Return of “The Plug”

I want to discuss the recent Kaufman study which purports to reconcile flat temperatures over the last 10-12 years with high-sensitivity warming forecasts.  First, let me set the table for this post, and to save time (things are really busy this week in my real job) I will quote from a previous post on this topic

Nearly a decade ago, when I first started looking into climate science, I began to suspect the modelers were using what I call a “plug” variable.  I have decades of experience in market and economic modeling, and so I am all too familiar with the temptation to use one variable to “tune” a model, to make it match history more precisely by plugging in whatever number is necessary to make the model arrive at the expected answer.

When I looked at historic temperature and CO2 levels, it was impossible for me to see how they could be in any way consistent with the high climate sensitivities that were coming out of the IPCC models.  Even if all past warming were attributed to CO2  (a heroic acertion in and of itself) the temperature increases we have seen in the past imply a climate sensitivity closer to 1 rather than 3 or 5 or even 10  (I show this analysis in more depth in this video).

My skepticism was increased when several skeptics pointed out a problem that should have been obvious.  The ten or twelve IPCC climate models all had very different climate sensitivities — how, if they have different climate sensitivities, do they all nearly exactly model past temperatures?  If each embodies a correct model of the climate, and each has a different climate sensitivity, only one (at most) should replicate observed data.  But they all do.  It is like someone saying she has ten clocks all showing a different time but asserting that all are correct (or worse, as the IPCC does, claiming that the average must be the right time).

The answer to this paradox came in a 2007 study by climate modeler Jeffrey Kiehl.  To understand his findings, we need to understand a bit of background on aerosols.  Aerosols are man-made pollutants, mainly combustion products, that are thought to have the effect of cooling the Earth’s climate.

What Kiehl demonstrated was that these aerosols are likely the answer to my old question about how models with high sensitivities are able to accurately model historic temperatures.  When simulating history, scientists add aerosols to their high-sensitivity models in sufficient quantities to cool them to match historic temperatures.  Then, since such aerosols are much easier to eliminate as combustion products than is CO2, they assume these aerosols go away in the future, allowing their models to produce enormous amounts of future warming.

Specifically, when he looked at the climate models used by the IPCC, Kiehl found they all used very different assumptions for aerosol cooling and, most significantly, he found that each of these varying assumptions were exactly what was required to combine with that model’s unique sensitivity assumptions to reproduce historical temperatures.  In my terminology, aerosol cooling was the plug variable.

So now we can turn to Kaufman, summarized in this article and with full text here.  In the context of the Kiehl study discussed above, Kaufman is absolutely nothing new.

Kaufmann et al declare that aerosol cooling is “consistent with” warming from manmade greenhouse gases.

In other words, there is some value that can be assigned to aerosol cooling that offsets high temperature sensitives to rising CO2 concentrations enough to mathematically spit out temperatures sortof kindof similar to those over the last decade.  But so what?  All Kaufman did is, like every other climate modeler, find some value for aerosols that plugged temperatures to the right values.

Let’s consider an analogy.  A big Juan Uribe fan (plays 3B for the SF Giants baseball team) might argue that the 2010 Giants World Series run could largely be explained by Uribe’s performance.  They could build a model, and find out that the Giants 2010 win totals were entirely consistent with Uribe batting .650 for the season.

What’s the problem with this logic?  After all, if Uribe hit .650, he really would likely have been the main driver of the team’s success.  The problem is that we know what Uribe hit, and he batted under .250 last year.  When real facts exist, you can’t just plug in whatever numbers you want to make your argument work.

But in climate, we are not sure what exactly the cooling effect of aerosols are.  For related coal particulate emissions, scientists are so unsure of their effects they don’t even know the sign (ie are they net warming or cooling).  And even if they had a good handle on the effects of aerosol concentrations, no one agrees on the actual numbers for aerosol concentrations or production.

And for all the light and noise around Kaufman, the researchers did just about nothing to advance the ball on any of these topics.  All they did was find a number that worked, that made the models spit out the answer they wanted, and then argue in retrospect that the number was reasonable, though without any evidence.

Beyond this, their conclusions make almost no sense.  First, unlike CO2, aerosols are very short lived in the atmosphere – a matter of days rather than decades.  Because of this, they are poorly mixed, and so aerosol concentrations are spotty and generally can be found to the east (downwind) of large industrial complexes (see sample map here).

Which leads to a couple of questions.  First, if significant aerosol concentrations only cover, say, 10% of the globe, doesn’t that mean that to get a  0.5 degree cooling effect for the whole Earth, there must be a 5 degree cooling effect in the affected area.   Second, if this is so (and it seems unreasonably large), why have we never observed this cooling effect in the regions with high concentrations of manmade aerosols.  I understand the effect can be complicated by changes in cloud formation and such, but that is just further reasons we should be studying the natural phenomenon and not generating computer models to spit out arbitrary results with no basis in observational data.

Judith Currey does not find the study very convincing, and points to this study by Remer et al in 2008 that showed no change in atmospheric aerosol depths through the heart of the period of supposed increases in aerosol cooling.

So the whole basis for the study is flawed – its based on the affect of increasing aerosol concentrations that actually are not increasing.  Just because China is producing more does not apparently mean there is more in the atmosphere – it may be reductions in other areas like the US and Europe are offsetting Chinese emissions or that nature has mechanisms for absorbing and eliminating the increased emissions.

By the way, here was Curry’s response, in part:

This paper points out that global coal consumption (primarily from China) has increased significantly, although the dataset referred to shows an increase only since 2004-2007 (the period 1985-2003 was pretty stable).  The authors argue that the sulfates associated with this coal consumption have been sufficient to counter the greenhouse gas warming during the period 1998-2008, which is similar to the mechanism that has been invoked  to explain the cooling during the period 1940-1970.

I don’t find this explanation to be convincing because the increase in sulfates occurs only since 2004 (the solar signal is too small to make much difference).  Further, translating regional sulfate emission into global forcing isnt really appropriate, since atmospheric sulfate has too short of an atmospheric lifetime (owing to cloud and rain processes) to influence the global radiation balance.

Curry offers the alternative explanation of natural variability offsetting Co2 warming, which I think is partly true.  Though Occam’s Razor has to force folks at some point to finally question whether high (3+) temperature sensitivities to CO2 make any sense.  Seriously, isn’t all this work on aerosols roughly equivalent to trying to plug in yet more epicycles to make the Ptolemaic model of the universe continue to work?

Postscript: I will agree that there is one very important affect of the ramp-up of Chinese coal-burning that began around 2004 — the melting of Arctic Ice.  I strongly believe that the increased summer melts of Arctic ice are in part a result of black carbon from Asia coal burning landing on the ice and reducing its albedo (and greatly accelerating melt rates).   Look here when Arctic sea ice extent really dropped off, it was after 2003.    Northern Polar temperatures have been fairly stable in the 2000’s (the real run-up happened in the 1990’s).   The delays could be just inertia in the ocean heating system, but Arctic ice melting sure seems to correlate better with black carbon from China than it does with temperature.

I don’t think there is anything we could do with a bigger bang for the buck than to reduce particulate emissions from Asian coal.  This is FAR easier than CO2 emissions reductions — its something we have done in the US for nearly 40 years.

  • Waldo to Ted

    ****”If there is a reasonable explanation, it will be accepted.”

    Well…again, I gotta disagree with you on this, Ted. What I have found often is that the explanation is either ignored or unrealized by the people here. I have yet to see anybody that, say, reads Real Climate fairly. The peeps here accept Mr. Meyer’s or Anthony Watt’s explanations almost without exception.

    ****”The repeated assertion that anyone who has the temerity to question a climate scientist is a no good shmuck is ludicrous. Frequently, questions set off a discussion which leads to progress.”

    Exaggeration, Ted. Never said “no good shmuck” (that’s before my generation’s vernacular anyway). What I’ve said, Ted (which I think you are playing obtuse about), is that the people here use whatever scientific background they have to solely challenge climate scientists and not skeptic scientists and without doing most of the hard work it takes to make sure the science is correct.

    You want to question? Fine. But don’t just “question” one side of the debate. Question Willie Soon also. Question Pielke and Judith Curry. And do it here rather than just asserting that ‘you look at all sides’ or something to that effect.

    You wanna “question”? Good. But make sure you’ve been thorough and not just read Mr. Meyer’s post.

    And if you’re really “questioning,” then peer-review it. Put it out there for the world to see and see if your “question” is really as good as you think it is when the experts take a look at it. Actually get the conversation started. Otherwise I suspect you know your “question” is not all that solid.

    ****”By the way, you are CLEARLY not an engineer.”

    Um…never said I was.

    ****”I have been an engineer for over sixty years but you do not hesitate to question everything I post of an engineering nature.”

    I have never questioned anything of “an engineering nature,” Ted. Never. I have questioned your objectivity and your attitude and the way you exaggerate to make a point (which implies that you may not actually have a point).

    ****”Congrats on a wonderful exposition of hypocrisy.”

    Congrats yourself, Ted. If I am hypocritical then you are more so. I, at least, admit my limitations.

  • Waldo to Malcolm

    ****But with all due respect, Malcolm, do you have enough expert knowledge to evaluate his research? — Not in detail, no.

    Then how can you possibly “evaluate” Willie Soon’s research? How can you tell if he is trying to hornswaggle you? I’ve argued all along that we need the experts. This is why. This is absolutely why. Soon may have just tricked the hell out of you or not, but how do you know anything he says is “normal”?

    ****What do you mean “normal,” by the way? How is a research paper normal? — No tricks (like the infamous ‘Mike’s Nature trick’).

    Once again, if you can’t evaluate “in detail,” how do you know that there is no “trick”?

    And you should probably look up the infamous “trick”—it may not have meant what you seem to think it does.

    ****Good that we agree on so many points.

    The things we have in common far outnumber and outweigh those that divide us. Walt Disney.

  • Malcolm

    Waldo:

    Of course, I can only evaluate to the best of my own abilities.

    If you want to say that you won’t accept that the works of Soon make sense and contain no tricks based on my abilities to evaluate them, sure, be my guest, I am not asking you to do that. I am asking you to do exactly the reverse, I am asking you to form your own opinion. (In fact, I believe most people on this blog are asking you to form your own opinion on various things related to global warming, it is you who is resisting.)

    If you, however, want to say that *I* shall not accept that the works of Soon make sense and contain no tricks based on my abilities to evaluate them, I hear you, I accept that the works might be crap, but I will only change my opinion of them if you provide me with additional, specific information on their flaws. Do you have this information? If yes, please share. If not, sorry, I accept all my limitations, but I am not going to think less of Soon’s works that I read just because you want me to.

    Meh.

  • Ted Rado

    Waldo:

    I question EVERYTHING I read. I long ago discovered, in my engineering work, that the old saying “don’t believe anything you hear ahd only half of what you see” is valid in technicolor. I have had engineers many times give me info or data that, when I checked it out, was erroneous. Any engineer who blindly uses info given to him by others becomes an ex-employee. Check and double check is the watchword.

    If everyone agrees on some technical point, then it is time to recheck it. Obviously, everything has not been considered. The best way to smoke out mistakes is to have many points of view on the subject.

    Nobody posting on this blog claims to be an expert in climate science. We simply ask the questions that anyone with a technical or scientific background would ask. This seems to offend you. I don’t know what you do for a living, but I have never been in a job situation where I could expect my word on engineering matters to be acepted blindly. Further, I would not want that to happen. If I made a mistake, I would want it to come to light before there were serious consequences. I could tell you war stories all day about engineeering screwups that would have been avoided had there been a critique of the work before it was implemented.

    By the way, you have not responded to my concern that, even if CAGW is true, there is presently no viable way to implement it in terms of alternative energy. Please don’t give me a long list of things being studied, or the “Spaniards are doing it”, but a REAL answer.

    If you want your views accepted without question, you are on the wrong planet. You would be way ahead if you would learn to discuss differing points of view in a constructive way.

    I guess you can toss this post aside, as I am a white male who is hopelessly antique in my outlook.

  • Waldomeh to Malcolm

    ****”I am asking you to do exactly the reverse, I am asking you to form your own opinion. ”

    The whole point, Malcolm, is that you and I—neither of us—know enough to evaluate Soon’s work. You may form your “own opinion” or I mine, but we are not scientists, so how do either of us know anything. We can form opinions on anything we want—but it’s pretty silly if one does not know what one is talking about. How can you possibly form an informed opinion if you can’t understand the information? Plain silly.

    ****”I will only change my opinion of them if you provide me with additional, specific information on their flaws.”

    I won’t. I’m not able. But, honestly, if a scientist who does understand the work provide you with flaws would you accept her or his decision, or would you stick to your own “opinion.”

    Meh.

  • Malcolm

    Waldo:

    The whole point, Malcolm, is that you and I—neither of us—know enough to evaluate Soon’s work. — This looks like such a strong point, but it isn’t. Yes, I wouldn’t bet I didn’t miss any hidden rocks in Soon’s works that I read. There might be some. No, this doesn’t mean I can’t see what Soon is trying to say, whether or not that makes sense, whether or not his math adds up, etc. Yes, I can make a judgement error. You are arguing that because of this I should abandon all thought on my part and listen to the experts. Sorry, that might be your choice, but it is most certainly not mine. I accept that I can make a judgement error. That’s why I am staying open to other opinions, yours or scientists’. This applies to Soon’s works as well as to larger issues (to anything, really). No, I am not going to take anyone’s opinion on its face, I am going to evaluate it. Double meh.

    But, honestly, if a scientist who does understand the work provide you with flaws would you accept her or his decision, or would you stick to your own “opinion.” — I am going to evaluate that opinion and either accept or reject it based on the result of that evaluation. I am not sure what’s so hard about this concept that you can’t wrap your head around it.

  • Waldo to Malcolm

    ****”I am not sure what’s so hard about this concept that you can’t wrap your head around it.”

    There is absolutely nothing about your concept I don’t understand. You are going to “evaluate” the work of a scientist even though, admittedly, you can’t really understand it. You are going to “accept or reject” the opinions of experts and non-experts alike even though, again, you don’t really know what you are talking about. This is a beautiful philosophy.

    ****”This looks like such a strong point, but it isn’t.”

    Actually it is a very strong point, Malcolm. And actually, it rests my case. You don’t know what you are talking about, plain and simple. Your situation is a little like someone who tries to represent himself in court without the guidance of a lawyer—fool for a client.

    ****”this doesn’t mean I can’t see what Soon is trying to say”

    Actually, this does mean that you can’t see what Soon is trying to say. This is exactly what “in detail, no” means.

    One just hopes that, God forbid, you get a mass in your lung or on your brain stem, you listen to your oncologist and don’t decide to come to your own “opinion” after reading a paper or two on cancer.

  • Waldo to Ted

    ****”We simply ask the questions that anyone with a technical or scientific background would ask.”

    Bovine X, my friend. We’re arguing in circles, but I’ll say it again, Sam: the only reason people are here is to denigrate climate scientists.

    ****”By the way, you have not responded to my concern that, even if CAGW is true, there is presently no viable way to implement it in terms of alternative energy. Please don’t give me a long list of things being studied, or the “Spaniards are doing it”, but a REAL answer.”

    I think the long list of things being studied is a REAL answer, Ted. Are you saying that those almighty engineers now developing electric battery automobiles aren’t creating breakthrough green technology? Aren’t those almighty engineers as smart and hard working as you and your antiquated generation? What about those almighty engineers working on solar energy? Maybe you’re so much smarter as an engineer that you should tell them, ‘hey, you’re destroying industry trying to harness the sun’s energy!’

    And, by the way, you have never given a REAL answer to why we won’t be able to implement green technology and reduce emissions. You’ve simply repeated again and again how “draconian” it is to try to reduce emissions, or how “impossible,” or how destructive reductions will be without any real evaluation. It’s not even clear from your posts that you know what is being done or why it will or will not work. Please, Ted, let’s not play that silly game.

    ****”I am a white male who is hopelessly antique in my outlook.”

    You know, this has been one of the most interesting and informative threads to date. Netdr admitted he had only read about “20 papers,” Paul admitted he doesn’t really have time to become truly informed, Malcolm admitted that he can’t actually read the scientific literature, and you, Ted…well, you’ve confirmed kind of what I’ve suspected all along.

    I’m just glad, Ted, that not all the engineers and scientists of the past thought along the same lines as you are doing now—anyone feel like hunting with clubs and flint-tipped spears? We wouldn’t want to destroy tribal society, now would we.

  • Malcolm

    Waldo:

    You are going to “evaluate” the work of a scientist even though, admittedly, you can’t really understand it. … — No. I can understand it. Perhaps I can not understand it as well as some other people, but I can understand it. Given that I have a diploma of a respectable Uni and given my long-standing interest in climate science I think I can understand it well enough to make a rough judgement. If you want to point me to a specific issue in the paper on which my judgement is improper, be my guest. If you want to say that my judgement is just generally too rough to be useful, sorry, that’s just a baseless insult.

    The rest of your reply is the same BS. You have lost an argument and are simply repeating yourself.

  • Malcolm

    One just hopes that, God forbid, you get a mass in your lung or on your brain stem, you listen to your oncologist and don’t decide to come to your own “opinion” after reading a paper or two on cancer. — Spare me your inept analogies with medicine. The tests used for, say, new drugs, are no match for what passes for tests in climate science.

  • Malcolm

    … Malcolm admitted that he can’t actually read the scientific literature, … — Oh, really? I didn’t know that. You are too funny, Waldo.

  • Ted Rado

    Waldo:

    Here is an example of the problem: Hydraulic energy storage.

    Basis: 100 units of energy to the grid.

    Since the wind power only generates 30% of nameplate capacity, the nameplate cap’y must be 100/30 or 3.33 times the grid demand, or 333 units.

    Of this, 100 units (average)can go directly to the grid. Therefore, only 233 units need go to water storage.

    The max efficiency of large water pumps, at optimum steady conditions, is 90%. The max eff of large water turbines is 95%. The total eff of the pump/turbine combination is therefore .9 x .85 = .855 or 85.5%. Then we have pressure drop to and from the reservoirs high in the mountains. Therefore, the eff of the entire storage system will be 75% or less.

    Since only 233 units of energy goes to storage, the nameplate capy of the windmiill must be:
    100 + 233/.75 = 411.7 units
    The pumps must be 233/.75 = 311.7 units
    The final turbine need only be 100 units.

    Total electrical equipment must therefore be 823.4 units. This does not take into account electrical losses in transformers, motors and generators, and switchgear. Thus something approaching ten times the electrical equipment cost of the final grid load must be installed. Not to mention that we have lost about a third of our power along the way.

    Finally, millions of GPM are required to and from the reservoirs, and the resevoirs need to be massive to accomodate swings in power. I will not bore you with these calcs.

    Hopefully, you now see the need for CALCS, not just sighting down your thumb.

    These are just a few of the calcs required to check out one particular scheme. I have done similar calcs for all the other schemes, carbon capture, etc. They all share the same fate. They are all impractical and hopelessly expensive. However, I keep looking.

    Compressed air storage is even worse because of thermodynamic effects in dealing with a compressible gas. Waldo, buy a thermo book and check it out.

  • Ted Rado

    Waldo:

    You may be interestd to know that in 1910, there was an electric car with a 100 mile range, with a speed of 20 MPH. Electric cars are nothing new.

    The problem with electric cars is:
    1) They are expensive. They are more complicated and use expensive materials.
    2) The range is limited, and it takes hours to recharge. If you run out of juice, you can’t walk down the road for a bucket of electrons. Many potential buyers (it is reported) are wary for this reason.
    3) Most electricity is generated from fossil fuels. If you take the efficiency of power generation, the losses in distribution, the efficiency of charging and discharging the battery, you are hardly better off than if you used a CNG car in the first place. Small golfcart type vhicles might have a place for short trips. Trying to use electric cars for high performance highway applications is questionable.
    4) The battery is reputed to have life of 7 years and will cost several thousand dollars to replace. Can you imagine trying to sell a six year old car?
    5) Hybrid cars seem to be selling well. They are expensive and underpowered. I have read that mainly greenies are buying them to makle a point. I don’t believe you can justify them on the fuel savings.

    The market place will answer the queations re the viability of electric and hybrid cars.

    An interesting question: If you set out to design a low powered light weight diesel car, I wouldn’t be surprised if it got better mileage than the hybrid. You wouldn’t be carrying the heavy battery and electrical gear.

    Every engineer is looking for better ways to do things. That is the definition of engineering. That we don’t charge off and do things without study merely indicates that we are not stupid. I will leave the charging off Don Quixote-style to you and other non-engineers.

    The Chevy Volt gets the first 40 miles on the battery charge. After that, it is a low (very) powered gasoline car. Thus, you save .8 gal of gas at the start of each trip. Not surprisingly, sales are zilch.

    I am all fo innovation. I made a living at it. New ideas must be thoroughly checked out before big bucks are spent. Is that a revolutionary concept?

    By the way, where do you get the notion that we are here to denigrate climate scientists? We simply raise questions. If there is a good answer, hoorah!

    Solar energy has also been around for a long time. As in the case of wind, how do you store it or back it up economically? Simple question. So far, no good answer.

    A long list of things being studied is indeed an answer. It says that nobody has found a viable one, so they are still looking. No argument there.

    By the way, we might really have to hunt with flint tipped spears if the CAGW people have their way and we destroy our industrial economy. That’s one of your better suggestions, waldo.

    I posted some simple calcs re hydraulic energy storage earlier. Any comments? I am sure you know more than I about the subject. I am just an antiquated old engineer that has a compulsion to do calculations, rather than sight down my thumb.

    I love the way you descend into nastiness when you are losing the argument (which is all the time). It’s very entertaining.

  • Ted Rado

    Waldo:

    One other point re electric cars. You may recall that the CA legislature mandated in the 90’s that 10% of cars must be electric (or non petroleum) by the early 2000’s. Nothing came of it for the reasons enumerated above. Billions were spent on development and prototypes. What a waste. It made the greenies feel good though.

  • Jump the Gun to TomT

    ****”Oh, really? I didn’t know that. You are too funny, Waldo.”

    ****”But with all due respect, Malcolm, do you have enough expert knowledge to evaluate his research? — Not in detail, no.”

    You may not have meant to admit that you can’t actually read the literature, but you did.

  • Waldo

    Sorry—moniker from other thread.

  • Waldo to Malcolm

    ****”No. I can understand it. Perhaps I can not understand it as well as some other people, but I can understand it.”

    Essentially the same thing as above. A little bit of understanding is hardly understanding.

    ****”Spare me your inept analogies with medicine.”

    It’s actually quite ‘ept,’ Malcolm. You may be able to understand a little bit about pharmaceuticals, even a little bit about physiology and biochemistry. You might even be able to sort of understand a paper written by a leading oncologist. But would you be willing to stake your life on this partial understanding? I betting and hoping not. But you are willing to stake your planet’s life on it? Your grandchildren’s planet? Apparently. Even though, interestingly, you admit that other people understand the science better than you do. And the consensus (yes there is one) from these people who understand the science better than you is that climate change is real and anthropogenic.

    Now, are the scientists wrong about the world your grandchildren will inhabit? Perhaps. It is highly unlikely, however, that you or I or Ted can determine that.

  • Waldo to Malcolm

    Thanks for the update on the electric car, Ted. I was actually aware of the current problems. I even know that once upon a time Tesla envisioned a type of electric car. And, even though I am not an engineer, I am going to point out, again, that it is eminently conceivable that the scientists and engineers of the world will be able to resolve these problems in the near future. Are you seriously suggesting there are no solutions ever for these technical issues? Are you seriously going to suggest that, because there is not a readily available answer to the storage problems for solar energy, that there never will be one? Once again, Ted, I’m glad you weren’t at Kittyhawk.

    But this is too funny:

    First you say—

    ****”By the way, where do you get the notion that we are here to denigrate climate scientists? We simply raise questions.”

    And then you say—

    ****”By the way, we might really have to hunt with flint tipped spears if the CAGW people have their way and we destroy our industrial economy.”

    Do you really, truly not see the irony and contradiction in the above two statements?! Bwahahahahaha! That’s funny, my friend.

  • Waldo to Ted

    Oops, sorry, the preceding post is yours two, Ted. Thanks for the cool calcs on hydraulic energy storage. What I think you should do now is contact this guy…

    http://www.ibridgenetwork.org/umn/hydraulic-energy-storage-systems

    …and explain to him why his “open accumulator” won’t work. He claims that—

    “This energy storage system design results in a lighter weight device, and up to 24 times the energy density of traditional hydraulic accumulators. This opens up applications in hydraulic hybrid vehicles and a cost-effective method for storing off-peak energy from wind turbines.”

    But he must be wrong. Tell him, not me.

  • Malcolm

    “Not in detail, no” does not equal “I can’t actually read the literature”. I can read the literature. I don’t claim to understand everything I read perfectly. If you want to say that I do not understand a particular piece of literature well enough for a particular purpose, go ahead, but back this up, eg, by pointing a specific thing which I misunderstand. If you can’t back this up, sorry, but your argument is baseless.

    A little bit of understanding is hardly understanding. — You continue to amuse. Nobody has perfect understanding. Again, if you are going to argue that some particular cases of imperfect understanding, eg, mine, can be classified as “a little bit of understanding”, back this up. Can’t? I thought so.

    Seriously, at this point you understand that you have lost your argument and are just repeating yourself, seemingly just so you have the last word. Shame.

  • Malcolm

    Just so you don’t waste your time on another useless reply, please define “a little bit of understanding” in this phrase of yours:

    “A little bit of understanding is hardly understanding.”

    How much understanding is more than “a little bit of understanding”? How should we measure that? If you suggest we do this by looking at the number of publications in relevant fields, fine, but then your argument is circular:

    (a) Malcolm, you should trust the experts, because you don’t understand the science (this is what you started with), and

    (b) Malcolm, you don’t understand the science, because you are not an expert (the reasoning above).

    Circular logic does not get one very far.

  • Ted Rafdo

    Waldo:

    The energy balance has nothing to do with what device is used. Someone can use a magic machine. It doesn’t matter. To store 100 units of energy, one must put in 100 units of energy (plus losses due to inefficiency). The exact design has no effect.

    This cannot be avoided. If you could pump 100 units of energy to storage with less than 100 units input to the pump, and then get the 100 units back in the turbine, you would violate the first law of thermodynamics and have a perpetual motion machine. This is impossible.

    Many people have studied optimizing a hydraulic energy storage system. How many pumping stages, optimum flow rate vs head, etc. This sort of study will optimize the design for capital cost and operability but has NOTHING to do with the energy balance.

    His hydraulic accumulator may be a marvelous device, but it doesn’t change the energy balance. I gather it makes the reservoir smaller. I am not clear how you make water any denser, but I leave that to the inventor to explain to you. I am not interested.

    Why should I contact the guy? His invention has nothing to do with the subject (energy balance) that we are talking about. You can talk to him if you see fit. Ask him if it permits pumping 100 KWH worth of energy up the mountain with less than 100 KWH. If he says it does, he is a fraud. If it doesn’t, we are back to start.

    By the way, hydraulic accumulators are used in hydraulic drive machinery, such as power shovels, cranes, etc. He may very well have an improved device for this purpose. This has nothing to do with hydraulic (water) storage of wind or solar energy.

  • Ted Rafdo

    Waldo:

    Your comments re electric cars make me scratch my head. Electric cars need to be recharged, either with an on-board generator or from the grid. Battery technology is well understood. No doubt improvements will be made that permit cheaper, lighter bateries. The basic energy balance remains.

    The first problem is the energy balance. A battery is not magic. It only puts out power that was previously stored. If you make a battery bigger and bigger to extend the range, the weight goes up proportionately and more power is required to run the car. Thus, range will always be limited, along with the other problems I described. The market place will determine if the high cost and short range will discourage buyers. It is not up to you and me to decide.

    As to the spear, you are the one who suggeted it. I am merely making use of your point in a post CAGW world.

    You seem to have a wonerfull faith in scientists and engineers. They will violate all the laws of thermo and other sciences and pull rabbits out of the hat, if only neanderthal old white men engineers would get out of the way. Good thinking!! Why did that not occur to dumb old me? Maybe levitation will be invented and we can fly airplanes with no fuel! That will solve CAGW and the energy problem in one swoop!

  • Ted Rafdo

    Malcolm:

    Waldo should listen to others on EVERYTHING, not just climate science. He obviously has no understanding of the physical sciences (or anything else) so he should shut up and sit down and listen to others. That is HIS advice. If there is anyone around who is more expert, everyone else should shut up. He should follow his own admonition and quit playing engineer.

  • Ted Rado

    Waldo:

    What’s this fixation re Kitty Hawk? Two brothers pursued an idea and it worked. A good example of free enterprise in action. The USG was not involved, which no doubt was a blessing. The Wright brothers sank or swam on their own.

    You are making my point for me. The USG should get out of thw way and let free enterprise find new sources of energy. Everything the government touches turns to poopoo. Just check the projects funded by the DOE to see how much money is being wasted, and how much R&D effort is being diverted from something potentially useful (as the Wright’s did) to nonsense. Every hour spent on stupid projuects is an hour NOT spent on something with potential. Free enterprise recognizes this. The USG does not.

    If the long-established procedures for checking out ideas on paper (see netdr and my previous comments) were followed, this waste would not occur and we would find alternative energy quicker. Instead, we squander our resources on schemes that can easily be shown to be losers (see water storage post above).

  • Waldo to Malcolm

    ****”(a) Malcolm, you should trust the experts, because you don’t understand the science (this is what you started with), and

    ****(b) Malcolm, you don’t understand the science, because you are not an expert (the reasoning above).”

    Nope. I have always said the same thing:

    a) Malcolm, we should listen to the experts—they know more than we do (which you’ve already admitted) and are thus in a better position to analyze the science (which you admitted you can’t do in any detail [and this leads me to think that you really can’t in the first place]); and

    b) Malcolm, you’re the one who admitted you don’t really understand the science.

    There is nothing circular about it. You’re trying to make it seem that way because, frankly, you’ve inadvertently made my case for me. But that’s it.

  • Waldo to Ted

    Ted, what are you telling me for? I believe you. Tell the fella at…

    http://www.ibridgenetwork.org/umn/hydraulic-energy-storage-systems

    …that he’s wasting his time.

    I’m sure that you are (or have been, if you are retired now) an excellent engineer. I’m certain that all the issues with electric cars are true. But your reasoning is always that the government is evil and will destroy industry (very arch-conservative)and I am surprised at how little respect you give to other engineers who are working on these problems now.

  • Ted Rado

    Waldo:

    Why should I argue with your guy? I have no interest in him. His work has nothing to do with the energy balance problem.

    You continue to dodge the issue by changing the subject to something irrelavent. That’s OK, because I am getting tired of trying to talk sense with you. It’s hopeless.

    I did not say your inventor was wasting his time. He may have a wonderfull design, which has nothing to do with the subject.

  • Ted Rado

    Waldo:

    The argument that the government will destroy industry is being currently validated. It can be stopped, if the USG gets their nose out of everything and leaves progress to free enterprise. I gather you don’t read the paper or watch TV. You might discover that the USG is screwing up BIG TIME.

  • Ted Rado

    Waldo:

    Many engineers are working on nonsense because they have been corrupted by the USG. I personally know an engineer who is making over 200K per year studyng compressed air energy storage. Anyone with an understanding of thermodynamics and engineering can figure out that it is nonsense in an afternoon. The engineer I mentioned and his family are all laughing about it, as they all recognize the absurdity of it. By the way, I have immense respect for the professional ability of the engineers working on USG nonsense. If they can double their income by working on a stupid USG projest, many of them will, and laugh all the way to the bank.

    If the USG pays enough for it, people will study how many angels can dance on a pinhead. Almost everyone can be corrupted.

    If the USG stays out of it, R&D will be driven by good science, engineering, and economics. The results will undoubtedly be better. They couldn’t be worse.

    P.S. Auf wiedersehen. I won’t be responding to your idiotic stuff any longer. I’ll watch a children’s cartoon program instead. It will make more sense.

  • Waldo says goodbye to Ted

    We’ll see ya around, buddy. I’m with you. We’ve repeating ourselves without convincing each other for some time.

    And I’m wearied by your can’t-do attitude, armchair quarterbacking, CC denialism, disbelief in the obvious possibility of progress, unwillingness to test your theories against other scientists, arrogance about engineers, and your infatuation with the USG which, despite its many foibles, has helped make America one of the great powers in history (and please, if you just can’t restrain yourself from responding, let’s not have some sort of ridiculous ‘laissez-faire-is-the-only-reason-we’re-eating-trickle-down’ sort of response, at least not in this day and age of corporate greed and its economic and environmental negligence).

    Although I will miss your hyperbole and calls for more “gentlemanly” discourse, until we meet again, W.

  • Alan D McIntire

    “Waldo to Malcolm:

    ****”(a) Malcolm, you should trust the experts, because you don’t understand the science…”

    I guess the two rubes who ran a bicycle shop, Wilbur and Orville Wright, should have quit wasting their time, and deferred to the
    expertise of Lord Kelvin.

    “Heavier than air flying machines are impossible.”
    — Lord Kelvin

    Kennedy should have listened to the experts rather than waste money on a futile effort to put a man on the moon.

    “There is no hope for the fanciful idea of reaching the Moon because of
    insurmountable barriers to escaping the Earth’s gravity.”
    — Forest Ray Moulton, astronomer, 1932

    “We are probably at the limit of what we can know about astronomy.”
    — Simon Newcomb, 1888

    And of course trying to supply electricity to all of the US, including rural areas, was both futile and dangerous.

    “Fooling around with alternating currents is just a waste of time. Nobody
    will use it, ever. It’s too dangerous. . . it could kill a man as quick
    as a bolt of lightning. Direct current is safe.”
    — Thomas Edison

    “Just as certain as death, [George] Westinghouse will kill a customer
    within six months after he puts in a system of any size.”
    — Thomas Edison

    To paraphrase Richard Feynman, ” Science is the belief that experts are full of shit”.