Why Should the U.S. Be the Leader in Numerical Weather Prediction?

86806960_1396690180527298_2007980331382079488_n A question asked by Cliff Mass (arch); you may recall him from my acclaimed L'affaire Cliff Mass post. All his answers are wrong; there's no particular reason why the US should be a leader, but it's kinda nice that they're trying, cos it helps to push everyone else along. CM calls ECMWF and UKMET the current world leaders, which is I think correct. The UK has cared about weather for a long time, and ECMWF are leet, so it's not surprising they are ahead. Both, as far as I can tell, have managed to get one central organisation and largely put competent people in charge.

CM reckons that the huge resources of the US could produce better forecasts. But actually, the resources of the USofA aren't actually much bigger than Europe, so that's a rather dumb argument. He also asserts that the US is far ahead in computer sci+tech, which I think is drivel. They're much bigger than the UK, though. He also notes that The U.S. has the largest weather research community in the world, which may be true, but adds Unfortunately, we are currently wasting huge amounts of resource with large number of redundant efforts, which alas I think is also true and is the core of the matter (note: I'm basing that on what I knew when I was in the game, more than a decade ago).

Inevitably, we run into the problem that what, say, the top levels of USAnian govt might well want is a world-leading NWP capability, but what individuals want is their career (or, more politely put, interesting work to do), and what individual senators want is Pork, huge big barrels of it. The Chinese might manage a central organisation, though :-)

But all that duplication is probably inevitable in a country like the US, and in terms of the world getting forecasts, who cares, ECMWF do them. If you had a central org like NASA, you might end up with NWP like the SLS, and who wants a giant orange non-reusable NWP?


Tasting the whole worm

86697897_1395874010608915_5526347119981494272_oOr; "Pielke shumps the jark?". Stoat is the blog of record, so I feel obliged to record the strange disappearance of Roger Pielke Jr, at least in his Twotter incarnation. Some might say that this sad tale deserves to be passed over in silence, and indeed most people do seem to be doing that, but it is so easy to forget, so that seems wrong. Speaking of memory I'm re-reading Proust again; I thought you'd like to know that.

Over at Curry's I discover what I think is the best / only extant account of the endgame: I was watching in real time as Roger Jr. melted down on Twitter. First he “doxxed” a load of folks and got his account suspended for violating Twitter’s terms and conditions. Once his account was reinstated he announced he was taking a leave of absence, then apparently closed his account voluntarily. If you know of a better one, do tell1. That the account is now gone appears to be true.

On the 5th of Feb RP was engaging in bizarre puffery of Curry to which I brilliantly replied "I don't think that's true. She didn't reach the top; middling, perhaps. And I doubt the "many important papers" bit; care to name any? And more recently, some trash e.g. https://wmconnolley.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/wyatt-and-curry-part-ii-not-waving-but-drowning/. Strangely, no-one did care to name any of her epoch-making papers.

On the 7th he was laying into Skeptical Science; to which I made the brilliant reply Oh, FFS: sharpen your reading skilz. No, that isn't what they say. My recollection was that I was replying to his misinterpretation of the SkS "misinformer" page2; you still get to see his misinterpretation because it's on Forbes. Seeing that, I couldn't decide (Feb 9th): Weird. Is RP jumping the shark, falling off the deep end or just trolling?. My best guess was going to be "just trolling" but it seems he was rather more serious than that3. I think this then segued into meltdown, from insisting rather too insistently that of course he was entirely right about all this.

Prof. Matthew Nisbet is a twat

Well come on, who puts their prof-ism in their Twatter handle?4 Also, he's a Professor of Communication; case closed. Not only is he a twat, he's also an idiot, in evidence of which I put forward "as wealth continues to concentrate among a few politically active billionaires, philanthropists are likely to surpass national govts" in defining the climate agenda. But that wasn't my point; my point was that he appears to have taken on the role of annoyer-in-chief for ATTP and AD with Twits like ...@rogerpielkejr has played a valuable service in committing his career to this role, inspiring & informing the types of innovative, self-reflective thinking needed to identify new solutions + new alliances. See for example this recent piece. I quite like RP's pieces, but self-reflective is the last thing I'd call them; PMN doesn't seem the sort of person who would recognise SR if it hit him in the face with a haddock. "New alliances" is also odd, unless it's referring to the RP article posted "by request" over at the Dork Side. Or you may prefer the GWPF version.

Update: deliberately misleading?

AukeHoekstra thinks RP has "has now been shut out of twitter for reasons I find questionable". That's based on RP's Forbes column (the one that, ironically, ends "Follow me on Twitter"). I think AH has misinterpreted RP's words, but now I look again, I think RP's words are deliberately ambiguous and designed to support the misinterpretation AH has made.

But if RP was just locked out, his account would still be there. I don't think Twitter would have deleted it.

Uupdate: it appears I have convinced AH :-).
Uuupdate: here's an example of what a suspended account looks like.

Update: the Return of the Native?

He seems to be back. The profile says "Joined February 2012" and he has zillions of followers, so it's probably the same account. But his first Twat seems to be from March 22nd 2020.

Update: 2021/11

Bad news for the Pielkemeister: he is being defended by the GWPF and Laframboise. With friends like that...


Trump and science: malice or indifference?
Curry jumps the shark
My Unhappy Life as a Climate Heretic
* RP in Bloomberg: Good News And Bad News As Carbon Dioxide Emissions Grow More Slowly Than Models Predict - 2020/02/18 - so he's deffo not completely gone. Ironically, the piece ends "Follow me on Twitter"; someone is using an out of date template.
‘Eugenics is possible’ is not the same as ‘eugenics is good’
* Moral Approximates by Bryan Caplan
How to Write Usefully - Paul Graham


1. See-also Sou: "He appears to be having a meltdown".

2. Ironic, no?

3. Notice that Curry pops up with her malign Mann obsession in the middle of this stuff.

4. Also, he looks terribly young... and, he isn't a prof. He is an ass prof, which is rather different.



IMG_20200123_084746 In these dark days I keep starting blog posts and then abandoning them half finished, since if even I can't be bothered to write them it seems unlikely that anyone would bother read them. Will this post on XR - Extinction Rebellion - fare any better? If you're reading this, it has...

Last week or so there was a manifestation on the Milton Road. That's a pic showing the road leading out of Cambridge. If you turn left in the picture above, you go into the science park. I'm standing on the corner leading into the business park. This is about 8:45 am. By blocking the outward-leading road they are minimising fuss; at this time of day, the inward-going road is far busier; blocking that would probably back up to the A14 causing chaos and fun - well, fun if you're a cyclist, as I am.

FWIW the tactics were - or so I'm told - to shuffle on when the lights are red, and then stay there for 5 minutes through several green phases. Then have five minutes off, and repeat, from 7:30 to 9. They explain - at least to those at the head of the queue - what they are doing and, I presume, for how long. Those at the back just get to fume, I presume. Although traffic jams in Cambridge are hardly uncommon. Also, all this was known in advance: the estate managers mailed all the bizniz folk days beforehand. Happily for XR, many people chose to work from home to avoid disruption. Less happily, they chose to do it just for the morning and then drove in anyway.

Anyway, enough of that. In the course of fb'ing this, I got pointed at RUSHING THE EMERGENCY, RUSHING THE REBELLION? STORY AND VISION FOR XR IN 2020 By Marc Lopatin, Skeena Rathor, Rupert Read. Sorry about all the shouting but some of these people are quite shouty - notice the megaphone in my picture. Interestingly, the critique in that doc echoes stuff that I found RR saying (after ATTP raised the issue, so he gets a nod) somewhat earlier: Climate activists often compare their struggle to victories from the past. But in my view comparisons which are often made – to Indian independence, the civil rights movement or the campaign for universal suffrage, for example – are over-optimistic, even fatuous. These historical movements were most often about oppressed classes of people rising up and empowering themselves, gaining access to what the privileged already had. The Extinction Rebellion challenges oligarchy and neoliberal capitalism for their rank excess and the political class for its deep lack of seriousness. But the changes that will be needed to arrest the collapse of our climate and biodiversity are now so huge that this movement is concerned with changing our whole way of life. I offer you that to show his viewpoint; I think he is wrong, but I've said that before, so won't push that here.

Our authors start with soft soap: Over the last year and a half, you have come together and created something truly beautiful and so on. But quickly come to the point: XR is at a turning point... or see us plagued by the incoherence that many of you have been feeling since last October’s Rebellion. And this is kinda the point. You can do demos and get lots of PR - the press loves a Newe Thinge - but at some point you run into the problem that effective demos means inconveniencing and annoying a lot of people. Which people will stand for, for a while, but if you just turn yourself into a chronic nuisance, you're going to be unpopular. Which won't work brilliantly for something aspiring to become a popular uprising.

They ask: this pamphlet is about how XR can grow and catalyse by first taking an honest and searching look at itself. What are our blind spots, tensions, and paradoxes that have produced success and incoherence in almost equal measure/amounts these past months? Rest assured that the "honest and searching" look will not involve examining the science: the emergency is taken for granted and will not be questioned.

Complexity and fragility

They state, as an article of faith, how vulnerable the complex human systems that sustain our lives are to a near-term future characterised by shock, disruption, and even breakdown. But is this true? To them, it is so true that it requires no evidence. A quick Google provided me with nothing to the point. I'm reminded of AMOC shutdown: simple models tend to show "catastrophes"; more complex AOGCMs don't. But what of human society? We recently suffered what many tell us what a grievous shock: the "great crash" of 2009. But, no-one starved to death2. Our massively complex society just dealt with it. There may be a parallel with "daisy world", where adding the daisies stabilises the middle bit, but transfers the jump to the end. Do feel free to put useful references in the comments.


For unclear reasons, equality appears to be the cure for fragility: they want lived reality can pivot from vulnerability to radical equality. Frustratingly, this too is so obvious to them that they feel no need to justify it. Perhaps their logic goes: more equality implies a less complex society implies (by the previous dodgy logic) less fragility. But why (other than the purported link to less fragility) would I want a simpler society? I feel no urge to return to the Goode Olde Dayes of Happy Peasants, no matter how lovely their literature and world view was1 - and that, of course, wasn't written by the peasants and was also highly unequal. Complex societies are better at freedom. So I think they need to fill in their logic on this one - though, to be fair, this is a document for the choir, not for the unwashed masses.


There's then some weird stuff like XR co-founder Roger Hallam noticed that successful rebellions tend to get a small percentage of the population taking part in illegal action, a far smaller number arrested, and a far smaller number imprisoned. He reasoned that if XR attained those numbers, then rebellion will be successful. But that simply does not follow. This is new to me, but would explain some of their activity. I agree with our three authors that the reasoning is indeed flawed. The rest of it I didn't read in detail; it seemed somewhat repetitious and angsty and unsurprisingly floundering about what to do next.

The polluter elite

As usual,the problem is the "polluter elite". If by "elite" they are thinking globally, and means essentially all citizens of the West, then they might be right. But I don't think they are. They mean the nasty rich folk, not all the nice middle-class folk who fly off on holiday each summer. Or possibly they mean different things according to who they are talking to. It's hard to tell. But, either way, recall that it isn't the Evil Fossil Fuel Companies emitting those greenhouses gases, it is you me and our fellow citizens.

2021 update: speaking of the polluter elite: the founder of Extinction Rebellion has admitted that she drives a diesel car.


For out of olde feldes, as men seyth, Cometh al this newe corn from yer to yere.
On morality.
* He Tells Us It's the Institutions by Arnold Kling
Why Extinction Rebellion’s Tactics Are Deeply Misguided - Mike Hulme
* [2021/11] What next on climate? The need for a new moderate flank by Rupert Read. Despite calls for honesty it is still far too optimistic / giving on XR.


1 Also, as Lewis notes, their literature could be pretty damn dull.

2 Consider the usual platitudes offering sympathy for those who nonetheless suffered to have been ritually uttered.