Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bias In Global Warming Data?




Late one evening a policeman came upon a man who was crawling on hands and knees under a lamp post. "Whatch doing?" asked the cop. "Looking for a quarter I lost." "Where'd you drop it?" "Oh, in the alley back there." "Why you look'in here?" "THE LIGHT IS BETTER!"

As I've stated in previous postings (Carbon Tax, Definitive Guide to Global Warming, Nuclear Power in France, Correlation and Causation) I know Global Warming is a real phenomena, a substantial fraction of which is due to human release of sequestered carbon (oil, coal, natural gas). However, I believe the problem has been hyped by those who have their own agendas and are therefore "looking where the light is" to find evidence to back up their theory that we are near some kind of "tipping point" to global disaster.


I never imagined that the basic data record for the surface temperature of the Earth over the past few decades might be biased. However, that seems to be the case, at least for some measurements.

The top photo from http://wattsupwiththat.com/ (with annotations by me) shows the official NOAA Climate-Monitoring site in Clarinda, Iowa. Note that it is adjacent to a wastewater treatment plant, where warm water vapor could distort the readings. It is also quite close to what appears to be a methane gas burnoff torch associated with the wastewater plant.


The second photo is of the official NOAA Climate-Monitoring site in Fairbury, Nebraska. Note it is adjacent to a barbeque. It is also close to a house and a roadway where car exhaust could disort temperature reading.

Furthermore, a major data-reporting error occured early this month. According to http://wattsupwiththat.com/ as well as http://www.realclimate.org/ the official NASA GISS (Goddard Institute of Space Studies) worldwide surface temperature readings for October 2008 contained 90 sites (all or mostly in Russia) where September data was reported instead of October data, ressulting in errors of several degrees.

This data error affected a small percentage of worldwide sites. Due to this error, the average worldwide surface temperature for October was interpreted to be the warmest October on record. The worldwide surface data set goes back to 1880. GISS has corrected the error, see http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/.

There are a number of responsible and reasonable internet sites that report on climate change, some of which generally support the consensus that human activity is responsible for most global warming (particularly the http://www.realclimate.org/) and others that are skeptical (such as http://wattsupwiththat.com/). It is the skeptical sites that first noticed the error in the October data from Russia as well as the inappropriate locations of some official climate-monitoring stations.


It seems NASA simply took the reported October data without sufficient examination. How could they overlook such a drastic increase in temperatures from Russia when other sites in Europe and Asia reported little change? How could they miss 90 sites that had the exact, digit-for-digit data as in the previous month? Perhaps they were so pleased to have their theory of global warming confirmed that they failed to investigate further?


What if the faulty dataset had been of the previous January rather than September? I'll bet that if the dataset showed significant cooling rather than warming someone at NASA would have noticed the error!

It seems to me there should be standards for placement of official NOAA Climate Monitoring stations. For example, they should be at least 100 meters from a direct source of heat. Government employees regularly visit these stations for maintenance and they should notice if someone has placed a barbeque right underneath one! Of course, sometimes civilization may encroach on an existing site with a new house or a new factory or power plant or road. They should notice and move the site! According to http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/11/19/how-not-to-measure-temperature-part-74/#more-4209 there are dozens of official sites that are located in highly questionable places, many put there within the past decades.

By the way, the site in the second photo was placed in 1998, obviously after that old house was already there. The site in the top photo was placed in 1985, most likely also after the wastewater treatment plant, with its methane burnoff torch, was already in place!

Ira Glickstein


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Our Moral Profiles

UPDATED 20 Nov 2008

See our Blog Topic on Five Channels of Morality based on Jonathan Haidt's TED Talk 19-minute TED video.

Please take the online test at http://www.yourmorals.org/ and report your scores in a Comment to this Topic. The above graph compares the moral profiles of the average L-MIND and C-MIND with the profiles of members of this Blog.
  • The L-MIND profile starts off high for the first two channels and then trails sharply downward for the final three.
  • The C-MIND profile is pretty level all across the channels.
  • Ira starts off moderately low at Harm and slowly increases over the remaining channels.
  • Steve Ruberg has a "u" profile that is higher at either end, for Harm and Purity.
  • Stu starts off extremely high at Harm and then steadily goes downhill to very low at Purity.
  • Howard is all over the place like a "sawtooth wave", relatively high on Fairness and Ingroup and low on Authority and Purity.
  • Joel is relatively low on most channels and pretty level across the board.

  • The BLOG AVERAGE is pretty level, starting a bit high and ending a bit low.

How can we possibly agree about anything? Or be friends? Yet we are!

TYPE
Harm Fairness Authority Ingroup Purity

L-MIND
3.6 3.7 2.1 2.1 1.3

C-MIND
3.0 3.0 3.3 3.1 2.9

Ira
2.5 3.5 3.5 3.8 4.2

SteveR
3.5 2.8 2.7 2.8 4.0

Stu
4.5 3.8 3.0 2.5 1.2
Howard
2.2 4.2 1.3 3.2 1.2

Joel
2.2 2.7 1.8 2.7 2.5


Ira Glickstein

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The TED Talks - Five Channels of Morality

Howard linked to this TED Talk in a Comment on a previous Topic. I think it is worthy of being a new Topic so I am copying it here, along with Joel's positive Comment as well as my favorable take on it.

Jonathan Haidt's views on the five channels of morality were previously posted by Stu. Howard also posted a previous link to a TED talk on memes. If Howard, Joel, Stu, and Ira agree on the importance of a concept, and the value of TED talks, we can't all be wrong, can we? ("Great minds think alike" but "fools seldom differ" or something like that :^)

Please view the 19-minute TED video because it is definitely worth your time.

Here is my short version, using screen captures from the video with some annotation I added.

The image above shows what Haidt posits are the five channels or tools or foundations of traditional morality: 1) Harm-Care, 2) Fairness-Reciprocity, 3) Authority-Respect, 4) Ingroup Loyalty, and 5) Purity-Sanctity.

The graph shows the result of over 23,000 US respondants who took the online test at http://www.yourmorals.org/

You may want to take the test and report your personal results here as a Comment.

Haidt points out that self-described liberals rate Harm and Fairness very high.

They rate Authority, Ingroup, and Purity very low.

Conservatives rate all nearly equally, with Harm at the top and Fairness at the bottom, but all in a tight range.

Moderates score between the extremes.

The final image indicates why liberals reject three of the five tools of traditional morality, in Haidt's view:


LIBERALS REJECT> Ingroup Loyalty (they CELEBRATE DIVERSITY)

LIBERALS REJECT> Authority-Respect (they QUESTION AUTHORITY)

LIBERALS REJECT> Purity-Sanctity (they say KEEP YOUR LAWS OFF MY BODY)





HOWARD'S COMMENT
Ira exhibits another C- vs. L-mind difference that...
November 12, 2008, 9:46:00 PM(Howard Pattee)

Ira exhibits another C- vs. L-mind difference that I think makes sense. C-minds make judgments based on the past performance over a lifetime.

L-minds make judgments based on the potential of youth for the future. If I judged my students on C-mind criteria, I would fail as a teacher.

Here is a TED talk about C- and L-minds that I think pretty much covers the conclusions of our own discussions, except that it does appear liberally biased to some conservatives. Remember, he is speaking to an audience that is mostly liberal. The comments are also interesting.

In this post-US-election week, TED is passionately discussing Jonathan Haidt's talk on the difference between liberals and conservatives.


JOEL'S COMMENT
Howard said:If I judged my students on C-mind crit...
November 13, 2008 (joel)

Howard said: If I judged my students on C-mind criteria, I would fail as a teacher. Here is a TED talk about C- and L-minds that I think pretty much covers the conclusions of our own discussions, except that it does appear liberally biased to some conservatives. Remember, he is speaking to an audience that is mostly liberal. The comments are also interesting.

Joel responds: Thanks for the citation. I think it was an excellent presentation. I especially liked the fact that he tied the prewired part of morality to evolution. Although he and the audience (or his expectation of the audience) appear to be L-minds, the theory itself seems pretty free of bias to me.As for judging students, it seems to me that you aren't making allowances for ALL of Haidt's five criteria.

A C-mind would also be concerned with fairness and therefore judge based upon the current course only.

I've seen teachers (both L-minds and C-minds) make allowances, based upon excellent performance in previous courses. I condemn such a practice (although frankly I've occasionally been a beneficiary as a student).

On the other hand, the grade point average is cumulative. It's the appropriate measure for recruiters and graduate school admission. I must say that I've seen recruiters give somewhat more weight to the last year. I've also seen a recruiter overlook lackluster academic achievement based upon a candidate's impressive performance at the interview. Is the latter situation comparable to the selection of Obama over McCain?

With respect -Joel

Ira Glickstein


NOTE: See the : Morality profiles of the participants in this cross-discussion.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Our Three Minutes of FAME

Vi and I are the "stars" of a three-minute Associated Press video and a number of AP still photos.

Please click on this video link and hold tight for the unavoidable commercial that comes before our grand debut on national TV.

The photo above is one of those taken by the AP photographer.

IN THE LIMELIGHT

We spent part of Monday and most of Tuesday morning with an AP videographer and a photographer. The story line was that we were on opposite sides in the recent Presidential election.

How did the press find us? Well, about a month ago, Vi's name was given to a Miami AP reporter (by a friend at The Villages Democratic Party) as a former Republican now supporting Sen. Obama. Vi was interviewed by phone and her name appeared in one paragraph of a story that ran in the Miami Herald and many other newspapers (To get links please Google: "Violet Glickstein" Obama).

About a week and a half ago we were asked if we'd like to be interviewed prior to the election for a more detailed version of her story. We agreed enthusiastically.

Lynne, from AP Miami, came to our home Monday afternoon. She wired us up and video-interviewed us in a very professional manner. The last scene of the AP video shows us behind our house, arm-in-arm, gazing at the pond, as I wonder where I'll sleep if the McCain-Palin ticket wins :^)

Lynne came back early Tuesday morning, along with John, an AP Orlando photographer. We had our morning coffee and some discussions as he and she took some more video and photos.

We then headed, by golf cart, to vote at the Mulberry Recreation Center. Lynne took more video at Mulberry and then departed because she had to compose her video report by a 2PM deadline. John stayed with us and composed captions and uploaded his photos from his laptop to the AP from our living room.

Both Lynne and John were delightful to have in our home and very professional. We are very pleased with the results of our experience with a national press organization.

THIS ELECTION AS CULMINATION OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS STRUGGLE

Of course, Vi is more pleased with our new President-Elect Obama than I am :^) In the photo above she is wearing a button with "Barack Obama" in Hebrew letters.

She remembers the civil rights struggle with great emotion, as do I. It was a heroic effort by many people, black and white - not a few Jewish - to achieve racial equality.

In Martin Luther King's stirring words from 1963, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

As a young child I had an aunt who lived in Washington DC. I remember taking the Greyhound bus from New York City to DC with my parents to visit her. When the bus was about to cross the state border into Maryland it pulled over and the driver announced that "negroes" had to move to the rear because the State Troopers would stop the bus otherwise. They all complied without any fuss. I remember being angry but powerless to do anything about it. In DC we took public transportation and observed as blacks moved obediently to the rear. At that time, blacks could buy food at the snack bar at Peoples Drug Stores and most other restaurants in our Nation's Capitol, but they were not allowed to sit at the tables to eat it.

How far we've come in our lifetimes!

Although I was on the other political side in this election - hoping to elect our first female VP - I am very happy we have finally elected a black man to the highest office in the land. It is an historic event to have witnessed. President-Elect Obama is a wonderful speaker and writer and clearly a very smart guy who ran a brilliant campaign. I wish him the best and hope he has a very successful Presidency.

On the other hand, if you look closely at the photo above, I am wearing a "Sarah Palin 2012" button! I can hardly wait for the elections four years from now. We saw the appointment of a Republican as the first female Supreme Court Justice and as the first black Secretay of State. How historic it will be to see a female President, and I hope she will be a Republican!



Ira Glickstein

PS: In a previous posting to this Blog, I complained that the major media often show their bias by doing extreme close-ups of conservatives, making them look bald and more angry than necessary, while they generally show liberals full-face. Well, if you look at the AP video, sure enough, Vi is always shown full-face while the close-ups of me are extreme.

Here is part of what I wrote: "... have you noticed how conservatives are often shown on TV with tight focus on their eyes, mouths, and chins, making them look mean and even bald? Liberals seem to get a much kinder camera." [Guardians at the Gates are Gone See my Comment posted 14 Aug 2008]

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Here's your CHANGE!

CHANGE is in the air - "Change we can believe in" and "Change we need" from one side of the political divide and "Change is coming" from the other.

Here are some changes I'd like to see over the coming four years:

Executive Salaries

I am not one to favor government limits on private sector salaries, but I am appalled by the millions earned by executives while the corporations they directed lost gobs of money. Even more eggregious are the "golden parachutes" some executives got when they were forced to leave their posts. We need to put some accountability into the executive suites and some lead into those "golden parachutes"!

If any of these executives acted illegally, such as falsifying acounts or knowingly releasing false information I hope they are sued by shareholders and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. However, most of them have excellent legal advisors and, while what they did was immoral, it was probably legal.

CHANGE ITEM #1: Any salary or bonus or "golden parachute" in excess of 40 times the lowest pay of any employee in the corporation shall be paid in STOCK OF THE COMPANY that cannot be sold for FIVE YEARS. That will prevent executives from profiting from flim-flams that yield quick returns but are losers in the long run.

Rating Agencies

I listened to the Congressional hearings on Standard & Poors, Moody's, and Fitch, the agencies that do some 90% of the ratings on financial instruments. One of them rated AIG as AA two days before it imploded!

It turns out these agencies are paid for their ratings by the very corporations that issue the financial instruments. The corporations shop around for the agency that will give them the best ratings and, naturally, the agencies adjust their rating formulas to gain the most business. How can we make the rating agencies more accountable without imposing some unwieldy bureaucracy on them?

CHANGE ITEM #2: Fifty percent of the fee to a rating agency for rating any financial instrument (stock, bond, derivative, etc.) shall be paid in the FINANCIAL INSTRUMENT THAT HAS BEEN RATED that cannot be sold for FIVE YEARS.

Home Mortgages

It used to be that the bank that accepted your home mortgage would hold it themselves. No more.

To encourage home ownership, Congress created Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae as quasi-government agencies to buy mortgages. Congress passed laws and government departments made rules that encouraged banks to give loans to people who had poor credit and employment histories.

That was good for the constituencies of both political parties: developers and the building materials industry loved it, as well as workers in the building trades and unions and the people who were enabled to buy homes beyond their creditworthiness. Freddie and Fannie executives made generous political contributions to both parties as did the building industry and unions and politicians got lots of votes from happy beneficiaries.

The banks had nothing to lose - they processed mortgages and sold them off to Freddie and Fannie and others. The more mortgages they processed the more money they made. If the mortgages paid off - great, if not, not to worry, the government would take the loss.

CHANGE ITEM #3: Require banks and other mortgage-issuing entities to retain at least 25% of the mortgages they issue on their books. That way, when a mortgage is not paid off the banks have their own skin in the game.

CHANGE ITEM #4: When the current financial crisis settles out, bust Fannie and Freddie up into a half dozen or a dozen separate private corporations and make it clear that they are to compete with each other in the marketplace and that, after a grace period of five years, they will no longer be regarded as quasi-government agencies.

Alternative Carbon-Neutral Energy

Previous Blog entries cover the reasons. We must reduce our dependence on burning sequestered carbon (oil, gas, coal) and instead conserve energy and obtain a greater percentage from carbon-neutral nuclear and renewable sources such as wind, water, direct solar and biofuels. During the primaries, when Sen. McCain suggested temporary elimination of the federal gasoline tax (18 cents/gallon), and Sen. Clinton went along, I expressed my agreement with Sen. Obama who wisely objected to the plan.

However, I went further, calling for a punitive "carbon tax", increasing yearly until our dependence on sequestered carbon is significantly reduced and conservation and alternate energy is allowed to grow and mature under the economic "umbrella" of increased costs for coal, oil and natural gas. Although I oppose excessive taxation, in this one case, it is important to do what is possible and practical to reduce global warming, and a "carbon tax" is a lot easier to implement and administer than directed subsidies to specific forms of alternative energy.

CHANGE ITEM #5: Impose a "carbon tax" of $1/gallon of gasoline (and proportionately on coal and natural gas) and increase it yearly by an additional $1/gallon until sequestered carbon usage is halved and carbon-neutral alternative energy usage doubles.

SUMMARY

The above items cut across party lines and gore everybody's goat about equally. None of them require significant increase in government or bureaucracy. All are easy to compute and hard to cheat on.

Of course, that is the problem! Politicians on both sides gain power by imposing complex laws that virtually require corporations and unions and other interest groups to continue giving political contributions to assure they are treated better than other interest groups.

The laws are administered and interpreted by government "civil servants" :^) who benefit from complexity and ambiguity to make themselves important and keep their jobs and expand the bureaucracy further.

Everyone argues for exceptions to the rules! "Oh, you've got to exempt milk as a taxible item because babies need milk to live! Who could deny that?" "Yes, and bread as well." "Well, ice cream is made from milk and jelly is put on bread, so exempt them too." ... "Right, and ketchup is made from a vegetable, so exempt it ..." (Technically, tomatoes are fruits and bananas are vegetables but why let a technicality interfere with the growth of government? :^)

We need more laws and rules that apply across the board and are easy to interpret and enforce and hard to avoid or exploit. We need government regulations that reduce the influence of well-connected industries and unions. Sadly, that kind of CHANGE goes against the interests of most influential people and politicians of all stripes.

Ira Glickstein