Hiding the Decline: Prologue

According to the summaries I’ve seen, the 61 megabytes of email and documents net-jacked from the Climate Research Unit a few days ago do not — quite — reify conservatives’ darkest fantasies about “the team” (as the network of professional anthropogenic-global-warming alarmists communicating through CRU likes to style itself). To do that, they’d have to contain marching orders from the Socialist International.

However, the excerpts I’ve seen are already quite damning enough; among other things, they are evidence of criminal conspiracy to violate the Freedom Of Information act. And I no longer have to speculate about the rest; I’ve downloaded the documents from Pirate Bay and will study them myself.

For those of you who have been stigmatizing AGW skeptics as “deniers” and dismissing their charges that the whole enterprise is fraudulent? Hope you like the taste of crow, because I do believe there’s a buttload of it coming at you. Piping hot.

Am I going to blog about it? Heh…try to stop me…

UPDATE: I’ve read about 10% of the material and started a file of notes on it, but been delayed by preparing for a major release on one of my projects. In the meantime, read this excellent summary with links to the original emails.

125 thoughts on “Hiding the Decline: Prologue

  1. If the point is dominance games based on pious fraud, this will change nothing.

    Pious fraud works great for orthodoxy-sniffing. Even when the orthodox are caught ‘hiding the decline’, they display are all the more orthodoxy for being caught.

  2. Creationists are going to have a field day with this.

    Huh ?

    Yes. One of the creationists argument is that the theory of evolution is a conspiracy of sinister scientists who are trying to manipulate society for their own purposes. That is how they try to explain away the scientific consensus on evolution.
    There was also a “scientifice consensus” on climate change. And guess what ? Apparently it was a bunch of sinister scientists trying to manipulate society. And – the creationist will argue – it therefore casts skepticism on any claim of scientific consensus.

    The damage that these climate scientists have done will reach far beyond their own field. They tarnished the whole field of science.

  3. Christof Jans Says:
    > the scientific consensus on evolution. There was also a “scientifice consensus”
    > on climate change.

    They are two completely different things. Evolution has been demonstrated under the scientific process many times. The underlying mechanisms of evolution are very well understood, and again can readily be demonstrated by the scientific method in a lab. This is certainly not true of weather science and climate change.

    > The damage that these climate scientists have done
    > will reach far beyond their own field. They tarnished
    > the whole field of science.

    I hope you are right. The world would be a much better place if the public understand that scientists were not some ivory tower academics, unmoved by pressures and politics, untainted by pragmatics in their pure search for truth. But rather they are what they are: regular folks subject to the same political pressures, and pressures of ambition, greed, envy and so forth that everyone else is, perhaps most importantly, that they are not omniscient, and can readily be fooled.

    Perhaps the general public will learn enough to say to all scientific claims those two words that encapsulate the very essence of science: “prove it.”

    Scientists are not due respect because of their white coats, they should have to earn respect, same as everyone else.

  4. >And – the creationist will argue – it therefore casts skepticism on any claim of scientific consensus.

    As well it should.

    Those who claim “scientific consensus” as a justification for any position are attempting to perpetrate a fraud, and have only themselves to blame when it blows back on them. The proper justification of any theory is not “consensus”, it is predictive power.

  5. “…Creationists are going to have a field day with this…..”
    Perhaps. I’m not convinced they will, but perhaps…at least the Creationists aren’t trying to impose economically suicidal policy on the planet. Yet.

    “…The damage that these climate scientists have done will reach far beyond their own field. They tarnished the whole field of science….”
    This is what makes me angry. These charlatan ‘scientists’ need to be publicly burned at the stake. Al Gore’s blubber should be used as a firelighter.

  6. “…The proper justification of any theory is not “consensus”, it is predictive power….”
    Amen. Google Crichton’s essay/speech on this very subject.

  7. Perhaps. I’m not convinced they will, but perhaps…at least the Creationists aren’t trying to impose economically suicidal policy on the planet. Yet.

    You have no idea…

    This is what makes me angry. These charlatan ’scientists’ need to be publicly burned at the stake. Al Gore’s blubber should be used as a firelighter.

    You sure you’re not a Creationist? :-P

  8. “…Creationists are going to have a field day with this…..”
    Perhaps. I’m not convinced they will,

    Just watch us! esr said something about predictive power. He hasn’t seen anything yet.

  9. Am I the only AGW skeptic who regards this data as just too…umm…Snidely J Whiplash, to be plausibly genuine?

    They’re admitting in email to participating in a conspiracy to cover up the truth. I mean, I can easily believe supposed “scientists” being so deluded by their own dogmatic belief in AGW to accept the evidence that’s presented to them, but find it much harder to credit the notion that anyone with the mental and emotional temperament to pursue a career in the physical sciences simultaneously recognizing that what’s going on is (as it actually is) a massive cover-up and intimidation job for political ends, and then continuing to do it anyway.

    It just seems like it would require so much more _self_ deception than is in evidence here…

  10. Per your request, this is me attempting to stop you from blogging about it. I’m using The Force …. NOW. There, did you feel anything? A certain reluctance to blog, maybe?

  11. I wonder if the creationists might not be right in the evidence, but wrong in their cause? Maybe we humans were created by a low-bid contractor to some drunken space aliens who didn’t bother to build a mock-up?

  12. > Perhaps the general public will learn enough to say to all scientific claims those two words that
    > encapsulate the very essence of science: “prove it.”

    Agreed. Science should have no fear from its detractors. If the theories posited are correct, they will stand up to scrutiny. If incorrect, it won’t. Period. Even if the detractors are full of crap, like young earth creationists, full open disclosure and constant debate and challenge to “accepted” theories is good. Otherwise, we’d still be using heat particles, epicycles, and humours. Who knows — a crazy creationist could actually find a real hole somewhere, which could cause some scientist to discover some detailed mechanisms of evolution that we didn’t have before, largely because we didn’t look?

  13. “For those of you who have been stigmatizing AGW skeptics as “deniers” and dismissing their charges that the whole enterprise is fraudulent?”

    If AGW blows up in their face, they will move on without skipping a beat. Hey, there’s ocean acidification, peak oil and other man-made disasters on the horizon. The cure is the same, the disease matters not so much.

  14. Per your request, this is me attempting to stop you from blogging about it. I’m using The Force …. NOW. There, did you feel anything? A certain reluctance to blog, maybe?

    I sense a …. disturbance in the Force … it’s as if a million monkeys with typewriters cried out and were suddenly silenced…

  15. “…Just watch us! esr said something about predictive power. He hasn’t seen anything yet….”

    I look forward to seeing your attempt. I’m confident you’ll end up appearing dumber, and being just as discredited, as these AGW goons. I’d take a deep breath and think it through, if I were you ;)

  16. Science should have no fear from its detractors. If the theories posited are correct, they will stand up to scrutiny. If incorrect, it won’t. Period. Even if the detractors are full of crap, like young earth creationists, full open disclosure and constant debate and challenge to “accepted” theories is good.

    I, too, torrented these same documents from TPB. (Still not down! Yay!) It does appear that there is some editing and covering up of some of the evidence from these people. Do these folks not realize that they are doing more to harm their cause than to promote it by fudging results? If they really do believe that AGW is real, if they really do believe that policy changes are necessary, then why lie?

    Whether or not AGW is real, you have to admit that some of the things being pushed for are good: getting the world to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is definitely a good thing no matter how you look at it. Motivating people to recycle is a good thing. OTOH, the Kyoto Protocols are stupid and moronic. Carbon trading? Pffffft. The sad reality is that kind of crap detracts from the very real problems of pollution: : burning fossil fuels definitely lowers air quality in our major cities, which causes real illness in human beings. Tossing stuff into land fills is leaching chemicals into the soil and polluting our ground water. Why not focus on the real problems than waste time worrying about something that seems improvable?

  17. “…getting the world to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is definitely a good thing no matter how you look at it….”
    Really? Why? What’s wrong with fossil fuels? They’re a perfectly ‘natural’ product. Seems to me that a huge amount of life on planet Earth took a helluva long time to make the stuff….what?….we’re supposed to ignore it? Harvesting coal/oil from the ground doesn’t inflate food prices like ethanol corn does ;) The whole ‘renewability’ mantra is nonsense too. Rock isn’t renewable, water isn’t renewable, yet we still use them…..actually, fossil fuels are renewable, just not on a timeframe we’re happy with.

    I would like to see advances in efficiency for technology that consumes fossil fuels – get more bang for our buck.

    If somebody invented a portable device that could power our home from refuse (Yay! Energy independence for the people!), our economy would be destroyed. Think about it.

  18. It just seems like it would require so much more _self_ deception than is in evidence here…

    And what’s surprising about that? A bunch of scientists, each thinking “All those other people’s evidence points to an urgent calamity! Surely I’d be doing a disservice to humanity if I let someone make a big deal out of my contrary evidence, which is clearly just a minor outlier!”

    I’ve seen this in “Lying for the Lord” type religions – zealots utterly convinced that saving a potential convert’s soul is so important as to justify lying about the theology the convert has problems with, without realizing that the zealot’s own upbringing/conversion process was based on information provided by similar righteous liars… it only takes a small kernel of malicious lies or even well-meaning mistakes or exaggerations to start snowballing, when there seems to be enough on the line.

  19. >I sense a …. disturbance in the Force … it’s as if a million monkeys with typewriters cried out and were suddenly silenced…

    My wife’s comment: “How dare they compare you to a million monkeys on typewriters? To imitate your eloquence it would take at least a billion!”

  20. >>I sense a …. disturbance in the Force … it’s as if a million monkeys with typewriters cried out and were suddenly silenced…

    Brilliant.

    Comments like this make reading blogs worthwhile.

  21. Not that there’s not an argument in their flaw, but in addition to these private emails, some AGW proponents have stated publicly that the ends of implementing policy changes justify the means of distorting and exaggerating findings. I can think of nothing that does more to destroy the credibility of the scientific community as a whole, not just climatologists.

    I would say that climatology and paleoclimatology are among the most complicated, immature and inexact sciences. Yet so many on both “sides” of the AGW issue speak in such absolutes. Some are apparent crackpots. At first, I’m sure, the issues were scientific. Then, it became political. Then it became religious. Now, it’s mostly economical. Nobody want to buy into something nebulous that will have a significant impact on their economic future.

  22. “Actually, here is his speech…a little less than halfway down is the attack on ‘consensus science’.”

    What an excellent article! If any of you happens to know a Fairy Godmother, please ask her to make a news aggregator website like Reddit but full of articles like this, cutting out all the crap. (No, HN is not that one, HN focuses too much on programming.) Where and how did you guys find it? I’m basically asking for clues and guidelines to find good content like this.

    As for the article, it’s truly excellent, the only parts I find a bit ignorant are

    “But I did not expect science merely to extend lifespan, feed the hungry, cure disease, and shrink the world with jets and cell phones. I also expected science to banish the evils of human thought—prejudice and superstition, irrational beliefs and false fears. I expected science to be, in Carl Sagan’s memorable phrase, “a candle in a demon haunted world.” And here, I am not so pleased with the impact of science.”

    “Of course, any scientist can be charged as Galileo was charged. I just never thought I’d see the Scientific American in the role of mother church.”

    OK so the author is expressing the typical kind of Enlightenment Optimism here. All we have to do is to use our Reason and we all will be good-willing and reasonable people. Do I really have to explain what’s wrong with it – that the author thinks about the human mind as a software to be bugfixed and ignores the possibility that the hardware itself might have certain limitations, tendencies or built-in BIOS programs? That there is such a thing as human nature, a hardware, which doesn’t change just because we load into it different software? That even if we are materialists – I’m actually not but that’s a different issue – it’s plainly obvious that the brain is a purpose-built computer and not a general-purpose neutral computer? I thought it’s all more or less obvious by 2009?

    Other that this mistake of Enlightenment Optimism, I really enjoyed this article and will recommend to my friends.

  23. Really? Why? What’s wrong with fossil fuels? They’re a perfectly ‘natural’ product.

    Move to L.A. or Pittsburgh or New York City and then rethink that question.

  24. There is much similarity between the criticism of Anthropogenic Global Warming, and criticism of evolution. Of course the big difference is that the biologists did not claim to have evidence for evolution in the form of bones that they would not show to everyone else, and then, when hit with a freedom of information lawsuit demanding that they show the bones, announce that they had somehow lost the bones.

    However the problems Anthropogenic Global Warming are widespread in science and mathematics, in that peer review is apt to be done by little cliques who approve each other’s grants.

    If a journal has published something from this crowd, from anyone in the emails discussing stonewalling, then nothing that that journal publishes on a politically sensitive topic can be taken seriously ever again; for if FOI is stonewalled, then FOI is needed; if FOI is needed, then peer review is a lie; if peer review is a lie, then the whole journal is a lie.

    If you add a cup of wine to a barrel of sewage, you have a barrel of sewage. If you add a cup of sewage to a barrel of wine, you still have a barrel of sewage.

  25. I mean, I can easily believe supposed “scientists” being so deluded by their own dogmatic belief in AGW to accept the evidence that’s presented to them, but find it much harder to credit the notion that anyone with the mental and emotional temperament to pursue a career in the physical sciences simultaneously recognizing that what’s going on is (as it actually is) a massive cover-up and intimidation job for political ends, and then continuing to do it anyway.

    We know the truth, and if the data does not quite support the truth, then we must torture the data until it confesses. We then, however have a problem, since if we let people know that we were torturing the data, those horrible denialists might use that to cast doubt on global warming. Since the denialists are denying, drastic measures are required.

  26. @James A. Donald:

    But do we know the truth? I don’t think that we do. I think that some of the scientists purporting AGW as truth have a problem in that they are misrepresenting the truth. But what are those questioning these scientists putting forth? There is no AGW because those scientists are lying.

    But even if these scientists are lying, it doesn’t mean that AGW is false. It simply means that they are lying.

    My question is — is there any doubt that the planet is getting warmer? And if there’s a decline in temperatures, then why are the polar icecaps melting? This photographic evidence is particularly perplexing because it means that even if we dismiss these lunatics out of hand, we are still left with serious questions about this melting. Why is it occurring? What are the ramifications of this melting? And is there anything we can do about it? I think these photographs are alarming.

    The thing is that even if evidence of a recent decline in temperatures is true, remember what we are dealing with — statistics. Just as a stock may drop over the short-term, over the long-haul it may be trending upward. Looking at the short-term drop is a newbie mistake made by many newcomers to the stock market — we aren’t concerned with the statistical noise, we are concerned with the overall trend.

    What is the overall trend for global climate showing us? If it is trending up, then why?

    They may be lying, but I still think it’s important to know the truth, whether or not AGW is the truth.

  27. If somebody invented a portable device that could power our home from refuse (Yay! Energy independence for the people!), our economy would be destroyed. Think about it.

    Um…no it wouldn’t. Your argument is very similar to that of the RIAA etc. when faced with Bittorrent. What would happen is, the extractive industries would be badly hurt, but the rest of the economy would go on just fine, even better because no one has to pay power bills anymore.

  28. Um…no it wouldn’t. Your argument is very similar to that of the RIAA etc. when faced with Bittorrent.

    A musician coworker of mine:

    “You know what really killed music? Free music. You’re never gonna see another Prince, you’re never gonna see another Jimi Hendrix… I mean no one’s gonna bust their hump for 15 years without a pot of gold at the end of the fuckin’ rainbow… sure, maybe you’ll have the virtuosos who’ll go crazy if they don’t play but you won’t hear of those guys as long as people keep stealin’ music.”

    Music theft doesn’t hurt the big record companies and it doesn’t really hurt the big-name artists, the ones who are groomed by the record companies to become ridiculously high sellers. (Your Britney Spears, your Jonas Brothers). It hurts the little guy, the local band living at the edge of chaos, just one big break away from making it big or even making enough to feed their families with the proceeds from their music.

    The RIAA et al. support DRM just as a CYA move. The people who are really clamoring for an end to the file-sharing free-for-all are the little guys who bust their hump for 15 years only to see the payoff they were hoping for disappear.

  29. Tom, don’t feed the trolls.

    I’ve observed no evidence of Dan being a troll. That said…

    If somebody invented a portable device that could power our home from refuse (Yay! Energy independence for the people!), our economy would be destroyed. Think about it.

    Dan, I have no idea where the hell you get this notion. It sounds like some sort of Keynesian idea (i.e., hogwash from the start) distorted through multiple layers of paraphrasing. The health of the economy is not determined by how many slips of paper get passed around every year; it’s determined by how much wealth is being created (or saved from destruction). A device such as you describe would be a massive influx of new wealth.

    ESR says: I concur. Dan’s heart is usually in the right place, but he’s uttered an obvious absurdity with this one.

  30. Not that there’s not an argument in their flaw, but in addition to these private emails, some AGW proponents have stated publicly that the ends of implementing policy changes justify the means of distorting and exaggerating findings. I can think of nothing that does more to destroy the credibility of the scientific community as a whole, not just climatologists.

    Communicating with the vast bulk of American polity in terms they can understand, no matter how bogus, while certainly on questionable moral grounds, is nothing compared to the perfidy Big Oil has been caught practicing again and again and again…

    Meanwhile, I relish the chance to see Eric’s blog posts on this topic. Go ahead, blog about it. Your moment of smugness, of being able to point and shout “haha, pwnt!” as you did with the Halloween Documents, will pass. I have no reason to believe that this attack on the character of some of the scientists most deeply involved with climate change will have any impact on AGW as a scientific theory; like any such theory, it will stand or fall based on its own merits. Conservatives retroactively recasting a statistical analysis technique used in the MBH98 reconstruction — one examined and vetted by the U.S. Congress at the behest of Republican AGW-denier congressmen — as a sinister attempt to “hide the decline” with Andersen-like fudging techniques will have little to no impact on the legitimacy of the MBH98 model in the eyes of the scientific community.

  31. Those who claim “scientific consensus” as a justification for any position are attempting to perpetrate a fraud, and have only themselves to blame when it blows back on them. The proper justification of any theory is not “consensus”, it is predictive power.

    While this is true, this whole situation really fucking sucks, and I say this as a vindicated AGW skeptic. The public relies on the scientific establishment to be trustworthy — for the consensus to follow where the evidence leads. Nobody has the time or the background to independently evaluate the evidence for every scientific conclusion of importance. When reputable astronomers come to the consensus that they’ve discovered a trans-Neptunian object larger than Pluto, I don’t buy or rent a telescope large enough to check for myself, and I don’t demand to see their lab notes to look for evidence of their having made an error. I simply believe them. I take it as given that the scientific consensus will often be wrong, but I hope for it to be honest and wrong. To see this kind of corruption among people that I rely on so much to speak the truth (meaning the scientific establishment at large, not climatologists in particular) is heartbreaking. I would much rather see AGW skeptics — outsiders — subjected to this sort of scandal, because that would only be a political defeat, rather than a defeat for scientific practice.

  32. I graduated college in 1972. Since then, I have read Scientific American every month, and Technology Review, from MIT, 8 times a year or whatever it’s publishing schedule is.

    For the last 20 years, there have been many articles about global warming. Much discussion, doubt, questions, differing theories, questions, etc. — i.e., science in action. But, per my recollections, there has never any serious question as to whether or now that AGW exists. The vast majority of data says that it does.

    As far as I can tell, the only people who really question “if” rather than “exactly how, how much, why, what to do about it”, are Republicans, or others with political agendas, such as (— cheap shot alert —)clueless anarchist/libertarians, with whom I sympathize in principle, but who really should try to exorcise their inner demons and learn to live, without fear, in our modern world.

    Chris

  33. >Your moment of smugness, of being able to point and shout “haha, pwnt!” as you did with the Halloween Documents, will pass. I have no reason to believe that this attack on the character of some of the scientists most deeply involved with climate change will have any impact on AGW as a scientific theory; like any such theory, it will stand or fall based on its own merits.

    Keep digging, Jeff. Just keep digging….

  34. >But, per my recollections, there has never any serious question as to whether or now that AGW exists. The vast majority of data says that it does.

    Data can’t say any such thing. The most data could tell you is that average temperature is rising and CO2 is too. Well, except that average temperature isn’t rising – it was flat between 1998 and 2008, plunged sharply in 2008, and has not resumed the previous trendline. This is embarassing to AGW alarmists, since CO2 has kept rising and their theories require anthropogenic CO2 forcing to swamp anything that mere nature might be doing – and that’s manifestly not happening.

    You can assert AGW only by demonstrating a causal relationship from rising CO2 to rising temperature. Remarkably, this hasn’t actually been done (and no, the mere phyical fact that CO2 thermalizes solar radiation and relects re-radiation back inwards doesn’t make the nut). AGW theory depends on a bunch of nonlinear feedback loops involving cloud cover and water vapor in which the coupling constants have basically been pulled out of nowhere; they can’t be computed from first principles, and they’re not justified by observation.

    It’s actually quite remarkable how much handwaving, and how little actual science, there is here.

  35. esr Says:
    > It’s actually quite remarkable how much handwaving, and how little actual science, there is here.

    But I think there is also a bigger picture here too. Even if one were to accept the higher end predictions of some of the climatologists, what is the appropriate response? Is the response to turn the problem over to the government? I can only conclude that anyone who suggests that as the solution has absolutely no knowledge of the government’s track record on solving even the most simple of problems.

    If Chris Heinz thinks that Obama and Copenhagen can solve this problem then it is he, not I, who needs to learn to live in the modern world. A solution that doesn’t work is not a solution, regardless of the reasons it doesn’t work.

  36. But Jessica! They *intend* for it to work, so from their perspective, it’s as good as a solution, and certainly MUCH better than a solution that works even though nobody intended it to work.

  37. Chris Heinz, the problem is that it is really two problems: one, does AGW exist, and two, what do we do about it? A LOT of people immediately jump from “AGW exists because the scientists say it does” and “THEREFORE we must try to stop and reverse the GW which is A.” Fortunately nothing requires that THEREFORE. We can be at fault, and yet the proper course of action might still be to accept it and try to ameliorate it.

  38. I don’t have time to write a detailed post here, but government action has solved a lot of problems. Idahoans used to have lead in their drinking water—personal friends of mine suffer the seizures and bone damage from it—but now it’s gone. The EPA took a decade too long to solve that problem, but they eventually got it done. The ban on CFCs, of course, has resulted in ozone levels going back up exactly as predicted. In general, history has not shown that people are often willing to stop slow-poisoning their neighbors if it leads to short-term gain.

    I’m not saying it was the ideal solution to any of these problems, but believing that the government botches everything it does is simply denial. Some governments are better than others, too, so a pragmatist should try to steer us toward better government rather than clinging to absolutist all-or-nothingism.

    Speaking of which, the failure of the LP to make any gains when the GOP is spurning actual conservatism and belief in small-government is a sign of their dwelling in self-indulgent absolutism rather than making an effective attempt to move us toward smaller government.

  39. Russell, telling yourself that those who differ from you are morons is not smart. (“They *intend* for it to work…”)

  40. Jeff Read, the energy companies are practically the only source of funding for research whose result might *possibly* be anything other than the standard toe-the-light AGW religious creed. Thus, it should be no surprise that science which challenges the religion should be funded by Big Oil. This is not a consequent, it’s just how the world works.

  41. David, there are two kinds of faith: faith in that which has been proven false, and faith in that which is not known or unknowable. Does God exist? Nobody knows, thus faith in God is reasonable, and if you believe in God, I’m not going to think you’re a moron. Faith in Keynsianism is the act of a moron, because Keynes has been proven wrong time and again. Even today’s Keynsians feel obligated to call themselves “New Keynsians” because Keynes is such a turd that they don’t want anybody to think that they ACTUALLY follow Keynes.

    Intending for things to work in spite of the fact that they don’t, and then thinking that they’ve done good, is faith in the false. It’s moronicity, and only worthy of contempt. The fact that most Democrats engage in this activity isn’t my fault. They can stop being morons ANY TIME THEY WANT, and it would only make me happy.

  42. Meanwhile, I unavoidably breath in NO2 from the cars other people choose to drive. This stuff is poisoning me and increasing my chances of a heart attack. I wish somebody would solve that problem. It might help if car drivers had to compensate me for the infringement upon my health; perhaps they would more easily switch to lower-emmision transportation, which, I expect we can all agree, would be better for everybody once the technology was developed fully, whether AGW is real or not.

  43. David, yes, the government can do good things. Unfortunately, when you give a government the power to do those good things, they will ALSO use that power to do bad things. When you add them all up, you will find that giving the government that power made your life worse. No, it’s not possible to separate the good from the bad; you get them as a pair due to the coercive nature of government.

  44. Russell, go find me somebody who will actually say—or even be convincingly shown to secretly believe—that a pious attempted solution is better than an accidental real solution. Until then, you are simply telling yourself stories about the other tribe to make you feel better.

  45. David, I agree with you that car drivers should have to compensate you for harming your private property. Note that the government fails to do that, even though they have the power to do so. You could do it yourself (by suing them for trespass against your lungs) except that your favorite government won’t let you do that. A libertarian government would.

  46. Russell, this attitude ignores real historical differences in levels of government corruption and miscarriage versus government effectiveness. Furthermore, Jessica’s claim which I was trying to rebut was that government almost never solves any problems.

    And now I should return to my studies, truly.

  47. David, every time somebody prefers a government solution over a free market solution (which happens every day and twice on Sundays), they are preferring a pious attempted solution over a real solution that nobody intended. If you need me to cite an example, you aren’t paying attention to the world around you.

  48. Russel, you speak truly. This is why I favor improvements to actual existing governments rather than righteous indignation and daydreaming.

  49. You can’t prove a “for all” claim by citing an example, Russell.

  50. Many years ago, I did science journalism as a freelancer for the local free weekly newspaper. Most communities have one – advertising supported, supports progressive causes, etc.

    I got to interview Dr. Reid Bryson, who is to climatology what Kernighan and Ritchey are to Unix, and this was after the IPCC AR-01 prelims were running through the media.

    The semester was over, we could get time in a computer lab, and I had time on my hands between jobs. We ran the four models that were then extant.

    The first run was to verify that the data sets given would give the outputs stated. This proved more or less accurate; one model in our run showed a slightly hotter warming trend than was published by IPCC, probably because we were using a more recent data set.

    That data set had its epochal date start at 1960

    We used the raw data from 1900 and tried to run it forward to 1940, to see if it could back predict. It not only couldn’t, but one of the four models pretty much predicted that the oceans would boil off in the mid ’50s.

    We then isolated the solar constant in all four of the models, and halved it. This SHOULD trigger an ice age. All four models showed the same warming trend when working from their 1960s epoch data set.

    When I wrote up the article and turned it in, my editor bounced it – it wasn’t ‘on message’, and it was more important to encourage progressive environmentalism than to report out and out fraud.

    This was before McIntyre and McKittrick.

  51. Also, if you say a libertarian government would allow me to sue for trespass against my lungs—how is it that the power to do so won’t result in more harm than good, as you say that all government power must?

  52. David, so you think that you can wave a magic wand and eliminate government corruption and miscarriage? WHY HAVEN’T YOU WAVED IT YET????? We’re waiting!

    All sarcasm aside, yes, it’s possible to have better or worse governments. I’m assuming for the sake of argument that we are talking about the best possible government. My point remains: when you total up all the good things and all the bad things that government does with a particular power it has, the bad outweigh the good.

  53. (Russel and I have a race condition; I meant he spoke truly with regard to trespass against lungs, not twice on Sundays.)

  54. Nope, I don’t think I can wave any magic wands—unlike some libertarians. I do think that we can slowly, incrementally improve the situation.

  55. David, protecting your private property is not a government power. Currently the government is exercising its power to STOP you from protecting your private property. Giving government the power to regulate the environment is already resulting in more harm than good. Taking away that power would let people protect their own property against anyone who would harm it.

  56. In looking at the ExxonSecrets web site – without even reading in depth – just looking over the site design…

    Wow. Looks like their web designer felt that Soviet Propaganda Poster was the right motif.

  57. David, incremental improvements are not possible. How do you improve public schooling at the margin, when it is the base, the foundation, the core, which is broken? It’s wrong to try to force children to learn. It’s wrong to take money from people and use it to force children to learn. It’s wrong to prevent parents from teaching their children (once the children have reached schooling age; it’s probably child abuse to FAIL to teach them before that).

    How do you improve a turd incrementally? Do you paint it? Do you put it in a fancy box? Do you freeze it and cut it up into thin slices so it can be shared with everyone equally? Do you redistribute it to the masses? No matter what incremental changes you make, it’s still a turd.

  58. >Christof Jans Says:
    >November 21st, 2009 at 7:36 pm
    >
    >Creationists are going to have a field day with this.
    >
    >Huh ?

    Interesting that this is your primary concern. You are as much a cultural warrior as they are. How are you different from them?

  59. At least they are running out the time lines to the end of the century now, where nobody alive today will be able to judge:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/world-on-course-for-catastrophic-6deg-rise-reveal-scientists-1822396.html

    A cowardly and uninspiring proclamation given they’ve put it 91 years in the future and their models have failed to predict anything yet.

    The ability to accurately predict natural phenomenon is the most essential element of true science. These guys are no different than the apocalyptic religionists who stand on street corners predicting the end of the world in 2019.

  60. Data can’t say any such thing. The most data could tell you is that average temperature is rising and CO2 is too. Well, except that average temperature isn’t rising – it was flat between 1998 and 2008, plunged sharply in 2008, and has not resumed the previous trendline.

    @esr: This is what I mean by looking at the statistical noise. Have a look at this chart from NASA. which clearly shows the trend over the last century. Global warming isn’t about a massive temperature rise, it’s about a small temperature rise. An average global temperature rise of 2-3 degrees can have disastrous consequences. Note on this graph that the grids are spaced in decades, and the period you’re talking about is only 10 years — that’s down to the level of statistical noise when talking about global warming.

    You’re right in that anthroprogenic global warming — that which is caused by humans — has not been conclusively proven. I agree that the rise in C02 does not make the nut. But as far as the rise in temperatures — any flatlining between 1998 and 2008 is statistical noise. You’re a mathematician, you understand statistics, clearly you must see this, no?

  61. With the caveat that I’m not a programmer, but have a decent practical knowledge (from having lived around major research institutions for most of my life) of how scientific data and statistical series from multiple sources get collated and cross checked (including throwing out ‘noise’), I can say that notes in the code saying “Don’t use past 1960 because the data sets won’t match” is a pretty reasonable practice.

    That being said, if that’s what was really being done, why wasn’t that stated in the code notes? (Yes, I know, documenting code is the stuff most coders do very late in the process, after having finally gotten something to work, and before they go off to bed for a long overdue nap…)

  62. Yes, I know, documenting code is the stuff most coders do very late in the process, after having finally gotten something to work, and before they go off to bed for a long overdue nap…

    I can’t parse that sentence, you have “documenting” and “code” right next to each other. ;)

  63. “…ESR says: I concur. Dan’s heart is usually in the right place, but he’s uttered an obvious absurdity with this one….”
    Oof. OK. I’ll explain myself. :)

    If, in one fell swoop, we could essentially eliminate the need for all our homes to be on the grid, clearly the big power generators would be in serious trouble. There are industries that need huge amounts of power, but would the generators really be able to remain in business with only these clients? The costs would be exorbitant.

    With the demise of arguably the largest consumer of fossil-fuels, what do you think happens to the price of said fuels? The price of gasoline at the pump? The cost of trucking our goods around our economy? That would be a terribly destructive tide.

    Of course, gradual changes can be accommodated, integrated and built upon, but I was talking about *plop!* Here’s your new miracle green power independence solution for mankind! The fantasy would be a nightmare.

  64. “…Move to L.A. or Pittsburgh or New York City and then rethink that question….”
    Ah….no thanks ;) Placing blame on fossil fuels for these situations is a little absurd. Perhaps people shouldn’t all live piled up in a rats nest, with poorly designed roads that turn into gas-burning parking lots. I’m not surprised the air gets nasty.

    I don’t object to ‘alternatives’ per se, but this visceral revulsion some seem to have for oil is, quite frankly, bizarre. Fossil-fuels are a fantastic natural resource that we should think carefully about optimizing our utilization of as we seek the Next Best Thing :)

  65. @Russell:

    How do you improve a turd incrementally? Do you paint it? Do you put it in a fancy box? Do you freeze it and cut it up into thin slices so it can be shared with everyone equally? Do you redistribute it to the masses? No matter what incremental changes you make, it’s still a turd.

    Shoot it out of a cannon at your enemy. What? You asked!

    @Dan:

    If, in one fell swoop, we could essentially eliminate the need for all our homes to be on the grid, clearly the big power generators would be in serious trouble. There are industries that need huge amounts of power, but would the generators really be able to remain in business with only these clients? The costs would be exorbitant.

    That logic would work, except that it’s the electrical needs of business and industry that subsidize consumer electricity, not the other way around. (Disclaimer: a friend and colleague of mine works for a major electric utility.)

  66. “…That logic would work, except that it’s the electrical needs of business and industry that subsidize consumer electricity, not the other way around. (Disclaimer: a friend and colleague of mine works for a major electric utility.)…”

    I have studied US power infrastructure (for entirely separate reasons), but admittedly know little about its business.

    Still, what I’m really getting at is that – economically – shifts in supplies, demands & incentives can be accommodated with less pain gradually, rather than delivering sledgehammer-radical changes overnight. It is the shock of such profound shifts that highlight problems with the level of inelasticity in our economy.

  67. David McCabe Says:
    > Idahoans used to have lead in their drinking water

    This is indeed a curious example you chose David. There are really two important classes of domestic water user: those who have a well and suck it out of the ground water, and those who have water delivered to them by pipe either by the government or a private entity.

    For case one — the well water guys, let me ask the most basic question: why do Idahoans have a right to expect they can suck pure clean water out of the ground?

    For case two — the pipe delivery guys, why is it not the responsibility of the entity delivering the water to ensure that it is clean?

    I am not familiar with the particulars of the case, but here is the bottom line: the cost of making sure water has low levels of lead has to be borne by someone; exactly why is it obvious that it should be the manufacturers who emit lead, rather than the people who want potable water from the ground?

    I don’t particularly come down on either side on this. The problem is that the ground water is a commons, and suffers from the normal tragedy of the commons that every commons does. The solution to the commons is not an oppressive bureaucracy (such as the EPA), but rather partitioning it into privately controlled entities. In this case, vesting in the various landowners some well defined rights to the water table, and well defined pollution and trespass rights onto others property.

    Again, I am not familiar with the case, so let me talk in broad terms. What most likely happened here is that the EPA came along and imposed massive costs on certain groups with low political clout to the benefit of groups that had more political clout. I would also not doubt for a minute that the bargain was not good for Idahoans, because the cost no doubt was paid in lost jobs and lost wealth for the local communities.

    > government action has solved a lot of problems.

    I agree with this in the broadest sense. However, the cost in doing so is usually insanely high. Private solutions (such as the installation of lead filtering mechanisms) are almost always better. However, if the government causes a problem, and then fixes it, is that really fixing a problem?

    A classic example of this situation is happening right now. Government trying to solve the problem of a broken healthcare system. The irony being that nearly everything broken in the healthcare system is directly attributable to the government who now claims sole right to fix it.

  68. >You’re a mathematician, you understand statistics, clearly you must see this, no?

    Of course I do. My point is that the data fails to meet the criteria the alarmists themselves have set. That is, they’ve been quite willing to interpret a short-period temperature rise between 1975 and 1998 as indication that we’re on a long-term trend with that slope, but when we get a decade of flatness after that they ignore it. It’s not responsive and not honest to point out that a decade is too short to mean anything unless you’re also willing to dismiss the previous 23 years.

    Over longer timeframes, I don’t think there’s any statistically significant evidence that we’ve deviated off the very shallow warming trend following the last Ice Age. If you scrutinize the alleged data claiming otherwise, you keep finding noise and fraud.

  69. Dan,
    “If somebody invented a portable device that could power our home from refuse (Yay! Energy independence for the people!), our economy would be destroyed. Think about it. ”

    Isn’t it just a variation of the old broken window fallacy, like, kind of, if some invented unbreakable windows, the roads would be lined with glaziers begging for food?

  70. Two things that ought to be clear from the climate history we have:

    1) The earth’s climate isn’t actually very stable; pre-industrialization, there were economically quite significant swings century-to-century, and larger swings still over longer spans.

    2) Cooling scenarios are a lot more dangerous than heating. Humans and crops prefer relatively high temperatures, and ice ages, when they come, come on surprisingly fast (decades) – that’s a potential civilization-killer, not a mere disaster.

    But instead of doing the research we very plainly ought to be doing, it would seem that we’ve tried to scientize our politicians and instead politicized our scientiests – a perfectly predictable outcome…

  71. “It hurts the little guy, the local band living at the edge of chaos, just one big break away from making it big or even making enough to feed their families with the proceeds from their music.”

    I know a guy who played drums in a UK punk band called Freekspert somewhere in the nineties. They never made it to the big record stores – to be honest they weren’t really good and the nineties wasn’t really the best time to play punk music to begin with. Yet they made good money – they’ve been touring the continent all the time, and selling t-shirts for around $30 which costed no more than $2-3 for them. Also selling dedicated CD’s on the gigs etc. They lived well and he managed to save up nicely for the downpayment of a house.

    The whole point is, when the record company sells a CD for $30 the artist gets maybe $2. This is what Progressives would call exploitation and everybody else would call a really shitty deal. When they sell a t-shirt, they get $27. When they burn a few thousand CD’s as a private release it maybe costs $5, and they can sell it for $30 at the end of the gig and the point isn’t that it contains the music but that they dedicate it personally to the customer. And they were completely indepedent, no A+R man to tell them what to do. All this happened in the age where the only way to pirate music was to copy cassettes from your friends.

    Now, the whole point is that while Internet piracy makes it less and less likely to ever make the big record stores, it makes more and more likely that your potential audience knows about you. Which means if they were doing the same thing today they would have twice as many people on the gigs and they would be selling twice as many t-shirts, catapulting them straight into the comfortable middle-class.

    So at the end of the day, I think piracy simply makes fewer dependent and wealthy musicians at the cost of making more independent middle-class ones. And I think I like that.

  72. # Jeff Read Says:
    > “You know what really killed music? Free music. You’re never
    > gonna see another Prince, you’re never gonna see another Jimi
    > Hendrix… I mean no one’s gonna bust their hump for 15 years
    > without a pot of gold at the end of the fuckin’ rainbow… sure,
    > maybe you’ll have the virtuosos who’ll go crazy if they don’t play
    > but you won’t hear of those guys as long as people keep stealin’ music.”

    You know what really killed software? Free software. You’re never going to see another Atkinson or Zawinski. I mean, no one’s gonna bust their hump for 15 years without a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Sure, maybe you”ll have virtuosos who’ll go crazy if they don’t keep programming, but you won’t hear of these guys as long as people keep copying software.

    I am so very sad to live in a word without either software or music.

  73. “…Isn’t it just a variation of the old broken window fallacy, like, kind of, if some invented unbreakable windows, the roads would be lined with glaziers begging for food?…”
    Perhaps. I wasn’t trying to be too literal (OK, the “economy would be destroyed” was a tad melodramatic :) – it was more of a thought experiment about the economic consequences of ‘magical’ technology….the inelastic nature of the celebrated ‘supply & demand’ equation. I visualize it a little like magic putty, it stretches gradually, but snaps if you yank on it.

    However, I suspect that the glaziers would find other outlets for their skills….if you find another market for electricity, please let me know ;)

  74. shenpen:

    >Isn’t it just a variation of the old broken window fallacy, like, kind of, if some invented unbreakable windows, the roads would be lined with glaziers begging for food?

    No, it seems to me more like speculation on what happens when you lessen the ties we have to central authorities. If you had an effective and long lived household scale energy source you could live darn near anywhere with considerably less contact with others. This greater degree of independence will inevitably have some impact on social conditions….it might not “destroy the economy” but I could see some heavy duty social rearrangements.

  75. “No, it seems to me more like speculation on what happens when you lessen the ties we have to central authorities. ”

    Central powers, please, not central authorities (see my next comment). Otherwise it looks like a step towards the age of farming communities where each household enjoyed significant economic independence yet somehow there was more community life than today. Interestingly enough, the centralization of power leads to more individualism because communal ties, communal dependences are replaced by the relationship between the naked, lone individual and the central power. Lacking reliance on a central power tends to lead to less individualism and more community because relationships tend form a network, not a hierarchy. This is the great irony of the Progressive-Libertarian debate: Progressives argue for more collectivism but the end result is alienated individuals with merely loose relationships of having some buddies and superficial relationships of the serial monogamy type and no really deep communal ties of a the “bonds of affection” type, as we can observe in the modern age. Libertarians argue from a viewpoint of individualism yet their solution would more or less inevitably lead to less individualism and more towards the strongly bound community life observed in the farming communities of the near past. Understand this irony, this paradox and you will become some sort of a conservative in the intellectual sense: you will realize that Libertarian-Individualists tend to be right on practical questions as long as they keep being pragmatic, but for all the wrong reasons, they tend to be right because their predictions are wrong: less government doesn’t mean more individualism, actually it is more collectivism that tends to lead to more individualism-atomism and it’s less government that tends to lead to more community and less individualism.

  76. That is, they’ve been quite willing to interpret a short-period temperature rise between 1975 and 1998 as indication that we’re on a long-term trend with that slope, but when we get a decade of flatness after that they ignore it. It’s not responsive and not honest to point out that a decade is too short to mean anything unless you’re also willing to dismiss the previous 23 years.

    FWIW, I don’t think you can write off either period. But a statistical flatline over a decade would generally mean that if you’re following the running averages, you can still predict an upward swing, and the trend would still be something close to the general slope of the previous 25 years.

    Not that that really proves anything conclusive, because it doesn’t. I agree that the alarmists are perhaps blowing things out of proportion, but that still means there’s a marked upward trend over the last 40 years or so, and there’s definitely a (shallower) upward trend over the last century.

    I guess I could compute the running trend over the last 100 years or so, and I do think it would be somewhat shallower than the alarmists are predicting. I also think that on the scale we’re talking about, 100 years worth of data is probably not enough to accurately predict if the slope we’re on has increased since the last ice age. I’d be interested in seeing longer-term data; we probably only have good direct observations for the last 100 years or so, though we supposedly do have data that comes from geologists studying polar ice cores going back for 650,000 years. This graph is supposed to reflect that.

    Is that slope in the 1800 to 2000 range statistical noise, or is it an indication of a sharp trend? Are the reconstructed temperatures accurate? To my eyes, I still see a sharp trend on that graph, and I’m not entirely sure that that sharp trend is not statistical noise.

  77. The central problem with AGW is the Anthropogenic part.

    We have been in a general warming trend since the end of the Little Ice Age in the early 1800s. During the American Revolution Henry Knox brought cannon captured at Fort Ticonderoga down the frozen Hudson river to the siege of Boston. This ultimately drove the British fleet out of the harbor. The Hudson river no longer freezes over in the winter. The climate *has* gotten generally warmer.

    The global climate varies in cycles of cycles, mostly on a timescale longer than a human lifetime. It’s *hard* to tell where on which cycle we are. The AGW proponents could quite legitimately point out that natural cycles will modulate the greater trend, except that opens the question of whether the larger trend is merely a natural cycle with a longer period.

    There’s more money and power in Global Warming, though, with the “A” in front.

  78. The Pirate Bay? Megaupload? People, people… we have Wikileaks for a reason!

    Morgan Greywolf: But even if these scientists are lying, it doesn’t mean that AGW is false. It simply means that they are lying.

    That’s surprisingly off-message. It is, of course, trivially true, but Eric is convinced that this is evidence that “the whole enterprise is fraudulent”, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time here, it’s the value of his predictions.

    Russell Nelson: Jeff Read, the energy companies are practically the only source of funding for research whose result might *possibly* be anything other than the standard toe-the-light AGW religious creed. Thus, it should be no surprise that science which challenges the religion should be funded by Big Oil. This is not a consequent, it’s just how the world works.

    Here, I’ll give it a shot.

    The cigarette companies are practically the only source of funding for research whose result might *possibly* be anything other than the standard to-the-light cancer-lobby religious creed. Thus, it should be no surprise that science which challenges the religion should be funded by Big Tobacco. This is not a consequent, it’s just how the world works.

    It’s surprisingly easy. I especially like how industries astroturfing research on topics that directly affect them financially are immune to conflicts of interest.

  79. grendelkhan Says:
    > The cigarette companies are practically the only source
    > of funding for research whose result might *possibly* be
    > anything other than the standard to-the-light cancer-lobby
    > religious creed. Thus, it should be no surprise that science
    > which challenges the religion should be funded by Big
    > Tobacco. This is not a consequent, it’s just how the world works.

    Big government is the only source of funding for research which might possibly be anything other than the “leave the climate the hell alone” lobby. Thus it should be no surprise that science which challenges this lobby (and favors empowering government) should be funded by big government.

  80. Jessica, Russel,

    It’s kind of sad to look at your argument, because _pragmatic_ Libertarianism f.e. arguing for cutting back modern governments to one-fifth of their size is such a sensible and intelligent position that it’s really sad that this sensible argument is being destroyed by sticking to a _dogmatic_ Libertarianism of maintaining that no government ever can do anything right.

    The historical experience is that government intervention is not a modern Leftie idea, it is as ancient as war, the modern Leftie idea part is merely doing way, way too much of it. So while arguing for way, way less of it is a sensible position arguing for none of it sounds like a utopia. It has never been that way. Every commercial, capitalistic society from Medieval Venice (my favourite historical era) to the Industrial Revolition in Britain had serious amounts of government intervention in its development. Early America looks like an exception only for two reasons: 1) the earliest era was rather agricultural with low population density, not the modern kind of city-based commercial capitalism 2) you tend to confuse government with the Federal government and ignore the interventions of state governments. If you factor the interventions of the state governments into the picture of post-industrial America, you will see the familiar pattern that the commercial-capitalistic-urban society is in certain is not the product of a purely free market but of a market that has always been intervented into.

    Again I must emphasize that I share you convictions against modern, big-governments. But it does not follow the government should do nothing or should just police or should completely withdraw from the economy. It only follows that it should intervent much less in the economy, but it doesn’t follows it should not intervent at all. Mainly because it has always done so, government intervention on a moderate level is as old as war or prostitution. The overwhelming historical experience of mankind is that some intervention is necessary, even good. Are you trying to make an ahistorical utopia based on abstract, “geometrical”, deductive, Cartesian thinking i.e. a mirror image of Socialism or are you willing to moderate your thinking by common sense and historical experience? The later suggest “much less”, but does not suggest “none”.

    Why? The main reason why is that human life doesn’t work in absolutes of “never” and “always”. Things are way, way muddier and complicated because human beings are not pure creatures of geometrical Reason but complicated and fallible creatures exhibiting a chaotic behaviour driven by a spaghetti-like mess of passions, virtues, vices and so so on, which simply does not allow for pure categories of right way and wrong way. The correct word to use with human concerns is “usually” or “in certain conditions”, not “always” and “never”.

    The core issue to understand is the difference between might, power and authority. All three are terms inherited from the age of the Roman Republic, and generally they mean:

    – might (lat. potentia) the ability to initate force, more colloquially, to have the biggest guns in town
    – power (lat. potestas), the _lawful_ initation of force
    – authority (lat. auctoritas), an _influence_ that has nothing to do with the initation of force but simply means people respect you and listen to you.

    The important thing to understand is that the L. definition of government is one of power: the lawful capability to initate force. But the historical experience of government is rather a mixture of power and authority. A central power, a government is probably necessary but the minarchist argument is probably right: it should keep to policing. However it is also necessary to have a central authority, because we need someone to set up some standards of conduct that even have nothing to do with people harming each other, but simply some standards that define a culture, the standards of what the given culture thinks about the proper way of living life and conducting business, the standards that create the necessary trust without which conducting business is not possible. This central authority does not need to have and better not to have coercive power, its authority should be voluntary, should come from the fact people respect it and listen to it. The separation between central power and central authority was understood in the Middle Ages, it was called King and Church, it was even understood amongst primitve tribes, calling it chieftain and medicine man or shaman and so on.

    Modern governments have became too big and too oppressive exactly because they usurped the role of the medicine man and they are now not only the central power, but also the central authority.

    The best would be to separate it again, to have some sort of an institution of the best minds in every country who have no coercive power but people respect them fully and if they say more public libraries are needed in City X people rush to donate for them because they trust them fully. Societies cannot work any other way. And of course it should be separated from the government, from power.

    But as long as it is not possible, it is best to tolerate government having not only power but also some authority, even if it’s getting horribly mixed and often issues requiring the use of authority are being resolved by sheer, naked power etc. It’s bad. But be realistic, somebody has to have authority. Shouldn’t the government. But in the near future there are no other candidates for this role.

  81. Morgan:

    I recommend you read a few of Edward Tufte’s books on data presentation, in particular the sections on series multiples, and the effects of compressing one axis of your data display.

    We have a time series on the bottom that compresses 2000 years into 520 pixels and a vertical series that stretches 1.4 degrees into 387 pixels. That’s roughly 2.6 pixels per decade, and 27.6 pixels per tenth of a degree. In general, when you want to show change series over time, you want to obey the ’45 degree rule’ – your standard deviation over your standard time plot should show up as a 45 degree angle.

    Fortunately, our standard deviation here is 0.2 degrees. And our agreed upon metric is the decade.

    So, that leaves us with 55.2 pixels per decade, from 2.6, or an increase of 2123.03%. Call it 11,040 pixels.

    That’s an easy manipulation to make.

    http://www.adastragames.com/downloads/Climate-Data-Stretched.png

    I’ve removed the (now unreadable) text tags. Every blurry rectangle on the bottom is 20 decades. The vertical height is unchanged. You will need to zoom in and do some vertical scrolling to get a full feel for this.

    Now, there’s an upward trend – and a variation along the baseline.

    However, it doesn’t look ANYWHERE NEAR as chaotic or scary when it’s presented as a proper (non-compressed) time series.

    Now, I’m assuming that this is nothing novel or new to you. However, remember that these graphs (with horrifically compressed time lines) are used to inform the lay public and those without statistical skills on this issue.

    I would also love to see an overlay on this graph of both the sunspot cycle and the CO2 ppm in the atmosphere, again using the metric of ‘one standard deviation on the vertical axis over one decade translates to a 45 degree angle.

    Might make some interesting reading.

  82. Russell, telling yourself that those who differ from you are morons is not smart. (”They *intend* for it to work…”)

    Time and time again, They tell us that we are evil people who don’t “care” as much as They do. They attack our policies and defend theirs solely on intent. When we talk about effects of actions, they invariably steer the discussion back to intent. That you recognize such thinking as moronic puts you in an odd position indeed.

  83. shenpen:

    You are reading a lot more into my comment than I put there. I made no judgments about the relative goodness of the changes, just that there is the potential for changes.

    Possibly quite deep social changes, depending on the degree of independence achievable via the hypothesized technological changes.

  84. Shenpen Says:
    > But it does not follow the government should do nothing
    > or should just police or should completely withdraw from
    > the economy. It only follows that it should intervent much
    > less in the economy, but it doesn’t follows it should not
    > intervent at all.

    Which parts should it interfere in? Who gets to decide? When you give it the power to interfere there, what is stopping it interfering elsewhere? Where do we find the saints who would take the reigns of power and only exercise them in the parts that they are effective at, not in the parts that benefit them the most?

    Pandora’s box contains both good and bad gifts. However, the good and the bad are mixed together, once the lid is opened they all come out together. To think you can separate the two is a conceit that has lead to most of the tragedies of history.

  85. Which parts should it interfere in? Who gets to decide? When you give it the power to interfere there, what is stopping it interfering elsewhere? Where do we find the saints who would take the reigns of power and only exercise them in the parts that they are effective at, not in the parts that benefit them the most?

    Another way in which absolute libertarian arguments fail is in the utterly unsupportable notion that we can stop people from behaving politically. I will ask the question Jessica style: Where do we find the people so saintly and so far seeing that all will refuse to take up the reigns of power?

    The truth is that we will have government, whether we want it or not. Government is a simple technology, just like rolling a joint or building a firearm. (More complex than the joint, actually. Some governments, like many monarchies seem to be less complex than the firearm, and some, such as the American Constitutional system are more complex than the firearm.) We can no more effectively ban governments than we can ban drugs or firearms. And if we have governments we will have government solutions, whether we want them or not, just as we will have some drug users who don’t do well with it, whether we want them or not, and some gun users don’t do well using guns, whether we want them or not.

    I am a small government guy. I think we are best served by arguments that small government solutions are better, not by arguments that government is evil. From my perspective government is human. If you argue that government is evil, you are arguing that humans are evil. I don’t want the small government meme to become polluted by the same ‘humans are evil’ meme which has poisoned environmentalism.

    Yours,
    Tom DeGisi

  86. Yet another pundit weighs in Megan McArdle of The Atlantic – http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/11/climategate.php#comments

    I read her to get my daily fix of stupid liberal blather from many of the commenters there; but there are also lots of fairly good commenters, here is a particularly telling comment about AGW in today’s post:

    John Galt (Replying to: bombloader) November 23, 2009 5:24 PM

    I think Jasper and those with similar views might prefer “apostate” or “heretic,” but you’d find those even more inflammatory.

    Because AGW is basically a form of Gaia worship, with all the least savory features of 16th Century Roman Catholicism…indulgences, worldly lives of bishops, persecution of heretics, mandatory tithing (carbon tax), etc.

    I think a certain amount of personal/professional vanity is involved also…without AGW, the High Priests of Gaia (Al Gore and James Hansen) would just be a washed up politician and an obscure government scientist.

    Jasper is just being disingenuous with the assertion that climate papers can be dessiminated on the internet. I’m sure he’s not too dense to realize that there is a signal value in being in a peer-reviewed publication. Citing something in a “peer reviewed journal” is accepted without question, while citing something “I seen on that that Intarweb” simply opens the scientist to ridicule.

  87. Tom DeGisi Says:
    > I am a small government guy.

    I am also a Minarchist, unlike our host, as I have stated on a number of occasions, and largely for the reasons you have so eloquently set out.

    > I think we are best served by arguments that small
    > government solutions are better, not by arguments
    > that government is evil.

    I don’t think I generally argue that government is intrinsically evil, rather I make the argument here, and in other places that it is intrinsically incompetent. This is true even in cases where I think it is wise to have some government action. That is to say, even when I favor the government taking action, I do so in the full knowledge that it will certainly do an insanely bad job.

    My claim was the the track record of government solving problems is not good at all, and it is crazy to imagine that they have anything like the competence to fix the putative problem of AGW. All this philosophizing aside, I don’t remember reading any evidence to refute this belief.

    I might add there is some value to the claim that government is evil, depending on what exactly you mean by evil, for the very notion of desiring to have monopolistic power of force over large numbers of other people seems to me to fit well in that category. Perhaps it might be more accurate to say that those who seek to control government are most likely very bad people indeed.

  88. I might add there is some value to the claim that government is evil, depending on what exactly you mean by evil, for the very notion of desiring to have monopolistic power of force over large numbers of other people seems to me to fit well in that category. Perhaps it might be more accurate to say that those who seek to control government are most likely very bad people indeed.

    Here’s an old-fashioned solution to our problem: Tyranny is evil.

    Yours,
    Tom DeGisi

  89. One point that has been repeatedly raised by AGW apologists is how much increase “we” are willing to accept since it increases warming. But what if more CO2 will not result in increased warming? I can’t remember the source, it was a book I read in the early to mid 1990s, but the author suggested that “greenhouse gases” work by absorbing rather than allowing heat radiated by the earth to reach space, and that different gases absorbed different frequencies of IR radiation. He claimed that the radiation absorbed by CO2 was already almost completely absorbed and no more warming from that source could be anticipated. Which seems to fit with the apparent end of the warming trend in the last decade. Anyone have any information on this? I hadn’t mentioned it before, because I cannot recover the source, and have never seen a similar argument anywhere else.

  90. >He claimed that the radiation absorbed by CO2 was already almost completely absorbed and no more warming from that source could be anticipated.

    That is correct. Accordingly, the theory of catastrophic AGW does not rely on CO2 thermalization alone, but on a complicated set of positive feedback loops between CO2 thermalization, cloud cover, and atmosphetic water vapor. In the later stages of the catastrophe, water vapor is supposed to take where CO2 left off.

    I could list the reasons this is bogus until next Tuesday, but at least this may clear up the specific point that is puzzling you.

  91. “If you argue that government is evil, you are arguing that humans are evil. ”

    Yes, but if humans aren’t evil, they don’t need government.

    I’m not sure a boolean operator is useful in describing humans.

    “The best would be to separate it again, to have some sort of an institution of the best minds in every country who have no coercive power but people respect them fully and if they say more public libraries are needed in City X people rush to donate for them because they trust them fully. Societies cannot work any other way. And of course it should be separated from the government, from power.”

    I think this is where we are headed if “all this” collapses to hell. A voluntary collectivist AnCap society where credibility and public trust take place of governmental authority.

  92. I’m not sure a boolean operator is useful in describing humans.

    You are right, but that seems to be how our memes work. The idea that ‘humans are evil’ has polluted environmentalism to the extent that environmentalism is becoming murdeously tyrannical. It would be a shame if the small government meme became corrupted by the same idea and with the same result.

    This is really another way of saying you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

    Yours,
    Tom DeGisi

  93. Interestingly, the Slashdot article on the controversy seems to have been yanked–there’s an article in the RSS listing with the title ‘Hacked Climate Emails Stoke Debate’, but it doesn’t show up on the front page and trying to visit it yields what appears to be Slashdot’s 404 page (error: “The item you’re trying to view either does not exist, or is not viewable to you.”). Anyone know about this?

  94. Shenpen: JessicaBoxer has the center of it. The power to do good comes with the power to do bad, and governments don’t come with the ability to do one or the other.

  95. > http://www.adastragames.com/downloads/Climate-Data-Stretched.png
    >
    > I’ve removed the (now unreadable) text tags. Every blurry rectangle on the
    > bottom is 20 decades. The vertical height is unchanged. You will need to
    > zoom in and do some vertical scrolling to get a full feel for this.
    >
    > Now, there’s an upward trend – and a variation along the baseline.

    Now that is a very interesting representation.

    I’d love to get my hands on the source data for that graph in tabular form so i could plot each source individually. It’s hard to see but my eyes are saying that if you only look at the red line (the only one that spans the entire graph) then there is no definitive upward trend. Further if you remove entirely the thick black line which attempts to obscure everything underneath it, i’m not entirely sure i’d be seeing an upward trend at all.

    I am partially colour blind however so those colours are playing merry hell with my ability to distinguish lines, i could be totally wrong.

  96. JessicaBoxer has the center of it. The power to do good comes with the power to do bad, and governments don’t come with the ability to do one or the other.

    I keep making this point to my friends/relatives who advocate activist government to correct the perceived excesses of the unrestrained market. In their zeal to empower these agencies, they neglect that the very power the agencies will possess necessarily attracts some really unsavory sorts. The people who have the strongest incentive to control the agencies are those supposedly to be controlled by the agencies.

    Time and time again, the same scenario plays out: Do-gooders perceive a problem, and decide There Must Be a Law! They agitate for legislation to create an agency to fix the problem. The regulatory apparatus is then captured by the incumbent players in the sector. After all, who knows the most about how the industry operates? By this point, the do-gooders have moved on to the next great issue, leaving the good ole boys to what they do best. The end result is not any improvement of the condition of the lower economic strata; it is instead an ossification of the market that denies entry to potential competitors.

    If some kind of carbon-offset-trading scheme is enacted, rest assured that it will follow this precise pattern. The revolving door between the regulators and regulated will produce a class of politically-connected sherpas, who are paid hefty consulting fees to guide their clients through the regulatory mazes, because they’ve spent time working for the agencies and know all the right people there. The Green companies like GE figure to have the inside track in all of this, which makes the propaganda spewed by NBC so obviously self-serving that, were it an oil company buying airtime to push their side, they would be roundly denounced for it. (GE also has a large subsidiary that deals in medical information systems, which one might suspect has a good shot at being officially blessed for use with ObamaCare.)

  97. I am partially colour blind however so those colours are playing merry hell with my ability to distinguish lines, i could be totally wrong.

    Sadly, so am I. While Jon B’s point is not lost on me, I have a much harder time reading his graph than the original.

  98. Tom DeGisi Says:
    > Here’s an old-fashioned solution to our problem: Tyranny is evil.

    Is partial tyranny partially evil?

  99. Geez, miss a day reading a blog and you end up 100+ down the list of comments.

    How does changing technology destroy an economy? That is to say, how does going from and oil for energy society to a wind/solar/water etc energy source hurt? The economy isn’t hurt by a change human activities it is hurt by a lack of activity or by lack of new activity. I look at this in one simple way, when the sun quits working we are all goners so depending on it for energy is a good idea. Oil, on the other hand, will run out.

    We seem to speak of government like it’s some sentient being distinct from the people it serves/represents. If government is sucking than give them shit for it, and don’t keep electing idiots. That’s tough because everyone is an idiot to someone.

    If government is so corrupt, slow, incompetent, greedy etc. wouldn’t we still have the same problems in a small gov’t libertarian world? I expect the problems would be smaller, but likely more plentiful. I base this on the idea that if gov’t is corrupt and it’s made up of people then these people must be corrupt and if these people weren’t in government they would still be corrupt.

    @Jessica – I love your free music vs free software comparison.

    Free music gives the small guy a chance at getting known. Just about any well known band (that wasn’t a big corporate prop up like Britney , Jonas Brothers) got known by selling tapes or CDs at concerts and people sharing those with their friends for free. If you don’t believe that send me $50 and I’ll record a CD for you! ;-)

  100. Can someone come up with GPL like set of rules for the marketplace. I.E. your freedom in the marketplace is only limited in ways to ensure the freedom of others in the marketplace.

  101. > Sadly, so am I. While Jon B’s point is not lost on me, I have a much harder
    > time reading his graph than the original.

    The graph was actually Ken Burnside’s. Not mine.

    I agree that for the purposes of actually reading approximate values from the graph, that graph is unreadable. For mine the interesting part is not what values might have been, it’s that it pushed my first impression in a totally different way to the traditional hockey stick. I actually had to do the scrolling thing to test the red line to confirm that yes it doesn’t actually go above (and even a little bit below) previous temperatures with the spike that is just below the 4 in 2004.

    I think the main difference. to my eyes anwyay, is that in the original the thick black line dominates the rest of the lines so for its period all my brain sees in that segment is a sharp push upwards. Whereas the stretched version reduces this effect because of the sampling technique.

  102. “You are right, but that seems to be how our memes work. The idea that ‘humans are evil’ has polluted environmentalism to the extent that environmentalism is becoming murdeously tyrannical.”

    The problem is that the moral and religious vacuum of modern society has allowed various movements (environmentalism, animal rights movement, etc.) to fill the void.

    While many founding fathers might have been near-atheists or deists/pantheists, as far as I know they did not think it was such a swell idea that the masses give up traditional religious life. This is why I find Richard Dawkins particularly destructive and loathsome. People with an IQ of 90 have different religious needs than those with 150, and the above types are truly playing with fire.

  103. dsc Says:
    > If government is so corrupt, slow, incompetent, greedy etc.
    > wouldn’t we still have the same problems in a small gov’t
    > libertarian world?

    No, because private corporations are subject to the discipline of the market place which requires them to provide good service on an individual basis, or go out of business. Government is a monopoly, and also government is authorized to use force (to make you buy its products),Government cannot go out of business. These characteristics make it lazy and less responsive to its clients. (There are checks and balances of course such as elections, but they are no where near as effective and immediate as the marketplace.)

  104. Hmmm. I always think of both tyranny and evil as booleans.

    Probably not a good assumption to make. For instance, what do you call the UK, which has reasonably free speech but harsh firearms legislation? Or any other similar example.

  105. >which has reasonably free speech

    Where you can go to jail for saying Islam is wrong? What would you count as non-free then?

    All gov’ts now are as tyrannical they think they can get away with and they have the capability for.

  106. >Where you can go to jail for saying Islam is wrong? What would you count as non-free then?

    I don’t know about that specific case. Perhaps the UK is a bad example. However, the point stands.

  107. For instance, what do you call the UK, which has reasonably free speech but harsh firearms legislation?

    Tyranny, as I am using it, describes an action not a place.

    The harsh firearms legislation is tyranny. The politically correct speech codes are tyranny.

    How tyrannical someone or someplace is? Not boolean.

    Yours,
    Tom DeGisi

  108. # Tom DeGisi Says:
    > The harsh firearms legislation is tyranny.

    What about much less harsh firearms legislation? Not sure your opinion on firearms, but say, for example: not allowing violent ex-cons to carry weapons, or requiring a background check before purchasing, and so forth. Is this tyranny or partial tyranny? (If you think both are acceptable, increase the severity of the rules until you begin to squirm, but before you are sending money to the NRA.)

    So, partial tyranny -> partial evil?

  109. Wow… I just read the Crichton speech linked to above. That’s good stuff. I’m particularly depressed by the fact that one of the few individuals mentioned by name is Carol Browner, then head of the EPA, for her role in promulgating the negative effects of second-hand smoke (unproven, according to Crichton). Nice to know that she’s now Obama’s climate change czar.

  110. The people who should be most upset about the CRU’s shenanigans are those who are in the pro-AGW camp. Whatever position you’re advocating, it NEVER helps to have someone cooking the books and trying to suppress those on the other side of the debate.

    If the rest of the AGW advocates want to salvage anything of their agenda, they’d better start screaming for the CRU’s heads on a platter.

  111. “I sense a …. disturbance in the Force … it’s as if a million monkeys with typewriters cried out and were suddenly silenced…”

    That wasn’t the Force, that was the Fairness Doctrine. Other than that, dangerously close to the truth..

  112. Probably not a good assumption to make. For instance, what do you call the UK, which has reasonably free speech but harsh firearms legislation? Or any other similar example.

  113. Pingback: The American Spectator : The Spectacle Blog : The Temple Cult of Scientism

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