Sunday 30 May 2021

Temperature vs stratospheric ozone levels

Is there a correlation between ozone levels and surface temperature?

I downloaded the stratospheric ozone level figures from here (for Southern Hemisphere, but those are the only detailed ones I could find) and the Central England Temperature Record figures from here (I know that England is not in the Southern Hemisphere, but their figures are reliable).

Annual averages jump about, so I used the five-year rolling average for temperatures.

The co-efficient of correlation for a year's five-year average and the same year's ozone levels is 60%. It increases steadily to 80% if you assume that the temperature lag is one, two, three... eight years (and falls off again after that - it's down to 50% if you assume twelve years, 37% if you assume thirteen years), which conveniently suggests that ozone levels are the cause and temperature is the effect, so I went with an eight-year lag.

The left hand axis for ozone levels is inverted, as we expect lower ozone levels to cause higher temperatures.

Here's the chart. Looks fairly convincing to me. There is a clear mismatch from 2011 to 2016, but it's all back in line from 2017 onwards. If there is a link - and I cheerfully admit that this might all be sheer coincidence - then we'd expect to see average temperatures to fall slightly over the next five years*. Not sure what happens after that:
* The average temperature for May 2020 to 2021 is slightly lower than that for May 2015 - April 2016, so the 2021 5-year average will drop towards the number 'predicted' by 2013's ozone levels.

Friday 28 May 2021

A painted clock is right twice a day

I've just stumbled across this classic in The Guardian from 2018:

Thirty years ago, James Hansen* testified to Congress about the dangers of human-caused climate change. In his testimony, Hansen showed the results of his 1988 study using a climate model to project future global warming under three possible scenarios, ranging from ‘business as usual’ heavy pollution in his Scenario A to ‘draconian emissions cuts’ in Scenario C, with a moderate Scenario B in between.

Changes in the human effects that influence Earth’s global energy imbalance (a.k.a. ‘anthropogenic radiative forcings’) have in reality been closest to Hansen’s Scenario B, but about 20–30% weaker thanks to the success of the Montreal Protocol in phasing out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)**.

Hansen’s climate model projected that under Scenario B, global surface air temperatures would warm about 0.84°C between 1988 and 2017. But with a global energy imbalance 20–30% lower, it would have predicted a global surface warming closer to 0.6–0.7°C by this year. The actual 1988–2017 temperature increase was about 0.6°C. Hansen’s 1988 global climate model was almost spot-on.

Classic lack of self-awareness there. The outcome was somewhere vaguely near his mid-estimate, and presumably miles off his lower- and upper-estimates. That's hardly "spot-on", is it?

** The Montreal Protocol was indeed successful in reducing CFC production, hooray. But the pre-existing CFCs are still working their way through the system and are still causing most or all of the current slight warming, reducing the impact of CO2 down to zero.

* James Hansen is the one who came up with the trick of calculating the effective temperature of Earth assuming two-thirds cloud cover, and then contrasting that (low) temperature with with the actual temperature of land/ocean surface (warmer) and ignoring the actual temperature of clouds (colder). See top of third column on page 1 here. He dresses it up in scientific language to cover his traces.

If you include the actual temperature of clouds when calculating the overall actual temperature, it would bring it down to pretty much the same as the effective temperature, i.e. if he had done an honest comparison, like-with-like, he would have had no evidence for a CO2-caused Greenhouse Effect whatsover.

Wednesday 26 May 2021

"pV = nRT"

Alarmists and Physics Deniers don't actually know what this equation signifies and make themselves look silly by trotting it out as if it somehow supports Alarmist Theory and/or debunks the Gravito-Thermal Effect.

Nothing of the sort. There's a full explanation and worked example at This is basic first year level GCSE Physics and nothing controversial.
Let's apply it to typical temp, pressure, density at sea level:
Pressure = 101,325 Pa
Volume = 1 m3
Mass of air in 1 m3 at 'standard temperature and pressure' = 1.227 kg
n = number of moles of gas in 1 m3 = mass/m3 divided by molecular mass of 'air', which is 29g/mole
R = universal gas constant* = 8.31441 J/K/mol
Temp = 288K

Stick in the numbers on the right hand side, 1,227/29 x 8.31441 x 288 = 101,314. Close enough to 101,325!
Now we've got the hang of it, what's the likely temperature at 10 km altitude?
Wiki tells us that pressure up there is 26,300 Pa, density is 416 g/m3.
The left hand side is 26,300 x 1 = 26,300
The right hand side is 416/29 x 8.31441 x T = 119.3 x T
So 119.3 T = 26,300; and T = 26,300/119.3 = 220K

Which is exactly what the blue line on Wiki's chart - and real life measurement - show. Wiki's chart is what you get if you just start by assuming ever increasing density in a gravitational/acclerating field and working from there (see diagram 5).

In fact, you can assume constant density, desnity which increases linearly or geometrically as you go down, there would still be a similar profile with increasing pressure and hence temperature towards the surface. Basic maths. Any other outcome is mathematically impossible unless you assume that density increases with height at an implausible rate (in which case, what happens at the top?).
* Keen-eyed readers will know that this is Avogadro's number x Boltzmann's constant.

Checking whether a number is prime.

You can't really check whether a number is prime, you can only check whether it divides by a prime number smaller than the square root of the original number and rule it out if it does. So it's a question of ruling out as many as possible as quickly as possible.

First, you rule out even numbers and numbers ending in 5 (apart from 2 and 5).

The next obvious/easy thing to do is to add the digits and see if they add up to 3, if they do, the number divides by three i.e. 291 = 2 + 9 + 1 = 12 (unless you start with 3, which itself is prime).

But I've watched another couple of maths videos on YouTube, and what they boil down to is that there is a better test that helps you rule out more numbers. The test is - divide the original number by thirty and just look at the remainder, or take "number mod 30" if you are using a scientific calculator.

If the remainder is not a prime number, the original number is not prime. If the remainder is prime (or ends in 1, even though the number 1 itself is officially not a prime number) and the original number is less than 300, there is a two-thirds chance the original number is prime. The chance of it being prime is slightly better than 50% for numbers up to 1,500. That percentage drifts downwards, the larger the number is. So if the original number was above 1,500, you might as well just assume it is not prime, even if the remainder is prime.

If the original number passes the second test and you want to improve your chances of getting it right, you have to do the long hard slog with divisibility tests, and check if it divides by 7, 11, 13...

I hope this comes in handy next time you are in a pub quiz. I can't think of many other uses for such trivia.

Monday 24 May 2021

The Guardian trolls its own readers.

From The Guardian:

Scientific research findings that are probably wrong gain far more attention than robust results, according to academics who suspect that the bar for publication may be lower for papers with grabbier conclusions.

Studies in top science, psychology and economics journals that fail to hold up when others repeat them are cited, on average, more than 100 times as often in follow-up papers than work that stands the test of time.

The finding – which is itself not exempt from the need for scrutiny – has led the authors to suspect that more interesting papers are waved through more easily by reviewers and journal editors and, once published, attract more attention.

Say the newspaper that will publish every single climate change scare story going (many of which were probably hoaxes), the scarier the better.

Sunday 23 May 2021

James Newman, I salute you.

Bravely trotting off to the Eurovision Song Contest, knowing full well that you'd probably get nul points.

Saturday 22 May 2021

Let's see if Harry Dale Huffman's approach works with Titan

Titan is my new favourite moon/planet. It orbits Saturn, is a bit bigger than our Moon, and has an atmosphere that is strikingly similar to Earth's - it's mainly N2, with 5.65% CH4 to spice things up -  with a surface pressure 1.48 times as much as Earth's surface pressure.

Harry Dale Huffman pointed out that comparing the surface temperatures of Venus with the surface temperature of Earth 288K is a diagonal comparison. Venus' surface temperature is ~737K, largely because atmospheric pressure is 92.1 times as much as on Earth. A direct comparison is the temperature of Venus' atmosphere at the altitude where atmospheric pressure happens to be equal to Earth's surface pressure versus Earth's surface temperature, so we compare 338K with 288K.

Then you just adjust Venus' temperature down to compensate for the fact it is nearer the Sun and the solar radiation it gets is more intense. The adjustment factor is the fourth root of (2,601 W/m2 ÷ 1,361 W/m2) = 1.91 ^ 0.25 = 1.176*. Divide 338K by 1.176 = 287.4K, that's as close to 288K as makes no difference, job's a good 'un.

HDH does not claim to be able to explain why this is so (see discussion here), but that's just how science works. First step is observe stuff, recognise clear patterns, and then you try and work out why. His guess appears to be that you can ignore a planet's albedo when looking at temperatures, because higher temperature causes clouds; clouds increase the albedo; thus reducing incoming solar radiation; which would reduce the temperature. So we would end up in a circular calculation. Or something like that.
OK, let's strap on our space suits, fire up the rockets and head off to Titan. Temperature at the surface is measured/estimated to be 93.7K. It receives 14.8 W/m2 solar radiation (same as Saturn, but knock off 0.8% because it is in Saturn's shadow 0.8% of the time and add on 0.08 W/m2 which Titan receives from Saturn itself).

Let's adjust Earth's surface temp (288K) down using the same method as above: 288K x ((1,361 W/m2 ÷ 14.8 W/m2)^0.25) = 93K. That's pretty close to 93.7K!

However... HDH's direct comparison method is the temperature on Titan at the altitude where pressure = Earth's surface pressure versus Earth's surface temperature, which happens to be at ~8 km. With a lapse rate of ~0.5 K/km, the temperature there is ~89.7K, against our predicted 93K. So it's ~3 degrees cooler than predicted by HDH's approach, which is still close enough, I think.

Which all demonstrates that a planet's albedo and the precise composition of its atmosphere are probably irrelevant, and whether or not the constituent gases can 'trap' radiation is almost certainly less than irrelevant.
* The short cut is divide distances from the Sun and take the square root = (149.6m km ÷ 108.2m km) ^ 0.25 = 1.176.

Friday 21 May 2021

Like a malevolent Fred Dibnah tribute act.

Thursday 20 May 2021

"Study suggests 'Zoom fatigue' is a real psychological phenomenon"

From PsyPost:

New research provides evidence that videoconferences can be mentally exhausting, especially when participants don’t feel some sense of group belonging...

In the study, which included 55 employees in various fields, participants received nine hourly surveys every day for five consecutive working days in 2020. The participants completed a total of 1,746 surveys in total. Only about 7% of the participants didn’t report any signs of videoconference fatigue.

I think they were suffering from "survey fatigue" as much as "Zoom fatigue". Also, the obvious question is, why were they working in various fields? How to they get power and internet access? What happens when it rains?

The researchers also found that videoconference fatigue was lower in the morning but increased throughout the afternoon and early evening.

Yes, people get more tired as the day goes on.

Participants often attributed their videoconference fatigue to sustained attention. “I do feel more tired after videoconference meetings especially if my camera is on, because I feel that expectation to look at the camera all the time to pay attention,” one participant reported.

I always leave my camera on, it is the polite thing to do. But I minimise the Zoom/Teams/Skype/whatever screen so that I can look at the actual documents we are discussing and not worry about trying to read facial expressions or being otherwise distracted by angled shots of the rooms they are sitting in. That way I am not tempted to say things like "Why is there a naked woman/man* standing behind you?" and watch them turn round in shock.

* Use opposite gender to the person on the screen.

Wednesday 19 May 2021

Who benefits from the pensions tax breaks?

Somehow, we drifted off KLNs and started discussing the taxation of/subsidies to pension savings.

Me: "The bulk of the [tax breaks] superficially goes to higher rate taxpayers (who would save up for their old age anyway, with or without 'encouragement') but is actually largely siphoned off by the FS sector."

Lola: "... as I may have said before, you can now buy pension funds with costs capped at about 0.5% p.a. Actually the worse siphoning off of tax subsidies is in cash ISA's."

Agreed to the last bit. For some mad reason, people who can afford to save would rather have 0.6% interest 'tax-free' than 1% gross taxed at 40%. Basic rate taxpayers should really choose 1% gross taxed at 20% rather than 0.6% tax-free, but the numbers are so small, it doesn't really matter in practice.

By analogy, if they scrapped tax breaks for pension savings or ISAs and cut the headline income tax/NIC rates to match, the final outcome wouldn't be much different. The pay-as-you-go state pension is still the best way to go; it's cheap, reliable and effective on whatever measure. And for about a third of actual voters (pensioners are only one-quarter of the adult population, but they have the highest voter turnout), the state pension is pretty much the number one issue - pensioners vote for whichever party makes the most generous promises (it's not their money), and this is one thing in party manifestos that they stick to if they get elected.

To my first point, the total cost/value of tax breaks for pension savings is at least £40 billion a year (trawl HMRC stat's at your leisure). The ONS says that the total value of assets held in pension or annuity funds was £6,100 billion (in March 2018 - it might have gone up or down since then).

Charges of 0.5% seem fair enough, let's round that up to 0.75% for all the extra charges they sneak in - the cheekier ones, the hidden profits they make on paying out stingy annuities, the transfer fees etc. On that basis, the total charges are 0.75% x £6,100 billion = £46 billion.

I rest my case.

Tuesday 18 May 2021

They own land! Give them money!

From The Sunday Telegraph:

Farmers could be paid to rewild river banks for beavers

LANDOWNERS could be paid to stop tending riverbanks on their property under government plans to help reintroduce beavers.

Farmers would be prevented from cultivating up to the river's edge, to encourage trees and shrubs to grow as part of a "nature recovery network" across the country. Ben Goldsmith, Defra's new Nature Champion, has been disussing the rewilding plan with his minister brother Lord Goldsmith for years...

Bloody hell.

I own a house with a garden, there are lots of things I'm not allowed to do for the overall benefit of society, like chopping down a tree that's more than a certain size (I only have small trees, so not a live issue), opening up a night club (not that I'd want to do that either), whatever.

Does the government compensate me for these restrictions? Of course not. They don't compensate me for not speeding either; they punish me if they catch me doing it. If the government now decides that you aren't allowed to cultivate with a certain distance from a river or larger stream because this has wider benefits (see the article), why should anybody be compensated? Just pass a law, enforce it, job done.

Monday 17 May 2021

Killer Arguments Against LVT, Not (488)

@benjit14 (aka BenJamin') replied on Twitter:

Of course we can internalise the cost/benefit of NIMBYism by taxing location rents at 100%. That would solve housing issues without the need to build a single extra home. Thats what good econ looks like. Bad econ only sees the supply side.

Floppy haired developers' friend @K_Niemitz countered:

This is why I mute Georgists. Georgism is the belief that you could fit the entire population of Britain into one single house, provided the ground underneath that house is taxed.

BenJamin' clearly said "without the need to build a single extra home", I'm not sure how mentally deficient you'd have to be to interpret that as "we'd all fit into one single house".

Meanwhile, back in the real world...

1. Population of England & Wales = 56.1 million.

2. Number of bedrooms in England & Wales according to the 2011 Census = 63.6 million. The ONS explain that there's a big margin of error here, it's based on sampling. How do you define 'bedroom'? What about Dad's study or Mum's home gym upstairs? What about downstairs rooms that aren't used much and which could be used as somebody's bedroom? And the number from the 2021 Census will be higher. But it will do for a start.

Let's assume three-quarters of the population are adults, and half of those are in a couple (who still get on with each other), if every couple shares a bedroom and 'everybody else' has one bedroom each, we would need approx. 45.6 million bedrooms. And we have 63.6 million, which is an extra 40%, so the average number occupied by couple-family with two kids would be just over 4. I suspect a median family with kids lives in a three-bed semi (so they're losing out) and we know there are a lot of people with holiday homes, retirees still in a family home etc (who are winning).

Do we really have a housing shortage overall, taking "one bedroom each" as a decent base level? Nope. Would LVT go a long way to shifting people closer to the average? Yup. Clearly LVT wouldn't get us all the way there, but so what? The retirees in a family home who also have a holiday home would be paying for the privilege and the family in crowded accommodation would be compensated, however indirectly. Which was BenJamin's actual point.

(For sure, you can blame crowded families for not earning enough to pay for somewhere decent or for having too many kids. But if they all earned more and all wanted to trade up, prices would just slip out of their grasp. The misallocation would be barely affected.)

Sunday 16 May 2021

You win some, you lose some.

From The Barents Observer:

Russia’s Arctic and Far North regions could become arable in as soon as 20 to 30 years as climate change accelerates permafrost melt, opening up vast swathes of land to agriculture, the country’s environment minister said Tuesday.

From The Guardian:

A third of global food production will be at risk by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at their current rate, new research suggests. Many of the world’s most important food-growing areas will see temperatures increase and rainfall patterns alter drastically if temperatures rise by about 3.7C, the forecast increase if emissions stay high.

Saturday 15 May 2021

Very feeble attempt at a KCN from the Tories

The Welsh have decided to trial a UBI scheme.

Bravo Wales, but, predictably the Tories are against it:

But the Welsh Conservatives said: "The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is clear that UBI is not the answer to solving poverty, in fact they claim it can actually increase poverty."

Well, clearly it isn't the answer, if you are a Tory and the idea of giving money to the undeserving poor is anathema. I'm sure there are a tiny minority of cases where UBI can actually increase poverty, but this is just the tired old political tactic of "it's not the perfect panacea, so let's just continue with the broken system we've got,shall we?"

"The first minister needs to get on with kickstarting the Welsh economy, creating long-term, well-paid jobs for people rather than using Wales as a petri dish for failed left-wing policies."

Well we could trial it in Scotland, but the Tories have that reserved as a petri dish for failed right-wing policies like the Poll Tax.

Thursday 13 May 2021

He needs it as down-payment on his yacht.

From The Independent:

In the latest setback to European Union efforts to tackle corporate tax avoidance, a court on Wednesday annulled a ruling by the European Commission that a tax deal between the Luxembourg government and Amazon amounted to illegal state support.

The European Commission ordered the U.S. online retailer in 2017 to pay around 250 million euros ($300 million) in back taxes to Luxembourg. But judges at the EU's General Court said the European Commission didn't prove “to the requisite legal standard that there was an undue reduction of the tax burden of a European subsidiary of the Amazon group."

If I understand correctly, Amazon will get a refund of the $300 million.

Also from The Independent:

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and the world’s richest man, will reportedly soon be the owner of a mega-yacht he bought for $500 million, almost double the price he paid to buy the Washington Post newspaper in 2013.

While the details of the vessel have largely been kept under wrap, the 417-foot superyacht is so massive that it has a yacht of its own, along with a helipad, reported Bloomberg.

They would say that, wouldn't they?

Item 1, from Business Insider:

WeWork's CEO said your desire to go to an office depends on how "engaged" you are at work.

Sandeep Mathrani, who stepped in as CEO of the coworking startup last year, said that people most comfortable working from home are the "least engaged" with their company, while the "overly engaged" want to go to the office.

Is he seriously trying to guilt trip people into paying rent?

Item 2, from the BBC:

Queen's Speech 2021: Key points at-a-glance

A Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill will get rid of the fixed five-year period between general elections and return the power to call early elections to the prime minister.

Wow. This law came in under the Tory-Lib Dem coalition in 2011. David Cameron stuck to it, and called a General Election after his five years were up (which he won convincingly). Then his successors called snap elections in 2017 and in 2019 and made a mockery of the whole thing. It must be one of the least observed laws in living memory.

Plans to force voters in Great Britain to to prove their identity when they vote at general elections will be introduced in an Electoral Integrity Bill

A Judicial Review Bill will set out the government's plans to change how its decisions can be challenged in the courts

I do not like either of these at all, but that's Tories for you (and I'm not saying that Labour haven't been just as authoritarian).

Wednesday 12 May 2021

Place your bets now.

From the BBC:

The UK has benefited from both fast [vaccine] rollout and good uptake. Currently, a third of the adult population is fully vaccinated, with another third having had one dose. Among those at most risk - the over-50s and younger adults with health conditions, where 99% of Covid deaths have occurred - uptake for the first dose has been 95%.

Which is all good stuff. I'm not sure why they think it's better to give people in their 40s and younger a first jab rather than giving the over-50s their second jab, but hey. Sometimes the government does the right thing.

On the topic of death stats, I assumed that excess deaths in 2020 would be offset by lower than average deaths in the next couple of years i.e. the people who died from it would have died from something else in the next couple of years anyway.

It looks like this effect is starting to kick in - the black line for 2021 is dipping below the dotted line for 2015-19 average - but who knows? Most predictions about all this have been very wrong (including, I hasten to add, most of my own), so that's the question - how much lower will 2021 deaths be compared to the 2015-19 average? Just a bit? A lot?

Here's a chart to summarise data from the ONS: What's odd is that the January 2021 peak is a noticeably lower than the April 2020 peak. Worldometers shows it the other way round:

Tuesday 11 May 2021

You can see why people assume London is full of pretentious wankers.

From the Evening Standard:

[Re-elected London Mayor Sadiq Khan] vowed to “work day and night” to deliver “safer streets” saying: “On crime – we’ll continue to be both tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. This includes putting even more police officers on the streets at the same time as investing record amounts in new opportunities for young Londoners.”

This is especially bitter - he's the one who took the police officers off the streets in the first place.

"The key thing is to make sure our city recovers. It’s the biggest challenge our city has faced since the Second World War, and that’s what Let’s Do London is about - getting our city back on its feet after the awful 15 months we have had, and try to bring our city together and our country together.

"We have got to avoid this culture war which is tearing our country apart. We have got to make sure we have the Brexit scars healing and we ought to try to bring people together. My mission in the second term is to bring our city together.

"Next Monday restaurants will reopen, many theatres will reopen. On June 21, fingers crossed, our city will return to a semblance of normality. It’s going to be an amazing summer."

... he insisted he had a "decent mandate" overall, having secured more than 1.2m votes. "I didn’t realise I secured the biggest vote ever received by a candidate, other than myself, of course, in 2016," he said. "But also I discovered I have got the biggest majority, other than myself in 2016. Quite a decent mandate, if I say so myself."

City Hall promised “the biggest domestic tourism campaign the capital has ever seen” to help London’s economy get back on its feet as Covid restrictions are eased. There will be a series of one-off events, outdoor film screenings and late-night openings under the London Lates initiative to ease social distancing.

None of that really means anything to a normal voter, does it?

As contrast, from Politics Home:

[Re-elected Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham] used his victory speech to accuse the Prime Minister of failing to deliver on his promises to areas like Greater Manchester... He pointed to a perceived "widespread cluelessness" in government as to what "levelling up", and offered to spell it out for Johnson.

"Here is where I can help you, Prime Minister. Let me define it," Burnham said. "It can't be achieved by scattering funds across a few favoured places.

"It can be achieved when you give millions of people in a city region like this one a modern, affordable public transport system, when it costs the same to catch a bus in Harpurhey as it does is Haringey. £1.55, not £4 or more that people pay here".

He continued: "Levelling up is achieved when you give all people the dignity of decent work and wages that don't have to be topped up by visits to the food bank, and when you have the kind of jobs here which mean our young people don't have to move south to get on in life, which I had to do 30 years ago."

I've no strong opinion on Andy Burnham one way or another, but at least he says real things that actually mean something and are within his remit as Mayor.

Monday 10 May 2021

"US backs waiver on vaccine patents to boost supply"

From the BBC:

The US has thrown its support behind a move at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to temporarily lift patent protections for coronavirus vaccines.

Advocates of the move say it would increase global vaccine production, but drugs manufacturers argue it will not have the desired effect. Critics say it strips financial rewards from cutting-edge drug developers.

Hang on, didn't President Trump pay you $10 billion to develop the vaccines? At whose risk and expense was that? You are also earning $20 or $30 a pop for the hundreds of millions of doses that the self-same US government is buying from you. And the further hundreds of millions which you hope "rich countries" will buy off you at full price and distribute to the developing world (see below).

The head of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, Thomas Cueni, told the BBC's Today programme that technology transfer should not be enforced.

"I'm deeply concerned if you hand this over and allow companies to try to get it done the right way, safe and high quality, you could compromise the quality and safety of vaccines which we see now and it would be disruptive."

Well, he would say that wouldn't he? Does he mean that they are nobly saving lives in the developing world by preventing them from making their own vaccines? He's earned a "that's racist" as well.

"And it is also right now the disappointing unwillingness of rich countries to early share doses with the poor countries."

I'd shut up right now if I were him.

... pharmaceutical companies have called the decision by the US to back the sharing of secret recipes for vaccinations short-sighted, claiming it is understanding the production process that is the real challenge, particularly when it comes to the new breed of mRNA vaccines - such as Pfizer and Moderna - as well as the availability of raw materials. It is, they say, akin to handing out a recipe without sharing the method or the ingredients...

If it's the know-how that matters, why are they objecting to waiving the patent protection?

Friday 7 May 2021

Hey Prof! Where can I buy this "cheap, strong alcohol"?

From the BBC:

Alcohol killed more people in 2020 in England and Wales than in any of the previous 20 years, official data shows. There were 7,423 deaths from alcohol misuse last year [compared to a total population of about 65 million] - a rise of 20% from 2019, the Office for National Statistics says.

Prof Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance - a coalition of charities and campaign groups - said the increase in deaths linked to alcohol was "devastating". "Each of these numbers represents a life of an individual cut short by alcohol consumption and a family that has been left in mourning."

Prof Gilmore said the government must urgently introduce an alcohol strategy which addresses health inequalities, improves access to treatment "and stops the sale of cheap, strong alcohol that is so harmful to health".

Tuesday 4 May 2021

AGW theory is based on two blatant 'diagonal comparisons' (Part 2)

In Part 1 I showed how they use a sneaky 'diagonal comparison' (i.e. they don't compare like-with-like) to create the illusion that Earth is warmer than it should be.  Part 1 covers the balance between Earth's system and the Sun/outer space.

Then there's what goes in within the Earth's system itself. The other sneaky thing they do is to say that the atmosphere is far warmer than it is, it's just a straight lie. From NASA's Earth Factsheet:

Terrestrial Atmosphere
Surface pressure: 1014 mb
Surface density: 1.217 kg/m3
Scale height: 8.5 km
Total mass of atmosphere: 5.1 x 1018 kg
Total mass of hydrosphere: 1.4 x 1021 kg
Average temperature: 288 K (15 C)

Say what?

Imagine you are asked to measure the average temperature of the water in a deep lake. If you just take the surface temperature, you might get ~288K. But that's not the average temperature of the all the water in the lake. By and large it gets colder as you go down, so the true average is much lower.

The reverse applies in the troposphere (the lowest ~11km of the atmosphere). This is the bit we are interested. It's where the weather happens and the layer which warms and cools the surface.

It gets cooler as you go up, so if you only measure the temperature in the warmest layer, at or slightly above sea-level (where most measuring stations are), you will get an artificially high average temperature (i.e. ~288K).

~288K is fair estimate of the average surface temperature, but that's something completely different to the average temperature of the air in the troposphere. That's a lot colder. If you take a fair sample of readings at all altitudes, you would get ~255K, which is not uncoincidentally the temperature we expect from looking at the Earth vs Sun/outer space balance. See also Climatologists are Flat Earthers.

The vertical temperature gradient is no mystery. Basic maths, a rudimentary understanding of the Gas Laws and common sense (principles and worked example) tell us that it must be warmer than the ~255K average at sea level and colder than the ~255K average at the top of the tropopause. They worked this out in the 19th century and it was part of normal physics textbooks until a few decades ago. There's a given amount of thermal energy, and gravity and the Gas Laws constantly recycle it downwards.

The precise temperature gradient (aka 'lapse rate') is primarily the trade off between thermal energy (temperature) and potential energy (altitude). We all know that warm air cools as it rises. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, so what happens to the 'lost' thermal energy? Easy - air loses thermal energy as it rises... and gains potential energy. The reverse happens with Chinook and Föhn winds (Föhn is German word, pronounced 'fern' and is also the name for a hand-held hair dryer), when falling air warms up. So the lapse rate = gravity ÷ the specific heat capacity of 'air'.

(The lapse rate is reduced by the latent heat of evaporation, which has the opposite effect. The surface is cooled when water evaporates, the latent heat manifests itself again higher up when water vapour condenses. The latent heat in one gram of water vapour is enough to warm a cubic metre of air by about 2 degrees, it's a lot.)
The AGW theorists make great play of the fact that Earth's surface (being ~288K, not ~255K) radiates ~390 W/m2 but only ~240 W/m2 gets to space. They claim that the missing ~150 W/m2 is trapped by 'greenhouse gases'. This is part of Diagonal Comparison #1. Two-thirds of the surface doesn't radiate directly to space because it's covered by clouds; some of the surface radiation is reflected back down (in a quite literal sense, like clouds reflecting visible light) and the clouds themselves emit the required ~165 W/m2 to space. The average emitted to space ≈ 240 W/m2, which is what Earth receives from the Sun.

The AGW steamroller never stops of course. For sure clouds reflect some infrared radiation back down (which is why a cloudy night is warmer than a clear night), but clouds don't 'trap' radiation or warm the surface overall; on the whole, it's cooler if it's cloudy (there's no 'positive feedback'). And clouds certainly do not warm the atmosphere overall, the extra warmth under a cloud is equal and opposite to the missing warmth above it.

Radiation isn't pollution like plastic in the oceans, it can transform into other forms of energy instantaneously. Trying to account for it is like trying to catch sunshine in your hands. You cannot add, subtract, multiply 'radiations', the maths is insane but entirely unnecessary to explain and understand the basic equilibrium position with temperatures etc. You need to bring in radiation to reconcile the warming effect of Ozone Depletion, but that's another story...

Monday 3 May 2021

AGW theory is based on two blatant 'diagonal comparisons' (Part 1)

The theory goes as follows:
1. Earth is 33 degrees warmer than it should be based in incoming solar radiation alone;
2. This is due to 'greenhouse gases' and 'trapped radiation';
3. Hence more greenhouse gases = higher temperatures.

Item 1. is based on the most outrageous Diagonal Comparison of all time. If this is not a valid comparison, then we need not concern ourselves with whether 2 and 3 are valid*.

The Hansen approach is:
1. Calculate the average effective (i.e. expected) temperature** of clouds, land and ocean surface. He just calculates one overall average temperature based on weighted average albedo (reflectiveness) of clouds, land and ocean surface, which is pretty close to the weighted average expected temperature of clouds, land and oceans separately. The key here is that land and ocean surface below clouds are ignored when calculating this expected temperature.
2. Compare that with the actual temperature of land and ocean surface... completely ignoring the actual lower temperatures of clouds.

A proper scientific comparison compares like with like!

So if you calculate the effective temperature of clouds, land and ocean surface (ignoring land and oceans below clouds), you have to compare it with the actual temperature of clouds, land and ocean surface (ignoring the land and ocean surface below clouds)... and you end up with a 'Greenhouse Effect' of +/- zero, zilch, nothing. Here are the numbers. (Cloud top altitude in pale blue as that is my best estimate and the variable most worthy of research or debate).

It all matches up nicely. Actual temperature ≈ expected temperature and outgoing infrared radiation ≈ incoming solar radiation. There is no 'missing radiation' or 'trapped radiation':
Tutorial on the Greenhouse Effect, this explains how it is calculated.
How high in the sky are clouds?
Scientists detect world's coldest cloud hovering over Pacific Ocean
What is Earth’s surface emissivity?

* The real explanation for the apparent 33 degree difference is far simpler. The most plausible reason for the recent slight increase in temperatures is Ozone Depletion, but these have been crowded out. Whether you understand or agree with these is irrelevant to the question of whether there is any evidence for 'greenhouse gases' causing 33 degrees of warming in the first place.

** Effective Temperature is the hypothetical temperature that a planet would have to be to emit as much radiation as it receives from its star, assuming 100% emissivity. But it is a good first approximation for the actual temperature for a fast-spinning planning planet with a thick atmosphere, like Earth.
The other Diagonal Comparison is that the official average surface temperature is NOT representative of average troposphere temperature, which is what we are interested in. Surface temperature measurements are 33 degrees warmer than the average temperature of the troposphere because measurements are weighted towards very low altitudes. This would not be so if Earth were covered with very high mountains. I'll cover that in Part 2, and then I'm done with this nonsense.

Sunday 2 May 2021

Seems fair enough to me.

From the BBC:

Australian citizens returning home from India could face up to five years in jail and fines after the government made the journey temporarily illegal.

The health ministry said the ruling had been made "based on the proportion of people in quarantine who have acquired a Covid-19 infection in India". Earlier this week, Australia banned all flights from India. an emergency situation, the government can make something a criminal offence overnight. At the height of the pandemic last year, the government beefed up its Biosecurity Act to give the health minister near unconditional powers bypassing parliament.

That's why citizens now trying to flee a danger zone can face jail for trying to come home. A legal challenge to this two-week ban will take time and be costly - public outrage and pressure may be the only effective remedy.

As at a year ago, when there was no real expectation of developing vaccines, any government had to choose some balance between the following strategies:

1. Continue as normal, accept that the number of deaths in the next year might double (your chance of dying if you catch covid-19 is approximately equal to the chance of you dying in the next 12 months anyway, and we can assume that within a year, most people would have caught it), ameliorate this as much as possible by temporarily increasing NHS capacity, and hope to achieve 'herd immunity' within a year or so.

2. Shut down the borders and/or have strict quarantine rules for arrivals, and wait for it to all blow over.

3. Impose a lockdown of whatever severity is needed to minimise transmissions and wait for it to all blow over.

If you shut down the borders, then hopefully the internal lockdowns wouldn't need so strict, but Australia ended up having to do both, which has so far superficially worked. Absent a vaccine, this would never have worked long term, it is merely a delaying tactic.

(The UK's response was pretty dumb. Having chickened out of strategy 1 - politically it is OK to do something dumb of every other government is being just as dumb - we left the borders largely open and had to impose correspondingly stricter lockdowns. In terms of deaths-per-million, strain on NHS and economic damage, this was a worse strategy than Australia.)

The Australian government has now decided to close its borders even more tightly, which is fair enough, this is for the benefit of their own citizens and their 'reward' for observing domestic lockdown measures and not going abroad. Flying abroad is tantamount to ignoring the domestic lockdown measures and as a quid pro quo, you can't come back in (to protect those who observed them).

So the bleating about "citizens now trying to flee a danger zone" falls on deaf ears with me, I'm afraid. They went to India voluntarily, so clearly didn't perceive it to be a "danger zone" and if there were no ban on coming back, I'm sure that just as many would be going there today.

Is this racist because it is largely Australian citizens of Indian heritage who are affected? I don't think so. Hopefully, the Australian government would have done the same if a 'white' country had the same high incidence of new variants and infections. (There again, knowing the Australian government, they might not have been quite so draconian with returnees from such a 'white' country).

Saturday 1 May 2021

How to estimate pressure and temperature using density as a starting point

As a fun maths challenge, I decided to apply the principles outlined in Acceleration ≈ gravity and see whether I could get sensible results by applying basic maths, basic physics and common sense.

Let's assume that you are only given the following measurements (taken from the US standard atmosphere):
1. Pressure at sea level = 101.325 Pa
2. Temperature at sea level = 288 K
3. Density at sea level = 1,200 kg/m3 (a bit on the low side?)

T x D ∝ T. We would do it the long way round by using Barry to find pressure at each altitude; then inserting the temperautre based on the lapse rate to find density at each altitude.

But what if you are also told that D at the top of the troposphere (10 km altitude for simplicity) = 400g/m3? It's actually much easier. You can interpolate everything else, including the likely lapse rate.

1. Set up your Excel sheet, type in the given numbers (pale yellow)
2. You can assume that density changes in straight line, but it is more realistic to assume it changes geometrically, so it goes up by a factor of 1.011 (3^0.1) for each km lower (doesn't make much difference)
3. Then work out the 'mass of the air/m3' for each 1 km 'slice' of altitude. That's just density x 1,000. I hid this column to simplify it a bit.
4. We know that the total mass of air at sea level must be enough to create a pressure of 101,325 Pa at sea level, so it must be 101,325/9.801 ≈ 10,338 kg total, so you put in 2,649 kg (pale blue) as a balancing figure (to get it to add up to 10,338 kg).
5. Pressure = force ÷ area, so it is simply 'mass of air above that altitude' x gravity (9.801 m/s2) per m2, so e.g. at 9 km, it's 2,649 kg + (446 g/m3 x 1,000 m) = 3,095 kg x 9.801 = 26 kPa
6. Temperature ∝ pressure/density i.e. temperature = pressure/density x constant 'k'
7. Work out 'k' = (288 x 1.2)/101 = 3.411 in this example (it's not a universal constant, you work it out individually each time)
8. Temperature at each altitude = pressure/density at that altitude x 3.411.

The results match the Standard Atmosphere very well. The T, and P results for top of troposphere are pretty bang-on. It does show that the lapse rate is lower than the accepted mid-figure 6.5 K/km at low altitudes and higher at higher altitudes. This is not unrealistic, as there is more absolute humidity at lower altitudes, but that's probably a happy accident and it averages out to ~6.5 K/km overall:
All this neither proves nor disproves the Physics Denier's contention that sea level temperature would be ~33 degrees cooler without 'greenhouse gases' (disproving that is far simpler and requires little or no maths, just facts and logic), but I love a maths challenge.
These workings also give a good understanding of the real world, against which you can test various Physics Denier theories - like the 'Top Of Atmosphere' theory, which says the temperature at the Effective Emitting Altitude (about 5 to 6 km up) is fixed at 255K, but sea level temperatures are 33 degrees warmer than that solely because of 'greenhouse gases'. This is an alternative explanation for the observed lapse rate of ~6.5 K/km, but it has to be that much anyway because of gravity, in other words... the 'Top of Atmosphere' theory assumes that gravity doesn't exist.

Or... do they mean that without greenhouse gases, the Effective Emitting Altitude would be sea-level (so sea level temperature would be 255K) and the gravity-induced lapse rate would stay much the same? On Mars, there is about thirty times as much CO2 as there is on Earth, but the Greenhouse Effect is negligible on Mars (5 degrees at most) and the Effective Emitting Altitude is no higher than it is on Earth. So that fails on the facts. Hmm.