Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Comparing temperature and rainfall data – with an example

In my previous post, I noted that rainfall extremes and changes are a much more reliable guide than temperature extremes and changes to global warming – because the latter can be distorted from circulation changes produced by the enhanced greenhouse effect:
  1. cooling temperatures via enhanced cloud cover in a super-monsoon 
  2. cooling temperatures via increased outgoing radiation in dry weather under the expanded Hadley circulation
  3. cooling temperatures via enhanced equatorward flow is also potentially possible
The main theme of my previous posts was to show how inverse relationships exist between temperatures for most places at the same latitude. Unlike with rainfall where it is possible for models to show which regions will become drier and which wetter with enhanced greenhouse gases, temperature changes do not show any “preference” so cases of temperature change locally cannot easily detect global warming. The following diagram comparing mean daily temperatures in January for the contiguous US and Alaska North Slope is illustrative:
If you look carefully, you will see that the large anomalies in the Alaska North Slope co-occur with large anomalies of opposite sign averaged over the contiguous US:
  • Spearman’s ρ = -0.49
  • Pearson’s r = -0.56
In contrast, we can see this graph of rainfall over major cities in southwestern Australia and Central Chile. In the previous case we would except co-occurring warmth but never observe it, but here we see synchronous drying, especially in the southern part of Chile between Curico and Valdivia:
The decline here is obvious, although the wet years observed in the “virgin period” are not coherent, the dry years from global warming are much more critically so.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Correlations between winter maximum temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere – and lessons

In recent weeks as I have read the North American Monthly Weather Review, it has often occurred to me that harsh winters in certain parts of the Northern Hemisphere correlate with mild winters in another part – although I have not noticed a consistent basis by which this occurs.

Analysing Monthly Weather Review issues from the 1970s when hysteria occurred over another ice age after three extreme winters in the eastern United States, I noticed how often higher-than-average temperatures in Alaska seemed to occur alongside extreme cold in the contiguous US (e.g. Januaries 1937, 1963, 1977, 1979). Owing to the cold temperatures and extremely low population densities of Alaska and the Canadian Arctic, little attention was paid to this by Americans faced with extreme cold and shortages of heating oil in January 1977.

Today, I did a table of January temperatures over the contiguous US (apart from the southern States westward to New Mexico) by NWS region and for three representative districts of Alaska, and then did both Spearman rank correlation and Pearson product-moment correlations for them.

To minimise the effect of man-made global warming, I limited my data to the period from 1925 (when Alaska climate data begin) to 1980.
As you can see, the January temperatures between 1925 and 1980 show a definite negative correlation for all but adjacent districts. Only four Januaries (1928, 1931, 1944 and 1967) were warmer than median across all six divisions, and only 1966 and 1969 were colder than median across all six. In fact, only January 1967 comes close to having been warmer-than-normal across all five NWS regions (the four contiguous including the Southern, plus Alaska as an NWS region, where it was marginally below normal).
Stardardised maximum temperature anomalies for the only four Januaries above median for all six regions. It’s notable that 1967 marks the beginning of the ongoing rainfall declines in southwestern Australia and central Chile, and the major increases in northwestern Australia, eastern Western Australia and central-eastern South America (but see below).
Standardised mean maximum temperatures for the only two Januaries below normal for all six regions. These two cases are both interesting because they suggest critical Australian and South American rainfall changes – although now drive 100 percent by global warming – were initiated by a warming of the Southern Hemisphere relative to the Northern.
These generally negative correlations are noteworthy because it shows that one cannot simply rely on a cold winter in one region of residence as proof the climate is changing: a global warming implies warming in all regions.

These results constitute a critical contrast with precipitation changes: precipitation changes in a single region are much easier to compare with expected observed changes in circulation from warming of the troposphere – especially the poleward spread of the subtropical arid belts along the west coasts of Australia and South America, as noted by Dian Seidel in ‘Widening of the Tropical Belt in a Changing Climate’ back in 2007 (since when these trends have intensified) – and can also be correlated with inverse precipitation trends in other regions (e.g. eastern WA affected by increased flow of tropical air from monsoons and cyclones) to much more consistent effect.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

How the Enriched World is defeating itself

Recent points by a variety of authors such as Rod Dreher (now, remarkably, writing for Time) about the one-generation transformation of Enriched World culture to absolute individualism, along with current findings in the Sydney Morning Herald about Australian emissions rising despite lower electricity demand (last summer was the first in Melbourne with no day over 40˚C since 2003/2004) make one thing clear: the Enriched World is defeating itself economically and will soon hand supremacy over to Australia.

The mass of unnecessary, even useless, regulations in every field of economic activity and total lack of economic opportunities in a land devoid of natural resources or opportunities for economic agriculture (which uses the one natural resource the Enriched World does possess) forces the Enriched World’s relatively small active population to focus on higher and higher technology. This, as I see it, creates an inherently unstable and unsustainable society because:
  1. change in culture is so rapid that families cannot generally be developed on a consistent income
  2. workers’ skills require so much education that it’s not possible for incomes to develop before a woman’s primary reproductive years
  3. women are favoured for much of this high-technology office work because they are cheaper to hire, which further intensifies (2)
Lowest-low fertility is an inevitable consequence of such a situation, especially for the ultra-high-density and extremely mountainous East Asian nations, whose large populations were built up as independent, small-scale, high-yielding rice farmers in hot climates on soils formed from Himalayan glacial alluvia. This combination permitted three rice crops a year at yields of up to 150 bushels per acre for low inputs – resulting in an ample supply of food for six times as many people per square kilometre as possible on the rich soils of Europe and North America, and ten thousand times more than provided by largely vegetarian foraging in the Unenriched World. This was aided by super-rich oceans that had animal plankton densities of up to 1000 grams per cubic metre water in the Yellow Sea – compare with just 40 grams on the Australian coast. Today, this farming system is economically defunct as the industrial skills of East Asians has made their crops unaffordable and precious flat land is converted to cities – leaving the region with no natural resource to base its economy upon. The same is true of Europe and North America, if in a slightly less dramatic manner.

The Enriched World’s extreme secularism is often related to an atmosphere of pessimism and fear – fear of radical climate change, of species extinctions, of job and economic security and of war – that certainly grips the region today. Its people fear they could lose everything they possess – job, property, money, possessions – if government does not protect them completely from economic and potential ecological shocks.

The paradox is that the Enriched World actually and realistically possesses not the slightest worry about these issues:
  1. climate change would in many cases allow expansion of economic activity onto flat land difficult to use in the permafrost zone
  2. the Enriched World has negligibly few endangered species to worry about since its flora and fauna is no more than 10,000 years old from post-glacial advance (even in never-glaciated regions)
    • in contrast, most rare and restricted taxa from Australia, Southern Africa and the humid tropics are over 20,000,000 years old
  3. the absence of natural resources makes war an implausible threat since there is little to fight for, unlike the valuable fuels of the Middle East
(I will state that, as I have argued with English complaints about the weather, that the people of the Enriched World could behave as they do precisely because they know they live in an extremely favourable environment, but I have doubts because the tendencies seem too recent compared to English complaints about their climate).

Enriched World nations, lacking immutable comparative advantage in any good or service – unlike Australia’s flat land and inexhaustible rutile, iron and bauxite reserves – would compete under a free market by each allowing its wages and prices to fall until they could stay consistently competitive. This is unacceptable to working classes “militarised” at an early stage in their formation and prone even before television to heed those calling for radical social change from the limited pre-industrial monarchies, in part because it would make foreign goods very expensive. Yet, in theory, a gold standard might cause Enriched World prices – in conformity with ecological reality of the region’s uniquely rich soils and reliable runoff – to be much cheaper than in the tropics, Australia and Afro-Arabia. In practice, I have severe doubts, since the Tropical and Unenriched World still decisively affected the competitiveness of the Enriched World’s natural resource before World War I.

Still, it is clear that the Enriched World would be much more hospitable to genuine human communities, rather than just excessively self-centred and attention-seeking individuals, if it dealt with the problems its tax system creates. With no potential base nor ecological need, the relatively small proportion of the Enriched World’s population that actually works must work in most nations for half the year to be tax-free! Were there much fewer taxes and regulation, at least in theory Enriched Worlders could work on less-skilled jobs and retain as much income. It would also help if environmental issues – species and climate – were exclusively focused on the tropics and the high-emission, resource-rich, socially conservative Indian Rim nations, who should be paying most of the costs of global climate change out of their own pockets.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The final end of an era

Today saw the death of Bob Appleyard, a genuinely high-class Yorkshire bowler of the 1950s – a decade that saw England possess its strongest bowling attack at least since Tom Richardson and J.T. Hearne were in their prime from 1893 to 1897.

Appleyard had a short career due to illness, playing at his peak for the equivalent of only three seasons, but amidst more competition than ever he still managed to play nine Tests between 1954 and 1956, in which he averaged a mere 17.87 runs per wicket – a marginally flattering figure from playing against the weak New Zealand batsmen in 1955 and taking four for seven in the lowest total in Test cricket history – 26 all out. Appleyard began as a fast-medium bowler with a deadly break-back, but from 1954 he turned to off-spin whilst retaining his seam bowler’s action. He was the size of a front row forward In his first incarnation Appleyard achieved the astonishing feat of taking 200 wickets in his first full season, in the process winning a ‘Cricketer of the Year’ nomination from Wisden.

In 1952 and 1953 Appleyard played just one mach owing to illness and there were no expectations he would play again, but in the spring of 1954 he returned and again headed the first-class averages.

Since Alf Gover died in 2001, Appleyard has stood as the sole survivor of the 200 wickets in a season club. The feat was once common (there were twenty-eight cases by ten different bowlers between 1923 and 1937) but after 1938 it gradually became impossible even before the reduction in first-class cricket in 1969. With the 55-overs new ball rule and covering of pitches, negative seam bowling took over from the enterprising spin of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Captains saw that spinners were much easier to hit than fast bowlers who pitched short, whilst with increasing taxes as the workers made gains in England’s class war, schools and their students found spin too unaffordable and difficult to bowl. As more and more of the money required for training was diverted to pacify the working and welfare classes, it became more essential to gain income earlier in life and unaffordable for long-lasting jobs to apprentice into adulthood like professional spin bowlers in county cricket had previously earned. This is especially true when it is seen that earnings of old English spin bowlers could not serve their post-career years until their thirties – mastering this art took that long.

The consequence of the reduction in spin bowling was and is that first-class cricket has become entirely a parasite on limited-overs and latterly 20/20 cricket. The requirements of the shorter forms of the game for economical bowling absolutely exclude the styles of play capable of making first-class cricket self-supporting. First-class cricket has became self-supporting (able to support itself from gate money without patronage or subsidies from limited-overs cricket) when and only when there has been near-complete reliance on attacking spin bowlers, as found in late 1940s England, 1950s to 1970s India, and 1930s Australia. The trouble is that, under most conditions of pitch preparation, these spin bowlers are ineffective at winning international matches, whereas crowd-repelling fast bowlers are extremely effective. More than that, the common suggestion that making conditions easier for batsmen will improved crowds has proved a constant failure because it has encouraged more defensive bowling – and crowd figures show that there is no more certain way to keep people from first-class cricket than defensive medium-fast seam bowling or intimidatory fast bowling.

The conditions under which this problem can be mitigated seem to be very restrictive and never permanent – England in the 1900s, Australia in the 1920s and 1930s, and the subcontinent throughout the 1950s to 1970s did manage to achieve this and gain large profits from the longer forms of cricket. Sustaining it under modern political conditions may be quite impossible, but I have gathered a sense that first-class cricket is critically different from either shorter forms of the game (even perhaps to its modern version subsidised thereby) or (other) Enriched World team sports. This is because it depends much less on short-term athleticism (like soccer or basketball or gridiron or ice hockey) and more upon dexterous skill or upon endurance. This difference is substantially lost with limited-overs cricket, which depends so much on athletic fielding to keep runs down.

Friday, 13 March 2015

A remarkable feat – two lists with no common members but a common conspicuous absentee??



Tonight as I was waiting for a Chinese meal for me and my mother – waiting too long as it turned out – I had a look in the old Hares and Hyenas homosexual bookshop that I had on-and-off read from my adolescence in Fitzroy (when it was based in Smith Street). Whilst I looked for books that might tell interesting stories I focused on one book I do recall vaguely hearing about called The Gay 100, and looked thoroughly through it.

Whilst, when I read more, The Gay 100 proved terribly flawed and over-speculative, I was struck by the fact that it had one thing in common with Benjamin Wiker and Don DeMarco’s better-written but much less palatable (probably not so if you live in outer-suburban Australia) Architects of the Culture of Death.

This is that John Maynard Keynes stands as the most conspicuous omission from both books upon my reading of them! What makes this remarkable is that none of The Gay 100 is listed by DeMarco and Wiker as among the “architects of the culture of death” (it is true that Margaret Mead, Jean-Pau Sartre and Simone de Beauvior are mentioned by Paul Russell in his text).

How likely is it, do you think, that two lists with no common members could have a common “biggest omission”?? It struck me so clearly when I was in Hares and Hyenas as to make me reflect all night, and I have not thought of an answer.