Friday, April 30, 2010

Oil Spill

Of course the big oil spill is very bad--for the wildlife, for the people, and we still don't know the worst. It already looks bigger than the Exxon Valdez.

What long-term harm did the Exxon Valdez do? I believe there is at least some controversy about that. Here is a paper that may not have been published in a peer-reviewed journal, but it seems pretty reputable. Of course, because it says the long-term damage wasn't bad, it was picked up by the Petroleum Institute.

Wiens, J. A., E. L. Brannon, J. Burns, D. L. Garshelis, A. A. Hoover-Miller, R. H. Day, C. B. Johnson,
and S. M. Murphy. 1999. Fish and wildlife recovery following the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Pp.
127– 133 in Proceedings of the 1999 International Oil Spill Conference, Seattle, Washington.
Publication No. 4686B, American Petroleum Institute, Washington, DC.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Afterword on the Run

I'm back to thinking I won't do another marathon until Spring 2011.

In the meantime, I should talk to some other runners about what I could do differently or better. My goal race pace on Sunday was 5.2 minutes (5:12) per km. For the first 10K I planned to go at about 5.5--I actually achieved 5.4, for 54 minutes to that point. I deliberately picked up the pace, and for a while my watch along with km indicators suggested that I was doing 5 minute pace--which would get me up to 5.2 overall at the half mark. Instead, at the half I was at 1:53, three minutes behind. From then I was trying to catch up, and then I hit the wall at 6K before the finish.

Maybe it's better just to try to stick to your goal race pace from the beginning?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Oh no! Not the wine!

This is a bit like the strike of the doormen in New York: for the rich who enjoy this service, the need is great. For the rest of us, it's hard to see the need as anything other than laughable.

All tendentious and serious: Grapes are so sensitive to climate, the wine industry will be among the first to be affected by climate change. Why then, oh why are people in the industry doing virtually nothing to mitigate the effects of climate change?

One guy says: to mitigate, you would have to know what changes specifically are coming. No one knows that, but we do know it is wise to reduce CO2 emissions, so we should all do that. Well, there are a few big if's in there.

The writer repeats as fact assertions that are not exactly peer-reviewed. The Alps are losing ice because of climate change. The proof: one valley where an ancient body was uncovered. Also the hearsay of someone who has experience up there. Bangladesh is running out of drinking water because of climate change. Er, would that be the melting of the Himalayan glaciers? Not likely.

Even yesterday, though, Hasnain was unrepentant, telling the South Asia Times that it is "ridiculous" to assume that the glaciers are not melting. This was matched by a piece in the Times of India headlined, "Himalayan glaciers here to stay". It told us:

The prediction that glaciers would melt by 2035 by Professor Syed Iqbal Hasnain may have landed the Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) chairman R K Pachauri in a tight spot, but data collected by glaciologists across the Himalayan region shows that such claims do not hold water, and the major rivers originating from the Himalayas would continue to flow for the years to come as the glaciers are going to stay.

Glaciologist Milap Chand Sharma from Jawaharlal Nehru University says after studying 27 glaciers in Lahaul-Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, he has found that the melting taking place is normal. His conclusion is based on study of the behaviour of glaciers from 1975 to 2008.

The Miyar glacier in Lahaul region covers an area of 27 square km. Since 1971, it has receded by just 150 meters. If it continues to melt at this pace, it would take around 3,000 years for it to melt completely, he added.

There was a heat wave in Europe in 2006. That has to prove something. Or wait, are we supposed to say that weather isn't climate?

Heat might give wine a higher alcohol content, like some of the California wines today. "I like some of those wines a lot," a very green Italian vintner hastens to say--presumably trying to be polite. But let's face it, wine becomes less of a leisurely sipping drink when it is so potent. Boo. Hoo. Hoo.

Let's cut to the chase. According to this article by Mark Hertsgaard in Slate, how much wine has been spoiled so far by the deadly scourge of climate change. How much? In the name of God, please tell me how much wine has been spoiled? As far as one can tell: not one bottle, not one glass, not one drop.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Race Day

A bit disappointing. I was hoping for 3:45 for a marathon, to qualify for Boston. I was pretty close to the necessary pace until I was 6K or so from the finish, and I just ran out of gas. There were more uphills, to add to the ones that had been repeated since about the half way mark, and I walked as much as I ran. Officially a shade over 4 hours, my chip time (allowing for the fact that I wasn't right up front at the start) a little under 4 hours.

I was looking forward to just doing shorter distances in the summer and fall, then doing winter training again for spring. Instead I'll at least consider a fall marathon.

Easily in the top half of the males aged 50-59; barely in the top half of males overall. I have my excuses: more hills than I expected, running on muddy gravel for a stretch (I would stay on the fairly solid center until a vehicle came along), running into a head wind for quite a bit. But there is a school of thought that would say I didn't run enough, or maybe fast enough, in training.

Here's my result.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Just how bad are the IPCC reports?

Thanks to Donna Laframboise, citing Richard Tol: "A Seasoned Veteran's View of the IPCC."

I was a lead author of two chapters in AR2's Working Group 3 report (1995), convening lead author in the Special Report on Regional Impacts published in 2001 (Working Group 2), contributing author of one chapter in AR3's Working Group 1 report (2001), lead author of one chapter in AR3's Working Group 2 report (2001), and contributing author of one chapter in AR4's Working Group 2 report (2007).

Over the years, the IPCC has changed from a scientific institution that tries to be policy relevant to a political institution that pretends to be scientific. I regret that. There are already more than enough climate activists, while there are too few solid and neutral bodies that make down-to-earth and well-founded statements about climate change and climate policy.

Working Groups 2 and 3 of the AR4 violated all IPCC procedures. The conclusions are partly scientifically unfounded, and even partly copied from the environmental movement. The AR4 was substantially changed after the final review, also in parts that had already been accepted by the referees. Valid comments were ignored.

As a result, AR4 contains crude errors, only some of which are public knowledge. These errors can be found in the chapters, the technical summaries, the summaries for policy makers, and the synthesis report. The errors are not random. Working Group 2 systematically portrays climate change as a bigger problem than is scientifically acceptable. Working Group 3 systematically portrays climate policy as easier and cheaper than can be responsibly concluded based on academic research.

Of course Tol starts out by saying the temperature is going up, this is a man-made effect, and something should be done about it. There are the passwords that must be uttered to enter respectable society--otherwise you're out on the moors with King Lear and Mad Tom. But: he is convinced the major IPCC document is substantially bullshit.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Training: the last few runs

Intervals on Wednesday went well. I even got to chat with a dog walker who once ran a half and complimented me on what I was doing.

5 x 1600, with the last set the fastest, but not by much. So generally I did what I set out to do. Thursday 6K steady, quite good, and last night 15K at race pace: 5.2 minutes/km, exactly where I want to be. Today, few aches and pains to speak of. So I think I'm where I want to be in general. Something like three or four little runs and two swims, then race day next Sunday.

Trenberth again

Some actual findings: One set of satellite readings indicate that more energy, especially from the sun, is reaching the earth, than is leaving it. This seems to confirm the official global warming theory that greenhouse gases are trapping energy, man-made CO2 is making this worse, etc.

Except: there is no measurement that confirms either higher temperatures, or more heat measured in joules, on the globe as a whole over the last few years. In fact we've had a "reprieve ... from warming temperatures in the last few years," and:

Until 2003, the measured heat increase was consistent with computer model expectations. But a new set of ocean monitors since then has shown a steady decrease in the rate of oceanic heating, even as the satellite-measured imbalance between incoming and outgoing energy continues to grow.

Trenberth again has the honesty to say that measured temperature increases, and even known measures of heat in the oceans, have levelled off in the last decade, and this change is not trivial; among other things, it is contrary to the official global warming computer models.

So is one specific measure--energy in vs. energy out--either mistaken or misleading (I suppose it may be capturing natural changes that have happened before)? Or are a whole bunch of other measures--actual, you know, temperature and heat, mistaken? We can guess the answer: "Either the satellite observations are incorrect, says Trenberth, or, more likely, large amounts of heat are penetrating to regions that are not adequately measured, such as the deepest parts of the oceans."

And of course there is a warning: because of the uncertainty as to what is happening with global energy glows, it may be a mistake to practice geoengineering to mitigate such things as warming. This is to fend off the heretical thought that there are less expensive alternatives to carbon trading, "investing" in windmills and solar panels, etc.

Trenberth is a great example of honestly showing some of the key uncertainties, on the one hand, yet insisting that the dogma must be true on the other. I assume he's not being deliberately dishonest--he just betrays the group think of a lot of scientists and academics on this issue.

Once again he lists the "usual suspects": Arctic, Antarctic, remote glaciers, sea level. But if sea level has been newly been put in doubt, and the other things are subject to distinct local factors, do we really have a global theory here?

Roger Pielke responds (h/t Watts Up With That); and gets some e-mail replies from Trenberth--once again, being relatively courteous.

Meanwhile, Scientific American continues to disgrace itself. The present volcano in Iceland is not directly linked to global warming (and of course has caused more destruction than anyone thinks global warming has done so far), but, but: someday the melting of a huge Icelandic glacier might make warming worse!!!

Er, probably not.

It's as if a lot of otherwise reputable people have gone mad.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Training--the Home Stretch

Intervals on Wednesday make my weeks of running a bit different than they have ever been. Last Sunday (beginning of Week 16) I ran 32K with a group--on the slow side for me, with very few walk breaks, but then the walk breaks were longer than I'm used to. Tuesday 6K tempo. Wednesday, 4x1600 intervals. I was trying to make each set faster than the one before, but I didn't succeed. The fourth set was either second or third fastest--I didn't quite get all my times to be sure. Thursday it wasn't that easy to do 6K steady, and Friday the 10K steady started out hard, but got easier as I went along. I had a bit of soreness in one foot, but nothing serious. I took an ice bath Thursday evening as a precaution.

My laps for intervals have ranged from 1:40 to 1:50 or so. This coming Wednesday I'll try to do the first set at 1:50, then speed up and see if I can do the whole last set (five sets this time) at 1:40 or faster.

Next week, 23K Sunday, the usual tempo and steady Tuesday and Thursday, and 15K race pace on Friday. After that, 6K Sunday the 18th, and a couple more runs at race pace.

I'm feeling the nervous anticipation.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Der Spiegel keeps the debate open

Anyone who speaks with leading climatologists today will discover how many questions remain open. The media, politicians and even scientists often talk about changes to the weather with a certainty that does not in fact exist.

This long, multi-part article makes it clear that even the 20th century temperature data have to be re-created from scratch--and they may or may not show any significant warming. Amazing.