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Extreme Irrationality Is Extremely Irritating

March 5, 2014 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment
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“Hurricane Sandy was truly astounding in its size and power. At its peak size, twenty hours before landfall, Sandy had tropical storm-force winds that covered an area nearly one-fifth the area of the contiguous United States. Since detailed records of hurricane size began in 1988, only one tropical storm (Olga of 2001) has had a larger area of tropical storm-force winds, and no hurricanes has. … Most incredibly, ten hours before landfall, the total energy of Sandy’s winds of tropical storm-force and higher peaked at 329 terajoules–the highest value for any Atlantic hurricane since at least 1969. This is 2.7 times higher than Katrina’s peak energy, and is equivalent to five Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs. At landfall, Sandy’s tropical storm-force winds spanned 943 miles of the U.S. coast. No hurricane on record has been wider.” – Jeff Masters [1] … Continue Reading

The Party of Lincoln (Part Two)

January 23, 2014 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment
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“The physical sciences, often called the ‘hard sciences’, are really the easy ones. They are underpinned by conservation laws and invariance principles in ways that differ from the biological, and even more the social, sciences.” Robert M. May, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, [1].

Climate Reality

On the most basic level and referring to the Robert May quote above, the study of planetary climate systems is a physical science. I’ve described most of the forcings and feedbacks previously [2]. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and has certain other physical properties which result in its being the principle greenhouse gas or thermostat of any planet similar to Earth [3]. At the temperature and atmospheric pressure at the surface of our planet carbon dioxide is a gas and is well-mixed in the atmosphere. Water by contrast is a liquid and only very reluctantly vaporizes. We have oceans of liquid water on our planet’s surface and yet very little water vapor. It is not well mixed in the atmosphere. There is very little water vapor over the Sahara or Antarctica or over any other desert. Since the temperature falls precipitously with altitude over the surface the percentage of water vapor falls dramatically as well. … Continue Reading

The Party of Lincoln

January 13, 2014 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment
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“The physical sciences, often called the ‘hard sciences’, are really the easy ones. They are underpinned by conservation laws and invariance principles in ways that differ from the biological, and even more the social, sciences.” Robert M. May, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, [1].

Tony Noerpel

Executive Summary

I’ve done it again. I’ve taken a very simple theme and went crazy with it. Since this piece is much longer than anybody’s attention span, it needs an executive summary.

There is a myth in American politics that both political parties are the same so it does not really matter which one we vote for. This is not true. It is my experience that two groups of people hold this view. Those of us who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 hold this view because voting for Nader helped put George W. Bush in the White House and of course we would agree that Bush was one of the worst presidents our country ever had. Even the Republican Party did not invite the sitting president to John McCain’s nominating convention in 2008. We just don’t want to admit we made a mistake. There are many moderates who voted for Bush in 2000 who aver that both parties are just as bad, too. Those of us in this camp are also reluctant to admit we blew it. Nobody likes to admit being wrong. I certainly don’t. Well, grow up everybody. Admitting we were wrong is cathartic. It actually feels good to fess up that we screwed up. … Continue Reading

Are We Sufficiently Science Literate?

December 10, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet 4 comments
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“The only thing that stands between a man and being free is this foolish thing called greed” – “Greed”, a song by Buddy Dunlap.

The widening gap between the reality of human-caused or anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and its eventual severity on one hand and public opinion on the other in the United States is confounding. The debate is not between advocates of multiple competing hypotheses attempting to explain the observed phenomena, which is what happens in science. Rather it is an asymmetric confrontation between scientists using evidence to discover a signal and ideologues generating noise. Finding a denier signal if it exists within their noise is much more difficult than one might think [1]. However, it has been my personal experience that anybody with sufficient scientific literacy who may have been skeptical can be easily convinced of the truth of AGW by the evidence as well as by lack of evidence supporting whatever skeptical views they might have previously held. By contrast it is not easy to convince deniers because they do not know what evidence is, a sad reality which the fossil fuels industry exploits [2]. It is only by meticulously avoiding evidence that deniers can frame their case at all. … Continue Reading

Taking It Slow

December 2, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment
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“And I have made much more progress in recognizing the errors of others than my own.” – Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow [1].

Isn’t that the truth? Kahneman is not writing about perceiving what others do or write as errors when in fact they are not. He is describing how much easier it is to objectively observe the mistakes of others which if we committed we’d never notice. When I noticed that Nate Silver applied Bayes statistics incorrectly in his chapter on global warming in his book The Signal and the Noise, I was on it like a hawk on a small rodent [2]. I might have misapplied Bayes Rule a hundred times without noticing the errors I might have been making if I had the chance. If Silver had gotten it right in the first place, I may have never studied Bayes Rule on my own and I may never have actually applied it at all to anything. This effort on my part was very intense and exhausting but immensely rewarding. Expending considerable effort for a rather long period of time without having to exert will power is described by Kahneman as being in a “flow”. I have heard it called being in a zone. And that is where I was for the last three weeks. It was awesome; way superior to video games, television or drugs. … Continue Reading

To the Arctic: Amplified and Bayes Applied

November 27, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment
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“In accordance with Bayes’ theorem, prediction is fundamentally a type of information-processing activity – a matter of using new data to test our hypotheses about the objective world, with the goal of coming to truer and more accurate conceptions about it.” Nate Silver

Forward

I like Nate Silver and I feel bad about criticizing his book “The Signal and the Noise”. But after reading his global warming chapter twice through I have to admit that he deserves the criticism. Without a doubt, when he writes about the physics of climate change for the most part he is spot on. And I applaud his effort to try to understand it. However, my critique is technically valid, no apologies there; Silver blew his Bayesian analysis. He missed a perfectly good opportunity to contribute to a reduction of the noise level of the discourse increasing it instead. This is exactly the goal of the fossil fuels industry. So long as there is lots of noise, nobody sees the signal. I sent a draft to Silver and asked for comments so he has had a chance to defend himself or do the mea culpa. He did not respond so my conscience is clear. The mistakes he makes in applying Bayesian analysis to the global warming problem include:

  • He uses false new data introducing misinformation, which has been comprehensively debunked. See ref [17].
  • He ignores true information.
  • He assumes that the climate system is memoryless.
  • He only applies the analysis to the IPCC consensus hypothesis and not to the myriad denier hypotheses.

… Continue Reading

Energy Summit Comments

November 13, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment
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Both Sustainable Loudoun’s 2013 energy summit and climate discussion went well. Kent Klitgaard the featured speaker at the energy summit, held on October 25 at GWU, called me the night before from a hospital bed in post op. He had been rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. Obviously, he was not going to be able to travel and deliver his talk the following evening. I told him not to worry. He could send me his charts in the morning. I could review them and call him with questions and deliver the talk myself. What else was I going to do? A friend Kenneth Davidson, an antitrust lawyer who has written several books would be attending and I would invite him to participate in the Q and A discussion afterwards. We would muddle through. … Continue Reading

Climate Discussion with Climate Scientist Jennifer Francis

October 30, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet 2 comments
climate discussion

Rapid Arctic Warming and Extreme Weather Events in Mid-Latitudes: Are They Connected?

Wednesday – November 6, 2013
Music and Refreshments start at 6:00 p.m. – Program begins at 7:00 p.m.
Music by Tara Linhardt and Buddy Dunlap
Hosted by REHAU
1501 Edwards Ferry Road, NE, Leesburg, VA

Featured speaker: Jennifer Francis, PhD

“Extra heat entering the vast expanses of open water that were once covered in ice is released back to the atmosphere in the fall. This has led to an increase in near-surface, autumn air temperatures of two to five degrees C (3.6 to nine degrees F) over much of the Arctic Ocean during the past decade. All that extra heat being deposited into the atmosphere cannot help but affect the weather, both locally and on a large scale. And there are growing indications that some weather phenomena in recent years — such as prolonged cold spells in Europe, heavy snows in the northeastern U.S. and Alaska, and heat waves in Russia — may be related to Arctic amplification.” Jennifer Francis [1] … Continue Reading

Sustainable Loudoun’s Energy and Economic Forum

October 16, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet 2 comments
energy summit

“I made a mistake.” FED Chair Alan Greenspan in testimony before Congress, October 23, 2008.

“You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession …We have sort of become a nation of whiners” John McCain’s economic advisor, and former senator Phil Gramm in an interview with the Washington Times, July 9, 2008, eight months after the recession officially began.

“As of 2011 there is no clear agreement of what kind of economics works and what does not.” Charles Hall and Kent Klitgaard, “Energy and the Wealth of Nations”.

“We often underestimate how much uncertainty there is in terms of our understanding of the economy. If you pretend that we know more than we do, you are in danger of constructing policies that can be counter-productive.” 2013 Economics Nobel Prize winner, Lars Peter Hansen [1]. … Continue Reading

Who Are We and Do We Have a Purpose?

August 28, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment
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“Since we have expanded by use of intelligence and detection of not necessarily sustainable gradients, continued civilization is not a foregone conclusion…. Our oil economy freeloads on photosynthetic fossil fuels, buried treasures that the rest of life passed by. But these treasures are running out.” Eric D. Schneider and Dorion Sagan, Into the Cool, 2005.

There are at least two very good questions a reader might want to ask me, inquiries which I encourage. Why am I writing this column? What do I expect to accomplish or do I have a purpose? The short answers are that I write these columns to clear my head and my purpose, what I expect to accomplish, is to come as close to understanding reality or truth as I possibly can. It would be great to anticipate the future of Homo sapiens and to discover if we have a purpose. The latter is a quest that is limited by my own intellect and also by the information which is available to me within the time frame of my sojourn in life. The long answers are not just much longer but raise more questions. … Continue Reading

Mission to Our Home Planet, a Future with No Landfills and Some Fine Music!

March 21, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment
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Loudoun County Regional Science and Engineering Fair Energy and Environmental Sustainability Awards Results and Ceremony Announcement

Every year REHAU, Inc. of Leesburg Virginia along with Sustainable Loudoun sponsors four awards for the Regional Science and Engineering Fair. The name of the award is the Energy and Environmental Sustainability Award. The presentation ceremony will be on Wednesday April 24 at REHAU’s North America headquarters at 1501 Edwards Ferry Rd. in Leesburg. The students will display their winning projects and be available to discuss them at 6:00 p.m. Between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. entertainment will be provided by the Potomac Falls High School (PFHS) Guitar Quartet sponsored by Sand Energy. The formal program begins at 7:00 p.m. with a talk by NASA astrophysicist Dr. Michelle Thaller. Dr. Edgar B. Hatrick, III, Superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools will present the awards. Refreshments will be provided by REHAU. This event is free and open to the public. … Continue Reading

The Con in Economics

March 5, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet 2 comments
noerpel150

“In so far as a theory can be said to have assumptions at all, in so far as their realism can be judged independently of the validity of predictions, the relation between the significance of a theory and the realism of its assumptions is almost the opposite of that suggested by the view under criticism. Truly important and significant hypotheses will be found to have assumptions that are wildly inaccurate descriptive representations of reality and, in general, the more significant the theory, the more unrealistic the assumptions.” Milton Friedman [1].

I first read this remarkable passage by Milton Friedman a few years ago in Steve Keen’s book Debunking Economics [2]. Keen is one of only twelve economists to have predicted the recent great recession [3] so he is entirely credible. Still I’m a skeptical person and with due respect to Friedman I had to read the original paper. Even assuming Keen’s quote is accurate and it is; it may have been taken out of context, and it is not. I found Friedman’s remark so outrageous that I had to comment on it, and apparently so did a whole lot of other people. I came across the original paper along with several critiques by other economists, including Paul Samuelson, and philosophers, including Ernest Nagel, in Bruce Caldwell’s book Appraisal and Criticism in Economics, A book of Readings [4]. Economic methodology is an esoteric subject even for economists but the selections in the book are interesting and expose us to yet another example of how not to think. … Continue Reading

Willfully Ignorant

February 20, 2013 by Tony Noerpel Columns, Sustainable Planet Be the first to comment
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“Unless we take action on climate change, future generations will be roasted, toasted, fried and grilled.” IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, [1].

“The natural state of the Earth with present carbon dioxide levels is one with sea levels about 70 feet higher than now.” Kenneth Miller [2].

“Science Literacy is a vaccine against the charlatans of the world that would exploit your ignorance.” Neil deGrasse Tyson. … Continue Reading

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Sustainable Planet

Pungent Curry

9 Apr 2014

noerpel

The latest version of the IPCC report is published and once again it will go unread by the great masses of climate science deniers and unreported by the media. So it might be useful to revisit the fundamental physical realities …

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Ask Dr. Mike

Understanding Teen Suicide

1 Apr 2014

Michael_Pic

By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. Northern Virginia has recently experienced several teen suicides. Last month, two Langley High School students took their own lives just a day apart from one another, and this month it appears two students at Woodson High …

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Virginia Gardening

Spring Is Coming

4 Mar 2014

springiscoming

By Donna Williamson March is an in-between month – some cold and the return of glorious warmth now and then. One way to bring some delight inside is forcing spring-blooming branches. You can cut branches of forsythia, cherry, crabapple, kerria, …

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Sushi's Corner

An Easter Swim

1 Apr 2014

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 11.10.56 AM

I felt like a silly nim “cow” poop with these Easter bows in our hair. Okay Nelly, maybe you didn’t because you’re a girl. But me, a Mighty Cairn Terrier male? – PLEASE! Pleasing Mrs. B for Easter pictures was …

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Amy V. Smith's Money Talks

What Baseball Can Teach You About Financial Planning

1 Apr 2014

Amy Smith-BRL

Spring training is a tradition that baseball teams and baseball fans look forward to every year. No matter how they did last year, teams in spring training are full of hope that a new season will bring a fresh start. …

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Go Take a Hike

Blandy Experimental Farm

6 Jun 2012

Molly

By Molly Pinson Simoneau It’s no secret that I love a challenging hike. I’ve written here about hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail and Shenandoah National Park. I’ve taken vacations with my family to Colorado where I’ve attempted to conquer a “fourteener” (a summit that is higher than 14,000 feet), …

(2 comments)

Real Estate Ticker

A Buying Opportunity?

6 Nov 2013

Carl Fischer headshot

By Carl Fischer As a direct result of the uncertainty that has arisen from national and regional politics, with its unsettling effect on the Northern Virginia area, for the past two months there has been a market slowdown which has …

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From the Farm

From the Farm

5 Jul 2012

From the Farm

When the heat index reaches 110 degrees, as it has been doing recently, I try to keep in the shade, or stay indoors. But my lavender, about halfway from full bloom, seems to thrive in it. Hot and dry, I …

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Events

April 2014
M T W T F S S
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: Art Gallery Reception for Featured Artists -- Abstract painter Evelyn Lopez de Guzman and contemporary painter Sandra Iafrate

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April 12, 2014N/A

Meet Evelyn and Sandra and other gallery artists during a free, open to the public reception for this month's Featured Artists' exhibit "Living Color,” showcasing two accomplished painters Evelyn Lopez de Guzman and Sandra Iafrate, in a vivid and dynamic presentation of color, shape and our surroundings.

Evelyn Lopez de Guzman’s vibrant paintings awaken the viewer to connect with nature and the modern world through an interplay of shape, color, and textural materials.

Sandra Iafrate’s combination of realistic and surrealist interpretation of flowers, foliage and landscapes on spacious canvases convey a sense of movement and playfulness.

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14 15 16 17 18 19

Easter at "The Park"

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April 19, 2014

Morven Park
17263 Southern Planter Lane
Leesburg, Virginia 20176
7037772414

Celebrate Easter at historic Morven Park with crafts for kids, an egg hunt in the formal gardens plus a traditional egg roll on the Davis Mansion lawn. Have a family photo taken with the Easter Bunny. Children should bring a basket for the hunt and a large spoon for the egg roll. $10/participating child (ages 2-12), $3/adult. Register at www.MorvenPark.org.

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VAL's Pals Kids Club

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April 30, 2014

Village at Leesburg Shopping Center
1601 Village Market Blvd #100
Leesburg, Virginia 20175
USA

Join Inova Loudoun Hospital as the present their Beamer the Dog Program.

1 2 3 4

SCOUTING FOR BRICKS

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May 4, 2014

Heritage High School
520 Evergreen Mill Road
Leesburg, VA 20175
USA
7032205202

Scouting for Bricks is an exhibit showing the Love for everything LEGO® . Come see amazing LEGO® creations by Fans of LEGO®, LEGO® trains, Mindstorms robots. We will also have live Star Wars Stormtroopers and an interactive play area with over 100,000 LEGO bricks. Scouting for Bricks is fun for the Whole Family! Visit us at www.ScoutingForBricks.com.

Recent Comments

View From the Ridge

Rural Loudoun Is Different, and We Say Dark Skies Do Matter

4 Mar 2014

viewfromridge

In February of this year a sell out crowd gathered at the county public seat in Leesburg to provide feedback to the Loudoun County Planning Commission on the idea of adding additional sports lights to the upper athletic fields at Franklin Park. Franklin Park includes a really wonderful performing arts …

(3 comments)

Editorial

Steady and Nobull

4 Mar 2014

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Park and Ride Lots for Western Loudoun

4 Mar 2014

Jim_Burton_cropped

In 2003, the county purchased 22 commuter buses to serve a growing demand for bus service to Washington D.C. The demand has grown exponentially ever since. The county now owns or leases 65 large commuter buses (with plush seats and on board restrooms) and more are being added every year. The buses are often filled to standing room only as …

(2 comments)

Lifestyle

Sadie’s Race 5K and Fun Run Scheduled for Sunday May 18

9 Apr 2014

sadiestart

Sadie Smile Foundation is putting on the third annual Sadie’s Race/Walk and Kids Fun Run to Benefit Smile Train in Purcellville Sunday, May 18th this year. The race starts at 8:00 a.m. at the train station at 200 N 21st Street in Purcellville. Sign up at Active.com. When Sara Ablard lost her five year-old daughter, Sadie, two years ago, she …

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Dr. Joseph Rogers Dies at Family Farm

1 Apr 2014

Dr. Joseph Megeath Rogers, 90, died on Saturday March 8, 2014 at his Hillbrook Farm near Hamilton following a stroke. Physician, farmer, businessman, rural land conservationist, philanthropist and expert horseman, Dr. Rogers was a tireless advocate and practitioner of country living whose contributions in a broad range of interests were made quietly and with little fanfare. His public persona was …

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Zoldos Presented Citizen of the Year Award

1 Apr 2014

Mayor_Zoldos_Citizen_of_Year_Award

At the biweekly March meeting of the Lovettsville Town Council, Mayor Bobby Zoldos was presented the 2013 Citizen of the Year from the Lovettsville Waterford Ruritans. Presenting the award was Rick Adams, current president along with Board Member Peter Mullally and  Vice President Jeff Boogaard. Adams said, “On behalf of the Lovettsville Waterford Ruritans, we would like to present the …

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Around Virginia

Wolf Won’t Seek Re-election

Frank_wolf

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th) today announced that he would not seek election to an 18th term in 2014. He released the following statement announcing his decision: “I have decided not to seek re-election to the U.S. Congress in 2014. It has been an honor to serve the people of northern …

(1 comment)

Virginia Can and Should Work Harder to Combat Hunger

Frank_wolf

By Congressman Frank Wolf Last year, the USDA reported a record number of Americans are struggling to put food on their tables. Across the nation, 49 million people – including 17 million children and six million seniors – are going hungry, a number that has grown substantially over the last …

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Kaine Statement on Navy Yard Shooting

Kaine

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement on today’s shooting at the Washington Navy Yard: “My thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted by today’s tragic shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. As we learn more about the horrific events that unfolded this morning, my deepest sympathies go out …

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Sports

Nominate Your Hometown Hero

9 Apr 2014

ulll

Upper Loudoun Little League’s Hometown Heroes scholarship closes on April 21, 2014. The application is available online at ULLL.org. The scholarship is open to all graduating seniors who played baseball for ULLL at some point in their growing up years.

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Lady Vikings Give Back

10 Feb 2014

The Loudoun Valley Girls basketball team held an event on Friday, February 7 at LVHS. The Lady Vikings celebrated “Pink Night” by honoring those who are battling breast cancer or have been affected by breast cancer. The event was held in conjunction with an event held at Woodgrove earlier this …

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Letters

Medicaid Expansion Battle Heating Up

4 Mar 2014

blueridge2

Did you know that there’s a very real possibility that a DC-style budget battle and government shutdown could come to Virginia? The Medicaid expansion battle …

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Endorsing for Profit Businesses?

4 Mar 2014

town of purcellville sign

I recently received an automated email message from the Town of Purcellville soliciting nominations for volunteer award recipients in cooperation with the Purcellville Business Association …

(2 comments)

Another Vote To Overrule Purcellville’s Board of Architectural Review

4 Mar 2014

town of purcellville sign

The Purcellville Town Council, foolishly, in the view of many and perhaps most, has overruled its Board of Architectural Review and approved Mark Nelis’s and …

(3 comments)

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