Ignoring Climate Change’s Effects on our Military Endangers Our Troops

The House has just passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill to not allow the Department of Defense to implement any of the results of any US or international climate change studies.  The vote was largely along party lines, with Republicans backing the amendment.

First of all, this inhibits defense planning in considering conflicts arising from climate change.  This is very important, for example, in the defense of Israel, or other parts of the Middle East, where the next war is considered to be one over water scarcity, not oil.  Knowing when and where water scarcity will arise will allow us to find equitable negotiated solutions, as well as to support building water infrastructure to prevent very costly conflicts and refugee or aid situations.  It inhibits forecasting the effects on harbors from sea level rise, and projecting projects and funds to adapt to it.  The use of spy satellites and drone warfare depends on clear skies, and we have to know what the future holds for cloud cover in various theatres of operation.  The decision whether to invade a country and equip and supply our forces in a country like Iraq which is desert and has very hot and dry summers would be affected by climate projections.

Second, looking at military history shows the importance of the climate in both long term strategy and short term battles.  The rise of US weather prediction by computers owes a lot to the necessity of planning a good period and day for the D-day invasion.  The defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 was due to a storm in the English Channel forcing the Spanish Armada North around England.  When it returned to the English Channel it was essentially demolished.  The defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815 in Belgium was because the field was too wet for a prompt attack, and Napoleon was later defeated there by Prussian reinforcements to the Duke of Wellington’s forces.

Napoleon’s defeat in attacking Russia was due to the cold and long Russian winter, and the large distance that the Russians were able to retreat.  Hitler’s defeat in his invasion of Russia was similar, with tanks being bogged down in mud, and soldiers suffering from frostbite.  Hitler’s defeat in the Battle of the Bulge came when clearing weather allowed US forces to attack German tanks from the air.

It is very short-sighted for the Republicans in the House to leave the US Military unprepared for strategic planning and fighting using the best scientific assessments of climate.

Posted in Climate Change, Sea Level Rise | Leave a comment

The UC Budget in the 2014-15 California Governor’s Budget

This is an accounting of the UC Budget in the May 13, 2014 revision of the 2014-15 California Governor’s Budget.  I don’t use rounding off.

The Total California Budget for 2014-15 is $156.152 billion.

The State Budget for Higher Education is $12.874 billion, or 8.2% of the state total.  The total higher education budget including federal support is $46.262 billion.  So the state contribution to the total higher education budget is 28%.

The State Budget for the University of California is $3.016 billion.  The total UC budget is $26.185 billion.  The state contribution to UC is 11.5% of the total.  The state also provides $1.482 billion in the Student Aid Commission.  There are 89,790 positions in the UC system.

In the UC system total budget, Instruction accounts for $5.246 billion.  This is broken down into the General Campus of $2.978 billion with 15,799 positions, and $1.991 billion in the Health Sciences with 8,267 positions.  Student Financial Aid is $1.389 billion of the total UC budget.  Research has $0.777 billion, with 5,303 positions.

Extramural Programs of the UC total $5.180 billion.  Of this, Research is $3.376 billion, and Student Financial Aid is $0.616 billion.  The extramural programs of $5.2 billion of outside money, compared to the state UC budget of $3 billion shows that the UC brings in money to the state.

The UC also run the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab for an income of $0.764 billion.



Posted in Economies, Education, UC Irvine, University Funding | Leave a comment

Fact checking Bill Maher on German Green Power

Bill Maher did a service this Friday by discussing climate change. But he did mislead on the point about Germany’s achievement on Green Power or renewables. He said that Germany was running on 74% renewables. One of the panel, Ian Bremmer, pointed out that that was only for one day. Actually, the appropriate qualification was that it was only for a brief period around noon when solar would be at a maximum, and presumably when wind was also close to a maximum. It was also not noted that it was on a Sunday, when industrial power requirements would have been at a minimum. The report in Climate Progress on May 13, 2014 would indicate that the Sunday was that of May 11, when the country was also not using power for summer air conditioning. The same article also said that renewables accounted for 27% of Germany’s electricity for the first quarter of 2014, far below the 74% of one propitious moment.

While Germany’s renewable sources are praiseworthy, as I have pointed out before, their solar power at their latitudes are only half as efficient as solar power in Mediterranean climate countries. They also may be needlessly shutting down their clean nuclear power, since they are not in earthquake or tsunami zones.
The various sources of Germany’s power from Wikipedia up to 2012 is below.

From the EIA, in 2012, Germany generated 576 TWh of electricity. Renewabes was 139 TWh or 24%. Nuclear was 94 TWh, or 16%. Together, this means that 40% of Germany’s electricity was cleanly generated.

Germany closed 8 nuclear reactors made before 1980. It plans to close the remaining 9 before 2022.

Germany’s total renewable capacity at the end of 2011 was 65 GW.

Bill Maher’s comment was to challenge the US to achieve the 74% renewables, but let us look at a comparison of recent US and German power sources below.

usa-germany sources


Coal is on top (in light blue).  Coal is increasing in Germany as they shut down nuclear (in orange).  The US, on the other hand, is replacing coal with natural gas (in gray).  Since natural gas only produces about half the CO2 of coal and is much less polluting, this is a dramatic step forward for the US.  Germany’s unnecessary shut down of nuclear eliminates greenhouse gas free power.  Germany has increased its share of renewables to 24%, and the US is on its way there.  California has a goal of 20% renewables by 2010, and of 33% by 2020.


Posted in Electric Power, Fossil Fuel Energy, Natural Gas, Nuclear Energy, Renewable Energy, Wind Energy | Leave a comment

UC President Janet Napolitano’s Inspiring Talk at UC Irvine

UC President Janet Napolitano gave the annual Jack W. Peltason Lecture for the Center for the Study of Democracy at UC Irvine on May 6, 2014.   Jack Peltason was UC Irvine’s Chancellor from 1984 to 1993.  He was the 16th President of the University of California from 1992 to 1995.  His wife Suzanne Peltason wrote the book UC Irvine, the First Twenty-five Years.

UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake introduced President Napolitano as a previous Governor of Arizona, and as past Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama.

President Napolitano started by announcing the Jack Peltason had the President’s Medal bestowed on him.  She talked to Jack earlier today, and asked him what message could she pass on in her talk.  He said that every day has a crisis to deal with.  But don’t lose the sight of the forest for the trees.  Leave time to think, and then to dream.  (My reporting is paraphrased, but someone has to replace CNN until they overcome their fixation.)  Jack Peltason was in the audience, and received a long and warm applause.  President Napolitano asked how many in the audience knew Jack Peltason, and it was most of the audience.

President Napolitano discussed why the UC was a great university, and described it as a miracle developed by California, with a great story of how it came to be.  There is no end to its future, and it will continue to change.  She titled her talk “The Miracle in Our Midst”.  She had Chaired the National Governor’s Association, and that no state has what the University of California has in its 10 campuses.  The idea of the University goes back to the first California Constitutional Convention.  They thought of a University that could match Harvard.  No other public institute of higher education is above us.  We are a research university that asks new questions in basic research.

Janet Napolitano gets to explain the University in Sacramento, our State Capitol.  Andy Sheckman was our Newest Nobel prize winner.  41% of our freshmen were the first college students in their families.  40% of our freshman come from low income families that are eligible for Pell Grants.  The university has to keep moving and evolving.

The Gold Rush was like the Big Bang for the University. The Oakland College of California evolved into UC Berkeley.  Even from the start it struggled financially.  The UC budget is now at $24 billion.  Each new campus went from being considered a boondoggle by some to becoming a success.  Next came UCLA, UC Davis, UC Riverside, and UC Santa Barbara.   Then in the 60’s, the baby boomers and an invading nation required more campuses, and UC Irvine, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Cruz were formed.  UC Merced is our newest campus, a University for the 21st century.

The new campuses were seen as taking away resources from the existing campuses, but also as rescuers for the increases in enrollment.  Yet the institution never succumbed to rivalries.  UC Merced was inspired by UC Irvine’s start as the so-called “Instant University”.

UC Irvine was dedicated by President Lyndon B. Johnson on June 20, 1964.  UC Irvine has been again ranked as the highest research university in the US under 50 years of age, for the third time.

It was the first to have two Nobel Prizes in two different fields in the same year:  Sherwood Rowland in Chemistry and Fred Reines in Physics.  Since then we have added a third, Irwin Rose.

President Obama is coming for our commencement in June, 50 years after Lyndon Johnson dedicated our campus.

We need to continue for the future with audacious dreams.  “Teach for California, and research for the world.”

UC has concern for the commonwealth, and is following the California dream.  UC is a public good for the entire society.  Her greatest role is to lead the fight for UC to retain excellence and to be an engine for social mobility.  We are now the number one research University in the world.  All in the University must join in this fight to retain our excellence.  Don’t forget about the forest, and keep the big picture.  This miracle in our midst is transforming our lives.  We need to share in our starting vision and in transforming for the future.  This ending was followed by great applause.

President Napolitano then entertained questions that had been submitted.

Q.  Will there be more federal funding for higher education?

A.  Federal funding will remain flat.  In Sacramento she argues for more funding for the University.  California will not thrive unless the University does.  We are producing thousands of graduates and graduate students.  We are the number one recipient of federal research dollars.  We must also look to other ways to bring in more funding.  One source is private-public partnerships.  Another is to instill a spirit that alumni have an obligation to give back to the University, as is done in private universities.  The UC has 1.6 million living alumni.

Q.  What about the challenge of maintaining the California master plan?

A.  We must evolve and change.  We need more seats, and to look at what enrollment requirements will be.  We need public higher education to have a democracy.

Q.  What can be done to reform the immigration system?

A.  We must open up our visas.  We must make immigration easier, especially for our graduates.  Border security is not the solution.  We should get people already here documented, and into the system.  An immigration bill was passed by the Senate.  It was good but it put too much into border security as opposed to Ports of Entry.  We must keep up advocacy on this issue.

Q.  How can the UC Office of the President facilitate entrepreneurship?

A.  We are looking for ways to involve our Ph. D. students.  Part of doing research is to get our research out to the world.

Q.  What is the effect of the Affordable Care Act on our budget?

A.  The ACA is transformational – we want to treat people.  We want to get medical for people at the preventable stage, rather than at the acute stage.  This new act is in a transitional period.  We run five large health centers.  We are fourth in treatment in the state.  The UC is the largest medical researcher in the country.

Q.  What is the role of online education?

A.  Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) won’t solve all of our problems.  There will be a role for them.  We want to design such courses for students in the system.  We can use them for courses taught on other campuses, or that are only taught every other year.  We can provide courses to staff or to alumni.  We will quickly get better at such courses.

Q.  What about President Obama?

A.  It is great that he is coming here on our 50th year, and on the 50th year of the Great Society program.  He may tell us what he hopes for us.

Q.  The UC Office of the President is ending the Lick Observatory in 2018, but it is still a useful observatory.

A.  We don’t plan to close the observatory.  We are switching responsibility for it to campuses which are using it.  Cal Tech, China, India, and Canada are joining us in planning a 30 meter telescope in Hawaii near the Keck telescope site.




Posted in Education, Health Care, UC Irvine, University Funding | Leave a comment

Top US Income Brackets

My previous posts from The World Top Incomes Database have presented the relative share of income received by the various top brackets.  This article concerns the actual incomes needed to make it into a bracket, or the thresholds for the top brackets.  We also compare the bracket average incomes to the average household income in the US. The graphs below were generated by me on the database.  The official credit for the cite is contained in the citation: Alvaredo, Facundo, Anthony B. Atkinson, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, The World Top Incomes Database, http://topincomes.g-mond.parisschoolofeconomics.eu/ .


The graph below shows the starting incomes of the various top income brackets.  It is of course dominated by the lines for the top 0.01% in light blue, and the top 0.1% in purple. The top 0.01% threshold was about $2 million per year in the 30′s, and has increased to $10 million today, an increase by a factor of 5.  The top 0.1% threshold has increased to about $2 million a year today.

chart (8)
















To make the income bracket averages clearer, we have left out the top 0.01% in the graph below, and just show income averages for the top 0.1% (green), top 0.5% (blue), and top 1% brackets (red). Comparing averages in 1970 to 2012, the top 0.1% rose from $0.84 million in 1970 to $4.66 million, a factor of 5.5.  The top 0.5% rose from $0.45 million to $1.60 million, a factor of 3.6.  The top 1% rose from $0.34 million to $1.02 million, a factor of 3.0. chart (5)













The graph below shows the average income per tax unit or household at slightly above $50,000 per year in 2012.  That number has been fairly steady since 1970.  The average income of the top 10%, however, has increased steadily since 1933, when coincidentally it was $50,000.  It is now over $250,000.  (Who said FDR was bad for the wealthy?)  That increase was a factor of 5 for the top 10%.  The average income for all increased from about $20,000, or a factor of 2.5 over the same period. chart (9)

Posted in Income, Wealth | Leave a comment

Top Income Distributions for Some US Trade Partners

From the Piketty et al. site http://topincomes.g-mond.parisschoolofeconomics.eu/ we have constructed a graph of top 5% income distributions for top US trade partners.  We see a dip for Germany (orange) after World War I.  We also see a dip for everybody after World War II, and a rise since 1986.


chart (4)













We have also constructed a top 1% graph from their database and graphics module.  Again, we see Germany’s dip (orange) after World War I, and everybody’s dip after World War II.  However, since after 1986, the US (light blue) has had a rapid increase in income of the top 1% up to 19% of total US income.  It’s too bad that China’s data stops in 2003, a decade ago, and that our trading partner Mexico is not yet included.

chart (3)




Posted in Economies, Wealth | Leave a comment

Top Income Distributions in the US

“The World Top Income Database” has not only collected income by bracket for some 30 countries over the last century, but has also provided a graphic tool that allows you to choose the countries that you want and the income brackets.  The official credit for the cite is contained in the citation: Alvaredo, Facundo, Anthony B. Atkinson, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, The World Top Incomes Database, http://topincomes.g-mond.parisschoolofeconomics.eu/ .  The work of Piketty and Saez have been covered in many media recently. Thomas Piketty’s new 700 page book Capital in the Twenty-First Century is also a sellout, and his conclusions and suggested remedys for income and wealth inequality is engendering a debate between the free market capitalism and increasing progressive taxes on income and wealth.

Not being an economist or politician, I am not involved in such debate.  Before, I gave articles on the distribution of wealth.  Now I am generating graphs on their site to look at income distributions.   The dates of these graphs are May 4, 2014.

chart (1)

The blue data above are the top 1% income share including their capital gains income.  The red date are employment and business income.  We note the surge in capital gains before the 1929 crash, and before the 2008 “Great Recession” collapse from the housing-derivatives risks at the end of the Bush administration.

The top income shares from 10% to 0.1% are shown in the graph below.  The shares are inclusive, like the 10% share includes all those above 10%.  The exclusive brackets, say from 1% to 0.5% for 2012, are found by subtracting from 15.16% of incomes for the top 1%, the 8.82% of total income of the top 0.5%, to give 6.34% for the exclusive bracket from 1% to 0.5%.  The 2012 shares have reached that of the “roaring twenties”.  Interestingly, the decline did not start with the market collapse in 1929, but with the start of US involvement in World War II in 1941. Perhaps that was due to the the spirit of sacrifices for the war effort, and so many people working on government contracts.  The recent rise in income share stared in 1987.

The increase in income for the top 0.1% rose from about 2% in the 60′s and 70′s to almost 9% today, a rise of 7% or about 4.5 times.  The income increase for the top 0.5% is from 5% to 15%, or an increase of 10% or about 3.0 times.  The rise for the top 1% is from about 8% to 19%, or an increase 11% or of 2.4 times.  The income increase of the top 5% is from 21% to 36%, or an increase of 15% or of 1.7 times.  The rise for the top 10% is from about 32% to 48%, or an increase of 16%, or of 1.5 times.

Given the above inclusive share increases, we can subtract them to find the increase from each exclusive bracket range to find out if it is the highest earners that are responsible for all the increases from the 60′s and 70′s.  So the top 0.1% is responsible for a 7% increase of income share, for all inclusive shares that contain it.  The next exclusive bracket, from 0.1% to 0.5%, then only gained the difference of 10% minus 7%, or 3%.  The next exclusive bracket, from 0.5% to 1%, only gained 1%.  The 1% to 5% exclusive bracket gained 4%.  The last exclusive bracket we are considering, from 5% to 10%, gained 1%.  So of the inclusive share of the top 10% which gained 16%, 7% of that or almost half was due to the increase of the top 0.1%.  The gains of the set of exclusive brackets above were 7%, 3%, 1%, 4%, and 1%.  Of course, the total 16% rise in share of the top 10% were generously provided by a decrease in the income share of the lower 90%.

From another Piketty and Saez article, the top 0.o1% had 4.08% of the income, or 5.47% of the income including capital gains in 2012.

If you are wondering what bracket you are in, the average income of the top 1% was $1.02 million, or with capital gains, $1.26 million.  The average income of the top 0.01% was $21.6 million, or with capital gains, $30.8 million.


Posted in Wealth | Leave a comment

UC Irvine is the Top US University Under Fifty, Again

The Times Higher Education magazine has just come out with its 2014 Higher Education Worldwide Rankings to find the Top 100 Universities Under 50 Years Old.  UC Irvine has again placed first among US Universities under 50.  We also rated 7th world wide.  We are a year away from being 50.  UC Santa Cruz was the next US University under 50, and ranked 11th world wide.

In percentage terms, we were rated in five categories.  Our overall score was 59.3.  Our category ratings are:  Teaching, 44.2; International Outlook, 36.4; Industry Income, 44.9; Research, 51.0; and Citations, 89.7.

The US Universities under 50 out of the Top 100 Under 50 list, with their international rankings, are:

UC Irvine, 7th worldwide

UC Santa Cruz, 11

U. Illinois at Chicago, 13

U. Texas, Dallas 15

George Mason U., 57

U. Maryland, Baltimore County, 65

Florida International U., tied for 73

U. Texas, San Antonio, 91

Posted in Education, UC Irvine | Leave a comment

Lifelong Learning is a Bargain

This is explanation of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes (OLLI), and a comparison of the costs of our classes to that of a UC public university.  I realize the purposes of the universities and costs are quite different, and will comment on that later.  Many of the people in lifelong learning were mainly teachers, or taught sometime in their careers.  They mostly received a lot of education, and, like me, are delighted to return to learning after retirement.  They do not require certificates or degrees, or exams to pass courses.  They take what they are interested in from the classes.  The lectures are posted on the OLLI website for review.  We give classes on weekdays in the morning and afternoons.  The classes usually last two hours, with a break in the middle.  The participants usually have time to ask a fair number of questions.

Our curriculum covers three areas:  arts and humanities; social studies; and the sciences.  We tend to cover most areas covered in the university, as well as the medical school in health and medicine classes.

The lecturers are about one third from UC Irvine, one third from other local Universities or local businesses or institutes or museums, and one third from our own members.  We run mainly on volunteers, with two staff secretaries, and a rented classroom paid for by dues.  We choose venues where we do not have to pay for parking.

Our basic fees are $160 for a year or $90 for a semester.  Summer lite courses are self paid for.  For the basic fee, one gets to sign up for six classes.  If there is extra room in a class, you can go to more.  A class will often have three, four, or five lectures.  I will take four lectures per class to give an estimate of the costs per hour.  In a year then, we get two semesters, times six classes per semester, times four lectures per class, time two hours per lecture, to give 96 hours of instruction per year as a minimum.

Let’s compare this to a yearlong class at UC Irvine.  It has three quarters of ten weeks each.  Each week has three hours of lecture and one hour of problem session, or four hours a week.  That gives 3 x 10 x 4 = 120 hours for a yearlong university course.  So these are within 25% of each other,

Now to compare costs.  The OLLI fees for a year are $160.  The UC Irvine tuition is about $13,000 per year.  At an average of four University courses at a time, the UCI student is paying about $3,300 for a yearlong course.  This means our OLLI courses are about 1/20 the cost of present University courses.  This analysis was done mainly to show OLLI members what a great deal they get, and to encourage new people to join.  While other OLLI’s may be more expensive, they are still bargains compared to taking University courses.

Our savings is that we get faculty and public services lecturers at no cost.  The University has a policy of engagement with the local community. Faculty are expected to communicate with the public, both by the University and by the funders of their research grants, such as NSF and Department of Energy.  Public agencies also benefit from publicity and public knowledge of their operations.  We also supplement our lectures from videos on the web from publicly funded institutes, which are often distributed through YouTube.  Since many of our members are parents and grandparents, we can inform our families of how great UC Irvine is, and encourage talented students to enroll there.  We also put many of our talks on our website as PowerPoint talks, giving the speakers further exposure.

Posted in Communications, Education, Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, UC Irvine | Leave a comment

Summary of UC Irvine Admissions Data, 2004 – 2013

Some recent data about admissions rates and the question of out-of-state students motivated me to look at recent admissions data at UC Irvine from the Office of Institutional Research.

It is known that universal college application forms with each application just costing another $50 has led high school seniors to apply to more schools.  So each school is now getting more applications.  Since their ability to enroll students is relatively fixed, their admission rates had to drop.  Unless the school is the most desired one and enrolls nearly all admitted students, they will have to increase the number admitted since students will now get admitted to more schools, but can only go to one.  The average applicant to UC campuses applies to four or five campuses.  This coverage is similar to those that apply to elite Eastern schools.

A real gain in selectivity would be noted by increases in the SAT scores or GPAs.  In California, the UC system is designed to admit the top 9% of each high school’s graduates, and the top 9% overall, to at least one of the 9 undergraduate UC campuses.  In ancient times, the admission contract was to the top 12 and 1/2 percent.  Hopefully the new admissions policy will approach that.  So an increase in SATs or GPAs to one UC campus, would just reflect its relative standing among other UC campuses among applicants.

Now for UC Irvine data.  From 2005 – 2013, UCI has enrolled between 4,000 to 5,000 California residents a year.  During this time selectivity of admitted students dropped from 61% to 39%.  The 2013 yield of enrollees from admits was 24%.

Non-California resident students have to pay the full cost of their education.  In the last two years when their number surged, the data show that they have not lowered the number of California residents admitted.  In fact, they help to make up for the decreases in state funding, allowing us to retain or hire more Professors.  In 2013, 159 non-CA resident US students were enrolled.  Also, 512 foreign students were enrolled in 2013.

We also look at the average SAT scores.  For 2013, the Verbal SAT average was 552.  The 10 year averages ranges from 552-580.  For 2013, the Math SAT average was 618.  The 10 year averages ranged from 602-624.  For 2013, the Writing SAT average was 561.  The 10 year range was from 554-582.  The Total of the three SAT tests average for 2013 was 1731.  The 10 year range was from 1696-1790.  No real trend in higher quality is seen, even though the percent of selected applicants has dropped.

The top SAT total among schools for 2013 was obtained in Nursing Science at 1995, and Business at 1916.  The next top schools were very close, being Engineering at 1804, ICS at 1798, and BioSciences at 1791.

Posted in Education, UC Irvine, University Funding | Leave a comment