Discover more from Briefed by Data
Quick Takes and Random Stuff Sept 21, 2023
China and solar, white sturgeon, health coverage, Exxon and more
China and solar manufacturing
China absolutely dominates the manufacturing of solar panels. The most recent IEA data is shown in this graph, where China is light blue and APAC stands for Asia-Pacific region excluding India.
China manufactures 97% of the wafers and, at the low end, 75% of the modules. The steps in the procedure are depicted in the following diagram.
The bar on the far left represents China's demand, which is 36%. In other words, China supplies the majority of the world's solar panels because they consume far less than they create. So what, you might say? China produces a wide range of goods for the rest of the globe. In his podcast, Don't Be Surprised by China's Collapse (worth 10 minutes), Peter Zeihan makes the following argument (9/19/2023):
He doesn't expressly address solar, but he does emphasize manufacturing capability. My main point here is that transitioning to renewables—solar and wind—requires a lot of things to go well. Don't bank on it. It is true that the United States has a growing capacity for solar, and we will see if it is fast enough, but even if it is, a collapse or even a partial collapse of China would be a significant setback for renewable energy.
Health insurance by state
This chart is provided by the United States Census Bureau (9/14/20223). Texas is an outlier, having an uninsured rate of 16.6%. Democrats' inability to portray universal health care as a victory for freedom and small businesses, which should appeal to conservatives, has long perplexed me. It would be a huge benefit to small businesses. If you have an option between two jobs that pay the same but one provides health insurance, it's easy to choose the latter, especially if you have children. This makes it more difficult for small enterprises to hire. Similarly, if you need health insurance, it is difficult to leave a job that offers it in order to establish a business. Universal coverage of some sort would provide people with more freedom.
Exxon predicted well
In my post, How to Lie with Lying, I mentioned how accurate climate predictions have been. Exxon also forecast well in 1982, I was reminded. Exxon created Graph A in 1982, and the blue and red curves were included in the publication Assessing ExxonMobil's Global Warming Projections (1/13/2023). You'll note that Exxon's forecasts were accurate. By the way, obviously they were aware of climate change, but don't blame them. We have all reaped the benefits of fossil fuels. We should cease buying it if we want them to stop producing it. Also, would we be able to produce solar and wind energy without fossil fuels?
CO2 as a heat-trapping gas is basic science
One of the reasons why climate modeling is generally good is because the science of CO2 as a greenhouse gas is really basic. Here it is in two paragraphs from a Columbia article from a couple of years ago:
Oxygen and nitrogen don’t interfere with infrared waves in the atmosphere. That’s because molecules are picky about the range of wavelengths that they interact with, Smerdon explained. For example, oxygen and nitrogen absorb energy that has tightly packed wavelengths of around 200 nanometers or less, whereas infrared energy travels at wider and lazier wavelengths of 700 to 1,000,000 nanometers. Those ranges don’t overlap, so to oxygen and nitrogen, it’s as if the infrared waves don’t even exist; they let the waves (and heat) pass freely through the atmosphere.
With CO2 and other greenhouse gases, it’s different. Carbon dioxide, for example, absorbs energy at a variety of wavelengths between 2,000 and 15,000 nanometers — a range that overlaps with that of infrared energy. As CO2 soaks up this infrared energy, it vibrates and re-emits the infrared energy back in all directions. About half of that energy goes out into space, and about half of it returns to Earth as heat, contributing to the ‘greenhouse effect.’
They also have a neat graphic:
Some but insufficient knowledge could be harmful
I've spent a lot of time teaching introductory statistics. I've often questioned if taking statistics for one semester caused more harm than good. In my opinion, many students have just enough statistical knowledge to feel confident about it but not enough to utilize it successfully. The paper Intermediate levels of scientific knowledge are related with overconfidence, and negative views about science indicate that I may be justified in my concerns. I can only quote the abstract because it is behind a paywall.
We find a nonlinear relationship between knowledge and confidence, with overconfidence (the confidence gap) peaking at intermediate levels of actual scientific knowledge. These high-confidence/intermediate-knowledge groups also display the least positive attitudes towards science.
White sturgeon can handle a heatwave
An interesting study Heatwave resilience of juvenile white sturgeon is associated with epigenetic and transcriptional alterations, suggesting that white sturgeons can adapt to heatwaves. By the way, if you need some two-way ANOVA data, this paper has it.
In this study we demonstrate that juvenile white sturgeon exposed to heatwaves are resilient to this stressor during this critical life period. The heatwave exposed sturgeon exhibited cross-tolerance to subsequent acute stressors associated with changes in epigenetic marks and mRNA levels in response to acute thermal and hypoxia stress. Of particular note, sturgeon demonstrate the capacity to rapidly change global DNA methylation in response to acute heat or hypoxic stress over the course of a few hours. This study illustrates the extent of, and mechanisms underlying, resilience in juvenile white sturgeon in response to climate change scenarios during their most vulnerable year of life. Ultimately, these physiological mechanisms may have significant benefits in dealing with the increases in heatwave duration and frequency associated with climate change.
The auto workers strike explained
Kevin Drum explains why the auto workers are striking in one graph:
Now that auto companies are doing well, the unions want them to make concessions on pay that will get workers back on the rising trendline they were on before. This is where the initial demand for a 40% raise over four years came from. That still wouldn't get them back to the old trend, but it would at least get them back to about where they were in 2005.
If you've read this far, please subscribe. A free subscription is simply a click away and greatly appreciated, plus you’ll get these right in your inbox.
The spinning CD
A fun song, as one might expect, from the Barenaked Ladies, Lovin’ Life:
Please share and like
Please help me find readers by forwarding this article to your friends (and even those who aren't your friends), sharing this post on social media, and clicking like. If you're on Twitter, you can find me at BriefedByData. If you have any article ideas, feedback, or other views, please email me at email@example.com.
In a crowded media market, it's hard to get people to read your work. I have a long way to go, and I want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me find and attract subscribers.
Disagreeing and using comments
I'd rather know the truth and understand the world than always be right. I'm not writing to upset or antagonize anyone on purpose, though I guess that could happen. I welcome dissent and disagreement in the comments. We all should be forced to articulate our viewpoints and change our minds when we need to, but we should also know that we can respectfully disagree and move on. So, if you think something said is wrong or misrepresented, then please share your viewpoint in the comments.