You ain't ever gonna burn my heart out

MVIMG_20190725_132014 Aka the year in Stoats, 2019. Following last year's acclaimed tradition, I present posts by month selected by most comments; after all, it's the only objective measure.

* Jan: Aristotle's politics (38)
* Feb: A note on fossil fuel subsidies (30)
* Mar: Brexit schmexit (31)
* Apr: L'affaire Peter Ridd, part 2 (25)
* May: UK Parliament declares climate change emergency? (38)
* Jun: Does J R Oppenheimer ask: can science provide better models for democracy? (48)
* Jul: The One Viable Solution To Climate Change? (35)
* Aug: A dangerous new form of climate denialism is making the rounds? (22)
* Sep: Demons Tormenting St. Anthony (21)
* Oct: Economists greatly underestimate the price tag on harsher weather and higher seas. Why is that? (30)
* Nov: Pielke contra mundum (40)
* Dec: Sigh: DOE announces another lightbulb efficiency rollback (28)

Thanks to all my commentators for their contributions throughout the year. Rest assured that I read them all, and think about them all, and reply when it seems appropriate. To all you lurkers out there: welcome also.

Most of the posts I looked back at had typos; I've corrected some and in a couple of minor places clarified meanings that appeared unclear.


The lyf so short, the craft so longe to lerne (2018). Regrettably, I have failed in last year's resolve to insult more people this year.
* ATTP: 2019: A year in review.
* JEB: Review of the blogyear?


The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun

DSC_3744 A bit more Thucydides. This time from the "Mytilenian Debate". A quick precis of the background for those who have forgotten: war between Athens and Sparta is in its third year; the Mytilenians want to go over to the Spartan side1 and the Spartans promised aid; alas the revolt goes poorly, the Spartans prove fairly crap at sea and Mytilene and Lesbos are retaken. The ringleaders are taken to Athens, and the assembly there - no longer lead by Pericles - in anger and fear condemns all the men of Mytilene to death; but sleeping on it they come to be uneasy, and re-debate. The result - not to spoil the suspense - is a close run thing but is narrowly in favour of not killing everyone. Anyway, that's not my point here; what's interesting here is that Thucydides gives us the "demagogic" (Cleon) and "rationalist" (Diodotus) sides as speeches. This is one of his Dramatic Techniques and makes the whole thing more readable; after a catalogue of near-chaotic events and places which constitutes what happens, it's good to get the politics presented.

Aanyway, my real point was that on this my second reading - my first, several years ago, was mainly to get the story - I'm struck by bits of Cleon's speech I didn't notice before; perhaps I skimmed:
The most alarming feature in the case is the constant change of measures with which we appear to be threatened, and our seeming ignorance of the fact that bad laws which are never changed are better for a city than good ones that have no authority; that unlearned loyalty is more serviceable than quick-witted insubordination; and that ordinary men usually manage public affairs better than their more gifted fellows. The latter are always wanting to appear wiser than the laws, and to overrule every proposition brought forward, thinking that they cannot show their wit in more important matters, and by such behaviour too often ruin their country; while those who mistrust their own cleverness are content to be less learned than the laws, and less able to pick holes in the speech of a good speaker; and being fair judges rather than rival athletes, generally conduct affairs successfully. These we ought to imitate, instead of being led on by cleverness and intellectual rivalry to advise your people against our real opinions.
How Brexit is that? Don't trust experts. If you don't understand things, don't worry, just let your common sense guide you. Don't change your mind. It continues with proving that the M's were particularly evil, deserved punishment, and failure to do so would inevitably cause everyone else to revolt too.

Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them

A well known passage, but worth quoting while I'm here.
Revolution thus ran its course from city to city, and the places which it arrived at last, from having heard what had been done before, carried to a still greater excess the refinement of their inventions, as manifested in the cunning of their enterprises and the atrocity of their reprisals. Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them. Reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal ally; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation was held to be a cloak for unmanliness; ability to see all sides of a question, inaptness to act on any. Frantic violence became the attribute of manliness; cautious plotting, a justifiable means of self-defence.


1. Athens, though a democracy, wasn't terribly nice as an Empirical Power, the Delian League having decayed into hegemony.

2. If you're wondering about his wonderful memory capable of recording these speeches, be aware that as he puts it sometimes he made people say "what was called for in each situation". And from tis distance, who are we to doubt this?

3. Pic: the Corinth canal. Somewhat beyond the strength of the Antients. But they did have a cut / road for dragging ships across.


* BBC Natural World: Weasels: Feisty and Fearless


Close elections are bad elections; what we need is social consensus

Screenshot_20191223-225856 mt Twote:
Close elections are bad elections. What we need is social consensus. Anything important decided by a narrow fraction of the most disengaged voters is destabilizing.  Professionalization of politics is the problem, not the solution.
Complaining about something like politics becoming more professional, or more efficient, is about as much use as - and indeed, is very similar to - complaining about evolution. But I'm used to disagreeing with mt over politics, so skip that bit as a detail and come to the "close elections" thought.

About which, as I half said in a different context (oh, there are so many thoughts in the world to write down!) in Men spake from God being moved by the Holy Ghost / Every man in his own language, I feel I've said before but can't find, so will say again:

Politics tends to produce close results1, but not consensus2. Nominally, pols are supposed to seek and promote consensus, and mt is still yearning after that idea, but I see little evidence that it is a major part in practice. And politics is backed by coercion: at least in majoritarian states: if you win, you get the power to impose your - sorry, the people's - will; this tempts far too many people. This tends to leave the middle ground barren and dead, populated with the corpses of those attacked by both sides. The solution, of course, is to move as much as possible out of the purview of politics, since anything done there will inevitably be fought over as a zero sum game. And move it out into the free market, where individual decisions are indeed made by agreement.


I should have reffed Aristotle's politics and the quote from Hayek: It is not democracy but unlimited government that is objectionable...


Does J R Oppenheimer ask: can science provide better models for democracy?


1. In an idealised society with a spectrum of opinion categorisable as from Left to Right, imagine two parties competing for votes, sure of all those on the side of the spectrum away from the other party; inevitably, they migrate to the centre. This was Tony Blair's chief idea, and lest you dismiss it too readily, notice that he was the only Labour to win an election for uncounted moons. I prefer conviction politicians - Blur IMO had no real ideas about what to do once he achieved power. The idealisation applies but in more blurred form in more complex scenarios.

2. Having commented on closeness, I feel the urge to comment on consensus too, since it is so strikingly absent. At least in the UK and USA; I'm rather less familiar with our Continental friends or those further abroad. But it is hard to know what to say. The UK is split by Brexit as one axis and but whether you dislike Corbyn or Bojo more on another, and that's not helpful. The USA is, apart from the perhaps-superficial Trump/Populist split, also divided between "free market" vs "progressive", but muddily, possibly leaving room for consensus in the details even if on principles there can be no meeting.

3. My picture shows Henry Worsley, who has nothing at all to do with this article. But I love the picture; I got it from the New Yorker. They shoved it into my fb feed for months on end and I finally got round to reading it. To my surprise, it doesn't show a USAnian: to me, he looks like one of the cowboy pilots from Catch-22, or the mad ones from Dr Strangelove. But no, just an Englishman.

Praise is due to all who respect justice more than their position compels them to do

DSC_3794 A fragment from The Peloponesian War. The Athenians are talking to the Spartans, trying to persuade them not to join the Corinthians; and so are defending their own actions and empire. They can't argue that they have been wholly good, and instead Thucydides1 reports them as saying:
praise is due to all who, if not so superior to human nature as to refuse dominion, yet respect justice more than their position compels them to do. We imagine that our moderation would be best demonstrated by the conduct of others who should be placed in our position; but even our equity has very unreasonably subjected us to condemnation instead of approval. Our abatement of our rights in the contract trials with our allies, and our causing them to be decided by impartial laws at Athens, have gained us the character of being litigious. And none care to inquire why this reproach is not brought against other imperial powers, who treat their subjects with less moderation than we do; the secret being that where force can be used, law is not needed. But our subjects are so habituated to associate with us as equals that any defeat whatever that clashes with their notions of justice, whether it proceeds from a legal judgment or from the power which our empire gives us, makes them forget to be grateful for being allowed to retain most of their possessions, and more vexed at a part being taken, than if we had from the first cast law aside and openly gratified our covetousness. If we had done so, not even would they have disputed that the weaker must give way to the stronger. Men's indignation, it seems, is more excited by legal wrong than by violent wrong; the first looks like being cheated by an equal, the second like being compelled by a superior. At all events they contrived to put up with much worse treatment than this from the Mede, yet they think our rule severe, and this is to be expected, for the present always weighs heavy on the conquered. This at least is certain. If you were to succeed in overthrowing us and in taking our place, you would speedily lose the popularity with which fear of us has invested you, if your policy of to-day is at all to tally with the sample that you gave of it during the brief period of your command against the Mede.
I think it fits the USAnian Empire well.


1. Crawley translation from Gutenberg. The Warner translation, which I'm reading, is somewhat different and appears to be more popular to quote. So you can key it if you want to, it starts "Those who really deserve praise are the people who, while human enough to enjoy power, nevertheless pay more attention to justice than they are compelled to do by their situation".

2. Yes I know: Mycenae predates this period by many years.


* Our holiday there some years back.


Goe, and catche a falling starr

songAh, beautiful. The full - though alas modernised version - is available from e.g. here. I've used this before, though only incidentally so I think I'm allowed to use it as the headline now. The song is lovely though in my humble opinion runs out of steam and sheer madness in the third verse. While I'm on poetry I can also recommend So That's Who I Remind Me Of by Ogden Nash, h/t TF.

In other news, I managed my by-now-traditional Christmas day half, though not particularly quickly. And after some effort, we managed to set the Christmas pudding on fire. Boxing day will be quieter.


* The new spending bill is a disaster by Scott Sumner
* Economics as the Study of Peaceful Human Cooperation and Progress by Steven Horwitz
* Speaking of raving wackos: Trump on Wind (Oy Vey) - QS
* Christmas Trilogy 2019 Part I: Would the real Mr Newton please stand up? - RM
We need to make the labor force as flexible as the capital force - DMcC


Happy Solstice

A re-tread from 2012. Doesn't time fly?


A summer picture for the winter solstice. Which I'd forgotten until Amy reminded me.

This year's reminders from TPP and RM.


* Book of the New Sun. I still think Gene Wolfe does a better job of capturing the wonder of the Apollo programme with that brief paragraph that anyone else ever has.


Sigh: DOE announces another lightbulb efficiency rollback

IMG_20191217_182721_122 More broken logic. Well, not really even an attempt at logic. The story from The Hill via Twatter:
In its latest move to roll back energy efficiency measures, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced Friday that it would block a measure designed to require more efficient lightbulbs, arguing the policy would be too expensive for consumers.  The announcement applies to widely-used, pear-shaped incandescent lightbulbs. Coupled with another controversial rule finalized in September, the move cements two remarkable decisions taken by the department this year to hamstring efficiency requirements for nearly every type of bulb used in America. The announcement follows earlier messaging from the department that market forces, and not the government, should guide consumer choices.
And so on. The lack of logic is:
consumer protection groups and environmentalists have widely panned the measures, saying consumers will be stuck with a higher electric bill spurred by inefficient bulbs... This law should have saved U.S. households more than $100 annually... You wouldn’t use a phone from the 1870s, so why use Edison’s 1870s light bulb?
But of course the change merely allows people to choose their own bulbs. If they value saving $100 per year, then they'll do that, and the law will have no effect. But they have the choice not to, if that's what they prefer. Those who think that the entire populace are feckless incompetents will argue that people should not have the choice, but I can't support that. As to phones, people migrate to modern phones with no coercion from the govt, so if that's your analogy, it argues against the regs.


* Ra ra: If you like your lightbulbs, you can keep your lightbulbs! The Obama Admin tried to limit Americans to buying more-expensive LED bulbs for their homes—but thanks to President
@realDonaldTrump, go ahead and decorate your house with whatever lights you want


Historic Urgenda Climate Ruling Upheld by Dutch Supreme Court

80657110_1340083109521339_6781348271953543168_o I haven't written about Urgenda before. As they say themselves On 24 June 2015 the Urgenda Foundation, together with 900 citizens, won the Climate Case against the Dutch Government, forcing it to take more measures against climate change. On 9 October 2018 the judge in High Court again ruled in favour of Urgenda and the climate. The government appealed again. The final ruling of the Supreme Court will be on 20 December 2019. And Climate Liability News will tell you about the just-in victory: The HAGUE—The Netherlands’ Supreme Court upheld the landmark ruling in Urgenda v. the Netherlands, announcing its decision on Friday that governments have a human rights duty to protect their citizens from climate change. The strongly worded judgment orders the Dutch government to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by the end of 2020, compared with 1990 levels.

As I think I've said before, I don't like this version of "human rights". I like the version of the US constitution, most notably the First AmendmentCongress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. This is "rights" as it should be done: by preventing govt f*ck*ng around with you. That way, you don't have to worry what the phrase "human right" even means. But when you end up deriving a "right to climate" from the state had clear obligations to protect the environment under Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights involving the right to life and the right to a private and family life then things have, in my opinion, gone wrong. Read my insightful review of Ann Leckie's The Raven Tower for more.

And, of course, I think the whole targets idea is wrong.

On the overall concept, which is citizens suing their govt to do something, I think that is intrinsically weird. Holland is a democracy. They elect people to represent them. Attempting to manage govt through the courts is odd. The courts should be a check on the abuse of power by the govt; and on the govt over-stepping its authority; but I don't like them being used to prod the govt into action. In that case, your remedy is to get another govt. If you reply is "but a different govt wouldn't act either" then my reply is "that is telling you something rather important". The only counter argument to this is that it acts to prevent govt lying: if they've got in by saying they'll do X, then I have some sympathy with the courts forcing them to do X. But I don't think that applies in this case.


Reading of the Urgenda Verdict - QS


Climatic Impacts of Wind Power

80620812_1339153616280955_2067261372671983616_o By Lee M. Miller and David W. Keith in Joule. In 2018, so I'm well behind the times; but so is RS. This is fundamentally the same idea as Zhou et al. in 20121: wind turbines mix the boundary layer and so tend to warm the surface when it is colder than aloft. The effects are significantly larger at night than daytime, as you'd expect (during the day gradients are small anyway due to solar mixing from the sfc; at night the sfc cools). There are two elements of confusion to address. The first is trivial: the turbines are not generating any significant amount of heat; they're just mixing it. This is obvious and I only mention this because people have otherwise got confused in the past. And secondly, that while you might want to therefore say "there is no contribution to rising global temperatures and their associated problems" (especially if you're the AEWA) that's not really true. Because as conventionally understood GW applies mostly to the sfc temperature, and wind farms do have the potential to change that.

This is but a humble regional model, and so can't give you global impacts. Possibly, warming locally might be mitigated by cooling elsewhere; but then again it might not be.

Comparing Climatic Impacts to Climatic Benefits

So does this have any bearing on the GW-related virtues of windfarms? If you're the AWEA the answer is of course no no good grief what were you thinking? The Science Media Centre has some reactions most of which are also keen to minimise the relevance of this; the only one worth reading is by Stephen Mobbs.

The paper says "We find that generating today’s US electricity demand (0.5 TWe) with wind power would warm Continental US surface temperatures by 0.24 oC... The warming effect is... large compared with the reduced warming achieved by decarbonizing US electricity with wind". But what is even the correct measure? You should compare the (global) changes, not just the changes over the US... they say "Assuming emissions cuts are implemented globally, then the climatic impacts of wind power affecting the US in 2100 are approximately equivalent to the avoided warming from reduced global emissions" which I think implies a sort of net loss until 2100.

It's also true that "the direct climatic impact of wind power is immediate but would disappear if the turbines were removed, while the climatic benefits of reducing emissions grows with the cumulative reduction in emissions and persists for millennia". However, in line with my std.policy that you shouldn't care too much past 100 years out, I don't think you should weigh the effects out to millenia highly. You might also attempt to assert that warming at night when it's colder anyway is better than warming during the daytime, perhaps.

What I said last time

To be honest, I should quote what I said last time, though of course you can read it all from the link. Most of the previous post was debunking misunderstandings, but as to the GW stuff I said: But if you’re silly, like the Torygraph, you find yourself obliged to headline your story Wind farms can cause climate change, finds new study. The actual article itself isn’t too bad – it correctly notes this is a local effect, largely night-time only, and it permits itself a little speculation that if done on a large enough scale this might just be noticeable regionally. And, being generous, you could call this “climate change” – though to most people, “climate change” will mean global climate change, which this isn’t. That was true in the old context, which was just about small - by comparison with the considerations of the current paper - wind farms. But is perhaps a little too dismissive of the potential GW impacts.


1. Except Zhou was real observations not models.

They are openly admitting they have no intention of trying to slow climate change?

79756170_1337096576486659_3664121601915355136_n More anguished twatting about oil companies: ExxonMobil’s 2019 Outlook for Energy predicts “no reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector through 2040—and no date at which emissions reach net zero”. They are openly admitting they have no intention of trying to slow climate change.

This is just a dumb category error, confusing predictions with intentions. The obvious analogy is with IPCC / SRES (or whatever replaces SRES; see how out of date I am): just because the IPCC predicts / projects future CO2 emissions increasing doesn't imply they have no intention of helping reduce them.

Exxon's outlook for energy - which, obviously, I haven't read; see-also ExxonMobil: Positioning for a Lower-Carbon Energy Future? - is their best-guess at the future. It's them trying to read the tea-leaves, guess what will happen, what people will want, how the idiot pols will fuck things up, and so on. All of that occurs within a political and societal context, which they're trying to guess. But asking them to be in control of that context is ridiculous. And do people really want Evil Fossil Fuel Companies in control? Of course not.

Society is a big complex self-organising institution with some top-level control from govt, usually done badly. Within that various instituions like EFFCs operate in response to people's desires. If you want what they do to change you need to change your desires. Saying you want lower CO2 emissions and then flying off to COP25 is about as much use as a fat man saying he wants to be thin while still scoffing all the pies - see-also Climate chickenhawks. You should pay more attention to what people and pols do, rather than what they say. the key phrase is "revealed preferences". If you want EFFCs to count the SCC, then impose a carbon tax.

My appropriate picture shows the Angel of God chaining the demon of Lust. Jan Steen ~ ca.1660. Museum Bredius. See wiki for the full pic and full story, which is weird.


Exxon Found Not Guilty of Deceiving Investors Over Climate Risks

79024836_1331247397071577_3374945770317807616_o This was the case that I commented on in L'affaire Schneiderman and noted briefly in refs a month ago. Broadly speaking though I thought the case silly and politically motivated and didn't much cover it. Summary: the City of New York decided to use some valuable taxpayer dollars suing Exxon for securities fraud and racketeering: their assertions were that Exxon had made misleading declarations to investors, and had committed deliberate fraud. The latter allegations were even less plausible than the former and NY dropped them a month back. Now Exxon has been found not guilty of the former.

The case was always stupid. In practical terms, NY was trying to show that Exxon had failed to tell investors that there were risks of "stranded assets" and that it's business could be seriously impeded by action on GW. And this is drivel because no sensible investor could possibly be unaware of those issues; there was no need at all for Exxon to tell anyone; and, anyway, they had. So the case was never about bad behaviour by Exxon; it was just an attempt to sue someone that NY didn't like on a technicality. And, deservedly, it failed.

Sadly CLN doesn't link to the judgement, so I have to go to the Dork Side for that. I've read / skimmed it all. I think that NY were hoping for a technical victory: that Exxon's words, though irrelevant to any investor's decision, nonetheless could be construed as misleading. But the judge doesn't even give them that, deciding that there must be "actual significance to the deliberations of the reasonable shareholder", and that's not going to fly. The allegations are mostly around a couple of reports from Exxon in March 2014, said to be misleading, but as the court notes "there was no evidence adduced at trial that the publication of the march 2014 reports had any market impact...". And just to grind it in, "evidence at the trial revealed that Exxon executives and employees were uniformly committed to rigourously discharging their duties in the most meticulous and comprehensive manner possible". Perhaps importantly, hizzoner notes that NY offered no testimony from any investor who claimed to have been mislead. There's also some stuff about Roger Reed, a market analyst, who didn't change anything due to the March reports, so that's pleasingly empirical. Also, NY's experts seem to have been a bit crap compared to Exxon's ("the testimony of the expert witnesses called by the Office of the Attorney General was eviscerated on cross examination").

If all this sounds like I'm gloating, I am. This was a stupid case that distracted attention from actual real world problems.

This may be a good place to link to my Exxon disclaimer, which I find I first noted in 2006 and certainly re-said in 2015.


* “Barking Cats” by Milton Friedman h/t TF


If you’re a climate or energy researcher, chances are the fossil fuel industry owns you?

evil If you’re a climate or energy researcher, chances are the fossil fuel industry owns you was a cheery Twit by Benjamin Franta. A variety of people were tewwibly offended, but really, the question should have been why did they expect any sense out of him in the first place? The entire Exxonknew drivel he's promoting is drivel and always has been. I felt obliged to tell otherwise intelligent people Yes, which is why it's all drivel. There's nothing at all new there; and the intent to report is as though it was is, is spreading lies / PR. As I said "you were all happy with F when he was spreading drivel you liked". Now it's drivel you dislike, and you're all astonished.

But it perhaps needs laying out in more detail than Twatter is capable of coping with, so here (for those who found Early oil industry knowledge of CO2 and global warming? for some reason hard to understand) are some words.

1. Back in Ye Olde Dayes, GW was but a twinkle in people's eyes and so there was lots of speculation and inquiry around the subject, including stuff written by Exxon, and even by coal companies.
2. The idea that anyone actually knew exactly what was going on, or could make confident predictions, is wrong. See for example In the decade that ran from 1979 to 1989, we had an excellent opportunity to solve the climate crisis? for my discussion; but I think it's definitely correct that any date before 1990 is unreasonable. Yes, it's possible to cherry pick pictures that people created in the 80's and declare them to be uncannily prescient, but this is also silly. Incidentally, I think that predicting future CO2 turned out to be much easier than anyone expected. But just cos you know now that it was accurate(ish) doesn't mean you knew it then.
3. The idea that one graph by one person at Exxon proves that "Exxon knew" is also drivel. Exxon is quite a large organistaion. It doesn't have one mind that is always in full agreement with itself and that knows everything it is doing, any more than the USofA does.
4. Everything that the Evil Fossil Fuel Companies knew then was public. So if your complaint is that all this was secret, then you're an idiot. If you think the public were not fully informed of all this vital information, then your complain should be with the govt. The govt is the entity charged with spreading such vital-to-the-general-public information; not EFFCs. See-also #exxonlied;  or The Climate Deception Dossiers? Oreskes is the leader in this kind of drivel, writing stuff like "At least fifty years ago, Defendants-Appellants (hereinafter, “Defendants”) had information from their own internal research, as well as from the international scientific community, that the unabated extraction, production, promotion, and sale of their fossil fuel products would result in material dangers to the public. Defendants failed to disclose this information...". If you can't tell why this is drivel, you haven't been paying attention.

It is possible to complain that after the naive early days, the EFFCs starting spreading misinformation. I think this is a valid complaint (see-also What I said about Exxon). But, it really isn't that exciting. As well as misinformation from the EFFCs there was also lots of good information available from govts and the IPCC; anyone who wanted to be well informed could be; those who wanted to be lied to, were. To get round this problem you need a population that wants to know the truth. Alas, such are hard to find.


Craig Loehle stops speaking

In Craig Loehle speaks I noted CL editing his wiki article. But now - see Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Craig Loehle - he is no more (recent archive). The nomination was Fails WP:PROF and WP:BIO generally as there do not seem to be multiple independent sources written about the person. The sources in the article are all either WP:SELFPUB, articles he published, or extremely incidental notice that do not highlight the importance of the person. Note also that there may be some WP:SOAP going on at this WP:FRINGEBLP. jps (talk) 10:50, 20 November 2019 (UTC) and there wasn't a lot of interest.

The only dissent was Keep. Loehle is a scientist who has worked at research institutes throughout his career. So WP:NPROF is the standard to apply, rather than GNG. And his citation record looks like it passes WP:NPROF C1 — 7000 citations, nearly 20 articles over 100 citations, etc. He is certainly fringe, and the article needs to put the fringe-ness in better context in some places. Russ Woodroofe (talk) 12:05, 23 November 2019 (UTC). The response to this is the obvious; NPROF #1 is The person's research has had a significant impact in their scholarly discipline, broadly construed, as demonstrated by independent reliable sources and CL certainly fails that; and the other criteria too. Our Keeper replies that CL has a respectable 7k cites, which seems to be true; JA by contrast has 9k. But then again, no-one could be bothered to argue, which kinda makes him NN. There's also his 2007 article (which seems to have been taken seriously enough by the mainstream to push back against), but that was the crappy E+E thing that RC amongst others took down.


Election 2019: Boris Johnson Top Beneficiary of Donations from Supporters of Climate Science Denial?

77426606_1312780438918273_6451873208894226432_n It's the smoggies again. What they've done is looked at the donations, seen who they are from, and done their best to give you the impression that the Tories are being supported for GW denial. But I don't think you can deduce that from their data and analysis. Here's their data. First on the list is Neil Record, with $450k  in total, 10% of the total. He is, sez wiki, a British businessman, author and economist who founded Record Currency Management, one of the earliest specialist currency managers. Record was one of the pioneers of currency risk management. In 2003 he wrote Currency Overlay, the first textbook on the subject. He was a short listed entrant for the 2012 Wolfson Economics Prize for his work on the Eurozone crisis. In short, an archetypical Tory donor. That he also happens to chair the evil GWPF1 is a fact but likely has little to do with his donations. Next, with £228k or 5% of the total, is Edward Atkin a businessman, investor and entrepreneur based in the UK and was CEO of Avent.; his sin is to donate to the GWPF, and indeed this is a sin. But again, he's an archetypical Tory donor.

But why are we pissing about with these minnows when the vast bulk - £4,277k - comes from Michael HintzeSir Michael Hintze, GCSG, AM (born 27 July 1953) is a British-Australian businessman, philanthropist and Conservative Party patron, based in the United Kingdom. By now, I'm sure the pattern is obvious. Curiously, the smoggies nowhere notice that more than 80% of the donations came from this one source. Perhaps because his links to the GWPF are rather weak, which throws the entire thing into doubt. The smoggies manage Stance on Climate Change: While Hintze avoids public statements, he is reportedly one of the earliest financial backers of the UK’s only climate science denial thinktank the GWPF. A dedicated supporter, he attended the group’s 2017 annual invitation-only lecture delivered by former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott but rather noticeably don't give any amount donated.

So is it bad to receive money from bad people2? If person A funds activity B and C, does that tar activity C with the evils of activity B? For example, I (well, we) generally donate to Wintercomfort for the homeless in Cambridge, usually just before Christmas... so this year's is about due. But I also staunchly defend small govt and rage against regulation. Are they tainted by that? I very much doubt they share my opinions. I am being somewhat facetious; a pattern of behaviour may be considered significant; but really, do you need any more reasons to dislike the Tory party? Their resolutely anti-business and pro-Brexit stance is enough for me.


The third person effect hypothesis, which states that individuals exposed to a mass media messaage will expect the communication to have a greater effect on others than on themselves, may help to explain the growing trend in support of media censorship; Hernando Rojas, Dhavan V. Shah, Ronald J. Faber; International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Volume 8, Issue 2, SUMMER 1996, Pages 163–186, https://doi.org/10.1093/ijpor/8.2.163; h/t Twatter via PG.
* The best critiques are from within by Scott Sumner
* The principal reason for secession in 1861 was because they had lost control of the United States government for the first time ever - an interesting thought, via TF.
The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius - Paul Graham; and Novelty and Heresy.
* A good faith article by a recovering sceptic, but needs care with sources - Moyhu. I don't quite agree with the take - NS is being characteristically generous, which I'm not - but interesting nonetheless re Ron Bailey.


1. Note, no capital E on the evil because I'm not joking this time.

2. Here, for example, Andrew Dessler says Notes: If a fossil fuel company wants to fund my research, I will gladly take their money.  Anyone with bags of money for research can DM me.


List of scientists who disagree with the scientific consensus on global warming

75653337_1304605139735803_8533122577084710912_o Wiki seems to be having one of it's bouts of madness; see [[WP:FRAM]] for part of it. The bozos decided to rename "Climate change" as "Climate change (general concept)" and now the fuckwits have decided to delete "List of scientists who disagree with the scientific consensus on global warming". I despair sometimes; soon we'll be left with nothing but Pokemon cards. Archive.is has a reasonably up to date version here should you or I ever want it.

Fortunately it hardly matters any more. The web is saturated with mostly sensible things about GW.


Let’s have more talk of “magic money trees”, by Scott Sumner


Pielke contra mundum

75349072_1304046896458294_3397302797375373312_n Oh noes, not again. Still it's an entertaining distraction from the faithful war reenactors. My headline is from Brideshead of course (I was of that vintage) but apparently it has history. How appropriate.

This is all about RP Jr's No, Hurricanes Are Not Bigger, Stronger and More Dangerous. A statement with which - to revel5 my prejudices - I have a great deal of sympathy6; perhaps also Climate emergency? applies. That's in well-known academic journal Forbes1, and is a response to Normalized US hurricane damage estimates using area of total destruction, 1900−2018 by Aslak Grinsted, Peter Ditlevsen, and Jens Hesselbjerg Christensen in PNAS November 11, 20193. The bastard paper (which I'll call G19 following RP) is paywalled alas, though happily that spares me the trouble of reading it, but I can show you the abstract:
Hurricanes are the most destructive natural disasters in the United States. The record of economic damage from hurricanes shows a steep positive trend dominated by increases in wealth. It is necessary to account for temporal changes in exposed wealth, in a process called normalization, before we can compare the destructiveness of recorded damaging storms from different areas and at different times. Atmospheric models predict major hurricanes to get more intense as Earth warms, and we expect this trend to eventually emerge above the natural variability in the record of normalized damage. However, the evidence for an increasing trend in normalized damage since 1900 has been controversial. In this study, we develop a record of normalized damage since 1900 based on an equivalent area of total destruction. Here, we show that this record has an improved signal-to-noise ratio over earlier normalization schemes based on calculations of present-day economic damage. Our data reveal an emergent positive trend in damage, which we attribute to a detectable change in extreme storms due to global warming. Moreover, we show that this increasing trend in damage can also be exposed in existing normalized damage records by looking at the frequency of the largest damage events. Our record of normalized damage, framed in terms of an equivalent area of total destruction, is a more reliable measure for climate-related changes in extreme weather, and can be used for better risk assessments on hurricane disasters.
So, the problem here is... actually, let's go back a step. The problem here is that people are desperate for something sexy to be caused by CO2 increasing. The obvious one - that it's getting warmer, duh - just isn't sexy enough because it's too slow. But it's quite well observed and statistically tractable: you can clearly see the signal from the noise. It would be so much better if something deeply erotic like hurricanes could clearly be getting worse under GW. Unfortunately, the hurricane observation record isn't brilliant, and the record of economic damage is dominated by enormous increase in "exposed wealth" as more and more is built on shorelines; and as money shifts to Florida and so on. G19 acknowledge this problem and attempt to dance around it.

Notice that the abstract talks of the record of economic damage from hurricanes, but the sexed-up "significance" header says The frequency of the very most damaging hurricanes has increased at a rate of 330% per century. This of course what made its way into every newspaper's headlines; and it is the first point to draw RP's ire: it purports to say something about climatological trends in hurricanes, but it uses no actual climate data on hurricanes. That’s right, it instead uses data on economic losses from hurricanes to arrive at conclusions about climate trends. Since RP has done a lot of analysis on economic damage - indeed, G19 are using his dataset, or some version thereof - this sorta sounds like a quibble. But he continues From 1900 to 1958, the first half of the period under study, NOAA reports that there were 117 total hurricanes that struck the mainland U.S.. But in contrast, G19 has only 92. They are missing 25 hurricanes. In the second half of the dataset, from 1959 to 2017, NOAA has 91 hurricanes that struck the U.S., and G19 has 155, that is 64 extra hurricanes4. And that sounds like it might matter. So I think G19 owe him a reasoned reply on that.

His second and larger point is that G19's dataset isn't homogeneous: The dataset on losses from hurricanes used by G19... was initially created about a decade ago by a former student and collaborator of mine, Joel Gratz, based entirely on our 2008 hurricane loss dataset (which I’ll call P08)... created a new hybrid dataset, from 1900 to 1980 the ICAT dataset is based on P08 and for 1980 to 2018 it is based on NCEI. This is hugely problematic for G19... the result is a data incontinuity that introduces spurious trends to the dataset. This also sounds like a problem that needs to be addressed.

AG responds, but alas he does so on Twatter which is a totally shit venue for writing coherent thoughts in. He does have his own website but it's badly out of date; hopefully he'll write something clearer and at length soon.

RP asserts that the IPCC backs up his position, which from memory I think is correct. Browsing, the IPCC AR5 SPM says nowt about hurricanes; in particular the Detection and Attribution of Climate Change section very sensibly concentrates on the unsexy but observable stuff. Chapter 2 says that AR4 concluded that it was likely that an increasing trend had occurred in intense tropical cyclone activity since 1970 in some regions but that there was no clear trend in the annual numbers of tropical cyclones. Subsequent assessments, including SREX and more recent literature indicate that it is difficult to draw firm conclusions with respect to the confidence levels associated with observed trends prior to the satellite era and in ocean basins outside of the North Atlantic... In summary, this assessment does not revise the SREX conclusion of low confidence that any reported long-term (centennial) increases in tropical cyclone activity are robust, after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities. More recent assessments indicate that it is unlikely that annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have increased over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin. Evidence, however, is for a virtually certain increase in the frequency and intensity of the strongest tropical cyclones since the 1970s in that region. And so on. I got bored. If you can find the IPCC saying something dead exciting on the subject do let me know.

I have a feeling that some of the sound and fury of the argument comes from not clearly distinguishing between all hurricanes and the most powerful ones. Implicitly, G19 only finds trends in the most destructive? That sounds like a familiar theory. But of course, they are rarer, and so your stats become even noisier.


1. I snark by sheer reflex; of course, a rapid-response is entirely reasonable; this is this week's news; asking for RP to wait until next week, let alone for the sluggish and uncertain journal response times2, would be unreasonable.

2. There's a fun anecdote in the bio of Schroedinger I'm currently reading: the Prussian academy was noted for the speed of publication of its Sitzungberichte: two days after a manuscript was received, the proofs were brought to the author by a messenger boy who would wait while the author corrected them.

3. Notice how carefully I link this all up. I do it at work too. So many people don't, and you'd be amazed at how hard it is to get from a to b if you haven't left breadcrumbs.

4. Why the miscounts? According to RP Part of this difference can be explained by the fact that G19 focus on economic damage, not hurricanes. If a hurricane from early in the 20th century resulted in no reported damage, then according to G19 it did not exist. That’s one reason why we don’t use economic data to make conclusions about climate. A second reason for the mismatched counts is that G19 counts many non-hurricanes as hurricanes, and disproportionately so in the second half of the dataset.

5. I meant reveal of course, but now I notice the typo it's also rather appropriate, I do revel in this stuff and my prejudices in particular.

6. Pointing out that everything is so statistically woolly that what RP really means is not that we have strong evidence for no trend, but that we have no strong evidence for a trend, would be tedious.


Here's Pielke Jr in 2014 feeling good about ICAT data - AG still dumping stuff on Twatter instead of writing a coherent response.
* Gavin mentions the war, at RC; and at Gizmodo


Climate emergency?

IMG_20191109_115841 Is the "climate emergency" fluff worth worrying about? I've been fairly dismissive in the past. But ATTP worries Another example of why I find myself confused by what some economic analyses seem to imply (modest impacts) and what many scientists appear to be suggesting (untold suffering) - Climate crisis: 11,000 scientists warn of ‘untold suffering’. And the source for this is World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency, William J Ripple, Christopher Wolf, Thomas M Newsome, Phoebe Barnard, William R Moomaw; BioScience, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biz088;
Published: 05 November 2019. Their history appears dodgy (see last week's Declaration of the First World Climate Conference, Geneva 1979) but what of their bold and brave
Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to “tell it like it is.” On the basis of this obligation and the graphical indicators presented below, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.
which doesn't depend on them getting any history right. What of "An immense increase of scale in endeavors to conserve our biosphere is needed to avoid untold suffering due to the climate crisis (IPCC 2018)" where that last is a link to the "1.5 oC" report; but perhaps I can just look at the headline statements. These, obviously, don't support a literal use of "untold suffering". The IPCC just doesn't use that kind of language. So their ability to quote the IPCC is as dodgy as their history. They continue Most public discussions on climate change are based on global surface temperature only which I think is untrue; one hears lots about flooding, drought, sea ice and storms. What I think they mean is "a temperature rise of (globally) 2 oC may not seem like much but it is really", but that's different; if they want to say that, they should.

Next up is Profoundly troubling signs from human activities include sustained increases in both human and ruminant livestock populations, per capita meat production, world gross domestic product... the number of air passengers carried... but they're wrong. these things are all in themselves good, not bad. They may well have bad consequences (more flying emits more CO2) but the things themselves are good (more people is better, for the people concerned; see-also Derek Parfit, Ex-Philosopher). And Especially disturbing are concurrent trends in the vital signs of climatic impacts... Three abundant atmospheric GHGs (CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide) continue to increase. This is wrong too: these GHGs are not the signs of climate impacts; we wouldn't care about them much were it not for the consequences of their increases; they are the cause of climate impacts, not their signs.

They then discuss - well, it's all far too abbreviated to be considered discussion; "mention" would be better - some things that really are impacts: SLR, ocean acidification, area burnt, "extreme weather and associated damage costs". But to say that latter is increasing, without mentioning that most of the increase is due to increased value at risk due to developement, just isn't honest. Tropical forests are somewhat threatened by GW, but far more by idiots cutting them down.

Despite 40 years of global climate negotiations, with few exceptions, we have generally conducted business as usual and have largely failed to address this predicament is largely true, and alas people including Ripple et al. have failed to learn anything from all that failure. The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected - no, I don't think that's true. At that point I got bored and started skipping, ending at transformative change, with social and economic justice for all which is the kind of statist regulatory approach that shows they've learn nothing from all their failures.

[Pic: the back wall of Christ's, seen from Waterstones.]


* The 'no regrets' approach to preparing for global climate change by Bruce Yandle
* The Economics of Pleasure and Pain by Bryan Caplan; part 2, The Economics of Antipathy and Stereotyping
Science is a messy process - ATTP
Smile: Life In Modern America Is Actually Very Good


How Scientists Got Climate Change So Wrong?

IMG_20191110_093618 Sigh. One of my predictions from the far past (but alas if I wrote it down I failed to do so clearly) was that when people started to take GW seriously, they would switch from ignoring what the science was saying to complaining that no-one had told them what was going to happen. Today's fuckwit example of that is Eugene Linden who "has written widely about climate change" for the NYT and who provides my headline.

EL writes For decades, most scientists saw climate change as a distant prospect. We now know that thinking was wrong. But in 1996 EL wrote Scientists have assumed that any change caused by humans would occur over many decades. They are no longer so sure... If climate change brings about a large rise in sea level, the principal immediate cause will be the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet... and so on. 1996, for those who haven't been counting, is decades ago. So his own words prove him wrong. But all that proves is that you can't trust EL. So continuing: In 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group of thousands of scientists representing 195 countries, said in its first report that climate change would arrive at a stately pace, that the methane-laden Arctic permafrost was not in danger of thawing, and that the Antarctic ice sheets were stable. I think this is all wrong. EL is a journo, and probably not very good at logic. IPCC '90 did not strongly predict unstately GW, it did not predict rapid permafrost thawing, it did not predict that Antarctic was definitely unstable; but I don't think it predicted the negatives of those statements as EL asserts. Perhaps he isn't very good at uncertainty; few people are.

My pic, incidentally, is not from the IPCC but from the earlier Nierenberg report which - if you believe Oreskes, which you shouldn't, she's as wrong as EL - downplayed the risks of GW.

Before going on, I should note that while EL is wrong about the past, he's wrong about the present, too. Few thought it would arrive so quickly. Now we’re facing consequences once viewed as fringe scenarios isn't really defensible either. GW is arriving at about the pace predicted; there are still room for plenty of surprises in the future but there haven't been (m)any up to now.

So, let's read the bloody SPM. For permafrost, it doesn't say a lot, but it does say Higher temperatures could increase the emissions of methane at high northern latitudes from decomposable organic matter trapped in permafrost and methane hydrates. As to Antarctica, it includes The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is of special concern. A large portion of it containing an amount of ice equivalent to about 5m of global sea level, is grounded far below sea level. There have been suggestions that a sudden outflow of ice might result from global warming and raise sea level quickly and substantially. Recent studies have shown that individual ice streams are changing rapidly on a decade to century time-scale so you can't say you weren't warned. It does continue however this is not necessarily related to climate change. Within the next century it is not likely that there will be a major outflow of ice from West Antarctica due directly to global warming. But, you're not entitled to read "not likely" as "definitely". Perhaps it would be better to look at the full report? Section 9.4.6 is Possible Instability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Parts of this ice sheet are grounded far below sea level and may be very sensitive to small changes in sea level or melting rates at the base of adjacent ice shelves (e g Mercer 1978 Thomas el al 1979, Lingle 1985 Van der Veen 1986)... It is hard to make quantitative statements about this mechanism... Although much of this variability is probably not related directly to climate change it demonstrates the potential of this part of the ice sheet to react quickly to any change in boundary conditions. But then at the end, they're obliged to go back to most-probable: In summary, there is no firm evidence to suggest that the Antarctic ice sheet in general or the West Antarctic ice sheet in particular, have contributed either positively or negatively to past sea level rise On the whole, the sensitivity of Antarctica to climatic change is such that a future warming should lead to increased accumulation and thus a negative contribution to sea level change. Polar ice sheets are called out as a key area of uncertainty.

And the idea that IPCC 90 said that climate change would arrive at a stately pace is odd. You could get that impression if all you did were skim the center-line predictions, but not if you read the caveats such as we are confident that the uncertainties can be reduced by further research However, the complexity of the system means that we cannot rule out surprises.

Handling uncertainty

What the EL piece shows is how bad journos like him - and by extension the political process in general - are at handling uncertainty1. Anyone old enough to be around during the discussions in those days will remember a variety of predictions, from its-all-going-to-be-fine to we're-all-doomed, with all shades in between. WAIS instability and the dangers of SLR from it were among the more plausible dangerous scenarios. But certainly in the early days it is genuinely true that the state of knowledge was only enough to warn about such things; it would have been grossly irresponsible to state that they were definite. Indeed it would be so today; actually, the early center-line predictions hold up pretty well.

There's also a section which EL missed, entitled How much confidence do we have in our predictions? which sensibly concludes with Furthermore, we must recognise that our imperfect understanding of climate processes (and corresponding ability to model them) could make us vulnerable to surprises, just as the human made ozone hole over Antarctica was entirely unpredicted In particular, the ocean circulation, changes in which are thought to have led to periods of comparatively rapid climate change at the end of the last ice age, is not well observed, understood or modelled.

See-also this Twatter thread by Dave Levitan.

All EL's stuff is obviously inconsistent with the Emergency Folks' Exactly 40 years ago, scientists from 50 nations met at the First World Climate Conference (in Geneva 1979) and agreed that alarming trends for climate change made it urgently necessary to act, but that is wrong too, so doesn't count against him.


* The Rhetoric of the Paris Agreement by Pierre Lemieux
* Duflo and Banerjee's Deficient Thinking on Incentives, Part II by David Henderson


1. Or, to be less charitable, how people will simply forget the past in order to fake up a story.



Lazard levelized cost of generation report

Via ZH, the Lazard levelized cost of generation report is out.


You can pick your own favourite figure; this is mine, renewables new-build vs conventional marginal costs. So, we're not there yet but we soon will be; and if you look at the new-build comparisons, you see you'd have to be mad to new-build coal. Or, TBH, nooks. But you'd also be mad to turn off existing nooks.


Techno-optimism (2017)


Be Cautious with the Precautionary Principle: Evidence from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident

Via The Economist: Be Cautious with the Precautionary Principle: Evidence from FukushimaDaiichi Nuclear Accident by Matthew Neidell, Shinsuke Uchida and Marcella Veronesi. The abstract says it all really:
This paper provides a large scale, empirical evaluation of unintended effects from invoking the precautionary principle after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. After the accident, all nuclear power stations ceased operation and nuclear power was replaced by fossil fuels, causing an exogenous increase in electricity prices. This increase led to a reduction in energy consumption, which caused an increase in mortality during very cold temperatures. We estimate that the increase in mortality from higher electricity prices outnumbers the mortality from the accident itself, suggesting the decision to cease nuclear production has contributed to more deaths than the accident itself.
Is this study reliable? I of course can't tell. It looks as science-y as you'd hope. I'm not entirely sure the hook to the PP is justified; the Japanese shut down their reactors more from public panic than anything else, and the Economist is obliged to confess that No Nooks remains popular there.

Let's look at some of their numbers. The estimates for deaths from the accident are No deaths have yet to be directly attributable to radiation exposure, though projections estimate a cumulative 130 deaths (Ten Hoeve and Jacobson 2012). An estimated 1,232 deaths occurred as a result of the evacuation after the accident1. And the deaths from the shutdown of the other Nooks are higher electricity prices resulted in at least an additional 1,280 deaths during 2011-2014. Since our data only covers the 21 largest cities in Japan, which represents 28 percent of the total population, the total effects for the entire nation are even larger. Well there you have it. Oh, except for Given that fossil fuels are far dirtier than nuclear power, the shift almost certainly added to air pollution and thus to respiratory ailments, the authors add, although they did not try to quantify this effect; and of course, the additional GHE.


* Pop, pop, pop and More stupidity about Fukushima.
New York Drops 2 of 4 Fraud Charges Against Exxon, Focuses on Martin Act Violations


1. The Economist says At least 2,000 people died because of the Fukushima evacuation, some in the chaos immediately after the accident, and more from secondary health problems such as stress, suicide and interrupted medical care, and of course I don't know which to believe.


Declaration of the First World Climate Conference, Geneva 1979

wmo-1979 Some rather over-excitable people (h/t ATTP) warn us of World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency. If I read enough of it I might discover exactly what they mean by "climate emergency" but in the mean time, they begin Exactly 40 years ago, scientists from 50 nations met at the First World Climate Conference (in Geneva 1979) and agreed that alarming trends for climate change made it urgently necessary to act. And that seemed odd to me, so I stopped to find and read it. First a little context; consider In the decade that ran from 1979 to 1989, we had an excellent opportunity to solve the climate crisis? Which brings me back to my ancient World Climate Conference 1979 which is me rebutting suggestions that the conference predicted cooling. Yes really. Now as it happened it didn't, but some of it can be read that way, so you can see how implausible it seemed to me that it should support urgent action.

The declaration is available online nowadays. And due to some kind of magic I don't understand, it can even be cut-n-pasted. So the declaration summary text, headlined "An Appeal to Nations", is:
Having regard to the all-pervading influence of climate on human society and on many fields of human activity and endeavour, the Conference finds that it is now urgently necessary for the nations of the world:
(a) To take full advantage of man's present knowledge of climate;
(b) To take steps to improve significantly that knowledge;
(c) To foresee and to prevent potential man-made changes in climate that might be adverse to the well-being of humanity.
Does that justify the paraphrase "agreed that alarming trends for climate change made it urgently necessary to act"? From just that brief text, it is ambiguous. The word "urgently" is certainly in there; combined with part (c) that could imply urgent action. OTOH, the text then segues off into
All countries are vulnerable to climatic variations, and developing countries, ·especially those in arid, semi-arid, or high rainfall regions, are particularly so. On the other hand, unfavourable impacts may be mitigated and positive benefits may be gained from use of available climate knowledge
which is largely meaningless boilerplate. And then:
The climates of the countries of the world are interdependent. For this reason, and in view of the increasing demand for resources by the growing world population that strives for improved living conditions, there is an urgent need for the development of a common global strategy for a greater understanding and a rational use of climate
which is rather hard to understand: quite how would we "rational"ly "use" our climate? Perhaps more interesting is:
Man today inadvertently modifies climate on a local scale and to a limited extent on a regional scale. There is serious concern that the continued expansion of man's activities on earth may cause significant extended regional and even global changes of climate. This possibility adds further urgency to the need for global co-operation to explore the possible future course of global climate and to take this new understanding into account in planning for the future development of human society.
This text seems to make it clear that whilst global climate change was one possibility they were considering, it is only a possibility; and the urgency is more to explore this matter than to take urgent action on it. Under the heading Climate and the future we find
Climate will continue to vary and to change due to natural causes. The slow cooling trend in parts of the northern hemisphere during the last few decades is similar to others of natural origin in the past, and thus whether it will continue or not is unknown. 
This is pretty consistent with the state of knowledge of those times, but notice that in 1979 they are not even predicting increasing temperatures with any degree of certainty1. This is a long long way away from "alarming trends for climate change made it urgently necessary to act". Of course it continues:
Research is revealing many basic features of climatic changes of the past and is providing the basis for projections of future climate. The causes of climate variations are becoming better understood, but uncertainty exists about many of them and their relative importance. Nevertheless, we can say with some confidence that the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and changes of land use have increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by about 15 per cent during the last century and it is at present increasing by about 0.4 per cent per year. It is likely that an increase will continue in the future. Carbon dioxide plays a fundamental role in determining the temperature of the earth's atmosphere, and it appears plausible that an increased amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can contribute to a gradual warming of the lower atmosphere, especially at high latitudes. Patterns of change would be likely to affect the distribution of temperature, rainfall and other meteorological parameters, but the details of the changes are still poorly understood. 
Which again is entirely reasonable; given the state then, "plausible" is what they should have said about future warming; notice that there's no quantification (and future increases in CO2 are only regarded as "likely"). And then:
It is possible that some effects on a regional and global scale may be detectable before the end of this century and become significant before the middle of the next century. This time scale is similar to that required to redirect, if necessary, the operation of many aspects of the world economy, including agriculture and the production of energy. Since changes in climate may prove to be beneficial in some parts of the world and adverse in others, significant social and technological readjustments may be required.  

Conclusions and Recommendations 

There's a section for this. The top two are Research into the mechanisms of climate in order to clarify the relative roles of natural and anthropogenic influences and Improving the acquisition and availability of climatic data. Scientists voting for research? You astonish me. Next Application of knowledge of climate in planning, development and management... for the application of climate data in the food, water, energy and health sectors. This I think amounts to common-or-garden stuff. Study of the impacts of climatic variability and change on human activities - more study, meh.

So in the end I think the detailed text resolves the ambiguity; the urgently necessary to act paraphrase is wrong.

Many or perhaps most people have never actually bothered read any of these source documents, even though nowadays they're easy to find. Instead they rely on other people's motivated and over-excited paraphrases, because they fit the world-view they wish to promote. Lots of people seem to want to believe that scientists have known all this stuff since the 60s, or 70s, or 80s (take your pick) but that isn't true.

You might perhaps reasonably ask whether this is relevant to the Great Climate Emergency. When I've finished reading what they say, I'll let you know what I think. But given this example, I'm going to have to check all their statements and take none of it on trust.


1. As I said probably in about 2003This isn't a prediction of warming such as you would find in the 2001 IPCC TAR, its a much weaker statement of plausiblity appropriate to the level of knowledge of those times.

2. Top-level link to World Climate Conference - Declaration and supporting documents. Top-level link to Event: World Climate Conference-1 (WCC-1) (12-23 February 1979; Geneva, Switzerland) (12-23 February 1979).




Sensitive but wrong

EImgsnjWoAAGTyG Top of my queue of stuff to blog about - yes, I really do have a queue, at least sometimes, and it isn't currently empty you lucky people - is this Twat wherein Young James opines "Key Points: UKESM1 performs well, having a stable pre-industrial state and showing good agreement with observations in a wide variety of contexts." could have been better written as "UKESM1 does a great job at everything other than its primary function". And if that seems harsh but fair, well, I'm far more interested in the accuracy than the tone. As I said in last year's appraisal interview and will doubtless say in this year's as well.

Gavin seperately but I can't believe entirely unrelatedly wrong Sensitive But Unclassified (from which I take my headline - geddit?).

So the point - in case you're so dull that you've missed it - is that UK ESM 1 rather seems to be a touch over-sensitive in its simulations of the C20C. And that just possibly that's linked to its rather higher-than-expected estimate of climate sensitivity. Which rather calls into question the credibility of said estimate of ECS. A feature it seems to share - see Gavins's post - with a number of other recent models. How to reconcile this with reality is a topic that will doubtless be explored by those rather more competent than me. Thought I did rather like this Twita lot of the same people who will bash this model for having a high ECS and not having a great fit to the instrumental record will, without a trace of irony, also tell you climate models are garbage bc they're tuned to match observations.

Aside: one of the things that pissed me off - particularly when I found myself writing it - was people saying that their climate model performed "well", when that was a meaningless ill-defined term running the full gamut of "it's a bit crap but let's hope no-one notices" to "oh dear".

This post brought to you by two and a half pints of "Nelson's Revenge".




Parliament sends 30,000 invitations for citizens’ assembly on climate change?

MVIMG_20190725_123308 I heard this on the radio and was initially somewhat interested. I'm not at all convinced that these CA ideas make sense, but 30 k people would be quite a lot, and it would be hard for the govt to control something that big. Then I realised that I'd been fooled (never ever believe the headlines): the 30 k is merely those invited; only 110 people will be selected from amongst those that bother to reply. That is far more controllable.

And via Twatter I find that some charming people have been appointed to "lead" the assembly. These leads will ensure that Climate Assembly UK is:

* Balanced, accurate and comprehensive in terms of its content on climate change;
* Focused on the key decisions facing the UK about how to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Or, as the govt puts it, The Climate Assembly UK will advise Parliament on how people want us to meet the net zero target, and suggest policies that the Government can implement to secure success. So telling them that targets are a bad way to do it is not going to go down well, at a guess. Probably a waste of time but may be interesting to watch.

Update: I didn't realise when I wrote the above that there had been previous CAs, including one on Social Care. Reading the report you can immeadiately see the problems: Regarding any private financing that might be necessary, the Assembly opted for the most generous set of arrangements for people requiring care. They supported a:
• High floor – meaning nobody with assets below £50,000 would have to pay;
• Low cap – meaning nobody would have to pay over £50,000 towards their care costs throughout
their lifetime; and,
• Housing exemption – meaning the family home would not be included within the calculation of a
person’s assets
Or, put another way, someone else will pay. And why oh why oh why should someone who owns a house be treated more generously than someone who owns the same value in shares? I despair of the idiocy of my fellow citizens.

Update: me being cynical on Twatter.

Update 2020/01/22: due to first meet this Saturday it looks like: Citizens’ assembly set to offer UK government climate advice says FT.


Shale gas fracking wasted ‘millions of taxpayers’ cash’, say scientists?

For reasons unclear to me fracking is sufficiently unpopular in the UK that the idiots who call themselves our govt are prepared to ban it in order to chase votes in the run-up to the upcoming general election. As a good Hayekian I of course believe that laws should be abstract and general, and therefore that the govt has no business banning specific things, which is the mark of populism and despotism and arbitrary govt. Separately, their moronic assertion that they are "following the science" makes no sense at all.

The Graun thinks that Shale gas fracking wasted ‘millions of taxpayers’ cash’, say scientists, but I'm not sure why they think that. Fracking was a private endeavour1. But the subhead is more amusing: "Scientists say research on carbon capture was always better environmental option". Who are these "scientists"? Ah, geologist Professor Stuart Haszeldine, of Edinburgh University. He sounds like a nice neutral scientist. I know, I'll look him up. Here he is: Stuart Haszeldine: Professor of Carbon Capture and Storage at University of Edinburgh. How odd that the Graun didn't have enough spare electrons to note that he was a prof of CCS. Could it be at all possible that he has the slightest conflict of interest in this matter? No need to worry about that! When you have God On Your Side, you don't need to worry about trivia like conflicts of interest.

I don't think I've even needed to insult CCS for quite some time. But I'd be pretty sure that we're wasting millions of taxpayers cash on it.



1. See comments. Policing, etc..