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Messages - Paddy

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Alright, binntho has convinced me - going for the 3.75 to 4.25 bracket as well

Policy and solutions / Re: Lessons from COVID-19
« on: April 03, 2020, 05:47:10 PM »
One thing that I expect will happen from this at an individual level is that a lot more people will start to maintain a store of long lasting goods that they need at home, so that they don't end up out of pasta / tinned tomatoes / toilet roll / whatever the next time there's a crisis.

I also wonder if fewer people will want to board a cruise ship, after the various plague ship occurrences we've been seeing with this.

On a medical level, it's possible we may identify some new broad-spectrum antiviral treatments.  We'll certainly be able to rule out a lot of candidates for such treatment, given the number of trials under way.  And I'd imagine the world's intensive care capacity may get a significant upgrade.

On a systematic level of how the world runs?  Many countries may be a little quicker to respond the next time a new infection shows similar behaviour.  But remember that there have been a lot of false alarms and contained situations while waiting for the next viral pandemic, and there will be a lot more to come after this... which will likely wear down responsiveness all over again, over time.

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: March 30, 2020, 07:28:29 AM »

Apparently it's not just individuals, but countries that are stockpiling food.

If this goes on, especially if harvests in western nations are disrupted due to barriers to seasonal migrant workers, the food supply situation could yet get a bit ugly.

Consequences / Re: COVID-19
« on: March 16, 2020, 06:26:41 PM »
headline reads like 79 million , but 7.9 million hospitalized is not possible .. not the beds so not likely . Millions dead more likely . How do we deal with that ?   b.c.
Those millions do not require hospital care at the same time if all goes well.

And this is the number that would need hospitalization. When the beds are not there, that means that the CFR goes up a few percentage units.

241,000 hospital beds in the UK.

Do you have a source for that number SH

Last time I checked .

The UK has 127,000 total including mental health and rehab.(... not counting hotels)

The number of beds in general and acute hospitals in the UK has fallen from 110,568 in April-June 2010 to 100,406 in the same period this year (2019). Current occupancy is already 85-95% - without a pandemic.


Also, according to Dr Fauci the US has 12,700 spare ventilators.

IMHO, if Italy have been struggling so much with 3.18 hospital beds per 1000 people, any developed country with fewer hospital beds than that per capita is really going to struggle. 
Both the USA, with 2.77 hospital beds per 1000, and the UK, with 2.54 beds per 1000, would certainly be on the list of countries in difficulty

The situation is a little different with regards to ICU beds.  Italy has 12.5 per 100,000.  The UK is clearly at high risk of running out with 6.6 per 100,000.  The USA, however, has them in relative abundance, at 29.3 per 100,000.

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: March 14, 2020, 08:34:00 AM »
I was worried about coronavirus with regards to food supplies, but now I think it might be a slight alleviating factor in this regard.
- The collapsing oil price disincentivises the use of foodstuffs as biofuels, and also makes fertiliser, food transport and various other farming related activity cheaper.
- The reduction in particulate emissions in countries in lockdown should help crop growth, livestock health etc.
- Assuming we do, sadly, see millions of deaths worldwide, we can also expect to see a small commensurate dent in food consumption.

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: February 11, 2020, 06:44:14 AM »
Paddy, what is your idea of how agriculture and food supplies will be affected because of the virus?  Lack of human labour? Lack of transport freedom? Am I missing something?

Primarily human labour, secondly lack of transport freedom, thirdly closure of factories producing key goods like fertiliser (potentially).

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: February 10, 2020, 07:54:33 AM »
The food price index rose again last month:

Query: does the coronavirus outbreak have the potential to disrupt agriculture / food supplies? It seems like it may rise to a peak in the northern hemisphere's main planting season. EDIT: And one effect it does seem to have had in China (and perhaps may also be having elsewhere) is to cause more people to hoard food, driving up prices in the short term

Consequences / Re: Chinese coronavirus
« on: February 06, 2020, 10:10:32 PM »

And become endemic, joining the four other known coronaviruses that cause 25% of all common colds.

Not really equivalent - the common cold has a vastly lower (effectively negligible) mortality rate than this new zoonosis.

Consequences / Re: Chinese coronavirus
« on: February 06, 2020, 09:28:47 PM »
If the economy crashes Trump is unlikely to get reelected.

Not necessarily. People often elect reactionaries when times are tough.

Consequences / Re: Chinese coronavirus
« on: February 06, 2020, 08:23:32 PM »
I'm pretty sure this virus has already slipped containment. Don't just look at the countries reporting confirmed cases, look at the countries that haven't. Indonesia. Laos. Myanmar. Pakistan. Mongolia. North Korea.  Every country in Africa and South America.

China's economic growth means that the whole world has lots of transport links with it. Many of the icountries I've picked out have particularly strong economic links and two-way traffic, but no confirmed cases. I expect, personally, that this is more from a lack of monitoring than a lack of actual cases, given the non-specific symptoms and the hundreds of cases already seen in other, higher surveillance countries. Unlke its antecedants SARS and MERS, I very much expect this virus is going global.

Arctic sea ice / Re: 365 day average extent poll
« on: January 19, 2020, 07:40:49 AM »
I'm going to call it - the majority of us, myself included, were probably wrong. I think there's too much ground to make up in the next two months with recent gains.

Consequences / Re: Wildfires
« on: January 16, 2020, 04:31:05 PM »
"Over 1 million fires..."

but muh arsonists...  ::)

The arsonists thing is just so painfully stupid.  It relies on statistics that anyone could learn were false in 1 minute using google; it supposes that environmentalists would secretly conspire to torch the very environment they want to protect in order to make a political point; it ignores record breaking heat and dryness; it also ignores all expert opinion from fire fighters as well as scientists.  Too many people are living in a post-truth world.

Consequences / Re: Population: Public Enemy No. 1
« on: December 22, 2019, 08:17:53 AM »
Not just rich countries. Every country on the planet today has a greater life expectancy than, say, the USA did in 1900 (49.8). The global average life expectancy today is 72.6 and climbing.

Consequences / Re: Population: Public Enemy No. 1
« on: November 18, 2019, 10:50:21 PM »
As has been said in this thread a few times before, population growth can be reduced quite ethically by increasing women's access to education, employment and contraception, all of which reduces the fertility rate and population growth; women have fewer children later when they have education and jobs to focus on.

Premise one: human bodies to an extent generate their own body heat, primarily in response to the actions of their muscle mass; more muscular and physically active bodies generate more body heat than less muscled and less active bodies.

Premise two: muscle mass tends to peak in a person's twenties

It follows that each year would tend to feel warmer than the last to people until they hit peak muscle mass in their 20s, after which each year would tend to feel colder

It would seem to follow from this that climate change would seem more in keeping with subjective experience for younger people, and less in keeping for older people. Might this not extend to how people at different ages respond emotionally to climate change, and differing political beliefs regarding the need for action?  (Speaking in terms of overall population tendencies with many individual variations, of course).

Arctic sea ice / Re: 2019 sea ice area and extent data
« on: September 15, 2019, 10:57:48 PM »
What would the area and/or extent have been in the early-mid 20th Century?

You may want this thread:,1461.0.html

Or maybe one of a few others in the "Arctic Background" section

Consequences / Re: Hurricane Season 2019
« on: September 02, 2019, 10:59:04 PM »
"Rare but not unheard of"

I was about to use those exact words:

Consequences / Re: Hurricane Season 2019
« on: September 02, 2019, 04:01:03 PM »
Decent article in the Washington Post about Dorian:

One new record has been flagged up in the article - this is the first time on record that there have been four successive years with at least one Cat 5 hurricane. What are the odds that 2020 will make it five years, I wonder?

Consequences / Re: Population: Public Enemy No. 1
« on: September 02, 2019, 03:08:00 PM »
The thing is, that "population collapse" sounds thoroughly scary... but Japan is continuing to run just fine in spite of negative population growth. Probably something to look at for how we might be doing with this later...

Consequences / Re: Wildfires
« on: August 13, 2019, 01:48:03 PM »
Smoke from wildfires now covers an area "bigger than the EU"

Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2019 melting season
« on: August 06, 2019, 10:28:31 AM »
I know it's irrelevant to the larger picture, but I keep checking the hudson out on the ice maps, just to see if those last bits are still holding on. Should be down to their last few days now, though...

Arctic sea ice / Re: 2019 sea ice area and extent data
« on: July 31, 2019, 03:25:54 PM »
Good point Rich with regards to individual summers.

I will now leave commenting on this thread to those with actual data to present rather than discuss further, however.

Consequences / Re: Population: Public Enemy No. 1
« on: July 24, 2019, 07:13:41 PM »
How to manage population growth:
- Support female education and employment
- Support access to family planning. If you're in the USA, this means supporting the dems... because the practical impact of the republican party's mexico city policy blocking all US gvt funds to anyone who has anything to do with abortion means that most organisations providing any kind of family planning don't qualify. Which, paradoxically, not only leads to more babies but often also to more abortions, since that's what happens if you cut your funding to people providing contraception.

I feel happy leaving it on the relatively open 2.5 to 5. I feel it would be very unlikely to go below 3 or above 4.5, but I couldn't with hand on heart say that I was 99.9% confident it wouldn't doone of these things. And even then, events with a 1 in 1000 chance still happen that one time.

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: July 09, 2019, 11:17:27 AM »
To forecast food prices we need to know 4 things: yields (can they still go up or will there be widescale failures?), demand, supply (more land clearings?), oil prices.

As for yields, Africa has great potential since their average  grain yields are 1-1,5 t/ha which could easily increase to 3-4 tons (this happened in SE Asia in the past 30-40 years so it is easy to replicate). Demand will grow continously but slowly as population increases. Supply: more land clearings everywhere, obviously. Oil prices: Anyone's guess but there is plenty of the stuff, fracking is in high gear so they should be stable.

A few quibbles:
- The approximately 1% increase in population per year is not the only factor affecting demand. Individual average intake worldwide has also increased somewhat, both of food in general and of meat in particular, and can be expected to go on rising with increasing prosperity in low to middle income countries. And increased meat demand places a lot of demand on crops used to feed livestock.
- There are other factors that may affect supply and yields. Land area for planting crops can be expected to be adversely affected by desertification, general construction and sea level rise; yields by soil degradation, water shortages and general climate instability. On the other hand, there may be some increased land available at the polar extremes due to rising temperatures and retreat of permafrost, but with only a fairly short growing season.
- Oil prices would indeed be a anybody's guess. In the long term, the only way is up as supply is ultimately limited; demand is currently still rising in spite of the rise in electric cars etc; but I'm not going to pretend to any foreknowledge of where this will be in 10 or 20 years.
- A further factor to consider is food waste; currently, an increasing proportion is going to waste worldwide, courtesy again of increasing prosperity in low to middle income countries and adoption of more western style diets; this may, however, also offer something of a stabilising factor, since if and when food prices do rise, wasting food becomes increasingly disincentivised.

Arctic sea ice / Re: September predictions challenge 2019
« on: July 03, 2019, 12:33:07 PM »
June estimates all added to the original post.

Richard, I somehow missed your post before going back through them to update the OP.  I'm also very sorry for your loss.  Also, the suggestion you made that people should state the month's estimate they're giving when making a post is a very good one, and I'd be grateful if everyone did that. 

EDIT: Incidentally, I'm waiting until we're a bit closer to the deadline before making my own guesstimate this month, especially as we don't yet have the PIOMAS data.

Sticking to 3.75 - 4.25 for now.

Arctic sea ice / Re: September predictions challenge 2019
« on: June 15, 2019, 10:05:45 AM »
Closing tomorrow, last chance time to submit or change your prediction

Arctic sea ice / September predictions challenge 2019
« on: June 09, 2019, 10:06:22 AM »
And it's back! Many thanks to Richard Rathbone for setting this up last year. Rules copied over from last year's thread:

This is a challenge which accumulates scores across all the monthly polls on September sea ice to come up with an overall rating of how good the predictions made are. In addition to making a prediction, entrants are required to rate their confidence in that prediction. The higher the confidence, the narrower the margin of error you are allowed, but the higher score you get if the September ice ends up where you predicted it (and the bigger penalty you take if you miss).

Currently included polls are: JAXA daily minimum area, NSIDC September average.
Other polls may be added during the course of the season if their structure fits this challenge.

Points are scored as follows:
Very High Confidence: 10 points if you pick the correct bin, -10 points for all other bins.
High Confidence: 6 points for the correct bin, 2 points if one bin out, -2 points if two bins out, -6 points for all other bins
Medium Confidence: 4 points for the correct bin, 2 points if one bin out, 1 point if two bins out, -1 if three bins out, -2 if four bins out, -4 points for all other bins
Low Confidence: 2 points for the correct bin, 1 point if within 3 bins, -1 point if 4-6 bins out, -2 points for all other bins
Very Low Confidence: 1 point if in the correct bin, no score (or penalty) for any other bin.

Note on portmanteau and end of range bins: these are excluded from the challenge, you may either select a bin within the portmanteau range, or extend the range beyond the poll endpoint for your challenge entry. If the September values fall out of the normal range, scores will be assessed by extending the bin structure. e.g. an end result of 5.9 counts as two bins out for a 5-5.5 entry.

To enter, post guess and confidence in this thread before the closing date of the poll. Editing a post to change the prediction before the closing date is allowed, editing for any reason after the closing date for a poll will result in disqualification from the challenge.

List of entries


JAXA:  3.75 - 4.25, medium
NSIDC: 4.25 - 4.75, medium


JAXA: 3.5 - 4, medium
NSIDC: 4 - 4.5, medium


JAXA: 3.5 - 4, high
NSIDC: 3.75 - 4.25, high


JAXA: 3.75 - 4.25, high
NSIDC:  4 - 4.5, high


JAXA: 3.75 - 4.25, high
NSIDC: 4 - 4.5, high



JAXA: 3.5 to 4.0, medium
NSIDC: 4.0 to 4.5, medium

Juan C. García


JAXA: 3.5 to 4.0, médium
NSIDC: 3.75 to 4.25, médium

Richard Rathbone


Jaxa: 3.75-4.25, Medium
NSIDC 4.0 - 4.5, Medium



Jaxa: 3.75-4.25, Medium
NSIDC 4.0 - 4.5, Medium



JAXA: 3.5-4.0 high.
NSIDC: 4.0-4.5 medium.



JAXA 3.75 - 4.25 medium
NSIDC 4.25 - 4.75 medium

slow wing


JAXA: 3.75 to 4.25, medium
NSIDC: 4.00 to 4.50, medium



JAXA: 4.25-4.75, low
NSIDC: 4.50-5.00, low



JAXA: 3.75 to 4.25, High
NSIDC: 4.00 to 4.50, High



JAXA: 3.5 to 4.0, medium
NSIDC: 4.0 to 4.5, medium

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: June 03, 2019, 06:42:08 AM »
Food prices in REAL terms (which means adjusted for inflation) are where they were in the 60s and 70s, and only 50% higher than at the multidecade lows around 2000, when oil prices were only a third of today's. That is quite amazing in itself since oil prices drive food prices very much.

Indeed, it's impressive that so far food prices have been as steady as they have in spite of rising oil prices, freshwater depletion & contamination, fish stock depletion, 80m more mouths to feed each year, desertification, general climate change-related disruption etc.

So far, of course, being a key point to note. I'm not sure how much longer this can go on.

The politics / Brexit...
« on: April 12, 2019, 07:14:38 PM »
So, as a thoroughly pro-Remain Brit, I'd be curious to know the general forum views. Not that I expect that our horrible tangled political mess will affect climate much (the economic harm to the UK if and when Brexit goes ahead and general knock to trade, travel and to life expectancy might even reduce our emissions slightly, although this may be balanced out by the emissions boost caused by deregulation if the Moggians get their way).  I'm generally just curious.

Arctic sea ice / Re: September Predictions Challenge
« on: March 17, 2019, 11:38:08 AM »
2 points Paddy, 2 points Brigantine, -2 points Richard?

Arctic sea ice / Re: 2019 sea ice area and extent data
« on: March 08, 2019, 07:26:43 AM »
[ADS NIPR VISHOP (JAXA)] Arctic Sea Ice Extent.

March 7th, 2019:
     14,093,484 km2, an increase of 26,963 km2.
     2019 is now 8th lowest on record.
     It needs an increase of 26,964 km2 to reach a new max.

Hang on - the max so far is 14,194,560. Surely it needs 101,100 k or so, not 27k?

Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2019 melting season
« on: March 03, 2019, 04:19:29 PM »
DMI 80N seems to be making a slow start to warming up so far this year so far

Arctic sea ice / Re: September Predictions Challenge
« on: January 21, 2019, 02:47:49 PM »
14 - 14.25, High.

Trying to get out of the habit of excessively low confidence that I demonstrated in the melting season. It's always possible to be wrong of course, but the numbers in this game absolutely favour going for High confidence whether you're sure or not.

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: November 02, 2018, 09:11:13 AM »
The simple fact is that, with climate change, food insecurity across the planet will grow unrelentingly. Pointing to the effects of a couple of years of global bountiful harvests as a way of arguing that this need not be the case is no different than pointing to the effects of a La Nina as evidence that global warming will not continue.

As we are force marched to our inevitable future where billions will die of starvation and heat stress, it is necessarily so that the weakest and most vulnerable will die first. The sick, the elderly, young children, the poor will go first. This is no different than what happened in the Nazi death camps during WWII. The rest will toil relentlessly until we meet a similar fate.

The thing is, however, that those three years came on the back of a few decades of year on year reductions in the number of people going hungry. The last 3 years have set us back to where we stood 7 years beforehand, but there are still many fewer people going hungry than there were a decade before that, and it remains to be seen whether the previous downward trend will resume, or whether we truly are experiencing this sad change of direction now.

Consequences / Re: The Holocene Extinction
« on: September 25, 2018, 07:44:49 AM »
Re population growth, the total number of births worldwide rose until the late 1980s, and since then has been a bit up and down around the 130 million babies per year mark

Meanwhile the net reproduction rate (daughters per woman) is, at 1.1, only a smidgen above replacement.

This has led to the current world population pyramid being roughly rectangular for people aged under 30, and steeply sloping after that:

Over the next 60 years or so, if these trends more or less continue (this is a big if) we can expect continued, but gradually slowing population growth until people who are 30 today get to about age 90. The precise point is a tad dependent on how far life expectancy rises worldwide; currently it's at 72 and rising, but the modal age of death in rich countries is in the late 80s. Still, I'd expect population growth to be approximately flat in the 2080s. The primary problem is limiting the damage from the foreseeable growth in that time.

EDIT: All of this is not to say that bringing down the worldwide fertility rate a notch more would not be beneficial, expecially if done via the big three of promoting female education, workplace participation, and access to contraception, plus improving child mortality, promoting child spacing, reducing child mortality, discouraging teenage pregnancy and respecting gay rights.  Luckily, it really is just a notch that's needed now.

But then, as we all know from the sea ice polls, it'a foolish to think we can predict the future...

Arctic sea ice / Re: September Predictions Challenge
« on: June 10, 2018, 01:43:30 PM »
JAXA - 3.75-4.25, Low
NSDIC - 4.25-4.75, Low

I'm betting on "something similar to 2016" for both polls, but with wide confidence intervals that should cover most of the plausible outcomes.  I was tempted by "Medium" confidence as offering greater rewards in terms of points, but at this point "Low" felt more honest to the actual range of outcomes that could lie ahead.

Consequences / Re: Population: Public Enemy No. 1
« on: May 27, 2018, 11:12:08 PM »
A small piece of good news on the population front: Ireland has liberalised its abortion laws. Not a huge difference in itself as it applies to only 2 million out of the 1.25 billion women without access to safe abortions, but it's a step in the right direction.

Policy and solutions / Re: But, but, but India...
« on: November 07, 2017, 09:25:02 AM »
A good summary of the state of play in India, where on the one hand CO2 emissions are rising with a high potential to increase further, and on the other hand renewables and a backlash against the air pollution caused by coal power and road traffic are on the rise:

Policy and solutions / Water management
« on: April 03, 2017, 12:29:15 PM »
I've just read an article suggesting better management of water, green space and wetlands as a means of ameliorating Climate change:

How much mileage do people here think there might be in this approach?

Walking the walk / Top climate-friendly actions
« on: August 22, 2016, 01:49:34 PM »
If you could put together a top X list of ways to walk the walk, as a general call to arms / summary of good ideas, what would they be?  Here's mine (it worked out as Top 6, but the number is not fixed)

1) Reduce meat and dairy consumption.
2) Plan to have fewer children later
3) Reduce personal fossil fuel consumption, in particular, cycling and walking when you can
4) Reduce what you consume otherwise, reusing, recycling, etc. where possible
5) Source whatever you consume more sustainably
6) Vote, campaign, and generally speak up more for the policy changes that we need

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