Posts tagged ‘Maggies Farm’

Environmental Preservation of a Man-Made Lake

Environmentalists are working to preserve another priceless natural treasure, one that has been on this earth supporting its habitat for, uh, decades.  From the Save the Salton Sea web site:

proposed transfer of water from the Imperial Valley to San Diego as
part of the reduction of California's Colorado River use, the possible
reclamation of New River water by Mexico, and the increased evaporation
from the Sea's restoration all threaten to reduce lake levels.  The
proposed transfer of the 300,000 acre feet alone, if inflows are not
replaced, is estimated to drop lake levels by over 16 feet, exposing
almost 70 square miles of sediments.  The result could be potential air
quality problems caused by blowing dust, seaside homes stranded far
from the Sea, and greatly accelerated concentrations of salts and

Of course its freaking drying up.  In a sense, this lake represents the United States' largest industrial spill, as early in the 20th century a couple of Colorado River aqueducts broke and poured water into the Salton basin, creating a brand new sea.  By usual environmentalist arguments, this lake is supposed to dry up, having been an artificial creation of man.  (By the way, as an extra credit task, I challenge you to find anywhere in the web site linked above where they mention that the lake is a man-made accident that is barely 100 years old).

HT:  Maggies Farm

When Prey Decide They Have Had Enough

It seems like there is a taxpayer analogy in here somewhere.

H/T:  Maggies Farm

By the way, if you have not seen it, the BBC Series Planet Earth is just amazing.  I am watching it in High Def via my LG Blu-ray/HD-DVD combo player and it is awesome.

I am So Disapointed

Maggies Farm reports that their site is banned in China.  I tested Coyote Blog at the same site they used.  And much to my chagrin, I am available in China.  I guess I am not trying hard enough. 

I Find This Argument Uncompelling

I am skeptical of some but not all global warming claims, but must admit that even as a skeptic, I find this argument by James Lewis uncompelling:

Now imagine that all
the variables about global climate are known with less than 100 percent
certainty. Let's be wildly and unrealistically optimistic and say that
climate scientists know each variable to 99 percent certainty! (No such
thing, of course). And let's optimistically suppose there are only one-hundred x's, y's, and z's
--- all the variables that can change the climate: like the amount of
cloud cover over Antarctica, the changing ocean currents in the South
Pacific, Mount Helena venting, sun spots, Chinese factories burning
more coal every year, evaporation of ocean water (the biggest
"greenhouse" gas), the wobbles of earth orbit around the sun, and yes,
the multifarious fartings of billions of living creatures on the face of the earth, minus,
of course, all the trillions of plants and algae that gobble up all the
CO2, nitrogen-containing molecules, and sulfur-smelling exhalations
spewed out by all of us animals. Got that? It all goes into our best
math model.

in the best case, the smartest climatologist in the world will know 100
variables, each one to an accuracy of 99 percent. Want to know what the
probability of our spiffiest math model would be, if that perfect world existed?  Have you ever multiplied (99/100) by itself 100 times? According to the
Google calculator, it equals a little more than 36.6 percent.

The Bottom line: our best imaginable model has a total probability of one out of three. How many billions of dollars in Kyoto money are we going to spend on that chance?

Yes, there is a point to be made that climate is really complicated.  However, I can still make correct and valid directional predictions without knowing the exact state of every variable.  For example, I can say with some certainty that, at least here in Arizona, that the temperature at 4PM is going to be higher than the temperature at 4AM, and probably by many degrees.  I can make this statement despite having no idea what the temperature at either time actually is.

I think one can say that the hypothesis is pretty strong that man-made CO2 is increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations which in turn is causing some warming.  Where Mr. Lewis probably has a point is on the issue of positive and negative feedbacks.  Most of the warming in the estimates in productions like "An Inconvenient Truth"  relies not on just CO2-driven warming, but warming from a variety of feedback processes.  These feedbacks are really really complicated and not well understood.  I discuss this issue of feedbacks both here and here and here.

(HT Maggies Farm)

Education Spending Myth

Jay Greene of the Manhattan Institute: (via Maggies Farm)

is the most widely held myth about education in America--and the one
most directly at odds with the available evidence. Few people are aware
that our education spending per pupil has been growing steadily for 50
years. At the end of World War II, public schools in the United States
spent a total of $1,214 per student in inflation-adjusted 2002 dollars.
By the middle of the 1950s that figure had roughly doubled to $2,345.
By 1972 it had almost doubled again, reaching $4,479. And since then,
it has doubled a third time, climbing to $8,745 in 2002.

the early 1970s, when the federal government launched a standardized
exam called the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), it
has been possible to measure student outcomes in a reliable, objective
way. Over that period, inflation-adjusted spending per pupil doubled.
So if more money produces better results in schools, we would expect to
see significant improvements in test scores during this period. That
didn't happen. For twelfth-grade students, who represent the end
product of the education system, NAEP scores in math, science, and
reading have all remained flat over the past 30 years. And the high
school graduation rate hasn't budged. Increased spending did not yield more learning.

There is a lot more good stuff in the article, from class size to teacher pay.  I would observe that he misses one component of teacher pay -- that they tend to have higher than average benefit packages, which makes their jobs even more competitive with other professionals.  I covered much of the same ground 18 months ago in my Teacher Salary Myth post (which still earns me some good hate mail).

Advice on Growing a Blog

I have tried a bit of everything to grow my blog:  participating in carnivals, signing up for contests, spamming Glenn Reynolds for attention (sorry Glenn).  Here is the lesson I have learned:  You have just got to write a lot.  Other bloggers will notice you and start linking back to you when you write about them.  Walter Olson at Overlawyered has had me guest blog a couple of times, and I don't think I ever emailed him once.  I linked to a lot of his posts, adding my commentary, and he eventually noticed.  Ditto some of the folks at Cafe Hayek, at Reason, and at the Knowledge Problem.  In turn, I have discovered great blogs like Maggies Farm and Catallarchy from my traffic logs.  Write a lot on your blog, and comment on other people's blogs, if you really have energy to burn, and the traffic will show up.  Search engine traffic alone will bring new readers, and the more you post, the more different searches will find you (though some are a bit bizarre).

As a sort of reverse proof of this, here is my traffic profile for the last year.  Nothing spectacular, I am just a small blog, but you can see what happened to traffic when my posting went way down over the summer.  I have in turn been burning up the keyboard in September, and I hit a new traffic high.


Update: Trackbacks used to be a great way to tell folks that you were commenting on a particular post.  Unfortunately, spam has pretty much killed them at most sites, including this one.