The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction: Nate Silver on the climate numbers

The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of PredictionNate Silver is a math pundit who founded the fivethirtyeight blog now over at the NY Times. That blog was all about the presidential election and over there he used a series of polls to predict (very successfully) the results of both the 2008 and 2012 US elections. An integral part of Nate’s approach is to use Bayesian probability thinking to keep reviewing the data as it comes in regardless of whether that data is from baseball, a poker game, the US elections or climate change.

Silver’s book — The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction [Fishpond, Book Depository] should be required reading for anyone who needs to review increasingly large tranches of data. Chapter 12 of his book is devoted to the climate change numbers — called “A Climate of Healthy Skepticism”. Part of Silver’s thesis is that many of us can’t sort the noise from the signal.

Continue reading “The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction: Nate Silver on the climate numbers”

Domestic solar PV: practical for NZ?

This is a guest post by Jason Kemp of DialogCRM. It originally appeared at Jason’s blog last week, but I thought it deserved an airing here because it directly addresses many of the issues HT’s readers have been keen to discuss. With luck, this won’t be last time Jason’s work pops up at Hot Topic

Many NZ consumers will be wondering if solar power for the home is a practical option. In simple terms despite New Zealand having mostly renewable energy our power costs to the home have continued to climb in the past few years despite low inflation. In real terms power costs have pretty much doubled for me in the last 4 years and some of that is due to changing power use but most of it comes from cost increases made by the lines companies and the electricity retailers.

According to one source: Andrew Booth of Solar City re intelligent roof tiles

“The price of power in New Zealand is more than 70% higher than in Australia and the United States. There is very little point switching power companies in the face of such high prices. Homeowners would be far better off switching to solar.”

I suspect having an unprofitable aluminium smelter sucking up huge amounts of power at a huge discount and a government hell bent on selling shares in power companies ( that we already own – double dipping anyone?) complicates the math on why NZ power costs are extortionate but having high power costs should incentivise us to investigate alternatives – shouldn’t it? Continue reading “Domestic solar PV: practical for NZ?”