Absorption of long wave, or thermal radiation by CO2 at 667 per cm

From time to time, I engage with science deniers on the Web, typically in Comment sections, and primarily regarding aspects of climate science or physics. Some think this to be a waste of time, but, as I enjoy debating (have since high school), and I’m not a scientist who might have something to lose doing this (I’m an engineer and statistician), and I feel it important that it be made plain that not only the arguments some of these people make can be readily countered, they are also bupkis. I do not expect to convince the people in question, but I see the engagement as a kind of online performance art for anyone who might stray across it in their Web travels.

In the case I am writing about today, there was an exchange in the comments section of a post by Solar City, initiated by one, apparently well known character of this kind, going by the handle SuperCorrector1. Now, I do not know that this is actually a real person. It has been thought and rumored that various climate denying organizations have bots which visit Comment sections of energy- or climate-related social media, and, being rule-based, are smart enough to appear to engage various posters with denialist ranges and standard online disruptive techniques. So, for instance, they’ll make a falsifiable assertion about something, and, then, when they are finally challenged to produce an argument that supports their assertion they, typically, engage in an ad hominem attack against someone who responds. Some of these are quite crude. Alternatively, if the bot is smarter or, possibly, if there is a person behind the handle, they’ll grab something which appears relevant from a stock set of claims such as those at WattsUpWithThat or elsewhere, and put it out. Alternatively, and sometimes things from WattsUpWithThat fall into this category, they severely cherry pick data, or articles. I have seen deniers write things and attribute them to famous scientists. (I chased one down to the original scientist who was quite surprised.) If the reader wants to know more about this, John Cook, the operator of Skeptical Science (and not John D Cook, the statisitican and author of one of my favorite blogs, which used to be called Endeavor) runs a course, “Making sense of climate science denial“, which I recommend.

In any case, I’m not sure how the SuperCorrector1 encounter began, but there was an assertion about carbon dioxide and its role in climate disruption through radiative forcing. The science denier claimed CO2 had nothing to do with it, that it was a trace gas, and it had no thermal capacity. Along the way, SuperCorrector1 claimed it was a scientist, although never backed it up, and could not answer the simplest of questions, for instance, having to do with the difference between diatomic and triatomic gaseous molecules, such as the difference between the radiative effects of Nitrogen versus Carbon Dioxide, and why the molecular shape was important. The denier continued to assert that the only aspect which mattered was the relatively small amounts of CO2 in atmosphere, that it was good for plants, and refused to respond on topic when pressed with, well, Oxygen is good for mammals but if atmospheric is sufficiently rich in O2 it is toxic, or the 7 ppmv toxicity of hydrogen cyanide at standard temperature and pressure (“STP”).

In the end, failing to engage in the discussion, SuperCorrector1 claimed I was “making things up”. I asked why couldn’t he be quantitative about his assertions and asked if a reference would serve. I provided one in the form of a quote regarding exactly how potent CO2 is in this regard from the nice textbook by Grant Petty titled A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation (2nd edition, 2006). That’s below:


Despite the diluteness of CO2 in air (about 370 parts per million by volume), the strongest part of the Q branch (Fig. 9.13b) absorbs all but 5% of radiation over just a 1-meter path in air at 1000 mb pressure!


Figure 9.13(b) from the textbook is reproduced below. The exclamation mark is not mine but, really, Petty’s. I’ve provided another figure documenting the same below, from a different source. These are experimentally derived.

IF

rte-lbl-1013mb-1meter-600-750

The significance of this is that Earth’s natural thermal emission spectrum, given by the chart below, aligns well with this super strong absorption line of CO2. And that’s pretty much the entire story, after a few basic physical principles like blackbody radiation are thrown in, and the realization that this absorption is so strong, what’s involved is a warming of the atmosphere, mostly at low altitudes, cooling of the upper atmosphere, and, therefore, a reduced amount of blackbody emissions to space, which is the only way a planet can cool in the absence of atmosphere. Consequently, radiative forcing and climate disruption, due to excess CO2.

Earth_Emission_Spectrum

RadiationAbsorption_0_11km

This is also why this blog has a subtitle of 667 per cm.

Posted in Anthropocene, astrophysics, atmosphere, Bill Nye, carbon dioxide, chemistry, citizen science, climate, climate change, climate data, climate disruption, climate education, denial, evidence, geophysics, global warming, Hyper Anthropocene, ignorance, physics, rationality, reasonableness, science, science denier, science education, spectra, SuperCorrector1, Svante Arrhenius | Leave a comment

David Suzuki on Agroecology

See Feeding humanity in a warming world. Dr Suzuki links University of California, Berkeley, Professor Miguel Altieri’s “Principles and strategies for designing sustainable farming systems“.

Posted in adaptation, agriculture, Anthropocene, argoecology, Buckminster Fuller, carbon dioxide sequestration, climate, climate change, climate disruption, conservation, consumption, David Suzuki, demand-side solutions, drought, ecology, environment, Epcot, extended supply chains, food, greenhouse gases, Hyper Anthropocene, Life Cycle Assessment, local generation, Miguel Altieri, optimization, quantitative biology, quantitative ecology, resiliency, Sankey diagram, sociology, Spaceship Earth, spatial statistics | Leave a comment

Hermann Scheer in California, at Google, hosted by MIT and GABA

I am increasingly thinking of myself as a solar revolutionary or, at least, a solar evangelist in the spirit of Hermann Scheer, whose advocacy for solar and renewable energy is as much a social revolution as it is a technological revolution or energy revolution. That revolution entails the dismantling of central utilities and ISOs, and their accompanying concentration of political power and, I daresay, corruption of the regulatory apparatus such as utility commissions and FERC.

Posted in adaptation, Anthropocene, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, BNEF, Buckminster Fuller, clean disruption, Debbie Dooley, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, demand-side solutions, destructive economic development, disruption, distributed generation, ecology, economics, electricity markets, energy, energy reduction, energy utilities, exponential growth, feed-in tariff, fossil fuel divestment, green tech, grid defection, Hermann Scheer, Hyper Anthropocene, investing, investment in wind and solar energy, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, local generation, microgrids, planning, public utility commissions, PUCs, rate of return regulation, rationality, reasonableness, regime shifts, regulatory capture, RevoluSun, Sankey diagram, solar domination, solar energy, solar power, SolarPV.tv, Spaceship Earth, sustainability, the energy of the people, the green century, the tragedy of our present civilization, the value of financial assets, Tony Seba, wind energy, wind power, zero carbon | Leave a comment

Floatovoltaics

From the New York Times:
floating-solar-panels

Hat tip to Eli at Rabett Run.

Posted in adaptation, Anthropocene, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, BNEF, Buckminster Fuller, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, distributed generation, ecology, electricity, electricity markets, Eli Rabett, energy, energy utilities, engineering, environment, Epcot, grid defection, Hermann Scheer, Hyper Anthropocene, investment in wind and solar energy, Mark Jacobson, solar domination, solar energy, solar power, SolarPV.tv, Spaceship Earth, zero carbon | 1 Comment

Vortex bladeless wind generation technology

Interesting. I’m skeptical, but interested.

Posted in Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Buckminster Fuller, Cape Wind, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, distributed generation, wind energy, wind power, zero carbon | Leave a comment

Sir Richard Branson‘s top Disney quotes.

Cheers, Richard!

I think a favorite quote of mine from Buckminster Fuller belongs in the set:

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

See more about Bucky, a fellow Unitarian Universalist. See also and this.

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Where’s NY-REV today?

This is a video and link from The Rocky Mountain Institute about New York State’s Reforming the Energy Visions or “REV”. I have written about REV before.

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Climate Denial Fails Pepsi Challenge

Climate Denial Crock of the Week

pepsichall

Stephen Lewandowsky specializes in conducting research that pulls back the curtain climate denial psychology. He’s done it again.

Washington Post:

Researchers have designed an inventive test suggesting that the arguments commonly used by climate change contrarians don’t add up, not only according to climate scientists (we know what they think already) but also in the view of unbiased experts from other fields.

The trick? Disguising the data — and its interpretation — as if it was part of an argument about something else entirely.

supportdarksnow

First of all, consider that climate doubters (like scientists) often use objective data to back up their claims. They just tend to represent it in ways that scientists have long found objectionable.

Here’s an example: Data indicate that in the long run — over many decades — global temperatures have been rising. But over shorter periods, temperatures might fluctuate up and down quite a bit. Climate contrarians might exploit this fact…

View original post 609 more words

Posted in American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Statistical Association, card draws, card games, chance, climate, climate change, climate data, climate education, confirmation bias, data science, denial, disingenuity, education, false advertising, fear uncertainty and doubt, fossil fuels, games of chance, geophysics, global warming, ignorance, mathematics, mathematics education, maths, obfuscating data, rationality, reasonableness, risk, science, science education, sociology, the right to know | Leave a comment

Why Salem Harbor Power — or any methane-powered electricity — is a big mistake

Dan Dolan of the Massachusetts Power Generators association wrote an op-ed lauding the Salem Harbor Power Station, an explosive methane-powered monstrosity located just 16 feet above sea level, and built with the implicit assumption sea level rise in Salem will be no higher than 1.25 feet by 2057.

I replied in a comment which has yet to be “approved” for publication by Salem News, now 3 hours after it was made.


“…some of the cleanest, lowest-carbon producing power plants in the nation.” Wind farms are far cleaner and, in the end, much cheaper. So are utility scale solar plants. The difference is that to achieve the scale Massachusetts needs means paying more up front, but, in the end, the costs are well below natural gas plants.

Natural gas is not clean. It’s not granola. It’s explosive methane, and it is packaged with benzene, a strong carcinogen. Salem Power will demand dangerous pipelines rip up communities and their water supplies (such as Walpole’s), their dedicated conservation forests, and subjects Massachusetts to extreme volatility. Wind, and solar, and hydropower are not volatile in price. I cannot defend long power lines for Quebec hydro. I don’t see them as necessary because we have all the resources we need right here, along with highly effective energy efficiency measures. (See why at https://hypergeometric.wordpress.com/2015/10/20/what-it-takes-to-power-a-light-bulb-and-sankey-diagrams/).

Salem Power is a continuation of a myth, accompanied by pictures of little kids and teddy bears, that “Natural gas is clean and safe”. It isn’t. From 1996 through 2015 according to federal PHMSA records, there have been 65 significant incidents involving natural gas just in New England including 10 fatalities, and 49 injuries with a property damage cost of $23 million.

On top of all else there is climate disruption, including sea level rise and bigger storms. The footprint estimate of the Salem Plant (see http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dpu/siting/efsb-12-2-footprint-final-decision.pdf) includings a sea level rise estimate of 1.25 feet for 40 years. What if this estimate, which is a statistical one, turns out to be low? The planned elevation of the planned leaves little margin for error. Indeed recent projections from the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines (Young, PIlkey, Duke University, http://e360.yale.edu/feature/how_high_will_seas_rise_get_ready_for_seven_feet/2230/) indicates 7 feet by 2100. Even if that’s back loaded, 2-3 feet by 2050 are possible. If Salem Power is commissioned in 2020, the 40 year projection is 2060. Moreover, are the operators, with their insistence that Salem Power and methane electricity is a “bridge to a zero carbon future”, planning to shut the plant down in 2060? What’s their depreciation profile look like? And if they are going to risk flooding their plant, what’s going to happen to its supposed reliable power then?

Natural gas is a bridge to nowhere. It’s time Massachusetts wised up like New York State is doing (see http://www.utilitydive.com/news/new-york-psc-enacts-new-revenue-models-for-utilities-in-rev-proceeding/419596/ and the great video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUm91OTuvLg) and found a bridge to somewhere.

New York’s plans are now much more than wishful thinking.

Posted in adaptation, Anthropocene, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, BNEF, bridge to nowhere, bridge to somewhere, Carbon Worshipers, citizenship, clean disruption, climate, climate change, climate disruption, coastal communities, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, demand-side solutions, denial, distributed generation, economics, efficiency, electricity, electricity markets, energy, energy reduction, energy utilities, environment, fossil fuel divestment, fossil fuels, fracking, gas pipeline leaks, global warming, grid defection, Hermann Scheer, Hyper Anthropocene, ignorance, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, local generation, methane, natural gas, pipelines, public utility commissions, PUCs, rate of return regulation, regulatory capture, Salem, Sankey diagram, solar domination, solar energy, solar power, SolarPV.tv, stranded assets, the energy of the people, the green century, the problem of evil, the right to be and act stupid, the tragedy of our present civilization, the value of financial assets, Tony Seba, utility company death spiral, waves, wind energy, wind power, zero carbon | 1 Comment

On the simple pleasures of Solar

SolarSimplePleasures_2016-05-17_221935
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RevoluSun installed our SunPower solar panels late last year, and they came online on 31st December 2015. We have made a number of efficiency improvements to our home, including LED lighting everywhere, a heat pump hot water heater, and air heat pump home heating. We have an oil furnace to use as backup, which we run once a month to be sure it still works.

Update, 2016-05-26

Posted in adaptation, Anthropocene, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, BNEF, bridge to somewhere, clean disruption, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, disruption, distributed generation, efficiency, electricity, electricity markets, energy utilities, engineering, fossil fuel divestment, grid defection, Hermann Scheer, Hyper Anthropocene, investment in wind and solar energy, ISO-NE, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, local generation, Massachusetts, microgrids, New England, optimization, public utility commissions, PUCs, rate of return regulation, rationality, reasonableness, RevoluSun, Sankey diagram, solar domination, solar energy, solar power, SolarPV.tv, Spaceship Earth, SunPower, sustainability, the energy of the people, the green century, the value of financial assets, Tony Seba, zero carbon | Leave a comment

synopsis of NY-REV

What New York State is doing, and Massachusetts, apparently not.

Cheap supplies of domestic natural gas have driven the New England power plant market toward that fuel and away from the more expensive coal, oil and nuclear material. Limited capacity for bringing natural gas into the region has recently driven up electricity prices on winter days when residential heating units dig deep into the gas supply.

Golden said lawmakers should be cautious as they seek to diversify power generation “with clean options.”

“We should be doing no harm,” Golden said. Concerned about market impacts, Golden said, “We have to watch out for the generators that we have.”

From the Worcester Business Journal.

Posted in adaptation, Anthropocene, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, BNEF, bridge to somewhere, Buckminster Fuller, business, causal diagrams, clean disruption, climate, climate change, climate disruption, climate justice, coastal communities, conservation, consumption, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, demand-side solutions, disruption, distributed generation, ecology, economics, efficiency, electricity markets, energy, energy storage, energy utilities, engineering, environment, extended supply chains, feed-in tariff, fossil fuel divestment, global warming, greenhouse gases, grid defection, Hyper Anthropocene, investing, investment in wind and solar energy, Joseph Schumpeter, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, marginal energy sources, meteorology, microgrids, rate of return regulation, rationality, reasonableness, regime shifts, regulatory capture, risk, Sankey diagram, solar domination, solar energy, Solar Freakin' Roadways, solar power, SolarPV.tv, Spaceship Earth, stranded assets, sustainability, temporal myopia, the energy of the people, the green century, the right to know, the tragedy of our present civilization, the value of financial assets, Tony Seba, utility company death spiral, wind energy, wind power, zero carbon | 1 Comment

George Monbiot: On leaving fossil fuels in the ground

Posted in Anthropocene, carbon dioxide, Carbon Worshipers, causal diagrams, citizenship, civilization, clean disruption, climate, climate change, climate disruption, conservation, consumption, corporate litigation on damage from fossil fuel emissions, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, demand-side solutions, denial, destructive economic development, disruption, distributed generation, ecology, economics, energy, environment, fossil fuel divestment, fossil fuels, geophysics, George Monbiot, global warming, greenhouse gases, grid defection, Hermann Scheer, Hyper Anthropocene, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, perceptions, philosophy, rate of return regulation, rationality, reasonableness, Sankey diagram, supply chains, the problem of evil, the right to be and act stupid, the right to know, the tragedy of our present civilization, the value of financial assets, zero carbon | Leave a comment

10+ kilowatts (!) from a PV with 29 SunPower panels designed and installed by RevoluSun

10KW_2016-05-16_145710
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Posted in Anthropocene, bridge to somewhere, clean disruption, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, destructive economic development, distributed generation, electricity, electricity markets, fossil fuel divestment, grid defection, Hyper Anthropocene, investment in wind and solar energy, local generation, microgrids, rate of return regulation, rationality, reasonableness, RevoluSun, Sankey diagram, solar energy, solar power, SolarPV.tv, Spaceship Earth, SunPower, sustainability, the energy of the people, the green century, the value of financial assets, time series, Tony Seba, zero carbon | Leave a comment

Dystopia is coming true. See the story.

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Facebook, Alphabet, Walmart, General Motors, and others create corporate Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance

Major United States corporations form a renewable energy buyers alliance. Facebook, Alphabet (Google’s new name), Walmart, and General Motors, while the environmental groups include the Rocky Mountain Institute, the World Resources Institute and the World Wildlife Fund.

Fed up with what they say are regulatory blockades to purchasing renewable energy, a slew of U.S. companies and institutions are taking matters into their own hands … The Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance aims to develop 60 GW of renewables by 2025, or about 6 GW of renewable energy per year until then. Bloomberg notes that is enough capacity to replace all the coal-fired power plants in the U.S. that are expected to retire within the next four years. Many companies in the alliance have already taken major steps by signing power purchase agreements for greener energy, but they say that isn’t enough.

Facebook aims to source 50% of its energy from renewables by 2018, said Bill Weihl, Facebook’s director of sustainability.

The Alliance, calling itself REBA is developing a Web site having more details.

This story was also covered by GreenBiz.com, the Financial Times, Industry Week, and Bloomberg.

It’s interesting that, for a supposedly business-savvy state, Massachusetts does not see the obvious opportunity here. The only thing better than investing directly, by state mandate, in zero Carbon energy is doing that, and getting private industry to pay for much of it.

Posted in adaptation, Anthropocene, Bloomberg, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, bridge to somewhere, Buckminster Fuller, causal diagrams, citizenship, clean disruption, climate change, climate disruption, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, destructive economic development, disruption, distributed generation, Ecology Action, efficiency, energy, energy reduction, energy storage, energy utilities, engineering, environment, fossil fuel divestment, global warming, greenhouse gases, grid defection, Hermann Scheer, Hyper Anthropocene, investing, investment in wind and solar energy, local generation, Massachusetts, meteorology, microgrids, moral leadership, rate of return regulation, rationality, reasonableness, Sankey diagram, solar domination, solar energy, Solar Freakin' Roadways, solar power, SolarPV.tv, Spaceship Earth, Tony Seba, utility company death spiral, wind energy, wind power, zero carbon | Leave a comment

“Once a change is inevitable, it’s not whether I get on board, it’s when do I get on board?”

… When I was a young engineer, and if somebody asked us, ‘Is it possible to integrate more than 5% of solar and wind power into the system?’ all experienced engineers said ‘No way. We will face serious problems and reliability will go to hell.’ We have today 40 GW of wind and 40 GW of solar and roughly 10 GW of other renewables, mainly biomass.

Oh, yeah, Massachusetts, if you are so smart as you say you are, why are you so timid and can’t do this? Why not “blow up the market”? You claim to believe in market forces, no? Or do you believe in “the market” only when it is convenient?

“Baseload power does not really mean anything.”

German law gave citizens a stake in the clean energy switch.

WhyFossilFuelsAreInBigTrouble--Future-Solar-Cost-Projections-PPA-LCOE
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Update, 2016-05-14

Caterpillar along with Lockheed-Martin recently announced they are getting into the solar-plus-storage microgrids business. They are entering as competitors with each other and the rest of the field.

Posted in adaptation, Anthropocene, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, BNEF, Buckminster Fuller, Carbon Worshipers, citizenship, clean disruption, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, destructive economic development, disruption, electricity markets, energy utilities, engineering, fear uncertainty and doubt, fossil fuel divestment, games of chance, grid defection, investment in wind and solar energy, ISO-NE, local generation, Mark Jacobson, Massachusetts, New England, rationality, reasonableness, resiliency, Sankey diagram, solar domination, solar energy, Solar Freakin' Roadways, solar power, SolarPV.tv, the energy of the people, the green century, Tony Seba, wind energy, wind power, zero carbon | 2 Comments

Akamai’s Network to Be Powered by the Sun and the Wind – The Akamai Blog

Source: Akamai’s Network to Be Powered by the Sun and the Wind – The Akamai Blog

Excerpts:

Beyond sustainability stewardship, the business case is not so much about locking in fixed energy pricing. It’s about anticipating the market trend. Clean-powered, low-carbon content delivery is a differentiating feature desired by an expanding segment of our customer base. Over the past decade, there’s been a strong trend among the Fortune 500 towards more sustainable operations, reducing waste and pollution, increasing energy efficiency, and more recently, decarbonizing energy. By 2013, sixty percent of the Fortune 100 had set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and buy clean energy … The world is going clean and green, and we want to help it go faster forward with a low-carbon-powered global delivery network.

… There are many ways to procure renewable energy but we wanted to make sure that our investment would make a difference …

… [W]e established a set of guiding principles:

  1. Our investment should make an impact, putting more renewable energy electrons on the grid.
  2. The renewable energy generation should be co-located in the same power market as our operations, so we are adding renewable electrons to the same grid from which our operations draw electrons.
  3. Our procurement strategy should pass muster with our customers, truly augmenting their supply chain-sustainability efforts.

… [I]n the regions where we are targeting renewable energy projects, like California, for example.

… [W]e believe that there will soon be similar opportunities for renewables procurement outside the U.S., so we can begin to globalize our impact and accelerate decarbonization. No one said this would be easy, or that we would have all the answers at the start. That’s why it’s called a commitment. That’s why this needs to be a global, collaborative effort.

Emphasis added in edit. See original post for context and discussion of the financial mechanism whereby this will happen.

More press about the announcement.

Posted in adaptation, Akamai Technologies, Anthropocene, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, BNEF, bridge to somewhere, clean disruption, climate disruption, data centers, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, destructive economic development, distributed generation, ecology, economics, efficiency, electricity markets, energy, energy reduction, engineering, environment, evidence, Faster Forward, fossil fuel divestment, global warming, greenhouse gases, Hyper Anthropocene, investment in wind and solar energy, long-term contract for differences, mitigation, rationality, reasonableness, solar domination, solar energy, Solar Freakin' Roadways, solar power, SolarPV.tv, Spaceship Earth, supply chains, the energy of the people, the green century, the tragedy of our present civilization, the value of financial assets, utility company death spiral, wind energy, wind power, zero carbon | Leave a comment

Responsibility

From China’s emissions glimpsing the peak:
NL83-china-fig1
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anthrochart-gdp-2013
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Mayor Robert Hedlund demonstrates awesome moral leadership

Here’s Mayor Hedlund’s statement from his Facebook page:

As State Senator, I fought and opposed Spectra’s proposed compressor station in North Weymouth. As Mayor, I took a hard and proactive stance in opposition to the proposal, ramping up our legal challenge. No community has ever waged this aggressive and pro-active a fight against such a proposed facility – and under my watch, we will continue to do so!

I will continue our unrelenting fight against this ill-conceived and unwanted project. In the end, there is no offer or argument that can justify the siting of this compressor station in North Weymouth. It’s the wrong project in the wrong location.

In the course of our efforts to stop the compressor station, Spectra on several occasions asked to discuss mitigation, which I rejected. Facing the pending release of FERC’s “fast track” Environmental Assessment Report and after consultation with many in town, we agreed to listen to Spectra’s proposal and discuss potential mitigation.

The package negotiated is greater than any package ever offered for a natural gas facility. But it is not enough for Weymouth to abandon its fight against an unwanted and endangering compressor station.

Unfortunately, given the rigged federal process and inaction by Congress, my decision to reject Spectra’s money and continue our fight does not make the road ahead any easier.

The fact remains that through FERC, five President Obama appointees will very likely approve this compressor station in spite of our aggressive fight and compelling reasoning. I believe the focus of our frustrations must shift. This is not a fight we can win at the local level alone.

FERC and their rigged process of allowing big utility companies to site compressor stations and gas pipeline wherever they want is a creation of Washington D.C.

I continue my call in demanding that our Congressional delegation in Washington use their power to change FERC’s rigged process and stop the federal government from putting compressor stations in densely populated neighborhoods like North Weymouth. Please join me in doing so.

Lastly, I want to thank the many residents who took the time to contact me on this important matter. It is empowering to know just how engaged and passionate residents are in helping me to fight Spectra and keep this unwanted compressor station out of Weymouth.

These are the explosive methane (*) leaks that Weymouth already has:
WeymouthLeaks_2016-05-09_170839

See here for more details about Weymouth and other towns in Massachusetts.

Sure, the proposed pipeline has nothing directly to do with Weymouth’s distribution system. However, Massachusetts towns are full of these kinds of leaks, some quite old, and instead of paying to fix them, the utilities and pipeline and methane companies just want to pipe more in to keep the distribution lines pressurized. This is especially bad in West Roxbury where the transmission pipeline Spectra is building exists only to pressurize a leaky distribution grid:
WestRoxburyLeaks_2016-05-09_171248


(*) “Natural gas ain’t granola.”

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A dystopian Massachusetts, as seen by Gov Charlie Baker and ESPECIALLY Speaker Robert DeLeo

The Worcester Business Journal published a long piece about “Massachusetts banking on natural gas, renewables to replace retiring plants”. I replied with this comment.

(Update, 13th May 2016: By the way, the Worcester Business Journal rejected my comment.)

First, the retiring of these energy sources is not new news. They have been headed out for years. Accordingly, whatever urgency there is now to replace them is the responsibility and, possibly, the fault of the legislature, and the present and former gubernatorial administrations.

Facts are 59% of Massachusetts electrical energy already comes from explosive methane (*). There is a bunch more energy used for heating. That’s too much, and no amount of casuistry squares increasing or maintaining this intensity of carbon burning with the detailed terms of the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), a law which Governor Baker claims to be enforcing. Ask Senator Pacheco if he thinks we are on track for it. Ask Attorney General Healey.

The legislature zinged commercial enterprises as well as non-municipal communities with their totally pathetic and recent solar legislation. At present, these organizations are effectively singled out for penalties if they install lucrative, cost-efficient, and predictable solar energy on their roofs. I wonder why that happened. See https://hypergeometric.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/who-the-heck-is-robert-rio-and-what-does-a-b-a-biologist-turned-attorney-know-about-solar-energy/ to get some idea of the big companies that denied manufacturers and small businesses this benefit.

Apparently the Massachusetts government isn’t sincere about reducing costs.

First, they are foisting a remarkable proposal to tax ratepayers for pipeline investments for this energy. I thought Governor Baker was a supporter of the free market? The pipeline companies and their partners ought to go out to the open market to raise the bonds and loans they need for the project. Those sources know how to properly appraise the cost and risks of the project. State government does not. And if they won’t get them decent terms, doesn’t that say something about asking the buyers of methane to pay for these?

Second, the lowest levelized cost of energy for electricity (LCoE) is presently held by land-based wind power, lower than methane, and that’s the unsubsidized rate. (Unsubsidized for wind, that is. Methane gets lots of subsidies, federal and otherwise, including eminent domain declarations instead of having to buy land.) See Lazard’s LCoE analysis if you don’t believe me, at https://www.lazard.com/media/2390/lazards-levelized-cost-of-energy-analysis-90.pdf. Instead, Massachusetts is pushing offshore wind, at 5x land-based wind cost. Okay, and offshore wind can be good, especially in the long term and at scale. (It at least offers a constant cost for electricity, unlike the hugely variable cost of methane.) But then various people complain that wind energy is expensive, as if it were organically so. I say be honest: The relatively high cost of wind is because rich folk along the coasts don’t want to look at them, and that’s why the high cost.

Third, no serious part of this discussion includes large scale solar, whether by incentivizing community solar and bringing in smart grid technologies, or utility scale solar. That’s a travesty, because of all the technologies, solar has the fastest decrease in cost per KWh, and is naturally tied up with energy storage and energy demand response and efficiency services. See what Minster, OH is doing, despite a hostile legislature: https://hypergeometric.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/this-is-what-the-future-looks-like-for-towns-and-villages-and-utilities/ Massachusetts gets 85% of the solar energy that Texas does, and Texas is presently the champion in the United States for wind and solar energy, especially the City of Austin.

Fourth, the grid pays a huge penalty due to its old utility model thinking: It is a cost-plus hub-and-spoke distribution platform, which wastes energy in its fuels, themselves dependent upon long distance supply chains, when it burns them, and then wastes more transmitting them. Just like energy efficiency in businesses and homes is a win, generating energy near where it is consumed offers enormous efficiencies compared to the present model. Similarly, the commitment of ISO-NE to market-based measures is half-baked: Sure, according to the article, they put out long lead incentives for people to build gas and oil power plants. But, after all, business is about risk, and those that did assumed that methane would be available to power them. They did not evaluate the risks properly and, so, if ISO-NE is really a champion of markets, they should allow these investors to take it on the chin. Our needs are different, and people don’t want the pipelines for this methane, just like Cape Wind failed primarily because opposition by rich folk along the coasts made it too expensive to complete at per KWh prices to compete. Why should someone with a big coastal house in West Dennis rate more attention than a hard working family in West Roxbury? At least West Dennis just get their views spoiled (in their opinon), and do not risk getting incinerated.

Fifth, and finally, look around you and see what other states are doing: Our neighbor to the west, New York, has launched a huge zero Carbon energy initiative, joining the efforts of academics, small and large businesses, governments at municipal and state scales, and cooperative utilities. They compete for our businesses and dollars. Our high tech businesses have customers with aggressive sustainability plans who are already choosing not to do business with them because they cannot provide their services with guaranteed, 100% zero Carbon energy. There are modern (**) energy businesses in western Massachusetts who already find a friendlier market in New York than they do here. Manufacturers who want to cut costs also want to control costs. Consuming energy generated near their businesses just makes sense, rather than relying upon long term promises from people who will leave government in 4-8 years. There’s lots to learn about this and it simply makes business sense: https://hypergeometric.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/karl-rabago-at-the-rhode-island-state-legislature/ That was at the Rhode Island legislature, part of the government of another competitor.

This is not inevitable. It sounds like the sensible thing, but any sensitivity to energy markets, whether at Forbes or Bloomberg (see http://about.bnef.com/summit/event/new-york/), reveals that the energy industry will be turned upside down during the next 20 years. Massachusetts is institutionalizing, through its proposals, an energy system which may have been good for the last quarter of the 20th century, but, in its implied schedules of depreciation and rate ossification, will leave it vulnerable to becoming the Allentown, PA of New England, with energy costs too high to build or work, its high tech smart employees leaving for states with more vision and opportunity, and the remaining citizens stuck in jobs they cannot leave but do not want, a barren burned out state, with its coasts under assault by sea-level rise, and no money to pay for their protection, reconstruction, or refurbishment.

Not a pretty picture.

It can be different. Vote No on methane expansion, additional pipelines, and especially against ratepayer subsidies of pipelines. Call the Governor, let him know what you think: 617-725-4005.

(Update, 13th May 2016, 21:39 EDT)

Now it’s clear: Speaker Robert DeLeo is in the pay of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts and no one else matters to him.


(*) Natural gas ain’t granola.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

videos of the week, the blocking pattern edition

(This is another new, weekly feature, like the 8:00 a.m. mashup recently introduced, intending to collect a group of videos together for your enjoyment.)

Don’t know how many realize it or not, but New England weather is blocked. That’s why it’s been wet and cool for so long. RobertScribbler has a nice overview.
blocked_2016-05-07_171010
Dr Francis spoke on this (again) in 2015:

Abstract for the above is available here. She’s using self-organizing maps, a machine learning technique, to help identify blocking patterns. Dr Francis and co-author Dr Natasa Skific wrote about these back in 2012.

Karl Ragabo is a solar energy analyst I’ve recently encountered. Here’s a revealing interview with him, from 2013:

I presented a lecture by him earlier.

I wasn’t this paranoid about it before, but when both Elon Musk and Bill McKibben call for a “revolt against the fossil fuel industry”, somethin’s goin’ on.

And here’s some evidence for a sort of conspiracy:

It’s plausible. The Koch brothers worked with funds and public manipulation to kill Cape Wind.

And if I were them, I would be scared. Globally, solar energy is seeing exponential growth.
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Posted in American Petroleum Institute, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, BNEF, Buckminster Fuller, Cape Wind, Carbon Worshipers, citizenship, civilization, clean disruption, conservation, consumption, Debbie Dooley, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, destructive economic development, disruption, distributed generation, economics, electricity, electricity markets, energy, energy reduction, energy storage, energy utilities, engineering, feed-in tariff, fossil fuel divestment, grid defection, investment in wind and solar energy, local generation, mesh models, microgrids, public utility commissions, PUCs, rate of return regulation, rationality, reasonableness, regulatory capture, Sankey diagram, solar energy, Solar Freakin' Roadways, solar power, SolarPV.tv, Spaceship Earth, Tony Seba, wind energy, wind power, zero carbon | Leave a comment

Cory Lesmeister’s treatment of Simson’s Paradox (at “Fear and Loathing in Data Science”)

(Updated 2016-05-08, to provide reference for plateaus of ML functions in vicinity of MLE.)

Simpson’s Paradox is one of those phenomena of data which really give Statistics a substance and a role, beyond the roles it inherits from, say, theoretical probability and computatational methods. A similar reason for Statistics lurks behind maximum likelihood methods, the heart of frequentist statistical practice. There, practical studies show that in many situations, the likelihood function often plateaus in the vicinity of its maximum, even assuming there is a unique maximum (*). (Complicated systems might have several local maxima.) This means that measurement errors can nudge the estimated maximum relatively far away in terms of the corresponding maximum likelihood parameters, and one practical role for Bayesian statistical methods is to tame this instability by weighting with a prior.

But returning to Simpson’s Paradox, Cory Lesmeister in his blog, Fear and Loathing in Data Science does a very nice bit on Simpson’s, including a link to a good explanatory tutorial. I’ve included his blog at the blogroll to the right.



(*) S. Konishi, G. Kitagawa, Information Criteria and Statistical Modeling, Springer, 2008. This is one of the half dozen or so most books I’ve studied in the last 10 years which has had the greatest influence on my statistical thought and practice. While I am a staunch Bayesian, my approach to the problem of inference comes at it from different perspectives, viewing inference as a computational optimization problem, and seeing an information theoretic approach as a more engineering-oriented way of addressing some of the issues and arguments which arise in other contexts which, to me, seem more philosophical. The other text in this same spirit is one I’ve often cited, namely, K. P. Burnham, D. R. Anderson, Model Selection and Multimodel Inference: A Practical Information Theoretic Approach, 2nd edition, Springer, 2002. In fact, I am thinking of offering an online course based upon these two texts, and weaving in modern stochastic methods of computation, like Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC).

Posted in Akaike Information Criterion, approximate Bayesian computation, Bayes, Bayesian, evidence, Frequentist, games of chance, information theoretic statistics, Kalman filter, likelihood-free, mathematics, maths, maximum likelihood, Monte Carlo Statistical Methods, probabilistic programming, rationality, Rauch-Tung-Striebel, Simpson's Paradox, state-space models, statistical dependence, statistics, stochastics | Leave a comment

The Patch blows O’Donnell’s “alert on solar panels” out of proportion, botches it, and deletes my comment correcting them

The Foxborough Patch, one of a network of cheap-looking online news outlets, carried an edited version of Norfolk County Registrar of Deeds “alert” regarding solar panels. One can ask if Registrar William O’Donnell might have had other motivations for issuing this alert now, since the Massachusetts legislature is about to announce a draft of omnibus energy legislature and because the Registrar’s announcement only highlighted one narrow paragraph of the Attorney General’s page on solar panel installations. In addition, as Deming said, “In God we trust. All others must bring data.” It would be helpful to know how many constitutes the “some” in the Registrar’s statement “… some people are having difficulty obtaining equity loans or reverse mortgages if they have leased solar panels and equipment.” Moreover, the headline and initial explanation fails to distinguish where the problems may occur, in Power Purchasing Agreements (“PPA”), and outright purchase of panels, the latter being the more popular, albeit more expensive option.

Nevertheless, the Registrar’s statement links to a pertinent page at the Attorney General’s site, containing fine advice and explanations for people considering power purchasing agreements or other acquisitions of solar panels. That includes a nice overview, reproduced below. And the AG’s site has more.
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(Click on image to see a larger version. Use browser Back Button to return to blog.)

But any Web-savvy consumer also knows there are other ways to find out about situations pertaining to purchasing things, such as solar panels. For instance, The Solar Energy Industries Association (“SEIA”) not only has a wealth of information about panels and your home, but they link to a separate site giving reviews of installers in Massachusetts, not all good. In fact, you can estimate the number of bad situations from those reviews, which is more than Mr O’Donnell will do for you.

Claire and I own a hefty set of panels, installed by RevoluSun, who we highly recommend. Whether buying or signing a PPA, prospects need to understand this is a long term commitment, in the sense that the company doing the installation needs to be around for the 20-30 year life of the panels. Accordingly, it isn’t the best idea to go with small companies, even if they are cheaper. And size does not always determine financial viability, as solar company SunEdison recently found out. (They’ll be back, but reorganized or bought by someone.) It is a lot like buying a car, except that you can’t trade it in for a new one. (That’s not strictly true: You can often upgrade.) There are other risks, too, the biggest being that the Massachusetts legislature might change the rules of the game, seemingly as and when they feel like it, depending upon the influence of people like the Associated Industries of Massachusetts.

Still, solar energy is, almost any way you look at it, a huge win. It’s highly efficient, it gets you off wild swings in price because of what fossil fuels invariably do, and long term you get free energy. This is especially true if your house is moved completely off fossil fuels. And there is evidence amassing that panels increase the resale value of your home.

Now, as far as the Patch goes, I wrote a comment on their page, using their Disqus commenting interface. I took some care, trying to convey a broken link they had from the article to the Attorney General’s site, and including the guidelines from the AG in the comment. I also provided the link above to the SEIA site and page, and to solarreviews.com. The comment was submitted, as they often are, “for moderation.”

The Patch deleted it.

That’s too bad. After all, we do have direct experience.

And I’m getting the word out there anyway, by this post, and via Google+.

Huh.

I’m also happy to talk to anyone interested in panels about our experience. You can contact me in the comments below.

Update, 6th May 2016, 21:02 EDT

Two quick updates.

First, some manufacturers of solar panels, such as SunPower, have affiliate programs where employees of companies who join get rebates for installing the manufacturer’s panels, depending upon number. Claire and I have SunPower panels, and received a $1,500 rebate through my employer.

Second, for those who (rightly) worry about the toxic chemicals that are used in solar panel manufacturing, their effects upon people and the environment, and about labor practices where the panels are made, I recommend the annual review of panel manufacturers by the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. They summarize:

The Scorecard is a resource for consumers, institutional purchasers, investors, installers, and anyone who wants to purchase PV modules from responsible product stewards. The Scorecard reveals how companies perform on SVTC’s sustainability and social justice benchmarks
to ensure that the PV manufacturers protect workers, communities, and the environment. The PV industry’s continued growth makes it critical to take action now to reduce the use of toxic chemicals, develop responsible recycling systems, and protect workers throughout global PV supply chains. Many PV companies want to produce truly clean and green energy systems and are taking steps to implement more sustainable practices. SVTC is committed to helping these companies achieve that goal. At the same time, we need to create and enforce policies that ensure the safety and improve environmental performance of the entire sector.

Update, 7th May 2016, 08:56 EDT

The Westwood Patch, sister of Foxborough, this morning printed the same article, without correcting it, even without fixing their broken link!

Moreover, I put in a link to this blog post, and they deleted it again.

Posted in Bloomberg New Energy Finance, BNEF, Buckminster Fuller, clean disruption, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, demand-side solutions, distributed generation, economics, efficiency, electricity, electricity markets, energy, energy reduction, energy utilities, fossil fuel divestment, grid defection, Hermann Scheer, investment in wind and solar energy, ISO-NE, local generation, Massachusetts, microgrids, rate of return regulation, rationality, reasonableness, regulatory capture, RevoluSun, risk, Sankey diagram, solar domination, solar energy, Solar Freakin' Roadways, solar power, SolarPV.tv, Spaceship Earth, the energy of the people, the green century, the value of financial assets, Tony Seba, utility company death spiral, zero carbon | Leave a comment

“Solar power is contagious. These maps show how it spreads.” (from Vox)

Brad Plumer at Vox writes on take-up patterns of rooftop solar based upon a large dataset from SolarCity. The full article is available at the SolarCity site.

Gloucester-Blog-Gif

Mr Plumer combines it with a report on other studies of solar adoption patterns. Quoting the Abstract of one, by Graziano and Gillingham:

The diffusion of new technologies is often mediated by spatial and socioeconomic factors. This article empirically examines the diffusion of an important renewable energy technology: residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Using detailed data on PV installations in Connecticut, we identify the spatial patterns of diffusion, which indicate considerable clustering of adoptions. This clustering does not simply follow the spatial distribution of income or population. We find that smaller centers contribute to adoption more than larger urban areas, in a wave-like centrifugal pattern. Our empirical estimation demonstrates a strong relationship between adoption and the number of nearby previously installed systems as well as built environment and policy variables. The effect of nearby systems diminishes with distance and time, suggesting a spatial neighbor effect conveyed through social interaction and visibility. These results disentangle the process of diffusion of PV systems and provide guidance to stakeholders in the solar market.

These are examples of spatio-temporal point patterns and they exhibit a kind of diffusion process. These are subjects of very interesting scholarly and computational work which I have studied but have not, as yet, had the opportunity to apply professionally or in my environmental (pro bono) consulting. I look forward to the day when I can.

Two references:

Posted in Bloomberg New Energy Finance, BNEF, business, clean disruption, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, demand-side solutions, destructive economic development, diffusion, diffusion processes, disruption, distributed generation, economics, electricity markets, energy, energy utilities, exponential growth, grid defection, investment in wind and solar energy, local generation, Peter Diggle, point pattern analysis, public utility commissions, PUCs, rate of return regulation, regulatory capture, sociology, solar domination, solar energy, solar power, SolarPV.tv, spatial statistics, statistics, stochastics, the energy of the people, the green century, utility company death spiral, zero carbon | Leave a comment

REV-NY

So, Massachusetts, why can’t you do this instead of proposing to build new explosive pipelines?

Posted in adaptation, Anthropocene, Arnold Schwarzennegger, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, BNEF, bridge to somewhere, civilization, clean disruption, climate, climate change, climate disruption, coastal communities, conservation, corporate litigation on damage from fossil fuel emissions, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, demand-side solutions, destructive economic development, disruption, distributed generation, economics, efficiency, electricity, electricity markets, energy reduction, energy storage, energy utilities, engineering, environment, feed-in tariff, fossil fuel divestment, global warming, greenhouse gases, grid defection, Hyper Anthropocene, investing, investment in wind and solar energy, ISO-NE, Life Cycle Assessment, local generation, Mark Jacobson, mesh models, meteorology, methane, natural gas, networks, Our Children's Trust, pipelines, public utility commissions, PUCs, rate of return regulation, rationality, reasonableness, regulatory capture, resiliency, Sankey diagram, solar domination, solar energy, Solar Freakin' Roadways, solar power, SolarPV.tv, Spaceship Earth, sustainability, the energy of the people, the green century, the tragedy of our present civilization, the value of financial assets, utility company death spiral, wind energy, wind power, zero carbon | 1 Comment

“Oil’s Big Dive” (by Peter Sinclair)

From Peter Sinclair’s Climate Denial Crock of the Week.

Climate Denial Crock of the Week

heartofsea

I posted last week the news that Saudi Arabia seems to have recognized that the age of Oil is drawing to an  end.

Below, Amory Lovins Whale oil analogy might have seemed quixotic a few years ago. Now?

Tom Dispatch:

Sunday, April 17th was the designated moment.  The world’s leading oil producers were expected to bring fresh discipline to the chaotic petroleum market and spark a return to high prices. Meeting in Doha, the glittering capital of petroleum-rich Qatar, the oil ministers of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), along with such key non-OPEC producers as Russia and Mexico, were scheduled to ratify a draft agreement obliging them to freeze their oil output at current levels. In anticipation of such a deal, oil prices had begun to creep inexorably upward, from $30 per barrel in mid-January to $43 on the eve of the gathering. But far from restoring…

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Posted in American Petroleum Institute, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, BNEF, bridge to nowhere, Carbon Worshipers, Chevron, citizenship, clean disruption, conservation, consumption, corporate litigation on damage from fossil fuel emissions, corporate supply chains, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, demand-side solutions, destructive economic development, disruption, distributed generation, economics, energy, energy reduction, energy utilities, engineering, extended supply chains, Exxon, fossil fuel divestment, fossil fuels, fracking, Gulf Oil, investing, investment in wind and solar energy, local generation, methane, natural gas, petroleum, pipelines, public utility commissions, PUCs, rate of return regulation, rationality, reasonableness, regime shifts, regulatory capture, resiliency, risk, Sankey diagram, solar domination, supply chains, Texaco, the tragedy of our present civilization, the value of financial assets, utility company death spiral | Leave a comment

8:00 a.m. mashup, the exploding pipeline edition

Quite a week, broadly defining “week”.

It began with a vibrant demonstration in West Roxbury against the West Roxbury Lateral. Why? Generally speaking, fixing a problem with leaks in a local distribution system by over-pressurizing it is a bad idea. Releasing extra-forceful fugitive methane into atmosphere by mining, processing, and transporting it ain’t too cool and idea either. And building additional fossil fuel infrastructure, let alone investing in it, is pretty dumb.

Worked a bunch on last weekend, with a minor breakthrough of sorts involving association rule models. Follow-ups on that occupied much of the week.

In a tumult of scheduling, a meeting with Senator Mike Rush regarding the omnibus energy legislation on behalf of MAICCA and the associated half-a-day off on Thursday got scrubbed, because Senate needed to deal with a newly minted budget for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Rescheduled for a week from then.

Heard Friday about the explosion of the Algonquinn/Spectra Energy pipeline in Salem Township, PA on Friday. Luckily not many were hurt, but, as before and as will happen in the future, more will, and it’s just a statistical consequence of putting explosive methane in unmaintained and relatively unmonitored channels near people’s homes.

Ran 8.5 miles Saturday.

And Saturday evening, after confusing dates of 7th May for 30the April for a performance of Kevin Connolly at the Homegrown Coffeehouse, Claire and I went out to the Dedham Square Coffeehouse to hear some music. The DSC used to be called the “Paradise Café“. Their atmosphere is friendly, and they have a rich assortment of drinks and desserts, and sometimes the music is excellent. But it is very much the equivalent of an industrial incubator but for music, and the acts don’t get paid, they get seen. YMMV.

Claire and I attended a lovely music Sunday at the UU Needham congregation, and had lunch at the Hearth Pizzeria next door, a lovely down-to-earth place which in feeling and cuisine delivers a lot more than what it’s name suggests.

Upcoming …

  1. “What’s in Store for Boston’s Climate and How Can We Adapt?” presented by the Climate Ready Boston committee, Tuesday morning, at Atlantic Wharf. Here is their plan. I’m going to hear, but I am not optimistic, both because of what I heard about Boston planning at a HUCE event in 4Q2015, because (even) the Sasaki study is based upon mean levels of expected sea level rise rather than tail events (although they do entertain storms), and because there will be “a group of deployable flood defense equipment providers from the Netherlands will present their technologies.” In other words, the expectation is it’ll be gradual sea level rise, completely within the scope of business and insurance to deal with it.
  2. The Westwood-Walpole-Dedham, Needham, Brookline, Hingham, Newton, Norwood, Sharon-Stoughton, and Winchester will be presenting “Taking Action Against Climate Change: A Carbon Fee for Massachusetts” Tuesday evening, 7:30 p.m. at the Westwood Public Library
  3. On Wednesday evening, I’ll lead a delegation from MAICCA to meet with state Representative Paul McMurtry regarding the upcoming debate and voting on Massachusetts’ omnibus energy bill.
  4. On Thursday morning, I’ll be part of a delegation from MAICCA led by Eleanor Rosellini of the UU Needham congregation to meet with state Senator Mike Rush regarding the upcoming debate and voting on Massachusetts’ omnibus energy bill.
Posted in jibber jabber | 1 Comment

Karl Rabago at the Rhode Island state legislature

(There was a glitch in the original link of this video, leaving it about 11 minutes long. The full hour and 10 minutes is now available.)

Karl Rabago is an expert on the value of renewable energy. This talk examines the data backing up the transformation of electric utilities, in Germany, California, and New York.

“We started it, but didn’t finish it.”

“This is the time that’s right.”

“The economics of the central generation plant are exhausted.”

I love the presentation and discussion of the central generation model as being “brittle.” I like less Mr Rabago’s description of the change as transformation instead of disruption. I think that’s a politically-motivated gloss.

Posted in adaptation, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, BNEF, citizenship, civilization, clean disruption, conservation, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, demand-side solutions, destructive economic development, disruption, distributed generation, electricity, electricity markets, energy, energy reduction, energy utilities, engineering, environment, fossil fuel divestment, grid defection, investment in wind and solar energy, ISO-NE, local generation, marginal energy sources, microgrids, New England, planning, politics, public utility commissions, PUCs, rate of return regulation, rationality, reasonableness, resiliency, Sankey diagram, solar domination, solar energy, Solar Freakin' Roadways, solar power, SolarPV.tv, sustainability, temporal myopia, the energy of the people, the green century, Tony Seba, wind energy, wind power, zero carbon | 3 Comments

“Lucky d20” (by Tamino, with my reblogging comments)

Careful consideration to really basic things like this is, for me, incredibly refreshing, and helps with the self-discipline needed to deal with real-world problems, those often being messy and having distracting entanglements.

A couple of thoughts:

  • I think the mechanism for automatically rolling and recording the results of rolls is pretty slick. Of course the perennial doubter in me wonders if for any given rolling hardware there might be a bias introduced by the hardware, and not the dice. This could be checked in a couple of ways. One, design and build a completely different system for rolling and checking dice, and repeat the experiment, comparing results. Two, roll sets of dice, and see if the sequence of rolls show any long term albeit weak temporal dependencies both for a single die and then across dice.
  • To what degree does a machine implementation of rolling dice mimick what players do when rolling for D&D? People tend to be bad generators of randomness, and I’ve sometimes wondered if the rolling done by hand for ordinary dice or d20 randomizes these enough. Casinos tend to use machines to randomize, even when rolling dice. This is important because results as in the article may not apply well to the casual D&D game unless there’s a mechanical roller. Anyone know if in high stakes D&D games they use mechanical rollers?
  • I wonder if there may not be more efficient ways of detecting discrepancies between a die and uniformity, or between two dice than rolling 8300 times. In particular, I wonder if a sequential updating scheme using a Dirichlet-Multinomial model might not help here, and get us to significance sooner than 8300, something which is attempting to model the relative frequency counting ideal.
  • There are ways in which this problem could be modified that would help it be a toy world for training people in data science. For example, suppose there were a million rolls, but some of the time the value produced on the roll was not available? Or suppose it was constrained to be to a small proper subset of the 20 sides? Or suppose there were a million rolls of a thousand dice? Or suppose the objective was to simulate a million rolls of a thousand dice? Like the socks of Karl Broman, this could be the basis for a neat teaching case.

Open Mind

What with talk of killer heat waves, droughts, floods, etc. etc., this blog tends to get pretty serious. When it does, we don’t deal with happy prospects, but with the danger of worldwide catastrophe. But every now and then we need to “lighten up,” so let’s have a little fun.

Recently a reader comment pointed to a website reporting the results of testing dice for fairness. Specifically, it tested the “d20” or 20-sided die. It’s a die often used in tabletop games, especially D&D (Dungeons & Dragons). That site links to yet another site which tests dice (specifically, the d20). They make enough of their data available for us to take a close look.

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Posted in Bayes, Bayesian, card decks, card draws, card games, chance, D&D, Dungeons and Dragons, games of chance, mathematics, maths, Monte Carlo Statistical Methods, probability, statistical dependence, statistics, stochastic algorithms, stochastics, Wizards of the Coast | Leave a comment

Pale Blue Dot

It is important to remember this.

Hypergeometric

Compassion, yes. Love, no.

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Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment