J. Marvin Herndon has published two article claiming to provide evidence of an ongoing program of covert geoengineering involving spraying the waste ash from power stations out of planes.
The first is in the Indian journal Current Science, titled Aluminum poisoning of humanity and Earth’s biota by clandestine geoengineering activity: implications for India (pdf), the second is in the Open Access International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, titled Evidence of Coal-Fly-Ash Toxic Chemical Geoengineering in the Troposphere: Consequences for Public Health
Anti-geoengineering activists already hail them as the first science publications acknowledging ongoing geoengineering. They have been frequently shared on social media, and will likely by shared for many years to come.
The articles are similar in that they take a detailed analysis of coal fly ash by Moreno, et al., and attempt to show that test done by geoengineering activists are statistically similar, and hence are evidence of covert spraying of coal fly ash from planes.
The primary and overriding problem with this theory is that you get a very similar degree of "match" if you compare the results to the average prevalence of those elements in the crust of the Earth, meaning that he could easily be detecting simple dirt and dust:
And multiple peer reviewed publications deal with the detection of fly ash. They concur that it is chemically similar to soil.
Fugitive Emissions from a Dry Coal Fly Ash Storage Pile, Mueller, Shaw, et al, 2011
Heavy metal and metalloid content of fly ash collected from the Sual, Mauban and Masinloc coal-fired power plants in the Philippines, 2002
Separating Road Dust and Fly Ash from Background Particulate Levels ... was difficult because there is no direct means of knowing the degree to which airborne particles were derived from soil or fly ash (soil and ash chemical signatures are too similar).
There are multiple other problems with Herndon's two papers: figures are incorrect, values given are off by several orders of magnitude, masses are calculated incorrectly, data sets appear to have been chosen arbitrarily. But the biggest problem with the paper, even if we take the data at face value, is that there's no actually correlation of the data sets, and no control is used. Statistical significance tests are applied incorrectly.the concentrations of elements detected in the fly ash samples are not significantly higher than those typical found in soil,
Herndon acknowledged statistician Weidan Zhou for "professional statistics advice". Weidan Zhou requested we post his following statements regarding Herndon's paper here:
With a later clarification:1. I didn't see any raw data and didn't run any statistical analysis. Dr. Herndon described his question in the email, and I answered his question.
2. I told him that the statistical analysis he did was incorrect.
[Update 9/1/2015: The acknowledgement for Weidan Zhou was removed from the paper without comment on Aug 25th, this most recent version of the paper is labeled "v2"]I don't think I could be seen as Dr. Herndon's statistical advisor. He asked me a statistical question via email several month ago. The question he asked was simplified and didn't have many details. Based on his description of the question, I told him that the statistical analysis he did was not valid. Simply to say, it was incorrect to compare two observations using t test.
I didn't know anything about the background or methods of this paper. And I had no idea that I was mentioned in the acknowledgements until yesterday.[Aug 23rd 2015]
I shall list the major problems here, and then discuss them in more depth as needed. The two papers will be referred to as CS (Current Science, the India Paper) and IJ (International Journal, the US paper) for convenience. The Moreno paper will also also be frequently referenced, and all three papers are attached to this post.
- In CS, Figure 6 contains two sets of data, but one is just the mirror of the other, and not actual separate data.
- In CS, the incorrect data is claimed to have a "fingerprint similarity" when the data sets are distinctly different.
- In both CS and IJ, no attempt is made to tie the data to airplanes, other than the claim that the author first noticed persistent trails over his home city in 2014.
- In IJ, Table 1, he lists Moreno's value for un-leached Aluminum at 70,000 µg/kg, when the actual figure derived from Moreno's Table 2 data is 14%, or 140,000,000 µg/kg
- In both CS and IJ, the graphs are plotted with a logarithmic scale, which makes vastly dissimilar values look similar.
- In IJ, the data are adjusted so the values for Aluminum are identical, and then the identical Aluminum values are include in the graph, giving a false impression of correlation.
- In IJ, the reference values from Moreno show huge semi-random ranges in values, the compared values generally fall outside these ranges, and yet are described as being statistically identical.
- In IJ, Figure 1 is described as photos "taken on cloudless days", and yet clouds can clearly be seen in the images.
Note: This is a summary post (and a work in progress) derived from discussions in this and other threads, as such some of the following discussion might seem repetitive.