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19 Sep 17:37

Is Solar Power Making Climate Policy Cheap?

by Michael Levi
Solar power plant clean energy

For the second time this year, Paul Krugman has written a column explaining that serious studies consistently conclude that slashing global carbon dioxide emissions doesn’t need to be expensive. Also for the second time, he gives much of the credit to falling costs for renewable energy, particularly solar power. He’s absolutely correct on the broader point – but dead wrong in explaining why the studies come to that conclusion.

Back in April, Krugman rightly pointed out that an IPCC review had concluded that slashing emissions might reduce annual GDP growth by as little as 0.06 percentage points. In today’s column, he cites a new report from the New Climate Economy (NCE) Project to reasonably suggest that, once public health co-benefits are considered, substantial emissions cuts might come close to paying for themselves.

No problems so far. In each case, though, he offers a similar observation about why the numbers come out so small. Here he is in April:

“What’s behind this economic optimism? To a large extent, it reflects a technological revolution many people don’t know about, the incredible recent decline in the cost of renewable energy, solar power in particular.”

And today:

“The economics of climate protection look even better now than they did a few years ago. On one side, there has been dramatic progress in renewable energy technology, with the costs of solar power, in particular, plunging, down by half just since 2010.”

(The other side is the co-benefits.)

If you read the IPCC and NCE reports, though, you’ll know that their optimistic cost estimates have little to do with cheap solar.

Take a look first at the IPCC report. The 0.06 percentage point figure is for a set of “default technology assumptions” that include availability of nuclear power, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), and other tools. The plot below (from the IPCC report) shows what happens to the model projections when you rule out CCS and still try to hit an ambitious two-degree temperature goal: the median model that doesn’t crash projects that costs rise by about 140 percent. (Most of the models the IPCC uses can’t even find a pathway – at any cost – that hits the temperature goal once you rule out CCS.) Something similar happens when you rule out abundant bioenergy. In contrast, if you rule out abundant wind and solar, the median model shows increased costs of only a few percent, and the most pessimistic one projects only a 25 percent cost rise. The take-away is that the low cost projections are being driven far more by abundant CCS and bioenergy than by cheap wind or solar.


How about the NCE study? The plot below is the critical one from that report. Only 30 percent of the opportunities identified come from energy shifts of any sort at all. (Opportunities in land use in particular are claimed to be much larger.) Out of that slice, less than half comes from renewable power, dominated by wind rather than solar. (Exact numbers will need to wait until NCE publishes its appendices.) Nuclear and CCS play a substantial role; energy efficiency plays a massive one as well.


Why does any of this matter? Krugman does an important service by rebutting those on both the right and the left who claim that serious climate action requires turning our economic system upside down. (It’s a good guess that this Wednesday column from Mark Bittman, which basically called for the end of capitalism in order to deal with climate change, provoked Krugman to write his latest.) But the sorts of policies you pursue if you think that serious climate action is mostly about wind and solar are fundamentally different from those you pursue if you believe otherwise. A central upshot is that if the modeling exercises that Krugman touts are correct, and countries pursue policies based on a belief in wind and solar, the actual costs of cutting emissions will be far higher than what Krugman claims. At the same time, if the modeling exercises Krugman highlights are wrong, he hasn’t given us particularly strong reason to believe that steep emissions cuts would be cheap.

It may well be the case that falling costs for renewable energy will make cutting greenhouse gas emissions cheap. There’d be no problem if Krugman cited serious analysis that connected falling renewables costs to low estimates for the costs of serious climate policy. We can get ourselves into trouble, though, when we use estimates of the cost for one type of policy to encourage another.

19 Sep 01:40

The fringe benefits of no

A couple summers ago, I read a book a day. I’d heard when President Bill Clinton was in office, he read two books a day. I didn’t know if it were true or not, but I loved this idea. I was not President and not even that important, so I could certainly read one book a day. So it began.

The trick, I realized early on, was choosing small books. Short books. It wasn’t cheating (and hey, I was making up the rules anyway), and books were books, short or not. So I started with the Penguin “Great Ideas” Series. And read them all. Then, I heard someone say something about a curriculum, and started theming my weeks. Bread-making, gardening, astronomy. It became easy.

It never occurred me to blog about it, or keep track of what I was reading even. It wasn’t about the public display of information, or proving to anyone that I could do it. It was just me against books. And sometime around late July, about 45-50 books in, I proved to myself that I could.

And so I quit. One day, I just stopped.

Me versus me

The Book-A-Day project just ended. No fanfare, no apologies, no blog post announcing I was done. I stopped.

The project wasn’t about finishing, it was about seeing if I could do it. It was about the formulation of ideas, the construction of a book framework — and in a trial of “me versus me,” who would come out on top? What interesting-ness would emerge if I spent time prototyping ideas with myself? What could I make?

Making no

What you choose not to do, who you choose not to spend time with, and who and what you decide to say no to — what you do choose — is how you mark time.

In irony, the whole experiment taught me that my barrier to quitting was my attraction to making. The reason I do is to create. The same is true in my predilection for saying yes. I say yes to make things. I say yes to watch projects grow, to collaborate, to see progress. But too much yes, I quickly found, is unsustainable and unhealthy. What could I make from no?

So I started a list. Instances of saying no.

The No List

When I say no (e.g., conference talk invites, “pick my brain” invitations, jury solicitations), I immediately add my regret to the No List. I nurture this growing list of no-things, adding category data like dates events would have happened, themes, and date turned down.

Suddenly, I’m making list of cities not seen, airplanes not embarked, and time saved, rather than time taken away. Several months later, I have a made a substantial something. It’s how I’ve marked time.

There are many instances where deadlines are crucial, where getting things done needs to get done. Sometimes saying yes is just the thing that must happen. But just as importantly, most times it is not.

Stop reading a book halfway through, keep a list of your turn-downs, and celebrate the fringe benefits of no.

I’ll be right there with you.

20 Sep 19:21


25 Jul 18:20

ginjaninja3716: commandereyebrows: chachipistachis: theamerica...


via christopher lantz.





Tumblr needs more of this….whatever this is.

Is this the same artist who made the original for this


how women actually are


19 Sep 04:24

Study: Chimpanzees Have Evolved To Kill Each Other

by samzenpus

The origins of human conflict! It's kind of a specious leap (pun intended), but fun to find someone else to blame for humanity's problems!

sciencehabit writes A major new study of warfare in chimpanzees finds that lethal aggression can be evolutionarily beneficial in that species, rewarding the winners with food, mates, and the opportunity to pass along their genes. The findings run contrary to recent claims that chimps fight only if they are stressed by the impact of nearby human activity—and could help explain the origins of human conflict as well.

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18 Sep 20:43

Star Wars Episode II: The Friend Zone

by Jason Kottke

Not quite to the level of the Wizard People. But pretty excellent.

Amidala friendzones Anakin, Obi-Wan hunts for drugs, and Jango Fett pumps the bass in this hilarious Auralnauts reimagining of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.

You may have also seen their recent video of the Throne Room scene at the end of Star Wars without John Williams' score (reminiscent of these musicless musicvideos) or Bane's outtakes from The Dark Knight Rises. Still champion though: bad lip reading of NFL players. (via @aaroncoleman0)

Tags: movies   remix   Star Wars   video
17 Sep 04:00

September 17, 2014

New exclusive comic at The Nib!
17 Sep 16:20

So-Deep Space

by Reza


18 Sep 05:40

Снимите сруля


practice makes perfect. but it doesn't start perfect.

17 Sep 15:43

ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children

by Soulskill

I see ISIS has both the children's and the future of humanity's best interests in mind. Such progressive thinkers!

mpicpp sends this news from CNN: In swaths of Syria now controlled by ISIS, children can no longer study math or social studies. Sports are out of the question. And students will be banned from learning about elections and democracy. Instead, they'll be subjected to the teachings of the radical Islamist group. And any teacher who dares to break the rules "will be punished." ISIS revealed its new educational demands in fliers posted on billboards and on street poles. The Sunni militant group has captured a slew of Syrian and Iraqi cities in recent months as it tries to establish a caliphate, or Islamic state, spanning Sunni parts of both countries. Books cannot include any reference to evolution. And teachers must say that the laws of physics and chemistry "are due to Allah's rules and laws."

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16 Sep 02:59



Pretty much. #notkneeling #stillbending #notruth

10 Sep 15:51

After the Disco by Broken Bells


@Corvus. I blame you for not making me listen to this album yet. Especially the title track After the Disco.

Free music by Broken Bells available on Grooveshark including After the Disco.

Grooveshark Mobile Applications
12 Sep 20:39

‘Soviet Ghosts’ Captures Post-Apocalyptic Scenes Left Behind by the Fall of the USSR

BULGARIA -Buzludzha 09

Rebecca Litchfield is a photographer who has faced radiation exposure risks, arrest and interrogations, and even accusations of espionage… all for the sake of her project “Soviet Ghosts.”

You see, Litchfield is an avid urban explorer who has been fascinated by scenes of decay found in countries that were formerly part of the USSR and the Eastern Bloc.

Photographing and exploring the old Iron Curtain isn’t the easiest thing to turn into a project, she says:

Not many explorers travel to Russia, where the rules are very different, locations are heavily guarded and a strong military presence exists everywhere. There are serious consequences for getting caught. We managed to stay hidden for all of the trip, we maximised our stealthiness, ducking and diving into bushes and sneaking past sleeping security. But on day three our good fortune ran out as we visited a top secret radar installation. After walking through the forest, mosquitos attacking us from all directions, we saw the radar and made our way towards it, but just metres away suddenly we were joined by military and they weren’t happy…

Fortunately for Litchfield, she was able to wiggle out of that tricky situation and continue her adventure through more than 10 different countries.

She says that her goal is to capture the scenes as they are, highlighting their beauty in decay, “like a memory hanging on that will soon be lost in a breeze, a museum that no one gets to see.”

Here are some of the haunting photographs in the project:

BULGARIA - Soviet Friendship Monument

BULGARIA -Buzludzha 01

BULGARIA -Buzludzha 10



GERMANY - Miltary Barracks

GERMANY - Soviet HeadQuarters 01

HUNGARY - MAV 424 Steam Train




RUSSIA - Chemical Laboratory

RUSSIA - Cinema

RUSSIA - Sanatorium 01

RUSSIA - Sanatorium 03

RUSSIA - Tuberculosis Hospital

RUSSIA - Young Pioneer Camp 02

RUSSIA - Young Pioneer Camp 04

UKRAINE - Chernobyl Hospital 02

UKRAINE - Chernobyl Kindergarten

UKRAINE - Chernobyl Sports Centre 01

UKRAINE - Chernobyl Sports Centre 02

The photos in the project have also been published in a book that’s available from $28 over on Amazon. You can also find more of Litchfield’s work over on her website.

Image credits: Photographs by Rebecca Litchfield and used with permission

05 Sep 15:42

Bachman's owners line up to grow marijuana for Minnesota

by Nick Halter

Hadn't realized that medical marijuana was legalized in MN (or had forgotten). Looks like businesses are hesitant to apply for a growing license. Anyway, it's a good start!

The state of Minnesota began taking applications Friday from companies that want to become one of the state's two certified marijuana growers. Owners of Bachman's Inc. intend to apply, but the Minneapolis-based floral and garden center emphasized that the company itself has nothing to do with the application. It's not clear if CEO Dale Bachman or President Paul Bachman will be applicants. "There are Bachman family members that will be pursuing it," company spokeswoman Karen Bachman said, though…
29 Aug 20:01

laughingsquid: Time-Lapse Videos of Ships Passing Through the...


Heck yes.

29 Aug 04:00

August 29, 2014



22 May 18:00

Are Microbes Winning the Antibiotic Arms Race?

We're running out of antibiotics, and drug companies have little incentive to develop new ones. Can we save the ones we already have?
25 Aug 14:29

A Trippy Japanese Music Video Featuring an Assortment of Rotating Computer Graphics

by Brian Heater

not entirely sure what's going on here. mostly sharing as a test to my rss share feed. (i'm trying to get podcasts that I share on my feed to deliver to Beyondpod on my phone.)

“[BRDG019] HiDM2_9” is a trippy, glitchy music video by Japanese artist Yasuyuki Yoshida and musician umio for Tokyo “visual label” BRDG. The video is primarily comprised of swirling visual graphics, with some real world footage tossed in of things like a woman destroying an iMac with a baseball bat.

via Kotaku

25 Aug 04:00

August 25, 2014


"This is brilliant!"

07 Sep 17:45



when bees swarm, this is actually what happens. every time. nbd.

12 Sep 09:00

Dinesh D'Souza Is Winning

by Simon van Zuylen-Wood

Conservatism's former enfant terrible has been cast out of polite society and may soon face jail time. But business has never been better.

12 Sep 20:52

Were Your Google Credentials Leaked?

by Erin Styles

Early on Tuesday, Google announced that a potential 5 million usernames and passwords associated with Gmail accounts have been leaked. It is unclear how many of them are current vs. outdated credentials. According to Google’s blog post, “less than 2 percent of the username and password combinations might have worked.”

Visit our email look-up tool to see if your account was part of the leaked data.  

We strongly suggest that you take this opportunity to change your Gmail account password and generate a new, strong password using LastPass. To protect our users, those who have reused their LastPass master password as their Gmail account password have been temporarily deactivated. For your security, note that it is very important to never use your LastPass master password for other logins.

If you’ve experienced trouble with your account, please contact LastPass Support so we may assist you in reactivating your account and creating a new, stronger master password.

Be Secure,
14 Sep 15:52


12 Sep 15:08

Mountain Biker Performs an Unprecedented ‘Tsunami Flip’ Trick During Red Bull Competiton

by Brian Heater

via GN. Beauty comes in many forms. I'm no MB fanboy, but this trick is a sight to behold.

Polish mountain bike free rider Szymon Godziek perfectly executed a stunning “tsunami flip” during the Red Bull District Ride 2014 competition in Nuremberg, Germany. The run is believe to be the first time the trick has been successfully landed during competition.

I don’t know if the public really realizes how insane that was to do on a bike.

12 Sep 12:13

Lake Elmo stops worrying, learns to love the boom

by Mark Reilly

The quintessential gated-type community in MN. Mostly sharing for the clever headline.

Lake Elmo, which a decade ago butted heads with developers who wanted to build there, is now embracing them. And it's considering one of its biggest, densest projects ever. Fridley developer Hans Hagen and a landowner are proposing nearly 700 units of housing just north of Interstate 94 on Inwood Avenue. The project would be a mix of single-family homes, apartments, senior housing and town homes and 68,000 square feet of commercial space; Little Canada-based Azure Properties would manage the multifamily…
12 Sep 00:41

Big Corn Crop Getting Bigger

by Cindy Zimmerman

Holy crap. That's a lot of corn.

usda-logoUSDA has increased its estimate of the corn crop again this month, building on already forecast record highs. Corn production is forecast at 14.4 billion bushels, up 3 percent from both the August forecast and from 2013 and yields are expected to average 171.7 bushels per acre, almost 13 bushels an acre higher than last year.

NCGA-Logo“It will be the fifth record crop that we’ve had in the last 12 years,” says National Corn Growers Association Vice President of Public Policy Jon Doggett, who commented on the crop during a during a Fuels America press call Thursday discussing the importance of EPA keeping the ethanol requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) going forward. “When the energy bill was passed in 2008, there was a challenge to the corn industry to produce the corn, and we have produced the corn,” he said, adding that farmers have done it so well that prices have fallen back below cost of production.

“The American farmer has done it again!” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). “The innovation and rapid technology adoption we’ve seen in the corn sector over the past decade has been nothing short of astounding. The American farmer has again risen to the challenge to meet all demands for feed, food and fuel.”

RFANewlogoAs harvest ramps up in fields across the country, corn demand from the ethanol sector is ramping up as well. Dinneen notes that DOE projects 2014 ethanol production will be 14.3 billion gallons. “A decade ago, who would have dreamed that 14 billion bushels of corn and 14 billion gallons of clean-burning, domestically-produced ethanol would be the reality in 2014?,” he said.

Dinneen added that EPA’s proposal to reduce the 2014 RFS requirement for “renewable fuel” from 14.4 billion gallons to 13.01 billion gallons would effectively reduce demand for corn by some 500 million bushels, at a time when corn stocks are rising and prices are slumping to levels below the cost of production. “Now is not the time to artificially constrain demand for corn and tie the hands of the American farmer,” Dinneen said, urging EPA to “finalize a rule that returns the RFS to its intended trajectory.”

08 Sep 11:10

Stop Googling your health questions. Use these sites instead.

by Julia Belluz

Oh dayum, this is awesome. Bryan, what say you about ?

Welcome to Burden of Proof, a regular column in which Julia Belluz (a journalist) and Steven Hoffman (an academic) join forces to tackle the most pressing health issues of our time — especially bugs, drugs, and pseudoscience thugs — and uncover the best science behind them. Have suggestions or comments? Email Belluz and Hoffman or Tweet us @juliaoftoronto and @shoffmania. You can see previous columns here.

Another day, another diet study. Early last week, there were two – each with contradictory conclusions about what kind of eating would help people lose the most weight.



Last week was not exceptional, however. There are at least 75 randomized controlled trials published every day — and that number continually increases. According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, every couple of days we now create the same amount of information that we did from the dawn of civilization all the way up until 2003.

Part of this new knowledge includes an overwhelming quantity of health information. It's constantly produced, reproduced and transmitted to public audiences. Not only are we confused; even the best scientists can't stay on top of it all.

This has led us to a frustratingly paradoxical place: we have more science than we've ever had to make the best possible decisions about our health. Yet in reality, this knowledge usually hits us like a tsunami. We're drowning in bytes of data we don't know how to make sense of. Despite all the advances in science, it can even seem as though we're moving away from evidence-based thinking and toward magical beliefs in miracle cures and fast-fixes. The challenge before us is this: how can we capitalize on all this information to have healthier lives and societies?

Julia Belluz on Dr. Oz's big weight-loss lies (and one truth).

How doctors beat the deluge of medical evidence

Like their patients, doctors used to scramble in the information deluge. They'd often end up using outdated information from medical school or authority figures — and not the best-available evidence — to guide their practices.


Before evidence-based medicine, doctors often relied on the authority of people who looked like this guy instead of actual science. (Photo courtesy of NBCUniversal.)

Then, in the early 1990s, came "evidence-based medicine." It sounds redundant, almost silly, but it was a revolution in medical practice. Essentially, the movement called on doctors to apply the scientific method to the clinics through "the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients."

One of the key insights of evidence-based medicine was that doctors needed accessible and trustworthy research to inform their decisions. They, too, needed help wading through all the research out there.

Statisticians paved the way by coming up with particular methods for making sense of science. One of the earliest examples was published by the British Medical Journal in 1904. Back then, a statistician named Karl Pearson was asked by the government to look at whether a vaccine against typhoid fever had reduced infection and death among soldiers who had used it in various parts of the British Empire. In his review, he looked at data from places like South Africa and India, and pointed out all their flaws and weaknesses, suggesting that an experiment — calling for volunteers to take the vaccine, and giving every other one a dose — would be needed to find out whether it actually worked.

A nerdish revolution

Pearson laid the groundwork for this idea that researchers needed to look critically at medical evidence and combine the results of many studies to find out where bias or holes in the science might lurk.

The group that's done more to further that cause than perhaps any other is the Cochrane Collaboration, an international not-for-profit established in the early 1990s. You've probably never heard of it (incidentally, like the evidence-based medicine movement, it was also co-founded by prudent Canadians) but they're one of the best sources for unbiased medical information in existence and they should be your first stop before you hit Google or WebMD.


Okay, another classic doctor-type. But this guy is different. This is Archie Cocrhane, the Cochrane Collaboration namesake and one of our heroes. He was a Scottish physician who pushed the medical community toward the scientific method. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Their mandate is to create syntheses of science — known as "systematic reviews" — on important clinical questions. The idea is simple and should sound familiar by now: many studies, involving thousands of patients can get us closer to the truth than any single study or anecdote ever could.

Combining the results of a bunch of studies also reduces bias and the play of chance that can color individual studies. So the folks at Cochrane designed a process for their systematic reviews. Basically, independent reviewers use well-established and transparent protocols to search the literature about health questions and then apply statistical methods to combine them so that they can see where the preponderance of evidence lies. The process is called "meta-analysis" and it's repeated at least twice and then published so that others can verify or repeat their steps. After all, not all systematic reviews are created equally.*

We can do better than Dr. Google

Today at Cochrane, you'll find reviews on everything from the effects of acupuncture for preventing migraines (probably works) and premenstrual syndrome (may not work), to the usefulness of cranberry juice to treat bladder infections (probably doesn't work). The hard-working people behind Cochrane even translate their conclusions into "plain language summaries" and podcasts.

These summaries are considered the gold standard of medical evidence because they allow doctors to make decisions not just on the basis of whatever random research they come across, but on the totality of science about whatever medical question they have.

The Cochrane methodology has been applied to other areas of science — from education and crime to health systems questions — so that these summaries are more accessible than ever before, not just for doctors, but also for the rest of us.


If you don't find information about the health question you're researching at Cochrane, there are other good, evidence-based sources. Try MedlinePlusMayo Clinic, and NHS Choices. For more reliable health information, bookmark this page on the top 100 health websites you can trust. And if you want to nerd out about medical evidence check out the book Testing Treatments, which is free to download.

Evidence-based medicine is not perfect, of course, and doctors still sometimes make decisions that aren't rooted in science.

But the idea behind it is one that should guide our health choices: not all evidence is created equally, and it shouldn't be acted upon as such. What's more, the sheer quantity of new health science — and the huge opportunity it represents — means that we have to change the way we make decisions. To do that, there are better places to start than Dr. Google.

*Footnote: Check out the Cochrane Collaboration logo. It has a cool story behind it.


The horizontal lines on the logo represent seven experiments looking at whether a course of corticosteroids for women who were expected to give birth prematurely reduced the risk of death in their babies. The left-hand side of the circle means the results of the studies were positive and the drug was proven to be useful; the right-hand side means the opposite was shown to be true. The middle, vertical line means there was 'no difference,' or that the drug may or may not work. And the diamond represents the combined results of all the studies.

As you can see, most of the studies showed the drug worked and the combined results came out in support of using corticosteroids in mothers to save their babies' lives. But until the first systematic review was published almost 20 years after the drug hit the market, doctors were left to wade though contradictory studies on the question and basically guess about what to do with their patients. Thousands of babies suffered and died needlessly.

09 Sep 23:13

the-goddamazon: congenitalprogramming: dedenne: ultrafacts: S...


This just doesn't seem right, but I felt I would be doing my sharebrand a disservice by not sharing.





Source If you want more facts, follow Ultrafacts

which is even funnier because she’s the reason lesbians are called lesbians. she was know as sappho of lesbos and her poems were all about her love for women

no im totally not a lesbo my super actual husband is dick allcocks from man island i’m megahet

I laughed extra hard at this.

10 Sep 07:07

William Gibson reads Neuromancer

by Cory Doctorow

It's from the original audio edition of his seminal 1984 novel, which is sadly no longer available, though it's easy enough to find bootlegs online. Read the rest

08 Sep 16:04

The Lamps of Charity

by Reza