People talking #11

Is it really six months since I posted the last open thread? I do apologise — please avail yourselves of the facility. I’m busy battening down the hatches before the first big winter storm hits, and preparing for the first Climate Show recording in a long while. Meanwhile, severe weather in Europe is striking very close to my heart, with a dramatic hailstorm devastating vineyards around Vouvray1 in the Loire Valley. And in Britain, the Met Office has called a meeting to see if they can tease out why they’ve had the recent run of wet summers and sharp cold spells in winter. The influence of the Arctic is definitely up for discussion…

  1. NZ can grow excellent Chenin Blanc — the grape of Vouvray — and make a wine that more than stands comparison with its French antecedents. I tasted the 2001 Forrest Chenin Blanc a few weeks ago, and it was quite magnificent. []

151 thoughts on “People talking #11”

  1. I am heading to Southland tomorrow, just in time for the predicted big storm (yes, 4% extra water vapour in the atmosphere DOES make a difference). After 2 weeks in Southland I am heading to Tonga for 3 weeks. So play nice while I’m away, lads, and I’ll catch up on all of the posts when I get back.

  2. On the Met Office report:

    …However a discussion of man made climate change is unlikely to feature…. This meeting isn’t looking at climate change, it’s looking at climate variability in recent seasons,” said Dan Williams.

    …sounds a bit like the episode of Fawlty Towers: “don’t mention the war”…

    When the china is all broken and there is obviously an Elephant in the kitchen, the delegates mutter about the possibility of variations in the rigidity of the cupboards to account for the damage they survey…

    1. Cupboard rigidity could account for maybe 33% of the variance in damage. Mouse figurines on the cupboard handles could mitigate much of the damage. Alas, not much to be done about the sh*t on the lino, or is there? fertilizer = sustainable => adaptation. I can see the paper in Nature now. Sustainable management practices as a tool to mitigate damage from and adapt to Loxodonta africana in residential dwellings.

    2. Thomas wrote: “…sounds a bit like the episode of Fawlty Towers: “don’t mention the war”…”

      Sigh. Here’s a thought: maybe the complex system is actually kind of complex, and that not every synoptic or seasonal anomaly is monocausally related to anthropogenic influence… you seem to assume we already know the answers. That’s not actually evidence-based thinking.

      1. Yes. Thomas it appears from the report that the met office is looking at a whole raft of ideas and factors that appear to be changing with the express purpose of looking at more accurate short to medium term weather forecasting.

        1. Exactly. They want to work out what’s going on in the atmosphere, and what’s driving the patterns being observed. They don’t need to talk about warming, because it’s a given.

      2. Point taken Dave. Yes the system is complex and we observe changes in the Jetstream patters for example, bringing us complex weather situations with severe events we were not used to. And we observe that these changes are likely caused by the warming, especially of the Arctic and also the summer ice loss. But the statements about the meeting as reported fall into the category of ‘not talking about the war…’ so that perhaps an atmosphere can be ‘created’ in which we can accommodate the ‘Copies’ by telling ourselves that weather has always been complex and variable…

        This is not helpful in a situation where the interests of the fossil fuel industry predictably want us to stay in a state of doubt about the effects of AGW against the overwhelming evidence of its impact, present and future, we can’t really afford not to ‘mention the war’ when sitting down to a conference as such….

  3. It must take a lot of training to look at the wood and not see the trees. Practical denialism will take this form: a focus on mitigation in the short term. Sandbagism. Anyone remember, during Hurricane Sandy there was a classic shot of sandbags stacked along Wall St. That said it all.

    Here on Waiheke Island, a recent king-tide saw the ocean splashing over a causeway. Council response? Send a couple of guys with yard brooms to sweep the water back! (I kid you not, I couldn’t make that up!) That’s about our state of readiness for sea-level rise.

  4. While I take Dave’s point about complexity, I can’t help but observe that our ‘narrativist’ notions of causality guarantee that finding ’causes’ other than AGW will be heralded in predictable quarters as ‘proof’ that AGW is a non-cause; and that this will in-turn be dutifully trumpeted by a media that is, after all, simplistic (and saleable!) ‘narrativism’ institutionalised.

    I went through Taleb’s ‘Black Swan’ recently as an audiobook, and was struck that he seemed to my mind to have succumbed to much the same fallacy (while ostensibly devoting the entire work to opposing it!)

    Consider the butterflies; IIRC Taleb says at one point (audiobooks are a bugger for citation) that chaos mathematics has proven that a butterfly can be the ‘certain cause’ – his words – of an ensuing tornado on the other side of the world – but this is nonsense! The chief – never ‘certain’ – cause of tornadoes is what always causes tornadoes; the butterfly may well shape the precise characteristics of that particular tornado, but so did a gazillion other things, including the lizard that scared the butterfly into flapping its wings in the first place!

    (Taleb himself later cites research on collision dynamics on a billiard table stating that when predicting 9th order collisions factors such as the gravitational attraction on the balls of the various players and spectators must be taken into account – at the 50th order it’s the location of every particle in the universe – without apparently seeing the contradiction; is the gravitational pull of the girl in the red t-shirt the ‘certain cause’ of the white ball eventually going disastrously ‘in off’?! No!)

    ‘Hunting for butterflies’ in the climate system – well, at least, hunting for sub-systemic and localised causes – takes place in the context of an overall atmosphere that is both that bit warmer and that bit wetter, and consequently more energetic. The anthropogenic influence is now permanent and overarching, and hence close-to-inseparable when playing at ‘ultimate’ attributions. This was McKibben’s central point in The End of Nature*, right back at the end of the 80’s, but it still apparently hasn’t sunk in…

    *Hence the title!

  5. I also paused and thought about the advice from the UK civil defence(?) on what you should do in the case of a nuclear strike – crawl into a paper bag.

    But on second thoughts if you can’t stop the bomb then helping those who have to clean up the mess is a good next step.

  6. I also paused and thought about the advice from the UK civil defence(?) on what you should do in the case of a nuclear strike – crawl into a paper bag.

    But on second thoughts if you can’t stop the bomb then helping those who have to clean up the mess is a good next step.

  7. Re the discussion on complexity and causality, sometimes I think we need to revive Aristotle’s four categories of causality: material, formal, efficient and final. This might enable us to more clearly explain how earth’s energy imbalance might be said to ’cause’ extreme weather events.

    Our fundamentally Newtonian view of causality makes it difficult for us to see how the whole might govern the behaviour of parts rather than the other way around. The quantum view that sees everything as infinitely interconnected to everything else gets us half way there. (See David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order). The systems theory approach to ecology point in the same direction.

    This will take us further than ‘hunting for butterflies’ in the climate system.

  8. Or, following on from Thomas, problems arise when the Elephant isn’t in the room so much as it is the room! 😉

    I like Kiwipoet’s idea of the various categories of causality; I think we in the West all got sidetracked a bit somewhere around the notion of ‘the clockwork universe’, and much absurdity and confusion has followed…

  9. And on an even another matter this report from UK finance company Tullett Prebon is a must read in my mind. The last chapter on Energy and Society expresses matters with great clarity.

    There is nothing much in this report that I can find fault with. And that, is a damn big problem…

  10. Thanks for that world meter, Thomas! Sent it on to friends. I’m sure you noted the frenzied rise of C02. this makes me think of Bill’s point about finding other ’causes’ for climate change (haven’t you heard, Bill, the planet’s getting colder!).

    All other ’causes’, from cosmic rays to mysterious natural cycles, involve having to forget or ignore the heat-trapping properties of all that C02 we are adding from fossil fuel burning. It’s as if, magically, all that C02 goes away or loses its physical properties when some other explanation comes on the scene.

    When the murder weapon is found on the crime scene, fingerprints all over it, why rush about looking for another weapon? Only when you can’t make an arrest. When the perp is too big to book. When the perp is a rouge industry that has contemporary life by the short and curlies. Look at Thomas’ link. Spiralling population, spiralling energy demands, out of control GHG emissions… and the crooks are in control.

    You’re right Bill, it is scary. We are much in need of courage and good humour.

    1. I really also recommend my other link above – the perfect storm report also.
      You will need something strong at hand to compensate when reading…
      My greatest fear is that once the proverbial hits the windmill expenditures for the benefit of ‘saving the planet’ will be off the books as the economy and the ability of humanity to cater for our basic needs enters the slippery slopes ahead as predicted in that report. Bread on the table ‘tomorrow’ will then become imminently more important to the minds of most than the conditions of life a few decades – let alone a century – ahead.

      1. Yep.

        It’s ironic that we’re cast as totalitarians and the enemies of liberal civilization (and doubly ironic that this is frequently by people who are neither notably liberal nor civilized!) when we’re specifically trying to steer it through the inevitable – scientifically-predicted – trouble ahead.

        The longer we waste time with denial strategies the more likely it is that the increasingly liberal, more tolerant, more inclusive, and less violent trajectory of civilization will eventually reverse.

        Trade has certainly brought us together, but this is reliant on a ‘positive-sum game’ – the pie keeps growing, we all get a bit more, though some of us get a lot more ‘more’ than others. If the unmanaged externalities of this beneficial trade do overwhelm the natural systems that have enabled our prosperity this latter caste becomes the problem: if ever we revert to a ‘zero-sum game’ – my gain is your loss – the institutionalized sociopathy at the heart of capitalism will mean we are in danger of seeing the the ‘invisible hand’ transform itself into a very prominent fist*! Bother inter and intra-nationally…

        (If you don’t believe me, consider; what are Austerity policies if not the insistence by the haves that they must always have more, even if there’s precious little ‘more’ for the having?)

        Then we can start to play out history in reverse, becoming progressively more illiberal with time, and, believe me, the totalitarian states will be paradises compared to the failed ones! In a century I fear that for most contemporary China will seem a lost utopia virtually-indistinguishable from any lamented state of the affluent West.

        *Actually, the PR Industrial-Complex in the West will probably manage to convince most that The Friendly (New Improved!) Fist is both their bestest pal and all that stands between them and utter chaos. Sadly, at that point they may well be right!…

        1. One wonders, if conquering and stealing the Internet proper – as we now know – is all part of the preparations for the totalitarian control of the have-nots by the have-lots.

          1. …because siphoning and storing gzontabytes of data in secret to find a hand full of needles seems like shooting at ducks with a ballistic missile, that is unless having control over the hay is the real mission, never mind the few needles in the stack…..

            The Nazis could not have had control over the Germans unless the Germans were ruled by their understandable fear to be killed over a remark made too close to the ears of an informant. Once fear of the all knowing big brother computer grips the masses, conformity to the ‘order’ will self organize itself, order keepers of all walks of life included.

            Totalitarian regimes have killed millions during the dark times of the last century, enabled by fear and a system of informants and suppressors. The count of victims of the ‘terror’ of today pales in comparison.

            In any system “freedom is always the freedom of the dissenters” (Rosa Luxemburg)
            Lets see what then happens to E. Snowden in this respect….

    1. In turn a reminder that the direction of history can be reversed; the most ‘advanced’ liberal democracy now not only claims, it positively flaunts, the despot’s toolkit of disappearance, torture, and extra-judicial assassination…

      1. Hmm, I tried solving your riddle but am left wondering where on Earth this might be found? I googled ” most ‘advanced’ liberal democracy” and the list of references looks rather ‘b.s.’ (before Snowden)… 😉

        1. Hence the ‘.’ on ‘advanced’.

          Even the Scandinavian social-democracies, probably the most advanced states ever created, don’t seem to be immune to going into reverse: interesting times!

          Speaking of which; I’ve just encountered an interesting theory Pinker recounts in The Better Angels of our Nature that much of the south and the west of the US – and much of the barely-enfranchised underclass throughout – is as violent and dangerous as many developing nations and former Soviet satellite states – and this is the case – because the US became democratic ‘too early’. The European and Commonwealth democracies took over an advanced and all-encompassing ‘Leviathan’ state from their elites, and most accept its legitimacy, even if grudgingly, whereas the state never really ‘took’ in much of the US, and a frontier culture of DIY ‘honour’ and vigilantism has persisted, leaving us with people who shoot each other at an alarming rate, a folksy national religion that holds that God wants them to pack heat*, and a proliferation of ‘I love my country but I fear my government’ bumper stickers…

          And climate change deniers, of course. Plenty of those.

          *While Jesus wants them to be Rich! Having been raised Methodist here in Oz I find this genuinely gobsmacking, but I suppose if you can believe Obama is a Social!st anything really is possible… 😉

          1. good points. And the ‘Levitan State’ and acceptance of the same, especially in Germany, laid the groundwork for a people that dropped their humanity en’masse when frightened into submission and complicity under the Nazi regime. Perhaps the ‘I love my country but I fear my government’ bumper stickers might be worth something under the current circumstances in the times of the Orwellian nightmare having entered prime time…
            The ‘Tea Party’ plotters and the ‘Ultra Libertarians’ are having perhaps a bit of a difficult time defining their path through the current conundrums, having vilified the ‘Liberal Elites’ running the show in Washington….

            1. Ah, but had the Germans in the 30’s accepted the legitimacy of the democratic state taking over the, well, ‘Prussian’ Leviathan?

              The budding democratic Weimar Republic was in a very poor position from the off, and Democracy itself came to be viewed as tarnished via not just the economic chaos but via the Dolchstoßlegende and other hysterical scapegoating.

              (And the Nazi and Communist gangs roaming the streets of an ineffectual state literally scared people silly!)

              The myth of the ‘Stab in the Back’, in itself, was a folk tale the Tea Party would recognise, and rather chimes with the bumper stickers! Fascism, unlikely it’s ‘neo’-incarnations, was genuinely popular, and actively sold itself as an anti-elite, anti-corruption, essentially anti-political movement based on the kind of ‘commonsense’ ignorant people are frequently so attached to!

              Just like the Tea Party.

              And, again, we may recognise a historical echo that the Tea Party as an actual economic force is largely a vehicle for the reactionary arm of the traditional industrial elite.

              Not that it’s likely to spawn anything as vile, brutal and dangerous as Hitlerism, of course. But unholy alliances between popular ‘anti-political’ sentiment and manipulative elites make me nervous!

              The whole Snowden/NSA thing really highlights the tension inherent in the so-called ‘libertarian’ camp, because it’s clear that, at heart, many of them are actually authoritarians.

            2. Yes indeed. I suspect that the ‘libertarians’ (certainly those with their private arsenals) are closer in kind to the hooligans assembling themselves in the 30ties under the swastika than to those who would oppose this.

              As to the nail hitting cartoon: this comment summed it up perfectly:

              Bollocks to right of them,
              Bollocks to left of them,
              Bollocks in front of them
              Into the Valley of Austerity rode the three parties.

              … lets ‘plant a little apple tree, the time has come…’ as prophetically one of my past time heroes, Hoimar von Ditfurth wrote already in 1985….
              (its a great book, not sure if its available in English).

            3. I guess this other comment below was so good, in a way, that I re-post it here, thanks to ‘bullingdonmorons’ over at the Guardian:

              They ALL know exactly what they are doing. Our politicians are simply service managers for the banks and corporations who now rule the world. We have been shafted. We were never given any choice, no-one ever put it in any manifesto, we never voted for it, but we got it all the same. The bankrupt ideology of Neo-Liberalism, with its dogma of economic liberalization, free trade, privatization and deregulation, and its mantra that all human activity is a market from which a profit can be made.

              The ruling elite now own our land, gas, electricity, railways, water and media. They have corrupted our politicians and our police. They are now coming for our pensions, our NHS, our roads, our schools and our green spaces. They have systematically destroyed the unions, dismantled our protections, created mass unemployment and are dismembering the welfare state, They caused an economic crash and bankrupted our economy.

              And what do we get in return? Austerity, recessions, huge debts and deficits. A government conducting a systematic assault upon the sick, the poor and the disabled, slashing welfare budgets and forcing people off benefits. 500,000 of us now use food banks. They make it easier to sack us, make us work longer hours for less pay, force our kids to work for nothing, raise the retirement age whilst cutting our pensions and weaken our health and safety laws. And all just so a handful of people can be immensely rich. Frankly, it’s sickening.

              But by far the worst damage they have inflicted upon us is that they have destroyed our children’s futures.

              My generation grew up under governments that believed in full employment and a welfare state. We benefited from decades of struggle, hard won rights that enabled us to have a decent standard of living, own our homes and be cared for when we got old or sick. However, for 30 years, we have let them slowly dismantle everything my parents and grandparents had fought for.

              For the millions born since 1980, the only assets they will own will be the ones passed on by their parents. They live in rented accommodation, or negative equity or have interest only mortgages. Their pensions are worthless. They spend every penny they earn, have no savings and buy everything with credit.

              But it’s even worse for our grandchildren. 50% of them are now loaded with debt before they even leave education. If they are lucky enough to have a job, it’s on minimum wage, on zero hour contracts, or part time work, or stacking shelves for nothing. They have no protections, no rights. Pensions are just a pipe-dream. None of them have any hope of getting a mortgage. This is the true cost of the last 30 years. In our lifetime, they have managed to strip everything our forefathers built for our kids, reducing them to the level of medieval serfs, possessing NOTHING. It’s heartbreaking.

              So, It’s time to get angry, and we need someone to express that anger, because none of our politicians are going to do it. Someone to speak for the millions of hard working people who only want a decent life for themselves and for their kids to have a decent future. Someone that speaks up for all of us, not just a privileged few. Someone that tells us that our worth is not measured by our wealth, but our value as human beings. Someone that tells us that compassion and empathy are not bullshit. Someone that tells us that ordinary people can expect to have a decent job, a decent house and decent healthcare. Someone that tells us our elderly can live out their final years in a degree of comfort. Someone that tells us our sick and disabled should be allowed to exist with a shred of dignity. Someone that tells us that the most disadvantaged will not be looked down upon as scum.

              Someone that tells us that our kids can still have hopes and dreams.

              We should all be born equal, with an equal chance to develop, to achieve, to succeed. But far too many are now condemned to a life of struggle by a system that creates so many losers for the benefit of so few winners. It is not only unfair and unjust, it is unsustainable.

              And it’s time we all stood up and said, enough is enough.

  11. With the latest Snowden revelations on the unbelievable scale the Orwellian apparatus in the UK and the US just a day old and with the media in countries such as Germany headlining the matter and decrying the ‘Orwellian Catastrophe’, the media outlets in the US, UK (with exception of the Guardian), NZ and AU are complying as it seems with the directive to bury the matter. I guess they may have been told that publishing the material exposes them to repercussions by the system. Even the NZ Herald relegates the Snowden saga now to a small corner in the tech section, CNN has nothing on their website, and many others from these countries work with the scripts of the spin doctors in charge and muse in side stories why Snowden is not yet arrested and cement the idea that he is a traitor. Outlets such as the Daily Fail don’t even mention ‘the war’ at all. Well done Fawlty…

    It would seem that if the Orwellian forces can compel the communication companies to allow them to siphon all their customer data in secret then spinning public opinion with the help of ‘compliant’ media should be a walk in the park. Needless to say that at this junction in time its ‘defcon’ for ‘brother one’ who probably has convinced the respective governments that this is an existential threat to them and and that the ‘Orwellian’ vision of law and order must prevail and that public dissent must be avoided at all cost…. ‘Bury it NOW’ is the directive in the anglo-saxon West!

    1. The only thing I’d change in your observation is the sentence beginning

      Even the NZ Herald…

      Better if it read

      As tiresomely expected, the NZ Herald…

    2. Shouldn’t Snowden be a Fox News hero – as Manning should have been? And yet…

      You’d almost think Fox was actually the reactionary arm of the elite and only used all that populist demagoguery to rope the yokels into voting for the Business Party!

      Or that the Tea Party was run actually by the Koch Brothers…

  12. Here’s a great link looking at ‘atmospheric thickening’ and the slower jet stream. Excellent video.

    Looking at it, it occurs to me what while the effect of the Arctic ice melt on Northern Hemisphere weather is increasingly well understood, it’s harder to find such information on how Antarctic heating might be affecting us. The focus is on the big drama of European and American weather.

    At least some information re AGW is still flowing through the net, in the meantime. Big Brother may not need to control that info if others follow the Canadian Government lead and start shutting down climate research stations, choking off the funding.

    That’s one way to deal with those pesky, grant hungry climate scientists – put them out of work! What’s that old saw about the blind leading the blind?

  13. I am curious (re the Snowden affair);
    can anyone clearly state what PRISM does and how it is implemented?
    Inquiring minds want to know.

    1. Check this out John:

      Its from a US based security consultancy that explains it quite well.
      Apparently, as most data these days travel over optical fibers, they install optical splitters (real physics prisms, hence the name) into these cables upstream from the company servers and entire countries (as we know of the UK) to siphon and then store everything that travels over these networks. Everything. And they store this for a while. It is probably done with deniable consent and knowledge of the companies involved (Google, MSFT, others…). The number of formal requests for data stored at these companies we hear about are just the tip of the iceberg most likely.
      Storing the entire network traffic allows them to build a picture of any person they want and dive into any data they have.


      besides all this they hack into network routers and servers where they do not have direct access to install splitters in cables (China for example) and perhaps use backdoors lurking in US made networking routers to hijack data from far afield.

      Ironically they accuse Snowden of Espionage, while all he did was telling us about it.

      1. Thomas: do you agree with this quote from the first source you cited:

        ‘Steve: Yes. This is the entire Internet being tapped.
        Leo: Yeah. If you were a WorldNet user in 2007, they were listening.’

        I.e., is the NSA grabbing and saving all the Internet packets (or even just those going into Google, Yahoo, etc.) like Steve and Leo seem to think, OR are they:
        a) Monitoring some selected traffic going in/out of US, as per NSA room in SF.
        b) Getting metadata from phone calls
        c) Making requests of Google, Yahoo, etc, with court orders, who then get emails and such (*not TCP/IP packets*) and get it to NSA or other law enforcement agencies.

        There are of course, numerous serious serious issues/tradeoffs of privacy/security/law enforcement, what’s legal, what’s not, what the law says, what’s actually implemented, who gets hired to do this, and which things are worth the cost

        Of course, the simplest solution is simply to change the laws so that under NO circumstances EVER, may ANY government agency obtain phone metadata,do wiretaps, get email or any other electronic records, use WiFi antennas to eavesdrop, intercept packets, etc. I.e., just make electronic communication of any sort off-limits, permanently.

        Anyway, I’d be happy to learn from networking experts, for example, someone who could start by picking a relevant carrier router, say a CRS-1 16-slot system, and working through the requirements to capture the peak packet traffic through just one of these, including:
        a) Cabling and transmission
        b) # disks needed for enough bandwidth to sink the data.
        c) with 5 Zettabytes claimed capacity, how many router-years of data is that, assuming no overhead?

        1. Making all snooping illegal sounds nice but I guess will never happen. There are many cased where everybody would agree that the agencies should get a warrant to see whats written.

          One should perhaps add that these days a growing risk from small cells of capable individuals can cause mass damage (bio-terror, chemical, nuclear) and with 7 billion people and a growing number of technically capable individuals, the chances grow. Plus organized crime is a rich target.

          The argument however is probably also rightfully made, that any such serious criminals or terrorists will find ways to communicate outside the electronic dragnets anyway. Even the NSA can’t decrypt simple cyphers based on long enough and truly secret keys or long key public key encryption systems such as

          That Snwoden could communicate and plan his actions with the Guarian reporters on-line without being found out beforehand is proof. And he certainly knew what he had to do. And metadata (who contacted whom on the net) can be frustrated by going through layers of proxy servers such ass the tor browser and similar when using the net.

          1. Yes, but do you (or others here) agree (as many people seem to, I think)::

            ‘Steve: Yes. This is the entire Internet being tapped.
            Leo: Yeah. If you were a WorldNet user in 2007, they were listening.’

            1. In principle thats their goal. Capture everything and try to filter it for what you are interested in. Store everything for a while (long enough) to allow filters to kick up the crumbs to people at desks and then allow for enough time to have them expand into whats stored to see if it warrants entering into a ‘keep file’. The bulk of the traffic is so large they will need to overwrite stuff in due course, minus the interesting bits. Like utterances from people with brains (dangerous…category…)

            2. Steve and Leo are very clear and many people seem to agree with this. All I want to know is whether or not you agree with them, not about whether NSA might like to do something or not.
              (There is a good reason for asking all this, which I will explain if I can get an answer,,as I believe it is instructive.)

              (There are always real problems of privacy/law enforcement to be discussed, once one has established a few facts. I’ve spoken the NSA, CIA, DSD, Scotland yard, Telcos doing fraud detection (which is related); briefed GCHQ, FBI, and a few whose agencies were not to be named. I also have friends at EFF…)

            3. John, can we clarify: you are asking if anyone here believes it is technically possible to effectively ‘seize’ the entire internet, and also perhaps if it was technically possible in 2007?

              ‘Obviously’ this seems superficially implausible – I’m reminded of the episode of the IT Crowd where Moss and Roy give Jen ‘the Internet’ to take to a corporate presentation – but equally clearly most of us here are in no position to know what the technical capabilities of the NSA or FBI are, or the possible and/or theoretical limits of retrieval and storage, let alone to know any of these better than you (hardly a level playing-field!), though I can’t speak for Thomas’ expertise in the issue in question.

              Could we cut to the chase? You’re saying Snowden is wrong? (And, by extension, so are we?) Or only these other guys? Partly wrong? Something else?

            4. John, thank you (if you are THE John Mashey,…) to pop in here. Much appreciated.

              You obviously have a much better insight into all this than probably anybody else here, based on your significant career.

              What do you then make of the combination of:
              a) The obvious building out of mass data storage centers of the agencies;
              b) The installation of ‘splitters’ at the major optic cable junctions in the UK (as reported) and likely in the USA as well as, one can only assume in less democratic nations, which obviously are there to siphon off an enormous amount of packet traffic;
              c) The revealed documents (Snowden) showing the explicit intent to ‘capture everything’ (Alexander);
              d) The earlier revelations of splitters upstream of telcos (AT&T, Folsom Street, SFO…) by whistle blowers;

              Does it actually matter how we define ‘everything’ in the light of what transpired?

              I grew up in divided post WWII Germany in the West part. Founded an ITC company there in 84.

              I still remember vividly living next to a totalitarian part of our country, that shot dead people wanting to leave at the ‘iron curtain’ and that had a totalitarian surveillance system, including an army of ‘informants’. Really not much different in kind than the 3rd Reich Nazis they replaced…

              Perhaps I am particularly allergic to the idea that any government (even if I were to assume their benevolent intentions for the time being) had unilateral access to all my communication activities, in secret, without me even knowing if I was monitored, actively, passively or by automatons and if it was doing so by secret statutes of secret legal directives, not open to public scrutiny, debate and election…..

              The revelations of Snowden have taken the benefit of presumption of innocence of the state away. We may have suspected that what Snowden revealed was going on but that has gone from ‘suspicion’ to undisputed revelation of significant evidence. And this is what makes it such an event, pivotal in my mind, of our time.

              The state will have to regain legitimacy in my mind by putting all cards on the table and letting us the people execute our vote of confidence or not in these matters. This should under no circumstances be spun by the mass media into a Snowden spy saga. Snowden has done his deed. Now it is a government legitimacy saga, and that is where the focus should be held until the matter is resolved.

            5. About WorldNet in 2007 – couldn’t say. Was it US based? At any rate, it’s not what I’m concerned about.

              This, on the other hand, is:

              AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s go to what President Obama said in the Charlie Rose interview, when he said he could say unequivocally that we’re not listening to your phone calls. The NSA—it says—”The NSA cannot listen to your phone calls,” Obama said. The NSA cannot target your emails, and have not, unless they get a subpoena. Can you talk about that?

              GLENN GREENWALD: I’m staggered by how deceitful and misleading that claim is from President Obama. It’s actually worse than just misleading and deceitful; it’s just outright false. And this is the story that we’re working on to publish next, which is an inside look at what the FISA court really does in terms of what it is called oversight, but is really an empty fig leaf, when it monitors the NSA.

              Under the 2008 FISA law, which replaced the 30-year FISA law enacted in 1978, the principal change is that the United States no longer needs an individual warrant when it listens in on the telephone calls or reads the emails of American citizens when they communicate with people outside of the United States. It is true that when American citizens talk to other Americans on U.S. soil, exclusively domestic communications, the NSA legally is required to get an individualized warrant from the FISA court before they can listen to the content of those communications. But when an American citizen is talking to somebody outside of the United States who’s not a U.S. citizen, and the target of those communications is the person outside of the United States, that is now completely legal for the NSA to eavesdrop on that call or read the email without going and getting a warrant. That is the whole point of that 2008 law. Remember, the Bush administration in 2005 got caught eavesdropping on the conversations of American citizens, the international conversations of American citizens, without a warrant. And what that 2008 law did is legalize that Bush program by eliminating the warrant requirement.

              And so, every six months, the NSA goes to the FISA court, and they say, “Here are the procedures that we use for determining who is and is not a U.S. citizen, who is and is not on U.S. soil.” The FISA court stamps the—an approval stamp on those guidelines, and the NSA is then empowered to go around collecting whatever calls and whatever emails they want. They can force the telecoms and the Internet providers to give them whatever content they want, which often includes American citizens talking to these foreign targets, without any kind of a search warrant. So when President Obama says nobody is listening to your calls or reading your emails without first getting a search warrant, that is absolutely false. It is true that the NSA can’t deliberately target—deliberately target U.S. citizens for that kind of surveillance, but it is also the case that they are frequently engaging in surveillance of exactly that kind of invasive technique involving U.S. persons.

              Let me just say one last thing. This is why—just go to Google and read about this—Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, two Democrats on the Intelligence Committee, have been repeatedly asking the NSA, “How many Americans’ telephone calls and emails are you intercepting without warrants under this program?” And the NSA continuously tells them, “I’m sorry, we can’t provide you with even a rough estimate. We don’t have the technical capabilities to do that. It would take too much time and distract away from our core mission for us to assemble those statistics.” So this idea that President Obama is promoting, that the NSA never listens to Americans’ calls or reads their emails without warrants, is utterly false.

              It would appear, if Greenwald is correct, that the NSA currently claims the right to tap my emails, and to tap yours if you were to be corresponding with me, without a warrant. As I said, I have, say, David Hicks’ book on my Kindle; what does that make me? In the eyes of ‘good’ president Obama? How about from the point of view of the future leader of the GOP Peace and Security Executive? Those comments Cheney makes should give anyone pause for thought.

              Snowden has repeatedly said that working for Booz Allen he could tap anyone’s private emails, even the President’s. Given the history of the behaviour of the privatised security state – say, for instance, Blackwater and it’s later bowdlerised incarnations – I don’t think you could reasonably argue that people who believe this is a real problem are nuts.

              Consider the NSA’s ‘fake’ internet kiosks: the contempt of the US executive for the privacy rights of foreign citizens and leaders really appears to know no bounds!

            6. That’s an interesting question. In the literal sense, the answer is undoubtedly (IMHO) no, as there just aren’t enough human listeners/readers. Not even the Stasi could do that (though they tried).

              In the less literal sense, there is an automated selection layer before the stuff lands on a human’s desk. And the selection is apparently not driven by legal principles (except that the communication has to involve someone outside the US). It is driven by rules of interest*). And yes, this whole system takes in all communications that are legally fair game. Including this one. So in this less literal sense, the answer is ‘yes’.

              This is my understanding from what I have read.

              *) The problem with that is of course that it’s the NSA’s paymasters who define what is interesting. Not just trrrism, organized crime and military matters, but, e.g., gov’t decisions affecting US investments, industrial secrets, blackmailability of foreign (or American!) decision makers, etc.

            7. There’s a scene in the Simpsons Movie showing thousands of spooks in NSA listening to every single phone call – including every “you hang up first”, heavy breathing etc, and diligently recording every detail.

              Coz that’s how it really works, you know. The gummint is listening to every single second of your lives, right now. Every byte you type is being recorded and will be used against you, any moment now. Any moment now. Any moment…

            8. CTG of cause not. But rest assured that computing powers have risen so much in the last decade that analyzing vast streams of data automatically scanning for terms or references or meta-data such as contacts is certainly done. Even automated voice recognition systems. From the Snowden revelations it is the concern is that it is up to ‘analysts’ to take any matter or person further and spin tales of suspicion as they see fit. The mechanisms are all in place to significantly stifle our democratic rights of dissent in our society. The reports coming out of the UK in that regard are proof of that mechanism being actively used no only to gather information but to influence, obstruct and derail the lives of people in their cross-hairs…

            9. You may prefer to live in a state where people are free to plot violence in secret, I don’t.

            10. CTG, in my humble opinion, if we throw privacy and freedom from secret state oppression out the door out of fear of acts of violence of a few crazy people, then we do exactly what the terrorists want. Instilling fear and causing the state to overreach so that the people eventually revolt, that is precisely the strategy of the terrorists. They would love to see our free societies implode into a GESTAPO state causing an eventual revolt and chaos. Giving in to their game plan is entirely the wrong attitude.

              And it puts salt into the wounds of all those brave people who gave their lives in defense of freedom and liberty against tyrannical states if we in turn build a system that permits state oppression, in secret and without the consent of the people.

              Fear is the worst adviser if you want to keep our society safe, humane and free.

              Fear is the root cause that Hitler could enact his evil empire. Fear is what allows ruthless leaders to command armies of willing trolls enacting their state violence against the people.

              Last century tens of millions of people perished under tyrannical dictators and their systems of oppression. The acts of terrorists against state interests pale into insignificance in comparison!

              I am not against the possibility of surveillance of real suspects but it should and can be done transparently under democratic control and oversight just as the police today can’t enter your home and install bugs or search your belongings without a warrant and without giving you the ability to defend your civil rights if necessary in court.

            11. CTG, how many people in Guantanamo do you imagine are really ‘the worst of the worst’? How many are poor stupid bastards who were in the wrong place at the wrong time?

              The overall strike rate is not impressive. And yet, these people were not only dumped in a hell hole beyond the reach of anything we’d credit as ‘law’ if it was turned on ourselves, but it’s somehow OK to leave them there even when it’s openly acknowledged the US has no case against them.

              About half of the 166 remaining were cleared for release in 2009. They haven’t been, not least because Obama cannot afford to be seen to be ‘weak’ in the eyes of people who think that it’s better that a few – or quite a few – innocents should get punished than any of the the guilty might ever go free.

              (This is, of course, a total inversion of the supposed basis of our civilization, but the enlightenment doesn’t always appear to have ‘taken’. This doesn’t bode well for the future…)

              So, the folks that assembled this collection, whether spooks or private mercenaries, are the people you’d also trust to judge who is and isn’t a threat without anyone needing to trouble themselves by shining any light on what it is they’re actually doing?

            12. Life got busy, but I’m drafting something useful for a few days off. Briefly, one must distinguish between various kinds of technical capabilities and then legal issues surrounding each. Much of the press around this is vastly ill-informed and it takes Snowden as Absolute Truth, even when his story changes. His history is not such to automatically ascribe to him deep experience at NSA and reliability. I.e., it’s not that I think he’s wrong, but I have zero faith that he’s accurate. I am unimpressed by the “direct access to servers” slide.

              The press on this has conflated multiple different technical and legal issues together. It is quite possible to gather the metadata for all phone calls in the world, clearly less than a Gigabyte/second. Phone companies have been required by law to do that in most countries for decades.

              A one-rack Cisco CRS-16 carrier router can handle 1.6 TeraBytes/second, or 138,240 TBs in a 86,400-second day, i.e., 138 PetaBytes/day.
              That fills ~30,000 4TB disk drives.

              A big CRS system is ~115 TBPs, or 9.9million TB/day, almost 10 Exabytes/day.

              Any agency has to be incredibly selective in what it actually captures and saves from the Internet when looking at packet level (as opposed to asking Google to give them gmail messages for login X.)
              Unless you have experience with high-speed routers, packet inspection engines, etc, do not think it is easy to do much at speed in big routers.

              Regarding laws, people might read:
              and for NZ:

              Note that circuit-switched telephone calls are a totally different sort of thing than packet-switched TCP/IP traffic. Routers are not apriori guaranteed to see all the packets, they can arrive out of order, get retried, etc, etc. The sender and receiver coordinate to get everything there through a big network, but the routers in the middle: really hard work. Of course, recording all the traffic from one DSL line: easy, technically.

              More in a few days, with a coherent model for the legal issues, although I might wait a little longer, as we spend July 4/5 at the friend’s huse who is senior person at EFF, which likely will help refine the legal framework I’ve got.

              There are important things that investigative journalism needs to do, but when signal is overpowered by noise, including easy acceptance of *impossible* things, and great excitement over metadata-recording as though it were something new, it is all too easy to lose real problems amidst the noise,

            13. John, for the data volume back-of-the envelope:

              Take away 99% of the traffic from your assumptions. As that is at least the proportion of consumed media (websites, movies, music and other static or semi static content). You are then left with the perhaps 1% that constitutes POST requests of people actually supplying content, writing emails etc. The rest – the 99% you can simply store a URL for, as you can get that content from the web as required later or, cache one copy of the same.
              And the more I think about it, I would probably better that guess to say that only 1/10,000 of all data packets contain user generated content.

            14. “Take away 99% of the traffic from your assumptions. As that is at least the proportion of consumed media (websites, movies, music and other static or semi static content).”

              If you can explain to me in detail how this sort of router does that, I will happily continue the discussion here when I get time.

            15. Well, not the off-the-shelf router variety…

              Given the resources and the smarts of the people that the agencies can unleash, making a dedicated router that distinguishes from packages originating at youtube’s servers (and the long list of data spouts that are not interesting, netflix up there…) and those that are interesting should be easy. 9x% dropped (I am guessing).

              Next re-package and encrypt whats left and re-address to the IP of your big brother data center (BBDC). Re-insert into the network. Receive at the BBDC and analyze further.

              At the BBDC, having a global list of servers IP addresses (which you dynamically add to), md5 hash (or suitable method) packages that are downstream from any of those (consumption of stored content), compare with your hash table and throw away if you got that package in store already, otherwise store, index the in-store package with the requesting IP.

              You are left with packages originating from ‘users’, the interesting stuff. Again sift for known noise such as traffic from known applications wanting an update or other background upstream stuff.

              Run whats left past your more intelligent software and store whats useful.

              Anyway, this is not meant to be serious reply but just a quick guess at how my argument would hold that you are interested in only a very small fraction of the traffic to look at and store.

              Look, despite having spend 3x years in IT I am no security or network guy, you are. But I would see ways to whittle down the raw traffic dramatically before even thinking of storing anything obviously.

              If Facebook can store its users data for a long time, so can the agencies store the same for a few month and sift through it.

              If Snowdens assertions would have been as completely off the mark as you suggest, the authorities would have laughed it off. They don’t.

            16. Thomas, it might pay to do some actual research on this topic, if you are so bothered by it. Don’t just make up numbers that support your arguments.

              For example, how many emails are sent every day worldwide? Somewhere over 250 billion (10^9). Okay, so 90% of those are spam, but even if the software was smart enough to identify spam just from headers (and think about how well your spam filters work before you assume this would be 100% accurate), this would still involve quite staggering amounts of data. And that’s just for email.

              All I am saying is think about the numbers before you blindly believe the word of someone who quite clearly has an agenda to push.

            17. CTG, I am not making this up.

              It is a fact that vast majority of all data packages is the consumption of information that is not of interest in the context we are talking about.

              The keystrokes you generate on your computer (and thats what is of interest) is a tiny fraction of the data you consume. Even the photos you might upload are a small fraction of what your computer consumes of inbound traffic. Think about it.
              Just for fun, I ‘saved’ the HT home page here on my PC for offline viewing just now. That was 2.8Mb (Mega Byte) worth of data! Select ‘Save Page As…’ from your browser (I am on FireFox). This includes the graphics, the script files, the style sheets and all the code behind the Hot-Topic home page.
              That is 2.8 million Bytes, or about 6 million ASCII characters. That is one page from one website!
              Now how much text would you need to type to get to 6 million keystrokes…!

              CTG, before you accuse others that they make things up, perhaps ask yourself what that other persons experience in the matter might be. I stared working in the industry when Jobs rented the proverbial garage…. whats your experience?

            18. Okay, show me a reference for your 99% figure. Now.

              As to my experience, I have first hand experience of both the intelligence community and IT. I have worked in IT for nearly 20 years, four of that for one of the government agencies you are accusing of trying to subvert democracy, so don’t fucking tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about.

            19. How many people do you personally know in Guantanamo, bill? I’m not saying that I support what happens in Gitmo, but you folks are talking as though people are disappearing off the streets of NZ and Aus on a daily basis. Do you seriously think that is happening? Take 10 minutes to think about the numbers John Mashey posted, and honestly, truly, tell me that you think that you really are living in 1984?

              Whatever. You guys should ease up on the Mary Jane. Paranoia is not good for you.

            20. Okay, I’ll come and visit you in prison. Should be easy, because I’ll be there too, along with 98% of the population.

            21. CTG you miss the point completely. The Nazis only needed to killed and incarcerate a small faction of the German population for speaking up, the rest pulled their heads in and saluted to dreaded symbol. Nobody was able to throw the hydra off their backs. Any neighbor could be the one paid to spy on you and no place was safe to congregate or form a meaningful resistance. Now that was at a time well before today’s surveillance technology.
              I think you are very naive to assume that just because today’s government is ‘benevolent’ so will be the ones to follow. If history is anything to go by, then we are primed by technology to visit an Orwellian nightmare beyond comparison unless we put firm limits on what we will accept.
              If you willingly accept that all your communications may be listened to and intercepted by the state, why stop there? Why not permit also to install a camera and audio feed in each room in the home and require to always carry your location transmitting cell phone on you…..

            22. And how many do you? Look at that strike rate! As I said, and these are ‘the worst of the worst’?

              Ever seen this? At the peak of the hysteria Australia passed a law allowing detention without evidence, without criminal involvement, without notification, and with attempts to find / draw attention to the person concerned – by, say, relatives – or to report on their circumstances of that person also subject to the same penalties.

              ‘People snatched off the streets’ – right. That’s rather like ‘where are all the NZers being hurt by rising oceans, isn’t it?’

              And who are the hysterics in this debate? Here’s a figure –

              1 in 20 million — Chance of dying in a terrorist attack in the United States from 2007 to 2011, according to Richard Barrett, coordinator of the United Nations al Qaeda/Taliban Monitoring Team.

              And here’s a chart.

              You had more chance of being killed by a dog. Or lightning.

              Reckon there’s never gonna be another Dick Cheney? Another terrorist attack? What happens then, when you have statutes such as the above on your books? Did John Howard protect even the most basic rights and interests of Australians held at Guantanamo? Reckon the people who bought you the WoT, Guantanamo and Bagram much care if they bruise a few – quite a few – in the process of ‘defending freedom’*?

              And look at the calls to extraordinarily render Glenn Greenwald for reporting this stuff! Including from other reporters! How safe is he, would you say? It’d be fine to, say, strip him and hold him in isolation 24 hours a day?

              ‘Lay off the mary jane’ is just offensive stereotyping. I’m not on the dole, for that matter.

              *Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.

              Benjamin Franklin.

            23. Thanks for that AU Anti-terrorism bill link… arghhh, that is truly horrendous. Is that bill still active?

            24. Don’t loose your cool CTG…!
              I can’t find quite the statistics that I want but this may help you:

              Unless you can prove me wrong I maintain that you only need to actually store 1% of the internet traffic if you want to capture the data that users produce and if you go about it intelligently. Probably less again if you ignore all packages generated by known ‘harmless’ and white listed sources. The rest (99%) is consumption of data, much of it repeated, that you do not need to capture if you think about it.

              Nevertheless the Yottabyte capacity of the NSA still trumps the world wide internet traffic, even if you are stupid and store 100% (how many copies of the latest youtube hit do you need….)

              the Pentagon is attempting to expand its worldwide communications network, known as the Global Information Grid, to handle yottabytes (1024 bytes) of data. (A yottabyte is a septillion bytes—so large that no one has yet coined a term for the next higher magnitude.)

              It needs that capacity because, according to a recent report by Cisco, global Internet traffic will quadruple from 2010 to 2015, reaching 966 exabytes per year. (A million exabytes equal a yottabyte.)


    2. DemocracyNow! has had fairly extensive coverage of the issue, John, including several interviews with DN!/The Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald. Though the discussion is political, rather than technical, naturally.

      For more on that, additional to the material Thomas has provided above, I’d also try Wired.

  14. Hybrid solar from Vector

    At the showgrounds Vector, an Auckland lines company, is promoting a hybrid solar power system. It is grid tied with a 10 KWh battery (lithium) installed and maintained by vector and monitored 24/7 by them. The home owner pays the setup cost and thereafter a certain amount on the bill each month for about 10 years. They say that the cost will be more than the upfront cost over time but obviously cheaper to get into and a no worries system with about 4 hours backup capability in the event of a rare outage.

    More importantly the system uses battery power during peak times in the home and interestingly the battery can be raided by the lines company at peak times during the day. The systems appear to be 2 or 3 kw which they claim will give Aucklanders with northfacing roofs about 12 kwh on average per day – roughly half the average total demand. Whether any power is sold back to the grid depends on what deal the home owner gets from the power provider but power drawn from the battery will be credited.

    vector solar

    The Vector site is a bit strange. One of my browsers could not get into it properly at all but another did. The site may not take you straight to the solar pages in which case you will have to search around a bit.

    An observation from me is that when the 10 year payoff period is up that battery will also be due for replacement. On the other hand I can’t think of anyone else offering as cheap a hybrid deal. I specially like the use of the battery instead of the grid during peak periods.

    1. Very interesting! You pay $1,999 up front (covers the work to install) plus $70 monthly for 12.5 years. All up $12,500 incl GST.
      And this for a 3KW peak system with Lithium Ion backup battery!
      This is a great price. And of cause with the battery hybrid system you can collect the mid day sun AND burn the midnight oil!
      The system will collect an average of 12kWh daily. At $0.25/kWh this is $90 worth of power a month at today’s power prices, slightly more than the monthly cost! Plus its financed by Vector for you, so besides the install fee, you leave your money in the bank.

      This is the the best deal I have seen yet. Hope Vector will make this available country wide soon. Its a no-brainer for anybody with a roof to put it on.

      I guess Vectors calculation is this: If the home owner self installs it, their cash flow is down $90 a month from that customer because of the self generated power reduces it by that much.
      If they leverage their market power to buy panels cheaply from China now, they get that cashflow back.

      Wicket! And good!

      1. Well, well, I thought my Vector post had been lost amid the political currents. It is a significant initiative, if it works as advertised.

        As I see it the main advantage to Vector is that once there is a fair sized installation base they have an instantly available system for handling spikes in demand, much cheaper and faster and cleaner than keeping a big diesel ticking over which takes somewhat longer to wind up to take the load. Very big batteries for this purpose have to be ordered years ahead and cost a heap. I presume Vector would have deals worked out with power suppliers.

        They have been trialing the system. I’m guessing their main difficulty would be programming the battery controller so that “peak shaving” will work as advertised. One would want to see a study on how the system goes. Another point is regulation of how much can be taken from the battery into the grid so that this expensive item does not fail rather faster than expected.

        I’ve learned a little of a similar system that used a flooded gel lead-acid battery which can have a longer cycle life as well as being cheaper. I’ve been told such batteries are used now in UPS systems. Obviously the battery controller would not be the same as for a lithium battery.

        1. Yes, sorry I was wanting to reply earlier but indeed it got buried in spy dramas and speeches….
          I believe that in principle Lithium batteries are cheaper and longer lasting in the long run. They nowadays come with long warranties, are maintenance free if properly charge controlled and offer a much better ‘effective’ capacity than Lead Acids.
          I would only recommend Lead Acid system to people who know how to manage these and look after them well. Not good for ‘install and forget’ systems.
          Their ‘peak shaving’ is interesting. Of cause that will only work if they have a reasonable installed base. Then it will indeed offer potential financial gain to Vector. Spot prices at peak times can go really high. One wonders if the batteries are programmed to be charged by the grid in low demand and cheap power times???
          In that case the customer would pay with his power purchase at that time (when charging) while Vector would resell the same at inflated values later. The ultimate double sale of the same product!!
          An empty holiday house with no power users connected for example would turn into a cash cow for Vector!

          This is perhaps a matter to be asked of Vector. Ideally the battery charger part of the install should only run from the panels.

        2. Thomas: “Its a no-brainer for anybody with a roof to put it on”

          I’ve been monitoring the Heart Foundation raffle for some years where first prize is a furnished house built in some holidy location (mostly). Jennian Homes being a major sponsor and usually designer. I have yet to see a consciousness of climate change or renewable energy in their plans so I better write to them and say so. The latest house appears to be at about the lowest point in the, below sea-level, reclaimed land between Napier and Taradale. I once observed the whole of that area underwater after a cloudburst back in 1956. The address is 44 Drake Crescent, Napier, but Google won’t find it, so find Te Awa Ave, head south to Kenny Rd, first on right on Kenney Rd, the big D is Drake Crescent near the ponds taking the flow from a drainage canal!

          The north face of the house has no suitable area for even a modest sized solar installation. I have seen designs where the whole roof slopes away from the sun.

          1. noel I worked part time for a few years in a “semi retirement” way surveying in and around Auckland setting out sub-divisions. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that not one of the sub-divisions we set out – or the subsequent houses that were placed on them – (all middle to upper socio-economic developments – that is where the money is after all!) had even the least consideration or concession to energy considerations. The primary planning principle is how much and how many can we squeeze on this site and at the least cost. As for future drainage and 100 year flood plans etc!! The least said the better! – but there was one in particular that was especially head shaking and the existing home that sat next to it! Well! (Just down your way I think just off the exit to Royal Road from the NW motorway – you will know the one I think) I cannot understand how the council could have approved it. But having said that – the “Twin Lakes” by Ruakaka in Northland was approved and the drainage plan there was just abysmal. Built on the site of a “drained” wetland – planning permission should never have been given in the first place. It’s part greed by the developers and part greed by the council.
            In the end the unwary buyer pays for it.

            1. LED Lighting from DC source

              Of Interest here is the fact that LED lighting runs on DC power and is rather more efficient running from a DC supply. The retrofit AC supply LEDs currently becoming available are also unlikely to function for as long as specified nor retain their colour stability. I have both types of LEDs but the DC stuff i have is low power .emergency lighting.

              LEDs on DC power grids
              Integral LED luminaires outperform [retrofit] lamps

  15. “Is it a harm to merely know with certainty that you are being monitored by the government?

    There’s certainly an argument that it is. People under surveillance act differently, experience a loss of autonomy, are less likely to engage in self exploration and reflection, and are less willing to engage in core expressive political activities such as dissenting speech and government criticism. “

    1. And yet knowing that you are being surveilled by Facebook, Google etc for the purposes of displaying targeted ads is just fine and dandy?

      Yeah, right.

      1. Using Facebook, Google, etc is a personal choice that you opt in to, whereas the government dragnet is not.

        Also, Facebook, Google, etc just want to sell you stuff, whereas governments can put you in jail, torture and/or assassinate you, all without the benefit of a trial – or even any evidence of “wrong doing”.

        “Signature strikes… make up the overwhelming majority of drone attacks carried out by the United States. These strikes target individuals whose identities are unknown, but who exhibit certain patterns of behavior or defining characteristics associated with terrorist activity.

        See also:

        1. Sorry, but I find targeted advertising to be far more intrusive than any government snooping. I don’t see any evidence of large numbers of NZers being locked up on bogus charges of terrorism, but every single day I see evidence that Google is tracking my every online move.

          Claims that governments are spying on every citizen’s every single online move for some nefarious purpose are as ridiculous as claiming that the UN is using Agenda 21 to set up world communist government and interning people in concentration camps.

          1. but if you were ever to become politically active, or a thorn in the side of the “administration” …..

            “Top Secret” New Zealand eyes only…..

            1. Further to the above a couple of quotes – courtesy of Anthony Robins at ‘The Standard”

              “As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn declared, “Everyone is guilty of something or has something to conceal. All one has to do is look hard enough to find what it is.” Likewise, in Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s novella “Traps,” which involves a seemingly innocent man put on trial by a group of retired lawyers in a mock-trial game, the man inquires what his crime shall be. “An altogether minor matter,” replies the prosecutor. “A crime can always be found.” …”


          2. Speaking as the kind of someone who really is likely to have an ASIO file…

            Seriously, folks, think about it – you’re planning a big coal action because your useless nominally ‘conservative’ government will do nothing concrete to oppose the industry (in fact, it virtually is the industry!)

            But the global economy has had another fit of the wobbles, there was another terrorist bombing last Wednesday, and the Murdoch Empire has been strenuously devoting itself to publicizing it’s ‘Greens=Terrorism’ equation and has the talkback hordes ready to go a-lynching, some not even metaphorically.

            When you successfully disrupt a major coal shipment, causing very real damage to some bottom lines the corporate media becomes hysterical, and the bit of damage to property involved is then equated to the Massacre of the Innocents. Retribution is Demanded!

            Every move you made has, of course, been tracked, recorded – you’re nailed.

            But then there’s all your regular contacts – activist, apathetic or otherwise – well, they’re certainly included in the list of ‘suspects’, aren’t they? Perhaps they’ll bring them all in, perhaps they’ll only imply they just might have to bring them all in, perhaps they’ll just let them know they’re on the list and they’re now one of the people that the shockjocks want to see in the stocks…

            Implausible? Hardly! I’ve been involved in smaller scale, less-dramatic variants on this theme all my adult life.

            But perhaps you’ll conclude, as you’re supposed to, that the state is a hydra that cannot be effectively opposed, and stick to counting-off the steps on the road to disaster via timely – and sometimes published! – Letters to the Editor.

            As you’re supposed to.

            People who’ve never actively confronted the state are inclined to, um, Pollyannaish views of it, in my experience – similarly naive to believing ‘the papers wouldn’t print it if it wasn’t true’… 😉

            If you don’t believe me, try actively doing something that really changes things.

            As for PRISM etc, there’s the obvious questions: If it makes no difference, why are they spending billions doing it? If it makes no difference, why are they baying for Snowden’s blood?

            1. In the UK they in particular target ‘Climate Change Activists’ in their police spy actions:

              In recent years the unit is known to have focused its resources on spying on environmental campaigners, particularly those engaged in direct action and civil disobedience to protest against climate change.

              Source, Guardian:

              There you go! I guess as HT commenters we are all proud to be tagged now!

              Watch out who wants to merry you too, as we now know ordering under cover agents to infiltrate dissenter circles included fathering children. Something the secret police in communist Germany had done is no also known to have happened in the UK.

              BTW: for spy less (free??) and non-profiling web searching check out
              This is a google like search engine which keeps no user profiles. I found it good and fast. Also its connection is via https so at least even on a local level your searching is much harder to spy on.

            2. So what are you saying? The real Bill, Thomas, Macro etc were all “disappeared” by the gummint some time ago, and these comments are actually plants by a gummint spook to make it look as if you guys are still free? I am actually the only real person here?

              Oh noes, is that a black helicopter circling above me ?!?

            3. Damn, spotted. 😉

              Also, your equivalence isn’t – except in the minds of the truly paranoid Agenda 21’s rather bland and optimistic promotion of sustainable development goals doesn’t even approach what Snowden and the Guardian have revealed regarding PRISM, Boundless Informant etc.. The NSA is in the proess of achieving Total Information Awareness. This isn’t a problem, apparently, but those annoyingly accurate ‘you’ll like this’ emails from Amazon are? Did you read the Tom Tomorrow cartoons I linked to earlier?

              The ‘Climate Conversations’ view of Agenda 21 is tendentious invented nonsense – concerns about PRISM, on the other hand, are based on a revealed reality.

              I mean, whaddyaknow – this here copy of the New Scientist takes it all seriously, too.

              One argument is that those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear. This is at best mistaken.

              It puts the case rather well.

              Speaking of reading matter, let’s have a quick skim of, say, my Kindle from the hypothetical perspective of the NSA, shall we? Jeremy Scahill [Red Flag], David Hicks [Super Red Flag], Von Clausewitz [Context Red Flag], Michael Hastings [Red Flag], Matt Taibbi [Red Flag], Richard Dawkins [Red Flag*], Karl Marx [Super Red Flag], Noam Chomsky [Red Flag], Gwynne Dyer [Red Flag*], Naomi Oreskes [Red Flag*], Chris Mooney [Red Flag*]. Better scoop everything on this one.

              Obviously Dickens, Pratchett, Adam Smith, Conan Doyle, Jane Austen, James Randi etc. are only in there as a clever ruse by this probable agent of Everything Naughty.

              (And that Ben Goldacre and Gareth Renowden are pretty suspect, come to think of it…)

              OR, it’s absolutely no business of the state – and particularly of a state other than my own – what I read, which blogs I hang out at, which news sources I choose, and who I socialize with.

              Particularly in the absence of any even vaguely plausible probable cause. (And only in a totalitarian world view is being an occasionally civilly disobedient green activist a ‘probable cause’.)

              And particularly in the absence of any meaningful public discussion of the issue. As the NS points out, at least Google has to tell me, in considerable detail if I can be bothered going through it, what they’re tracking, and the worst they can do in themselves is try to sell me more crap.

              But in its collaboration with the NSA, well, who knows? More to the point; why the hell shouldn’t I?

              *In a future Republican administration’s ‘Total Peace and Security State’ 😉 I can’t help but think that if all this had been revealed under Bush the level of alarm and pushback would be exponentially higher – brand Obama is the best rationality can do at the moment, so it’s probably OK. I mean, I’m not doing anything wrong, am I? But there’ll be another Bush…

            4. A comment from the Guardian site:

              In the world of spies, lies, deceit, the 5 eyes, Canada, US, England, Australia, New Zealand, are masters of corruption of the democratic process that they use as a shield to clie to the citizens.

              Where is the NZ citizen’s request of our government to come clean over our complicity in all this?
              Where are the biting questions in this regard in our parliament?
              Which opposition party will pick the hot potato up???
              Is anybody awake in Welliwood… hellooooo?

            5. Now you too can play the NSA!

              Just click here and, via the magic of metadata, you can follow 6 months in the life of German Green politician Malte Spitz.

              Track his movements across the country, monitor the number of text messages he sends and receives, ditto for phone calls he makes, the amount of time he spends on the internet – even read his tweets (Der Zeit spliced these in from public records just to give you the whole NSA experience).

              This profile reveals when Spitz walked down the street, when he took a train, when he was in an airplane. It shows where he was in the cities he visited. It shows when he worked and when he slept, when he could be reached by phone and when was unavailable. It shows when he preferred to talk on his phone and when he preferred to send a text message. It shows which beer gardens he liked to visit in his free time. All in all, it reveals an entire life.[ZeitOnline]

              Spitz got the German Telecom to cough up all of the so-called metadata they were storing on him. Such revelations caused so much concern that a 34,000 person class action in the German Constitutional Court has resulted in this data being unable to be legally stored there since 2010.

              You can listen to him discuss it here.

              (Relax, people – after all, you have nothing to hide!)

  16. Woo-hoo, Obama’s speech on climate change was surprisingly good, including calls for fossil fuel divestment and citizen activism:

    I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real. We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat earth society.

    Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm. And ultimately, we will be judged as a people and as a society and as a country on where we go from here.

    Our founders believed that those of us in positions of power are elected not just to serve as custodians of the present, but as caretakers of the future. And they charged us to make decisions with an eye on a longer horizon than the arc of our own political careers. That’s what the American people expect. That’s what they deserve. And someday our children and our children’s children will look at us in the eye and they’ll ask us, did we do all that we could, when we had the chance, to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safer, more stable world? And I want to be able to say, yes, we did. Don’t you want that?

    Americans are not a people who look backwards. We’re a people who look forward. We’re not a people who fear what the future holds; we shape it.

    What we need in this fight are citizens who will stand up and speak up and compel us to do what this moment demands. Understand, this is not just a job for politicians. So I’m going to need all of you, to educate your classmates, your colleagues, your parents, your friends.

    Tell them what’s at stake. Speak up at town halls, church groups, PTA meetings. Push back on misinformation. Speak up for the facts. Broaden the circle of those who are willing to stand up for our future.

    Convince those in power to reduce our carbon pollution. Push your own communities to adopt smarter practices. Invest. Divest. Remind folks there’s no contradiction between a sound environment and strong economic growth.

    And remind everyone who represents you at every level of government that sheltering future generations against the ravages of climate change is a prerequisite for your vote! Make yourself heard on this issue.

    1. Wow!

      Perhaps after all the mess following Snowden, Obama had to climb back a bit towards the moral high ground. Good on him for a big step in the right direction. Now he should tell his UK counter parts to stop spying on the people doing exactly what he demands of us in the speech!

      1. I reckon this has been Obama’s intended ‘legacy’ program for his 2nd administration throughout. It just happens to be a timely, and conveniently progressive, distraction from the all the ‘dark side’ executive over-reach…

    1. …and its pretty comprehensive. Among other things this:

      Phasing Out Subsidies that Encourage Wasteful Consumption of Fossil Fuels:
      The International Energy Agency estimates that the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies – which amount to more than $500 billion annually – would lead to a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below business as usual by 2050.

      … any lurkers from the dark side still doubting the scale of fossil fuel subsidies?…

  17. Yes, bill, Ruddy Rudd. Maybe he’ll follow Obama’s lead and ‘fess up to climate change. Mind you, Obama can be great on rhetoric and do bugger all. I was encouraged to hear that he plans to use his executive powers, work through the EPA to cut GHG emissions and so avoid the denier stew of Congress. But will he really do it, or wave a damp rag at it?

    The Keystone pipeline, which again is his executive decision, will tell the tale!

    As for massive surveillance, the old Orwellian paradox raises its head: who watches the watchers?

    And, CTG, I can assure you I do exist as a real and proper biped, conventionally wired. I’m just sitting here like the rest of us wondering about everybody else, looking over our shoulders. Yes, surveillance changes behaviour – that’s what it’s for!

    We use the name of Orwell because it’s a familiar reference, but actually Philip K Dick was the writer who really foresaw the kind of manipulation of reality we are getting now. We are all children of PKD!

  18. Sounds like Mass Surveillance Denial to me, CTG!

    The reason that NSA / GCHB / Echelon are hoovering up pretty well everything is that they now can, and you don’t have to take Edward Snowden’s word for that.

    Here’s NZ company Endace’s CEO Mike Reilly in today’s Star-Times (p. A4):

    “It’s what we do, 100% packet capture off the wire.

    This is why the NSA is building a massive data storage centre in Utah, with plenty of room for expansion:

    “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”

    Another triumph of Kiwi ingenuity, eh?

    1. Wow, thats close to home… here is the Stuff story about Endance
      And the company:
      And here some insight in how it works:

      Its amazing how some people have no imagination on what is possible these days in this regard. The combination of intelligent packet filtering, deep packet inspection and high bandwidth back end systems allows to filter and store very large data streams.

  19. Here we go again.

    They don’t just build fake internet kiosks for conferences, it seems they’re bugging the entire frickin’ EU.

    Defenders of all this please answer this question. The above, if confirmed, is a prime example of –

    A: a security state run amok? or
    B: a legitimate step taken to protect us all from the menace of Islamist or other terror?

    You needn’t send your answers to the NSA – they’ll already know…

      1. Maybe not, as it appears that the NSA has begun a counter-leaking campaign:

        The NSA has been working with at least seven European other countries to collect personal communications data, according to Wayne Madsen, a former NSA contractor who has come forward because he thinks the public should not be “kept in the dark.”

        According to Madsen, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Italy all have formed secret agreements with the US to submit sensitive data.

  20. IMHO, the whole “Islamist Terror” thing is largely a scam dreamed up by the military-industrial complex, after the fall of Communism, to keep the billions flowing into their coffers from the poor dumb taxpayers.

    1. …and no matter what you might think about such matters how the hell do you justify this? And how the hell could you justify believing we somehow don’t need to trouble our heads about what these turkeys are up to? Sunlight isn’t the best disinfectant when it comes to my preferred regime, eh?

    2. Not quite, those guys actually blow themselves up with devastating consequences for any bystanders…. and I don’t thing the US military industrial complex has invented Salafism….
      But the US military industrial complex needs the terrorist or an equally scary enemy just like the big pharmaceuticals need cancer….

  21. … and then there the cops with their automated license plate readers driving around and snapping and storing any license plate the system can see, even at 90 deg angles to the direction of the cop car, transmit it with GPS position to a central snooper server.

    When the city of San Leandro, Calif., purchased a license-plate reader for its police department in 2008, computer security consultant Michael Katz-Lacabe asked the city for a record of every time the scanners had photographed his car. The results shocked him.

    The paperback-size device, installed on the outside of police cars, can log thousands of license plates in an eight-hour patrol shift. Katz-Lacabe said it had photographed his two cars on 112 occasions, including one image from 2009 that shows him and his daughters stepping out of his Toyota Prius in their driveway.

  22. The million dollar question, as one country after the other caves in and refuses to give Snowden asylum, is now: What do the Americans secretly threaten these countries with? Where is Snowden #2 to spill the spell? It surely must be something irresistible. For example:

    Dear President/Prime Minister …….. of ……. (fill in the blanks). We recorded every call you made over the last x years and every purchase on your credit card and we bugged your offices, your cars and your airplanes and read every email you sent. Same for your government officials. We sold you the equipment for your communications, remember? We made the Blackberries and the chips in the laptops that you use as well as the operating systems on those. We know enough to smear you, to wreck your marriage, to have you indited by your own people for corruption or to organize the demise of your family and your friends and supporters. At the time of Allende we had to use crude methods, these days we are thousands times more powerful. Just like our Drones can hit with precision, we can strike with the precision of our knowledge of anything you thought was private or secret to you. You are in office thanks to us remaining quiet and keeping your secrets for you. Now do you really want to give all this up for one of our most wanted…

    Oh and if you try to tell anybody what we just told you, we do have friends among the most violent and nasty ‘organizations’ in your country. They pay us to maintain our ‘war on drugs’ by investing their billions in our banks. In return we maintain that ‘war on drugs’ to keep the price of their products high and we eliminate some of their competition to maintain their profitability. You surely don’t want these men as your enemy as we could not guarantee your life or that of your family and friends.
    Now think again about giving this ‘robin hood’ of the information age shelter. And do you really want to live in a world we the ’empire of the elite’ is not controlling the masses? You are one of us, otherwise you would not be where you are. So join us, come to the dark side….

    All this is just Satire and has no resemblance with any real life events.
    This post has been screened and approved by Keith Alexander (otherwise you would not be reading it)

  23. As evidence of the effectiveness of this approach, remember the fate of Eliot Spitzer. As New York Attorney General and Governor, he was a headache for Wall St. until his outing as a client of a high-end prostitution agency:

    The New York Attorney General’s office has Wall Street (and thus many leading corporate and financial institutions) within its jurisdiction. Also, the New York Attorney General wields greater than usual powers of investigation and prosecution of corporations under New York State’s General Business Law. In particular, under the Martin Act of 1921, the New York Attorney General has the power to subpoena witnesses and company documents pertaining to investigations of fraud or illegal activity by a corporation. Spitzer used this statute to allow his office to prosecute cases which have been described as within federal jurisdiction.

    In January 2005, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce described Spitzer’s approach as “the most egregious and unacceptable form of intimidation we’ve seen in this country in modern times”.

    Spitzer used this authority in his civil actions against corporations and criminal prosecutions against their officers. It proved useful in the wake of several U.S. corporate scandals that began with the collapse of Enron in 2001. Several of these corporations, as well as the brokerage houses that sold their stock, were accused of having inflated stock values by unethical means throughout the 1990s. When inquiries into these allegations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Congress failed, Spitzer’s office used its subpoena power to obtain corporate documents, building cases against the firms both in courtrooms and in public opinion.

  24. Try this to see how President Lincoln did on surveillance courtesy of the New York times.

    In 1862, after President Abraham Lincoln appointed him secretary of war, Edwin M. Stanton penned a letter to the president requesting sweeping powers, which would include total control of the telegraph lines. By rerouting those lines through his office, Stanton would keep tabs on vast amounts of communication, journalistic, governmental and personal. On the back of Stanton’s letter Lincoln scribbled his approval: “The Secretary of War has my authority to exercise his discretion in the matter within mentioned.”

  25. Bizarrely, John Key’s old chum, Ian Fletcher of the GCSB, is opening a conference on privacy protection in Auckland today:

    This conference is the flagship event of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) Technical Committee 11 on Security and Privacy Protection in Information Processing Systems

  26. It’s funny the things that are allowed to remain secret, even to the government, though.

    The actual route of the Keystone XL pipeline, for instance.

    One might almost think our society was structured in a such away that certain classes may do pretty-much as they wish sans irritating scrutiny, while ordinary people can expect to get their emails and texts hoovered up in the name of defending liberty. But the liberty of whom, we wonder…

    1. Much of western politics these days is a way of lengthening the leaver on which the very wealthy 0.05 % of society sit in order to find new and ‘safe’, ‘legal’, ways to widen the pipeline through which these 0.05% sucker up any discretionary surplus energy (read economic capacity) from the rest of us.
      Whenever the going is a bit tougher (slow growth period, financial melt down) the leveraging is getting built out by our elected ‘theater politicians’ to new length. Anything ‘owned’ by the people these days is the nuevau mining territory for exploitable cash flows into the pockets of the 0.05%. This is done though ‘privatization’ of anything that might still be public today. Our politicians ponder the privatization of roads, schools, public companies, parks and conservation estates, rights and assets of any sort, just to keep the 0.05% ‘growing’ their cash flows and living the illusion of everlasting growth for all for another few turns of the planet around its star….
      At the end ‘the people’ will be left without the assets they worked for and paid their tax for all their lives. While the 0.05% hide their cash flow in tax havens and creative accounting constructs, suck up all and contribute nothing in kind. Of cause some exceptions are found in any rule. But the general direction is unmistakable.

  27. We might also ponder the asymmetry of media responses, Bill.

    Suppose, for example, that Air force One had been forced down over Latin America and held on the tarmac for 14 hours on suspicion that a notorious war criminal was on board?

    Or that Pakistan admitted to bombing Washington homes on the mere suspicion that international terrorists were living there?

    I suspect that either event would elicit somewhat more coverage than is currently given to such events…

    1. Precisely. ‘We’ in the west are so accustomed to this asymmetry that we rarely hear the outcry about it that it deserves.
      What would happen if Airforce one was forced to land somewhere with the President on board… hard to imagine. I would expect seals teams dropping from the sky in a heartbeat if not a full scale invasion of the airport where this happens and perhaps a preemptive decapitation strike on the countries air defenses was one of the possible outcomes.

        1. The USA law makers must have been reading Mao Zedong: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”. To hell with international laws and courts, we got the biggest badest forces on the planet. We are holding a gun to your head 24/7. We have read and stored all your important communications. We can destroy you politically, economically and physically if needed to. So there! What are you going to do about it then, he?

          1. Of course, this only applies to small players whose decimation would fit into the ‘constructive’ category Chomsky describes (see comment below). Or to ‘benign’ interventions in unimportant states, where, say, the ‘credibility’ of the super-state is what’s at stake, using the term ‘credibility’ in the exact form that Mafiosi understand only-too-well.

            Major trading partners, whether notional allies or enemies, and/or nations that really do have nukes – as opposed to those we might choose to whip ourselves into an onanistic frenzy over pretending they do – are another matter…

            1. … but they are in the pocket through deep networks and links between the respective national elites, agencies, banks and corporations. Protection of interests and favorable policy by scale and weight => inertia against any upsetting harsh reactions.

    2. Hence Chomsky’s distinction between ‘wholesale’ and ‘retail’ terrorism, with only the boutique version receiving scrutiny – and automatic, axiomatic condemnation – in respectable Western opinion.

      One of his other category sets that has been useful over the years regards atrocities; there are three types – ‘benign’, ‘constructive’, and ‘nefarious’.

      Benign – atrocities in, say, small African republics with no major resources or strategic value we don’t really care about. Constructive – e.g. the Indonesian slaughter of real and imagined Communists in ’65 (this was so constructive most still don’t know it ever happened), or the establishment of the Pinochet terror and torture regime in ’73. Nefarious – real, inflated, or fictitious horrors inflicted by official enemies. Them everyone knows about.

  28. Just a “what if” question….
    The current rate of heating of the oceans is calculated to be around 4 Hiroshima Bombs per sec. The Hiroshima bomb was the smaller of the two nicknamed “Little Boy” weighing in at around 4 Tonnes its explosive force was equivalent to about 12.5 kilotons of TNT – not 20 which is incorrectly quoted by many. Still more than enough to kill 200,000 plus inhabitants (the exact number will never be know). The larger bomb – “Fat Boy” detonated over Nagasaki had an explosive force of around 20 kilotons of TNT (apparently it derived its name from Winston Churchill having a somewhat similar profile.)
    The average nuclear weapon today has an explosive force of around 300 kilotons of TNT and there are around 11,000 of them – so sitting in silos and arsenals around the world there is enough energy to create to create around 8 times 3 times 11,000 Hiroshima bombs. That’s around 250,000 Hiroshima’s all in one go……
    But that energy wouldn’t be stored in the Oceans..
    Just imagine that was released all at once into the atmosphere…
    Leaving aside the horror of Nuclear fall out and all the other catastrophic mess. I wonder what effect the instantaneous release of 250,000 times 12500 tons of TNT of energy would have?
    And why is the human race so incredibly foolish to even build such an armageddon?

  29. Put another way, Macro, the explosive energy of humanity’s entire nuclear arsenal amounts to less than one day’s worth of global warming…

    1. Your right Rob as usual! 🙂
      by about 100,000 Hiroshimas.

      Which as Thomas notes really does put the massive warming into perspective. That most is heating the oceans and being “lost” into the deep “hides” it.

      1. So is my crude understanding about right: la Nina is effectively a pump that stores such heat in the ocean, while el Nino is a pump that transfers stored heat from the ocean back into the atmosphere? So when the next mega el Nino comes along it’ll have that much more heat to pump back into an already warmer atmosphere?

  30. Bill
    When I clicked to login and reply to your last comment I was startled to find that it had disappeared so I had to recover it from my email client:
    “Author: bill
    So is my crude understanding about right: la Nina is effectively a pump that stores such heat in the oceans, while el Nino is a pump that transfers stored heat from the ocean back into the atmosphere? So when the next mega el Nino comes along it’ll have that much more heat to pump back into an already warmer atmosphere?”

    I have read papers that use the terms “charge cycle” for la Niña, and “discharge cycle” for el Niño.

    1. Thanks Noel!

      Um, yeah – it does seem to have mysteriously disappeared! Along with the rest of that discussion(?) Unless I’m missing something? Hmmm…

  31. China Quadruples its solar installations: a better link courtesy of Reuters to the China Financial Times story if you do not want to regeister with FT is
    here I regard it as good news as It may reduce the incentive to cut corners by manufacturers to stay in business quite apart from a desirable increase in renewables installations. It also means China has to get on with its smart grid installations.

    Not in the story is something I’ve reflected on at times. China’s air pollution problems, generated in large part by the huge increase in coal fired power plants, forces them to put large solar installations in remote areas exacerbating grid problems, the pollution also degrading the performance of existing small scale but widespread solar installations.

    1. The one-step-forward and two-step-back tango….
      The generation 2100 will unearth the graves of today’s political fails and hang their skeletons post-mortem….

  32. Last night on DW TV I saw a story on the use of water fromthe Seine to cool Paris as in the current heatwave. The system uses cool[ed] water from the Seine (5-7C) which is pumped round large commercial and public buildings to cool them. A theatre was shown with a cooler under each seat. The water is returned to the Seine at about 13 C. This, said the theatre manager, is much better than having large numbers of air conditioning units all pumping heat into the city. In winter the system is reversed for warming.

    I could not find on the net any reference to this system, not even on DW TV as a separate story.

    While on France, on July 1 a law came into force banning waste lighting at night in an attempt to deal with light polution and to reduce power consumption.

    For shops, commercial centres, and museums, “the lighting of windows must be switched off by 1 am, or one hour after [everyone has left], whichever happens last.”

    Lights can be switched back on at 7am every morning or one hour before work starts, whichever happens first. Z

  33. The South Korean OLEV trial might interest you. OLEV means ‘OnLine Electric Vehicle’. In this case 2 buses that pickup power via resonance from a cable laid in the road. This means the bus can carry a relative small battery just for ofline manouvering. Power transfer is in excess of, or about 75%, which is judged sufficient for commercial operation. Compared to previous attempts much less of the road needs to be used.

  34. NZ has directly subsidized Fossil Fuel Companies to the tune of
    $326.6 million since 2008 – full analysis here:
    This does NOT include the very real subsidy of a very low tax take for fossil fuel companies at around 46% compared to the taxes accrued by other oil producing countries at around 70%

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