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No Food For Oil!

No Food for Oil! The new green biofuels slogan.

A friend of mine, Lon Glazner, runs a blog about things in my hometown. We joke around a lot, the image above was the product of today’s humor. But he needs some help, so please just click the t-shirt above and give him a hit so that he can be massively huge with numbers.

Lonz, we are going to “pump-you-up”!

Actually I have Lon to thank in part for getting me going on temperature issues, because it was he who was the sole commenter who understood the issues I raised with temperature measurement. That was just a little over a year ago on my old blog. The post was titled: In Search of the Perfect Thermometer.

Lon is an engineer (as many of my readers are ) and I asked him if he could design a cost effective yet very accurate and low drift thermometer. I’ll have to say, that exchange got me going and thinking about temperature measurement in general. This blog owes a lineage back to that discussion with him.

So please repay him the favor, visit his blog, and drop a note.


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April 15, 2008 9:56 am

The biofuels insanity one of the fastest green fades ever seen.

Pierre Gosselin
April 15, 2008 11:16 am

Alarmist Thinking:
By enduring a little pain and suffering today, we’ll avert great pain and suffering in the future.
Instead we’re getting the opposite.
Now we are inflicting great pain and suffering today to avert minor pain in the future.
Way to go alarmists!

April 15, 2008 11:18 am

“fastest green fades”
I certainly hope that fad fades, soon 🙂

anna v
April 15, 2008 11:26 am

I get for all the links you give above this:
which gives a “403 forbidden”
sorry to say

Jeff B.
April 15, 2008 11:37 am

Interesting post. I was just thinking about that they other day. I am an electrical engineer. Given the myriad of low cost and accurate digital thermometer chips, and radio chips, it would be pretty trivial to design a cost effective thermometer / data logger type module that the average hobbyist could build. One could put a web page with the PCB layouts, etc. and then, in much the same way as, a volunteer army of temperature loggers using the same design, could form a new, more accurate, and non-Hansen fudged distributed temperature monitoring network throughout the US. And since the guys building these units, would be WUWT readers, and generally sensible and knowledgeable people, they would locate the devices in the opposite manner of some of the more ridiculous examples we have seen chronicled in the gallery. And if they were short range wireless, and battery powered, it would be easy to solve the cable issues of the MMTS units. In fact I’ve seen a couple of hobbyist designs that already fit this bill. Just recently I got a mailer from Maxim Integrated Products with some newer even more accurate digital temp ICs that would fit this project well.
This would be very, uh, cool. Combat the AGW mongers by playing their own game, but with an open source monitoring network. Another example of the Internet bringing real democracy to technology and to information.
I suspect that Anthony is already on to something like this via Lon?

Pierre Gosselin
April 15, 2008 11:54 am
Jeff B.
April 15, 2008 11:58 am

OK, maybe trivial to design is not the right way to say what I meant. But I do think that it would relatively easy to design a hobbyist produceable unit, that using a comparator, more than one sensor IC, and error elimination techniques would create a standardized design that would be relatively accurate. The design focusing on reproducibility and standardization. And there would need to be some sort of calibration process.
Again though, I trust a volunteer network of online geeks to get this right, if the design is such that it generally tries to minimize error. If everyone is using the same parts, the same PCB design, the same calibration and location guidelines, etc. I suspect it would be relatively cheap and easy to build a distributed temperature dataset that actually had far greater accuracy and less bias than the GISS, etc. If nothing else, through this method, one could basically guarantee the standardization of the measuring equipment. That alone would be a big improvement over existing data sets. And there are so many other safeguards that could be built in. For example stations would go on and offline for a variety of reasons, but if that was built in to an open source protocol in advance, then it would be much more deterministic, than the “trust us, we handled the per station bias” we see in GISS, etc.
I bet there are a lot of geeks out there who sign up for such an effort. If I recall, there was great article on relatively accurate temperature measurement in a recent Circuit Cellar issue?

April 15, 2008 12:04 pm

I tried posting this comment in the previous thread, but got an error and don’t know if it went through, so I’m trying here too.
Roger Pielke Sr. has a post up that has implications for CRF/Cloud effects. Increased cloud nucleation particles decrease percipitation, this could dampen atmospheric cooling during high CRF periods.
Inferrences from the post make clear: 1) The more immediate CRF/Cloud effects should be primarily limited to regions of the ocean that are relatively free of cloud nucleation particles [areas near land are already nearly saturated with particles]. 2) If the effect is strong enough, it should temporarily dampen any cooling effects of CRF on the atmosphere due to decreased efficiency of the water cycle.

David Walton
April 15, 2008 12:57 pm

Commission Impossible added to my RSS feeds. Thanks Anthony!

April 15, 2008 1:08 pm

Simple question from a non-scientist — it was recently bouncing around the blogs that the official temperature historical record keeps changing based on each new month of temperature records. I.e. the statistical methods used to estimate gaps in old records employ temperature records from the current period. So we don’t know for sure what the temperatures were 50 years ago because the data set keeps changing.
If the average citizen knew that the science experts predicting rising temperatures can’t even figure out what the temperatures were in the past, the global warming scare would die a quick death. Why don’t skeptics simply tell the public how bad the temperature science really is?
If the govt can’t competently record current temperatures, and they can’t even get the past right because their records of past temperatures keep changing every month, why would anyone trust that they know what temperatures will be in the future?
Shouldn’t these guys prove they can competently handle the simple science of taking the temperature before we entrust them with predicting the future?

April 15, 2008 1:26 pm
“We drive, they starve. The mass diversion of the North American grain harvest into ethanol plants for fuel is reaching its political and moral limits.
“The reality is that people are dying already,” said Jacques Diouf, of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). “Naturally people won’t be sitting dying of starvation, they will react,” he said.
The UN says it takes 232kg of corn to fill a 50-litre car tank with ethanol. That is enough to feed a child for a year. Last week, the UN predicted “massacres” unless the biofuel policy is halted.”

April 15, 2008 2:19 pm

I think many people are missing the key lesson from the biofuel fiasco: any policy designed to artificially increase the cost of energy will have negative consequences and these consequences will hit the poorest people first. No matter what we do alternative energy sources come with a cost and I think that cost will be worse than alleged cost of fossil fuels.

April 15, 2008 2:24 pm

In our defense, most environmentalists have opposed corn based ethanol as a monumental waste of money that does little to effectively reduce GHG emissions. The recent papers in Science and the global food price spike are just icing on the brussels sprout.
Its rather painful to watch politicians enact pernicious policy under the rubric of the environment that only makes things worse (other than helping the pocket books of the influential farm lobby).

April 15, 2008 2:57 pm

Why not just use mercury thermometers and then have a seperate module to monitor the mercury thermometer and a seperate module for reporting?
That way the latter two can be upgraded as needed while the former can be regularly calibrated according to a rigid protocol.
Electronics are too susceptible to issues from a wide variety of sources for measuring physical quantities over time.
As for a network of measuring stations – these already exist – look at the user-maintained stations linked to the weather underground. Its very interesting to troll through these comparing the urban stations to the rural ones on a cold night. Differentials of 5-8 degrees F can be seen across just 10 miles.

April 15, 2008 2:58 pm

Anthony major story here
You are mentioned at bottom.
This is what may bring the whole thing down very quickly (i hope LOL)

Evan Jones
April 15, 2008 5:17 pm

Why don’t skeptics simply tell the public how bad the temperature science really is?
Why do you think we’re all getting blue in the mouth? #B^1
The biofuels issue drives me to fury. To contemplate the cost in human life and suffering for the most vulnerable of the world causes me terrible anger.

April 15, 2008 5:41 pm

No food for oil?
Personally I think it very mean that the US and Canada even suggest that they might withhold their agricultural bounty from the rest of the world for mere energy resources.

Pierre Gosselin
April 16, 2008 1:49 am

I recall a lot of environmentalist activists actively promoting bio-fuels.
No matter, their hysteria is the direct cause of this food crisis.
I’ve noticed in the German media that they are trying to cloud and obscure the real reasons for the food shortages – never mentioning the global warming hysteria. They use terms like:
– food shortages arising from changes in demand structures
– global warming induced droughts (really!)
– increased demand for meat
– growing numbers of people to feed on the planet
Just to name a few.
I think the skeptic websites now have to continuously drive the followig message: THE FOOD CRISIS IS DUE TO THE BASELESS AGW HYSTERIA.
This meassage, or FACT, will have to be repeated over and over again during the next few months and years.

Retired Engineer
April 16, 2008 7:34 am

Lots of folks make low cost temperature dataloggers.
I use this one, about $80. Simple software, USB. Small. Sufficiently accurate for this app ? Well, considering some of the site issues raised by the survey, probably a lot better.
Some biofuels, algae, GM e.coli, may make economic sense someday. The AGW proponents of today’s products don’t dare look at the whole picture (at least not honestly) or they would cringe in horror. That comment probably applies to the entire GW ‘problem’.
If I could just meet a 56 year old with the same attitude as the 16 year old…

April 16, 2008 5:30 pm

Global Warming is a farce, but so is blaming the current food situation entirely on biofuels.
Because environmentalists and democrats want to punish and tax ‘Big Oil’ respectively which only hurts consumers, it doesn’t make oil companies inherently virtuous nor worthy of technological protectionism. So I don’t see the need to overly blame biofuels.
I’ll admit, corn based ethanol doesn’t make a lot of sense right now. But from laziness or not, no distinction is being made between sugar based ethanol and other biofuels including ethanol from other sources. Some of that may be pie in the sky, but they don’t deserved to be smeared in case they do pan out.
I know I probably have some oil companies in my mutual fund choices in my 401(k). But my returns for that part over the past 6-7 years sure and hell hasn’t come close to what I’ve shelled out for gas over that period. So I have no reason to love oil companies who sure and hell aren’t crying about $3+/gallon gas. A situation not of their own making but not such a horrible situation to be in, either.
I have no reason to believe gas will not reach $4 this year and approach $5 the year after. So I’m not willing to blanketly dismiss all options because a few have been false starts or because of who they came from. I guess if I liked paying $4+/gallon, I might.

April 17, 2008 6:59 pm

Retired Engineer:
“Lots of folks make low cost temperature dataloggers.
I use this one, about $80.”
You might have been able to save $0.05 had you bought it through which has the advantage that Anthony would appreciate the business. (See URL above on the right side navigation bar.)
I’m tempted to get one for use at a hillside property my wife and I just bought, but its 1F resolution is a bit disappointing. My Davis VantagePro reports 0.1F and I think is quite accurate. There are a lot of those reporting to, but there are probably a lot of siting issues. Like mine – I have 0.3 acres with fences, house, trees, and asphalt parking making it hard to site. However, my snow melts about the same as the rest of the area snow, and my site is better than several Anthony has highlighted.
The 0.1F reporting resolution makes for some nicely smooth graphs, e.g. mine at
REPLY: FYI The MMTS and CRS sites only report to 1 degree F, the idea was to mimic that.

April 17, 2008 8:03 pm

2 BILLION bushels of corn would feed a lot of hungry people.
So would the wheat and soybean crops not planted in order to produce the above.
And that’s just numbers for the US. It does not include diversion to biofuels in Europe or Africa.
This is the one place I agree with Fidel Castro. Current biofuel policy and subsidies are crimes against humanity.

Gary Gulrud
April 25, 2008 11:33 am

jpm1000 and jeez:
Add to jeez’s comments the Ethanol being produced with Brazils comparatively more mature program (sugar cane) in lieu of useless rainforest.
Corn is a nutrient intensive crop using much more fertilizer. This in turn leads to a 7500 square mile death zone at the terminus of the Mississippi Delta.
Ethanol production requires vast volumes of water straining aquifers in the regions where it is produced.
As the AMO joins the PDO in cycling negative in a decades time, drought will reign in the corn belt and diminished degree days will prevail in northern wheat fields exacerbating current shortages.
Current soaring wheat and soya prices mean this year’s corn planted acreage is off 6% from last. Cross your fingers on late spring frosts and floods.
So why is Ethanol getting a bum rap?

Gary Gulrud
April 28, 2008 10:05 am

Ooops. Forgot aldehyde pollution from evaporating and unburnt Ethanol. LA temperature inversions already see 2ppm, which makes most of us sick.

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