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.

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 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 average, which is just-sub-4, 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 5:25s 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 weak 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.

2019-10-18

You 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. 
What’s in it for you? 
  • You have a chance on winning a $20 gift card of Amazon; 
  • You will get a sneak preview of the preliminary results; 
  • You will contribute to research on climate change blogs. 
Participation is anonymous, and your answers will be handled confidentially. The data is only used for research purposes. 
Your input is highly valued! Please fill out the survey by following this link.
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.


2019-10-13

A review of a Review of The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change

Via Twatter (thanks VV) I find A Review of The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change by Martin "Ex" Weitzman, from 20073. For those who've forgotten the Stern review was once dead2 famous; I've been rather negative about it in various places, e.g. Running the rule over Stern’s numbersNordhaus on SternStern takes bleaker view on warming? and so on.

The main problem with Stern was the use of a very low discount rate. which drives all or most of the conclusions, and Stern's failure to discuss this rather important point. MW leads off on this1: The first strand is a formal aggregative model that relies for its conclusions primarily upon imposing a very low discount rate. Concerning this discount-rate aspect, I am skeptical of the Review’s formal analysis, but this essay points out that we are actually a lot less sure about what interest rate should be used for discounting climate change than is commonly acknowledged. So, fair enough: low, but there is indeed doubt about what should be used. Later on, after some analysis, there's I ultimately find such an extreme stance on the primacy of  δ ≈ 0, η ≈ 1 unconvincing when super-strong policy advice is so dependent upon nonconventional assumptions that go so strongly against mainstream economics.

Stern "used" the PAGE IAM, but in a slightly odd way. I'm sure I recall noticing this at the time, but can't find any of my quibbles written down. MW says
An IAM is essentially a model of economic growth with a controllable externality of endogenous greenhouse warming. The Review uses an IAM called PAGE, on which some numbers have been crunched and some conclusions have been based, but the exact connection between PAGE and  Stern’s conclusions is elusive, frustrating, and ultimately unsatisfactory for a professional economist who honestly wants to understand where the strong policy recommendations are coming from. The analytical core of the Review is chapter 6 (“Economic Modelling of Climate-Change Impacts”), which is loosely tied to PAGE. However, the rest of the book contains lots of stories and examples suggesting that difficult-to-quantify uncertainty  about really bad climate extremes may actually be an important informal part of Stern’s overall case. Economists are justifiably suspicious when someone refuses to aggregate various probability-weighted scenarios into an overall cost–benefit assessment, which at least can serve as a conversation starter. (How else are we to evaluate overall policy advice, such as what Stern recommends to us, except in the context of some overall model where assumptions and specifications are spelled out clearly?) As economic analysis, the Stern Review dwells in a nonscientific state of limbo where it uses an IAM but simultaneously refuses to commit to it or to any other consistent overarching framework within which its radical recommendations might be deconstructed and judged by others. Instead, the Review dances around the significance of the aggregative analysis of chapter 6 by arguing that conclusions from IAMs are suggestively useful but not crucial to the basic story line that anything above ultimate stabilization at ≈ 550 ppm of CO2e and Δ≈ 3˚C is self evidently just too risky for the planet to bear.
This is all rather devastating - and makes me wonder if those who've recommended this paper to me have actually read it, because I know they "like" Stern - but I'll stop quoting wodges of MW and move on to the second part, Fat Tails, wherein MW will try to clothe some parts of Stern’s intuitions about climate-change uncertainty in formal garb. In fact, this will turn out to be discount rates, too. And perhaps those who like it have read The moral of this story is that the Stern value may end up being more right than wrong when full accounting is made for the uncertainty of the discount rate itself, which arguably is the most important uncertainty of all in the economics of climate change and it's looking bad for the good guys? Probably not, because that's just "averaging" his and Stern's rates (they don't average, of course).

Ah, unfortunately, it all gets rather complex, with betas and risk free versus economy-wide interest rates coming in. I didn't follow all that, I'm afraid (probably, James' discussion of Weitzman's Dismal Theorem is relevant). After that there were quite a lot of words, and it begins to become rather his (well-reasoned, worth reading) opinions. But I'd had a couple of glasses of red by then. Essentially the answer turns out to be that we don't really know "the" discount rate (as he acknowledges, it is treated in this and similar analyses as one rate, but of course in the real world there are many).

Part of trying to get the "correct" value is to match theory to existing observations: of assert return rates, of equity premiums. As he says, neither his values or Stern's fit everything. I rather like his: One interpretation of the asset return puzzles, which could also have some relevance for the economics of climate change, is the idea that investors are disproportionately afraid of rare disasters.. With this interpretation of the puzzles, people are willing to pay high premiums for relatively safe stores of value that might represent “catastrophe insurance” against out-of-sample or newly evolved rare disasters.

I'll pluck out another bit: To its great credit, the Review supports very strongly the politically unpalatable idea... substantial carbon taxes must be levied because energy users need desperately to start confronting the expensive reality that burning carbon has a significant externality cost that ought to be taken into account by being charged full freight for doing it. (This is the most central “inconvenient truth” of all, which was conveniently ignored in Al Gore’s award-winning film.).

Meanwhile, how does this work politically or as persuasion-to-the-public? The answer of course is that it doesn't: not only is it far too complex to be distilled into something that people can meaningfully think about, the answer if you push it hard enough is either "we don't know" or "catastrophe insurance".

MVIMG_20190803_062707

Refs


1.  MW also notes the Stern Review consistently leans toward (and consistently phrases issues in terms of) assumptions and formulations that emphasize optimistically low expected costs of mitigation and pessimistically high expected damages from greenhouse warming—relative to most other studies of the economics of climate change but as he points out, compared to the discount rate that's relatively minor.

2. Oops.

3. Belatedly, I realise I was supposed to be looking at Tim Harford's words on MW's paper, not MW's paper itself. That would certainly be easier; you can skim TH's stuff in a minute. I find it hard to believe it was life-changing though; I think this stuff was familiar enough then, to anyone paying attention.

2019-10-10

Institute of Economic Affairs in "publishes at least four books over two decades" shocker

MVIMG_20190902_112625_1 Revealed: top UK thinktank spent decades undermining climate science comes from the Graun (via Twit). To be fair, the IEA are almost bound to be evil because they have the word "economic" in their name, but the Graun plumbs the depths of their villainy, at the rate of a book every 5 years. If I were paying for that, I'd want my money back. It looks like the Graun get bored about half way though writing the article, because they only bother identify the first two books, which date from 1994 and 1997. Perhaps their research dept hasn't been keeping up it's subscription.

I looked briefly at the second, Climate Change: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom. They provide a handy executive summary so you can tell the sort of drivel it is; regrettably the text is also conveniently available so I skimmed it; meh, you've seen it before and so had everyone else even in 1997. But drivel from 1997 is pretty thin gruel.

If you look at the IEA's research page, you discover - to your horror - that really the IEA doesn't give a toss about climate; oddly enough, their focus is economics. The most recent thing about GW I could find was "Debate: The pros and cons of carbon taxes" from November 2018 where we discover the shocking:
I would support a carbon tax – with strong conditions. The impact of carbon emissions is such that we cannot imagine a market dealing with the problem and their effects so dispersed that the transactions costs of market bargaining are simply impossible. This is not like my next-door neighbour building a factory and making a noise at 5am. My carbon emissions may be harming people in Bangladesh in 30 years’ time. The problems caused by carbon emissions are potentially so great that if we have to choose between the binaries of no tax or some kind of carbon tax (however imperfect), I would choose the latter. True, a carbon tax could be set at the wrong level, might not work properly because it is not internationalised, might come with heaps of institutional baggage and so on, but faced with a binary choice between two sets of risks, I would rather choose to be exposed to the institutional risks of getting things wrong in the hope that it will reduce the impact of climate change.
ZOMG, the fiends. Naturally, the Graun - addicted as it is to the phrase "global heating" - was uable to find this, preferring decades old rubbish. As usual, the Graun goes on about evil oil companies funding IEA, implying as usual that all the dosh went to funding denial, but as usual there's no evidence for that.

Pic: side of a (deceased) restaurant, Gaslight district, San Diego.

Refs


* Speaking of Twatter, people who really should know better are still getting the "subsidy" numbers wrong.

2019-10-09

Re-retread: Revealed: the 20 firms behind a third of all carbon emissions

Revealed: the 20 firms behind a third of all carbon emissions breathlessly announces the Graun. Of course it is nothing new; it's just a minor update to Retread: Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions? It makes the same mistakes as before: evil fossil fuel companies don't emit CO2; nice consumers like you and I and our friends do. Their other error, viz 1965 was chosen as the start point for this new data because recent research had revealed that by that stage the environmental impact of fossil fuels was known by industry leaders and politicians, particularly in the US, isn't new either. All of this is great fun to feed to the hungry choir, but will fall apart in the courts should it get there.

Update: no such article would be complete without Monbiot getting it wrong too, in the Graun. He isn't happy with it being the fault of the people that actually burn the fuel ("The big polluters’ masterstroke was to blame the climate crisis on you and me") and repeats the nonsense that evil fossil fuels companies knew stuff that wasn't public1965. This was the year in which the president of the American Petroleum Institute told his members that the carbon dioxide they produced could cause “marked changes in climate” by the year 2000. They knew what they were doing. And 1965 is far too early for any of this to be any better than speculative. See-also Early oil industry knowledge of CO2 and global warming?

MVIMG_20190803_062707

Refs


* +++Divide By Cucumber Error. Please Reinstall Universe And Reboot +++
* Fiscal Monitor: How to Mitigate Climate Change - IMF - September 2019

2019-10-04

Bashing the Libertarians on carbon taxes

MI0001719482 It's about time to write a post on this, which will be dull for all of you convinced L-haters, but on I go. In fact this is mostly a re-tread of Talking with the taxman about carbon from 2017.

In, for example this post, Don Boudreaux references - without comment, admittedly, but in fact approvingly; this is just one of many - a post at AIE asking Has Irwin Stelzer asked the right question on climate change? by Benjamin "who he?" Zycher. DB is generally sane and sensible on questions of economics and trade, but on carbon taxes alas his hatred of the govt and taxes shines through too strongly and he is unable to contribute to the conversation; which is a shame, and one of the reasons carbon taxes aren't doing well: because the people who should be most in favour of them are too pure in spirit to stoop to supporting them. Now I come to read the Irwin Stelzer article I find that it is barking mad: it begins Since we can’t be certain that the globe is warming... the mounting although still inconclusive evidence that the globe is warming... This is all gross stupidity. And all unnecessary (unless he needed to put that in to get past his editor), because his real point is something along the lines of we are in the position of a homeowner deciding whether to buy fire insurance. Which while not a perfect analogy isn't totally barking. The connection he needed to make was not with whether GW is happening or not - it clearly is, that by now is just the bleedin' obvious, you're a denialist or just pig-ignorant about GW if you haven't realised that - but with the effects and costs, which is still a difficult and much less certain matter. But that's not today's argument. Anyway, IS ends up finding the right answer despite starting from the wrong place, concluding that the “What To Do?” question presents conservative believers in markets with an opportunity, viz carbon taxes. Hurrah.

In response, BZ makes a number of tedious talking points all of which amount to wrapping words around the pre-judged answer "no", so aren't really worth reading in any detail. The fat tail stuff is particularly bad. Having not really understood that point (in the downside direction) he then attempts to assert there's a fat tail upside: the potential benefits from anthropogenic warming. Merely examine the NASA “greening” analysis of the earth: The peer-reviewed literature estimates that 70 percent of that effect is from carbon dioxide fertilization. A well-known Lancet study reports that far fewer people die from heat than from cold. He is correct that there will be some benefits; he is probably wrong that those benefits will exceed the costs; but he is definitely and unthinkingly wrong that there is a "fat tail" upside analogous to the potentially catastrophic downsides: there is no significant probability of huge benefits from GW. This is just some idiot pundit thinking out loud to himself in the shower1. And the Libertarians lap it up. Anyone doing anything similar in economics would get shredded by Don Boudreaux; but on climate, happy ignorance is in vogue.

But the Green New Deal is still fuckwitted.

Update: 2019 / 10 / 13: I almost posted on this separately, but it isn't really worth it: Don Boudreaux recommends us to read a guy who wonders perhaps we could find a way to release quantities of a gas that might dilute the greenhouse effect.

Notes


1. For an encore - presumably to prove that he really is a bonehead, in case you were in any doubt - BZ continues Perhaps more speculatively, the likelihood of a future glaciation, however distant in time, approaches certainty, and anthropogenic warming under such conditions might prove a significant benefit. this has been a stupid suggestion for quite a long time now.

Refs


* Do People Want to Be Free? by Pierre Lemieux
* Should presidents make policy? by Scott Sumner

MVIMG_20190908_153932

2019-09-28

New IPCC report considered dull

Is it just me or is the new IPCC report a bit dull? I'm talking about The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. I'm looking at the Summary for Policymakers, formally approved at the Second Joint Session of Working Groups I and II of the IPCC and accepted by the 51th Session of the IPCC, Principality of Monaco1, 24th September 2019.

The particularly boring bit is:
The global mean sea level (GMSL) rise under RCP2.6 is projected to be 0.39 m (0.26–0.53 m, likely range) for the period 2081–2100, and 0.43 m (0.29–0.59 m, likely range) in 2100 with respect to 1986–2005. For RCP8.5, the corresponding GMSL rise is 0.71 m (0.51–0.92 m, likely range) for 2081–2100 and 0.84 m (0.61–1.10 m, likely range) in 2100. Mean sea level rise projections are higher by 0.1 m compared to AR5 under RCP8.5 in 2100, and the likely range extends beyond 1 m in 2100 due to a larger projected ice loss from the Antarctic Ice Sheet (medium confidence). The uncertainty at the end of the century is mainly determined by the ice sheets, especially in Antarctica {4.2.3; Figures SPM.1, SPM.5}
Didn't everyone agree the AR5 was a bit conservative and they'd do better next time? But these are hardly changed. I stopped at that point, so if there's something wildly exciting I missed in the second half, do let me know.

Update: reading with Carbonbrief


They're fairly enthusiastic about it, so I could read what they wrote: In-depth Q&A: The IPCC’s special report on the ocean and cryosphere. Well, I could skim it.

* these impacts are projected to have huge costs. In monetary terms, for example, “declines in ocean health and services are projected to cost the global economy $428bn per year by 2050”, the report says, “and $1.979tn per year by 2100”: meh yes, it's easy to get large numbers, but $2T is only 0.37% of global GDP.
Chapter two of the report describes how by the end of the century, glaciers are projected to lose around 18% of their mass compared to 2015 levels under a low-emissions scenario. This anticipated loss doubles to around a third under a high-emissions scenario: just for once I think they're underestimating the impact, by averaging. Those values might be correct globally but locally - e.g. in the Alps - losses will be much higher. Ah yes they continue: In non-polar regions with relatively little ice cover, such as Central Europe and North Asia, the projected outcomes are far more pronounced, according to the report, with on average more than 80% of their current glacier mass gone by 2100.

Or you can try their Explainer: How climate change is accelerating sea level rise (which of course does no such thing); wherein you can sense their frustration with the new report.

Refs


* Would you like to be told that IPCC report paints catastrophic picture of melting ice and rising sea levels – and reality may be even worse? Then read Mark Brandon at The Conversation.

Notes


1. Nice place, or so I'm told. Still, you can't expect the IPCC to meet in some grimy post-industrial northern city.

MVIMG_20190907_190608

2019-09-26

Demons Tormenting St. Anthony

Niklaus_Manuel_Deutsch_001The Dems have finally plucked up courage to impeach the Mango Mussolini2. Some people have been longing for this for ages; here for example is CNN being rather hopeful. But... will it work? I'm dubious. "Work" in this context means remove him from office, rather than just provide PR and talking points. The Dems are charging him with betraying his oath of office and the nation’s security by seeking to enlist a foreign power to tarnish a rival for his own political gain. Which sounds bad, put like that. What appears to have happened is that in a phone call to the Ukraine, Trump rather strongly pushed them to pursue corruptions allegations against Biden(s). Many people will interpret this as CIP did. I do, too.

However, there are two obvious lines of defence: (1) Trump was merely expressing the opinion that the Ukraine should forcefully pursue corruption in the country1; and (2) that the connection to the national security of the US is rather weak. So while the Dems will be all for, I think any Repub that wants an excuse to be against will not find it hard to find one, unless something rather more damming comes out. At least, while opinion remains as it is. If in the course of the inquiry enough comes out to turn people against him, that would change things. But so much has already become public and not changed his base support, why would this?

Notes


1. Which is arguably entirely true - that they need to pursue corruption more strongly. What I don't think is true is that Trump gives a toss about that.

2. Per comments: not quite. This is an impeachment inquiry, not an actual impeachment, at the moment.

Refs


* Realignment, Not Upheaval, Defines Our Political Moment by Stephen Davies
* Politics is the problem---trade is the answer by Scott Sumner

2019-09-24

Boris Johnson is a tosser

48712863271_b6d44bbb98_o Bojo previously won an award for being the only person I've called a tosser twice; and now tops that by getting a third accolade. The context: Boris prorogued parliament, it-is-to-be-presumed in an effort to avoid parliamentary debate and scrutiny; in particular to avoid them seizing the order and passing a law to force him to ask for an extension to Brexit. That failed, so arguably the case was rather pointless, though we'll see.

My own opinion was that the judges would rule the matter justiciable, because it increases their remit. I'm doubtful that it is fundamentally as opposed to opportunistically good; and think that the matter is political and so outside the court's purview, as the govt argued. The court has an obvious conflict of interest, inevitably. However, given the tenor of the times, there will be general public and MP support for the judges, so they've picked their time well. Given that, Bojo was a fool for risking this1. Judges find law rather than making it at least in theory, and what they've "found" now gives them authority to intervene in pretty well anything they like. Per Hobbesthe Interpretation of all Lawes dependeth on the Authority Soveraign; and the Interpreters can be none but those, which the Soveraign, (to whom only the Subject oweth obedience) shall appoint. For else, by the craft of an Interpreter, the Law my be made to beare a sense, contrary to that of the Soveraign; by which means the Interpreter becomes the Legislator. Note that in this context "appoint" doesn't just mean fire-and-forget; it means control.

Tomorrow - as that wazzock Corbyn just said on the R4 10 pm news - parliament will resume. It will be interesting to see what they manage to do with that. Because arguably all they needed to do, has been done2. Will they manage to "scutinise" him? It would be fun if he had a meltdown.

The judgement itself carefully avoids saying Bojo lied to the Queen, presumably in an effort to keep her out of all this mess: We do not know what the Queen was told and cannot draw any conclusions about it. That is I think a small rebuke to the Scottish meninwigs. The two examples that the courts offer for justicability in para 32 are unconvincing, as well as very old, and don't obviously relate to the matter at hand (para 41 might be more convincing but I didn't look at any of those cases). I think they know they're on very thin ground here. Notice also the weaselly might have been accomplished in para 33; as they know full well, it's too late for that. para 35 points out that there is existing case-law that the analogous dissolution is non-justicable; they then spend a lot of words ignoring that. Para 50 then sets out a vague "standard" that could be interpreted by anyone any way, and para 51 somewhat dishonestly asserts that it's a good standard. After that I think it becomes uninteresting; they've made up their minds and will wrap some words around whatever they want to decide.

Side note: I think the lack of prorogation means there is no Queen's speech, which means if Bojo wanted to put anything tricky into that, he's probably stuffed.

Notes


1. Honesty compels me to confess that my prediction was that they wouldn't do anything like void the progation; but Bojo has higher paid advisers than me. Bojo's main sin is to be a lightweight piece of fluff at a time when someone competent was required; perhaps he was correct to back off last time.

2. Indeed, if they hadn't been prorogued, they'd probably still be vacillating.

3. Sumpers sounded sensible on R4 but what he wrote in the Times does not. Nost of it evades the issue, and the bit to the point (Yet the Supreme Court’s judgment should be welcomed even...) is wrong. As, of course, is "Parliament is the supreme source of law".

Refs


* See-also my comment at Is That Cricket? by Bryan Caplan
* Dems go for impeachment; pass the popcorn
Global schadenfreude shortage looms after huge surge in demand in UK

2019-09-22

Words for the word god

tumblr_osmlmgzKN01qi9bubo1_640
He moves in darkness as it seems to me, Not of woods only and the shade of trees.

A three part article, you lucky people. We start with IAMs: on no, not again (time and again I tell myself I'll stay clean tonight). Kevin Anderson - yes, I fear it is him again - rails that IAMs professionalized the analysis of climate-change mitigation by substituting messy and contextual politics with non-contextual mathematical formalism. ZOMG! "professionalised" used an insult. He'll be telling us that we don't need no steenkin' experts next. But there's a clue to his thinking there: he doesn't like the answers from the IAMs, and wants to wish them away. Rather like the Watties, who don't like the answers from the GCMs and want to wish them away. [Update: note that ATTP has an IAMs article; I'm in the comments.]

Nurture's lead in to the "debate" (not a debate; just two different views) is rather useful, if you read it carefully:
global warming... is one of the greatest threats facing humanity today...It is a complex issue that involves many social, technological and physical processes. To describe the intricate relationships between these processes, scientists have devised computer simulations known as integrated assessment models (IAMs). IAMs are used to generate pathways for climate-change mitigation that are consistent with global temperature targets. Some scientists have suggested that IAMs are no longer fit for purpose and that meeting climate targets will require a radical reinvention of industrial society that the models are not equipped to address.
The key word in there is consistent which "messy and contextual politics" very much isn't. KA's preferred messy stuff is a way of wishing away problems by preventing a consistent view. This is the epicycles stuff all over again. The IAMs are a way of keeping you honest; you can't ask for inconsistent things. To assert that For more than two decades, IAMs have been part of this accelerating failure [to tackle GW] is drivel; that's about as sensible as blaming GCMs for "failing to solve" the problems they show. Ultimately, none of this matters to KA, because he already knows that what is required is immediate and radical change across all facets of society. And so we're back to GND-ery. I don't think people like KA can talk clearly about "the current economic system". If he means overthrowing capitalism, he can fuck off. If he means replacing the current fossil fuel infrastructure with something that doesn't fill the atmosphere with CO2, then there's a conversation to be had, if he can avoid pre-judging how to do it. Pretending they are the same thing, or failing to clearly distinguish them, is going to lead to confusion.

For part two, Twatter again offers a thing, Vaclav Smil: ‘Growth must end. Our economist friends don’t seem to realise that’. It's a fawning2 interview with a guy with a book to sell. We start with the familiar (and probably wrong; depending on how he is defining things; being a Graun article, things are of course not defined): one crystal clarity: that growth must come to an end. Our economist friends don’t seem to realise that... The economists will tell you we can decouple growth from material consumption, but that is total nonsense. But at least it's nice of him to make it clear that he isn't an economist. Some things I at least half agree with: We could halve our energy and material consumption and this would put us back around the level of the 1960s. We could cut down without losing anything important. Life wasn’t horrible in 1960s or 70s Europe. I don't mean the longing for the goode olde dayes (stuff like We are buried under information. It’s not doing anyone any good. makes me think he does so long); I just mean that we could all live simpler lives and be happier. I certainly can't argue with his We are so fat in terms of material consumption. What's quite absent, though, is any suggestion of how to sell that to the masses. I don't think you can. He has no ideas: in reply to How do we move in that direction before the risks become unmanageable? he offers In some places we have to foster what economists call de-growth. In other places, we have to foster growth. This is not an answer, it is an evasion; neither he not his interviewer nor apparently the Graun;s editor seem to realise this.

And part three (and last, you'll be relieved to know): Stop obsessing over your environmental “sins.” Fight the oil and gas industry instead by Mary Annaise Heglar. In Vox, so probably wrong. People are struggling to work out what they should tell people to "do" about GW. There are two obvious temptations: to tell people to clean up their own act - aha, but then that "guilts" people and that's "bad" - or to blame "someone else" which is stupid and leads to people doing nothing. But seems to be where she's going: We need to let go of the idea that it’s all of our individual faults, then take on the collective responsibility of holding the true culprits accountable. But the point is that the composite of all our individual faults is the "true culprit". We are the people emitting CO2. Not fossil fuel companies; they just supply it. They supply it because we buy it. If we stopped buying it, they'd stop supplying it. Markets work like that (unlike, say, the German govt, which is ramming lignite down its citizens throats even though they don't want it3). When suggesting non-personal action the article rapdidy runs off the rails: Organizing neighbors to sue a power plant that’s poisoning the community is a personal action. Yes, but it's also irrelevant: CO2 is not a poison in that sense. Efforts to sue against CO2 are generally stupid and failing. And at the end the article rather than running off the rails just runs into the sand: All I need you to do is want a livable future is sweet, but not actionable1.

While I'm on that article, it has more wrongness, for example Once upon a time, perhaps, we needed a strong grasp of science to understand climate change, but now all we have to do is look at the daily headlines — or out our windows. This isn't true. Understanding GW takes just as much science now as it ever did. Perhaps the author means understanding the importance of GW. That, now, is commonplace in headlines. But cannot be seen out of the window, of course.

Notes


1. You might reasonably ask what my brilliant plan to save the world it. If anyone is kind enough to actually do this, I'll probably write a post on it. But in brief it is (a) education and (b) impose carbon taxes instead and hope that solar photovoltaic saves us.

2. You doubt me? How about You are the nerd’s nerd. There is perhaps no other academic who paints pictures with numbers like you. You dug up the astonishing statistic that... Your one-man statistical analysis is like the entire output of the World Bank.

3. Struck, because probably wrong. Hard coal was subsidised; it looks like lignite probably wasn't.

Refs


* Quiggin Needs a Third Lesson by David Henderson

2019-09-18

Mann vs Ball dismissal: the transcript

MVIMG_20190908_161528 That nice Prof Mann says The official court transcript for the Tim Ball defamation case is now with the validity of the Hockey Stick, data, code, or anything else of that matter. As the transcript shows, the dismissal was due to the fact that continuing litigation was too onerous given Ball's age, poor health & infirmity (and, as his own lawyers pleaded in their filings to the court, the irrelevance of his attacks on me given they were ignored by media): https://www.bccourts.ca/jdb-txt/sc/19/15/2019BCSC1580.htm.

MM, whilst obviously correct that Ball hasn't won on the facts and definitely isn't exhonerated by the ruling, is somewhat evading the main reason for dismissal, excessive delay. As hizzoner puts it: The total time elapsed, from the filing of the notice of civil claim until the application to dismiss was filed, was eight years. It will be almost ten years by the time the matter goes to trial. There have been two periods, of approximately 35 months in total, where nothing was done. In my view, by any measure, this is an inordinate delay...  Additionally, based upon the evidence filed, the plaintiff and his counsel appear to have attended to other matters, both legal matters and professional matters in the case of the plaintiff, rather than give this matter any priority. The plaintiff appears to have been content to simply let this matter languish. Accordingly, I find that the delay is inexcusable.

Bizarrely, the maninawig also asserts that The parties are both in their eighties. Pardon? With echoes of Alsup, he also notes Before concluding, I wish to note that the materials that have been filed on this application are grossly excessive in relation to the matters in issue. I guess people watch too much TV and assume briefs must be enormous to be respectable. And lastly, he has occasion to refer to the case of Hughes v. Simpson‑Sears, as overseen by... Justice Twaddle. Yeesss!

Notes


1. My picture is a portrait of Mr Cooper Penrose by Jacques-Louis David, 1802. Somewhat more restrained than most of his stuff.

Transcript


Since these things seem to have vanished in the past, I'll copy the transcript in here.

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA

Citation:

Mann v. Ball,



2019 BCSC 1580

Date: 20190822

Docket: S111913

Registry: Vancouver

Between:

Michael Mann

Plaintiff

And:

Timothy ("Tim") Ball

Defendants

Before: The Honourable Mr. Justice Giaschi

Oral Reasons for Judgment

In Chambers

Counsel for the Plaintiff:

R. McConchie

Counsel for the Defendant, Timothy (“Tim”) Ball:

M. Scherr

D. Juteau

Place and Date of Hearing:

Vancouver, B.C.

May 27 and August 22, 2019

Place and Date of Judgment:

Vancouver, B.C.

August 22, 2019




[1]             THE COURT:  I will render my reasons on the application to dismiss. I reserve the right to amend these reasons for clarity and grammar, but the result will not change.

[2]             The defendant brings an application for an order dismissing the action for delay.

[3]             The plaintiff, Dr. Mann, and the defendant, Dr. Ball, have dramatically different opinions on climate change. I do not intend to address those differences. It is sufficient that one believes climate change is man-made and the other does not. As a result of the different opinions held, the two have been in near constant conflict for many years.

[4]             The underlying action concerns, first, a statement made by the defendant in an interview conducted on February 9, 2011. He said, “Michael Mann at Penn State should be in the state pen, not Penn State.” This statement was published on a website and is alleged to be defamatory of the plaintiff. The notice of civil claim also alleges multiple other statements published by Mr. Ball are defamatory. It is not necessary that I address the many alleged defamatory statements.

[5]             0690860 Manitoba Ltd. v. Country West Construction, 2009 BCCA 535, at paras. 27-28, sets out the four elements that need to be considered on a motion to dismiss. They are:

a)    Has there been inordinate delay in the prosecution of the matter?;

b)    If there has been inordinate delay, is it excusable in the circumstances?;

c)     Has the delay caused serious prejudice and, if so, does it create a substantial risk that a fair trial is not possible?; and

d)    Whether, on balance, justice requires that the action be dismissed.

[6]             I turn first to whether there has been inordinate delay. Some key dates in the litigation are:

a)    March 25, 2011, the action was commenced;

b)    July 7, 2011, the notice of civil claim was amended;

c)     June 5, 2012, the notice of civil claim was further amended;

d)    From approximately June of 2013 until November of 2014, there were no steps taken in the action;

e)    November 12, 2014, the plaintiff filed a notice of intention to proceed;

f)      February 20, 2017, the matter was initially supposed to go to trial, but that trial date was adjourned;

g)    July 20, 2017, the date of the last communication received from Mr. Mann or his counsel by the defendant. No steps were taken in the matter until March 21, 2019 when the application to dismiss was filed;

h)    April 10, 2019, a second notice of intention to proceed was filed; and

i)       August 9, 2019, after the first day of the hearing of this application, a new trial date was set for January 11, 2021.

[7]             There have been at least two extensive periods of delay. Commencing in approximately June 2013, there was a delay of approximately 15 months where nothing was done to move the matter ahead. There was a second extensive period of delay from July 20, 2017 until the filing of the application to dismiss on March 21, 2019, a delay of 20 months. Again, nothing was done during this period to move the matter ahead. The total time elapsed, from the filing of the notice of civil claim until the application to dismiss was filed, was eight years. It will be almost ten years by the time the matter goes to trial. There have been two periods, of approximately 35 months in total, where nothing was done. In my view, by any measure, this is an inordinate delay.

[8]             I now turn to whether the delay is excusable. In my view, it is not. There is no evidence from the plaintiff explaining the delay. Dr. Mann filed an affidavit but he provides no evidence whatsoever addressing the delay. Importantly, he does not provide any evidence saying that the delay was due to his counsel, nor does he provide evidence that he instructed his counsel to proceed diligently with the matter. He simply does not address delay at all.

[9]             Counsel for Dr. Mann submits that the delay was due to his being busy on other matters, but the affidavit evidence falls far short of establishing this. The affidavit of Jocelyn Molnar, filed April 10, 2019, simply addresses what matters plaintiff's counsel was involved in at various times. The affidavit does not connect those other matters to the delay here. It does not explain the lengthy delay in 2013 and 2014 and does not adequately explain the delay from July 2017. The evidence falls far short of establishing an excuse for the delay.

[10]         Even if I was satisfied that the evidence established the delay was solely due to plaintiff's counsel being busy with other matters, which I am not, I do not agree that this would be an adequate excuse. Counsel for the plaintiff was unable to provide any authority establishing that counsel's busy schedule is a valid excuse for delay. In contrast, the defendant refers me to Hughes v. Simpson‑Sears, [1988] 52 D.L.R. (4th) 553, where Justice Twaddle, writing on behalf of the Manitoba Court of Appeal, stated at p. 13 that:

...Freedman, J.A. said that the overriding principle in cases of this kind is “essential justice”. There is no doubt that that is so, but it must mean justice to both parties, not just to one of them.

In Law Society of Manitoba v. Eadie (judgment delivered on June 27, 1988), I stated my preference for a one-step application of the fundamental principle on which motions of this kind should be decided. The fundamental principle is that a plaintiff should not be deprived of his right to have his case decided on its merits unless he is responsible for undue delay which has prejudiced the other party. A plaintiff is responsible for delays occasioned by his solicitors. I have already dealt with the consequence of the solicitors' conduct being negligent. Once it is established that the delay is unreasonable having regard to the subject matter of the action, the complexity of the issues, and the explanation for it, the other matter to be considered is the prejudice to the defendant. It is in the task of balancing the plaintiff's right to proceed with the defendant's right not to be prejudiced by unreasonable delay that justice must be done.

[Emphasis added]

[11]         Additionally, based upon the evidence filed, the plaintiff and his counsel appear to have attended to other matters, both legal matters and professional matters in the case of the plaintiff, rather than give this matter any priority. The plaintiff appears to have been content to simply let this matter languish.

[12]         Accordingly, I find that the delay is inexcusable.

[13]         With respect to prejudice, such prejudice is presumed unless the prejudice is rebutted. Indeed, the presumption of prejudice is given even more weight in defamation cases: Samson v. Scaletta, 2016 BCSC 2598, at paras 40-43. The plaintiff has not filed any evidence rebutting the presumption of prejudice.

[14]         Moreover, the defendant has led actual evidence of actual prejudice. The evidence is that the defendant intended to call three witnesses at trial who would have provided evidence going to fair comment and malice. Those witnesses have now died. A fourth witness is no longer able to travel. Thus, in addition to finding that presumption of prejudice has not been rebutted, I also find that there has been actual prejudice to the defendant as a consequence of the delay.

[15]         Turning to the final factor, I have little hesitation in finding that, on balance, justice requires the action be dismissed. The parties are both in their eighties and Dr. Ball is in poor health. He has had this action hanging over his head like the sword of Damocles for eight years and he will need to wait until January 2021 before the matter proceeds to trial. That is a ten year delay from the original alleged defamatory statement. Other witnesses are also elderly or in poor health. The memories of all parties and witnesses will have faded by the time the matter goes to trial.

[16]         I find that, because of the delay, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for there to be a fair trial for the defendant. This is a relatively straightforward defamation action and should have been resolved long before now. That it has not been resolved is because the plaintiff has not given it the priority that he should have. In the circumstances, justice requires that the action be dismissed and, accordingly, I do hereby dismiss the action for delay.

[17]         Before concluding, I wish to note that the materials that have been filed on this application are grossly excessive in relation to the matters in issue. There are four large binders of materials filed by the plaintiff on the application to dismiss, plus one additional binder from the defendant. The binders contain multiple serial affidavits, many of which are replete with completely irrelevant evidence. In my view, this application could have been done and should have been done with one or two affidavits outlining the delay, the reasons for the delay, and the prejudice.

[18]         Those are my reasons, counsel. Costs?

[19]         MR. SCHERR:  I would, of course, ask for costs for the defendant, given the dismissal of the action.

[20]         MR. MCCONCHIE:  Costs follow the event. I have no quarrel with that.

[21]         THE COURT:  All right. I agree. The costs will follow the event, so the defendant will have his costs of the application and also the costs of the action, since the action is dismissed.

[22]         The outstanding application, I gather there is no reason to proceed with it now.

[23]         MR. MCCONCHIE:  It is academic, in light of –

[24]         THE COURT:  It is academic.

[25]         MR. MCCONCHIE:  – Your Lordship's ruling today.

[26]         THE COURT:  Right. Thank you, gentlemen. Anything else?

[27]         MR. SCHERR:  No, Your Honour.

[28]         THE COURT:  All right.

[29]         MR. SCHERR:  No, My Lord.

[30]         THE COURT:  Then, we are concluded and you shall have your materials back, which are these binders. Thank you, gentlemen.

“Giaschi J.”

2019-09-16

Twitterfest: Rhode, Maslin, Nelson

poorlyIt was a busy day on Twatter.

That nice RR twoteThe world transfers about $1,700,000,000,000 ($1.7 trillion) to oil producers every year. That seemed odd (in fact I mistook it for yet another weary round of the subsidy stuff) but no, it turns out what he really meant was "$1.7 trillion is the notional market value of producing 80 million barrels of crude per day with a current market price of ~$60 / barrel". I'm doubtful that's quite the correct calculation, because there will be various shipping, transfer, middlemen and markups in the way, but perhaps it isn't too far off. Does it tell you anything useful? It gives you a number for the size of the oil market; by comparison, global GDP is approximately $85T, so oil is about 2% of GDP. That makes it seem quite small, really2.

Mark Maslin asserted (via The Conversation): The science of climate change is more than 150 years old and it is probably the most tested area of modern science. In retrospect I feel a bit guilty about disturbing his nice thread with "Most-tested-of-modern-sci is surely bullshit". However, just because you want to emphasise that climate science isn't new, and isn't ill-tested; and because you feel that it has survived rabid attacks by ignorant fools; doesn't give you license to make things up.

All of that made me briefly the poster boy for the Dork Side; Tom Nelson twat: Infamous warmist 
@wmconnolley replies: "Most-tested-of-modern-sci is surely bullshit" #ClimateBrawl and asking for my opinionsjust checking: Do you believe that we are currently experiencing a "climate crisis"? What could I do but oblige him: Ha ha, you want my opinions? You're welcome to them. I'm sure you'll love http://mustelid.blogspot.com/2019/08/monckers-him-jump-shark.html; you might actually really like http://mustelid.blogspot.com/2019/06/should-judiciary-be-making-us-climate.html; as for you actual question, maybe http://mustelid.blogspot.com/2019/05/uk-parliament-declares-climate-change.html. This continued for a while, with him trying to force me to answer his silly question, and me trolling him, until he gave up.

FWIW, I think Do you believe that we are currently experiencing a "climate crisis"? isn't a good question. Do you "believe in" global warming? gets the instant and obvious reply "yes". Do you think the Green New Deal is stupid? also gets a "yes". Do you think it is worth debating with people who don't "believe in" global warming? gets "no"1. And for those hard of thinking, "believe in" so carefully placed in quotes amounts to "accept the generally accepted view, as represented by e.g. the IPCC WG 1 reports".

Notes


1. For those who will object "but you do it" the answer is "not very much any more" and I hardly seek out any such "debate". If anyone wants to come here and discuss, fine, they've made an effort and that distinguishes them from 99% of their fellows, so we can talk, until they veer off too obviously into the weeds.

2. By comparison, IT spending on services, infrastructure, and software is on track to rise to $3.8 trillion, according to Gartner's forecast, a 3.2 percent increase from $3.7 trillion in 2018 and you can pull out even bigger numbers if you want to3.

3. Another number, plucked from Mark Maslin's piece, is that "the world’s five largest publicly-owned oil and gas companies spend about US$200m each year on lobbying". Which, using these numbers, would appear to be about 0.01% of the global oil economy.

Refs


CPI Bias and Happiness
* Regulation and/or Geopolitics
* Money Is the Oxygen on Which the Fire of Global Warming Burns: What if the banking, asset-management, and insurance industries moved away from fossil fuels? by Bill McKibben
* A Celebration of the U.S. Constitution by David Henderson; Or, a reminder of the problems of constitutionalism in times of stress
On the coast of Yorkshire on a September day
* Sled driver
Rule of law vs GDP per capita, courtesy of the Lexis Nexis Rule of Law Foundation, via Paul Graham on Twatter.
Irish Court Rejects Demand for More Aggressive Climate Action

2019-09-15

Wind farms: Corbyn aka Trump

MVIMG_20190906_084903 Or so says the Beeb. Though not in those words; it's not the kind of thing Aunty would say, and indeed it isn't even the kind of thing that they're even capable of thinking; they have been well schooled. No, they write Corbyn says Fife wind farm contract plan 'not credible'. But in the end it amounts to the same thing: Corbyn and Trump both want to direct economic activity, and if allowed to, it would be to the detriment of the people.

Corbyn - well known Islington based expert on steel production, transport, and trade-offs in costs between transport and production - said it was not credible to "drag" manufactured parts 8,000 miles to the wind farm site. He is at least partly right; dragging the parts there would not be credible; but only an idiot of his ilk would think of doing so. Transport by sea, however, is quite efficient.

Corbyn is not the only idiot on this though; step forward Scottish Greens Fife MSP Mark Ruskell who addressed the STUC rally. He said there should be no offshore wind farm leases issued from the Crown Estate without the guarantee of local jobs... Why all this mania for local jobs, other than shameless politicking? It's obviously stupid when Trump does it, I think even the Beeb can see it then.

What then you might ask is the correct place to buy these bits from? The answer is obvious: you don't know. And neither do I. But to a first approximation, I'd guess that whoever offers the cheapest place subject to whatever criteria of reliability the purchasing company feels appropriate would be the best place. The idea that a bunch of idiot pols have anything useful to contribute to the analysis is laughable.

Notes


1. Photo: me, on my trusty hired bicycle "bike", at the back of Qualcomm building AC in San Diego. More exciting pix here.

2019-09-10

Cry havoc and let slip the grapes of boredom

MVIMG_20190909_190105 I'm off in Sunny San Diego in the Quangleplex having fun in the ocean, so have a few moments to post random links, in the absence of anything more exciting to talk about, like the UK turning into a dumpster fire bashing it's way down rocky rapids1.

So "French wines show hot dry years are now normal" from physicsworld floated by on Twatter, and triggered my interest in impacts in general and agriculture in particular. The finding is that Grapes in Burgundy are now picked 13 days earlier than the average for the last 664 years. And the advance in harvest dates has been dramatic: almost all since 1988. And, yes, this is a thing but the obvious question is: is this a problem in any way? Of course it isn't a direct problem; even the French are reactive enough to notice the change and set their calendars to "pick a bit earlier". The article can't bring itself to say this, because GW must always be a problem; it sez The wine industry is vulnerable... climate change had begun to warm southern England’s chalky soils to the a degree that made them yield sparkling wines to match qualities pursued in the Champagne region of France. Which is odd phrasing: the word "vulnerable" makes you think of problems; but being able to make decent wine is an advantage. It does link to something about grape picking being harder in higher temperatures, which is all very well, but i the grape harvest isn't falling I can't see that as a major issue.

In other news you won't like, there's Alex Tabarrok on Paul Krugman's Most Evil Idea. And - although this is something of a throwaway - there's a suggestion that an independent central bank might be another part of the separation of powers, which I haven't seen explicitly stated.

Are you interested in my lunch? Also, I've been cycling in San Diego (I am not totally alone; in fact their cycle lanes are pretty good but underused); see Strava which includes pix.

Refs


The Supreme Court and the administrative state

Notes


1. Image stolen from a metaphor I developed over a series of weekly reports a few months back.

2019-08-22

A dangerous new form of climate denialism is making the rounds?

MVIMG_20190806_080736 So says Twatter, pointing to an exciting Op-Ed in Newsweek. But the newness turns out to be not-so-new (you're astonished, aren't you?): it's just Marco Rubio opining We should choose adaptive solutions. In some ways MR's rather useless article is a step forward, since he is obliged to start Florida will be forced to continue making adjustments in the coming decades because of the changing climate. Trend lines suggest sunny day flooding will become increasingly common as local sea levels rise from a variety of causes. So despite the tell-tale signs of denialism ("continue", suggesting the familiar "climate has always changed" trope; the weaselly "a variety of causes") he's still obliged to confess the reality of sea level rise.

There's then a rather illogical through a carbon tax... The cost would set our state back, depriving us of the resources we desperately need to continue to adapt. So apparently the state raising tax revenue would deprive the state of tax revenue for use in adaption? Or perhaps he imagines that all adaption will be done by private individuals. I bet his retiree-constituents are looking for "the state" aka someone else to pick up the tab, not them as private individuals.

Then comes the interesting Through proactive adaptation alone, the Environmental Protection Agency predicted in 2017, Americans could reduce damage caused by climate change to coastal property through 2099 by 90%. 90% seems a touch on the optimistic side, even for a pol trying to reassure people. Via FOURTH NATIONAL CLIMATE ASSESSMENT: CHAPTER 29: REDUCING RISKS THROUGH EMISSIONS MITIGATION AND SHOUTING A LOT (More than half of damages to coastal property are estimated to be avoidable through well-timed adaptation measures, such as shoreline protection and beach replenishment.2,5,196) I get (it's ref 2) Multi-Model Framework for Quantitative Sectoral Impacts Analysis: A Technical Report for the Fourth National Climate Assessment. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C. which says
Without adaptation, cumulative discounted damages to coastal property in the contiguous U.S. are estimated at $3.6 trillion through 2100 under both RCPs. Damages under RCP4.5 are reduced by $92 billion compared to RCP8.5. 
Well-timed adaptation measures significantly reduce cumulative discounted costs to an estimated $820 billion under RCP8.5 and $800 billion under RCP4.5. In comparison, reductions in damages under RCP4.5 are modest, with the majority of benefits projected to occur late in the century.
Ter be onest I have some problems with that. The most obvious is the trivial difference in costs between RCP8.5 and 4.5. That just doesn't seem believable1. Also, I can't really parse the second sentence in the second paragraph. However, overall, while 820 isn't 10% of 3600 it isn't far off, indeed in pol terms it is spot on, so ol' MR isn't totally full of it.

Notes


1. They do notice though, and say:  Global sea level rise is similar under the RCPs scenarios through mid-century. It is not until the second half of the century when the benefits of reduced sea level rise under RCP4.5 become apparent, which are more heavily affected by discounting. In addition, some of the effects on coastal property are due to land subsidence which is assumed to occur at an equal rate under the sea level rise projections of the two RCPs. Could be.

Refs


We need to save the Amazon, but not for the sake of oxygen
* PC – As In “Patriotically Correct” by DON BOUDREAUX from Alex Nowrasteh
Harold Demsetz’s 1982 lecture “Competition in the Public Sector” via CH
Voters can only choose process characteristics and hope for results. Consumers buy results and leave the process to those with specialized knowledge of such things - Thomas Sowell

2019-08-16

Monckers him jump shark

68426185_1226120984250886_2337706435279847424_o You might object that Monckers has already saltated the Chondrichthye but I submit that his most recent missive, faithfully conveyed to wider public attention by the esteemed Dr Seitz pushes absurdity so far that one cannot but wonder if this is not a False Flag Operation.

Stripped of the windbaggery - which is to strip out almost everything - Monckers is sad that the recent somewhat weird Nurture piece "Discrepancy in scientific authority and media visibility of climate change scientists and contrarians" calls him a denier and so on; whether it does I don't know because obviously I didn't bother read it, because it was tedious dull and unoriginal. He wants an apology and threatens legal action if not satisfied; since he won't get his apology but has posted his screed in full public view, one wonders how he will disguise his inevitable climb down. Probably he won't disguise it; the Watties will give him a free pass.

Well, if you didn't like that you can always enjoy the picture. As the caption says, "Confusing medieval depiction of Roman god Saturn devouring his son, which mixes the Greek Chronos (Χρόνος), the personification of time in pre-Socratic philosophy and later literature, known for devouring his own children, with the Titan Cronus (Κρόνος), who castrated his father Uranus with a scythe". I'll skip the bit about what Aphrodite is bathing in.

Update 2019/08/30: Monkers keeps going. I didn't bother read it though.

Alpine climbing routes crumble as climate crisis continues

Notes the Graun, and I won't quibble. The most obvious thing you notice when going up is that the glaciers have retreated away from the huts and paths. Here's a sign above the Mer de Glace:

MVIMG_20190727_125052

(regrettably it isn't in any other way interesting as a photo). That's above about 100 m of path leading down to about 100 m of ladders leading down to the moraine (the ladders on the other side up to Couvercle are even more exciting) from which you scramble onto the glacier. Looking across from the L (Couvercle) side (as you go up), here's a view across to the Aiguilles, and (if you click for the enlarged version and know what to look for) you can just see the refuge Envers des Aiguilles on the rock rib in the center of the pic.

MVIMG_20190727_091718

You can also see how massively the glacier has retreated (though to be fair not all of that is recent; it was a long way up the Envers ladders in 1992). As for the old things melting out of the ice, here's part of what I assume is a helicopter crash, unknown vintage, Talefre glacier.

MVIMG_20190726_155556

Also speaking of melting out, the ridge down from the Aiguille du Midi telepherique onto the glacier now has old bales of straw and bits of wood appearing, instead of the pure snow it used to be. Perhaps the residue of some old hut.

The Mer de Glace is bare and excitingly striped. You can just make out the Requin hut on the ridgeline in the center, in front of the icefall.

MVIMG_20190725_132014

It is sad that the ice is melting, and the character of so many routes is changing. One of the reasons we went to Chamonix this summer is that by comparison, elsewhere, it can be hard to find reliable snow and ice. Mostly the changes are making things harder: the Dome de Neige des Ecrins is no longer Facile due to opening up of crevasses high up; a route we did this year on Pointe Isabella is now icy glacier; glacier; brief ice; rock ridge; snow ridge; rock; snow; and rock; whereas my old guide book shows it as continuous snow before brief summit rock. Though to be fair, that makes the route more interesting.

MVIMG_20190726_075354

Pointe Isabella (the peak on the skyline half-right; the one half-left, apparently lower but actually a bit higher, is the Aiguille du Triolet). Go up the glacier, take the snow-ramp to the R before the ice-fall, get over the icy bit and take the snow ridge (not seen) to the visible snow ridge, leave that to the R for the rock ridge (excellent views of the ice-fall) and then you're on the near-summit ice slopes. Though if you're us you've got to 3650 m at noon, and prudently decide to turn around cos bad weather is forecast.

But the Graun's assertion that everything is falling apart is dubious, I think. The ice is retreating, yes, of course. But there are still acres of good granite to climb on. Here's some of it - there was so much I didn't bother to take proper pix. This is on the way from Cosmiques (Aig Midi on the skyline) to Torino.

MVIMG_20190806_100530

Yes, this post was just a thinly-disguised excuse for some holiday snaps.

Refs


The Antarctic ice sheet is melting and, yeah, it’s probably our fault - Eric at RC. Refs me!
Iceland's Okjokull glacier commemorated with plaque
Mont Blanc: Glacier in danger of collapse, experts warn - 2019 / 09
Shrinking glaciers: Mont Blanc from the air, 100 years on - 2019 /10