Monday, November 30, 2009

Supply (we got too much) and Demand (ain't got enough)

There may be nothing new under the sun, but the cost of solar electric is falling rapidly due to an oversupply of polysilicon. With new foundries coming on line in China this is something that will not be temporary. The estimates above are from November 2008, but the fall has been even steeper, having reached $60/kg today. At about $40/kg solar becomes competitive with fossil fuels on costs.

On the other hand, a low price for polysilicon is not everything. With the economic slowdown, some of the older polysilicon producers are getting priced out of the market, and solar modules are also moving slowly. Production is leaving the US and moving to China. GE and BP are closing plants in the US.


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

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Global Warming Threat Enrages Australian Camels

In a predictable (Hansen got it right in his 1988 testimony to the US Congress) outcome of the Australian's War on Science, thirsty camels are besieging outback towns in protest of the mounting spittle emanating from such worthies as Ian Plimer as the Copenhagen international conference on how to deal with climate change nears. Joe Camel IV, spokescamel for the protest movement released a statement to the press saying that

Spittle is a proprietary camel product, not only are these denialists stealing our signature issue but by producing their own homebrew spittle, they are drying out the water sources from which we manufacture highest quality Australian spittle. Should this continue we will have to import spittle to supply our wingnuts from China, which will sound very funny, or worse, low quality, high quantity spittle from the US. In the worst case we have made arrangement with Climate Audit and Watts Up With That to purchase wholesale quantities from their used comments section.

The camels are very disappointed in our friends, after we worked so well with them on Tobacco Denial. My grandfather, Joe Camel, played a major role in recruiting new young smokers at the same time that such worthies as the Freds, Singer and Seitz, were providing science sounding cover for the Tobacco Institute.

We have already passed peak water, and the government has to meet this problem In this we are joined by our furry friends, the bunnies, who have too long been oppressed by that nasty Rabett Fence.
Video at the link

Donations should be sent to the Camel Fund for Denial of Climate Denialism

Friday, November 27, 2009

Watson vs. Singer

S. Fred is being very economical with the truth as usual. Watson tries to be a nice guy (a change from the early Bob that Eli remembers). Going up against Singer requires pointing out his dirty feet, something Watson does not do.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Venn diagrams

The bunny hears that some folk were not pleased when John Mashey pinned the denialists to the Venn diagram. Curiously, the merchants of doubt were right fond of such stuff when Wegman dragged his student, Yasmin Said in from left field to do social network analysis, determining that Mike Mann had a lot of co-authors.

Merchants of Doubt is a forthcoming (May 25, 2010, mark your calendars little girls and guys) book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway about

how a cadre of influential scientists have clouded public understanding of scientific facts to advance a political and economic agenda.

The U.S. scientific community has long led the world in research on such areas as public health, environmental science, and issues affecting quality of life. Our scientists have produced landmark studies on the dangers of DDT, tobacco smoke, acid rain, and global warming. But at the same time, a small yet potent subset of this community leads the world in vehement denial of these dangers.
Merchants of Doubt tells the story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. Remarkably, the same individuals surface repeatedly—some of the same figures who have claimed that the science of global warming is “not settled” denied the truth of studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole. “Doubt is our product,” wrote one tobacco executive. These “experts” supplied it.

Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, historians of science, roll back the rug on this dark corner of the American scientific community, showing how ideology and corporate interests, aided by a too-compliant media, have skewed public understanding of some of the most pressing issues of our era.
Eli prefers his way of putting it, there is a real thin bench over there at denial central, but it can't be said often enough that their ability to inject doubt and dirt into the public discourse has killed an awful lot of people (tobacco), is killing more today (HIV denial, refusal to provide condom, etc.) and threatens to wipe out a lot more (climate change denial).

As far as Eli knows the denialists have never been on the side of an issue that was not harmful to health, wealth and happiness alone or in the various possible permutations. Climate change is the grand challenge, all three in one go. Several of that loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers have made a rather good career of this (more examples available). Still the bunny is ever persuadable if you have a large enough hammer or bankroll and eagerly awaits contrary examples. Eagerly, not hopefully. OTOH, he also welcomes examples that show he is right.

Oreskes and Conway are following a path that she and Myanna Lahsen have pioneered, particularly Lahsen's Experiences of modernity in the greenhouse: A cultural analysis of a "physicist "trio" supporting the backlash against global warming, that took Seitz, Nierenberg and Jastrow apart at the seams.

Eli has heard the victim bullies cries from Princeton, Rochester and other places where the signers of the APS petition nest, but these starlings** have little to complain about. They moan that their scientific objectivity was impugned, they were slandered and how pointing out that they are closely linked is scurrilous.

Color the Rabett dubious. His milk of bunny kindness has kinda gone away this week and a short while back. This is a seriously bad bunch, and very adept at disinformation campaigns.

** a small but noisy bird UPDATE: which as Ed Darell points out in the comments are not just noisy, but noisy in gangs. Starlings drive songbirds out of their nests, harass the songbird young, steal their food, and generally pose a barbarian-style blight upon the bird world. Starlings steal the crops from farmers, and perform no useful service in return (like eating insect pests, or providing Beauty and Song). Starlings congregate in huge gangs in cities, befouling automobiles, sidewalks, and giving people heebie-jeebies whenever they remember the old Hitchcock movie.

Since Eli lives in Washington DC, he knows this. Thanks Ed:)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Something interesting comes this way

Ed Darrell has found something interesting in the CRU Emails (Ed has a nice bathtub to wash in after wading in so you don't have to)

Sure enough, with just a few minutes of searching the e-mails, I found references to ethical breaches in cooking of data, and a discussion about how to talk about the data and the issue in public.
The paper involved is this one:
David H. Douglass, John R. Christy, Benjamin D. Pearsona and S. Fred Singer, “A comparison of tropical temperature trends with model predictions,” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CLIMATOLOGY, Int. J. Climatol. (2007). Published online in Wiley InterScience ( DOI: 10.1002/joc.1651
and the discussion of what to do about it

One of the e-mails is quite explicit:
I think the scientific fraud committed by Douglass needs to be exposed. His co-authors may be innocent bystanders, but I doubt it.
Fraud? Right there in front of everyone? In the climate debate?
In the end, the scientists in the discussion determined not to hold a press conference to announce a finding of fraud, but instead to hunker down and work on publishing datasets that would contradict the alleged fraudulent paper, and establish their case with data instead of invective and press conferences.
They even declined to rush to inform the public of the fraud after a lengthy series of attempts to duplicate the results with well-known, accurate methods on accepted data:
More at the link with links to the correspondence. Eli eagerly awaits comments from Douglass, Christy, Pearsona and Singer. Eli is a foolish, but ever hopeful bunny. You can pull the angora over his eyes.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bunnies have a reputation

The issue has been put before the house: Resolved acting like bunnies effects climate change. Well, to be honest, it is the negative. Yin, played by Joe Romm makes the case that consumption is much more important

For all these reasons, this blog is not going to focus on population. I have more than enough to write about on the policies and strategies that must be enacted if we are to have a chance at preserving a livable climate — even assuming I knew of and believed in viable population-related strategies, which I don’t.
While Yang, with Roger Pielke Jr. in the starring role holds forth that it is a distraction
The idea that family planning should be justified in terms of reducing emissions is, in my view, utter nonsense. Family planning policies are important in their own right, and to justify them in terms of climate change cheapens both the climate change agenda and the family planning agenda. Fortunately, this perspective is widely shared:
To give you an idea of how contentious this is, take a look at all of the links that Yin and Yang each have to people who agree and disagree with their position. In short, this is an issue that an innocent large bird might have an intelligent discussion on while the bunnies are doing, well bunny like things.

Eli starts from the observation that the four horsemen of the apocalypse, famine, disease, death, and denial have cut back on their working hours within the past century. Improved water supply, vaccination, and other public health measures as well as science based medicine have made death and disease much paler riders. Agricultural science has so weakened Famine that he has to limp along with the help of Great War, which himself has been limited after achieving great carnage in the first half of the last century, his visions of the true apocalypse being stymied with the collapse of the USSR. So badly has he been disappointed, that Great War has retired and spends his time raising tomatoes and his nephews, Asymmetric and Civil Warfare. Denial, Denial is doing well after killing millions in the tobacco wars [1] local successes against Rachel Carson and integrated pest control for malaria while pushing ineffective broadcast spraying of DDT, HIV/AIDS retroviral drug therapy [2] and vaccination [3]. In a major battle, when his son, polio was on his last legs, Denial got religious leaders in polio's last safe harbors in Africa and Asia to denounce vaccination [4]. Today, together with Delay, Denial has adapted a long term strategy for imposing climate change.

Partial, and let us hope not temporary, victories over Famine, Disease and Death coupled to a limitation on War have lead to exploding populations. With the exception of the developed countries, where population less immigration has remained roughly constant, it has exploded elsewhere. As was seen in France at the end of the nineteenth century, well being, social security, not having to worry about old age or illness, leads people to limit their families.

While wealth in the developed world has soared, major progress has been made in many lesser developed countries, especially South and Central America, China, India, Southeast Asia, and more.

The Rabett School of Climate Studies has investigated the matter and concludes, that like aerosols, there are two climate forcings associated with this progress, the direct, immediate one and the indirect, delayed forcing.

The direct effect is major land use changes as cities grow, forests disappear, water resources are stressed and more. It is somewhat unobservant of Roger Pielke Jr. to say that there are no direct effects of population on climate change, but Ethon, in Roger's defense, notes that RPJ was quite careful to say
but efforts to reduce emissions through population control are wrongheaded.
and one can suppose that he does not think that land use is related to emissions or that land use is an entirely different matter. Dad might disagree.

The second indirect effect is that as wealth increases in developing countries, so do emissions. Population growth exploded first in the developing world, as social structures provided food, water, sanitation, vaccination and medicines extending life expectancy. As this immense talent pool began to industrialize and the countries grew in wealth from zero, emissions started to increase on per capita as well as absolute levels. The emissions bomb is lagging population growth by forty to fifty years, but it is clearly seen at the leading edge in Hong Kong, Singapore, Brazil, Thailand, Eastern China, etc. and now India. More are sure to follow.

Both the indirect and the direct population forcings are significant, and require attention. Nor should one think that population in the developed world is a non-issue, as any population growth in the US, Europe and Japan have much larger climate change multipliers. But, as Eli said, Denial is having an excellent decade.
[1] Br Med Bull. 1996 Jan;52(1):12-21. In developed countries as a whole, tobacco was responsible for 24% of all male deaths and 7% of all female deaths, rising to over 40% in men in some former socialist economies and 17% in women in the USA. The average loss of life for all cigarette smokers was about 8 years and for those whose deaths were attributable to tobacco about 16 years.

[2] From the Wikipedia: Public health researchers in South Africa and at Harvard University have independently investigated the impact of AIDS denialism. Their estimates attribute 330,000 to 340,000 AIDS deaths, 171,000 HIV infections and 35,000 infant HIV infections to the South African government's former embrace of AIDS denialism.[11][12]

[3] Ben Goldacre's Bad Science and Orac's Respectful Insolance are places to start learning about the harm vaccination denial is bringing.

[4] From the Center for Disease Control: Two decades later in 2008, a total of 1,625 children contracted acute flaccid paralysis caused by poliovirus infection (1). This finding represented a 150% increase over the number of cases in 2007 (1) and resulted in the reemergence of polio as one of the world’s deadliest infections. As of 2009, polio remains endemic to 4 countries (India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan); in 2008, cases were also detected in 14 other countries.
Religious opposition by Muslim fundamentalists is a major factor in the failure of immunization programs against polio in Nigeria (2), Pakistan (3) and Afghanistan (4). This religious conflict in the tribal areas of Pakistan is one of the biggest hindrances to effective polio vaccination.

Cartoon an adaptation from one by Mike Luckovich


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

No honor among bloggers

While Wm was doing his grumpy young man bit over at Stoat, grousing about the APS Climate Change Statement that it added nothing new, Arthur Smith has something interesting to say. Arthur did not put it on his blog, so Eli thought he would "borrow"

No, the statement certainly doesn't add anything to the scientific discussion of the matter; it's relatively conservative compared to AGU and AAAS etc. But it does put the reputation of yet another well-respected scientific organization on the line in essentially an endorsement of the IPCC.

The only way our honest "sceptic" friends can maintain their belief system is to also believe in the corruption, mal-intent or incompetence of all those scientists who have been pointing out the real serious problems with our fossil carbon emissions. They have to pretend that the numbers on the "pro" side are small, that the numbers on their side are large. The effect of statements such as this from the APS is to tear away at that belief system - or else to succumb to an ever-expanding conspiracy. Which you can see in the various reactions out there.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Around the Coffee Pot

On the one hand here is a continuation of Eli's post just the other day on the Climate Concern Troll Twins vs Climate McCarthy, on the other a comment on recent general going ons featuring a cast of tens, the freakynomics follies, Klotzbach and colleagues and more.

The question before the assembled long ears is how to discuss stuff, and no, Eli is not really very interested in the civil discourse thing. The kids read, or hear something. They think about it (maybe) and then talk to others around the carrot juice bar. Some bunny throws out a half baked comment, if you are lucky. Another sneeringly points out that it "needs more work" and finally, after a while, sometimes after dad shows up, the issues become a lot clearer.

This is what is happening on a number of blogs. The problem comes when the originators dig in. Then it gets, very rough and very dumb.

The real issue is how do you incorporate the discussion into the original post. Eli's solution is to use UPDATE to mark where the changes are, and to move important things up from the comments. YMMV. Some favor the memory hole, others leave it buried in the comments and move on. There is no best solution. Others, well there is a reason they are called denialists.

Frankly tho, we are not amused.


Best Suggestion of the Month

How to deal with denialists, from the comments at Gin and Tacos, in a post on Ayn Rand

I think scientist should “go Galt” and call it “Einstein Shrugged”

Where will all the Creationists and science deniers be then?

That's Beyond Belief. Snark fans should read the whole thing. Eli gives you a taste:
My opinions about Ayn Rand have been stated unambiguously. There is no silver lining to anything Rand, not her infantile “philosophy”, sub-Twilight writing skills, or legions of socially retarded acolytes who devote their “lives” to annoying the living shit out of the rest of the world and wondering what it would be like to talk to a woman. The great thing is that I don’t have to pretend differently. It is perfectly acceptable in the academic world to treat Rand’s Objectivism like the intellectually bankrupt farce it is. If I say Catholicism is a big pile of bullshit, I will get fired or at least seriously disciplined. If a student makes some Ron Paul argument about abolishing the Fed I am not allowed to laugh at him. But Ayn Rand? She is taken as seriously as astrology. If a student complained I think the people in the Dean’s office would hit him with pies.

The grand master of pie throwing, Soupy Sales, has recently left us and gone to the bakery in the sky.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Much Toodaloo About Climate McCarthyism

The Climate Concern Troll Twins have declared war on Joe Romm, finger painting him as the Climate Joe McCarthy. Romm is not everyone's cup of tea, but as Hank Roberts put it

But, man, I remember Joe McCarthy. Joe Romm is no Joe McCarthy.

Not even close, not even comparable. You look at that video, and look at the videos of some of the really slick, sophisticated, anti-environmental spokespeople.

You’ll see a similarity, for sure. Joe Romm’s not one of those. He’s maybe trying to be that smooth and organized, but he’s just never got the self control to be the kind of sleaze that McCarthy was, and he’s never had anything remotely like the power McCarthy had.

Get real, kids. You’re not repeating history here.
Hank and Eli are old guys, most of these guys, the Pielkes, Kloor and Nordhaus and Schnellenberger, are too young to remember Tail Gunner Joe, and the more effective bomb throwers on the House Un-American Activities Committee with their local affiliates.

Further, close reading by the Rabett Labs team has raised issues about how Nordhaus and Schellenberger go after Romm. For example, they write
Earlier this year Romm attacked two of the world's leading environmental economists, Richard Tol and William Nordhaus (the co-author's uncle). Their crime? They were thanked in the acknowledgements of a study by economists from MIT, Northwestern and the National Bureau of Economic Research, which was subsequently touted by the conservative Heritage Foundation.
When your mice direct you to the link you find that it is a part of a series about how Joe was not very happy in a Joe like way with economists, and particularly on a report from three MIT economists (not Richard Tol or William Nordhaus) that was being touted by AEI. He titled the post:

“Voodoo Economists, Part 3: MIT and NBER (and Tol and Nordhaus) — the right wing deniers love your work. Ask yourself “why?

A thought that has occasionally occupied the space between Eli's rather large ears. Parenthetically the shift among economists on climate change driven by the Stern report has been encouraging. When the Stern report first appeared the sour response from economists filled the air, but as Stern's warnings on the costs of inaction sunk in, first Weitzman and then the rest changed their tune while holding on to their distaste.

Still, the only Rommian mention of the above mentioned two in the text is
What makes the paper especially noteworthy, however, is not merely the credentials of the authors, but that they thank such climate economist luminaries as William Nordhaus and Richard Tol for “helpful comments and suggestions.” The only helpful comment and suggestion I can think of for this paper is “Burn the damn thing and start over from scratch.”
which is not an attack on Uncle Bill and Richard Tol, but a note that they were acknowledged as having offered comments and suggestions. Richard Tol responded:

Dave is quite right. I read and criticised the paper, and so they put me in the acknowledgements. This is common practice. It is the polite thing to do and it signals to editors and referees that they did discuss their ideas with others.

It for sure is not an endorsement. Indeed I did tell them that their estimates are suspiciously high because their model is underspecified.

In other words, BAU for papers. That became part of another post on Climate Progress entitled

“Voodoo Economists, Part 3.5: Richard Tol says wildly optimistic MIT/NBER study, beloved of deniers, is “way too pessimistic””

which apparently got Nordhaus and Schellenbergered into

In another post attacking Tol, Romm wrote:

"Tol's work is a beloved of the right wing global warming deniers."
Deep Climate points out that this is a condensation of the statement in Romm's post of
"It was and is my intention to discuss Tol’s work, which itself is a beloved of the right wing global warming deniers, in Part 5."
and he finds them "not guilty on the lesser charge".

Young and innocent readers, there may be some place, somewhere, where that odd construction was written by Joe Romm. No link was given, none found with Google. Perhaps there will be others, certainly not Eli, the Rabett hastens to add, who will consider this to be a bit of slightly sly creative editing. Others, not Eli, he hastens to add, would greatly appreciate a link to remove all doubt in the matter. Recent experience with the Twins, has perhaps indicated to Eli that they do not have the funding for needed extra letters, and some must be dropped. Is it, he asks, time for a blogger ethics panel?

Tomorrow we move on.

As expected

From the NY Times

SINGAPORE — President Obama and other world leaders have decided to put off the difficult task of reaching a climate changeagreement at a global climate conference scheduled for next month, agreeing instead to make it the mission of the Copenhagen conference to reach a less specific “politically binding” agreement that would punt the most difficult issues into the future.

Friday, November 13, 2009

John Mashey and Arthur Smith were right (and Eli wrong)

It is always tempting to jump to conclusions before RTFR, but in some case the conclusion is available before the report so Eli has a bit of an excuse. The APS has released the report that the Council decision was based on to members, and it is not all good.

The Committee was lead by Dan Kleppner, a very distinguished AMO guy (atomic and molecular physics). Two of the members were theoretical particle physicists, one was a surface physicist and one was a nuclear physicist. The person who may have made the difference is Robert K. Adair, one of the early signers of the OISM petition.

Adair's position certainly should have been no secret as can be gathered from a letter sent from the George Marshall Institute to President George W. Bush in 2002 which concluded,

We applaud your commitment to a science based policy. We also reiterate that the overshelming balance of evidence shows no appreciable warming trend attributable to carbon dioxide from human activity. The tell tale sign of a significant human influence on climate - a warming of the lower atmosphere- does not exist. Contrary to all computer model forecasts for global warming, neither satellites nor weather balloons can find any net warming trend in the lower atmosphere for over two decades.
The letter was signed by William O'Keefe, President of the Marshall Institute and was sent on behalf many of the usual suspects, Seitz, Jastrow, Baliunas, Happer, Chauncey Starr, Robert K. Adair, surprisingly to Eli, Sid Benson, Sherwood Idso, David Legates, Pat Michaels, Fred Singer, Edward Teller and a few others. The signature page is on a separate pdf.

Before we get to the bad news, it is worth thinking about why such a committee, with no members who had any professional experience in climate issues was chosen, and even if your accept the arrogance of physicists, why such an obvious champion of denialism was allowed to sit on the committee. Even if you accept that, then there should have been a counter balance. Perhaps there was, certainly the APS Council and the Committee owe the members an explanation of how this committee was chosen. OTEOP Adair had not signed the Austin Petition that set this all off.

The Committee relied on the IPCC WG 1 report and the NRC North Committee report on proxy reconstructions. Especially in the later case, the information was outdated, and there is no evidence that anyone on the Committee had any idea of how the field has moved since then. The quote the conclusion of the North report that
It can be said with a high level of confidence that global mean surface temperature was higher during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period during the preceding four centuries. This statement is justified by the consistency of the evidence from a wide variety of geographically diverse proxies.

Less confidence can be placed in large‐scale surface temperature reconstructions for the period from A.D. 900 to 1600. Presently available proxy evidence indicates that temperatures at many, but not all, individual locations were higher during the past 25 years than during any period of comparable length since A.D. 900. ”
Without being apparently aware of additional reconstructions that have appeared in the last four years strengthening both conclusions. The report is shockingly naive.

The Committee's bottom line was that the data and projections all point to further global warming if present emission trends continue the costs of which could be catastrophic. The Committee concluded that the proposed statement from the Austin Petition should be rejected. This was the decision of the Council.

The Committee did not recommend strengthening the APS statement on climate change as Eli had surmised, but rather recommended a significant weakening, no doubt influenced by Robert Adair. The state that the anthropic influence on climate has not been proven to be a fact, although there is strong evidence, and recommend inserting the word probably into the first sentence of the Policy Statement, changing it to
Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are probably changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate.
but it gets worse. Referring to the second paragraph of the policy statement
The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.
The Committee writes
In the second paragraph, the first sentence states that the fact of climate warming is incontrovertible, which is true. However, by its context this is easily misread to mean that anthropogenic warming is incontrovertible. The only clue that there are uncertainties in the predictions for the global climate is the phrase “likely to occur” in the second paragraph. This hardly conveys the great uncertainties in analysis displayed in [WG1] PSB. The paragraph as a whole has an alarmist tone that belies the underlying uncertainties.
Eli is very unhappy.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Final Word on Dubner and Levitt

From Dr. Confused

Have you read any of his books? My husband loved Freakonomics so I read it as well. My husband has no math or science background. I found the book to be a huge load of tripe. It was an entire book premised on conflating correlation and causation, served up with a generous helping of self-satisfied preening about being rogue economicists or some such
More analysis @ the link

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The American Physical Society Stays Real

We are coming to the end of an era. Starting in the 1990s, Fred Singer and friends, with the backing of the tobacco industry, developed stealth petitions as a weapon of denial, first for the tobacco and chemical industries, but rapidly as a weapon to delay action on climate change. Eli refers to such beauties as the Heidelberg Appeal, and the Leipzig Declaration, grandparents to the baby Hughie of the business, the OISM Petition with various lists of nieces and nephews.

UPDATE: John Mashey has analyzed this latest list and provides the driving reason for it. The next time your neighbor talks about all the physicists who oppose the IPCC, shove John's
paper (found at the link) into his mailbox

This might seem a grassroots groundswell of informed expert argument with the existing position, but it is not. Rather, it seems to have originated within a small network of people, not field experts, but with a long history of manufacturing such things, plausibly at the Heartland Institute‘s NYC climate conference March 8-10, 2009. APS physicists can, do, and will contribute strongly to solving the 21st century‟s conjoined climate+energy problem, but this petition was a silly distraction, and rightly rejected. However, its existence was widely touted to the public."
Well, if it worked once, confused everyone twice, why not go back to the well, and the answer is people learn to lift the rock to see what is underneath. Folk have also learned to listen for the rustling of petition pushers and push back.

Just newly, a list of various characters petitioned the American Physical Society to alter its policy statement on climate change. The result is an amazing reaffirmation and a kick in the teeth to the petitioners, including Robert Austin, who is a member of the APS council
The Council of the American Physical Society has overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to replace the Society’s 2007 Statement on Climate Change with a version that raised doubts about global warming. The Council’s vote came after it received a report from a committee of eminent scientists who reviewed the existing statement in response to a petition submitted by a group of APS members.
Overwhelmingly rejected is strong language as these things go, but more significantly
The committee also recommended that the current APS statement be allowed to stand, but it requested that the Society’s Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) examine the statement for possible improvements in clarity and tone.
A stronger, more direct statement is clearly needed as the evidence for climate change is even stronger today then it was two years ago
Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes.
The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.
Because the complexity of the climate makes accurate prediction difficult, the APS urges an enhanced effort to understand the effects of human activity on the Earth’s climate, and to provide the technological options for meeting the climate challenge in the near and longer terms. The APS also urges governments, universities, national laboratories and its membership to support policies and actions that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.
UPDATE: Image from Life by John, Mad Slav from Reference Frame. Comments?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Eli is a Global Climate Change Decision Maker

Readers of Rabett Run will be pleased to know that Eli has been officially recognized as an Official Climate Change Decision Maker by the United Nations Environmental Program, the World Bank, the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and the International Development Research Centre. Others may, of course, shudder.

This is at least one rank higher than an IPCC Expert Reviewer, as the survey Email came unsolicited into Eli's Email box along with a number of seemingly remunerative solicitations for financial participation and notices of the passing of myriad well to do, and related long ears.

This is the third part of a survey designed by Global Scan, and Eli thought it would be interesting to put the class to a test especially as asking an incoherent list of questions about climate policy has become the hot new thing. The first question has two answers, what the bunnies would wish to have happen at the COP15 conference (and if you don't know what the COP15 conference is, drop the course before you fail) and what they think will happen

  1. A comprehensive and ambitious agreement with the cooperative participation of the USA and China
  2. An agreement where countries commit to their own current national targets
  3. A limited agreement outside the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
  4. An extension of the Kyoto Protocol, the existing agreement
  5. A political agreement in principal with negotiations continuing beyond the Copenhagen conference (COP15) into 2010
  6. An agreement to do very little
  7. No agreement at all and the termination of negotiations
  8. Other (Please specify
The second question asks for the usual 1-5 scale. SA is strongly agree, A is agree, N is neutral, D is disagree and SD is strongly disagree
  1. Climate change is already negatively affecting the lives of people in poor countries.
    SD D N A SA
  2. Investing in mitigating the effects of climate change now will be less costly than adapting to those effects later.
    SD D N A SA
  3. The science of human-caused climate change is not solid enough to justify major action to fight climate change.
    SD D N A SA
  4. New technology will solve the problem of climate change,requiring only minor changes in human thinking and individual behavior.
    SD D N A SA
  5. Climate change is such a big problem that there is very little the individual can do about it.
    SD D N A SA
  6. Large companies have a responsibility to encourage governments to do more to address climate change.
    SD D N A SA
Eli's answers are below the fold.
First Question: The Bunny would really like to see a comprehensive and ambitious agreement (1), but suspects the outcome will be some combination of 2 and 5 with governments committing to their own multinational (e.g. EU) or national standards and punting the ball down the road into 2010. If El Nino is real strong in 2010 the world may see more progress.

Climate change is already negatively affecting the lives of people in poor countries.
Disagree on this, but in about 10-15 years probably Strongly Agree. The world is on the cusp of dangerous human driven climate change.

Investing in mitigating the effects of climate change now will be less costly than adapting to those effects later.
Strongly Agree. Eli would remind everyone about J Willard Rabett's third and fourth rules for climate change policy makers:
3. Adaptation plus future costs is more expensive than mitigation,
4. Adaptation without mitigation drives procrastination penalties to infinity.
The science of human-caused climate change is not solid enough to justify major action to fight climate change. Strongly Disagree. This MIGHT have been true twenty years ago, but increasingly it is nonsense, especially as the costs and risks of procrastination become clearer

New technology will solve the problem of climate change,requiring only minor changes in human thinking and individual behavior. Adoption of this as a policy would be criminal. Eli will forward those potentially remunerative solicitations to anyone who agrees with this and hopes that their investments prosper.

Climate change is such a big problem that there is very little the individual can do about it. Not well posed. Individuals can set examples for others that reverberate. Social pressure is an important factor in human societies which has its origin in individual behavior

Large companies have a responsibility to encourage governments to do more to address climate change.
Strongly agree. Unfortunately the primary role that industry has played is to block action because of perceived costs.

The sagacious amongst thee, of course, have already checked the correct boxes. If so, you may repair to the refractory where Ethon has prepared a groaning board of refreshments including his grandmother's liver pate.

**Image from

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Eli Rabett's Five Fold Way to Deal with Climate Change

(with a few changes)
Adaptation, Amelioration, Conservation, Substitution, Mitigation

Eli has never been a shy bunny, for example, Eli Rabett's Simple Plan to Save the World, with a codicil for India and China. In this tradition, the Rabett wishes to tell the annonomice how to deal with the mess we are in because of the denialists and the delayers.

The world needs a four pronged strategy

  • Adaptation to deal with the damage already done
  • Amelioration, eliminating harmful effects of our actions
  • Conservation with needed and desired but not wasteful usage
  • Substitution of green systems for destructive ones
  • Mitigation reversing our thoughtless abuse
Conservation includes energy efficiency, amelioration covers such things as CO2 capture and storage, substitution increased nuclear, solar, and wind energy replacing fossil fuels, mitigation is reserved for things that actually decrease the concentrations of greenhouse gases and reverse damaging land use changes.

Encourage the others. Eli will know his own.

Monday, November 02, 2009

New Model Strawmen

According to the Wikipedia, strawman can be wished into existence by

  1. Presenting a misrepresentation of the opponent's position and then refuting it,, thus giving the appearance that the opponent's actual position has been refuted.[1]
  2. Quoting an opponent's words out of context -- i.e., choosing quotations that are not representative of the opponent's actual intentions (see contextomy and quote mining).[2]
  3. Presenting someone who defends a position poorly as the defender and then refuting that person's arguments, thus giving the appearance that every upholder of that position, and thus the position itself, has been defeated.[1]
  4. Inventing a fictitious persona with actions or beliefs that are criticized, such that the person represents a group of whom the speaker is critical.
  5. Oversimplifying an opponent's argument, then attacking the simplified version.
Eli had muttered about this some time ago. Jörg Zimmermann, has added to the list
The pseudo-argument is a claim brought into the discussion without any evidence that later is treated as if it had been proved, even though never substantiated or quantified. Trolls are particularly fond of using an already refuted allegations again and again ignoring the refutation, thus turning it into a pseudoargument. This strawman is not so much directed against the opponent, but is dragged in as an artifice of support.
6. Using a psuedoargument as proof for your postion.
A lot of that going around

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Keith Briffa REALLY Responds

Keith Briffa and Thomas Melvin have put up a comment on the use of the Yamal proxy records, and a response to McIntyre's Yamal Follies, the conclusion of which is

So what can we conclude on the basis of this and McIntyre's sensitivity tests? Does either version of the Yamal chronology as presented in Briffa (2000) and Briffa et al. (2008) present a misleading indication of the likely history of tree-growth changes near the tree line in the Yamal region over the last two millennia, or can McIntyre's "sensitivity analysis" be taken as evidence that tree growth has not increased in this region in the second half of the 20th century as is clearly implied by the "extreme" version of the Yamal chronology he produced? On the basis of the evidence we report here, the answer is very likely "NO" on both counts. 
McIntyre states "If the non-robustness observed here prove out .. this will have an important impact on many multiproxy studies ...". We have shown here that the "KHAD only" example constructed by McIntyre itself represents a biased chronology, contradicted by the evidence of other chronologies constructed using additional and more representative site data. The evidence does not support a conclusion that our previous work was in any way seriously flawed. The last 8 years of our chronology ARE based on data from a decreasing number of sites and trees and this smaller available sample does emphasise the faster growing trees, so this section of the chronology should be used cautiously. The reworked chronology, based on all of the currently available data is similar to our previously published versions of the Yamal chronology demonstrating that our earlier work presents a defensible and reasonable indication of tree growth changes during the 20th century, and in the context of long-term changes reconstructed over the last two millennia in the vicinity of the larch treeline in southern Yamal.
and, oh yes, as Eli said about who owned the data
Briffa has also been attacked by McIntyre for not releasing the original ring-width measurement records from which the various chronologies discussed in Briffa (2000) and Briffa et al. (2008) were made. We would like to reiterate that these data were never "owned" by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and we have never had the right to distribute them. These data were acquired in the context of collaborative research with colleagues who developed them. Requests for these data have been redirected towards the appropriate institutions and individuals. When the Briffa (2000) paper was published, release of these data was specifically embargoed by our colleagues who were still working towards further publications using them. Following publication of the 2008 paper, at the request of the Royal Society, Briffa approached colleagues in Sweden, Ekaterinburg and Krasnoyarsk and their permission was given to release the data. This was done in 2008 and 2009. Incidentally, we understand that Rashit Hantemirov sent McIntyre the Yamal data used in the papers cited above at his request as early as 2nd February, 2004. 
The Climatic Research Unit has never been a prolific producer of tree-ring records, focussing mainly on the collaborative analysis of data generously provided by other institutions. We will continue to respect restrictions placed upon the dissemination of data by those colleagues who provide them. All of the data produced at CRU (sampled from living oaks or pines at various sites around the UK and Scandinavia) have been provided on request. (All of the data used or produced in the analysis described here are provided on the Data page.)
Go RTFL and then go read CA if your stomach can take it. Of course, Steve interprets caution as something that he does not do.