Friday, November 02, 2012

Smart Submariners Shall Be Punished, Too?

Exhibit  1
"We try to keep CO2 levels in our US Navy submarines no higher than 8,000 parts per million, about 20 time [sic] current atmospheric levels. Few adverse effects are observed at even higher levels." - William Happer, Professor of Physics, Princeton University, Statement before U.S. Senate Environment and Publics Works Committee, Sen Barbara Boxer, Chair, Feb 25, 2009, page 6.  

But
Exposure to normal submarine CO2 levels (Note 1) leads to dysfunctional initiative and use of information according to a recent study by Berkeley Lab scientist.


Exhibit  2
October 17, 2012  - Elevated Indoor Carbon Dioxide Impairs Decision-Making Performance
Berkeley Lab scientists surprised to find significant adverse effects of CO2 on human decision-making performance.    

Fisk, Mendell, and their colleagues, including Usha Satish at SUNY Upstate Medical University, assessed CO2 exposure at three concentrations: 600, 1,000 and 2,500 ppm. [Federal guidelines set a maximum occupational exposure limit at 5,000 ppm as a time-weighted average for an eight-hour workday.Dysfunctional Initiative was observed at 1,000 ppm, and Marginal Utilization (of information) also at 1,000 ppm Dysfunctional Strategy was observed at 2,500 ppm.

"Overturning decades of conventional wisdom, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have found that moderately high indoor concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) can significantly impair people’s decision-making performance. The results were unexpected and may have particular implications for schools and other spaces with high occupant density."
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Notes:
1 - Submarine crew are reported to be the major source of CO2 on board submarines (Crawl 2003). Data collected on nine nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines indicate an average CO2 concentration of 3,500 ppm with a range of 0-10,600 ppm, and data collected on 10 nuclear-powered attack submarines indicate an average CO2 concentration of 4,100 ppm with a range of 300-11,300 ppm (Hagar 2003). Emergency and Continuous Exposure Guidance Levels for Selected Submarine Contaminants (2007) Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology; page=47; Authors: Subcommittee on Emergency and Continuous Exposure Guidance Levels for Selected Submarine Contaminants, Committee on Toxicology, National Research Council

2 - The Fisk-Mendell, et al study admittedly utilized a small sample size:  24 participants, mostly college students, were studied in groups of four in a small office-like chamber for 2.5 hours for each of the three conditions. Fisk, however, contends, “The stronger the effect you have, the fewer subjects you need to see it.  Our effect was so big, even with a small number of people, it was a very clear effect.”

3 - M.E. rejects as nonsensical both the suspect methodology (small sample size, mostly college students) of the Fisk-Mendell study, and its admittedly "surprising" conclusions.

4 - Hat Tip goes to Watts Up With That for "Claim: CO2 makes you stupid? Ask a submariner that question."


Submarines are always silent and strange.

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