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In 2002, the IEA Predicted Solar Was Going Nowhere. And in 2003. And 2004. And 2005…

Mother Jones

Every year the International Energy Agency publishes the World Energy Outlook, which, among other things, forecasts the growth rate of solar PV installations. The 2016 edition even included a whole “special focus” on renewable energy. Presumably this means they took an extra careful look at their solar PV forecast. Here it is:

That looks…odd, doesn’t it? Solar PV has grown at a pretty fast clip over the past decade, but the IEA assumes the growth rate will suddenly level out starting this year and then start to decline. And this is their optimistic scenario that takes into account pledges made in Paris.

What can we make of this? Auke Hoekstra provides some context:

Every single year, the IEA projects that solar is a passing fad and its growth rate will level out that year. And every single year, solar continues to grow anyway. But the next year the IEA makes the exact same forecast. It’s almost as if they have some kind of hidden agenda here.

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In 2002, the IEA Predicted Solar Was Going Nowhere. And in 2003. And 2004. And 2005…

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Fox News Just Tweeted the Worst Tweet in the History of Tweets

Mother Jones

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Every day, according to Business Insider, Twitter users send about 300 million tweets. Most of those tweets are bad. This one is the worst. Ever.

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Fox News Just Tweeted the Worst Tweet in the History of Tweets

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Remote Control Hummingbirds!

Mother Jones

It tuns out that one of features of my new camera is the ability to control it remotely with my cell phone. If you have even a gram of nerd blood in you, this should make you insanely jealous.1 It’s the coolest thing ever.

And yet, as cool as it is, it still left me twiddling my neurons trying to figure out what I could do with it. One possibility was situations where I need to minimize camera shake. Put the camera on a tripod and then snap the shutter remotely without actually touching anything. But that would be just another example of using a thousand dollars worth of technology to do what a ten-dollar cable release can do. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Then Marian suggested I could set up the camera by our hummingbird feeder and wait for hummingbirds to fly in. So I did. Here’s what the setup looks like:

Then I went into the living room and watched Roger Federer play Stan Wawrinka at Indian Wells. Every time a bird showed up on my camera, I held down the remote shutter button and shot off a few dozen pictures.

Which did me precious little good. Damn, those little buggers are fast. Even with the shutter speed allegedly set at 1/2000th of a second, the pictures were blurry. Also out of focus most of the time, which was a combination of my fault and the camera’s fault. Still, live and learn. Here are the two best shots I got:

The top one is a male Anna’s hummingbird. The bottom one is, I suppose, a female Anna’s hummingbird. The bird folks can enlighten us in comments.

Anyway, I’ll have to try this again. It’s certainly a way of getting some good nature shots without sitting on my hump for hours on end in a muddy patch of dirt. Then again, since the WiFi range for the camera is about ten feet or so, maybe it just means I get a little better selection of where to sit on my hump for hours on end. I’ll have to think of some way to try this with the cats.

1Unless you already have a camera that can do this.

Originally posted here: 

Remote Control Hummingbirds!

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A $1 Billion Foreign Investment in the US Happens About Once Per Day

Mother Jones

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We’re going to be seeing a lot of this over the next four years:

How do I know? Because Trump sounds like Dr. Evil here. ONE! BILLION! DOLLARS! For comparison, here is total foreign direct investment since the start of the century:

Every year, there are hundreds of investments of a billion dollars by foreign companies in the US. The Fiat Chrysler announcement is entirely routine.

Still, that’s hundreds of opportunities every year for Trump to blather about how he’s making America great again. Just keep in mind that it’s all nonsense. I figure trend FDI should reach about $3.9 trillion in 2017. Wake me up if Trump manages to get it significantly higher than that, but please don’t insult me by trumpeting every piddling contribution along the way as if he were raining pixie dust over the entire economy.

UPDATE: The original headline and text way overstated the flow of new FDI each year. Sorry. It’s fixed now.

Taken from: 

A $1 Billion Foreign Investment in the US Happens About Once Per Day

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Show Us the Replacement!

Mother Jones

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Hmmm. Congressional Republicans might have a problem on their hands. Here’s one of the findings of the latest Kaiser Family poll on health care:

That little orange pie slice at the bottom—the one that says 20 percent—represents the number of people who support the idea of repeal and delay. About half the respondents don’t want to repeal Obamacare at all, and another 28 percent, showing the common sense that heartland Americans are famous for, don’t want to buy a pig in a poke. They may not be thrilled with Obamacare, but they sure want to see what’s going to replace it before it’s ripped apart.

This is the mantra Democrats should be hawking every second of every day. We don’t want a white paper, we want to see the real replacement. Does it really protect people with pre-existing conditions? Does it really keep premium costs down? Does it really reduce deductibles? Is it really a better deal for most working-class folks than Obamacare? Does it really keep the Medicaid expansion in place? Does it really guarantee that no one will be worse off than they are under Obamacare? And will it really cost less than Obamacare?

Every single person in America deserves an opportunity to look at the Republican plan, compare it to Obamacare, and figure out which one is a better deal for them personally. No one should support any kind of repeal plan until they’re allowed to see this.

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Show Us the Replacement!

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Trump’s pick to head the federal budget questions whether the government should fund science.

No, it isn’t ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, named to serve as ambassador to China, is in favor of wind energy and policies that promote it. Like, really in favor.

“Our leadership in green energy not only makes us a leader in renewables but also powers job growth,” the Republican said in his 2016 Condition of the State address in Iowa. “Every wind turbine you see while driving across our state means income for farmers, revenue for local governments, and jobs for Iowa families.” As governor of the No. 2 wind state, he’s also in favor of federal incentives for wind energy like the production tax credit.

Branstad may experience some whiplash as he represents an administration that is particularly antagonistic to wind energy to a country that has invested billions of dollars in wind and solar.

On climate change, Branstad is not a denier but he buys into his party’s reasoning for not acting. “We need to recognize this climate change issue is a global issue,” he said in 2011. That’s the excuse many Republicans use to argue that the U.S. shouldn’t clean up its act until developing economies like China and India do.

But if he doesn’t know it already, Branstad will soon learn that China is doing plenty to fight climate change right now.

Read this article: 

Trump’s pick to head the federal budget questions whether the government should fund science.

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We Really Should Not Be Encouraging a Twitter Presidency

Mother Jones

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I suppose this is about 157th on the list of things to worry about from a Trump presidency, but I still have to wonder: Are we going to continue giving Trump’s tweets the same banner treatment that we gave to the Hindenburg disaster? Shouldn’t the press have a little more self-respect than that? If the guy won’t talk to them, and instead relies on tweets that sound like they were written by a fourth grader (“The failing @nytimes story is so totally wrong on transition. It is going so smoothly. Also, I have spoken to many foreign leaders.”)—well, maybe they should be given no more than the attention they deserve. Which is to say, about the amount that the press gave to Barack Obama’s tweets. Which is to say, none.

UPDATE: Here’s an idea. Instead of going crazy over every Trump tweet, maybe the Washington Post should inaugurate a regular feature: Today’s Presidential Tweets. Every day, on page A14, they could have a box that reprints all of Trump’s tweets for the previous day, along with a fact check for each of them. Something like this:

Pretty good idea, huh?

Excerpt from: 

We Really Should Not Be Encouraging a Twitter Presidency

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Hey, someone mentioned climate change on stage at the Republican convention

Hey, someone mentioned climate change on stage at the Republican convention

By on Jul 21, 2016Share

Harold Hamm, a fracking mogul and GOP donor, ventured where few Republicans are willing to go on Wednesday night: He mentioned climate change on stage at the Republican National Convention. “Climate change isn’t our biggest problem,” he said. “It’s Islamic terrorism.” OK, not a rousing call to action, but at least there’s the implication that climate is a problem.

But, of course, the real focus of the speech was the need for more oil and gas drilling — and how it could save us from the bad guys. “We can double U.S. oil production again and put America in a global league of its own,” Hamm said. “Every time we can’t drill a well in America, terrorism is being funded. Every onerous regulation puts American lives at risk.”

Currently an energy advisor to Trump, Hamm is reportedly being considered for energy secretary, a cabinet position that oversees nuclear safety and funding for energy research and technology. During President Obama’s two terms, the spot has been filled by first a Nobel Prize-winning scientist and second a nuclear physicist.

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Hey, someone mentioned climate change on stage at the Republican convention

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New Study Suggests Police Shoot Whites More Frequently Than Blacks

Mother Jones

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In a new paper using an interesting approach, Roland Fryer finds that police officers treat blacks and Hispanics more roughly than whites, but they don’t shoot them any more frequently:

The results obtained using these data are informative and, in some cases, startling. Using data on NYC’s Stop and Frisk program, we demonstrate that on non-lethal uses of force — putting hands on civilians (which includes slapping or grabbing) or pushing individuals into a wall or onto the ground, there are large racial differences. In the raw data, blacks and Hispanics are more than fifty percent more likely to have an interaction with police which involves any use of force.

In stark contrast to non-lethal uses of force, we find no racial differences in officer-involved shootings on either the extensive or intensive margins. Using data from Houston, Texas — where we have both officer-involved shootings and a randomly chosen set of potential interactions with police where lethal force may have been justified — we find, in the raw data, that blacks are 23.8 percent less likely to be shot at by police relative to whites. Hispanics are 8.5 percent less likely.

Analyzing data from cities in California, Texas, and Florida, Fryer found that lethal force was used more often against whites than blacks.1This is from the New York Times:

In officer-involved shootings in these cities, officers were more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked when the suspects were white. Black and white civilians involved in police shootings were equally likely to have been carrying a weapon. Both of these results undercut the idea that the police wield lethal force with racial bias.

….A more fundamental question still remained: In the tense moments when a shooting may occur, are police officers more likely to fire if the suspect is black?

To answer this question, Mr. Fryer focused on one city, Houston. The Police Department there allowed the researchers to look at reports not only for shootings but also for arrests when lethal force might have been justified. Mr. Fryer defined this group to include suspects the police charged with serious offenses like attempting to murder an officer, or evading or resisting arrest. He also considered suspects shocked with Tasers.

And in the arena of “shoot” or “don’t shoot,” Mr. Fryer found that, in tense situations, officers in Houston were about 20 percent less likely to shoot a suspect if the suspect was black. This estimate was not very precise, and firmer conclusions would require more data. But, in a variety of models that controlled for different factors and used different definitions of tense situations, Mr. Fryer found that blacks were either less likely to be shot or there was no difference between blacks and whites.

Fryer calls this “the most surprising result of my career.” Needless to say, it’s based on limited data and a new way of looking at police shootings, so Fryer’s results should be considered tentative. And it’s worth keeping in mind that lesser uses of force are far more common in encounters with blacks than whites:

“Who the hell wants to have a police officer put their hand on them or yell and scream at them? It’s an awful experience,” he said. “I’ve had it multiple, multiple times. Every black man I know has had this experience. Every one of them. It is hard to believe that the world is your oyster if the police can rough you up without punishment. And when I talked to minority youth, almost every single one of them mentions lower level uses of force as the reason why they believe the world is corrupt.”

Food for thought. Fryer is a careful and high respected researcher, and he was motivated to conduct this study by the events in Ferguson a couple of years ago. Both of his conclusions are worth taking seriously.

1The results weren’t statistically significant, so technically Fryer’s conclusion is that there’s no difference between the shooting rate of whites and blacks.

See more here: 

New Study Suggests Police Shoot Whites More Frequently Than Blacks

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Happy 4th of July!

Mother Jones

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And if you’re looking for reasons to be proud of America today, here’s a quickie top ten list. Every country makes plenty of mistakes, and we’ve certainly made our share. But even taking our shortcomings into account, we’ve done an awful lot right:

  1. We have the most dynamic culture of entrepreneurship in the world.
  2. In the postwar era we have consistently supported free trade, often at our own expense.
  3. We were on the right side of history in the fight against fascism.
  4. We were on the right side of history in the fight against communism.
  5. We are on the right side of history in the fight against terrorism.
  6. We have the strongest protections of speech and religious freedoms in the world.
  7. We protect the world’s sea lanes all but single-handedly.
  8. We are the most benign hegemon in world history.
  9. Even today, we accept and incorporate immigrants better than nearly any country in history.
  10. American science is the most vigorous in the world, to the benefit of nearly every person on the globe.

Link to article:  

Happy 4th of July!

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