romeosoon currylater?

I've been reading the "trove" of dox released as some kind of FOIA request to the EPA for Heartland correspondence. Don't rush; they are mind-bogglingly boring; it was a slow evening. I'm half way through and the second thing of any interest is


(emphasis mine). I know, it isn't very interesting. But sometimes people get the impression that Heartland is powerful. It isn't. They couldn't even shift one teensy wiki page2: the Robert Carter page still says "...was prominent in promoting climate change denial". People barely even bother edit war over it; just one IP,, which geolocates to Mackay in Queensland, had a not-very-convincing go.

The first thing of interest wasn't terribly exciting either; it was the Heartland's list of people they keep as pets, which Carter was on despite being dead.

Leo Hickman is more excited. But I haven't got to Curry yet, that pleasure is still to come.

A little later: I found the Curry one:


I was almost ready - from just this one - to give Bast some credit for thinking that "red teaming" might not focus on the science. But elsewhere - no, I can't be bothered to go back and find it - he does make that mistake. So I think it's just random. Quite why Bast might object to "more research" I don't know, it would be the perfect outcome for him. I don't suppose he'd like a carbon tax in any form, that smacks of the thin end of the wedge, so it is natural to present same as a "catastrophe" for Repubs; of course it wouldn't be, but it would be a disaster for Bast. Curry seems to be a bit sad about Bast's words.

3/4 of the way through now. Do I get a medal? This one is vaguely amusing, it's the second time he's done this:


Sadly the EPA are good and blank out the entirety of the next page, which presumably contained the CC list.

There's some stuff about the Alsup case. Comically, Heartland really seem to believe that Chevron might rely on the NIPCC report.

Bast is pretty unhappy that https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/ still exists, and says so several times. But everyone just ignores him. Also, Pruitt won't go to the Heartland party, but that was earlier.

Whew. And I'm done.


1. I know, you're wondering, isn't it impolite to reveal his email address, much less snigger at it? But no: the EPA have redacted things for personal privacy reasons that they consider private, and this wasn't one of them; and anyway, his secret is long out.

2. Or, more depressingly, no-one gives a toss what's on wiki anyway :-)


* Tobis's Rule at Eli's.
Judge Orders EPA to Produce Science behind Pruitt’s Warming Claims.


Alsup: cost benefit

33509532_888313428031645_3071405407713886208_n As reported by Vox1, the latest in the Alsup case is by MAY 31 AT NOON, the parties shall submit 10-page supplemental briefs on the extent to which adjudication of plaintiffs’ federal common law nuisance claims would require the undersigned judge to consider the utility of defendants’ alleged conduct. There will be no replies. Or, to give more context, If the test is a balancing test of what is reasonable or not, I look at the broad sweep of history and see that we needed oil and fossil fuels, coal would be another one, to get from the 1850s or 1859, when they struck oil in Pennsylvania, to the present... And yes, that’s causing global warming, that’s a negative, but against that negative we need to weigh in the large benefits that have flowed from the use of fossil fuels.

That seems a reasonable request, it will be interesting to see how the cities respond. This is essentially a mirror-image of the previous version, where both sides had to present a "tutorial" on climate change and the Evil Oil Companies confused everyone by agreeing with the IPCC. Well, at least with WG1. Will the cities confuse everyone in return? I think that's doubtful: my prediction, for the very little it is worth2, is that they will stick to "we want to consider costs only and ignore benefits"3, but will not say so explicitly and will try to hide that in squid ink.


I feel betrayed by Vox. I suppose I should have guessed from the spinning of the headline. Anyway, Bloomberg has a slightly different version of the quote above: But against that negative, we need to weigh-in the larger benefits that have flowed from the use of fossil fuels. It’s been a huge, huge benefit. Does anyone have a link to a definitive transcript? I think the Bloomberg version reads more like Alsup. Vox also omitted You’re asking for billions of dollars for something that hasn’t happened yet, which seems rather significant to me.


1. Under the somewhat weird whistling-into-the-wind headline "A federal judge in a climate change lawsuit is forcing oil companies to cough up internal documents". That's largely trivia: those dox are related to the "does head office control the local branch" question, which only arises because of the oil companies (somewhat implausible in my view, but probably worth a go) defence.

2. Almost nothing in fact, but it is kinda fun to try, just to have something to look back on. Are you much cleverer and better informed than me? Excellent: tell me your prediction.

3. As I "predicted", this is going to be the Cities' approach; see point 3 of their reply to the US Govt's amicus brief. Note that the Cities' assertion that At bottom, the common law of nuisance, and the federal common law of nuisance in particular, were designed to protect against emerging environmental harms caused by conduct that has not yet been regulated by statute is bollox.


Keep Praising Unarmed Good Guys Who Tackle Shooters
Climate Change Warriors’ Latest Weapon of Choice Is Litigation - Bloomberg
The passionate attitude is less a response to stimuli from without than an emanation of an inner dissatisfaction.
* Working Paper Series No. 07-2017. The Private Benefit of Carbon and its Social Cost. Richard S.J. Tol.
* Speculative climate chaos v. indisputable fossil fuel benefits is a  guest essay by Paul Driessen and Roger Bezdek at WUWT. As you'd hope, it is hopelessly confused, and wastes it's time pushing the "FF have benefits" line, which isn't what is at issue. NS corrects them.
* Turning Back the Antitrust Clock: Nonprice Predation in Theory and Practice; Donald J. Boudreaux 


President Donald J. Trump is Reforming and Modernizing American Commercial Space Policy?

weasel Well, it's what he says himself, and surely the Mango Mussolini is an RS for his own intent. At least, today's intent.

If you want to know if the regulations governing US launch are badly out of date, then the story about SpaceX not being able to broadcast should do you, involving the usual mixture of stupidity, and govt officials lying through their teeth with complete impunity (The director of NOAA's Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs (CRSRA) office says her staff was not aware of the unlicensed cameras on numerous earlier launches).

You'll be unsurprised to learn that the best bit of the new directive is, in my opinion, "The President is committed to ensuring that the Federal government gets out of the way and unleashes private enterprise to support the economic success of the United States". The worst bit is most of the rest, where despite the deregulatory language you can't avoid seeing a govt desperate to intervene.

This is "Space Policy Directive – 2". In case you were wondering, directive 1 was "send people to the moon again". Phil Plait was, correctly, unimpressed. Almost everything NASA is planning to do with humans, including pouring money down the drain on the SLS, is going to be upset by SpaceX and friends; rendering almost all NASA planning out to 2025 pointless1. At least, if all continues to go well. Less regulation, and an environment that discourages NASA micromanaging SpaceX, will only help that.

Does Trump actually give a toss about space, or NASA? Doubtful.


1. This must be obvious to insiders; it must be a depressing place to work. An example of the bull case for SpaceX is this.


* CIP hates libertarians. Who knew?
* I went back to Oxford for the last day of summer eights. It was dead exciting; but alas we failed to close them down, though I think we got overlap. The really exciting bit was on a previous day.
* WATN: Trump - me, 2018/01.
* MAGAnomics: a 500 Day Appraisal - Thomas Firey
* Trump attacks Nasa and claims the moon is 'a part' of Mars - the Graun. I'm saving this as an example of the desperate stupidity that Trump pushes people to. Obviously his remark is to be interpreted as (going to) the Moon is part of (going to Mars). But people are so keen to think him stupid that they can't see his words as anything but literal.


Non-photogenic wrinklies sue EU govt

Hot on the heels of Photogenic teens sue US government and a pile of other stuff, comes the EU #metoo version. Well, it was inevitable I suppose. It's pretty well the same kind of blather as before: existing stuff must be overturned “since they violate the plaintiff’s rights and are not in line with higher ranking law”; and of course all of these people swear on their mothers graves that they themselves use no fossil fuels at all, and neither do their lawyers, or the legal process they're going to put in place, and so on.

It isn't even a good picture.




Sea level rise in pictures

The recent Fred Singer Op-Ed in the WSJ has drawn ire from just about everyone, because it was stupid. I'm guessing the WSJ didn't realise how dumb it was when they published it; they may have thought good ol' Fred was a reliable pair of hands, though why they'd think that I don't know.

[My apologies for the absence of the picture. The link, you'll see, is to https://michaelmann.net/sites/default/files/Screen%20Shot%202018-05-21%20at%205.09.56%20PM.png which existed when I wrote the post, but has subsequently been removed. I hate it when people do that.]

Aanyway, I wanted to discuss this pic, which seems to be popular for refuting the Fredster. Mann uses it (somewhat carelessly without attribution; and, now I look closer, merely as a visual: nothing in the text refers to it); ATTP is more careful, and sources it to Hansen et al. 2016. But while ATTP is careful with his sourcing, he is somewhat careless with his phrasing, since the figure apparently shows sea level rise is indeed accelerating. SL is definitely rising; it may be accelerating, but does the figure show that? It shows a long-term trend from tide gauges to 1993, and then a different - well, two different - rates from 1993, from satellite altimetry.

Having two different rates is the first and obvious problem. One of them is wrong, since they appear different enough to be incompatible. As science-in-progress that's fine; SL is rising whether it's rising at 3.3 or 2.6 mm/yr; but putting such a picture up as proof to the general public that you know what you're doing is odd (labelling another, whose data clearly extend past 2010, as "Nerrem et al. (2010)" is also going to confuse thinking people who don't understand the habit of extending datasets according-to-the-method-of, which I assume is what happened in this case).

Oh, lordy, and now I look the Hansen paper the figure comes from is that Hansen paper. But that does allow me to find the caption: "Figure 29. Estimated sea level change (mm) since 1900. Data through 1992 are the tide-gauge record of Church and White (2011) with the change rate multiplied by 0.78, so as to yield a mean 1901–1990 change rate of 1.2 mm year−1 (Hay et al., 2015). The two estimates for the satellite era (1993–2015) are from Nerem et al. (2010, updated at http://sealevel.colorado.edu) and Watson et al. (2015)." The scaling by 0.78 stands out as an interesting point, which Hansen et al. justify with "Hay et al. (2015) reanalyzed tide-gauge data for 1901–1990 including isostatic adjustment at each station, finding global sea level rise to be 1.2 ± 0.2 mm year−1. Prior tide-gauge analyses of 1.6–1.9 mm year−1 were inconsistent with estimates for each process, which did not add up to such a large value (Church et al., 2013)". I'm not going to complain about that, just point out that This Stuff Is Not Simple.

slrKinda nice is this pic from AR5, which shows that changes in ocean mass (from GRACE) i.e. the land-ice-loss and stuff, plus changes due to temperature, about add up to what we see. From eye, the blue altimetry line is 20 mm in 7 years is 2.6 mm/yr, i.e. the green line in the previous pic.

The other obvious point is that the "acceleration" - actually, as presented, change from one linear trend to another - occurs when you switch the dataset from tide gauges to altimetry. It doesn't take much wit to ask: "I wonder if the change is real, or caused by the change of measurement method?" FWIW, if you were going to wonder which was more accurate, I'd go for the altimetry (the case is not analogous to temperature measurement): tide gauges are not global (they tend to be on the edges of landmasses, oddly enough) and require many complex corrections for isostatic rebound; though satellite altimetry isn't absolute either.


* ATTP links this in the comments, but here (as proof of it's high profile :-) is Gavin's tweet showing that Climate-change–driven accelerated sea-level rise detected in the altimeter era by R. S. Nerem et al., 2018, is yer Top Source for "SLR is accelerating".
Sea Level Data: Church & White, or Jevrejeva et al.? - Tamino.


L'affaire Foote

Eunice Foote is a recent cause celebre: By all rights, Eunice Newton Foote should be a household name. More than a century and a half ago, Foote was part of one of the most important scientific discoveries of our time: revealing the role of carbon dioxide in the earth’s greenhouse effect. This is, of course, literally bollox. The proposal is to supplant Tyndall's name with hers. But Tyndall is not a household name, and therefore hers would not be either. While I'm on nonsense, mention should go to ThinkProgress's the concept of the greenhouse gas effect was discovered in the 1920s, by Joseph Fourier. Does no-one proof-read this stuff? More, is everyone who read it too ignorant (or, like me, too despairing) to point out the error to TP? But enough footling stuff. What of the substance?

The substance is her Magnum Opus, On the circumstances affecting the Heat of the Sun's Rays (side note: she appears to be part of a scientific family; her husband's somewhat longer paper on a similar subject preceeds hers in the same volume). She takes two jars, with thermometers in each, and exposes them to the sun, having done different things to each. Firstly, one has condensed air; in the other it is exhausted. It gets warmer in the condensed one. She concludes:
This is wrong. It is colder up mountains because the air is thinner because temperature decreases as air expands, not for radiative reasons. Indeed if anything the sun is stronger the higher up you go, because there is less air for it to be absorbed in. But this bit is uninteresting to the retrospective warriors, and certainly Foote's errors are not of interest to them, so we continue on.

Second, dry air didn't get as hot as damp air. Third, the one filled with CO2 got hotter than the one filled with common air (as she herself says, she had no way of assessing the pressures in the vessels, so there are uncertainties in all this). Oddly, despite tabulating 120 degrees (unspecified units) for CO2 and for damp air, she then claims that CO2 was the hottest, at 125. I don't quite understand that.

What did Foote actually see? Not the GHE, but most people seem uninterested by this. TP quotes Katherine Heyhoe: Due to the rudimentary set-up of the experiment, Foote “wasn’t measuring what she thought she was measuring, but she actually serendipitously ended up with an understanding that is correct today,” Which is very delicate, but completely side-steps the point, and not I think entirely true2. AFAIK the only person to even look is good ol' Eli; amusingly, TP provides a link to Eli under the misleading text that EF's work was "not definitive". From Eli I copy the interesting "why did Foote observed a stronger effect from CO2 than H2O?  The answer is that she had a much higher partial pressure of CO2 in her containers than H2O because water vapor is condensible at 25-30 C, about 30 Torr", which I think is (a) comprehensible and (b) a bit of a shame that all the revisionsists couldn't also quote. But for the rest: if you ask me to draw an illustrative diagram of the GHE then I can and have; however even after reading Eli's words I'm rather uncertain what EF actually saw. Never mind; no-one else cares so why should I?

Did EF's work actually have any effect, or was it ignored? One of the Justice Warriors says A few years later, Foote’s findings were reflected in the studies of physicist John Tyndall but notice the deliberately ambiguous words used. It implies to imply that Tyndall was influenced by Foote, but there is no evidence for this1.

Note: this isn't new. It first came up in 2011. I thought it was wrong then.

Update thought

On reflection, the fuss around EF most closely resembles that around Bob Carter after his death. Not, I stress, that this reflects in any way badly upon EF, but on her puffers. Just that those who puffed Carter as a great scientist had not the slightest interest in his actual work; refer to Cainozoic history of southern New Zealand: An accord between geological observations and plate-tectonic predictions.


1. As he says: “With the exception of the celebrated memoir of M. Pouillet on Solar Radiation through the atmosphere, nothing, so far as I am aware, has been published on the transmission of radiant heat through gaseous bodies,”. Roland Jackson writes The saga of Eunice Foote and John Tyndall which considers the possibilities; I think his most compelling evidence of a lack of connection is that Tyndall didn't start with CO2.

2. KH did better in 2016. But there was less sex around then.


On the Principles of Economic Principles


There are no short cuts

20232265_1521496491248612_4856287107478719897_o The wit and wisdom of Gavin:
In any contentious science/policy issue it's easy to find people on both sides who resort to ad homs and poor arguments. Using that as a metric to judge any one sides' credibility is a fallacy.
in response to Ted Nordhaus:
In the face of scientific complexities that are difficult to parse, one easy heuristic as to where credibility lies is to what degree partisans resort to ad hominem, misrepresentation of opponents arguments, and sweeping, unqualified assertions.
People often want some simple heuristic to know who to trust, which side is right, in cases where they can't be bothered, or aren't capable, of working out the truth for themselves. To be more accurate, people often search around for a simple heuristic that allows them to choose the side they already know they want to choose, and ignore the inconvenient opinions and facts from the other side.

This is covered in Scott Adams is a tosser.


Its cold and Scott Adams gets whacked by Dogbert - me, 2005
* Dilbert: on removing CO2.


The Armalite and the ballot box

31958909_10156297063617350_4583491108612341760_o This is my brilliant idea for "solving" - or rather, ameliorating - the mess the USAnians have got themselves into. I actually think it is - or rather would be - a good idea, for the USA, in that it would make the situation there better. Anywhere else other than Somalia it would make worse. Stop me if you've heard this before:

So the USAnians have loadza Gunz, because they like them, and the constitution says they can have them. But the problem is that nutters then shoot other people with those gunz. Another problem, more serious in terms of deaths but of course getting far less press attention, is that loadsa people top themselves using said gunz.

The constituion sayeth the familiar A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. People don't like the unrestricted right given by the second half, and tend to argue that the first clause renders the rest void; but that doesn't seem to work. Also, people tend to like the idea of removing assault rifles out of the hands of people, even thought those are probably the most useful things for a militia.

FTmnBVvX0AUX7i_ So why not just take the first clause seriously? Allow people to keep their AR-15s, possibly even drop the restriction on fully-automatics; but in exchange for that ask for the "well regulated" piece to be taken seriously; which implies background checks and so on. CIP has some other ideas on what it might entail. I'm dubious that going all the way to you-must-join-the-national-militia would make any sense; indeed, that would effectively sabotage the proposal. My significantly weaker version would allow you to take gunz away from the mentally ill, permit background checks, allow you to oblige training courses, and so on. For all those reasons the NRA would oppose it,  because they're the sort of people that want gunz-without-restrictions; but it would be a constitutional way to avoid unrestricted gunz.

[ps: I wrote this in February but have hastily finished it now as a response to CIP. Also by happy coincidence I now have a pic of our new weaponised cat available, and me wearing a tee-shirt proving my support for gunz]

Update: I add the Kal cartoon. Because, unthinkingly, it illustrates something he has instinctively drawn but has failed to notice: that lots of USAnians, of all different types not just dead white conservative males, like their gunz.


* Armalite and ballot box strategy.


Carbon budgets and carbon taxes

DSCN2695 Rethinking the carbon budget message at Axios reports on a couple of recent reports that say carbon budgets aren't as useful as they've been touted. And this is true. But to kick off, there's Gavin's tweet:
...There's no connection to speak of between the impacts of carbon emissions (SCC) and the estimates of the remaining carbon budget...
Which made me think. Hey, that doesn't happen often. So, yes, there is no connection between SCC and carbon budget. Because the two ideas are different: SCC is "how much damage does emitting this CO2 do?" whereas a carbon budget is "how much CO2 can I emit before I do any damage?". That's not quite right, I have simplified for effect, to enhance the separation of the concepts. For a carbon budget, you've decided on an acceptable level of temperature change, perhaps 2 oC, and guessed your climate sensitivity, and so decided on an allowable amount of CO2 to emit. If this were, truely, a budget, which you weren't allowed to outspend, then your cost of emission would be zero, up to the limit, and infinite beyond that.

And so of course we're back at the carbon-taxes-versus-carbon-emission-permits debate again. Because the budget stuff is analogous to the permits.

The budget stuff has several big problems, which one study touches on. I'll ignore the quasi-arbitrariness of the size of the budget. The problems are that the budget is global, in space and in time. So no particular place, and no particular time, have any incentive to minimise their emissions. Unlike - ta da - a carbon tax, which conveniently provides incentives, and copes well with uncertainties. The disadvantage of the carbon tax, of course, is that it doesn't invite endless chatter in place of actual activity the way carbon budgets do.

I think you can be stronger than "no connection" between SCC and budgets: that if you're keen on SCC, you have to use that; you can't use budgets as your tool. They become only a useful (perhaps) illustration. Or conversely, if you really want to use budgets, then the implied-equivalent-SCC is just an illustration.


Engine Summer

MI0001719482 This would naturally be a comment over at CIP's blog, but sadly his comments are broken at the moment1, so it's a post here. CIP's ire, in a post entitled Economics of Climate Policy is raised by my Why Liberal Media Need Conservative Columnists, which confuses me as that post isn't really about economics; though it does link to my On getting out more, which is, sort of. CIP also complains that "when backed into a corner [WMC] tends to disavow relevant [economic] expertise" which I think unfair, because I think I'm usually upfront about it, but to be clear I'll say it upfront here: I have no relevant economic expertise. Other than the ability to think.

And indeed - as I've said before - I'm not trying to teach economics - certainly not in the way I'd try to teach climatology. Picking holes in other people's proposals is far easier than trying to construct a theory of your own; picking holes is what I'm trying to do with "the Left's" economics.

After this, I wrote some words trying to pick apart the ways in which CIP has misunderstood what I wrote, but I fear it is all too much effort, and I gave up; the knot is too tight. I'm reminded of Engine Summer by John Crowley; wiki has a charming summary; you should read it, if you haven't already. Update: you can now read my review.

Since it strays into politics, I'll comment on CIP's idea that Ricardo's comparative advantage can be traced back to Plato, in the sense that "if each person does what he does best, more stuff will be produced". I think that's a misreading. Plato (in the Republic) was keen on the idea that people do what they are "best fitted for", but only because he wanted a stable society, with no possibility of the oiks at the bottom troubling the right to rule of the philosophers at the top. This is the complete opposite of the idea that people should be free to choose their own metier.


1. Aha! And now I know why: his comment scripts are regarded as insecure. See screenshot.



Junk from Bloomberg

32294498_1823033177761607_3314900791784898560_o There's an appallingly bad article (h/t ATTP) from Bloomberg entitled Inspiring Terms Are Simple. ‘Climate Change’ Isn’t; subtitled The doubters and believers aren’t even talking about the same thing; by Flim Flam. This is kinda kicked off by the recent rather confusing PR about Empirical evidence for stability of the 405-kiloyear Jupiter–Venus eccentricity cycle over hundreds of millions of years in PNAS. Which is a paper of almost no interest to the GW debate, as far as I can tell, because it's just about Milankovitch cycles over a longer timer period than usual. And yet because of the goldfish-like memories and knowledge of most writers in the meeja (the article doesn't even mention the M-word, so ignorant is it), it seems like news. Wooo! Jupiter influences the climate, who knew?

And then, after all this confusion, the article complains about communication problems. Idiots. And I don't think that describing the Earth's orbit as more or less "oblong" is terribly helpful either.

The basic problem with GW-as-news is that there isn't really any news. It is the same problem this year as it was last year as the year before that as it will be next year. So journalistic efforts to spice it up inevitably lead to confusion.


* A Comparative Analysis of Data Derived from Orbiting MSU/AMSU Instruments, by R. Eric Swanson (remember him?).


Why Liberal Media Need Conservative Columnists

32190945_879835122212809_1030002976569163776_n Via ATTP on Twatter, although I've now lost the direct link, I find David Roberts (yes! Him again!) being wrong on the internet. This is a great crime, and must be investigated in detail and punished by sarcasm. Let's begin with what DR is reacting to, Why Liberal Media Need Conservative Columnists by Jonathan Chait1, in the New York Mag, whatever that is; but it looks Serious and intended to be Taken Seriously. The basic idea of the piece is that while you do really need criticism from "the other side" to sharpen your ideas and avoid groupthink, nonetheless the Left is better than the Right and "Liberalism has succeeded in adapting itself to the world because, unlike conservatism, it has opened itself to internal correction". And this, of course, is self-congratulatory wank; although it could perhaps be rescued by careful choice of exactly which ill-defined groups you're talking about.

DR is similarly unimpressed by the idea of listening to "the other side", because of course the other side are wazzocks: Lemme take my bailiwick, climate & energy, as an example. A "challenge from the right" in my area generally amounts to "climate change isn't happening" or "climate change won't be that bad" or "reducing fossil fuels will destroy the economy.

Listening to the other side - or, done right, Red Teaming - is a good idea. You need someone to bounce your ideas off, or you end up with “Dr” Roy Spencer is sad and lonely and wrong. But you don't just pick any random person who disagrees with you, and in particular you don't deliberately look at the wild fringes, say "oh. Those look wild, I don't fancy talking to them" and retreat back into your comfortable ghetto. Well, not if you're honest.

So while there are plenty of folks you could find on the USAnian Right who will say "climate change isn't happening" it is dishonest to imply that it is difficult to find people who will admit that it is happening, and caused by humans, but that the desired policy response is not Moah Regulation. Something passed my eye yesterday, by someone called Michael L. Marlow: A Carbon Tax That Constrains Government. This, if we believe DR, is one of the topics that he'd like to discuss with the Right.

Also, did I mention that The Left is generally crap at economics?

The great curse of the house, the spirit,
dead weight wrath - and you can praise it!
Praise the insatiate doom that feeds
relentless on our future and our sons.
Oh all through the will of Zeus,
the cause of all, the one who works it all.
What comes to birth that is not Zeus?
Our lives are pain, what part not come from god?

Update: via CIP comes Liberals, You’re Not as Smart as You Think You Are in the NYT, so it looks like they're ignoring DR. I like his throwaway line: People often vote against things instead of voting for them. He could have made more of that. Making something is much harder than breaking something. Deciding that you don't like candidate or party A is much easier than deciding that you're comfortable with all the policies of candidate or party B. People are lazy; they will make their minds up based on some easy test, given half a chance.


1. A virtue of having a long blog and Google is that I've usually mentioned people before, which helps my fallible memory. In this case I find a side-swipe at him here; someone else commenting on him here; and that's it. So, he's a minor.


Transparency in climate science - Gavin at RC.
* Why I Escaped the ‘Intellectual Dark Web’: Pissing off progressives isn’t intellectual progress; by Alice Dreger, May 11, 2018.
* American democracy has faced worse threats than Donald Trump; The golden age of American politics was illiberal, undemocratic, and bloody; by Ezra Klein; May 10, 2018.

Crop Yields Under Global Warming

Crop Yields Under Global Warming is a post by David Appell. DA's take-home message is I don't anymore see a big problem here. Am I missing something? Whereas the traditional view of this is ZOMG we're all gonna die.

I guess I need to justify the ZOMG version. For example Climate change will cut crop yieldsAugust 15, 2017 at phys.org: "Climate change will have a negative effect on key crops such as wheat, rice, and maize, according to a major scientific report out Tuesday that reviewed 70 prior studies on global warming and agriculture... the overall trend planet-wide is downward, signaling that steps are needed to adapt to the warming climate and feed an ever-expanding world population". Or the overall global effect of climate change has been small so far: losses of a few percentage points for wheat and corn from what they would have been without climate change. The overall impact on production of rice and soybeans was negligible, with gains in some regions entirely offsetting losses in others... But... temperature increases were expected to accelerate in coming decades, making it likely that the challenges to food production will grow in an era when demand is expected to rise sharply from the NYT in 2011. Or there's some weak stuff from RC in 2014; Eli covered the same thing.

The mistake these are making, and this is DA's point, is to look at crop yield with respect to GW in isolation, and miss all the rest that is going on: the many generic improvements in agriculture and related processing that our modern mechanised industrialised farming provides. Because what you actually care about is the overall crop yield, not the changes in yield broken down into many factors.

Wiki doesn't do a desperately good job either, in the text, making exactly the same mistake. But it does have the great virtue of including a graph, which I've inlined, so you can see for yourself that whatever may be going on in the detail, world food production is heading up. National Geographic does fairly well.

My point, of course, is that I've said all this before, so why did DA need to write his post? Except now I come to look, while I'm sure I've thought all this before, I don't find myself making the point explicitly. I've got close. In 2009, I ask Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization? and predictably answer "no". In 2008 I wondered How overfed are we? and the answer is there is spare in the system. Infertile Crescent?, from 2016, looks at GW and war and concludes that crap govt is the main problem. Climate inaction to be ‘catastrophe’, from 2014, is again skeptical about the crop yield problem, but without making the key point.

The good reason why you'd want to look at changes in yield broken into changes from different components is that it might help predict the future: if you could show that changes due to GW were small now, but could reasonably be expected to increase, and in 50 years overwhelm the changes due to tech, then that would be useful. But none of the ZOMG studies even try to do that, as far as my admittedly small survey shows.


1. Temperature increase reduces global yields of major crops in four independent estimates, Chuang Zhao, PNAS, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1701762114.


L'affaire Schneiderman

18581603_1454960587902203_7934923190499350154_n Schneiderman, Schneiderman, does whatever a Schneider can. But he did too much. Naturally, despite being totally innocent, he immeadiately resigned. Well, if you were intimately familiar with the American legal scene, would you expect justice? Not the finest endorsement of the NY attorney's office; you can't say he didn't have a chance to influence it.

But leaving ES to his demons, what does this do to his suing Exxon? There are a variety of opinions. Seeking Alpha offers Exxon Loses An Enemy, ClimateLiability News a slightly more restrained With Schneiderman Resignation, Exxon Climate Investigation Loses a Leader, and variations on a theme of "well, he was important, but there are others" are manifold; It may be too early to assess the damage to the environmental causes he was pursuing. Much depends on who replaces him as attorney general, how robustly his staff carries on, and how effectively other state officials take up the slack, says ICN. WUWT is of course ROTFL; anything else would be a disappointment. FWIW I think it is significant; but I'm biased because I think the whole thing is stupid.

I think the whole thing is stupid

As you already know, so let's not rehash that. But I cannot resist quoting a particularly stupid statement by Maura Healey:
The American people deserve answers from executives at Exxon about what they knew about the impact of burning fossil fuels on our climate, when they knew it, and what they told their investors and the world.
FFS: what they told their investors and the world? It should be blindingly obvious even to a halfwit AG that what they told their investors and the world is public. And we already know the other stuff too. Also "they" is not very sensible, since they're mostly talking about the 1980's kinda timeframe, when the current execs weren't in their current positions.
By the sword you did your work and by the sword you die


Pfft. Looks like the new AG is a tosser, too. Who could possibly have guessed?


The 1970s Global Cooling Zombie Myth and the Tricks Some People Use to Keep it Alive, Part II - around the "seminal" Peterson, Connolley, and Fleck 2008.
* A Carbon Tax That Constrains Government. By Michael L. Marlow, May 2018


Believing in climate change, but not behaving sustainably?

Believing in climate change, but not behaving sustainably: Evidence from a one-year longitudinal study (h/t Thing Finder) appears to be available, at least as a preprint, here (Hall, M.P., Lewis, N. A., Jr., & Ellsworth, P. C. (2018). Journal of Environmental Psychology, 56, 55-62). Abstract:
We conducted a one-year longitudinal study in which 600 American adults regularly reported their climate change beliefs, pro-environmental behavior, and other climate-change related measures. Using latent class analyses, we uncovered three clusters of Americans with distinct climate belief trajectories: (1) the “Skeptical,” who believed least in climate change; (2) the “Cautiously Worried,” who had moderate beliefs in climate change; and (3) the “Highly Concerned,” who had the strongest beliefs and concern about climate change. Cluster membership predicted different consequences: the “Highly Concerned” were most supportive of government climate policies,but least likely to report individual-level actions,whereas the “Skeptical” opposed policy solutions but were most likely to report engaging in individual-level pro-environmental behaviors. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.
(my bold). This has eerie echoes of  Climate chickenhawks (which I re-found via my The Climate Change Hypocrisy Of Jet-Setting Academics?).

They say "Of primary interest was the level of belief in climate change—regardless of cause—over time". This is a problem, as the study runs for only one year. So I'm doubtful that's interesting; more promising is "we found that participants subdivided into three clusters as a function of these belief trajectories". There's a pile of stats there, which obviously I didn't bother wade though, instead I just read their conclusion: Despite these findings about climate change beliefs, self-reported behaviors, and policy support, we were unable to explain why the “Skeptical” low-believers were more likely to self-report more pro-environmental behavior than high-believers. They then go through a list of all the obvious excuses. The one I'd favour - assuming we're far too polite to go for "people are a bunch of hypocrites" - is that "the concerned" are in favour of unified political action, as indeed was discussed in Climate chickenhawks, whereas "the skeptical" as rugged individualists disposed to individual action.

At this point we need to look at the "action" options: public transport, re-usable shopping bags, eco-friendly products. And we observe that all of these would make perfect sense even without a GW problem. So you can perfectly rationally support them, even if you don't "believe in" GW.

Another point that needs clarifying is quite what "believe in" GW might mean. I am perfectly capable of sustaining a clear distinction between believing the science, and the policy options. But long years in the blogosphere convinces me that most people are not. So for most people it is hard to tell whether they really disbelieve the science, or dislike what solutions they think you're going to propose (Rejecting Climate Change: Not Science Denial, but Regulation Phobia?).

TF offers the conclusion: If the effect sizes are material, the implication is obvious. Improve the environment, support skeptics. I doubt that works; the skeptics are there already. How about the opposite: convince "the concerned" that individual action is also worthwhile? All that individual action only gets you so far (though as I said in Cl Chk, more individual action will act as useful signalling), so some kind of collective action is likely necessary. Again as per Reg Phobia, the key to that is the type of solutions you're proposing. As Hayek says, it is possible even for a Hayekian who doesn't believe in central planning to rationally desire some taxation (WMC interpolation: e.g. carbon taxes) if they accept there's a problem.

It's all about vested interests

Related, but not the same, Graham Readfearn, in the Graun points to Relationships among conspiratorial beliefs, conservatism and climate scepticism across nations (Matthew J. Hornsey, Emily A. Harris & Kelly S. Fielding, Nature Climate Change (2018), doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0157-2.) though I wasn't terribly interested in that, more in the Attitude Roots and Jiu Jitsu Persuasion: Understanding and Overcoming the Motivated Rejection of Science. Though it has too much sociology for me, it is perhaps a useful list of proposed explanations for behaviour.


Eating their own, eating their own… by Timmy. concerning (hush yo mouth!) l'affair Schneiderman.
* No Fly Climate Sci.


Notes from the Economist

DSC_7473 The Economist is usually interesting; this week has more than usual. The first, which they title A row over an avian exhibitionist suggests how badly Ryan Zinke is serving America, is about yet more Trump administration blundering around acting without thinking; shades of my last post's warning about acting without thinking; it doesn't just apply to honeybees.

Britain’s space industry, Brexit’s final frontier is about Britain losing access to Galileo, the Europen version of GPS. Since the entire project is stupid, losing access to it will be fine, but for some reason TE is unable to see that; instead focussing on the usual stupid argument that we'll lose hi-tech jobs. Meh. Building satellite payloads seems to be lucrative but we should1 build ones that make commercial sense, not stupid ones built purely because Brussels has US-envy. Also, the reasons we'd lose access to it make no sense at all, other than politicking by idiots.

Chinese investment may help Greenland become independent from Denmark is sort-of about that, but the bit that interests us is
SHORTLY before the start of UN climate talks in Paris, in December 2015, giant blocks of ice were shipped in from Greenland and left to melt outside the Panthéon, reminding conference-goers to get serious about global warming. Ironically, a mere 48 hours after the talks concluded, Greenland, a self-governing part of Denmark, said it wanted to opt out of the climate agreement that had just been reached. The melting of Greenland’s ice sheet, which covers 80% of the island, has turned out to be an economic blessing for most of its 56,000 residents, 90% of whom are Inuit. The territory boasts a tenth of the world’s known deposits of rare-earth metals, and the receding ice is making more minerals accessible for the first time. More bits of the island are also being opened to tourists.
Which should remind us, yet again, that GW will have winners and losers. Meanwhile, Small isn't beautiful is about the swathe of countries with declining populations. It says all the usual obvious things, and I only mention if because of my recent foray into the Papia Poppaea law of Augustus.


1. When I say "we should" I of course mean the govt should get out of the way and let people build what satellite payloads they like.


I AGREE WITH ABU HAMZA- UP TO A POINT - Harry Hutton, on the button as usual.


What to DO about big problems?

Clare M1 at today's head-to-head; they're good, but they aren't Maggie. Eric Steig, on Twatter:
Here's a question for those who are scientists & who teach. Many students want to figure out what to DO about big problems, but have little patience for hard-nosed science & analysis. How do you guide the former, without neglecting the latter? #weneedtochangetheworld.
Well, I'd start with "is a 140 (now 280) word medium a good place to ask difficult questions requiring subtle answers?", to which I'd give the obvious answer: "no". Why is why I'm writing this instead.

A disclaimer: I'm quite... compartmentalising, perhaps I'd put it. I like different people to have different tasks. A certain amount of cross-fertilisation is great, but carried too far it all turns to mush. So my initial offer would be... actually, let's just stop a moment. Because I can't possibly pass up have little patience for hard-nosed science & analysis. By implication, the question is about students of science, and yet they have no patience for, essentially, science. Perhaps they should seek a different path. Perhaps that's why they want to go into politics instead. Also, it seems rather irrelevant to the question at hand, which I suggest is better as "how should scientists go about helping solve problems like global warming, rather than just studying them?"

So back to my initial answer: don't. Your job as a scientist is to understand the problem, and present your analysis  - probably via the scientific literature - to the world. That's what your job is, it is what you've been trained to do, and it is - presumably - where your skills lie. But it gives you no special insight into how to solve the problem; or indeed, how to balance putting resources into solving that problem versus solving a variety of other problems. Quite the reverse: you are very likely to be biased. Most likely, you will think that your problem is the world's most exciting and most urgent. After all, that's why you're working on it, maybe.

Also, almost everyone underestimates how complicated and difficult the world is. There's a lot to be said for the idea that no-one under 40 should be allowed to vote (or 50, or 30, take your pick. There's also a lot to be said for the idea that voting isn't a good idea, either). Hordes of eager young bunnies rushing naively out into the world to "solve" problems isn't a good idea. HONEYBees2 frustrated that the evil world won't listen to their brilliant solutions and getting angry with said world also doesn't help. Further, in my jaundiced eyes, the honeybees are far too keen on solutions that involve them actively doing things and instructing other people to do things, and not keen enough on freedom.

Who else says "#weneedtochangetheworld"? Some bloke called Peter Jacobs says The politics of the status quo is still politics. Scientists, when you look back on your life, you will not regret being chided for "advocacy". You will regret saying nothing and I don't object to that; speaking out is fine, if you have something to say1. Someone else: Jennifer Glass says let’s switch from physical to virtual conferences & seminars. This is a sensible thought, which weirdly enough others have already thought of, but it is down in the trivia. Here's a bad answerWe can plan for 7 generations. No, we can't.

So what should you do, if you want to Make The World Better? The obvious first step is some level of understanding, because absent understanding you cannot do any good - simple passion is not enough. Understanding, inevitably, involves context, because the world is far too complex to understand without examples, which is to say History. And, inevitably, patience. Lack-of-patience was one of the constraints of the original formulation, but that must be discarded. Stepping slightly closer to specifics, Honeybees generally aim to solve problems by regulation; which is to say, force; rather than persuasion or providing access to better things. I may have said this before.


1. That link misses the important part; Marlow's respect that, at the end, Kurtz had something to say. See my Book review: Heart of Darkness.

2. I realised that if I add "naive" between "of" and "eager" I can make an acronym, HONEYBs.


The Greatest Liberty Of Subjects, Dependeth On The Silence Of The Law.
Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges.
* Speaking of #H2H, here's us. As always, the video flatters: we are irritatingly down to bowside.
* Speaking out, by ATTP.
Rights are problem-solving conceptual tools that enable the market to function to humanity’s benefit by providing certainty.


Formerly we suffered from crimes, now we suffer from laws

Via Thing Finder. The original is Tacitus, on Imperial Rome: utque antehac flagitiis ita tunc legibus laborabatur. And possibly you, like me, were not well enough brought up to translate that directly. You could try Google, which offers the cryptic and that the laws of distress from the past atrocities of that at that time, which doesn't help. This is close to, but not quite, corruptissima re publica plurimae leges which can itself be read in multiple ways: it's definitely asserting a relationship between corruption and the number of laws, but which way round causation is intended is unclear.

Coming back to my headline quote, my Penguin translation produces the far less memorable The danger now was not so much misbehaviour as the law, and is largely talking about informers, and use of the law for personal gain in disputes. If you read the text in context that fits rather well as a replacement for the text in bold:
It was next proposed to relax the Papia Poppaea law, which Augustus in his old age had passed subsequently to the Julian statutes, for yet further enforcing the penalties on celibacy and for enriching the exchequer. And yet, marriages and the rearing of children did not become more frequent, so powerful were the attractions of a childless state. Meanwhile there was an increase in the number of persons imperilled, for every household was undermined by the insinuations of informers; and now the country suffered from its laws, as it had hitherto suffered from its vices.
And the point of all this? Well, it is interesting. Or so I find. That there were laws against celibacy which could lose you your property reminds us how weird the olde folke were. Which ought to also remind us that reading their words under layers of translation and attempting to understand them is likely to be difficult. By which I mean there's no harm in using a snappy slogan, but attempting, implicitly, to use the authority of Tacitus on your side is dubious. And if there's a motto from Tacitus, it is that individual corruption and loss of morality in public life is fatal; hmmm, what does that bring to mind?