Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mom Rabett's Climate Change Primer

Mom Rabett is an old girl, never much into science or technology so, courtesy of Quark Soup, Eli was happy to find a very nice primer on Climate Change from the UK Met Office. It's only nine pages and two of them are covers. Have to add it to the blog roll. The take home is on the first page

Climate change is a complex subject, with genuine areas of uncertainty and scientific controversy. There are also a number of misunderstandings which are recycled, often by non-climate scientists, and portrayed as scientific fact. As one of the world’s leading centres on climate change we believe it is important to address all the issues. Here you will find the known facts about climate change.
Nit picker that he is (Rabett's have grooming issues, mostly because they play with a bunch of dirty denialists), there is only one thing he would pick on, this chart, which shows the range of climate forecasts. People who need this primer, don't have a clue what A1, A2, B1 and B2 are. B1 and B2 being bananas with Aussie accents. Comments?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The way things break

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory crashed before orbital injection. Evidently the cowling did not detach.

There is some talk of cobbling another one together about of spare parts, but even that would take time and money

The Lab Lemming is back

Chuck has been investigating how cows are plotting to take over the world by domesticating an obscure ape. He's back on the blogroll till he disappears into the outback again.

Welcome back

Monday, February 23, 2009

The ten signs of denialism

Bart Verheggen has a useful list. Take the test and see if you are into denialism. Bart explains it better than Eli, but Eli thought he could have some fun with the telltale signs:

  1. The forest is more important than the trees. Watch out for the nitpickers, they have lice
  2. Consensus matters, if two quacks think you are a duck, you are a duck
  3. Conspiracy theories are for fun, profit and giggles
  4. Weather ain't climate, and versa visa
  5. Your back yard ain't the world and neither is Eli's
  6. Logic is good
  7. Cause it's an effect, not effect it's a cause. Sometimes something is both depending on time and place
  8. What would you bet on?
  9. What's the risk?
  10. Denialism is incoherent
  11. You would hire Joe the Plumber who ain't a plumber and ain't a Joe?
  12. Cui bono, cui pendo

Hey, you thought a Rabett could count?? Comments? Go comment over at Bart's place, he wrote the thing.

Friday, February 20, 2009

No fire next time

Eli was talking to a passing hare today, who happened to mention a really clever combustion idea that would make carbon sequestration a lot easier. A major problem for sequestration at power plants is separating the CO2, nitrogen, residual oxygen and nitrogen oxides (it's pretty easy to separate out the water vapor in a condenser). There is a neat variation of combustion called chemical looping which is efficient requires no energy wasting separation

They don't oxidize the fuel with oxygen, but with metal oxides. Copper appears to be the metal of choice because the oxidation of the metal to CuO is exothermic. Copper, is oxidized to copper oxide in a chamber (that is an exothermic step by the way, but it produces no greenhouse gases). The copper oxide is moved to a second chamber where it oxidizes the fuel, coal being the one they really want to use. The copper oxide is simultaneously reduced to copper while CO2 and H2O are produced by the oxidation. The second step produces a relatively pure stream of CO2 after the water vapor is condensed and the metal is moved back to the first chamber. The process is flameless

In chem speak, this is

2 Cu(s) + O2(g) --> 2CuO(s)
2CuO(s)+ C(s) --> CO2(g) + 2 Cu(s)

More or less.

UPDATE: Bocco, who obviously knows more about this than Eli has a comment below about the more, the less and the right now

Other comments.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sand in the gears/Songs for our times

Eli is a big fan of throwing sand in the gears, not too much, not too little, but just enough to slow things down to where they can be dealt with, such as stopping before running off the cliff. Recently the world has examples of what happens when you don’t slow the economic engines a bit. The Rabett’s friends have been commenting as they wave goodbye to their savings, for example, Michael Tobis and the Pig. OTOH, a couple of months ago Eli bantered with a very old friend who wanted to retreat to Sayism, if not mercantilism, and this lost post was the result

Eli prescribes sand in the gears as a good thing. Among other things this is regulation and it has the advantage of slowing things up, which is generally considered a bad thing, until, as is inevitably the case one has to spread one’s wings while falling to Earth from a 12,000 Dow or when the the Breakthrough Institute's ideas breakdown or the majic solution to climate change does not appear. Spreading your wings at that point does not help a whole lot.

Below is a songbook for these times with video links, but to yank this back to climate policy, much of the past year, two thirds of the IPCC AR4, the Stern Report and many electrons (Rabett Run is modern) have been spent on the issue of what is the world worth. There is a school (sandbox really) that claims they can find an optimum path for dealing with climate change mostly by doing nothing now. This is also called the Pie in the Sky By and By approach favored by folks like Gary Yohe, our old friend Richard Tol on the economic side, Ethon’s date Roger Pielke Jr. and sundry Nordhausii on the policy side for example, plus the usual clowns . Well, many of the clowns don’t want to do anything ever. Some progress was made when the economists recognized that climate change can be a mighty high cliff, and it might just be prudent to invest more rather that less, or to do something now rather than asking dad for a pony later, which, of course, is the message of the AR4, Stern Report, and Eli Rabett’s Simple Plan for Saving the World..

In turbulent economic times the Bunnies need Rock ‘n Roll with its sweet words, pessimistic outlook and great rhythms, so Eli translated this guide from an old Frankfurter Allgemenie and added some links

Crisis, what crisis?” – Supertramp (1975) The album playing on Hank Paulson’s and Ben Bernankie’s IPod for the last six months. The hit song for Republican members of the US Congress

Money” - Pink Floyd (1973) The calming effect of an endless supermarket checkout line with the background clank of coins in this psychedelic classic will lull anxious savings bank customers to sleep. Still the text perfectly expresses investment banker ethics before and after the crash: “Money, it’s a gas, grab that cash with both hands and make a stash. New car, caviar, four star day dream. Think I’ll buy me a football team.”

Save me” – Julie Driscoll (1967) The song that the Lehman Brothers Band sang in vain in front of the White House, and that the AIG Chorus hit with only a week later: “Save me, I’m in so much trouble. I don’t know what to do.”

Sorry seems to be the hardest word” – Elton John (1976). This song says what so many of us thought when the bankers described their bonus giveaways: “It’s sad, so sad. It’s a sad, sad situation and it’s getting more absurd”

Wall Street shuffle” – 10cc (1974) The song for the good old days when the wise guys were masters of the universe: “Do the Wall Street shuffle. Hear the money rustle, watch the greenbacks tumble, feel the sterling crumble. You gotta be cool on Wall Street. When your index is low. Dow Jones ain’t got time for the bums.”

Take the money and run” – Steve Miller Band (1976) What George, Hank, Ben and Tim said to their friends.

Money for nothing” – Dire Straits (1985) The goal, “money for nothing and the chicks for free” the perfect free market philosophy.

It’s money that I love” – Randy Newman (1979) The ultimate love letter to the God of the Markets: “I don’t love the mountains and I don’t love the sea, and I don’t love Jesus, he never done a thing for me. It’s only the money that I love”

First look at the purse” - The Contours (1962) At the matchmaker’s ball men look for the important things: “A woman can be as fat as can be. Kisses sweet as honey. But that don’t mean a thing to me. If you ain’t got no money. If the purse is fat that’s where it’s at.”

Baby you’re a rich man” – The Beatles (1967) John, Paul, George and Ringo knew how to keep their money even under the influence of mind altering drugs. “Baby you’re a rich man. You keep all your money in a big brown bag inside a zoo. What a thing to do.”

Comments? And here is the rest of it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

If Marc Morano were dead he'd be whirling in his grave

A recent appearance by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Asia Society is an important marker for US energy and environmental policy. Significantly the push is coming not just from the Department of Energy, but also State, which shows that this is an important issue for the Obama Administration. In her prepared remarks, Clinton pointed out that

. . our nation has been the largest historic emitter of greenhouse gases, and we acknowledge that we must lead efforts to cut harmful emissions and build a lower-carbon economy. But each of the countries that I’m visiting also have a role to play in this effort. I will press the case for clean energy in both Japan and South Korea, and look for ways to work with Indonesia as well. Orville Schell’s commentary in Time magazine this week reminds us that collaboration on clean energy and greater efficiency offers a real opportunity to deepen the overall U.S.-Chinese relationship. So we will work hard with the Chinese to create partnerships that promote cleaner energy sources, greater energy efficiency, technology transfers that can benefit both countries, and other strategies that simultaneously protect the environment and promote economic growth.
but it is her answer to questions which would really start Marc twirling. In answer to a question from Michele Ehlers
How can we upgrade our American dream to a global vision that the earth can sustain and that is supportable for every human being? If we Americans wish to be known for our leadership in the world and be recognized as true partners in global development, we need to take on a new model of life that’s sustainable and possible for every human being. How can you best advocate that?
Clinton went on at length (cheap post time-Eli =:)
That’s a great question, and it was a question that maybe five years ago would have been, you know, thought of as kind of touchy-feely, to be honest about it – (laughter) – and would not have been entertained seriously in a lot of the boardrooms and the decision-makers’ meetings and halls of legislatures.

But I think it is an issue that we have to be smart about addressing. You see, the threat of global climate change, the intimidation created as we’ve seen in Europe by control over energy supplies, the fear that globalization has not spread its benefits broadly and deeply enough, those are all opportunities for Americans, primarily in the private sector and also in our government, to start kind of solving these problems, and to do so with the same level of energy and ingenuity that we have brought to problems in the past.

We have such an opportunity here, and I’m hoping that, you know, some of the provisions that made their way through the difficult negotiations over the stimulus package will have the result of helping to jumpstart and support research. We’ve got to get back to supporting basic science in America. It’s one of our greatest advantages. And we have not been keeping up with our potential for leading the way in science, technology, and research. So I would hope that the answer to the question asked doesn’t, in any Americans’ minds, sort of create the image that somehow, we would have to give up our way of life. I mean, that seems to always end up being the debate, that, you know, this will be economically ruinous for us, this will cause us to fall behind, we’ll lose out in what the American dream should be, in a material sense.

And I just don’t buy that. I don’t believe that is the way forward. Now, do we have to change some of how we live? Yes. But, you know, changing to compact fluorescent bulbs is not the kind of sacrifice that is going to undermine the quality of our life. (Laughter.) You know, it --

MS. DESAI: You know, in Australia, now they already have made that as a law.
MS. DESAI: You know, so --

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right. And so I think there’s – you know, you can go from the small steps that each of us can take, which, in the aggregate, would add up to significant changes, to the kind of governmental driven decisions that you’ll see more of in the Obama Administration. Our new Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is absolutely focused on how he can make the case that changes in our uses of energy, and in how we both create it and deliver it, would go a long way toward enabling us to live a better, more sustainable life. You know, even though the legislative changes that have been made in California over the last 35 years have resulted in a lower per capita usage of electricity than in the rest of the country – and I don’t think people in California feel like they’re deprived.

So part of what we have to do is have the leadership in both the public and the private sectors look to academia – you know, ask for good ideas – and then begin implementing them, and do so with courage and a pioneering spirit. You know, we are supposed to be the problem solvers. You know, that’s who we’re supposed to be. And it’s time, when we face these global challenges, we demonstrate that that’s who we continue to be. And I’m excited by it. I think, you know, our children and our children’s children will live very well if we make the right decisions now. And if we don’t, I don’t think we can look them in the eyes and make that claim, and I don’t want to live like that as an American. I think it’s far preferable that we step up to our responsibilities, and I know that’s what the President is trying to encourage us to do.

MS. DESAI: Well, it’s sort of – you talk about smart power in international relations. This is about smart energy use --
MS. DESAI: -- domestically and --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, smart grids.
MS. DESAI: Exactly.
MS. DESAI: Right.

SECRETARY CLINTON: You know, I mean, it’s not going to happen overnight. But the idea that we just continue putting off the future when we’re supposed to be the country of the future is so contrary to our nature. And it is, I think, causing some puzzlement around the world. But also, people are going to say, “Well, we’ll take advantage of those opportunities.”

You know, whether or not we have a modern battery industry is up to us. Whether or not we have a smart electric grid that will save energy and be able to decentralize energy production and usage is up to us. Whether or not we sort our way through our automobile crisis and end up with cars that are energy savers as – insofar as transportation permits is up to us. And you can go down the list. These are not somebody else’s responsibility, and I think we have to have a very significant government commitment, and that’s what we’re trying to do in the Obama Administration.

It’s still difficult to make the case. I mean, a lot of what was in the stimulus originally, which would have set the path for us, you know, was not left in because it was thought to be, you know, economically challenging, should be left to – completely to the private sector. Well, we forget we electrified the country because the government stepped in. You know, we have so many examples from our past where we went as far as we could with the private sector, but frankly, it wasn’t profitable to bring electricity to the northern reaches of New York and the Adirondacks or northern Arkansas. The interstate highway system – we built highways to places that were barely populated, which are now booming. I mean, we made decisions that drove our growth and they were government and business decisions, and I think we’ve got to get back to thinking about that and feeling like we’re all on the American team for the next decade so that we can reassert our position economically here at home and around the world.

MS. DESAI: On that note, we must bring this to an end. I just want to say that with our foreign policy in your hands, our heart is at ease.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cui bono? Cui pendo?

Who benefits and who pays are the subterranean questions about Open Access to the scientific literature. Caught between the stubborn and unthinking rocks of the commercial publishers and the waves of declining budgets, libraries are being trashed. Anyone sitting on a departmental library committee has spent the last 20 years finding out which subscriptions can only be terminated with extreme displeasure by at least one vociferous member of the faculty. Bunnies will be surprised how often the decision hangs on how unpleasant Prof. A can be when he wants to be that way, and how accepting Prof. B will be. On the other hand there are those subscriptions that simply disappear into the night when the librarian "forgets" to renew them, only to discover at the 24th hour that there are no funds to correct that error. Of course, if the department really cares they can find the funding for picking it up again.

Coupled with this is the public perception that having paid for the research (mostly) via grants and contracts, they have the right to read the results for free, indeed that they have the right to pester the researcher without end, ignoring the fact that the public has not paid for the publication. This, often purposeful, misunderdistinction, ignores the samidzat of grant reports, annual, final and otherwise, generated each year by each grant and submitted to the funding agencies which no one questions that anyone who wants to, can see assuming the research is not classified. These have been increasingly moving on line. For example, NASA maintains a searchable technical report data base for grant activities. These databases are not necessarily "intuitive" and often require guidance from a skilled librarian to usefully access and there is not yet a universal requirement that the reports be submitted in electronic format although multiple paper copies are required.

In 2004 the Welcome Trust published a report on the costs of academic publishing which provides a useful basis for evaluating Open Access. The first dragon slain (and one that seems difficult to keep dead) is that the cost of publishing a paper, even in electronic format, is zero. A key concept in any such analysis is first copy costs, the costs of processing a submission and preparing accepted papers for publication in either electronic or paper formats. The Welcome report concluded that

First-copy costs have a range of roughly $250–$2000. The cost of producing the first copy for a good-to-high-quality journal is approximately $1500.
Fixed costs, which include first-copy costs, are approximately $1650 per article for a good-to-high quality subscription journal.

Based on first-copy costs, the total cost of producing an article for a good-to-high-quality subscription journal is of the order of $2750 plus a contribution to overheads and profits.
The latter includes the costs of printing and distribution and/or establishing and maintaining an electronic distribution system. The first copy costs in "medium quality" journals are lower, by almost a factor of two driven by a lower rejection rate. A journal which publishes only 10% of submissions (Science, Nature, PRL for example) rejects nine papers for every paper which is accepted. A journal with a rejection rate of 50%, on the other hand, rejects only 1 of every two submitted. Thus, the reviewing costs of the first journal, which sees 10 papers for every 1 published, will be five times higher than that of the first. Welcome estimates a median cost of ~ $175 US for handling each submission. This does not include the opportunity cost for external referees who review without pay but does include the time of the editorial staff and associated overheads.

In addition to the cost of reviewing submissions, additional fixed costs per paper published include copy editing, graphics preparation, the cost of covers and setting up all the other stuff such as editorials, news, etc. This varies between journals. There are variable costs. These include printing and paper, setting up and maintaining an electronic archive, marketing, depreciation, licensing, etc. The general conclusion of all studies is that the cost of a print journal and an electronic one are broadly the same.

The report recommends going to an "author-pays" system. They see a number of advantages
Total costs for author-pays journals are likely to be lower. They include some extra cost for managing the charging system for authors but do not carry any costs for subscription management, license negotiations, or many sales costs. A conservative estimate of the charge per article necessary for author-pays journals lies in the range $500–$2500, depending on the level of selectivity used by the journal, plus a contribution to overheads and profits.
An issue that they do not confront is how to deal with printing costs in such a system. Presumably libraries would pay the actual cost of printing, mailing and binding. They do make a recommendation for such a system
It is possible to separate the cost of submission, namely peer review costs for all articles both accepted and rejected, from cost of publication in an author-pays system. It is feasible, to set up a price system which levies a submission fee and a publication fee. In such a system all authors would pay for their articles to be peer reviewed. Those authors whose articles were accepted would then pay an additional publication fee. A submission fee of no more than $175 is a likely median figure and a publication charge of around of $250–$750 might then be feasible.
This leaves aside how unfunded authors or those from underdeveloped or developing countries would be handled in such a system but it does have the advantage of limiting multiple submissions and least publishable fragmentary ones. This also somewhat neglects the experience with page charges, which are also an author-pays system, but an author pays flat fee arrangement for electronic publishing and a per volume charge to libraries for printed copies is probably the lowest cost model available. It also cleans up the right to read issue, as grants will be used to pay the first copy/electronic publishing charges which will be Open Access.

Comment. BTW RFTR

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Who do you believe?

Bill Gray when last Eli met him was spewing at Joel Achenbach in the Washington Post. Achenbach just lay back and let Gray punch himself out

We sit in his office for 2 1/2 hours, until the sun drops behind the mountains, and when we're done he offers to keep talking until midnight. He is almost desperate to be heard. His time is short. He is 76 years old. He is howling in a maelstrom.
This is not a guy to go quiet into the night.
Bill Gray says he takes no fossil-fuel money. He's simply sick and tired of squishy-minded hand-wringing equation-pushing computer jocks who've never flown into a hurricane!
Gray has his own conspiracy theory. He has made a list of 15 reasons for the global warming hysteria. The list includes the need to come up with an enemy after the end of the Cold War, and the desire among scientists, government leaders and environmentalists to find a political cause that would enable them to "organize, propagandize, force conformity and exercise political influence. Big world government could best lead (and control) us to a better world!"
and needless to say the Old Bill was not happy when the American Meteorological Society gave the Rossby Medal to Jim Hansen. None were shocked when he let loose on Jim Hansen on a mailing list. OTOH, like the ravings of your beloved but unbalanced uncle, no one is exactly spreading the news.
I am appalled at the selection of James Hansen as this year’s recipient of the AMS’s highest award – the Rossby Research Medal. James Hansen has not been trained as a meteorologist. His formal education has been in astronomy. His long records of faulty global climate predictions and alarmist public pronouncements have become increasingly hollow and at odds with reality. Hansen has exploited the general public’s lack of knowledge of how the globe’s climate system functions for his own benefit. His global warming predictions, going back to 1988 are not being verified. Why have we allowed him go on for all these years with his faulty and alarmist prognostications? And why would the AMS give him its highest award?
Why you ask dear bunnies, because..... because, according to Gray
Hansen and his legion of environmental political supporters (with no meteorological climate background) have done monumental damage to an open and honest discussion of the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) question. He and his fellow collaborators (and their media sycophantic followers) are responsible for the brainwashing of a large segment of the American public about a grossly exaggerated human induced warming threat that does not exist. Most of the global warming we have observed is of natural origin and due to multidecadal and multicentury changes in the globe’s deep ocean circulation resulting from salinity variations (see the Appendix for scientific discussion). These changes are not associated with CO2 increases. Hansen has little experience in practical meteorology. He apparently does not realize that the strongly chaotic nature of the atmosphere ocean climate system does not allow for skillful initial value numerical climate prediction.
On the one hand Gray is saying that the climate system is so chaotic that no model can predict its behavior, on the other hand he is saying that he can do so on the back of an envelope. As Eli has noted, climate change denialism is incoherent. But Eli is not the only one to say this, from Achenbach's article, we have this gem from Richard Lindzen on why he and Gray never collaborated on a paper
"His knowledge of theory is frustratingly poor, but he knows more about hurricanes than anyone in the world. I regard him in his own peculiar way as a national resource."
In other words, Gray has made his way by pattern recognition. He is lost when the pattern changes, but he does have a long list of the usual suspects of why the climate is changing or not. High among them is that meteorologists ain't getting no respect, well at least his kind of "practical" meteorologist. Eli met this same sort of "real" vs. "theoretician" argument when he wandered into chemistry in the 1970s. Suffice it to say that it is hard to publish anything today in large areas of chemistry lacking some sort of theoretical calculation. Without theory, science is stamp collecting. Yet, according to Gray the AMS has been hijacked by the
AMS leadership’s capitulating to the lobby of the climate modelers and to the outside environmental and political pressure groups who wish to use the now AMS position on AGW to help justify the promotion of their own special interests. The effectiveness of the AMS as an objective scientific organization has been greatly compromised.

We AMS members have allowed a small group of AMS administrators, climate modelers, and CO2 warming sympathizers to maneuver the internal workings of our society to support AGW policies irrespective of what our rank and file members might think.
And, dear bunnies, you would not be surprised that the AMS is a bunch of commies subversives
Our country’s Anglo Saxon derived legal system is based on the idea that the best way to get to the truth is to have opposite sides of a continuous issue present their differing views in open debate before a non partisan jury.
completely ignoring the scientific interchange that has gone on for fifty years to bring us to this point. If the slain belong to Gray we must slay them again and again. It is our duty to the Anglo Saxon legal system that denial deserves endless appeals
Instead of organizing meetings with free and open debates on the basic physics
Given Lindzen's comment on Gray and theory that is a knee slapper
and the likelihood of AGW induced climate changes, the leaders of the society (with the backing of the society’s AGW enthusiasts) have chosen to fully trust the climate models and deliberately avoid open debate on this issue. I know of no AMS sponsored conference where the AGW hypothesis has been given open and free discussion. For a long time I have wanted a forum to express my skepticism of the AGW hypothesis. No such opportunities ever came within the AMS framework. Attempts at publication of my skeptic views have been difficult. One rejection stated that I was too far out of the mainstream thinking. Another that my ideas had already been discredited. A number of AGW skeptics have told me they have had similar experiences
Well, yes. Let us see, they laughed at Einstein, but dear Bill, they also laughed at Bozo. Ideas already discredited, again yes (we will get to that), but the best is
To obtain any kind of a balanced back and forth discussion on AGW one has to consult the many web blogs that are both advocates and skeptics of AGW. These blogs are the only source for real open debate on the validity of the AGW hypothesis.
Eli has it on good authority that Rabett Run will soon receive an impact factor rating from Web of Science (More to follow)

Update: John Mashey points out that the letter is posted at Heartland


Alexander Eli Pope

Moved from the comments at Stoat

"Great fleas have little fleas
upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas,
and so ad infinitum.
Yet data set fleas are larger still
Than the great disks which hold em
And no one knows where a misprint lurks
Until they stumbles upon one"

-ER with apologies Augustus de Morgan

As is being pointed out by Gavin at Real Climate, the only way of fighting this law of nature is to depend on multiple sources and critically evaluate each. It basically is the rock on which the McIntrye and McKitrick attack on multiproxy paleoclimate evaluations and Roger P Sr's take a picture of a weather station foundered (Roger set it off, by the way he is back for another bite at the apple)

Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Carbon capture

The issue of carbon emissions during travel has come up now and again, most recently raised by one Female Science Professor, who even took a poll of how much her readers traveled. One of the most unexpected comments was from a computer science type

I really want to go to fewer conferences, partly for the environment, but I need the publications, and hardly anyone's going to see them if they go to our journals.
autres temps, autres moeurs one supposes. But this is but the thin edge of the wedge.

Eli is a lab bunny. Labs are rooms in buildings with large electrical cables entering, high cooling costs (we heat the damn thing ohmically) and significant ventilation (throwing the bad odors up the flue). Heat exchangers and other means hold down the energy use but even the undergrad labs with their high consumption of solvents are significant greenhouse gas emitters. So other than closing the place down and being careful what should be done? NREL is making an effort as is Harvard, and there are firms specializing in energy efficient design, but the bottom line is that a lab is an energy pit. As for the modeler types, the energy cost of a respectable cluster is close to that of a mid-sized city.

Commence dumping

On Economics

The Eli Economics Institute is not quite as down on economists as Michael Tobis, but the bunny has always advocated trusting everyone, but cutting the cards. As with much else the issue is almost always the assumptions, not the details. Thus it was interesting to read "Trade Liberalization and Economic Development by Jomo Sundaram and Rudiger von Arnim which appeared last month in Science.

In the eco biz, the chalk line is that free trade benefits all nations on balance. Sundaram and v. Arnim point out that this depends on several assumptions. Originally

The case for free trade rests on Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage. . . . However, his argument assumed a world of flexible exchange rates responsive to changes in the market for goods, continuous full employment, and costless factor mobility, meaning that no barriers exist to seeking and finding employment anywhere in the world. Especially in developing countries with chronic underemployment and volatile, cyclical capital flows, the last two assumptions are generally not satisfied.
Idealized free trade assumes that acountries exports are concentrated in areas where it is most productive and imports in areas that are least productive. The authors point out that this is a non-runner, given that most trade occurs between countries that are quite similar (US/Canada, the EU, etc.).

Large-scale policy models have focused on configurations that emphasize gains from trade--despite a large and growing chorus of prominent economists [including Nobelists Paul Samuelson and Joseph Stiglitz] arguing that across-the-board liberalization can be harmful.

The fundamental difference between economies of the developed and developing world is another crucial dimension of trade theory. Suppose that countries specialize in sectors for which the production factors are relatively abundant, as is recommended by traditional models. Exports of developing countries tend to be concentrated in primary products, which offer little added value. However, over time the prices of primary products will tend to decrease relative to manufactured goods. The role manufacturing plays for development has been recognized. Gains from trade then do not derive from Ricardian specialization but from expansion of dynamic sectors. From this perspective, the potential gains from trade liberalization are large, but they will materialize only if complemented by policies promoting development of industry.

Within the present context, further trade liberalization will benefit a few richer countries and stick it to the poor, especially the rural poor, unless they are specically compensated. Liberalization of trade rules for agriculture will be an even worse bargin for the under-developed countries.


Dive Dive Dive

The Arctic Sea ice cover has reached historic lows for winter

But something rather like world economic news is happening in Antarctica while all quibble about weather station locations.

No mo.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Can Eli have Ethon back? Roger is at it again.

UPDATE: As the bunny said over at Volokh given that California ag is critically dependent on snowpack, as the CA water resources board says:

One of the most critical impacts for California water management may be the projected reduction in the Sierra Nevada snowpack – California’s largest surface “reservoir.” Snowmelt currently provides an annual average of 15 million acre-feet of water, slowly released between April and July each year. Much of the state’s water infrastructure was designed to capture the slow spring runoff and deliver it during the drier summer and fall months. Based upon historical data and modeling, DWR projects that the Sierra snowpack will experience a 25 to 40 percent reduction from its historic average by 2050. Climate change is also anticipated to bring warmer storms that result in less snowfall at lower elevations, reducing the total snowpack.

it ain't gonna be a bowl of cherries. The linked white paper is interesting on many grounds

Another damn alarmist

Jennifer Marohasy has come up with another damn alarmist, one John Coleman, a weather guy in San Diego. Now at Jen's place, John is trying the tell the two sides gambit, as in

And, the connection between fossil fuel exhaust emissions of carbon dioxide has been presented over and over again as accepted science without the slightest bow to the growing throng of scientists protesting the entire silly foray of bad science and resulting public policy.
but this guy is extra special as a bit of google informs, writing
The story begins with an Oceanographer named Roger Revelle. He served with the Navy in World War II. After the war he became the Director of the Scripps Oceanographic Institute in La Jolla in San Diego, California. Revelle saw the opportunity to obtain major funding from the Navy for doing measurements and research on the ocean around the Pacific Atolls where the US military was conducting atomic bomb tests. He greatly expanded the Institute's areas of interest and among others hired Hans Suess, a noted Chemist from the University of Chicago, who was very interested in the traces of carbon in the environment from the burning of fossil fuels. Revelle tagged on to Suess studies and co-authored a paper with him in 1957. The paper raises the possibility that the carbon dioxide might be creating a greenhouse effect and causing atmospheric warming. It seems to be a plea for funding for more studies. Funding, frankly, is where Revelle's mind was most of the time.

Next Revelle hired a Geochemist named David Keeling to devise a way to measure the atmospheric content of Carbon dioxide. In 1960 Keeling published his first paper showing the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and linking the increase to the burning of fossil fuels.

These two research papers became the bedrock of the science of global warming, even though they offered no proof that carbon dioxide was in fact a greenhouse gas. In addition they failed to explain how this trace gas, only a tiny fraction of the atmosphere, could have any significant impact on temperatures.
Of course others had done that part of the work, but our boy John sees black helicopters everywhere. It goes on in this vein, stirring in a bit of Al Gore, the Singer article that Revelle got roped into, the IPCC and more. This stuff is catnip for the John Birchers, and it is "highly likely" that Coleman is associated with them.

Coleman hates, just hates, those climate alarmists. He much prefers weather alarmism.

Urgent observations across the television-radio desk: If you ever get the feeling that WMAQ-Channel 5 weatherman John Coleman tends to be an alarmist, you're not alone.

Two of his top competitors and a suburban newspaper critic have taken Coleman to task for his nasty habit of issuing unnecessarily dire winter weather warnings.

On leaving Chicago to go to Nebraska, not a good career move,

John Coleman, whose gleefully alarmist weather predictions earned him more than $400,000 a year, is on his way out at WMAQ-Channel 5.

By mutual agreement, Coleman will leave next month after six years as Channel 5's principal weatherman.

His contract expires at the end of August, sources said.

Coleman has told friends he hopes to establish a regional weather cable service similar to the Weather Channel, which he launched in 1982.

Reached at home on Tuesday, Coleman refused to answer any questions about his plans because he said he had been "offended" by previous columns questioning his record of accuracy.

"I take my job very seriously," he said.
No one took his forecasts seriously, including readers:

Frances Debevec, Chicago: Regarding your column on the alarmist forecasts of WMAQ-Channel 5 weatherman John Coleman, I agree that he frightens people because it's never as cold as he reports it. That's why I no longer watch him. I don't see other weathermen acting as he does.

Mrs. R. Murphy: John Coleman delights in predicting the next "doomsday" forecast. I'm glad to know his competitors are questioning his tactics. How can he "try to be accurate" and almost always be so wrong?

We here at Rabett Run tend to be, well, sober. Sometimes. . .

Have at it.