Monday, December 21, 2009

Signal from Noise, Part 5

Subtitle: On Falsifying Everything I know; or, Am I Getting only Liberal Science?
This is the fifth in my series explaining how I, an ordinary, moderately technical and scientific person had a climate change epiphany with ramifications for education, politics, personal relationships and dread for the future.
Warning: This post exposes the private correspondence between me and a climate scientist.

In the fall of 2004, while I worked on rewriting my un-publishable essay (see part 4) I noticed a lot of amateur commentary on climate science. This uptick was probably no coincidence in that this was the time leading up to the Buenos Aires climate talks.

At my workplace I was known as the guy with some hot buttons. So coworkers would share with me various news stories on climate, such as these quotes from glaciologist Lonnie Thompson. The first was from Steven Milloy’s Junk Science Judo on Fox news:
“Any prudent person would agree that we don’t yet understand the complexities with the climate system,” said Thompson. It’s too bad he didn’t deliver that message in Buenos Aires.
And then another version came my way from Space and Earth Science News:
“Any prudent person would agree that we don’t yet understand the complexities with the climate system and, since we don’t, we should be extremely cautious in how much we ‘tweak’ the system,” Thompson said. “The evidence is clear that a major climate change is underway.”
It was clear that quality of reporting is at issue; both could be wrong, but not both right.

I’ve also understated the competence of my local newspaper. It did run a variety of climate science reports, and it did have one exemplary reporter (Bradley Fikes). In December 2004, shortly after the release of Crichton’s Climate of Fear, Fikes wrote:
[Fikes:] At least Crichton's motivation for faking science is obvious: He is out to sell books and make money. Others who spread fear, uncertainty and doubt over the evidence of climate change are far more insidious and despicable.
It wasn’t long before an engineer from my community rebutted in the community forum (the same format I couldn’t get published in). His essay, “Global warming science far from settled” followed the formula that 1) warming might not be happening, 2) but if it is, it’s natural; 3) if it’s bad, corrective measures would be worse economically; and last, the hype appears politically motivated, for example:
Like so many in the media, Mr. Fikes has apparently accepted without much independent thought the prevailing view of global warming and its causes in human activity…

But is the Earth's atmosphere actually warming, and if it is, what is the real cause?

Recently released reports … suggest an alternative explanation: fluctuations in solar radiation. The Ohio State study, authored by professor Lonnie G. Thompson, whose area of expertise is earth system science, paleoclimatology, glaciology, and polar geology, showed that there was a sudden climate change approximately 5,200 years ago….
He went on to say Thompson’s work supports the solar link and recited the talking points about the Little Ice Age and Maunder minimum (real events, but since I’ve been cautious around people who seem to know only of these).
He ended with this gem:
The worst part of the current debate is the fact that it is no longer a scientific debate but a political one. A scientist working in most universities today who argues against the politically correct point of view will see his grant money dry up, as well as his future if untenured. I find it also very curious that those opposed to globalization and the free market capitalism have such a convenient argument against modern industry and business.
I decided to contact Professor Thompson and ask his opinion. My letter to Professor Thompson was the climax in my climate science discovery, not only for his answer and that he took the time to reply, but I set up my question so that he could easily falsify what I thought I knew.

First, I did my due diligence, background research on Thompson, and found this quote from his website (a superset of the quote on Fox News):

"The climate system is remarkably sensitive to natural variability," [Thompson] said. "It's likely that it is equally sensitive to effects brought on by human activity, changes like increased greenhouse gases, altered land-use policies and fossil-fuel dependence. Any prudent person would agree that we don't yet understand the complexities with the climate system and, since we don't, we should be extremely cautious in how much we 'tweak' the system."
I crafted my email. I explained that I intended to use his reply to rebut an article in the newspaper. Since I asked to use his answer, it is only for this reason that I feel at liberty to share the response I received. I’m also motivated by a desire to share with others how a brief response from a scientist can be so influential to me and so appreciated.

I asked the following:
Does this paragraph [cited above] support your current views?
Second I asked about the political angle:
“A scientist working in most universities today who argues against the politically correct point of view will see his grant money dry up, as well as his future if untenured". Do you have any observation that this is true or false?
And last, (here’s my most scientific moment) I was willing to accept the possibility that my take on climate science is slanted by the one journal I read (Nature), so I asked:

My understanding of climate science comes from the journal Nature, in which I study every climate-related article, often by drawing diagrams. Assuming I understand what I read correctly, I could be biased by having Nature as my primary source. Is there another journal you would recommend to give me a more balanced view of climate science?
Let’s appreciate what I was asking. Professor Thompson was cited by a writer whom I disagreed with--let’s call him Ronald, because that’s his name. For all I knew, I was contacting Ronald’s expert, and laying out everything his expert needed to shake my house of cards.

Within an hour of sending my email, I got this reply:
Dear John: Thanks for interest in our research and question[ing] press releases is always a wise thing to do.
Question 1. The real point here is that the climate system is really sensitive and the abrupt event 5200 years ago confirms that as well as do other high resolution ice core records from many parts of the world. The real take home message is that if the system is sensitive to natural forcings of the past then it is just as likely to [be] sensitive to human driven forcings like greenhouse gases and thus we should be very, very careful how much we perturb the system as the response might be much greater than what model predictions suggest.

Question 2. I have never seen at the University nor from funding agents a prejudice in funding only research that suggests the climate is warming. In fact, if anything is true it would be tendency for agencies not to fund such research due to political pressures from Washington DC. [my note: recall Bush II was president] Fact is, to justify drilling ice cores for example in the tropics one only need to document that fact that this very important archive of past variations in El Nino or monsoons is disappearing from the surface of the earth due to warming temperatures. They are melting and it really does not matter whether the driver is humans or nature.

Question 3. Nature is a good journal. It has a good peer review section, so does Science, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the Journal of Geophysical Research. Fellow scientist love to point out the weaknesses in fellow scientist’s research so it is an effective process. It is the balance of evidence that makes the global warming story so compelling from temperature records, to melting glaciers, to increasing ground temperatures to reduced sea ice, they all point in the same direction and is simply the earth is getting warmer. There was a very good article in September 2004 National Geographic entitled "Global Warning: Bulletins from a Warmer Earth, it gives a 72 page summary.

Hope this helps!
In my letter to the paper, I used answer 1 to show that there are liabilities in “independent thought”, especially when speaking outside one’s field. Answer 2, rhetorically, amounted to using my expert to rebut Ronald’s expert, an argumentative tactic that doesn’t prove anything, but in this case, my expert was his expert.

My letter was published with only my link to cut out. Within a week someone rebutted me, saying, for a second opinion readers should see the website of the Cato Institute, and provided a link (what!) to a press release. So I followed the link. Not only did I find Patrick Michaels and other notables of the anti-global warming campaign, but I found Steven Milloy. I had missed this connection earlier. So here is the complete epiphany, the air from which beliefs are created:

An activist spins research. Pundants and locals parrot the talking points in letters and community forums. I contact the original researcher (a basic research skill) and show the information trail has been corrupted. And then local believers complete the circle saying one should ignore me and instead refer to the original propagandists. And I’ve seen this pattern repeated many times: e.g., CO2 lags warming; variations in sunspots and cosmic rays; climatologists flip-flopped from global cooling; water vapor overwhelms CO2; we’re bouncing back from the little ice age.

All of these balloons are subjects that people have used to argue with me in person, through correspondence, or in published letters. People just cant resist grabbing these balloons as they drift past.
We often look for support, or more fairly, we remember a news story or rumor that's compatible with our beliefs, but how well do we set up tests that would challenge the basis of our knowledge, that would falsify what we know? This is what science practices; this is a technique I adopted from reading peer-reviewed scientific literature.

I have to add that parts 1-5 of my essay includes everything I had planned to say on Oct. 29, 2009, when I posted the first part and listed these follow-up topics:

• Saving the planet one buoy at a time (part 2)
• JG calls his ultraconservative representative to support greenhouse gas legislation and gets called something in return (part 3).
• Five scientific terms you're not allowed to say in local news media (part 4)
• On falsifying everything I know; or, am I getting only liberal science? (part 5)
• So what do I really think will happen? Or get your buns over here and bring the cat! (not written)

While I was writing these, another rather large balloon flew over: Climategate--hacked emails expose fraud, conspiracy, and scientists subverting peer review and intimidating opposition.

Let’s consider one of these emails, in which someone was “tempted to beat the crap out of [Patrick Michaels]”. (Patrick Michaels, a climatologist with the Cato Institute, is the same person I become suspicious of in 2001, which I described in (see part 4).

Anyone following the link to the Cato Institute cited in rebuttal to my letter in 2004, would have found this statement from Michaels, Singer, and Douglass:
After four years of one of the most rigorous peer reviews ever, Canadian Ross McKitrick and another of us (Mr. Michaels) published a paper searching for "economic" signals in the temperature record. …. The research showed that somewhere about half of the warming in the U.N. surface record was explained by economic factors, which can be changes in land use, quality of instrumentation, or upkeep of records. ….

…. The science is settled. The "skeptics," the strange name applied to those whose work shows the planet isn't coming to an end, have won.
What happened to the most rigorously peer reviewed paper ever? Tim Lambert, writer of the blog Deltoid, revealed a unit-conversion error, that when corrected, kills their hypothesis. (See, which I recommend not only for it’s “peer-rebuke”—my wife’s phrase, not mine; but also for some insight into the other claim that scientists subverted the peer-review process.)

Note that I didn’t judge the authors by their hypothesis, nor by the error in their paper. Rather, I judged them by their premature press release.

Over the past 10 years, while I, an amateur, essentially, a nobody in the science world, was becoming aware of the disinformation tactics being used to confuse the public and discredit climate science, a real scientist, someone who could immediately recognize what the propagandists were doing , said privately that he was tempted to beat the crap out of one. Oh the collusion! Oh the conspiracy!

Happy ballooning,

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Five scientific terms you can't say in local news media

(Part 4 of my climate change epiphany. See also part 1, part 2, part 3, part 5)

In 2001 I observed a contradiction: a climatologist of the Cato Institute said in a press release that a study in the Feb 8 issue of Nature undermined the basis for an anthropogenic greenhouse effect. How convenient. I subscribe to Nature, and I examined the article expecting proof that there were two sides of the global warming debate. This would fit with my bias that there must be two sides to everything.

The Cato climatologist said the study showed that black carbon (soot)—an aerosol--had a net warming effect. But the computer models summarized by the IPCC assumed aerosols impart a net cooling effect, and this assumed cooling effect was thought to be masking some of the expected warming. But according to the Cato climatologist, the Nature article showed that aerosols could not account for the missing warming, therefore, CO2 must have even less of a warming effect.

But reading the Nature article, I noticed:
  • It was a computer modeling study, so Cato was using a modeling study to refute other computer modeling, which may be defensible, but then why not mention that it too was a modeling study?
  • The modeling was done for only one (black carbon) of several types of aerosols.
  • The article made no claim that their work undermined the IPCC reports. I, still a science paper neophyte, wondered if the Nature authors were aware of the IPCC. I checked the references, and there was mention of the previous IPCC report.
Soon after, I received my own copy of the IPCC Third Assessment Report (you can follow along by opening up to page 48) where a graph summarizes the warming and cooling effects of various components of the climate system. And on this graph (remember the report was released Jan 20; Nature article appeared Feb 20), black carbon from fossil fuel burning is shown to have a slight warming effect with a large margin of error. The Feb 20 Nature report was merely addressing the range of the error, not undermining the assumptions on aerosols. It appeared that the article had been spun before an audience that was unlikely to read it for themselves.

The summer of 2004 was noticeably cooler than what is typical in our region. A regular columnist in my local paper noticed the cooler weather, and after calling computer modeling “junk science”, he linked the cooler weather to Republicans. No joke, he said, “Republicans control California’s governorship, and Congress. Yet this summer has been cooler and air pollution levels are down throughout southern California”.

It’s a common error, to confuse weather and climate, and an even more common error to publish such nonsense. Long term energy policy will affect climate indirectly, but no turn over in membership in government affects a season’s weather, despite the fact that we had cooler weather after electing Republicans.

I countered with an essay for the Community Forum column. I’ve included the essay below, but I think this paragraph represents most of what I was trying to do, show that climatology is a continent, not an island, in the scientific world:

“Climate models merge the work of many specialties: paleoclimatology (the study of past climate inferred from coral, tree rings, gases in ice cores, and chemical isotopes in fossil-forming plankton in ocean sediments), atmospheric chemistry (how gases, aerosols, and particulates are formed, interact, and are removed), hydrology (water cycles), oceanography (currents, heat, salinity, photosynthesis). There are so many specialties, scientists, and publications involved that we must be skeptical of anyone claiming to understand these well enough to call them junk science.”

I received a polite letter from the editor. He encouraged me to write on this issue, but what I submitted was too technical for their audience and may be better suited for a science journal. (No. I got this from a science journal; it needs to be in the paper!) Also, considering the length of my words, I should consider aiming for fewer.

And I tried. I struggled with several drafts but each time I omitted key areas or misled through over simplification. I even asked if I could use illustrations. No.

We hear of media bias, especially liberal media bias. But I could not get my rebuttal and explanation published because of an anti-technical bias. Their columnists can say “junk science” and that it’s “hot air”, but I can’t say “chemical isotopes in fossil-forming plankton”. Worse, so many of these articles, letters to the editor, and community forum columns cite credible scientific papers or scientists, but use an interpretation fabricated by various institutes. Naturally, I was incensed a few months later when a Community Forum article cited the work of a well-known glaciologist to discredit anthropogenic global warming. I’ll write on this next in “Am I getting only liberal science?"


My unpublishable essay from August 2004; if anything is insightful, I credit my reading of Nature:

If climate research demonstrates an unambiguous human-caused greenhouse effect, implementing appropriate corrective action will remain controversial. For example, it may be unfair and unscientific to limit fossil fuel consumption and not cement manufacture; or government regulations may be costly, too restrictive, or misguided. If mitigation solutions are market-based, objections to the unpleasant conclusions of climate scientists will decrease. But for the market to mitigate human-induced climate change, it will need better information, starting with the correction of numerous misconceptions about climate science.

One misconception is the belief that climate models are junk science: As in chemistry, physics, and weapons testing, computer models are our best chance of understanding phenomena that too complex to solve on paper and beyond controlled experimentation. Climate models merge the work of many specialties: paleoclimatology (the study of past climate inferred from coral, tree rings, gases in ice cores, and chemical isotopes in fossil-forming plankton in ocean sediments), atmospheric chemistry (how gases, aerosols, and particulates are formed, interact, and are removed), hydrology (water cycles), oceanography (currents, heat, salinity, photosynthesis). There are so many specialties, scientists, and publications involved that we must be skeptical of anyone claiming to understand these well enough to call them junk science.

Another misconception is the notion that a regional or short-term weather trend supports or discredits climate models. Climate models do not have the resolution to tell what's in store for a specific region, whether it's a good time for a drive among the vineyards, or not. They calculate general trends, such as averages of temperatures, precipitation, and wind direction, with resolutions varying between 200 km and 50 km. Finer resolutions will result as scientists continue to test their models against real phenomena. Climate researchers state their models' limitations, and the field has a well-published timeline projecting milestones for improvement.

Climate models are used in a variety of studies besides global warming. For example, in India scientists are trying to use them to predict their monsoons. Other scientists use them to examine natural effects hindering the recovery of over-exploited fisheries. Brief progress in the acceptance of climate models occurred in 2001 when the models showed that North America acts as a net carbon sink, meaning its forests, soils, and peat lands were absorbing more CO2 than North Americans were emitting. This lent support for rejecting the Kyoto protocol, which was doomed regardless, but I suspect these results-oriented skeptics failed to grasp the complete scenario described by the carbon sink modeling: the climate models showed North America to be a net carbon sink in wet and cool years; in dryer and hotter times the stored carbon gets metabolized by soil microbes and animals and North America becomes a net emitter of CO2. By 1999, the northern hemisphere went back to being a net carbon source.

Finally, changes in greenhouse gas concentrations affect more than climate. Oceanographers and ecologist are studying the effects of known increases in CO2. Rising CO2 levels may be changing species composition of pristine rainforests, preferring softwood species and vines (commercially and ecologically less valuable) over the densest understory trees. The pH of seawater is changing as the oceans absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere. Oceanographers are examining what this change portends for the ocean's food chain. Paloeoclimatologists are searching the geologic record for evidence of times when atmospheric CO2 and ocean pH reached levels similar to levels projected for the near future. Should they find these layers, they will learn whether the CO2 levels, ocean pH, and rates at which these changed, created conditions favorable to the agriculture, aquiculture, and economy needed today by six billion humans.

In 2001 president Bush exercised his right of a scientific review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. The National Academy of Sciences confirmed that the science was sound and the conclusions valid with some qualifications. Their reply was a definitive act, like the Supreme Court choosing a president, which should be cautiously accepted so we can examine the implications.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Climate Change, Part 3 of 5 or 6: JG calls his conservative representative...

...and gets called something in return.

(This is the most political topic in my series on how an ordinary, moderately technical and scientific person can have a climate change epiphany with ramifications for education, politics, personal relationships and dread for the future. See also part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5)

My notebooks show the start of my intense science learning curve beginning in 97 or 98, and this was also the time where I was becoming the most partisan in politcal outlook, largely for environmental reasons. I distrusted economics and minimal regulation to protect things like redwood forests mainly because, these mechanisms need only fail once and then we're left with how to re-grow a 3,000 year old forest. At this time I was studying science to balance views from environmental groups. If properly balanced, environmental groups serve a function that I as an isolated citizen cannot perform. I cannot track, read, and understand the torrent of legislation at local, state, and federal levels. I’ve tried. It needs to be a full-time job, so this where I’ve relied on organizations like the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity and Union of Concerned Scientists. They can alert me to legislation, and if the cause is consistent with what I read in science journals, then I will sign on to the cause. Some examples: my science journals were less passionate about the threat from genetically engineered crops than the Union of Concerned Scientists is; much less worried about nuclear power than Greenpeace is (though highly concerned about nuclear weapons proliferation), and very much in line with many groups on the needs to reduce CO2 emissions.

So in late spring of 2002 I get the alert from the Union of Concerned Scientists that AB 1058 (later be become 1493 on regulating greenhouse gas emissions) is before the state assembly (California’s equivalent to the House) and can I call (call, not write, or email) my representative?

Let me go back a couple years. I love my community, but I feel I'm in the unpleasant situation of being needed to help with balance. Upon moving here, I made a number of discoveries:
  • Liberal was a bad word. Once branded a liberal you are the problem of all our ills.
  • Evolution didn’t happen.
  • Jesus would have driven an SUV; for many others, he rides in one.
  • Climate change is liberal junk science, in which the word liberal is redundant. (I take this up in topics 4 and 5)
What type of representative would you expect this community to elect? How would he take to an opposing view of climate change? But this is what I trained for. In 2002, my 200-page notebook contained around 60 different research papers covering CO2 emissions, effects on oceans and biology, climate models, palaeoclimate events, satellite observations…. These were papers from peer-reviewed scientific literature. The Union of Concerned Scientists’ position was consistent with what I could glean from the 60 papers I studied over the past 18 months. I will make that call.

I do not enjoy confrontation. It raises my blood pressure. I get nervous and red in the face. At this time, I would much rather call Feinstein or Boxer, but it was Hollingsworth (now State Senate Republican Leader) who represented me in the bill before the Assembly; it was Hollingsworth who would get the phone call from a concerned citizen who follows the scientific literature on climate change.

I called my representative’s local office, spoke only to a staff member, and have no reason to believe that any of my concerns were shared with my representative.

The call went about like this:
JG: I’m a constituent of H and urge him support AB 1058

Staffer: He’s hardly going to do that.

JG: What special interest does he answer… (or words to that effect). My words were partisan and confrontational, but I stopped in midsentence and switched to a conciliatory tone, saying something like “may I know the reasons for his position?”

What ensued was a discussion during which I shook with anxiety while explaining my views in a cracking voice and the staffer confidently stomping on anything I had to say. He said:
  • There is no scientific study linking the automobile to greenhouse gases
  •  The majority of scientific research is disproving any human-caused greenhouse gas induced global warming or climate change.
  •  And that I had been put up to making this call by an extremist environmental organization.
Well,  some truth on the last one in that I was prompted to make a call, but how does one nearly out of breath, anxious with anxiety over calling his elected representative, argue with this person?

I tried the following:

JG: What scientific literature does the assemblyman read? Nature? Scientific American (my sources).

Staffer: Ha!

I have since wondered whether these people know that Nature is a pre-eminent peer-reviewed science journal, or whether they hear “Bird and Bloom” or “Furry Friends” when I say “Nature”.

Eventually, the staffer and I were able to find common ground. He agreed that the current tailpipe emissions regulation was good. Clean air was good, but he insisted that AB1058 was written by a non-technical legislature completely out of their league in trying to design legislation to curb a new brand of emissions. I commented that somehow a non-technical legislature managed to write good legislation on tailpipe emissions. This was my one point in a debate that most observers would see me as the loser of (loser of the debate, not necessarily the argument), and I believe it angered him. Though the conversation moved to a polite agree-to-disagree mode, it ended badly.

As a closing to our conversation, I decided to model the best kind of behavior that I  had expected from him, so I said, “I will consider Hollingsworth’s position; can you recommend any sources?”

Staffer: “Well, if you haven’t studied this issue before making this call, clearly you were put up to the call by an extremist environmental group.”

I puzzled for some time as to how this person could be so confident that the scientific literature was on his side? Am I getting only liberal science? Is there perhaps some gray area I need to understand? Sometime later, I learned of anti-global warming advocacy groups targeting legislators. For example, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (note that any of us can form an “institute”) created a petition, recruited many signatures, and bombarded offices with their literature that in format resembled publications of the National Academy of Sciences. In hindsight, I consider my representative a victim of this effort, and I, a victim of gerrymandering.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

thousand one...thousand two...thousand three....

It was only a matter of time till the CRU hacked email story was addressed by local letter writers from my community (Climate change nonsense ), and likewise, it was only a matter of time before I stuck my neck out and invited a discussion. I make the offer in openness (I've provided a means to find me here) and friendship (I left out any personal attacks). I'm posting this topic as a welcome, should any readers of the Californian accept my offer.

I did imply that the letter writer was ignorant of the scientific literature, but this is not a personal attack, rather a description of the writer's lack of knowledge on one subject, the science of climate change. I appeal to the conservative notion that we should avoid political correctness and call ignorance what it is. We should also call theft what it is. Computer hacking and information theft is theft and we must be careful when using information from such means. And we all make judgment calls on when an end justify its means. Lets be sure we know what the ends are.

Here are two videos addressing the CRU hacked emails. Both take a swipe at the intellectual impoverishment of those crying foul over the contents of the emails, but both show how ridiculous such claims are.

CRU hack

Deltoid on stolen emails (...and I highly recommend this blog)

Additionally, the writer of the letter asks "What happened to 'peer review?'" Should my post recruit any interest in understanding the science, I offer the following chart as a starting point. This chart of temperatures was created by a scientist who performs peer-review; that is, he's the person who looks at papers, finds errors, makes suggestions, and evaluates methodology and veracity, all of which determine whether the paper merits publication. I recommend his blog (openmind):

For more on this: Openmind, riddle-me-this

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ignoring Friction

In researching my astronomy presentation on Saturn's newly discovered ring, I started relearning the concepts behind black body radiation as described in my high-school level textbook. "Ignoring friction" harps back to my high school physics textbooks that qualified most problems with "you may ignore friction in your calculations."
I have ignored reality in applying idealized black body radiation curves to understand what Bob Grumbine is saying about sea ice and earth's surface brightness in these posts:
(Subtext: any one reading me should definitely be reading Grumbine's blog; see blog roll.)

I sent Bob Grumbine an earlier draft of this illustration and I'm grateful for his answer (click to enlarge):

If I were to type to publish private correspondence from climate researchers (don't want to go there), it would be easier to explain what I learned and have yet to learn.

The illustration is both right and wrong. It is right in that it portrays idealized black body concepts; from these concepts, I was able to conclude that satellite-based measurements of ice would be nearly impossible if earth's surfaces were true black body emitters. (And now I'm reminded of someone who claimed he could disprove global warming using only high school physics.) And it is wrong in that earth's surfaces, especially ice, are way off from the ideal black body emission curve.

I'm sharing my learning process in part to thank Bob Grumbine. I don't want make more work for him, but he tries to explain science to readers at a high school level, and more impressive, took the time to review my illustration and direct my next steps in where to study.

The other reason I share is to exploit the unique learning opportunity we have with the Internet. There may be others at my level who can assist or learn from my work. For example, it appears my graph showing the attenuation of Earth's atmosphere is off. I've supplemented it with a slightly different version from wikipedia, but am still looking for a definitive reference.

I welcome comments and suggestions.