27 September 2008

Junk Science 2

There is another interesting link between some climate skeptics and my old friend Jack Kenney, the heroic advocate of the abiogenic petroleum theory: Both like the term "junk science". I have already written about the "junkman" Steven Milloy, who seems to think that much of the health and environmental science and especially climate change science is junk. This is pretty bold, as he takes on large areas of mainstream science that are well established and usually would seem to be examples of "sound science", the term that Milloy and others use as a counterpart to "junk science".

Kenney's definition of junk science is a bit more sophisticated: In his paper "Science and Junk-science", he lists several examples of junk science that probably most educated people would readily agree with. Examples that he mentions are alchemy, astrology, phrenology, and yes, "creation science". I fully agree so far (especially with the latest, which cannot be stressed too much these days as a creationist is aspiring for highest powers in the US...). Then Kenney adds some more controversial examples: Freudian psychology, Marxist economics, feminist gender studies, and so on. Surely Kenney leaves the realm of natural sciences here, so I dare not comment too much. Whether one likes these theories or not seems to be more of a question of political views than of scientific rigor. Anyway, this is all just a prelude to Kenney's real attack.

Other than Milloy who takes on various branches of science, Kenney attacks only one established scientific theory: That of a biological origin of petroleum, for which he invents the nice acronym "BOOP". According to him, BOOP is a dogma, held and defended by the British/American "geo-phrenologists". It should be replaced by what he likes to call the "modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origin".

Based on my direct scientific experience I feel less competent to dismiss Kenney's claims than those about climate change made by Milloy. There are many arguments against abiogenic petroleum, but the only one on which I have direct expertise is the He isotope story. Yet it seems to be a robust and strong argument against a deep origin of hydrocarbons in many (but not all) cases. Quite possibly there are indeed some abiogenic hydrocarbons out there (at least methane), but almost certainly most of the petroleum is biogenic, despite Kenney's claims that a biological origin is impossible.

Other than knowing about He isotopes (and other technical issues) and having experienced how willingly Kenney twists the most clear-cut scientific evidence, how could one figure out if Kenney is trustworthy? In his case it is not obvious that he is being paid for what he says, quite in contrast to Milloy. His debate is a conflict between petroleum geologists, both sides obviously being somehow involved in this big business. So how then can the claims be verified? One indication is that Kenney's papers aren't published in the most reputable journals, which they should be if his revolutionary theory were deemed to deserve serious attention. But of course he would say that this is just because followers of the BOOP dogma suppress any non-conformist views. Such a claim is in itself an indication for bogus science.

But I think there is yet another indication: The style in which Kenney's papers are written, which in several points violates usual scientific standards. A typical example is the way he attacks the mainstream theory ("BOOP"). One of his papers is entitled "Dismissal of the claims of a biological connection for natural petroleum". He is not satisfied with describing and supporting his own theory, he spends much time on dismissing and deriding the opposite view, often in a rather pejorative style. Opposing claims are shown to be "without merit", "insupportable", or even "intellectual fraud". Very well established methods such as carbon isotopes are called "obscure", other evidence is called "spurious", and so on. Many terms used in the literature are given only in quotes, not to indicate a quotation as I use it here, but with a pejorative connotation. Important statements are highlighted by bold face or italics and are repeated over and over again, without, however, ever providing real detailed arguments and evidence in their favor.

This style reminds me quite a bit of Khilyuk and Chilingar, and it is a sure indication of "junk science". No scientific journal in its right mind would ever allow such botch to be published. No conspiracy of BOOP-activists is needed to detect this flaw in Kenney's papers and hence prevent them from being published. If you want to be heard as a scientist, you need not only to come up with real evidence for your arguments, but also to follow certain basic rules of conduct, both of which Kenney does not. Just as a chess player refusing to shake hands risks to lose his reputation, a scientist unable to keep the debate to a factual level becomes untrustworthy.

23 September 2008

Amazing Predictive Skill

One last post related to the financial crisis for the time being...

A question that comes up as one sees the highly praised (and paid) financial experts wrecking their ships: Could it have been avoided? Could it have been foreseen that those suprime mortgages eventually would backfire? Well, in hindsight it is easy, but was there anyone who did anticipate it?

I've heard Swiss and German bankers and politicians say (with regard to banks over here being affected by the American virus) that no one could have possibly foreseen this crisis. It came out of the blue...

Well, CNN has a page where they show eight experts who did smell that something was starting to burn, and eight others who didn't. But much more impressive to me are the predictive abilities of the American author James Howard Kunstler. In his really interesting book "The Long Emergency", which was published in 2005, he did indeed foresee that the housing bubble would not last too long. Ok, it lasted longer than the thought, but in the end he passed the reality check. Much better than many so-called financial experts, anyway. Here are a few sentences from the book:

James Howard Kunstler: The Long Emergency
Chapter six: Running on Fumes (The Hallucinated Economy)
Section: Home: The last refuge of value

By the time you read this, it is very likely that the housing bubble will have begun to come to grief. [....]

The economic wreckage is liable to be impressive. If large numbers of house owners cannot make their mortgage payments, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and by extension the federal government, would be the big losers. [...] It could easily bring on cascading failures that might jeopardize global finance. This time, the American public would feel the pain.

Does this sound strangely familiar? It was written in 2004, and although Kunstler probably did not think that it would take another four years to become reality, eventually it did. At least I am impressed by Kunstler's future-telling abilities.

Interestingly, the main topic of "The Long Emergency" is peak oil, another hotly debated issue. Many energy experts, economists for the most part, don't think that oil production might peak anytime soon (if ever). Kunstler expects otherwise, an he is not alone. His view is backed by ASPO, The Oil Drum, Matthew Simmons, and the EnergyWatchGroup, to mention just a few. Could Kunstler be right in this case as well?

Certainly, some of the opinions put forward in the peak oil debate deserve a closer look under the title of a reality check. I will come back to this topic.

22 September 2008

Competitive Pressure

As a follow-up to my previous post, this Times article about the "fate" of some top managers of the bankrupt Lehman Brothers may be of interest. A few excerpts:

"Barclays has identified eight individuals out of the New York staff of 10,000 who are vital to make the deal succeed and a further 200 who are identified as “key”. It is thought that these eight directors will be locked into two-year contracts worth between $10m and $25m a year. [...] Barclays said there is no obligation to pay it out but analysts say the competitive pressure to keep key staff means he will have to. "

I don't accept this "competitive pressure" argument. CEOs of the biggest Swiss bank UBS also use it all the time, even after these "key" people led the bank into its biggest losses ever. If this "competitive pressure" really forces them to pay insane salaries to few while laying off many, it has to be stopped. See my last post...

21 September 2008

The Big Bailout

So the US government is going to bail the banks out of the mess they created, and the taxpayer is going to pay. Well, maybe this is the only way to solve the current financial crisis. Obviously, the laissez-faire capitalism of the Bush-era has crashed and the bank CEOs and fund managers happily accept the help of the government, now that their risky strategies didn't work out. As long as they worked, of course, they thought the gains belong all to themselves and the state should not take anything away in the form of taxes.

I'm wondering: Will we learn something from this costly adventure? Will we just let the banks, hedge funds, stock markets, and their big-buck managers and traders continue as they did before? Or should something be changed to prevent more of these bubble - collapse cycles? And if so, what?

I think there is one basic thing that should be changed. I don't understand why anyone should earn millions, no matter how good the business goes that he or she happens to be doing. Crazy salaries let people lose their sense of reality. Those who earn that much, and even more those who think that anyone could possibly "deserve" to earn as much as hundreds of average workers are in desperate need of a reality check.

So, as in the end tax money is always going to pay the damage, why don't we make sure that we get the money from those who earn these insane salaries before the next crisis will force us all to pay for them?

My proposal: Take the salary of the US president (400,000$ per year) as a cap of what anyone can reasonably earn. There is hardly another job that carries more power and responsibility (even if the present incumbent is not quite up to the task). If things get really tough, multi-millionaire bankers are happy if a comparatively lousy paid president helps them out. So they should show a bit of humility in their pay checks.

How about taxing everything above the president's income level by 100 %? If this would be done worldwide, maybe the folly could be stopped...

20 September 2008

Natural and Anthropogenic Climate Change

I just saw an interesting new paper by Lean and Rind in Geophysical Research Letters . These authors performed a multiple regression analysis to determine the influence of natural (solar activity, volcanoes, ENSO) and anthropogenic (greenhouse gases plus aerosols) factors on the temperature record of the past 100+ years. Looks like a good piece of work.

The "solar activity" and "natural cycles" skeptics will not like the conclusions, though. None of the natural factors comes close to explain the overall warming trend. A citation from the paper:

"None of the natural processes can account for the overall warming trend in global surface temperatures. In the 100 years from 1905 to 2005, the temperature trends produced by all three natural influences are at least an order of magnitude smaller than the observed surface temperature trend reported by IPCC [2007]. According to this analysis, solar forcing contributed negligible long-term warming in the past 25 years and 10% of the warming in the past 100years, not 69% as claimed by Scafetta and West [2008]..."

17 September 2008

A new Chess Queen

Alexandra Kosteniuk just won the (too short) final match for the Women's World Chess Champion title against the incredible 14-year old Chinese prodigy Hou Yifan.

Congratulations to Alexandra, who may have the charm to promote women's chess quite a bit!

Sea Ice Update

Just seen on the "ill considered" blog: NSIDC and NASA have announced that the Arctic sea ice has reached its minimum extent for this year, which is the second lowest after last year's record. The announcement may be a bit early but probably it's ok. Anyway the conclusion was already clear for a while: The rapidly declining trend is confirmed.

In my opinion (though I am not really an expert on this), the decline of the Arctic sea ice is not only a visible sign of climate change but possibly the most important example of an amplifying feedback that is kicking in and may be impossible to reverse. So it's worthwile to follow the development.

Junk Science 1

Here comes another little spin-off of the "Khilyuk and Chilingar" story. In their 2006 paper, these fellows had an interesting reference. In their conclusion they wrote: "Estimates show (http://www.JunkScience.com) that since its inception in February 2005, the Kyoto Protocol has cost about $50 billion ... ". The point here is not the old contrarian argument that Kyoto costs a lot and has little effect, but the JunkScience link. Quite obviously not the usual scientific reference...

Probably most of you will already know JunkScience.com. If not, it is really worthwile to take a look, as a test for your sense of reality. The site supposedly teaches you how to distinguish "junk science" from real science. Kind of like what I am trying to do here, except that the outcome is completely different. According to the site, many health-related concerns (e.g., that secondhand smoke or asbestos cause cancer) are junk, as well as of course global warming and other environmental issues such as the ozone hole. To me, the statements on this site are junk, just as the papers of Chilingar and friends who cite them. But how do I know? And how could you know?

I have an advantage over most readers in judging this site: I happen to be an environmental scientist. I have seen the progress of research on issues like climate change and ozone depletion from an insider's perspective for about 20 years. I know that this is serious science, where mistakes happen but tend to be corrected as knowledge grows and data and models improve. It is simply an infamy to call "junk science" what hundreds if not thousands of researchers have documented in tens of thousands of peer-reviewed papers in the most prestigious journals. If all of this is junk, and a few amateur climatologists can do better, we better ought to abolish science at all.

But, of course, as an environmental scientist I am one of those "junk scientists" and thus you cannot trust me. So is there something you could do to find out who is right? Well, yes, there is. As I recommended before, check the sources. You'll have to check me out yourself, but I am going to help a bit about JunkScience.com. The site is run by Steven J. Milloy, on whom both Wikipedia and Sourcewatch have quite extensive and revealing entries, and who also features prominently in the UCS's Exxon report. These (and other) sources show that he is intricately linked to the tobacco (Philip Morris) and oil (ExxonMobil) industries, who sponsor the various "institutions" he has worked for. Despite official-sounding names such as "The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition/Center" or "Global Climate Science Team", these groups seem to do much more lobbying than science. Or more junk than science.

It seems that for Milloy "junk science" is just about every scientific study that potentially could interfere with the business interests of his sponsors. What I never understand in such cases: Is he really convinced of what he says or is he just taking the money? Of course he thinks (or says) that we environmental scientists are exaggerating things just to get jobs and research funding. Could it be that he is suspecting us to do what he is doing all the time (lying for money)? Well, it's up to you to decide whether bending the truth is more typical and useful for lobbyists or for scientists.

13 September 2008

Chess Reality

I have to intersperse my first chess-related post today. The Chess Masters tournament in Bilbao has just ended, with a great success for the Bulgarian grandmaster Veselin Topalov. This tournament may be compared to the upcoming Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, where I will put my hopes on my fellow countryman Roger Federer.

Congratulations to Topalov, although I had rather hoped for Vassily Ivanchuk to win the decisive last-round game. And of course, as everyone else, I was curiously following the results of the possibly most amazing chess prodigy ever, the 17-year old Norwegian Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen was leading the tournament and the inofficial live world rankings sometime during the tournament, but then fell back a bit. Well, he is young and will have many more chances to seize the number 1 position.

As it turned out, Topalov will probably be the new number 1 in the official rankings as of October 2008. He surely is one of the best active players, but unfortunately he also falls into the category of chess players that sometimes seem to lose their sense of reality. This happened to Topalov during the 2006 world championship match agains the great Russian player Vladimir Kramnik. Topalov, or rather his manager Danailov, accused Kramnik of cheating by using computer assistance on the toilet, leading to the horrible "bathroom controversy". An ugly story indeed. But unfortunately not the first time that psychological warfare was used in chess world championship matches .

As often in such controversies, it is difficult to be sure who is right and who is wrong. One indication that I tend to consider is how the parties behave. Are they still open for a fair discussion and rational arguments? Do they treat the other side with respect? A telling incident with regard to the latter happened early this year: The "handshake controversy". Ivan Cheparinov, another Bulgarian grandmaster managed by Danailov, refused to shake hands with English GM Nigel Short. Whatever the background, this is not a decent behavior of a sportsman. It shed a dim light on the Bulgarian chess elite.

12 September 2008

An old story

Having gotten in the muddy waters of the petroleum business, I am reminded of an old story. In fact, this was probably the first time I was exposed to questionable and irrational behavior in science. The first time I needed a reality check.

It must have been 15 years ago, when I was a PhD student at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. We received a request for helium isotope analyses in groundwaters of Flanders, Belgium, by a certain Jack F. Kenney, head of Gas Resources Corporation in Houston. That came in quite handy, because the money we earned for analyzing a dozen or so samples helped to finance the last few months of my thesis. So I went to Belgium, where Kenney and I did the sampling.

Kenney told me about his ideas on the origin of oil. According to him, oil was not derived from biological matter, it was abiogenically formed in the deep Earth at high pressures and temperatures. I did not know very much about oil at that time (and I still am no expert), but I knew that this abiogenic theory of petroleum origin, made popular by Thomas Gold, was highly controversial. I wasn’t convinced, but I couldn’t really be sure. Only a bit later, when I had the samples analyzed and reported the results, I got a better idea of what kind of person this Jack Kenney was.

But first, a crash course in helium geochemistry (of which I am an expert) is needed. Helium in the air has a certain 3He/4He ratio (about 1 to a million). Compared to that standard, the isotope ratio in helium from the Earth’s mantle is about 10 times higher, whereas that in helium coming from the Earth’s crust is nearly 100 times lower. Thus, deep mantle helium and shallow crustal helium are easily and very clearly distinguished. Because Kenney thinks hydrocarbons come from very deep layers, he reckons that helium isotopes could help pinpoint oil reservoirs. In Flanders, he was looking for the high 3He/4He isotope ratios that are indicative of fluids derived from the Earth’s mantle. He wanted to sell the local government the idea to drill for oil there.

I understood that Kenney had hoped to find mantle helium. What we had measured, however, where very low 3He/4He ratios, perfectly typical for crustal fluids. There was not the slightest indication of mantle gases. This was what I wrote to him. But he did not accept that. He did not doubt the data, but he argued that even the slightest little bit of 3He that was present in the samples would be an indication of deep origin, and hence would justify to look for deep hydrocarbon sources in the area. We sent mails back and forth, but he wouldn’t give in. Well, we got paid and it was none of my business, after all, what he did with the data. I hope he couldn’t convince anyone to waste money on a multiply flawed and fake theory: First of all, there is probably no deep abiogenic oil, and secondly, even if it existed, the data did not give the slightest hint that it was to be found at that particular place.

So, I got my first taste of rather questionable theories paired with a willingness to commit outright fraud by an exponent of the petroleum business. Quite a shock, but I thought he would be an exception, for otherwise we wouldn’t ever have found any oil, I suppose. I don’t know if people like Chilingar and Gerhard also believe in Gold’s deep oil theory. Probably not. But their behavior with regard to climate change strikingly reminds me of Kenney's.

There is another strange connection. Gold’s theory is possibly a case of plagiarism, as Soviet scientists had come up with the idea much earlier, only Gold had made it known in the west. Kenney, now the foremost western proponent of the theory, publishes with Russian colleagues and cites old Soviet literature. The Chilingar-gang obviously also has Soviet roots and likes to cite Russian literature that is hard to check for western readers. Not that Russian science is not good – there have been some real Russian pioneers in the He isotope field for instance. Just a remarkable coincidence that some Russian scientists seem to hold very questionable ideas on both the origin of oil and global warming. And some American colleagues seem to agree.

So, my advice with regard to a reality check: Beware of Russian and American petroleum scientists, especially if they agree!

11 September 2008

Revival of the "Hockey Stick"

Surely everyone interested in the climate change debate is well aware of the "hockey stick controversy". There is a new twist to the story: Michael Mann and colleagues just published a new temperature reconstruction in PNAS, confirming that the recent warmth is anomalous for the past 1300 years in the northern hemisphere.
The important point: This holds even if tree rings are not used as climate proxies. One of the more serious concerns about the old hockey stick was that tree rings may not correctly reflect long-term trends but dominated the combined record. The new reconstruction indeed more clearly shows the medieval warm period, but it does not come out as warm as today.
I look forward to a storm in the climate skeptics scene!

10 September 2008

Checking the links

Let's continue a little bit on the "Khilyuk and Chilingar" story. First of all, I do not plan to go into debunking all the errors in their papers. This would be endless. My rebuttal did a bit, and Eli Rabett a good bit more. The fact that these guys do such fraudulent things as multiple publication is sufficient proof that they are not to be taken seriously. By the way, I wrote an e-mail to the editors-in-chief of Environmental Geology and Energy Sources, informing them about the twin papers. I'm waiting for a reaction...

What I was wondering most when I saw the 2004 and 2006 papers by Khilyuk and Chilingar was how such weird papers could ever be published in a reviewed journal. Someone must have made sure that no competent reviewer ever gets to see them. The ones who could do this best are the people on the editorial boards of the journals in question. So who are they?

As lurker pointed out, the well-known climate skeptic Fred Singer is in the board of Environ. Geol. Seems like a good explanation, but he claimed not to have reviewed the manuscript. And I tend to believe him. For there is another suspect among the editors: Lee C. Gerhard, a climate-skeptical paper of whom Khilyuk and Chilingar like to cite in their papers (Gerhard, L. C., 2004. Climate change: Conflict of observational science, theory, and politics. Am. Assoc. Petrol. Geol. Bull. 88:1211–1220).

And what about the journal Energy Sciences, Part A? Their editorial advisory board reveals it quickly: There is a fellow named G. V. Chilingarian. Chilingar or Chilingarian, this is of course no one else than the first author of the twin papers. Now, there is nothing wrong with being on the editorial board of a journal and at the same time being an author in that journal. Except that, if you wish to place a bogus duplicate of another paper, there may be a slight conflict of interest.

What do Gerhard and Chilingar have in common? As they both publish on climate change, you might think they are both climate scientists? Well, not exactly. The journal in which Gerhard published his piece tells it all: American Association of Petroleum Geologists. They are both petroleum geologists. Well, nothing wrong with that, we sure need some clever guys finding the last drops of oil these days, don’t we? Just maybe they would better focus on that task rather than writing amateurish papers about climate change.

Anyway, it surely comes as no surprise that people related to the oil business are amongst the most vocal climate skeptics. If you need more proof of this connection, read the Exxon Report by the Union of Concerned Scientists. I don’t know whether these oil people just fight against losing some business or whether they don’t want to be blamed for ruining the climate – in any case they definitely are not impartial on that matter. They fight with all means, and as aaron correctly points out, these are professional means. Although, the recycling fraud of Chilingar does not leave a very professional impression …

So, my advice with regard to a reality check: Always check the links and sources, and don’t trust climate skeptics that smell of petroleum!

07 September 2008

Khilyuk and Chilingar

This is about the weird experience that motivated this blog. The main story is quickly told, but there are lots of interesting spin-offs, that I will address in later posts.

In 2006, Khilyuk and Chilingar published a climate change sceptical paper in Environmental Geology (Khilyuk, L.F. and Chilingar, G.V., 2006. On global forces of nature driving the Earth’s climate. Are humans involved? Environ. Geol., 50: 899-910). I found this article, because Environmental Geology (EG) sometimes has papers about groundwater that may be useful for me. As I read it, I was shocked about the complete nonsense that it contained - at least in my humble opinion. EG is not a top journal, but supposedly a serious, reviewed, scientific journal. How could they publish an article full of - at best - extremely unconventional theories?

I thought that such a questionable publication on an important issue in the reviewed literature could not go undisputed. As I figured that the top climate scientists would hardly note this paper in a journal that is not known for climate science, I felt compelled to write a comment (or rebuttal, as they call it in EG) myself. This was published in print in 2007 (Aeschbach-Hertig, W., 2007. Rebuttal of "On global forces of nature driving the Earth's climate. Are humans involved?" by L. F. Khilyuk and G. V. Chilingar, Environ. Geol. 52: 1007-1009). A bit to my surprise, no reply to my comment was published at that time. Judged by how quickly my manuscript got published online, it seems that the authors of the original article had not been invited to write a reply, or had declined to do so.

Even so, I received quite a bit of response to my article in the form of e-mails and reprint requests (much more than I usually get for more important papers). Perhaps most noticeable was a reprint request by the famous climate sceptic Fred Singer. The whole debate was also noticed by a few people in the blogsphere. Nexus 6 pointed out that the climate sceptics scene had happily adopted the paper of Khilyuk and Chilingar as further proof of their case, and presented my rebuttal to show that they were misled. Deltoid also cited my paper as a "devastating rebuttal". The rebuttal is mentioned in the Real Climate Wiki. And even the climate sceptic blogger Lubos Motl had to admit: "Unfortunately, I would agree with many points of the rebuttal...". So far, so good.

A few weeks ago I noticed that a reply to my rebuttal had finally been published in EG (Chilingar, G. V., O. G. Sorokhtin, L. F. Khilyuk, 2008. Response to W. Aeschbach-Hertig rebuttal of ‘‘On global forces of nature driving the Earth’s climate. Are humans involved?’’ by L. F. Khilyuk and G. V. Chilingar. Environ. Geol. 54:1567–1572). Of course, I read it with great interest. It turned out that it wasn't really a response to my critique, except for a few sentences bashing me as holding a sacred climate belief and so on. Most of it was just another presentation of their funny "adiabatic theory of greenhouse effect". More nonsense, it seemed to me, but I was not inclined to write another rebuttal.

Not until I received an e-mail by the blogger Eli Rabett, pointing out the new paper and asking if I planned to respond. I checked out his Rabett Run blog, and found that he already had a nice critique of the new Chilingar paper. So no need for me to add anything. But, following the links in the blog, I was amazed to learn that Chilingar and colleagues had actually published the same questionable paper already before in Energy Sources (Chilingar, G.V., L.F. Khilyuk and O.G. Sorokhtin, 2008. Cooling of atmosphere due to CO2 emission, Energy Sources Part A 30: 1-9). Thanks to Eli Rabett for pointing out this recycling fraud!

Too much is too much! This little twist really was the last straw that prompted me to start this blog. I will research the issue more thoroughly, and I plan to take appropriate steps. I will let you know what happens...

06 September 2008


Why should I write a blog? Do I have to tell anything of interest to you out there?

Until now I did not think there was sufficient reason. But as I increasingly experience weird things, I thought it may be time to share some of my thoughts and findings with you. I have studied physics and become a scientist because I am interested in understanding how our world really works. I am convinced that there is some reality out there, some indisputable truth, and we are able to get at least a glimpse of it from time to time. So it disturbs me deeply if I see irrationality pop up all the time, not only in political or philosophical discussions, but also in science.

What I want to offer is a reality check on some of the opinions put forward in some hotly debated issues. The one topic that prompted me to start this blog and that I am most knowledgeable about is climate change. There is so much noise out there about this important issue. Maybe I am just adding a little bit more ...

I will try to avoid pointless discussions and just post some hard facts that may help you to figure out who is providing serious information and who is just making noise or even spreading outright nonsense.

There are many topics other than climate change that catch my interest: Environmental issues, energy policy, peak oil, and so on. I will post on these if I think I have some credible information.

Finally, the word "check" in the blog's title also alludes to my favorite hobby: Chess. Playing chess is a fabulous reality check: If you lose your sense of reality, your opponent will quickly show you the truth - check and mate! So, excuse me if I may post some news about chess from time to time, even if it may appear somewhat unrelated to the rest.

So, this is the plan. Let's see if I can make it come real!