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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2008-06-24 06:29
Subject: [links] Link salad for a Tuesday
Security: Public
Tags:culture, links, personal, religion, science

How smart is the octopus?

Last Neanderthals Were Smart, Sophisticated — I guess I need to stop thinking of the Family Research Council and their brethren as Neanderthal Nazis, since that is giving severe discredit to Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.

James Dobson accuses Obama of ‘distorting’ Bible — I can only admire the sheer, staggering chutzpah of that charge coming from Dobson, of all people. The Evangelical notions of the Rapture, the prosperity gospel and many other cherished ideas of theirs are highly distorted from either direct or traditional readings of Biblical text.

James Hansen on global warming — Come on, everyone. Turn up your AM radio and say “la-la-la, I can’t hear you.” It’s worked for the past twenty years, it’s bound to keep working now! (Offer not valid in Midwest flood zones, Southeast Asian typhoon impact areas or any coastal city.)


6/24/08
Time in saddle: 0 minutes (still recovering from surgery)
Last night’s weigh-out: n/a
This morning’s weigh-in: 258.6
Currently reading: The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia Amazon ]

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

Post A Comment | 21 Comments | | Flag | Link






biomekanic
User: biomekanic
Date: 2008-06-24 13:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Dr. Roy Caldwell ( known as just Dr. Roy on the Reef Central forums )works with both cephalopods and stomatopods.

You don't hear as much about stomatopods in general publications, but they're roughly as intelligent as octopuses. Which makes sense since they mutually predate on each other.

Some of the advice I've seen on the ceph section of the forum talks about keeping toys in with your ceph, to keep it mentally stimulated. Sadly, bored octopuses will sometimes go so far as autocannibalism from the stress.

As for Dobson, nothing he says would surprise me.
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ericjamesstone
User: ericjamesstone
Date: 2008-06-24 14:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"Now, as then, I can assert that these conclusions have a certainty exceeding 99 percent," says James Hansen.

I missed the part where he acknowledges that world temperatures are below the values he predicted twenty years ago even for the best-case scenario where CO2 emmissions were drastically cut. (They weren't.) http://www.climate-skeptic.com/2008/06/gret-moments-in.html

And if you're going to blame Midwest floods and Southeast Asian typhoons on global warming, it would make more sense if this weren't the coolest year of the past decade.

Conservatives aren't the only ones who ignore scientific evidence that doesn't fit with their preferred worldview.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-06-24 14:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Weather is not climate, my friend. Localized cooling is part of any global warming model. What does seem to be happening is an increase in severe weather, which is part of any global warming model.
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ericjamesstone
User: ericjamesstone
Date: 2008-06-24 14:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Umm, Jay, this is globally the coolest year in a decade. And while random variation in global temperature is going to happen, it is really a stretch to blame severe weather on warming during a particularly cool year.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-06-24 14:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
:: steps back to the data to reconsider ::
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steve_buchheit
User: steve_buchheit
Date: 2008-06-24 17:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You can try this link
http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2007/s2819.htm

"The global average temperature was the warmest on record for the December-February period. "

Oh, wait, that doesn't say what Eric wants it to say.

Oh, here it is, "The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the sixth warmest on record in February, but a record warm January helped push the winter (December-February) to its highest value since records began in 1880"

Um, that's not it.

Oh, how about this, "Separately, the global December-February land-surface temperature was the warmest on record, while the ocean-surface temperature tied for second warmest in the 128-year period of record,"

Damn, still not straight.

What's your data say?
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steve_buchheit
User: steve_buchheit
Date: 2008-06-24 18:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Sorry, that's 2007 data.

Here's 2008,
http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2008/20080313_coolest.html

"The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the 16th warmest on record for the December 2007-February 2008 period"

So, while it's the "coolest in a decade", still pretty warm.
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ericjamesstone
User: ericjamesstone
Date: 2008-06-24 18:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Rats! You corrected yourself, so I didn't get to do it.

> So, while it's the "coolest in a decade", still pretty warm.

Yes, about as warm as it was 20 years ago when Hansen was warning us about the coming global warming. A little cooler, actually, as according to Hansen's own numbers (http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/GLB.Ts.txt), the first five months of 2008 were cooler on average than the first five months of 1988.

A little ironic, isn't it?

And yes, I realize the current cooling may just be a blip in the long-term warming, but considering the global temperature is currently well below what Hansen projected it would be if we continued to increase greenhouse gas emissions, perhaps a little skepticism of Hansen's predictions for the future is warranted.
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steve_buchheit
User: steve_buchheit
Date: 2008-06-24 20:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/2008/mar/global.html
"Based on preliminary data, the globally averaged combined land and sea surface temperature was the second warmest on record for March and the January-March year-to-date period ranked eleventh warmest."

Hmm, not looking good for forward trends (drop December, add the 2nd hottest March on record, go from 16 to 11). I wonder what April's numbers are?

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/2008/apr/global.html
"Based on preliminary data, the globally averaged combined land and sea surface temperature was the thirteenth warmest on record for April and the January-April year-to-date period ranked twelfth warmest."

Oo, one for you. So, 12th warmest, and you're claiming coolest in a decade. That means that the past decade had seen 10 of the top 11 warmest years since 1880. With last year being the hottest. So, a trend of one year. And you're dissing the guy because of a forecast over 2 decades old missing the temp. Think our science and methodology might have gotten a little better since from before the time of personal computing?

You were saying something about no global warming. Can you send again? Your signal to noise ratio is getting staticy.

Oo, and I bet June's numbers are just peachy.
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ericjamesstone
User: ericjamesstone
Date: 2008-06-24 21:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hansen's numbers (GISS) are different from NOAA's. January-April ranks 17th warmest since 1880, with 2002 being the hottest. 1988 was hotter, as was 1981.

> You were saying something about no global warming.

Where did I say anything about no global warming? I'll acknowledge that on average the past decade was warmer than any decade since accurate record-keeping began in 1880. The earth has been on a long-term warming trend since the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850.

I won't deny that humans emit greenhouse gasses, and that part of the recent warming is probably due to increased concentrations of such gasses. However, I think the question of what that portion is remains undecided. Also, the question of what feedback effects will occur is still unresolved. Beyond that, the questions of what the consequences will be and the best ways to mitigate the negative ones remain very much in dispute.

But my main point is that to attribute every weather-related disaster to global warming is illogical--almost superstitious--especially when the temperature is cooler than in recent years. When Katrina hit in 2005, people claimed that global warming was to blame. 2007 was a warmer year, but the hurricane season was mild. Did global warming prevent hurricanes that year? If so, maybe we need more of it.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-06-24 21:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Since I picked this fight by accident, (as opposed to the ones I sometimes pick on purpose), I will point out that my references to Midwest floods and Asian typhoons were intended to be sarcastic, not representations of attribution. As I myself keep saying, weather is not climate.

I will also make the political observation that even if global warming were emphatically shown not to be primarily anthropogenic, it would be no less of a problem than it if were anthropogenic. Furthermore, even if it were an utterly natural cycle, cultural/economic solutions are what we can control, as we are not able to manage the climate directly at our current level of technological development. To me, the entire "global warming is a liberal myth" meme is a dangerous piece of misdirection.
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ericjamesstone
User: ericjamesstone
Date: 2008-06-25 06:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Sorry, I misunderstood your sarcasm as implying that since the victims of those disasters had been directly affected by global warming, pretending it didn't exist wouldn't work for them.

> I will also make the political observation that
> even if global warming were emphatically shown not
> to be primarily anthropogenic, it would be no less
> of a problem than it if were anthropogenic.

From a practical standpoint, I think you're correct. From a political standpoint, though, if it turned out the human impact on global warming was minimal, then it would be a huge blow to the groups who want to eliminate the burning of fossil fuels.

One of the reasons why the "global warming is a liberal myth" meme has some power is because (from a conservative's point of view) the remedies proposed fit exactly with what environmentalists already wanted to do anyway--drastically reduce power consumption by civilization--so it looks like an excuse. And the means--massive government regulation of the economy--fits with the goals of progressives/liberals/leftists.

To conservatives, it seems awfully convenient that a global environmental crisis just happens to require us to take actions that environmentalists and liberals wanted even before the discovery of global warming.

This suspicion is bolstered by the fact that if greenhouse gas emissions are the cause of global warming, and global warming is the catastrophic threat environmentalists claim it is, then it would follow logically (to a conservative) that we need more nuclear power plants to wean ourselves off of coal and to provide enough electricity to switch over to electric cars instead of gas. But only a tiny minority of environmentalists are willing to consider nuclear power as part of the solution, which leads conservatives to believe environmentalists don't really believe the in the catastrophe they are preaching.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-06-25 10:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
For whatever it's worth to you, speaking as one liberal-progressive, I have always found the left's fixation with the evils of nuclear power to be bizarre. Newer generation reactor technologies such as pebble bed reactors are far safer than anything in service today.

I think the issue with the nuclear industry arose in substantial part due to the business practices of that industry in the 1960s and 1970s.

For example, here in Oregon (before my time) we site the Trojan unit along the Columbia River, around river mile 70 I think. This was done to facilitate barge shipping of components, as well as the obvious requirement of access to a substantial water supply. Unfortunately that stretch of the Columbia runs along the boundary between the North American and California plates, a fact which is obvious to anyone with a map and a high school geology class behind them. (I'm talking about the Oregon panhandle, which is the northward bend in the Columbia where plate tectonics keeps shoving the California plate furher north.)

Somehow federal and state regulators, as well as the nuclear power industry, missed this little detail until after a hell of a lot of money had been spent on construction. The plant never went online due to the substantial earthquake hazards of the site. So in Oregon, nuclear power is now seen as a horrible boondoggle.

Combine that with the very sloppy practices of the early generation of reactor operators (see the Hanford cleanup), public paranoia and scientific illiteracy, and the very real problems the Russians had, and no one wants to talk about it on the left. That an average coal plant is more radioactively dirty that Three Mile Island is never discussed.

So, um, call nuclear power one area where we pretty much see eye to eye.
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russ: quo vadis
User: goulo
Date: 2008-06-26 12:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:quo vadis
I guess I'm confused why you (and so many conservatives) seem so against reducing consumption and burning of fossil fuels generally, as if they only reason to do so might be if it was related to global warming, but you think it's not, so there's no reason to change our lifestyles. Do you really not think there's any problems with current energy practice or the high rate of consumption in general?

A silly analogy that occurs to me: it's like we're living in an apartment building and everybody's throwing trash all over the place, and there's a lot of talk about how all this trash could be a big fire hazard, and lots of evidence is presented, but conservatives say "Well, we don't believe it's a fire hazard, the evidence is not convincing" and so fine, there is debating and arguing about whether the trash is a fire hazard. Meanwhile they keep on throwing trash everywhere, as if there were no other reason to stop throwing trash (e.g. bad smell, unpleasant appearance, attracting roaches and rats, making it harder to walk through the halls, lowering the property values, embarrassment when friends visit, etc). The very idea of even debating about whether all the trash might be a problem seems ludicrous to me.

To me, it seems apparent that our high consumption of fossil fuels cause serious pollution and health problems, even if it turns out they have no relation to global warming. I don't get why so many conservatives seem so complacent about fossil fuels. Just note how much more easily you can breathe in clean air away from big cities or large industrial centers.

Similarly we produce so much garbage, poison, radioactive waste, plastic, etc; cut down so many forests, kill so many species via pollution and overharvesting; cities and populations keep sprawling and growing, destroying natural land; we're generally are trashing the earth. I was just traveling in India for 5 weeks, a country that has very little concept of environmental protection in the sense that we have it in the west, and I almost never saw a blue sky - it's gray from smoke and pollution. We can't continue like this forever, and it seems like it would be smarter to not ignore these trends. Or do you really not think any of this sort of thing is a serious problem worth worrying about or worth changing our habits over?

I.e. to me the question of global warming is only one of many similar obvious looming issues, and it seems like many conservatives simply want to deny that any of them are problems.

I don't know you personally, so if I misunderstand your personal take on this, sorry, but from what little I've read of your comments, it seems like this is the way you lean. It's as if many conservatives seem to have an automatic reaction of "Those leftists think we should change our consumption habits, and I disagree with leftists, so I'm not changing my consumption habits, no matter what the reasons and no matter how many scientists, including politically conservative scientists, might warn about any of these issues."
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ericjamesstone
User: ericjamesstone
Date: 2008-06-26 16:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Conservatives aren't opposed to people reducing consumption and burning of fossil fuels generally. For example, I bought a Honda Civic last year, in part because it had great gas mileage. (I actually wanted to buy a hybrid originally, but after test-driving them I changed my mind.) If anybody wants to buy cars with good gas mileage, conservatives have no objections. If people want to install solar panels on their houses to reduce their energy consumption, conservatives have no objections.

Very few conservatives actually want to burn up all the oil on earth as fast as possible.

What conservatives object to is that environmentalists want to impose their morality on us. (Don't tell me you've never heard an environmentalist say something like "SUVs are immoral.") Liberals always complain when conservatives try to do that, so I think we conservatives have a right to complain when the shoe's on the other foot.

> I was just traveling in India for 5 weeks, a country that has very little concept
> of environmental protection in the sense that we have it in the west, and I almost
> never saw a blue sky - it's gray from smoke and pollution. We can't continue like
> this forever, and it seems like it would be smarter to not ignore these trends. Or
> do you really not think any of this sort of thing is a serious problem worth
> worrying about or worth changing our habits over?

The reason India does not have the concept of of environmental protection in the sense that we have it in the west is because the people of India are poor. Back when our per capita income was much lower, we in the west didn't have the concept either. When your biggest concerns are feeding, housing, and clothing your family, you don't spend much thought on air quality and ability to see blue sky.

The environmentalist prescription for India would be draconian regulations on industry that would greatly hamper economic growth, keeping the people of India in poverty. The conservative prescription would be to encourage rapid economic growth, so that as Indians climb out of poverty, they can begin to care about things like air quality.

The tension between conservatives and environmentalists is basically about the tradeoff between economic growth and environmental protection. Most conservatives would support environmental protection measures that had no negative impact on economic growth, because they don't want to gratuitously harm the environment. But when there is a conflict between the two values, there needs to be a realistic cost/benefit analysis.
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russ: quo vadis
User: goulo
Date: 2008-06-30 12:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:quo vadis
Enjoy your Civic! I had one too and found it to be a good reliable economical car, and nicely compact for maneuvering in traffic and parking!

Thanks for your answer. As for the ideas of reducing consumption and waste, and protecting the environment, I notice lots of noncommittal phrasing like "aren't opposed to", "no objections", "support that has no negative impact on economic growth"... which still leaves me with the feeling that reduced consumption and pollution are not seen as worthy things in their own right by conservatives, but at best as some sort of eccentric luxury.

Many conservatives seem willing to spend lots of money on other things, e.g. War on Drugs, War on Terror, anti-abortion activity, etc, so it's not just a matter of never wanting to do anything that might "waste" money, but rather that the environment seems simply to not be seen as an important issue. At best it sounds like "Well, if you want to spend your money worrying about that, that's certainly your personal choice, I'm not against you doing so and don't think worse of you for doing so." I hear no real sense that there might be bigger issues at stake than our bank accounts, unlike issues like the War on Drugs etc that many conservatives are willing to spend money for.

(I suppose you may respond that conservatives who spend money on these other things are not "real" conservatives, and that you personally are opposed to spending money on them as well, in which case I guess I'd say we're debating semantics, and that's more like what is nowadays called libertarianism instead of conservatism. In any case, by "conservative" I mean that identifiable significant segment of the US population that generally self-identifies as "conservative" and supports spending large amounts of money on the various Wars and so on, but seems not to care actively about the environment if there's any negative economic impact.)

BTW I agree about your analysis of India, but the poverty is only a partial explanation. In rich countries there are still plenty of people content to do unnecessary environmental damage. (Witness the popularity of the Hummer, for instance.) I get the feeling that if India becomes an economic superpower, they will simply produce even more pollution thanks to more people buying cars like crazy, etc. There needs to be a desire to protect the environment; wealth is not enough.
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steve_buchheit
User: steve_buchheit
Date: 2008-06-24 22:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"to attribute every weather-related disaster to global warming is illogical"

On that we can agree (see Jay's comment about Climate and Weather being different). However, I don't think Jay's original sarcasm was pointed at individual events. Jay can disagree (which I think he is doing so below). But the climate change will adjust the frequency and intensity of these events (both up and down), and I think we are already seeing that (midwest floods, hurricanes). As for 2007 being a mild hurricane season in the N. Atlantic, it may have seen a more normal number of hurricane events, but if memory serves, it saw two Cat 5 events (possibly more, didn't one hit the Yucatan and head into the Pacific, time is tight so no google-fu for tonight).

Also, Hansen agrees with statement that you can't attribute Global Warming to a specific event.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-06-25 20:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
See this:

http://prof-brotherton.livejournal.com/160435.html

A scientist on Hansen's prediction track record.
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mcjulie
User: mcjulie
Date: 2008-06-24 15:32 (UTC)
Subject: Well
If Dobson is going to claim that his interpretation of both the Bible and the Constitution is the only correct one, then he has to accuse someone who disagrees with him of "distortions."

But I'm familiar with both, and I know whose interpretation strikes me as the more accurate.
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threeoutside
User: threeoutside
Date: 2008-06-24 15:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The amazingness of the octopus is why I don't eat mollusks. ANY mollusks. I think octopuses should be protected from harvesting, harassing, and environmental degradation just as we would for the most intelligent species on some alien planet.

Oh, wait...We'd eat them, too.

Savages. We're just savages in fancy dress.
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Dave Thompson
User: krylyr
Date: 2008-06-24 17:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's scary the sway Dobson and Focus on the Family have with Middle America. And it's especially scary that he's not open to discussing people's interpretations of the Bible that might differ with his own. After all, isn't he asking people to differ their interpretations by listening to him?

I wonder if Dobson will convince his Focus on the Family peeps to *not* vote for president. That would be a bizarre twist.
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