Saturday, February 24, 2007



-- Jack Krupansky

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I know it is supposed to rain a lot here in Seattle, but we're having a bit of a monsoon right now, at least here in scenic downtown Bellevue. It's a fairly hard rain and the wind is really blowing. I walked home this evening anyway, especially since I didn't want to wait for the bus on its "holiday" schedule, and got fairly drenched, but it was certainly an invigorating walk from Redmond (about an hour and a half), and allowed me to declare victory over the elements.

Here's the 10-day outlook: rain, showers, showers, partly cloudy, showers, showers, rain/snow showers, rain/snow showers, and... rain/snow showers. It's definitely not all gloom, just very close to it.

-- Jack Krupansky

What holiday?

I got to the bus stop on time this morning, but not only was there no bus, but there were no people waiting for the bus either. Very strange. I saw several regional express buses to and from downtown Seattle come and go, but no local 253 to Redmond. I wondered if my old Sony Clie PDA (Palm OS) had lost its time synchronization again, so I checked the monitor at the bus terminal and it was exactly time for the bus to be there. I checked the schedule to see if it had changed, but there was no change. Sometimes the bus is late due to mechanical problems, but then there are usually even more people waiting. Still nobody waiting at all. I wracked by brain trying to figure out what might be going on. My brain isn't fully functional at 6:00 a.m., but after a minute it finally dawned on me: it's a holiday. President's Day. It isn't a company holiday here at The Evil Empire, but it is a holiday for most people. In fact, this is the first time in my life that I've worked somewhere where President's day wasn't a three-day weekend. We get two floating holidays instead, so you can take it as a holiday if you want, but it just doesn't feel the same.

So, I caught up with some email (including work), and now it's time to go catch the "holiday" 7:20 a.m. 230 bus to Redmond. The 253 doesn't leave until 8:50 a.m. on "holidays." Sigh.

-- Jack Krupansky

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Finally some light at the end of the tunnel

Yesterday morning (Monday) was the first time this winter that I have been able to notice even the slightest hint of daylight in the sky on my way to work. I get off the bus in front of my building complex right at 6:30 a.m. and ususally the sky is quite dark with only street lighting, but on Monday I could actually see some pre-dawn glow in the eastern sky. It will still be some time before I am actually going to see some sun in the sky at that hour, but that little hint of light was a welcome relief from the long Seattle winter nights.

You might be wondering why I take the bus at 6:30 a.m. That's an easy question to answer: because there isn't an earlier bus. I'd rather get started at work at 6:00 a.m., but the earliest bus from downtown Bellevue, WA leaves at 6:05 a.m. for a 25-minute ride.

-- Jack Krupansky

Finally some tight at the end of the tunnel

Yesterday morning (Monday) was the first time this winter that I have been able to notice even the slightest hint of daylight in the sky on my way to work. I get off the bus in front of my building complex right at 6:30 a.m. and ususally the sky is quite dark with only street lighting, but on Monday I could actually see some pre-dawn glow in the eastern sky. It will still be some time before I am actually going to see some sun in the sky at that hour, but that little hint of light was a welcome relief from the long Seattle winter nights.

You might be wondering why I take the bus at 6:30 a.m. That's an easy question to answer: because there isn't an earlier bus. I'd rather get started at work at 6:00 a.m., but the earliest bus from downtown Bellevue, WA leaves at 6:05 a.m. for a 25-minute ride.

-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Wizards of Buzz

I just checked TechMeme, and the top item was an article in the Wall Street Journal Online by Jamin Warren and John Jurgensen entitled "The Wizards of Buzz - A new kind of Web site is turning ordinary people into hidden influencers, shaping what we read, watch and buy" which highlights the emergence of a trend towards focusing on the opinions of key users, letting people express their opinions in a way that can be tallied and winners identified.

The Journal article, dated Saturday, February 10, 2007 failed to note the latest entrant to this hot phenomenon: BuzzDash. It is still in beta, but they will begin a marketing push soon. BuzzDash lets you vote on polling questions, called BuzzBites, tallying and displaying the results and letting you comment on the question and view the comments of others as well. You can even suggest your own BuzzBites or put BuzzBites on your own web site or blog.

BuzzDash is easier to use than, say, if all you want to do is express your opinion on a clearly defined question.

Virtually nobody knew about the site at the time the Journal article was published, but that could change quickly over the coming weeks and months.

My interest here... this is my cousin's latest business venture.

-- Jack Krupansky

Saturday, February 10, 2007

What's your opinion - inquiring minds really do need to know?

Do you have an opinion on any of the following questions:

  • The death of Anna Nicole Smith?
  • Whether Google will be the top search engine in 2010?
  • How many hours of TV you watch every day?
  • The best location for a vacation home?
  • Whether Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are really in love or is it just an act?
  • Did Lindsey Lohan really have an appendectomy?
  • Is Russell Crowe the biggest jerk?
  • Should Mark McGwire be elected to the Hall of Fame?
  • Will the defending champion Carolina Hurricanes make the playoffs?
  • What will happen to real estate prices over the next 2-3 years?
  • What is the greatest near-term threat to the US economy?
  • What is your overall perception of Wal-Mart?
  • Where will Google shares close on Dec. 31, 2007?
  • Is the troop surge in Iraq a good idea?
  • Is global warming proven and caused by man?
  • Is America ready for a female president?
  • Does Nancy Pelosi really need a bigger plane?
  • Who will win the Democratic presidential nomination?
  • Who will win the Republican presidential nomination?
  • Are term limits for politicians a good idea?
  • Which version of The Office is better (U.S. or UK)?
  • Which movie will win the Oscar for best picture?
  • PC or Mac?
  • What best explains the origins of life on earth?
  • Which would you rather own as a pet?
  • Coke or Pepsi?
  • Questions of your own

If so, check out the new web site called BuzzDash. It's in beta, but looks like it is fairly decent.

They have a bunch of categories of questions that you can vote on.

My interest here... this is my cousin's latest business venture.

-- Jack Krupansky


I've always wanted to visit Hawaii, but it was always too far away. I'm living in the Seattle area now, so it isn't that far away. I no longer have much of an excuse not to go. Well, I do have my budget and a desire to catch up on my retirement savings, but otherwise Hawaii is a very tempting target. Hmmm... maybe I should consider Hawaii as a retirement destination, something to check into. Kill two birds with one stone.

In truth, I know very little about Hawaii. Sure, we've all seen the pictures of beaches, surfing, greenery, mountains, mist, and volcanos. I do have to admit that a lot of my "knowledge" about Hawaii comes from watching Hawaii Five-O when I was a kid. I'll have to do some web surfing to get a more realistic view of exactly what I would want to do in Hawaii.

I have no idea what the airfare and hotel and local travel cost would be. In particular, the cost of travel between the islands and what the costs on the various islands are. Getting prices for the individual items should be easy enough on the Internet, but figuring out what all the different items are might be more problematic. Which islands are a must, and which can or should be skipped. The cost will depend on the length of stay. Is a three or four day "weekend" trip worth it? A week? Ten days? Or, is anything less that two weeks a waste of money?

In truth, I have no idea why I would want to go to Hawaii, other than the fact that it seems like an interesting place.

I'm not the type to lie on the beach. I do like nice restaurants and would love to eat all the local fish, but we get a lot of those fish everywhere in the U.S. anyway.

Actually, I do have one specific reason I'd like to go to Hawaii: to see an active volcano.

In any case, maybe a visit to Hawaii would simply be an essential mini-adventure so that I would have some stories to tell, and I would never again have to say "I've never been to Hawaii."

BTW, I have been to Alaska, in the middle of the winter, and even flew up to see Mt. McKinley, but that's another story.

-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Credibility of scientists on global warming

I reread the article in The New York Times by Elisabeth Rosenthal and Andrew Revkin is titled "Science Panel Says Global Warming Is 'Unequivocal'", and the following quote stood out:

Some authors of the report said that no one could honestly point to any remaining uncertainties as justification for further delay.

“Policy makers paid us to do good science, and now we have very high scientific confidence in this work — this is real, this is real, this is real,” said Richard B. Alley, one of the lead authors and a professor at Pennsylvania State University. “So now act, the ball’s back in your court.”

Yikes! Whatever credibility Prof. Alley might have had, that kind of comment and attitude and disdain for the public and lack of respect for uncertainty sends his credibility down the drain. Incredible.

Just to be very, very clear, any forecast about the future, let alone the state of the world many decades from now or the output of any computer model simply cannot be labeled as "real." The proper label is "speculative."

Maybe this simply highlights the need to separate factual statements from speculative statements, and the fact that the IPCC AR4 Summary for Policymakers failed to clearly make that distinction.

It does not matter how many models you run through a computer, none of them can be categorized as real, at least until the passage of time clearly demonstrates that the model is consistently accurate over an extended period of time.

According to Prof. Alley's web page at the Center for Penn State Ice and Climate Research, his current research interests include Glaciology, ice sheet stability, and paleoclimates from ice cores. That is all good stuff and quite relevant to climate research. I haven't taken the time to review his actual research publications, but I'm a little dubious that even absolute knowledge of Glaciology, ice sheet stability, and paleoclimates from ice cores would enable accurate forecasting of climate change many decades into the future. At this stage I would suggest that such models of the future are highly speculative, far beyond the range of "near certainty" that proponents of the climate change political movement are claiming.

-- Jack Krupansky

IPCC secret documents on global warming

Although the IPCC's 21-page Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis - Summary for Policymakers is accessible to the public, the working drafts of the four underlying technical reports are being kept secret from the public.

Here are the actual draft document links, but they are not accessible unless you have the proper security credentials:

  1. WG-I: 10th/Doc.2b
    WG I contribution to AR4 - “Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis”
    Draft Underlying Scientific-Technical Assessment
  2. WG-II: The final draft of “Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.” "... must not be cited or quoted and you are further requested not to distribute the documents or the passwords for the closed website except for the purpose of your Organization's consideration of the final drafts."
  3. WG-III: no sign of it yet.
  4. The Synthesis Report: no sign of it yet.

Big question: What is so secret? What sort of dirty laundry might we find in those secret documents? Maybe the participants are worried that the underlying technical supports may not completely support the SPM (Summary for Policymakers).

Eventually the technical reports will be made public, but why not have a completely open process? I suspect that part of the reason is that the IPCC is essentially a group of government representatives working in concert. The "I" in IPCC stands for Intergovernmental. The IPCC is in no way comparable to a normal, open scientific conference.

BTW, the Climate Change 2001 IPCC Third Assessment Report is in fact completely available online.

-- Jack Krupansky

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Where is the actual IPCC global warming report?

Although the IPCC's 21-page Summy for Policymakers is easy to find, where is the full report?

I reread the article in The New York Times by Elisabeth Rosenthal and Andrew Revkin titled "Science Panel Says Global Warming Is 'Unequivocal'", and found the following:

Government officials are involved in shaping the summary of each report, but the scientist-authors, who are unpaid, have the final say over the thousands of pages in four underlying technical reports that will be completed and published later this year.

So, if The Times is to be believed, the actual report is not yet available. And the "technical reports" are not even completed.

In short, the "scientists" expect the public and "policymakers" to believe a prewritten summary before the underlying science is made available to the public. Or, since the technical reports comprising the actual report are merely "assessments" of existing science, that existing science may already be as public as it is ever going to get. It is possible that footnotes and references in the technical reports might draw attention to underlying science which either escaped attention or was never formally released for public consumption.

The Times offers only a small amount of additional information about the actual report:

The full report, thousands of pages of technical background, will be released in four sections through the year � the first on basic science, then sections on impacts and options for limiting emissions and limiting inevitable harms, and finally a synthesis of all of the findings near year�s end.

This doesn't sound promising and seems to promise only limited billing to actual science. And I definitely cringe when I see the word "synthesis" used in conjunction with science. Synthesis is where real science begins to shift from hard reality to speculation and truthiness.

The IPCC report is not really about doing science itself, but focuses on assessment of the existing science. In other words, any breakthroughs in the report are more in the way of rhetoric and juicy sound bites rather than actual scientific analysis.

Simple question: Why not hold off on the summary and its essentially political and policy decisions until the underlying science has been completed?

The Times is at least good enough to acknowledge some of the inherent uncertainty despite the public pontificating by the proponents of global warming that there is no significant uncertainty about the "science" of global warming:

Big questions remain about the speed and extent of some impending changes, both because of uncertainty about future population and pollution trends and the complex interrelationships of the greenhouse emissions, clouds, dusty kinds of pollution, the oceans and earth's veneer of life, which both emits and soaks up carbon dioxide and other such gases.

The chapters outline for the four underlying technical reports are on the IPCC web site.

  1. Working Group I "The Physical Science Basis"
  2. Working Group II "Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability"
  3. Working Group III "Mitigation of Climate Change"
  4. The Synthesis Report (SYR) (outline of topics)

-- Jack Krupansky

Is global warming really all about burning fossil fuels or does deforestation play a significant role?

For some time now, I have been wondering whether deforestation may have been playing a bigger role in the so-called global warming process than the proponents of global warming have been willing to let on. Now there is sense a hint of a suggestion that my suspicion may be true. In the article in The New York Times by Elisabeth Rosenthal and Andrew Revkin titled "Science Panel Says Global Warming Is 'Unequivocal'", we read the following:

"Since 2001, there has been a torrent of new scientific evidence on the magnitude, human origins and growing impacts of the climatic changes that are under way," said Mr. Holdren, who is the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "In overwhelming proportions, this evidence has been in the direction of showing faster change, more danger and greater confidence about the dominant role of fossil-fuel burning and tropical deforestation in causing the changes that are being observed."

There it is, a reference to the role of "tropical deforestation." Or I should say, the purported.role.

I have no idea whether a hard scientific link can be established between deforestation and global warming, or the relative roles of fossil-fuel burning and deforestation and other factors, but I would hope that scientists would think that it is worth their while to find out.

We are drowning in a flood of opinion and belief, and parched by a drought of hard science.

I just ran across this expression of uncertainty in a report (summary of the eventual report) that supposedly dispels all uncertainty:

Climate-carbon cycle coupling is expected to add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as the climate system warms, but the magnitude of this feedback is uncertain. This increases the uncertainty in the trajectory of carbon dioxide emissions required to achieve a particular stabilisation level of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. Based on current understanding of climate carbon cycle feedback, model studies suggest that to stabilise at 450 ppm carbon dioxide, could require that cumulative emissions over the 21st century be reduced from an average of approximately 670 [630 to 710] GtC to approximately 490 [375 to 600] GtC. Similarly, to stabilise at 1000 ppm this feedback could require that cumulative emissions be reduced from a model average of approximately 1415 [1340 to 1490] GtC to approximately 1100 [980 to 1250] GtC. {7.3, 10.4} [Add GtCO2 numbers].

I'm seeing all these tentative phrasings such as:

  • "... is expected ..."
  • "... but the magnitude of this feedback is uncertain ..."
  • "... This increases the uncertainty ..."
  • "... Based on current understanding ..."
  • "... model studies suggest ..."

Hey, I don't want to beat up the scientists for being honest and expressing their current perceptions of the many uncertainties in global climate research, but I do feel obligated to point out that the promoters of global warming, even at the level of the high level summarization of the IPCC report, are claiming a degree of certainty that really isn't there in the underlying science. Even worse, they are claiming certainty for projections, based on rudimentary models, many decades into the future. Claiming that such projections are "unequivocal", is not credible.

The fact that they felt the need to add the caveat "Based on current understanding" is very telling. I think the scientists have done an admirable job of trying to understand climate, and I do hope that they continue to dig deeper and keep expanding our knowledge, but we do need to recognize that it is unlikely that we really do have a handle on the totality of the processes at work in the evolution of our climate.

BTW, the term "deforestation" is not to be found at all in the IPCC summary. Incredible. The official title of the "report" is Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis - Summary for Policymakers.

-- Jack Krupansky

Is global warming really "Unequivocal"?

I'm sure you've heard the news. An article in The New York Times by Elisabeth Rosenthal and Andrew Revkin is titled "Science Panel Says Global Warming Is 'Unequivocal'", suggesting that the last word on global warming is in and that any further discussion over the science is moot. We'll see.

The really unfortunate thing is that global warming is now an affair of politics and big business, so science will now be taking a back seat to political and business "opportunities."

Make no mistake on four fronts:

  1. Vast amounts of money will be spent on "global warming."
  2. It is unlikely that much of that expense will have significant positive environmental impact.
  3. The money will be a vast transfer from the pockets of those who have less to those who already have too much. Politicians and corporate executives and "consultants" and public speakers will rake in the dough, and that money has to come from somewhere.
  4. Many of the "workarounds" to the use of fossil fuels could have dramatic negative impacts on the environment and public health far greater than the positive impact on so-called "global warming." For example, lots of nuclear power plants will be placed into operation with a shortage of talent to properly operate them and deal with their waste streams.

Any day now... I expect that Iran will begin to argue that they need their nuclear power plants and nuclear fuel processing plants specifically to "combat global warming."

I would off a great caution: Beware of unintended consequences and side effects. The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence.

In the coming months I hope to sift through the new report. I doubt that I'll find much in the way of new and more persuasive science, but it will at least be interesting reading.

Now, what on earth does "Unequivocal" really mean? The Merriam-Webster online dictionary has these two meanings:

1 : leaving no doubt : CLEAR, UNAMBIGUOUS

Leaving no doubt? Hmmm... doesn't the report itself refer to a 90% level of confidence? What about the remaining 10%? How is that "no doubt"? Food for thought.

I'm trying to track down the actual "report."

On the UN web site I find a news article entitled "Evidence is now ‘unequivocal’ that humans are causing global warming – UN report".

That's interesting. There are two distinct questions: Is their a global warming effect and is recent human activity the cause of that effect. The Times heading refers to the former but the UN article refers to the latter. Part of the problem is that the two are unreasonably being treated as the same when from a science perspective they should be kept distinct. Science should not and can not be based on bias. Of course, this depends on whethe you are seeking truth or a good "story."

The Times specifically says:

... the leading international network of climate scientists has concluded for the first time that global warming is “unequivocal” and that human activity is the main driver, “very likely” causing most of the rise in temperatures since 1950.

Yes, they are indeed linking the effect with a presumed cause, but what really is the scientific meaning of labelling the effect as "unequivocal" and the "main driver" as merely "very likely"? Hmmm... yet another question to look into.

The organization that produced the report is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Their charter or mandate is summarized as:

Recognizing the problem of potential global climate change, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988. It is open to all members of the UN and WMO.

The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. The IPCC does not carry out research nor does it monitor climate related data or other relevant parameters. It bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific/technical literature. Its role, organisation, participation and general procedures are laid down in the "Principles Governing IPCC Work"

Interesting. Their "mandate" specifically presumes that global warming is "human-induced." That does not allow for science to be independent of its political masters. That is very disheartening, unless you are a social or political activist who believes that science is simply a tool, a means to an end, where the "end" is predefined.

And read carefully this sentence from that "mandate":

The IPCC does not carry out research nor does it monitor climate related data or other relevant parameters. It bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific/technical literature.

Wow. The bottom line is that if you really want to get at the science of global warming, the IPCC is not a source for science.

Here is the Media Advisory/Press Release for the report. In fact, here is the whole thing (minus the PR contacts):

Paris, 2 February 2007 – Late last night, Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) adopted the Summary for Policymakers of the first volume of “Climate Change 2007”, also known as the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).

“Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis”, assesses the current scientific knowledge of the natural and human drivers of climate change, observed changes in climate, the ability of science to attribute changes to different causes, and projections for future climate change.

The report was produced by some 600 authors from 40 countries. Over 620 expert reviewers and a large number of government reviewers also participated. Representatives from 113 governments reviewed and revised the Summary line-by-line during the course of this week before adopting it and accepting the underlying report.

The Summary can be downloaded in English from and A webcast of the final press conference has also been posted. The Summary will be available in Arabic, Chinese French, Russian and Spanish at a later date. The full underlying report will be published in English by Cambridge University Press.

Note the phrase "Representatives from 113 governments"? In other words this is the political dimension of the global warming campaign, albeit with a scientific "tint."

And their use of the phrase "Late last night." What??? What sane person with half a brain would base a profound policy and the future of mankind on earth on some words that were hammered out "Late last night." Unbelievable. Truly unbelievable. This is not the way to do science.

Here is the Summary for Policymakers (PDF file). You are unlikely to find any real science in there.

Now, it turns out the the full report is not yet available, as far as I have been able to tell so far (although I'll keep searching.) What we can get is the "summary." The full report will be available at a later date, I think. A 21-page "summary" is simply no better a source for science than a movie by a former politician.

From The Times:

"Feb. 2 will be remembered as the date when uncertainty was removed as to whether humans had anything to do with climate change on this planet. The evidence is on the table."
- ACHIM STEINER, executive director of the United Nations Environment

That is a very curious statement. There is a vast gap between "anything to do with" and whether human activity is the primary cause for sustained global climate change. There is also a clear distinction between "evidence" and proof. Evidence by itself is not necessarily proof. Accumulating larger amounts of evidence does not necessarily increase the degree of certainty of a conclusion. Finally, where is this "table" and why isn't it readily accessible to the public? Why all of the secrecy and obfuscation, especially when the claim of "unequivocal" is being made?

I have only very briefly scanned the "summary." One aspect that popped out was the use of terms like "Likely", "Very likely", "More likely than not", and "Virtually certain", suggesting that the so-called "certainty" is no where near as certain as has been publicly claimed. The strongest term, "Virtually certain", is less frequently used than the other, weaker terms. Keep that in mind.

Here's a truly wonderful line:

Magnitude of anthropogenic contributions not assessed. Attribution for these phenomena based on expert judgement rather than formal attribution studies.

That is a long-winded way of saying that the conclusion of human activity being the primary cause of a given spect of climate change was based on opinion rather than hard, data-analytic science ("expert judgement" vs. "formal attribution studies")! That was the footnote for the conclusion of "More likely than not" for the question of "Likelihood of a human contribution to observed trend" for the phenemena of "Warm spells / heat waves. Frequency increases over most land areas", "Heavy precipitation events. Frequency (or proportion of total rainfall from heavy falls) increases over most areas", "Intense tropical cyclone activity increases" (remember Katrina and how Al Gore used it in his movie as "proof" of global warming?), and "Increased incidence of extreme high sea level (excludes tsunamis)." This is from the summary itself. I am not making this stuff up. The public claims of unequivocal certainty simply are not born out by even the summary upon which the public claims are made.

More to come. Stay tuned.

-- Jack Krupansky