2019-12-02

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.


2019-11-27

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.

2019-11-23

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.

Refs


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.

Notes


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.

2019-11-19

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.

Refs


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

2019-11-15

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 it's 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 alas 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.

Notes


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 Prissian academy was noted for the speed of publication of it's 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.

Refs


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

2019-11-13

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.]

Refs


* 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

2019-11-10

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.

Refs


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

Notes


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

BL_FeaturedImage

2019-11-09

Lazard levelized cost of generation report

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

lazard

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.

Refs


Techno-optimism (2017)

2019-11-08

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.

Refs


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

Notes


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.

2019-11-07

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.

Notes


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).

Refs


* ALL THE NEWS THAT'S FIT TO PRINT IN THE NATION AND  THE GUARDIAN

2019-11-06

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".

Refs


ONE MODEL, ONE VOTE
SUFFER THE LITTLE WEASELS TO COME UNTO ME

2019-11-05

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 ides 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.

2019-11-04

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.

MVIMG_20190722_094720

Notes


1. See comments. Policing, etc..

Refs


2019-10-31

Economics and morality

MVIMG_20190806_094153 Well I've done morality and economics ad infinitum, perhaps reversing things will help. This is sparked by yesterday's DICE damage functions which lead me to Costing the Earth: A Numbers Game or a Moral Imperative? by Gerard Roe; ATTP's version leads on to it more directly. Alas, it's all rather broken; let's present his abstract for starters:
It is a simple truism that public policy must be guided by an objective analysis of the physical and economic consequences of climate change. It is equally true that policy making is an inherently value-laden endeavor. While these two threads are interconnected, the relative weight given to each depends on the certainty that the technical analyses can deliver. For climate change, the envelope of uncertainty is best understood at the global scale, and there are some well known and formidable challenges to reducing it. This uncertainty must in turn be compounded with much more poorly constrained uncertainties in regional climate, climate impacts, and future economic costs. The case can be made that technical analyses have reached the point of diminishing returns. Should meaningful action on climate change await greater analytical certainty? This paper argues that policy makers should give greater weight to moral arguments, in no small part because that is where the heart of the debate really lies.
His simple truisms are of course wrong. It would be desireable for policy to be guided by objective analysis, but it rarely if ever is, so his "must" is certainly wrong. Never mind. Consider next the relative weight given to each depends on the certainty that the technical analyses can deliver. This points up one of his blind spots: his correctly realises that the technical analysis may be uncertain, but fails to realise that his moral analysis may suffer the same problem.

His next section considers the technical stuff and essentially ends "well it's all very uncertain" and so slips into the moral stuff as a substitute. But what he doesn't consider is how good the tech stuff would have to be for the moral not to matter. Suppose for example that we knew that the "damage" to 2100 would be 10% of GDP, but in the meantime it would grow by 5x more than offsetting the damage. Would that remove the need to consider morality? If not, suppose the damage we only 1%? If not (and his "because that is where the heart of the debate really lies" suggests not) what he's really arguing for is morality-based regardless of the technical analysis. Which is a defensible viewpoint, but not the one he is ostensibly presenting.

Next, we're onto the morality. Actually it's pretty thin, and there's no attempt at balance. Sample:
A planet that, in several centuries' time, is hotter by 5°C or more is a very different world and, in the opinion of many, would be a dismal legacy of economic and human progress that would also engender a hideous disruption to other life on Earth. Powerful emotions recoil against the prospect of bequeathing such a world to our descendants, but economic arguments that factor in conventional long-term growth rates are blind to such feelings. Through the lens of future generations, one can easily imagine that their increased consumption will not be the only measure by which they judge us.
Which is all rather one sided: oh noes, we're ruining the beautiful world. And certainly, significant warming will change the world (and already is, in some ways I regret). But how does your "morality"- love of beautiful things, love of polar bears (yes, he does explicitly throw in "Granddad, what is a polar bear?" despite the obvious fact that they will definitely continue to exist in zoos in the unlikely event of them going extinct in the wild) match up against billions of Chinese, Indian and African peasants rising out of poverty? I don't see Roe considering that; such considerations apparently belong to the "blind" and unfeeling world of economics. Unless his "Of course, arguments that have the opposite moral complexion can also be readily constructed, and they should be" is intended to provide the opposing arguments; but that's it; you can tell his heart isn't in it.

How did the AMS come to publish such a one-sided and ill-thought-out article? Probably because they have the same blind spot as Roe.



Refs


* That it is easier to agree on economics than morality
* Apologie des sorcières modernes by Pierre Lemieux


2019-10-30

DICE damage functions

MVIMG_20190808_094231 Once again the question of the "standard" IAM results showing let us say entirely containable GDP damage estimates for GW up to let us say 21001 comes up. For example,
If the economic impact of climate change (by ~2100) has a good chance of being ~10% of GDP with economic growth continuing at 2-3% per year, then why is there so much worry about climate change? Is it 1. We shouldn't be concerned, because this really does properly reflect the overall impact? 2. This properly reflects the economic impact, but misses other substantive impacts that can't be quantified. 3. Simply doesn't make sense if we're heading for > 4C. 4. Something else?
First, is the premise of the question true: does the econ impact have a "good" (whatever that means) chance of being ~10% (and note that means a 10% decrease for GW-related reasons over an otherwise large increase, by a factor of perhaps 5)? I don't know. Expressed in hand-waving terms as my personal uncertainty, which I think reflects the state of expert knowledge to some degree, then I don't think I'd be confident of excluding damage less than 10%, but I wouldn't be confident of excluding "catastrophic" damage either.

But really, I didn't want to talk about that, I wanted to talk about IAMs damage functions2, in particular DICE's, since DICE is pretty well known. When faced with a damage function that doesn't predict enough damage, people tend to say things like "because it's pants-off ludicrous to estimate the economic & societal impacts of global temperature change using present-day GDP differences as a function of regional temperature"3. This is, of course, not a coherent argument. But AA interjected with Playing DICE with Life on Earth: Nordhaus’s Damage Function; by Prof Steve Keen, which is a coherent argument; whether it is right or convincing or not I shall now proceed to consider.

It doesn't start well, going on about "completely failed to anticipate the 2008 Global Financial Crisis", which makes as much sense as complaining that GCMs fail to predict individual ENSOs. But I think the author merely wants a dig against "neoclassical" economics to demonstrate his credentials. Onwards, to the damage function; he quotes Nordhaus: "Including all factors, the final estimate is that the damages are 2.1% of global income at a 3 °C warming, and 8.5% of income at a 6 °C warming" and notes - as my lead-in quote from ATTP also noted - that if that's true, then what are we worried about?

SK's first go is: Except those in New York... and numerous other coastal cities... 6 degrees is well above the threshold at which all of Greenland and the Antarctic will melt completely... That will take much more than a century of course, but a planetary temperature rise of 6 degrees will doom any city less than 70 metres above sea level. They will all have to be relocated and rebuilt. Which may well be true, but is a fail, because it goes beyond 2100. Next? a 6 degree increase in temperature will make many [near-equator cities] unliveable. The obvious suspects—the Middle East and Northern Africa—would see average summer temperatures of over 40 degrees in their major cities, and much of their countryside. Moving them, or emigrating from them, would be essential for survival. But is this true? Not obviously; you could air condition them. Using power from the giant solar arrays built in the desert. Or something. And I'm not sure that moving a whole pile of such cities would even be 10% of global GDP. SK decides on this basis that DICE-type damage numbers fail "the smell test" but a sense of smell is a very personal thing. Then we have the obligatory mention of tipping points, or tipping elements for the cognoscenti, but as so often the discussion doesn't really go anywhere, because other than "we can't rule out the existence of tipping points" there isn't very much to say.

So overall, as an attempt to dent DICE, it's not very convincing sez oi. Call for... Marty-Man!


Weitzman Sez


Another attempted answer was the sainted but dismal Weitzman. There were two offerings: ON MODELING AND INTERPRETING THE ECONOMICS OF CATASTROPHIC CLIMATE CHANGE - perhaps a bit shouty - and Reactions to the Nordhaus Critique.

In the second, W tries to make a heuristic-empirical case for there being big structural uncertainties in the economics of extreme climate change. I have no objections to that, indeed I'd be inclined to agree, but of course uncertainty isn't a definite answer. With mt and many others I would argue that uncertainty isn't your friend, but in terms of ATTP's lead-in, it also isn't a good answer in general discourse. What I'm really looking for are strong arguments that the existing damage function is wrong: not lots of examples of other functions you could fit, or reasons why the fit is uncertain. W is an economist not a climatologist, so some of his stuff around here is distinctly dodgy, including his assertion that carbon-cycle feedbacks are largely ignored in the std analysis. W's conclusion is that the economics of climate change consists of a very long chain of tenuous inferences fraught with big uncertainties in every link, which may well be true but doesn't actually offer any positive support for non-standard assumptions.

In the first (I skimmed it) it looks like he's doing "fat tails" again, which gets very much the same response. See-also God's Own view of dismality.

Is that 500 words yet? Can I stop now? It's nearly 10 pm.

Update: there's Climate Impacts on Economic Growth as Drivers of Uncertainty in the Social Cost of Carbon by Elisabeth J. Moyer et al., 2013. And there's The Economic Impacts of Climate Change by Richard Tol. Moyer wants more damage from damages affecting growth; Tol acknowledges this could be an affect but finds no evidence in favour. I do not arbitrate between them.

Notes


1. I don't think it's worth spending much time looking beyond 2100. And happily, ATTP's Twit was phrased to 2100 too.

2. And not about the other biggie, discount rates.

3. Note: Twatter's threading is utterly shite, or I'm just bad at using it, so if I've got any of these call-and-responses out of order, I blame Twatter, and anyone dumb enough to attempt to have a coherent argument there.

Refs


Estimates of the economic impact of climate change - ATTP
* Thompson, Erica L.; Smith, Leonard A: working paper: Escape from model-land

2019-10-23

Economists greatly underestimate the price tag on harsher weather and higher seas. Why is that?

beehive Or, Opinion: Climate Change Will Cost Us Even More Than We Think, by Naomi Oreskes and Nicholas Stern in the NYT. NO's involvement is unpromising, but vaguely sane people twote it, so let's read on. But before I do, some more snark: the NYT op-ed says it is "explained in a recent report by scientists and economists"; naturally, Stern being a shy retiring fellow modestly doesn't mention that he is one of the authors of the said report.

The first thing to do is to search for the word "discount", because as we know, that's most of it. It says in the summary:
Economic assessments that are expressed solely in terms of effects on output (e.g.
gross domestic product), or that only extrapolate from past experience, or that
use inappropriate discounting
, do not provide a clear indication of the potential
risks to lives and livelihoods.
But don't get too excited: that was my bold, and it's three quarters of the way down the summary. It also rather delicately doesn't discuss what "inappropriate" might be - something that Stern doesn't like, perhaps. Very similar text appears lower down in the "Why the risks have been missed, omitted or unquantified" section, but again there's no discussion; it's treated as given that the weight of economic opinion is wrong (actually, not even that; if you read just the report you'd get the impression that people are mysteriously using "inappropriate" discount rates for apparently no reason at all), and the report's authors are so trivially correct that they don't need to explain why. This is a pattern for Stern.

Otherwise, we're underestimating the costs because
Economic assessments of the potential future risks of climate change have been omitting or grossly underestimating many of the most serious consequences for lives and livelihoods because these risks are difficult to quantify precisely and lie outside of human experience...
  • Destabilisation of ice sheets and glaciers and consequent sea level rise
  • Stronger tropical cyclones
  • Extreme heat impacts
  • More frequent and intense floods and droughts
  • Disruptions to oceanic and atmospheric circulation
  • Destruction of biodiversity and collapse of ecosystems
But most of those are included. There's a section in the report for each. The tropical cyclones one, for example, tells us that TCs will get bigger blah blah but we know that already; there's nothing omitted there; what the section rather pointedly fails to include is any analysis showing why or how this effect is omitted from damage estimates. Ward, also an author on the report, has form in this area too. RP Jr also notes that Greenland ice sheet SLR has not been missed.

Extreme heat impacts is much the same. This isn't omitted from damage estimates  (e.g. 4th National Climate Assessment report: Labour).

Risks


However, I have a lot of sympathy with:
The biggest risks from climate change are associated with consequences that are unprecedented in human history and cannot simply be extrapolated from the recent past. As such they are uncertain and difficult for scientists to quantify in physical terms. Furthermore, the resulting consequences for lives and livelihoods can be difficult to determine because they involve assumptions about the resilience of populations, their capacity for adaptation and their ability to move in a crowded world. The cascading risks that can result from these impacts can be difficult to predict precisely and to capture in simulations using current models. These uncertainties mean that the impacts are difficult to represent in terms of costs and benefits and are therefore often ignored or omitted from economic models.
Although I'm doubtful that "omitted" is correct. But, there's nothing new there: this is the well know uncertainty-is-not-your-friend problem. What does the report add to the sum of human knowledge?

Runaway tipping elements of no return


(update) Ah, I missed out the "tipping points" stuff; or "tipping elements" (or was that only briefly fashionable?). From the NYT:
In economic assessments of climate change, some of the largest factors, like thresholds in the climate system, when a tiny change could tip the system catastrophically, and possible limits to the human capacity to adapt, are omitted for this reason. In effect, economists have assigned them a value of zero, when the risks are decidedly not. One example from the report: The melting of Himalayan glaciers and snow will both flood and profoundly affect the water supply of communities in which hundreds of millions of people live, yet this is absent from most economic assessments.
But again, Stern has run off the rails. Glacial melt is a real effect, and quite likely a real problem, but it isn't really a tipping point problem. There's an albedo feedback effect, but that's different (well, that leads towards the entire difficult discussion of whehter the tipping points stuff means anything much).

Refs


Societal tipping points - ATTP. There's a semi-good-point: [Economists] approach climate damages as minor perturbations around an underlying path of economic growth... Hence, this type of analysis cannot even address the question of whether or not there might be societal tipping points; it assumes, by definition, that there aren’t any. the problem is that this idea doesn't go anywhere other than "we should think about it".
* The Biggest Threat To Climate Science Comes From Climate Advocates - Roger Pielke, Forbes.
Consistency & freedom - Don Boudreaux
* Climate Chickenhawks

2019-10-21

We, in Some Strange Power's Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line

73026063_10157523562167350_3186973515836293120_o Aka Amsterdam Man again; aka 3:57:43 (GPS trace).

Here as an update for my records is all my marathons, in order:

Rotterdam 2018: 4:25:39
Brighton 2011: 4:20:29
Rotterdam 2016: 4:16:51
Rotterdam 2019: 4:01:49
Amsterdam 2016: 4:00:08
Amsterdam 2014: 3:58:00
Amsterdam 2019: 3:57:43
Amsterdam 2011: 3:57:23
Rotterdam 2015: 3:55:54
Amsterdam 2012: 3:55:52
Brighton 2012: 3:54:28
Manchester 2017: 3:51:46
Brighton 2013: 3:46:32
Brighton 2014: 3:43:42
Amsterdam 2013: 3:43:06.

For unclear reasons those records show that Rotterdam is unlucky for me. For this race I'd done minimal training - only one half since the spring - and my chief aim was to get round the course, ideally in under four hours, without breaking myself. This happened so I'm happy.

In the large the course was similar to previous years - start and finish at the old Olympic stadium, wiggle through town a bit, go out and back on the river for a long bit; then back through newish bits in the SE, and then back through the Vondelpark. But different in detail; I don't think I went out through the Vondelpark last time. The river bit is nice running and burns off a pile of distance, 21 k comes not long after the turn. The only annoying thing was that towards the end of the first k from the start we all lost about half a minute - it felt like more - when a constriction in the route forced a blockage and we had to walk for a bit until past. That's the sort of thing the organisers should be able to foresee and prevent.

My cunning plan was to run 5:40 mins/km average, which is just-sub-4-hours, as 5:25 for the first half to gain a small cushion, and then fade towards 6-ish for the second half. This was because my usual plan of running too quickly was out, since I'd (a) done hardly any training since Rotterdam in the spring; and (b) my inclined-to-tear left calf was still a bit dodgy; and (c) my right knee was complaining a bit, possibly because I'd gone over a barrier in the dark on my cycle home a few weeks before. Anyway, for a miracle this all worked, although slightly upset by the loss of 30 seconds at the start: by 21.1 I was on 1:55; the 5:25 held to 26 k and beyond (if you ignore the +20 s at 26 k when I stopped for a wee). By 30 k the fade to 5:45 has become rather obvious but by that point my cushion has grown a bit and I can afford 6:00 for the rest, which may be possible. There was a certain amount of internal dialogue around the 32 k point where I tried to decide if I cared enough to keep to the pace, but fortunately my body came to the rescue of my weakling mind and proceeded to stay under 6 mostly, so all was well.

For the last 8 k I had a carefully calculated 1 minute margin, including the extra 0.2 above 42 k, and the extra 0.15 for the disparity between my watch distance and the official markers. Towards the last 2 k I was able to push on a little (my wife, daughter and brother in law were waiting to cheer at 1.5 to go, at the exit of the Vondelpark, and saw the slightly sprightlier version of me) and so pulled in another minute of margin, woot. Afterwards I was about as fine as you can be after a marathon, walked slowly out via medal and banana and water and energy drink, hopped over the barrier skipping baggage reclaim, and walked slowly back to Hoofdweg.

Misc notes:

* the water stations are about every 5 km, and supply in order energy drink, water, sponges early on; with gels and pre-cut bananas later. I took 7 gels of my own and the water and sponges en route. The water in cups is more eco-friendly than bottles which are wasteful; I jogged through the first few then walked ~10 m past the half way to drink the water. Sponges are very nice.
* I went out on Eurostar - the ferry was full, heavens - which is fine; but I prefer the ferry. There's now a direct train a couple of times a day to Amsterdam. Rumour says no direct train back, but I don't care, as I got the ferry back as usual.
* As voodoo to appease my calves, I've taken to running in compression socks, which are a right pain to get on and off. In a fit of stupidity, I forgot to pack them, and so - choosing not to risk the anger of the gods - I bought another pair at the marathon expo. But practically the first thing that happened in the race was that the right sock fell down. Fortunately it's the left calf that tears, so the voodoo stayed strong.

Refs


* My so-called rival James barely managed to beat me by 5 minutes over an hour.

2019-10-18

Your family is your football team

bigboy Not one of his best, more a collection of random phrases on top of loud muzak, but it provides "Death to the Trees!" which is my cue for...

Comment on “The global tree restoration potential
by Simon L. Lewis, Edward T. A. Mitchard, Colin Prentice, Mark Maslin, and Ben Poulter, Science Vol 366, Issue 6463 18 October 2019. Abstract:
Bastin et al. (Reports, 5 July 2019, p. 76) state that the restoration potential of new forests globally is 205 gigatonnes of carbon, conclude that “global tree restoration is our most effective climate change solution to date,” and state that climate change will drive the loss of 450 million hectares of existing tropical forest by 2050. Here we show that these three statements are incorrect.
And so on. I suppose we can call this the self-correcting nature of science, but actually it's more the malign Nature effect: wherein top journals an authors conspire to publish exciting-sounding findings, even if they're wrong.

That's only the first "reply". Leo Hickman has a nice Twatter thread with links to the other three, which I didn't bother read. I see I was wise enough to comment at the time, but over at RealClimate Stefan said the obvious things. Particularly dumb in the Bastin article, as the reply points out, is The stated 205 GtC restoration potential is 0.22 GtC Mha−1 new forest cover, double previously published estimates (2–5). This anomaly is not noted by the authors. That's inexcusable, both by the authors, and by Science editors / reviewers.

2019-10-16

A survey of blog audiences

Following in the footsteps of thousands, I too am posting the below: 
We need your help! Share your views on climate change with us. 
Please share your views on climate change and reading blogs by filling out this survey. The data will be used for getting to know the readers of climate change blogs. 
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  • You have a chance on winning a $20 gift card of Amazon; 
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There you go, that's their bit. As you'd hope, I shall snark a bit: they actually provided the post text in a Word doc, how charmingly naive. They seem nice though. FWIW, I didn't fill out the survey, because I got stuck on one of the questions and the survey very irritatingly refused to let me not answer the question. A mistake on their part I think. The question (as I said at Sou's place) I didn't like was "Social Justice (correcting injustice, care for the weak)". I'm all in favour of correcting injustice, and caring for the weak. But I'm not in favour of Social Justice because as a good Hayekian I think it is at best meaningless and at worst pernicious nonsense. And i the context of the Green New Deal I'm not going anywhere near SJ.

2019-10-15

Graun: How do we rein in the fossil fuel industry? Here are eight ideas

MVIMG_20190808_074817 Or, a random bunch of journos try to save the world. Are they journos? Who knows. Anyway, at least they're trying. What do they have to say? The subhead is Individual action alone won’t solve the climate crisis. So what political changes might help? IMO this is a bad start. Yes it is true that we need "bulk action" but bulk action is made of many individual actions. No one individual can solve the problem, but leading off with the negative is poor; at the core, the problem is an amalgam of individual choices. Similarly, the headline is poor. But let's go through the eight ideas.

Put climate on the ballot paper


Politicians need to feel this is a priority for the electorate. That means keeping the subject high on the agenda for MPs with questions, protests, emails, social media posts, lobbying by NGOs and most of all through voting choices. Not unreasonable. Doesn't discuss the problem that "put climate on the ballot paper" is itself rather tricky, at least in the UK.

End fossil fuel subsidies


The coal, oil and gas industries benefit from $5tn dollars a year... this is the same "it depends what you mean by subsidy" mistake that people keep making. And of course it isn't the case that the Evil Fossil Fuel industry gets all or even most of these subsidies: most of them go to the consumers. Who also bear most of the costs, so it actually makes little sense to call them subsidies (no, most of the costs aren't GW). See IMF working paper 2019: Global Fossil Fuel Subsidies Remain Large: An Update Based on Country-Level Estimates etc. But then The UN secretary general, António Guterres, attacked the incentives in May, saying: “What we are doing is using taxpayers’ money … to destroy the world.” is then rather confusing, because there are no actual "hand outs" from the bulk of these "subsidies". The Graun wants the problem fixed, but fixed-with-pork, meaning not fixed: Cuts in fuel subsidies should not be used as an austerity measure that hurts the poor most.

Put a price on carbon


Ah well done you've got there; they even mange the EU’s scheme has been widely criticised... Carbon taxes don’t have to create economic losers, either – revenue neutral taxes redistribute the money to the people and are advocated by many.

Scale back demand for fossil fuels


Again, well done: Oil companies will sell oil for as long as there are buyers. I dislike the later ref to "social licence" which I think is inventing new rules, but never mind. All companies are responsive to economic pressure, however - bloody hell, has someone been letting economics leak into the Graun? The only way to cut emissions from oil in the long term is to stop using oil. Reducing demand is driven by government regulation and by technological development (also driven by regulation)... - ah, no, the Graun's econ only goes so far before they fall back on the unthinking and reflexive solution to all problems: moah regulation.

Stop flaring... Roll out large scale carbon capture and storage


I think they're running out of ideas now; flaring maybe needs to be addresses but I doubt in the large-scale view it matters much. CCS is not ready for the big time and quite likely never will be. But don't forget to notice the passing drivel: Oil companies have the expertise to roll out CCS... remove CO2 from the atmosphere by growing trees and plants, burning them for electricity, then sequestering the emissions. Everything has to be the fault of the Evil Fossil Fuel companies, in this case it's their fault for not doing CCS. But EFFC have fuck all expertise in growing and harvesting plants, or burning things to generate leccie... why is the Graun incapable of writing about GW without veering off the rails into madness?

Halt investment in fossil fuels


A popular idea, but the Graun is forgetting the market. People will stop investing in FF if they expect poor or risky returns, and not otherwise.

Establish market metrics on climate change


Nearly three years after the Paris agreement, world markets still have no mandatory, comparable data to measure the risks posed by the climate crisis at a company level. Again, I think this is stupid: large-scale investment is perfectly capable of seeing these risks if it wants to; wasting a pile of bureaucracy on mandatory reporting is just more regs for the sake of propping up and creating pork in the regulatory sector.