Human ingenuity beats the neo-Malthusians yet again

OK, this is big news. A research team has worked out a way to nearly triple the efficiency of the Fischer-Tropsch process.

This means cheap synthetic hydrocarbons from coal are on the horizon. It probably sinks shale oil and biofuels for good – which is a good thing, as biofuel demand has been driving food prices higher. Potentially, it could make the U.S. – which has huge coal reserves – independent of foreign oil sources for the forseeable future.

Now watch for it: I [predict that the so-called “environmental movement” will scream in horror at this prospect, and we will learn yet again that they are mostly about enforcing eco-puritan poverty on us all rather than doing anything actually useful about actual ecological problems.

266 thoughts on “Human ingenuity beats the neo-Malthusians yet again

  1. While this is very useful in terms of resource politics, it doesn’t help much in terms of eco-friendliness. It’s still taking carbonaceous materials out of the ground and burning them; that’s no better in terms of emissions. The reason that environmentalists tend to be opposed to it is that they fear that if this is implemented, it would replace efforts that are helpful in terms of emission reduction.

  2. Eric, can you quote anything from a digest on that article with a source cite that isn’t behind a subscription barrier?

  3. Just a thought – I think we could largely do without oil if we had to, because we need oil mostly for transportation. For commuters, we could use electric trolleybuses with the energy sourced from nuclear. Unlike, say, electric cars, these are cheap enough that several large cities already use them. For goods, we can use coal-powered steam trains – in China, where coal is abundant relative to oil, steam trains were used until quite recently. But in any case, whether we use coal or synthetic oil, I wonder what this is going to do to our SOx and mercury emissions. Acid rain, anyone?

  4. Also, biofuels (especially corn ethanol) are largely greenwash. They’re a loophole by which governments can sneak ag subsidies past the WTO.

  5. >Eric, can you quote anything from a digest on that article with a source cite that isn’t behind a subscription barrier?

    My sense of it iis from secondary accounts, which are consistent but don’t go into much detail beyond the large increase in power efficiency.

    One reason I think this is credible is that the South Africans ran their economy of Fischer-Tropsch fuel for decades when they were effectively embargoed – and that was with the old, more expensive process.

  6. I have to agree with Tom Dickson-Hunt, this could actually be a bad thing. Yes, coal does cause less environmental damage (spills), but it doesn’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much as switching to nuclear (for example) does. I accept biofuels are causing problems (I agree they should go), but the effects considerably less than desertification of large swathes of the US. I highly recommend Al Gore’s ‘A Inconvenient Truth’.

  7. “Expensive” in this sense means that it burns more of the coal in the process of turning it into liquid fuels. Given that extracting coal is relatively cheap, pointing out that the South Africans (and the Germans, during World War II, I think) managed to run their liquid-fuel economies off of their own coal isn’t pointing out much.

    Also, Tom Dickson-Hunt pointed it out already.

    Now watch for it: I [predict that the so-called “environmental movement” will scream in horror at this prospect, and we will learn yet again that they are mostly about enforcing eco-puritan poverty on us all rather than doing anything actually useful about actual ecological problems.

    No, you can predict that the so-called “environmental movement” will scream in horror at this prospect, because it doesn’t address their grievances–specifically, increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide–and, if anything, makes them worse, since it’s now more likely that we’ll be sending a lot more carbon into the atmosphere in the near future.

    Shouldn’t you be embarrassed by this level of ignorance?

  8. because it doesn’t address their grievances–specifically, increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide

    Are you sure about that? Most of the complaints that I have seen against coal power plants within “environmental circles” have more to do with the process in which it is obtained, namely mountain-top removal in the eastern part of the country and the aquifer draining slurry transfer methods used in the west to transport coal from various strip mines. If those were addressed and the emission standards of the “cleaner” plants were actually enforced, you would find very few arguments against coal as a power source.

    Granted I realize that that may threaten your view on “environmentalists” but the majority of people that label themselves as environmentalists are looking for sustainable solutions, not looking to drop everyone into “eco-puritan poverty.”

  9. The Fischer-Tropsch process is carbon-negative. One of the required inputs into the process is carbon monoxide, and the most efficient industrial process for producing that is CO2 -> CO + O2 (which occurs at 2400 °C).

  10. First, I’m not a big believer in AGW. So far, it seems that they couldn’t reliably predict the sun rising in the east.

    That said, if we were all serious about becoming both energy independent and carbon neutral, I don’t see this as being all that difficult with nukes. This is 90% engineering and investment and 10% science.

    (1) slowly convert domestic transportation fleet to use nat gas, while continuing to use liquid petrol fuels, too.
    (2) continue extracting fossil nat gas
    (3) expand nat gas infrastructure
    (4) expand domestic electric production via nuclear plants
    (5) begin synthesizing nat gas from C02 and H20 feed stocks
    (6) begin incentives to wean off liquid petrol

    …and some day, replace the internal combustion fleet with fuel cell vehicles running off of nat gas or methanol (possibly H2).

    With the exception of urban mass transportation (i.e. light rail, etc.) using the electric grid for transportation seems like a bad idea.
    (Vehicle power plants (internal combustion or fuel cell) that can use free oxygen will likely have a significant savings in mass over energy storage means like batteries, etc.)

  11. Cool. But… I remember a commenter (don’t remember who) mentioned here in 2005 that F-T plants become profitable at an oil price around 30-something dollars per barrel. In 2006-2008 the price was much higher, still I haven’t seen any F-T plants popping up in the news. Is it because people expected that the oil price boom is just a temporary bubble or is it for some other reason?

    Of course, it does not directly help from an environmental point of view… but the evolution of engines helps in that anyway. I’m driving a Honda Civic made in year 2000 and it’s just 1600 cc – but I can’t really complain as I reguralry drive it at 120 mph on the motorway, given that in the UK the speed limit is 70 mph, 120 is probably enough, it does not feel like a slow, sluggish car at all… and it’s just 1600cc. I’m 31 and it’s a little bit of surpise to me, I was accustomed to less efficient engines, I was used to saying and believing if it’s under 2200cc or at the very least 2000cc it’s a toy, not a car…

    But apparently, engines got more efficient. My next car will be probably a 2005 Ford Focus and some friends keep telling me that in 2005 cars, 1400cc is enough, they are that efficient now. I’m still a bit sceptical about it, but will give it a test drive. I’ve even tried a friend’s 2008 1200cc Opel (Vauxhall) Corsa, and although that’s clearly a city car, not a motorway car, it feels surprisingly closer to a car than to a toy.

    How low can it go? Perhaps 10 years later 1000cc cars will drive just fine? I suppose there are some natural limits in this, this “energy density” stuff ESR mentioned before or something like that, but I think in 10-20 years three-digit, 800-900 cc’s won’t be something to laugh at. Especially that cc seems to have a diminishing marginal utility, once the major inefficiencies are solved: there is very little, if any, difference between an 1200cc and 600cc motorbike.

  12. Thomas,

    “For commuters, we could use electric trolleybuses with the energy sourced from nuclear. Unlike, say, electric cars, these are cheap enough that several large cities already use them.”

    In theory, yes. However. I’m by no means a traffic engineer, but my general experience from my trips is that every city tends to have one major, almost exlcusive source of public transport: tube for London and Vienna, trams for Amsterdam, light rail (S-Tog) for Copenhagen etc. Why aren’t they more mixed? My suspicion is that the existing configuration of the very city itself, such as how wide are the streets, how big are the usual commute distances etc. are the most important factors. Thus, London and Vienna probably doesn’t have enough wide streets for surface rails, Amsterdam and Copenhaged do have, but commute distances are shorter in Amsterdam etc. etc.

    So: probably each city requires a different transportation strategy.

    BTW electric trolleybuses are mainly in Post-Commie Eastern Europe, such as my birthplace, Budapest, and I suspect that they are only cost-effective because of special economic circumstances such as cheap Russian energy or something like that, because I haven’t seen them elsewhere. Even the most eco-zealous German towns tend to use hybrid buses rather than electric-trolley ones: I suspect then that they aren’t cost effective in normal market circumstances i.e. in the absence of heavily state-subsidized Russian energy or some other special circumstance.

  13. > but my general experience from my trips is that every city tends to have one major, almost exlcusive source of public transport: tube for London and Vienna, trams for Amsterdam, light rail (S-Tog) for Copenhagen etc.

    This isn’t true of San Francisco. We have pretty much everything here: an extensive bus network powered by overhead cable, two different light rail systems (Muni and BART), a heavy rail (Caltrain) that goes from San Francisco to San Jose, and enough taxis that you can just hail one without phoning in advance.

  14. Slight correction/amendment to my earlier comment, having looked over the process more thoroughly: the carbon input to Fischer-Tropsch doesn’t necessarily come from the air, since coal gasification also produces CO directly. If you only use coal as a CO source, then what you get is no greener than current solutions. However, collection of atmospheric CO2 as a Fischer-Tropsch input is already reasonably efficient despite relatively little research.

  15. The article raises another cool idea: combine CO2 with hydrogen and you can make oil. This is the ideal method of making a “hydrogen economy”, since it doesn’t require a massive retooling of gas stations or automobiles or anything. And it’s mostly carbon-neutral. Surely the greens will be all over this?

    I’ve actually lost all faith in “environmentalists” doing anything to help the environment. In opposing nuclear energy, they have promoted coal and natural gas power. They don’t understand anything at all! Why, just the other day I was in a conversation with some greens who wanted to shut down the coal plant powering my town. It’s right in the middle of town with minimal transmission losses, so the power we get from it is much more efficient than the power we could get from the state-wide grid. But they wouldn’t listen! Are they trying to be ignorant? Do they just not care about reality?

  16. > CO2 with hydrogen and you can make oil

    That’s what Fischer-Tropsch is. The issue, in addition to the efficiency of this process, is where you get the inputs. Coal gasification produces both, in quantities such that CO is the limiting reagent. Then you can either burn the extra hydrogen and use it to fuel the conversion process (I’m making an assumption about this part, but wtf else would you do with it?), or you can grab extra CO/CO2 from other sources, the most interesting one being the atmosphere.

  17. Wait a sec… there’s a contradiction here in the Wikipedia article:

    The gasification of coal, biomass, or natural gas:

    CHx + H2O → (1+0.5x)H2 + CO

    The value of “x” depends on the type of fuel. For example, natural gas has a greater hydrogen content (x=5 to x=3) than coal (x>2).

    implies that you get an excess of H2 (or exactly the right amount if x=2).

    On the other hand:

    Another important reaction is the water gas shift reaction:

    H2O + CO → H2 + CO2

    Although this reaction results in formation of unwanted CO2, it can be used to shift the H2:CO ratio of the incoming Synthesis gas. This is especially important for synthesis gas derived from coal, which tends to have a ratio of ~0.7 compared to the ideal ratio of ~2.

    The abstract for the paper says,

    New reaction chemistry may reduce the energy input and carbon dioxide emissions from processes that convert coal into liquid fuels.

    So I’m inclined to think that the first Wikipedia paragraph that I quoted above (on which I based my understanding) is in error, while the second one is accurate, meaning that the process of converting coal to liquid hydrocarbons produces excess CO or CO2, and therefore the use of Fischer-Tropsch for atmospheric CO2 sequestration/reuse that I mentioned would need to draw hydrogen from some source other than coal gasification. It sounds like what this new research does is not improve Fischer-Tropsch itself, but rather replace current coal gasification techniques with something that produces a better H2:CO ratio, and therefore, after the water gas shift, end up with less excess CO2.

  18. Oh… the Wikipedia article is self-consistent; I just botched the math. I was thinking of an ideal of x=2 because that’s the limit ratio of hydrogen to carbon atoms for larger alkanes, but forgot about the water byproduct of the Fischer-Tropsch reaction. So actually x~=4 is ideal.

  19. > BTW electric trolleybuses are mainly in Post-Commie Eastern Europe
    I was rather thinking of Edmonton and Vancouver, Canada. Unfortunately, Edmonton (the oil capital of Canada) is now getting rid of them, now that the oil price bubble burst. I was mostly trying to illustrate how we don’t need some high-falutin tech to deal with the end of cheap oil.

  20. >Shouldn’t you be embarrassed by this level of ignorance?

    You think it’s ignorance, do you?

    I’ve been watching the “environmental movement” since 1971. It destroyed its own credibility with me as anything better than a crazed pack of ranting eco-puritans when it downshouted nuclear power generation during the next five years. Burning fossil fuels for energy was already obviously a destructive practice to be ditched as soon as possible by 1973, though my concerns at the time centered more on what our descendants would think of us for burning up all those lovely high-value chemical feedstocks than on carbon emissions.

    Sadly, nothing during the following thirty gave me any better opinion of the “environmental movement”. Which is a damn shame, as there are ecological issues that worry me, starting with loss of habitat diversity. Anthropogenic global warming is fraudulant bullshit, but there are other reasons to worry about CO2 levels – such as ocean acidification. It disgusts me that the Great Pacific Garbage Reef continues to exist.

    I wish there were a sane environmental movemenr for me to be on the same side as, I truly do. Maybe we’ll even have one in my lifetime. One key indicator I’ll be matching for is hostility to free markets — a lack of it, I mean.

  21. “New reaction chemistry may reduce the energy input and carbon dioxide emissions from processes that convert coal into liquid fuels.”

    Think I might wait to break out the champagne until I’ve found out a bit more about that “may” in there.

  22. I think you were extremely excited when posting and forgot that you had a subscription to read the article, or the article was a teaser and has since been made subscription only.

    You might consider editing your post and paraphrasing the key points of the article, or, recommending subscriptions to that site. Either or would be useful, I’m always happy to receive recommendations for interesting and exciting things to read.

    Either way, please follow up, this is a very interesting topic.

  23. Regarding nuclear power, Jane Fonda does well as a fitness instructor, she should stick to that. Would you rather have a coal fired plant in your back yard, or something that might (in extreme circumstances) be dangerous?

    The difference is, the latter can quickly be contained if something bad happens. Chernobyl is a straw man argument that does not take many things into account, I don’t want to hear about it. Such groups have failed, consistently with idealistic rhetoric since their inception while not giving a pigeon’s ass regarding the content of their pitch.

    Now that we all agree that the climate is ‘changing’, we see the fed fund ‘green enterprises’. Therein lies the root of the problem.

    And then, there is Al Gore, I’m still not quite sure what to make of him.

  24. I think I’ll coin Tinkertim’s Law : “All public posts that discuss the environment will mention Al Gore within .. ”

    … Still refining it. Similar to Godwin’s Law.

  25. how do you get to ‘tripple the efficiency’? Its a 20% improvement in energy inputs.

    The conventional FT process is inefficientbecause it requires too much work to be put inthe gasifier and emits too much work from theFT reactor. The gasification process adds morethan four times as much work as is needed torun the plant reversibly. Even if electricity isgenerated from the steam produced in the FTprocess, the net work added is still nearly threetimes the minimum amount needed. More efficient operation requires decreas-ing both W in and W out . A way to run both reac-tions to achieve this goal is for the gasifier notto produce CO and H 2 but rather CO 2 and H 2 ,which is a less endothermic process (9, 15).Furthermore, making fuel from CO 2 and H 2 isless exothermic (see the figure). The synthesisreaction may not go directly via the new gasmixture, but when combined with the reversewater-gas shift reaction, which converts CO 2 and H 2 to CO and H 2 O, the process3C + 6H 2 O → 3CO 2 + 6H 2 →2(–CH 2 –) + 4H 2 O + CO 2 (2)is feasible. Water can be recycled in bothcases, and in the second process, can pumpheat back into the gasification section. TheCO 2 gasification process requires addingabout 20% less work to the gasifier thanwould be required by the CO route.

    http://209.85.173.132/search?q=cache:PvTBqn5RqhIJ:science-mag.aaas.org/cgi/reprint/323/5922/1680.pdf+Producing+Transportation+Fuels+with+Less+Work+hildebrandt&cd=9&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=safari

  26. Four or five years ago, when Shell was trying to gain support for expanding their proof-of-concept method for in-situ conversion of oil shale into usable oil and gas to a demonstration project at scale, they estimated the break-even oil price for their process at around $30 a barrel. The demonstration project would have provided information on environmental impacts, for better or worse. So far, Congress has blocked the research, apparently in the belief that a trillion recoverable barrels of oil in Colorado rocks is of no importance in America’s quest for energy independence.

  27. … and a 15% reduction in CO2.

    If work is recovered from the heat rejected from the synthesis reactors, the net work required by the overall process in an 80,000 barrels per day facility is 820 MW—nearer the optimum(350 MW) than the conventional route (1000MW). This process would produce 0.5 MT less CO 2 per year than the conventional route (15% reduction)

    > This means cheap synthetic hydrocarbons from coal are on the horizon.

    No, it doesn’t.

    Still quoting the article:

    The conventional FT process is inefficientbecause it requires too much work to be put inthe gasifier and emits too much work from theFT reactor. The gasification process adds morethan four times as much work as is needed torun the plant reversibly. Even if electricity isgenerated from the steam produced in the FTprocess, the net work added is still nearly threetimes the minimum amount needed.

    I think I found your “3X”, only its in the article to point out that F-T is 1/3 as efficient as making gas from petroleum.

  28. In the same publication, Science, there was an editorial piece a couple of weeks earlier about the size of the coal reserves in the world. Apparently the ‘enough for a 150 years’ estimates are given by geologists who include all sorts of stuff that is not exactly high quality coal. Applying the same sort of statistical analysis to the coal produced so far as Hubbard used for oil production in the lower 48 states can also be used to predict peak coal. As it turns out, some of these estimates are pretty alarming, placing the peak only 10 to 15 years in the future. Given that the statistical approach has pretty much held for oil (world oil production has not increased since 2004, the peak was predicted to occur around 2005 by Deffeyes) and that a lot of coal producing countries have revised their huge reserve numbers to a fraction of what they used to be, I suspect the statisticians may be right. Coal may rather soon turn out to be the same sort of scramble for hard-to-get low-quality hydrocarbons as oil is now.

  29. >It probably sinks shale oil and biofuels for good – which is a good thing

    hmm. not entirely, from a Westerner’s perspective. a recent (pubished this week) closer look at the USA’s oil shale reserves re-evaluated them at about saudi arabia’s level, net-oil-wise. independence has value.

    of course, BG’s (iirc) (british) discoveries last year of oil fields off brazil that would theoretically put them “#2 with a bullet” in opec has more fragile but similar consequences for reducing the west’s economic dependence on regions profoundly exposed to sovereign risk as a political tool.

  30. >Now watch for it: I [predict that the so-called “environmental movement” will scream in horror at this prospect, and we will learn yet again that they are mostly about enforcing eco-puritan poverty on us all rather than doing anything actually useful about actual ecological problems.

    god you’re harsh. just because faux-greenies can’t cope with the idea that the Officially Bad nuclear option is increasingly obviously becoming the Only Sane option (to the point that the founder of greenpeace is now a nuclear evangelist (and consequently: rabidly hated apostate)) doesn’t mean they’re not Really Committed to their Notional Goals.

    heh

  31. Tom Dickson-Hunt:
    >While this is very useful in terms of resource politics, it doesn’t help much in terms of eco-friendliness. It’s still taking carbonaceous materials out of the ground and burning them; that’s no better in terms of emissions.

    carbon emissions are by all statistics and research shown to be a furphy.

    >And if you’re still worried about carbon footprints and so on, consider this single observation which —by itself, unarguable, and without needing to consider ANY of the other corroborating evidence— completely blows out of the water ALL the current climatechange drama-queening:

         The earth’s surface has been heating up faster than the atmosphere over the last 30 years.

         If the greenhouse effect (carbon, emissions) was the cause, exactly the opposite would be the case.

         It can not be our emissions which are causing the current effects.

    for some (jaw-dropping) numbers amd graphs, go here: http://go-blog-go.blogspot.com/2008_12_01_archive.html#9078223768248426966

    for analysis of why the current emissions meme is actually, counter-intuitively, a GOOD thing, go here: http://go-blog-go.blogspot.com/2009_01_01_archive.html#3528044617466466936
    (immediately below that post, you will see a relevant post, in response to a meme-driven commenter:

    >to be clear: first you accuse me of doing something i didn’t, and claim that that something is “illegitimate” and “egregious” (your choice of emotive [] status-dimension words rather than descriptive terms is also very much a pattern with the IPCC’s core contributors). then you turn around and impliedly insist that the IPCC’s doing of that very something is the acme of good science.
    your Need to Win is clouding your thinking, outeast.

    the article you linked to, by the way, is a spectacular example of the mindset problems of the bandwagon. it’s like a How-To document for clueless technique-driven warping of data to fit predefined preferred conclusions. if one of my students had handed in something like that i’d have quietly taken him to one side and suggested that research and numbers weren’t his forté and perhaps he should find something else to do with his life.
    here’s a hint: read it carefully.

    i used to have my balls on the line monthly on my ability to predict the future, using exactly the maths that these techniques take the piss out of. i KNOW what’s valid and what’s not. i have absolutely no time for any of this sort of clueless twaddle. i’ve seen hedge fund after hedge fund blow up using precisely this approach. amusingly, one had a large team of quants tell me i “didn’t understand what they were doing”. the whole fund evaporated within 12 months.

    “On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], ‘Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?’ I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.”
    –Charles Babbage
    )

    .
    “amusingly”, the absolute key core single number for the whole IPCC “greenhouse gasses” meme turns out to have been made up: their (single) reference goes to a (single) article that goes to a glossary, not a research article. to be clear: it’s a dictionary. to be ABSOLUTELY CLEAR: there is NO evidence supporting the absolutely critical assumption underlying ALL the extrapolations of the IPCC.

    the guy who discovered that then went on to actually measure CO2’s absorptive qualities in atmosphere. first time ever. scary, no?
    he discovered (by disturbingly simple and cheap experiment) that the IPCC were out by a factor of 80.

    a FACTOR.

    of EIGHTY.

    to put that another way: 99.94% of the earth’s reflected heat is absorbed at current levels of CO2 within 10m. if you DOUBLED the world’s concentration of CO2, that would happen at about 5m.

    to put that another way: if you genuinely believe GHG are about to destroy the world, just buy yourself a third storey flat. [deliberate speciousness]

    .
    nevertheless, i stand by my statement that in a larger, merely human sense, the current Carbon meme is actually valuable for the species and for the world, as a whole.
    the right answer for the wrong reasons.

    but to be clear: carbon etc. has nothing to do with it. hell, triple it, for all i care. won’t affect the world’s temperature. the key benefit is in humans’ behavior re their environment.
    in a larger, much longer term, sense.

    >Individuals world-wide are voluntarily aligning their behaviour with the new Virtue by —for the first time in history as a mass movement— proactively considering their impact on their environment.

    The net effect in large can only be a positive for the world.

  32. >carbon emissions are by all statistics and research shown to be a furphy.

    I’ve been looking over this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_controversy#Scientific), and though I haven’t gotten a coherent picture from it, there at least seems to be an argument over the issue; and it’s a good idea to reduce carbon emissions anyway, because reducing carbon emissions also implies reducing emissions of other, known toxic chemicals, including those that cause acid rain, and because reducing our oil use also reduces our dependence on the Middle East. Leaving aside the scientific controversy over global warming, there are enough reasons to reduce our emissions anyway that it’s really irrelevant.

  33. I think we could largely do without oil if we had to, because we need oil mostly for transportation.

    no. no no no no no. transportation is a vanishingly SMALL use of oil. hell, if you live in america, most of what you EAT is oil.

    your air-conditioning, your heating, your LIGHTS, your fertiliser, your pens, your zippers, your wrapping round every consumer good you buy, your hair spray, your insecticide, your fucking fridge, IT’S ALL OIL.

    you only NEED oil for food and for making milk cartons and fridges, stuff like that.

    even subtracting out pure-energy usages, car use and plane use and so on are a startlingly small proportion of oil’s use. in the sense of “startling” of: “i’m absolutely certain you’re wrong” “here are the numbers.” “these are insane. these would suggest that oil traders don’t give a fuck about transportation clients” “correct.”

  34. Bob:
    >Most of the complaints that I have seen against coal power plants within “environmental circles” have more to do with the process in which it is obtained, namely mountain-top removal in the eastern part of the country and the aquifer draining slurry transfer methods used in the west to transport coal from various strip mines.

    which is “kinda silly”, in the sense of being self-contradictory.
    in the sense that, while humans (who identify height with status, and faux-left humans are obsessed with status) may object to a hill having its top shortened, nature will actually find the result vastly more easy to populate en masse.
    and in the sense that the ACTUAL damage from coal power plants is not by carbon, but is by mercury and, less importantly, sulphur, emissions.

    personally, for the sake of the oceans, and the fish, (and all those eating them) i’d rather coal plants were strictly regulated on quality of non-gas emission. UK cars wouldn’t rust so much so fast. UK kids would grow up faster and smarter. sulphur and mercury genuinely are toxic.

  35. I predict that nuclear power will start to take over before too long, and the reason for this is small reactors. There are a few well-funded nuclear reactor startups, like Hyperion and NuScale, which aim to mass-produce small, low-maintenance reactors that don’t need individual licensing. In the case of Hyperion, they’ll make and fuel a reactor, then seal it up and truck it out to wherever the power is needed, and then they’ll take it back for refueling and maintenance 5-10 years later. It has no moving parts, it’s regulated in a purely passive manner (much like a boiling pot of water — physics prevents it from going over the boiling point), and the amortized cost per kilowatt hour will be about five cents. And the capital costs to buy one, usually the sticking point for nuclear reactor construction projects, will be a few million dollars, well within the means of many companies with heavy energy needs.

    The key thing to remember is that this makes nuclear power an obvious win from a business standpoint for companies that need a lot of power at a reliably low price. There’s an easy-to-calculate benefit, and it’s a small enough investment that the market will be able to straighten this out.

    What we need for this to happen is a change in the way the NRC regulates such reactors. The plan is to regulate the factories where the reactors are made, and put lighter regulation on the care and feeding of the reactors on-site. This takes much of the burden off of customers, which would also help the market do its thing. Getting the NRC to stop dragging its heels will be a hard task, but perhaps China and India will scare them into action — those countries have taken the lead in nuclear technology and development, which should worry anybody who’s interested in keeping America competitive.

  36. nate:
    you’re about the only genuinely-informed commenter here.

    problem: the people Making The Decisions: are way less informed/rational than you.

    or at least, way less in control of the Whole than everyone likes to think

  37. linda seebach:
    four or five years ago, when Shell was trying to gain support for expanding their proof-of-concept method for in-situ conversion of oil shale into usable oil and gas to a demonstration project at scale, they estimated the break-even oil price for their process at around $30 a barrel. The demonstration project would have provided information on environmental impacts, for better or worse. So far, Congress has blocked the research, apparently in the belief that a trillion recoverable barrels of oil in Colorado rocks is of no importance in America’s quest for energy independence.

    linda, you need to pay less attention to conspiracy theories and more to facts.
    oil shale has never been profitable at $30/barrel. it’s not safely profitable at the last-20-years $70/barrel standard rule-of-thumb.
    there is no “proof of concept” method that wasn’t tested fully 20 years ago.
    and congress is too full of self-absorption to refocus its whole existence into fighting to destroy some new-inspiration new-invention. there are more of those each year than you can poke a stick at — special treatment for Magic Energy Invention 3,506 is quite simply irrational. who’s got the TIME??

  38. Saltation,

    “sulphur and mercury genuinely are toxic.”

    Glad to hear that (self-sarcasm): in my childhood I spent quite some summer weeks sulphuring my uncle’s wine barrels and farting sulphur for days after that. I’m 31 and feel healthy – is there any medical condition typically caused by sulphur I should have myself checked out for?

  39. Nate: I think your calculations need to include 50% or more for “politics.”

    Daniel Franke: If you can easily hail a cab in San Francisco, you have better luck that I do. I’ve called for a cab in downtown SF in the middle of a week day and not gotten it.

    Fun factoid: The amount of CO2 emitted by out-of-control coal mine fires in China is roughly equal to the CO2 emissions of all the cars and light trucks in the USA.

  40. Thomas Covello, I work in a modern coal fire power plant. The technology already exist and is in use to clean sulfur, nox and fly ash out of coal. Don’t believe in the man causing global warming hype. In fact the earth is has enter into a cooling period. We still need to get off of burning hydrocarbons for health and environmental issues. But this process can help bridge the time it will take to finish developing alternate energy sources. And I would love it if we could stop importing oil. But the political aspect of doing that is much bigger than the scientific aspect. If done this would shaft our enemies big time and give us a huge balance of payment swing in our favor.

  41. Peter Scot,
    > I was in a conversation with some greens who wanted to shut down the coal plant powering my town. It’s right in the middle of town with minimal transmission losses, so the power we get from it is much more efficient than the power we could get from the state-wide grid. But they wouldn’t listen! Are they trying to be ignorant? Do they just not care about reality?

    I live in Florida and our Idiot Governor is one your ignorant greens. He doesn’t want coal , nuclear or oil power plants and has gummed up the permit process so none can be sited. To solve our energy needs we need a mix of many types of power sources.Just one type will not be able to provide all of our needs. Long range coal should be retired just not yet. Big benefits for nuclear which is the cleanest and safest power source. There is limit availability of gas so that won’t work. The wind gradient in Florida is not right for use of wind power here. Florida has too many cloud days for solar to be practical right now. That could change if efficiency gets good enough. Biofuels have promise but are just not there yet. And yes we need to stop burning up our food. There are other plants that are better for this. Algae comes to mind. Right now customers are screaming about the high cost which is going higher of electricity. When the rolling black outs come and the earth gets chilly, I think that the environmental movement will have a serious set back. Most people are not like us . People attracted to this blog are technical people. But they understand cold and they understand expense. We still need to keep our house (earth) clean so we can stay healthy so we still need to stop polluting. Yet this will be a step by step process, which a main part of it is educating the public.

  42. > research team has worked out a way to nearly triple the efficiency of the Fischer-Tropsch process.

    So do we get a retraction/correction, or not?

    ESR says: given the claims and counterclaims, I think I need to read the original paper carefully first.

  43. This looks pretty incremental, but useful. As for whether it’s a disaster because coal is unsustainable, FT is increasingly used to convert biomass into fuels, see http://www.agenda2020.org/ for some details on how FT can be integrated into paper mills to create a “forest products biorefinery”. FT can also be used on garbage, or “municipal solid waste” — any carbonaceous materials, really. There’s a company called Velocys that has improved the economics of the FT process by using microreactor technology http://aiche.confex.com/aiche/s08/techprogram/P110044.HTM. This is my favorite — turning garbage into fuel.

  44. > This looks pretty incremental, but useful.

    Incremental? Quite.

    In my view, esr wasn’t posting so much about F-T as he was leveraging this incremental advance in order to rail against “eco-puritan” environmentalists..

    At times esr writes like a J-school sophmore in a PC women’s studies class … facile & uninformed about the real implications and history of the topic.

  45. @saltation:
    “there is no “proof of concept” method that wasn’t tested fully 20 years ago.”
    Erm, no. I was careful to specify a specifc process of “in-situ conversion,” which at the time I wrote about it (2005) had only just been demonstrated for the first time, on a very small scale.

    Unlike the steady parade of renewable-energy enthusiasts who came though the edit-page offices of the newspaper I worked for arguing for public subsidies, Shell came in to argue for our support for Congressional permission to continue spending their own money. I found that unusually endearing, you know?

  46. Shenpen, I think the reason you didn’t see FT conversion cropping up right away when Oil was over $30 is the sheer amount of time it takes to push things like that. Environmentalists have deliberately made it as easy as possible to file objections to large projects. But just as an example Brian Schweitzer has been pushing it. http://governor.mt.gov/hottopics/faqsynthetic.asp

  47. >Anthropogenic global warming is fraudulant bullshit

    What do you base this opinion on? I remember that in this post you based it on two arguments: solar variation (in which you got the statistics wrong) and water vapour (in which you got the science wrong).

    >One key indicator I’ll be matching for is hostility to free markets — a lack of it, I mean.

    The vast majority of people concerned about AGW are in favour of setting up a system of property rights around carbon emissions, and letting the market find the most efficient way to reduce those emissions.

  48. >What do you base this opinion on? I remember that in this post you based it on two arguments: solar variation (in which you got the statistics wrong) and water vapour (in which you got the science wrong).

    I didn’t accept either of those unsupported assertions then, and don’t now.

    I say “bullshit” because the IPCC projections are full of elementary errors like getting the exponent of the Boltzmann fourth-power law wrong, have bugger factors chosen apparently arbitrarily to maximize predicted warming, and fail to even retrodict observed data. I say “fraudulent” because the history of AGW alarmism is rife with flimflam like the hockey-stick graph, which used both suppression of contrary data and statistical methods which are guaranteed to produce a steep rise at the edge as an artifact.

    I note that the AGW crowd is silent about the plunge in four measures of global temperature since January 2007, one so steep that it has essentially wiped out the “warming” signal back to about 1900. And about the fact that greenhouse-effect models predicts rises in mid-atmosphere temperatures which haven’t happened. But obviously it is silly of me to pit mere empirical observation against their virtuous religious fervor.

    Government-issued “property rights” in emissions have the same relationship to real property rights as Potemkin villages do to real villages. Experience in Europe already demonstrates that they are a large source of corruption and fraud without accomplishing much of anything in the way of emission reductions. But of course the enviro-lefties like them; they are a creature of bureaucratic fiat, and can be altered or abolished at the whim of the all-wise central planners, with the excellent side effect of devaluing and discrediting real property rights. Marching towards socialism!

  49. > Government-issued “property rights” in emissions have the same relationship to real property rights as Potemkin villages do to real villages.

    In an earlier thread you invoked the Coase theorem and stated that it would take care of environmental externality problems. But one of the conditions of the Coase theorem is that we have well-defined property rights. So how on Gawd’s not-so-green earth are we going to have environmental property rights without government?

  50. I mean, isn’t intellectual property “a creature of government fiat?”

  51. >So how on Gawd’s not-so-green earth are we going to have environmental property rights without government?

    Same way it’s usually been done historically, with a from-the-bottom-up legal system like Anglo-Germanic common law in which property boundaries correspond well to Schelling points in the system, e.g. sharp changes in the cost/benefit curves related to enforcement. Governments are not required to enforce such systems, a fact governments would of course prefer you to forget.

    Practically speaking, this means treating environmental harm as a form of real-property trespass or tortious assault.

    >I mean, isn’t intellectual property “a creature of government fiat?”

    As we have it, yes. And I’m all for abolishing the government-fiat part. I view it as an unresolved question whether IP has enough Schelling points to be defensible in a free-market anarchy. I would like to believe the answer is “yes”, because I expect creative works would be underproduced otherwise; but I increasingly fear that the answer may be “no”.

  52. esr:

    >I didn’t accept either of those unsupported assertions then, and don’t now.

    I had enough respect for your intelligence not to hold your hand or link you through to “let me google that for you”. If you still don’t know the counter arguments to those particular pieces of memetic damage, then you’re just acting as a useful idiot for the carbon lobby that created them.

    >I note that the AGW crowd is silent about the plunge in four measures of global temperature since January 2007

    I notice that the traffic outside has been silent since I put my earplugs in.

    This is just ignorance of statistics; at the signal-to-noise ratio of global temperature data, a couple of years provides insufficient power.

    >Experience in Europe already demonstrates that they are a large source of corruption and fraud without accomplishing much of anything in the way of emission reductions.

    Given all the ratfucking by denialists and there backers, it was never going to be possible to do an ETS properly from the start. I think the most realistic option is to start with something and then fix it by incremental improvement. I’d like to echo Thomas’s question: “So how on Gawd’s not-so-green earth are we going to have environmental property rights without government?”

    (I realise I haven’t answered all your points; in my defence it’s easier to pick up an arsenal of cherry-picked talking points that reinforce a predetermined opinion than it is to understand why those talking points are wrong.)

  53. >If you still don’t know the counter arguments to those particular pieces of memetic damage, then you’re just acting as a useful idiot for the carbon lobby that created them.

    The so-called “counter-arguments” appear to me to be more fraud and bullshit. OK, I’ll be kind; they could be just a massive error cascade with a lot of innocent victims; I’m still not buying.

    >This is just ignorance of statistics; at the signal-to-noise ratio of global temperature data, a couple of years provides insufficient power.

    It sure provided sufficient power for the alarmists when they did it. How conveeeenient that you rediscover elementary measures of statistical sanity only when your side’s case is failing.

    I don’t know who this “carbon lobby” you’re talking about is, but if they’re opponents of the intrusive-statism lobby I will happily sign up with them.

  54. > Same way it’s usually been done historically, with a from-the-bottom-up legal system like Anglo-Germanic common law in which property boundaries correspond well to Schelling points in the system, e.g. sharp changes in the cost/benefit curves related to enforcement.

    But this won’t work. You complain about government bureaucracy, but imagine what would happen without government. I’m sure you remember that another condition of the Coase theorem is that the number of people involved in an externality is small. Suppose I own the right to fish on a lake, and due to acid rain all of the fish in the lake have died. To get compensation for this trespass I must go after every SOx emitting plant in the land and sue for damages. Oh, wait, acid rain is caused by NOx too, which means I must sue every motorist in the land. Praying for a miracle new technology to reduce these transaction costs won’t work either because you’ve now exacerbated a human problem, not technical one. We’re far off from automating lawsuits. It’s far easier just to divvy up the earth’s pollution tolerance and let the market do the rest of the work.

  55. >To get compensation for this trespass I must go after every SOx emitting plant in the land and sue for damages.

    That’s right. This is what class-action lawsuits are for. By aggregating your claim with lot of other claims, you can reach power parity with the polluters. Not a perfect solution, but not obviously worse than government either. It’s harder for polluters to fend off such claims by political means, which is why they actually welcome environmental regulation as a liability shield. Yes, it involves irritating compliance costs, but has the dual benefits of penalizing small competitors and limiting their worst-case exposure (capped at the cost of purchasing the regulators).

  56. So why aren’t people already doing this, if it works so much better than regulation/emissions trading?

  57. >So why aren’t people already doing this, if it works so much better than regulation/emissions trading?

    Because government action, here is in many other areas (poverty relief is another example) tends to crowd out private action. It creates a mindset where everybody thinks the problem is someone else’s, and actual control of the system then goes to special-interest groups with deep pockets or loud mouths or both.

    This is not a failure mode limited to environmental issues; it’s what happens every time political allocation replaces market allocation.

    I am perpetually bemused by people who think they can empower the little guy by increasing state intervention. This is as obviously crazy as raping for virginity, yet people still buy it.

  58. >The so-called “counter-arguments” appear to me to be more fraud and bullshit.

    You may have misread me; I was refering to the counter arguments to those first two points. In the water vapour case, the counter argument is so clear that I have to assume that you’re not aware of it.

    (water vapour is in fact the most “important” greenhouse gas; climate scientists are aware of this and include it in all their models; but water cycle is much faster than the carbon cycle and so H20 is modelled as a feedback rather than a forcing (forcing/feedback are climate modelling jargon roughly corresponding to exogenous/endogenous variable))

    >It sure provided sufficient power for the alarmists when they did it. How conveeeenient that you rediscover elementary measures of statistical sanity only when your side’s case is failing.

    This isn’t an argument over whether Vi or Emacs is better; there is an actual truth to be discovered here. One side is more-or-less right while the other side is repeating simple-but-wrong talking points they found on a right wing blog. The fact that you’re using cheap rhetorical trickery (an indeteminate “they” did it first!) should give you a clue as to which side you’re on.

    Addressing your point, it’s wrong to make statistical mistakes, whether or not your least credible opponents did it first.

  59. So how many people do you think would donate a hypothetical tax cut to charity? Moreover, would they donate it to orphans, or operas? I’m not saying that government welfare is perfect, but at least it has the virtue of responding to the “loud mouths” you seem to deride.

  60. > I am perpetually bemused by people who think they can empower the little guy by increasing state intervention.

    Do you really think the folks with deep pockets were behind food stamps? You might have a threadbare case if you mentioned the food industry, but what about a system of pure cash transfers to low-income individuals?

  61. >Do you really think the folks with deep pockets were behind food stamps?

    Um, that’s not obvious? Any time the government subsidizes something, they’re artificially boosting demand for the product. The main beneficiaries of food stamps are companies that produce food – especially the cheap, highly-processed, low-nutritional-value foods loaded with sugar and fat that Americans stuck in poverty cultures tend to eat. (I specified “Americans” because poverty consumption patterns outside the U.S. are different in complicated ways.) Food stamps are an indirect subsidy to Frito-Lay; they know this, they’re not stupid.

    >So how many people do you think would donate a hypothetical tax cut to charity?

    I don’t know. But there is one suggestive piece of historical evidence. As Charles Murray documented exhaustively in Losing Ground, the governmentalization of poverty relief after 1964 resulted in increasing the incidence and severity of poverty. One of its effects was that rising tax rates crowded out an entire tier of private charities who lost both a defining mission and their donor base. (Among other side effects, this is a major reason fraternal orders like the Elks and Freemasons are now almost dead, with essentially no members under late middle age.)

    So…running the record backwards, it appears that pre-1964 those charities must have been either capturing a larger slice of national income for voluntary redistribution than tax funding does for government redistribution, or using what they got much more efficiently; I suspect both were the case, but do not have the fine-grained evidence required to say so conclusively.

    >what about a system of pure cash transfers to low-income individuals?

    We tried that between 1964 and about 1993. Again, the effects were essentially all bad. The worst one was that we actually created a permanent, pathologized underclass – something the U.S. as a whole had never had before, barring a tiny minority of alcoholics and drug addicts and some pockets in the Appalachians and other deep rural areas.

  62. >water vapour is in fact the most “important” greenhouse gas;

    I’ve been well aware of this for over 25 years – I learned it from wandering off into comparative planetology from astronomy back in the 1970s – which is why my reaction to the first wave of CO2-greenhouse alarmism was “What the fuck are those idiots smoking?”

    I didn’t realize then that what I was seeing was not simple stupidity but the first stages of a major political snow job designed to empower a particularly malignant breed of statist. I was more naive then.

    >it’s wrong to make statistical mistakes, whether or not your least credible opponents did it first.

    You missed my point. Having themselves set the bar for significance at “too few years of warming to matter given the noise level in the data”, honesty should have demanded from the alarmists an equally strong reaction to cooling over similar timeframes. But I wasn’t actually expecting that sort of honesty, since by the time the cooling trend became obvious it was clear to me that AGW alarmism was not about the science at all.

  63. pete: surely it’s wrong to make statistical mistakes. It’s also wrong to fail to point them out when they’re made by people who agree with you.

    Fact of the matter is that if the world had been getting cooler rather than warmer, even though it were a statistical abberation, most people would be laughing at AGW alarmists.

    Left out of Eric’s objections are that you need to trumpet the worst possible case to have the disaster that various AGW proponents use to push their political agenda. If, instead, the world is simply warming in the way it’s warmed for the last hundred thousand years that we have evidence for, then the world has already warmed half of what it typically warms. And WHEN the world is warm is when you see lots of public goods created, because life is easier. So you’d think that the intelligent lefty would welcome warming, except of course that said intelligent lefty probably doesn’t know any other intelligent lefties because they’re so few and far between. So he shuts up and goes with the flow.

  64. esr:

    You claim that you’re just pointing out hypocrisy …

    >You missed my point. Having themselves set the bar for significance at “too few years of warming to matter given the noise level in the data”, honesty should have demanded from the alarmists an equally strong reaction to cooling over similar timeframes.

    … but then you continue to make this basic statistical error …

    >since by the time the cooling trend became obvious

    … which suggests to me that you’re just arguing dishonestly.

    RN:

    >surely it’s wrong to make statistical mistakes. It’s also wrong to fail to point them out when they’re made by people who agree with you.

    Have you pointed out the statistical mistakes of everyone who ever agreed with you anywhere on the internet? You’re just setting an impossibly high bar, which you can’t clear yourself, to deflect attention from esr’s error.

  65. >>water vapour is in fact the most “important” greenhouse gas;

    >I’ve been well aware of this for over 25 years – I learned it from wandering off into comparative planetology from astronomy back in the 1970s – which is why my reaction to the first wave of CO2-greenhouse alarmism was “What the fuck are those idiots smoking?”

    Let A := “water vapour is in fact the most “important” greenhouse gas”

    Let X := A => ~AGW

    “A” is common knowledge; no one is disputing “A”. You’re trying to get “X” for free by exploiting the natural language amiguity between “A” and “X”.

    “X” is false: as evidence I present the fact that both “A” and “AGW” hold in almost all climate models.

  66. >“A” is common knowledge; no one is disputing “A”. You’re trying to get “X” for free by exploiting the natural language amiguity between “A” and “X”.

    No. I’ve seen the numbers and I know that (a) the effect of CO2 is marginal at best relative to water vapor – not quite down to the level of the measurement noise, but not far from it, and (b) linear increases in CO2 don’t imply linear increases in greenhouse trapping. We’re not far from saturation on the main IR reflection band now. CO2 greenhousing cannot get much more severe, not at Earth’s atmospheric density and insolation. This isn’t Venus.

    In any case, the IPCC-predicted consequences of increased greenhousing by either H2O or CO2 are not showing up in actual measurement. The shifts in mid-atmosphere and ocean temperatures aren’t happening, and the self-reinforcing increase in cloud formation required isn’t happening. I also know that the recent correlated fall in the four principal measures of global temperature also correlates with a decrease in solar activity and insolation, which is exactly what anyone but a blithering idiot would have expected to be the principal temperature driver.

    The least hypothesis is that the supposed excess warming over the long-term post-Little-Ice-Age trendline in 1975-1998 was some sort of measurement error – urban heat-island effects on the weather stations seem the most likely cause.

  67. >No. I’ve seen the numbers and I know that (a) the effect of CO2 is marginal at best relative to water vapor – not quite down to the level of the measurement noise, but not far from it,

    If I push a rock down a hill, the kinetic energy I add is marginal relative to the effect of gravity. If you’ve learnt about the greenhouse effect in comparative climatology, you were probably considering a static system. In that case it makes sense to separate the contributions of the various gases. When you have a dynamic system on Earth, it makes more sense to credit the effects of water vapour to the forcing that resulted in that (additional) water vapour (i.e. the “push” gets the credit for gravity’s effect as well).

    >The least hypothesis is that the supposed excess warming over the long-term post-Little-Ice-Age trendline in 1975-1998 was some sort of measurement error – urban heat-island effects on the weather stations seem the most likely cause.

    Unless we have cities in orbit that I don’t know about, that’s unlikely to be the cause.

  68. The main beneficiaries of food stamps are companies that produce food – especially the cheap, highly-processed, low-nutritional-value foods loaded with sugar and fat that Americans stuck in poverty cultures tend to eat.

    Except American foods aren’t loaded with sugar but high-fructose corn syrup — which tastes worse and makes you fatter. America is where Coca-Cola was invented, but buy a Coke in New Zealand, Canada, or anyplace but the U.S. and it will taste better. This is due both to retahded corn subsidies and to embargoes against sugar-producing nations with which we have outdated fear-based political beefs.

  69. > I think the most realistic option is to start with something and then fix it by incremental improvement.

    Please provide three examples where this “realistic” option was tried and the actual results.

    Which reminds me. The UN AGW folks provided numbers for the damage caused. If we divide those numbers by the product of the number of years to disaster and the number of tons of CO2 from coal and oil, we get a figure for the offsetting tax. Is that the appropriate carbon tax amount?

    If we institute such a tax, collect it, and give IOUs to the “global warming mitigation agency” so it has money when said disaster strikes, will that be sufficient?

  70. > we actually created a permanent, pathologized underclass – something the U.S. as a whole had never had before

    That’s not true. Before 1964, when the Civil Rights Act was passed, we certainly did have an underclass. And I fail to see how choosing to accept money somehow entraps you in an underclass. I don’t understand why, say, a fixed annual payment to everyone coupled with a flat sales tax would do that much damage.

  71. >Before 1964, when the Civil Rights Act was passed, we certainly did have an underclass.

    Different sense of the word “underclass”. I was speaking economically, not politically.

    >And I fail to see how choosing to accept money somehow entraps you in an underclass.

    Are you really that innocent? Wow…I thought almost everybody understood this one by now.

    Being on the dole teaches passivity and dependence, and that’s what you tend to end up teaching your kids. If you grow up on the dole (and on the broken family structures the dole tends to encourage), it’s difficult to develop the mental habits – the character – needed to get an education, hold down a job, and raise children who will have good character.

    The post-1964 combination of a welfare state with college-tuition subsidies for bright kids and higher social mobility in general was a double whammy. It meant that the poverty culture incubated by income transfers got worse because the smartest people got the hell out early. Run this forward two decades or so and you get what I saw when I lived in West Philly in the early 1980s – a sinkhole in which petty crime and drug addiction were the norm, bad and getting worse. “Worse” arrived, in the form of the crack epidemic, shortly after I moved to the ‘burbs.

    The descendants of American blacks who migrated out of the rural south got fucked over by welfare dependence worse than most because they had almost no tradition of being self-sufficient in a civil society. The descendants of the much smaller pre-migration black population of the Northern cities didn’t as a rule get as badly wrecked by the dole; poor white non-WASP ethnics like my ancestors generally coped better than the old northern blacks, and poor WASPs best of all. The difference was not one of race but of cultural capital, the petit-bourgeois virtues of valuing thrift and steady employment and education. WASPs had the most of those and the least tendency to learn helplessness and teach it to their kids.

  72. There is an adage in game design:

    “You get the behavior you reward; some behaviors can be rewarded in comparative stance by penalizing others.”

    Same applies to writing laws, or contracts.

  73. Russ Nelson said:

    If, instead, the world is simply warming in the way it’s warmed for the last hundred thousand years that we have evidence for, then the world has already warmed half of what it typically warms. And WHEN the world is warm is when you see lots of public goods created, because life is easier.

    Where is the evidence that the world enjoyed a surge in public works projects 100,000 years ago?

    As a reminder, 10,000 BC (a mere 12,000 years ago) marked the beginning of the Mesolithic and Epipaleolithic period, and the beginning of agriculture.

    I’m not sure you can show correlation, much less causation, but… be my guest.

  74. Pete,

    “Unless we have cities in orbit that I don’t know about, that’s unlikely to be the cause.”

    I’m a bit afraid to chime in as I know little of this stuff, but I think this http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/03/28/how-not-to-measure-temperature-part-86-when-in-rome-dont-do-as-the-romans-do/ and the previous *85 freakin’ examples on that blog* about how NOT to measure temperature might have to do something with it… I mean, are you sure IPCC models are based on reliable satellite measurements and not this kind of stuff? If not, who and why collects these measurements and what happens with them?

  75. “WHEN the world is warm is when you see lots of public goods created” – this one I don’t understand myself.

    Logically, this should work like this, yes. But empirically, the Medieval Warm Period was more or less the “Dark Ages” and the Little Ice Age the period from the Reneissance to the Industrial Revolution…

    Even more importantly, technological progress and capital accumulation was driven by generally and large, cool-ish countries and regions and warm ones didn’t contribute much. Probably, necessity and *boredom* is the mother of invention. Life is too boring in Birmingham, UK, so you just stay at home and tinker with an invention. Life is a big fun in Madrid, so you have better things to do than to stay at home, sunshine, pretty women, wine wait you out there, so people don’t really bother to stay at home and invent stuff.

    I think the agricultural abundance of warm climates just makes people lazy. Yes, *if* warming happens it will mean more food and stuff like that, but I’m note sure that the total result is beneficial from the viewpoint of industry, technology and science.

  76. Shenpen, weather is benign (in the ‘not cold’ sense) in Greece, Rome, and Arabia, and it was while they were creating, discovering or merely doing mathematics, geometry, architecture, engineering, philosophy and the like. So it seems to me the explanation of ‘warm climates make people lazy’ doesn’t ring true to me.

  77. What about the last 500 years?

    I mean yes, it did happen on a level to make it historically interesting, but it did not change the general way the masses live.

    *Wholesale* innovation, capital accumulation and production that counted for the progress of the last 500 years almost always happened in cooler regions. The difference is between inventing a steam engine (Heron of Alexandria) as a curiosity, and you know, actually building thousands of miles of railroads…

  78. I suppose linking most of continental Europe, England, Turkey, up to Syria and the Fertile crescent with roads and commerce doesn’t count? I agree, it wasn’t in the last 500 years, but still…

  79. We could also talk about the level of engineering required to transport water as the Romans did.
    Plus, if you don’t think philosophy and mathematics changed the way we live…

  80. > Logically, this should work like this, yes

    I think you mean “intuitively”.

    There are a large number of potential second and third order effects that would slap an intuitive assertion back into the mud.

  81. >I’m a bit afraid to chime in as I know little of this stuff

    I don’t know a huge amount either; but you learn more if you’re engaged, so go for it!

    The pictures you linked to were, I have to say, hilarious. Especially when the jet engines were pointed right at the weather station.

    The thing is, that weather station’s not there for the benefit of climatologists. At a guess, I’d say the airport likes to have a good idea of what the weather’s like at the airport; and the data’s probably good enough for the local metservice.

    So what should climatologists do with this data? It’s low quality, but there’s a huge amount of it! So they put a lot of work into separating the climate signal from the UHI noise. On the other hand, satellite data is higher quality but lower quantity. So the satellite data can be compared to the UHI corrected land-based data, and it turns out the corrections do a pretty good job.

    >Please provide three examples where this “realistic” option was tried and the actual results.

    3? You’re being rather specific and demanding here. I’ll give you one. I’m not suggesting that 3 or 30 or 300 would be hard to find, but I’ve got other things to do.

    You like the US Constitution right? But when it was written, that whole slavery thing was a bit of a fucking great big black mark. But a “perfect” constitution would have been politically impossible. So they started there, and then they made incremental improvements / amendments. And you got a pretty nice Bill of Rights, and eventually they began addressing the slavery thing. I’ll leave it to you to judge the “actual results”, but I think, on balance, it’s nice to have the US around.

  82. >>Please provide three examples where this “realistic” option was tried and the actual results.

    > You like the US Constitution right?

    I might quibble that there’s an important difference – the US constitution, while not wonderful, was a significant improvement over the status quo, a feature that seems to be missing from the carbon proposals. (“doing something” isn’t an improvement, even if one’s intentions are good.)

    My point is that anything can be improved, the likelyhood is that structurally flawed systems will get worse. I’d expect realism to account for the latter, especially since we have experience with “tax now, benefits later” programs.

    Maybe a carbon tax won’t be like SS, but let’s see the reasons. And, if you’re going to argue that cap and trade won’t be the biggest rent-seeking scam ever invented, you need to explain how you’re going to deal with the advocates who are pushing it as exactly that. Remember, the winners divide the spoils, not the losers.

  83. Shenpen: as far as the last 500 years, you might want to check out Julian Simon’s “The Great Breakthrough and Its Cause”. He’s got an enormous number of statistics and supporting arguments, but his basic claim is the feedback system between population and technology (higher population results in improved technology which allows population to grow and so on) reached a takeoff point when population reached a particular level in the 16th or early 17th century. I think he is overstating his case somewhat, but it’s very convincing. He also discusses the reasons India or China didn’t take off.

  84. The thing about anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is that it is supported not just by one set of measurements, but many: surface temperature readings, ocean temperature readings, satellite data, ice core analysis, etc. Matter of fact, it was first formulated in the 1950s when a physicist (I believe it was Bohr) examined the quantum properties of the CO2 molecule and reasoned, “hey, if we keep putting this stuff in the atmosphere, we’ll have literal hell to pay because the planet will heat up”. A theory with a broader base of scientific evidence underpinning its construction you almost couldn’t ask for, and global-warming deniers are made of the same stuff as evolution deniers: ignorant right-wingers who are regrettably common in America due to culturally entrenched anti-intellectualism.

  85. >The thing about anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is that it is supported not just by one set of measurements, but many: surface temperature readings, ocean temperature readings, satellite data, ice core analysis, etc.

    Not a single one of these assertions is true.

    Paleohistorical ice core analysis shows that rising CO2 levels lag rising temperature rather than leading them. The reverse used to be believed, but then the time resolution on the ice-core analyses improved. To be scrupulously fair, the improvement in resolution happened after the first IPCC report, so the UN was using the best analyses available at the time.

    The ocean’s temperature is not rising. About 18 months ago, just before the current solar-output crash, ago the first full data sets came in from Project Argo, that had deployed a fleet of robotic temperature sensors to to get lots and lots of measurements globally, and there wasn’t any warming signal. This puzzled climatologists, because they think there should be – there’s a long-term warming trend going on that’s not anthropogenic, climbing out of the Little Ice Age and probably driven by Milankovitch cycles. This ought to be producing a measurable rise in ocean temperatures that the Project Argo bots could pick up, but hasn’t done so.

    Surface and satellite-temperature readings have been flat since 1998 and falling since 2007. In fact, the four principal measures of global temperature have now fallen so far that they’ve essentially wiped out the entire warming signal not just from the anomalous 1975-1998 period that got everyone hot and bothered, but clear back to 1900.

    The post-2007 fall could be explained away by supposing that the steep drop in solar activity is masking increased greenhouse effect – that is, if there were any atmospheric evidence of increased greenhouse effect, which in fact there isn’t (the IPCC greenhouse-model predictions don’t match reality). But supposing there were, the 1998-2007 plateau still couldn’t be dismissed that way. Solar activity and CO2 were still increasing in tandem then, so the failure of temperature measures to actually rise had to mean there there was some larger climate driver (that is, more important than the combined effect of CO2 and insolation) that the IPCC models weren’t capturing. Oops…

    Even supposing these indicators had continued to rise, they’re not evidence of anthropogenic global warming. To get that, you need to have an accurate model of non-anthropogenic warming due, for example, to Milankovitch cycles and variations in solar output. Then you need to subtract that signal from observed temperature data that is both noisy and badly corrupted by factors like urban heat-island effects. And the uncertainty in these models of non-A GW is larger than the entire freaking warming signal, even if you take the data at face value!

    Thus there is, in fact, no sound evidence of anthropogenic global warming at all. Here is what we actually know:

    1. GAT (Global Average Temperature) increased from 1900 to 1975 on a gradual trend line that pretty much every climatologist thought was natural variation, non-anthropogenic.

    2. GAT appeared to rise above that long-term trendline in ways that were not explainable by natural variation between 1975-1998.

    3. GAT was flat from 1998 to 2007. CO2 levels continued to rise during this period.

    4. GAT has been falling hard since 2007. CO2 levels have continued to rise during this period. It seems highly likely that the GAT dropping has something to do with the solar-output crash associated with the current extended sunspot minimum.

    The IPCC models don’t even retrodict this data correctly. Their predictions of the future are therefore bullshit.

  86. “…statistical methods which are guaranteed to produce a steep rise at the edge as an artifact.” If I’m reading Climate Audit correctly, the primary issue was the inclusion of Bristlecone pine data, which their data manipulation methods magnified.

  87. >If I’m reading Climate Audit correctly, the primary issue was the inclusion of Bristlecone pine data, which their data manipulation methods magnified.

    Oh, good, you found the Macintyre-McKittrick paper. Yes. There are actually two distinct issues, the quality of the bristlecone data and the “unusual data transformation”, which is polite scientist-speak for “you blatantly cooked your data and we caught you at it”. This actually leaves out a third source of corruption in the Mann paper, which is the suppression of the MWP.

    If AGW alarmism had been founded on actual science, rather than a political agenda, the Macintyre-McKittrick paper would have stopped it in its tracks.

  88. > GAT has been falling hard since 2007. CO2 levels have continued to rise during this period.
    That implies that dissolved CO2 in ocean water is increasing – is the effect sufficient to noticeably worsen ocean acidification?

  89. >Surface and satellite-temperature readings have been flat since 1998 and falling since 2007. In fact, the four principal measures of global temperature have now fallen so far that they’ve essentially wiped out the entire warming signal not just from the anomalous 1975-1998 period that got everyone hot and bothered, but clear back to 1900.

    I don’t get it. Are you still making a point about statistical hypocrisy? Do you not believe in statistics? Or are you just being dishonest?

  90. >Paleohistorical ice core analysis shows that rising CO2 levels lag rising temperature rather than leading them.

    (natural) CO2 acts as a feedback amplifying forcings from (probably) the Milankovitch cycles. The lag actually makes sense, otherwise you have to ask where the hell all that extra CO2 was coming from.

    I notice that this is the same misunderstanding about forcings and feedbacks that’s causing you confusion over the role of water vapour.

  91. I mean, is the falling temperature great enough to have an impact?

  92. >“unusual data transformation”, which is polite scientist-speak for “you blatantly cooked your data and we caught you at it”.

    No, you’re misrepresenting MM here.

    I’ve read both papers, and presumably that “unusual data transformation” is the centering of time-series using the period of proxy/instrument overlap (as opposed to the entire length of the series). The MBH method has the advantage of being more convenient (all series have the same (zero) mean in the overlap period). I’m not convinced that the centering convention makes a difference (it makes interpretation on the principal components difficult, but interpreting PCs isn’t the point of the MBH paper). The MM paper found it made a difference, but that’s because they made a pretty bad statistical error in their implementation.

  93. >That implies that dissolved CO2 in ocean water is increasing – is the effect sufficient to noticeably worsen ocean acidification?

    I don’t know, but this (unlike greenhousing) is an effect actually worth worrying about. A quick googling is not turning up anything definitive.

  94. >I don’t get it. Are you still making a point about statistical hypocrisy? Do you not believe in statistics? Or are you just being dishonest?

    I stated a fact about GAT which is readily verifiable from public sources. Now, if your claim is that the fall from the 1998 high is within the error bars of the data, then, yes, the recent drop is not significant – but, in that case, the entire supposed warming signal since 1900 is noise too and the AGW case collapses. No matter how many times you try to have it both ways, the data won’t let you.

    I don’t actually believe there’s no signal there. The most convincing interpretation I’ve seen that doesn’t just write off 1975-1998 as instrument error is Shunichi Akasofu’s, which is that a long-term gradual rise in GAT (probably driven by one or more Milankovitch cycles) has superimposed on it a noisy multidecadal oscillation (probably driven by cyclic variations in solar output). In this theory, what’s just happened is that we passed the peak of one of the multidecade cycles in 1998.

    The bugger factors in the IPCC models mis-cast the rising side of that oscillation as an acceleration of the baseline rate of warming, then mis-attributed that acceleration to CO2 greenhousing, ignoring solar forcing. Only, the atmosphere temperature measurements aren’t doing what it they should be if CO2 greenhousing were actually increasing, and it sure as hell looks like the recent fall is related to the drop in solar activity.

    >they made a pretty bad statistical error in their implementation.

    Cite, please. With formulas. I was a mathematical logician once; applied statistics won’t throw me.

  95. >(natural) CO2 acts as a feedback amplifying forcings from (probably) the Milankovitch cycles.

    I agree. I didn’t put a causal interpretation on the change from lead to lag, you did.

    >I notice that this is the same misunderstanding about forcings and feedbacks that’s causing you confusion over the role of water vapour.

    No number of repetitions that I’ve “misunderstood” that will changing my actual degree of understanding one iota. I am at least as conversant with basic physical chemistry as most climatologists, and cannot be buffaloed into buying your presuppositions by smarmy suggestions that I am “confused”.

  96. >I stated a fact about GAT which is readily verifiable from public sources. Now, if your claim is that the fall from the 1998 high is within the error bars of the data, then, yes, the recent drop is not significant – but, in that case, the entire supposed warming signal since 1900 is noise too and the AGW case collapses. No matter how many times you try to have it both ways, the data won’t let you.

    Right, suggesting that 100 years tells us more than cherry-picking 10 or 2 is “trying to have it both ways”.

    >>they made a pretty bad statistical error in their implementation.
    >Cite, please. With formulas. I was a mathematical logician once; applied statistics won’t throw me.

    Formulas would be overkill, the mistake was fairly simple. A principal components analysis is a linear transformation of N time-series into N time-series ordered by decreasing variance explained. You can then take the first n time-series to get a N->n dimension reduction.

    Choosing little n requires some sort of rule; In the PCA of North American tree-rings MBH used Preisendorfer’s Rule N, and kept n=2 PCs (using the MBH centering method). MM used n=2 because that’s what MBH did. If they’d used PRN, they would have kept 5 PCs, and their results would have been similar to MBH.

    >No number of repetitions that I’ve “misunderstood” that will changing my actual degree of understanding one iota.

    You seem pretty proud about missing this learning opportunity. The reason anthropogenic CO2 is a problem is because it increases the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere. I’m still not sure why you think water vapour being the major greenhouse gas is inconsistent with that.

  97. By the way, does ocean acidification have a direct effect on people? I can only pull up info on coral bleaching. That would of course have an impact on consumers in the ecosystem (i.e. fish stocks) but is it a large one?

  98. >By the way, does ocean acidification have a direct effect on people?

    To the best of my knowledge, no – but this is something I am not nearly as sure of my grasp on as Milankovitch cycles and solar-forcing effects, so I don’t recommend putting a lot of weight on that “no”.

  99. >Right, suggesting that 100 years tells us more than cherry-picking 10 or 2 is “trying to have it both ways”.

    Claiming a hundred year baseline for AGW panic is bullshit. You have to cherry-pick the 1975-1998 period as the onlie begetter of the future secular change for the models to have big scary teeth. Akasofu’s graph shows that quite clearly.

    >If they’d used PRN, they would have kept 5 PCs, and their results would have been similar to MBH.

    That is something I have no capability to check independently. Primary source, please?

    >The reason anthropogenic CO2 is a problem is because it increases the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere.

    Only in the models. There is no evidence – zero, none, nada – that this is occurring in reality. I know about the tropical cloud formation loop and out in the real world those clouds are not there. In fact, tropical cloud formation has been lessening slightly, though the decrease is probably still below noise level. Are you not paying attention to the AquaSat data?

  100. I think there is a broader picture here that is all to often missed in this argument.

    Ideas like the Kyoto treaty are based on a whole stack of assumptions that, should one prove false, causes the whole point of such treaty action to evaporate. For example, it assumes:

    1. The world is getting warmer
    2. People and industrialization are causing that warming
    3. That the world getting warmer is a bad thing (or that the cons outweigh the pros)
    4. That, even assuming the above, that if we change our industrialization then it will stop getting warmer
    5. That the best way to change our industrialization is through action of government
    6. That governments are able to effect such change
    7. That international treaties are able to cause governments to effect such change
    8. That, assuming such a treaty is in place, the goals are attainable
    9. That assuming the goals are attainable, that they will make a significant difference
    10. That, even with attainable effective goals, that people will not cheat on their promised to gain advantage
    11. … and about a million other assumptions…

    If any of these assumptions is significantly wrong, then the idea of Kyoto becomes largely ineffective. Frankly, I’d say all of them are at least questionable, and in some cases almost certainly incorrect. Frankly, to believe all of them are basically, fundamentally sound would put Pollyanna to shame.

    Of course analyzing Kyoto from the perspective of political economics (that is to say the cost benefit analysis to the actual people involved in the political maneuvering), Kyoto makes perfect sense. Al Gore has made some pretty good money off his wrinkled, furrowed brow.

  101. >>Right, suggesting that 100 years tells us more than cherry-picking 10 or 2 is “trying to have it both ways”.

    >Claiming a hundred year baseline for AGW panic is bullshit. You have to cherry-pick the 1975-1998 period as the onlie begetter of the future secular change for the models to have big scary teeth. Akasofu’s graph shows that quite clearly.

    Can we agree on three things:
    1) You need to look at all the data, not just a subset;
    2) 2 years is insufficient to spot a trend;
    3) #2 is true whether or not people-who-aren’t-me have tried to do so in the past?

    >>If they’d used PRN, they would have kept 5 PCs, and their results would have been similar to MBH.

    >That is something I have no capability to check independently. Primary source, please?

    @article{wahl2007rmb,
    title={{Robustness of the mann, bradley, hughes reconstruction of northern hemisphere surface temperatures: Examination of criticisms based on the nature and processing of proxy climate evidence}},
    author={Wahl, E.R. and Ammann, C.M.},
    journal={Climatic Change},
    volume={85},
    number={1},
    pages={33–69},
    year={2007},
    publisher={Springer}
    }

    >>The reason anthropogenic CO2 is a problem is because it increases the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere.

    >Only in the models. There is no evidence – zero, none, nada – that this is occurring in reality.

    Are you really claiming that warmer air holds more water in theory but not in practice? Maybe you’ve overstated your familiarity with physical chemistry.

    >I know about the tropical cloud formation loop and out in the real world those clouds are not there. In fact, tropical cloud formation has been lessening slightly, though the decrease is probably still below noise level. Are you not paying attention to the AquaSat data?

    I’m trying to make a very narrow point here: the true statement “water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas” is not inconsistent with the theory behind AGW. There’s no point shifting the argument over to cloud formation before we’ve got the basics straightened out.

  102. @pete –

    Firstly, Thanks for continuing to try to clarify the AGW position. I’ve found myself in a position that feels similar to what ESR is espousing (The arguments against AGW make more sense than the arguments for AGW) but without the pure science/statistical underpining.

    On topic, Are you saying that the current theory is (admittedly significantly dumbed down) the world is hotter -> hotter air means a greater percentage of the atmosphere is water vapour -> increased water vapour means the atmosphere holds in more heat (the “Greenhouse effect”) -> the world gets hotter? (Not trying to put words into your mouth, trying to show whether i’m understanding what you’re saying) This would imply that the role of carbon is more that of a catalyst that tipped the scales.

    If so isn’t reducing carbon emissions kind of like locking the gate after the horse has bolted?

  103. pete: Forget it. Eric knows a little C programming and how to write reasonably convincingly, but that’s where it ends. His piles of essays and posts on various intellectual topics serve only to evidence how little he understands about life, economics and the scientific method.

  104. >Eric knows a little C programming and how to write reasonably convincingly, but that’s where it ends.

    Best laugh I’ve had all week. Thanks.

  105. >If any of these assumptions is significantly wrong, then the idea of Kyoto becomes largely ineffective.

    Assumption 1 is correct. The status of 3 is unknown. I think all the remaining ones are false.

  106. >Are you saying that the current theory is (admittedly significantly dumbed down) the world is hotter -> hotter air means a greater percentage of the atmosphere is water vapour -> increased water vapour means the atmosphere holds in more heat (the “Greenhouse effect”) -> the world gets hotter?

    This is one of the standard AGW-panic lines of argument. The problem is in the notion that this process is a positive feedback loop that can lead to runaway greenhouse, or even a secular rise on the order of 3-5C. The computer models that predict this assume that rising greenhouse effect promotes mid-atmosphere cloud formation, which then increases greenhouse. The trouble with this theory is that reality is not cooperating with it – as I said earlier, mid-atmosphere cloud formation appears to be decreasing slightly.

    pete wants to confuse the issue by retreating to the undisputed fact that a warmer atmosphere can dissolve more water vapor. Yes, this is Chem 101 – the problem is, that effect by itself doesn’t buy you the feedback loop needed for the IPCC predictions to (pardon me) hold water. Their modeling is very sensitive to effects like cloud-induced changes in albedo; without the cloud formation, and without coupling assumptions that are tuned exactly right, no feedback and no runaway.

    >If so isn’t reducing carbon emissions kind of like locking the gate after the horse has bolted?

    Depends on how you choose the coupling coefficients (the rude term is “bugger factors”) in your model. I’m not intimate enough with the IPCC software to know exactly what they did, but if I were writing climate models I’m pretty sure I could chose the bugger factors so that the CO2-H2O feedback loop essentially shuts down below a specified CO2 concentration – and you get to specify that PPM. To get the IPCC’s desired political effect, all you need to do is pick the bugger factors so the magic CO2 threshold is just a bit above observed levels.

    If you’re like most people, you probably assume that all the bugger factors in the IPCC models were somehow derived from or justified by observation. I could rant at length about this, but I’ll just observe that no, they almost certainly weren’t. If they had been, the models’ predictive and retrodictive accuracy might suck a lot less.

    As it is, the IPCC models are about as sound as astrology.

  107. ESR,

    “because the smartest people got the hell out early”

    And there is another thing: smarter people tend to be less racist, therefore, more likely to form mixed-race marriages. Which mean their children who inherit their intelligent will mixed race and no longer counted as white or black.

    Which means that as generations go on, purely black and purely white people will tend to be dumber compared to their mixed-race fellows. With minorities it must probably happen faster because they have a strong incentive to escape the ghetto, to marry into what they perceive as the (white) middle-class, so purely even this factor could mean that those who still purely black are the descendants of the less bright blacks.

    However, more slowly, but this must happen to whites too, so perhaps in a few generations the cool, smart, competitive urban professional people all will have a bit of a capuccino look and a lily-white skin will be an unfashionable, uncool thing, something to look a bit down upon, something like a thick accent: it will be perceived as white-trashy, dumb, hopelessly blue-collar.

    I have no evidence for it, it’s just deductive reasoning from the fact that smarter people tend to be less racist.

  108. pete: Forget it. Eric knows a little C programming and how to write reasonably convincingly, but that’s where it ends. His piles of essays and posts on various intellectual topics serve only to evidence how little he understands about life, economics and the scientific method.

    Now, now, that’s not fair!

    He knows some Lisp and a fair bit of Python at least, too :)

  109. >He knows some Lisp and a fair bit of Python at least, too :)

    It has even been reliably reported that I can walk and chew gum at the same time. And because I know that the estimable Mr. Waters will spend the rest of his life using software with me in it even if he forswears PCs for cellphones and gaming consoles, I think I can live with his so-generous estimate of my capabilities.

  110. And because I know that the estimable Mr. Waters will spend the rest of his life using software with me in it even if he forswears PCs for cellphones and gaming consoles, I think I can live with his so-generous estimate of my capabilities.

    It is common knowledge that most of Eric’s Open Source contributions amount to manpage formatting adjustments and spelling corrections in the source code.

  111. >If so isn’t reducing carbon emissions kind of like locking the gate after the horse has bolted?

    As far as current warming goes, yes. Reducing carbon emissions is more like not unlocking any more gates!

  112. >The problem is in the notion that this process is a positive feedback loop that can lead to runaway greenhouse, or even a secular rise on the order of 3-5C.

    Just to be clear, I’m not arguing “runaway greenhouse”. I’d prefer to use the term “amplification” than “feedback”, but I’m not in a position to unilaterally change the jargon.

    >pete wants to confuse the issue by retreating to the undisputed fact that a warmer atmosphere can dissolve more water vapor.

    I guess when you’re backpedalling that fast it might look like I’m retreating. You made the strong claim that, since water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas, AGW was inherently ridiculous. I’ve argued that that claim is false, while you’ve danced around the issue trying to simultaneously argue everything from political motivations to cloud feedbacks to modelling strategy.

  113. >I guess when you’re backpedalling that fast it might look like I’m retreating. You made the strong claim that, since water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas, AGW was inherently ridiculous

    I stand by that claim, because you can arrive at “amplification” only with models that assume a nonlinearity that has not yet been observed in the Earth’s atmosphere, and can be obtained in Earth’s conditions only a careful and meretricious choice of bugger factors.

    For the rest of you: I had to add the qualifier “in the Earth’s atmosphere” because, at least at the time I was reading planetology, it was believed that the results of a runaway greenhouse had been observed in the atmosphere of Venus. AFAIK that is still the case; I haven’t kept up with that branch of theory.

  114. >As far as current warming goes, yes. Reducing carbon emissions is more like not unlocking any more gates!

    I will note that I think there are good reasons to reduce CO2 emissions; global warming just doesn’t happen to be any of them.

  115. > smarter people tend to be less racist, therefore, more likely to form mixed-race marriages.
    Naw, I think the reason mixed-race marriages are uncommon is not because of racism, but because people are programmed to prefer people that look like themselves, or, more specifically, the opposite-sex parent.

    > I will note that I think there are good reasons to reduce CO2 emissions; global warming just doesn’t happen to be any of them.

    So if you don’t think ocean acidification affects people, why do you think it is a good reason to limit carbon emissions?

  116. >>You made the strong claim…

    >I stand by that claim,

    (my epistemology is a bit hazy; please read-what-I-mean if I get the jargon wrong)

    You made a necessary claim that given water vapour’s role, AGW was impossible.

    It appears that you are only standing by the contingent claim: AGW is not-happening rather than not-possible.

  117. >So if you don’t think ocean acidification affects people, why do you think it is a good reason to limit carbon emissions?

    I don’t know of a direct effect, but seriously fucking up the oceanic ecology is likely to have indirect effects we won’t like.

  118. I don’t know of a direct effect, but seriously fucking up the oceanic ecology is likely to have indirect effects we won’t like.

    I guess the necessary standard of rigour depends upon your alignment with esr’s politics.

  119. I have old-but-direct experience with the models, circa 1999, about the time of the Mann graph.

    I was a science reporter in Madison, WI. And got asked to interview Dr. Reid Bryson at the UW Madison. Bryson is, for all intents and purposes, the figurative founder of atmospheric and climate sciences.

    I wouldn’t know where to look for the bugger factors in the models.

    However, he and I spent about 3 weeks running three of their models through their paces.

    We started using the data sets they gave, and got the results they indicated.

    We then looked at the data sets given and compared them to historical temperature proxies, and found some discrepencies, and noted that it treated the H20 storage capacity of the middle atmosphere as being infinite (major problem).

    We then ran historical data from 1900 into all three models, and let them run (each modeling run took about 4 days, so we ran them in parallel.

    One had the oceans boiling off in the 1950s, because the temperatures in the 1930s triggered a runaway greenhouse effect.

    The other two were less spectacular – they had temperature rises of about 5-6 C and 6-9 by the end of the century.

    We then tried to isolate the forcing factors and see what they were; we ran the most extreme model with a solar input constant that was HALFED (EG, we did the equivalent of moving the Earth to Mars’ orbit). We postponed the boil-off effect to the late ’90s by doing that.)

    So, we take the data sets they give, we run corroborations, we can’t replicate the historical record.

    So, who is it that doesn’t understand the scientific method?

    Atmospheric observational scientists don’t report anything CLOSE to what the predictions make.

    The Dean of the American Society of Statistical Sciences (Wegman) says, in essence, that if the statistical methods used by most of the climate sciences were used that way on a Freshman stats class, he’d flunk them all – and says, before Congress, that they cooked the books for a political agenda.

    I write models for a living – I design games. This doesn’t mean I’m up to all the tricks of cooking models that are out there, but I do know how to do bounds checking on them, how to run a chi-square, and look for hot spots. I have discovered that I’ve got more day to day use of my stats and calculus classes than most of the professional working scientists I know, or have as customers.

    If I’d gotten a historical wargame submission this bad, I’d’ve sent it back with a reading list on the topic and told the author to try again.

  120. Pete said: “>>The reason anthropogenic CO2 is a problem is because it increases the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere… Are you really claiming that warmer air holds more water in theory but not in practice? Maybe you’ve overstated your familiarity with physical chemistry.”

    This is circulus in probando. Pete is saying CO2 increases the amount of water in the air, therefore CO2 creates warming. But, the mechanism by which CO2 increases water in the air is by warming it. In other words, CO2 creates warming which increases the amount of water in the air, therefore CO2 creates warming.

  121. I wonder if this coal process will increase the temperature on Mars as much as our current oil sucking suvs have already. I am so sad for humanity… Trading in the scientific process for radical politics.

  122. Pete,

    You completely lost me when you claimed the AGW intellectual resistance consists of dupes getting talking points from right wing sites. While there is certainly some of that — Morano is a well known lobbyist — it’s a ridiculous broad brush. Steve McIntyre is (climateaudit.org) hardly right ring, and his work is not even faintly politicized. If you’ve ever actually been there you’ll see that McIntyre has no sympathy for polemics on either side of the issues.

    Actually I think you might be projecting a bit: the realclimate site where it looks like you get your comforting rebuttal talking points *is* a political site, in that it’s owned and funded by a Green affiliated PR/lobbying group.

    The “debate” is indeed highly politicized, with powerful interests on *both* sides of the issue. Regrettably the political corruption is so high that it is very difficult to separate science from advocacy.

    On a narrow point of water vapor, you need to go back and refresh your rebuttals. AGW alarmism is drive almost entirely by assumptions about water vapor feedback being strongly positive in the face of very little evidence. Lindzen and many others believe it is neutral to negative, i.e. that increased water vapor tends to condense into clouds that increase albedo and reduce warming. The the presence or absence of the infamous “tropospheric hot spot” is all about measuring H2O feedback. So CO2 warming is real, and is evidenced by stratospheric cooling, but it is modest and to the first approximation *all* of the alarm is about the attribution of a huge H20 amplification, for which there is at best no evidence. Everyone on both sides of the climate issue know this is a huge and unsettled issue, hence we see papers like Sherwood trying to explain away the lack of direct evidence.

    And you’d best not raise the tree ring issue, no-one will defend bristlecones these days as a temp proxy and everyone knows Mann’s papers are a joke, The alarmist arguments these days are that Mann may have been right for the wrong reasons, i.e. that other non-tree-ring proxies support his conclusion. That at least is at least is still debatable, if unlikely. Again, everyone seriously in the debate knows that historical reconstructions are a huge issue, because if recent past temperatures were higher through natural variablity it shows that (a) natural variability is not understood and (b) natural feedbacks are likely neutral or negative.

  123. >This is circulus in probando.

    No, just positive feedback. Positive feedback mechanism do happen in nature, there’s just no sign this hypothesized one is real.

  124. >Lindzen and many others believe it is neutral to negative, i.e. that increased water vapor tends to condense into clouds that increase albedo and reduce warming.

    Huh? They think the reflective effects of cloud cover dominate the heat-trapping ones?

    This seems quite unlikely to me, but I suppose it’s possible.

  125. At this stage there are few worse people on the planet than environmentalists. They are religious zealots trying to destroy the standard of living of the fellow humans for their nutjob eco-religion.

    The fact that they tend to be hypocrit elitist rich scum just adds insult to injury.

    Hey, you want to live some minimal energy zero pollution lifestyle to asuage your guilt for being alive — fine — just don’t use the dead hand of the State to force me to join your cult.

    The eco movement is inherently fascist and oppressive.

  126. “As far as current warming goes, yes [reducing carbon emissions kind of like locking the gate after the horse has bolted]. Reducing carbon emissions is more like not unlocking any more gates!

    Except, of course, for how you left out the part where force or the threat of force is used to compel the property management of others who do not agree.

    And, more practically, how harnessing the remaining horses and using them for work is pretty much the only way to get out and recover any meaningful number of the bolted horses.

    You and your ilk would have us chasing down the bolted horses on foot — through restrictions on horse use — which by analogy means trying to correct for your accelerating AGW with less and less effective means and tools.

    Which clearly isn’t going to work.

    So the issue of actual AGW is relatively irrelevant, though still worth clarifying objectively. The critical path right now is the course to take, and regardless of the truth or validity of AGW, increased technological development in order to fix the problem without making it worse — improved efficiency, etc. — is clearly and obviously the best bet, and what do we need to facilitate that? Why, more and cheaper energy, in order to be able to afford more and cheaper R&D, not less of it at higher prices. . .which is, unfortunately, what the AGW crowd almost uniformly demands.

    So even if you’re right about the looming crisis, you’re still being short-sighted and wrong about how to address it. Carbon taxing schemes are not in our or the rest of the biosphere’s best interest. Overall they will only cripple our ability to correct the existing damage and prevent worse.

    Seriously, stop and think about it beyond the knee-jerk response of ‘Burn less!’. Burning less means less wealth to spend on fixing the problem, particularly the kind of capitally risky innovation that is exactly what is needed.

  127. So, who is it that doesn’t understand the scientific method?

    You. So you found a bad, published model in 1999. So what?

  128. You. So you found a bad, published model in 1999. So what?

    No, we found that three of the four models used for IPCC-’99 were, bluntly, bullshit.

    John, we found that all three models we could run from IPCC-’99 were unable to replicate existing conditions from historical data; they were off a factor of 10, a factor of 20, and “the oceans boiled”.

    We did not run the fourth model at the time; I do not remember if it’s because we couldn’t get it to compile, the data set was incomplete, or another reason, but we did try. There were only four models used in IPCC-’99.

    Modeling as a predictive tool demands the following:

    1) Able to replicate the results given with the data sets given. We were barely able to do so.
    2) Able to document all processes going into the model. A forcing factor has to be identified, its justification given, and some evidence that the model has also been run without it. This one failed, utterly.
    3) Bounds checked: If you remove a state vector going in one direction, does the model change in the same way? Halving the solar input constant did not stop global warming, it merely slowed down the rate of increase by about 40%. Not just utter failure, but comical utter failure.
    4) Can you get concordance with historical results starting from any point where adequate historical data exists? Nowhere close to this.

    We’re going to be treating CO2 as a pollutant from these models. We’re in the process of doing a cap-and-trade tax (which will effectively raise the price of energy and the price of everything else that uses it) because of this.

    We’re watching the Europeans gut their economies to comply with policy regulations based on this, often times with results (like the Dutch Palm Oil Fiasco) that release more pollution and more CO2 than if they’d kept their existing infrastructure. Of course, running the Netherlands off of Palm Oil from Indonesia allows Europe to feel good and green – in spite of the fact that the new demand for palm oil creates demand that causes old growth forest to be chopped down to make new palm oil plantations, causing a net increase in the CO2 footprint of Dutch electrical generation.

    All over a pack of statistical models that, bluntly, are bullshit.

  129. Thomas Covello —

    For the years 1947-1965, the observed rate in decline of poverty was 0.89 percentage points of the U.S. population per year, with a correlation coefficient between the poverty rate and the year of -0.98.
    For the years 1966-2006, the observed rate in decline in poverty was 0.00 percentage points of the U.S. population per year. (No correlation with the year is observed because 0.00 doesn’t correlate with anything that changes.)

    So the one thing we can be absolutely sure of is that the programs sold as the War on Poverty did absolutely nothing whatsoever to reduce poverty. Instead, the programs apparently froze U.S. poverty levels at the 1965 level.

    So, who has benefited by the fact that poverty-as-defined-in-1965 still exists today, instead of having gone extinct in 1984? Who benefits from the fact that the poverty rate has held reasonably steady for decades? Pretty obviously not the people who today live in poverty, right? But the War on Poverty programs have proven quite effective in getting the Democratic Party a lock on the votes of the poor, haven’t they? They created the programs, they defend the programs, they propose increases in the programs, and they get the votes of the people who are poor enough to be in the programs.

    So, the deep pocket who benefits from poverty “assistance” is clear enough: the comfortable-to-wealthy Democratic politician.

  130. Kasmir:

    >You completely lost me when you claimed the AGW intellectual resistance consists of dupes getting talking points from right wing sites.

    Just to be clear, I was only accusing esr of that ;-)

  131. Comrades – can anyone explain something to me. I am an electrical engineer, and control theory is among many subjects that I had to learn. One of the main assumptions of the “Global Warming” theory is the positive feedback. More CO2 leads to higher temperature which leads to more more water vapor which leads to higher temperature and on and on and on. This point of view puzzles me – positive feedback is inherently unstable, which means if indeed Earth temperature had this peculiar positive feedback, our planet would be either extremely hot or extremely cold. Can someone design a simple amplifier circuit with this positive feedback and not have it saturated in one of the extremes?

  132. > Who benefits from the fact that the poverty rate has held reasonably steady for decades? Pretty obviously not the people who today live in poverty, right?

    You’re forgetting the numerous social changes that took place during the period you mention. These changes, unchecked by redistribution, would have increased the poverty rate. Namely, many lower-middle-class manufacturing jobs were mechanized or shipped off to China. I know this because most of my 70-plus relatives had manufacturing jobs in southern Ontario. Though few had graduated high school, they largely had middle-of-the-road lifestyles that, now that most factories have closed, would be unimaginable to an uneducated worker today.

    > Being on the dole teaches passivity and dependence, and that’s what you tend to end up teaching your kids.

    That is just as easily an argument against private charity as against government charity. I’m guessing you would allege that welfare is not as good as private charity at giving money to low-income people. That would mean that government replacing private charity would have improved the situation.

    Which is not to say that I’m a fan of our current programs. What causes the poor to become passive and dependent is the constellation of service professionals that have descended upon them. If we stop catering to this particular special interest group, we’ll stop treating poverty as a ‘pathology’ that needs to be cured from outside. Rather, we’ll see it as the simple recognition that one has temporarily lost the competitive and somewhat arbitrary games that nevertheless keep our economy running, and redistribution can help cushion the fall.

    > I don’t know of a direct effect, but seriously fucking up the oceanic ecology is likely to have indirect effects we won’t like.

    So how would the precautionary principle work in a libertarian society? If we treat environmental damage as a tortious assault, then we can only prevent damage after it happens. Let’s say that in the future we find out that environmental issue X has serious negative consequences. Suppose that 90% either predict these consequences or apply the precautionary principle, and decline to pollute. The remaining 10% continue to pollute. Now suppose that 99% of the damage still happens, just from that 10%. Even if the 10% could be held liable for all of the damage, there is still a net loss to the economy. Wouldn’t it have been better to ban this sort of pollution and prevent the damage?

    On an unrelated point, how do you account for the success of the Montreal Protocol?

  133. >Just to be clear, I was only accusing esr of that ;-)

    Unfortunately for that theory, I concluded AGW was horseshit about a decade before “right wing sites” even existed as a category.

  134. Esr said:

    “Huh? They think the reflective effects of cloud cover dominate the heat-trapping ones?

    This seems quite unlikely to me, but I suppose it’s possible.”

    Yes, Lindzen does indeed believe increased water vapor has negative feedback. Indeed he now purports to have measured this negative feedback. See the following email:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/03/30/lindzen-on-negative-climate-feedback/

    Actually, it would be surprising if there weren’t powerful negative feedback elements in the climate system in its current regime, because otherwise it would have run away to a more stable state long ago. That’s why an alarmist scientist famously said “we must get rid of the Medieval Warm Period”, because if the recent past was warmer than now then we cannot be on the brink of any strong positive feedback effect.

    That’s not to say there aren’t significant feedback effect; clearly there are, such as when the melting of mid-latitudinal ice cover changed the earth’s albedo and accelerated the end of the last glacial. But I personally am highly skeptical that we’ve been living in the edge of a dramatic positive water feedback effect that would provide 2-5X amplification of the 1.2C forcing from the doubling CO2 concentrations from pre-industrial times that we’re half way through. Lindzen believes water vapor on net forms clouds that reduce the warming to half or less.

  135. >Unfortunately for that theory, I concluded AGW was horseshit about a decade before “right wing sites” even existed as a category.

    The theory was that you decided AGW was horseshit a while ago, and were just using whatever rationalisations were currently fashionable. It’s clear from this thread that your knowledge extends well past the current talking points, which makes me wonder why you would use discredited talking points instead of the stronger arguments you have at your disposal.

    My current working theory: you’re prepared to use talking points because it’s just so much easier, and you know you can always backpedal to your stronger arguments if you get called on it. In this case:

    Claim A (necessary): water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas; therefore CO2 based AGW is impossible.
    Claim B (contingent): water vapour feedback is not sufficiently strong for anthropogenic CO2 to cause dangerous warming.

    Claim B is a much stronger argument (by default, since Claim A is patently ridiculous), and to be honest is not something I know enough about to provide a counter-argument. But your willingness to throw around Claim A makes me suspicious about your Claim B.

  136. >Comrades – can anyone explain something to me. I am an electrical engineer, and control theory is among many subjects that I had to learn. One of the main assumptions of the “Global Warming” theory is the positive feedback. More CO2 leads to higher temperature which leads to more more water vapor which leads to higher temperature and on and on and on. This point of view puzzles me – positive feedback is inherently unstable, which means if indeed Earth temperature had this peculiar positive feedback, our planet would be either extremely hot or extremely cold. Can someone design a simple amplifier circuit with this positive feedback and not have it saturated in one of the extremes?

    Yeah, this one had me confused for ages. Imagine each successive feedback as smaller than the last, so that they converge, Achilles-and-the-Tortoise fashion, on a new equilibrium temperature.

    This is why I don’t really like the term “feedback”; I’d rather they’d use something like “amplification”.

  137. @Kasmir

    >>One side is more-or-less right while the other side is repeating simple-but-wrong talking points they found on a right wing blog.
    >You completely lost me when you claimed the AGW intellectual resistance consists of dupes getting talking points from right wing sites.

    That statement reads a lot more generally than I intended. Looking back I can totally see how you read it that way. Apologies for the miscommunication.

  138. >You’re forgetting the numerous social changes that took place during the period you mention. These changes, unchecked by redistribution, would have increased the poverty rate.

    That assertion is unsupported and almost certainly not true. For one thing, part of the effect the big changes in the economy after 1964 (including the shipping of jobs to China) was to drastically reduce the price of food and staple goods in labor-hours. Constant-dollar incomes went up, and actual purchasing power went way up.

    Here’s an indicator: in 1964, televisions were a luxury and cars were sufficiently expensive that having a car was a big deal and two-car families were unheard of except among the very wealthy. Heck, I can remember widespread complaints about the price of meat until sometime during my teens in the 1970s.

    >That is just as easily an argument against private charity as against government charity.

    Yes, it is. We know empirically, though, that private charity was better at lifting people out of poverty, so there was something about the way private charities operated that made the tendency to produce dependence weaker.

    >So how would the precautionary principle work in a libertarian society?

    It wouldn’t. But it doesn’t work very well in this one, either, and has done nothing to save the oceans.

    As a separate issue, I think the precautionary principle is a bad one in general. It’s too easily abused to suppress changes that would be disruptive for entrenched interest groups.

    >On an unrelated point, how do you account for the success of the Montreal Protocol?

    Sorry, what was that?

  139. >My current working theory: you’re prepared to use talking points because it’s just so much easier, and you know you can always backpedal to your stronger arguments if you get called on it.

    Now you’re reaching the “utterly full of shit” level. Most of these supposed “discredited talking points” are only discredited to people who have drunk a large volume of toxic Kool-Aid.

  140. >Actually, it would be surprising if there weren’t powerful negative feedback elements in the climate system in its current regime, because otherwise it would have run away to a more stable state long ago.

    I completely agree with this, in general — it’s one of the reasons I smelled a rat in climate catastrophism as far back as the mid-1970s, when the hype was about global cooling (damn did Carl Sagan embarrass himself over that one). It’s just the specific theory that increased reflection of solar incident radiation dominates the heat-trap effect that I’m dubious about.

  141. All over a pack of statistical models that, bluntly, are bullshit

    So you are extrapolating that future science from global warming proponents will be methodologically invalid? The phrase “hoisted by your own petard” comes to mind.

  142. >So you are extrapolating that future science from global warming proponents will be methodologically invalid?

    That’s a safe guess. They’ll pick their theories for political results, not predictive soundness – so while it’s not logically entailed that they will always generate bad science in the future, it’s a good way to bet.

  143. > Sorry, what was that?

    Are you trying to be ironic or are you unaware of that international agreement that banned CFCs? We’re actually seeing measurable decreases in concentrations of ozone-depleting substance from that one.

    > For one thing, part of the effect the big changes in the economy after 1964 (including the shipping of jobs to China) was to drastically reduce the price of food and staple goods in labor-hours.

    I wasn’t saying that things like that were bad for average real income, but that they had the effect of stretching out the income distribution, because jobs in the middle of the spectrum were being replaced with ones at the bottom and the top of the distribution.

    And yes, I support defining poverty on a relative basis. Even though poverty is becoming less serious, so is nearly every problem that developed countries face. So there is no particular reason to devote fewer resources to it in favour of alternative uses.

    > there was something about the way private charities operated that made the tendency to produce dependence weaker.
    This was my hypothesis as to why:
    “What causes the poor to become passive and dependent is the constellation of service professionals that have descended upon them.”
    Why is it the nature of government welfare that produces dependence rather than some property of the way welfare is run now?

  144. So you are extrapolating that future science from global warming proponents will be methodologically invalid? The phrase “hoisted by your own petard” comes to mind.

    I am a skeptic on AGW. I keep checking for things that will, in fact, change my mind. That is, ultimately, the definition of ‘skeptic’.

    So far, I remain unconvinced.

    Ball is in your court.

    Convince me. Please provide data sets and models.

    Please demonstrate that your model can go from 1900 AD to 2009 AD and be within 10% of the monthly temperature averages.

    To quote Arther Conon Doyle, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.”

  145. @Acksiom

    >increased technological development in order to fix the problem without making it worse — improved efficiency, etc. — is clearly and obviously the best bet, and what do we need to facilitate that? Why, more and cheaper energy, in order to be able to afford more and cheaper R&D, not less of it at higher prices. . .which is, unfortunately, what the AGW crowd almost uniformly demands.

    Wtf? Yes we need increased technological development. To get that development we need the right incentives in place. R&D has massive positive externalities, so it’s already undersupplied in a free market. Allowing unchecked carbon emissions is a massive subsidy to existing inefficient methods, further distorting the supply of R&D away from the optimum.

    @Ken Burnside

    >Please demonstrate that your model can go from 1900 AD to 2009 AD and be within 10% of the monthly temperature averages.

    Can your model do that?

    If you set your standards of evidence too high, you’ll never have to believe anything. I’d prefer to have a provisional opinion based on the best available explanation. So far no one has offered me a better explanation than the AGW climate models.

  146. Wow,

    >Most of these supposed “discredited talking points” are only discredited to people who have drunk a large volume of toxic Kool-Aid.

    followed by

    >back as the mid-1970s, when the hype was about global cooling

  147. >Now you’re reaching the “utterly full of shit” level.

    Then there’s always plan B, abuse.

  148. >Are you trying to be ironic or are you unaware of that international agreement that banned CFCs?

    I’d forgotten the name. I’m still not sure it solved an actual problem; the Antarctic “ozone hole” turned out to be a seasonal phenomenon that – oops — had been observed at least as far back as the International Geophysical Year in 1957.

    >I wasn’t saying that things like that were bad for average real income, but that they had the effect of stretching out the income distribution, because jobs in the middle of the spectrum were being replaced with ones at the bottom and the top of the distribution.

    Actually, the main cause of a longer tail in the lower quartile is increased legal and illegal immigration, not jobs going abroad. Income inequality among native-born Americans is pretty low and consumption inequality is lower. If you want to “fix” inequality (I don’t, because inequality doesn’t bother me when upward mobility is possible) the most effective way to do it would be to close our borders.

    >And yes, I support defining poverty on a relative basis.

    I don’t. Becomes there comes a point where talk about “poverty” that doesn’t exist in any absolute sense becomes nothing more than a pretext for redistributionism that is no longer needed – a full-employment program for bureaucrats that no longer does any good even in the dubious terms of its original rationale.

    Also…I’ve seen real poverty. Real poverty is no indoor plumbing. Real poverty is a life of malnutrition and hard work that makes people wrinkled oldsters at 40. Having seen it, I find American bleating about poverty disgusting — spoiled children whining about a standard of living that would still be considered luxurious in most of the world, and their enablers endlessly polishing their own moral vanity with other peoples’ money. That’s where the relative definition leaves us.

    >Why is it the nature of government welfare that produces dependence rather than some property of the way welfare is run now?

    I don’t know, but I have some guesses. One is that when poverty relief was governmentalized, too many people stopped being ashamed of living as parasites on the goodwill of others.

  149. I’d forgotten the name. I’m still not sure it solved an actual problem; the Antarctic “ozone hole” turned out to be a seasonal phenomenon that – oops — had been observed at least as far back as the International Geophysical Year in 1957.

    Um, no.

    Specifically, the ‘ozone hole’ is a seasonal decrease, (so what you said is, strictly speaking, accurate), but there is also a 4% per decated decrease in ozone levels measured world-wide since the 1970s.

    And no, we’re not out of the woods.

  150. I suspect a big reason for the greater success of private charity is that it is free to impose whatever requirements, within legality, it wishes upon its beneficiaries. Government charity often tries to make serious requirements but these are all too often broken by litigation or general whining. Or simply bypassed at a different level of government.

    Here in California, we have numerous entitlements that duplicate federal entitlements. Why? Because the federal version expect recipients to have a few prerequisites in place, such as citizenship or legal residency. So, to buy votes from people with illegal resident relatives in need of special medical care, for example, politician duplicate inaccessible federal giveaways with state level versions.

    And people say we don’t have socialized medicine in this country.

    A private charity could choose to minister to illegal aliens as well. But if it chooses to reserves its disbursement to a particular group there isn’t much others can do to change that through litigation or amassing a voting bloc. At least in a sane court. They aren’t always so.

  151. “We’re actually seeing measurable decreases in concentrations of ozone-depleting substance from that one.”

    Sorry, but that’s pure bullshit. There was never any evidence that CFCs had any effect on the ozone layer. In fact, the ground level measurements of UV were trending slightly down **before** the Montreal Protocols. The “Anti-Industrial Revolution” was probably one of Ayn Rand’s best phrases.

    I haven’t been paying that much attention to the eco-nuts in the last decade, almost all of their claims were fairly well disproved before that, and with the leftist media promoting their bogus shit, most people believe in AGW and all the other crap. The best source on “ozone depletion” was Rogelio Maduro & Ralf Schauerhammer’s “The Holes in the Ozone Scare”. I don’t have a copy now, but I checked a lot of their references back when I read it (I had the UMCP libraries handy then).

  152. Also, for those who favor big business bashing, Seagram’s, the owners of Dupont, supposedly supported restrictions on CFCs because their patents had long expired and they were trying to push a new chemical they had developed but no one would use because it was thoroughly inferior to CFCs.

  153. >The best source on “ozone depletion” was Rogelio Maduro & Ralf Schauerhammer’s “The Holes in the Ozone Scare”.

    OK, I feel like a fool now after having read the Amazon summary and reviews. I know enough physical chemistry to have noticed that the molecular weight of Freon was an issue, and I should have. In my defense, I didn’t know the hypothesized chlorine catalysis had never been reproduced in a lab, either.

    I think they’re right and we can chalk the Arctic holes up to lighter-weight volcanic halides. Scratch another bogus environmental scare. As hard as I work at being cynical about these things, I just can’t seem to keep up…

  154. Please demonstrate that your model can go from 1900 AD to 2009 AD and be within 10% of the monthly temperature averages.

    Can your model do that?

    Yes. My model tracks correlations between sunspot activity and global temperatures. It manages to do so with a correlation of about 0.7 to 0.9, with changes happening about 1-3 years after the activity level changes on the Sun.

    Note that it’s NOT (as Eric claimed earlier) changes in insolation; that hasn’t changed. There is a contested theory that it’s changes in the solar magnetic field (and interactions with the Earth’s magnetic field) allowing cosmic rays to come deeper into the atmosphere and trigger more cloud formation, changing the planet’s albedo.

    The best estimate on the 2-3 year lag is that the ENSO and Pacific Oscillation are acting as a thermal battery. We went into a new solar minimum in 2007; 2007 and 2008 have dropped to early 1980s levels of cool.

    * Compare this to the discussion about CO2 heat traps that violate sophomore level thermodynamics and physical chemistry, and don’t result in the heat measurements mapping to anything like what shows up in the real world.

    * Compare this to three of four climate models (the fourth unrunnable) that could not be induced to NOT generate global warming, even when we used a dimmer switch on the Sun.

    * Compare this to selective editing of temperature proxies to erase the Medieval Warm Period, the Holocene Climate Optimum and other warm periods of human history, when temperatures were much warmer than they are now.

    * Compare this to hysteria about melting sea ice, and the perennial picture of a polar bear looking forlorn on a piece of pack ice. Polar bear populations are in 18 groups, 16 of those 18 are growing, and there is evidence that we may need to perform organized hunts of them to keep them in check in the next 20 years.

    * Compare this to hysteria about the loss of ice on the West Antarctic Ice shelf at the end of the Southern Hemisphere summer – with the complete non-coverage of the fact that for every million tons of ice lost on the Western shelf, the Eastern shelf gains about three million tons, and that this variability maps pretty closely to the South Atlantic current.

    * If there’s a drought, it’s global warming. If there’s a flood, it’s global warming. If there’s a snowfall that’s light, it’s global warming. If there’s a heavy snowfall, it’s global warming. If the average temperature goes up, or down, it’s global warming. All of these can, and have, been used – on a time scale of a couple of years – been cited as further evidence that we’re messing up the climate. Yet, global warming is something that takes place on a decadal time frame – and many of these changes can be attributed to urban heat island effects and man-made deforestation.

    http://climatedebatedaily.com/

    is one of the better news aggregators; it covers most of the news stories from both sides. Note which side actually gives you data sets and numbers in their data links (it’s usually the skeptics). Note which side doesn’t, and relies on “expert testimony” (it’s usually the alarmists).

    If you set your standards of evidence too high, you’ll never have to believe anything. I’d prefer to have a provisional opinion based on the best available explanation. So far no one has offered me a better explanation than the AGW climate models.

    You have also never tried running the AGW climate models yourself. Nor have you deeply examined the data inputs.

    Just because someone has a sales job that punches your memetic receptors does not mean it’s correct.

    People will be inclined to agree with positions that mesh with their deeply held positions. If one of your deeply held positions is that human civilization is on the verge of collapse from overconsumption (at the extreme end) or we’re living an unnatural existence(at the closer end), then AGW positions tend to reinforce what you already believe.

    And all that said, I’m in favor of anything that improves generational or electrical transmission efficiency. I want to see the Chevy Volt or its engineering descendants make gasoline powered cars obsolete. I want to see SkyMine succeed (a very cool process to capture CO2 as baking soda in industrially significant lots). I want to see space based solar power, or even decentralized solar power on the ground.

    Ultimately, I want to see us mining the moon for Titanium, and shipping asteroidal metals to Earth orbit. I want to move most heavy industry into orbit, and I want to grow the economic pie to the extent where we truly do eradicate poverty.

    But, you know, I’m one of those hopeless idealists. Can’t possibly happen, we’ll all die, choking on our own CO2 first.

  155. >Ultimately, I want to see us mining the moon for Titanium, and shipping asteroidal metals to Earth orbit. I want to move most heavy industry into orbit, and I want to grow the economic pie to the extent where we truly do eradicate poverty.

    Have you read The Millennial Project?

  156. And people say we don’t have socialized medicine in this country.

    But like engineering, the Germans do it so much better than us.

  157. >Please demonstrate that your model can go from 1900 AD to 2009 AD and be within 10% of the monthly temperature averages.

    >>Can your model do that?

    >Yes. My model tracks correlations between sunspot activity and global temperatures. It manages to do so with a correlation of about 0.7 to 0.9, with changes happening about 1-3 years after the activity level changes on the Sun.

    Ok, a model that can track monthly temperatures with that level of accuracy certainly triggers my curiosity. Could you provide some more details please?

  158. > People will be inclined to agree with positions that mesh with their deeply held positions. If one of your deeply held positions is that human civilization is on the verge of collapse from overconsumption (at the extreme end) or we’re living an unnatural existence(at the closer end), then AGW positions tend to reinforce what you already believe.

    Not that I’m taking a position on AGW by making this comment, but that goes for AGW naysayers too. if one of your deeply held wishes is for there to be no transaction costs or public goods, so that your favored society can come to fruition, then anti-AGW positions tend to reinforce what you already believe.

  159. “if one of your deeply held wishes is for there to be no transaction costs…”

    One would think “zero transaction costs” would be a universal good. Alas. Too many in the Green movement are misanthropic and hence arguably insane. Who can reason with someone whose deepest wish is that you and your children didn’t exist? The radical Greens are worse — by far — than Pol Pot at his worst.

  160. pete, here’s a brief:

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/u348727n87q617l3/

    It’s an abstract on the Svensmark Cloud Model

    An interview with Svensmark, and why his material covers a gap in climate modelling:

    http://www.cimat.ues.edu.sv/foroenergia/documentos/IS%20THE%20SUN%20CAUSING%20GLOBAL%20WARNING.pdf

    There are, of course, disputes on it with Lockwood, et a.

    However…

    Sunspot activity has been a very good ‘year on year’ weather predictor. When there are lots of them, it’s a warm year; when there are few of them, it’s generally cool.

    We have had one sunspot since January of 2008, we’ve had 6 since the summer of 2007. Prior to that, 6 to 10 per month were the norms.

    Interestingly enough, the correlation between sunspots, planetary cloud cover and average temperatures correlate nicely.

    While somewhat polemic (sigh), there is a documentary called The Great Global Warming Swindle produced by Channel 4 in Britain that covers the sunspot/temperature correlation nicely.

    Indeed, if you plot the sunspot incidence cycle with global temperatures (especially tropo temps) from about 1930 onwards, it’s one of those correlations that makes you go “How could anyone have *MISSED* that?”

  161. >An interview with Svensmark, and why his material covers a gap in climate modelling

    The link’s not working for me, is this the same interview?

  162. It is well known in the climatology community that there is no correlation between sunspots, planetary cloud cover and average temperature.

  163. It is well known in the climatology community that there is no correlation between sunspots, planetary cloud cover and average temperature.

    Reference?

    The only obvious link scholar.google.com gives me is a Damon/Laut article which attempts to dispute one paper that talks about it and is itself disputed. Oh and and a few papers which cite Damon/Laut as a done deal.

    Damon & Laut is here
    and
    the refutation is here (there’s essentially a letter to the editor to the publication here as well which basically accuses Damon and Laut of publishing false accusations, ignoring refutations and then referencing his own claims in further work)

    I believe the original that is being refuted is here.

    (i make no claim as to this being exhaustive research :P)

  164. > One would think “zero transaction costs” would be a universal good….

    I am just saying that our beliefs should be based on truth rather than wishes. I think we all can agree on that. I was just trying to show that neither the AGW nor the anti-AGW crowd are immune to bias.

  165. >It is well known in the climatology community that there is no correlation between sunspots, planetary cloud cover and average temperature.

    You’re not helping your side any by acting like anyone who disagrees with you is either stupid or evil. Nor by making these sorts of assertions without evidence or references.

  166. You’re not helping your side any by acting like anyone who disagrees with you is either stupid or evil.

    Where did I say anyone was “stupid” or “evil”? I have neither written those words nor implied them. You don’t help your case by putting forth made-up accusations.

  167. Tom Dickson-Hunt,

    Your sarcasm detector was not functioning, I think. Mine goes on the fritz regularly. I just missed some very simple sarcasm in an IM session with a very good friend. Spun me right up. He felt compelled to type “just messing with you”. I hope sarcasm is still allowed in internet debates even though it has confused me so many times.

    Yours,
    Tom DeGisi, aka Wince and Nod

  168. While F-T is still lost in the woods (so to speak), because despite what ESR’s original posting says, there is no magic bullet to increase the efficiency “3X”, this stands a chance of scaling.

  169. pete, that’s the Discover interview that I read a number of years ago. Thanks for finding a better link.

    As mentioned before, this theory has its rebuttalists, Lockwood chief among them.

    However, if you look at the correlation between sunspot records and observed temperatures going back to the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice Age of the 1600s, you’ll find that it matches on the first order to about 70% to 90% of the time, and most of the places where it doesn’t match the expected results, there are other factors (Tambora is one of them).

    John Waters:

    It was well known in the financial community that housing prices only go up, they never come down, too.

    More to the point, it’s well known among the meteorological community and the astrophysics community that sunspots have a pretty solid correlation with frequency of cloudy days, and has been publicly recorded since the time of the American Revolution.

  170. A short but interesting paper from Svensmark: Reply to Lockwood and Fröhlich — The persistent role of the Sun in climate forcing.

    According to Svensmark, cosmic rays do not account for the warming trend, and his theory does not rule out AGW.

    >While somewhat polemic (sigh), there is a documentary called The Great Global Warming Swindle

    I haven’t seen the documentary itself, but I watched the ABC debate that ran afterwards. I have seen a few of the graphs from TGGWS — the ones where the inconvenient parts of the data have been mysteriously omitted.

  171. The last sentence of the report you linked to – the conclusion of it, seems to contradict your interpretation:

    Contrary to the argument of Lockwood and FrÄohlich, the Sun still appears to be the main forcing agent in global climate change.

    He points out that most of the global warming surface data sets give results that are anomalous with the tropospheric, ocean surface and deep ocean monitoring results.

    Coupled with Cristy’s rather nifty dissection of the problem with the surface monitoring stations (see the link above), and you get a pretty interesting case against AGW.

  172. >The last sentence of the report you linked to – the conclusion of it, seems to contradict your interpretation:

    The meat of the article is a lot better than the conclusions. The last sentence is a little bit sloppy, and can easily be interpreted beyond what’s been justified in the paper:

    >the Sun still appears to be the main forcing agent in global climate change.

    It’s the main forcing agent over solar-cycle length time periods. But you have to remove the longer term warming trend (along with El Niño, NAO, and volcanoes) to get a good fit. There’s nothing wrong with doing this; it’s normal to control for the things that your theory doesn’t explain. But it does mean that the Sun doesn’t explain the warming trend.

    I think Svensmark’s theories about cosmic rays and cloud formation are pretty interesting, but even if they’re correct, they’re still consistent with current AGW theory.

  173. Thomas,

    “If we stop catering to this particular special interest group, we’ll stop treating poverty as a ‘pathology’ that needs to be cured from outside. Rather, we’ll see it as the simple recognition that one has temporarily lost the competitive and somewhat arbitrary games that nevertheless keep our economy running, and redistribution can help cushion the fall.”

    No – you seem to be completely ignoring the human element in it. It’s not a temporary loss, it’s a cultural mindset of learned helplessness plus high time preferences perpetuated from generation to generation.

    Suggested reading (from Amazon) (the arguably best work of “rigorous empirical sociology with a moderate-conservative bent” ever written) is Edward C. Banfield The Unheavenly City Revisited.

    Basically, the main argument there is that the no. 1 factor of success in life is low time preference i.e. future-orientedness, i.e. willingness to suffer some discomfort in the present for a larger future prize. Empirically it seems the major reason of the opposite, high time-preference i.e. impulsive drugs-sex-brawling living & not giving a fuck about the future (and THIS is poverty _as_a_mindset_) is that people feel they have no power over their own life: things just _happen_ _to_ them, their future does not depend on their actions, they feel they have no power over their future. Real capitalism would solve that fast, but if you are thinking within the framework of governmental help then at least do it right: teach people that their efforts count, their decision and actions shape their future: offer welfare not as a right, but as a _prize_ for certain achievements, most importantly, the education of children.

    IF – if – you are thinking within the frameworks of governmental intervention, the only thing that would help is proper motivation. NO welfare for the WHOLE family if the children don’t have an acceptable school record. Extra welfare for the whole family if the children have a good record. Cash prize for entering a college, another cash prize for finishing it with an acceptable record. (Basically a “simulated market”, not as good as the real one, but better than cash handouts without any requirements to make some effort.) All this with high education standards, which goes against the idea of “progressive” education as a “conversation” instead of a drill, but nevertheless it needs to be done, because the number one thing to learn in childhood isn’t really math or poetry, neither critical thinking (that’s only a second step), but discipline and self-control, given that to learn and to *do* anything meaningful in life, one needs to force himself to do a lot of dull work, process a lot of dull details etc. and it cannot be escaped.

    (Low time-preference, which is the no. 1 thing needed for success, is basically self-control. I think the whole thing about being mature, as opposed to being childish, is about low time-preferences. The purpose of school is not really to teach math, we tend to forget that stuff anyway. The real purpose is to teach self-control, discipline, or deferred gratification. When we were children, and a friend invited us to come to play and we said “No, I have to study for that test tomorrow.” THAT’S the real purpose of schooling, and nothing else. THIS is what makes people mature, adult, independent and succesful in life. Everything else they could just learn on their own, the way I learned programming.)

    Sorry for the long rant. It’s just that I’m a bit sentimental about this subject because over here it’s an even bigger problem than in the US.

  174. “So how would the precautionary principle work in a libertarian society?”

    Just toying with the idea (I consider Libertarianism in the strict sense mostly a utopia, but an interesting utopia to toy with) – what about stuff like the futures market? I.e. it looks likely, but not sure that X will have to pay Y $1M in damages in 10 years, so Z offers to buy the right to sue from Y for $300K, and they trade it on the futures market, in five years it’s $650K, which could have the effect of X thinking “Sweet holy fuck, I’d better rethink what I do and start fixing up the damage I caused as long as I can do it cheap, as it seems I’ll lose that lawsuit real bad when it gets there.”

  175. >Just toying with the idea (I consider Libertarianism in the strict sense mostly a utopia, but an interesting utopia to toy with) – what about stuff like the futures market?

    Congratulations, you just came up with a free-market solution to externalities problems that I hadn’t anticipated. Been years since that happened – I’m impressed.

  176. >The last sentence of the report you linked to – the conclusion of it, seems to contradict your interpretation:

    The meat of the article is a lot better than the conclusions. The last sentence is a little bit sloppy, and can easily be interpreted beyond what’s been justified in the paper:

    Actually, no, the meat of the article is that there are strong correlations between:

    Cosmic ray counts and tropospheric temperatures
    Cosmic ray counts and ocean surface temperatures

    In particular, I quote:

    In temperature variations other than those in the surface record favored by Lockwood and FrÄohlich, the Sun’s in°uence re-mains obvious. The tropospheric data are for 850 to 200 hPa
    (ref. [4]) and the ocean data are from the Simple Ocean Data Assimilation (SODA ref. [5]). There is no detrending of the data. Note also an apparent cooling of the ocean near-surface water since the 1990s.

    The only place where there’s a dispute is CRCs and surface data counts, but the surface data counts average night and day time temperatures for urban areas and rural areas.

    As Svensmark points out in the paper:

    When the response of the climate system to the solar cycle is apparent in the troposphere and ocean, but not in the global surface temperature, one can only wonder about the quality of the surface temperature record. For whatever reason, it is a poor guide to Sun-driven physical processes that are still plainly persistent in the other measures of the climate system.

    Their Fig. 3f (ref. [1]) suggests a remarkable 0.1 K increase between 1998 and 2002, when the curves terminate. In reality, as shown in the unsmoothed presentation of monthly data in their own Fig. 1e, global surface temperatures have been roughly flat since 1998.

    We’re dealing with a trend line, and a variance, that’s small enough that depending on how you sample your data, it can be proven or disproven. That trend line is +0.14K, +/- 0.4 K per decade. Meaning that the noise variance (0.8 K) is 5x the purported rate of increase…and when you’ve got a strong signal in one data set that’s not shared by any of the other data sets, the least hypothesis is that you’ve got a data set that either introduces noise or is more susceptible to same.

    The next step is to check for the source of the noise in the surface temperature data set.

    There are documentations of this, with surfacestation.org, and, for something less polemic, John Cristy’s Congressional testimony. Look at how he deconstructs the average temperature records for two monitoring stations about 70 miles apart in California, one of which experienced heavy urbanization, the other of which is in the Sierra foothills.

    Daytime temperatures remain roughly identical for each station. Night time temperatures show that the urban area is experiencing warming at about triple the climate trend rate, and the non-urban area is unchanged from the historical norms (and, interestingly enough, appears to match the overlay of the Svensmark data.)

    As you say, normalization is a standard technique to control for external variables…and to reduce noise. This appears to be a fairly legitimate normalization technique (as opposed to the ones used by Mann et. al. to give a data set that will have a hockey stick trend line no matter what variables you tweak). And they critique the normalization of the data sets used by Lockwood and Frohlich rather nicely.

    There is also the documentation that reduced solar activity is an effective predictor for agricultural crop yields, and has been used successfully since at least the mid 1700s, with a correlation of between 0.7 and 0.9 depending on the decade.

  177. it looks likely, but not sure that X will have to pay Y $1M in damages in 10 years, so Z offers to buy the right to sue from Y for $300K, and they trade it on the futures market, in five years it’s $650K, which could have the effect of X thinking “Sweet holy fuck, I’d better rethink what I do and start fixing up the damage I caused as long as I can do it cheap, as it seems I’ll lose that lawsuit real bad when it gets there.”

    And when X decides that it’s cheaper to pay the judge $200K to have the suit put into limbo in the justice system? Or, assuming incorruptible judges, spends enough money on PR and slanted studies to ensure that the likely jury pool will find in their favor?

    Or, if X is making enough money, by the time that the suit comes to court, that paying $1M in damages is negligible? (One of the fascinating realizations about the IRS is that there are entire categories of penalties where it costs more to comply with the law than it does to pay the penalty.)

    There is also the fungible barrister hypothesis.

    I’m not saying that it won’t work, mind. I am saying that it’s an oversimplified case.

  178. Another ripple effect.

    Let’s presume company C, a competitor to Company X.

    Company X has a new process out there, Company C, wanting to buy time to get their own competing process out, pays for a small astroturf campaign bringing up ‘serious doubts’ about Company X’s new process.

    By standard accounting practices, the presence of a futures market for damages counts as a liability on Company X’s balance sheets. Company X finds it correspondingly more difficult to get capitalization at a reasonable rate. It may be more efficient to create several ‘reasonable doubt’ damage claims than to try to run one up to stratospheric numbers.

    A variation on this is to keep a futures market held close for a target of acquisitions by stock proxy, uncork it, and drive the stock price down before you make your offer.

    We can get something rather analogous to ‘patent trolls’ with this setup….and like most things Libertarian, it assumes that nobody involved in the process will ever do something for short term gain without heed of long term consequences.

    While there’s a standard narrative on the current finances debacle about how the government interfered too much, and ‘forced’ banks to make bad loans, the actual statistics don’t match it. Fannie Mae went from holding 50% of all collateralized mortgages in 2003 to holding 12% in 2007; the total balloon on collateralized mortgages inflated by a factor of 10 in that four year span.

    So 50% of N to 12% of N*10 means that when you adjust for the size of the balloon, you get a net increase in Fannie Mae’s exposure of about 2.4x.

    The default rate on Fannie Mae’s mortgages has barely shifted from its traditional trend line. Most of the mortgages that have gotten flattened are ‘speculator homes’.

  179. >And when X decides that it’s cheaper to pay the judge $200K to have the suit put into limbo in the justice system? Or, assuming incorruptible judges, spends enough money on PR and slanted studies to ensure that the likely jury pool will find in their favor? Or, if X is making enough money, by the time that the suit comes to court, that paying $1M in damages is negligible?

    This don’t count as crash-landings for the futures-market solution, because there are parallel systemic risks in state regulation that are as bad or worse. Just substitute “regulators” for “judge”, “jury” and “courts” and this should be clear.

    Don’t fall into the trap of supposing that free-market solutions have to be perfect to be interesting. “Not as bad as statism” is good enough. Fortunately, that’s a usually a really low hurdle…

    >and like most things Libertarian, it assumes that nobody involved in the process will ever do something for short term gain without heed of long term consequences.

    I’ve never met a libertarian who wouldn’t laugh that assumption out of the room. Remember, we believe in greed :-). The closest thing to it that we do assume is that markets tend to punish people with high time preferences.

  180. >Don’t fall into the trap of supposing that free-market solutions have to be perfect to be interesting. “Not as bad as statism” is good enough. Fortunately, that’s a usually a really low hurdle…

    My question, though, is why is the futures-market solution any better than statism, except for the obvious benefit of not requiring a government?

  181. @pete

    >Right, suggesting that 100 years tells us more than cherry-picking 10 or 2 is “trying to have it both ways”.

    There is an important difference between the “100 years” you are pointing to, and the “10 or 2″ that Eric is pointing to. That these periods of time must be viewed differently in evaluating the AGW hypothesis is a strict requirement of the scientific method.

    The 1998 published models, upon which the 2001 IPCC report was based, made use of the 100 years of available data that existed before that point to form a predictive hypothesis. The only data that can provide independent confirmation of that hypothesis is experimental data obtained after the hypothesis was published.

    So, according to the scientific method, the AGW hypothesis can not be confirmed by the same 100 years of data used in formulating the hypothesis.

    The “10 or 2″ years of temperature data from 1999 – 2006 (flat line) and 2007-present (declining temperature) fail to support the rapid upwardly rising temperatures predicted by the 1998 models.

    So, according to the scientific method, Eric’s “10 or 2″ trumps your 100.

    Now I’m quite sure that brand new models will explain the predictive failure of the 2001 IPCC report and still predict imminent climate catastrophe (after all, a complex model can always be created that fits any set of existing data, and then be made to do whatever you want it to going forward.) But given that the 2001 predictions have been proven false, it would be nice to be free of people demanding immediate government action for at least another 10 years while the new hypothesis put forward by the latest crop of models can also be evaluated.

    That should give us enough time for the next global cooling scare to kick in – at which point we will no doubt have both AGW and AGC models published, each predicting the end of life as we know it, caused by the evil industrialists – whether by fire or ice…

  182. >My question, though, is why is the futures-market solution any better than statism, except for the obvious benefit of not requiring a government?

    That “aside from” benefit is pretty huge. Imagine no taxes, for starters. Not to mention the elimination of lots of laws that are plain crazy.

    OK, in a pure free-market system some of what now goes to taxes would go to buying crime insurance, road usage fees, and so forth. Still, wouldn’t it be nice not to be treated like a piggy-bank by every special-interest group with its hand out?

  183. >So, according to the scientific method, the AGW hypothesis can not be confirmed by the same 100 years of data used in formulating the hypothesis.

    Correct. Retrodicting that 100 years doesn’t confirm the theory, it merely fails to disconfirm. Prediction – or mis-prediction – beats retrodiction every time.

  184. From my point of view, that’s AGW in a nutshell. AGW is based on models that made predictions not just for the year 2100, but for the year 2009 as well. The predictions made by the model are already wrong, and models don’t go from “wrong” to “less wrong” as time progresses.

    That’s it. That’s the end of the AGW argument at this time. Their models are wrong, full stop, and without the models, there is no AGW.

    You can spin and bounce and babble and hyperventilate all you want, but it really is that simple. Any other viewpoint is simply unscientific, and until the AGW crowd can produce a model that works at least a decade into the future and somehow shows AGW, the game’s up. Without the accurate model, they aren’t worth listening to.

    And every year that goes by that the Earth gets cooler instead of warmer means I’m that much more right. Given the sun’s cooperative (from my point of view) cooling trend and the likelihood that it dominates, I think we’re hearing so much about cap and trade right now because by this time next year or the year after, the political window for it will be closed. Wrecking our economy to prevent global warming is already stupid, but doing it after a decade-long cooling trend is sheer insanity.

  185. Ken,

    “and like most things Libertarian, it assumes that nobody involved in the process will ever do something for short term gain without heed of long term consequences.”

    Yes – but given that governments have a time horizont of 4-5 years (reelection) the alternative doesn’t seem much better either.

    But otherwise I agree – this is why I consider “pure” Libertarianism a bit of a Utopia and rather aim for a combination of Libertarianism and Aristotelo-Burkeanism (i.e. Conservatism, but NOT in the vulgar, talk-radio sense of the word).

    One of Edmund Burke’s most important insights was that society is indeed a contract, but a contract between the dead, living and unborn, not just the living. Respect for the dead – respect for the immense wealth they created but they didn’t use it all up but left much of it for us, for which we owe a debt. This debt cannot be repaid to them – dead people have little use for it – but only by honoring and imitating their own choices i.e. preserving and enlarging and bettering this wealth and leaving it to the unborn and to the children.

    In this sense having a long-term view isn’t just a preference, more than that: it’s a duty, which we owe due to being indebted to the dead who left so much for us so that we don’t have to start from Stone Age.

    (BTW this could be the basis of a sensible, moderate kind of environmentalism: just what kind of Earth do we want to leave to our grandchildren?)

    (I figure some of the mathemathically-minded folks here might be “fans” of Paul ErdÅ‘s so it might be interesting that he did basically this in practice: he loaned money to a math student who desperately needed it to finish his education and when he finished, got his job and wanted to repay it, he said no, find a student in a similar position, give it to him – and take the same promise from him. And excellent idea and I’m still looking for ways how to do the same at kiva.org)

  186. >Without the accurate model, they aren’t worth listening to.

    Because my ethics require me to be fair to the AGW crowd despite my evaluation that it is composed mainly of dupes with a hard core of lying evil bastards, I’m going to point out that this is not…quite…true.

    It could be the case that the last twelve years of flat and cooling temperatures are within the error band of a model that is correct on longer timescales. It could be…and I could imagine circumstances where I would believe that.

    Suppose that all the energy pathways in an AGW model were physically reasonable. Suppose there were no physical processes that one could reasonably suppose to be relevant left out – er, as opposed to omitting solar forcing. Suppose the coupling coefficients among them were well-justified by field observation and lab replication, rather than being bugger factors pulled out of the air with the apparent aim of producing a desired political outcome. Suppose that the model could be shown not to be so critically sensitive to its coupling constants that the known range of observational errors in their derivations wouldn’t blow it up. And suppose that it retrodicted well.

    Then it might be reasonable to suppose that the model had hit a bad-looking but statistically insignificant rough patch.

    In the real world, of course, AGW models fail all but the first of these, and I’m not sure about that one. I felt required to point out, however. that short-term predictive failure against very noisy data is not all by itself a reason to stop listening to its proponents. The context of the failure, and the methodological errors surrounding it, matter as much or more.

  187. If the reports had included proper error bars accounting for noise and we were still in them, I wouldn’t say such strong things.

    I mostly agree with the statements you made in general, esr, but I don’t accept it as a defense. They had the chance to acknowledge noise in their predictions, with notation standardized for decades, and they chose insanely thin error bars. I suspect political reasons behind those thin error bars; can’t sell global warming alarmism if your error bars are ten times the size of the putative signal, or at least you can’t sell it anywhere near as well. But regardless of the reasons, they are the ones who made the prediction of great precision, and they should be held to account for it, and I can’t ignore the fact that more realistic predictions don’t look like their predictions.

  188. As best I can tell, the IPCC reports don’t include factors of error at all. They create graphs that look like what you expect to see – with shaded areas that one instinctively assumes are error factors. However, when you read the fine print, those shaded areas are the range of disagreement of different models, with their center line being an average of the dozen models they selected, not a single prediction displayed with its calculable margins of error. They seem to ignore the concept of margins of error entirely.

    So the factors of error may be 10 times the signal, or 100, or 1000 – I can’t tell from reading what is readily available to me on the topic. Just based on general feel for the number of active variables, the number of variables they are probably treating as constants for convenience, and the potential for extreme sensitivity to initial conditions due to multiplication of error going forward, I don’t know how their unreported error margins can’t be huge – even for 10 years out – let alone 100 year scale predictions.

  189. >Suppose there were no physical processes that one could reasonably suppose to be relevant left out – er, as opposed to omitting solar forcing.

    Are you giving this as an example of something that would be bad if they did it? Or are you under the impression that solar forcing is not included in current models?

  190. >Actually, no, the meat of the article is that there are strong correlations between: Cosmic ray counts and tropospheric temperatures

    Um, no, that’s not quite what the article says. The strong correlation is between CRCs and detrended tropospheric temperatures.

    >There is no detrending of the data.

    This is from the caption of figure 1, and only applies to the plots in figure 1. They’re just introducing the data; when they actually analyse it they do subtract the trend.

    >That trend line is +0.14K, +/- 0.4 K per decade. Meaning that the noise variance (0.8 K) is 5x the purported rate of increase…

    A linear increase is a poor model for the warming trend, so it’s not suprising they get a weak signal (the linear model is sufficient for Svensmark’s purposes though, extracting the cosmic ray signal).

  191. >Are you giving this as an example of something that would be bad if they did it? Or are you under the impression that solar forcing is not included in current models?

    Some of the models I have seen described at enough detail to allow identifying the inputs do not include even the 11-year sunspot cycle. Others may or may not; it is not always easy, or even possible, to tell from published summaries.

  192. >Some of the models I have seen described at enough detail to allow identifying the inputs do not include even the 11-year sunspot cycle.

    Since we don’t actually know whether or how sunspots affect climate, this could only be done using methods you’d call “bugger factors”.

  193. Again, I point to my direct experience with the models, setting the solar input constant to 0.5 from 1.0, and continuing to see a warming trend in all three of the models that ran.

    This has taken a lot of my regard for the models and chucked it out the airlock.

    Pete: Figure 1 & 2 are the data sets comparing raw tropo and ocean surface temps to CRC counts.

    It is ONLY when Svensmark has to compare his data to the noisy surface temperature set that he has to subtract out factors.


  194. Don’t fall into the trap of supposing that free-market solutions have to be perfect to be interesting. “Not as bad as statism” is good enough. Fortunately, that’s a usually a really low hurdle…

    I don’t. I just have a pretty decent grasp of history.

    When unregulated, we get speculative bubbles and bank runs and collapses. I’ve gotten to write about 40,000 words over the last year comparing our current mess with 1987, 1973, 1933, 1929, 1917, 1907, 1903, 1890, 1873, 1836-37…

    And those blowups tend to be larger.

    I also write about foreign exchange processes and stock market processes on historical trends. I know what GAAP stands for, and can muddle my way through a balance sheet. Trust me, any way that businesses can conceal information about their financials, they will.

    The trick to knowing GAAP and reading a balance sheet is being able to parse what’s there, and infer what they aren’t telling you to get a complete picture…and as bad as they are NOW, they’re orders of magnitude clearer than they were in the 1970s, and the 1970s were clearer than anything that anyone had dreamt possible prior to the 1930s.

    The problem with market economics without regulation is that you’re assuming that the guy with the longest time horizon beats out the guy with the pump-and-loot strategy. It’s better for society if he does…but history is replete with highly leveraged pump and dump bubbles in everything from tulips to molybdenum, and pump and dump bubbles are disasters that wipe out the guy with the long time horizon as well.

    I’m currently watching a 4.16 quadrillion – that’s quadrillion with a Q – derivatives bubble.

    That’s a derivatives bubble that’s valued at a bit over 45x the net worth of every piece of currency, every bond, every piece of real estate, every tangible asset and every share of stock on the planet Earth. And it got pumped up because it has effectively NO regulation, so it has reporting requirements that make the “blend shit and chocolate ice cream” ratings on CDOs look like a step by step recipe for making buttered toast.

    I admit that regulation is imperfect. It’s better than anything else we’ve tried, INCLUDING unrestricted lassaiz faire capitalism. We got to see that in the 1830s (which caused the destruction of the Federalist and Whig political parties). We got to see it repeated multiple times from 1870 to the early 1930s.

    Every single time we added a regulation on the books, it was because some short time horizon capitalist managed to pump and dump to ride a bubble.

  195. >Again, I point to my direct experience with the models

    I’ll have to reserve judgement on that, but I’ll keep it in mind as I try to learn a bit more about the modelling process.

    >Pete: Figure 1 & 2 are the data sets comparing raw tropo and ocean surface temps to CRC counts. It is ONLY when Svensmark has to compare his data to the noisy surface temperature set that he has to subtract out factors.

    Sorry, but you’ve got this wrong. Figure 1 compares raw tropo/ocean temps to CRC.

    Figure 2 compares raw/detrended tropo temp to CRC. The high correlation is against the detrended temperature.

    Svensmark doesn’t compare his data to the surface temp record, because he considers it unreliable.

  196. >I admit that regulation is imperfect. It’s better than anything else we’ve tried, INCLUDING unrestricted lassaiz faire capitalism.

    If you can look at the orgy of cronyism and political bullshit currently issuing from Washington and still believe that, you have a much better developed ability to swallow blatant mutual contradictions than I do.

    It’s no coincidence that the worst financial crisis ever – the Great Depression – was both caused and exacerbated by government bungling, and was more serious in both absolute and relative terms than any of the banking panics of a more laissez-faire age.

    >And it got pumped up because it has effectively NO regulation, so it has reporting requirements that make the “blend shit and chocolte ice cream” ratings on CDOs look like a step by step recipe for making buttered toast.

    Um, in what universe does regulation ever prevent things like this from happening? Not this one, as far as I can tell.

    Eric’s Iron Law of Financial Regulation. just invented: It can only be effective when it doesn’t matter. Proof: When the stakes get high enough, the bad guys buy the regulators out of petty cash.

  197. >Eric’s Iron Law of Financial Regulation. just invented: It can only be effective when it doesn’t matter. Proof: When the stakes get high enough, the bad guys buy the regulators out of petty cash.

    There’s a possible loophole: if the regulations are designed to keep the regulated firms small, the stakes never become high enough. For this to work, you’d probably have to treat bribes to regulators as something other than “free speech”.

  198. >There’s a possible loophole: if the regulations are designed to keep the regulated firms small, the stakes never become high enough.

    Easily gamed around. Italy is in this situation now, albeit inadvertently – its regulations weren’t designed for this end, but they’ve had that effect. The result is that you have lots of what look like tiddly little firms on paper, networked together by cross-shareholdings in complicated and obscure ways. The real actors, both financial and political, are holding companies and banks. The net effect on transparency to investors is negative.

  199. >Italy is in this situation now

    I’m pretty sure Italy could make anything not work! I think the key to effective regulation is a culture that isn’t tolerant of corruption. Whether such a culture is possible…

  200. >I’m pretty sure Italy could make anything not work! I think the key to effective regulation is a culture that isn’t tolerant of corruption. Whether such a culture is possible…

    This particular systemic problem has little to do with corruption; another iron law of economics is that if large concentrations of capital are efficient, people are going to find ways to assemble them. Outright corruption may be a fast path around the regulatory barriers, but a more Anglo-Saxon, lower-corruption culture would do nothing to remove the fundamental economic incentives. The means of regulatory capture would simply become, as it has in the U.S., more subtle than outright bribes and more difficult to criminalize.

  201. >I think the key to effective regulation is a culture that isn’t tolerant of corruption. Whether such a culture is possible…

    And since we don’t live in such a culture, we need to (at the least) take a serious look at how well our regulations are working.

  202. Ken: and an awful lot of the things that went bad in this Great Recession existed solely to work around regulations. The fact that half of the bubbles you cite happened after the Fed was created to STOP bubbles says to me that regulations in fact don’t work at all.

    Like generals, regulators are regulating away the previous bubble.

  203. Ken,

    A suggestion: check each of those recessions/depressions, wasn’t there a bubble before each, and wasn’t there a significant increase (inflation) of the money supply before each bubble? Hint: you’ll find one before each, even before that so-called Tulip Mania bubble in 1637, gold money notwithstanding, there were always ways to work around the gold standard and inflate even back then: http://mises.org/story/2564#part1

    There is a theory that explains it, it’s called ABCT, Austrian Business Cycle Theory, this is largely what Hayek got the Nobel for (google: Hayekian triangle). To sum it up, I don’t quite understand how or why but the increasing of the money supply somehow fucks with the minds of the investors and they go crazy and invest into idiotic things. Kind of a feeding frenzy, I presume.

    They even tend to justify the craziness, usually by saying in this “new” economy the old rules of economics/finance don’t count anymore, see “a new platform of prosperity” in the “Roaring Twenties”, just before the Great Depression, and the Internet as “the new economy” just before the dot-com crash and “new finance” (derivatives, CDS) just before the current mess.

    Such stuff are the sign that investors got mad, but not on their own, but because of the inflation of the money supply, such as low interest rates (look up Fed interest rates 2002-2005: below 2% all the time) or other ways to inflate the money supply f.e. low reserve rates for banks practicing fractional reserve banking.

    And when this crashes, there is a necessary recession until markets clear again i.e. liquidate the idiotic investments, fire people who do are employed by businesses producing stupid things, invest into other things, then rehire those people etc.

    ABCT isn’t really proven empirically, largely because they have all sorts of Kantian arguments against empiricism, but one hand it’s proven deductively, on the other hand, there is a strong correlation between an increase of the money supply, then a bubble, then a recession/depression, and third, I have lots of anecdotal evidence from Weimer Germany how serious, sane adults just “lost it” and invested into the durndest things, really, like, investing into a newspaper founded by three inexperienced 20 years old journalism-students so much money that the next day they bought a huge office building, employed a dozen secretaries etc. etc.

    Deductive proof, correlation and scores of stories of anedoctal evidence, while they aren’t really as good as empirical evidence, still mean a good enough “Bayesian” evidence that ABCT is probably true and thus recessions are caused by the inflation of the money supply and are not an inherent feature of capitalism.

    TL, DR: there is only one regulation really needed: keep both central and commercial banks from creating a lot of money in a short period of time.

  204. To sum it up, I don’t quite understand how or why but the increasing of the money supply somehow fucks with the minds of the investors and they go crazy and invest into idiotic things. Kind of a feeding frenzy, I presume.

    Yeah. Kinda like how you increase the energy supply and wind up with things like Hummers.

  205. Jeff,

    Possibly yes – as the supply increases first the goals with the higher marginal utility are satisfied, so with further and further increases sooner or later those goals will be too satisfied whose marginila utility is almost nil, “why not?” kind of things.

    But AFAIK there is something more to it – a kind of distortion of the signals how much people want to spend vs. how much they want to save and this is what trips it up, although I still don’t quite get how.

  206. Before the creation of the Federal Reserve, bank crises happened about every 14-20 years. And they were bad, and generally getting worse as more capital came to the banks on the East Coast.

    After the Federal Reserve system, we had 1929, which was (surprise) a bubble and runup in a part of the system not controlled by the Fed.

    We had the sucker’s rally in 1933 – after a deflationary spiral, not an inflationary one, and that pretty much paved the way for Roosevelt’s public works acts, and incredibly tight regulations on the banks.

    We had recessions, but no major banking crises, for about 40 years – long enough that the institutional memory of the ’30s and its financial sector to recede from the minds of the current regulators. In ’73, there was a banking crisis triggered by the oil shock, followed by a sharp period of deregulation under Carter (!) of all people, which was then more or less augmented in ’83 by Reagan.

    Of course, when oil prices collapsed in ’84 – one of the hidden drivers of Reagan’s economic boom – most of the Savings & Loans went tits up, because their balance sheets were heavy into oil exploration, leading to the S&L bailout of ’86-87.

    We then went back to bubble-and-bust every 7-10 years through the ’90s.

    Every time there’s a bust, there’s a push to loosen credit and make the economy grow by inflating the currency. Regular as clockwork, about 6-9 years later, there’s another bubble and burst.

    Interestingly, we avoided this cycle for going on 40 years with strong regulations, coupled with a World War (usually wars trigger inflationary bubbles and bank collapses), and a roughly 15 year period where if it was manufactured, it came from the US.

    1929 is only the third worst financial meltdown in our history, and it’s only remembered as such because the sucker’s rally of ’33 gets conflated with it. (We are, by the way, in the midst of a sucker’s rally on Wall Street.)

    1836 and 1873 were both MUCH worse. 1836 had secessionist movements from Philly through Maine looking for admission into Canada. This caused the implosion of the Federalist party.

    1873 resulted in the US Army killing more American citizens than at any time since the Civil War.

    Hell, even the beloved Iceland example cited as the Camelot Era of lassaiz fair anarchism, got broken when one of the major players got enough wealthier than their neighbors to run roughshod over them.

  207. >After the Federal Reserve system, we had 1929, which was (surprise) a bubble and runup in a part of the system not controlled by the Fed.

    Which the Fed turned from a hiccup into a disaster by pushing the money supply in the wrong direction – after which Roosevelt made things much worse with price controls. Government policy failure.

    >Every time there’s a bust, there’s a push to loosen credit and make the economy grow by inflating the currency. Regular as clockwork, about 6-9 years later, there’s another bubble and burst.

    Right. And inflation doesn’t happen by magic. It too is a government policy failure. Regulation – and government control of the currency – replaces market instability with political stupidity. No prize for guessing which is more damaging.

    >Interestingly, we avoided this cycle for going on 40 years with strong regulations.

    You are merely assuming the consequent, not arguing for it. It is just as likely that other macroeconomic factors were responsible – such as “if it was manufactured, it came from the U.S.”

    >1836 had secessionist movements from Philly through Maine looking for admission into Canada.

    And this is worse than a veterans’ march on Washington that showed ever sign of becoming a violent insurrection in the nation’s capitol and had to be brutally put down by the Army? You’re forgetting your Depression history, or reading it very selectively.

    >(We are, by the way, in the midst of a sucker’s rally on Wall Street.)

    That’s probably the only claim in this post I agree with.

  208. Of course, esr and others would like to pretend that we haven’t enjoyed long periods of prosperity under government regulation. We have not enjoyed any years at all under proper capitalism, because it simply has never existed. How very scientific.

  209. >a more Anglo-Saxon, lower-corruption culture would do nothing to remove the fundamental economic incentives.

    Economic incentives are not just a result of fundamentals, but a product of the social/cultural/regulatory system in which the activity takes place.

    Finance is too controversial to make a clear example from; consider instead the lead levels of Chinese vs US toys, or the melanine levels of Chinese vs US milk. In both cases there is a “fundamental” economic incentive to adulterate your product. But in a more democratic culture there will be sufficient uncaptured regulation that the “net” economic and non-economic incentives discourage unsafe products.

    Note that this isn’t a case of too much / too little government. Rather, it is a case of whose interests are being represented by the government.

  210. >Of course, esr and others would like to pretend that we haven’t enjoyed long periods of prosperity under government regulation.

    Oh, by no means; we have indeed enjoyed long periods of prosperity under government regulation – but mostly despite it, rather than because of it.

    Sometimes government regulation simply duplicates (much less efficiently and much more corruptly) things that free markets do anyway. That kind isn’t so bad, though I object to it on principle.

  211. Russ,

    the point I don’t quite understand the causality in this is that what if 30% of inflationary extra-money goes to businesspeople to invest and 70% goes to consumers to spend f.e. welfare? Why does it all end up at businesspeople?

    I think this should be explained not on two levels, but on three or four: Consumer A, consumer goods producer B who produces table spoons for A, capital goods producer C who produces machinery for B, iron mine owner D who supplies iron to both B and C.

    And then something along the lines of C making extra, unnecessary capital goods for B outcompetes him in the purchase of the iron bought from D that B needs too for making the spoons, so B stands there with lots of extra machinery and too few iron, so he cannot produce the spoons, so the capacity will stand there unused and also he must lay off the people he optimisitcally hired a while before for the operation of the new machinery.

    I think this should somehow be explained along lines alike to this, it would be a lot easier to understand. Though there are lots of gaps to fill in in what I described above, as I said, I don’t quite understand it fully.

  212. BTW – what I learned during long holidays in (Northwest) Italy is that tiny cultural details often amount for much more than the grand designs of political institutions.

    Beneath the surface of pomposity, sentimentality, and rigid bureaucracy intertwined with total utter chaos, a lot of people in Italy have a strikingly clear and to-the-point kind of brutally honest, cynical, realistic and practical wisdom. And having been a bit surprised that under a long series of governments that should rather belong to stage comedy than to real life how can everyday life be still agreeable, and even good there, I realized that’s the reason why. (But, this is only the Northwest I’m familiar with, the best functioning region, not the often-horrible Mezzogiorno.)

  213. Sometimes government regulation simply duplicates (much less efficiently and much more corruptly) things that free markets do anyway.

    “free markets do” implies that free markets actually exist, which is very much not the case. Free markets have never been tested on a society as large as the US. You have no data to test your model on (since there is no purely capitalistic society) and so your ideas are as bankrupt as any broken global warming model.

  214. >“free markets do” implies that free markets actually exist, which is very much not the case. Free markets have never been tested on a society as large as the US

    We can, however, note how things change as markets get closer or move further away from ideally free.

    I think you know this perfectly well and are simply trolling. This is your first warning; object with actual idea content, or I will begin deleting comments from you that I consider inflammatory and zero-content.

  215. We can, however, note how things change as markets get closer or move further away from ideally free.

    You are confusing society with some kind of analogue process where small change on the input results in a small change on the output. You cannot possibly have enough measurements to establish this as a reasonable possiblity. Therefore, there can most definitely be a sudden jump in behaviour when any policy change is made, including removing regulatory controls.

    I think you know this perfectly well and are simply trolling. This is your first warning; object with actual idea content, or I will begin deleting comments from you that I consider inflammatory and zero-content.

    How many times do I get to disagree with the blog author before I get banned? I’m interested because I would like to contribute as much to the discussion as possible before your self-delusional mechanisms kick in.

  216. >How many times do I get to disagree with the blog author before I get banned?

    Nobody is ever banned for disagreeing with me. You can, however, be banned for persistent obnoxiousness combined with lack of content. Your record on this is poor. And I won’t be gamed by blather about self-delusional mechanisms, either; you lose points for attempting to jerk me around like that.

    Note: if you reply to this with a content-free insult such as a quip about how I’m demonstrating self-delusion, I’ll save us both further annoyance by banning you immediately. Learn some manners, asshole. This is my blog, not your playground.

  217. Burnside’s Rules of High Finance:

    1) Everybody with the temperment to work in finance lies when it’s in their short term self interest to do so.
    1a) The longer and more ‘thorough’ the corporate balance sheet is, the likelier it is that they’re trying to trigger an Eyes Glaze Over reaction and slip a lie past you.
    2) If enough people lie in the same direction (by repeating and amplifying the lies), they become The Narrative.
    3) Speculation means riding along with The Narrative and guessing when to leap off. Most people guess too late.
    4) Investing means sussing out the truth in someone else’s lies, by corroborating their statements with independent sources. Warren Buffett is a decent example of an investor versus a speculator.
    4a) Stock price is only half the story. Price to Earnings Ratio is a better indicator of whether or not the business is run soundly.
    5) As the size of the market increases (is deregulated, becomes more globalized), the incentive to ride The Narrative becomes stronger and stronger, thus rewarding speculators rather than investors. This leads to a large boom and bust cycle.
    6) Regulations are usually built to penalize the excesses of the last Narrative. Very very rarely, you get regulations built around incentivising desired behavior and investment patterns, and whether a regulation incentivizes or penalizes a behavior depends very much on where you stand.

  218. >Burnside’s Rules of High Finance:

    I agree with all of these: I’ve been a sitting board member of a publicly held corporation, and seen them from the inside. Getting from them to any conclusion that government financial regulation is helpful on net, however, remains a leap of faith that is beyond me.

    In general, it has been my observation that there is no form of human irrationality leading to market failure that is not reliably made worse when it is replaced by human irrationality leading to political failure.

    You should know by now that I am an anarchist not because I am optimistic about human nature but because I am deeply pessimistic about it. State action, in financial regulation as elsewhere, gives us the inevitability of fuckups on much larger scales.

  219. Eric,

    As a suggestion, reserve calling people “asshole” (or “idiot”) for after they’ve struck first.
    These code words only serve to escalate aggression, a pattern repeated in your blog several times.

    The follow-on post is incosistent with other writings herein by you on the subject. Your position
    appears to be that of someone who wishes to pretend they’re allowed to say anything.

    You are not. Nor am I, nor any other individual.

    On the subject of AGW, you present some challenging facts, but do not present any alternative theory.

  220. >The follow-on post is incosistent with other writings herein by you on the subject. Your position
    appears to be that of someone who wishes to pretend they’re allowed to say anything.

    You are attempting to jerk me around in exactly the way I described, idiot. You are now one more rude comment from being banned, and I decide what’s rude.

  221. > Your position appears to be that of someone who wishes to pretend they’re allowed to say anything.
    >
    > You are not. Nor am I, nor any other individual.

    One of the things I was taught when dealing with interpersonal relationships (when you do a group project heavy degree they figure it’s probably a good idea to formally try to teach how to not inspire your teammates to murder) was that you have the right to say and think whatever you like so long as you’re willing to take responsibility for what you say and think. (Naturally that responsibility may result in lost friendships, angry people and, in the extreme, lawsuits for defamation/racism/)

    Based on what i’ve read of Eric’s paper’s and ethics i’d wager every cent I had that he’d be more than willing to take responsibility for what he says. At the very least the persona he portrays online is big on taking responsibility for yourself and your actions. So by my personal definition of the right to expression, yes he is. By what definition do you say he’s not?

    > On the subject of AGW, you present some challenging facts, but do not present any alternative theory.

    Why is it that argument brought up so very often? Where is it writ that you can’t falsify a current theory without providing an alternative theory? A buggy theory doesn’t suddenly answer 42 just because we can’t think of a better theory yet.

  222. >Based on what i’ve read of Eric’s paper’s and ethics i’d wager every cent I had that he’d be more than willing to take responsibility for what he says.

    That, sir, would be a a very safe bet.

  223. ESR,

    BTW in the light of your other posts, it’s interesting that you never wrote about perhaps the best reason why to be interested in non-fossil fuels: paying a few cents to terrorists every time we fill up our cars is just incredibly stupid.

    Yes, it works that way. Largely like this: Radical Imam builds a new mosque in Europe. Saudis, or Emirates, or someone from that region pays the bill. Radical Imam cooks the numbers are bit, and diverts 10% of it to terrorists. Assuming that supporting terrorists has a much smaller marginal utility to them than the other 1000 things they spend their money on – if it wouldn’t be so they would have already purchased and used a nuke from some corrupt officer in Russia, so I figure the terror funds must be relatively limited – even a 20% reduction in the oil revenue of the Arabian Peninsula would IMHO make the terror funds dry up – fast.

  224. >BTW in the light of your other posts, it’s interesting that you never wrote about perhaps the best reason why to be interested in non-fossil fuels: paying a few cents to terrorists every time we fill up our cars is just incredibly stupid.

    Agreed, but in connection with fossil fuels I think this is not the most pressing problem. There are lots of non-global-warming reasons to deplore the environmental impact of fossil fuels that I think are rather more important.

  225. Ken,

    given the all sorts of evidence that it’s the increase of the money supply that causes weird shit to happen in finance, why not focus regulation on that? To use a medical parallel: you cannot cure the problem, because it’s rooted in human nature, such as greed. But you can choose to use a strong medicine that suppresses most symptoms of the illness efficiently, and it is basically a fixed or very slightly increasing money supply. Or you can try to chase after the thousand and one special and often one-time-only symptoms.

    Especially that that – i.e. no inflation or perpetual slight deflation – would basically eliminate a very dangerous kind of tax and redistribution, a hidden one, that’s dangerous especially because it’s hidden. Inflation is a hidden tax. I mean the least minimum, as an absolute and objective ethical requirement and not a subjective thing of political opinion everybody without expection should expect and should demand from redistributors to be honest and open about it and tell it clearly that X will have to pay $2000 to Y. Transparency in government is not a liberal, libertarian or conservative thing but a universal and objective value. Making some money out of thin air, giving it to a special interest group, and everybody else a bit later will observe and suffer the price of everything to be higher is objectively wrong, because it’s a hidden, dishonest, intransparent kind of wealth redistribution.

  226. >> On the subject of AGW, you present some challenging facts, but do not present any alternative theory.

    >Why is it that argument brought up so very often? Where is it writ that you can’t falsify a current theory without providing an alternative theory? A buggy theory doesn’t suddenly answer 42 just because we can’t think of a better theory yet.

    “It takes a theory to kill a theory” — Paul Samuelson

    Without an alternative theory, any objections are at best suggestion for improvement to the current theory. Any sufficiently advanced theory can be adjusted to account for new facts.

  227. >“It takes a theory to kill a theory” — Paul Samuelson

    OK, I’ll present a theory.

    The observations that have been mistaken for evidence of AGW are instrument errors, compounded by poor understanding of natural climate cycles, then magnified by a malevolent political agenda.

    There. Done. This even has predictive consequences. If I am correct, AGW predictions will repeatedly fail the reality test, while its adherents sink into ever deeper denial of the observational facts. Oh, wait, that’s exactly what’s already happening

  228. I’d add that a climate model is selected by the IPCC based on how extreme the out-year predictions are and how much political intervention it justifies. Near term accuracy, stability, and accurate retrodiction by a specific model disqualify it for promotion.

    The selection creterion is “Does this model support the Big Lie?” not “Does this model generate a stable and realistic simulation of the atmosphere?”. Incomplete scientific knowledge (how are clouds seeded in mid-ocean?) being implemented by flawed models (boil off the oceans at 50% insolation????) and the results selected by the political utility of the results gets us to where we are today.

    The goal of AGW is NOT to accurately model the Earth’s climate. The goal of AGW is to justify the liberal/progressive/socalist elite taking command control the world’s economies.

  229. @John Waters

    >You are confusing society with some kind of analogue process where small change on the input results in a small change on the output. You cannot possibly have enough measurements to establish this as a reasonable possibility. Therefore, there can most definitely be a sudden jump in behavior when any policy change is made, including removing regulatory controls.

    Within certain ranges, praxeological experimentation shows this to be true. Increase the perceived cost for some behavior slightly and the behavior is slightly reduced – price:sales, penalty:crime, etc. Of course human behavior is a very chaotic system with many many non-independent variables, so a small change might indeed cause something more interesting to occur.

    However, despite imperfect understanding, it is still reasonable to theorize based on the understanding we do have concerning ranges where we believe an analyzed system will behave non-chaotically. It is not a counter argument against a specific theory to say “We can’t predict anything so we should not even attempt to form theories.” More importantly, Eric is generally arguing for less central control and regulation, and “we can’t predict anything” may actually be the strongest argument against regulation that there is – so it is a particularly weak counter argument in this case.

    Allow me to demonstrate why lack of predictive capability argues for less regulation:

    We know that any imposed regulation has some non-zero enforcement cost. If we can’t make any prediction concerning the positive or negative value of any given regulation or deregulation, then the expected values of both regulation and deregulation must each be zero. Zero minus enforcement cost will always be worse than just zero. So, without any predictive capability, regulation always has a lower expected value than deregulation.

  230. “less central control and regulation”

    Er… I’m not convinced regulation is something measurable and quantifiable and thus it’s valid to talk about “more” or “less”.

    – you can argue for NO regulation (anarchy)
    – you can argue for only one specific kind of regulation (against violence: minarchy)
    – you can take a look at individual regulations and explain what they do, and thus form an opionon on them

    But I think you cannot overally quantify regulations and say in any given situation, “somewhat less quantity” of them would automatically mean a better outcome.

    The reason behind that is that the electorate and thus democratic governments do learn, albeit slowly. Tacitly, but as decades go by, they realize if something doesn’t quite work. However, it’s always easier to add one more regulation than to remove one, for all sorts of reasons I won’t explain now, but you can observe it in real world pretty easily.

    Thus, there are thousands and thousands of regulations whose main intent is to try to counter-balance of the harmful effects of previous regulations. There is no reason to believe removing a few of those would lead to a desirable outcome: it’s more likely that the undesirable outcomes from other, previous regulations would bite us really hard.

    So, even from no regulation = good, does NOT follow at all that “removing a handful of randomly selected regulations” i.e. less “quantity” of regulation = better.

    Plain simply we need to be smarter than having a simplistic, quantified view: we need to figure out what the worst regulations are, and argue for the removal of _exactly_ those as the first step. If this is successful, if it we identified the worst ones correctly, if the results are good, only then will people be willing to go further down the deregulation road.

    There are many historical cases of removing exactly the _wrong_ kind of regulations: those ones that are supposed to counter-balance other regulations.

    The worst current example is probably that deregulation of financial markets, while leaving the regulation i.e. inflation of the fiat money supply intact, that led to the current mess. It would have been much better to start with the removal of money supply regulation i.e. inflation and leave the regulation of the financial markets in place for a while – as after a while, without inflation, they would have been easy to be proven to be unnecessary anyway.

  231. The problem with inflation (and curbing it) is that at low levels, the signals for inflation are easily mistaken for the signals of real GDP growth. One of the reasons why the M3 statistic stopped being published is because it lumped inflation and real GDP growth into one aggregate number.

    It was possible to take M3 and subtract out various figures of GDP growth from it to get a range of normative values for inflation of the money supply….but in the signal quanta of an election cycle, the GDP growth versus Inflation signal is hard to read…and going against inflation when it’s small is also something that will slow down GDP growth.

    Meaning the political will for it is lacking, severely.

  232. >But I think you cannot overally quantify regulations and say in any given situation, “somewhat less quantity” of them would automatically mean a better outcome.
    >…
    >So, even from no regulation = good, does NOT follow at all that “removing a handful of randomly selected regulations” i.e. less “quantity” of regulation = better.

    Of course not. Any given rule may indeed create value. And your point that some regulations can be part of a bad system, but still help keep that system in balance – thus making the system better than it would be without the regulation – is well taken.

    But if we have no other information, we know only that a regulation prevents people from doing something they want to do (a loss of value) and thus mandates enforcement costs to prevent the behavior (another loss of value). For a regulation to create value, it has to prevent more harm than it causes in deadweight value loss and enforcement costs. So, only with additional information, can we ever come to the conclusion that a regulation enforced by central authority is a good thing.

    Market solutions provide the opposite situation. Without knowing anything else, we know that free behavior that arises spontaneously is creating value for those that choose to engage in it, or those people wouldn’t be doing it. So, only with additional information, can we ever come to the conclusion that any freely chosen behavior is bad.

    Thus an argument that a system is too complex to understand (or not yet completely understood) is always an argument against attempting to centrally regulate it.

    Additionally, when behavior changes can be induced in smaller groups rather than larger, it becomes more possible to evaluate by comparison which behaviors are more valuable. Central control offers less chance to find best cases through experimentation. Thus central control is less likely to produce good information concerning value generating behavior than more diverse control. The most diversity and opportunity to gather information arises from the case where everyone just controls their own individual behavior and modifies it based on results they obtain and see others obtain.

  233. >There. Done. This even has predictive consequences. If I am correct, AGW predictions will repeatedly fail the reality test, while its adherents sink into ever deeper denial of the observational facts. Oh, wait, that’s exactly what’s already happening…

    Maybe I should have made it clear that it takes a better theory, not just any theory!

    There’s a lot of trial and error in science, so any theory is going to “repeatedly fail the reality test” — science progresses by learning from those failures.

    I’m more impressed by a theory’s ability to repeatedly pass the reality test. Hansen’s 1988 testimony for example.

  234. pete, it takes refuting facts to kill a theory. Assuming that the theory is refutable in the first place. Remember that practice often comes before theory, so that a pattern of better practice can kill a theory as well.

    But, oh, this is Paul Samuelson I’m rebutting. This is the same dude who thought that the Soviets had finally gotten economics right.

  235. >it takes refuting facts to kill a theory. Assuming that the theory is refutable in the first place.

    Did you stop reading philosophy of science after Popper? It gets a lot better after that.

  236. >The problem with inflation (and curbing it) is that at low levels, the signals for
    >inflation are easily mistaken for the signals of real GDP growth

    Not really. The signals are relatively easy to interpret, except for the fact that they are grossly confused by the fractional banking system. If we required fully funding of banks, or at least eliminated the FDIC so that customers took knowledgeable leverage risks, then the signals would be much clearer.

    However, I think that your point is a valid attack on the gold bugs. Inflation in a gold based money supply is confused by the cost and caprice of finding gold, rather than demand for money. (Of course there is a certain degree of supply demand relationship, but the transaction costs are both non-trivial, and extremely variable.)

    What I would recommend (and I am not an economist, so I probably don’t know what I am talking about), is a fixed growth in the fiat currency system. That is to say the government prints 4% more currency each year exactly. This would deflate existing stores of currency at a predictable rate, and would be sufficient that it would not cause deflation as a result of real GDP growth (most of the time anyway.) Eliminate the Fed the FDIC, and all financial regulation. Eliminate the monopoly laws against private currency. Work with organizations like the ABA to develop a standard (fraud or trademark protected) meaning of the word “bank”, that includes non-leveraged accounts, and fully transparent leveraged accounts.

    What an economy needs is stability and predictability. Constant changes to the law, the tax system, the supply of money, and so forth makes it extremely difficult to run a business, and consequently pushes business into hyper conservative mode. Look at the US Banking system right now. Politicians tut, tut, tut, that banks aren’t lending. But fail to accept the basic reason why: they have gone hyper conservative because the political, economic, financial and regulatory landscape is changing faster that a bat out of hell, with no end in sight. How anyone is supposed to plan, or make a realistic assessment of risk under these circumstances is beyond me.

    But I am sure that is a really dumb idea, since, as I say, I am not an economist. But what is going on at the moment is nothing short of insanity. And of course it needs to be said that developing a rational banking system, or a predictable economy is hardly in the best interests of the political class. I just watched a news show talking about Obama’s first 100 days. They said his first priority was to “fix the economy.” I laughed so loud, I coughed Sprite out my nose.

  237. Well, “fix” has a number of alternate interpretations.

    Just ask your friendly housecat. By that interpretation, he may be doing a bang-up job.

    In terms of clarity of signal for inflation versus GDP growth – you aren’t an economist. I’m not really one. However, the confusion between inflation and GDP growth signals has persisted in human societies since the Persians took a vacation at Thermopylae, and continues now.

    However, your “fixed 4% inflation” metric is amusing to think about.

  238. >What I would recommend (and I am not an economist, so I probably don’t know what I am talking about), is a fixed growth in the fiat currency system. That is to say the government prints 4% more currency each year exactly. This would deflate existing stores of currency at a predictable rate…

    You could also then eliminate taxation. Whatever the fixed % of new currency the government is allowed to print – that is what they get to spend. No more. No less.

    Inflation is already a hidden tax on everyone holding currency – why not have it be the only tax. Having just one tax saves a huge amount of wasted energy in tax enforcement and compliance costs – lobbying for changes in taxes, etc.

    Also, the way the new money is created now in a dance between the Fed and the fractional reserve banking system, puts the new money first into the pockets of the wealthiest people, where it probably is doing the least initial good. This way, it would be enter at all levels based on whether it was buying votes with welfare or buying campaign contributions with government contracts.

    Hmmm, actually, you probably still need some sort of income tax, otherwise everyone would just opt out of the fiat currency. The only thing that really gives a fiat currency any base of value at all is that it is what the government accepts as payment for tax obligations.

  239. shenpen: “sulphur and mercury genuinely are toxic.”
    Glad to hear that (self-sarcasm): in my childhood I spent quite some summer weeks sulphuring my uncle’s wine barrels and farting sulphur for days after that. I’m 31 and feel healthy – is there any medical condition typically caused by sulphur I should have myself checked out for?

    acute exposure to concentrations pre-tested (and designed) to be safe for human exposure does not constitute a whole-gamut long-term example.
    the uk’s atmospheric and standard fuel concentrations of sulphur are startlngly higher than even europe’s, sufficiently strong to destroy the new generation a decade ago of bmw engines 3-4 times within warranty before they introduced special uk-only versions with custom linings. uk cars rot to rust so fast it’s frightening. and do so in summer almost as fast as winter, despite the local meme re road salt causing it. sulphur is a highly reactive chemical that is the primary innovation in “modern medicine”‘s conquest of infection due to its toxicity to life. hint: it remains one of our more powerful antibiotics.
    but little longterm research has focussed on it because it’s not exciting/new/profitable. as the saying goes, if aspirin was invented today, it couldn’t be sold.

    but regardless, the CRITICAL problem with coal is none of the above.
    it’s mercury.

    the reason for fish becoming toxic in recent years is mercury emissions from coal plants.

    i note that you don’t mention mercury in the list you cite of chemicals currently trappedout by coal powerplants.

  240. linda seebach: “there is no “proof of concept” method that wasn’t tested fully 20 years ago.”
    Erm, no. I was careful to specify a specifc process of “in-situ conversion,” which at the time I wrote about it (2005) had only just been demonstrated for the first time, on a very small scale.

    “in situ conversion” has been around for donkey’s years at proof-of-concept stages.

    but if you were referring specifically to one particular instance, then i owe you a partial apology.

    by the same token, you owe me, and everyone else that you communicate this to, some serious effort into learning more about what you’re talking about. journalists parrotting what little they’ve had brought to their attention are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  241. eric: I note that the AGW crowd is silent about the plunge in four measures of global temperature since January 2007, one so steep that it has essentially wiped out the “warming” signal back to about 1900.

    don’t know this last one. can you point me at further info?

    pete: This is just ignorance of statistics; at the signal-to-noise ratio of global temperature data, a couple of years provides insufficient power.

    i advert to a previous comment. i have stats skills far superior to most, not just academically but in reality, jagged up several levels in absolute-space by the hard harsh scalding gimlet glare of month-on-month mark-to-market. on that basis:
    the IPCC GHG “work” is an unfunny joke, at levels of incompetence that beggar the imagination.

    as i have posted elsewhere, when someone else similar posted something similar:

    the article you linked to, by the way, is a spectacular example of the mindset problems of the bandwagon. it’s like a How-To document for clueless technique-driven warping of data to fit predefined preferred conclusions. if one of my students had handed in something like that i’d have quietly taken him to one side and suggested that research and numbers weren’t his forté and perhaps he should find something else to do with his life. here’s a hint: read it carefully.

    if you don’t understand what i mean, i suggest you refrain from attempting to use that article again in future — you have embarrassed yourself once here, but there’s no need to repeat the mistake.

  242. @Saltation

    If you’re going to claim “stats skills far superior to most”, then you might want to avoid sending me to a post where you mistake an R^2 of 0.62% for an R^2 of 62%.

  243. sorry mate, you’re off in la la land. that was my own number. and yes it was an R^2 of 62% kudos for manually recreating what i did, but if you don’t know that R^2 varies b/w 0 & 1, and that a percentage is just that –a percentage–, then i suggest you need to go do some serious basic education and that you refrain from commenting so assertively on statistical analyses of these data until afterwards.

  244. If you run a simple linear model on those HadCRUT3v temps, you get an R^2 of 0.0062, i.e. 0.62% not 62%. Maybe your software gives you percentages directly? Perhaps it said 0.62, meaning 0.62% but you thought it meant 62%.

    If you had much experience with statisitsics you’d be able to look at the graph and see that there’s no way it’s gonna give you an R^2 that high.

  245. just hit this again on checking for new comments and this time laughed instead of taking the comment seriously:

    >If you had much experience with statisitsics
    (heh)
    i might point out, intra alia, that regardless of (and far more importantly than) my academic qualifications i used to manage $2bn on a quant basis. practical econometrics in an unforgiving month-on-month mark-to-market context — no hiding or blustering possible about the consequences. unlike pure-theory efforts.
    i remember once being excoriated by a major hedgefund’s quants for “not understanding their maths” when i pointed out what their maths’ underlying strategy and assumptions was/were (a new venture setup by someone previously a global star). and they went upside down and out with >90% losses less than a year later for precisely the reasons i warned them about.
    my 16yo thesis was recently part-replicated. and the analysis was considered so cutting edge and relevant it will shortly be published in a global peer-reviewed journal.
    so i’m afraid i view with amusement and bemusement attempts to belittle my understanding of what the math means.
    also: i lerned to spel stastisiticisitticus’ses.

    .
    btw, kudos for underlining the key point in my original post(s) re memeplaying re reality.

    the post i linked to (“sent you to” as you passively aggressively put it) was not the post you bitched about, was it? no. no, it wasn’t. actually, it was one of the preceding posts. you speciously did not mention that. no. no, you didn’t. of course not. that wouldn’t sound so good, would it?
    attempted denigration by false implication. classic.

    addressing more specifically your attempted discrediting of what i said: in one of the TWO preceding posts, there’s a single quick graph in the midst of the actual key points, just throwing up some of the data visually so casual visitors can see it graphically, and immediately see a problem, rather than requiring them to go plowing around in the further-underlying further-referenced data.

    rather than address or comment on any of the key points raised, you try to criticise as though it were a key point a truly minor observation re this minor graph.

    by itself, this behaviour should stand out as a wonderful example of the shifty-handed legerdemain of most of the proselytisers. pure troll-ism.

    but it gets sillier.
    i just double-checked — the quick 3rdparty hack i used for such a trivial item does in fact report R^2 b/w 0-1. the 62% stands. if your “detailed” effort comes up with 62bp, you have accidentally exposed, not just your own toxic insistence on meme rather than fact, but your own incompetence.

    nice one, mate. thanks for bolstering everything i said. “hoist on your own petard”.

  246. >i think you need to look again at what i posted

    Okay, I had a closer look, and I think I can see where you got 62% from — you’ve cherry-picked the 2002–2008 period and run a linear regression on only seven years of data.

    pete: shooting yourself in the foot makes you look like an idiot.
    saltation: lol, i actually shot myself in the knee, who’s the idiot now?

    >rather than address or comment on any of the key points raised, you try to criticise as though it were a key point a truly minor observation re this minor graph.

    Given your rambling style, it’s hard to tell what your “key point” is. I’ve been trying to point out that you can’t calculate the long-term trend from 11 (or 7!) years of data, so I focussed on the part where you incorrectly tried to do just that.

    I notice that no one has actually stepped up and said “why, yes, in fact you can calculate a long term trend with insufficient data”. I just get insulted, told that “I” have done the same thing, and then the mistake gets repeated a couple of comments later.

  247. > I think I can see where you got 62% from — you’ve cherry-picked the 2002–2008 period
    given that a bolded sentence immmediately below it refers to this, i think i can see where your confusion arises. and it’s not from what i wrote.
    >Yup, temps have basically been declining since 2002.
    If you’re in an extrapolating mood, you could make a strong case for it declining at an accelerating rate. (86% R2 vs 62% R2)

    sorry child, i think you need to start on the fish oil supplements — your ability to comprehend things is abysmal. if you can’t even detect that a couple of sentences about the immediately-preceding graph are in fact about the immediately-precedin graph, then you should step away from all discussions until your brain has recovered normal functioning.

    the key point there, incidentally, was that an exponential decline fit the period’s data substantially better than a linear decline.

    and pretending that i was declaring this ironclad proof of a long-term trend is a fatuity of spectacular proportions. you’ll note that a commenter on my blog tried the same approach. i suggest you read the response.

    > first off, that’s not what i did.
    shame on you for attempting to put words into my mouth.
    but amusingly, outeast, you should be aware that projecting from less than 20 years (which is well within previous movements) is the basis of the IPCC’s “work”. (and amusingly, the drum was originally being banged for panic stations on a continuous rise of the same length as the current continuous fall.)

    to be clear: first you accuse me of doing something i didn’t, and claim that that something is “illegitimate” and “egregious” (your choice of emotive ad-hominem status-dimension words rather than descriptive terms is also very much a pattern with the IPCC’s core contributors). then you turn around and impliedly insist that the IPCC’s doing of that very something is the acme of good science.
    your Need to Win is clouding your thinking, outeast.

    if you don’t understand what i mean, i suggest you refrain from attempting to use that article again in future — you have embarrassed yourself once here, but there’s no need to repeat the mistake.

  248. >If you’re in an extrapolating mood, you could make a strong case for it declining at an accelerating rate. (86% R2 vs 62% R2)

    You’re combining cherry-picking with over-fitting.

    Yep, my confusion arose not from what you wrote, but from my inability to comprehend just how bad you are at stats.

    >temps have basically been declining since 2002.

    And here you demonstrate your lack of climate knowledge. The year-to-year weather is not relevant to the climate debate. What does 11 years of data tell you about the long-term trend in temperature? Pretty much nothing.

  249. what does 20 years of data tell you about the long-term trend in temperature? Pretty much nothing.

    and yet it’s the essence of the entire current greenhouse meme (nb: i am not arguing against climatechange). take another look at the posts you’re pretending to have read if you don’t understand this. (i make this point there, too. you appear to have missed that one just as comprehensively as you missed even the reference of a sentence to the referred-to graph immediately preceding it).

    >>>If you’re in an extrapolating mood, you could make a strong case for it declining at an accelerating rate. (86% R2 vs 62% R2)
    >You’re combining cherry-picking with over-fitting.

    no, over and above your gritted-teeth refusal to read what i wrote even in this tiny tiny tangential sub-context, you’re conflating your own knowlege of statistical techniques with an understanding of statistical techniques. you’re again pretending i was trying to declare a long-term trend out of subset of data, rather than simply pointing out how radically this (most recent) subset of data contradicted the meme’s wild declarations of long-term trend out of a subset of data only twice as large, with the meme’s initial long-term extrapolations first being declared with about the same amount of data as i facetiously used in this aside. hint: go find out what “Population” and “Distribution” mean in an econometric context, and then go find out what “Heteroscedasticity” means, and then go find out what the most common cause of it is.

    i note again for the record your amusing insistence that your bizarre and frankly subfunctional misunderstanding of an aside re a minor observation re a very minor point in the key thrust of the (heavily evidential) posts you’re attempting to refute by ignoring all the main points and attempting to re-cast the whole within your misunderstood mangling of the tangential aside, constitutes any rationally relevant comment on the aside, let alone the observation, let alone the minor point, let alone the major points.

    >Yep, my confusion arose not from what you wrote, but from my inability to comprehend just how bad you are at stats.

    you do realise how silly you’re making yourself look?
    ignoring your new attempt to rewrite history re what you did:
    if you don’t UNDERSTAND how to use the tools whose techniques you’ve learned parrot-fashion, don’t expect to be taken seriously by those who do.

  250. >simply pointing out how radically this (most recent) subset of data contradicted the meme’s wild declarations of long-term trend

    I suggest you go find out what “power” means in a statistical context.

    >ignoring all the main points and attempting to re-cast the whole within your misunderstood mangling of the tangential aside, constitutes any rationally relevant comment on the aside, let alone the observation, let alone the minor point, let alone the major points.

    The point in this thread is that a decade’s worth of temperature data does not supply sufficient statistical power to make inferences about longer term climate trends. Your posts on your blog might have had a different point, but given your verbose writing style it’s hard to tell.

    >what does 20 years of data tell you about the long-term trend in temperature? Pretty much nothing. and yet it’s the essence of the entire current greenhouse meme

    Nonsense. The “current greenhouse meme” is based on our understanding of the underlying physical processes

  251. >>simply pointing out how radically this (most recent) subset of data contradicted the meme’s wild declarations of long-term trend
    >I suggest you go find out what “power” means in a statistical context.

    you’re being fatuous. again. to a now near-insane degree. intra-sample, identical-power techniques have identical power. grow up. if you don’t understand the basics, don’t embarrass yourself by parrotting literally irrelevant terms/approaches that you’ve been taught are “good rules of thumb, in general” but which don’t apply in the specific cases you’re trying to force them onto.

    eg, for sheer hilarity of indefensible blind kneejerk application of technique regardless of reality, consider your own “refutation” of one tiny number by vomiting a linear regression over the entire HADCRUT series. even someone 2 weeks into their first intro stats course would be alarmed at your complete lack of understanding of what you’re doing. hint: “Population”. (to be clear: in its statistical sense.)
    hint: a level of invalidity that beggars the imagination.
    hint: you might THINK you have a hammer and everything looks like a nail, but you are actually holding a photo of a hammer you cut out of a magazine and it’s flopping so hard when you try to use it that you haven’t yet even got near the things you declare are really nails. and they’re not.

    >Your posts on your blog might have had a different point, but given your verbose writing style it’s hard to tell.

    you have declared yourself incapable of keeping ideas together for the duration of 2 sentences. while i recognise the disableds’ right to enjoy the same facilities as the non-disabled, i do not agree that people with legs should be banned from walking. ordinary people can read those posts quite comfortably.

    >I suggest you

    i suggest you start eating properly, paying particular attention to your intake of fish oils.

    i also suggest that you study econometrics, in an organisation that emphasises practical applications of the techniques taught, so that you can begin to understand the actual meaning of the terms and techniques you’re flailing with.

    >>what does 20 years of data tell you about the long-term trend in temperature? Pretty much nothing. and yet it’s the essence of the entire current greenhouse meme
    >Nonsense. The “current greenhouse meme” is based on our understanding of the underlying physical processes

    you really didn’t take in even one thing from those posts of mine you read, did you? and you can not possibly have read widely re the topic you’re pronouncing so defensively on.
    the current greenhouse meme has been relentlessly contradicted by every test of underlying physical processes. and that’s a kind way of putting it. for two extraordinarily pungent examples, note that the data unequivocally declares that CO2 follows heat (not the other way round) and that the absolutely critical and fundamental “forcing factor” underlying all the GHG-meme modelling is derived, not from experiment, but from a proven deception: the single sole and only primary source for it, is a russian dictionary. which does not actually mention the term. to be clear, it was a bullshit reference.
    yet on this number hangs ALL the ipcc extrapolations.
    when it was first tested, it was found to out by a FACTOR of 80.
    (ie, 99.4% of the earth’s radiated heat (the essence of the GHG meme) is actually captured within 10meters of the surface. if you DOUBLED the world’s CO2…. we’re all gonna die!!! oh. no. wait. that would just come down to ~5m)

    and on only 20 years’ data hangs ALL the IPCC extrapolations. and they kicked off, and have not materially changed, with only the same length of data that you are declaring me incompetent for running ANY numbers on, despite me explicitly making clear that any extrapolation was only a thought experiment rather than “INESCAPABLE FACT!”

    “your need to win is clouding your thinking”

  252. >note that the data unequivocally declares that CO2 follows heat (not the other way round)

    Yawn, we dealt with this red herring earlier in the thread. Who has the problem with reading comprehension again?

    >99.4% of the earth’s radiated heat (the essence of the GHG meme) is actually captured within 10meters of the surface.

    You might need to work on your physical intuition too. If the greenhouse effect captured 99.4% of the earth’s radiated heat our average temp would be over 600C.

    >this (most recent) subset of data contradicted the meme’s wild declarations of long-term trend

    I notice that you haven’t retracted this claim yet. If you can’t see why this claim is wrong, you have no business lecturing others on statistics.

  253. ok, that’s enough. there’s no point attempting to re-educate your perception of the world (and of yourself) with reality: you are so far off into either troll- or intellectually-disabled- territory it’s not funny.

    • you have exhibited statistics skills below those of a failing student in his first weeks of hitting econometrics (i still can’t believe you ran a simple regression over the entire HADCRUT series –based on your truly surreal inability to understand simple english– and paraded the meaningless result “triumphantly”);
    • you cherrypick then bizarrely misinterpret microscopies to respond to, and ignore major points, troll-fashion;
    • your opinions and declarations are sharply at odds with reality and with what you’ve just read;
    • you kneejerk, parrot-fashion, boilerplate stuff you believe to indicate a high-virtue/high-status position; and
    • you acknowledge you can’t keep an idea/topic clear in your head for the duration of a sentence.

    i’ll leave you to your la-la land.

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