There should be a law to the People besides its own will

DSCN1031-rip A quote from Lord Acton. It is a good quote, found via CH, but what does it mean?

If you rewrite it for individuals, "there should be a law to a person besides their own will", then it becomes rather obvious. Or the phrase But to live outside the law, you must be honest comes in (note: that linked post contains nothing to the point).

For a society - and I think we're considering a society in isolation - it is somewhat different. This is most easily considered as a warning against majoritarianism, to which all good constitutionalists will happily nod along (see also Russell on Aristotle's Politics). It could also be a reflection on the need for a constraining morality, or even a religion, but I'm not going to consider that.

It is most naturally considered as a need for a constitution, or some other form of slowly-changing law or meta-law, to constrain passing (perhaps decades-long) whims of the majority. But in that case, instead of being constrained by its own will, society is constrained by the dead will of the past; why is this better? If you're rigidly constrained by the dead will of the past, as Plato desired, because you fear change, then this is bad, not good. Because no matter how wise those past folk might have been, they cannot forsee everything. But if you are constrained, but not rigidly; if you can change those constraints if enough people agree; then I think that it is good.

That was somewhat abstract. Let's consider an example: gunz is the obvious one. The USAnians arguably have too many, and many folk there would like tighter laws on who can own them and where they can carry them. But they are bound by the 2nd amendment, if anyone can work out what it means. But the fight is in the courts: no-one significant wants to change the 2nd amendment because everyone knows that would be hopeless, because not enough people agree. So they are in the position of non-rigid constraint. Not everyone gets what they want, and some people get death who didn't want it, but there is no perfection in politics.


The Problem Is These Numbers Are Wrong - Trains, Planes and Automobiles


Fueling the Climate Crisis: Exposing Big Oil’s Disinformation Campaign to Prevent Climate Action?

1635279188500-0ff470b4-77ce-4788-a4c9-85685a07b987_ Some kind of hearings off in the colonies. Mostly I think grandstanding by pols, but did anything come out of it? There's the usual bullshit like "The fossil fuel industry has had scientific evidence about the dangers of climate change since at least 1977" but I've debunked that to death. The people making a career out of lies and disinformation are "on our side" but no-one calls them out. Anyway, Oreskes & Cie have been Twatting about the hearings, so I thought I'd browse their feed for killer titbits. Here's what she's got:

Summary of what we heard  @OversightDems hearings: A lot of tap industry dancing [shurely "industry tap dancing" - ed.] and & (at least) two lies.1) Fossil fuels ARE subsidized. $20 billion pa direct in US alone. 2) ExxonMobil statements were NOT consistent with the science at the time.  Anyone want to add to this?

Which is nothing. And the $20B in subsidies is dubious; the dubious bit is the word "direct"; try looking at the breakdown; they're accounting stuff, tax offsets; not direct xfers of cash from govt to EFFs (and now I look in more detail, her Twit was OK now a CEO has flat out lied.  "Our products are taxed, not subsidized.". Which is false; their products most definitely are taxed). Point 2 is rather vague. I'll give her it (see-also what I've said in the past) but I think EFFs have been fairly careful recently - well, since Lee Raymond retired with a stonking payoff.

Is there anything more? Apparently they are refusing to say what carbon price they would accept; meh. Now @shell is trying to deny any responsibility for @APIenergy's anti-methane fee, and anti-EV advertisements. I think that's a bit better, but still thin. From someone elseExxon's Darren Woods: "As science has evolved and developed our understanding has evolved and developed" on climate change. Efforts by Maloney to have him respond to Exxon memos and ads over the year that show otherwise have not yet knocked him off talking points. Which points to how useless these kinds of hearings are, if the attackees stay cool and the attackers don't have much. I'm not sure what the memos are; probably the usual dox that the usual over-excited folk misread.

Anyway, that seems to be about all for now. If there's a transcript, I might read it, but I'm not going to watch the vidz.

Robert Brulle

I couldn't help looking at the train wreck a bit more. Robert Brulle Twots Exxon maintains their public statements on climate change were in line with the scientific consensus.   This is historically untrue. After the 1995 IPCC report that stated there was a “discernible impact” on climate by anthropogenic emissions, Lee Raymond still said the link was unclear. But... this is dodgy. IPCC '95 was rather more tentative than Our Hero suggests; see here. Or just read the thing yourself, of course. They said Our ability to quantify the human influence on global climate is currently limited because the expected signal is still emerging from the noise of natural variability, and because there are uncertainties in key factors... Nevertheless, the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate. So, he is wrong (or, in hysterical-Oreskes-speak, HE LIED) because IPCC '95 did not "state" a discernable influence it "suggest"ed same. We don't have a direct quote from The Evil Lee Raymond (before your time, children) but if he said "the link was unclear" then, in 1995, that was defensible (denying any link would not be, of course). Mind you, TELR said plenty of other things that weren't defensible; but it's weird how hard a time these people have in finding it.

[Update: even Rahmstorf, who really should know better, is buying this shit.]


* Wikipedia and the Representation of Reality by Ian Ramjohn


Exxon CEO accused of lying about climate science to congressional panel says the Graun, but they're just parrotting the (Dem) pols - there's no information content. Speaking of lobbying, you might want to see me here. FWIW, I believe that pols have a strong interest in there being as much lobbying as possible, and act to make this so.

* We want environmental action, but don’t want to make the lifestyle changes, Cambridge-led poll finds - truely astonishing.

* More bollox from Supran; the same tired old stuff.

* SCOTUSblog: Justices agree to review EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

* What should have happened in 2008-09 by Scott Sumner

Episode IV: The Evil Empire strikes back (2015)


Study shows shocking impact of 'photo-hoarding' on carbon footprint?

n_photos Found via an IET press release. They're trying to convince you that the CO2 costs of storing pix online are substantial, and larger than a couple of other randomly selected things: flying, for example. About 3.7%, because flying isn't that bad really. I'm not sure I trust their numbers - this is nominally the press release for a study, but doesn't link to the study, and the one ref to the actual costs of data storage is actually a ref to vehicule emissions. But never mind; take their numbers as read. So what is the solution?

With Brits admitting to taking an average of five pictures for everyone they post online – and 10% taking ten or more – a life lived through social media with endless selfies, scenic snaps, and ‘food porn’ needs to be managed. Producing a carbon footprint over a lifetime equivalent to driving from Lands’ End to John O’Groats, happy snappers are today being urged to simply ditch the dupes to slash their carbon footprint.

But... this is unrealistic. Anyone taking large numbers of photos knows: deleting duplicates is hard work, and most people simply won't do it1. Urging people to "ditch the dupes" is classic eensy-teensy-steps stuff, which is more of a distraction from real solutions than any useful solution in itself.

The solution, obvs, is twofold: improvements in cloud infrastructure to use less power; and decarbonising the cloud via renewable energy2. Since it already runs on electricity, this is "merely" a matter of finding more renewable power; unlike rather harder problems like aircraft.


1. I make this worse because my pix go onto Flickr - via autouploader - and also onto Google Pix, because I have a Pixel phone.

2. Google, to take a random example, alreaady does this. There's an ever-so-slightly weaselly "matched 100 percent of its global electricity use with purchases of renewable energy" in there, but I think it is good enough.


Epistemic Minor Leagues - ACX


COP26: Document leak reveals nations lobbying to change key climate report?

PXL_20211019_214048473 Well, no. If you already know what this is about, you can just about unpick the Beeb's shit reporting to understand the rather mundane truth. The IPCC AR reports go through drafts, and - strangely enough - they invite comments on the drafts, and - strangely enough - people and govt representatives comment. And sometimes the comments are sane, and sometimes they aren't. But they aren't ever "lobbying" - that bit hass been done earlier when the SPMs are approved by govts.

Calling it a "huge leak of documents" is wanky too: it is just an enormous amount of - assuing it fits the pattern of previous ARs - mostly deeply tedious comments. All this is presumably just a desperate attempt to stir up interest in the upcoming COP; which looks increasingly like a party that no-one will bother to attend1.


1. No-one that matters, that is. The usual pile of waste-of-time freeloaders will show up by jet and moan about CO2 emissions, of course.


Fossil fuel production set to soar over next decade?

PXL_20210818_173430033 Says Auntie; parrotting the UNEP production gap report. They are worried that some of the biggest oil, gas and coal producers have not set out plans for the rapid reductions in fossil fuels that scientists say are necessary to limit temperatures in coming years. Which doesn't really make any sense; why would you expect companies to set out plans to suiicide themselves, if people remain keen to buy their products? And if people don't want to buy, well, where's the problem? The problem of course is the plan-loving bureaucracy.

Continuing, I'm struck by According to our assessment of recent national energy plans and projections, governments are in aggregate planning to produce around 110% more fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with... whatever arbitrary targets are fashionable at the moment. What's odd about this is that, apart from banana republics like Saudi or Venezuela, sane govts don't plan fossil fuel production because they don't produce fossil fuels; companies do1. But I guess that's not the sort of thing the UN bureaucracy wants to think, because it wants govts to negotiate with and make plans with.

The sane answer is of course a carbon tax, as any fule kno.


1. Yes, I know about 50% is produced by SOEs.


The Distorted Market for Woke Capitalism


Please Don't Give Up On Having Kids Because Of Climate Change?

PXL_20211009_151129246 As A notes, a recent post at ACX was "Please Don't Give Up On Having Kids Because Of Climate Change". It rather touches on various things I think I know, but perhaps haven't written down. So to start at the top, I agree with the overall conclusion if not the exact reasons for reaching it. 

Not having children because the climate will get worse is wrong, if you're in the First World: as ASX points out, conditions are so much better than in the Third World, and will stay that way; so if you genuinely believed the idea, you'd have to believe in no-one in the Third World having children.

Not having children because they'll emit CO2 is I think wrong, too. After all, we're expecting to get to carbon neutral at some point, like 2050 perhaps, so they're free after that.

And then some notes on some specific points.

The current scientific consensus, as per leading scientific organizations like the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is that climate change will be very bad, but not world-endingly bad. And the link is to a Vox article Is climate change an “existential threat” — or just a catastrophic one? Vox isn't really an RS for this stuff; the reason that ACX doesn't link to the IPCC itself is of course because the IPCC says no such thing.

Climate change will cause worse hurricanes, fires, and other disasters. It will lead to increased spread of invasive species and diseases. It will hit subsistence farmers in poor agricultural countries very hard, and some of them will starve or become refugees. But it won’t cause the collapse of civilization. It won’t kill everyone. Life in the First World will continue, with worse weather and maybe a weaker economy, but more or less the same as always. This is all a bit funky. Hurricanes, well, there are plenty of people to tell you about that. Invasive species are I think rather more spread by global transport and travel, not GW. The best hope for subsistence farmers in poor countries is that they stop being subsistence farmers, and that their countries stop being poor. Refer to Adam Smith for a short - but, it would seem, quite hard to achieve - set of conditions. The collapse of civilisation seems vanishingly unlikely. Life in the FW will not continue "more or less the same as always" because, errm, things will change; technology and politics and society will progress. GW will probably decrease GDP from the value it would have had with no GW, but GDP will continue to increase anyway, just by a bit less.

focus on sea level rise because it’s easy to quantify and display. People often choose SLR because it is unambiguously bad; but it is hard to get any significant damages by 2100 because the expected rise just isn't big enough.

* let’s say there’s still a 1% chance that everyone’s wrong and [a runaway greenhouse effect] can happen. 1% is clearly not exact; it's a proxy for "unlikely, but not negligible". But this is wrong; the real assessment is more like virtually impossible, though as with all these things you never can tell. However, using a lower probability wouldn't affect his argument.

* What we actually need is concerted government action... But your choice not to have children makes that government action less likely to happen. Suppose 1-2% of Democrats stop having children because they’re worried about climate change. Meanwhile, Republicans don’t care about this and have just as many children as ever. Since children tend to share their parents’ political beliefs, this skews elections in favor of the Republicans, who will prevent strong government action. I don't think this makes any sense. Because politics simply doesn't work that way, with fixed party boundaries; instead, the parties shift to pick up voters.

Update: Chilling Effects

See-also his In what sense do 10% of people die of the cold? And why is heat-related death most common in Greenland? Note the Epistemic status: Extremely confused! Low confidence in all of this. But also the I’m not really impressed with the people working in this field.


Climate crisis to shrink G7 economies twice as much as Covid-19, says research?

* Authoritarian Left, Authoritarian Right by Pierre Lemieux

* CPI Bias vs. the Penn Effect by Bryan Caplan

* Highlights from the Nobel Committee Report by David Henderson, which I mention so I'll be able to find his criticism of the Card/Krueger minimum wage stuff that everyone is so keen to spout.

An Honest Appraisal of the Global Temperature Trend - Tamino.

There must be a spirit of tolerance in the entire population - TF.


The Nobel Prize in Physics 2021?

PXL_20211005_115952391 Bit of a weird one this. First of all, if you'd rather read something other than my bitter and twisted ramblings, you can read DA or SE or indeed a zillion others. So, I'll spare myself the trouble of saying nice things - it doesn't come naturally - and pick at the nits. Chad Orzel is grumpy cos the Nobellers have mixed up climate with spin glasses thereby ensuring that all the luvverly press coverage goes to climate, because who has a clue what spin glasses are, but that's a different matter. Mind you, I'm listening to R4 garbling it all right now, so I don't think he should care too much. Other idiots whinge about gender balance.

Probably, this is a quasi-political thing: recognise GW type stuff in the run up to COP<n>. As several people have said on Twatter, "why these two"? Amongst climatologists they are worthy, but you could find others equally so. Perhaps that's how Nobels work: "we're going to award in area X, now pick two big ones at random (without replacement)".

The citation (or is this just the headline) is for the physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming. But the "reliably predicting1 GW" bit is weird. Some idiots will even tell you he got his 1970 prediction spot-on and that is to his credit. But of course it isn't. It was just luck. He could easily have been out by a factor of two or more. Had he been, absolutely no-one sane would be saying "oh dear his original prediction was wrong, that's a problem". And if being wrong wouldn't be a problem, then being right is no big thing either. Shades of obsessing over Hansen's predictions.

My other - actually my main - nit is that Manabe's stuff at least is all rather engineering. Which is a worthy thing, I speak as a (software) engineer myself - but it isn't really the stuff of Nobel prizes, at least to my thinking. Or is this just a prophet shall have no honour in his own land? The idea of taking CFD equations and stuffing them into a computer is not exactly genius, and he wasn't even the first.

Lastly - that's not a promise, mind - I dislike Complex systems are characterised by randomness and disorder and are difficult to understand. This year’s Prize recognises new methods for describing them and predicting their long-term behaviour. Because this appears to be a rather thin attempt to link disparate subjects in a not-very-convincing attempt to pretend that the two halves of the prize have any connection. Weather is chaotic but climate isn't2 - which is obvious, if you think that Manabe made reliable climate predictions, duh. Klaus Hasselmann almost links climate and QM, but perhaps not really - I can't quite tell. Note that there's been a massive burst of editing on his wiki page just recently (surprise!) so it may not be stable. I removed Hasselmann was the first to demonstrate human influence on the climate because I think it either isn't true, or is too vague as stated. Do feel free to correct me. Hasselman's stuff isn't really about chaos either - it is about integrating noise, which is different. Unless I've mis-guessed what they meant.


1. And let's leave out the IPCC's habit of avoiding the word "prediction".

2. See my Climate is stable in the absence of external perturbation, which will obviously convince you.


Quotation of the Day… "Even though talent, circumstance, and luck play a role in human behavior, we all are spared an enormous administrative burden if we mutually renounce any claim to these assets of others...".

Quotation of the Day… "To develop one’s judgment properly, one first needs the freedom to make decisions for oneself, because judgment, like other skills, must be practiced to develop. But one must also be held responsible for one’s decisions, because it is through feedback – negative or positive, as the case may be – that one learns to correct, hone, and develop one’s judgment".

* Gavin at RC.

* Gavin in SciAm.


Yet more Exxonknew drivel

evil Only this time it is #humbleknew, not such a popular tag. But, addd to the Wiki Exxon page, because people like their drivel to be in visited places. And the drivel was:

Prior to its purchase by Exxon, Humble Oil had conducted a study titled "Radiocarbon Evidence on the Dilution of Atmospheric and Oceanic Carbon by Carbon from Fossil Fuels" in 1957.  The report warned that rising carbon dioxide levels as a result of the combustion of fossil fuels would result in increases in temperature at the Earth’s surface and that significant increases in temperature could have numerous consequences, including causing ice caps to melt, sea levels to rise and oceans to warm. Unfortunately for humanity, this report was consequently hidden from the government or public, so that Humble Oil, and later Exxon could increase their profits.<ref>https://www.ucsusa.org/about/news/new-evidence-reveals-fossil-fuel-industry-funded-cutting-edge-climate-science-research</ref>

The "Unfortunately for humanity..." obviously fails NPOV and got removed; but the rest was left, because poeple tend to trust people; and who can actually be bothered to read sources nowadays? But if you look at the UCS report, none of the text is justified, apart from the title of the report. And if you read back a little, the title of the 1957 doc gives you a hint why. I've removed it now, BTW.

The text of the report is available from https://www.smokeandfumes.org/documents/7. If you go there, S+F will "helpfully" put up a popup telling you that This 1957 study conclusively demonstrates that, by no later than the 1950s, Humble Oil (now ExxonMobil) was aware of climate risks and actively engaging in climate science, just in case you're not able to think for yourself. But if you the report itself, it is dull (well, to me). It is about exactly what the title says: Radiocarbon Evidence on the Dilution of Atmospheric and Oceanic Carbon by Carbon from Fossil Fuels. And... it is in Transactions of the AGU; i.e., fully public. So once again, there were no secrets, and the correct hashtag is #everyoneknew. The UCS doesn't actually say the dox were sekrit, but it does do its best to imply so, breathlessly: A trove of documents released today by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) reveals that..insideclimatenews does lie to us, asserting it shows that the risks of climate change were being discussed in the inner circles of the oil industry earlier than previously documented but that is bollox: just because they did some research does not show that anyone at the top much cared.

Update 2021/11: I find The state of the science at the time (say, the mid 1970’s), based on reading the papers is, in summary: “…we do not have a good quantitative understanding of our climate machine and what determines its course. Without the fundamental understanding, it does not seem possible to predict climate…” (which is taken directly from NAS, 1975). In a bit more detail, people were aware of various forcing mechanisms – the ice age cycle; CO2 warming; aerosol cooling – but didn’t know which would be dominant in the near future. By the end of the 1970’s, though, it had become clear that CO2 warming would probably be dominant; that conclusion has subsequently strengthened at https://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/01/the-global-cooling-myth/


If you’re a climate or energy researcher, chances are the fossil fuel industry owns you?

Early oil industry knowledge of CO2 and global warming?

* Exclusive: GM, Ford knew about climate change 50 years ago?

What Exxon Knew and When, round three?

Yet more Exxon drivel (includes more people lying about the 1957 report)

What’s the Least Bad Way to Cool the Planet?