Thursday, February 26, 2015

Greenhouse Gases Caught In the Act and Google Is Still The Real Enemy Of Net Neutrality- What I am reading 2/26/2015

Daniel Feldman, a senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, along with other physicists and engineers at the lab and at UC Berkeley, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature on their findings about “radiative forcing”
In effect, their instruments measured the amount of infrared heat radiation coming down to the Earth’s surface from the sun, and the amount of heat radiation the Earth emits back up. And when the UC scientists examined their data from 2000 to 2010, they found that some of the heat from Earth was being blocked by carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and were able to calculate how much of that blocked heat was warming the planet.
I posted this last night in a couple places.  Predictably it was roundly mocked by most of my conservative friends.  I, myself, (is that a phrase?) believe this deserves  some serious attention, because as far as I know this is the first actual large scale measurement of radiative forcing.  It also dovetails in with my own opinion on climate change -

1.  The climate is changing.
2.  Climate is an extremely complicated system that is very hard to measure.
3.  Because the climactic system is so complicated changes in one area (i.e. Increasing the surface temperature of the Pacific) can have other unpredictable consequences (i.e. snowfall in Miami)
4.  Fourier was a mega-genius and that alone should give us pause before dismissing the idea of Climate Change.
5.  Having accepted the idea of Climate Change there are now two questions to be answered
     a.  How much do Humans contribute to the mechanism of change?
          1.  Answer - I don't know.  Gut feeling - some but not as much as guys like Mann and Gore would have us believe.
     b.  Do I care?
          1.  Answer - not really.  Two reasons for this - 
               a.  Again, I am not sure how much of a direct cause humans are having on this process.  I don't believe in completely redoing our economic lives if in the end it makes no difference.
               b.  Humans are masters of overcoming their environment - so even if the worst predictions come true we will over come.  I have joked about this before but in the end it's true.  If we really want to counter act global warming we could set off a couple nukes in Siberia and drop the temperature over night.  This is not an insurmountable problem.
6.  What do we do?
     a.  Gather some more actual measurable, repeatable data.  Make some informed decisions instead of just guessing what will work.

There you go the Chad Climate Plan.  I swear I should be a politician.   

Really in general I am far more concerned about the oceans than the atmosphere (I know I shouldn't have watched so much SeaQuest DSV).  Ocean acidification is a growing problem, as is fishery depletion and growing dead zones.  I don't know what to do about the first, but the second can be handled through economic means and I think fish farming has a great undeveloped potential.  As for the third - Giant Drills that slowly cause a water exchange and increases oxygenation.  

(Obviously these are rough thoughts and since I am a moron they would require a lot of polishing, but my point is these problems can be overcome)

Ars Technica - Surveillance-based manipulation: How Facebook or Google could tilt elections -

The potential for manipulation here is enormous. Here’s one example. During the 2012 election, Facebook users had the opportunity to post an “I Voted” icon, much like the real stickers many of us get at polling places after voting. There is a documented bandwagon effect with respect to voting; you are more likely to vote if you believe your friends are voting, too. This manipulation had the effect of increasing voter turnout 0.4% nationwide. So far, so good. But now imagine if Facebook manipulated the visibility of the “I Voted” icon based on either party affiliation or some decent proxy of it: ZIP code of residence, blogs linked to, URLs liked, and so on. It didn’t, but if it did, it would have had the effect of increasing voter turnout in one direction. It would be hard to detect, and it wouldn’t even be illegal. Facebook could easily tilt a close election by selectively manipulating what posts its users see. Google might do something similar with its search results.
A truly sinister social networking platform could manipulate public opinion even more effectively. By amplifying the voices of people it agrees with, and dampening those of people it disagrees with, it could profoundly distort public discourse. China does this with its 50 Cent Party: people hired by the government to post comments on social networking sites supporting, and challenge comments opposing, party positions. Samsung has done much the same thing.
Dovetails nicely with what I was saying yesterday.  To be clear, I don't really believe Google is engaging in some nefarious plot.  I am just making the point that all this argument about the "Open Internet" really misses the point about where the real potential dangers lie.

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