2018-06-26

Holy Alsup, Batman!

tempt Breaking news: hold the popcorn:
In these “global warming” actions asserting claims for public nuisance, defendants move to dismiss for failure to state a claim. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED.
Well, I'm shocked, shocked I tell you. Actually I am surprised: I thought Alsup would let this drag on a bit. But he's done the right thing. Fans of GW will appreciate "this order accepts the science behind global warming. So do both sides. The dangers raised in the complaints are very real". But others will be happy enough with "But those dangers are worldwide. Their causes are worldwide. The benefits of fossil fuels are worldwide. The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case. While it remains true that our federal courts have authority to fashion common law remedies for claims based on global warming, courts must also respect and defer to the other co-equal branches of government when the problem at hand clearly deserves a solution best addressed by those branches. The Court will stay its hand in favor of solutions by the legislative and executive branches".

I'm pleased to see that hizzonner comes to exactly the same conclusion as I did:
This order fully accepts the vast scientific consensus that the combustion of fossil fuels
has materially increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, which in turn has increased the median temperature of the planet and accelerated sea level rise. But questions of how to appropriately balance these worldwide negatives against the worldwide positives of the energy itself, and of how to allocate the pluses and minuses among the nations of the world, demand the expertise of our environmental agencies, our diplomats, our Executive, and at least the Senate. Nuisance suits in various United States judicial districts regarding conduct worldwide are far less likely to solve the problem and, indeed, could interfere with reaching a worldwide consensus.
This could be a good thing. If the Evil Oil Companies learn that admitting the science doesn't lead to instant disaster, perhaps they could give up opposing it. Which TBH they mostly have anyway.

Thinking about this: Alsup avoided ruling on the "responsibility" aspect: he didn't have to decide if the Evil Oil Customers, or their saintly customers, were the ones responsible for the CO2 emissions. Actually he does say largest cumulative producers of fossil fuels worldwide and are collectively responsible for over eleven percent of all carbon dioxide and methane pollution that has accumulated in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution but I suspect that of being a slip of the pen. There's a bit of the amended complaint, that certainly I and maybe no-one else noticed, about trying to avoid the displacement problem by suing for non-US emissions, which wouldn't be covered by the Clean Air Act; but that too failed.

Refs


BALL'S THEOREM: A SNICKER IS JUST A RIVER IN AFRICA.
U.S. judge tosses climate lawsuits by California cities, but says science is sound: Science, from E&E.
In Liability Cases, Oil Companies Argue Climate Change is Your Fault - Climate Liability News still can't face reality, and doesn't want you to, either. And there's more.

2018-06-25

Democratic National Committee "quietly" bans fossil fuel company contributions

35757893_1864048436993414_363820546430861312_o So says Brian, and he's probably right. About the ban. But is it a good idea? Let's read some words:

The energy and natural resource sectors, including fossil fuel producers and mining firms, gave $2.6 million to the DNC in 2016, according to data collected by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. That’s a pittance compared to the $56.1 million that came from the finance and real estate sectors, the DNC’s largest corporate donors that year...

I can see two possibilities:

1. Selfless corporations routinely donate money to incorruptible politicians because they value a vibrant political process.
2. Self-interested corporations routinely donate money to corruptible (or do I mean "influencable" - would that be more polite?) politicians because they expect results favourable to themselves.

Those are perhaps the extremes; there are shades between. But the answer is of course 2. So the Dems are effectively saying that they don't want to be bought influenced by Evil Oil Companies but are entirely happy to be bought influenced by Evil Finance and Evil Real Estate companies. Or perhaps they think those sectors are paragons of virtue? That would be odd.

Actually, having pols bought influenced by corps isn't entirely a bad idea. Pols need to have ideas of their own, and they need to be in touch with the ideas of the country, which includes the electorate but also includes the money. Being bought by the money, in moderation, is part of that. Of course, if they're so bought that they'll do nothing but, then you have a problem.

But are the Dems so bought by Evil Oil Companies that they'll do nothing but their bidding? That seems unlikely. Are the Dems under the impression that fossil fuels could be erased tomorrow and everything would go well? I doubt even they are that stupid. So this appears to be a way for the Dems to tell the Evil Oil Companies to fuck off and go talk to the Repubs instead, which I'm sure they will. Perhaps the Dems also believe that Evil Real Estate companies are universally a force for good, in which case they are fools; apart from anything else they're lobbying for all that stupid fedreral flood insurance.

The real problem, as I've said before, is the USAnian eleectorate and it's dumb ideas. Actually, there's a bit more to it than that but now is not the time for subtlety.

Refs


Compulsive Reader by Pablo Gallo: TF.

2018-06-22

Hansen30

35846494_2510156539072034_3418304873920200704_n Every man and his dog are writing about Hansen30, so I don't see why I shouldn't. For the basic comparison against his "predictions" I think Gavin's RC article is the place to go, and most of it is uncontroversial, since I agree with all that anyway.

So that means the interesting bit is "Hansen was correct to claim that greenhouse warming had been detected". That wasn't a claim he made in 2008, and I think it's a touch dubious. That, in retrospect, we can make the claim of detection by 1988 I think is plausible but you shouldn't trust my opinion, you're much better off with Gavin's. But what of at-the-time? Gavin says At the time however, the claim was more controversial; modeling was in it’s early stages, and estimates of internal variability and the relevant forcings were poorer, and so Hansen was going out on a little bit of a limb based on his understanding and insight into the problem. But he was right. But being right in retrospect isn't the proper test. The proper test was, was he right at the time? And the claim was, to be 99% sure that we were already seeing the effects of anthropogenic global warming. I think that's doubtful, given models, obs and state-of-science at that time.

Incidentally, I suppose it's nice that the predictions panned out but it's a reasonable question to ask: what if they hadn't? Would we be especially worried if one early GCM had proved a bit duff? I doubt it.

Refs


Prince - Little Red Corvette.
“like being inside Hansens head”.
Le Hansen nouveau est re-arrive.
* Moyhu.
The personification of Mother Nature forges birds, animals, and people. Unknown. Paris ~ ca.1405. Yet more proof, if you needed it, that the antients were fucking weird.

2018-06-18

Another one bites the dust

"Vincent Gray, RIP: On May 14, we lost...", says SEPP at WUWT (forgive me for slumming). I did wonder if I'd not been paying attention but no, this is simple incompetence: his real date of death is June the 14th. Ken Happala has clearly been smokin' the wacky baccy, claiming Gray singularly fought the IPCC for using the term predictions... Gray won. The IPCC uses the term “projections.”. The IPCC does indeed use the word "projections", but that's f*ck all to do with Gray.

But as with previous advances in science, the sad point is all that is missing. Gray's career, his science if any? No-one gives a toss, certainly not SEPP: Born in London in 1922, Gray received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in Chemistry. He later moved to New Zealand where he became Chief Chemist of the Coal Research Association, publishing many articles and reports. After retirement, he and his wife lived in China for four years. Upon return to New Zealand, Gray became a critic of the view that carbon dioxide emissions are causing harmful global warming... "publishing many articles and reports" - ha. Just what were those articles and reports? Absolutely no-one cares.

Looking back, I can't see that I had much cause to comment on Gray other than some incredulity at the incompetence of his denialism.

Refs


* I've used the title before.

2018-06-17

Why Carbon Pricing Isn’t Working?

pembroke-and-distant-maggie Because, errm, we aren't doing it. So says an article in Foreign Affairs, though it jumps through hoops to avoid saying so explicitly. Perhaps because it would be a very short and rather boring article if it did say that.

As is usual with these things, the article is padded with pointlessness. We're told Today, according to the World Bank, 42 countries and 25 subnational jurisdictions—together representing about half of global GDP and a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions—have imposed or are pursuing a price on carbon, through either a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax. Which is meaningless, because you can't tell the fraction that are doing things with the fraction that are just thinking about it. More useful is But because many jurisdictions have imposed carbon prices just in certain sectors of their economies, carbon pricing covers only about 15 percent of global emissions. But that too isn't really useful, because it doesn't tell you at what level they are priced. Rather more useful, but dislocated in the article, is of the global emissions now subject to a carbon price, just one percent are priced at or above the [High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices]’s $40 floor of ecological relevance. Three-quarters are priced below $10 (the article, like so many, isn't logically structured; instead it looks to have been built around quotes taken from different reports).

Finally, there is the economic stupidity: Nor does carbon pricing work well to curb emissions from transportation, which account for about 14 percent of the global total. Studies show that drivers are usually unresponsive to modest increases in gasoline and diesel taxes. Or, put another way, people value their cars above the money they cost, so unsurprisingly they still use them if they cost more. Which is why an economy-wide carbon tax is a good idea:  people can shift their spending away from stuff they value less; we could achieve a carbon reduction with less pain.

Later down the article there's a bit about why the ETS is stupid. Nowhere though does it attempt what could be the interesting discussion: just why is it so hard to get carbon pricing through a political system? Don't reply with oh-but-evil-oil-companies-propaganda schtick; that's just an excuse. The real answer is that on carbon pricing, like a great many other things, our political systems just don't work very well. When put in that way, most people's response is to think of clever ways to change them, despite our long experience that any such jsut gets bogged down in the sand of the existing system. Personally, as long-term readers will know, my solution would be to have less of it.

My picture shows Pembroke before going down to Clare on the Reach, and a distant Maggie. See the bumps post for more. Mine is a GoPro still; there are a zillion higher quality pix, e.g. from here.

Refs


Horrible Facebook Algorithm Accident Results In Exposure To New Ideas.
* Taxing carbon emissions protects liberty, spurs innovation.
* Comprehensive study: carbon taxes won't hamper the economy - the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum (EMF) project, from Skeptical Science.

2018-06-14

#Rowbridge

It's the season for mayflies again. Maggie for head as has become traditional, and Clare to not challenge them, and Pembroke having bumped Caius to go third, to stay there. On the woman's side, Emma rated themselves but went down to Newnham on day 2 who had disposed of Caius on day 1, but I don't hold out much hope for them to displace Jesus tomorrow. Nonetheless, it's all desperately exciting, and as usual this is my collection of vidz.

Previous years: 2017 / 2016.

Wednesday


* M1 / W1 / M2 / W4 / M5

Thursday


* M1 (practice starts) / W1: sadly truncated (but you can watch Newnham's bowcam; or this) / M2 / W4 / M5

Friday


News from the top: Pembroke get Clare on their second go but won't get Maggie; Magdalene shoot up to 6th and may take Downing for blades. Meanwhile Newnham didn't get Jesus and indeed W1 while exciting was quiet.

* M1 / W1 / M2 / W2

Saturday


* M1 / W1 / M2 / W2 / M3 / W3

Refs


* In hoc signo vinces (thanks RS)
the powers that be are ordained of God

2018-06-12

Ross McKitrick speaks

Who? The other Mc as in McI. And what he says is I am not a scientific advisor to the Cornwall Alliance nor am I on the board of the John Deutsch Inst. I did not 'produce' any videos for Friends of Science, they interviewed me a few years ago at an event and have used the videos for their purposes. The previous edition of this page wrongly attributed FoS views to me. The bio information is obsolete. And who knows, he may be telling the truth.

Is that all? I really need to pad this out a bit. We had a decent outing this evening mostly steady-state, but pleasingly clearly below 2:00. Next stop: 34 and up. Tomorrow the event of the year starts, Mays. My money (well, in virtual terms; it could be real terms if anyone will take it) is on Maggie; and more weakly Jesus; though apparently Emma fancy themselves. And let's not forget Darwin.

2018-06-11

Trump: WaPo raises the bar

20180611_112949 Another in a series of unpopular posts defending unpopular people. And today I'm defending... Trump. No, not really. He's still a bozo and if only there were someone competent to replace him I wish he'd just resign and retire to play golf. Also I'm coming to wonder if my best hope of him being only a minor bozo1, 2 is still tenable. Instead, I'm attacking the WaPo for If Trump ignores North Korea’s monstrous crimes, they’ll come back to haunt him.

The story so far: the North Koreans have got nukes, albeit crummy ones, and missiles, albeit joke ones. This has been going on for years, and the world has been doing the usual things it does in such circumstances: talking, sanctions, pressure. The sort of thing that were you talking to sane interlocutors in a democratic country would have some chance of success; but when you're talking to people who are at best quite possibly in and of themselves sane but faced with circumstances so regrettable that they would punish what-would-normally-be-called-sane behaviour, have very little chance of success. So step forward Trump, who has made a sequence of what the professional diplomats regard as very badly judged moves; and which his fanbois will tell you were brilliantly executed chaos attacks.

Such a thing might work because it really was brilliant - which is unlikely, because although I discount the idea that he's stupid, I don't think he's brilliant. But it might work simply because it's obvious to anyone not a professional diplomat. Or it might work simply because the winds of chance happen to blow that way. Or, of course, it could more probably simply fall flat on it's face.

The point, however, is that the WaPo looks rather worried that it might work, and feels the need to prepare a backstop of failure for Trump: even some kind of peace, some kind of backing off the nuclear posture, even some limited opening up, will be declared total failure: the regime’s vast apparatus of repression has to be addressed from the beginning of the process, alongside its missiles and nukes. The two must be dismantled together. This is, obviously, deeply stupid. Making NK a happy peaceful democratic place is desireable; but it will only happen after a time. Trying to do it right from the start is simply asking for failure; and I cannot help but conclude that the WaPo really would rather Trump fail, to the USA's disadvantage, than that he succeed and thereby look good, especially where their man failed.

Notes


1. "only a minor bozo" of course means that he personally is a major bozo, but that the effects of his bozosity could be minor.

2. FWIW, if you can't be bothered to follow the link, my prediction for Trump-on-diplomacy (diplomacy, not trade, mind you) was Much harder to predict. Since I’m deliberately going out on a limb, I predict: Trump will do some dumb / risky / unpredictable things, but will get away with them.

Refs


Donald Trump is a twat, confirm G6 leaders.
* Some thoughts on The Summit at Cafe Hayek.
Tories put my achievement at risk - Timmy

2018-06-09

L'affaire Peter Ridd

34800536_897070693822585_6668015775913082880_n Peter Ridd is an Evil Colonial who has continually broken a code of conduct that [one] would expect all... staff to stick to, to create a safe, respectful and professional workplace. Or alternatively, a Good Colonial whose academic freedom has been trampled on. I find it hard to tell which. Telling against him is the company he keeps and signing up to drivel from Cato. Oddly, the Smoggies aren't keen on him. But enough irrelevance, what of the current situation?

There's an Orwellian article in the Graun wherein the "University" that sacked him denies doing so for "his fringe views on climate change or for his rejection of the scientific evidence linking human activity to degradation of the Great Barrier Reef" and staunchly defends his "right to make statements in his area of academic expertise" (my bold). I'm sure the bit I bolded was just a slip of the tongue, after all this isn't a subject that they've thought out carefully, so you can expect rough and off-the-cuff comments: they didn't mean to imply that his academic-freedom-protection was so narrow, oh goodness me no indeed not.

So he has academic freedom, except - of course - that academic freedom is subject to "a code of conduct that we would expect all our staff to stick to, to create a safe, respectful and professional workplace". Which is another way of saying no, he does not have academic freedom, if he says something the bureaucrats don't like. That's not the end of the Orwellianity though, because after he was first censured, "Against the university’s instructions, Ridd later spoke about the disciplinary proceedings". Good heavens! The very idea that information about secret tribunals should be leaked is abhorrent. But, because he is a "bad" person the Graun toes the party line.

But what about the Great Barrier Reef and coral bleaching in general?


The context for the fuss is PR's views about the GBR and coral bleaching. This is a subject about which I know nothing, so if you want informed commentary on the issue I suggest you go elsewhere.

Consider Great Barrier Reef's five near-death experiences revealed in new paper. Sounds scary? Perhaps not. Anything that can have five "near death" experiences and not die is unlikely to be quite as close to death as you thought. PR's viewpoint is expounded at length in The Extraordinary Resilience of Great Barrier Reef Corals, and Problems with Policy Science. Or there's his "background" to the case. That contains (twice) the statement that "Science is in the midst of a “Replication Crisis” in which high powered replication studies are finding flaws in around 50% of recently published important research". I'm dubious about that, and he doesn't seem to feel any obligation to provide any reference for it - perhaps it goes unquestioned at the dinner parties he goes to.

Update: the Graun has managed to publish Peter Ridd's sacking pushes the limit of academic freedomby Gay Alcorn. It is hedged, and the headline is bastardised, but it covers their backs: if things get bad later they can point to this and say they did stand up for academic freedom after all. Unlike my commentators.

Refs


* FFS: an interesting article by la Curry. What is the world coming to? Though to be fair the interesting words are not hers, they are by Pielke Jr and Nordhaus.
The passionate state of mind is often indic-ative of a lack of skill, talent or power.
* PC Hipsta on fracking.
Can Universities Lawfully Bully Academics into Silence? by Jennifer Marohasy. Not usually my favourite source, I'd love to link to someone from the Light Side reporting this, but they all seem to be unaccountably silent. Isn't that odd?

2018-06-06

We’re not arguing that fossil fuels are in and of themselves a nuisance

odg Who said that? Not me, and not a FF company. No, it's Marco Simons, regional program director and general counsel for EarthRights International. Simons is lead counsel for several Colorado communities bringing climate liability suits against ExxonMobil and Suncor. The quote, if taken literally, rather blows a hole in the "FF are intrinsically bad" theory that the case is being sold on. Because if they aren't in an of themselves a nuisance, then the problem is how they are being used, which leads us back to... the users. However we shouldn't perhaps take Simons too literally, because some of what he says is simply direct lies, such as "And [the FF companies have] also removed the choice from the public by keeping information from them for decades".

Otherwise, it doesn't really add anything to Alsup: cost benefit.

Refs


* Case dox.
TRUMP  PAL  COMPLETES  BORDER WALL  AROUND EPA.
The Best Trade Deals are the Millions of Such that Occur When Trade is Free.
Billionaire Koch brothers take on Trump over tariffs - Aunty.

Gay cakes

curse More law. This time not even climate law, so I have no excuse other than interest. The story so far: gay folk sue a cakeshop that won't make a cake for their wedding. The true lesson of this is just how water-fat our society has become, but there are other points too. Recall that law is custom, not command, and is there so that the reasonable expectations of reasonable people may be maintained; so the question is "what is custom?". And the answer is unclear. This is a problem of different people's liberties2 clashing, and attempting to assert that there is One True Great Justice Answer simply means you haven't understood the question.

The govt, of course, is not allowed to discriminate on grounds of race, sexual orientation, creed and a host of other similar issues1. But individuals in their daily lives constantly do so discriminate, in who they choose to interact with and how. They have liberty to do so. Then again, people have a "right" not to be discriminated against when out validating their lives by shopping.

How do you balance the two? In daily life, you expect reasonable people to disagree peacefully. If you can't get one baker to bake your cake, look for another. I haven't - of course - studied the fine details of the case but I'm pretty sure the said GF made no attempt to do this; indeed my suspicion is that they did the very opposite.

Twenty years ago this case would have been laughable, and would have been laughed out of court. Today, it makes it to the supreme court. Twenty years from now perhaps the custom will have shifted so far towards the GF that intransigent bakers will tremble with fear; I'd rather hope not. The SCOTUS decision, wisely, is narrow. This winds up my source but I think wrongly. Similarly, the digs at the overt hostility that the Colorado commission showed toward Phillips make sense. Really, the SCOTUS is trying to tell the idiot litigious children to play nicely together and stop bothering the adults; they don't want to make the same mistake the Pope made over Galileo.

Update


It would seem that the UK is fat, too. Ashers 'gay cake' row: Bakers win Supreme Court appeal. Again, happily, it looks like free speech wins. Gay rights have gone to kind of a weird place, campaigner admits says the DailyMash.

Notes


1. So the USAnians bizarre Separate Car Act is unacceptable; the whole equal, but separate nonsense3 should remind us that all law requires interpretation.

2. In most people's framing, it is important that the baker's objections are religious. I don't see why that matters. In others, because of "deeply held beliefs". As far as I'm concerned, he simply didn't want to serve these customers for [reasons], exactly what those reasons are is unimportant.

3. This is part of, but not the entirely, of the necessary "of course this isn't the same as institutional racism in the USA during the Jim Crow era" argument. The precise means you use to distinguish it are somewhat up for grabs. Another is the "one-off" argument, but that smells of special pleading. Better is the "no compelled speech" idea; for example WE.

Refs


* Calling all German fans! says Terrible Real Estate Agent Photographs.
When individuals become more autonomous, they become more social - TF.
A Plea To My Many Gay Etc. Relatives, In-Laws, and Outlaws - WE.

2018-06-04

Recommendations for Improving the Treatment of Risk and Uncertainty in Economic Estimates of Climate Impacts in the Sixth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report?

DSC_7504 A slightly odd paper in Review of Environmental Economics and Policy by Thomas Stoerk  Gernot Wagner  Robert E T Ward, via the Grantham Institute at LSE via Twatter. Abstract:
Large discrepancies persist between projections of the physical impacts of climate change and economic damage estimates. These discrepancies increase with increasing global average temperature projections. Based on this observation, we recommend that in its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) improve its approach to the management of the uncertainties inherent in climate policy decisions. In particular, we suggest that the IPCC (1) strengthen its focus on applications of decision making under risk, uncertainty, and outright ambiguity and (2) estimate how the uncertainty itself affects its economic and financial cost estimates of climate damage and, ultimately, the optimal price for each ton of carbon dioxide released. Our hope is that by adopting these recommendations, AR6 will be able to resolve some of the documented inconsistencies in estimates of the physical and economic impacts of climate change and more effectively fulfill the IPCC’s mission to provide policymakers with a robust and rigorous approach for assessing the potential future risks of climate change.
(my bold). Obviously, a "projection of physical impacts" and an "economic damage estimate" are two different things. For there to be a discrepancy you'd need, well, something obvious would be 10 m of SLR and very little economic damage. Obviously no paper making such a strong assertion would fail to support it, so let's go look.

In the Inconsistent Assessment of Risks in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) section they kinda make three arguments: (1) There is now a growing awareness of the limitations of the existing generation of IAMs; (2) these estimates largely ignore the potential for “tipping points”; and suggest (3) strengthening its focus on decision making under uncertainty and outright ambiguity. (1) isn't clearly supported by refs; (2) gets you the standard answer; and (3) isn't clear in what way that represents a discrepancy.

But never mind that, because the next section is called Evidence of Discrepancies Between Scientific and Economic Assessments of Climate Impacts; it's just bound to be in there. And the relevant text appears to be "DICE, for example, projects a loss of less than 10 percent of global economic output as a result of raising the global mean surface temperature by 6°C". But while that might be a discrepancy, it isn't obviously. And their reference for it is "Climate Shlock", a book wot one of 'em wrote. That's not a scholarly reference. And as apparently the key reference to their key point, it's just a little careless. They continue physical impacts are often not translated into monetary terms and they have largely been ignored by climate economists which is odd. The IAMs don't include everything, but to express it in this way is strange. Is this Pindyck again?

I don't think I'm trying to defend IAMs at this point. Just point out that this paper seems rather ill considered. A case for tighter refereeing I think.

Refs


The rich want to live in the Anglosphere.
What’s the damage (of that climate change cost-benefit model)? - ftalphaville