Wednesday, May 25, 2016


About time they hit the New York Times:

...floating solar arrays are becoming more popular, with installations already operating in Australia and the United States, and more planned or under construction.

The growing interest is driven in part by huge growth in the solar market in recent years as the cost of the technology has dropped quickly.

Floating solar arrays — they are often referred to as “floatovoltaics,” a term trademarked by one company — also have advantages over solar plants on land, their proponents say. Renting or buying land is more expensive, and there are fewer regulations for structures built on reservoirs, water treatment ponds and other bodies of water not used for recreation....The floating arrays have other assets. They help keep water from evaporating, making the technology attractive in drought-plagued areas, and restrict algae blooms. And they are more efficient than land-based panels, because water cools the panels.
The company attempting to trademark floatovoltaics can jump into one of those lakes, btw.

I tried to push this idea at my old water district five years ago and got nowhere, unfortunately. Now it's an idea whose time has come - in certain places, anyway. Maintenance is trickier, so any place with cheap land and lots of water will have no use for them. OTOH, the hot, water-short areas with expensive land, or problems from algae blooms, or problems from toxics like mercury that become much worse in warm, low-oxygen water are good candidates. All of which describe my water district. Now the local competitor for most-environmental water district has gone ahead with floatovoltaics, so maybe it'll spread.

I still think Lake Nasser behind Aswan Dam is a natural for floatovoltaics, although admittedly it's far from places with power demand. Dryer parts of India could also be great places, and they're experimenting with small systems already.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Consensus Messaging

Eli is a bunny of few words (exactly how many Rabetts do you know that have any), but he is quite mystified by the consensus messaging wars.

It's simple.  Most people when confronted by a controversy don't know enough about the situation to pick a side.  The safe choice is to wait and do nothing.

If a group wants to do nothing it is to their advantage to pretend there is a controversy even if there is not a controversy.

Somehow this escapes the Dan Kahans of the world.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


Today's random blog post features my empathy for the woman describing her misophonia - an abormally strong aversion to certain sounds such as eating noises - in this New York Magazine interview. I have a mild version of what she's talking about, although I've read of others in even worse situations who can't go to restaurants or parties.

The woman interviewed seems to have acute hearing and a wide range of noises that drive her to distraction. For me it's mainly lip-smacking and chewing with the mouth open. Of course those things bother lots of people, but maybe twice a month they bother me to the point where I have to do something, put on earbuds or move to a different seat in a coffee shop/bus/theater.

There's definitely a psychological component to it - the saving grace for me is that loud chewing noises don't bother me if I'm also eating, and those two overlap the vast majority of the time. Like the woman interviewed, children eating noisily doesn't bother me. I've also spent a lot of time in Asia where the norm in some places is to slurp noodles, which doesn't bother me, mostly. My hearing is average, not acute. All that makes me think it has to be partially psychological.

Reading her interview gave me an interesting gender perspective - I've been self-critical about not getting over it, but being male means I've never wondered if I'm just a bitch.

And then there's the issue of who deserves criticism - the public lip-smackers and open-mouth eaters, or me for reacting so much to it. My guess is that I'm close enough to normal range that I can manage my response to close-to-normal levels, but people who have a more severe problem really can't help it. Maybe I'll do some special pleading for them, and I'll be the lucky beneficiary on the side.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Someone tell medical researchers that consensus doesn't belong in science

Wandered across this a few days ago, and am now posting about it with all due speed:

This paper describes the consensus opinion of the participants in the 4th Triennial Yale/Harvard Workshop on Probiotic Recommendations. The recommendations update those of the first 3 meetings that were published in 2006, 2008, and 2011. Recommendations for the use of probiotics in necrotizing enterocolitis,childhood diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome and Clostridium difficile diarrhea are reviewed. In addition, we have added recommendations for liver disease for the first time. As in previous publications, the recommendations are given as A, B, or C ratings.
The issue isn't probiotics and their specific medical recommendations but rather that climate denialists regularly tell us that consensus has no place in science. Why are medical researchers talking about it, then, and not just here but throughout medical science. Either consensus does have a place, or we need to add the entire field of medicine to the vast conspiracy maintaining the climate change hoax.

More seriously, consensus happens in all scientific fields, but it seems like applied science is where it's particularly important to elucidate the consensus. Medicine is obviously applied science, and so is the issue of whether we're changing the climate in a way that requires us to do something. There could hardly be a more an obvious place to understand and use it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Life Is Short. Must It Be Brutal?

is a question Ian Martin asks in a political context.  Eli is a strange creature who always wondered why others need the promise of an afterlife to answer that question one way or another.  The existential drive others have towards settling other planets, even star systems is to Eli another such question.

Now some, not Eli to be sure, are constantly asking, "Is that all there is?" The question too often blocks making the most of what we have. In Eli's humble opinion, yes, the Earth is all there is for us who here abide for better or worse.  

Monday, May 16, 2016

Personal note

With California ballots arriving in the mail, I was about to urge San Francisco Bay Area voters to support Measure AA to provide funding to protect and restore the Bay, at which point I should probably disclose that my new employer also supports Measure AA. So, my personal note is that I joined the Bay Area environmental organization Greenbelt Alliance this month, as Program Director working on open space protection - natural habitats, ranchlands, and farmlands.

Greenbelt promotes the right growth in the right place, so within Bay Area cities it promotes housing, particularly affordable housing, access to public resources and good transportation, while it also works to prevent our region's cities from sprawling and merging. Climate change is a cross-cutting issue inside and outside of cities, as is water.

My position is somewhat similar to an old one I had at another environmental organization when I first came to Rabett Run in 2011, although this is at a bigger organization with a broader scope. Still, my work there is to represent the organization while my fun here at Eli's is to spout my own nonsense. To keep the distinction I probably won't talk about Greenbelt's issues all that much here, except on occasion when it's really important. Protecting and restoring San Francisco Bay is really important.

Of specific importance to climate activists, many of the old salt ponds ringing the Bay and diked off from it have sunk in elevation. If they are restored before sea level rises too much, then emergent, tidal wetland vegetation can anchor in the mud, catch sediment, and possibly keep pace with sea level changes. If it's too late then even when opened to tidal action, the salt ponds become deep, open water areas with little or no sediment accumulation and the wetlands never come back.

I've been out to some tidal wetland restoration projects in the Bay, and they're great, with some endangered species (a bird and a mouse) moving into habitat that didn't exist a few years earlier. That success can be replicated, beginning with the vote on this measure.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Peter Webster's Coming Out Party

Ever since Judith Curry went feral, Eli has wondered where Peter Webster stood.  Webster is Curry's colleague, business partner and husband.  Was it the good cop, bad cop routine, a you do your thing I'll do mine or what.  Sou points to Emails from Webster to Ed Maibach that CEI got from George Mason.  This was CEI's response to a petition originating with Jagdsih Shukla and Maibach asking that the fossil fuel companies be prosecuted under RICO.

There is little doubt that the fossil fuel companies did conspire to obscure and deny the damage that their products have done.  There is little doubt that CEI profited in that campaign.

Still, there are a couple of bits of interesting information in those Emails, including,

and especially this one which Sou highlights

Eli's friend, John Mashey gets a mentions

Oh yes, there are some letters from deniers that are just up Sou's alley but not much else.