Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Save the Polar Bears

"Global warming is leading to death of Polar Bears!" sniffs the hand-wringing set. Poo! I'm just trying to figure out how to make money out of this whole global warming thing. Shoot, if the Great Goreacle can earn $50,000 for every speech he makes, surely I can make a few bucks. Maybe this bumper sticker is a start. For only $4.95, it can be yours too.

Plus, the delicious double-entendre is icing on the cake.

You'll look so dashing and sophisticated sporting it on your truck.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The observatory at the end of the universe

If the world ended, and I was sitting on the edge of it, would I be howling at the moon? Apparently.

As is a tradition of mine going back several years, I do an annual moonlight/sunrise (bicycle) ride up Mnt. Hamilton, the goal being to be up there in time for sunrise. Mnt. Hamilton is the tallest peak in the Bay Area with the famous Lick Observatory at the top. The ride up isn't strenuous; about 4000' of climbing in about 20 miles. It's the getting up at 2am to be up there for sunrise that's getting harder to do as I age.

This year I did it with by good buddy D, and his two neighbours P and J. Though the 26th of August is close to a full moon, it wasn't perfect. Unfortunately, Sunday morning is the only day I can do it. The moon set at 4am rather than being overhead or mostly-overhead for most of the time, so bike lights were needed.

The valley was overcast when we left, but it was a low fog that hovered at around 1000'. Once we climbed through it, the air temperature rose to a very mild and pleasant 70F and stayed that way for most of the ride. I say "most" because if you're familiar with route (HWY 130) you'll know about the infamous dip around the CDF fire station, where the temperature drops a good 20F due to the relative location of the fire station. Brrrr .....

Despite the lack of an overhead moon, there was sufficient light to enable me to ride without lights, allowing my eyes to adjust to small changes in light intensity. I counted about a half-a-dozen shooting stars, which appeared to be moving really slowly and brightly, leaving long-lasting trails in their paths. And apparently human eye visual acuity is directly proportional to available oxygen. Stars appeared bright enough while riding in the dark, but when I stopped and stood still for a while, the "lights really came on", almost as if someone cranked up the stellar brightness knob.

There was a storm over the Central Valley, so the rising sun was obscured by clouds. The sun rose red and the cloud edges were burning golden.

We reached the top about 45 minutes before sunrise.

The valley was completely obscured, except for the peaks of well known landmarks. That's Loma Prieta just over my right shoulder.

And when the sun rose, Mnt. Hamilton cast a shadow over the valley below.

I blew a rear tire on the way down. According to J "It's because you were hotdogging, going too fast, jig-zagging between the Bot's Dots and leaning your bike over so much". :-) He lent me his CO2 inflater. Rather than spending 10 minutes fucking around with a manual pump, the whole operation took about 3 minutes. I'm a CO2 convert.

Attribution: All pictures courtesy of J and P. Thank you very much!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Global Warming heretic

Yes, I'm a global warming denier, and hence a heretic to the church of the Great Al Gore and the faith of the Cataclysmic Global Warming.

Ever found yourself talking with someone who claims that global warming is a scientific fact? If so, ask them the following list of questions and then sit back watching the fuses blow.

  1. When you claim that there is consensus among scientists, can you please list me the names, affiliations and funding sources of said scientists? How about just the top 6? How about just ONE?
  2. When you claim that average global temperatures are rising, can you list the sources of your claims, because I doubt you took measurements yourself? Can you list the locations of the temperature sensors? Do you realize that if these sensors are located in urban areas, that urbanization (and not "global warming") may be the cause of higher temperature readings?
  3. When you claim that CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are the cause of global warming, please take a moment to clarify, at least in your own mind, the difference between CORRELATION and CAUSE AND EFFECT.
  4. When you claim that polar bear deaths and glacier melting is proof positive of the dire consequences of global warming, please take a moment to ponder whether the plural of ANECDOTE is really DATA. [Hint: It isn't]
  5. When you claim that climate models predict temperature increases in correlation with rising concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, please tell me WHICH model(s) you are referring to and note that there is more than one, none of them agree, they vary wildly in temperature increase predictions (by orders of magnitude), and NOT ONE of them could predict the weather 7 days ago, if I fed it the weather data from the last year.
  6. When you claim that observed weather extremes (e.g. hurricanes, snow storms, floods, etc) are proof positive of global warming, please explain to me the process(es) that causes a snow storm in Johannesburg South Africa (first in 21 years) when the global temperatures are INCREASING?
And since the "believers" and global hand-wringers are hellbent on destroying western civilization as we know if ("We consume 50% of world's resources", "We produce most of the worlds CO2 emissions") just so we can be just like the rest of the 3rd world, I think I have the right to demand actual linear (that whole cause and effect thing, again) proof before I'll even listen to their demands that we change our ways. So a few more questions to ponder, and demand answers to:
  1. Is the average global temperature actually rising or falling? Proof please.
  2. If yes, then is the rise directly caused by human activity or by some other processes we haven't even considered or don't completely understand? Which activity? Why?
  3. If yes, then is it actually a bad thing? The last "heating" was correlated with the Renaissance in Europe which I can't say was such a bad thing. Proof please, and don't use anecdotes.
  4. If yes, is there anything humans can do to reverse the effects of said process?
And since governments seem on the verge of declaring CO2 to be a "pollutant":
  1. Please compare the specific heat (yes, the thermodynamics definition which means the capacity to absorb heat) of H2O with that of CO2. You'll find that the former's is 4 times the latter's.
  2. Please compare the percentage constituents (say by volume) of various gasses making up the atmosphere, and then ponder why if H2O makes up far more of the atmosphere than CO2 that the effect of CO2 is so much greater than that of H2O?
  3. And, finally, describe the process by which CO2 results in global warming, when H2O results in stabilization of temperatures -- it's that whole heating, rising into the upper atmosphere where it condenses and either reflects UV or precipitates into rain resulting in cooling, etc. thing.
And finally, the apparent coup-de-grace from the "believers" when they have exhausted all arguments, goes something like this:

"OK, I agree we don't have proof but let's assume that global temperatures are rising, the increase is caused by human activity, that we can reverse it, and that if we don't act now cataclysm will result with the end-of-mankind-as-we-know-it just around the corner. Don't you think it behooves us to do something now, just as an insurance policy, or a hedge?"

OK, I'll play that game. My answer would be the following:

"Do you believe in Jesus Christ as your personal saviour? No? Why not? I know we have no proof of the existence of God, but assuming He-who-goes-by-the-name-of-I exists and only believers will be saved, don't you think you should accept Christ as your personal saviour just as an insurance policy, or a hedge?"


"No? Then why should I buy into your fucking faith?"