2018-07-29

L'affaire Hayhoe

Katharine Hayhoe says:
Facebook says this episode of our @PBSDS show, Global Weirding, which tackles clean energy myths like “wind turbines slow the earths rotation!” has too much “political content” to be eligible for promotion. What do YOU think?
I think that's an odd thing to say. Facebook allows promotion of a lot of blatantly political stuff. Her video is mildly political, particularly at the beginning, but it would be very strange if it were too political to be promoted. This being the era of Fake News, naive young bunnies leapt upon the tweet without troubling themselves to think too hard about whether it really made sense, writing headlines like The Science Video Facebook Did Not Want You To See or Facebook Still Unclear on Climate Science. But, of course, fb has no particular opinion on GW; though I'm sure if you asked MZ he'd be a believer. And anyway, the video isn't about GW science. It's about the cost of renewables.

I asked
What did fb actually say? Their guidelines (https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/05/ads-with-political-content/) appear to only require labelling.
And KH replied:
No: they said my account was not approved for political advertising. I have heard (second hand) that such approval is fairly arduous: and anyways as a resolutely non-partisan climate scientist I don’t see why I would need it!!
And there I think you have it: KH is a Nice Person. fb's rules about labelling political advertising should not apply to her, because she is Nice. Or, perhaps, she is unable to see that her video might have political dimensions, because she knows she is Right1. Politics is what Bad People do? But that Obama seemed so Nice.

Twatter is a compressed medium, of course, but I think that KH might have found space for the "my account is not approved for political advertising" in the first Tweet; fewer people might then have been mislead.

Other reaction includes "Facebook is hurting itself & our public discourse w half-baked double-standards & interference in our informational sovereignty", which sentiment KH was happy to endorse. And yet quite what is the double standard? To demonstrate that, you'd need to know that some political stuff that you didn't like had been promoted via an account not approved for political promotion. That sounds like a rather hard thing to know2. As for your "informational sovereignty" what of XKCD?

Refs


* L'affaire Peter Ridd
I was a teenage Exxon-funded climate scientist?
Hulme: In what ways is religious belief relevant for understanding climate change?
Should Facebook Censor Videos by Climate Deniers?

Notes


1. In the sense of being correct, of course. Not in the sense of being politically on the Right. But that's so obvious I didn't need to say it, of course. In this context, though, that isn't a compliment.

2. At which point I cannot resist quoting Hobbes beautiful For if a man pretend to me that God hath spoken to him supernaturally, and immediately, and I make doubt of it, I cannot easily perceive what argument he can produce to oblige me to believe it.

2018-07-26

Acronym watch: MARKET CHOICE

Would you believe "Modernizing America with Rebuilding to Kickstart the Economy of the Twenty-first Century with a Historic Infrastructure-Centered Expansion Act’’ aka the ‘MARKET CHOICE Act? Not as good as "SEMTEX"; I forget what that was, one of Liz's, something like "SEaice and MeTeorology EXperiment", obviously there was no hope of getting that though the buros, though infamously there was HIHO HIHO from the Australians; see-also James.

Anyway, don't toss it out just because it has a silly name, what of the substance? Well, it's a carbon tax, with some attempt at PR, and irritating side-conditions. Congress 6463, by Carlos Curbelo, an R. The PR is the name, and (I suspect) the irritating conditions, which is blathering on about funding infrastructure. I think a Carbon tax could either just be a part of general taxation (and to appease the zealots, would then be combined with tax-cutting elsewhere to be revenue neutral) or less plausibly part of tax-and-dividend (in a transparent and probably doomed attempt to win mass support); but I'm dubious that tying it to other spending makes any sense.

Possibly weirdly, the tax ($24 to start with, a sensible number) is applied "per metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions" for fuel combusted. But, who burns anything that generates anything other than CO2? Maybe it's just a wise future-proofing precaution to prevent people switching to burning rubber.

Some are happy to welcome it; EEnews says Rep. Carlos Curbelo rolled out the first Republican carbon pricing bill in nearly a decade this morning, a rare political risk that quickly earned rebukes from conservatives and tepid praise from environmental groups. If I'd read the deatils I could tell you the details of what is in it; but I haven't, and I doubt it would be worth it, because as Curbelo himself said, it won't pass, it's more of a strawman, and perhaps it will fare well as that, or spark a debate.

Update: Consequences of a Nationwide Carbon Tax by "FEE" is the kind of opposition a carbon tax would face. Much of it is I think tainted by denialism, but the words about designing what to do with the tax money are valid. They don't want to give the govt more money, without a guarantee of what will happen in exchange, and they know they won't get that guarantee. They also know that the arm-twisting needed to get the tax through will lead to messy and unedifying compromises, and it is hard to see how a "clean" tax could emerge from such a process.

Or, continuing, A Carbon Tax Is Still a Bad Idea by Veronique de Rugy. I notice, again, how this kind of opposition is largely predicated on not trusting politicians with a new tax, and (correctly IMO) criticised the rather naive pro-tax folk who simply assume that govt will "do the right thing". For bonus points, she links to DR for evidence that, while they talk about tax at a certain level, they're really sniffing for something higher.

Refs


Anti-Market Atavism Explained
* CH on extreme free trade

2018-07-23

[Copy post] The Golden Horseshoe Award: Jaworowski and the vast CO2 conspiracy

This is a copy of an old post from "Some are Boojums", which no longer exists. I don't think I ever knew who SaB was and I certainly don't now. I'm copying it here to make it more widely available; this copy is from the Internet Archive. Astonishingly, I could get away with just cut-n-pasting it; all the pix auto-link to the archive versions, and the formatting seems good. Take it away...

In Dashiell Hammett’s story The Golden Horseshoe, much of the action takes place in a bar of that name in Tijuana. At one point the narrator, an operative for the Continental Detective Agency, kills a few strategic seconds by studying the decorations:

I was reading a sign high on the wall behind the bar:
ONLY GENUINE PRE-WAR AMERICAN AND BRITISH WHISKEYS SERVED HERE

I was trying to count how many lies could be found in those nine words, and had reached four, with promise of more …

Sometimes I come across an article, web posting, advertisement or other statement that makes me feel when I read it just as I imagine the Continental Op did in that Tijuana bar.

How can they possibly pack so much misinformation into such a small space?

To honor exceptional achievement in mendacity, I would like to present the Golden Horseshoe Award to that writer who has out-performed his or her peers in density of false statements per column-inch.

To receive the first Golden Horseshoe Award, I can think of no more worthy recipient than Zbigniew Jaworowski.

First, a few introductory remarks.

There is a robust consensus among climate scientists that the concentrations of certain gases in the atmosphere, most notably CO2, have been rising over the past two centuries, largely due to humanactivities, and that this increase is causing a general warming of the earth’s climate. Because many scientists also expect this warming to have undesirable consequences, proposals have been advanced to limit emissions of those gases. The most important of these is the treaty known as the Kyoto Protocol. And because those proposals are disliked by a variety of groups for a variety of reasons, there has been a lot of attention lavished by those groups on anyone who will undermine the rationale for emissions-limiting proposals, especially Kyoto. Enter Zbigniew Jaworowski, who claims that the consensus regarding increased CO2 is based on a biased interpretation of the evidence, and purporting to offer evidence to the contrary. Such an argument is hugely appealing to many who do not want to believe that human beings have any important influence on climate. For this reason, the statement has been widely reprinted by climate change contrarians, for example here.

This post is an examination of the Jaworowski statement, and the Golden Horseshoe Award is a celebration of just how mind-bogglingly wrong, from beginning to end, it manages to be.

Jaworowski makes several specific assertions that the methodology used in atmospheric measurements from ice cores is flawed. Each and every one of these assertions is mistaken.

He makes sweeping accusations of data manipulation by climate researchers. Those accusations are unsupported by any evidence, direct or indirect.

These extravagant claims of bias and dishonesty in the scientific community reveal a deep misconception of the state of climate research, and of the scientific process generally.

Jaworowski’s statement is not likely to help the public understand the state of our planet’s climate and the process by which scientists go about investigating it.

In fact, there is so much wrong with this statement that it’s hard to know where to start. Here’s a map:

jaworowski markup
Let’s start at the beginning.

(1) ” …written for the Hearing before the US Senate …”

The statement opens with the following subhead:
Statement written for the Hearing before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
March 19, 2004

In fact, there is no evidence that Jaworowski gave testimony before the US Senate on March 19, 2004, or at any time in the past two years, or that anyone in the US Senate has ever seen him or the statement.

(2) ” … about 20 [papers] on climate research.”

Jaworowski does not need to have credentials as an expert in gas measurement from ice cores in order to criticize those who do have them; if his arguments are valid, they can stand on their own. But being perceived as an expert elevates one’s credibility, at least at first. To pick up a little of that luster, he leads off with a recitation of his ice-related activities, including 40 years in glacier studies, 11 expeditions to measure “natural and man-made pollutants” in glaciers, and extensive studies of dust and lead in the environment. But when we look for Jaworowski in the literature, he seems never to have done any primary research on the extraction and measurement of gases in ice. Later on, Jaworowski says that climate researchers’ motives are suspect. But when it suits his purposes, he is happy to claim to be a climate researcher.

All this is not to say that Jaworowski’s name has been unknown to print in recent years. He has had an article in 21st Century Science & Technology,published by Lyndon Larouche. Need I say more?

(3) ” … contains liquid water …”

This is just one of many deceptive statements, delivered in rapid-fire. Jaworowski likes to point to some published result, hint at a problem with measurement of gases in ice cores, and move on quickly. He says:
This is because the ice cores do not fulfill the essential closed system criteria. One of them is a lack of liquid water in ice, which could dramatically change the chemical composition the air bubbles trapped between the ice crystals. This criterion, is not met, as even the coldest Antarctic ice (down to –73oC) contains liquid water[2].

Mulvaney, Wolff and Oates were reporting on concentrations of H2SO4 in extremely tiny volumes at the boundaries between ice crystals. Many of Jaworowski’s claims reveal a lack of understanding of the relevant chemistry, but it is unlikely that even he believes that significant quantities of CO2 are dissolved in these interstitial volumes.

(4) ” … 20 physico-chemical processes …

As we sift through Jaworowski’s claims, one striking feature jumps out at us: for his most aggressive claims, he seems to be his own authority.

For example, we have
More than 20 physico-chemical processes, mostly related to the presence of liquid water, contribute to the alteration of the original chemical composition of the air inclusions in polar ice[3].
In peer reviewed publications I exposed this misuse of science [3, 9].
[I]n 1993, glaciologists attempted to prove experimentally the “age assumption”[10], but they failed[9].
An ad hoc assumption, not supported by any factual evidence[3, 9], solved the problem …

Reference [3] is a 1992 article in The Science of the Total Environment,co-authored with Segalstad and Ono. Reference [9] is a 1994 review article by Jaworowski in Environmental Science and Pollution Research.The 1992 article is an ambitious attempt to identify all the things that could possibly go wrong with measurement of gases in ice cores. That is a worthwhile goal in itself — science is supposed to be self-correcting, and defining a problem is the first step toward a solution. But Jaworowski et al. present no solutions. Instead, the list of “20 physico-chemical processes” turns out to be a laundry-list of undefined mechanisms supposed to affect the reliability of ice-core measurements, with no theories offered as to how they might affect results, or suggestions as to how they might be mitigated or compensated. The 1994 paper is a shorter version of the 1992 paper. Its primary virtue is that it elicited a reply by Hans Oeschger, who tore it to shreds.

(5) ” … all air bubbles disappear ..”.

Jaworowski describes the clathrate transformation in a fundamentally misleading way. With increasing depth and pressure, the air bubbles trapped in the ice are steadily compressed. Clathrates appear at depths of several hundred meters (700 - 1300m for GRIP), and coexist with air bubbles over a wide range of depths, until all air bubbles disappear (Shoji and Langway (1983) reported that “air bubbles disappeared completely between 1500 and 1600m”). Upon decompression, the clathrate crystals revert to gas, with the bubbles expanding as the ice relaxes. These physical processes, as well as the fractionation Jaworowski describes, have been extensively studied, and are routinely taken into account (for example, by Indermuhle et al.) in reconstructing atmospheric records from ice cores. The reality is nothing like a mysterious and uncontrollable process of bubbles disappearing only to return as “microscopic grenades.”

(6) ” … contaminates them with the drilling fluid …”

Jaworowski knows perfectly well that drilling fluids, for example butyl acetate, are chosen to have minimal interaction with the studies that will be performed; also, that sample handling is a well worked-out technique and is conducted with excruciating care. Most of these developments were in place long before Jaworowski wrote his 1994 paper, as Hans Oeschger reminded him at that time. That he continues to spread this falsehood is disgraceful.

(7) ” … microscopic grenades …”

Jaworowski lets on that clathrate crystals “explode”, presumably fracturing the samples beyond usefulness. He cites Shoji and Langway (1983) as support for the statement “In the bubble-free ice the explosions form a new gas cavities and new cracks.” But what Shoji and Langway actually observed was the expansion of pre-existing bubbles, and new bubbles from air hydrate inclusions, over a period of days — in what would have to qualify as one of the most languid “explosions” on record:

In fact, the bubbles in ice samples are substantially intact up to the point they are crushed. This is something Jaworowski seems to have gone to a lot of trouble not to know.

(8) ” … values lower than in the contemporary atmosphere …”

It is puzzling that Jaworowski makes claims that are so easily checked and shown to be untrue. CO2 levels vary widely within deep cores, and are well correlated with climatic changes, as indicated by independent measures such as (for example) the type and composition of organic residue in ocean sediments.

(9) ” … a clear inverse correlation …”

[WMC: note: see Gavin's comment, at the end]

See last comment. Anyone who is interested can go to the Greenland Summit site, get the data and plot it. Let’s plot CO2 vs. depth for one of the GRIP cores and look for a “clear inverse correlation”:CO2_from_GRIP
Worth a thousand words, ain’t it?

(10) ” … CO2 concentration … was ‘too high’ …”

Here, Jaworowski begs meaning with the quotation marks around “too high”, as if one of the researchers had issued a memo complaining about the data. This is just one of the many misleading rhetorical tricks Jaworowski employs in lieu of evidence.

(11) ” An ad hoc assumption …”

Again, Jaworowski imputes base motives to other researchers, and cites (who else?) himself in support. In fact, Neftel et al.’s methods were perfectly sound, and their results have been backed up by multiple independent studies.

(12) ” … but they failed.”

No, they didn’t. The experiments demonstrating the age of the firn-ice transition, and of the air trapped above and below that depth, have been quite successful, a fact Jaworowski has been diligently ignoring at least since 1992.

(13) ” … ignored the evidence …”

Slocum said no such thing. Does Jaworowski think that no one will bother to look up his references?

(14) ” … a biased selection …”

Among Jaworowski’s citations, this is my second favorite. He actually has the spectacular brass to take a figure from a paper that agreed with Callendar’s choice of data, redraw it and offer it as evidence that Callendar was biased! He also fails to cite Fonselius et al. (1956) properly in this statement, and claims that it is a criticism of Callendar (1958), which requires a time warp, but those are venial sins compared to the rest.

(15) “A study of stomatal frequency …”

This is one of the few new arguments — that is, not just warmed over from the 1992 paper — made in this statement. Unfortunately for Jaworowski, it is bogus. In fact, studies of stomatal response to CO2concentration across several species have shown “Without evolutionary changes, SI and SD may not respond to atmospheric [CO2] in the field and are unlikely to decrease in a future high CO2 world.” In other words, stomatal frequency does not change quickly enough to reveal the rapid changes Jaworowski claims occurred. (Thanks are due to Yelling for the citation, and to Dano for pointing out its significance.)

(16) ” … pre-conceived idea on man-made global warming …”

Jaworowski’s contempt for climatologists, and his true purpose in writing this paper, become clearer as he approaches its end. He offers zero evidence that there has been “[i]mproper manipulation, and arbitrary rejection of readings that do not fit the pre-conceived idea on man-made global warming … in many glaciological studies of greenhouse gases.” In fact, the very papers that he cites afford powerful evidence to the contrary. Yet he feels comfortable in making this blanket condemnation of a discipline, because he has support from … (continued in next comment).

(17) ” … exposed this misuse of science …”

Zbigniew Jaworowski, of course! In citing (yet again) his 1992 and 1994 papers, he displays a certain pride in having “exposed” all the bad behavior in the climate science community. But his pride may be misplaced, considering that the only comment ESPR published regarding his 1994 paper said that it “deserves little attention.”

(18) ” … not supported from the annual pool of many billion “climatic” dollars …”

Among Jaworowski’s citations, this is my very favorite. Jaworowski knows he has a problem when the overwhelming majority of scientists in the field do not believe as he does. He is not the first to notice this, so he does what others have done in the same situation: he implies that climate researchers are all biased in the same direction because they slurp from the same trough. This an implausible accusation on its face (there is more money to be made arguing the other side); moreover, there is no evidence to support it. Nevertheless, Jaworowski asserts boldly that outsiders are far more reliable than the experts corrupted by the fount of government money, and who does he offer as an example? The gang that couldn’t compute straight!

When choosing an authority to counter the accepted ones in an observational science, it is usually smart to pick one that can tell the difference between degrees and radians. Just a suggestion.

(19) ” … methodically poor paper …”

Look who’s talking.

(20) ” … diagnosed and criticized …”

Nature’s editors might be surprised to hear that they had “diagnosed and criticized” the “apparent scientific weaknesses of IPCC and its lack of impartiality.” The theme of the 1991 editorial was that climatologists could have (and should have) seen coming the political storm that swept over their work, and that policy decisions cannot (and should not) be made by scientists alone:
Global warming will affect not simply physical and biological systems (sea level and agriculture, for example), but the whole fabric of society. But who, at this stage, would guess at the extent to which substantially higher costs for surface transport will change the character of industrialized societies, and affect their productivity? Or how far an effective greenhouse convention will require that the world’s population should also be regulated, and how? These, it should be acknowledged, are the real uncertainties.

The subhead for the 1994 editorial was:
If the threat of global warming is serious (which cannot be denied), it deserves more seemly ways of making authoritative public opinion than that followed at last week’s meeting at Maastricht.

Nature’s criticism of the IPCC was that the organization was sitting on the details of its Maastricht meeting until its secretariat had reviewed them and Cambridge University Press was ready to publish them.
In both the 1991 and 1994 editorials, Nature leveled serious and legitimate complaints at the IPCC, but “scientific weakness” and “lack of impartiality” are not among them.

(21) ” … IPCC conclusions …”

Jaworowski seems to think that the IPCC consensus on the causes, effects and likely cures for global warming all rest on the assumption of low pre-industrial CO2 levels, and that if he can just kick out that prop, the whole shebang will come tumbling down. Not so. Even if it were impossible to gauge the level of CO2 in the atmosphere before people started changing it, we would still have direct atmospheric measurementsshowing the increase over the past 46 years, we would still know how much we are pumping out, and we would still know that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Ultimately, Jaworowski’s campaign to discredit ice-core research is no more than a rear-guard action, but that is all it needs to be.

(22) ” … economically disastrous Kyoto Protocol …”

And so, at long last, we reach the end of this sad exercise — with its reason for being. Kyoto certainly deserves to be debated on its merits, but whether or not its provisions are wise cannot serve as a guide to whether or not the underlying research was conducted properly. Zbigniew Jaworowski is probably sincere in his belief that proposals for emissions reduction are ill-conceived, but his willingness to work backward and conclude that any research supporting those proposals must be wrong verges on self-delusion. He is now in at least the sixteenth year of a campaign to cast doubt on good research because he disapproves of its uses. In the end, it is not only an insult to the scientific community of which he claims to be a part, but a profound disservice to the public.
Gavin Says: 

Nice work. I think you make one mistake though (comment #9). The Greenland CO2 measurements originally by Oeschger do in fact show a very strong inverse correlation with the water isotopes (not depth). This was initially thought to be a sign of extremely rapid carbon cycle re-organisations during cold periods, but further analysis (and lack of collaboration from the Antarctic cores) showed that there was contamination in these cores from dust and other contaminants (which have much greater concentrations during cold periods). Thus the Greenland CO2 results are not reliable. However, the Antarctic ones (which have been replicated in numerous cores) do not suffer from this problem due to the much smaller level of contaminants in the ice. That is why all the reconstructions use Antarctic data.
Yelling Says: 
Excellent analysis of Jaworowski. Especially good is the tracking of his Hearing before the US Senate.
I was not familiar with either 21st Century Science & Technology, or Lyndon Larouche (I blame it on being Canadian). So I actually took a look at his article. While I am not in favor of the idea that one bad piece of work taints other work, I will make an exception for this article. My review of it is in this thread at Quark Soup. Search for the word “21stcentury ”

Refs


Recommending Rahmstorf

2018-07-22

Fossil fuel industry spent nearly $2 billion to kill U.S. climate action?

Via Twatter (and VV!), I discover that Fossil fuel industry spent nearly $2 billion to kill U.S. climate action, new study finds; and Industry has out-lobbied environmentalists 10-to-1 on climate since 2000. I can't say I'm terribly surprised, though I'm going to quibble the numbers, and I'm not at all sure they mean quite what the breathless think they mean.

The study is actually a proper published peer-reviewed thingy by Robert J. Brulle in Climatic Change, and even for a journal devoted to the Description, Causes and Implications of Climatic Change it seems a teensy bit political rather than sciencey to me, but meh. In case you're in any doubt, though, the study includes a cartoon The lithograph “The Bosses of the Senate” by Joseph Keppler to make it's biases clear.

Lobbying, though it has a poor reputation, is part of the communication within any governmental system. There are two sorts of lobbying: good lobbying, which is done by people you like for causes you support (after all, as our source tells us, the Evil Fossil Fuel industry has outspent the Nice Environmentalists 10-to-1, but that does imply $200 million spent lobbying by the env folk1, all of it Good) and Bad Lobbying done by people you don't like for causes you oppose. Somewhat more seriously, the Good lobbying should be information feedback into the system, not buying the system. Alas, attempts to allow only Good lobbying are stymied by it being hard to tell from Bad by objective criteria, and by the desire of the political class to permit lots of opportunities for lobbying, for the obvious reasons. The solution, of course, is to have government Do Less, thereby lessening the potential for lobbying.

Quibbling the numbers


Just accepting the numbers is no fun; you'll expect me to quibble them so I will.

The total spend (2000 to 2016) was about $2 billion, which is about 4% of the total. The annual average is about $120 million.

Before we go on, allow me to tell you something that won't interest you: During the 2016 election cycle, organised labour spent $217m—88% of it going to Democrats, according to The Economist. Are you outraged by that? Probably not, since it is Good lobbying. The lobbying data seems to have come from Open Secrets, and they make it available per sector. Health is the biggest; there's loadsa dosh in healthcare in the US.

Aanyway, what of my quibbles? Well first of all $2 billion is all lobbying, so it includes the Good lobbying by the env folk. Rather more importantly though it includes a pile of other folk too: see the picture I've inlined from the study. So the FF spend is $370 million, the EO is $48 million. And so ThinkProgress's proud headline is a lie. Quite possibly not a deliberate lie; most likely they're just too lazy or too stupid to trouble themselves to read the paper. You'll also notice that the ratio of 370 to 48 is not ten-to-one, that's because the one in 10-to-1 is EO and the renewable sector, and I think they threw some other bits - maybe electrical utilities - into the "fossil" basket (does that mean EU doing solar are counted in the "fossil" basket?).

My second quibble is that they identify climate lobbying by keyword search within lobbying records. Each lobbying record is (I presume) likely to have a number of keywords in it, and (or so it seems to me) likely that if you did this analysis across a wide variety of topics, you'd discover that you'd counted more than 100% of the total lobbying expenditure. This is a point that I'd have expected the paper to address; but if it did, I missed it.

Other sources


My main quibble, though, is going to be suggesting that lobbying isn't necessarily the major source of influence. The paper doesn't consider this point; it's only interest is lobbying, nothing else. So if I were to look at my native UK, or indeed anywhere in Europe, I'd discover that "believing in global warming" or however you choose to phrase it is official government policy. I'd probably also discover that FF folk outspend the Env folk, but that both are outspent by Govt propaganda.

You'll riposte that isn't true in the good ol' US of A. But would you be right? We're talking 2016 and before, not the Trump era, so that includes 8 years of Obama presidency, which was actually rather GW-friendly, though admittedly not to the extent of managing to do anything useful.

Notes

1. Ah, no, it doesn't make $200 million: see the Quibbles section. I was dumb enough to beliave TP's headlines. Never mind, the principle remains.

Global warming and common law

New York City Climate Suit Dismissed by Federal Judge (U.S. District Judge John Keenan) says Climate Liability News (h/t WUWT; I'm afraid none of my other sources covered it; though it now turns out that the Smoggies did, h/t EFS).

2018/11 update: NYC is going to appeal (because they are pols).

The decision states unambiguously Climate science clearly demonstrates that the burning of fossil fuels is the primary cause of climate change, so once again the reality of GW science is not the issue. Indeed, it actually gets a teensy bit carried away IMO, continuing Global warming, or the gradual heating of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere caused by accumulation of greenhouse gas pollution in the atmosphere, has led to hotter temperatures, longer and more severe heat waves, extreme precipitation events including heavy downpours, rising sea levels, and other severe and irreversible harms. I think it is sourcing that from the complaint, which I haven't read.

The reasonning is essentially the same as in the Alsup case, and explicitly references it, which is a sensible thing to do. The headlines (and I did read the text in between) are Federal Common Law Displaces The City’s State Law Claims and The Clean Air Act Displaces the City’s Claims and The City’s Claims Interfere with Separation of Powers and Foreign Policy and the conclusion is the City's amended complaint is dismissed with prejudice in its entirety.

AFAIK, none of these rulings have addressed the cost benefit question, because they've been dismissed first. But "can you sue for damages from GW if you've been an enthusiastic burner of fossil fuels yourself?" is an obvious question, which will come into play if anyone gets any closer. And the other obvious question - who is responsible for fossil fuel CO2: those who burn it, or those who sold it - also remains.

But enough of that. It occurs to me that I've been a supporter of common law over legislation for a while now, so it would be natural to suppose me opposed to these arguments. But in this case I think the rulings are correct. Common law, as the name suggests, is there to deal with common problems, where similar situations have arisen before, and the judge's task is to discover what the law and custom says. Global warming has not occurred before within human judicial history, and attempts to relate it to previous claims under nuisance (or even less plausibly under trespass) are contrived.

So if you're feeling "disenfanchised" by the courts, what is your remedy under the legislative or executive branches? Well, obviously, to get them to pass legislation, or to act on existing legislation. "But Congress won't pass any GW legislation" you might reply, and you'd be correct, but that's rather the point, isn't it? If the will of the majority doesn't support it, you don't get it, no matter how fervently you the minority might believe in it2. And yes yes I know it is possible to argue that the public at large wants it but the evil Congress critters have been bought off by evil fossil fuel companies and so are acting against the will of the people but, whilst there is some limited truth to that, I don't think it's really the full story or even very much of it. The Joe Public is fat complacent unthinking and fond of his comforts. He is prepared to act on your minor campaigns like giving up plastic straws but inclined to regard his obligations as done once that trivia has gone by. As to the executive branch, you have Trump1, sadly.

[Update: another somewhat more parochial case by Plan B Earth (who, whilst very sweet, are probably idiots) comes my way: Environmental campaigners lose High Court battle over carbon target via a dodgy blog; or you may prefer The Graun's version. Again, I think the decision is correct: deciding the exact size of our CO2 reduction is within the "[]lawful exercise of [the secretary of state's] discretion". This may be a good place to remind you that I've come to think that carbon budgets are stupid, anyway.]

Notes


1. Sadly I can't find a posting by me as a good link to "Trump is a wazzock" so just take it as read: I think Trump is a wazzock.

2. Please don't interpret this as support by me for unfettered "majoritarianism", because as I've said before I'm not.

Refs

* Cleaning Out the Statutory Junk - Cato
Supreme Court Rules on Kid's Climate Lawsuit - QS

2018-07-16

Unmasking the negative greenhouse effect over the Antarctic Plateau

It's "new", it's exciting, it's in Nature. Woo. Or at least that one is, by Sergio A. Sejas, Patrick C. Taylor & Ming Cai. But there's also Antarctic Specific Features of the Greenhouse Effect: A Radiative Analysis Using Measurements and Models by Holger Schmith├╝sen (via RR on Twatter). Are they related? I don't know. But this certainly isn't new; S had How increasing CO2 leads to an increased negative greenhouse effect in Antarctica in 2015.

CIP posted about this back in 2016 and we had a "discussion" there.

As you'd hope, the Watties have manged to mangle it: "it also implies that the EAIS is enormously stable with respect to higher CO2 levels". But that's not true. This only gets you an anti-GHE in midwinter, when it's too cold to melt anyway, and it wasn't about to melt in the interior anyway. For stability the edges, and summer, and the ocean are more interesting, as is polewards-advected heat.

Refs


* Town bumps starts tomorrow!

2018-07-12

Merchantilism and Denialism impartially consider'd

20180711_125916 Reading - as I do - the likes of Don Boudreaux railing against  the imbecility of Trump's merchantilist (aka non-free trade) policy, I can't help seeing the analogy with science-type folk railing against the idiocy of the denialists. Which is to say, being right, but talking to people who just don't care, because their ideology means they're not really thinking about the thing you're talking about. It's nominally the same subject - "global warming" in one case or "trade" in another - but since they're always thinking about different aspects there is no connection.

Amusingly, there's a further similarity: just as the science-type folk generally don't support free trade, so the economics-type folk don't generally support the GW science.

Refs


The relativist can offer no cogent reason why we should not simply get on with it
Hexapodia?
Rejecting Climate Change: Not Science Denial, but Regulation Phobia?
* CIP on free trade
NO MORE TIGER IN  KOCH THINK TANK: EXXON QUITS ALEC
On the “National-Security Exception” to a Policy of Free Trade

2018-07-11

Law as Custom vs textualism

Politico offers us various interpretations of Kavanaugh. Of interest is his "textualism and originalism", a concept that I tend to favour, though with caveats as this post will make clear. There's also a note about "a healthy skepticism of judicial deference to the administrative state", cue musing about the Deep State, but that's just a note to remind me for another day.

I find comments like "law is the end product of politics, not a continuation thereof, and the judiciary's duty is to enforce the laws (including the Constitution) as written". Or in K's own words "A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent".

The idea that one could source law from close reading of the original documents, and the problems of interpreting them, is familiar enough, whether you agree with it or not. But how does this fit into the "law as custom" framework?

The English common-law tradition, as expounded by say Hayek, is not that judges made law, but that they found it. The above, incorrectly I think, ignores that tradition by offering only a choice of making or interpreting. So that's a mark against K.

Consider, for example, the glorious Declaration of Independence, and the ringing words We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Splendid words, and you can't remove their legal weight by asserting that they aren't formally part of the law. How do you reconcile them with slavery? You can't, obviously. At least, not honestly. You have to look the other way, evade them, or find some other hocus-pocus. But when the DofI was written, slave-owning was customary - at least in certain parts - and so that was the law, no matter what the bits of paper said. That, in turn, points to the need to adapt law to the customs of the times, and not be too hide-bound by niggly words1.

Refs


The Armalite and the ballot box
SCOTUS-pocus
Evasive Entrepreneurialism and Technological Civil Disobedience: Basic Definitions
SCHNARE SNARED IN TANGLED TULSA WEB
Judges in the U.S. are Supposed to Enforce the Constitution - CH
* Volokh

Notes


1. You might be tempted to assert that abiding strictly by the niggly words is therefore a good idea, because if only the judges had abode by the niggly words, then all those slaves would have been freed. But you'd be wrong.

2018-07-09

Unlike deniers, climate alarmists are not influential?

Having burnished my credentials just recently, I can go back to attacking my own side with a sigh of relief. In There are genuine climate alarmists, but they're not in the same league as deniers, Dana Nuccitelli tries to defend SKS's - and his - habit of attacking only the septics, whilst rarely going after those he calls "alarmists". Not something you can accuse me of. I don't much attack the septics anymore because it's all far too dull. But while SKS may be in the process of renaming their "Climate Misinformers" page "Climate misinformation by source", it still hasn't got Wadhams on it.

Blah blah blah; aanyway, the bit I wanted was
Unlike deniers, climate alarmists are not influential. Climate deniers are obviously incredibly influential. Despite their lack of supporting evidence or facts, not only do 28% of Americans continue to believe that global warming is natural and 14% that it’s not even happening, but deniers also dictate Republican Party policy. Republican policymakers constantly invite deniers to testify in congressional hearings, including many of those featured on the Skeptical Science misinformers page. There is no symmetry on the other side of the aisle. In those same congressional hearings, Democratic Party policymakers invite mainstream climate scientists to testify. Their party policy is based on the consensus of 97% of the climate science community.
And so on. If you're not thinking carefully this will all pass by on the nod and your bubble-world view will have been revalidated and you can snooze off with your cocoa and slippers in front of the telly. And of course it isn't totally false. But it also isn't as true as you think. The denialists exist and peddle lies, but to a ready audience. People want to be told that their fat livestyle is perfectly fine, and they don't want to be told otherwise. The Dems are happy to have scientists come and tell them what they want to hear, but you don't notice them asking economists what the best solution would be, because the last thing they want is to pushing for a carbon tax that would scare the horses.

Part of it is people's inability to see the things they've got; they can only see the things they are missing. So the EU's policy on GW is almost everything DN could want, except it is useless and ineffectual, but clearly they believe: isn't that next to godliness, and 95% of virtue?

Refs


* The Betts Test - Eli
Climate misinformers - ATTP

2018-07-06

Pruitt fucks off

As every man and his dog has noted, Scott Pruitt is now the late and unlamented ex-head of the US environment agency. The Mango Mussolini praises him for doing an outstanding job; Pruitt's resignation letter reciprocates with brown-nosing and god-bothering. I don't feel any great inclination to examine his record... but is that a mistake? As near as I can tell he resigned for a string of ethics scandals, but what about his actual job and record? EOS notes that environmentalists will be happy he is gone, but also their support of WOTUS, which seems well dodgy. Those who dislike rule-by-regulation seem to have somewhat different views.

His replacement, Andrew Wheeler, seems likely to continue much the same policies, but more efficiently, and without the taint of ethics violations.

Refs


Trump and science: malice or indifference? - a brief discussion of RP Jr on Pruitt from which he does not emerge well.
Trump's EPA pick will make Obama regret his environmental overreach?
If you keep hearing a dog whistle, perhaps you are the dog
Brexit Secretary David Davis resigns

2018-07-01

SCOTUS-pocus

36297903_1877774222287502_2809714094045659136_o A pile of legal news that I can't quite bear to not mention. Kennedy is off1; and the SCOTUS has handed down some decisions that people are sad about. And as usual, I find it hard to find anyone to agree with. Looking for a hook to hang this on I find insideclimatenews saying:
For environmentalists, it's worrisome that the court is increasingly prone to make decisions under one of Scalia's core beliefs, known as "textualism," which would see no climate role for the agency in charge of protecting the environment unless it is expressly spelled out in statute. Congress, especially under the control of Republicans, doesn't look likely to crack down on pollution from the use of fossil fuels, whatever the risks to society.
This is quite a weird paragraph, when you think about it. What it is saying is that the lawmakers don't want fossil fuel regulation. And the text of the law doesn't support the same. But because we want it, we're going to desperately try to interpret the written law in such a way as to permit regulation. And despite this weirdness, ICN are happy to write it, and most of their readers will read it without noticing anything odd, so wrapped up are they in the idea that because they want something - obviously, not for themselves, this is a Noble Want for the good of the whole world, and such a selfless want cannot morally be denied -, they should have it; and if they can't get it by clear legal title, then they should have it by legal interpretation, no matter how wonky that might be.

ICN doesn't like Roberts, and so his views must be "out of step with the science"; and so they write: On coastal damages from sea level rise, an eventuality that is not just a risk but a certainty, readily observed and directly caused by the warming of ocean waters and the melting of ice masses due to rising carbon dioxide, Roberts wrote: "It is pure conjecture." But this isn't an honest reading of what Roberts said. Firstly, 11 years ago, coastal damage to Massachusetts was not readily observable (is it even observable today?). The certainty of eventual damage is a different matter, which is where ICN's dishonesty comes in, because Roberts is trying to distinguish “real and immediate" from future possibilities. Another important subtlety overlooked by ICN is that Roberts is trying to discuss that The very concept of global warming seems inconsistent with this particularization requirement. By which he means what we all know: that any particular emission of CO2 has only an incremental effect, and doesn't fit at all well within the legal framework that they're trying to use. Indeed this ties up rather well with words used in the recent Alsup decision2.

Their "analysis" of Scalia's dissent is similarly weak (they even invent capitalisation to suit their own ends).

Does any of this matter? After all, the SCOTUS are probably not in the habit of reading ICN and are unlikely to give a toss what they write. But other people do, and they might be unwise enough to believe ICN, and so the "discussion" becomes ever more partisan and both sides glory in not even trying to understand what they other side is trying to say and even Gavin is re-tweeting this crap.

[Update: Janus. I see I didn't comment on this, though I kept the link and have just finished reading through it. In general I think I agree with the majority. The only really convincing argument for the dissent is page 27, which frames it in terms of States Rights though without using those words. Of course which decisions you defer in that way is a powerful weapon, too. See-also: SCOTUSblog.

Late update: The Economist opines. Note that while it mentions free riders, it neglects to note that's the situation in the UK, and no-one seems very worried.]

Notes


1. Incidentally, his timing is odd. I've seen various reports that the Dems are desperate to postpone his replacement until after the mid-terms (have I got the jargon right? I find colonial "slections" very hard to follow) so if you thought him a secret Dem then you'd wonder why he hadn't been kinder to them and delayed his decision for a few months.

2. If you're alert, you will rejoin that one of the reasons that Alsup gave for rejection was the EPA case. I'll give you that but look at the words. He, like Roberts, is trying to say this is really a matter for Congress, not the courts.