Friday, August 28, 2015

Dear Bishop Hill: read your links. Also, take a look at this graph.

Bishop Hill thinks they've caught Nicholas Stern in a contradiction, saying one thing in 2009 and another in 2015. So let's take a look, using BH's own links.

Stern 2009:

Lord Stern said that although robust expansion could be achieved until 2030 while avoiding dangerous levels of greenhouse gas emissions, rich nations may then have to consider reining in growth...."At some point we would have to think about whether we want future growth. We don't have to do that now."

(Emphasis added.) That would be the second sentence of the article BH linked to.

And Stern 2015:
...Professor Stern, the chair of the Grantham research institute on climate change and the environment, said that it was a false dichotomy to posit growth against climate action. “To portray them as in conflict is to misunderstand economic development and the opportunities that we now have to move to the low-carbon economy,” he said. “To pretend otherwise is diversionary and indeed creates an ‘artificial horse race’ which can cause real damage to the prospects for agreement.” Green parties in Europe have often argued that decarbonisation requires an end to the model of economic growth “at all costs”. But Stern said that there was now “much greater understanding of how economic growth and climate responsibility can come together and, indeed, how their complementarity can help drive both forward”.

(Emphasis added.) In both cases Stern appears to be focusing on the short to medium term, and in both cases saying there's not a conflict between economic growth and addressing climate change.

In BH's telling, Stern said in 2009 they had to stop growing (BH gave no time frame so one would assume it was immediate) but that Stern in 2015 is saying grow away. Alarmist hypocrisy!!!

As for whether there's a difference over what to do in 2030, who knows - Stern wasn't being asked recently about policies 15 years from now, but I don't see a necessary difference in his statements. Even if there was a difference, BH somehow finds it unforgivable that someone could change their mind on a peripheral issue (what policies should be in place in 2030, as opposed to policies today).

Finally, BH might want to take a look at a graph at renewable power prices. Any graph really, but here's one:

This is new information available to Stern in 2015 and not in 2009, and I could see it having an effect on someone thinking about long-term compatibility of growth with limiting carbon emissions. I remember the debate 5 years ago over whether the long-term decline in solar costs would continue. Now we have the result.

Inability of denialists to adjust opinions to new facts is matched only by their inability to accept long-established ones.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Mother Nature is Not Sitting Idle

She doesn’t do politics — only physics, biology and chemistry. And if they add up the wrong way, she will take them all down.
Here’s my bet about the future of Sunni, Shiite, Arab, Turkish, Kurdish and Israeli relations: If they don’t end their long-running conflicts, Mother Nature is going to destroy them all long before they destroy one another.
Tom Friedman (and Eli usually has not much use for Tom Friedman, the definition of conventional wisdom being what Friedman hallucinates in cabs), has noticed that physics, biology and chemistry have the last word and the ecological soup of sciences has been quite poisonous lately in the Middle East, thanks to the global cooks.

Friedman has been reading the news, and notes that this summer has brought unprecidentedly high temperatures and humidity, approaching the 37 C heat stroke barrier, above which all die, and that coupled with bad generation and distribution of electricity has made air-conditioning a rumor in Iran, Iraq and other places.  The heat killed more people in Pakistan this year than terror attacks

Ministers have been fired, riots in the street have happened. and it is the water supply too
see Syria: Its revolution was preceded by the worst four-year drought in the country’s modern history, driving nearly a million farmers and herders off the land, into the cities where the government of Bashar al-Assad completely failed to help them, fueling the revolution.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Brother Tap

Coal collapse and the first burst carbon bubble

The last few months have seen major bankruptcies among American coal companies and the near-elimination of the market value for the rest over the last 5 years (another Hockey Stick, except mirror-imaged and with the stick part also tilted down). What hasn't changed much is the amount of coal reserves these companies have. To the extent that these companies had been valued based on the reserves they own, usually the major component of their value, then the climate divestment argument that fossil fuel stocks are overvalued by a carbon bubble gets a lot of support. The market appears to be saying that a lot of that coal these companies own is now worthless and will stay in the ground.

I shouldn't overplay that argument as it applies to climate divestment. A number of these companies took on a lot of debt several years ago buying other coal companies (and their reserves) in a bet that there would be a major expansion in coal usage - a bad bet. The low-to-negative valuation reflects that debt in part, not a market assessment that all of their reserves are staying in the ground. OTOH, even before these purchases the coal companies had a much higher valuation, so if you assume that the recent coal acquisition is balanced out by recent debt, you still have to explain why the all the coal owned by the companies from prior years is valued so low.

Some parts of the bankrupt companies are still profitable under current law which allows them to impose pollution costs upon neighbors and the entire planet, so some of their reserves will still get used. We might have a better idea based on the valuation when they emerge from bankruptcy and can see then whether the carbon bubble in coal bounces back.

This is a pretty useful example for climate divestment. Six years ago no one could have predicted it. While natural gas had started its expansion back then, everyone expected unabated demand in China and India. Now it's much more up in the air, and meanwhile the bankruptcy papers are shaking out some interesting connections between climate denialists and previously undisclosed coal funders.

During the years that natural gas got primary credit for driving out coal, the renewable industry grabbed nearly half as much away from coal (see page 3, and good reference on coal's problems in general). That trend can accelerate.

One other question is whether climate divestment played a role in coal's trouble. You hear zero credit given to the movement, which I think is slightly unfair. We're now in a situation where at one point I'm watching a random business cable channel and see a discussion of the carbon bubble, and I think divestment helped highlight that risk to investors. And while I'm no stock expert, I don't see a lot of opportunistic buying of the still-standing companies even though you can get them over 90% cheaper than they used to be - as divestment grows and increasingly focuses on coal, it can help create uncertainty that blocks funding for the companies.

What Climate Change Adaptation Looks Like

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rick Piltz's Legacy

Eli's friend Rick Piltz passed away last fall.  In keeping with his wishes that Climate Science Watch continue it's work, his heirs, both family and professional have worked with the Government Accountability Project to launch his successor site the   Climate Science and Policy Watch.  His wife, Karen Metchis put it plainly

 "Among Rick's last wishes was his hope that his fight for the integrity of science against the climate deniers would continue. He recognized the need to protect our children's future from those who would sacrifice it for short term gain by denying the coming calamities if climate change goes unaddressed. It is gratifying to me to see Rick’s work continue. He always believed that GAP’s mission helping others reveal the truth fills an essential role.”
Michael Termini who worked with Rick at CSW and GAP is the interim director
"Rick was crystal clear about his expanded vision and where the effort needed to go, given the high-ground he and his team had achieved over the years with Climate Science Watch. After months of preparation by a team of contributors, composed of experts and colleagues Rick had mentored and worked with, today's launch is the first step in realizing that vision. Following his precise guidance, it is my privilege to lead the charge Rick sounded."
CSPW sees the continuing Climate Science Watch as its outreach to the public, but its primary work as within the government to oppose the obscurantists and highlight the contradictions within the current administration's policies.

 Welcome back

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Open Thread - Meta Climate Division

Some things which caught Eli's Eye, but, it being summer, only a few comments from the meadow are likely.

- Andy Revkin don't take criticism lightly and is not above manipulating a few words to benefit his self image.  As the bunnies may remember, Andy blog posted an unsolicited review of the Hansen, et al we (or at least our grandkids) may die unless we do something paper, and both Eli, and Hansen, et al, had some comments on Andy's review.   

We were aware of those papers but included in our discussion only those mechanisms that could plausibly account for the relevant geological features. Our overall objective, improved insight about the threat of sea level rise and storminess posed by global warming, requires integrated analysis of information from paleoclimate and geologic studies, global modeling, and observations of modern climate change – together constituting a substantial undertaking. Thus we limited marginally pertinent material to avoid an unacceptably long paper. 
Which pretty much aligns with dsquared's comment on Twitter:  "devastating critique" is my word for when half-bright self-appointed science police get on the case of actual researchers.  Not that there aren't issues with this paper.  Hansen's POV is that Weitzman was right and what bunnies should be concerned about are the outliers, and here they are.  One may argue that he doesn't balance enough (on the other hand, that maybe Gentleman Jim is leaving this for others like Matty Hoerling).

Of course, Andy Revkin is defined by his control of NYTimes real estate, and he is not one to leave sleeping bunnies lie on the the beach when he can control the dialog.  In a rather meandering apologia he highlights his piece, buries the first submitted solicited review from David Archer, in the 10th paragraph or so, and highlights in the first a later, more critical review from Peter Thorne in the first paragraph.  Make, no mistake, both the Archer and Thorne reviews were professional and useful to both the handling editor, the authors and current and later readers of the paper.

Archer's bottom line is that there are warts, but "This is another Hansen masterwork of scholarly synthesis, modeling virtuosity, and insight, with profound implications".  Both Archer and Thorne have problems with the sprawling nature of the paper.  Archer concludes " Due to its important conclusions, primarily about the ice sheet melting climate feedback, I expect this paper will be widely read, but it will make its readers work for it".  Thorne, OTSH is really uncomfortable with the food fight that broke out and the length of the paper "The paper is of inordinate length closer to a thesis than a scientific paper in nature", and really really uncomfortable with the voice of the paper and the blog post like advocacy that he sees.

Both reviews, as well as the paper, deserve serious discussion.  On balance (there Eli goes again), Thorne has a strong argument that the paper may fit Climate of the Past better.

But the best part of Andy's review of the review, is his "re-outing" tamino and walking it back
One last thought. Perhaps Tamino can step out from behind the shield of anonymity (which too often fuels vitriol) and confirm if he is indeed Grant Foster (quoted on Climate Central).* Foster has published quite a bit on climate, including with Stefan Rahmstorf, a leader of that 2014 review of experts on sea-level rise that is a far cray from what the new paper is projecting. 
And we are both musicians, it seems. Although that perhaps doesn’t go well with the rigor “Tamino” requires in paper reviewers. 
Footnote, July 30, 11:30 p.m. | * I added a link to an Open Mind post in which the blogger known as Tamino acknowledges he is Grant Foster.
From this Eli concludes that Andy Revkin will defend his position in the nomenklatura to the last barrel of ink.

Open Thread - Science Division

Some things which caught Eli's Eye, but, it being summer, only a few comments from the meadow are likely.

- A really interesting paper in Climate of the Past Discussions, a collaboration between the PAGES2K (turbo proxy reconstructions) and PIMP3  PMIP3 (modeling of the past) groups "Continental-scale temperature variability in PMIP3 simulations and PAGES 2k regional temperature reconstructions over the past millennium" which will not bring smiles in certain quarters.  Warning, it is another Hansen, et al seventy pager.  To quote from the abstract:

Here, the recent set of temperature reconstructions at the continental scale generated by the PAGES 2k project and the collection of state-of-the-art model simulations driven by realistic external forcings following the PMIP3 protocol are jointly analysed. The first aim is to estimate the consistency between model results and reconstructions for each continental-scale region over time and frequency domains. Secondly, the links between regions are investigated to determine whether reconstructed global-scale covariability patterns are similar to those identified in model simulations. The third aim is to assess the role of external forcings in the observed temperature variations. From a large set of analyses, we conclude that models are in relatively good agreement with temperature reconstructions for Northern Hemisphere regions, particularly in the Arctic. This is likely due to the relatively large amplitude of the externally forced response across northern and high latitudes regions, which results in a clearly detectable signature in both reconstructions and simulations. Conversely, models disagree strongly with the reconstructions in the Southern Hemisphere.
It is not clear whether one should trust the models or the reconstructions, if for no other reason than there are fewer proxy's from the South.  Get busy.

- And indeed some have.  In a related development Sigi and about twenty others, settle the issue of when volcanic  eruptions took place in the past by aligning ice core proxy records.   "Timing and climate forcings of volcanic eruptions for the past 2,500 years"(no open source at the moment) provides a huge lever for the paleoclimate types to move their work forward on both the physical and historical levels.
Volcanic eruptions contribute to climate variability, but quantifying these contributions has been limited by inconsistencies in the timing of atmospheric volcanic aerosol loading determined from ice cores and subsequent cooling from climate proxies such as tree rings. Here we resolve these inconsistencies and show that large eruptions in the tropics and high latitudes were primary drivers of interannual-to-decadal temperature variability in the Northern Hemisphere during the past 2,500 years. Our results are based on new records of atmospheric aerosol loading developed from high-resolution, multi-parameter measurements from an array of Greenland and Antarctic ice cores as well as distinctive age markers to constrain chronologies. Overall, cooling was proportional to the magnitude of volcanic forcing and persisted for up to ten years after some of the largest eruptive episodes. Our revised timescale more firmly implicates volcanic eruptions as catalysts in the major sixth-century pandemics, famines, and socioeconomic disruptions in Eurasia and Mesoamerica while allowing multi-millennium quantification of climate response to volcanic forcing.
Variation in timing smears out and diminishes the effects of large eruptions and disappears that of smaller ones.  This new work, and aligning it with PAGES2K certainly requires a re-evaluation of Maas and Portman who in 1989 concluded that only the effects of the larges eruptions could be seen in the climate record records.

IEHO comparison of PAGES2K regional reconstructions using the Sigi et al chronology will allow major progress in identifying the sites of the smaller (and some of the larger) eruptions as well as refining estimates of global and regional volcanic forcings.  This, in turn will drive progress in paleoclimate modeling as well as estimation of immediate and equilibrium climate sensitivity.

Consider this an open thread.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Time Series Homeopathy

Recently Doug Keenan has again taken up the cudgels against the Met Office with backing from the usual suspects and indeed, the Met Office has taken a decision not to engage further.  While the Met Office thinks that some things Keenan says are interesting and very brave, with the greatest respect and they will hear what he says and bear it in mind, well, they choose not to devote further time to dealing with him.  A feature of these attacks are Keenan's claims that the best time series analysts tend to be in finance (see comment).  This, of course, is something that Richard Tol also firmly believes, giving rise to an hilarious disputation over at ATTP.

Eli has thought about this for a while and concluded that Keenan's claims about time series analysts in the financial industry are a clear reference to chartists, which happen to be the homeopaths of stock pricing.  There is no there there, only a few lucky winners when they roll up the sidewalks

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The End of This Road

Many have remarked about how hot the world is this year.  Not too surprising given the shift to a strong El Nino, with the global temperature anomaly moving up.  Some have proclaimed it the end of the "hiatus"
whatsoever the hiatus may be.

Ethically this is a problem.  While Eli has always warned that global warming driving climate change is a sure thing, or as close to sure as you get these days, the outcomes are not going to be pretty.  Many people are going to be seriously hurt, so what should one's attitude towards those who have spent their time belittling the IPCC, and climate science, and preaching delay in one sauce or another.

Not simple.  Eli is of the opinion that reminding comes before forgiveness.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


RWE (Rheinisch-Westfälischen Elektrizitätswerk) is one of the largest electrical power companies in biggest soft coal (aka dirt or lignite) mining operations in the world.  It is also home base for Fritz Varenholt, one of Germany's most active solar fans (nonono, not wind energy, he don't like that or solar power either, but the sun, the sun, not greenhouse gases are the thing for Fritz).  Anyhow RWE is in big trouble because of the Energiewende, folks are not paying as much for what they make because they are using less of it and RWE is deep into coal and gas power generators.
Germany and operators of one of the largest lignite (brown coal, aka dirt) mines in the world

The Sueddeutsche brings news of a major reorganization typical of a failing concern that had overexpanded in the fat times.  Many of the 100 formerly more or less independently operating subsidiaries, with their own boards, are being hovered up into 32 and what is left will be directly controlled by the mothership. The command module will, of course, expand.  The large pink elephant of a headquarters building has been sold off, from which bunnies gather that they are turning stuff into cash as fast as they can.

What will make this change hard is that RWE has large public ownership, the cities of the Ruhr own great chunks of stock and depend on the profits cast off from the company for significant parts of their budget and, of course, while upper management grows, employment will shrink, which makes the unions happy.

Eli was thinking of this today when he read a re tweet from

Dortmund, Essen and the like are too deeply dug into RWE to get out.  OTOH, the fat times are over.  The lignite mines may have taken their last church.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

"You can see it and you can feel it"

Starts about 15 seconds in:

"We can see it and we can feel it - hotter summers, rising sea levels, extreme weather events like stronger storms, deeper droughts, and longer wildfire seasons, all disasters that are becoming more frequent, more expensive, and more dangerous."
More backing for my argument that climate communication to the public should use the "can feel it in your bones" approach. Obama is talking about things people can experience directly and compare to their past.

I liked the next part too:
"Our own families have experienced it too - over the past three decades asthma rates have more than doubled and as temperatures keep warming, smog gets worse, and those Americans will be in even greater risk of landing in the hospital."
He's making clear that climate change is a direct risk to the listener and that person's family.

Two other comments on the Clean Power Plan:  first, nice piece by Simon Lazarus at Balkinization pointing out that the new standard for more active judicial review in the Obamacare case could affect review of whether the CPP is legal. One on hand it means less deference to agency interpretation, potentially bad for CPP since the agency interpretation is what makes CPP work. On the other, the new review pushes judges to interpret the law in a way that makes the law work, and the whole point of CPP in providing flexibility is to make the law work more effectively. So let's hope for the best.

Second, missing in the whole discussion of existing power plants is a reworking of the rule for new power plants. New coal plants would have to incorporate carbon sequestration. Good luck with that, although Clean Coal proponents keep talking about it. Their own talk can be used against them when they litigate on the basis that it's unrealistic.

Alternatives to the Iran Deal

Somewhat Realistic:

New Deal - one with less restrictions on Iran. This deal gets negotiated by countries other than the US. The US continues sanctions, so Iran is only willing to agree to a deal that provides fewer economic benefits because the new deal imposes fewer restrictions.

No New Deal Version 1 - sanctions fall apart, with the US and maybe some other countries continuing sanctions, while China, Russia, and many others end sanctions. Iran takes detected and undetected steps towards a nuclear weapon but doesn't explode a device over the next 10-15 years. The US wisely decides against a military attack to "stop" progress towards a bomb, and Israel wisely decides it can't effectively stop Iranian nuclear bomb progress on its own.

No New Deal Version 2 - same as Version 1 except that US and possibly Israel bomb Iran. In Iran public support coalesces around hardline opposition to the Great Satan, reinvigorating the aggressive theocrats for another 20-30 years. Theocrats vow to rebuild the nuclear program and more support for terrorist groups, insurgencies, and Assad in Syria. In 3-5 years Iran explodes a nuclear device (or possibly, just build their nuclear weapon capability without finalizing it via a test).

No New Deal Version 3 - same as Version 2 except that a year after the first bombing, the US bombs again to destroy the rebuilt nuclear program and thereafter continues periodic bombing along with continuous attacks to degrade Iran's air defense capability. Other consequences of Version 3's long-term low-grade warfare are unpredictable but likely to be unpleasant.

Very Unlikely:

Renegotiated Deal Version 1 - the facesaver. After getting voted down in Congress, the US gets some very minor tweaks that provide political cover for enough Congressmembers to finally support it.

Renegotiated Deal Version 2 - The Unicorn! During a last-minute attempt at renegotiation after Congress votes the original deal down, somebody thinks of an approach that no one had thought of before that makes the deal somewhat better in restricting nuclear development while still being acceptable to Iran.

Same Deal Minus the US - Iran is so desperate to lift sanctions from other countries that it renegotiates a similar deal as before with a few facesaving changes, despite continuation of sanctions from the US.

One-off Military Attack - this is not the Military Unicorn believed in by the John Boltons of the world. Instead this is similar to the Somewhat Realistic, No New Deal Version 2 except that after a single military attack on its nuclear program, Iran decides to discontinue it, AND to get revenge by other means such as vastly expanded support for terrorists and insurgencies. Very hard to see why Iran would do this, given that the attacks just build public support for hardliners. Maybe they decide to put Iran's economic interest ahead of their own political interests. This is Very Unlikely.


None of the realistic alternatives are better than the current deal. Only one of the very unrealistic options, The Unicorn Renegotiated Deal, is better, and it's both hard to imagine it being that much better while being much more likely to end up as one of the worse alternatives.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

The View From Goresat

Al Gore conceived Triana as a satellite that would inspire us to see the Earth as our one world to cherish and protect, but Eli doubts that even he foresaw the latest image from NASA showing the moon crossing the Earth orb.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

1 Samuel 17:46, Two Miracles and a Trampoline

Rud Istvan, playing the arrogant physicist par excellance at Curry's Climate Stand and DotEarth sent his "devastating critique" on the new Hansen, et al paper off to Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions stepping right into Dsquared's parlor on the nature of "devastating critiques"

Istvan's comment at ACPD denigrates both the Hansen et al paper and David Archer's requested review on the grounds of there being no evidence for abrupt sea level rise in the Eemian, but rather than a dry recitation of the gist, allow Eli to simply quote Istvan
Archer’s comment shows how lax the climate science community has become about it’s ’Facts’. Archer, a Hansen paper reviewer, says the Eemian showed abrupt SLR the way Hansen models for the Holocene with CAGW, which gives the paper strong support. And then goes on about further support from WAIS observations such as Hansen co-author Rignot’s recent findings.  
Archer is sadly and quite provably mistaken on both counts. 
In particular Istvan does the rant on about a paper by Michal O'Leary, et al on "Ice sheet collapse following a prolonged period ofstable sea level during the last interglacial"
The two papers finding abrupt Eemian SLR are both geologically flawed. The Australian (O’Leary paper that Archer refers to and which Hansen discusses extensively is so flawed it comprises a fairly clear case of academic misconduct. The flaws and the probable misconduct in the misrepresentation of its figure 3 are exposed in illustrated detail with references in essay By Land or By Sea in ebook Blowing Smoke. Incorporated herein by reference 
Along the Western Australian coast O'Leary, et al measure a sudden (like 100 yrs or less) ~5 m sea level rise roughly 118 kYr ago based on coral deposits.  They attribute this to a collapse of the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet.  The issue of rapid Eemian rise is of continuing interest not only for Hansen et al. but, for example, Pollard, deConto and Alley who model sea level rises of 5 m in 100 years from disappearance of Antarctic ice shelves alone.  However, as the stormy night in Scotland, this is not what interests us

Some, not Eli to be sure, might ask the bunnies to invest $7.99 in Rud's self published book but he has provided the argument on a certain blog.  After significant heavy breathing Istvan's Argument (IA below) is that tectonic activity could have pushed the land down to account for the apparent rise.  Indeed there was one location where this appeared to have happened, although nothing like the rapid sea level rise of 5 m that O'Leary found, and a considerable part of the O'Leary paper is spent dealing with this issue
The observed difference in the elevation of the lower shore platform compared with the upper marine units along the Western Australia coast has been variously attributed to localized tectonic uplift (13–15), isostatic deformation(16), or changes in ice volume (17,18) . We have demonstrated, based on the near-uniform elevation of the lower palaeo MSL datum, that there seems to have been minimal tectonic uplift or subsidence along the Western Australia coast since the last interglacial (Cape Cuvier being an exception). Although an early MIS 5e age [130 -115 kYr ago - ER] for the upper marine units would be indicative of a peak early isostatic highstand (plus a component of ESL rise), a late MIS 5e age can be indicative only of a eustatic jump in sea level. Therefore determining the age of the higher marine MIS 5e units relative to the age of the lower shore platform is critical to our understanding of sea-level variability and ice sheet sensitivity during MIS 5e.
So what is the shorter IA?
A single New Madrid like ‘event’ in the vicinity sometime between then and now could suffice
Now some, not Eli to be sure, might think that this would leave some trace in the geological record, but wait, it is not that alone, as Richard Telford contemporaneously pointed out at Quantpaleo
The authors write that the higher late last-interglacial shoreline is found across the southwest coast, but it is best represented along the 150-km-long Miocene Quobba Ridge, and it is here that all their dated corals are from. Istvar argues that an intra-plate earthquake analogous to the the 1811 New Madrid event could have displaced the shoreline on the Quobba Ridge. Istvar forgets the obvious. Firstly, this shoreline can be found across the region, not just in this one area. Secondly, if we invoke a large earthquake to lower the land at Quobba Ridge in the middle of 5e by 6m, this will disrupt the early 5e shoreline by 6m. As this shoreline is now approximately level, we need to invoke a second earthquake after stage 5e to raise the land back up again by 6m. 
What is Western Australia, a giant trampoline?
and in same vein at the last (and unanswered) comment at Climate Etc.
If you argue that tectonic activity at 119ka BP displaced the land by 6m, you need a second bout of tectonic activity after stage 5e to raise the land again so that the early stage 5e shoreline is ~flat. 
One massive intra-plate tectonic event is unlikely (it would need to be much larger than the New Madrid event). To have a second event that reverses the effects of the first event is implausible. The first event would have release all the stress, how could stress with the opposite sense have accumulated (and not overshot)?

A Speculation

John Quiggin at Crooked Timber discusses the increasing number of people who do not have a religious belief.  Eli speculates:

In the last 50 years, the ability of humans (well at least some humans) to explain and manipulate our planet and particularly the biosphere which supports us has grown to the point where as a practical matter religion is irrelevant or confounding to that understanding. In the last 20 years the availability of that information has grown to the point where that knowledge is available to most. What remains for religion is ethics, but even ethics does not require religion although for many it is useful.

Monday, August 03, 2015

A familiar legal faceplant

Rabett Run remembers David Schnare and the currently-monikered Free Market Environmental Law Clinic. At Legal Planet (good lawblog btw), I read about a 10th Circuit opinion that in no uncertain terms killed off a far-fetched attempt to say Colorado can't require some in-state use of renewable power because it buys power out of state and that would constitute governmental regulation across state boundaries. I went to the read the unanimous court opinion and only then found out who was involved.

Interestingly, the opinion was written by a Bush appointee who is the son of Ann Gorsuch, not someone likely to be a knee-jerk enviro. He was not amused by the arguments, writing the following:

Yes, the district court rejected all three arguments. But for reasons known only to it, [appellant] EELI has appealed just the district court’s disposition under Baldwin. So whether Colorado’s law survives the Pike or Philadelphia tests may be interesting questions, but they are ones that will have to await resolution in some other case some other day.
EELI’s contrary position would also risk serious problems of overinclusion. After all, if any state regulation that “control[s] . . . conduct” out of state is per se unconstitutional, wouldn’t we have to strike down state health and safety regulations that require out-of-state manufacturers to alter their designs or labels? See supra at 9. Certainly EELI offers no limiting principle that might prevent that possibility or others like it. Instead, it seems to embrace such results and, in this way, it seems to call on us not merely to respect the actual holdings of the most dormant authorities in all of dormant commerce clause jurisprudence but to revive and rebuild them on the basis of dicta into a weapon far more powerful than Pike or Philadelphia. That’s an audacious invitation we think the Court unlikely to take up, especially given its remarks about the limits of Baldwin doctrine in Walsh, and it’s a novel lawmaking project we decline to take up on our own.

That second issue in particular is telling. If you're going to try to get courts to extend the law in a new direction, you're more likely to win if you can tell the court that it's just a wee extension, almost perfectly justified by precedent, and clearly limited from making a hash of prior decisions. If instead you have visions of grandeur, you can take a different route, but it didn't work so well here.

I went to the Schnare's web page to look at their litigation victories, and I guess we can say they've been industrious about filing FOIA requests.

One other thing:  this type of litigation based on the dormant commerce clause is making use of classic judicial activism, but apparently that's no big deal.

Another look at Merchants of Doubt

Writing on the CounterPunch website, Louis Proyect reviews the 2010 book and the 2014 documentary film, Merchants of Doubt. Even though you may think the subject is exhausted by now, Louis Proyect's review has new insights. The two Freds (Fred Seitz and Fred Singer) play important roles, of course. But did you know that Fred Singer was once funded by the Unification Church and Rev. Sun Moon?? I didn't know that and I suspect many Rabett Run readers didn't know that, either.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Supplemental Materials

Eli is happy to present some supplemental materials expanding on a previous post and more

Shortly after coming across these, via a tweet from MT, now back at the old Only in it for the Gold stand, the Bunny happened on a post by Jeff Rouner in the Houston Press,  "No its not your opinion, you are just wrong".  It begins with a quote from Mick Cullen
I have had so many conversations or email exchanges with students in the last few years wherein I anger them by indicating that simply saying, "This is my opinion" does not preclude a connected statement from being dead wrong. It still baffles me that some feel those four words somehow give them carte blanche to spout batshit oratory or prose. And it really scares me that some of those students think education that challenges their ideas is equivalent to an attack on their beliefs. -Mick Cullen
Rouner points out that many things people claim as their opinion are actually statements about facts, and facts are not opinions.  Some things are opinions, such as Eli believing that carrots are the most superior food stuff.
There’s nothing wrong with an opinion on those things. The problem comes from people whose opinions are actually misconceptions. If you think vaccines cause autism you are expressing something factually wrong, not an opinion. The fact that you may still believe that vaccines cause autism does not move your misconception into the realm of valid opinion. Nor does the fact that many others share this opinion give it any more validity.
He continues
And yes, sometimes scientific or historical data is wrong or unclear or in need of further examination. Everyone knows water expands when it freezes. Do you know why it does that? when literally nothing else in the world does? Nope, and neither does science.[ *See correction below and related article] Or hey, here’s a question; what was the racial heritage of the Ancient Egyptians because historians can’t come to a consensus;and Egyptian art is too stylized to accurately judge.
Eli and several others pointed out that yes, science and a lot of people know why water expands when it freezes, and Jeff added a correction.  A very important correction, not for what it said about water, but for what it said about how misconceptions can and should be corrected.
* Correction:  I did get something wrong in the article. I said that science didn’t know why water was the only substance that expands when it cools. Turns out water is one of the few substances that expands while it cools, not the only one, and that we do know the reason it expands. I took finding this out with chagrin and further proof of my point that we all have much to learn. My opinion was based on bad data. Now it’s not.
This, to Eli is a major point, that one has to recognize one's own limits.  This is so unusual that one can only point to the title of Michael's most recent post:  They concede nothing, they can't

A Matter of Ethics

The open review of the Hansen, et al  paper on sea level rise has, as they say, gone nuclear, with the arrival of Andy Revkin and the local Dragon Slayer rep.  In that context Eli sees little difference between the two.

Reviewing papers is a matter of ethics.  First you don't review papers if you have any conflicts of interest with the authors.  Second you don't review papers if you are not an expert in the field.  In both cases you send the papers back to the editor with a polite note indicating the reason. 

The first is a question of fairness, the second a question of not making a fool of yourself and wasting everyone's time.  In either case you may have an opinion, but that's it.  It is YOUR opinion

As dsquared said on Twitter:  "devastating critique" is my word for when half-bright self-appointed science police get on the case of actual researchers.

Turn in your badge Andy.