Monday, August 29, 2005

New Orleans is in a bad place right now

This is scary stuff.

The hurricane that is set to hit New Orleans in a few hours is the strongest hurricane in history.

This could be total devastation.

Let's hope the hurricane turns away somehow.

15 comments:

Lazerlou said...

And yet you support coal burning? Get used to it. Global warming is going to be responsible for more and more severe weather as time goes on.
Fusion Dan, Fusion.

Anonymous said...

lazerlou-

are you implying that the hurricane around new orleans is attributable to global warming?

how does global warming create hurricanes?

spurrious correlations are a good way to lose credibility with analytical people. looking for unqualified causation when there is a pretty big chance that the causation is not valid is also another way to lose credibility.

Lazerlou said...

No, I'm not saying that this particular hurricane was the sole fault of global warming, as that would be overly simplistic and impossible to verify. But a gerneral observation that global warming will lead to more volitile and severe weather is totally logical and fear not, anon, it shouldn't threaten your obviously large respect for analytic rigor.
The weather is the texbook example of a complex function (a butterfly flaps it's wings in Singapore and it rains in Chicago a day later...). Complex functions are all over nature. Any system whose outcome involves many variables and exponental functions is going to be impossible to completely understand and model in such a way that you could ever be conclusive about causation of a certain outcome based on the change in one variable. Tiny changes in initial conditions of just one variable can result in such dramatically different outcomes that throwing data at a wall will never allow us to understand a complex system as a function of its variables in complete detail. However, that doesn't mean we can't learn anything about complex functions and certain probailities and patterns in its solutions and outcomes. There are patterns all over the place - enough that while not perfect, we can predict the weather to a certain probability, we can build flawed but working models of these functions and make general observations about how they behave.

Now I was a physics major in college, and not only did that require I know all about the laws of thermodynamics, I had to look at complex systems in nature all the time in number of different contexts where all you could talk about with any certainty was probabilities of certain outcomes. How are they related? Well, in almost all complex systems in nature, when you add raw energy to a system, especially in the form of heat, the frequency of low probability events increases. Volitility generally increases in the outcomes of these complex systems. This is consistant with the laws of themodynamics and entropy - an increase in heat means an increase in disorder of any system.
So you see, while not verifiable, it is totally logical to conclude that our atmosphere will become more volitile as you add heat to it. Mean temp will creep up, but that isn't the interesting part of global warming. The added volitility it will creat is. I can never say for sure, but I'll bet there is a good chance we'll see bigger blizzards, more severe hurricanes, more severe droughts etc. around the globe in the coming future. I'm pretty sure most models (there are many and they are all flawed) of global warming predict this as well. So anon, I hope your fears of spurrious correlations have been alleviated,at least to some degree, and you can rest assured, my correlations are based soundly in the scientific method.

Anonymous said...

excellent response lazerlou-

Lazerlou said...

If only I could spell "volatile" on my first try in stream of conscoiusness typing.

Anonymous said...

spelling is a meaningless skill in an age of spellcheck. i would take a lesson on "heat" over spelling.

actually, serendipitous mispelling can be a source of strategic advantage (can trademark it or brand it)

Anonymous said...

http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=^VIX&d=t

more on volatility-

this is a nice job by CBOE-

cal skinner said...

Sounds like someone did or should read Michael Crichton's latest novel in which the lawyer-dominated envoronmentalist orginazation was trying to start a super hurricane, among other events, that would coincide with a conference blaming global warming for every extreme weather event.

Anonymous said...

The Israeli sin is occupation and the Palestinian sin is terrorism. But now Israel makes redress. What have the Palestinians done? Nothing. Actually, that’s not true: they’ve been busy partying. And praising themselves: “This pullout is the result of our sacrifice, of our patience,” said President Mahmoud Abbas. In another speech: “The credit [for the withdrawal] goes to the martyrs.” Abbas has no plans to confront the terrorists under his dominion. (Nor has a single terrorist been arrested during his tenure.) On the contrary, the martyrs are gearing up for a new round of holy war. Critics of the withdrawal warned that its greatest peril was that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah would interpret Israel’s sacrifice as their victory.

The critics were right. As Palestinian groups celebrate carnival-style, basking in praise from across the Arab world, one doubts that many of them actually believed that the end of occupation meant the end of fighting. Were that true, last week’s events would be cause to lay down their rifles; instead, they seem readier than ever to discharge them. Unless, of course, occupation referred not to the ’67 ceasefire borders, but to Israel proper. A newly-bold Hamas spokesman explains: “We do not and will not recognize a state called Israel. Israel has no right to any inch of Palestinian land.”

The cutthroats of Hamas, like Jack the Ripper in his infamous letter to a London paper, have informed their pursuers that they shan’t quit ripping till they do get buckled. Islamic Jihad took potshots at departing settlers, and even attempted a suicide bombing on the first day of evacuations, which Israel intercepted. But another bomber did make it through on Sunday, maiming 10 in the city of Be’er Sheva. With these groups there is no “peace process.” There is a war process. Israel must meet the next wave of Palestinian shootings, stabbings, rocket attacks, and suicide bombings with retaliation swift and fierce.

But this time around, after withdrawal, Israel need only concern itself with attacking, not defending, in Gaza. Nor can Palestinian aggressors dupe anyone with claims about “resistance to occupation.” (Or maybe they can.) Masked Palestinian “fighters” parade in the streets as if disengagement was prompted by their labors. Let them turn their guns on Israeli soldiers and see what ensues.

IlliniPundit said...

Complex functions are all over nature. Any system whose outcome involves many variables and exponental functions is going to be impossible to completely understand and model in such a way that you could ever be conclusive about causation of a certain outcome based on the change in one variable.

How do you know that climate change won't make for less violent and violatile weather?

Lazerlou said...

You can't know, and I don't know for sure. But as a general matter when you add heat to a system it is the higher energy, but low probability events that occur more often. That is the nature of volatility. For instance, the probability of finding an electron in a much higher energy orbital than one would expect for given energies increases dramatically when you start adding energy to the system in the form of light of an absorbable wavelength.

Or a more accessible example would be the probability of finding a molecule of water many inches above the surface of a container. Have you ever noticed how when certain circumstances permit, a drop of water can be ejected from the surface of boiling water? Where ther is more kinetic energy, i.e. more heat, the liklihood of a bunch of molecules all imparting their energy to a single or much smaller group of molecule such that that group is ejected way above the surface of the water incresed dramatically.

Anyway, it is more likely that certain parts of the globe will experience extreme cold than it is the whole globe will calm down and weather will become moderate. Such a possibility violates the laws of thermodynamics. When you add heat, disorder increases, and a calm moderate weather is certainly more ordered that a crazy volatile stormy atmosphere. That is why I'm pretty sure. Adding heat increases entropy and a volatile atmosphere is a much higher entropy system than a nice ordered calm one.

Perhaps I will read Michael Criton. I did read sphere and that was good, althought I though Jurassic park was a dumb movie (never read the book).

Lazerlou said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
cal skinner said...

Does this mean we should not be watching the results of the hurricane?

How does the previous post relate to the subject at hand?

FightforJustice said...

There were a greater number of severe hurricanes early in the 20th century than in the last 20 years. Which doesn't fit the global warming hypothesis.

Lazerlou said...

Well, there is frequency and there is amplitude (or severity). We already have good data about how global warming warms surface water temps, and we know that higher surface water temps make hurricanes bigger. As for frequency, I'm not sure we have the data to adequately say either way. For a system as complex and functionally random as the weather, we'd need hundreds and hudreds of years of data before we could overcome inherent uncertainties to say anything worth listening to.