Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Zugzwang

Zugzwang is a position in chess where where you have your choice of how to lose, but not much else. Over the past few weeks Eli has been asking Roger Pielke Jr. about his estimates of hurricane costs

Another issue, of course, is the cost of increased flood and storm protection. Muir Wood mentions this in passing, but it is a major cost imposed by increasing flood danger. Perhaps you have discussed this somewhere? If so, how does that affect your analysis?
The crickets are chirping in the background, and with about four feet of snow outside the door, those are scary crickets, especially given Roger's recent all out attacks on Nicholas Stern and the IPCC for their statements on storm damage

A while ago Roger challenged Eli to show that his writings on policy were mistaken. The Bunny took a first step, showing that Roger's "honest broker" construct was as bankrupt as Lehman Bros. and the arguments he made in his book were not very sophisticated.

This post deals with the fundamental incoherence between Roger Pielke Jr.'s policy statements on severe weather damage and adaptation to climate change. Briefly put Pielke holds that there is no evidence of any increase in the cost of hurricanes (and other severe weather) that might be attributed to climate change. This certainly is an arguable position given the data we have, although it requires qualifications. While Pielke estimates a null trend, for example, Schmidt, et al found an annual increase of 4% since 1970, but no trend if one starts in 1950. A large part of Pielke's argument consists of careful parsing of what others say, and he is quite capable of omitting important information when describing the work of others, for example Schmidt. For example, Pielke states on his blog
After a detailed look at the data they conclude quite properly:
There is no evidence yet of any trend in tropical cyclone losses that can be attributed directly to anthropogenic climate change.
They do speculate about a link based on the conclusion of IPCC 2007
while, as Eli points out, if one reads Schmidt, et al, they say
No trend is found for the period 1950–2005 as a whole. In the period 1971–2005, since the beginning of a trend towards increased intense cyclone activity, losses excluding socio-economic effects show an annual increase of 4% per annum. This increase must therefore be at least due to the impact of natural climate variability but, more likely than not, also due to anthropogenic forcings.
In parallel with Eli's ruminations, Nils Simon, has been thinking about the same issues and coming to a remarkable conclusion. Pielke in a 2008 paper states that
The normalization methodologies do not explicitly reflect two important factors driving losses: demand surge and loss mitigation. Adjustments for these factors are beyond the scope of this paper, but it is important for those using this study to consider their potential effect.
but Simon searches in vain for any such consideration as has Eli.

There are two reasons this is important

First, it is obvious even to a stuffed animal that the costs of flood control and surge barriers to limit damage from storms has increased substantially over the last fifty years. If such expenditures have NOT been included in the storm cost estimates, and the trend without them is flat, the trend WITH such costs MUST increase substantially. Any estimate that neglects these costs must be stated as a LOWER LIMIT. Neither Eli or Nils can find any such statement, not just from Roger Pielke. Therefore in true "Honest Broker" form, Rabett Run concludes that (OK, draw your own conclusions from what Roger calls others who mis-state something)

Second, and this is Nils' insight, NOT to include such costs or deal with their effect when you are aware of them, is either dishonest or a statement that such adaptation has no effect. Since we have been adapting to increased storm damage like crazy. Pielke is in Zugzwang.

The Birdie or the Birdie

Roger can choose door A, storm cost has been increasing mightily in the past century or door B, adaptation has no effect. Ethon is standing behind both doors. Which of his policy principles does he want to feed to the birdie?

However, Nils can help him. He points out that flood barriers build since 1950 in the Netherlands and northern Germany certainly have protected the coasts against flooding at similar to the destructive events of 1953. More interestingly Simon points to a NOAA study which discussed how houses could be toughened against hurricanes (Eli is eating Nils' lunch here, so if you read German, go take a look)
In North Carolina according to NOAA (PDF) 200 of 205 houses built to the proper standard directly on the coast survived Hurricane Fran in 1996 while over 500 older nearby houses were destroyed.
Further Nils points out that there has been an immense investment in hurricane observation and modeling which allows better preparation, smaller evacuations, and provides quicker and more effective responses to hurricane threats.

Not to take this into account is double entry bookkeeping. On the cost side of the ledger the lower damage expense is taken fully into account. This decreases the costs of storm damage as a function of time. On the expense side of the ledger the costs of the satellite, plane and buoy operations that track the hurricanes, the National Hurricane Center, flood control and more are not taken into account. When this is done the cost of dealing with hurricanes INCREASES. For policy purposes the proper metric is the total cost of dealing with hurricanes, not the cost of the damage

Nils and Eli eagerly await Roger's reply.

Comments?

35 comments:

Penguindreams said...

Minor nit:
The chess term is zugzwang (not zuzwang), and it means that all possible moves make your position worse.

Chess, unlike Go, does not have the option of 'pass'. In this, it is more like real life. Maybe Pielke is a Go player?

EliRabett said...

It's always the nits. They used to be good in the 70s. Fixed.

Anonymous said...

With apologies to the White Stripes:

"Well, the crickets get it
And the ants get it
I bet you the pigs get it
Yeah, even the plants get it
Come on now, and get with it
Yeah, I want you to get with it
Oh!
Yeah, I just want you to get with it
'cause everyone that's under your shoe
And every bird and bug in the jungle, too
And everything in the ocean blue
They just happen to know exactly what to do
So why don't you?
Yeah, why don't you?

The flies get it
And the frogs get it
And all them big jungle cats get it
And I bet your little dog gets it
Yeah, I want you to get with it
Yeah, come on, and get with it
Whoo!
Yeah, I want you to get with it
'Cause everyone that's under your shoe
And every bird and bee in the jungle, too
And everything in the ocean blue
They just happen to know exactly what to do
So why don't you? why don't you?

And all the chickens get it
And them singing canaries get it
Whoo!
Even strawberries get it
I want you to get with it
Yeah, I want you to get with it
Yeah!
I want you to get with it
'Cause everyone that's under your shoe
And every bird and bee in the jungle, too
And everything in the ocean blue
They just happen to know exactly what to do
So why don't you?"

Yes those crickets (little thermometers that they are) do get it, and so do the frogs and entire ecosystems. It being AGW of course. They all get it, just not you Lucia and co.

MapleLeaf

Anonymous said...

Increased protection through wealth and planning offsetting a real increase in hazard is pretty fundamental to RPJRs conclusions, and easy to understand. I can only assume (and it looks from your quotes) that he also recognises this, and has chosen to ignore in his analysis (excusable if you can't get a decent effect measurement), and in his subsequent pronouncements that the literature is unequivocal (err, not so much). I am surprised he hasn't been called on it more openly. You can get some indication of protective effects of increasing wealth at global level by cross-sectional analysis. Yohe and Tol did this for disaster deaths globally, showing, if I remember correctly, that Ln (death rate)declines with (Ln GDP per capita). Marginally non-significant, but it would be foolish or disengenuous to ignore, particularly if you are a spruiker for adaptation through wealth. I don't remember if they looked at economic damages as well - mice have such limited recall.

carrot eater said...

I don't follow these issues at all, but couldn't you make the argument that people would make the investment in more protective measures, no matter what - even if there were a slight decreasing trend in hurricane PDI or whatever? It's just the nature of things. If people know how to build more hurricane-proof houses in 1950 or 1900 or 1850, they'd have done so, so the fact that they have begun doing so only reflects a change in technology and wealth, not a change in the risk.

Dallas said...

Here is some interesting info on hurricane damage in the US.

Homes built prior to the cracker box building boom starting circa 1950 fared better.

Following Hurricane Andrew, 1992, building codes were re-evaluated and hurricane straps became the norm.

A thought: Inflation adjusted dollar values were used, but was housing bubble adjusted values used? 2005 was near the peak of the bubble.

The monitoring of storm cost is a bit of a stretch IMO.

dhogaza said...

"If people know how to build more hurricane-proof houses in 1950 or 1900 or 1850, they'd have done so, so the fact that they have begun doing so only reflects a change in technology and wealth, not a change in the risk."

Usually it's more a matter of recognition, followed by regulation and enforcement.

So here in Portland, for instance, "recognition" means the scientific understanding that, while we're not on anything like the San Andreas fault, the city does lie on a fault that has the potential to give the city quite a shake.

So building codes have been upgraded to require modest anti-earthquake measures for new construction and significant remodels, and when places are acquired to be used for public functions.

No new technology, really - very similar to what Dallas is saying.

You do have situations where significant new technology is required, i.e. earthquake-proof (they hope) skyscrapers in Tokyo. but I think the cases Dallas and I outline are more common.

EliRabett said...

Speaking for Eli (and I think also for Nils) the bottom line is that the literature explicitly recognize damage estimates as a lower limit on storm costs, and at least try and figure in the effect of adaptation if such studies are to be used to inform policy.

Otherwise what is out there now is strictly political cover for governments and insurance companies to do what they will.

Anonymous said...

I did not know that bunny played chess... I thought the idea was to win with science? Oh well, moving on... I thought that you would enjoy the thoughts of a real scientist and what he and a bunch of friends and a guy at the bus stop think about your science(PNS-AGW). From his post at WUWT. Jerone Ravetz, a real smart guy says...

It is when the textbook analogy fails, that science in the policy context must become post-normal. When facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high, and decisions urgent the traditional guiding principle of research science, the goal of achievement of truth or at least of factual knowledge, must be substantially modified. In post-normal conditions, such products may be a luxury, indeed an irrelevance. Here, the guiding principle is a more robust one, that of quality.

It could well be argued that quality has always been the effective principle in practical research science, but it was largely ignored by the dominant philosophy and ideology of science. For post-normal science, quality becomes crucial, and quality refers to process at least as much as to product. It is increasingly realised in policy circles that in complex environment issues, lacking neat solutions and requiring support from all stakeholders, the quality of the decision-making process is absolutely critical for the achievement of an effective product in the decision. This new understanding applies to the scientific aspect of decision-making as much as to any other.

It is when the textbook analogy fails, that science in the policy context must become post-normal. When facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high, and decisions urgent the traditional guiding principle of research science, the goal of achievement of truth or at least of factual knowledge, must be substantially modified. In post-normal conditions, such products may be a luxury, indeed an irrelevance. Here, the guiding principle is a more robust one, that of quality.

It could well be argued that quality has always been the effective principle in practical research science, but it was largely ignored by the dominant philosophy and ideology of science. For post-normal science, quality becomes crucial, and quality refers to process at least as much as to product. It is increasingly realised in policy circles that in complex environment issues, lacking neat solutions and requiring support from all stakeholders, the quality of the decision-making process is absolutely critical for the achievement of an effective product in the decision. This new understanding applies to the scientific aspect of decision-making as much as to any other.

My thanks to numerous friends and colleagues for their loyal assistance through all the drafts of this essay. The final review at a seminar at the Institute of Science, Innovation and Society at Oxford University was very valuable, particularly the intervention from ‘the man in the bus queue’.

You silly rabbits, tricks are for kids....

Former Skeptic said...

You silly rabbits, tricks are for kids....

LOL. Here we play chess. We understand it's kinda complicated for the folks who stick to checkers at RPJrs, or rock-paper-scissors at WUWT.

Its also rather telling that Ravetz, a victim of the science wars all those years ago, now peddles his wares at WUWT. Tsk tsk.

As an aside - and to continue the post's theme - now's the best time of the year for followers of the game, with Corus just ending and Linares starting this week. Time to fire up ol' Fritz...

Anonymous said...

Just for our understanding the next thing I was readinhg was another Tailbloke J. Jakerman(sp) givin us the low down on Real AGW/PNS stuff...

However, I’ll attempt to fullfil your request.

Normal science proceeds by forming an institutionally driven narrative of the grounding of a field of study, within which trained practitioners produce papers which advance that corpus of knowledge by addition and extension, verified and approved by the upper echelons of that specialism via peer review. Where there is conflict of competing ideas within a speciality, it is kept in-house, Halton Arp is denied telescope time, Fred Singer and Roger Pielke are sidelined, and the faux consensus move forward, and no-one outside the discipline is any the wiser for a while.

When the products of science are called for in support of a policy decision, the institution uses it’s power to stifle internal dissent, and a unified picture is presented. This is necessitated by the requirement of policy makers for clear lines of evidence, and since they represent the funding body, the scientific institutions make sure they get it.

The tenets of Post Normal Science demand that ‘outsiders’ get the opportunity to have input to the policy forming process. Jerry Ravetz writes:
“This new peer community can also deploy ‘extended facts’, including local and personal experience, as well as investigative journalism and leaked sources. So Post-Normal Science is inevitably political, and involves a new extension of legitimacy and power”.

Now, because of his allegiances, personal prediliction etc Jerry Ravetz personally backed the wrong horse and went down the wrong path, but this doesn’t mean that we should reject the more useful of the insights he has had on the process of knowledge use and policy formation. And as you note, he didn’t wait for the outcome of investigations to force him to realize his errors. He has willingly embarked on a personal deprogramming exercise of his own accord. In salvaging his intellectual wealth from the mess of his mistaken convictions, he has seen that the principles of PNS actually describe what the sceptical blogosphere has been up to and what it is demanding quite well. Good work brought forward by unconventional non ‘normal-science’ means, utilising leaked documents and investigative journalism to clear a path for it’s elevation to equal status with entrenched dogma.

It is good for panorama now & then.

Anonymous said...

To: Former Skeptic, What is the point of brushing up on your last move(Zugzwang)... at the begining of the chess game? That is how the people have been brought to this place. post-science, "we are all going to die soon."..." Real Science; we have the "Big Mo" now! You AGW/PNS folks are passe... See it? Even the punctuation marks know it!!! Forward into the past.

Anonymous said...

"Pielke holds that there is no evidence of any increase in the cost of hurricanes (and other severe weather) that might be attributed to climate change.'

first, as they say, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

the fact that we can not (yet) separate out all the possible competing causes for increased storm damage in recent decades does not mean global warming is not one of them.

Second, it's not clear why the failure to find a clear cause and effect relationship between global warming and storm damage to date has relevance when considering possible mitigation strategies to address future climate change.

There IS scientific evidence that as SST's increase, the energy of tropical cyclones also increases.

if that is indeed the case and global temperature continues to rise (with a concurrent rise in SST), it stands to reason that eventually, costs associated with major hurricanes will increase in the future, unless something is done.

if it is likely that the size of the biggest hurricanes will be even bigger in the future (with increased temperatures), then it makes sense that one will have to build higher dykes to keep out the storm surge and build buildings stronger (and/or further from the coast) to withstand the stronger storms.

This is common sense, no?

If it could be shown tomorrow that storm damage over the past few decades had already increased due to global warming, then that would be all the more reason to adopt mitigation strategies going forward.

but the absence of definitive proof of that link at this stage should certainly not be reason for doing nothing.

Anonymous said...

You folks sure tell long jokes. Gotta fly, Starling-bye-bye

Martin said...

Anonymous, thanks for the warning.

So Ravetz rediscovered blog science? Good for him...

Anonymous said...

Did Pielke Jnr. read these studies based on observations?
Webster et al. (2005, Science) analyzed satellite data from the past 35 years. and found a “large increase in the number and proportion of hurricanes reaching category 4 and 5. The largest increase occurred in the N. Pacific, Indian and Southwest Pacific Oceans.” Hoyos et al. (2006, Science) came to a similar conclusion.
Also, has he considered the recent paper by Knutson et al. (2010)? Their modelling studies indicate that while the total number of tropical storms may decrease, there will likely be a “nearly a doubling of the frequency of category 4 and 5 storms by the end of the 21st century”.

Now read those last words "END of the 21st Century". It seems that Pielke Jnr and other 'skeptics' are making the mistake of seeing the worst consequences all being felt NOW, or even in the most recent two or three years. The changes will manifest themselves slowly over time. The work of Webster and Hoyos, suggest that there may already be some changes becoming apparent now in terms of more frequent and stronger cat 4&5 TCs, but they also not that there is large interannual variability and Gray has noted that there may be decadal cycles.

The economics of this are incredibly difficult to nail down, and I would not suggest using that as a metric to monitor change sin TC frequency or intensity. Based on what we know now, and what we expect the populations and infrastructure on the US east coast might look like in 2100 (a huge guess) once could try and arrive at a dollar cost.

But do not forget this bunnies, the N. Atlantic produces<10% of all global TCs. Those less fortunate people who live in the low latitudes of the Indian and Pacific Oceans are who we should be really worried about.


MapleLeaf

Lazar said...

Anonymous # 7.26;

"Jerone Ravetz, a real smart guy says"

[...]

pretentious
illogical
poorly defined
and, from the wuwt entry, ignorant...

they propounded, as a proven fact, Anthropogenic Carbon-based Global Warming. There is little room for uncertainty in this thesis; it effectively needs hockey-stick behaviour in all indicators of global temperature, so that it is all due to industrialisation. Its iconic image is the steadily rising graph of CO2 concentrations over the past fifty years at the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii (with the implicit assumption that CO2 had always previously been at or below that starting level)

guthrie said...

Loath though I am to defend Pielke (jr) a bit, I was at the talk given last week in London by 3 people on climate change and damage from extreme weather events.

WHilst Pielke did not (that I can recall) mention how much all the coping stuff put in place has cost, he did cover the greater number of stronger storms in the Atlantic. And the thing was, they didn't hit land. You could get 30 category 5's in a season, but if they die down before they reach land then the damage is not as bad as might be expected.
So the question is, is something knocking the strong storms over before they reach land, eg some differences in the higher level winds? Or are oceanic currents to blame for interposing cool patches of water in the way of the monsters?
If any such reason as that, (bearing in mind also the fairly short observation period of stronger storms) can we work out if it shall continue like this, or will these influences change and permit more large storms to reach land?

EliRabett said...

The question is why didn't they hit land. If it's just luck, sell your Florida real estate. Actually sell everything south of the Mason-Dixon line, and Cape Cod and Southampton look like losers too.

Anonymous said...

Guthrie, look at the figure from Kuntson et al's paper published here:

http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/tropical-cyclones-climate-and-consensus/

Pielke is obfuscating. As Eli pointed out, there is no reason to expect that there will be fewer land falling hurricanes. The figure clearly shows more hurricanes coming ashore, especially over the GOM, and stronger too.

It seems that Pielke does not understand probability very well. Right now, on average we have X number of land-falling hurricanes per Y year window. Now what do you realistically expect will happen when one doubles the number of storms for the same window of time? Well, the probability of a land-falling hurricane goes up, as evidenced by Knutson's work.

Again, the N. Atlantic may be of concern to most readers here, but globally this is only a small piece of the TC picture.

Anonymous said...

They didn't hit land?!

Seems I remember some that did, like for instance that one--what was her name?--that flooded my home in New Orleans.

(Yes, I realize that the levees were substandard, and yes, I understand that she who must not be named had fallen to a Cat 3 at landfall, but she was Cat 5 not long before land fall when the surge was formed.)

Oh, and some others that hit other pieces of land which are occupied by people who are not US citizens.

Katrinymous

Anonymous said...

Wow Eli, You & your AGW, like minded folks have decided to take your knowledge and invest in real estate in the good ol' U.S.? Now we are talking science and Real Economic Value... Way to Go, Buck. For awhile there I did not think it was in ya... It will feel good if you guys are right and that is: where the people are headed. Hope you guys are the first ones there. Good luck to all of you.

Anonymous said...

Pielke is supposed to be a "science policy expert".

At least he seems to represent himself to the news media as such.

But I can't see where he has laid out any clear policy goals with regard to climate change, other than perhaps to build less on the beach.

He seems to spend far more time arguing about things he knows little to nothing about (climate model projections) than about what should be done to address climate change, which he says he accepts as real.

guthrie said...

Ah thank you anonymous. I don't recall if Pielke mentioned Knutson or not. Probably not.

(Did I mention the lecture/ discussion was interrupted by some denialists moaning about AGW not being true? If you really want to, you can listen to an audio archive here:
http://www.rigb.org/contentControl?action=displayEvent&id=1000)

Nils Simon said...

Eli, good that you picked that one up. What Pielke et al. (just like Schmidt et al.) did is to put a lot of effort into correcting the nominally increasing hurricane damage figures for all factors that may lie behind that increase (especially more buildings in risky areas). Yet they leave out any factors which might be responsible for a decrease. In scientific research, this is absolutely fine, since it is stated clearly in the papers that they do so. However, as a self-proclaimed honest broker, one would expect Roger to be extra careful to not oversell his conclusions and to state the caveats of his analysis quite clearly. Yet somehow this seems to get lost along the way of so much honest brokering.

Jim said...

Data from Munich Re:

Economic and Market Losses Caused by Weather Events, 1980–2008

Losses from Floods, Windstorms, and Earthquakes, 1980-2005

Anonymous said...

Finally we are starting to get closer to discussing what preparations we will need to do. Not actually taking action, but discussing action.

You will never convince the pro pollution lobby. They have their fingers in their ears shouting "not true, not true". We contine to shout "is so, is so". Doomsaying little mice going "it's worse, it's worse" It is not a productive debate.

The amount of future change already locked in is going to greatly stress societies ability to cope. We need to prepare before hand.

Already planned infrastructure needs to take future changes into account before it is built.

Scared Little Mouse

carrot eater said...

I have no idea why, but Little Mouse is greatly endearing.

Former Skeptic said...

To the Anonymous Coward who opined:

What is the point of brushing up on your last move(Zugzwang)... at the begining of the chess game?

If you're under the impression that the game of AGW just started with 1. e4, then I'm afraid you're way behind.

If you prefer attacking straw men, playing semantic games and fawning over irrelevant "quality science" at WUWT and the usual denial watering holes, then you're more than welcome to stay there. Kindly get out of the way of folks who want to discuss or take appropriate policy action.

Anonymous said...

Still nothing form Roger P. Jnr?

MapleLeaf

Anonymous said...

I am sorry. I suggested above that TailBloke might possibly be "jakerman". I was wrong and out of line. Anonymous...

Anonymous said...

To be clear this is who "tallbloke" is: Roger Tattersall, Web Content Editor, School of Education ,Leeds University

Anonymous said...

There is a third door. Higher insurance costs are one factor in all this adaptation. Yet the higher insurance costs are themselves influenced by the global warming reports. So any recent increase could be attributed to people not listening to Roger Pielke!

Dano said...

Former Skeptic et al.,

If you are playing white and you've moved such that your opponent, black, is in zugzwang, that is considered a lost victory for white. A critical blunder.

Jus' sayin'.

Best,

D

Unknown said...

Dear E. Rabett,

You, and others, can call me vrooomie. Notice the three Os: it's part of my deep cover.

I actually ventured to denialdepot.com, as per the suggestion inferred at 11/2/10 8:55 AM, and...got *reeal* frightened.

Thanks for an entertaining blog, Dear Brutha Rabett, and look forward to reading more!