“Ultimately the public will understand that they were being lied to, betrayed”

Professor Michael Mann:

… [W]e will look back with revulsion at those who did the bidding of the fossil fuel industry to try to confuse the public about the reality of this problem. The problem is we don’t have that much time. We can’t wait decades to be able to look back and retrospect and say, “Yes, that was a disinformation effort that clouded the public’s understanding.” We only have a matter of five to ten years to get our fossil fuel emissions under control and, for that reason, it’s especially important that politicians of conscience speak truth to power when it comes to the issue of climate change, that scientists be willing to speak out about this, and that the mainstream media do a far more responsible job, do their job of covering, not the false controversies that certain special interests would like them to be covering, but the actual state of our scientific understanding. And I think many outlets, many mainstream media outlets, have done a disservice to society by playing up the manufactured debate, and playing down the actual state of scientific understanding.

I sometimes wonder whether the Congressional Record or church pulpits, or the breakfast meetings of progressive politicians, or annual town meetings qualify as “mainstream media”. These, too, with the exception of Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse in the first case, have done little or nothing to treat climate disruption with the seriousness and moral weight it deserves.

To repeat a section of a blog post I wrote some time ago,

“All the good you have done”, said the [prophetic Van] Jones. “all the good you can imagine doing, will be wiped out, wiped out by floods, by fires, by superstorms, if you fail to act now to deal with this crisis that is a gun—a gun—pointed at the head of the future.” New Orleans will not matter. Ground Zero will not matter. Sandy Hook will not matter. Planting roses and flowers, gifts to Burundi and Somalia and Haiti, and neighbirhood trash collections will not matter, because they or their children will die in the hundreds of thousands if not millions, simply because many of us chose fossil fuels as a means of getting to where we wanted to be to make a living, let alone that living itself.

The truth is not personal, it is not relative, it is objective. If one believes in such a personal truth, I say that in the face of the moral challenge, it is irrelevant. The only “truth” that matters when people’s lives are at risk is cold, hard evidence:







These emissions need to be zeroed.

This figure is taken from Figure 1 of Solomon, Plattner, Knutti, and Friedlingstein, 2008, which contains the description:

Fig. 1. Carbon dioxide and global mean climate system changes (relative to preindustrial conditions in 1765) from 1 illustrative model, the Bern 2.5CC EMIC, whose results are comparable to the suite of assessed EMICs (5, 7). Climate system responses are shown for a ramp of CO2 emissions at a rate of 2%/year to peak CO2 values of 450, 550, 650, 750, 850, and 1200 ppmv, followed by zero emissions. The rate of global fossil fuel CO2 emission grew at 1%/year from 1980 to 2000 and 3%/year in the period from 2000 to 2005 (13). Results have been smoothed using an 11-year running mean. The 31-year variation seen in the carbon dioxide time series is introduced by the climatology used to force the terrestrial biosphere model (15). (Top) Falloff of CO2 concentrations following zero emissions after the peak. (Middle) Globally averaged surface warming (degrees Celsius) for these cases (note that this model has an equilibrium climate sensitivity of 3.2 °C for carbon dioxide doubling). Warming over land is expected to be larger than these global averaged values, with the greatest warming expected in the Arctic (5). (Bottom) Sea level rise (meters) from thermal expansion only (not including loss of glaciers, ice caps, or ice sheets).

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This figure is taken from Figure 1 of Tokarska and Zickfeld, 2015 and shows the Earth climate response if emissions are zeroed just prior to 2100 and a geoengineering program for withdrawing CO2 from atmosphere is instituted. The message is that the ecosystem of Earth is stuck with elevated temperatures for millennia irrespective of the intervention. This figure is accompanied by the description:

Figure 1. Time series of global variables for constant cumulative emissions (CCE) simulations. (a) CO2 emission rate (fossil fuel and land use change) (b) atmospheric CO2 concentration; (c) global mean temperature change relative to 1801; (d) thermosteric sea level rise relative to 1801. Scenario names in the legend indicate peak fossil fuel emission rate (in GtC yr−1). RCP 2.6 in panel (a) is shown for reference.

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Note the gap between ocean temperature increases and those on land. Note also that the gap is increasing in size. This is because whatever is argued about the elusive quantity equilibrium climate sensitivity (“ECS”), the following is definitely the case:
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This is taken from Figure 2 of Schmittner, Urban, Shakun, Mahowald, Clark, Bartlein, Mix, Rosell-Melé, 2011. Note that discussions of ECS relative to policy without noting this distinction are pretty silly since most people live on land. ECS2xC on land is pretty severe and has a longer and fatter high-end tail.

I sometimes wonder what the reaction of the public will be to the realization that, as Professor Mann says, “they were being lied to, betrayed”. It may be simply to stop using fossil fuel products. It could be to litigate in class action suits. It could be demanding governments seize fossil fuel assets. Or it could be much worse. Fossil fuel companies ought to think about that.

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On differential localization of tumors using relative concentrations of ctDNA. Part 1.

Like most mammalian tissue, tumors often produce shards of DNA as a byproduct of cell death and fracture. This circulating tumor DNA is being studied as a means of detecting tumors or their resurgence after treatment. (See also a Q&A with Victor Velculescu in Nature.) These shards have a natural half-life of hours to days. ctDNA is known to increase after exercise, and temper with rest. Understanding the relationship between ctDNA and its host tumors and their lifecycles is an exciting, relatively benign way of ascertaining tumor status.

This and following related posts propose use of relative concentrations of ctDNA associated with a specific tumor in blood draws taken concurrently as a means of aiding tumor localization. The idea is that while such a ratio is likely to be noisy, with the defined network that is the human cardiovascular system (“CVS”), even a noisy ratio may yield a few bits of information regarding location of a tumor. Constraints on location can then be used to inform imaging campaigns to better identify the source.

In addition to new developments pertaining to ctDNA, this is possible in part because of several projects during the last 15 years which sought to build models of the fluid dynamics and hemodynamics of the human CVS, notably the works of Olufsen, Quarteroni, Formaggia, Müller, and Toro. Several links are provided below.

While I hope use of ctDNA for differential localization won’t demand the full features of these models, those being devoted primarily to dynamics, the sophistication of the lumped system and compartment models for representing blood flow is key to constructing the network transition matrix which will be seen to be key in the forthcoming analysis. These are not considered difficult: Olufsen in her MA325 course assigns solving for variables of Volume, Pressure, and Flow from the model parameters, Resistence, Compliance, and Heart-Pumping as a homework. It is, after all, but algebra.

The specifics of the technique are not at all new, at least to engineers and statisticians. Applications to this field are new. In particular, these papers address the general question of locating a point source given information regarding the concentrations of its materials in a geometry once diffused.

The key idea is to calculate the equibriuum concentration for the diffusion equation with a discrete approximation corresponding to an idealized (or detailed!) model of the CVS. This can be constructed from an eigenanalysis of the state transition matrix using standard methods, such as those described by G. Strang in Chapter 5 of his Linear Algebra and its Applications, 2nd edition, 1980. The premise is that ctDNA in a quiescent patient will rapidly achieve this equilibriuum, affected thereafter only by the decay constant associated with metabolic cleanup. While the references give a much more detailed presentation, the model I’ll use for the CVS is shown below, adapted from Shandas course on cardiovascular biomechanics (I, II, and III).

How would this be used in a clincal setting?

  1. Patient is identified with a tumor having specific ctDNA.
  2. Patient undergoes exercise or vigorous activity as tolerated.
  3. Paitent rests so CVS returns to quiescence, possibly for a number of hours.
  4. Blood samples are drawn from members which present study suggests will best constrain location of tumor.
  5. Relative concentrations of ctDNA are obtained from blood samples.
  6. Relative concentrations are combined with results from present study and CVS model to estimate probable location of sources.
  7. These locations are hypothesized to be location of tumors.
  8. Imaging is applied to locations to confirm and further specify locations.

Details of Some CVS Model Data and Examples

Müller and Totter offer the following tables of CVS data, examples taken from their Tables, 3, 6, and 8.






Müller and Toro also offer lumped model electrical circuit equivalents to CVS parts, such as the following for feeding arteries and collecting veins:
These are described by the following parameters:

The use of such networks for modeling dynamics is taught by many, including via the tutorials of Professor John Baez of University of California, Davis Riverside. They are more general than it may seem, being both equivalent to linear differential equations and, therefore, having analogies with mechanical systems. These analogies are being used in these CVS models. See work by John Baez and Brendan Fong for a deeper analysis.


Subsequent posts will describe the details of a study of the technique, including the eigenanalysis of the transition matrix, illustrative applications of it to isolating hypothetical sources of ctDNA, and a sensitivity analysis of the illustrations to errors in the transition matrix, whether because of approximation, imperfections in measurement, or dynamics.

Posted in statistics, maths, Bayesian, stochastic algorithms, stochastic search, engineering, mathematics, forecasting, approximate Bayesian computation, spatial statistics, prediction, dynamic linear models, wave equations, diffusion, eigenanalysis, networks, Bayesian inversion, cardiovascular system, medicine | 2 Comments

How nice it is that Nature and probability bend to developers whims!

As I have mentioned before, it’s so nice that Nature and probability bend to the whims of property developers and their Town Fathers, with the willing participation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). If you had property at risk near waters or wetlands, wouldn’t you like it if FEMA just happened to redraw the flood zone boundaries to skirt the outside of your property?

That’s apparently what they did for the Town of Westwood and its University Station mall/shopping center/natural eyesore.

This is the new (2012) flood zone map, actually revised after some exchange of correspondence between the Westwood Board of Selectman and FEMA:

This was the original “old” flood zone map:

And you can see the differences with both superimposed:

And this shows the University Station development:
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How handy for the property owners and their tenants to not have to pay for flood risk insurance! Just close your eyes, make a wish, and, wow, the risk just disappears.

Posted in capricious gods, chance, citizenship, climate data, conservation, denial, ecology, engineering, environment, ethics, games of chance, ignorance, living shorelines, mathematics, meteorology, obfuscating data, planning, politics, precipitation, prediction, probability, rationality, reasonableness, risk, spatial statistics, University Station, Westwood | Leave a comment

News Flash: “Warmer climate on the Earth may be due to more Carbon Dioxide in the air”

28th October 1956, The New York Times.

Andy Dessler at TAMU Physics Department seminar, 24the September 2015.

Posted in Anthropocene, astrophysics, carbon dioxide, citizenship, climate disruption, compassion, denial, disingenuity, ecology, environment, forecasting, geophysics, global warming, Hyper Anthropocene, IPCC, physics, prediction, Principles of Planetary Climate, rationality, Ray Pierrehumbert, reasonableness, science, zero carbon | Leave a comment

“Too late to prevent climate change: Here’s how we adapt” (Alice Bows-Larkin)

Here’s how we adapt.

Posted in statistics, climate, rationality, reasonableness, maths, physics, economics, science, geophysics, oceanography, environment, climate education, ecology, mathematics, meteorology, citizenship, civilization, forecasting, risk, carbon dioxide, astrophysics, ethics, bridge to nowhere, climate change, games of chance, capricious gods, Anthropocene, probability, chance, zero carbon, global warming, climate disruption, sustainability, adaptation, fossil fuels, ignorance, Hyper Anthropocene, prediction, mitigation, planning | Leave a comment

Waves in transmission problems ( by Jeff Galkowski)

Distribution of resonances in scattering by thin barriers“, by Jeff Galkowski, Department of Mathematics, Stanford University.

The lecture:

“A solution to the wave equation for the transparent obstacle with speed 0.5. Damping is placed near the boundary of what is plotted to prevent spurious reflections.”

“A solution to the wave equation for the transparent obstacle with speed 2. Damping is placed near the boundary of what is plotted to prevent spurious reflections.”

See the full set!

Posted in Berkeley, differential equations, Jeff Galkowski, mathematics, maths, McGill University, physics, proud dad, quantum, rationality, reasonableness, scattering, science, Stanford University, wave equations, waves | Leave a comment

Incredible Rainfall In South Carolina, and Yes Climate Played A Role – Dan’s Wild Wild Science Journal – AGU Blogosphere

Make no mistake, this was a flood event unlike any other in South Carolina and while Hurricane Joaquin never hit the coast, it holds a smoking gun. This flood was the result of several factors, an …

Source: Incredible Rainfall In South Carolina, and Yes Climate Played A Role – Dan’s Wild Wild Science Journal – AGU Blogosphere

I like Dan’s conclusion from the first article: “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, we should require a course in statistics to get a high school diploma.” But, then, I would.


Posted in statistics, rationality, reasonableness, maths, physics, science, geophysics, oceanography, environment, meteorology, citizenship, civilization, forecasting, carbon dioxide, IPCC, NOAA, the right to know, science education, Principles of Planetary Climate, climate change, Ray Pierrehumbert, Anthropocene, spatial statistics, probability, zero carbon, global warming, climate disruption, sustainability, hurricanes, adaptation, ignorance, Tamino, Hyper Anthropocene, James Hansen, prediction, mitigation, Dan Satterfield | Leave a comment

Risks and Carney at LLoyd’s: Climate change is a ‘tragedy of the horizons’

Carney mentions three channels for climate change to affect financial stability.

  1. Physical risks, or impacts today on insurance liabilities, and value of financial assets.
  2. Liability risks, or risks that could arise tomorrow, should those harmed by the effects of climate change seek compensation from those responsibility.
  3. Transition risks, such as “jump to distress pricing”, due to the need to rapidly change to a new energy system, or a transition to adapt to the consequences of a +2 degree C world.
  4. I also like his quote, that “Your genius has been to recognize that past is not prologue, and that the catastrophic norms of the future can be seen in the tail risks of today.”

Posted in Anthropocene, carbon dioxide, citizenship, civilization, climate, climate change, climate disruption, ecology, economics, environment, ethics, geophysics, global warming, Hyper Anthropocene, investing, physics, rationality, reasonableness, risk, the value of financial assets | Leave a comment

On Changing Things

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

That’s from Buckminster Fuller, a fellow Unitarian.

Posted in adaptation, Anthropocene, bifurcations, bridge to nowhere, Buckminster Fuller, Cauchy distribution, clean disruption, climate disruption, demand-side solutions, destructive economic development, Disney, dynamic linear models, dynamical systems, Epcot, exponential growth, fossil fuel divestment, global warming, Hyper Anthropocene, physical materialism, planning, rationality, reasonableness, Spaceship Earth, stochastic algorithms | Leave a comment

“Projected Costs of Generating Electricity” (IEA report)

The 2015 edition is now available.

Some highlights:

  • They included a sensitivity analysis (!) along with their statistical findings. Applause!!
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  • Figure ES.2 shows the LCOE ranges for various renewable technologies – namely, the three categories of solar PV in the study (residential, commercial and large, ground-mounted) and the two categories of wind (onshore and offshore). It is immediately apparent that the ranges in costs are significantly larger than for baseload technologies. It is also notable that the costs across technologies are relatively in line with one another. While at the high end, the LCOE for renewable technologies remains well above those of baseload technologies, at the low-end costs are in line with – or even below – baseload technologies. Solar PV in particular has seen significant declines in cost since the previous study, though onshore wind remains the lowest cost renewable technology. The median values for these technologies are, for the most part, closer to the low end of the range, a reflection of the fact that this chart obscures significant regional variations in costs (in particular for solar PV). This is not surprising, because the cost of renewable technologies is determined in large part by local resource availability, which can vary significantly among countries or even within countries.

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Posted in Anthropocene, carbon dioxide, clean disruption, climate change, climate disruption, conservation, consumption, decentralized electric power generation, decentralized energy, demand-side solutions, destructive economic development, ecology, economics, efficiency, EIA, energy, energy reduction, energy utilities, environment, forecasting, global warming, Hyper Anthropocene, investing, investment in wind and solar energy, natural gas, NIMBY, pipelines, planning, public utility commissions, rationality, reasonableness, solar power, SolarPV.tv, temporal myopia, time series, Tony Seba, wind energy, wind power, zero carbon | Leave a comment