Sunday 29 May 2022

The long history of diagonal comparisons

Bayard in the comments linked to Eunice Newton Foote, the Forgotten Pioneer of the Greenhouse Effect:

In her brief study [in 1856], entitled Circumstances affecting the Heat of the Sun’s Rays, the amateur scientist described an experiment in which she exposed glass cylinders equipped with thermometers to the Sun and attached to a pump to draw air from one and compress it in the other.

Eunice compared the heating and cooling in the two cylinders. She observed, first, that the cylinder with the compressed air heated up more than the other in which the vacuum had been drawn. Second, that the heating was greater with moist air than with dry air.

Thirdly, and this was her great and almost fortuitous discovery—since she also experimented with hydrogen and oxygen—that the greatest degree of heating occurred when one of the cylinders was filled with carbonic acid gas: CO2.

OK, this experiment suggests that some gases warm up more than others when in bright sunlight. This illustrates quite a few interesting things about the properties of glass and various gases - mainly density and specific heat capacity of gases, which is why you get the same result with pure argon as with pure CO2 - but it does not in the slightest illustrate what they claim it illustrates. For clarity, Earth's atmosphere is approx. 1% argon and 0.04% CO2.

Here's an article which - inadvertently - makes the contradiction clear:

How can I see for myself that CO2 absorbs heat?

As an experiment that can be done in the home or the classroom, Smerdon recommends filling one soda bottle with CO2 (perhaps from a soda machine) and filling a second bottle with ambient air. “If you expose them both to a heat lamp, the CO2 bottle will warm up much more than the bottle with just ambient air,” he says.

Fine, it does just that. Now, what's the theory again?

Why does carbon dioxide let heat in, but not out?

Energy enters our atmosphere as visible light, whereas it tries to leave as infrared energy. In other words, “energy coming into our planet from the Sun arrives as one currency, and it leaves in another,” said Smerdon.


CO2 molecules don’t really interact with sunlight’s wavelengths. Only after the Earth absorbs sunlight and reemits the energy as infrared waves can the CO2 and other greenhouse gases absorb the energy.

Woah! Just woah! The experiment shows that CO2 is warmed by SW radiation from the Sun (or heat lamp); then they say that CO2 isn't affected by SW radiation, it is only warmed up by LW radiation from the warmed surface ('traps heat')!

If they wanted to illustrate how CO2 is warmed by LW radiation from the surface (i.e. warmed more than N2, O2 or Ar), they should put their bottles - including one filled with argon as a control - in the shade, so that they are only affected by LW radiation from the surface. If the CO2 bottle reaches a higher temperature than the others, it would be persuasive. Only they know that this wouldn't happen and so would not support the theory... which is why they don't do it.

Saturday 28 May 2022

Scientific Approach

This just about sums up Alarmism, which is somewhat ironic, as the author of this particular strip is a True Believer.

Thursday 26 May 2022

Thou shalt neither mock nor question the Holy Scriptures.

From the BBC:

HSBC has reportedly suspended a senior executive who accused central bankers and other officials of exaggerating the financial risks of climate change... During the 15-minute address at the FT Moral Money Summit, Mr Kirk said "Climate change is not a financial risk that we need to worry about."

"Unsubstantiated, shrill, partisan, self-serving, apocalyptic warnings are ALWAYS wrong," a slide shown as part of the presentation said... Later in the presentation, he said: "Who cares if Miami is six metres underwater in 100 years? Amsterdam has been six metres underwater for ages and that's a really nice place."

In cases of transgression, thine employer shalt say Three Hail Mary's and beg for forgiveness:

... a spokesperson shared a statement by HSBC Asset Management chief executive Nicolas Moreau referring to climate change as "one of the most serious emergencies facing the planet... HSBC Asset Management is committed to driving the transition to a sustainable global economy and has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure its clients' monies are managed for positive long-term environmental and social outcomes."


Tuesday 24 May 2022

Price cap bollocks

The "energy price cap" is forecast to rise by almost half as much again in the autumn. This article explains why.

A little investigation reveals this about the price cap:

Ofgem bases the price cap on how much it would cost a typical energy supplier to provide energy for an average home. It uses a raft of factors which impact upon energy bills in its calculations, as well as considering usage levels and market data across a given period. Wholesale gas and electricity costs for suppliers and the network costs they have to pay, such as infrastructure, are key factors. Ofgem also considers the operating costs and profit margin of suppliers.

However, the price of oil and gas bears no relation to the cost of their production, as their prices fluctuate even when there is no change in the input costs. Thus oil and gas are priced entirely according to what the market will bear. From this we can deduce that the that the bases on which Ofgem sets the price cap are entirely specious, except the last one.

As a thought experiment, what would happen if everyone stopped using oil and gas? We don't have to think too hard, we can just look back to 2020 and see that the price went through the floor. So if everyone decided that the energy companies were charging too much and refused to buy oil or gas, it would become considerably cheaper.

Basically, the price cap is adjusted so that the energy suppliers, who buy on the spot market, where the price is set by speculators, can continue in business. The alternative, that the price is controlled so that the profits of the cartel are contained, is never considered. Hell, the cartel would rather have a windfall tax on their profits than that, which should tell you something.

Could go either way - make up your own mind.

From Euronews:

What role does climate change play in Germany's severe flooding?

How is climate change affecting flooding?

The likelihood of flooding is significantly increased due to the extreme weather patterns caused by global climate change. Changes in the geography of the land also have a part to play in increasing flooding. With certain vegetation and other land barriers being broken down as a result of changing temperatures and freak weather patterns, many of the natural preventative measures against flooding are no longer there.

Higher temperatures mean higher rainfall

America is experiencing its hottest June on record and as a result of this heatwave, we’re experiencing higher air and water temperatures, increasing evaporation. With increased evaporation comes increased rainfall, with longer durations as well as higher intensity and frequency too.

That article contained a link to another article on Euronews:

The longest river in Italy is drying up. What does this mean for those who rely on it for food?

This is a sign of climate change

These record-low water levels, which the AIPO would normally only measure in August, are partly a result of the lack of rainfall that northern Italy has been suffering. “Normally it should rain once every one or two weeks,” says Mantovani, “but now it hasn’t rained for three months.”

The problems start, however, in the mountains, where snowfall has been at its lowest for 20 years measuring 50 per cent less than the seasonal average. The glaciers of the Alps, which act as reservoirs to feed the river, are also shrinking each year. On Monte Viso, a mountain close to the French border where the Po River originates, the permafrost is melting and causing chunks of rock to crumble away.

The situation has set alarm bells ringing about the effects climate change could have on an area so heavily dependent upon the river’s waters. This season has already been a stark warning that the warming planet may turn Italy's fertile farmlands and nutrient-rich Delta into a salty wasteland, while putting hundreds of thousands of livelihoods at risk.

Sunday 22 May 2022

'Impossible' GSCE Maths question?

See e.g. The Daily Express.

1. Here's the basic question. Let's assume side length is 10, for sake of argument. 2. Draw the overlapping bits (dotted outlines) and an isosceles triangle (red outlined), 3. Work out area of the sector (pink). If you can't guess that this is one-third of the area of a circle (which seems a bit obvious, with the benefit of hindsight), you need to work out the angle of the right-hand corner of the triangle (which touches the circle in the centre).
From 3. below, it is 120 deg, which is a third of a full circle 360 deg, so the pink sector has area = pi x r^2 ÷ 3 = 100/3 pi (about 105, in old money). 4. Focus on the triangle (from 2. above).
Sides are all the same length r = 10, so it is an isosceles triangle and angles = 60 deg.
Angle of the triangle on the right where it touches the centre of the circle = 120 deg. (needed for 3. above).
Fold it in half (middle triangle) and the bottom side is half r = 5.
The vertical side is the square root of r^2 - 1/2 r^2 = square root of 3/4 r^2 = square root of 75.
The area of the triangle on the right (or on the left, for that matter) = base x height x 1/2
= 5 x square root of 75 = about 43 in old money.
5. Subtract this from the area of the sector. The pink segment left over thus has area = (100/3 pi) - (5 x square root of 75)
= about 62 in old money. 6. Then subtract four of these segments from the area of a full circle = 100 pi - 4 x ((100/3 pi) - (5 x square root of 75))
= 100 pi - 400/3 pi + 20 x square root of 75
= - 100/3 x pi + 20 x square root of 75
which simplifies slightly to:
= - 100/3 x pi + 10 x square root of 300. = which is about 68.5 in old money.
Looks about right, that's a bit more than one-fifth of the area of the circle (which is about 314).

If you want to boil it down to an equation for the blue area, I think it is:
= -(pi x r^2)/3 + (r x sq root of (3 x r^2)),

UPDATE - Bayard in the comments and Nigel S. via email point out that this can be expressed more elegantly as:
r^2 x (-pi/3 + sqrt(3))

Wednesday 18 May 2022

Skateboard upgrade (3)

I decided that I didn't like the old deck. Having designed the perfect deck on paper, I was researching what materials I would need to make my own custom deck when I stumbled across one that matched my design 'to a T' for a modest £45. That was the price for the whole thing complete with weird trucks and wheels (but still a good price for the deck alone, bearing in mind the faff of trying to make my own).

I messed up removing the trucks - bloody Allen key! Are they mental? Since time immemorial, trucks are held on with Philips-head bolts, and the nuts are easily accessible with yer bog standard skateboard all-in-one tool (which these weren't). TBH stepped in to drill out the shredded bolts for me. Trucks went in the metal recycling and I'll keep the wheels (they seem pretty good, the bearings are questionable but nothing a set of Bones REDS won't fix).

The new deck (top of pic below) is 2" shorter, has an elegant and useable shape (your feet don't get lost on half an acre of grip tape. If I put my front foot on, push off and jump on with my back foot, it lands just where I want it); it has a 2 1/2" longer wheelbase so more stable and no front overhang; and a more subtle kicktail (enough is enough). The perfect 'cruiser' for rolling down the pavement*. No good for doing tricks or going fast downhill.
* In case you're wondering, the trucks are the ones that came with the original cheapo skateboard, 7.5" axle and pretty good once I had upgraded the bushings. New trucks and it will be Trigger's skateboard.

Friday 13 May 2022

Classic head and shoulders formation

In technical analysis, which means recognising patterns in price charts of quoted shares or commodities, one of the most powerful signals is the head and shoulders pattern.

These can form over several months to two years. Basically, the longer the pattern takes to form, the more reliable it is.

Here's Bitcoin over the last five years, from msn:

Purists might argue this looks slightly different to the classic pattern, i.e. the left shoulder is higher than the right shoulder. Or whether we should be using a logarithmic scale. If you zoom in to the last six months, it could be a double top with a consolidation flag on the way down. Be that as it may, a head and shoulders over a one-and-a-half year time frame outweighs such minor niggles, and it looks like the tulip crypto bubble is finally bursting, as any sane person has expected all along.
HMRC had an outbreak of common sense and updated their guidance on crypto-currencies. They decided that despite the name, crypto-currencies are not money or a currency, for the simple reason they are not backed by anything. I can't find the quote right now, it was something had to read up on at work. OK, apparently some issuers pretend they are a bank (how is that even legal?) and say that if you can't find a taker for your tokens, you can hand them back to the issuer for a fixed price. In real life, that's not asset-backed* as the issuer will have frittered away your money on something else, that's a Ponzi scheme (and how is that legal?).

* Despite what people say, a fiat currency is backed by something - demand for that country's currency:
- You can only use a country's currency to pay your taxes in that country.
- People will always have to pay taxes, so there will always be demand for your country's currency.
- Everybody in Country X could decide that their country's currency is a load of rubbish and decide to only use USD for savings and payments if they wished.
- Doesn't change anything, Country X tax office works out your tax bill in X-dollars and send you a demand in X-dollars which you have to pay in X-dollars.
- You then have to change the USD you have in your bank account for X-dollars and hand it over to Bank of X.
- So Bank of X will always be able to issue (print) more X-dollars, knowing that sooner or later, people will have to 'buy' them (i.e. hand over hard currency USD).

Wednesday 11 May 2022

Skateboard upgrade (2)

Continued from here.

Ebay told me that my new truck bushings wouldn't be here for a fortnight, so I went back to the shop and bought some Independent medium soft in orangey-yellow (£6 for the set). This improved the steering no end. The problem was then that I got 'wheel bite', so I tightened the trucks a bit. Too much, as it turned out. On the test run I fell off and bruised my thumb as it it would only go in a straight line.

So today I loosened the trucks again (back to easily steerable), fashioned some risers out of an old plank and while I was at it, shifted the front trucks an inch forwards and took a power saw to the front to get that 'cruiser' look*. Not quite symmetrical but never mind. The thing now runs silky smooth, I just need to find a place where I can 'practice' (i.e. fall off without people watching): * I have immersed myself in skate culture by watching a few videos on YouTube. They are very elitist.

Only the small skateboards with a kicktail at each end are actually referred to as 'skateboards'. These are for doing tricks, which cause concussion, fractures and bruising.

The really long ones without kicktails are called 'longboards'. These are for whizzing downhill at dangerous speeds.

The middle category, are medium length and have a definite front and back. The rear overhang is longer with a kicktail; the front overhang is shorter, flat and pointy. These are for people who just want to roll down the pavement (and who don't have a death wish). These 'boards are derided as 'cruisers' and don't seem to count.

Monday 9 May 2022

Skateboard upgrade

Her Indoors bought The Lad a £30 all-in-one skateboard on holiday a couple of years ago. The deck was fine - they are all the same nowadays; nice 7.5" trucks - when I was a kid they went to 6.5"

But the wheels were tiny hard things and the bearings were useless. It wouldn't even accelerate going down a modestly steep road on the caravan site. Give yourself a good push and it ground forward a few feet and then stopped again. We tried going off the ramp at the site skate park; I managed to stay upright, he fell off. The 'board was duly relegated to the shed.

I have finally got round to upgrading:
- OJ Super Juice 60mm 78A wheels - the largest and softest they had in the shop (I'm sure these used to be in orange only - they had any colour except orange. The shop doesn't stock the Kryponics Reds, which would have been my first choice), so I chose yellow. £41 a set.
- Bones REDS bearings. Bones are the industry standard at just under £20 a set, so I went one better and got the REDS. £27 a set.
- plus some 'speed washers' they had kicking around in the workshop and a three-way skateboard tool. £5.
- the bloke in the shop said there's no need to bother with spacers, and he didn't have them in stock anyway.
- to be honest, I think the trucks could do with new rubbers as well. You can only adjust between 'straight ahead' and 'wobbly' - you are supposed to be able to adjust how much they respond when you lean into a curve. I have ordered a new set from eBay for £4.

I am pleased to report that it is now disconcertingly fast, even down my garden path that drops about 2" over a 20 yard distance, and hits the house wall with a reassuring clack after you've jumped off in a panic. I'm sure all this stuff costs about the same in £s as it did in the late 1970s. Back then, this lot would have costs year's pocket money. In real terms, it's now basically free.

Sunday 8 May 2022

Debunking the other cornerstone of AGW Theory

I have shown that the logic behind so-called '33 degree greenhouse effect' is naive to the point of being meaningless and/or deliberately totally misleading.

Now let's look at the next layer of piffle; Kiehl and Trembert's so-called 'energy budget':

Most of the numbers in the arrows are correctly calculated and pointing in the right direction, if looked at in isolation. But because the logic is so deeply flawed and so many facts are simply ignored, we end up with the smoking gun arrow showing 324 W/m2 of 'back radiation' from 'greenhouse gases' (bottom left hand corner).

They are claiming that tiny amounts of CO2 and gaseous water vapour (about 0.04% and 0.2% of the atmosphere respectively) magically shine as brightly as the Sun, if measured in terms of energy being radiated to Earth. That in itself must strike the casual observer as completely fatuous.

The 324 W/m2 is just a balancing figure that doesn't exist in the real world! You can't just add and subtract 'radiation' at different intensities and frequencies anwyay, it is far more complicated than that, energy can take or be stored as lots of different types. Imagine a 3,000 Watt three-bar electric fire versus a 3,000 Watt radio transmitter!

That diagram is so appalling, that it's easier starting from scratch than it is correcting all the compounding errors, so here goes.

1. Basic physics says that the surface of a planet will warm (or cool) to the temperature at which is emits as much radiation to space as it receives from space i.e. from the Sun, that is its 'effective temperature'. Let's look at solar radiation first. We are looking at 'effective temperature' so we also have to look at how much solar radiation the 'effective surface' (this is my term, I haven't found an official one) absorbs. We do this by reducing solar radiation by the amount reflected (by the 'albedo'). The weighted average albedo of the effective surface (2/3 clouds and 1/3 oceans/land) is 0.3, so we reduce incoming solar from 342 W/m2 to 239 W/m2: This number has been estimated at anything between 235 W/m2 and 240 W/m2. This seems sensible, and nobody has seriously challenged it.

2. OK, the effective surface is absorbing 235 - 240 W/m2. Does it also emit 235 - 240 W/m2? If not, then we need an explanation (most people will assume 'greenhouse gases'). If it does, then AGW Theory is yet again debunked, and we don't need any further explanations.

We know the temperature and emissivity of both parts of the effective surface (oceans/land and clouds - typical altitude 5km and typical temp 255K), so we can calculate how much radiation each is emitting using Stefan-Boltzmann formula and adjusting for emissivity. We then take a weighted average of both, and... what a coincidence... the effective surface's emissions are slap bang in the middle of the 235 - 240 W/m2 range. Yes, there are approximations and uncertainties involved at all stages of this, many of which would cancel out: That's it, that's the end of the line. There is yet again no big discrepancy that needs to be explained. Solar energy absorbed = infra red energy emitted. If you just make realistic assumptions and apply basic physics (and completely ignore 'back radiation' and 'greenhouse gases'), you end up with a very plausible result. Therefore, your assumptions must be broadly correct (or at least, there's no evidence to say that they aren't). It seems to me impossible to splice in the 324 W/m2 of 'back radiation' without ending up with a nonsensical answer. End of.

3. What is really interesting is what goes on inside the amber box. That is heinously complicated and nobody really knows. Maybe the ficitious 324 W/m2 is in there somewhere, so it's relevant to the temperature balance between oceans/land and clouds, but it is irrelevant to what gets to space and so shouldn't be on the first chart at all.

Why does only one-tenth of 1% of 1% of all water on Earth end up as clouds? Why are clouds at the altitude they are? You'd need several degrees in physics and meteorology to even be able to understand the ground rules, let alone put numbers on the effects and work out how all they all interact (positive and negative feedbacks etc) to end up with things the way they are.

Needless to say, plenty of people have looked at isolated aspects of this; but even if somebody every aspect and explained how it all interacts, it I doubt I'd be able to follow and would end up taking it on trust. But no 'climate scientist' cares about these finer details, so why should I?

Not the worst idea ever.

This idea was mooted by the Labour opposition two years ago:

Councils should be given the power to take over the management of empty shops as part of a plan to revive ailing high streets, Labour will say.

Local authorities should be given the power to repurpose commercial properties that have been vacant for at least 12 months to bring them back into use, shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds will say. She will also use a speech on Thursday to call for the reversal of rules that could allow shops to be sold off for conversion to housing without planning permission.

Now merrily adopted by the Tory government:

Landlords in England could be forced to let empty shops in a bid to rejuvenate high streets, under government plans.

Under the move, set to be unveiled in Tuesday's Queen's Speech, buildings left vacant for a year would have to be entered into a "rental auction". The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has calculated that one in seven shopfronts across Britain is empty. Boris Johnson said boarded-up premises were a "blight" on towns and cities and damaged local economies.

There follows the usual bleating:

BPF chief executive Melanie Leech said: "We fully support government's ambitions to revitalise town centres but political gimmicks such as compulsory rent auctions are not the solution. No property owner wants their premises to be empty. In our experience, property owners are willing to do zero-rent deals to avoid boarded-up shopfronts. But the burden of business rates and other occupational costs mean it is still unviable for many small and independent businesses to trade from town-centre premises."

Yeah, whatever. And disappoingly:

Labour accused ministers of creating "slogans and strategies, with few ideas" for effecting change across the UK.

The devil is always in the detail, but if done properly, this could actually help a lot. It can hardly make things worse. The main point is that a landlord who only owns one or two shops in an area often acts in a way that is detrimental to the whole, so it's a vicious cycle. You have unrealistic rent demands and would rather leave your premises vacant; this depresses the value of neighbouring premises, meaning they are more likely to fall vacant etc.

If one party has control of every building on a high street, be that a large landlord, the local council or 'the community', that party has every interest in agglomeration benefits. It's worth renting out marginal premises at a 'loss' if this enhances the value of neighbouring and more central sites etc. Or offering premises rent free to 'anchor' tenants like Marks and Spencer or Tesco to attract complementary businesses (the 'remora', as DBC Reed called it) to the area.

I suppose the alternative is to transfer every building on a high street into one corporate entity, giving each landowner the appropriate percentage ownership of the entity (so there is no change in economic ownership), and the entity appoints a proper managing agent who gets paid a commission on total rents collected. That way pretty much everybody wins.

Friday 6 May 2022

Killer Arguments Against LVT, Not (492)

Another one that has been bugging me for a while is the notion that, with LVT, land prices would be permanently low and so 'property developers' would have no incentive to build anything because they can't participate in any land value uplift (mainly that triggered when planning is granted)*

This must surely be nonsense. Imagine that house prices and rents are stable. Sure, they will drift upwards with real wage increases and economic growth generally, but overall flat-ish. Construction costs will also increase in line with wages generally, so actual land values would be even more stable. This would put a dampener on NIMBYism and land speculation. No village is going to be swamped overnight so no grandiose plans to oppose. Instead of a hundred landowners putting in planning permission applications and one or two lucky winners getting it, it would be just one or two builders putting in planning applications, which get nodded through.

So land prices would be stable. They might be low and stable or high and stable, but there wouldn't be much planning uplift; actual builders would pay the existing owner for the likely planning gain when they buy.

If the population is stable or growing, and the economy is growing, there will always be demand for more buildings (moving into something bigger and nicer, or renovations or home improvements, old buildings to be knocked down and replaced etc), so builders will have enough to do. Most of the people in construction just get paid for the work they do, architects, brick manufacturers, chippies and sparkies. As long as there is work and they are being paid, they are happy, even though they don't get a penny of any land value uplift.

There would still be plenty of profit to earned by the 'property developer', the one who plans and oversees everything, takes the risks, raises the finance. That has to be rewarded or nobody would do it. Even if this incentive were eroded, so what? There would be less competition for new sites, land prices would be lower and it would be like olden times where architects, brick manufacturers, chippies and sparkies club together and organise their own developments and just earn an honest crust for work done.

* The Homeys are so stupid, having said that there would be no more developers if we had LVT, they then advance the KLN "Farmers won't be able to afford the LVT and will be forced to sell all their land to developers." Which developers, you twats? You just claimed that there wouldn't be any developers left.

Wednesday 4 May 2022

Not a religion.

From Al Jazeera:

The sea level is rising twice as fast as previously forecast around parts of New Zealand, according to research published on Monday, putting the country’s two largest cities at risk decades earlier than expected... Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said adaptation planning was already under way, including budgeting for the relocation of some communities and infrastructure away from vulnerable coastlines.

“The first port of call isn’t necessarily managed retreat because there are a range of options that can be used,” she told Radio New Zealand, “We’re working alongside local government and insurers to work through who bears the costs of some of these options. The cost that needs to be borne won’t fall on one party.”

Ardern said New Zealanders should not accept that sea level rises are inevitable beyond those predicted for the near term, and every citizen should do all they can to reduce emissions and diminish the effects of climate change.

Hopefully she has tipped off the Dutch. Instead of spending all that money on flood defences, they should spend in on Tesla cars. Apparently the results are the same.

Monday 2 May 2022

Well I never!

UK house price growth slows as cost of living crisis starts to hit market says the Grauniad, then, in a rare burst of realism, follows on later with:

“Let’s be honest, growth slowing from 14 to 12% is still an insane rate of growth,” said Rhys Schofield, managing director at Peak Mortgages and Protection. “What we may see is some of the lunacy around house price rises ease off.”

followed by

In March, Nationwide said that UK house prices were growing at their fastest rate since 2004, when the UK experienced a housing boom that preceded the financial crisis.

Exactly eighteen years ago, funny that.