It's Not Magic
Writings of a techie wizard
Wed, 26 Mar 2014

The Daily Telegraph reports that, based on the latest draft of the IPCC AR5,

The United Nations will officially warn that growing crops to make "green" biofuel harms the environment and drives up food prices

(hat tip: Watts Up With That ). At first glance, this looks promising, an actual outbreak of sanity for the IPCC, something like admitting that climate model forecasts are inaccurate. But just as with that previous item, you shouldn't get your hopes up too much; as you can see even from the brief quote above, the obvious reason for not using food crops to make biofuels (the one that's in the title of this post) is not the primary reason the IPCC gives for their about-face on this issue.

The primary reason the IPCC gives is that

growing biofuel crops on a large scale requires either the conversion of agricultural land used for food crops or the destruction of forests to free up land, possibly offsetting any reduction in carbon emissions from the use of biofuels.

In other words, the IPCC isn't really concerned about rising food prices; after all, if they had been, the AR4, back in 2007, would not have made such an aggressive recommendation to increase the use of biofuels. It's not as though burning food only just started to drive up food prices. No, it's all about CO2 alarmism.

Of course, even if we restrict the discussion to the climate aspect, the IPCC is admitting that they screwed up. Did they just now discover that growing biofuel crops requires the use of land? Couldn't exactly the same analysis have been done back in 2007? Why wasn't it? Of course, nobody is asking those questions. And if the IPCC can screw up something this basic, what does that say about their ability to get it right on more complex issues, like, oh, say, predicting what Earth's climate will be like in fifty or a hundred years? Of course, nobody is asking those questions either.

But to me, all that is secondary to the real issue, which is that the IPCC, and all the governments that make policy based on what the IPCC says, were willing to make it more difficult for a significant fraction of the world's population to get enough to eat, right now, based on the belief that it would lead to some vague benefit to the climate fifty or a hundred years hence. Which they're now saying isn't going to be a benefit anyway (not that I believed them whey they said it would, but the point is that now even they admit it's not). And the people who wouldn't get enough to eat had no say in the matter. These are the people whom we are supposed to trust with the future of our planet. Personally, I don't trust them to add two and two correctly. But maybe that's just me.

Posted at 22:32   |   Category: rants   |   Tags: politics, science   |   Permalink
Thu, 20 Mar 2014

Some time back I noted that what was then a common sentiment (I found it in an op-ed in the New York Times, which is proof of it being a common sentiment if anything is) about the Constitution seemed backwards to me. The claim was that we were getting into trouble about the "fiscal cliff" because we were too obsessed with following the Constitution; but as I showed in that post, the real problem was that we weren't following it enough.

Now I've come across a lecture given by Michael Karman at Johns Hopkins University on Constitution Day, 2010, entitled "A Skeptical View of Constitution Worship", which goes even further than the NYT op-ed did. My basic response is the same: the problem is not that we "worship" the Constitution, it's that we ignore it.


Posted at 23:58   |   Category: rants   |   Tags: politics   |   Permalink
Thu, 16 Jan 2014

It's been obvious for quite some time, at least to anyone not marinated in the ideology of climate change alarmism, that the models being used to produce the IPCC's forecasts of doom do not match reality. But now it's become so glaring that even the IPCC itself has admitted it in the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) from Working Group I for its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) (hat tip: Watts Up With That ).


Posted at 23:55   |   Category: rants   |   Tags: politics, science   |   Permalink
Wed, 27 Nov 2013

A few weeks ago the Federal Reserve announced that it would continue "quantitative easing" at its current level. The reason, as explained in the press release just linked to (though in rather oblique language, as is the usual practice with such things), was basically that, while the economy appears to be recovering, the Fed isn't sure that it's recovering strongly enough. Which leads to the obvious next question: how much longer will this have to go on?


Posted at 23:31   |   Category: rants   |   Tags: economics, politics   |   Permalink
Fri, 25 Oct 2013

A while back, I advised climate change alarmists to get off the soapbox. Now it appears that I have to extend that advice to scientists more generally.


Posted at 21:38   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: politics, science   |   Permalink
Fri, 13 Sep 2013

This news is several years old now, but I just came across the article today and I can't resist a brief comment.

The good news: videos of Richard Feynman giving his famous lectures on physics at Caltech in 1964 are available online, thanks to Bill Gates.

The bad news: if you think this means that a wonderful resource for learning about science is now open and accessible to everyone, think again. From the article:

Note you will need to download Microsoft's Silverlight to get around the site.

You can take the boy out of Microsoft, but you can't take Microsoft out of the boy.

Posted at 11:47   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: computers, science   |   Permalink
Sun, 01 Sep 2013

A recent article (via Reuters, via Hacker News) says that the US Congress should spend more time working and less time vacationing. I could go on and on about what Congress actually does when it is working, but that would go in the rants section of this blog. Here I just want to comment on one particular thing that struck me about the article.


Posted at 19:04   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: politics   |   Permalink
Mon, 12 Aug 2013

(Note: there is a discussion of this post on Hacker News.)

I posted some time back that one drawback of the "cloud" is that you can't control how data you post to a "cloud" service is used. Facebook has now provided us with an even better example than the case (Instagram) I talked about in that post.


Posted at 19:56   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: computers   |   Permalink
Fri, 09 Aug 2013

A while back I blogged about the Linux kernel site (not) being cracked. That is, someone had indeed cracked the server, but had not been able to do any damage because all of the files stored there were cryptographically signed in a way that could not be forged. Strictly speaking, that was not a story about how Linux itself is more secure than other operating systems; but the fact that the Linux kernel developers took such precautions certainly indicates a mindset towards security that is different from that of certain other operating systems.

Yesterday ZDNet reported on some more direct evidence of Linux's security as an operating system, not just the security of its kernel repository.


Posted at 22:01   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: computers   |   Permalink
Wed, 19 Jun 2013

This is just a quick link to a hilarious response to a cease and desist letter (hat tip: Hacker News). If you ever need a lawyer, hopefully you will find one with a sense of humor like the one that wrote this response.

Posted at 23:25   |   Category: general   |   Tags: info   |   Permalink
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