Ze Robots are comink

Via CIP what I agree is a rather nice story about robotisation, from the WaPo. The bit that seems interesting is that the robots are getting cheaper, and more flexible. You don’t need to convert the whole factory at once; you can do little bits at a time. For the folk doing the work that the robots are going to push out, this isn’t good news, except that they jobs are so mind-numbingly boring that perhaps it is good news, really. They’re now free to do something better, in a slightly richer society. They even find one of the workers to say “It’s not a good job for a person to have anyway”.

In other news, I’m at work on Sunday. But I won’t be next Sunday.

Manichean paranoia?

20617065_1539768166080456_8820204049348327673_o Ha. While I’m wasting my time on heat waves, ATTP is reaping the clicks with Manichean paranoia, a far more amusing topic. After all, everyone loves RP Jr [content advisory: talk given at the GWPF: may pollute your brain]. I’m not terribly interested in most of it, but I’ll talk to “Engage with those with whom you disagree”: which, nowadays, seems to be most of the readers of my blog. At least those who comment; I don’t know about the lurkers. That is somewhat regrettable, but so it goes; I don’t complain.

Roger sets the stage with Senator James Inhofe versus Prof. Michael Mann. That’s probably the kind of thing his GWPF listeners wanted to hear; they know that Imhofe is an idiot, so they love to hear him compared to Mann, who isn’t. Naturally, the other way round doesn’t work so well, and ATTP complains if you think that the two sides of the debate are represented by James Inhofe, on one side, and Michael Mann on the other, then your sense of where the reasonable middle lies is wildly different to where most would regard it and I guess that’s true enough. But this is a case of RP making his point badly, rather than not having a point at all. Instead of the people, let’s try reading the text.

Imhofe’s is std.sci.denialism: “With all the hysteria, all the fear, all the phony science, could it be that manmade global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people? I believe it is. This is objectively false, and I have no problem saying so.

Mann says: [T]he villainy that we long suspected was taking place within ExxonMobil really was. It wasn’t just a conspiracy theory. It was a legitimate conspiracy… fossil fuel interests, including ExxonMobil in particular, have been waging a bad faith assault on me (and on other climate scientists) for decades now. It makes me angry that they would knowingly risk the degradation of our planet for future generations in the name of their own short-term profits. This isn’t quite std.econ.denialism, but it is close to it, and it’s invisible to ATTP and all his readers.

To start off and be really picky, is it true that Exxon have been at war with Mann for decades? As in, for at least two completed decades? No. Mann wasn’t notable until MBH98, which is less than two decades ago. And I’m not even sure his visible-to-Exxon notability started then. Reader competition: what’s the first actual attack on Mann by Exxon that you can find? Actually, can you find any direct-by-Exxon at all? If not, attacks by “Exxon stooges” will have to do.

Being less picky, while I’m sure lots of people are nasty about Mann now, I don’t think it is true that Exxon hates him at all. This line of arguement by me will be familiar to any of you who read Yet more Exxon drivel and so on, so I won’t belabour it here. But I will point you at on getting out more, even though I know it’s hopeless. The discussion in Why don’t people pay attention to the future of their own world? is relevant, too.

Side note: RP’s slides include Appoint a devil’s advocate” and “Establish contrarian teams” and i can’t help but feel that he senses the approach of the Red Gravy Train and is hoping for a ticket. Against that, his Trump slide is headed “Manichean paranoid-in-chief?” and rumour has it that Trump is thin-skinned.

BTW: if you’re wondering what the inlined picture is for, the answer is that it’s a cute optical “illusion”. Don’t give up until you’ve “seen” it; it’s worth it, I promise you. As a bonus, it is almost relevant.


* Quotation of the Day from CH.

Extreme weather ‘could kill up to 152,000 a year’ in Europe by 2100?

heatwavesIt is summer. Normally the time for relaxation, but even though the rowing is over (alas) there’s a T/O coming up and little freizeit; and after that I’m off on holiday; so I should squeeze off a quick cheap post to keep those clicks coming in. And on a summer’s day when it is rather cool and pouring with rain (although, the mercurial English climate being what it is, it has changed since I started writing this to glorious sun; by the time I’ve finished, we’ll probably be onto hails of frogs), what better topic than Extreme weather ‘could kill up to 152,000 a year’ in Europe by 2100?

Heat waves would cause 99% of all weather-related deaths… Deaths caused by extreme weather could rise from 3,000 a year between 1981 and 2010 to 152,000 between 2071 and 2100 is that even possible? 1% of 152,000 is 1520 so if heatwaves currently cause 50% of all weather-related deaths, yes, it is just about possible. If I search around for causes of death I find this nice chart and, as you’d expect, with 1.5 k out of 300,000 k people, at 0.005%1, weather isn’t even close to making the chart; the lowest there is cancer of the uterus, which I’m fortunately immune to, at 6-per-thousand. Even pushed up 100-fold to 152,000 that’s only 0.5% (do I need to throw in the conventional “and of course every one of those deaths is sad”? OK then, consider it done) which still isn’t even close to making the table; more than another factor of 10 is required. There’s a list of tables available. Which one should I look in for weather / climate? None of them it seems. Ah well. The Lancet paper is available, and in the appendix is the table of deaths (table S6 is the one I want). Here is discover that in the EU+, deaths per 10,000,000 from heatwaves is 54 (I omit the spurious precision of “.07”); multiplied by ~30 that indeed comes to 1,500 ish. I inline the table for you; click for a larger view, or indeed proceed to the original.

Note that the UK is not, as I thought smugly, in the “Northern” category that hardly has any deaths even by 2100; that turns out to be Scandinavia, lucky people. We’re in “Western”, along with France, which extends quite a way South and, I suspect, supplies many of the deaths. I am slightly reluctant to accept the balance of heat-to-cold deaths as presented there; an overall ratio of 25-to-1 seems implausibly low, on the cold side (recall the arguements from long long ago in sci.env).

The obvious response to this is “adaption”. So obvious indeed that the Beeb quotes Experts from South Korea’s Seoul National University warned that the study’s results “could be overestimated”. “People are known to adapt and become less vulnerable than previously to extreme weather conditions because of advances in medical technology, air conditioning, and thermal insulation in houses,” they wrote in a comment piece published in the same journal. That seems like a reasonable comment.

[Update: As TB points out in the comments, people can adapt, but the rest of the world rather less so. That’s a massive weakness in any attempt to evaluate GW based only on human mortality; indeed I think it is obvious that any changes large enough to serious affect adaptable humans are going to cause massive problems for slower-adapting ecologies -W]


* European heatwave kills five as temperatures soar above 40C


1. Ahem. Or more accurately known as “0.0005%”, I seem to have lost a 0. See comments.