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Reconstructing Economics: Why Nations Fail, Part One

May 13, 2014 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Reconstructing Economics: Why Nations Fail, Part One

“People are reluctant to believe physical systems and human systems are of the same kind. Although social systems are more complex than physical systems, they belong to the same class of high-order, nonlinear, feedback systems as do physical systems.” Jay Forrester

Economist Steve Keen writes in Debunking Economics that his discipline is broken and needs help from other sciences. Interestingly, he does this by demonstrating inconsistencies and bad assumptions within economics. Jay Forrester proposed a “systems economics” approach and indeed his collaborators produced perhaps the most accurate long term economics forecast to date with the publication of Limits to Growth in 1972. Using systems biology as a model for reconstructing economics and borrowing from these past efforts I propose integrating into economics the hard sciences: physics and chemistry, the soft sciences: biology, cognitive psychology and neuroscience, and the softer sciences: anthropology, history and the more rational schools of economics. … Continue Reading

Extreme Irrationality Is Extremely Irritating

March 5, 2014 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Extreme Irrationality Is Extremely Irritating

“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 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on The Party of Lincoln (Part Two)

“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 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on The Party of Lincoln

“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?


“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 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Taking It Slow

“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 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on To the Arctic: Amplified and Bayes Applied

“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


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 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Energy Summit Comments

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

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

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 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Who Are We and Do We Have a Purpose?

“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 Columns, Sustainable Planet Comments Off on Mission to Our Home Planet, a Future with No Landfills and Some Fine Music!

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


“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









2016 Energy Summit – George Washington University


On Friday evening, October 28, George Washington University, Virginia Campus in Ashburn will host the 10th annual Don Sandros Energy Summit in cooperation with local businesses and non-profits. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. for a reception with wine donated by …

Attributing Disaster


“Humans are likely to create a catastrophe, and possibly an associated disaster, that vastly exceeds our own ability to recover from it. In the face of all our efforts, it will persist.” – Richard Guthrie [1] “Here we show that …

Concerned Parent


By Michael Oberschenider Psy.D. Dr. Mike, We recently signed our four-year-old daughter up for gymnastics. It wasn’t cheap, but her friends from the neighborhood do it, and she has been begging us to go. It turned out to be a …

Invisible Illnesses

Lunde new

By Mary Rose Lunde It is general knowledge that when people think about illnesses, they don’t think about illnesses that aren’t physically apparent. Sure, people know about conditions such as multiple sclerosis and other diseases with visible symptoms, but many …

Robinson Park

robinson park

Looking back, now – I’m glad it wasn’t what most people would’ve considered a nice day; I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my share of hot and sunny to last me for at least a generation (especially since …

Are Your Estate and Financial Plans Shock-Proof?


Don’t wait until “what if?” becomes “what is.” Where will you live as you age? Think about your housing options now, so you have choices and won’t have to make a hasty decision should an unexpected health event force you …

In Defense of ‘Adulting’


By Samuel Moore-Sobel Most friends transitioning from college to the workforce long for the days of college, wishing to be back in class and participating in campus life. To be honest, I may be in the minority, but I have …

Student News

Congratulations, Class of 2016

6 Jul 2016


Woodgrove High School’s Class Of 2016 Graduation – By Amanda Clark On June 16, Woodgrove’s Class of 2016 was the 5th graduating class to walk the stage and accept their diploma. The ceremony was filled with anticipation as the chorus, …

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Buckland Earns Degree In Medicine

6 Jul 2016


Molly Buckland, D.O., graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine with a degree of Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine on May 28. While at WVSOM, Dr. Buckland received the Dr. Roland P. Sharp President’s Award and the James R. …

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Adams Promoted To Lieutenant

6 Jul 2016


Lt. James Adams, from Sterling and a Potomac Falls Halls Graduate, earned the promotion to the rank of Lieutenant. Adams is a Navy Week and Executive Outreach Planner for the Navy Office of Community Outreach in Millington, Tennessee. U.S. Navy …

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October 2016
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
September 26, 2016

Dreams of Trees and Other Living Things

September 27, 2016

Dreams of Trees and Other Living Things

September 28, 2016

Dreams of Trees and Other Living Things

September 29, 2016

Dreams of Trees and Other Living Things

September 30, 2016

Dreams of Trees and Other Living Things

October 1, 2016

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

October 2, 2016
October 3, 2016 October 4, 2016 October 5, 2016 October 6, 2016 October 7, 2016 October 8, 2016

Virginia Outdoors Foundation 50 years of Conservation Celebration

October 9, 2016
October 10, 2016 October 11, 2016 October 12, 2016

Barefoot Puppets: Dreamtime, Tales From Down Under

October 13, 2016 October 14, 2016 October 15, 2016

Loudoun Centre Theatre: The Scamps Of Scapin!

October 16, 2016

Harvest Celebration & Fall Farm Tour


October 17, 2016 October 18, 2016 October 19, 2016 October 20, 2016 October 21, 2016

Anthony Semiao Live at North Gate Vineyard


October 22, 2016 October 23, 2016

Come Paint with us at Breaux Vineyards

October 24, 2016 October 25, 2016 October 26, 2016 October 27, 2016 October 28, 2016

October Fourth Friday

October 29, 2016

2 Pound Sterling Live at North Gate VIneyard

October 30, 2016

Music With A Cause - Music of Colonial America

October 31, 2016 November 1, 2016 November 2, 2016 November 3, 2016 November 4, 2016 November 5, 2016

OysterFest at North Gate Vineyard

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

November 6, 2016
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Veteran’s Day 10k Raises Funds for Veteran Causes

13 Oct 2016


On November 6, the Loudoun County Road Runners Club will again conduct the annual Loudoun 10K Trail Race in order to raise funds for veteran causes. Since it’s origin in 2011, the trail race has generated more than $90,000 with 100 percent of proceeds going directly to veteran’s charities, specifically Boulder Crest Retreat and Pets for Vets.

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FBRM Clean-Up Day at Blue Ridge Regional Park

6 Oct 2016


Join Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains for an Autumn clean-up to remove invasive vegetation from Blue Ridge Regional Park on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Some tools and equipment will be provided, but please bring your clippers, pruning shears, or saws if you can. Directions: From Leesburg, drive west on Route 7 past the turnoff …

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Painted Barrel Auction Saturday, October 8

6 Oct 2016


The Auction for The Painted Barrels around Purcellville will be held on Saturday, October 8 at 7:00 p.m at the Bush Tabernacle – 250 S. Nursery Ave. Purcellville. Thirty-Five local Loudoun County artists were given an oak wine barrel to create a Purcellville / Loudoun theme on it. Each barrel was sponsored by a local business and was displayed throughout …

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Grief and Greed


By Matthew Parse What would drive a single individual to cause so much emotional stress and financial burden on hundreds, if not, thousands of families? What would drive the Town …


Opinion: Terrorism, Debt, and China: Oh My!


– By Nick Reid world can be a very dangerous place sometimes, especially for a nation state such as the United States. Although danger is always present, the number and …

Metro Money Mess Pushing West


– By Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33rd) A local paper recently quoted Loudoun Board Chair Phyllis Randall as saying that in her observation “some of the concerns raised by the people …

Dear Editor

New Proposed Uses for Western Loudoun

Loudoun County Seal Color

If you live in the middle or western part of Loudoun where you enjoy a parcel of open space near your property (which probably was put into an open space …

Bennett Knows How To Make Economy Work for All


In the election for the 10th District House seat, only one candidate has a more than three decades of success growing a local business. As the owner of a successful …

View From the Ridge

Broken Promises, Hidden by a Six-Foot Berm


By Andrea Gaines On August 9, 1825 at the age of 69, French military officer the Marquis de Lafayette was honored in Leesburg by former President James Monroe. The French-born …

Around Virginia

History’s Holy Places: Four Local Sites Worth Exploring This Fall


The Journey through Hallowed Ground is a 180-mile long, 75-mile wide trek from Gettysburg to Monticello, encompassing nine presidential homes and places, 18 national and state parks, and thousands of small and large historical sites. Dozens and dozens of these sites and related museums are short ride from just about …

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Land Trust Receives Large Donation

land trust

On August 22, The Land Trust of Virginia received a $10,000 gift from the Sharon D. Virts Foundation, based in Herndon. The presentation of this grant was part of the Foundation’s official launch event, held at Selma Plantation in Leesburg. Notable speakers included Sharon D. Virts, FCiFederal Founder and Chair, …

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Farmers Urged To Be On The Lookout For Marijuana


Farmers in Southwest Virginia are being urged to check their property for marijuana planted by trespassers. Within the past year, hundreds of marijuana plants have been discovered between rows of hay bales on farms in and around Pulaski County, according to the Claytor Lake Regional Drug Task Force. “Unfortunately this …

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Hunter’s First Professional Race

7 Sep 2016


Drew Hunter and Loudoun Valley classmates at his first professional race, Sir Walter Miler in Raleigh, NC in early August , l to r:  Marcos Pierce, Matt Slook, Drew Hunter, Max McNerney. Hunter finished with a time of 3:57.15. Hunter turned professional and signed with Adidas.

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Let’s Make Some Memories

3 Aug 2016


American Legion Baseball At Fireman’s Field, August 3 – 7 By Andrea Gaines American Legion Baseball is here at Fireman’s Field in a big way, featuring five consecutive blockbuster Mid-Atlantic Tournament games – August 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Our local Leesburg Post 34 Rangers had some nice wins …

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