Skip to main content

The paper from the primary scientific literature comes from a scientific journal from the Nature publishing group, a relatively new journal, Nature Climate Change.    The title of the paper is "A Decade of Weather Extremes" and is written by two scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Dim Coumou and Stephen Rahmstorf.

It is found in the current issue, as of this writing, of that journal:   Nature Climate Change, Volume 2 Issue 7.  The full reference is Nature Climate Change 2, 491–496(2012)

Irony Alert:  The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research is located in Germany, where they have announced that they intend to phase out the world's largest, by far, source of climate change gas free primary energy.   That would be nuclear energy, which is, as anyone who is familiar with my writings, is my environmental cause célèbre.

The paper addresses the question that is often posed by apologists for the dangerous fossil fuel industry, whether they be right wingers, (and addressed in a diary here by the incomparable - if overly optimistic - Adam Siegel Village tolerance of Will-ful deceit) or (in a more parochial case I will address below) simple minded anti-nukes nominally, at least, "on the left" who think that we can wait around for their so called "renewable energy" fantasies to come to pass after most of us here will be long dead:   Are these extreme weather events so frequently in the news of late normal fluctuations or are they truly indicative of the collapse of the planetary climate?

I'll excerpt some stuff from the paper - in case one cannot access it directly - briefly discuss the list of catastrophic weather events the paper contains - allude to the methods of analysis and then excerpt the conclusion of the paper.

Here is the excerpted introduction:

For the United States, 2011 was a year of extreme weather, with 14 events that caused losses in excess of US$1 billion each1. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spoke of “a year seemingly full of weather extremes” after July had set new monthly heat records for Texas, Oklahoma and Delaware2. The period from January to October was the wettest on record for several northeastern states, with wet soils contributing to the severe flooding when Hurricane Irene hit the region in August. During spring, the southern United States had been hit by the worst recorded tornado outbreak in history: April saw 753 tornadoes, beating the previous monthly record of 542 (from May 2003) by a large margin3. Other regions in the world were affected by extreme weather in 2011 as well: rainfall records were set in Australia, Japan and Korea, whereas the Yangtze Basin in China experienced record drought1. In western Europe, spring was exceptionally hot and dry, setting records in several countries (Table 1)1.

But 2011 was not unique: the past decade as a whole has seen an exceptional number of unprecedented extreme weather events, some causing major human suffering and economic damage4 (Table 1 and Fig. 1). In August 2010, the World Meteorological Organization issued a statement on the “unprecedented sequence of extreme weather events”, stating that it “matches Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections of more frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to global warming”5. The Moscow heatwave and Pakistan flooding that year illustrated how destructive extreme weather can be to societies: the death toll in Moscow has been estimated at 11,000 and drought caused grain-harvest losses of 30%, leading the Russian government to ban wheat exports. At the same time Pakistan was hit by the worst flooding in its history, which affected approximately one-fifth of its total land area and 20 million people6.

The unprecedented meteorological events listed in Table 1 occurred in a decade that was likely the warmest globally for at least a millennium7. But are these two observations linked? We focus our discussion on the unprecedented extremes of the past decade, that is, those setting new meteorological records in the observational data available, because these often have the greatest impacts on societies, they grab the headlines and their uniqueness simplifies statistical analysis (compared with analysing extreme events exceeding a given threshold value).

The events listed in the table include the record breaking rain in England and Wales in autumn of 2000: (where records have been kept since 1766), Record breaking single day rainfall in Germany in 2002: the 2003 European heatwave, for which the death toll is reported to be 70,000 (cf .Comptes Rendue Biologies 331 (2008) 171–178);  - somewhat more than the zero deaths observed for that oft discussed affair in Fukushima, Japan involving the nuclear reactors - the 2005 hurricane season in the United States where a record 5 category 5 storms were observed, including the deadly Katrina; the 2007 cyclone in the Arabian sea, the first South Atlantic Hurricane in 2004; the 2009 record heatwave in Australia - the records go back 154 years - and the related wildfires that killed 173 people; the 2010 heatwave in Russia that destroyed 30% of the wheat crop; the 2010 flooding in Pakistan that affected 1/5 of the land area of the country and drowned about 3,000 people and affected 20 million others; the 2011 Texas and Oklahoma drought/heatwave that involved the burning of 3 million acres; the 2011 Tornado season which was the most active on record in the American midwest, which destroyed the town of Joplin, Mo; the hottest and driest spring ever recorded in France in 2011 which destroyed 15% of the grain harvest; and the extreme rainfall in Nara Prefecture in Japan, which killed 73 people, and finally, last, but not least, the record breaking rainfall in South Korea, which flooded Seoul and killed 49, left 77 missing, and affected 125,000 people.

Don't worry.   Be happy.

That reactor thing, that was bad, was it not?   If I read correctly - it was the only important energy disaster that ever occurred, Chernobyl excepted.

Climate change?   It's, um, normal fluctuations.   Doesn't count, sort of like that thing about the oil that took place in the Gulf of Mexico, and that stuff that you may have heard somewhere about the collapsed coal waste impoundment dams.   Not a problem.


Well, these authors wiggle around and then they say this:

Statistics and the detection problem
Using statistics, scientists can analyse whether the number of recent extreme events is significantly larger than expected in a stationary (that is, unchanging) climate. Statistical methods thus may link extremes to an observed climatic trend, but this does not address the question of whether this trend is anthropogenic or caused by natural factors. Extreme-event statistics are challenging: extremes are by definition rare, so the tails of the probability density function are not well constrained and often cannot be assumed to be Gaussian. There are many types of conceivable extreme, such as for different regional entities or time periods as well as different weather parameters (some 27 indices for extremes have been proposed11). To pick the type of extreme post hoc — for example, to study Pakistan rainfall extremes after a record-breaking event there — risks selection bias, that is, bias by selecting just the kind of time series that shows recent extremes. Proper statistical analysis of changes in the observed number of extremes thus requires: (1) a single, comparable type of extreme; (2) selection of time series by a priori objective criteria; and (3) sufficiently long-running high-quality data.

In a stationary climate, the number of threshold-exceeding extremes should remain constant over time. Therefore, if a trend is detected in their number then this can be attributed to nonstationarity, that is, climatic change. The causes behind such nonstationarity can be a change in the mean, a change in the shape of the probability density function, or a combination of both. Some recent studies12–16 have focused on record-breaking extremes rather than on those exceeding a fixed threshold value. The advantage of studying record events is that knowledge of the probability density function is not required: the probability of a record in a stationary climate is simply 1/n in any year, where n is the number of years in the time series up to that year. This simple but fundamental property makes it easier to detect the amount by which the number of records exceeds that expected in a stationary climate, irrespective of whether this is owing to a change in mean9 or in variance12.


They carry on and on and on and thus conclude thusly:

Many lines of evidence — statistical analysis of observed data, climate modelling and physical reasoning — strongly indicate that some types of extreme event, most notably heatwaves and precipitation extremes, will greatly increase in a warming climate and have already done so.

In 2007, the IPCC concluded that a future increase in the frequency of heatwaves and extreme precipitation events caused by greenhouse warming in most continental areas is very likely (>90% probability) and an increase in intense tropical cyclone activity and drought-affected areas is likely (>66% probability)7. Some extreme events will decrease — extreme cold being the most obvious one. However, the overall number of extremes is expected to increase. Human society has adapted to the kind of extremes experienced in the past, so a lesser number of these will bring only modest benefits. But unprecedented new extremes can be devastating, as the Pakistan flooding of 2010 illustrates...

The authors also whine thusly in the paper about our very stupid media and our very stupid public:
Many climate scientists (including ourselves) routinely answer media calls after extreme events with the phrase that a particular event cannot be directly attributed to global warming. This is often misunderstood by the public to mean that the event is not linked to global warming, even though that may be the case — we just can’t be certain. If a loaded dice rolls a six, we cannot say that this particular outcome was due to the manipulation — the question is ill-posed. What we can say is that the number of sixes rolled is greater with the loaded dice (perhaps even much greater). Likewise, the odds for certain types of weather extremes increase in a warming climate (perhaps very much so).  Attribution is not a ‘yes or no’ issue as the media might prefer, it is an issue of probability. It is very likely that several of the unprecedented extremes of the past decade would not have occurred without anthropogenic global warming. Detailed analysis can provide specific numbers for certain types of extreme, as in the examples discussed above.
Believe me, it's not easy to discuss science with the public.   The public is often - at great risk to itself - smug, glib, delusional, and in denial.  

I'd like to say that this sort of thinking is limited solely to the political right, but I can't.

What we have, right and left, is a public that runs on dogma, a public incapable of doing what Abraham Lincoln advised the public of his times to do almost 150 years ago:   "Think anew."

But it's clearly, given the list above, in my view for "thinking anew" to save very much, if anything.

I'd like to close this diary with a quote from a very uneducated and very unenlightened anti-nuke who, much to my moral disgust, shows up in my diaries from time to time.

Could just be weather, (0+ / 0-)

you know. Which is quite a different subject than actual climate change. I did look at the calendar today, and sure enough, it's July 1st. Honest to goodness summer here in the northern hemisphere, where it gets up into the 90s and even triple digits for days at a time through the height of the season. Pretty much always has, just like it gets bone-chilling cold for days at a time through the height of winter. Always has...

Hence while it's sure darned hot, it's not exactly unheard-of. Oddly enough, droughts aren't that rare either. Why, back in my parents' day there was a whole Dust Bowl thing happening in the southern midwest, it didn't rain for years and years. crops dried up, houses and town got buried in blowing dust, Okies migrated en masse to California looking for viable cropland.

Honestly, if we're to panic and scream that every heat wave, cold snap, tornado outbreak, thunderstorm, hurricane and/or blizzard is Global Climate Change Writ Large, we just might end up shooting ourselves in the proverbial foot. People who actually live their lives in the world with enough functional memory to recall the last decade or two or three's worth of weather will simply tune it out as hyperbole (Chicken Little stuff). Is that going to be helpful?

That's not from George Will or Jim Inhofe or someone like that; that's from our membership right here at Daily Kos. is obviously unfamiliar with the contents of science books, but you already knew that.

If you want to know whose fault this - and I include myself in this statement - look in the mirror.

Have a pleasant evening.


Originally posted to NNadir on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 04:16 PM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech.


Is this a time of extremes?

0%0 votes
13%3 votes
13%3 votes
4%1 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
8%2 votes
0%0 votes
17%4 votes
4%1 votes
0%0 votes
13%3 votes
8%2 votes
4%1 votes
13%3 votes

| 23 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Whiny liberals complaing about every damn little (3+ / 0-)

    rain storm, a few hurricanes, a few tornadoes, a few major floods, a few little heat waves, and stuff like that, missing a chance to tell a fat liar like NNadir to frack off, a few measy fires in Texas, a few measly fires in Australia, a few measly fires in Colorado, a few measly failed grain crops, stuff hidden in the data, ordinary hide rates, and pure climatically extreme troll rates all go here.

  •  So I'm simple minded? (0+ / 0-)
    simple minded anti-nukes nominally

    Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 04:25:14 PM PDT

    • (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gzodik, Deward Hastings, JeffW

      I consider all anti-nukes to be simple minded.

      In their bizarre universe, the 3.3 million people per year who die from air pollution, don't matter - since the history of commercial nuclear power began, we can estimate the death toll to be approaching 100 million - all the deaths described in the paper don't matter (nor does climate change itself), the 250,000 renewable energy deaths at Banqiao don't matter, the deaths on the Piper Alpha or the Deepwater Horizons don't matter, the only thing that matters is the goddamned Radioactive Tuna Fish.

      If that's not simple-minded, I can't say what is.

      I don't know you from a hill a beans, but my generalized statement applies and is my opinion.

      I have no moral, intellectual, or any other kind of respect for anti-nukes.

      Don't worry, though.   Be happy.   I don't count.

      Have a nice evening.

      •  The pollution and waste are problems in and of (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pescadero Bill, Lawrence


        The risks we are taking with this system of steam generation have flaws that can harm ecosystems for miles.

        You are correct that fossil fuels are killing us. The cost to our future is too high for nuclear no matter how you try to parse it.

        my 2 cents


        Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

        by Horace Boothroyd III on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 05:31:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bull. You are writing this on a computer that is (0+ / 0-)

          most likely powered by coal, and simply repeating rote horseshit.

          And what you are declaring is simply an enthusiasm for murder.

          If nuclear power in its fifty year history was as responsible for the number of deaths that have occurred in the last two hours, the ridiculous anti-nuke cults would be screaming to the skies.

          How do I know?

          Because it's been going on for decades while people die in numbers approximating the death toll of World War II every two or three decades.

          Your "2 cents" are undoubtedly either monopoly money or Confederate money, it matters not a whit, but the dead do matter.

          The nuclear enterprise is 50 years old.   The first nuclear reactor was built by one of the most important scientists ever to grace this planet, Enrico Fermi.

          The commercialization American nuclear industry was overseen by another incomparable genius, the head of the AEC, Chancellor of the University of California, John F. Kennedy's Plenipotentiary American Ambassador to Nikita Kruschev during the test ban negotiations, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Winner of the Preistly Medal, discover of more than 10 elements of the periodic table - the only man to have an element in that table named for him during his lifetime - Glenn T. Seaborg.

          Your rote platitude is supposed to nullify his work, work that has saved millions of lives that would have perished had he not succeeded in his work?

          I don't think so.   One more lazy unthinking blogger doesn't measure a mil in comparison to the work of that great man.

          Nuclear energy need not be perfect to be vastly superior to all the shit you don't care about, including the shit that powers your computer while you issue insipid platitudes like this one:  " The cost to our future is too high for nuclear no matter how you try to parse it."

          Nuclear energy is a mature technology.    It has operated for 50 years.   At 30 exajoules of primary energy, it is the single largest source of climate change gas free energy, despite all the caviling of vapid, lazy malcontents who railed stupidly against it.

          The fucking atmosphere is collapsing and you're hear to cavil - with not fucking shred of evidence - about "the cost to "our" future.

          We have no future, and glib, slipshot bullshit from bourgeois brats who have not bothered to "parse" the contents of even a low level science book are the MAIN reason why.

          I have two teen aged sons, and now that I fully grasp what awaits their generation, I am filled with moral horror.

          If you ever set foot in a decent library - not that I expect you to do something like that - and you have occassion to read the paper to which this diary refers, and you look at that table of weather disasters in the last 10 years, and you want to know whose fault it is, I suggest you walk to a bathroom, find a mirror and look in it.

          Have a nice day tomorrow.

          •  In Portland? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kestrel9000, jam, Lawrence

            I pay extra for my electric to ensure it is sustainably sourced.

            So no there is no coal powering this computer.

            Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

            by Horace Boothroyd III on Tue Jul 10, 2012 at 05:45:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Same here. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Horace Boothroyd III

              My electricity provider only sources 100% renewables.

              "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

              by Lawrence on Tue Jul 10, 2012 at 09:44:14 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Nonsense. No power (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                company can distinguish between what electrons are generated where. Impossible. They are all pooled. This is called a "grid".

                If the grid your 'green' power company is connected to is supported by regional grids (they all are) then in fact "your power" is the same mix as anyone elses. That they are producing 'green' power means that the power company has x amount of low carbon generation which, in theory, displaces carbon generation (unless it displaces nuclear or hydro generation).

                I think these companies ought to be prosecuted for false advertising. If you give me the name of the power comapny or, better yet, the town or city you live in, I can actually look up where the power comes from and what supports the grid there.

                Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

                by davidwalters on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 08:19:55 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  I think that I share your point of view. (8+ / 0-)

    We have reached peak oil, and clean coal is an oxymoron. There is simply not enough wind, solar, biofuels today to meet our current needs. For the intermediate term, well regulated nuclear energy has to be part of the mix if we want to avoid a climatic catastrophe. Thanks for the diary.

    •  Nuke Has Votes and Money, Renewable Doesn't nt (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, jim in IA, adrianrf

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 04:45:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  dont buy into the nuclear energy crap (6+ / 0-)

      that stuff will be our undoing.  Down side is just too great.

      To say there isnt enough solar power is laughable. The power is there for the taking, we just need to have the will to do it. Same with the wind.

      Bad is never good until worse happens

      by dark daze on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 04:54:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There's more than enough energy to be had (5+ / 0-)

      from just wind and solar in the U.S. to easily power the entire nation.  It just needs to be developed at a faster pace.

      And that's not going to happen if people like this diarist, who falsely thinks that renewable energy is a fantasy, get their way.

      "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

      by Lawrence on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 05:03:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Keep lying to yourself. After 50 years of... (0+ / 0-)

        ...chanting the same line of bullshit, neither one of these forms of energy produce 1 exajoule of energy in this country.

        Seventy thousand people died in France in 2003 from heat and you're still saying the renewables rosary.

        Seventy thousand dead...

        (Since you're so damned good at soothsaying, what do you predict the death toll will be, upon analysis, of the US heat wave?)

        This year the concentration of dangerous fossil fuel waste in the planet is on track to go up by more than 2 ppm; if current trends hold making it the 5th largest year to year increase ever.   Three of the other four took place in the last 10 years, the other in 1998.

        Heckuva job.   You must be very, very, very, very, very, very proud of your faith.

    •  More accurately, we are at plateau oil. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Best forcasts have it that oil production/consumption will remain relatively constant (give or take maybe 10%) for at least the next couple decades, as world demand rises and "unconventional" oil fills in for the declining availability of "easy" oil.  Over the same period gas and gas condensate use will rise, and coal will, in the best of outlooks, not rise but not decline either.  And all this will occur while relatively safe alternate technologies are essentially ignored.  Since it's (probably) already too late the additional 20+ years (and additional 50ppm atmospheric CO2) just add more nails to the coffin.

      We could and should by now be near to replacing all coal fired boilers with modular nukes, and be burning in our cars a carbon neutral synfuel made using nuclear energy.  In those few cases where it makes actual sense we could be using "renewables" as well, and even driving electric town cars for short haul transit (where there is sufficient nuclear generated electric power to run them).  But it didn't happen . . . the anti-nuke fanatics have seen to that . . . and twenty years from now they will still be in complete denial that the demise of our planet is entirely their responsibility (just as they are in denial now).

      Oh well.  With luck I'll live long enough to say "I told you so".  And then I won't care any more.

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 06:56:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In my observations... (5+ / 0-)

    being smug and glib is not simply a problem of an uneducated or unelightened public.

    There are plenty of the "enlightened few" that carry that rather regrettable trait, too.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 04:59:48 PM PDT

  •  Glad you emboldened the bit about probability. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deward Hastings, jam

    A moral decision may boil down to choosing the course of action which yields the greatest 'expectation value':  both benefits (which include everything we obtain with which we survive) and costs (which include loss of life and damage to the environment) weighed via the associated probabilities.  While this is typically not so easy to compute, you've once again made a good case for our best option in the category of energy generation.

  •  Good diary up to the last quote (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, jim in IA, northsylvania

    Your posts are so much better when you leave out the bitter.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 05:45:17 PM PDT

    •  But I am bitter. Why should I play pretend (4+ / 0-)

      and make happy faces?

      For you?

      Your awful hysteric diaries around the time of the Fukushima event, including the ones that claimed that we had a "China Syndrome" event going on certainly didn't do anything to put a happy face on me.

      Frankly, the crap you wrote was technically and ethically ridiculous.    I've said this before:   What you did was to scream "fire!!!" in a crowded theater.

      I've been writing here for about 7 years on and off.   In that time the concentration of dangerous fossil fuel waste climbed in the planetary atmosphere has risen 16 ppm, nearly 4%.

      About 25 million people died from air pollution over that same period.

      Tell me again, how many people died from the  reactors at Fukushima?

      Found even one yet from all those fuel rods you were screaming about?

      How many people died from buildings in the same event?

      If you wrote a diary about "incompetent" Japanese architects, please share it with me and then you can lecture me on "being bitter."

      I have two sons.   I spend almost all of my free time reading scientific literature about what is happening to the world into which they were born, a time that was all love.   Trees all around here are dying from heat.   We didn't even have a winter here, and this is New Jersey.

      How can I face my boys and feel anything but shame?

      You want to know why I sound bitter?

      Because I am bitter, very bitter, to reach the last years of my life and recognize what my generation has done to future generations.

      If you're looking for grace and forgiveness, go find some Christian to give it to you.

      You're not going to get it from this tired old atheist.

      Have a great day tomorrow.

  •  Add heat to the environment via your favorite.... (0+ / 0-)

    method such as burning wood, fossil fuels, nuclear power plants, rubbing sticks together, etc. Granted nuclear is less popular of a method. But, using any of them increases the amount of water vapor which can be contained in the air of that warmed environment. The increased water vapor is available for precipitation if some sort of cooling mechanism is available. Most often, that cooling comes from the rising of the warm moist air into the higher atmosphere. You get rain or snow. It is quite a simple process.

    Energy source, warmer atmosphere, more water vapor, more potential for precipitation.

    Universe started with a Big Bang. It's big, getting bigger, and mostly dark.

    by jim in IA on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 07:44:41 PM PDT

  •  I'm simple minded. (0+ / 0-)

    Fission power generation was an interesting experiment. Its days are numbered. As they should be.

    In my simple minded little fantasy land all the world's governments combine forces to make the development of fusion power generation a number one priority for the human race. A global “Apollo Program” or “Manhattan Project”.

    It won't happen. Also, I won't call you simple minded for not agreeing with me.

    •  I agree with your first sentance. (0+ / 0-)

      The rest of your comment is just rote chanting totally detached from even the remotest sense of reality.

      Fusion power is nuclear power.  

      In any case there isn't enough tritium on this entire planet to run a 500 MW reactor for six months.   If there was, the morons at Greenpeace would all have strokes.   Even if fusion worked, which, after 50 years of cheering only slightly more ridiculous than the cheering for the grand solar and wind future, it doesn't, any tritium for such reactors would require fission neutrons.

      The only useful thing that's come out of the fusion adventure is some nice stuff in refractory materials science.

  •  Nuclear power is hopefully a stepping stone. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    By which I mean: Safe, efficient renewable energy is a worthy goal, but there's no way I can see for us to get there very quickly. Nuclear power isn't perfect, but it's a hell of a lot better than fossil fuels, and has the advantage that nuclear power stations are built to more stringent specifications. It's essential to get the world onto nuclear power as quickly as possible -- then we can work on finding renewable alternatives that don't damage ecosystems.

    A businessman once asked a villager, "Why will you not let me buy this forest from you?" The villager answered, "Why not ask the birds? It is their home you will burn."

    by EcoMorph on Tue Jul 10, 2012 at 03:00:18 AM PDT

  •  your polls are awesome (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and i get why you're bitter, I absolutely do--having been on the receiving end of scientific illiterates ire here and elsewhere, but could this be a better science diary without it in the text?

    Comments of course are anything goes.

    (this criticism is meant as friendly, as I'm a fan of yours and try to read and rec the things you write when I come across them but I will understand if you don't see it that way).

    Rape apologia among progressives (well, anybody) is so very disturbing.

    by terrypinder on Tue Jul 10, 2012 at 07:44:43 AM PDT

    •  Thanks for your friendly suggestion, but... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jam, mojo workin, alain2112, terrypinder

      ...let me explain why I write the diaries the way I do.

      The process by which I write my science diaries here begins with a scan of the usual journals that I read - although I do mix it up here and there and try to include some journals that I usually don't usually read - until I find some paper relevant to the on going catastrophe that I think I might be able to use to construct a poll here.

      The polls are the thing itself.

      Generally this list might involve 20 or 30 papers.

      I narrow the list by deciding which paper involves a subject that I would like to know more about - since I always learn something when I write the diaries.

      Writing this one while collecting the references from the original paper, for instance, I learned that the death toll from the 2003 European heat wave is estimated to be 70,000 people.

      I didn't know that until two days ago.

      When I was a younger man, I used to be very serious about writing, and engaged in lots of rewrites.   Although there are exceptions in my diaries here, what I try to do is here now (partially because of time constraints) free write:   Blurt out what comes into my mind as the diary evolves.    

      I think this shows up in the sometimes confusing rambling that my diaries sometimes involve.

      I cannot read the things I read - for instance about the 70,000 deaths - without being simultaneously angry and filled with a sense of the absurd, and usually by the end, the anger just pours out.

      The writer Kurt Vonnegut once wrote that he never felt as if he had absolute control over the lives of the characters in his novel:   He compared himself to a puppeteer:   A peppeteer with elastic strings.

      So it is with my diaries.

      I don't generally have time to fix them, which is why they sometimes appear with grammatic errors and mispellings.   I might go back and change something a year or so later, but that's long after they've gone down the memory hole.

      And, the truth is, really I don't want them to be nice.

      You read scientific papers, and you recognize that they are often about real tragedy, real human tragedy, and the authors are trapped in this polite and gracious writing style.

      The last excerpt from the Nature Climate Change paper above is about as strongly emotional as one sees, but look, they can't say, scream "WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THESE INSIPID JOURNALISTS!?!" can they?

      The editors wouldn't allow it.

      We're supposed to be "polite."

      Well there are no editors here.   This place has its flaws and its frustrations, but it has no editors.

      I have to think that there are a lot of scientists who want to do more than be politefeel it some of them:   Jim Hansen for instance in "Storms of my Grandchildren.

      I mean, 70,000 people dead from heat and we are all about the "radioactive" tuna fish?

      I'm not writing here to save myself or to make myself seem neat, or professional or kind.    I'm none of those things.

      I'm just screaming.

      I'm screaming in hopes of letting someone in the next generations know - should any of them ever read any of this - that someone cared about what we were doing to them, someone tried to stop it, that some of us weren't seeking to live in some kind of sybaritic narcotic haze where we didn't have to know anything and just did what we damn well pleased to do in the moment.

      But that hope too - that someone will notice what I say and what I tried to do - is like the hope that humanity would have addressed climate change before it was too late, is nothing.

      (Hence the Shakespear paraphrase above:   "He should have died hereafter...")

      This is a backwater website; and I'm a minor writer on it; nothing that I say is likely to accomplish anything or even survive long; but if, by some accident, something of my work is noticed and survives, I want it to seem that I least I tried to do something.

      I appreciate your kind words, and kind suggestion but these diaries have been this way a long time and I'm afraid I don't really control them as much as they control me.


      •  BRAVO (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NNadir, alain2112, terrypinder

        and never give up... we all must do our best to influence the future using reason founded on scientific truth tested and verified by many independent observations.  THERE IS NO OTHER WAY to be delivered from the clutches of ignorance, fear and darkness.  

        The  path of enlightenment,of knowledge based on logic and tested by experimental observation, is the path that led western civilization out of the darkness of the middle ages, and such enlightenment must not be snuffed out at our time of great need with the future of the biosphere now at risk.  The debates concerning climate change, ways to cut CO2 emissions, alternative energy and the economy MUST be driven by science FACT if we are to have ANY chance of leaving this world habitable for future generations.

        The facts about the true relative risk of nuclear power, low level radiation (in the event of worst-case accidents) need to be aired against a wall of misinformation.  The facts are crystal clear, yet so many just refuse to see any of them, no matter how well documented or argued.  This is a trait associated with the worst of the RW fundies we all like mock.

        Never yield to ignorance, fear, bias or magical thinking.   To all those who sling epithets at NNADIR: you need to base your attacks on verifiable facts, not opinion derived from emotion.  

        The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

        by mojo workin on Tue Jul 10, 2012 at 07:18:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for your explanation (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        (70,000? I'd actually read it was half of that. damn. scream away.)

        Rape apologia among progressives (well, anybody) is so very disturbing.

        by terrypinder on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 04:20:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I am always intrigued by the false notion (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that "nuclear energy is dead". If I were an anti-nuke, I'd be "screaming to the hills hat it's alive and going to eat our children, run for your lives, shut them all down" sort of thing.

    I'm actually in favor of anti-nukes believing this projection of their own anxieties, NNadir. It's a good thing, not a bad thing.

    I might add they are also incredibly myopic, looking at Germany and Japan as bellwethers for what they believe is an ongoing trend, when if point of fact, it is not. Often times you get this in convoluted ways like "China is building gazillions of wind turbines!" and that sort of 1/4 truth about what a country is doing. Or extolling "Solar City" in the UAE. Really an interesting experiment in desert architecture and efficiency rather than than wave of the future (I tend to like to burst-bubble with them on this, but I won't do it here)


    Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

    by davidwalters on Wed Jul 11, 2012 at 08:52:54 AM PDT

    •  Well the anti-nuke cults live and die by wishful (0+ / 0-)


      The problem is, that they dragging the rest of humanity down with them, at least in the "die" part of "live and die."

      I think this summer we're all seeing our long term fears brought home in spades.

      But they're still talking "by 2090."

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site