Time considered as a helix of semi precious stoats

I want an index of my posts, for the vainglory, but also so I can find things. So far I've done 2016. It was dull, and took a couple of evenings. At some point I'll add 2017 and then see if I feel like doing any more.

[Jan-May 2017 added. I found re-reading some of the old stuff rather interesting. I'm often rather forceful in response to comments. Do forgive me, and do push back.]


‘Moore’s law’ for carbon would defeat global warming?
Moon Jae-in orders shutdown of old coal-fired power plants.

Carbon Tax

Yet more carbon tax and The ETS is stupid, part n + 1 [2016/04].
* How to decarbonize? More free market!
A vision for Article 6 of the Paris Agreement?
A proportionate response to Trump’s climate plans? and A response to a response to a proportionate response.
U.S. Needs a Robust Carbon Tax, not an Exxon Carbon Tax?
The conservative case for carbon dividends.


* Science advances one funeral at a time - Robert Carter - and thoughts about influence on field.
Oh, and we were Gone / Kings of Oblivion- David Bowie.
Another funeral advances science - Pattern recognition in physics.
Derek Parfit, Ex-Philosopher.



Yet more Exxon drivel [2016/04].
#exxonlied [2016/06].
More Exxon, yawn [2016/07].

Evil Arch Climate Uber Villains




* A Falconer Uppermost - Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller.
Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy? - Richard Tol, David Rose.
Scott Adams is a tosser - discusses argument from authority.
GWPF membership declines?


Public Good


* Lents 2017: More hot bumping action.


Climate chickenhawks

ATTP has a post on Climate Hawks (arch), a term the post itself does not define (this doesn't appear to trouble any of the commentators other than me; everyone else proceeds merrily using whatever meaning of the term they happen to like). When challenged on this, ATTP points to a David Roberts post from 2010 that introduces the term, with definition people who who care about climate change and clean energy. That doesn't fit very well for me; people for whom the rather weak word "care" is a useful description would more usefully be called "climate doves" to my way of description; hawks are fierce single minded killers in my world.

The true meaning of fat

In the comments (I've pointed you at the post, I can't be bothered to dig out individual comments, just search for my name) things get rather philosophical, with people talking about peoples' "real" intentions. I think asking about peoples' "real" intentions1 makes about as much sense as asking, in a QM sense, what an electron's "real" position is. All you get is what you can observe: what people say, and what people do. People who are persistently overweight and who persistently say they truely want to lose weight but don't are showing that they value eating above losing weight. Asserting that they "truly", "rationally" or "really" wish to be thin doesn't mean anything in the external world, if outweighed by other desires of theirs.

Determining the truth

And so we turn to the GW side of this, a Ted Nordhaus post On Climate Hawks’ Revealed Preferences, which sparked ATTP's article. This explicitly uses the concept of Revealed Preferences, a concept that really really annoys people who like believing in fairies. So, just as those who say they would like to be slim but aren't reveal, not that they wouldn't like to be slim, but that they value other things above being slim, TN argues that those who passionately "believe" in GW nonetheless show by their revealed preferences that they don't really believe this quite as strongly as their words would suggest. Note that TN is probably using the term "Climate Hawks" in a different and stronger sense than ATTP: the article begins by discussing Ken Ward and the small band of eco-warriors he is working with to shut down fossil fuel infrastructure. Ken and his colleagues are not engaging in symbolic protest and action. They are taking actions that risk serious jail time, and then through what is perhaps sleight of hand uses the same term to discuss a much broader mass of people.

Does any of this matter? After all the science remains the same whatever people believe and however they act. And even if some people are hypocritical, that doesn't excuse bad behaviour on your part. But I think it does matter, for reasons I tried to explain at ATTPs: how do people decide what to believe about GW?2 Of the broad mass of Folk a negligible number are capable of evaluating the science for themselves; and few are even capable of reading the IPCC reports. Many will get a general impression from a mass of diffuse sources; one of those sources is what people they observe say and do. Naturally - people not being entirely born yesterday - they will be more strongly influenced by what people do. And politicians - that small minority who aren't purely altruistic - will base their policies on how to win votes. If you, a pol, observe people and think "hmm yes these people are willing to accept some pain, I can see that" you're more likely to propose and support such policies; if all you hear is people talking, well, you've heard that before.

The best answer at ATTP's was effectively that this is a Prisoner's Dilemma: those talking loudly but doing nothing beyond the symbolic would nonetheless accept real pain as long as everyone also had to accept that pain. That isn't implausible: a similar argument is made by Hayek in favour of some level of taxation. But in the case of GW I think more than just symbolic gestures are required.


1. BATTER my heart, three person’d God - John "wacko" Donne at his raving finest: for I Except you’enthrall mee, never shall be free, Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee. Damn, but he's good.

2. It turns out that I discuss how you're going to have to accept argument-from-authority to some extent in Scott Adams is a tosser.


Chris de Freitas considered stiff

DSC_7345 Did you notice? Did the entire blogosphere just not care?1; July 2017 apparently. It passed me by. Ah well, BLP no more.

Via the wiki page, I found this exchange at the Graun between deF and "Dr Jean Paultikof" (who she? Oh, she's actually Jean Palutikof, or so I'd guess. That's taking Graun-like miss-spellings to a rather impolite level, I'd say). The exchange itself is stereotypically stupid, the usual dumbed-down nonsense thought fit for the eyeballs of the proles. Captioned In this week's email exchange, Dr Jean Paultikof and Dr Chris de Freitas discuss the causes and consequences of global warming, it starts (from JP) with "Here, the weather's been sweltering. In the UK on Sunday, the daytime maximum exceeded 100F (to 38.1C) for an official first time. In Paris, the Sunday night minimum was a record 25.5C". FFS, what a waste of space; deF has no trouble at all batting that back: "Here in the antipodes, it is currently uncomfortably colder than average. I don't mind saying that I would rather be in Clacton."

Anyway, the bit I wanted to pull out was this from deF:

There is no proof that humans are affecting global climate. The IPCC 2001 report endorses this view. It states: "The fact that the global mean temperature has increased since the late 19th century, and that other trends have been observed, does not necessarily mean that an anthropogenic [human-induced] effect on the climate system has been identified. Climate has always varied on all time-scales, so the observed change may be natural."

That's from the TAR. JP rather weakly rebuts that with The IPCC 2001 report also states: "Most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations". But that isn't the real answer; the real answer is: deF, you're a misleading lying-by-quoting-out-of-context denialist. Because the text deF quotes above is most of the first para of a little Detection and attribution section, but he omits the revealing last sentence: " A more detailed analysis is required to provide evidence of a human impact". The IPCC report is not endorsing deF's wacko views; instead, the bit he's quoted grossly out of context is simply a generic expression of truth. Elsewhere, we get the results of the "more detailed analysis" that deF has mysteriously missed: and it's the familiar:

There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities

and so on and so forth. The motto from this is obvious: only an idiot gets their science from newspapers.


1. The Watties cared. At least a bit. Though not enough to spell his name right the first time round, it seems. Although just like Robert Carter, although they big him up as "Prominent New Zealand scientist" you'll notice that they can't actually find any of his science to mention.


* Wurld economics
* McLean, de Freitas and Carter throw Soon and Baliunas under the bus - Eli, 2010
* Too bad to be believed - also Eli, also 2010


Tim Ball considered incredible

IMG_20180213_152322 There's been a long-running lawsuit of Andrew Weaver against Tim Ball, who said naughty things about him. For background, or the-right-guys-won, see the Smoggies or Sou or doubtless others. And you can read the judgement itself. If you'd like to be told that TB won, then WUWT is your source; or in somewhat more detail, but be careful how much of that you read because even they can't help but quote some incriminating material. Judith Curry has a reasonably balanced set of quotes which cannot but look bad for TB, but of course she can't help veering off to her hobby-horse, Mann. The main substance of the judge's conclusion is that

the Article is poorly written and does not advance credible arguments in favour of Dr. Ball’s theory about the corruption of climate science. Simply put, a reasonably thoughtful and informed person who reads the Article is unlikely to place any stock in Dr. Ball’s views, including his views of Dr. Weaver as a supporter of conventional climate science. In Vellacott v. Saskatoon Star Phoenix Group Inc. et al, 2012 SKQB 359 [Vellacott], the court found that certain published comments were not defamatory because they were so ludicrous and outrageous as to be unbelievable and therefore incapable of lowering the reputation of the plaintiff in the minds of right-thinking persons (at para. 70). While the impugned words here are not as hyperbolic as the words in Vellacott, they similarly lack a sufficient air of credibility to make them believable and therefore potentially defamatory.

There is more, which I'll get to, but that's the main point; and of course, it is the version that makes Ball the loser: his article cannot be defamatory, because it isn't credible to any but the credulous.

Update 2020: Appeal

FFS. Weaver took the bloody thing to appeal and won, so it's now back to the lower court who are doubtless overjoyed to see it again.


I think the judge did the right thing with this finding. I've seen a couple of comments suggesting that AW might appeal, with the amusing consequence that AW would have to argue that TB was credible, and TB's defence have to argue that he wasn't. I think that would be a bad idea; it would be taking the piss, and I doubt the judgy world take that kindly. Specifically - and here I'm channelling Law: it's origin growth and function by James Coolidge Carter - the law is there primarily so that the reasonable expectations of reasonable people might be upheld, and violence be prevented. Not to deliver Great Justice. And so it is the duty of the law to get out of the way, if it can. Also, it is the duty of the law to try to avoid deciding things outside its provenance, which includes Science. Since the judge is able to decide that the article is not credible (note that, at least on my swift reading, he found it sufficient to declare the article not credible, and didn't need to declare TB not credible) he doesn't need to trouble himself with balancing the various scientific facts.

The other good finding, although I think this was secondary, was that despite professing to have been “saddened, sickened and dismayed” by the Article, I am not satisfied that Dr. Weaver himself perceived the Article as genuinely threatening his actual reputation. As noted, Dr. Weaver has been actively and publically engaged in the climate change discussion for many years. That included endorsing political candidates who advanced policies he agreed with and opposing candidates with whom he disagreed. It is also quite apparent that he enjoys the “thrust and parry” of that discussion and that he places little stock in opposing views such as those espoused by Dr. Ball, which Dr. Weaver characterized as “odd” and “bizarre”. Dr. Weaver went so far as to post the Article on his “wall of hate” located outside his office, alongside other articles and correspondence from “climate doubters”. It is apparent that he views such material as more of a “badge of honour” than a legitimate challenge to his character or reputation. That mixes up, possibly deliberately, two things: one, only slightly regrettably, the idea that if you're part of the cut-n-thrust you've got to expect some cuts. The other, better, that if you stick someone's stuff up on a noticeboard you can't really be taking it that seriously as a terrible attack. Also paras 66-71 are worth noting: the judge thinks AW over-construed the article.

In summary

The lawsuit dragged on since 2011; law is like that. In this case, it was probably beneficial. TB had it hanging over him, and it probably restrained him. He issued an apology, I'd forgotten about that (see para 30). In the meantime, the world has moved on, the std.GW science is more solid than ever, and no-one really gives a toss what TB thinks any more.


* Balls' theorem.
Judge finds written attack on climate scientist too ludicrous to be libel - Ars Technica.


Rocket science!

I feel like being enthusiastic for once. Here's the just-before-touchdown shot from the video.


And this one is a transparent piece of showmanship but will probably become a classic (from the livestream, watch Earth drifting away, I wonder how long the link lasts?):


And I liked this:


I suppose it's rocket engineering, really.


Overhype much?- from ATTP about "planets in nearby galaxy" that I'd rather wondered about, but not found time to read the details.
* Back on the GW wars beat, Weirdness from Armstrong/Green and conservative media from Moyhu.
* Or, join the Graun in whinging.
* They whinge more! But Timmy points out why they are wrong. Or, since they're so badly wrong, he points out some of the reasons they are wrong. And, as he doesn't say, the problem in Syria is govt.
China and Europe love SpaceX’s new Falcon Heavy rocket. Does NASA?
China Has Mixed Feelings About Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy Success.
* whereisroadster.com


ExxonMobil: Positioning for a Lower-Carbon Energy Future?

energy It's a report, the 2018 Energy & Carbon Summary. And (to confess a guilty secret) I came to it via WUWT. Well, I wouldn't have had to if the rest of my blogging sources were doing their job properly. And if it helps, the Watties have it from the NYT. You'll recall, I'm sure, that the Nasty Shareholders had demanded last year that the company give a more detailed accounting of the consequences of global policies aimed at curbing emissions of earth-warming gases. I cannot, now, recall if I wrote about that. The NYT's summary of the company's response is Exxon’s conclusion: Even aggressive climate policies pose “little risk” to its investments. It stressed that it expected healthy demand for its products for decades to come, regardless of how strongly countries move to cut emissions.

Predicatably, the NYT has no problem finding someone to disagree, and that person is Adam Scott (who?) who points out (a) Exxon assume CCS; (b) maybe we'll decide to hold warming to 1.5 oC; (c) lawsuits! To which I would answer (a) I'm dubious about CCS too but I doubt much of Exxon's answer hangs on it; (b) ho ho; but anyway, I think Exxon assuming Paris is probably reasonable; and (c) well, I think that's all drivel as I've said many times before, but since it is lawyer-drivel, you never can tell.

But enough of that. What does Exxon actually say?

Letter from the Chairman

The chairman has a page of stuff to say, read it yourself, of which I'll select:

Providing affordable energy to support prosperity while reducing environmental impacts – including the risks of climate change – is our industry’s dual challenge... The global energy system is massive. The world needs solutions that can scale... Our algae biofuel program holds great promise... We are also a leader in carbon capture and storage (CCS) research. The world will need much more CCS... Policy has a place here, too. We’ve been vocal in our support of a carbon tax, and recently joined the pro-carbon-tax Climate Leadership Council. We also support the Paris Agreement.

All of that is spiffy. Read as PR, it's all in the right direction, and Lee Raymond wouldn't have been seen dead saying any of it. In 2015 I was rather dubious about their actual, as opposed to nominal, support for a carbon tax. But enough of the obligatory glad-handing, what of the substance?

Summary at-a-glance

For all you busy mustelids with the attention span of a lagomorph, they provide a handy summary. Dubious point #1 is "Worldwide electricity from solar and wind will increase about 400 percent" to 2040. This looks like a classic case of the Photovoltaic growth: reality versus projections of the International Energy Agency – the 2017 update fallacy (but, if they're relying on WEO predictions, that would be entirely defensible in public). And now I come to look, the pic I've just inlined and stuck at the top probably says it all. They're really predicting very little shift to 2040.

Considering 2°C scenarios

Says "The annual Outlook for Energy represents ExxonMobil’s updated view of the most likely future for the global energy system and forms the foundation of the company’s strategic decisions, business plans, and investments". So quite likely I'm reading the wrong base document (there's a graph on page 7 which shows their Outlook CO2 scenario to 2040). It also helpfully notes that "While the current NDCs do not appear to achieve a 2°C scenario, the Paris Agreement is a positive step in addressing the risks of climate change".

Potential proved reserves and resources impacts considering 2°C scenarios

The "Exxon collapse" scenario - assuming you don't believe the lawsuits - is based around the stranded assets idea. So they have to address that problem, and it doesn't appear too hard for them to do so:

At the end of 2016, ExxonMobil’s proved reserves totaled about 20 billion oil-equivalent barrels, of which approximately 53 percent were oil and 47 percent were natural gas... value of an integrated oil company’s upstream operations is its proved reserves... we estimate that by 2040, over 90 percent of our year-end 2016 proved reserves will have been produced. Considering that the 2°C Scenarios Average implies significant use of oil and natural gas through the middle of the century, we believe these reserves face little risk.

Errm, any questions?

The pointt what

I'm channelling Hobbes. I hope you noticed. So: anyone who hoped that the shareholder vote would make Exxon write down a report and then go "Holy shit! You're right: now you force us to look, we realise it's all going horribly wrong" will be dreadfully disappointed. Instead, they've written down a report that justifies them continuing to do exactly what they planned to do already. Weird or what? The advantage - other than providing employment to some report-writers - is that it is all written down now. If you don't like their conclusions you can read through their arguments and attempt to spot the gaping flaws. If you think you're hard enough.


Exxon Funds Push for a Carbon Tax That Ends Climate Liability Suits - climateliabilitynews


Men spake from God being moved by the Holy Ghost / Every man in his own language

20180128_145921 Every now and again I find a link on the wub that nicely illustrates some point I made years ago, and I try to find my post with the concept, and fail, and realise that I didn't actually write down my carefully reasoned post, I just told it to myself. And this is one of those times.

The quote is

In many countries, decades (even centuries) have passed with far too much intellectual effort exerted in elaborating idealized or stylized constructions of how a political economy might work.  Unfortunately, analysis and examination of how political and economic interaction takes place in nonromantic or realistic settings, as populated by real persons, were largely ignored.

from James M. Buchanan via Cafe Hayek. The context I would have fitted this into is all the volumes by the likes of Plato carefully designing their ideal society; to be opposed of course by the likes of Hayek and Popper. And of course the relevance to modern society.

Pic: Tindale in Hertford college chapel. The words are "Men spake from God being moved by the Holy Ghost / Every man in his own language".


[It isn't obvious what triggered this update. I think it is rconnor's comment, see below re Hayek. But there is a weirdly-coincident post at ATTP where the comments veer off into the usual nonsensical discussion of free will, and whether fat people can really help themselves, and similar progressive pretending to help-by-defending people, but actually harming them by defending their bad behaviour.]

Would you believe it, but bloody Blogger limits comments to 4096 characters. FFS. I was going to split up my deeply wise and wonderful comment, or even make a new post, and then I thought I'd just stuff it in here instead.

On Hayek's determinism: that seems implausible, which is probably why I didn't read your long comment at the time. Plus, I think that Willard is a twat. Plus you're making the same mistake then about legal freedom that you do now. But the Wayback Machine has it. I guess you're relying on

It may be noted in passing that these considerations also have some bearing on the age-old controversy about the ‘freedom of the will’. Even though we may know the general principle by which all human action is causally determined by physical process, this would not mean that to us a particular human action can ever be recognized as the necessary result of a particular set of physical circumstances.

This is what I would call "meaningless determinism". You can, if you like, believe (with Hobbes) that the physical universe is all that there is, and that it evolves according to causal physical laws (at present not fully known), and (we've left Hobbes behind at this point, BTW) this in principle leaves no room for free will. As it happens, that's exactly what I believe (I've said this before). But it produces a world indistinguishable from one in which people have free will: there is no possible test you could make to distinguish the two. So, no: you may in no meaningful way claim Hayek for determinism.

[Discovered, later: it turns out I discussed (the lack of) free will back in 2006.]

2023/06: Sabine Hossenfelder says much the same, but with more words.