John Coleman

No idea how that guy can be taken seriously. Shorter version: CO2 is not a greenhouse gas because he says so.

I tried to distill the few, um, scientific, arguments in between the spam:

Well, it is simply not happening. Worldwide there was a significant natural warming trend in the 1980’s and 1990’s as a Solar cycle peaked with lots of sunspots and solar flares. That ended in 1998 and now the Sun has gone quiet with fewer and fewer Sun spots, and the global temperatures have gone into decline.

You know you can stop reading as soon as you are told that the earth has cooled since 1998. Anyway, the connection with the sun has been debunked multiple times already.

Earth has cooled for almost ten straight years.

No, it hasn’t.

Let me illustrate. I estimate that this square in front of my face contains 100,000 molecules of atmosphere. Of those 100,000 only 38 are CO2; 38 out of a hundred thousand. That makes it a trace component. Let me ask a key question: how can this tiny trace upset the entire balance of the climate of Earth? It can’t. That’s all there is to it; it can’t.

Not sure what he is trying to say here, all he has demonstrated is his impressive ability to divide by ten. I guess he thinks that because the mixing ratio is small it cannot have a large effect. Which is quite silly, because a lot lower mixing ration of cyanide will have a devastating effect on your body for example. And there a lot more effective toxins. Well, the point is that CO2 is a triatomic gas, which does absorb infrared radiation, while the much more common gases (nitrogen, oxygen and argon) have two or just one atom. That makes a lot of difference. And that’s not just something pulled out of thin air, it can be measured. (Pun not intended, but tolerated).

One point Coleman makes repeatedly is the claim that the only greenhouse gas we are worried would be carbon dioxide, which isn’t quite correct. There are also methane, nitrous oxide and, to a lesser extent, CFCs.

The rest of the article doesn’t contain any scientific arguments. This one certainly isn’t:

I suspect you haven’t heard it because the mass media did not report it, but I am not alone on the no man-made warming side of this issue. On May 20th, a list of the names of over thirty-one thousand scientists who refute global warming was released. Thirty-one thousand of which 9,000 are Ph.ds. Think about that.

Well, I did think about it and found that there are 22,000 scientists without a PhD on that list. Anyway, it seems to be quite easy to get onto that list. And this is not a signature contest in the first place.

Coleman opened his speech with:

You may want to give credit where credit is due to Al Gore and his global warming campaign the next time you fill your car with gasoline, because there is a direct connection between Global Warming and four dollar a gallon gas.

Later he argues:

The battle against fossil fuels has controlled policy in this country for decades. It was the environmentalist’s prime force in blocking any drilling for oil in this country and the blocking the building of any new refineries, as well. So now the shortage they created has sent gasoline prices soaring.

Completely wrong. For example. drilling in the ANWR would decrease the price of gasoline by 2 cents. And the refineries are underutilized. Who cares, when we can have a cheap shot at the evil environmentalists.

If Al Gore and his global warming scare dictates the future policy of our governments, the current economic downturn could indeed become a recession, drift into a depression and our modern civilization could fall into an abyss. And it would largely be a direct result of the global warming frenzy.

Sounds alarmist, doesn’t it?

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Sticking Stereotypes

So, I followed Eli‘s google link, found this sticker and pondered about purchasing it to stick it on my Prius, when a few minutes later I found this post by and started worrying about my safety. Too bad. After refining the search I found this one, which looks even better.

Leaving for lunch at a sushi restaurant in 30 minutes. As we do every week.

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VPN with openssh

A relatively unknown feature of openssh is its abilty to create a VPN tunnel. This has been implemented in version 4.3. I am not talking about port forwarding. This VPN creates a virtual network interface, which you can use like any other network interface. This is much more flexible than simple TCP port forwarding. It can be used for udp and icmp.
To set it up is actually very simple, but because I couldn’t find any good documentation, it wasn’t easy to figure out.

Here are the steps:

On the server, in /etc/ssh/sshd_config, configure it to allow tunneling and allow root login (if it isn’t there already):

PermitTunnel yes
PermitRootlogin yes

Restart the server with

/etc/init.d/sshd restart

From the client, you can then as root, and login as root to the server.

sudo ssh -w any:any root@fedoku

You need to be root on the client, and login as root. This is important, because only root can create the needed network devices (this is where I was stuck for some time).

When that was successful, you will see on both server and client a tun device:

tun0      Link encap:UNSPEC  HWaddr 00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00
          POINTOPOINT NOARP MULTICAST  MTU:1500  Metric:1
          RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:500
          RX bytes:0 (0.0 b)  TX bytes:0 (0.0 b)

Now you just need to configure them, both on server and client. Because they are point-to-point devices, you need to set the respective peer. The ifconfig commands mirror each other:

Client:

ifconfig tun0 10.0.0.1 pointopoint 10.0.0.2

Server:

ifconfig tun0 10.0.0.2 pointopoint 10.0.0.1

That’s it, actually. Now you can set up routing, firewall, nat and so on, if needed.

There is also a way to use layer 2 networking, with virtual ethernet devices. All you have to do is to set the device type in the client configuration file:

TunnelDevice ethernet

The network devices now show up as tap instead of tun. The advantage is that you can use those for IPv6. I was never able to do that with the tun devices.

Another good documentation can be found here – which I found when I already had it figured out.

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Filed under debian, ipv6, linux, openssh

Venus and all that

The year 2000 was a leap year. If you ask anybody, you will most likely be told that it’s because it’s divisible by four, and years divisible by four are leap years. Case closed. But it’s wrong. Years divisible by 100 are not leap years, so the year 2000 should not have been. But years divisible by 400 are. So you can be right although you are wrong.

Similarly, when you ask somebody why Venus is hotter than the Earth, you will most likely be told that’s because it is closer to the sun. But it’s wrong (well, not completely).

Venus has a very high albedo (0.65) compared to that of the Earth (0.3), because it is covered with white clouds. A simple formula which gives the black body temperature for the distance (0.72AE) gives the temperature T = 252.6K (-20.6C). For the Earth, we get T = 254.9K (-18.3C). So, Venus should actually be slightly cooler than the Earth, even though it is closer to the sun. Of course, both values are false, because the black body temperature is only comparable to the real surface temperature for planets (or moons) without any atmosphere.

The average temperature on Venus is 461.85 °C, and ~15 °C on Earth. Both effects are explained by the greenhouse effect. Which is a good thing on Earth, not so much on Venus (if we want to move there). That doesn’t mean we should increase it on earth.

And you know what? Mercury is closer to the sun than Venus, and yet it is cooler.

So, why am I writing this? Because Tim Blair does not understand it. That’s why.

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Geohashing

Today’s xkcd comic is just ingenious – maybe I will try this next Saturday (location will be known on Friday morning). His friend Dan created a convenient google map interface. Today, my destination would be in the wilderness near Livermore, which is reachable I guess, but may not be easy (especially when it’s hot). The previous two days give much easier destinations.

Comments on xkcd can usually be found on reddit.

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Rockets, not Science

A few days ago Phil Chapman wrote in the Australian about his theory that instead of global warming, a new ice age is imminent. He supports his theory with two facts:

  • the global mean temperature in January 2008 was lower than in January 2007
  • solar cycle 24 refuses to start, although it’s about time

That’s it.

Well, the temperature (according to NOAA) in January 2008 was indeed lower than in January 2007. Chapman’s article has been published on April 23rd. At that time, the data for March 2008 were already out: and it was warmer than March 2007. Indeed, March 2007 was the warmest March on record on land, and the second warmest for sea/land combined. With Chapman’s logic (extrapolating one arbitrary month to another), we would expect warming. But that is not how it works anyway, it is the trend that is important. The trend is still rising.

Next point:

We are currently at a solar minimum, which means that solar cycle 24 is expected to start. It looks like this takes a little longer, but this is not anything unusual, in fact solar cycle 21 was just as long. From Solar Science, where Ken Tapping writes:

The current solar activity is not that unusual. At this point it is completely unjustified to see current solar behaviour as an indication of any departure from its what the Sun has been doing for at least the last 300 years.

Figure 1 shows a plot of solar activity as measured by the solar radio flux monitors operated by the National Research Council of Canada.

The arrow under the 1964-1977 cycle indicates the length of that cycle, which was a little longer than the others. That same arrow has been copied and put under the last cycle. The length is unchanged. It can be seen that the current solar activity cycle (now ending) has not yet exceeded the length of the 1964-77 cycle. It is also clear that the longish cycle in 1964-77 was followed by further activity cycles – normal solar behaviour. To exceed the duration of the 1964-1977 cycle, the new cycle would have to delay its start at least well into 2009.

But, even is the solar cycle were unusual, it still would have to be shown that this has an influence on climate. So far, any link has been spurious at best.

Well, the rest of Chapman’s article, is, (how shall I put it), um, alarmist. He writes:

There is no doubt that the next little ice age would be much worse than the previous one and much more harmful than anything warming may do. There are many more people now and we have become dependent on a few temperate agricultural areas, especially in the US and Canada. Global warming would increase agricultural output, but global cooling will decrease it.

Millions will starve if we do nothing to prepare for it (such as planning changes in agriculture to compensate), and millions more will die from cold-related diseases.

Good thing we have refuted him. Oh, but he has a brilliant solution to the problem:

We could gather all the bulldozers in the world and use them to dirty the snow in Canada and Siberia in the hope of reducing the reflectance so as to absorb more warmth from the sun.

Yeah, right. This is a rocket scientist?

See also the 3 posts on Deltoid (part 1, part 2, part 3) and on Nexus 6. Eli challenges us to find something even more stupid.

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Melting Ice

From time to time I see clueless people writing that the melting polar sea ice increases sea level, and sometimes that it would decrease it. Fact is that it remains the same melting sea ice does not contribute to seal level rise. I am so glad someone made this video to demonstrate it, so I don’t have to:

The reason is that a floating piece of ice displaces exactly as much water as it weighs. It neither gains nor looses mass during melting, so the water from the ice replaces exactly as much as it had displaced.

The rise of the sea level expected from global warming comes from the melting ice on land, from the ice shields of Greenland and Antarctica, and to a lesser extent from the ice of mountain glaciers and thermal expansion. That ice is not floating on the oceans.

Update: rephrased, and added thermal expansion. Changes in italics.

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