An average social science article published in Nature (2000-2010) is more heavily cited than an average article in any social science journal, with a "citation impact" of 51 (see the Reuter's article here).
The second best place to get your social science article? Science (citation impact = 35).
Nature and Science don't publish many social science articles, 65 and 80 respectively over the last decade, but the articles they publish seem to do well. For reference, note the citation impact for top economics-only journals (Quarterly Journal of Economics is top in 2008 with citation impact = 5) and the top political science-only journals (Political Analysis is top in 2007 with citation impact = 2.5).
A standard critique of Reuter's citation impact measure is that it counts an article's citations over a fairly short window of time just following that article's publication (2 years). In the social sciences, articles may remain as unpublished working papers for several years, preventing many of their citations from being counted in Reuter's analysis. Is this long lag in publication timing driving Reuters' finding? Probably not. Reuter's also publishes a measure of impact that spans a longer time window following an article's publication: the 28 years from 1981-2008. Giving an article in the Quarterly Journal of Economics almost thirty years to accumulate citations still leaves its average citation count (49) just behind a the two-year citation count for an article in Nature (51). Similarly, the long-run citation count for The American Political Science Review is 31, just behind the two-year citation count for Science (35).
[If you're interested in citations and the structure of human knowledge more generally, see this earlier post.]
I wrote this little function to email me from Matlab. Its very convenient for telling you when a long script finishes (or crashes).
It's simple to use: type "email_me('message to yourself')"
If you type no second argument (for the email's body) than it just sends you the time.
When you first install the function, open it up and change the first three lines of code to match your gmail account info. You can specify that it sends email from a different account, so if you're anxious about typing your password somewhere, you can just open a new gmail account for Matlab-only uses. [I'm not 100% sure if it will work for non-gmail accounts.]
Listening to NPR today, I heard this report:
The amount the U.S. military spends annually on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan: $20.2 billion.
That's more than NASA's budget. It's more than BP has paid so far for damage during the Gulf oil spill. It's what the G-8 has pledged to help foster new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia.
"When you consider the cost to deliver the fuel to some of the most isolated places in the world — escorting, command and control, medevac support — when you throw all that infrastructure in, we're talking over $20 billion," Steven Anderson tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host Rachel Martin. Anderson is a retired brigadier general who served as Gen. David Patreaus' chief logistician in Iraq.
Why does it cost so much?
To power an air conditioner at a remote outpost in land-locked Afghanistan, a gallon of fuel has to be shipped into Karachi, Pakistan, then driven 800 miles over 18 days to Afghanistan on roads that are sometimes little more than "improved goat trails," Anderson says. "And you've got risks that are associated with moving the fuel almost every mile of the way."
Anderson calculates more than 1,000 troops have died in fuel convoys, which remain prime targets for attack. Free-standing tents equipped with air conditioners in 125 degree heat require a lot of fuel. Anderson says by making those structures more efficient, the military could save lives and dollars.This suggests the annual price of AC for each of our 70,000 troops is $31,428.57 per soldier, two orders of magnitude over my ~$200 back of the envelope estimate. I'm certain that this price is not the actual consumer price that we would observe for air conditioners being used by residents in the long-run, but it's so much larger than my previous estimate that I may have to reconsider how effective I think AC expansion is for mitigating the economic impact of high temperatures.
Introduction: Next generation biofuels
Proponents of biomass-based fuels push for sustainability against a steady tide of conflicting analysis, but can advanced biofuels cut the mustard?
Agriculture: Beyond food versus fuel
The most controversial aspect of biofuels is the perceived competition for farmland. Will advances in biofuels and agriculture send this trade-off speeding towards the history books?
Fuel options: The ideal biofuel
A biomass-based fuel needs to be cheap and energy dense. Gasoline sets a high standard.
Lignocellulose: A chewy problem
The inedible parts of plants are feeding the next generation of biofuels. But extracting the energy-containing molecules is a challenging task.
Algae: The scum solution
The green slime that covers ponds is an efficient factory for turning sunlight into fuel, but growing it on an industrial scale will take ingenuity.
Perspective: Don't foul the water
Shifting from corn to perennial crops in making biofuels is essential to save clean water, argues Jeremy Martin
Local benefits: The seeds of an economy
Biofuels could help poor nations modernize, but scaling up aid supported projects to commercial operations is far from easy.
Perspective: A new hope for Africa
Bioenergy could help bring food security to the world's poorest continent, say Lee R. Lynd and Jeremy Woods.
Policy: Fuelling politics
Biofuels have been hailed as key to reducing our fossil-fuel dependence, yet their environmental and social impacts remain uncertain. A complex task lies ahead for policy makers.
Perspective: Lessons from Brazil
Thirty five years of experience has taught one of the world's leading biofuels producers several essential lessons, which other countries should heed, says Marcia Moraes.
Ultrashort summary: In order to emit CO2 at the same rate as humans, we would need Mt. St Helens to erupt violently every 2.5 hrs.
[Update: Gerlach posted about this article on RealClimate here]
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This commonality across these very different statistical procedures suggests to me that thinking on parallel tracks is an important and fundamental property of statistics. Perhaps, rather than trying to systematize all statistical learning into a single inferential framework (whether it be Neyman-Pearson hypothesis testing, Bayesian inference over graphical models, or some purely predictive behavioristic approach), we would be better off embracing our twoishness.
Climate and the Collapse of Maya Civilization
Gerald H. Haug, Detlef Günther, Larry C. Peterson, Daniel M. Sigman, Konrad A. Hughen and Beat Aeschlimann
In the anoxic Cariaco Basin of the southern Caribbean, the bulk titanium content of undisturbed sediment reflects variations in riverine input and the hydrological cycle over northern tropical South America. A seasonally resolved record of titanium shows that the collapse of Maya civilization in the Terminal Classic Period occurred during an extended regional dry period, punctuated by more intense multiyear droughts centered at approximately 810, 860, and 910 A.D. These new data suggest that a century-scale decline in rainfall put a general strain on resources in the region, which was then exacerbated by abrupt drought events, contributing to the social stresses that led to the Maya demise.
Climate as a contributing factor in the demise of Angkor, Cambodia
Brendan M. Buckleya, Kevin J. Anchukaitis, Daniel Penny, Roland Fletcher, Edward R. Cook, Masaki Sano, Le Canh Nam, Aroonrut Wichienkeeo, Ton That Minh, and Truong Mai Hong
The “hydraulic city” of Angkor, the capitol of the Khmer Empire in Cambodia, experienced decades-long drought interspersed with intense monsoons in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries that, in combination with other factors, contributed to its eventual demise. The climatic evidence comes from a seven-and-a-half century robust hydroclimate reconstruction from tropical southern Vietnamese tree rings. The Angkor droughts were of a duration and severity that would have impacted the sprawling city’s water supply and agricultural productivity, while high-magnitude monsoon years damaged its water control infrastructure. Hydroclimate variability for this region is strongly and inversely correlated with tropical Pacific sea surface temperature, indicating that a warm Pacific and El Niño events induce drought at interannual and interdecadal time scales, and that low-frequency variations of tropical Pacific climate can exert significant influence over Southeast Asian climate and society.
If you have ideas for how to make Fight Entropy more comment-friendly, please leave a comment...
Ben Ramalingam’s recent post ‘Gender bias as an emergent property in international agencies‘ discusses how the aid industry has fallen short in walking the talk on gender. Ben basically says that agencies love building other people’s capacity around gender. Yet as with so many things agencies and aid organizations like advising on, our own capacity is in a fairly sorry state.
Ben notes that micro-level and informal attitudes and dynamics add up to an overall institutional bias against women at international development agencies. I’d hazard to say that most women face a gender bias, whether working in their home countries or afar, whether at an agency headquarters or in a ‘developing country’ where gender awareness programs are implemented, whether ex-pat or local contract. Above and beyond the gender dynamic specifically in development agencies is an overall gender bias working against women in many (most?) societies. This goes beyond what an INGO can address, but one could argue that if development agencies were really committed to addressing gender bias, they would start ‘at home.’ How many agencies have actually looked closely at their own set-up and made serious improvements before embarking on a ‘gender’ program or campaign externally?
There's also a nice data graphic that they put together here. [In an earlier post, we provided the same SAGE dataset over the period1700-1990 for exploration in Google Earth]
Drug policies must be based on solid empirical and scientific evidence. The primary measure of success should be the reduction of harm to the health, security and welfare of individuals and society.
In the 50 years since the United Nations initiated a truly global drug prohibition system, we have learned much about the nature and patterns of drug production, distribution, use and dependence, and the effectiveness of our attempts to reduce these problems. It might have been understandable that the architects of the system would place faith in the concept of eradicating drug production and use (in the light of the limited evidence available at the time). There is no excuse, however, for ignoring the evidence and experience accumulated since then. Drug policies and strategies at all levels too often continue to be driven by ideological perspectives, or political convenience, and pay too little attention
to the complexities of the drug market, drug use and drug addiction....
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This reminds us that drug policies were initially developed and implemented in the hope of achieving outcomes in terms of a reduction in harms to individuals and society – less crime, better health, and more economic and social development. However, we have primarily been measuring our success in the war on drugs by entirely different measures – those that report on processes, such as the number of arrests, the amounts seized, or the harshness of punishments. These indicators may tell us how tough we are being, but they do not tell us how successful we are in improving the ‘health and welfare of mankind’.
When Prohibition was introduced, I hoped that it would be widely supported by public opinion and the day would soon come when the evil effects of alcohol would be recognized. I have slowly and reluctantly come to believe that this has not been the result. Instead, drinking has generally increased; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened; and crime has increased to a level never seen before.
Our principles and recommendations can be summarized as follows:
End the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others. Challenge rather than reinforce common misconceptions about drug markets, drug use and drug dependence.
Encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens. This recommendation applies especially to cannabis, but we also encourage other experiments in decriminalization and legal regulation that can accomplish these objectives and provide models for others.
Offer health and treatment services to those in need. Ensure that a variety of treatment modalities are available, including not just methadone and buprenorphine treatment but also the heroin-assisted treatment programs that have proven successful in many European countries and Canada. Implement syringe access and other harm reduction measures that have proven effective in reducing transmission of HIV and other blood-borne infections as well as fatal overdoses. Respect the human rights of people who use drugs. Abolish abusive practices carried out in the name of treatment – such as forced detention, forced labor, and physical or psychological abuse – that contravene human rights standards and norms or that remove the right to self-determination.
Apply much the same principles and policies stated above to people involved in the lower ends of illegal drug markets, such as farmers, couriers and petty sellers. Many are themselves victims of violence and intimidation or are drug dependent. Arresting and incarcerating tens of millions of these people in recent decades has filled prisons and destroyed lives and families without reducing the availability of illicit drugs or the power of criminal organizations. There appears to be almost no limit to the number of people willing to engage in such activities to better their lives, provide for their families, or otherwise escape poverty. Drug control resources are better directed elsewhere.
Invest in activities that can both prevent young people from taking drugs in the first place and also prevent those who do use drugs from developing more serious problems. Eschew simplistic ‘just say no’ messages and ‘zero tolerance’ policies in favor of educational efforts grounded in credible information and prevention programs that focus on social skills and peer influences. The most successful prevention efforts may be those targeted at specific at-risk groups.
Focus repressive actions on violent criminal organizations, but do so in ways that undermine their power and reach while prioritizing the reduction of violence and intimidation. Law enforcement efforts should focus not on reducing drug markets per se but rather on reducing their harms to individuals, communities and national security.
Begin the transformation of the global drug prohibition regime. Replace drug policies and strategies driven by ideology and political convenience with fiscally responsible policies and strategies grounded in science, health, security and human rights – and adopt appropriate criteria for their evaluation. Review the scheduling of drugs that has resulted in obvious anomalies like the flawed categorization of cannabis, coca leaf and MDMA. Ensure that the international conventions are interpreted and/or revised to accommodate robust experimentation with harm reduction, decriminalization and legal regulatory policies.
Break the taboo on debate and reform. The time for action is now.
Our colleague Johannes points us to AidData.org:
AidData is a collaborative initiative to provide products and services that promote the dissemination, analysis, and understanding of development finance information. At the core of the AidData program is the AidData web portal, which is a gateway to nearly 1 million records of development finance activities from donors around the world. Complementing the work of the OECD, whose Creditor Reporting System (CRS) is the official source of statistics for all OECD member countries, the AidData portal aims to provide access to development finance activities from a wide range of donors in an accessible format. In addition to providing access to these data, the team works on other projects that make it easier to access and analyze aid information, such as geocoding.
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Lagrangian models (LMs) track the movement of fluid parcels in their moving frame of reference. As such, scientists using LMs are forced, in a way, to imagine themselves moving with the parcel and experiencing the effects of advection, turbulence, and changes in the parcel’s environment.
LMs have advanced in sophistication over recent decades, allowing them to be used increasingly for both scientific and societal purposes. For example, it is common practice now for researchers around the world to apply LMs to examine a wide spectrum of geophysical phenomena. Atmospheric chemists can track intercontinental transport of pollution plumes [Stohl et al., 2002] or airborne radioactivity [Wotawa et al.,2006]. By running LMs backward in time [Flesch et al., 1995; Lin et al., 2003], instrumentalists can establish the source regions of observed atmospheric species with high computational efficiency [Ryall et al., 2001]. Therefore, LMs are being used increasingly to quantify sources and sinks of greenhouse gases by combining simulations with observations in an inverse modeling framework [Trusilova et al., 2010]. Such “top-down”emissions estimation is receiving growing acceptance as an independent tool to test the veracity of emissions inventories and to verify adherence to treaties.
A recent indication of the tremendous societal importance of LMs was their role in predicting the spread of volcanic ash from the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano inIceland. Figure 1 demonstrates the power ofLMs to accurately track the multiday dispersion of a plume as it eventually transforms into a complicated filamentary structure. The example further demonstrates the great potential of applying LMs in combination with data assimilation and inverse modeling to improve source estimates and the simulation of hazardous plumes.
As Lagrangian modeling increases in complexity and popularity, it is imperative to reexamine the physical foundations and implementation aspects of LMs used today.From this, scientists can build a road map of further steps needed to move Lagrangian modeling forward and to ensure its successful application in the future.
As opposed to Eulerian models (which use grid cells that are fixed in place), LMs are known to create minimal numerical diffusion and thus are capable of preserving gradients in tracer concentration. Additionally,Lagrangian integration is numerically stable, meaning that models can take bigger time steps. Furthermore, the Lagrangian framework is a natural way to model turbulence,as it is a closer physical analog to the pathways traced by eddies.
These advantages served as the inspiration from which Lagrangian particle dispersion models (LPDMs) have evolved, in which air parcels are modeled as infinitesimally small particles that are transported with random velocities representing turbulence. LPDMs often track many thousands to millions of particles in three dimensions and are more sophisticated than simple trajectory or puff models. With the availability of computational resources, full three-dimensional LPDM simulations that were expensive to run just a decade ago are now routinely carried out.