Monckers him back

DSC_7192 Monckers is back, and he has a cloud of righteous smoke from a giant spliff to blow in your face. Yes, it looks like the Alsup case has drawn the crowds. Monckers has a very large pile of words, and naturally I didn't read them all or even most of them, and neither will anyone else.

But you don't have to, because the thing falls apart all by itself. It begins by stating that the purpose in submitting the present brief is [there's a "to" missing here -W] address the eighth question put to parties by the Court, which was: What are the main sources of heat that account for the incremental rise in temperature on Earth? 

And their answer to this question is given by their conclusions and is (a) examination of almost 12,000 of papers on climate and related topics over a 32 21-year period reveals that only 0.3% of those papers had explicitly stated their quantified assent to the “consensus” proposition that at least half of the global warming of recent decades was anthropogenic; and (b) the Charney sensitivity is less than everyone thinks; and (c) For the foregoing reasons, the Court should reject Plaintiff’s case and should also reject those of Defendants’ submissions that assert that global warming is a serious problem requiring urgent mitigation: for it was only the error that made it appear to be a problem. It is not a problem at all.

You'll immeadiately notice that (c) is nothing to do with the question to hand. And you'll then notice that while (a) and (b) form a (ridiculously weak) case that the conventional explanation for the observed warming is wrong, they don't actually supply an answer to the question asked, which was, "what has caused the warming". It is exactly responses like this that Alsup is trying to tease out, I think. Are you sane enough to admit that the observed warming is, indeed, observed? And if you are, are you able to bring yourself to accept a sane explanation for it?

None of which makes the actual case itself sane, as I've said before.


* IN ZERO DIMENSIONS ONLY A PINHEAD CAN DANCE ON THE HEAD OF A PIN - RS - why the double spacing, why oh why?


Oedipus Tex, and other Choral Calamities

Pdq-bach-oedipus-tex You've heard it before - or so I should damn well hope - but since RS reminds me, and CIP also comments, I think I should too. Who could ever forget "the cat drinks only gerbil milk"? Or "transporting young gulls, across escaped lions, for immoral porpoises"?

My ire was raised by the HuffPo, and it's headline "Trump’s Pick To Replace Former Exxon CEO As Secretary Of State Is A Bigger Climate Denier". WTF? I have as yet no particular opinion on Mike Pompeo, but the implication that Rex Tillerson is a Climate Denier is fuckwitted, and all too much a part of the general loss of any sense of proportion amongst the more panic-stricken members of the  Left.

Their argument, insofar as they have one, appears to be In a twist, Tillerson, the former chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp., turned out to be one of the most moderate voices on climate change in the Trump administration, despite his previous employer’s role as an early and generous financier of the climate change denial movement. But this is silly. Exxon-is-evil stems from the Lee Raymond era. Tillerson, by contrast, supported the Paris agreement. Under his leadership, Exxon supported a carbon tax (admittedly not terribly convincingly, but they were at least nominally in favour). If your bar for "climate denier" and other forms of ideological purity is that low, you're going to have an awful lot of enemies and not many friends.

FWIW, my not very well informed opinion is that Tillerson was a decent guy who reluctantly accepted a job from Trump that he didn't want, for the good of the country.

Not an effective Secretary of State?

CIP, in the comments, makes this assertion. It seems reasonable to me; perhaps even undeniable. But the question then is why? You could blame him, and perhaps he wasn't a natural inhabitant of the post. But I would blame Trump. My theory - which is as valuable as anyone else's - is that Trump picked Tillerson (a) for his contacts with Russia, and (b) because at that point in his filling-posts he was desperate for someone with gravitas who hadn't called Trump a twat. Part (a) didn't really work out: the Left was desperately anxious about the Russian ties, but I think there was less there than people thought, and perhaps the Mango Mussolini was disappointed. And as for part b: how could anyone with gravitas possibly get on with Dumpy Donald? With T contradicting Tillerson anytime he goes bored, it was impossible for Tillerson to do the job.


More climate suing stuff

Via a somewhat weird Twatter post, comes news of yet another climate-suing case. Are there so many that I'm losing track? It is hard to know. Why isn't Brian on top of all this? Trying to work out what is going on I find Big Oil Climate Change Suits Stay in Federal Court, which tells me that U.S. District Judge William Alsup found the cities of Oakland and San Francisco cannot sue oil companies for public nuisance under state law because the alleged misconduct occurred on a global scale and therefore falls under the federal court’s jurisdiction. That appears to start further back: San Francisco, Oakland Blame Oil Giants for Rising Sea Levels, from 2017, says Oakland and San Francisco sued five major oil companies on Tuesday, claiming they should cover the costs of sea walls and other projects needed to protect the cities from the consequences of climate change. “These fossil fuel companies profited handsomely for decades... and so on. The usual stuff. I've already explained why I think the fundamental point here is wrong, although in a different context and perhaps not clearly, so I'll do it again: the people getting most of the benefit out of fossil fuels are the consumers. The benefits they get are warm homes in winter and cool ones in summer, and electricity, and flights to distant places, and so on. For the same reason, fossil fuel companies don't have enough to pay out the expected liabilities, should they be found liable; or so I'd guess.

But that's not the end of the legal fun-n-games: The oil companies say they can’t be sued for problems caused by fossil fuel emissions because any such claims are preempted by the federal Clean Air Act, which regulates emissions. The cities counter that the Clean Air Act only preempts federal common law claims, not state law claims. By concluding that the cities cannot sue oil companies for public nuisance under state law, Alsup undercut some of the cities’ key legal arguments. But the cities also advanced a novel theory of liability that could enable them to sidestep the Clean Air Act preemption problem. Oakland and San Francisco seek to hold the companies liable for public relations campaigns aimed at discrediting scientific research on global warming. The cities also want the companies held liable for selling fossil fuels, rather than emitting pollutants.

I think that holding someone liable for selling fossil fuels, when you yourself not only permit them to do so but tax them for doing so, and you personally use their products, is implausible. The idea of suing them for disinformation is possible, but, meh. It turns out that part of this was decided some time ago; American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut says the [Supreme] Court, in an 8–0 decision, held that corporations cannot be sued for greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) under federal common law, primarily because the Clean Air Act (CAA) delegates the management of carbon dioxide and other GHG emissions to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Aha! But perhaps the Clean Air Act only regulates the companies that burn fossil-fuels, not the companies that sell them. That, too, sounds unlikely.

But the fun bit is the "tutorial". It appears that the judge has asked the various participants to come prepared to answer some questions. Some of them are quite science-y and very easy and probably both sides will be able to answer with a straight face, such as "What is the molecular difference by which CO2 absorbs infrared radiation but oxygen and nitrogen do not?" (Andrew Dessler's answer to this is weak). Some are rather weird and I can't really understand why they are being asked, such as "Does CO2 in the atmosphere reflect any sunlight back into space such that the reflected sunlight never penetrates the atmosphere in the first place?". Point 5 is also odd, and appears to be global warming is not from waste heat. But, maybe he's trying to get them to do sufficiently quantitative calculations to show that, which would require them to actually agree on the radiative forcing from CO2. Aha! Perhaps it is a trap. It will be interesting to see the outcome; I suspect the main thing to ensure will be that the discussion doesn't get bogged down. This has echoes of U.S. fossil fuel groups pull out of climate change court case, which provided the glorious "But discord arose among them after a judge ordered them to submit a joint filing stating their views on climate science". In this instance, “The court is forcing these companies to go on the record about their understanding of climate science, which they have desperately tried to avoid doing,” said Marco Simmons. And he may well be right.


* Alsup asks for answers at RC. Although vitiated by it's "somewhat uniquely" - Gavin has gone over to the dark side - it does notice that some of the questions are a little odd, but provides good answers, should you want them.
* Schwarzenegger jumps on the bandwaggon too.
* Eli can do the easy ones.
San Francisco, Oakland Climate Cases to Stay in Federal Court, Judge Rules.


The oil industry knew about climate change long before the American public did?

knew Via Twatter, we come to yearsoflivingdangerously.com and their theme, "Big Oil Knew". And it is essentially the same drivel1 as On its hundredth birthday in 1959, Edward Teller warned the oil industry about global warming?, except they've been a bit more careless in their wording. Specifically, see this screen grab: "The oil industry knew about climate change long before the American public did". Oooh, isn't that just calculated to wind you up? Those Evil Oil Executives had secret knowledge that they hid from you. Except, of course, they didn't. They had public knowledge. Joe Public may not have read that knowledge - which is not too surprising, if you'd given Joe Public the report and put a gun to his head he'd probably still have refused to read anything so boring. But the report of the 1959 symposium was published, publically. If newspapers decided not to report it, if the government chose not to disseminate that information, then that was their choice.

Of course they are correct - if rather blurred in their timelines - to say that the API and its friends, most obviously Exxon under Lee Raymond, said things sufficiently misleading to constitute misinformation and probably lies. But I don't see that justifies them lying in return.

BTW, perhaps you are wondering: "why do you attack these nice people for lying? They are nice people, the sort of people I would invite to a dinner party, and they are lying - well, let us be kind, they aren't really thinking carefully, they're just putting their point of view across forcefully - in a good cause. Why don't you attack the nasty people who lie for bad reasons?" And the answer is of course that I have, but I've done that, just consider it read.

As a reward for reading that drivel, some wise words from Latif, 2010:

“There are numerous newspapers, radio stations and television channels all trying to get our attention. Some overstate and some want to downplay the problem as a way to get that attention,” he said. “We are trying to discuss in the media a highly complex issue. Nobody would discuss the problem of [Einstein’s theory of] relativity in the media. But because we all experience the weather, we all believe that we can assess the global warming problem”


1. It is possible to misinterpret what I'm calling "drivel". Teller was significantly wrong, per the linked post, but his words aren't drivel. The drivel I'm referring to is the claim, re-made in the current stuff, that there was some big secret hidden from the public.


* Evaluation of the Study, “Assessing ExxonMobil’s climate change communications (1977–2014)” by Geoffrey Supran and Naomi Oreskes, published in Environmental Research Letters, 2017 by Kimberly A. Neuendorf, Ph.D. February 22, 2018. Via Exxon-Funded Study Rebuts Research That Showed It Deceived Public on Climate, by Climate Liability News.


Is Bruno Latour a useless ponce?

Shamefully, RS doesn't address this vital question. But, contra Betteridge, I think the answer has to be Yes. My text is RS's: The LA review of books The Critical Zone of Science and Politics: An Interview with Bruno Latour Steve Paulson interviews Bruno Latour. We begin with "BRUNO LATOUR HAS NEVER been easy to pin down" which is another way of saying we're not really sure what if any contribution he has made. Let's quote Sokal and Bricmont:

The strong programme in the sociology of science has found an echo in France, particularly around Bruno Latour. His works contain a great number of propositions formulated so ambiguously that they can hardly be taken literally. And when one removes the ambiguity— as we shall do here in a few examples— one reaches the conclusion that the assertion is either true but banal, or else surprising but manifestly false.
Naturally, the fawning interviewer in the LA RoB isn't tactless enough to bring that up, preferring softballs.


Latour starts off with Lovelock, who he claims to have read very carefully. He seems quite unaware that in 2010 Lovelock went Emeritus. But it turns out that Latour's aim is to contribute to a precise definition of Gaia as a political entity which is a stupid idea anyway.

Sociology of science

As the article keeps going back to, Latour is still doing sociology of science, and not saying anything new.

Is that it?

I scrolled down a bit further but failed to find anything interesting.


* Feyerabend.
Werner Krauss is a tosser.
* Leading Science and Technology Experts Named Breakthrough Senior Fellows, 2010.
LaSi vs EcMd: round two.
Laudato Si versus the Ecomodernists.


How much would we have to adjust our lifestyle to stop global warming?

This question came up recently; characteristically, I have forgotten where. But it reappears on Quora with an answer by mt. As usual I find mt's answers thoughtful but, where applied to a domain that could be called "policy", wrong.

mt's answer

Is, condensed: the things people think will change a lot - how we get around, what we eat, where we vacation, would not change anywhere near as much as they think. But something else which most people think of as tangential must change drastically - how we think about the world, how we engage with it, what we take responsibility for, how we decide what is a good thing to do and what is not. These are nice thoughts. But IMO they are not realistic thoughts. I say this for reasons similar to my universally acclaimed That it is easier to agree on economics than morality; or the previous Architecture and morality. And my argument, deeply compressed, is that it is easier to improve technology than it is to improve people. Of course, you can try to do both; but while making tech better is nearly unambiguously good, making people better has a chequered history for the obvious reasons: whose version of "good" are we going to go with, a problem that stretches back as far as Plato and probably before.

What do you mean "we", white man?

Still a classic after all these years. By chance it was pretty much the first thing I saw on usenet, and as you'd hope some humourless person totally failed to understand it. Anyway the point is that of course a privileged minority can maintain a near arbitrary lifestyle. The entire world can't emit CO2 at USAnian per capita levels though. Over the coming <arbitrary time period, a few decades perhaps> more of the globally poor are going to become rather less poor, as exemplified most obviously by China.

My answer

If we're not going to have to change our lifestyles, then what was all the fuss about?

That isn't a full answer, so I suppose I should say more. Our lifestyles are going to change. Some of the changes are quasi-predictable - driverless cars, for example, though exactly what that will change them into is less obvious - and some of the changes will be unexpected. As a best guess, I think it likely that these only-tangentially-related-to-GW changes will be larger than the GW related ones. In particular, the rapid cheapening of solar PV is promising. In this sense, I am assuming non-apocalyptic futures. I think that is likely correct, but of course I can't prove it. People get terribly grumpy if you take away their shiny toys, either the ones they have got used to or the ones they were hoping to get used to, so rather than planning to do that it's better to plan to substitute.


Should we care about the world after 2100?
Manuel Ayau: Guatemala’s Liberal Searcher.
FT: The Big Green Bang: how renewable energy became unstoppable.
Whats wrong with the world - me, 2010.
* A harder line view, from CH, from 2007.


OECD: Fossil fuel subsidies added up to at least $373bn in 2015?

CarbonBrief is at fossil fuel subsidies, which I last seem to have covered in 2015 in Fossil fuels subsidised by $10m a minute, says IMF?, and if your calculator is rusty that's $5.3 tr a year. That's more than a factor of 10 difference, which you'd expect CB to notice. They sort-of do, with The [OECD] report also does not include any estimates for the cost of externalities – such as climate change – resulting from the use of fossil fuels, as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has previously included. But that's it. Note that calling not costing an externality a subsidy was one of my major objections to the previous report. Now I look a little harder, the "subsidies" in this report may be the "pre-tax subsidies" of the previous; see the blue diamonds in fig 4 of the previous.

Before wading into the detail there's another thing to explore (beyond me making the habitual whinge that they don't provide a convenient link to the report they're talking about) which is the word "subsidy". Last time (see my link) we had a big discussion about what might meaningfully be called a subsidy. This time, the source report OECD Companion to the Inventory of Support Measures for Fossil Fuels 2018 (at least, I assume that's their source, I can't be sure, see rant previous) somewhat interestingly uses the word "support" not "subsidy", at least in their headline. Is this a semantic game or does it matter? If the OECD has deliberately chosen a different word, it would be nice to think they probably have a good reason. But it isn't clear that they do have; if they explain the distinction they are trying to make, I failed to find it (and, for example, fig 1.3 is headlined fossil fuel support in Indonesia, but the caption reports subsidy data). CarbonBrief uses the word "support" 59 times and the word "subsidy" 35 times, but as far as I can see show no awareness of any difference. So, I shall ignore the distinction and use the word "subsidy".

An example of how slippery the concept of "subsidy" is, is provided by figure 1.2, for the column for France, which shows a huge increase in support for Coal. Foot note 2 helpfully explains this: France introduced a "carbon tax component in fuel taxation" in 2015, but energy-intensive things not covered by the ETS and that were subject to possible "carbon leakage" pay pre-2015 tax rates. This counts as support. And in a sense it is; but it would probably be more accurately be described as "non-penalisation". And of course the industry itself has not had its tax position changed at all by this measure, yet it shows as a huge change.

Another is something not in the OECD report, but in the CarbonBrief report, is specific report to UK fossil fuel support. This notes that The UK defines fossil fuel subsidies as government action that “lowers the pretax price to consumers to below international market levels”. Therefore, the UK government argues that it does not provide any fossil fuel subsidies. CB notes that this is similar to the definition used by the IEA; but then continues Definitions of “fossil fuel subsidy” aside, the OECD inventory documents a significant level of support for fossil fuels in the UK. So, that's a bit confusing.

Some things are unambiguous subsidies: where the government supplies fuel at prices below market rates. Those are stupid and should be stopped, obviously. The report notes Mexico and Indonesia moving in this direction. On the producer side, the report tells me that Germany subsidies hard-coal production (this OECD report says  As production costs remain well above revenues, the company gets substantial government subsidies). That's mad, obviously, and shouldn't happen.

There's another oddity, on page 18, where they discuss (with approval) France and Belgium "phased out fossil fuel subsidies" by removing the tax differentiation between Petrol and Diesel. But this doesn't make sense: diesel is more CO2-efficient, and so should indeed be taxed less? Ah, but although the report cares deeply about the Paris agreement etc. etc., CO2 is not it's measure; all they care about is differentials? I don't really understand their thinking on this point and they don't really explain themselves. They seem to regard any (tax) that differentiates between petrol and diesel as a subsidy; would they regard tax differentials between petrol and coal as a subsidy?

There appears to be a concept of "efficient" and "inefficient" fossil fuel subsidies. Unfortunately the last sentence of the Exec Summary notes that there is no consensus as to when a subsidy might be "inefficient". So although people promise to phase out "inefficient" subsidies (as you'd rather hope; why have them in the first place?) this may not mean very much. Section 1.2 discusses this; the implication is that subsidies that encourage wasteful use are "inefficient".

Overall the report isn't really telling me what I'd like to see. I'd like to see total subsidies split up into different classes, and by different countries, in a more useful way. Figure A.1 (I've belatedly got that far) partially answers that.


Maggie, head of a truncated Lents. Caius bumped Downing to go second, but would not have caught Maggie even if the other two days had happened; it took them until past the railway bridge to get Downing. See more.


GWPF membership inclines?

28423603_10156117037322350_1639370992866642754_o Last year in GWPF membership declines? I reported, based on the Indy, on an apparent decline in the membership of the GWPF, based on membership income as given by the accounts. The numbers - these are membership income, in pounds, not members - were:

2010  8186
2011 14330
2012 12161
2013 12771
2014  9871
2015  6049
2016  5479

To that we can now add:

2017 11937

So that's a rather sudden jump in income, although still to a low level. One possibility is that they've noticed people looking at the numbers and have persuaded some to increase their donations. Another, of course, is that the membership has actually gone up. Now I look, The Ecologist has noticed too but they also don't know. Their headline is Climate science denial group GWPF sees membership income double post Trump's election but I'm dubious of the Trump connection. Companies house says the accounts were filed on 15 Feb 2018.

My rubbish picture - it was late on a grey and very cold day - shows a crowd-sourced attempt to clear the towpath to allow Lents to take place on Friday, having been stopped on Wednesday after an accident, and not run at all on Thursday due to dangerous conditions on the towpath.


Time considered as a helix of semi precious stoats

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

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


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

Carbon Tax

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


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



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

Evil Arch Climate Uber Villains




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


Public Good


* Lents 2017: More hot bumping action.


Climate chickenhawks

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

The true meaning of fat

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

Determining the truth

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

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

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


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

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


Chris de Freitas considered stiff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


Tim Ball considered incredible

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

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

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


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

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

In summary

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


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


Rocket science!

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


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


And I liked this:


I suppose it's rocket engineering, really.


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


ExxonMobil: Positioning for a Lower-Carbon Energy Future?

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

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

But enough of that. What does Exxon actually say?

Letter from the Chairman

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

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

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

Summary at-a-glance

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

Considering 2°C scenarios

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

Potential proved reserves and resources impacts considering 2°C scenarios

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

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

Errm, any questions?

The pointt what

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


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

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

The quote is

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


* Free trade - Left behind? by Christopher Rowe.
* Politics and Prohibition - Don Boudreaux.
The Case for Freedom Does Not Rest on the Assumption of Perfection - CH


The global CO2 rise: the facts, Exxon and the favorite denial tricks?

A recent slightly dodgy RC post from Stephan triggered my knee-jerk. It is about knocking back, yet again, the stupid denialist idea that the recent CO2 rise could possibly be natural. That's all fine, of course, anyone discussing GW with those not really capable of thought comes across this idea; I can find myself mentioning it back in 2005, and I'm sure I did so earlier too.

No, the dodgy bit is "How Exxon misled the public against better knowledge: One fascinating question is where this false idea of humans just contributing a tiny bit to the relentless rise in atmospheric CO2 has come from? Have a look at this advertorial (a paid-for editorial) by ExxonMobil in the New York Times from 1997...".

As Stephan says, of the advertorial, "That is pretty clever and could hardly be an accident. The impression is given that..." but the same can be said of his post "That is pretty clever and could hardly be an accident. The impression is given that Exxon originated this idea; but no evidence is presented." Stephan is a good scientist and knows the difference between showing X said a thing and showing that X originated a thing.

Aanyway, the point is: I had a look back and can't now from this distance find where the idea comes from. It was certainly common stupid currency in the Usenet days. I probably saw it before 1997, but don't actually know.

Ah. If I look back to What I said about Exxon I can find Lee Raymond talking drivel, in 1997. As I said then "We've had this before on sci.environment. Steve Hales should certainly know better than to post rubbish like this. Raymond may not know better, but he should have enough expensive advisors who should be able to tell him better. I can only conclude that he (Raymond) is deliberately trying to mislead."


* Yes more Exxon drivel
The Weekend Wonk: Growing Legal Wolfpack Hunting Oil Industry on Climate, Corruption
* RS suggests a dry ice palace
So, this equality of wages lark then - Timmy


I babble in an unknown tongue

I was turning over certain rowing-related matters in my mind today, and chanced upon a memory:
“What are your fees?" inquired Guyal cautiously. 
"I respond to three questions," stated the augur. "For twenty terces I phrase the answer in clear and actionable language; for ten I use the language of cant, which occasionally admits of ambiguity; for five, I speak a parable which you must interpret as you will; and for one terce, I babble in an unknown tongue.”
Vance, of course. I discover that I've had occasion to use this before; once every five years is not unreasonable. It may be convenient to write it here, not connected to other blog-related matters, so I have.


* There's no light the foolish can see better by.
A Case for Repealing All Antitrust Legislation - CH of course, but touches on the way conventional economics is equilibrium
* From Ronald Coase‘s 1972 article “Industrial Organization: A Proposal for Research”]
The variability diet - VV


WATN: Trump

In Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight / Where ignorant armies clash by night I made some brilliantly prescient predictions on how Trump's presidency was likely to go. But my overall prediction was "minor". I'm still defending that for now; wake me up when the nukes start falling. Regrettably, it looks like I got "Opposition" spot-on.

I was going to attempt a review of economist's reviews, but got bored at one but I liked it, so: Trump's Mixed Report Card - Richard A. Epstein at the Hoover Institute starts As we come to the end of 2017, it is perhaps appropriate to take stock of the ups and downs of the Trump presidency. For progressives, this is a simple calculation. They despise the man and his policies, so it is easy for them to mount a full-scale denunciation of both. Many populists admire the man for his bravado and have a guarded acceptance of his policies, so their sentiments run in the opposite direction, which most people will sign up to. Of his own assessment, For classical liberals like me, however, the calculations become difficult. The bad news is the man. The good news is his administration. The overall picture is a tricky composite. The President’s oft-manifested indifference to managing the executive branch allows his able subordinates to work diligently to undo many of the misguided initiatives of the Obama administration and to propose useful reforms. But the moment the president gets involved, anything can happen.

On the "minor" note, I put forward as an example Trump-appointed regulators reject plan to rescue coal and nuclear plants (arch). This was a witty and amusing attempt to feed some subsidies to the coal folk. I thought it was quite funny the way everyone reacted to the very idea that anything other than things that they like could possibly be subsidised. But, after a pile of words and much wasted time and effort, it all comes to nothing.

As I said in Dover BeachAll the stories about Trump deleting data will turn out to be nonsense. All the people squirrelling data away will look stupid, and will do their best to quietly forget they ever did it or suggested it, or pretend it never happened. The second bit of that certainly hasn't happened; CHANGING THE DIGITAL CLIMATE (h/t MM via fb) is more of the same. Does it, conversely, prove me wrong? Not obviously. I didn't read the entire thing - obviously - but the Key Findings start with The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) removal and subsequent ongoing overhaul of its climate change website raises strong concerns about loss of access to valuable information for state, local, and tribal governments, and for educators, policymakers, and the general public. So I think I'm entitled to assume that's important for them. And if you follow that section you find "The most significant reduction in access to an agency’s climate change information occurred when..." so yeah, this is key for them. But then reading on I can't find any actual real datasets that have been removed. Can you? I'm not interested in stuff like them removing "Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change" which was probably pointless anyway; just read Global Warming (why must everyone have their own wheel?).

May / Brexit

This is a convenient place for me to quote the Economist about how useless Theresa May is: Theresa May adds a botched reshuffle to her growing list of botches The prime minister’s latest failure to relaunch confirms her as an unsafe pair of hands... her most conspicuous defect—the fact that she had never knowingly said anything of any interest about anything... her biggest problem is more fundamental: she doesn’t have any ideas... Mrs May is locked in place, because her party is terrified of provoking a civil war over Brexit. And booting out the Tories would mean electing an opposition that has been captured by a neo-Marxist clique.


* A Rough Guide to Climbing at Dover
The one-year-old Trump presidency - the Economist is not keen on him either.
* No discredit where none is due: Donald Trump’s economic policy has not been as bad as expected: Meanwhile, the economy is booming - the Economist.
* Has President Trump Been Very Consequential?David Henderson- econlog; points to Inside the new trade arguments Trump is hearing.
* Ha ha told you so: Buzzfeed pretty well admits I'm right. fb'd by MM, too.
That GOP 'tax scam' is putting money in millions of workers' pockets.
Trump's Punt On Fake News Awards: In The End, He's Got Nothing.
* Yet another end-of-year-one assessment.
Bombardier wins fight against huge tariffs on aircraft imports


tumblr_p1a1ggkHGW1rqxd5ko5_1280 Inspired by CIP's ventures into philosophy (see also my insightful comment) I thought I would share my little project to improve the "dialectic" article on wiki. Regular readers will know my hatred of wanky philosophical words that I don't really understand, and "dialectic" is one of them. Partly because it seems to have a different meaning for every person that uses it. But! I think I have now become enlightened - on this issue at least - and have decided to share my enlightenment.

This is a link to the state of the article as I found it. Before touching it I threatened to improve it, but no-one responded, so I've made it better. If you prefer you can look at the diff.

Ironically, perhaps, the dictionary definition was most helpful in resolving the problem. So the answer is threefold:

1. Any formal system of reasoning that arrives at a truth by the exchange of logical arguments.

Or, put another way, hardly to be distinguished from discussion, except we emphasise rationality and put aside appeals to emotion (and we'll quietly forget that many of the actual Socratic dialogues don't do this). This I think is part of my annoyance with the philosophers: adding a word that can only just be distinguished from a commonplace word, so as to make their sentences more high falutin'; and then failing to distinguish different meanings of their shiny new word carefully.

2. A contradiction of ideas that serves as the determining factor in their interaction.

This is the Hegelian version. Subtly, the concept of evolution or process has come in; in that things start in one state and end in another. Quite exactly what it means is up for grabs; if you believe Popper it allows contrary ideas to stand and is thus the death of reason; if you're an Hegel fanboi it will mean something subtly different; as you can tell I'm not a great fan of big H. But that's OK; my purpose on wiki was mostly to distinguish things.

3. A progress of conflict, especially class conflict.

This is the Marxist version. TBH I'm still not entirely sure what it is, but I think it just takes the "process" idea and runs with it; the connection with the original meaning has become rather tenuous at this point.

There's another point - which I'm not fully sure of - which is that dialectic doesn't fit well with formal logic. The arguments can all be logical, of course, but it relies on a process of evolution, whereas logic is timeless. Anyone able to explicate that more clearly - or refute it - is welcome to try.

And there you have it. If you have any interest, or even philosophical training, I encourage you to improve the wiki article too. As long as you agree with me, of course.


* Jesus and Mo.


Another Koch-Up

kochup Proof - in the unlikely event that proof were needed - of the Ultimate Evil that is the Kochs (Koch-Up / Cock-Up. Geddit? Oh of course you do, don't be so po-faced) is contained in this screen-grab of a Tweet (archive). The offending text - I presume, JB is too outraged to say explicitly what offends him - is the bit about interglacials lasting 10 kyr and so the current one must be due to end. This isn't true, of course; but the error is a commonplace one. Tagging it to the Koch's is just paranoia and stupidity. It comes into the "global cooling" wars of course; so much that wiki even has some text explaining itIt is common to see it asserted that the length of the current interglacial temperature peak is similar to the length of the preceding interglacial peak (Sangamon/Eem), and from this conclude that we might be nearing the end of this warm period. This conclusion is mistaken. Firstly, because the lengths of previous interglacials were not particularly regular;[10] see figure. Petit et al. note that "interglacials 5.5 and 9.3 are different from the Holocene, but similar to each other in duration, shape and amplitude. During each of these two events, there is a warm period of 4 kyr followed by a relatively rapid cooling". Secondly, future orbital variations will not closely resemble those of the past. [11]

I'm guessing this is where ATTP's latest comes from; it is too much of a coincidence otherwise.


* Contrary views at WUWT by RS.
* The climate change misinformation at a top museum is not a conservative conspiracy - the Verge; h/t anon in the comments.


Global SST, WWII, global cooling, and forgetting

One of the things that made global cooling plausible was the observed temperature record although you have to be a bit wary, when talking about what people thought in the 1970s, because of course the record they had available then wasn't as good as the one we have now. But anyway, as you can see from that pic, the "cooling" from the 1940s to the 1970s was more of a plateau, coupled with a peak during WWII (insofar as it makes any sense to talk about a record in that way).

This was always a bit problematic, but in 2008 quite a bit of it disappeared, when A large discontinuity in the mid-twentieth century in observed global-mean surface temperature (Thompson et al., Nature 453, 646–649 (29 May 2008) doi:10.1038/nature06982) appeared; also known as "Post-World War II cooling a mirage". I noticed this at the time; and JA was characteristically caustic; but other than making the modelling easier it didn't really have much consequence and I don't know quite how it got folded into the records. Not very much, I suppose, since I've just pointed you to a recent record with the same problem in it.

And now, Kevin Cowtan, Robert Rohde, Zeke Hausfather have discovered the same thing. At least, it looks very much like the same thing. Sou notices the new stuff, but doesn't refer to the old. Cowtan's blog explainer doesn't mention "Thompson". The paper itself does: "(Thompson et al. 2008) detected an inhomogeneity in the sea surface temperature record arising from a change in the shipping fleet at the end of World War 2 by comparison of sea surface temperatures to temperatures from coastal weather stations and from climate models".