Tag Archives: climate change

NMT to disinvite Harrison Schmitt?

I posted the following to an alumni group’s Facebook page in response to a post that cited this article and invited alumni to ask the school’s president to disinvite Schmitt.

I have difficulty believing there is a serious movement to disinvite Dr. Harrison Schmidt as commencement speaker. He’s an astronaut who’s explored — as a trained geologist — another planet, on foot. If he’s wrong about climate science, well, he won’t be the first person to demonstrate the Dunning Kruger effect. I’m think in particular of a physics professor who was determined to bring back punched card media for his simulation software.

But more than that, I am appalled that the professors at Tech are failing to teach their students that Science is not a collection of orthodoxies that must not be questioned. When I went to Tech, I heard from my petroleum engineering friends that one of the geology faculty refused to subscribe to the theory of plate tectonics. I don’t know if that was true, but it was believable because people were allowed to hold unpopular opinions. When I was at Tech, we read “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” and learned the big problem in science is overcoming the informal orthodoxies that creep in despite our best intentions. We watched Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” and shook our heads at the medieval clergy who treated Galileo as a heretic and refused to look through his telescope.

But worst, I think, is the boorish gauchery of disinviting a speaker from an event after the invitation had been made and accepted. What kind of people would even consider it? A few years ago, I thought President Trump was 50% vulgarian, 50% clown, and 100% reality show personality. Today, I’m afraid he embodies the spirit of our age. The idea that Techies would outdo him in classlessness… it’s #Sad.

Arctic Climate Change and Extinction

I can barely understand the abstract:

The Arctic Ocean is undergoing rapid climatic changes including higher ocean temperatures, reduced sea ice, glacier and Greenland Ice Sheet melting, greater marine productivity, and altered carbon cycling. Until recently, the relationship between climate and Arctic biological systems was poorly known, but this has changed substantially as advances in paleoclimatology, micropaleontology, vertebrate paleontology, and molecular genetics show that Arctic ecosystem history reflects global and regional climatic changes over all timescales and climate states…. Climate-driven biological impacts included large changes in species diversity, primary productivity, species’ geographic range shifts into and out of the Arctic, community restructuring, and possible hybridization, but evidence is not sufficient to determine whether or when major episodes of extinction occurred.

Electricity for Africa: if it’s a moral imperative, must it be green?

In Electricity for Africa, Matt Ridley quotes a UN official who says, despite the troubles in Libya and the Sahel that make the news, the long-term problems are concentrated in Subsaharan Africa:

Just to get sub-Saharan electricity consumption up to the levels of South Africa or Bulgaria would mean adding about 1,000 gigawatts of capacity, the installation of which would cost at least £1 trillion.

Renewable generation will cost about 4-5 times what natural gas generation costs.

The economist Bjørn Lomborg has been making the case that getting energy and clean water to Africans is a higher moral priority than pursuing renewable energy. He still thinks climate change is a danger, but he thinks developing new energy technologies will get far better results than rolling out expensive and land-hungry renewables today.

Worth reading the whole thing.