Kenneth Arrow, weather officer

Following the U.S. declaration of war on December 8, 1941, Arrow, who was certain to be drafted, enlisted in the hope of securing an officer’s commission in the U.S. Army Corps where he believed he would have a chance to use his mathematical and statistical training.  He was quickly approved to attend an aviation training program at New York University in October 1942, taking “active duty” breaks from classes for rifle drill, which he and his colleagues thought rather silly.   Nonetheless, he came out of that program in September 1943 commissioned as a weather officer with the rank of second lieutenant and was assigned to a weather research facility in Asheville, North Carolina; in July 1945 he was transferred to the weather division headquarters of the Army Air Force.  It was during that time in Asheville that he wrote a memorandum that later, in 1949, became his first professional paper (“On the Use of Winds in Flight Planning” in the Journal of Meteorology).  That paper presented an algorithm for taking advantage of winds aloft to save fuel on North Atlantic air crossings, an idea that was not acted upon by the military at that time but became the canonical practice for North Atlantic flight paths in the postwar period.

That is from the new, excellent, and consistently interesting Finding Equilibrium: Arrow, Debreu, McKenzie and the Problem of Scientific Credit, by Till Düppe and E. Roy Weintraub.  Unlike many history of economic thought books, this one tells you “what actually happened,” such as how an Econometrica editor (Robert Strotz) decided to publish the McKenzie paper before the Arrow-Debreu paper, when he had both in hand.

Comments

This sounds like an interesting book, as I am fond of credit and science, and appreciate Kenneth Arrow's ingenious research on voting among other topics. I will surely buy it if it is available in reasonably affordable paperback.
Tyrell_Tidings@hotmail.com

Immediately reminded of how Charles Lindbergh helped win our War in the Pacific.

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Unrelated but general question. Is there a new killfile script that allows one to block certain commenters? The old one no longer works.

I've never heard of McKenzie, so I guess Arrow wins in the long run.

I wonder to myself if Arrow ever wondered to himself if he could have more of a contribution to humanity if he had remained in applied science.

While I think the world has too many economists, the only thing worse would be more climate scientists.

Yeah, who need applied climate scientists like these people?

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Experience: NSIDC began in 1976 as an analog archive and information center, the World Data Center for Glaciology. Since then, NSIDC has evolved to manage cryosphere-related data ranging from the smallest text file to terabytes of remote sensing data from NASA’s Earth Observing System satellite program.' http://nsidc.org/about/overview

Apart from anyone interested in Arctic shipping, mineral exploration, weather ....

And this is always a good monthly read based on real time/near real time data - http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

Of course, such climate scientists are considerably different than the ones in your imagination.

So you think that because one glass of whiskey is nice, three thousand must be fine as well? Bizarre.

Those climate scientists are worth their money because they are responsible for helping the US Navy find thin patches of ice so that they can fire missiles through them. Pretty much the only reason to fund them.

A climate scientist that understood statistics? That would be very valuable.

You beat me to that comment by a minute.

In retrospect, we might have turned out better had Arrow remained. The field would have developed better statistical practices sooner and the AGW nonsense could have been debunked before it gained political traction.

And considering the utter failure of current climate modelling concerning what is happening in the Arctic in terms of sea ice coverage, maybe we would have more accurate models to actually describe reality.

True. I was told the arctic would be ice free by now. What the hell's going on?

Really? It would be nice to see a link, because the IPCC seems to be quite wrong - 'In a more recent study, there is good agreement between Arctic sea-ice trends and those simulated by control and transient integrations from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) and the Hadley Centre (see Figure 16-6). Although the Hadley Centre climate model underestimates sea-ice extent and thickness, the trends of the two models are similar. Both models predict continued decreases in sea-ice thickness and extent (Vinnikov et al., 1999), so that by 2050, sea-ice extent is reduced to about 80% of area it covered at the mid-20th century.' That prediction is likely to be off by several decades at this point - by being far too optimistic, assuming current observed Arctic sea ice trends continue. http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg2/index.php?idp=605

It is always so strange to see people who claim to be skeptics not point to one of the more glaring, empirically supported failures of current climate science's predictive abilities.

Almost as if these debates are not about observations being contrasted with predictions, in an attempt to improve the predictions so as to at least come closer to approximating the real time/near real time observations.

"Really? It would be nice to see a link, "

LOL, sure. This isn't the only such failed prediction and apparently this is the only time every you couldn't manage to google a wall of text.

From the BBC -Wednesday, 12 December 2007

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7139797.stm

"Scientists in the US have presented one of the most dramatic forecasts yet for the disappearance of Arctic sea ice.

Their latest modelling studies indicate northern polar waters could be ice-free in summers within just 5-6 years.

Professor Wieslaw Maslowski told an American Geophysical Union meeting that previous projections had underestimated the processes now driving ice loss."

You need to quote a bit more - 'Professor Maslowski's group, which includes co-workers at Nasa and the Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences (PAS), is well known for producing modelled dates that are in advance of other teams.

These other teams have variously produced dates for an open summer ocean that, broadly speaking, go out from about 2040 to 2100.'

Outliers are outliers, but no question that you found a claim that is clearly as laughable in the light of the last decade as the researchers talking about 2100.

However, here is some interesting recent events in the Arctic from the last couple of years 2017 - 'The Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica just set a new record, sailing through the Northwest Passage above North America earlier than ever before. It took 24 days at sea to travel the 6,215 miles (10,000 kilometers) from Alaska to Greenland, arriving on July 29. Arctic sea ice has been melting sooner every year, opening the route earlier and for a longer time each summer.' https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2017/07/earliest-crossing-of-the-northwest-passage-ever/535443/">https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2017/07/earliest-crossing-of-the-northwest-passage-ever/535443/

and

'An LNG tanker designed for icy conditions has become the first commercial ship to travel the Arctic’s northern sea route in winter.

It marks a milestone in the opening up of Russia’s northern coastline, as thawing polar ice makes industrial development and maritime trade increasingly viable.' https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/13/shipping-first-as-commercial-tanker-crosses-arctic-sea-route-in-winter

Basically, people in charge of making billions of dollars in investment are betting on the current Arctic sea ice conditions continuing to follow their trend, and are not waiting around until 2040 or 2100.

Anyone willing to bet that the 2017 Northwest Passage earliest passage date will be beaten this year?

Current observations aren't nothing, but what would be more helpful would be geological ones. Climate has been changing, in large to very localized ways, for more than four billion years.

I read an article the other day about Greenland ice melt that seemed completely unaware than this also happened rather recently -- between 1100 and 1400 AD, when Greenland was settled by Norse travelers who supported themselves by agriculture. Similarly, the interesting Fate of Rome book credits the end of the Roman empire partly to the end of the Roman Climate Optimum, during which Mediterranean weather was warmer and wetter and when, in Alexandria, Egypt, a scientist noted that August was the only non-rainy month of the year.

I limit my carbon use and do pretty well at it, but even I know there is much more at play in climate than we can know. It's wearying to see people who aren't aware of this accuse other people of being science deniers.

Futuristic aircraft will be able to fly to the edge of space, thereby avoiding the prevailing winds. The Concorde could fly at 60,000 feet, as compared to the maximum for today's commercial aircraft which is limited to about 45,000 feet. Here's a review of Robert Kurson's fascinating tale about Apollo 8, Rocket Men: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/15/books/review/robert-kurson-rocket-men.html Maybe the mission needed an economist so the rocket men could have avoided all that unpleasantness (read the review).

"an idea that was not acted upon by the military at that time": the old joke is that Military Intelligence is a contradiction in terms.

For those of you thinking that if Ken Arrow had remained in the meterorology/climatology area rather than going into economics we would not have seen most of those folks arguing that we have a global warming trend probably largely due to anthropogenic causes, I am afraid you all are deluded. Arrow has written quite about the economics of climate change in which he has clearly largely accepted the mainstream findings coming out of those disciplines. If anybody thinks he would have thought differently if he had studies more does not understand what an overwhelming polymath he was, kind of like Tom Schelling in that matter. Hey, even polymathic Tyler and his colleague, Robin Hanson, know better regarding Arrow. There were very few rooms he was in after he was of a certain age where he basically did not know more than everybody in the room.

"he has clearly largely accepted the mainstream findings "

From memory, Arrow did just accept those findings and wrote about the economics of the rise in tempreture. It would have been more interesting to see him tease through the data to determine what impact human activity has had on the rise. How much is natural and how much is human? 10% or 90%? I don't think he ever delved into those questions with any original research. THAT would have been more interesting, and is where real critical thinking is lacking. Maybe he did though, but I've never seen it.

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