Sunday, January 22, 2017

Letting the Chinese lead is not a good thing

The serious press is surprised by the continuing force of the Chinese support for the Paris Agreement, observed this week at Davos, as well as the amount of money they have been putting "where their mouth is".

This doesn't surprise me. It isn't a unipolar world anymore, and hasn't been for a long time. The Chinese government is led by engineers and scientists who respect facts, not by politicians who make the mistake of believing the things they think. They understand climate change and are alarmed by it. But they also want to take over the US position as world leader, and this is an opening for them to do so. They will have been planning these moves since the election at least, if not before.

And if they so decide, if their climate dance moves are sufficiently convincing and impressive on the one hand, and the Trump administration sufficiently objectionable to European leaders on the other, the Chinese and the Europeans can together exert enough political and economic power to force the Trump administration to minimize the damage it does to the Paris plan, or suffer the consequences. The international economic sanctions regime that the US has used for years against Iran and Russia can be directed the other way.

This Chinese support for Paris is a good thing for the planet in the short and long term. But if it leads to the further isolation of the US, it's bad for democracy. The US is and should be the natural leader in such things. Allowing China to strengthen itself externally by taking the high road on climate is not going to end well. The US should be instead be keeping that position for itself.

The Brexit vote means that Britain's conservative government is free to side with the US against any methods, including sanctions, that the Chinese and Europeans might use to maintain Paris. Britain supports Paris, but not as a first priority. Instead, Prime Minister Theresa May has come out forcefully for free trade, and is pinning her post-Brexit plans on Britain maintaining itself as a world leader through free trade -- a very traditional British geopolitical stance, by the way, with precedent back to the debate over the Corn Laws, and all the more believable for it. May sees free trade as a way to navigate Brexit's rocky shoals and keep Britain afloat.

The free trade policy sets the UK at odds with any future sanctions effort the Chinese and Europeans may use to support Paris, but also against the Trump administration's plans for industrial protectionism at home.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Hottest year on record for GL 4003

This NYT article, which we discussed in class, has that great graphic associated with it, but be sure to read the longer version:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/18/science/earth/2016-hottest-year-on-record.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FGlobal%20Warming&action=click&contentCollection=science&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=6&pgtype=collection

Here's what is being done to protect the data:

https://www.wired.com/2017/01/rogue-scientists-race-save-climate-data-trump/?mbid=social_cp_fb_tny

Here's a paper that begins to explain scientifically why some people deny climate science and other scientific findings. So it's a science paper about the science of not believing science. Can't beat that. Way cool.

http://www.nature.com/articles/srep39589

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Monday, January 9, 2017

Physics Laboratory Safety



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Physics Laboratory Safety

Remember:
The equipment and apparatus you will use involve various safety hazards, just as they do for working physicists. You must be aware of these hazards. Your teacher will guide you· in properly using the equipment and carrying out the experiments, but you must also take responsibility for your part in this process. With the active involvement of you and your teacher, these risks can be minimized so that working in the physics laboratory can be a safe, enjoyable process of discovery.

These safety rules apply in the lab

1.     Always have your safety goggles and wear them whenever using tools or equipment, or whenever the instructor tells you to.
2.     Personal apparel should be appropriate for laboratory work. On lab days avoid wearing long necklaces, dangling bracelets, bulky jewelry, and bulky or loose-fitting clothing. Long hair should be tied back. Loose, dangling items may get caught in moving parts, accidentally contact electrical connections, or interfere with the investigation in a potentially hazardous manner. In addition, chemical fumes may react with some jewelry, such as pearls, and ruin them. Cotton clothing is preferable to wool, nylon, or polyester. Wear shoes that will protect your feet from chemical spills and falling objects-open-toed shoes or sandals, and shoes with woven leather straps are not allowed in the laboratory.
3.     NEVER work alone in the laboratory. Work in the lab only while under the supervision of your instructor. Do not leave equipment unattended while it is in operation.
4.     Only books and notebooks needed for the experiment should be in the lab. One book bag may be kept by your seat. Use the atrium/mud room to store other stuff, especially skateboards and other items that could get in the way or cause an accident.
5.     Listen! Your instructor will review applicable safety precautions before the lab. If you are not sure of something, ask your instructor about it. Turn cell phone ringers off. Always heed safety symbols and cautions written in the experimental investigations and handouts, posted in the room, and given verbally by your instructor. They are provided for your safety.
6.     Know the proper fire drill procedures and the location of fire exits and emergency equipment. Make sure you know the procedures to follow in case of a fire or an emergency.
7.     If your clothing catches on fire, do not run; WALK to one of the two showers in the building, stand under it, and turn it on. Call to your instructor while you do this.
8.     Report all accidents to the instructor immediately, no matter how minor. In addition, if you get a headache, feel sick to your stomach, or feel dizzy, tell your instructor immediately.
9.     Report all spills to your instructor immediately. Call your instructor rather than trying to clean up a spill yourself. Your instructor will tell you if it is safe for you to clean up the spill; if not, your instructor will know how the spill should be cleaned up safely.
10. Student-designed investigations, such as the work for the final project, must be approved by the teacher before being attempted by the student.
11. DO NOT perform unauthorized experiments or use materials and equipment in a manner for which they were not intended. Use only materials and equipment listed in the activity equipment list or authorized by your teacher. Steps in a procedure should only be performed as described in the textbook or lab manual or approved by your teacher.
12. Stay alert in the lab, and proceed with caution. Be aware of others near you or your equipment when you are performing an experiment. If you are not sure of how to proceed, ask.
13. Horseplay in the lab is very dangerous. Laboratory equipment and apparatus are not toys; never play in the lab or use lab time or equipment for anything other than their intended purpose.
14. Food, beverages, and chewing gum are NEVER permitted in the lab room during lab hours.
15. Exercise caution when working with electrical equipment. Inspect all such equipment before use or get the instructor to inspect it for you. Do not use electrical equipment with frayed or twisted wires. Be sure your hands are dry before using electrical equipment. Do not let electrical cords dangle from work stations; dangling cords can cause electrical shocks and other injuries.
16. Keep work areas and apparatus clean and neat. Always dean up any clutter made during lab work, rearrange apparatus in an orderly manner, and report any damaged or missing items. Return all equipment and tools to where you found them at the end of the lesson or when switching to a different activity.
17. Always wash your hands with soap and water at the conclusion of each investigation.





Monday, December 12, 2016

Final day summary for EcoEco

OK. We're done. The snow has taken away our last class meeting.

I don't hear too many complaints.

Had I chance to sum up, I would have said that the work of Daly and Farley and other ecological economists shows that mainstream modern economics, especially macro, is rife with conceptual, scientific and moral error. But I would have also said that this doesn't mean to say we can get rid of mainstream economics anytime soon. It's a bit like the British Monarchy, or perhaps some parts of the US Constitution in that regard. There's not an obvious replacement available, certainly not one politically acceptable in the USA, and it acts as one of the several institutional pillars that kind of hold up western society. Until a replacement is sufficiently developed and accepted, it's better to have it than to imagine the anarchy that would otherwise result. Having said that, the experience of the Scandinavian countries shows what can happen when you question the application of mainstream economics. I encourage you to tolerate the existence of mainstream economics for the time being, but question it at every level you can, using the tools that this class has begun to give you. You'll need to keep developing your critical toolkit, though, to be good at this. The class was just an opener.

I would also have pointed out that one of the first acts of the Trump transition team with regard to the EPA was to ask for a list of scientists that had worked on the problem of the social cost of carbon pollution and on climate costs in general. Clearly, these colleagues are about to be purged of their jobs, or at least sidelined in the bureaucracy. Here's the link:

https://thinkprogress.org/trump-transition-team-singles-out-energy-department-employees-f6c627624ef#.mu0yly5t9

There are two relevant things to say about this:

1) If externalities and social cost thinking were not already important, this would not have happened. The fact that they need to do this proves the concept in a perverse kind of a way. They just certified it for us.

2) This won't work. The idea that oil and coal companies are exporting the social costs of their activities onto the rest of society and the world is out there in the world of ideas for anyone to find. It has been since Ronald Coase first developed the idea in the 1960s. They can get away with it for one presidential term, maybe even two, but there will come a day when the cumulative social costs are once again charged to these activities. Since this attempt to erase the idea is essentially a kind of massive Ponzi scheme or fraud on ordinary people and their well-being, perhaps with catastrophic results, there may even be criminal charges. Is there a Nuremburg moment for climate deniers one day? Perhaps there should be, considering the damage they will do to ordinary peoples' lives.

Your final is in our regular classroom on Wednesday 12.30 to 2pm.

Please let me know if there are any ADA, temporary illness, or other accommodations you require. So far I have none listed for this class.

See you there.
Mick

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Day care outage -- movie for Intro to Economics

Our day-care provider is sick today and has had to cancel day-care, so with that and the funeral, I'm looking after my kid all day, and our 2.00 pm Intro to Economics class is cancelled.

Instead, I'm assigning the one-hour BBC Documentary "Masters of Money: Keynes"

Here it is on YouTube: