Tuesday, February 26, 2013

China

James Fallows points to a post on the Chinese imposition of a pollution emission tax.  Fallows, who lived for several years recently in China and got to taste same, provides the talking points:

  • Environmental carnage of all sorts is a truly major emergency in China, ......as a potential limit on the country's development;
  • Chinese emissions are a problem not just for its own people but also for the world. It has now overtaken the U.S. as the biggest carbon emitter; most of the coal that is burned anywhere on Earth is burned in China.
  • Contrary to what you might think, China's economy is relatively less efficient, and more polluting, than those of rich countries. It takes more energy to heat and cool the standard Chinese building than one in Europe or the US; Chinese farmers use more water, fertilizer, and pesticide per unit of output than is typical even with mechanized farming in the US; Chinese factories put out more air and water pollution per dollar of production than rich-country counterparts. On a per capita basis, the Chinese economy uses less energy than America's. On a per dollar (or per RMB) basis, it uses more. Simplest way to remember this point: China's economy is nowhere near as large as America's now, but it puts out more emissions.
  • China's pollution problems are a subset of the larger structural challenge for the Chinese economy -- in a way that is well explained at Dance to the Revolution. For more than thirty years price controls have been set to speed/subsidize the growth of huge export-manufacturing industries, and to increase farm output. Thus all these things have been kept artificially cheap: coal and gasoline; fertilizer, pesticide, water; plus financing itself, and use of the environment as a free good. Because they're cheap, companies and farmers have of course used these things freely and often wastefully.
  • Everyone in the Chinese economic world knows that the country is not going to move out of cheap-workhouse status, toward the realm of "real" rich-country corporate power and prosperity, unless (among other changes) it begins removing these price distortions. So that's the significance of a modest carbon tax, beyond its limited immediate environmental effect. It's part of the effort to "rebalance" the Chinese economy by removing some of its most distorting factors.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Obama immigration plan is too tough and too lenient

This has a climate hook, by the way.


Obama's plan, summarized here, takes 13 years to give citizenship to people who have been here just short of forever.  It also legalizes and puts on the same track the people who arrive the day before the proposal would be introduced as legislation.  These are two different sets of people both as far as our ethical obligations and our self-interest are concerned.

The starting point should recognize three categories, and then argue who fits in those categories:

1. Immigrants who have been here a very long time - these people are Americans, basically, and have about as much right and reason to be citizens as the rest of us.  Once we've figured out that they qualify in this category, the wait time should be short to make them citizens.

What constitutes a "very long time" is a devilish detail that could get much debate, but that debate doesn't remove the fact that the category is legitimate.  The law by necessity draws a bright line somewhere in a gray area.  That's just life.

2. People who arrived recently - these are different people.  They aren't Americans, they are prospective immigrants who happen to be here already.  They aren't integrated into society and they haven't given significant investments of their lives into building the country.  The key here is that we owe them no more than we owe other prospective immigrants, so it's up to us to decide whether it's in our interest to give them a different status than other prospective immigrants who haven't come here illegally.

3. People in transition to becoming immigrants - just because you have to establish bright lines in gray zones doesn't mean you have to deny the existence of a gray zone.  So here they are, people who haven't just arrived but also haven't been here for so long that the only ethical and reasonable thing to do is to fast-track them to citizenship.  Some immediate legalization plus lengthy path to citizenship seems appropriate.  Obama's one-size-fits all approach is probably best just for this group.


The climate angle is this aspect (from the link above):  "The White House draft wouldn’t just affect undocumented immigrants currently in America. Spouses and children of newly legalized prospective immigrants could also apply for an LPI visa themselves from overseas if they pass a background check and pay the proper fees."

If you add triple the number of immigrants from the current 11 million, that extra 33 million people will mean a 5 to 7 percent increase our national greenhouse gas emissions.  Global GHG emissions aren't affected in exactly the same way, but it will increase as these people move from lower-carbon footprints to our own.  Even if the effect is reduced by having a total cap on emissions, the cap itself will be determined in part by how easy it is to live within the cap, and increasing the population by 5 percent will make it that much harder.  I don't think LPI visa holders or green card holders should have the right to bring in new immigrants - they should complete the citizenship process first.

Two other points - first, Obama's 13 year proposal is a classic worse-than-unethical-because-it's-a-blunder.  The significant majority of these people are going to be Democratic voters.  You don't make them wait forever to vote, and you don't start off with 13 years as your opening bid and then negotiate something worse than that with the Republicans.

Second, I think the issue underscores the need for future international greenhouse gas regulation to recognize and reward countries for accepting immigrants.  While Europe and Japan have admittedly done a far better job than the US on climate over the last 25 years, it would be an interesting exercise to estimate what their emissions would have been if they had accepted the same level of immigration.  Still far less than the US per person, but maybe not quite as stellar.


Sadly No

Eli has been having some fun with the latest Climate of the Past mistake, by Lüdecke, et al.  Although the Rabett's first thrust was about the data used, after all, if the data is bad, it doesn't much matter about anything else, others have been busy piling on.

Georg Hoffmann, over at Primaklima lays out the problems with Lüdecke, et al. and asks a important question

Except for the names of the authors is there anything else in the paper which is  correct
 Sadly no, but the number of things wrong with the paper is astounding.
 1) The temperature series they use are not global.  Worse there are other proxy and instrumental series directly "next" to the ones chosen by Lüdecke that look different
You would think that Lüdecke and the Editor Eduardo Zorita would know that, but sadly no, the Rabett reads in the published paper
The characteristic of these records, namely the pronounced  minimum around 1880, is equally found in Antarctic ice core temperature data, which are also overall in agreement with M6, revealing this 1880 minimum as a global phenomenon.
In Georg's words, putting together a regional time series and then comparing it with a single proxy record half way around the world does not a global time series make.  Surely the Editor, Eduardo Zorita should have caught this, given that he intervened against the advice of his referees to publish the paper, but, sadly no, he did not.

Is this but a single mistake? Sadly no. There are other time series of the same length found in the same database, that somehow were thrown down the memory hole by Lüdecke, et al., and of course this was ignored by the Editor, Eduardo Zorita who is probably using many of these time series in a paper to be published as part of the HISTALP project, but, sadly no, this is not all
2) Even if that were not so, using their method to construct a global series, is, of course nonsense.  
Even a dumb bunny knows that.
3) Their time series have at the beginning a strong and well-known bias to warmer temperaturesThis bias controls the oscillatory behavior of the supposed curve.
As Eli and Georg point out, the late Reinhard Böhm had figured out how to correct for this, publishing the result in 2010 but sadly no this was not taken into account by Lüdecke and the Editor, Eduardo Zorita, who again, amazingly enough, is working with the HISTALP project on a major paper.
 4) Even if that would be not so, one cannot say anything about the dynamics of the climate system using Fourier analysis where the major alleged oscillation is of the roughly the length of the time series.
Eli is happy to toss this one to Tamino
Let me elaborate. All they’ve done is model the data as a low-frequency Fourier series, then compared that to the low-frequency (boxcar filtered) version. Of course it gives a good match, especially since the actual trend present in this data is dominated by low-frequency fluctuation. In essense, all they’ve shown is that an arbitrary function can be modeled by a Fourier series. Really. Truly. That’s all.
With six (actually eight, but they threw out a couple which had zero coefficients) frequencies from the Fourier analysis and three parameters per frequency there are eighteen choices, nineteen if you throw in a constant.  Von Neuman could fit an elephant with four and make him wiggle his trunk with five.  Who knows the magic that could be done with eighteen or nineteen.  But again, sadly no, the Editor, Eduardo Zorita did not pick up on that either, or rather he tried to wash it away.

And finally, Georg points out that
5) The bumps and wiggles determining the oscillations, have known and not only cyclical causes (eg volcanoes).
And again, sadly no, the Editor, Eduardo Zorita did not pick up on that one either and he even accepted the nonsensical statement in the paper that
The agreement of the reconstruction of the temperature history using only the six strongest components of the spectrum, with M6, shows that the present climate dynamics is dominated by periodic processes.
Is this all, well, sadly no.  Wolfgang Flamme has something to add
It additionally occurs to me that the form of the SP12 proxy, from which L. wants to draw conclusions about the 250 year period is not shown in the paper.  Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that it does not display the assumed V form.





 As Eli reads in the Wikipedia 
Zorita was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying that the "scientific debate [on climate change] has been in many instances hijacked to advance other agendas", and that climate science students are "often tempted to tweak their data so as to fit the 'politically correct picture'. "
Seems to fit.

Wedgies

From Nature


Not zero and growing

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Good idea! And if anybody doesn't like it, f*ck them!

It's been getting out of hand, so Eli, Brian and John are going to deep six any comments which use curse words to describe others.

Rotten to the Core

As bunnies may recall, yesterday Eli asked what the problem with the new paper in Climate of the Past, Multi-periodic climate dynamics: spectral analysis of long-term instrumental and proxy temperature records by H.-L. Lüdecke, A. Hempelmann, and C. O. Weiss was.  Eli has been very very disappointed that many of his readers had better things to do with their weekend than solve Rabett Run puzzlers, but yes, Andreas wins the prize.

The Lüdecke paper is rotten to the core.  While some of the comments at Rabett Run (Chris

The Ludecke analysis is rubbish - the "projection of future NH temperatures mainly due to the ~ 65-yr periodicity" is the sort of tosh that no competent scientist would perpetrate, but which seems to be allowed in the nether regions of climate science, perhaps because editors are a little wary of calling a shovel a shovel in a rather contentious field.

I'm curious to know the siting of these temperature instruments in Prague, Vienna, Paris, Munich etc. Otherwise it seems somewhat dubious to use only the Kremsmunster data from the large set of temperature series that constitute the HISTALB Greater Alpine Series (GAR) of Auer et al. (2007) [Int. J. Climatology 27, 17-46]. Auer’s composite GAR temperature series (see Figure 12 of Auer et al (2007) ) looks pretty close Eli’s composite of the Best Europe/Austria series.

…oh well. Take any old time series. Fourier transfrom it to pull out the frequency components and their amplitudes. Select the dominant frequency components and reconstruct a smoothed time series from these. You’re going to get something that matches your original series, irrespective of whether the system has intrinsic periodicity or not. What have you learned? Not much. 
and Nick Stokes) pointed out that the mathturbation was astounding, and Eli would not be surprised to see Tamino jump in, the DATA sucked, but it sucked for an interesting reason.  Turns out that instrumental measurements before, say 1860 or so, tended not to be taken in shelters, but out in the open, with a variety of methods used.  This produces a well known warm bias in these measurements.  The latest discussion of this can be found in a paper which Andreas pointed to, The early instrumental warm bias: a solution for long central European temperature series 1760-2007 by R. Boehm, P.D. Jones, J. Hiebl, D. Frank, . Brunetti and M. Maugeri.
Instrumental temperature recording in the Greater Alpine Region (GAR) began in the year 1760. Prior to the 1850–1870 period, after which screens of different types protected the instruments, thermometers were insufficiently sheltered from direct sunlight so were normally placed on north-facing walls or windows. It is likely that temperatures recorded in the summer half of the year were biased warm and those in the winter half biased cold, with the summer effect dominating. Because the changeover to screens often occurred at similar times, often coincident with the formation of National Meteorological Services (NMSs) in the GAR, it has been difficult to determine the scale of the problem, as all neighbour sites were likely to be similarly affected. This paper uses simultaneous measurements taken for eight recent years at the old and modern site at Kremsmünster, Austria to assess the issue.
In addition to the shelter issue, the orientation of the thermometer, the height off the ground and more have to be taken into consideration.  Fortunately, enough information about the early measurements at Kremsmünster were available to allow  a standardization and to spread that to other stations in the HISTALP network.  Below is an updated figure showing the corrected data from Vienna (ten year smoothing) together with the BEST reconstructions for Austria and the "Lüdeckerous" Fourier fit.

Unfortunately Eli does not have the data from the 2007 reconstruction that Lüdecke used, but he does have the figure that they published showing a much higher relative anomaly at earlier times which can be compared.  The siting effects average about 0.4 C in the summer with little effect in the winter.

Four of the six stations that  Lüdecke et al used are in the HISTALP network, Vienna, Munich, , Hohenpeißenberg, and Kremsmuenster.  The other two, Paris and Prague suffer from the same ills.


What is interesting is that the BEST reconstruction appears to handle this problem.  Going forward a combination of the BEST method and metadata adjustments may be superior to either method alone.  In any case there is good reason to hope that we now have tools to handle inhomogenity  in early instrumental climate records.

With this in hand, it should be possible to improve various multiproxy reconstructions using longer instrumental data bases for training and testing the reconstructions.

Georg Hoffman at PrimaKlima discussed these problems and others a day earlier.  He also printed a letter one of the referees Manfred Mudelsee,  sent to the editors at Climate of the Past
 ” I am less pleased that this piece has been published in CP since I believe that (even in its revised version) it has serious technical flaws. I had appreciated if the handling editor had considered more seriously my technical comments on CPD. Finally, I had appreciated if I had been informed/shown the revised version sent to CP. Unrelated to the technical flaws, one may speculate about (I exaggerate for clarity) the hijacking of CP for promoting ‘skeptical’ climate views.
I would appreciate if you took me out of your database of CP(D) reviewers.”
Somewhat earlier, in a similar case involving Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Eli had noted that the open review process requires that editors pay more attention to their reviewers comments
For those of us who favor the open review system, this will be a disaster.  The predictable outcome is that people are going to cite this example as a reason to throw ACP invitations to review into the trash pit.  Open review required that the referees put their reputations on the line.  Their reviews are out there for everyone to read.  If the editors ignore them, why do so?
He is not particularly pleased that the bunnies are coming home to roost.

If the audience would allow a brief digression, Eli knew nothing about the siting issue before reading the Lüdecke paper, but he had seen enough proxy temperature reconstructions and instrumental data sets to know that the upturn in the Lüdecke data set was not very likely.  Using the BEST data set and cross checking with various spaghetti graphs, it became obvious that something was very wrong besides the mathterbation.  The Rabett then read the interactive discussion and was curious to note that there was no discussion of the sheltering issue. Some searching, writing emails to others etc. followed to a reasonable conclusion.

In doing his due diligence Eli noted that the editor in charge of this paper was Eduardo Zorita.  Now some bunnies may wonder why that is an issue.  No, not that.  It turns out that Zorita is first author on a paper European temperature records of the past five centuries based on documentary information compared to climate simulations. Climatic Change. (special edition of the Millennium-project)submitted (2008-12) as part of the HISTALP project.  How he let this paper through, over ruling the referees he selected, is hard to understand.  Why he did not choose a referee who was involved in the HISTALP data base homogenization is even harder to understand without some really hard and potentially nasty thoughts.

To avoid these thought, Eli will offer Willard Tony a station picture from a complete description of the homogenization procedures
 The arrow points to where the old and reference measurements at Kremsmünster, were made.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

An Interesting Puzzler

Eli's attention has been drawn to a new paper in Climate of the Past, Multi-periodic climate dynamics: spectral analysis of long-term instrumental and proxy temperature records by H.-L. Lüdecke, A. Hempelmann, and C. O. Weiss. 


The paper itself looks at eight long term (back to 1757) instrumental temperature records in central Europe from Prague, Hohenpeißenberg, Kremsmuenster, Vienna, Paris and Munich.  They find that these records overlap well, and may be decomposed using Fourier analysis.  The data and the  decomposition show no long term temperature anomaly trends. 


Eli is in the habit of inspecting the carrots, so he went over to the BEST database and took a look at the temperature trends in Europe and Austria, as representative of the area studied in Luedecke, et al. for the same period compared to the Fourier fit.

Quite a difference.

The puzzler is why, what is the root cause of this difference.  The answer has some interesting implications for some of the Rabetts favorite things.




Friday, February 22, 2013

Markers

John Abraham has an article on the Keystone Pipeline decision at the Guardian.  The post really has two parts, the first describes the scientific case about why mining the Alberta tar sands is a very bad thing

Tar-sand oil is very hard to remove from the ground; it requires enormous amounts of water and energy just to get it to the surface. As a result, it releases more greenhouse gases than conventional fossil fuels. It really is the dirtiest of the dirty. Approval of the Keystone pipeline will lock us in to decades of dependency on this dirty energy at a time when we need to develop clean sources of energy.
But do the tar sands really matter that much? The answer is clearly yes. Alberta has 1.8tn barrels of oil contained within the tar sands. Extracting and burning all of that tar will cause a global temperature increase of about 0.4oC (0.7oF). That is about half of the warming that humans have already caused. For perspective, according to a recent study, the amount of oil-in-place in the Alberta tar sands is approximately seven times that of Saudi Arabia's proven reserves.
But wait, it gets worse. One of the byproducts of tar-sand extraction is a substance that is like coal ... only dirtier. That byproduct, petroleum coke (affectionately called Petcoke), emits more carbon dioxide than even coal.
The second is a political statement, that this decision is a marker for the Obama administration which will determine the amount of support that it gets going forward on environmental and related issues.  Rather than quoting John on this, Eli would point to a comment elsewhere by Leopold Basement
I think the fact there is a definite, certain, bifurcation point coming up in the XL pipeline decision is going to be the most interesting thing to happen to climate politics to date ;)
The attempt by these environmental lobbyists to hold Obama true to the full implications of his climate rhetoric is the most honest example of environmental lobbying there can be. It should be fully understandable even from an antagonist’s point of view. This is actually where the "debate" should be. This is politics.
The consequences of moving along either path of the bifurcation are fascinating. There is no going back guys ;)

The Letter Elsevier Should Have Sent Roger Jr.

Some time ago Eli followed a lead from Dean Dad to CK Gunsalus' College Administrator's Survival Guide.  Gunsalus described the difference between the aggressive bully and the victim bully as

Aggressor bullies fit the usual definition of a bully, they threaten to beat you up if you don't give them your lunch money.  Victim bullies, in contrast, demand your lunch money because of some harm they claim you've done to them.
Dean Dad elaborated
Unlike simple passive-aggression, victim bullies use accusations as weapons, and ramp up the accusations over time. Unlike a normal person, who would slink away in shame as the initial accusations are discredited, a victim bully lacks either guilt or shame, honestly believing that s/he has been so egregiously wronged in some cosmic way that anything s/he does or says is justified in the larger scheme of things. So when the initial accusations are dismissed, the victim bully's first move is a sort of double-or-nothing, raising the absurdity and the stakes even more......
Victim bullies thrive in the no-man's-land created by the deadly combination of slow and cumbersome processes, and failure of managerial nerve. Because defeating a victim bully takes tremendous endurance, most people don't try. Victim bullies know this, and are able to intimidate others into leaving them alone to do pretty much as they please.
Gunsalus favors first the softer approach, basically talking with the victim bully about collegiality but she does not rule out "blue therapy", e.g. calling the cops.  Most importantly she discusses how bullies need to be shown that their behavior will lead to shunning and if necessary shunning them.

The recent back and forth between Elsevier's Global Environental Change and Roger Pielke Jr. is a perfect example of this.  The journal and editors sent him rather innocuous boilerplate letters informing him that he was being taken off the Editorial Board.  No doubt the same letter was sent to the others that were not reappointed and basically is the same form letter Elsevier uses for all its journals.
"Dear Professor Pielke,

Subject: Rotation of the Editorial Board of Global Environmental Change

As a member of the Editorial Board of Global Environmental Change you have been instrumental in helping to organise a rapid and efficient editorial process, and maintaining the high standards of our publication. Your work has been greatly appreciated.

To help keep the journal current, and give other scientists the chance to gain experience of editorial duties, it is our policy to rotate members off our Editorial Boards at regular intervals. For this reason, and in consultation with the Editor-in-Chief, I am asking you to step down from the Editorial Board.

I hope that you will understand our approach and that you have enjoyed your association with the journal and will continue to take an interest in it by encouraging the submission of high quality manuscripts.

Thank you sincerely for the work and expertise which you have given to the journal during your time on the Editorial Board. I wish you the very best for the future.

With kind regards,"
But with victim bullies you can't be nice, because if you are, they will twist your words into being a dishonest attack on them.  People like Roger Jr. never disappoint.
Lest there be any confusion, below is the text of the original email I received from GEC dropping me from the GEC Board. It contains several untruths: (1) about the notion of "rotate members at regular intervals" and (2) an expression of "appreciation" for my work.

Upon receiving the letter, I knew that (1) was false, as I have shown. (I have since learned the falseness of (2)). If you tell people untruths you should expect that they will wonder about the truth.
(1) was indeed false for Roger, maybe not for the others, but it was, if you will the kind of politeness people use to avoid conflict, but in the case of a victim bully, the food that they thrive on as the bunnies know.  Social politeness has its uses but it can too easily be turned against you.  There is a cost too to not using it as Eli has learned.  As it were, a cost-benefit calculation, is the disappointment of everyone else for your being blunt  equal to the benefit of not having to deal with the victim bullies.  Depends on the density of the latter of course.  Reading between the lines, bunnies can see what the letter should have been
Dear Prof. Pielke,

This letter is to inform you that the Editors have chosen not to renew your membership on the editorial board of Global Environmental Change at the end of your second term.  There are two reasons for this.

First your participation in the editorial work of the journal has become insufficient to justify reappointment to a third consecutive term.  If we were being nice we might say that the bulk of submissions to the journal have moved away from your area of expertise, but let us not sugar coat it.  Your interested in reviewing for GEC has diminished over your second term and was none too high to begin with.  As you were told on your initial appointment we expect Board Members to review up to five papers per year.  We have invited you to review 18 papers in the six years, of which you agreed to review just six and submitted five reviews. Your last review was submitted in August 2010. Last year, in 2012, we invited you to review 3 papers which you declined.   Thus, in the last 2.5 years of your second term you reviewed 0 papers for the journal.  Based on this record our most courteous conclusion is that your areas of interest are not a good match to the papers submitted to Global Environmental Change and this is increasingly the case.

Second, it is the policy of the Journal to rotate membership on the Editorial Board.  This year there are 6 new Editorial Board Members, one through death of a previous member.  In total 24 of the 37 board members from 2005 have been replaced since you joined.  That 13 members remain is based on the judgement of the editors of their work on the Editorial Board.

We thank you for the editorial work you have done in your two terms of membership, and look forward to working with you on future submissions to Global Environmental Change if any.
PS:  Elsevier don't do  FOIA inquiries.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What's Wrong With Kansas

@EthonRaptor Dana Nuccitelli from Skeptical Science explains at the Guardian

The Department of Energy has concluded that the total economic benefit of adding 1,000 megawatts of wind energy in Kansas would exceed $1bn over a 20-year period, including $2.7m per year in payments to landowners, $2.9m per year in local property tax revenue, thousands of construction jobs, and 432 new local long-term jobs. All evidence indicates that continuing to add wind energy will have little impact on electricity rates and will benefit the local economy.
The question now is whether Kansas is willing to sacrifice those benefits for the sake of the coal industry.
Eli is with HL on this one

I'm gonna take my paper and go home

UPDATESClimate Science Watch has a comment, so does Thingsbreak, and  Justin Gillis does the conspiracy mindset.  Stephan L. could write an entire volume on Roger and Roger Dad now that Eli thinks of it.

Ethon brought bad news to Eli, it turns out that Roger was taken off the board of Global Environmental Change because, well, it was the end of his second term, so he was simply not reappointed, and that this was done well before his last hissy fit.  This was explained in an Email to Roger which the three chief editors kindly invited Roger to post. Eli, of course, is going to mine this for a while, someone has to feed Ethon but let us get down to brass tax here.

9. In the original appointment letter we wrote that we expected Board Members to review up to five papers per year. We have invited you to review 18 papers in the six years, of which you agreed to review just six and submitted five reviews (on one occasion we uninvited you before submission of your review as the review process had been completed). Your last review was submitted in August 2010. Last year, in 2012, we invited you to review, and you declined to review, in January, May and August.
Ah, Eli and Arthur were right, Roger was building resume while shirking work.  That gets you canned in the real world.

So, of course, what happens when reality hits the INTERNET's major source of entitlement, why who would think that Roger would take this sitting down
Of course, editorial board membership involves more than simply preparing reviews. For instance, in 2012, we submitted a major research paper to GEC which we have been hard at work revising based on the reviewers comments. I expect we will be re-submitting it elsewhere.
Since Roger is a major proponent of openness, Eli eagerly awaits his publishing the reviews he got.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Contest for Planetary Solutions

Sustainable Silicon Valley has a contest for Solutions for Planetary Sustainability.  Yours truly has taken the subjects of two Rabbet Run posts (on greening the local and national Chambers of Commerce, and using electric vehicle battery power to supplement diesel generator power in blackouts) and made them into contest entries here and here.  Over 200 other solutions are also on tap.

Per modern convention, anyone who wants can register for free and then vote on solutions and give comments.  A critical soul has even tried to inspire better efforts by giving almost everyone zero out of five stars.  Feel free to support any entry you like, but the opportunity to vote ends on Friday.

@EthonRaptor

There are temptations that cannot be passed by, and alas, Eli has been forced to adopt (rather than mitigate) the Twitter.  The new address for bunny droppings, is, what else, @EthonRaptor, because who but a big, liver hungry bird could tweet.

Now some ask, precisely what was this delicious morsel of liver that brought the Rabett to this fine pass.  Indeed it was something special, it appears that Global Environmental Change has invited Roger Jr. to take a hike and they did it in fine Pielke fashion, noting that it was time to give others a chance to practice their editorial duties.  Roger, of course, wants a detailed explanation.  Eli suspects he ain't gonna get the whole thing, however, FWIW, he now says

UPDATE 2: Neil Adger, editor of GEC, replies to explain, contrary to the earlier email, that I have been removed from the editorial board due to a perception of my "waning interest in the journal" citing my declining of 3 reviews last year (I'd guess overall that I declined 50 or more requests to review last year and took on about 12, welcome to academia;-).
Maybe true enough, but when you are a member of an editorial board it is always your turn in the barrel (explanation of Eli's obscure reference for Carrot Eater), however, it is Roger and the whining never stops
Of course, he could have asked about my interest before removing me from the Board. He did not comment on my critical blog post. I take his response to mean that I am indeed the only one who has been removed at this time. So there you have it, another climate ink blot. Coincidence? You be the judge.
Eli judges, it is something else, e.g. that opinions against Roger's act are hardening.  What was once amusing is now no longer so, you only get to whine so often and Ethon's dinner has made a career out of it.

Which brings us to the more important part.  According to baby, the real reason he was canned was a shoddy blog post of his on a paper "Climate change prediction: Erring on the side of least drama?" by Keynyn Brysse, Naomi Oreskes, Jessica O’Reilly, and Michael Oppenheimer which appeared in GEC.  Roger, of course, provides a link (here $) to the paywalled version, Eli, in a few seconds with google scholar found the free to download article in press version.  Coincidence?  You be the judge:)

If you want a non shoddy review of the paper, try Skeptical Science.  Eli as is his wont is going to look at two things.  First, the authors select a few key topic, intense rainfall, melting of the Arctic, ocean heat uptake, CO2 emissions and sea level rise where clearly the consensus evaluation underestimated the effect.  They also looked at hurricane intensity and frequency and permafrost melting, two cases where there is no strong consensus and described how these were conservatively handled.  Now Eli comes to the first point, what got Roger going.  Well, wait for the second part, but the authors certainly set bait in by discussing his take on sea level rise.  Coincidence?  High regard?  You be the judge:) 
In a 2008 paper, Roger Pielke, Jr., expanded this analysis to include the predictions offered by scientists in earlier IPCC assessments (Pielke, 2008). Pielke observed that for sea level rise, actual changes have been greater than forecast in two of three prior IPCC reports, while falling below the median prediction in the First Assessment Report (FAR). Predicted temperature changes, also higher in the FAR than subsequently observed, were in line with observations for the three subsequent assessments, taken as a whole.
Pielke noted that ‘‘A comprehensive and longer-term perspective on IPCC predictions, such as this, suggests that more recent predictions are not obviously superior [to older ones] in capturing climate evolution’’ (2008, p. 206). This is of course true: More observations, model runs, and even greater understanding of individual aspects of a complex system do not necessarily lead to convergence on truth (Oppenheimer et al., 2008). But the relevant question is how the projections have stood up to empirical evidence of what actually has occurred in the natural world during the time period under discussion. Pielke concluded that ‘‘Once published, projections should not be forgotten but should be rigorously compared with evolving observations’’ (2008, p. 206). We agree. When one does this, as both the Rahmstorf and Pielke analyses do, one finds an overall tendency in the most recent three assessments toward either no bias or toward underestimation.
The spittle really starts to fly over at the rock, when it comes to discussing the reasons for the tendency towards underestimation.  Some time ago, James Hansen had talked about an innate conservatism in science.
He has suggested that ‘‘scientific reticence’’ is preventing scientists from effectively communicating the true danger of the potential disintegration of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets (GIS and WAIS) (Hansen, 2007). Hansen argues that scientific reticence involves ‘‘a tendency for ‘gradualism’ as new evidence comes to light,’’ and a ‘‘pressure on scientists to be conservative,’’ to submit scientific papers that ‘‘do not push too far and are larded with caveats’’ (Hansen, 2007, p. 2). Scientific reticence also influences assessments like the IPCC reports, he argues, which ‘‘produce a
consensus’’ among thousands of scientists from most of the world’s nations, who are collectively ‘‘extremely careful about making attributions’’ (Hansen, 2007, p. 5).
Brysse, et al. don't think this goes far enough
The frequent attacks on Stephen Schneider—as well as attacks on other climate scientists such as Benjamin Santer and Michael Mann—suggests that one possible reason why scientists may have underestimated the threat of anthropogenic warming is the fear that if they don’t, they will be accused by contrarians (as was Schneider) of being alarmist fear-mongers. That is to say, pressure from skeptics and contrarians and the risk of being accused of alarmism may have caused scientists to understate their results."
Now by coincidence, you decide, our friend feels insulted (must be hard being Roger, being insulted all the time)
Not only is the accusation of a systematic bias an insult to the integrity of practicing scientists, but the entire paper is built on an empirical foundation that does not touch the ground.
Well let's look at Roger's blog.  In the post immediately below, he accused Marshall Shepherd  President of the American Meteorological Society of giving distorted testimony to the Congress and flatly not telling the (Pielke version of the) truth.  Coincidence?  You be the judge:)

Eli understands that Brian is doing some crowd sourcing in the post below, Eli would appreciate entries in the Roger Pielke accuses those who disagree with him of being alarmist fear-mongers contest (and any other nasty thing he can think of).  Coincidence?  You decide:)

A request to readers - give us your Rubio climate rebuttals

I'd like to try a little experiment here - a little over a week ago, Marco Rubio graced the Internet with his nontheories regarding climate change.  I thought about doing a line-by-line rebuttal and then decided you all might be able to do a much better job than me.

So below I'm putting Rubio's claims down, one at a time for your rebuttals and prebuttals.  As a way of responding to the finding that repeating falsehoods reinforces them, even if corrections are added, the way I want to do this is precede each claim with the truth, then give the claim, and then follow up with more truth.

Just leave your rebuttals and links below in the comments - and please say which claim(s) you're responding to. As they develop, I'll add the best.  What's really needed is a special wiki devoted to refuting his nonsense, but in its absence I'll be the referee (Eli too if he wants), adding the best refutations and links.  I'll look for the most concise, most readily-understood refutations with the most-generally-accepted link sources.  No more than two or maybe three before and after each claim - if a refutation gets bumped, it'll be included as additional sources in footnotes.

Let's see if this works.  To the Rubio quotes!

Claim 1.  Relevant truth:
Claim 1.  Ignorance from Rubio:  "Anything we would do on [climate change] would have a real impact on the economy but probably if it's only us doing it a very negligible impact on the environment."
Claim 1.  More truth:

Claim 2.  Relevant truth:
Claim 2.  Ignorance from Rubio:  "Ultimately if you look at the developing countries which are not developing countries any more, China, India, and others, they're now the largest polluters in the world by far."
Claim 2.  More truth:

Claim 3.  Relevant truth:
Claim 3.  Ignorance from Rubio:  "....On the other hand if we unilaterally impose these sorts of things on our economy it would have a devastating impact on economics depending on which measure it is we're talking about."
Claim 3.  More truth:

Claim 4.  Relevant truth:
Claim 4.  Ignorance from Rubio:  "I think that's what more than anything else is standing in the way of doing anything on this, there has to be a cost-benefit analysis to every one of these principles that people are pushing on and the benefit I think is difficult to justify when you realize it's only us doing it, nobody else is doing this."
Claim 4.  More truth:

Claim 5.  Relevant truth:
Claim 5.  Ignorance from Rubio:  (Responding to the question whether he sees global warming as a threat to Florida)"....The fundamental question is whether man-made activity is what's contributing the most to it.  I understand there's significant scientific consensus on that issue.  But I've actually seen reasonable debate on the principle."
Claim 5.  More truth:

Claim 6.  Relevant truth:  "Delaying action is a false economy: for every $1 of investment in cleaner technology that is avoided in the power sector before 2020, an additional $4.30 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions."  International Energy Agency 2011 (via ThinkProgress)
Claim 6.  Ignorance from Rubio:  "But beyond that the secondary question is is there anything government can do about that that will actually make a difference.... When you look at the cost benefit analyses being proposed, if you did all these things they're talking about, what impact would it really have on these changes that we're outlining?  On the other hand I can tell you the impact that it would have on certain industries and on our economy, and that's where it falls apart."
Claim 6.  More truth:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

More Heartland, Less Sense

Brian, the other Brian, Brian Angliss, has a post up at Scholars and Rouges about some recent published distortion from the Heartland.  James Taylor, Heartland's head flak, got ahold of a new paper by Lianne Lefsrud and Renate Meyer which surveyed petroleum geologists and engineers and same such in Alberta Canada.  Alberta is a hot spot for the petro industry and the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists, and Geophysicists of Alberta (APEGA) has 40K members.  As one might expect there has been a rather contentious interchange within the APEGA about climate change, and the organization asked Lefsrud to conduct a survey to better understand what the actual position of it's membership was.

The survey has resulted in a published paper, which Taylor picked up, and wrote about at Forbes under the title of

Peer-Reviewed Survey Finds Majority Of Scientists Skeptical Of Global Warming Crisis

As Brian A put it
Taylor’s post is based almost entirely on the incorrect claim that the study’s results are representative. There is no mention that all the study’s respondents were only in Alberta, Canada. There is no mention that they’re all members of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA). There is no mention that the membership of APEGA is predominantly employed by the Alberta petroleum industry and its regulators. And there is no mention that the authors repeatedly and specifically write in their study that their results are not applicable beyond the respondents and members of APEGA.  
It gets worse because Taylor falsely states the positions of the various respondents to climate change taking those who approve of Kyoto as the only ones who think that humans are changing our climate.  While Eli is none too fond of Lefsrud and Meyer's framing of positions wrt climate change, Taylor is happy to impose his own sense of denial upon it.  If you held Eli up to the wall, the results of the survey are what the Rabett would have expected given what happened when the American Association of Petroleum Geologists tried to come up with a statement on climate change.

Anybunny who wants to read more about the APEGA study in general or the blog version can start with the links above, and please do read the comments at Forbes.  Eli wants to concentrate on two points in the paper's conclusions:
Adherents of frames that support regulation (‘comply with Kyoto’, ‘regulation activists’) are – in our study – significantly more likely to be lower in the organizational hierarchy, younger, female, and working in government. . . . Conversely, adherents of those frames that are more defensive and oppose regulation (‘nature is overwhelming’, ‘economic responsibility’) are significantly more likely to be more senior in their organizations, male, older, geoscientists, and work in the oil and gas industry.  . . . The majority of command posts within organizations, especially in the industry, seem to be manned with opponents to the IPCC and anthropogenic climate science. While it may not be overly surprising that industry executives support the industry’s interests, taking into consideration that we have analyzed experts’ frames that are founded on a claim of being independent and non-partisan, it is also important to note that the two frames that especially dwell on the point of ‘real science’ versus ‘hoax’ at the same time represent core economic interests.                      
and the potential counterbalance, a point Eli has been making for some time
 A potential, yet so far unused discursive opportunity to ‘broker’ between pro-regulation frames and ‘economic responsibility’ may lie in a more comprehensive (i.e., including financial) understanding of risk (Hoffman, 2011b). Nagel (2011) discusses how the insurance and reinsurance industry is supremely concerned about exposure to financial risks associated with extreme weather events. The US military is concerned about security risks associated with ‘population displacements, increased potential for failed states and terrorism, potential escalation of conflicts over resources’ (Nagel, 2011, p. 206). Risk management is of fundamental concern to all – including energy – companies, insurance and finance industries, military and other government agencies. Professional engineers and geoscientists (and lawyers, accountants, corporate officers, etc.) are in the business of managing risk. Indeed, engineers have recognized these risks, been working behind the scenes, and revised the Canadian Building Codes to adapt to the changing climate.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dutch Cousins

As some may be aware, Makers Mark has contemplated watering down the bourbon, an action they have backed away from given the reception.  Well blogs will be blogs and this has produced competitive commenting on the best of everything.


Eli, being a bunny has a lot of cousins.  The Dutch side of the family, the Coneys, formerly of Coney Island before the English kicked them out, recommends pretty much anything at 't Spul, a small, friendly cafe in Schiedam, just outside of Rotterdam,  stocking 400 types of jenever, each better and more interesting than the last, and an owner who will tell you about each of them.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

RTFR Pops

So Poptech Andrew has popped up at Rabett Run.  Amongst the blather are some discussion of Pop's careful selection of "septical [TM Stoat]" literature.  Glenn Tamblyn went over there and found

So...

I go to poptech's site to have a look at his papers. Where to start? General is the first category so I might as well start there. And the first paper listed is ....(drum roll)

Has the amount of Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere Changed Significantly Since the Beginning of the Twentieth Century? (PDF) (Monthly Weather Review, Volume 83, Issue 10, pp. 225-231, 1955)- Giles Slocum
Slocum FWIW was a government bureaucrat, in the Weather Service.  His conclusion, stated in the abstract was:

In this paper, the physical knowledge of atmospheric CO2 is examined and the available nineteenth and twentieth century observations of the atmospheric CO2 concentration are summarized to ascertain the extent to which they corroborate claims that the amount of atmospheric CO2 has increased since the nineteenth century. In the light of the uncertainty of both physical knowledge and of statistical analysis, it is concluded that the question of a trend in atmospheric CO2 concentration remains an open subject."
Glenn continued
So in 1955 Giles Slocum concluded that not enough was known about CO2levels. Which was exactly true, THEN!

That's why Keeling began his studies just a few years later.
So the 1st paper on poptech's list can best be described as OBSOLETE AND OUTDATED.
Pops tried the old two step
Poor Glenn and his SS "crusher crew" cannot read that the papers are listed chronologically and desperately cherry picks. Those papers were listed to show that skepticism is nothing new. I moved all the pre-1970 papers to the historical section at the bottom of the list.

Oh I do enjoy educating and embarrassing the computer illiterates from Skeptical Science. 
Glenn notices
I go back to have another look, and lo and behold, the Slocum paper is no longer in the General list. It suddenly vanished. After some searching I found it had moved to Historical, way down the list. All in just 15 minutes.

Andrew, YOU ARE PRICELESS! 
but Eli, as is his wont went and read the paper, conveniently available from NOAA.  Why their interest? Well it turns out that while Slocum was skeptical of many of Callendar's choices of records to exclude he was no one's fool.  If bunnies go and read the paper the conclusion in the conclusion, reasonable at the time, was
It may be hoped that the collection of standardized measurements of CO2 can be made a part of the 1957-58 International Geophysical Year program. Once a dependable set of observational data has been assembled, the evidence of the old observations can perhaps be reevaluated. If such new reevaluation proves impracticable, even then a reliable set of new worldwide observations can serve as a basis for comparison in future years.

In summary, the data, at present available, are inadequate as they now stand to prove or disprove a statistically significant trend in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.  If and when an upward trend has been demonstrated, and  its cause ascertained, it will then be valid to base physical explanations of atmospheric events on the assumption that CO2 is increasing. Meanwhile, Callendar’s interesting extrapolations (through the 22d century) of the effects of burning up of the world’s fuel, stimulate the interest of the speculatively minded.
This paper provided strong motivation within the Weather Bureau for funding the Keeling measurements on Mauna Loa as part of the 1957-58 IGU.  Moreover, Slocum was exactly right, the Keeling measurements quickly lead to to re-evaluation of the older records, indicating that Callendar's selection was the correct one and pointing to reasons why many of the older measurements were problematic.  The Slocum paper also has an important listing of early measurements.   RFAOTFR Pops. 

Eli might be taking bets on Poptech deep sixing this one.

Music From on High



2 C

There has been a lot of back and forth about what happens when global temperature rises.  Much of the confusion is that global responses tend to average out extremes, but there are two useful diagrams which date back to 2007 on Rabett Run.  The first is from the AR4 (remember the 2C number is from pre-industrial, the diagram below is from a 1980-1999 baseline)


and the second from the Stern Report


Both of these were from six years ago or a bit more.  Comparisons with what has happened since offer a great opportunity for discussion.  It is open season on comparisons with what certain others said would happen



Consensus Palaeoclimate Sensitivity

Climate sensitivity has been much in the news lately, much of the back and forth based on recent wiggle waggles in the global temperature records where wiggle is pretty much 20 years or less.  The old timers though have gotten together and tried to straighten out the mess they have created by using different definitions of climate sensitivity in palaeoclimate studies.   Although the paper itself is paywalled there is a version available for downloading provided by one of the guilty. 

Those of you interested in table setting can read James' Empty version together with the comments, 198 of them, which go so tedious that blogger killed them off.  The palaeo folk, have the luxury of dealing with situations where the major forcings were varied, thus, choose to

...introduce the more general definition of the ‘climate sensitivity parameter’ as the mean surface temperature response to any radiative perturbation (S=ΔT/ΔR; where ΔT and ΔR are centennial to multimillennial averages), which facilitates comparisons between studies from different time-slices in Earth history. For brevity, we refer to S as ‘climate sensitivity’. In the definition of S, an initial perturbation ΔR0 leads to a temperature response ΔT0 following the Stefan–Boltzmann law, which is the temperature-dependent blackbody radiation response.  This is often referred to as the Planck response, with a value S0 of about 0.3 KW^-1 m^2 for the present-day climate. The radiative perturbation of the climate system is increased (weakened) by various positive (negative) feedback processes, which operate at a range of different timescales.  Because the net effect of positive feedbacks is found to be greater than that of negative feedbacks, the end result is an increased climate sensitivity relative to the Planck response
They then sensibly divide feedbacks into 'fast' and 'slow' depending on how the feedback responds to the forcing.  If the response is slower than the forcing, then it is slow, if it occurs at the same rate as the forcing then fast.  As a practical matter they take the POV that 100 years is roughly the boundary between fast and slow.  They note that the greenhouse gas forcing of today is much faster than any natural one observed in the Cenozoic.

Using these definition, one may also look at subsets, such as the climate sensitivity associated with increases in CO2 concentrations S[CO2] or aerosols S[AE]




Many of the results involve combiations of forcings, such as greenhouse gases [GHG], aerosols [AE], changes in vegatation [VG], and ice albedo issues [LI].  The dashed lines in a are the 68% probability limits considering only GHG and LI.  The two figures to the right are probabilities assuming Gaussian or log normal distributions.

Putting it all together, they get a 68% probability that the overall fast feedback climate sensitivity for responses to GHG, LI, AE and VG forcings is between 0.6 - 1.3 KW^-1 m^2  corresponding to a range of 2.2 to 4.8 K for doubling CO2, higher than several of the more aggressive recent blog scientists and press release science sources would have it, but quite in line with the IPCC AR4 and the supersecret AR5 drafts.  The 95% probability range lies between 0.3 and 1.9 KW^-1 m^2 and would encompass about everything realistic, including Arrhenius and Hansen, 1988 and some of James' favorite uniform prior posteriors.

The paper is fun to read and has an excellent summary of previous work for those interested.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Solar Power, Electric Autos and Churnalism

Being something of a grab bag for some recent news.  First solar power installations in Germany have reached 30 GW capacity, roughly 38% of average energy use.  Caveating may proceed, of course, and there is a cost to using renewables, maybe 20%.  OTOH, there are some strange churnalists out there. Shibani Joshi last week on Fox and Friends insisted that Germany had more solar installed because it got more sun.  She has tried to walk that back a bit, but still got her clock cleaned a bit.  Still, it's out there, and wanna bet one of your friends believes it. 


Next up is a review of the new Tesla model S which appeared in the NY Times under the byline of John Broder.  It has become a long story with everyone jumping on it, but the short of it is that Broder panned the car, and claimed that among other things it ran out of juice, Tesla, having had some experience with bad reviews, had instrumented the test car, and pretty much can show that Broder was, let us say, inexact in many of his claims.  Eric Wemple at the Washington Post (no gloating now) has a pretty good summary of the state of play.

What interested Eli most was the previous experience Tesla has had with automotive journalists.  Let Elon Musk explain 
 After a negative experience several years ago with Top Gear, a popular automotive show, where they pretended that our car ran out of energy and had to be pushed back to the garage, we always carefully data log media drives. While the vast majority of journalists are honest, some believe the facts shouldn’t get in the way of a salacious story. In the case of Top Gear, they had literally written the script before they even received the car (we happened to find a copy of the script on a table while the car was being “tested”). Our car never even had a chance.
As Atrios would say, time for another blogger ethics panel, and oh yes, people are choosing up sides. 

Galileo and Gleick

Adam Gopnik in a recent New Yorker article discusses the interaction between the blog scientists favorite icon and the Catholic Church.  Reading Gopnik, Galileo spent much of his life being both a brilliant scientist and a skater on thin ice.  Today we lose sight of the fact that Galileo invented relativity, that is that told us how when two bodies move, the perceived velocity of each is relative to the other and we still refer to this as a Galilean frame.

The concept was disturbing in a world where the Earth was the unmoving center of all, but necessary once one adopted the Copernican view of the solar system.  If the bunnies want this in denial speak, well, here we are, you are telling Eli that the Earth is rotating like crazy and moving a huge speed around the sun?  That's crazy.  Next thing you will tell me is that people are animals and changing the climate for worse.  

Relativity was the root of Galileo's problems with the Church.  His modus vivendi was one adopted by many scientists today, the best example being evolution.  The Church was willing, using Gopnick's analogy to allow Galileo to put forward the Copernican system as a computational device, but he had to allow them, as it were, to "teach the controversy".

...Galileo tried to do what we sould now call basic research while simultaneously negotiating with the Church to let him do it.  Eventually, he and the church came to an implicit understanding:  if he would treat Copernicanism merely as a hypothesis, rather than as a truth about the world, it would be acceptable -- if he would claim his work only as "istoia" not as "demostrazione" the Inquisitors would leave him alone. . . .You could calculate, consider and even hypothesize with Copernicus.  You just couldn't believe in him.
But Galileo eventually went too far, and we know the rest of the story, he was forced to recant and live together with his ideas under house arrest.  Many have criticized him for this, but Gopnik finds another path
So the scientist can shrug at the torturer and say, Any way you want me to tell it, I will.  You've got the waterboard.  The stars are still there.  It may be no accident that so many of the great scientists really have followed Galileo, in ducking and avoiding the consequences of what they discovered.  In the roster of genius, evasion of worldly responsibility seems practically a fixed theme.  Newton escaped the world through nuttiness, Darvvin through elaborate evasive courtesies and by farming out the politics to Huxley.  Heisenberg's uncertainty was political -- he did nuclear fission research for Hitler -- as well as quantum mechanical.  Science demands heroic minds but not heroic morals.  It's one of the things than make it move
Which brings us to James Hansen, the forty eight who were arrested protesting the Keystone pipeline this week and Peter Gleick.  Something is moving scientists and scientific organizations from the passive to the active.  The dangers of man made climate change and environmental damage are now so clear that it is no longer a matter of munching a few words in return for being left alone, but those in the best position to know realize that these are matters of survival, if not for them, for their children.  Increasingly scientists are driven to take significant personal risks in an attempt, yes, to save the world.

Eli wants to thank those who are risking all, Peter Gleick, James Hansen, Michael Mann and others who have said, enough. In an ethical calculus, the risks confronting humans if we continue on the path we are on, means that transgressions which in normal times would be condemned, must be assumed.  Sin is relative, responsibility absolute. 
Excellent summary in the comments from Chris: I don't think the ethical calculus of Gleick's actions can be understood in binary terms. For me it's a complicated mess. While I'm happy to see Heartland tanking, I wish the methods had been a bit different.

That said, I'm awfully glad to see those who best understand our predicament screaming from the rooftops. 
That said, Eli is not sure that there was a less complicated, messy way of exposing Heartland without major changes in the tax code and laws governing such organizations.  Sometimes life is messy.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Maybe Reid screwed the pooch on climate legislation in 2017, too

Talking Points Memo refers, on Reid's barely-anything changes to the Senate filibuster and how nothing is now happening on Obama's appointments.  To be fair, some of the problem is self-inflicted by Obama putting the task of nominating candidates to all positions somewhere below watching ESPN and filling out his college basketball tournament predictions.

The climate legislation hook is that 60 vote filibuster blockage to pass climate reform in the Senate.  Nothing is going to pass soon anyway, but we do have a shot in 2017.  Chances of success depend in part on how much the filibuster can still trip it up.  Even the strongest filibuster "reform" that was presented this year was weak tea.  I figured we have four years of trying something, finding it's not enough, and then trying something stronger.  By starting us out with barely-anything, we will end up fewer steps down the road to quasi-democratic procedures when climate legislation has a chance.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Obama picks up the "it's not a coincidence" theme

From the Union's State:

Now, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods, all are now more frequent and more intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science and act before it’s too late.
I continue to think the fact that science has a story that provides closure, while science denial relies on "it's all just coincidences, one after another!", is a key advantage in pulling the fence-sitters to our side, and one we need to push a lot harder.  The most scientifically-convincing evidence is about the non-coincidence between warmth and greenhouse gases, but the public can think about the climate weirding throughout the world as additional non-coincidences.

Something else that's more of a tea-reading exercise - here's more of his speech a few paragraphs later:
Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year. Let’s drive down costs even further. As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we.

Now, in the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. We need to encourage that. That’s why my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits.
Sadly, I think I agree with Eli that Keystone pipeline to take out oil sands will get built, despite my hopes last year (maybe John Kerry demanded freedom on this issue, but I doubt it).  There is another hand though - I'll bet the administration, if it okays the pipeline, will balance its destructive action with something that helps humanity.  They'll marry the two issues just like Obama did in his speech, although they might not frame them the same way as I do.


UPDATE -  the substance of Senator Rubio's response to Obama on climate:
When we point out that no matter how many job-killing laws we pass, our government can’t control the weather – he accuses us of wanting dirty water and dirty air.
Truth hurts sometimes.  More on Rubio soon.

UPDATE 2:  Just listened to David Sirota, who independently made the same prediction that Obama will balance Keystone approval with climate action.

Return to Normal Science

In a letter to Nature, disparaging "on line" science that some are seeking funding for Eli reads

The governance of science including the whole system of quality assurance, depends on specialist access to resources and publication.  A new and radical engagement of the public in reality and crowd sourced science is calling this into question.
and
It would be easy to dismiss such 'reality' experiments as a stunt --- as frivolity leading to demagoguery.  But social media are increasingly influencing mainstream scientific communication and could stimulate a pread in reality science, blurring the demarcations on which the legitimacy and quality assurance of science traditionally depend.
Dr. Inferno would demurr as would such blog scientists as the Tall Bloke but Eli was mildly amused to see the signature line
Jerome R. Ravetz, Peter Healey, Steve Rayner
Institute for Science Innovation and Society
University of Oxford UK
The Rabett would have enjoyed listening to the conversation along these lines in Lisbon a couple of years ago rather than the tutt tutt about climate scientists that emerged.  It is worth revisiting Gavin Schmidt's response to that invitation
I’m a little confused at what conflict you feel you are going to be addressing? The fundamental conflict is of what (if anything) we should do about greenhouse gas emissions (and other assorted pollutants), not what the weather was like 1000 years ago. Your proposed restriction against policy discussion removes the whole point. None of the seemingly important ‘conflicts’ that are *perceived* in the science are ‘conflicts’ in any real sense within the scientific community, rather they are proxy arguments for political positions. No ‘conflict resolution’ is possible between the science community who are focussed on increasing understanding, and people who are picking through the scientific evidence for cherries they can pick to support a pre-defined policy position. 
You would be much better off trying to find common ground on policy ideas via co-benefits (on air pollution, energy security, public health water resources etc), than trying to get involved in irrelevant scientific ‘controversies’.
Isn't consensus wonderful?

Dead Ball Game

Kenneth Gillingham, Matthew Kotchen, David Rapson and Gernot Wagner follow the bouncing ball and note that the second bounce, the rebound effect, after any efficiency increase is not very high.  The rebound effect is also known as the Jevons, effect, named after W.S. Jevons, who observed that any increase in efficiency leads to more use of a resource, in his case, coal in the mid 1860s.  Ethon bets, that if someone were foolish enough to put up the Benjamins, the Birdie could find some of the usual suspects using this as a standard lay back and enjoy it argument

Gillingham et al., observe that the bounce is usually low and depends mostly on cost.  You have to consider the cost of the replacement.  Funds spent there are not available either to buy more of the same, or in the case of increasing energy efficiency to buy something else that consumes energy.

They calculate that doubling fuel economy in the US will result in an efficiency gain of ~7% with a 2% rebound. 

Eli observes that Jevons made his observation at a time when coal was getting cheaper and more was being found as well as increasing manufacturing and mining efficiencies.  That is not the case today, either with coal or oil, in fact, increasing fuel economy standards are coming at a time when the costs of extracting petroleum and refining the lower grades that are being extracted are rising.  Thus one should on simple grounds expect much less of a rebound. 

Saturday, February 09, 2013

California dreaming of offsets

I attended a fascinating-to-me workshop* Tuesday about California using international offsets in the form of reducing deforestation and degradation (REDD) in Acre Brazil and Chiapas Mexico.  The webinar's online, watch me babble a question if you want in the morning session tying their work to our water district's 2020 climate neutrality goal (third video down, at the 02:40:15 time).

The short version is that a relatively tiny fraction of California's effort to get to 1990 emission levels by 2020 would come through international forestry offsets, but even that tiny amount could be a billion dollars of financing, much larger than anything done to date and a potential kickstart to efforts in those two provinces and elsewhere.  This is truly new - the European cap-and-trade doesn't do it.

The meeting was of a group that provides technical recommendations to California and the other provinces/states, so whether they'll be followed is unclear, but they cautioned about giving offsets for actions that increase carbon storage on degraded and cleared land, because that might create incentives to log the land so it can be "restored".

Much or most of the discussion focused on measurement as a key to ensuring the offsets are real additions to what would have happened anyway.  The scientists are very confident that they can measure forest carbon storage accurately and not too expensively via satellite and airborne lidar.  The tricky part though is measuring what would've happened in the absence of offsets.

Passing over the possibility of time machines travelling to alternative universes without offsets for comparison purposes, they instead proposed reference levels of forest losses based on previous ten-year historical averages, projected into the future with some modifications and safeguards (slightly reduced levels available as offsets, further declining over time).  Reductions of emissions in subsequent years compared to reference levels, after adjustments, are the available offsets.  I'm a little unclear on the timing, but I think the Californians buy the offsets first in anticipation that they'll work, then the REDD program does its stuff and is verified.  I do know that if the buyer is liable if the offsets don't work and has to find carbon savings elsewhere in that case.

The beauty of this is that functions on the provincial level, so it's widescale (less leakage) and tracks provincial results instead of trying to measure every little project and assign carbon savings accordingly.  The controversy (or one of the controversies) is that the offset payments go to provincial governments, so how that money could reach the rural communities is an issue.  Safeguards for that will be discussed at a later meeting, and they have the concept of "nesting" project level credits into the provincial system.

A lot is riding on this, both in terms of global carbon emissions and our global ecology.  There's some danger of course, but also some tremendous opportunity.


*Fascinating enough that I may be interested in this area as a career field, so maybe I might have some bias.