2018-07-16

Unmasking the negative greenhouse effect over the Antarctic Plateau

It's "new", it's exciting, it's in Nature. Woo. Or at least that one is, by Sergio A. Sejas, Patrick C. Taylor & Ming Cai. But there's also Antarctic Specific Features of the Greenhouse Effect: A Radiative Analysis Using Measurements and Models by Holger Schmith├╝sen (via RR on Twatter). Are they related? I don't know. But this certainly isn't new; S had How increasing CO2 leads to an increased negative greenhouse effect in Antarctica in 2015.

CIP posted about this back in 2016 and we had a "discussion" there.

As you'd hope, the Watties have manged to mangle it: "it also implies that the EAIS is enormously stable with respect to higher CO2 levels". But that's not true. This only gets you an anti-GHE in midwinter, when it's too cold to melt anyway, and it wasn't about to melt in the interior anyway. For stability the edges, and summer, and the ocean are more interesting, as is polewards-advected heat.

Refs


* Town bumps starts tomorrow!

2018-07-12

Merchantilism and Denialism impartially consider'd

20180711_125916 Reading - as I do - the likes of Don Boudreaux railing against  the imbecility of Trump's merchantilist (aka non-free trade) policy, I can't help seeing the analogy with science-type folk railing against the idiocy of the denialists. Which is to say, being right, but talking to people who just don't care, because their ideology means they're not really thinking about the thing you're talking about. It's nominally the same subject - "global warming" in one case or "trade" in another - but since they're always thinking about different aspects there is no connection.

Amusingly, there's a further similarity: just as the science-type folk generally don't support free trade, so the economics-type folk don't generally support the GW science.

Refs


The relativist can offer no cogent reason why we should not simply get on with it
Hexapodia?
Rejecting Climate Change: Not Science Denial, but Regulation Phobia?
* CIP on free trade
NO MORE TIGER IN  KOCH THINK TANK: EXXON QUITS ALEC
On the “National-Security Exception” to a Policy of Free Trade

2018-07-11

Law as Custom vs textualism

Politico offers us various interpretations of Kavanaugh. Of interest is his "textualism and originalism", a concept that I tend to favour, though with caveats as this post will make clear. There's also a note about "a healthy skepticism of judicial deference to the administrative state", cue musing about the Deep State, but that's just a note to remind me for another day.

I find comments like "law is the end product of politics, not a continuation thereof, and the judiciary's duty is to enforce the laws (including the Constitution) as written". Or in K's own words "A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent".

The idea that one could source law from close reading of the original documents, and the problems of interpreting them, is familiar enough, whether you agree with it or not. But how does this fit into the "law as custom" framework?

The English common-law tradition, as expounded by say Hayek, is not that judges made law, but that they found it. The above, incorrectly I think, ignores that tradition by offering only a choice of making or interpreting. So that's a mark against K.

Consider, for example, the glorious Declaration of Independence, and the ringing words We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Splendid words, and you can't remove their legal weight by asserting that they aren't formally part of the law. How do you reconcile them with slavery? You can't, obviously. At least, not honestly. You have to look the other way, evade them, or find some other hocus-pocus. But when the DofI was written, slave-owning was customary - at least in certain parts - and so that was the law, no matter what the bits of paper said. That, in turn, points to the need to adapt law to the customs of the times, and not be too hide-bound by niggly words1.

Refs


The Armalite and the ballot box
SCOTUS-pocus
Evasive Entrepreneurialism and Technological Civil Disobedience: Basic Definitions
SCHNARE SNARED IN TANGLED TULSA WEB
Judges in the U.S. are Supposed to Enforce the Constitution - CH
* Volokh

Notes


1. You might be tempted to assert that abiding strictly by the niggly words is therefore a good idea, because if only the judges had abode by the niggly words, then all those slaves would have been freed. But you'd be wrong.

2018-07-09

Unlike deniers, climate alarmists are not influential?

Having burnished my credentials just recently, I can go back to attacking my own side with a sigh of relief. In There are genuine climate alarmists, but they're not in the same league as deniers, Dana Nuccitelli tries to defend SKS's - and his - habit of attacking only the septics, whilst rarely going after those he calls "alarmists". Not something you can accuse me of. I don't much attack the septics anymore because it's all far too dull. But while SKS may be in the process of renaming their "Climate Misinformers" page "Climate misinformation by source", it still hasn't got Wadhams on it.

Blah blah blah; aanyway, the bit I wanted was
Unlike deniers, climate alarmists are not influential. Climate deniers are obviously incredibly influential. Despite their lack of supporting evidence or facts, not only do 28% of Americans continue to believe that global warming is natural and 14% that it’s not even happening, but deniers also dictate Republican Party policy. Republican policymakers constantly invite deniers to testify in congressional hearings, including many of those featured on the Skeptical Science misinformers page. There is no symmetry on the other side of the aisle. In those same congressional hearings, Democratic Party policymakers invite mainstream climate scientists to testify. Their party policy is based on the consensus of 97% of the climate science community.
And so on. If you're not thinking carefully this will all pass by on the nod and your bubble-world view will have been revalidated and you can snooze off with your cocoa and slippers in front of the telly. And of course it isn't totally false. But it also isn't as true as you think. The denialists exist and peddle lies, but to a ready audience. People want to be told that their fat livestyle is perfectly fine, and they don't want to be told otherwise. The Dems are happy to have scientists come and tell them what they want to hear, but you don't notice them asking economists what the best solution would be, because the last thing they want is to pushing for a carbon tax that would scare the horses.

Part of it is people's inability to see the things they've got; they can only see the things they are missing. So the EU's policy on GW is almost everything DN could want, except it is useless and ineffectual, but clearly they believe: isn't that next to godliness, and 95%of virtue?

Refs


* The Betts Test - Eli
Climate misinformers - ATTP

2018-07-06

Pruitt fucks off

As every man and his dog has noted, Scott Pruitt is now the late and unlamented ex-head of the US environment agency. The Mango Mussolini praises him for doing an outstanding job; Pruitt's resignation letter reciprocates with brown-nosing and god-bothering. I don't feel any great inclination to examine his record... but is that a mistake? As near as I can tell he resigned for a string of ethics scandals, but what about his actual job and record? EOS notes that environmentalists will be happy he is gone, but also their support of WOTUS, which seems well dodgy. Those who dislike rule-by-regulation seem to have somewhat different views.

His replacement, Andrew Wheeler, seems likely to continue much the same policies, but more efficiently, and without the taint of ethics violations.

Refs


Trump and science: malice or indifference? - a brief discussion of RP Jr on Pruitt from which he does not emerge well.
Trump's EPA pick will make Obama regret his environmental overreach?
If you keep hearing a dog whistle, perhaps you are the dog
Brexit Secretary David Davis resigns

2018-07-01

SCOTUS-pocus

36297903_1877774222287502_2809714094045659136_o A pile of legal news that I can't quite bear to not mention. Kennedy is off1; and the SCOTUS has handed down some decisions that people are sad about. And as usual, I find it hard to find anyone to agree with. Looking for a hook to hang this on I find insideclimatenews saying:
For environmentalists, it's worrisome that the court is increasingly prone to make decisions under one of Scalia's core beliefs, known as "textualism," which would see no climate role for the agency in charge of protecting the environment unless it is expressly spelled out in statute. Congress, especially under the control of Republicans, doesn't look likely to crack down on pollution from the use of fossil fuels, whatever the risks to society.
This is quite a weird paragraph, when you think about it. What it is saying is that the lawmakers don't want fossil fuel regulation. And the text of the law doesn't support the same. But because we want it, we're going to desperately try to interpret the written law in such a way as to permit regulation. And despite this weirdness, ICN are happy to write it, and most of their readers will read it without noticing anything odd, so wrapped up are they in the idea that because they want something - obviously, not for themselves, this is a Noble Want for the good of the whole world, and such a selfless want cannot morally be denied -, they should have it; and if they can't get it by clear legal title, then they should have it by legal interpretation, no matter how wonky that might be.

ICN doesn't like Roberts, and so his views must be "out of step with the science"; and so they write: On coastal damages from sea level rise, an eventuality that is not just a risk but a certainty, readily observed and directly caused by the warming of ocean waters and the melting of ice masses due to rising carbon dioxide, Roberts wrote: "It is pure conjecture." But this isn't an honest reading of what Roberts said. Firstly, 11 years ago, coastal damage to Massachusetts was not readily observable (is it even observable today?). The certainty of eventual damage is a different matter, which is where ICN's dishonesty comes in, because Roberts is trying to distinguish “real and immediate" from future possibilities. Another important subtlety overlooked by ICN is that Roberts is trying to discuss that The very concept of global warming seems inconsistent with this particularization requirement. By which he means what we all know: that any particular emission of CO2 has only an incremental effect, and doesn't fit at all well within the legal framework that they're trying to use. Indeed this ties up rather well with words used in the recent Alsup decision2.

Their "analysis" of Scalia's dissent is similarly weak (they even invent capitalisation to suit their own ends).

Does any of this matter? After all, the SCOTUS are probably not in the habit of reading ICN and are unlikely to give a toss what they write. But other people do, and they might be unwise enough to believe ICN, and so the "discussion" becomes ever more partisan and both sides glory in not even trying to understand what they other side is trying to say and even Gavin is re-tweeting this crap.

[Update: Janus. I see I didn't comment on this, though I kept the link and have just finished reading through it. In general I think I agree with the majority. The only really convincing argument for the dissent is page 27, which frames it in terms of States Rights though without using those words. Of course which decisions you defer in that way is a powerful weapon, too. See-also: SCOTUSblog.]

Notes


1. Incidentally, his timing is odd. I've seen various reports that the Dems are desperate to postpone his replacement until after the mid-terms (have I got the jargon right? I find colonial "slections" very hard to follow) so if you thought him a secret Dem then you'd wonder why he hadn't been kinder to them and delayed his decision for a few months.

2. If you're alert, you will rejoin that one of the reasons that Alsup gave for rejection was the EPA case. I'll give you that but look at the words. He, like Roberts, is trying to say this is really a matter for Congress, not the courts.

2018-06-26

Holy Alsup, Batman!

tempt Breaking news: hold the popcorn:
In these “global warming” actions asserting claims for public nuisance, defendants move to dismiss for failure to state a claim. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED.
Well, I'm shocked, shocked I tell you. Actually I am surprised: I thought Alsup would let this drag on a bit. But he's done the right thing. Fans of GW will appreciate "this order accepts the science behind global warming. So do both sides. The dangers raised in the complaints are very real". But others will be happy enough with "But those dangers are worldwide. Their causes are worldwide. The benefits of fossil fuels are worldwide. The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case. While it remains true that our federal courts have authority to fashion common law remedies for claims based on global warming, courts must also respect and defer to the other co-equal branches of government when the problem at hand clearly deserves a solution best addressed by those branches. The Court will stay its hand in favor of solutions by the legislative and executive branches".

I'm pleased to see that hizzonner comes to exactly the same conclusion as I did:
This order fully accepts the vast scientific consensus that the combustion of fossil fuels
has materially increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, which in turn has increased the median temperature of the planet and accelerated sea level rise. But questions of how to appropriately balance these worldwide negatives against the worldwide positives of the energy itself, and of how to allocate the pluses and minuses among the nations of the world, demand the expertise of our environmental agencies, our diplomats, our Executive, and at least the Senate. Nuisance suits in various United States judicial districts regarding conduct worldwide are far less likely to solve the problem and, indeed, could interfere with reaching a worldwide consensus.
This could be a good thing. If the Evil Oil Companies learn that admitting the science doesn't lead to instant disaster, perhaps they could give up opposing it. Which TBH they mostly have anyway.

Thinking about this: Alsup avoided ruling on the "responsibility" aspect: he didn't have to decide if the Evil Oil Customers, or their saintly customers, were the ones responsible for the CO2 emissions. Actually he does say largest cumulative producers of fossil fuels worldwide and are collectively responsible for over eleven percent of all carbon dioxide and methane pollution that has accumulated in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution but I suspect that of being a slip of the pen. There's a bit of the amended complaint, that certainly I and maybe no-one else noticed, about trying to avoid the displacement problem by suing for non-US emissions, which wouldn't be covered by the Clean Air Act; but that too failed.

Refs


BALL'S THEOREM: A SNICKER IS JUST A RIVER IN AFRICA.
U.S. judge tosses climate lawsuits by California cities, but says science is sound: Science, from E&E.
In Liability Cases, Oil Companies Argue Climate Change is Your Fault - Climate Liability News still can't face reality, and doesn't want you to, either. And there's more.

2018-06-25

Democratic National Committee "quietly" bans fossil fuel company contributions

35757893_1864048436993414_363820546430861312_o So says Brian, and he's probably right. About the ban. But is it a good idea? Let's read some words:

The energy and natural resource sectors, including fossil fuel producers and mining firms, gave $2.6 million to the DNC in 2016, according to data collected by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. That’s a pittance compared to the $56.1 million that came from the finance and real estate sectors, the DNC’s largest corporate donors that year...

I can see two possibilities:

1. Selfless corporations routinely donate money to incorruptible politicians because they value a vibrant political process.
2. Self-interested corporations routinely donate money to corruptible (or do I mean "influencable" - would that be more polite?) politicians because they expect results favourable to themselves.

Those are perhaps the extremes; there are shades between. But the answer is of course 2. So the Dems are effectively saying that they don't want to be bought influenced by Evil Oil Companies but are entirely happy to be bought influenced by Evil Finance and Evil Real Estate companies. Or perhaps they think those sectors are paragons of virtue? That would be odd.

Actually, having pols bought influenced by corps isn't entirely a bad idea. Pols need to have ideas of their own, and they need to be in touch with the ideas of the country, which includes the electorate but also includes the money. Being bought by the money, in moderation, is part of that. Of course, if they're so bought that they'll do nothing but, then you have a problem.

But are the Dems so bought by Evil Oil Companies that they'll do nothing but their bidding? That seems unlikely. Are the Dems under the impression that fossil fuels could be erased tomorrow and everything would go well? I doubt even they are that stupid. So this appears to be a way for the Dems to tell the Evil Oil Companies to fuck off and go talk to the Repubs instead, which I'm sure they will. Perhaps the Dems also believe that Evil Real Estate companies are universally a force for good, in which case they are fools; apart from anything else they're lobbying for all that stupid fedreral flood insurance.

The real problem, as I've said before, is the USAnian eleectorate and it's dumb ideas. Actually, there's a bit more to it than that but now is not the time for subtlety.

Refs


Compulsive Reader by Pablo Gallo: TF.

2018-06-22

Hansen30

35846494_2510156539072034_3418304873920200704_n Every man and his dog are writing about Hansen30, so I don't see why I shouldn't. For the basic comparison against his "predictions" I think Gavin's RC article is the place to go, and most of it is uncontroversial, since I agree with all that anyway.

So that means the interesting bit is "Hansen was correct to claim that greenhouse warming had been detected". That wasn't a claim he made in 2008, and I think it's a touch dubious. That, in retrospect, we can make the claim of detection by 1988 I think is plausible but you shouldn't trust my opinion, you're much better off with Gavin's. But what of at-the-time? Gavin says At the time however, the claim was more controversial; modeling was in it’s early stages, and estimates of internal variability and the relevant forcings were poorer, and so Hansen was going out on a little bit of a limb based on his understanding and insight into the problem. But he was right. But being right in retrospect isn't the proper test. The proper test was, was he right at the time? And the claim was, to be 99% sure that we were already seeing the effects of anthropogenic global warming. I think that's doubtful, given models, obs and state-of-science at that time.

Incidentally, I suppose it's nice that the predictions panned out but it's a reasonable question to ask: what if they hadn't? Would we be especially worried if one early GCM had proved a bit duff? I doubt it.

Refs


Prince - Little Red Corvette.
“like being inside Hansens head”.
Le Hansen nouveau est re-arrive.
* Moyhu.
The personification of Mother Nature forges birds, animals, and people. Unknown. Paris ~ ca.1405. Yet more proof, if you needed it, that the antients were fucking weird.

2018-06-18

Another one bites the dust

"Vincent Gray, RIP: On May 14, we lost...", says SEPP at WUWT (forgive me for slumming). I did wonder if I'd not been paying attention but no, this is simple incompetence: his real date of death is June the 14th. Ken Happala has clearly been smokin' the wacky baccy, claiming Gray singularly fought the IPCC for using the term predictions... Gray won. The IPCC uses the term “projections.”. The IPCC does indeed use the word "projections", but that's f*ck all to do with Gray.

But as with previous advances in science, the sad point is all that is missing. Gray's career, his science if any? No-one gives a toss, certainly not SEPP: Born in London in 1922, Gray received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in Chemistry. He later moved to New Zealand where he became Chief Chemist of the Coal Research Association, publishing many articles and reports. After retirement, he and his wife lived in China for four years. Upon return to New Zealand, Gray became a critic of the view that carbon dioxide emissions are causing harmful global warming... "publishing many articles and reports" - ha. Just what were those articles and reports? Absolutely no-one cares.

Looking back, I can't see that I had much cause to comment on Gray other than some incredulity at the incompetence of his denialism.

Refs


* I've used the title before.

2018-06-17

Why Carbon Pricing Isn’t Working?

pembroke-and-distant-maggie Because, errm, we aren't doing it. So says an article in Foreign Affairs, though it jumps through hoops to avoid saying so explicitly. Perhaps because it would be a very short and rather boring article if it did say that.

As is usual with these things, the article is padded with pointlessness. We're told Today, according to the World Bank, 42 countries and 25 subnational jurisdictions—together representing about half of global GDP and a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions—have imposed or are pursuing a price on carbon, through either a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax. Which is meaningless, because you can't tell the fraction that are doing things with the fraction that are just thinking about it. More useful is But because many jurisdictions have imposed carbon prices just in certain sectors of their economies, carbon pricing covers only about 15 percent of global emissions. But that too isn't really useful, because it doesn't tell you at what level they are priced. Rather more useful, but dislocated in the article, is of the global emissions now subject to a carbon price, just one percent are priced at or above the [High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices]’s $40 floor of ecological relevance. Three-quarters are priced below $10 (the article, like so many, isn't logically structured; instead it looks to have been built around quotes taken from different reports).

Finally, there is the economic stupidity: Nor does carbon pricing work well to curb emissions from transportation, which account for about 14 percent of the global total. Studies show that drivers are usually unresponsive to modest increases in gasoline and diesel taxes. Or, put another way, people value their cars above the money they cost, so unsurprisingly they still use them if they cost more. Which is why an economy-wide carbon tax is a good idea:  people can shift their spending away from stuff they value less; we could achieve a carbon reduction with less pain.

Later down the article there's a bit about why the ETS is stupid. Nowhere though does it attempt what could be the interesting discussion: just why is it so hard to get carbon pricing through a political system? Don't reply with oh-but-evil-oil-companies-propaganda schtick; that's just an excuse. The real answer is that on carbon pricing, like a great many other things, our political systems just don't work very well. When put in that way, most people's response is to think of clever ways to change them, despite our long experience that any such jsut gets bogged down in the sand of the existing system. Personally, as long-term readers will know, my solution would be to have less of it.

My picture shows Pembroke before going down to Clare on the Reach, and a distant Maggie. See the bumps post for more. Mine is a GoPro still; there are a zillion higher quality pix, e.g. from here.

Refs


Horrible Facebook Algorithm Accident Results In Exposure To New Ideas.
* Taxing carbon emissions protects liberty, spurs innovation.
* Comprehensive study: carbon taxes won't hamper the economy - the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum (EMF) project, from Skeptical Science.

2018-06-14

#Rowbridge

It's the season for mayflies again. Maggie for head as has become traditional, and Clare to not challenge them, and Pembroke having bumped Caius to go third, to stay there. On the woman's side, Emma rated themselves but went down to Newnham on day 2 who had disposed of Caius on day 1, but I don't hold out much hope for them to displace Jesus tomorrow. Nonetheless, it's all desperately exciting, and as usual this is my collection of vidz.

Previous years: 2017 / 2016.

Wednesday


* M1 / W1 / M2 / W4 / M5

Thursday


* M1 (practice starts) / W1: sadly truncated (but you can watch Newnham's bowcam; or this) / M2 / W4 / M5

Friday


News from the top: Pembroke get Clare on their second go but won't get Maggie; Magdalene shoot up to 6th and may take Downing for blades. Meanwhile Newnham didn't get Jesus and indeed W1 while exciting was quiet.

* M1 / W1 / M2 / W2

Saturday


* M1 / W1 / M2 / W2 / M3 / W3

Refs


* In hoc signo vinces (thanks RS)
the powers that be are ordained of God

2018-06-12

Ross McKitrick speaks

Who? The other Mc as in McI. And what he says is I am not a scientific advisor to the Cornwall Alliance nor am I on the board of the John Deutsch Inst. I did not 'produce' any videos for Friends of Science, they interviewed me a few years ago at an event and have used the videos for their purposes. The previous edition of this page wrongly attributed FoS views to me. The bio information is obsolete. And who knows, he may be telling the truth.

Is that all? I really need to pad this out a bit. We had a decent outing this evening mostly steady-state, but pleasingly clearly below 2:00. Next stop: 34 and up. Tomorrow the event of the year starts, Mays. My money (well, in virtual terms; it could be real terms if anyone will take it) is on Maggie; and more weakly Jesus; though apparently Emma fancy themselves. And let's not forget Darwin.

2018-06-11

Trump: WaPo raises the bar

20180611_112949 Another in a series of unpopular posts defending unpopular people. And today I'm defending... Trump. No, not really. He's still a bozo and if only there were someone competent to replace him I wish he'd just resign and retire to play golf. Also I'm coming to wonder if my best hope of him being only a minor bozo1, 2 is still tenable. Instead, I'm attacking the WaPo for If Trump ignores North Korea’s monstrous crimes, they’ll come back to haunt him.

The story so far: the North Koreans have got nukes, albeit crummy ones, and missiles, albeit joke ones. This has been going on for years, and the world has been doing the usual things it does in such circumstances: talking, sanctions, pressure. The sort of thing that were you talking to sane interlocutors in a democratic country would have some chance of success; but when you're talking to people who are at best quite possibly in and of themselves sane but faced with circumstances so regrettable that they would punish what-would-normally-be-called-sane behaviour, have very little chance of success. So step forward Trump, who has made a sequence of what the professional diplomats regard as very badly judged moves; and which his fanbois will tell you were brilliantly executed chaos attacks.

Such a thing might work because it really was brilliant - which is unlikely, because although I discount the idea that he's stupid, I don't think he's brilliant. But it might work simply because it's obvious to anyone not a professional diplomat. Or it might work simply because the winds of chance happen to blow that way. Or, of course, it could more probably simply fall flat on it's face.

The point, however, is that the WaPo looks rather worried that it might work, and feels the need to prepare a backstop of failure for Trump: even some kind of peace, some kind of backing off the nuclear posture, even some limited opening up, will be declared total failure: the regime’s vast apparatus of repression has to be addressed from the beginning of the process, alongside its missiles and nukes. The two must be dismantled together. This is, obviously, deeply stupid. Making NK a happy peaceful democratic place is desireable; but it will only happen after a time. Trying to do it right from the start is simply asking for failure; and I cannot help but conclude that the WaPo really would rather Trump fail, to the USA's disadvantage, than that he succeed and thereby look good, especially where their man failed.

Notes


1. "only a minor bozo" of course means that he personally is a major bozo, but that the effects of his bozosity could be minor.

2. FWIW, if you can't be bothered to follow the link, my prediction for Trump-on-diplomacy (diplomacy, not trade, mind you) was Much harder to predict. Since I’m deliberately going out on a limb, I predict: Trump will do some dumb / risky / unpredictable things, but will get away with them.

Refs


Donald Trump is a twat, confirm G6 leaders.
* Some thoughts on The Summit at Cafe Hayek.
Tories put my achievement at risk - Timmy

2018-06-09

L'affaire Peter Ridd

34800536_897070693822585_6668015775913082880_n Peter Ridd is an Evil Colonial who has continually broken a code of conduct that [one] would expect all... staff to stick to, to create a safe, respectful and professional workplace. Or alternatively, a Good Colonial whose academic freedom has been trampled on. I find it hard to tell which. Telling against him is the company he keeps and signing up to drivel from Cato. Oddly, the Smoggies aren't keen on him. But enough irrelevance, what of the current situation?

There's an Orwellian article in the Graun wherein the "University" that sacked him denies doing so for "his fringe views on climate change or for his rejection of the scientific evidence linking human activity to degradation of the Great Barrier Reef" and staunchly defends his "right to make statements in his area of academic expertise" (my bold). I'm sure the bit I bolded was just a slip of the tongue, after all this isn't a subject that they've thought out carefully, so you can expect rough and off-the-cuff comments: they didn't mean to imply that his academic-freedom-protection was so narrow, oh goodness me no indeed not.

So he has academic freedom, except - of course - that academic freedom is subject to "a code of conduct that we would expect all our staff to stick to, to create a safe, respectful and professional workplace". Which is another way of saying no, he does not have academic freedom, if he says something the bureaucrats don't like. That's not the end of the Orwellianity though, because after he was first censured, "Against the university’s instructions, Ridd later spoke about the disciplinary proceedings". Good heavens! The very idea that information about secret tribunals should be leaked is abhorrent. But, because he is a "bad" person the Graun toes the party line.

But what about the Great Barrier Reef and coral bleaching in general?


The context for the fuss is PR's views about the GBR and coral bleaching. This is a subject about which I know nothing, so if you want informed commentary on the issue I suggest you go elsewhere.

Consider Great Barrier Reef's five near-death experiences revealed in new paper. Sounds scary? Perhaps not. Anything that can have five "near death" experiences and not die is unlikely to be quite as close to death as you thought. PR's viewpoint is expounded at length in The Extraordinary Resilience of Great Barrier Reef Corals, and Problems with Policy Science. Or there's his "background" to the case. That contains (twice) the statement that "Science is in the midst of a “Replication Crisis” in which high powered replication studies are finding flaws in around 50% of recently published important research". I'm dubious about that, and he doesn't seem to feel any obligation to provide any reference for it - perhaps it goes unquestioned at the dinner parties he goes to.

Update: the Graun has managed to publish Peter Ridd's sacking pushes the limit of academic freedomby Gay Alcorn. It is hedged, and the headline is bastardised, but it covers their backs: if things get bad later they can point to this and say they did stand up for academic freedom after all. Unlike my commentators.

Refs


* FFS: an interesting article by la Curry. What is the world coming to? Though to be fair the interesting words are not hers, they are by Pielke Jr and Nordhaus.
The passionate state of mind is often indic-ative of a lack of skill, talent or power.
* PC Hipsta on fracking.
Can Universities Lawfully Bully Academics into Silence? by Jennifer Marohasy. Not usually my favourite source, I'd love to link to someone from the Light Side reporting this, but they all seem to be unaccountably silent. Isn't that odd?

2018-06-06

We’re not arguing that fossil fuels are in and of themselves a nuisance

odg Who said that? Not me, and not a FF company. No, it's Marco Simons, regional program director and general counsel for EarthRights International. Simons is lead counsel for several Colorado communities bringing climate liability suits against ExxonMobil and Suncor. The quote, if taken literally, rather blows a hole in the "FF are intrinsically bad" theory that the case is being sold on. Because if they aren't in an of themselves a nuisance, then the problem is how they are being used, which leads us back to... the users. However we shouldn't perhaps take Simons too literally, because some of what he says is simply direct lies, such as "And [the FF companies have] also removed the choice from the public by keeping information from them for decades".

Otherwise, it doesn't really add anything to Alsup: cost benefit.

Refs


* Case dox.
TRUMP  PAL  COMPLETES  BORDER WALL  AROUND EPA.
The Best Trade Deals are the Millions of Such that Occur When Trade is Free.
Billionaire Koch brothers take on Trump over tariffs - Aunty.

Gay cakes

curse More law. This time not even climate law, so I have no excuse other than interest. The story so far: gay folk sue a cakeshop that won't make a cake for their wedding. The true lesson of this is just how water-fat our society has become, but there are other points too. Recall that law is custom, not command, and is there so that the reasonable expectations of reasonable people may be maintained; so the question is "what is custom?". And the answer is unclear. This is a problem of different people's liberties2 clashing, and attempting to assert that there is One True Great Justice Answer simply means you haven't understood the question.

The govt, of course, is not allowed to discriminate on grounds of race, sexual orientation, creed and a host of other similar issues1. But individuals in their daily lives constantly do so discriminate, in who they choose to interact with and how. They have liberty to do so. Then again, people have a "right" not to be discriminated against when out validating their lives by shopping.

How do you balance the two? In daily life, you expect reasonable people to disagree peacefully. If you can't get one baker to bake your cake, look for another. I haven't - of course - studied the fine details of the case but I'm pretty sure the said GF made no attempt to do this; indeed my suspicion is that they did the very opposite.

Twenty years ago this case would have been laughable, and would have been laughed out of court. Today, it makes it to the supreme court. Twenty years from now perhaps the custom will have shifted so far towards the GF that intransigent bakers will tremble with fear; I'd rather hope not. The SCOTUS decision, wisely, is narrow. This winds up my source but I think wrongly. Similarly, the digs at the overt hostility that the Colorado commission showed toward Phillips make sense. Really, the SCOTUS is trying to tell the idiot litigious children to play nicely together and stop bothering the adults; they don't want to make the same mistake the Pope made over Galileo.


Notes


1. So the USAnians bizarre Separate Car Act is unacceptable; the whole equal, but separate nonsense3 should remind us that all law requires interpretation.

2. In most people's framing, it is important that the baker's objections are religious. I don't see why that matters. In others, because of "deeply held beliefs". As far as I'm concerned, he simply didn't want to serve these customers for [reasons], exactly what those reasons are is unimportant.

3. This is part of, but not the entirely, of the necessary "of course this isn't the same as institutional racism in the USA during the Jim Crow era" argument. The precise means you use to distinguish it are somewhat up for grabs. Another is the "one-off" argument, but that smells of special pleading. Better is the "no compelled speech" idea; for example WE.

Refs


* Calling all German fans! says Terrible Real Estate Agent Photographs.
When individuals become more autonomous, they become more social - TF.

2018-06-04

Recommendations for Improving the Treatment of Risk and Uncertainty in Economic Estimates of Climate Impacts in the Sixth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report?

DSC_7504 A slightly odd paper in Review of Environmental Economics and Policy by Thomas Stoerk  Gernot Wagner  Robert E T Ward, via the Grantham Institute at LSE via Twatter. Abstract:
Large discrepancies persist between projections of the physical impacts of climate change and economic damage estimates. These discrepancies increase with increasing global average temperature projections. Based on this observation, we recommend that in its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) improve its approach to the management of the uncertainties inherent in climate policy decisions. In particular, we suggest that the IPCC (1) strengthen its focus on applications of decision making under risk, uncertainty, and outright ambiguity and (2) estimate how the uncertainty itself affects its economic and financial cost estimates of climate damage and, ultimately, the optimal price for each ton of carbon dioxide released. Our hope is that by adopting these recommendations, AR6 will be able to resolve some of the documented inconsistencies in estimates of the physical and economic impacts of climate change and more effectively fulfill the IPCC’s mission to provide policymakers with a robust and rigorous approach for assessing the potential future risks of climate change.
(my bold). Obviously, a "projection of physical impacts" and an "economic damage estimate" are two different things. For there to be a discrepancy you'd need, well, something obvious would be 10 m of SLR and very little economic damage. Obviously no paper making such a strong assertion would fail to support it, so let's go look.

In the Inconsistent Assessment of Risks in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) section they kinda make three arguments: (1) There is now a growing awareness of the limitations of the existing generation of IAMs; (2) these estimates largely ignore the potential for “tipping points”; and suggest (3) strengthening its focus on decision making under uncertainty and outright ambiguity. (1) isn't clearly supported by refs; (2) gets you the standard answer; and (3) isn't clear in what way that represents a discrepancy.

But never mind that, because the next section is called Evidence of Discrepancies Between Scientific and Economic Assessments of Climate Impacts; it's just bound to be in there. And the relevant text appears to be "DICE, for example, projects a loss of less than 10 percent of global economic output as a result of raising the global mean surface temperature by 6°C". But while that might be a discrepancy, it isn't obviously. And their reference for it is "Climate Shlock", a book wot one of 'em wrote. That's not a scholarly reference. And as apparently the key reference to their key point, it's just a little careless. They continue physical impacts are often not translated into monetary terms and they have largely been ignored by climate economists which is odd. The IAMs don't include everything, but to express it in this way is strange. Is this Pindyck again?

I don't think I'm trying to defend IAMs at this point. Just point out that this paper seems rather ill considered. A case for tighter refereeing I think.

Refs

The rich want to live in the Anglosphere.

2018-05-31

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


soon

(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, 58.162.232.200, 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:

curry

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

oops

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.

Notes


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 :-)

Refs


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

2018-05-28

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.

Update


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.

Notes


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.

Refs


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 

2018-05-27

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.

Notes


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.

Refs


* 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.

2018-05-24

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.

Refs


CLIMATE WARS : THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD aka Sealz in hat.

2018-05-23

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.

Refs

* 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.

2018-05-19

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:
foote1
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.

Notes


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.

Refs


CLIMATE WARS : THE SALT TALKS.
On the Principles of Economic Principles

2018-05-17

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.

2018-05-16

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 those are probably the most useful things for a militia.

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]

 Refs


* Armalite and ballot box strategy.

2018-05-15

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.

2018-05-13

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.

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.

Notes


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

Refs

* NEW CLIMATE WARS ATROCITY : HOCKEY STICK WIELDING WARMIST  WHACKS SKEPTIC'S  SEEING EYE CYBERDOG.