Sunday, February 07, 2016

A Little Travelling Music

Saturday, February 06, 2016

So much for that - the Washington State's renvenue-neutral carbon tax proposal

Too bad:

The carbon-tax effort has also struggled to attract support from progressives and Democrats, who are concerned that the proposal isn’t really “revenue-neutral.” The latest news from the Evergreen State suggests that this effort may well be doomed: 
 [T]he Washington State Democratic Party [has gone] on record as opposed to CarbonWA’s I-732, joining the Washington State Labor Council and [the Washington Council of Machinists] in the no camp. I-732 is a complex tax swap proposal that would levy a carbon tax while also reducing sales and business & occupation taxes. 
CarbonWA and other I-732 proponents contend that their tax swap is “revenue neutral” (meaning it would not increase or decrease state revenue). Nonpartisan legislative staff and the Department of Revenue don’t agree. According to DOR’s calculations, I-732 would reduce revenue by nearly $1 billion over the next four years.... 
CarbonWA’s endorsements page doesn’t list a single organization affiliated with the Republican Party or active in the conservative movement. And, as even CarbonWA has admitted, polling suggests right-leaning voters in Washington are incredibly hostile to the idea of levying a carbon tax.

I'm no expert in Washington state politics, but the Democratic Party is against it as not being truly revenue neutral, major unions are against, and no Republican leadership is for it. You're not going around these folks and getting a majority of the grassroots.

I think this thing is on the ballot and can't be changed. So support it and maybe some fluke will get it through, and if not then back to the drawing board.

Tom Steyer and friends have an alternate proposal for WA that I've heard about, but I suspect they're not going to get something on the same ballot. Maybe it'll be their turn next.

Monday, February 01, 2016

We made it to 3000

3000 posts at Rabett Run, that is.

Somebody get Eli and Ethon a gold watch and a toaster.

Cruz has a plan for the nomination that the others don't - in 2020

While Trump may well take Iowa tomorrow, it's widely acknowledged that Ted Cruz has the strongest grass-roots level of organization among conservative evangelicals and other conservatives, in contrast to Marco Rubio's weak organization that relies on media rather than putting people in the field. I'm not absolutely convinced that Rubio's strategy is wrong for this election, but the election's not the only thing that's in play.

Rubio's strategy is based on everything working out just right, as it indeed has so far in his short political career, but he's not building anything that lasts beyond this election. Cruz is building an organization and cadre of loyalists. If Cruz wins the nomination, then that's great according to him. If he doesn't, and the Republican nominee doesn't win, then Cruz enters the 2020 race for the nomination with the best field organization of any candidate already in place.

And of course there's more - if another Republican wins the presidency, Cruz will be a stalking horse for the next four years, threatening to run against that Republican if he turns out to be too moderate. Cruz also will not be relying on building influence within Republican elites, so he's creating an alternative power structure that he can use to pressure the Republican leadership.

Kind of obvious, but I haven't seen it remarked elsewhere. Good thing his anti-charisma limits his reach, but we're going to have to be dealing with him until demographics fix Texan politics. 

With that happy thought, we'll see which disaster gets chosen by Iowa Republicans tomorrow.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Undercover journalism and prosecutorial discrection

Given the recent initiation of criminal prosecution against the people who made the defamatory video about Planned Parenthood, I thought I'd quote what journalism says about undercover journalism:


Undercover reporting can be a powerful tool, but it’s one to be used cautiously: against only the most important targets, and even then only when accompanied by solid traditional reporting.
And Society for Professional Journalists:
Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information unless traditional, open methods will not yield information vital to the public.
So they're saying do it rarely, only when necessary, and do it well.

The prosecution against the undercover activists isn't for doing it badly, it's for doing it at all. It would apply equally to many groundbreaking investigations by true undercover journalists. And the line between journalist and activist is a slippery one that maybe doesn't matter (e.g., the people exposing animal cruelty at factory farms).

As a practical matter I don't see a good way to modify the law to say "don't use fake identification unless you're working undercover." That's where prosecutorial discretion comes into play. The grand jury has no role in that discretion and district attorney seemed to ignore her responsibility.

This indictment will be used to keep corporate crimes hidden. Go after these people for doing a bad job via defamation suits instead, but don't ban undercover operations.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


With rapidly approaching retirement and other life altering events, Rabett Run has come perhaps to a fork in the roast.  Eli has questions:

1.  Should RR put up a donation box? After all income is required for trips to AGU, gifts for Ms. Rabett so she allows Eli to go to AGU and housing at AGU.   The holes that the Rabett has been hutching up in San Francisco, are, to put it mildly, very 1950s motelish.  Not quite rent by the hour but not . . .

2.  Or should RR take advertising, which, since it requires that readers actually click on something is not a wealth generating activity either as Eli judges that his Rabett Run Readers are as cheap as he is.  Sou appears to make a buck or two from this, but really, how low can Eli and Brian and John sink?

3.  All in favor Eli's handing the keys over to Brian and slinking into the twittering sunset raise your paws. You will be ignored.

4.  Anybunny interested in a book of RR's best takes showing how Eli was there before there was?  Self publishing is a thing these days and one can pray for an Amazon review by George Taki

Reheating the Michaels rehash

An easy blog post when Pat Michaels keeps reposting the same old thing, every time a new global temperature is associated with El Niño, or simply when the year after a new record happens to be slightly colder than the previous year. It's a recipe for cooking him, dating back to my early blog years of 2006:

How to cook Tim Blair, Andrew Bolt, and Patrick Michaels

1. Place Blair, Bolt, and Michaels in a large, water-filled pot equipped with a step ladder they can use to escape at any time. Set initial water temperature at average levels.

BLAIR/BOLT/MICHAELS: We're quite comfortable, thank you!!

2. Increase temperature to an unambigous, new historic high.

BLAIR/BOLT/MICHAELS: No big deal! Not going to last!

MICHAELS: Want to bet it won't be this warm again?

3. Drop temperature back down, but still far above average.

BLAIR/BOLT/MICHAELS: See!! Vindication!! There is no potboiler warming! Not a problem!

4. Gradually increase temperature to near or above the historic high.

BLAIR/BOLT/MICHAELS: We deny it's above the historic high! Deny it!

MICHAELS: And, uh, the bet offer is withdrawn.

5. Keep temperature very high, but a tiny bit below Step 4.

BLAIR/BOLT/MICHAELS: The science behind potboiler warming is bogus, and we'll stay here for as long as it takes to prove it!

BLAIR: I'm not feeling hot - crank it up, people!

BOLT: Me neither!

6. Repeat Steps 2 through 5 until done. Don't worry, they won't use the step ladder to get out. Process will be sped by the fact that their brains were already cooked.

Please, please, please, may some denialist point out to me that we haven't yet repeated Step 2 - just be prepared to put your money where your mouth is about what will happen in the near future.

(Hat tip: Deltoid.)

UPDATE [from 2006]: From RealClimate:

Most bizarre new contrarian claim:
"Global warming stopped in 1998".
By the same logic, it also stopped in 1973, 1983, and 1990 (only it didn't)
So we have repeated steps 2 through 5, multiple times.

UPDATE 2016:  you'd think the Wall Street Journal would want to publish something original, but maybe they're hard up for content.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Summer Reading List

Eli has been going back through the Rabett Run archives fishing out some old drafts and finding this and that.  Here is one of the thats.


In a recent article, I argued that integrated assessment models (IAMs) “have crucial flaws that make them close to useless as tools for policy analysis.”  In fact, I would argue that calling these models “close to useless” is generous: IAM-based analyses of climate policy create a perception of knowledge and precision that is illusory, and can fool policy-makers into thinking that the forecasts the models generate have some kind of scientific legitimacy. IAMs can be misleading – and are inappropriate – as guides for policy, and yet they have been used by the government to estimate the social cost of carbon (SCC) and evaluate tax and abatement policies.
Pindyck's is indeed an argument for ignorance.  He is quite pessimistic that anybunny, economist or climate scientist knows anything, from discount rate to climate sensitivity to damage functions.  Choice of discount rate, of course can yield any answer the mythical anybunny might wish, but according to Pindyke it is worse because even probability distributions for any of these are improbable.  Thus IAM's become computer driven fantasy

So what to do.  Well, really really bad outcomes are so really bad that it doesn't matter what discount rate you chose if you lose the economy.  Pindyck is an economist.

So Pindyck's idea is get a bunch of wise heads together and figure out what the most probable really really bad thing that might happen is and figure out how bad it really would be. 
I have argued that the problem is somewhat simplified by the fact that what matters for policy is the possibility of a catastrophic climate outcome. How probable is such an outcome (or set of outcomes), and how bad would they be? And by how much would emissions have to be reduced to avoid these outcomes? I have argued that the best we can do at this point is come up with plausible answers to these questions, perhaps relying at least in part on consensus numbers supplied by climate scientists and environmental economists. This kind of analysis would be simple, transparent, and easy-to-understand. It might not inspire the kind of awe and sense of scientific legitimacy conveyed by a large-scale IAM, but that is exactly the point. It would draw back the curtain and clarify our beliefs about climate change and its impact.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Redistribution of Enthalpy

So it snows, and Eli digs into the drafts pile to dig this one out.

Eli understands that the old guy is trying to trash him. Eli would be quite happy to talk it over with him, if the old guy wanted to have a discussion, but he appears to want to talk to others without others talking to him and the Rabett is not interested in that. OTOH, we have been hopping about the net and came across the figures from Mark Jacobson's books on Atmosphereic Modeling (link since disappeared) and came across this interesting figure. Looking at it we see that the difference in absorbed incoming solar energy is about a factor of two higher at the equator than at the poles (100% difference) but the emitted outgoing IR radiation above the atmosphere is only about 25% higher at the equator than at the poles.

As near as the team at Rabett Run can make out the large units on the ordinate are 100 W/m^2, which agrees with these measurements of average solar insolation.

What first caught Eli's eye was the implication that radiation and convection move enthalpy from the tropics to the poles. No surprise there. It's called weather. This, of course, is averaged over the year, different cloud conditions and more.

So the bottom line is that even though the temperature difference between the poles and the equator is ~ 50 K, the solar insolation at the surface is a factor of two higher at the equator and the same is true of the emission from the surface as predicted by the Stefan-Boltzmann relation, the amount of energy emitted by the earth in the polar region is only about 25% less than at the equator. Another hmm . . ..