are plotted.

Here it is:

https://i2.wp.com/policlimate.com/tropical/global_running_ace.png

Forty years of data, no trend.  Unfortunately the real world and the world of global climate politics are completely different places.   In 2005, when Katrina was devastating New Orleans, man caused global climate change was supposedly causing bigger and nastier storms including Katrina.

Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines late last year.  Global climate change was an oft stated source of the devastation.  Haiyan was a big storm, but not unprecedented and not unexpected.  6 to 9 typhoons strike the Philippines in a typical  season.

A typhoon struck the Philippines in September of 1881. It is estimated that 20,000 people in the Philippines died and thousands more died in Viet Nam. It was the most devastating tropical storm in recorded history. More tropical cyclones strike the Philippines than any other populated place on earth.

Mr. Obama, in his State of the Union address, blamed drought in California on man caused climate activity.   A recent study disagrees:

Through studies of tree rings, sediment and other natural evidence, researchers have documented multiple droughts in California that lasted 10 or 20 years in a row during the past 1,000 years — compared to the mere three-year duration of the current dry spell. The two most severe megadroughts make the Dust Bowl of the 1930s look tame: a 240-year-long drought that started in 850 and, 50 years after the conclusion of that one, another that stretched at least 180 years

Katrina was a category 3 storm when it hit New Orleans, Haiyan was a big storm, but others have been bigger and the drought in the West has happened before.   The Mayan culture disappeared some 600 years ago, presumably due to over population and a change in the climate.

Maybe, just maybe, Nature is simply being Nature.   Some climate change might simply be a Natural Event.

Sea Level Confusion

Mean sea level confuses me.   Intuitively I want sea level to be the same all over the world.  But it isn’t.   One reason the Panama Canal has locks, sea level on the Pacific side averages 8 inches higher than on the Atlantic side….and the tides are higher on the Pacific side too.   Without the locks, water would constantly be flowing from the Pacific side to the Atlantic side.

And sea level is not changing at the same rate all around the world.  Some places have a rising sea level, others falling.   Supposedly worldwide sea level is rising steadily as demonstrated by this chart courtesy of the Australian government:

Plot of global sea level from 1993 to 2012

NOAA keeps data for all the 50 states of the USA and that data generally shows a much slower rise….and in some cases no rise since 1990.  Something doesn’t make sense…and that confuses me.  Let’s begin looking at NOAA data for San Francisco.   The data for San Francisco is some of the oldest available.  It goes back over 150 years.  Here is the sea level data chart for San Francisco:

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 9414290 - San Francisco, California

San Francisco peaked in 1998 (a strong El Nino year).  NOAA also provides charts that show the change year to year.   They call these charts interannual charts.  Here is the interannual chart for San Francisco.residual1980.png

Since 1998 sea level is San Francisco has been going down.   How about Miami Beach Florida:

residual.png

Miami appears to have peaked in the 1940’s?   But the data shows no real net change in the 50 years the data has been kept.  NOAA must have changed where they keep data for this area as the data stops in the 1980’s.  But the data is interesting as it shows variations that should have predated man caused climate change.  The data does not match the San Francisco data.   It has less overall movement and it peaks at a different time. Now lets see how the Pacific Ocean has been doing by taking a peak at Honolulu, Hawaii:

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 1612340 - Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu has been rising, but slowly.  It looks a lot like San Francisco.  Let’s zoom in on the data since 1990 by looking at interannual variation chart .

residual1980.png

The change since 1990 has been minimal.  The area above the zero line on the chart roughly equals the area below the line.

Are you confused yet?  Now let’s look at data for Seward, Alaska:

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 9455090 - Seward, Alaska

An earthquake in 1964 is probably the reason for the shift in data.  The Seward waterfront was devastated by a tidal wave following the Good Friday Earthquake on March 28th 1964.  The trend of the data is …down.  Sea level has been going down in Seward since at least 1964.    How can that be?  If the worldwide sea level has been rising steadily since 1990, how can it be going down in Seward?  The NOAA data appears to contradict the Australia data?

Now let’s look at Juneau, Alaska.  Are you ready…this one’s really weird:

chart: Mean Sea Level Trend, 9452210 - Juneau, Alaska

Juneau makes no sense to me at all.   The world has been warming, glaciers have been melting.  Sea level should be going up world wide.   I have no reason not to believe the data provided by NOAA.  After all they are pretty good at this stuff.

Climate activists have been talking global disaster for years and years.  One really big disaster has been a rapidly rising sea level.   Al Gore featured it in his 2006 film, An Inconvenient Truth.   The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been making claims in advance of the 2014 release of their AR5 climate assessment.   Sea level rise has made the news as this link to an article in the Yale forum on Climate Change and the Media demonstrates.  Here is a chart prepared by the IPCC from that article:

I suspect guessing.  Wild Ass Guessing!  AND I am confused.

Local weather extrapolation — A common Climate mistake

We all have a tendency to extrapolate local conditions.   The weather we see at home today has nothing whatsoever to do with climate science.  If it is warmer today than in years gone by it does not mean the world is warmer.   But we think it does.  The Weather Channel lives it’s own special world of extrapolation.    And so do Al Gore and his buddies at the UN .

I make this mistake too often.

Case in point Summer 2013 …Anchorage, Alaska.  We have had a wonderful warm summer with many many days over 70 degrees.   We set a record for the most consecutive days where the daily high temperature was above 70 degrees.  15 days in a row.  And we were close to setting a record for the most days above 70 for an entire season.   Our warm wonderful summer….it’s been  the talk of the town.

And then we almost set a record for the most consecutive days of rain in September.  More rain in Anchorage is supposedly something to expect as the world warms.

Global warming seemed to be all around.

I expected record melting in the Arctic.  2012 had been a record year for Arctic ice  melt, followed by a relatively normal winter.  As the melt season began, the Arctic had extraordinary amounts of first year sea ice.  First year ice is saltier than older ice, which makes it melt at lower temperatures than older sea ice.  A very warm South Central Alaska, quick melting ice; the Arctic was sure to have a record melt year.

I was expecting the regional climate I was experiencing to have wider implications…and I was wrong….as this chart from the National Snow and Ice Data Center demonstrates:

https://i1.wp.com/nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/files/2013/10/asina_N_stddev_timeseries.png

The Arctic had a cool summer and a change in the prevailing winds.   The result was a slow melting year.   And Greenland had a slow melting year too.

But is the world warmer than in the recent past?  Uh….no.   Hot off the presses… the September 2013 world satellite surface temperature data courtesy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH).

2013 has been and continues to be boringly similar to every year since 2002.

I thought 2013 would be one for the record books in the Arctic.  Mother nature constantly reminds us not to draw simple conclusions when evaluating climate.

The DC Mindset — A License Plate Story

I recently visited Washington D.C.  I rode the Metro, visited several Smithsonian Museums, walked along the Mall and checked out several monuments. I particularly like the WWII Monument and the Jefferson.  A great trip.  I will return.

This trip to DC had a bit of odd thrown in too.  The license plate slogan is a perfect example of DC’s odd mindset.

Most states brag about themselves in their license plates, not DC.  Ohio and North Carolina both claim the Wright Brothers.  Ohio’s plate  – Birthplace of Aviation, North Carolina’s – First in Flight. Idaho has Famous Potatoes, West Virginia is Wild and Wonderful and you can Live Free or Die in New Hampshire.  Minnesota has 10,000 Lakes and Alaska is the Frontier State.  Several states throw in tourism web addresses.

What does DC say on their plate?   Taxation without representation. Yep, the folks in DC are whining because the founding fathers stiffed them when they wrote the US Constitution.  What was James Madison thinking?  And Thomas Jefferson too?  But is DC really getting stiffed?  It is true that only states are allowed to have congressional delegations and DC is not a state.

Should it be a state?

It’s pretty small.

Washington, DC

That’s right, just 68.3 square miles.  And most of the people that live in the Washington DC area don’t live in the Federal Capitol.  The Washington DC metro area has a population of about 5 million but only about 600,000 actually live in DC.

The 23rd Amendment to the Constitution gave DC residents the right to vote for President (DC gets 3 electoral votes).  It fares better than American Territories (American Samoa, The US Virgin Islands) and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.  They don’t get to vote for President.

Maybe the founding fathers did it on purpose.   DC gets lots of really great stuff because it is the seat of government.   All the museums are free as is the National Zoo.  And it has a great Metro, paid for with Federal Tax dollars.  One could argue that DC already has 100 senators and 435 congressmen living there.  And since they live there, they care about it.

DC is a City with a special status.  And it is getting it’s fare share of the federal pie which would indicate that it is getting represented.

https://i1.wp.com/www.dcfpi.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/2-7-13-Revenue-Primer-Figure-11.jpg

DC gets 28% of it’s budget in federal grants.  That’s over 2 billion dollars a year in federal money.  Special grants paid for much of the Metro.  DC has the best subway in the US….and we all helped pay for it.  Imagine how much more they could grab with 2 senators and a congressman.

DC’s political status is not going to change.   DC’s demographics virtually assure that it will be a Democrat stronghold politically.   2 more Democrat senators will change the political landscape in ways that Republicans will not like.   Any  change in DC’s political makeup requires a change in the US Constitution.   That’s not going to happen (it was tried in the 1970’s and went nowhere)

What are the powers that be trying to accomplish with their license plate slogan?  You got me.  I have no idea.  It does say something about the Washington DC mindset.  They would rather complain than focus on the positive.

Sea Level — A S.W.A.G. Game

Sea level has been rising steadily since the end of the little ice age some 250 years ago.  It has been averaging about .2 mm per year or about 7 inches per century.  The rate of change has been surprisingly stable as this chart of San Francisco demonstrates:

Sea level in San Francisco has been trending downward since 1998.  This second chart of the same information makes it a bit easier to see the recent decline:

So if carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been steadily rising, and the world is a degree warmer than it was 200 years ago, why has sea level has not been rising since it peaked in 1998?

Sea level is a trailing rather than a leading indicator of climate.  And the delay can be as much as a thousand years!  The world warms and then the ice melts.  As fresh water stored over land decreases, sea level rises.  If it stays warm long enough, the deep oceans begin to warm.  As they warm, they expand and sea level rises even more.

The current rising sea level process began about 20,000 years ago as we came out of the last ice age cold cycle.  Here is a chart of that rise in sea level:

Temperature in the Holocene peaked about 10,000 years ago as this chart demonstrates:

The world is a bit cooler than it was 10,000 years ago.  Sea level has been slowly rising the entire period.  Imagine the world of 130,000 years ago when it was much warmer than it is today.

And finally we’ll look at a chart prepared of a Greenland Ice Core:

Greenland is in a cool cycle right now.  It’s a bit warmer than it was a few hundred years ago, but the current period is cold for Greenland in the last 10,000 years.  Greenland is some 2 degrees C cooler than it was just 3000 years ago.  It is worth noting that according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center Greenland has been covered in ice for 18 million years.

When I look at the last two charts I must give Mother Nature her due.  Sea level has been rising since we came out of the last ice age some 20,000 years ago.   And that’s a good thing!   We don’t want the climate we had even 15,000 years ago.  Sure we had lots more land above sea level, but much of it was frozen.   Think Greenland …then imagine the Northeastern USA and you’ll get the idea.

The IPCC appears to be ready to predict (in their 2014 Climate Report) a rise in sea level of from 10 inches to 3 feet and they attribute it to man caused events (according to a NY Times article).   I suspect wild ass guessing.

Changes in sea level we see in the next 86 years are more likely than not a function of the climate we have been having for thousands of years.  The IPCC thinks most variation seen before 1950 is natural climate variation. That’s a lot of change.  How do they know the current changes are not natural climate variation.  How can they know?

One tenet of the IPCC climate change group is that it is cheaper to try to mitigate climate change than it is to adjust to it.  I’m not so sure, I fear they underestimate nature.

  • When I look at the San Francisco chart I see a relatively steady increase since the beginning of the chart in 1850.
  • When I look at the Greenland chart, I see lots on natural climate variation.   Greenland has been lots warmer in the recent past than is today…and that was a natural event.  Will carbon dioxide make it warmer than it otherwise would be. Probably.  But it could get lots colder soon too if history is a guide.  How much of any short term  change is natural and how much is man caused?  I don’t know.
  • When I look at the last 150,000 years I’m glad we live in the warm time we live in.

When I step back and look at the big picture…a steady increase in sea level seems possible as long as we don’t start another ice age cool cycle.  It could be accelerated by an increase in melting from Greenland and Antarctica.  Greenland had an average melt year in 2013 and Antarctic Ice has been actually increasing in recent years.   Sea level has been declining since 1998.

What will the future bring?   I don’t know but I do know this:   Many of the changes in sea level that are a result of today’s weather will show up hundreds of years from now….even if the IPCC is right.

And when I look at the IPCC….I see guessing…..wild ass guessing.

Disease Statistics — A SWAG guessing game

This morning I was reading an Anchorage Daily News article about how keeping your brain active by working longer delays dementia.   Smack dab in the middle of the article was this dementia factoid:

ABOUT DEMENTIA: About 35 million people worldwide have dementia, and Alzheimer’s is the most common type. In the U.S., about 5 million have Alzheimer’s — 1 in 9 people aged 65 and over.

The numbers didn’t seem right to me.  I immediately suspected wild ass  guessing.  I decided to look at the data a bit more closely.

If there are 35 million people in the world with dementia, and there are 5  million Alzheimer cases in the USA, then….there are probably at least 7 or 8 million cases of dementia in the USA or  about 20% of the world’s dementia cases.  20% of the total is in a 4.7 % population sample.  Does the USA have dementia at 5 times the worldwide average?    Probably not?

I then looked at the CIA life expectancy data.   If enough of the world’s population had a very low life expectancy then the numbers might make sense.  There are places in the world where most people don’t live long enough to get dementia.     Places like Chad (last on the list) or South Africa where the average person doesn’t see their 50th birthday.  But is it statistically significant?  Chad probably gets lost statistically because the population is too small at 11 million.

There are 30 countries in the world where the average person lives less than 60  years (Ethopia is #193 on the list of 223 countries at 60.00 years), but there are also 50 countries in the world where people can expect to live longer than the USA’s 78.62 years.

The data is full of odd little facts.   People in Hong Kong live 7 years longer than do people in the rest of China.   And people in Puerto Rico live longer than the average for the entire USA.   And Italians live longer than any other large group of Europeans.  Go figure.  I wasn’t surprised that Monaco topped the list at over 89 years, but having Macau come in second did surprise me.

I’d expect many  dementia cases in say…Japan (#3) where the average person lives to be 84.

I then went over and looked at the world population totals by country and compared that data to life expectancy data.  I then prepared a table of the 25 most populous countries….and here it is,  the world population top 25:

Country                    Population            Life Expectancy         Life Ex. Rank   Year

China                     1,347,350,000                        74.99                         100          2102 India                      1,210,193,000                         67.48                         163           2011 USA                           313,478,000                         78.62                            51          2012     Indonesia                237,561,000                         71.90                          138          2010  Brazil                        192,376,000                          73.02                         127           2011  Pakistan                 183,000,000                          66.71                          167          2013  Niger                       158,423,000                           54.34                        207          2010 Russia                     143,056,000                           69.85                         152          2012 Bangladesh            142,319,000                           70.36                        150           2011  Japan                       127,650,000                           84.19                             3           2012  Mexico                    112,336,000                           76.86                           72          2010  Philippines             92,340,000                            72.21                         135          2010  Vietnam                   87,840,000                            72.65                        130           2011 Ethiopia                   84,321,000                            60.00                        193           2012 Egypt                        82,019,000                             73.19                        124           2012 Germany                 81,858,000                             80.32                          28            2011     Iran                           76,348,000                             70.62                        149           2012  Turkey                    74,724,000                             73.03                        126           2011 Congo(DROC)      65,966,000                              56.14                       200           2012 Thailand                 65,500,000                             74.05                        115           2010 France                     65,350,000                              81.56                           15           2012  United Kingdom 62,262,000                              80.29                          30           2010   Italy                         59,464,000                              81.95                            11           2011  South Africa         50,586,000                             49.48                         222           2011  South Korea         48,580,000                             79.55                            42          2010

Africa, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh definitely pull the numbers down……but I’d suspect quite a few cases in China and Western Europe…so….I still have doubts.  I wonder if Vodka consumption has anything to do with the Russia numbers?

I still think either the USA number is too high or the rest of the world is too low.  We could have over diagnosing in the USA or ….more likely… we have places where the data is inaccurate.   I still expect SWAG…..and under reporting in the developing world and China.