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Hotties vs Frosties?

Posted on 9 July 2010 by John Brookes

Guest post by John Brookes

There is much heat in the blogosphere debates between those who believe that we are warming the planet, and those who are highly skeptical of such claims. I will put my cards on the table right now, and say that I think we are warming the planet. There is a lot of mistrust between the warring factions. People like me are referred to as AGW alarmists, while people on the other side are regularly derided as deniers. So to start with, I'd like to take some heat out of the debate by giving nicknames to the combatants. Those on my side will be referred to as "hotties", while the other side will be referred to as "frosties".

What are hotties like? Hotties are latte sipping, bicycle riding, quasi-intellectual, communist, greeny idealogues who hate the modern world and want to drive us back to the dark ages. Most Hotties have been hidden away in their ivory towers for so long suckling off the taxpayers teat that they know almost nothing about the real world, the world they are trying to destroy. They want to impose more and more rules limiting what you can do. Hotties have been brainwashed by an elite who are using the threat of climate change for their own ends. The elite consists of politicians are intent on creating a world government, and tame but dishonest scientists who are rewarded financially for fudging data and saying what the politicians want to hear. Hotties try and drown out all dissenting opinions. Philip Adams is their hero. Hotties should wash more often.

How about the frosties? Frosties are chainsaw wielding, grumpy, overweight, middle-aged men who drive older model 4WDs. They have Galileo complexes and opinions on everything, are outraged by most things, rail against the youth of today, and are suckers for conspiracy theories. They cherry pick data, and use tired and discredited arguments as though they are brand new. They would argue that black was white, if they thought that admitting black was black would weaken their position. They intimidate and harass real climate scientists, while their own Plimer, Monckton, Nova, Archibald, etc are in the pay of industry and have less credibility than John Worsfold talking about the Eagles next premiership. They don't have heroes. Rugged individuals who are single-handedly supporting the whole of western civilisation have no need for heroes. Some do have a bit of a crush on Jo Nova though.

So I've spent some time on both hotty and frosty blogs, and this is not what I see. For example on Jo Nova's blog, I have found many well meaning frosties who are only too happy to help expand my limited understanding of the science of climate change. At one time I put up a post which said that most hotties and frosties did not understand what was going on, but were simply barracking for their side. Rather than wishing me good riddance, Eddy, a regular there, encouraged me to aim higher. Thanks to Eddy, I've decided to work a bit harder to understand what is going on. Many of the frosties are doing exactly the same thing, trying to work out what is going on. They think that attempts to reshape our world without fossil fuels spells disaster, and think it is their duty to fight against it. Sure there are some frosties who are over the top and abusive, but the same can be said of some hotties. Of course there are also frosties who uncritically lap up any new argument which supports their case, while demanding much higher standards of the hotties. There are also probably a few who are paid directly or indirectly by big coal.

A similar judgement can be made about most hotties. They genuinely believe that climate change is a serious problem which needs to be tackled, not because of their ideological beliefs, but because of its predicted effects. Most of the climate scientists are actually committed to finding the truth, even if it puts them out of a job. Scientists are like that, they are driven by a desire to understand, and their reputation in the scientific community, should they be found to have any other motive, would be mud. Just like the frosties, most hotties are trying to improve their understanding of climate change. Of course there are some hotties who will believe any old rubbish which says that humans are bad and the world is about to end because of it (and I blame the catholic church for this ;-)). There are also probably a few scientists who are so wedded to the idea of climate change that it gets in the way of their objectivity.

I don't think there is any hope for the lunatic fringe on either side. If your starting point is that the people on the other side are evil incarnate, then you won't move from that. But for the rest of us, maybe there is some common ground. Can we find the points on which we agree? Much more importantly, can we pinpoint the exact places where we disagree?

Say you are marking a short answer question in a students physics test, and their answer is wrong (no post modernism here). Unless the student has absolutely no idea what they are talking about you will usually be able to find the exact place they went wrong. For example, they assumed that a cube had 8 faces, rather than 6. After this mistake, even if they use the correct method, their answer will be wrong. If they want to get the right answer, they must return to the mistake and correct that.

Of course the real world isn't so clean cut. It’s not normally a simple problem where you know all the facts exactly and just have to join them together appropriately to get "the answer". Imagine our student having to tackle their problem, but with no knowledge (and no way of finding out) just how many faces a cube has. They may look at systems they understand reasonably well, and work backwards until they conclude that a cube has about 5.3 +/- 1 faces. So they'll use this range of values, and it will give them a range of values for the answer. If this range is not too large, it may be useful. Of course if they botch things up and conclude that a cube has 17.3 +/- 0.2 faces, any results based on this will be useless. It is often the case with problems that there is more than one way to skin a cat, and someone else may find a way of tackling the problem without needing to know the number of faces a cube has. If their results don't agree with the cubist ones, then there will be a bun fight until most people agree with one or other side. What if one or two people refuse to agree? Well, you just carry on without them. You are doomed to get nowhere if you need everyone to agree with you.

It follows that for many real world problems, you won't be able to "prove" anything. You will over time simply build up a weight of evidence to help you make decisions. This is particularly so for climate science, where you can't say, "Here is a world I prepared earlier".

Of course the fervent hotties will say, "But we've already done all the necessary work, and the weight of evidence is overwhelming." And the fervent frosties will say, "They haven't proved anything. They have failed to address this and this and this. Their results are meaningless". And there is validity to both of these points of view.

Let us take just one point, “Global temperatures over the last 15 years don’t show any signs of warming”. Most frosties are smiling now, while most hotties are like “WTF?” If both sides are looking at the same data, then how can they disagree? Surely one side must be dishonest or deluded. Well, no actually. Here is a graph of some data.

Up or down?

Is it increasing, decreasing or staying the same? Have a good look - take all the time you like. Don't scroll down yet. Can you draw any conclusion?

You can apply all the statistical tests you like, and draw trend lines, or trend curves or do whatever you like, and I will have no faith in any statement other than, “You can’t tell”. But that is not what I say. I say it is definitely increasing. I’m absolutely sure of it. Why? Because I know where the data came from, and I have a model in my head of what I expect that data to do, and when I look at that data, it only confirms the model.

The data is the daily maximum temperature for Perth for September 2009. Here in Perth, we get warmer during September (that is the extremely simple model I have in my head), and with this in mind, when I look at the data, that is exactly what I see – a steadily increasing trend with some unusually warm days at the start of the month, and one unusually cold one at the end.

This is why frosties and hotties can look at the same data and see different things. The frosties look at the data without any underlying model, and see no trend. The hotties look at the data in the light of their models, and see something different. The point of difference is not that they see different things, it is the presence or absence of an underlying model of what they see.

So lets sort out our common ground, and work out where our differences really come from. At least then we can have a debate which is better than, "You are a moron", "No, you are a moron".

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Comments 151 to 200 out of 201:

  1. To update my post just above, I believe that a scaled down version of the Isle of Lewis wind farm has eventually been approved, after modification to accommodate the environmental and scenic objections. An offshore windfarm in the Minch just to the East of the Isle of Lewis is also going ahead I believe.
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  2. M Sweet #103, Chris #105, JMurphy #106 Perhaps I should quote my height as 1.85m +/-1.85m. I could be a midget or a giant. Steric SLR components with measurements where the signal is equal to the noise viz. 0.5 +/-0.5mm etc are as useful as suggestions that a La Nina can cause a 'global' flattening of temperatures and OHC over 4-5 years. 'Global' warming requires external forcing (ie a TOA imbalance) - not redistribution of existing heat stored in the oceans which can feasibly cause regional or possibly hemispheric effects. With little storage capacity in the atmosphere and land, and relatively tiny amounts of heat energy accounted by ice melt, the only feasible store for the energy is the oceans. Measuring OHC is the major issue - not a small part of the 'multiple lines of evidence' so often touted in these blogs. With 1 drifting Argo buoy every 110,000 sq.km we still have a way to go to accurately measure the upper 900m, and Von Schukmann's bumpy 2000m OHC chart was seriously holed below the waterline elsewhere by our good friend BP. As a very prominent climate scientist expressed to me a few months ago: "It's time the oceanographers got their act together".
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  3. BTW, some less one-sided stories on Vinalhaven can be found here and here. Vastly reduced power bills, no pollution, only a few people complaining, and the company working on noise reduction options for those few. Doesn't really sound so bad.
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  4. #150 CBDunkerson at 23:40 PM on 13 July, 2010 In short, you are maintaining a belief in the inadequacy of wind power by closing your eyes to information to the contrary My point was windfarms render huge areas uninhabitable (much larger than anyhing else). It's a valid one. What else do you need? The sad image you've painted of an ill-managed coal region is striking. Especially because this, far from being unavoidable, is the consequence of insufficient local regulations. Proper recultivation is possible, but pricy. It should be enforced on coal mining companies. Soot and sulphur can be filtered out, scale as well with most of the radioactive materials in it. If you switch technology without improving regulations, in a couple of decades you'll be left with broken windmills dotting the landscape, dropping parts, leaking oil and other chemicals, making it unsafe to even walk among them, not to mention farming. Then you'll have a choice to spend public money on decommissioning or abandon the place and move on.
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  5. My point was windfarms render huge areas uninhabitable (much larger than anyhing else). It's a valid one. What else do you need? Stop exaggerating, please. Some windfarms are offshore. Some windfarms are in very sparsely populated regions. Some windfarms are in agricultural areas, where power companies rent space from farmers. In the latter case, normal economic activity (growing crops) generally proceeds more or less uninterrupted around the wind turbines. You tossed out a bunch of anecdotal Youtube videos and a vague implication that somebody in Vinalhaven, Maine is unhappy with wind turbines. I pointed out that one recent poll shows support for wind power in Maine running at about 90%. Who's got the stronger case here? This, however, is a valid point: If you switch technology without improving regulations, in a couple of decades you'll be left with broken windmills dotting the landscape, dropping parts, leaking oil and other chemicals, making it unsafe to even walk among them, not to mention farming. Then you'll have a choice to spend public money on decommissioning or abandon the place and move on. Of course, that applies to every power generating technology. Want to compare the costs (economic and environmental) of decommissioning a wind farm to the costs of a dam, an oil field, or a nuclear power plant?
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  6. Berényi Péter at 00:33 AM on 14 July, 2010 "My point was windfarms render huge areas uninhabitable (much larger than anyhing else). It's a valid one. What else do you need?" Do they Peter? Not if you put them in shallow coastal seas. Not if you put them on windy peat moors. Not if you put them on rough moors suitable only for sheep and goat grazing. None of these really take up much space at all and allow the original land use to be maintained (O.K. perhaps one wouldn't wish to go grouse shooting on a peat moor with wind turbines!). But what's wrong with a wind turbines on a sheep farm - a wind farm where sheep may safely graze ("Schafe können sicher weiden" as JS Bach might have put it if he was considering the delights of wind power). As for...."If you switch technology without improving regulations....", isn't there an obvious answer to that? I hope you're not suggesting we consider installing wind turbines without appropriate regulations for their maintenance and decommissioning. In any case I expect the latter might be a teeny bit more tractable that decommissioning coal plants, let alone nuclear power plants... I wonder whether you're being deliberately obtuse now (piling up fanciful objections!)
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  7. Re: preceding two comments: Believe it or not, chris and I actually are different people..... :-)
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  8. #155 Ned at 00:54 AM on 14 July, 2010 Want to compare the costs (economic and environmental) of decommissioning a wind farm to the costs of a dam, an oil field, or a nuclear power plant? Yes, that would be nice. To be fair projects with the same actual lifetime power output should be compared.
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  9. Some cheering news today on the success of renewable energy in Europe Whatever the doubts the contrarians may have (both legitimate and not)governments are moving forward. Nice to see that people discussing how we can limit our GHG emissions.
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  10. Ned at 01:18 AM on 14 July, 2010 Yes I noticed that Ned. Luckily we posted at more or less the same time, else everyone might have assumed I'd just copied you ;- } Berényi Péter at 01:58 AM on 14 July, 2010 I wonder whether one would need to decommission a wind farm Peter. I would have thought the turbines could simply be replaced/upgraded as required, and as new technologies came on line. It just requires a little bit of creative planning... ..it's not like we would run out of wind! I don't think we need to contemplate your unhappy vision of "broken windmills", "dropping parts" and (the horror!) "leaking oil"...
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  11. #160 chris at 02:43 AM on 14 July, 2010 ..it's not like we would run out of wind! I don't think we need to contemplate your unhappy vision of "broken windmills", "dropping parts" and (the horror!) "leaking oil"... It's already happening. Kamaoa Wind Farm, South Point, Hawaii, USA (click on image for details)
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  12. And dream version of the one above, for comparison.
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  13. That's how abandoned solar looks like. Carrizo Plain Solar Power Plant – Southern California, USA
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  14. @BP #161: Kamaoa Wind Farm, South Point, Hawaii, USA I'm curious... what's exactly wrong with early model wind turbines breaking down after 19 years of service? Modern turbines have a life expectancy of 20-30 years, so for a 1987 model, I'd say they held up pretty good.
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  15. For the sake of completeness, here's an abandoned nuclear reactor: and here's a coal mine: and here's an abandoned oil field: and here's a failed dam: The relevance of this all escapes me, but it seems to be highly meaningful to Berényi Péter....
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  16. ....and BP #163: Carrizo Plain Solar Power Plant – Southern California, USA Another "oldie"... but the photovoltaic panels are now in use elsewhere, which isn't too shabby either. So, um, your problem is that they haven't demolished the original sturcture yet? (Like Ned, I don't really get the point here.)
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  17. #165 Ned at 05:03 AM on 14 July, 2010 The relevance of this all escapes me Don't mull over it too much, I tell you. If wind power is to supply a significant portion of energy on a global scale, the area of industrial wasteland increases by orders of magnitude. Land use is inversely proportional to energy density. It's as simple as that. And Chernobyl does not belong here. It was an absolutely flawed & irresponsible soviet design with no built in structural safety whatsoever. Modern (30+ years old) models can't possibly blow up.
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  18. BP - you keep showing this graph as proof of something but you have yet to tell us of what. How does this prove fraud? How about you find us one station where you think the adjustment procedure has been fraudulently done and show us how the adjustment should have been done? "No. In 2004 US primary energy comsumption (achievement at primary energy carriers stressed on the average) was 10,460 Watts/head. If you do the math that comes out as 251.04 kWh/p/d." Which is close enough to 250kWh/p/d which I quoted. Your point? MacKay is giving everyone 125kWh/p/d which is obviously a problem for US citizen but an increase for most of the world. The 91kWh/p/d I quoted was for NZ (consumption). "Think globally, act locally. " Umm, I was. I dont think we are on the same wavelength. And I'll add another defense for windmills. If you find another way to generate energy, then they are relatively easy to remove unlike say hydro. A personal distaste for the aesthetics of windmills (you prefer the look of coal stations?) doesnt seem to stack up against the negative effects from rapid climate change.
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  19. #168 scaddenp at 07:09 AM on 14 July, 2010 Your point? [...] The 91kWh/p/d I quoted was for NZ (consumption). Sorry, I've misunderstood you. I had no way to know you were from New Zealand. However, total primary energy consumption in NZ is 146 kWh/p/d, not 91. That's only the approximate portion coming from coal, oil and natural gas (more like 95 kWh/p/d). The 35% renewable is nice (15% in the US), but you are lucky. Low population density, high geopotential and precipitation makes hydro an option.
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  20. BP - I thought you would have known where I came from due to recent email corresponse For 2007, the number for NZ is 94 (I misremembered), the 146 no. I believe includes directly exported energy (petroleum, coal). I did the calculations in gory detail for a MacKay style analysis from NZ Energy file.
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  21. #168 scaddenp at 07:09 AM on 14 July, 2010 And I'll add another defense for windmills. If you find another way to generate energy, then they are relatively easy to remove unlike say hydro. No, it is not the case. If you have wind farms with the same lifetime energy output as a nuclear plant, decommissioning costs are roughly the same. The big difference is that crap to be collected is spread over a couple of thousand times larger area. For hydro the cost may be more, depending on location, but land use is only poor for flatland hydro power (should also be banned). The real problem is subidies. In the US almost 15 times more public money goes to wind than to nukes ($23.37/MWh vs. $1.59/MWh). Even more to the post-normal craziness of clean coal ($29.81/MWh). Solar also gets its due share ($24.34/MWh). In Europe it is much worse. In a sane world all that money should go to R+D on nuclear breeder technology and none of it to production by whatever means. As for clean coal, carbon dioxide sequestration is plain silly. Otherwise all pollutants from burning coal can be filtered out and should be required to be filtered by regulators. Much better than a carbon tax, its main advantage being it makes sense.
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  22. BP - wont argue on cleanup wrt to coal - nuclear has waste issue. Hydro v wind is the issue here. But we still farm under windmills. I dont see why the land use is such an issue. I'll also agree with subsidies - apparently $550 billion pa on fossil fuels according to IEA. End that now. Disclosure: my section does research on CO2 sequestration. However, I'd say from research so far is that it remains an open question. Not something you can just fix every coal plant with but a possible solution for some plants. Of course, the added cost will make coal uncompetitive against many renewables in most places.
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  23. Berényi - Yep, land use is proportional to total energy density. The nice thing about wind farms, however, is that the actual power producing density is ~300-1000 W/m^2 (including access roads), spread over a much larger area to space out the turbines, for a sum density of 3-4 W/m^2. And (!!!) the area between and under the turbines is completely usable for agriculture. Total land removed from use drops right back to 300-1000 W/m^2 levels. Of course, some wind farms (many in my area) are mounted along ridgelines, where effective land use otherwise is essentially nil. They don't subtract any otherwise desirable area.
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  24. Berényi - "...all pollutants from burning coal can be filtered out and should be required to be filtered by regulators": That's really rough with radon - it's estimated at 330 mCi/GW, and you really can't filter it. Most of the other radionucleotides (thorium, uranium, etc.) get removed by standard pollution controls. And then you have some really nasty ash... But I do agree with you on several points - nuclear and breeder reactors should receive much more emphasis. Proper breeder reactor approaches should (IMO) include local reprocessing, so almost none of the dangerous stuff ever leaves the site - it gets burned. Coal is a lousy, filthy power source, though, and we should just drop it entirely just on sanity grounds. Subsidies? Renewables receive ~4.9B US$, nukes 1.3B, while coal receives 3.3B, oil/natural gas 2.1B (5.4B total for carbon tech). But renewables ARE developing technology with a lot of promise. I believe (personal opinion, mind you) that the investment can be argued as worthwhile.
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  25. #172 scaddenp at 09:32 AM on 14 July, 2010 nuclear has waste issue Not really. Old technology apparently has it, because a lot of long halflife isotopes are left in spent fuel. However, advanced breeder technology with onsite closed system reprocessing can burn out all of it. In fact the huge reserve of present day nuclear waste can also serve as fuel, so not even mining is necessary for several decades. What is left behind is a mix of light short halflife radionuclides (a few thousand tonnes annually), which decay into stable isotopes in several hundred years. Therefore no long term (hundreds of thousand years) safe storage is needed. You can compare it to dangerous chemicals (like heavy metals) in some industrial waste that remain toxic practically forever, still, we tolerate them in quantity. Built in structural safety has also improved a lot. With modern designs neither explosion nor meltdown can possibly occur even in case of a serious system failure. It still costs money to bring such a system back online, but at least no dangerous stuff escapes. Nuclear proliferation issues can also be handled by designing the process in a way let's say 233U gets involved. It decays by emitting hard gamma radiation and it's extremely difficult to filter out (other than burning it along with the rest). As long as something like this is present in the mix, it's unusable for weaponry. BTW, I think this is the primary cause this kind of technology has got much less attention than it would have deserved. Earth as we know it can't last much longer than a billion years for solar radiation is increasing steadily. If we manage to nudge it gradually to ever wider orbits, its lifetime can be extended to five billion years perhaps. Nuclear breeder technology is capable to provide the necessary energy supply on this timescale somewhere around present day prices. Therefore it is a long term solution to the energy problem. In such a long time we may still have other problems though. Including the question of who we are supposed to be after the umpty thousandth transhuman extension, but these questions can wait. I dont see why the land use is such an issue Because land is the only resource which can not be increased by any means, not even with advanced molecular nanotechnology. Terraforming other planets is a rather long term project and there are not many candidates nearby anyway. We could build some surrogate land in space by constructing huge spinning cylinders, filling them up with air, water and soil and trying to inhabit the inner surface, but no matter how hard we try, it's still a far cry from the real thing. Security issues aside, it would always be a Disneyland with "oceans" several meters deep, no hills or skies. Real estate on Earth, even if it is undervalued now, will have a much higher price in the long run.
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  26. #174 KR at 09:59 AM on 14 July, 2010 That's really rough with radon - it's estimated at 330 mCi/GW, and you really can't filter it. I don't see why. The radon isotope with the longest halflife is 222Rn (3.82 days). It's just emissions have to be delayed a bit (a month or so) to decrease radiation levels by three orders of magnitude. It is much easier than permanent sequestration.
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  27. BP - I agree Fast Breeder is best for waste - just have to solve the other little issue. I'd like to see more research in Thorium cycle too. I am not opponent of nuclear power - just not a good match to NZ energy issues. I think it is likely the only way forward for Europe. "I dont see why the land use is such an issue" To clarify - I dont see this is an issue because windmill allow multi land use. The contribution to land loss per person for tower footprint and access road is way below the other land use cost for each extra person on the planet. It feels to me like you are clutching any kind of argument against renewables which I find hard to understand.
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  28. Good to see scaddenp and BP getting along. They realise that today's nuclear waste is fuel for future generations. Forget glassification; just burn it! When BP talks about U233 or U232 he is making a subtle pitch for Thorium cycle reactors (e.g LFTR). Uranium reactors are dominant because they produce fissile Plutonium that is great for making weapons. Thorium reactors produce fissile materials but only tiny amounts of Plutonium. The fissile materials they do produce (e.g. U233) are useless for weapons productions but excellent for power generation. Don't forget Rubbia's ADRs (Accelerator Driven Reactors) that can process waste even when k<1. "Sub-critical" reactors have many potential uses in dry reprocessing of nuclear waste. Take a look at GEM*STAR at Virginia Tech: http://csis.org/files/attachments/091007_chang_virginia_tech.pdf
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  29. This may be the main problem with wind turbines. They produce a lot of inaudible low frequency noise. In cases like this you can hear nothing, but you can still feel it, mainly in your chest. With some practice you can be aware of the phenomenon, even counting beats is possible. I have spent ten years of my life in an acoustics research lab, so I do know what I am talking about. The slope of the curve above is really alarming. It is about 30 dB/decade below 10 Hz with no sign of flattening out. Although these particular measurements do not extend below 1 Hz, on the base of standard rotation speeds of wind turbines I expect the peak of the curve to be a little bit above 0.1 Hz. It means at 0.2 Hz noise level can be as high as 120 dB SPL (Sound Pressure Level), which is very high. If it would be in the audible range, it could cause severe pain. The dB scale is a logarithmic one, sound energy is doubling for every 3 dB increase in SPL. Sixty decibels mean a millionfold increase. It is also a problem you neither can measure these low frequency sounds with standard acoustic equipment nor are there proper regulations for that frequency range. It does not mean however that it's unmeasurable. Just have to know what you are looking for and choose your equipment and measurement procedure accordingly. A further problem may be that such low frequencies are hardly attenuated in air. What is more, due to the extremely long wavelength (a mile at 0.2 Hz) they tend to propagate in only 2D (horizontally), which means doubling the distance only lowers sound level by 3 dB. As industrial wind turbines are getting bigger (there are already 6 MW models on the market), they get ever more efficient on radiating such low frequencies. It is so because the closer the dimensions of the source are to the wavelength, the more effective radiator it is. Based on this I would say even the 2 km safety distance from human habitation or workplace is insufficient. Wind Turbine Syndrome Testimony before the New York State Legislature Energy Committee March 7, 2006 Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD
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  30. Well BP #108 According to my cursory research via google scholar there is very little actual evidence for wind turbine syndrome. However if we apply the precautionary principle in a field where we have far far more evidence for action, and plenty of good quality scientific research, we'd be taking urgent action to curtail anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. So I'm calling hypocrisy due to selective use of the precautionary principle here I'm afraid.
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  31. Adding to what kdkd already said, the concern over the risks of low frequency acustic waves from someone who dismiss radioactive waste risks so easily (scaddenp: "nuclear has waste issue"; BP: "not really") sounds a bit unbalanced.
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  32. #181 kdkd at 18:28 PM on 15 July, 2010 there is very little actual evidence for wind turbine syndrome Here is some peer reviewed research on the topic. It is only about cochlear response, but low frequency infrasound at sufficiently high levels effects all cavities of the human body filled with air. You may also check this out: The inaudible noise of wind turbine Lars CERANNA, Gernot HARTMANN and Manfred HENGER Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources Hannover - GERMANY "Results from similar measurements have already been published, however, they are based on microphone data which do not properly reflect the noise conditions in the frequency range below a few Hz. Consequently, the microbarometer measurements can be considered as an extension of the microphone based results to low frequencies" Due to low energy density of wind, the more widely used the technology is, the larger areal impact gets. As under certain circumstances microbaroms can travel large distances unimpeded, it can even get global, outperforming the inaudible sound of ocean waves by orders of magnitude. For a general discussion of possible health hazards of infrasound above 1 Hz see: (It does not discuss specific windmill issues) ISSN 1392-2114 ULTRAGARSAS (ULTRASOUND), Vol. 64, No. 3, 2009. Infrasound hazards for the environment and the ways of protection D. Guzas, R. Virsilas Siauliai University Vilnius str. 141, Siauliai, Lithuania
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  33. BP #183 Well that's a start. It appears to suggest that people with pre existing clinical conditions may be sensitive to infrasound. It's not in a clinical journal though - I'd be interested in medical research on the issue. What does the ICD10 have to say on the issue of infrasound related conditions? Besides, you're still selectively using the precautionary principle in such a way as means of confirmation bias. And as that was the most important part of my last post, it's interesting that you failed to address it in any way :).
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  34. BP #180: The red line in your graph sure looks a lot like "pink noise", doesn't it? For everybody who hasn't worked in acoustics like you and me (I've been a professional audio remastering engineer for 22 years): White noise ("standard noise") is where each frequency has the same amplitude, so that 52 Hz is as loud as, say, 1145.8 Hz or 19,210 kHz, and there's the same amount of "sound energy" in the 18-28 Hz frequency band as in the 7824-7844 Hz band (both are 20 Hz wide), resulting in a graph that's a straight line: Figure 1: White noise Pink noise has a logarithmic distribution, where each octave band (instead of each frequency) has the same amount of sound energy, i.e. the A3 to A4 frequency band (220-440 Hz; 440 Hz is the famous tuning fork note) has the same amount of energy as the C5 to C6 frequency band (523-1046 Hz; 1046 Hz is the soprano high C). Pink noise is used when you are more interested in the energy per octave (or any other interval, like a minor third or a major fifth) than per frequency. It's also less taxing on the human ears (white noise is perceived as a loud hiss, while pink noise sound more like random noise to us), so it's also popular with sound engineers (and their audiences :P) testing large sound systems. Figure 2: Pink noise So, pink noise sounds very natural to us (if you'd make a spectrogram of all music in the world played at the same time, nearly the entire spectrogram would be remarkably pink noise-ish), probably because the human ear works logarithmically too... a 30 dB difference may be 2^10=1024 times as loud mathematically, but to us it only sounds 30 times the smallest difference the average untrained human ear can discern, like the difference between whispering (30 dB) and a not-too-loud normal conversation (60 dB). Nope, that doesn't sound 1024 times as loud, does it? Pain begins at 125 dB, a jet engine at 100 feet produces 140 dB and the loudest sound possible would be 194 dB. Your graph shows 95 dB at dB at 1 Hz, which isn't even close to pain level, and while it may extend to 120 dB at 0.2 Hz (still below pain level), you'll have to realize what 0.2 Hz actually is: one full cycle every 5 seconds. If you'd walk in one direction for 2.5 seconds and back for another 2.5 seconds, you would have created your own 0.2 Hz frequency. Unless you step in something sharp, it wouldn't cause "severe pain". But even if a spectrogram of a turbine would show 95 dB at 1 Hz, which at the same distance and with a pink noise distribution would sound as loud as a soprano high C at only 85 dB (= as loud as city traffic inside a car; sopranos sing much louder than that), it's still no proof that a turbine would follow a pink noise distribution (or even any distribution) below 1 Hz. And while I wouldn't recommend standing too close to a soprano, I wouldn't recommend a 2 km safety distance to one that can't even out-sing traffic noise inside a car either. OK, it's a ridiculous example, but so is assuming a turbine would produce 120 dB at 0.2 Hz based on measurements five octaves higher. (@BP: I realize I left some of the audio-technical details out, because you & me already know those and anybody who's really interested can look them up on Wikipedia anyway)
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  35. PS. typo: "based on measurements five octaves higher" should be "based on measurements at frequencies five times as high (= more than 2 octaves)"
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  36. PS2. oh frak, 'nudder typo: "95 dB at dB at 1 Hz" should be "95 dB at 1 Hz" OK, can I get an edit button? :D
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  37. #184 DarkSkywise at 01:10 AM on 16 July, 2010 The red line in your graph sure looks a lot like "pink noise", doesn't it? Not really. It is much steeper (something like 9 dB/octave). The main point is you can't measure wind turbine noise with a microphone, you need a microbarometer. And A-weighted filter is out of the question (although noise regulations use it). And yes, these low frequencies, even if inaudible, influence hearing of every able person.
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  38. BP #187 "And yes, these low frequencies, even if inaudible, influence hearing of every able person." However, you have not managed to show much, if any clinical significance here, with the possible (but unclear) exception that some people with pre-existing conditions may have a rather poorly defined problem. And it does amuse me very much that you are avoiding addressing my comments on your very selective use of the precautionary principle.
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  39. BP - so another reason why you dont like wind power. Got any more you can dredge up? I can only hope your ardent opposition of climate science isn't springing from this strong distaste for windmills! :-) (I am joking). More seriously though your objections dont seem to scale up against the problems associated with nuclear. For what's worth, I think we need both. Everything we do has problems associated with it but somehow we need a habitable planet with sufficient energy supply so you have to choose your poison. Moreover, I don't like the risks and costs associated with postponing action on climate change and windpower is more desirable than fast breeder nuclear for now.
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  40. BP #187: OK, so it looks a bit like pink noise. ;) But is there any proof that it continues at 9 dB/octave below 1Hz? And can you imagine the horrors at, say, 0.001 Hz if it did? We wouldn't have any buildings left standing! scaddenp #189: "I can only hope your ardent opposition of climate science isn't springing from this strong distaste for windmills!" Windmills are cool. (I'm Dutch.) :P In fact, there's even one quite close to my house, well within BP's 2 km safety range. (It's a Classic Turbineless Wooden Windmill, though, which probably explains why I'm not dead yet.)
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  41. #189 scaddenp at 08:16 AM on 16 July, 2010 I can only hope your ardent opposition of climate science isn't springing from this strong distaste for windmills! :-) (I am joking) I have a strong distaste against all non-solutions run on taxpayer's money, destroying the environment very visibly here and now, justified by projection of disaster a hundred years from now, perhaps, with some probability, based on speculation and measurements where signals get lost in noise. We still can't be sure there is a problem, but if there is one, the solution was ready thirty years ago. Sorry, I can never trust people who emphasize the problem but ignore the solution. Who were actually careful enough to eliminate the solution in advance from public discourse, R+D and business before they've started advertising the problem.
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  42. BP #191 "I have a strong distaste against all non-solutions run on taxpayer's money, destroying the environment very visibly here and now, justified by projection of disaster a hundred years from now, perhaps, with some probability, based on speculation and measurements where signals get lost in noise." So let's see. On the tax payer's money furfy: fossil fuel subsidy The "destroying the environment" claim is laughable, and has been corrected for you on a number of occasions. Your second point is on the possiblity of disaster around the end of the 21st century. Well, if we take your distinctly reductionist view, and selective reporting of the evidence - generally avoiding an integrated view of the topic (another one of my points that you've avoided addressing, again presumably because you can't), and a fair amount of mis-reporting apparently because you feel the need to confirm your preconceptions, then yes you might have a point. But the balance of the evidence, when viewed holistically suggests, very strongly, that if we haven't got on top of the fossil fuel problem by some time between 2020 and 2050, then it will be very hard to avert disaster that threatenes the infrastructure on which civilisation depends by 2100.
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  43. Looking at the graph in #192 it looks like a bit over 19 billion dollars are wasted on crappy solutions, which is three times less than the fossil fuel subsidy, and a little less than double what "proper" renewables get in subsidy.
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  44. "We still can't be sure there is a problem, but if there is one, the solution was ready thirty years ago." Well obviously I strongly disagree with you about perception of the problem and I can only assume that your reluctance to consider consilience is the basis of such belief. However, you find it strange that you gloss over problems associated with your "30 year old" solution, while nitpicking on renewables. "Sorry, I can never trust people who emphasize the problem but ignore the solution." Pardon? You wouldnt trust an astronomer who was telling you about an asteroid heading for earth because he/she couldnt propose a solution? I find this laughable. A climate scientist is the right person to be telling you what the physics of climate is and how current action will affect it. This is pretty much guaranteed to be the a different person to that to inform on energy alternatives and economic/political solution to such a problem. "Who were actually careful enough to eliminate the solution in advance from public discourse, R+D and business before they've started advertising the problem." Sorry, you are accusing climate scientists of working to ensure that discourse and R&D on nuclear was eliminated before springing AGW on the public? Really?
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  45. There are enough large wind and solar projects out there (e.g. California, Denmark, Germany, Spain) to allow economic analyses to be made. Here is an analysis relating to Spain: http://www.juandemariana.org/pdf/090327-employment-public-aid-renewable.pdf One of the major selling points for renewables is that "green jobs" will be created. Dr. Calzada's analysis shows that for every "green job" created 2.2 other jobs are lost. Given that the majority on this thread are in favor of renewables and against Nuclear Power Plants, can you cite any projects that produce power at reasonable prices absent subsidies?
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  46. BP (#179) I knew we had something in common! Years ago I managed an engineering department with an acoustics laboratory dedicated to developing telephone components. Back then the good equipment was built by B&K but it was limited to frequencies above 10 Hz. I imagine that you are using much more sophisticated hardware.
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  47. gallopingcamel #195 The source you cite seems to be partisan, and despite its origins from a university very little cited in the peer reviewed literature. Via this source I discovered that the primary author is has the following affiliations and attitudes (via the link above, and with plenty of links in the original source for fact checking purposes):
    Gabriel Calzada is a founding member of the Prague Network, an international grouping of institutions aimed at countering panic connected with global warming. He is also a fellow at the Centre for the New Europe, a Brussels-based libertarian think tank that in recent years has accepted funding from ExxonMobil [ (who have] spent over $16 million to fund climate change skeptic groups as part of a “tobacco-like disinformation campaign on global warming science.” [)] Since the study was publish, Calzada has become a popular speaker at the events sponsored by these groups and has appeared frequently on Cable news shows in which the hosts and producers are opposed to green jobs. He has yet to appear on any show that has made any inquiry about his methodology. Calzada is also the founder and president of the Fundacion Juan de Mariana, another libertarian think tank. The libertarian movement in Spain does not believe in taxes, so it is my guess that they would not support many programs paid for with tax dollars. Calzada is also an admitted climate change skeptic and recently spoke at the International Conference on Climate Change (2009) hosted by the conservative think tank, the Heartland Institute. The Heartland Institute is another well-known hub of climate science denial. This year’s conference was its second effort on climate change, and attracted representatives from conservative and free enterprise groups around the world; many of their members and supporters deny climate change and work aggressively against renewable energy and environmental endeavors. A large number of the attendees also came from bodies funded by ExxonMobil and other fossil-fuel companies. Other big oil funded groups that have promoted the study include: The Institute for Energy Research (IER), Americans for Prosperity, and the American Energy Alliance (AEA), In a recent interview, (in Spanish) Calzada asserts that scientists are deeply divided as to the cause of global warming. He claims that solar and water vapor activity from the earth have a large impact on global warming and that human activity is minor in comparison. He questions if this small creation of ‘gases’ by human activity would have an impact compared to other natural activity. He also does not believe in the kyoto protocol and claims that the green economy is a way to to ‘ration’ economic activity. My understanding is that the vast majority of scientists (specifically those not paid by oil companies) are not divided over the causes of global warming.
    So please find a more credible source not closely associated with the big oil/tobacco/denial for cash nexus if you want us to consider this kind of economic analysis seriously. From skimming Cadenza's report it strikes me that it's a very short term focused analysis of an economic response to a long term problem, but then I'm not an economist.
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  48. kdkd (#197), It seems you did not read the Calzada paper and simply went into the "ad hominem" mode. Calzada's main economic argument is that it costs (at least in Spain) 2.2 times as much to create a "Green Job" as an average job. Calzada also points out that some industries are sensitive to the price of electricity. In this category, metal winning is the industry most affected by electrical power cost. Spain, owing to its "green" energy policy is at a disadvantage to France with its cheap electricity (80% nuclear) so Acerinox is expanding in France and South Africa instead of in Spain. This is an example of how an energy policy that raises the price of electricity drives jobs overseas. Belief or scepticism in "Climate Change" has little relevance to these arguments. Why don't you respond to my challenge by citing a "green" energy project that produces electricity at a competitive price? You need to beat 10c/KWAh which is the price that Florida Power & light charges me. Most of their capacity comes from fossil fuels and two nuclear power plants. FPL also has the largest photo-voltaic plant in the USA and like the folks in Spain they will keep doing it as long as the government subsidies keep coming no matter how irrelevant it is. Please bury your Marxist notion that folks funded by private industry are evil whereas folks funded by governments are pure as the driven snow.
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  49. gc #198 "It seems you did not read the Calzada paper and simply went into the "ad hominem" mode." Nope, I skimmed the bits of the report that seemed relevant, thought that this was outside my area of expertise (with a little bit of a thought that this appreared to make short term assumptions for what is a long term problem), and then did the same kind of citation search that I would do for my own research. Having found a very limited citation network, I looked more widely outside the academic literature, and found some serious concerns about the primary author's credentials, and refusal to give detailed methodology. If I'd accused him of being an overcooked prawn or something equally ridiculous, disparaging and irellevant to the topic, then you might have a point about an ad hominem approach. However, I did not do this, therefore your point is not valid. Now could you find some evidence about the economics of renewable energy not tainted by the fossil fuel lobby? As for this comment: "Please bury your Marxist notion that folks funded by private industry are evil whereas folks funded by governments are pure as the driven snow." Again, I said nothing of the sort. However the record of the tobacco/oil/sceptic for pay nexus is particularly poor when it comes to generating and reporting on knowledge in an objective way. And I am a Marxist-Lenninist by the way, but it's Groucho and John, not Karl and Illiytch ;).
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  50. This entire article could be condensed into the single statement: it is getting warmer not because any observable measurement says it but because a model say it will. That is an argument the "frosties" been using all the time.
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