Wednesday, February 29, 2012

John Abraham would not approve

Since not everyone reads the comments, Doug wins the internet with his comment on Tom Harris climate science qualifications

Mr. Harris is a MechE; as we know, the Earth's climate is governed by a system of sprockets, springs and chains similar that found on bicycles so it's wise to defer to his judgment. In the case of "negative discovery" I think he's trying to use nontechnical terms to explain that we have to pedal backward in order to go forward.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Emissions match Hansen Scenario B; Keystone delay is a victory; EDF Insider podcast; and Machete Order Star Wars

Three climate shorts here.

First, maybe others have already known this for years, but I'd been bothered by claims that Hansen's 1988 worst case emission scenario matched actual emissions while temps were far cooler.  Of course that's not true.  Actual emissions were slightly under Hansen's middle road scenario.  Temps were also under the middle scenario, partly because of emissions.  His model may have been slightly oversensitive for temperature reaction to GHGs but overall looks good. David Evans sadly has it wrong, is strongly criticized by William.

Second, in my comments elsewhere:

In my career, I've won much more often than I've lost when I'm on defense, trying to stop something I oppose, rather than trying to achieve something I support.
We're on offense on many aspects of climate, but on Keystone we're on defense.  I've also found in my career that delay is good when you're on defense.  Keystone now has to spend money while waiting longer to make a profit, making it somewhat more likely that they'll throw in the towel.  And even if they do build their monstrosity, doing it later makes it more likely to happen when the evil Harper/Santorum government of Canada is replaced by something reasonable that would put some restraints or mitigation on the project.

Third, Environmental Defense Fund did another of their irregular podcasts.  Highlights include a non-rejection of a carbon tax approach to climate mitigation.  OTOH, they say that in the end, groups should coalesce around a single approach at the national level, and we can predict what has the best chance of being that approach.  They also say that things  may get so bad that we might need to consider geoengineering and should be trying to figure out how we can research that approach carefully.  Sounds reasonable enough, sadly.

Finally and unrelated:  watching Star Wars movies in Machete Order.  Good way to introduce them to newbies.

Doug Proctor: Climate Change Is Caused by Smoke and Mirrors

Eli translates from the Tallbloke.  Comments building at the Weasel's.

It comes in threes

The first is the Court of Appeals hearing on the EPA endangerment finding, Eli did a series on that but the long and the short is that the Supreme Court said that EPA had to treat CO2 as a pollutant, and it is going to be REAL hard to get past that. Brad Johnson sets the stage and it looks like the judges are not happy campers with denial (from Greenwire, paywall)

Patrick Day of the Coalition for Responsible Regulation argued that the finding “erroneously decided to completely divorce” the risk assessment from the agency’s regulatory decisions. EPA’s inadequate endangerment finding, he said, authorizes “ineffective and perhaps even fruitless regulations.”
Judge David Tatel, who was particularly aggressive in questioning both sides, sharply dismissed Day’s logic.
“I do not understand your argument,” he said. “Why don’t you try again?”
Tatel and Sentelle both seemed concerned that the petitioners were asking the court to overturn the scientific basis for EPA’s endangerment finding or the Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts. Both judges indicated that was not their job.
UPDATE: From Reuters
U.S. Circuit Judge David Tatel pointing out the agency had found the science certain enough. "To win here, you have to make an argument that EPA's decision is actually arbitrary and capricious," Tatel said.
and from the Environmental Defense Fund
Against this backdrop, today’s Petitioners forwarded non-scientific reasons that they claimed would permit EPA to avoid finding that greenhouse gases are harmful to human health. That line of reasoning prompted Chief Judge Sentelle to note that:
Sometimes in reading Petitioners’ briefs, I got the feeling that Massachusetts hadn’t been decided.
Among these non-scientific factors: Petitioners urged that EPA must consider humans’ ability to adapt to a changing climate in determining whether greenhouse gases endanger human health. In a hypothetical, Judge Tatel probed the flawed implications of that argument – he asked whether Petitioners’ position meant that EPA could determine that a cancer-causing pollutant did not pose a danger to public health on the grounds that society may, at some future point, develop a cure for cancer.
The second is a bit of serious merriment, as the folks at the Canadian Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism (CASS) fisk Tom Harris' version of a climate change course. Tom, a public relations guy, took over a Carleton University course from Tim Patterson, a noted rock head and denialist there. Evidently lectures at CU are (partially) available as videos to those taking the class and to staff, so a staff member asked for and got access. The Ottawa Skeptics had a field day and dug out 142 issues for the bunnies delectation. Eli, being a backwards bunny will start at the back. Others (one, two, three, ) have taken the lead
T. Harris Claim 142. ‚Climate science is changing quickly.‛
CASS makes the excellent point that climate science is undergoing refinement reinforcing basic ideas rather than rebuilding from scratch but Eli asks why not, we bunnies are changing the climate at lightening (for geology) speed, which is the problem. One of the principles of engineering is if you want to understand how a system works, give it a kick and observe. Unfortunately, if you are in the box, this can be annoying.
T. Harris Claim 141. ‚Prepare for global cooling.‛
Often referred to as the Year 10K problem. Eli would suggest that it would be a good thing to hang around for.

Oh hell, its the usual spinach. Go read the CASS report, Skeptical Science or Coby Beck and the other blogs.

Eli admires how CASS anticipates the spittle headed its way. The CU faculty find that academic freedom depends on academic responsibility
Academic freedom carries with it the duty to use that freedom in a manner consistent with the scholarly obligation to base research and teaching on an honest search for truth.
They show in their report, that in Harris' class
There was no free exchange of ideas, but the one-sided presentation of a biased viewpoint that contradicts much established research. Indeed, not only were alternative views not given time, but students were actively encouraged to ridicule those individuals who espoused views considered "alarmist" by the instructor (see our comment concerning "blooper of the week" above). Finally, as we demonstrate extensively in our analysis, the material presented was not an adequate representation of the current state of the field of climate science. The teaching of critical thinking and skepticism is healthy in a university setting where students are expected to move beyond the confines of rote learning.
but, dear parents of pre-college bunnies who wonder what they will expose the young'uns to, there is a far more serious issue here. The major responsibility of the faculty at any university or college is to evaluate itself. In the strongest form this occurs in hiring and the granting of tenure, where the department faculty plays a decisive role in figuring out if the applicants have half a clue about the field they will teach and do research in.

Not so well known is that the faculty also evaluates adjuncts, instructors, whatever you call em. There is no way that the Carleton University Department of Earth Sciences met its responsibilities in this case. Harris is simply not qualified to teach a course on climate change.

Something else will turn up

Book Tour

Well known, but who could resist



28 February 2012 4:26PM
Mr Mann,
The other day I thought I’d play around with some randomly generated time-series and see if I could ‘reconstruct’ northern hemisphere temperatures. The reconstructions clearly show a ‘hockey-stick’ trend. Rhis is precisely the phenomenon that Steve Mcintyre has been talking on about.
Have you attempted to process random data with your statistical procedures in order to verify that they don't make hockey stick shapes simply as a result of an incorrect methodology?

28 February 2012 4:33PM

Hmm. You really need to read the book, since I discuss this in some detail. That claim is been refuted in a number of actual studies in the peer-reviewed literature, by folks like Von Storch, Huybers, Wahl & Ammann, etc. McIntyre engaged in some rather dubious cherry-picking to falsely make this claim. Among other things, he sorted through thousands of random series to eventually find some that had the shape he was looking for. There is a good discussion at the site "DeepClimate", search on "mcintyre":

28 February 2012 4:34PM
Dr. Mann,
James Hansen is widely quoted as saying that climate-sensitivity is "nailed" at 3C by paleoclimate. What are your views on this?
PS, loved the book.

28 February 2012 4:39PM
thanks for the kind words about the book. Jim is a great scientist, who has made substantial contributions to our field, and I never take anything he has to say about the science lightly. I am surprised if he stated this, as there is still a very vigorous debate within the climate research community about precisely how much constraint we can put on equilibrium climate sensitivity. In my own (somewhat expert) assessment I would suspect that the range is somewhere between 2-4C for the "fast feedback response", but larger, for the long-term response where land surface and carbon cycle feedbacks fully kick in. but here especially there are many 'known unknowns' and almost certainly quite a few 'unknown unknowns'. As I remarked earlier, there is no reason at all to assume that uncertainty will cut in our favor. Indeed, there is more reason to be believe it will cut against us, because of the possibility of some very high cost albeit low probability impacts.

28 February 2012 4:46PM
Thanks for the reply Mike. I've had a look - Hansen said it at an AGU meeting, and did add "plus or minus half a degree." Good luck with the book - great bit of science communication, even if I still don't quite grasp the details of PCA.
All the best.
28 February 2012 4:40PM
As someone who did not cope well with the level of bullying that can occur in academia, between colleagues! ... I was deeply moved, reading your book by what you and others been subjected to. Being anti-science is one thing, but the violence that's involved in this debate is astonishing...
What can be done to re-civilize the debate on climate change policy?
28 February 2012 4:47PM
thanks for your comment. well sadly, I think it is symptomatic of something much deeper, at least in the U.S. Its part and parcel to the poisoning of our public discourse, where every issue seems to have to be construed as falling along partisan political divide, and immediately you have gridlock and stagnation when it comes to advancing policy solutions to read problems. Part of the problem is the loss, in our media, of an honest broker. It wasn't that long ago that, as legendary New York Senator Patrick P. Moynihan once said, "you're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts". Unfortunately, it now seems that with climate change---and so many other matters of policy relevance--people seem to think they are entitled to their own facts. Sadly, much of that is evident even in some of the comments that have been posted here today. There seems to be a loss of good faith in the public discourse. And until we solve that problem, I see little hope for substantial progress in solving just about any substantive problem faced by society.
28 February 2012 4:48PM
Thank you for your consideration :) My sister-in-law had you in class as a student at UVA...
My question concerns the 'loading the climate dice' studies that are starting to pop up in the literature. What are your thoughts on the validity of such studies? In my view, it's either the methodology is uniformly applicable, skillful, and revelatory, or the methodology is flawed.
For example, Stefan Rahmstorf's study showing the 'loading of the climate dice' when it comes to attribution of the Moscow heat wave (y'all discuss this at RC as well) ... What if his same methodology (or others like it) were to be applied to the extreme cold gripping Eastern Europe / Balkans this winter?
28 February 2012 4:55PM
Thanks. Please say hi to your sister for me. I hope she had a positive experience! Your question is a great one. Generally speaking, we expect the "climate dice" to be increasingly loaded towards more "sixes" (extreme heat) and fewer "ones" (extreme cold). Certainly, we see that for the U.S., where the incidence of extreme heat over extreme cold has doubled over the past several decades to where the records run 2-to-1 (in the absence of climate change, it should be 1-1). Last summer in the U.S. it was closer to 10-to-1. So we are seeing climate change in the collective rolling of the weather dice. W.r.t. the Moscow heat wave, the Rahmstorf finding was recently reaffirmed in an independent study using so-called "detection-plus-attribution" approaches by some scientists at Oxford.
Now, the extreme cold during parts of the winter in Europe for the past few years is very interesting. I would have guessed that there was no particular connection to climate change. However, a number of recent peer-reviewed articles have argued that there may indeed be a connection: the loss of Arctic Sea Ice in the summer and the impact that has one the transfer of heat form the Arctic ocean into the overlying atmosphere in fall and winter, may be perturbing the jet stream in such a way that you get more frequent wiggles favoring northerly (arctic) air flow over parts of Europe during winter. But the jury is still out on this. That's what makes the science so interesting. There are real uncertainties & controversies, and they have implications. Were that the discourse was over these issues, rather than the false debate we're still having in the public discourse about whether or not climate change is even real :(
28 February 2012 4:47PM
Given that the term "denier" has obvious holocaust denial connotations, do you think that your use of that word is:
1. unacceptable for a scientist to use
2. one that could incite certain elements to violence against people who question the concensus
Or do you consider it a reasonable term?

28 February 2012 5:06PM
Frankly, I think those who complain about this are often just producing crocodiles tears. As someone who lost relatives to the religious persecution of the jewish people, I would be as sensitive to anyone if I really though the use of the term has anything whatsoever do do with the holocaust. I find that argument quite disingenuous if not downright dishonest. For those who are denying mainstream science, the logical thing to call them is "deniers". they are certainly not "skeptics" and even "contrarian" doesn't always fit the bill. Given that some of the fiercest of our detractors have proudly declared themselves deniers (one such individual even wrote a book "The Deniers") I find that this argument has no currency at all. I suspect its often used as a somewhat disingenuous ploy to get journalists and other commentators to grant the highly undeserved term of "skeptic" to those who are nothing of the sort.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Thorstein Veblen and Occupy Wall Street

From Richard Lichty emeritus at UMN Duluth, by way of Crooked Timber, (comment 2) an explanation of the world according to Thorstein Veblen, the man who created the Theory of the Leisure Class and Conspicuous Consumption, providing much intellectual framework with which we today parse the world.

TV nailed it about the time Arrhenius was explaining the Greenhouse Effect

Veblen identified two different behavioral traits in history: the trait of workmanship and the predatory trait (the tendency to exploit and plunder). Workmanship includes such things as parenting and "idle curiosity" in addition to the more usual use of the term - creativity. It is out of this trait that advances in civilization stems. It is also out of this trait from which the instinct for cooperation stems.
The predatory instinct is what made early societies revere the strong. The booty from victory at war, including slaves, ears, scalps, etc., were often displayed by the mightiest of warriors. In other systems, the instinct might be less obvious - but it always leads to sexism, racism, subjugation, and exploitation. If this instinct is hidden in society, it is usually hidden behind sportsmanship and ceremonialism.  .  .
Veblen asserted that the businessperson's desire for pecuniary gain would cause him/her to lose any interest in producing things. Buying and selling companies, closing and opening companies, in short, financial wheeling and dealing would take precedence over production. Absentee ownership would become the pinnacle of success. The absentee owner spends his/her time with accountants, lawyers, stockbrokers, advisors, but not with the engineers.  The engineers would keep production going for the business leaders so that at least something will be produced.
UPDATE:  Hank delivers the experimental evidence in the comments

"New research suggests that the upper classes are more likely to behave dishonorably than those lower on the economic spectrum. The rich are more likely to cheat, steal, and even disobey traffic laws than those with less money and power (abstract).
Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior by  K. Piff, Daniel M. Stancato, Stéphane Côté, Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton and Dacher Keltner
 Seven studies using experimental and naturalistic methods reveal that upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals. In studies 1 and 2, upper-class individuals were more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals. In follow-up laboratory studies, upper-class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies (study 3), take valued goods from others (study 4), lie in a negotiation (study 5), cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (study 6), and endorse unethical behavior at work (study 7) than were lower-class individuals. Mediator and moderator data demonstrated that upper-class individuals’ unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed.
Galt is evil

Santorum will be the Republican nominee, in 2016

(Idle speculation time here....)

Interesting NYMag article here on the Republican race and its repercussions depending on who wins.  I'm sticking with my prediction from last August that Romney will win the nomination, and I think he'll probably (hopefully) lose the election.  Then what?

Two factors then push in the same direction in 2016 - the Republicans will turn against the faction that led the way to failure in 2012, and the Republicans strongly favor nominating the "next in line" who was closest to winning the nomination.  The NYMag article somehow misses how well Santorum would be set up in '16, especially given the inevitable claim that the Rs failed to be true to their roots by nominating Romney.

Santorum would be an exceptionally weak candidate given demographics, increasingly secular voters outside of the GOP, and increased acceptance of homosexuality.  He'll respond to this problem but he would tack slightly, only slightly, to center, de-emphasizing some social issues and maybe even changing  a bit on a few.  Mostly he'll spend the next four years raising money for himself, creating an organization, and putting deposits in the favor bank among the GOP.  He'll defeat a libertarian challenger and someone attacking him from the right.

The Ds won't be that strong, either.  The ruling party tends to get tired and accumulate scandals after eight years and will be without an obvious successor, although a 69-year old Hillary Clinton will have set herself up for running by leaving the Obama Administration four years earlier.  Balancing that out against Santorum, the Democrats win.  Then what?

I've thought for a while that Republicans need to lose consistently before they'll change.  Losing this year isn't enough, but it might be in 2016.  Hopefully more will have wakened from the Republican opium dream of climate denial.  We could see a more realistic Republican party by then.  Maybe 2020 or 2024 there will be a Republican President Chris Christie, not nearly as good as a Democrat but not a total disaster.

UPDATE, March 1:  might as well add another idle prediction - Ron Paul won't run on a third party ticket. Not for the general reason that this would make trouble for his son, but the specific reason that his son would have to choose between endorsing his father and endorsing his own party, which would be bad for Rand's future.  Blood is thicker than libertarianism.

UPDATE, March 7:  the Lamestream Media catches on to Santorum 2016.  No hat tip but I doubt I was the first to publicly notice it, and Santorum probably thought it through as a possibility when he was still a polling asterisk.

UPDATE April 2015:  I've been meaning to say something for at least year - this post worked out pretty well for 2012, but Santorum is going nowhere. He could've reacted like Reagan did after 1976 and reached out beyond his constituency, but he isn't bright enough to do that. Clearly we can't just apply simplistic rules like "next in line always wins" to political outcomes.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The puke funnel

The churnalists are playing ping pong with Peter Gliek.  TBogg, who has some handsome hounds, describes this in terms of the push to the Iraq war

You may be aware of the term “puke funnel” which is used to describe either a well-orchestrated right-wing campaign to smear and discredit people or, depending upon the topic, to create a new and improved reality more amenable to the instigators’ needs. A classic example is how Ahmad Chalabi plied Judith Miller with access and lies about WMD’s in Iraq which Miller unquestioningly reported, only to have Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice cite her reporting as further evidence for the need to go to war.
and you remember how well that turned out.  Well now
You can see the same forces at work in the matter of Peter Gleick and the Heartland Institute papers as the people who support the institute unleash their yappy attack dogs on Gleick in order to deflect from the fact that Heartland is a corporate front group for companies who see the world as their ashtray. Earlier in the week you had I’m-not-angry, I’m-just-very-disappointed Andrew Revkin at the NYT (is gullibility a feature or a bug at the Times?…discuss) display his Miller-esque knack for being manipulated while over at The Atlantic our gal Megan McArdle was putting in a serious amount of work (as noted by DougJ) arriving at the conclusion that the disputed memo must be fake because…well, she has mad forensic skillz so just shut up
 T points out that every puke funnel needs a self reinforcing daisy chain, the full Santorum as it were being passed about madly in a single Koch Industries funded chain letter
In the meantime, her work for the Kochs is done here. The circle of life is complete. The check is in the mail. This is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whisper campaign…

Putting some credibility behind predictions of Libya's future

In the spirit of William's sea ice bets, I'd like to see if the people who call intervention in Libya a mistake, based on what will happen in the future, are themselves willing to put some money behind those predictions.  It's the same idea of betting elsewhere, I think it concentrates the mind and reduces some level of over-expressed certainty.

So, Freedom House gave Libya the worst possible ratings in 2010 on a scale of 1 to 7, with a 7 for political rights and 7 for civil rights.  I predict at the end of 2013 there will be at least three grades of improvement, e.g. political rights could improve to at least 5 and civil to at least 6, but it could be in other combinations.  My guess is that it'll be more like four or five (and one has already happened), but I think three grades clearly represent a benefit to the country.

I'm looking at small scale bets, $50-$100, where the actual bet is ego-based and the money is just to make it a little more real.  You can judge my lack of confidence in making huge bets (and my lack of huge assets) accordingly.  Bets open to people who seem real to me, and especially open to people who posted their various predictions of doom on the web.

UPDATE September 2013:  still standing by this bet offer, despite the latest bad news. I'm open to other objective measurement standards for people who don't trust Freedom House. One possibility is the first credible nationwide poll taken in Libya after January 1 2014 that asks whether people are glad or regret that Gaddafi failed to defeat the movement against him.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tax Free Shenanigans?

Perhaps Eli is not cynical enough, but to the Bunny the small family business climate blog operated by the Idsos has always seemed a curious thing.  True, the world is replete with aging denialists and some of them have incorporated, some for profit, some for retirement funding.  Other strokes for other folks.  Live and let live.  Have a carrot and chill.

Yet the recent revelation about money going into and out of the Heartland Institute gave impetus to another poke into their Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change.  Reading the 990s brings up a curious thing (which had already been noticed by Sourcewatch).

The business supports the Idso family (about $300K/year) but also in 2009 and 2010 (2011 is not yet available), Robert E. Ferguson of the Science and Public Policy Institute, Chris Monckton's home base in the US, to the tune of again, about 300K$/year.  SPPI is not registered as a 501 c3, it appears to be a shell (its DC address is a mailbox in a building devoted to mailboxing, Eli has breakfast around the corner).

The question is why.  Well, the obvious guess is that because donations to the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change are tax free.  Since SPPI is basically a one person operation, and the CSCDGC aka the Idsos house the SPPI web site, there are not many other expenses above a few drinks for Chris when he drops by. That makes donations to support BobF much cheaper.  So why not simply use the Idso family business for SPPI, but in that case, not being a 501 c3 allows messing around in all sorts of lobbying and politics.  

Perhaps the IRS might take a poke?  Shenanigans like that could make the Idos' 501 c3 registration shakey.

UPDATE:  John Mashey had laid most of this out in his "Fakery from SEPP"
“Charity” donations come to CSCDGC from unspecified sources, but the fragmentary data includes ExxonMobil, Scaife, {Lambe, Bradley, and DONORS}, of which the latter group sent money to CSCDGC, but at Ferguson’s address. IRS-7F. The IRS might inquire about that. CSCDGC’s governance is the Idso family. IRS-6G I allege that CSCDGC needs investigation for possible violations of charity rules on governance and finances, IRS-6G, IRS-7F.

Craig Idso is listed as a “science advisor” for SPPI, but, in his role as CSCDGC Treasurer, pays Ferguson as an employee, unusually well for executing a tiny operation.

I allege that CSCDGC and Ferguson violate charity rules on education and research, IRS-0E. The nature of SPPI would have been difficult to reconcile with CSCDGC’s claims to do science.

In any case, SPPI is a fake organization, a front for CSCDGC. The staff is essentially Ferguson, with a cast of the usual “advisors.”
Eli differs only on the last paragraph, CSCDGC appears to be more of a charitable deduction front end for SPPI than visa versa.  Ferguson is a hell of a lot better connected.  SPPI now only maintains it's mailbox office in Haymarket, VA.  According to John, the flow of checks into that hole in the wall are interesting.

Calling Andrew Gelman

Smiley banging head against the wall
Eli has seen the future and it is confused.  In a report on release of teachers rankings, the bunny saw this gem
At a briefing on Friday morning, an Education Department official said that over the five years, 521 teachers were rated in the bottom 5 percent for two or more years, and 696 were repeatedly in the top 5 percent.

But citing both the wide margin of error — on average, a teacher’s math score could be 35 percentage points off, or 53 points on the English exam
Average. Off.  Head.  Wall.  Bang.  Notify Andrew Gelman

Friday, February 24, 2012

Syrian safe havens, and R2P overreach in Libya

I supported and continue to support the vast majority of what international community did in Libya.  For those who continue to predict bad things in Libya's future, I'm going to put up a post soon to give them a chance to put their money where their mouths are, while I do the same.

Our governments did, however, go too far at the tail end of the war and I opposed it. There were earlier examples too were we twisted the international authorization of force under the Responsibility to Protect civilians doctrine and used it for the only-partially overlapping goal of regime change.

That's part of the problem in Syria today, that the military overreach in Libya makes it harder to apply R2P in Syria.  But that doesn't mean we should put all military options off the table.

I partially disagree with Marc Lynch and his analysis that no military options should be pursued.  Asad should be given a choice (in private communication), to either back off from rebel-held zones or face the establishment of safe havens along the Turkish border.  Safe havens wouldn't be the first choice but it would be the alternative.  There also should be some, only some, covert military assistance to the armed opposition - not an attempt to make them strong enough to win, but to help them be strong enough to protect the areas they control and retain the possibility of further fractures in Syria's military.

Marc is right that armed observers are useless absent Syrian authorization, which won't happen, and that a no fly zone is a bad idea (mostly).  Punitive air strikes are also useless in themselves, but not as a limited mechanism to protect safe havens.  If safe havens become necessary, Asad gets warned (privately) that any attack on a safe haven will face reprisal air strikes that will degrade his air defenses, making it incrementally easier to do still more punitive strikes or establish a no fly zone.  We don't need to do a no-fly zone, just make him fear one.

(More after the jump....)

Shock, Horror, Surprise: GMU finds Wegman slightly pregnant, but only in one case, not the other

GMU as expected has taken the minimum slap at Wegman's wrist.  Dan Vergano has the story

In a statement to GMU faculty, provost Peter Stearns said that one investigation committee unanimously found that "no misconduct was involved" in the 2006 Congressional report. "Extensive paraphrasing of another work did occur, in a background section, but the work was repeatedly referenced and the committee found that the paraphrasing did not constitute misconduct," he said, in the statement. 
A second university committee found unanimously, "that plagiarism occurred in contextual sections of the (CSDA) article, as a result of poor judgment for which Professor Wegman, as team leader, must bear responsibility." Wegman will receive an "official letter of reprimand", Stearns said, as sanction for the plagiarism.
GMU had to acknowledge the plagiarism in the paper by the journal having withdrawn it.  Of course, Prof. Wegman was not the one who plagiarized, he was merely responsible for it.  Will GMU sanction whoever did?  Don't hold your breath bunnies.  Other issues not to hold your breath on are the multiple other acts of plagiarism from the Wegman group.  Obviously GMU is not interested in following up unless ORI forces them to.

There was, of course reaction
"Yes, plagiarism does matter," says scientific misconduct expert Nicholas Steneck of the University of Michigan, a former Office of Research Integrity official, by e-mail. Plagiarism is one of the "Big Three" of science misconduct offenses, alongside falsifying and fabricating data that trigger punishment from federal research agencies."If the project is federally funded, the results of the investigation must be forwarded to the appropriate agency," Steneck says.
The Rabetts will see if ORI accepts the GMU report.  GMU is not releasing it.  Further surprise.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Keep your eye on the ball

Here's an aside in a post I wrote about Roger Pielke Jr. two years ago, who was mad about a study criticizing his father but didn't have much substantive to say about it:

an interesting choice of tactics here - during the whole stolen climate emails thing, some people wanted to focus on the privacy invasion and illegal theft, which I thought would be viewed as an attempt to distract people from the content when the content wasn't that bad.  Here, denialists and unhelpful types like Pielke Jr. are ignoring the PNAS study content and screaming about blacklists.  Maybe it's like the lawyer's saying that if you can't pound any arguments in your favor, pound the table instead.
I'm just trying to be consistent here.  Content is king.  Set aside the strategy document.  Heartland has now had plenty of time to review and deny the accuracy of the other documents and it hasn't.  The docs seem generally supportive of John Mashey's analysis of public records.  The outrage you're hearing from the denialists are attempts to distract people from the content when the content is bad.

Time to send the IRS and state attorney generals after these fake charities.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

On being reasonable

Nice video:

Like most humans, I find this difficult.  If you don't, you might check on Dunning-Kruger.

I especially agree with the idea of self-identifying as a truth-seeker rather than as conservative, progressive, libertarian, climate hawk/sceptic etc.  Still doesn't make it easy though.

And just to balance out the reasonable video with a vitriolic one about sports:

via MT.

UPDATE:  a previous post on persuasion that I forgot about, referring to Kevin Drum:

And another on persuasion: 
My own experience, which I think is fairly generalizable, is that within the course of a single conversation hardly anybody ever changes their mind — including me. 
He says he changes his opinion over time, though. What works for me is new information. Even if I'm not persuaded originally, new info might convince me - but maybe not so much because it's new but because it's a crutch, an excuse that lets me shed my stupid original opinion. Anyway, good for Kevin for reacting to Libya.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Meaning of Life

The neat thing about thinking about science is that you get to believe you understand stuff, and sometimes you do. Of course, the deeper the thought the more ephemeral the understanding. As the bunnies say quantum mechanics is not only harder than you think, it's harder than you can think, but the back and forth about heat has lead Eli to an entrancing idea which starts by remembering that work is the product of a force aligned in a direction multiplied by the displacement in that direction. This ain't Lucia's so don't bother blathering on about definitions.

As the above video clearly states, heat and work are both energy, so what differentiates heat and work? Eli's Ansatz is that heat is the isotropic component of any flow of energy from any system. The directional component of the energy flow is work. To extract work from heat you have to dump the part of the energy flow that ain't moving in the direction you want to do work in. Entropy increase is the scattering of energy out of the direction of motion. (OK, that needs a bit of work). Some bunny brighter than Eli has got to have thought about this before. Fermi comes to mind as a possibility.

The Anonymous Donor May Stand Up

BREAKING: Crikey runs a teaser

Crikey understands The New York Times will tomorrow reveal the identity of Heartland’s “Anonymous Donor”, an individual who has donated $13.7 million to the Heartland Institute since 2007 and at times has provided 60% of the institute’s funding.

Mr. Bluster

The Heartland Institute has pretty much thrown in the towel about everything EXCEPT the strategy memo. Gary Wamsley, a self described 71 year old veteran, got a mite peeved when reading the Heartland Papers (Eli is tempted to call them the Screw Heartland Letters, but what the hell, this is serious stuff) and wrote to Heatland

You should be ashamed of yourself. The United States already has a problem in keeping up with the rest of the world in science education and now you want to play a role in further destroying our nation as well as our planet.

You are a traitor to your own country. I did not spend 30 years in the military to protect the likes of you.

Joe Bast was not pleased, these are stressful days for him, and he replied
Last week, someone stole some documents from us and forged a memo claiming to state our ‘strategy” on global warming. See our statement in response to this attack here: .
The bunnies, of course, noted the emphasis added, and compared this with the link

The stolen documents appear to have been written by Heartland’s president for a board meeting that took place on January 17. He was traveling at the time this story broke yesterday afternoon and still has not had the opportunity to read them all to see if they were altered. Therefore, the authenticity of those documents has not been confirmed.

Since then, the documents have been widely reposted on the Internet, again with no effort to confirm their authenticity.

One document, titled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy,” is a total fake apparently intended to defame and discredit The Heartland Institute. It was not written by anyone associated with The Heartland Institute. It does not express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics. It contains several obvious and gross misstatements of fact.

So this confirms that Joe Bast likes to bold things, but most importantly the authenticity of everything except the Climate Strategy memo is now confirmed by Heartland. Of course, everything in the Climate Strategy memo cross checks against information in the other documents.

The last refuge of blusterers is threats, and Bast is a blusterer. He threatened Greg Wamsley
Now that you know the truth, I ask that you apologize for your intemperate and very offensive letter. Since your letter is threatening, I’ve forwarded it to our legal counsel, forensics team, and the FBI. It is important that you not delete the email from your sent file, or any other emails you may have exchanged with other people while preparing it, since this could be evidence in criminal and civil cases.
Col. Wamsley (Ret.) was not too threatened
Your threatening letter only serves to reinforce my opinion that the documents are in fact all true. Your ludicrous claim that my letter is threatening is a bullying tactic to which I will not succumb. No apology is offered. I do keep my emails for six months before deleting them.
Eli hears along the bunny trail that others are being encouraged by the Heartland Institute, which is kind of amusing in the biter bit sort of way, because one of their agitprop pieces is Lawsuit Abuse Fortnightly (there is not enough for a weekly, a lack Heartland appears to be trying to remedy). Some are responding by kicking Joe Bast right in the middle of the sawhorses he is trying to straddle

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Steve Goddard and Anthony Watts have trouble reading beyond headlines

Here's another post I dug up on Goddard's site, claiming a February 20, 1969 NY Times article said "Arctic Soon to Be Ice Free".  That's a twist of the actual headline that said a single "Expert Says Arctic Ocean Will Soon Be an Open Ocean".  Watts has the article.

What's clear in the article is that the "expert" wasn't a climatologist but a polar explorer, and that experts disagreed with him.  One of the subheadings said "Other Specialists See No Thinning of Ice Cap" and the second sentence in the article says "interviews with a number of other specialists have shown a widespread belief that the progressive shrinkage of the Arctic pack ice over the last century has reversed itself, at least temporarily."

If you read the whole article, it talks about bad things that would happen if the ice disappeared and then extensively quotes experts who deny it's disappearing.  The article lead unduly emphasizes one man, but from the second sentence onward it's not too bad.

Near the end the NY Times actually says this:  

Until recently there was a suspicion that the warming trend of the century before 1940 was a byproduct of the industrial revolution.  Carbon dioxide, produced by combustion, makes the atmosphere less transparent to infra-red radiation, thus trapping heat like the roof of a greenhouse. 
There is evidence that the carbon dioxide content of the world's air has risen from 10 to 15 per cent during the last century.  However, the cooling trend of recent years indicates that other factors are at work, including perhaps the volume of dust and smog in the air.  This tends to reduce the solar heat reaching the surface.

It's been clear for years that denialists are wrong in claiming a scientific consensus predicted future cooling in the 60s and 70s.  The mainstream media at that time, most notably Newsweek, misunderstood the science of the time, but this article indicates that some of them accurately reflected the accurate science.

Steve Goddard, by contrast, can't report much anything accurately.  I think I've had enough of him.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Steve Goddard steals Pat Michaels' trick of deleting inconvenient data

Pat Michaels got in trouble for repeatedly deleting data that is inconvenient to his denialist viewpoint.

Now Steve Goddard is trying his hand at the same "hide the incline" trick.  He puts up a post with this graph to claim sea levels aren't rising:

and adds a link to the dataset that inconveniently omits the much more extensive datasource that comes with its own graphs.  Shall we help out Mr. Goddard?  Yes!  Just click the link, click "Time serie" and away we go!

First graph:

What do you know - same data (Envisat, no inverted barometer, no seasonality removed, no isostatic adjustment), but it comes complete with nifty smoothing and an inclined trendline.  Instead of just pasting in the url for this graph, Goddard downloaded the data and recreated a graph without inconveniently trending trendlines.

Still, it's not going up quickly, so that's something.  Or is it?

Same data, except with inverted barometer:

I've poked around about whether applying the inverted barometer adjustment is a good idea.  My best guess is it's unnecessary in the long term, but this short data set makes it helpful (see Realclimate).  Goddard denies it, but in general I find him unpersuasive.

How about other data?

Maybe Jason:

Maybe Multi-mission:

Plenty more variations out there for you to try yourself, but the pattern sticks.  Goddard cherrypicked a short dataset that most favored his position and then recreated the graph to hide the incline.  It then got picked up by Watts (who tempered it slightly) and spewed everywhere (I found it first at TigerHawk and traced it back).

The one useful conclusion to this is if you do feel it necessary read Goddard, do so by reading ReallySciency who's watchdogging him, including on this issue.

And in other news

An article appeared today in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, which is pretty much the German New York Times, with the Frankfurter Allgemeine playing the role of the Wall Street Journal pre-Murdoch. The article pretty well sums up the release by deSmogBlog of the Heartland Papers. The translation is by Eli.

Climate Skeptics’ Funding Sources

By Christopher Schrader

Bloggers have posted documents from a conservative US think tank that is deceptive about climate change. Among its donors are famous companies and tea party sympathizers.

It is customary for work to be properly compensated. If, for example, someone publishes a book, which traces climate change back to natural causes as well as praising the increase carbon dioxide in the air as a boon to mankind, he can do well and enjoy earning $ 11,600 a month - even as renowned scientists tear the book to shreds.

Now, thanks to an indiscretion, it is known that Craig Idso, head of an organization of climate change deniers in Arizona, was paid such a fee by the Heartland Institute in Chicago. That think tank advocates for free markets and against government interference and in this includes denial of manmade climate change.

Payments to Idso were found in Heartland's internal documents which bloggers have published on the web. The organization confirmed that documents had been stolen from them by a trick, but does not directly confirm the authenticity of the published documents. Heartland apologized to the now publicly identified donors, because their promised confidentiality had been broken. These include Microsoft, the tobacco giant Altria ("Marlboro"), the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) as well as the General Motors Foundation.

A number of companies have confirmed the donations. In the case of GSK a spokeswomen told the British Guardian, they were for health care. Microsoft officials said the company had only provided nearly $ 60,000 of software free of charge. In fact, many of the companies have distanced themselves from Heartland’s position on climate. The New York Times quoted a spokesman."Microsoft believes that climate change is a serious problem which requires immediate, worldwide attention."

Oil companies were missing in the list of donors. Still, recently the donors again include one of the Koch brothers; the business empire of the Tea Party sympathizers spans petroleum refineries and pipelines as well as paper and fertilizer factories.

Conferences full of "wild allegations and political propaganda"

The lobbying against established climate research according to the documents have been funded mainly by two unnamed foundations and an "anonymous donor". If the latter holds to his pledges for 2012, he will have provided the Heartland Institute $ 14.3 million in six years, ten million for climate related projects. With money from this donor, the organization has hosted six international conferences since 2008. There the speakers propound their theories about the IPCC reports on climate change and why these are totally wrong. Nature characterized the events as ones "in which science is secondary to accusations and political propaganda

Many bloggers and journalists have searched in the documents for revealing formulations. The strongest are in a memorandum that Heartland representatives labeled a forgery. It says that Idso's book was to "undermine" the work of the IPCC. Further, school teachers should be discouraged from teaching climate science.

However, apart from the specific wording, other documents confirm the two-page document. What is new in the Heartland program is development of a school curriculum that represents the findings of science as "controversial,". This is needed because "teachers and principals are biased toward the perspective of the alarmists' – a description that climate skeptics use for scientists who point out the possible drastic consequences of climate change


ADDENDA: The Nature Editorial from July 2011 characterized the Heartland meetings as

It would be easy for scientists to ignore the Heartland Institute's climate conferences. They are curious affairs designed to gather and share contrarian views, in which science is secondary to wild accusations and political propaganda. They are easy to lampoon — delegates at the latest meeting of the Chicago-based institute in Washington DC earlier this month could pick up primers on the libertarian writings of Russian–American novelist Ayn Rand, who developed the philosophical theory of objectivism, and postcards depicting former US vice-president Al Gore as a fire-breathing demon. And they are predictable, with environmentalists often portrayed as the latest incarnation of a persistent communist plot. “Green on the outside, red on the inside,” said one display. “Smash the watermelons!”

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Will the Real Anonymous Donor Please Stand Up

In the hoo hah about the Heartland Institute document leak, one of the most interesting questions is who is the real anonymous donor,

Anonymous Donor: We expect the Anonymous Donor to contribute $1,250,000 in 2012 in gifts for budgeted projects, 28 percent more than he contributed in 2011, but still less than he contributed in any other year since 2004. He already pledged to give $1 million in January.
obviously someone that Joe Bast, the Heartland Instutite President holds close. While lots of people think the Kochs, Eli has another candidate, John Menard, Jr., owner of a large chain of home improvement stores.

Why Menard, well, Menard is real rich which is a good start. In reading the HI proposed budget and other documents, "Operation Angry Badger" stood out
A research and education project built to take advantage of the public interest in Wisconsin’s Act 10 generated by recall elections that could take place. Publications Dept. budget includes printing and mailing three reports and brochures.

$60,000 Design and place ads in 10 small newspapers reporting teacher salaries and benefits, 10 @ $6,000.
$31,500 HL staff will create and launch blogs allowing volunteers and allies to post information about Act 10 that their local newspapers aren’t covering.
with an additional $205,000 to publish and distribute "The Benefits of Wisconsin’s Act 10", "Are Wisconsin’s Teachers Underpaid?". Act 10 is the antiunion law that touched off massive protests and the recall election for Gov. Walker. Now others are following the idea that this campaign will invalidate Heartland's IRS status, but Eli went looking for someone with lots of $$, an anti-union, bias, a tendency to stay in the shadows and a backer of Scott. Out popped John Menard. Just sayin it's a possibility

The dead are allowed to vote - on the Board of Directors of a denialist, tax-supported charity

John Mashey has his latest opus up, on the malfeasance of various denialist organizations that should be investigated for violations of their IRS 501 c/3 tax-deductible charity status.  I greatly enjoyed assisting him a bit with some of the research on this.  John's work is separate from the leak of secret documents from one of those groups, the Heartland Institute.

Please go read what John has to say, but the summary is that Fred Singer's Science and Environmental Policy Project, the Heartland Institute, and possibly others have given more than sufficient grounds for IRS agents and/or state Attorney General offices charged with supervising charities to start using some subpoena power.  They're supposed to be educational, but are the opposite.  In SEPP's case, they appear to have a non-functioning board, including a chairman who continued to supervise Singer two years after the chairman had died.  They sign affidavits saying they're not lobbying when they sure appear to be doing so.  And money flows are incredibly weird, with assets disappearing and sometimes reappearing in strange ways.

I'll just pull out two examples:  first, on page 23, rows A36 and A37 - over $100,000 in assets mysteriously disappears between the end of 2003 and the beginning of 2004.  Must've been quite a New Year's Eve party, but I think IRS might want to check the bank statements.  Second is on page 181 where they use 6-degree polynomial overfitting to pretend there's a decline in temperature.  Statistical nonsense like this is possibly the best arguments for why Heartland et al. aren't educational for 501 c/3 purposes, because there's no counterargument that they're right.  There's no minority opinion, no Richard Lindzen-style stats professor out there who would defend that analysis.  The fact that it's delivered to an unsophisticated audience who won't figure it out on their own magnifies the problem.  The likelihood that whoever created the analysis is also sophisticated enough to know it's wrong means it's an intentional attempt to reduce public understanding of climate.  They're not just non-educational, they're anti-educational.

If mutual fund managers issued a prospectus using a 6-degree fit to show they're beating the market, they could go to jail.  Heartland wants a tax break for doing the same thing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tutt Tutt

With the new back and forth about the Heartland papers, some in the audience are tutt-tutting about Fred Singer being on $5K/mo retainer. As Eli has discovered years ago this is peanuts. He got $143K for the original NIPCC report

Heartland leak- or the biter bit

To paraphrase

This week, someone (probably a whistle-blower at the Heartland Institute, Chicago, Illinois) released emails and other documents written by Joseph Bast, and leading denialists who edit and control the content of the reports of the Not the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC).

The release of these documents creates an opportunity for reporters, academics, politicians, and others who relied on the NIPCC and the Heartland Institute to form their opinions about global warming to stop and reconsider their position. The experts they trusted and quoted in the past have been caught red-handed to be on wingnut welfare [1] and conspiring to feed mis-information to gullible journalists [2]. This is new and real evidence that they should examine and then comment on publicly.

For anyone who doubts the power of the Internet to shine light on darkness, the news of the month is how digital technology helped uncover a secretive group of scientists and political operatives. Their behavior was brought to light when files were published online, many of which boasted about how they suppressed hard questions.

Development of our "Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms" project.

[1] Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective. To counter this we are considering launching an effort to develop alternative materials for K-12 classrooms. We are pursuing a proposal from Dr. David Wojick to produce a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools. Dr. Wojick is a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the U.S.. Department of Energy in the area of information and communication science. His effort will focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain - two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science. We tentatively plan to pay Dr. Wojick $100,000 for 20 modules in 2012, with funding pledged by the Anonymous Donor.
[2] Efforts might also include cultivating more neutral voices with big audiences (such as Revkin at DotEarth/NYTimes, who has a well-known antipathy for some of the more extreme AGW communicators such as Romm, Trenberth, and Hansen) or Curry (who has become popular with our supporters)
Hi Keith

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It's a Krammie

A while ago Eli asked "What is heat" inspired by the new ridiculous most recently shredded at Science of Doom, and got some decent answers. DeWitt did some reading

You might want to check out John Denker's take on thermodynamics

"The term "heat" is a confusing chimera. It is partly energy, partly entropy, partly temperature, and partly who-knows-what. It shows up in a variety of idiomatic expressions, as discussed in section 16.2.

By itself, the word "heat" has at least five sensible and widely-used but mutually-inconsistent technical meanings (not to mention innumerable nontechnical and metaphorical meanings). It is not worth arguing about the relative merits of these meanings, except to say that each has some merit. I observe that a typical thoughtful expert will use each of these meanings, depending on context. It would be nice to have a single, universally-accepted meaning, but I doubt that will happen anytime soon."
Thad provided the wisdom of Count Rumford, a traitor, scoundrel, womanizer and arms dealer, John went to the text books
Heat is not the same as "Thermal Energy:"
Thermal energy is energy that a body has by virtue of being at a temperature T > 0K.
Heat is thermal energy that is in motion from one body to another.
So (for example) if a body is at a temperature of 500 C, and the metal is surrounded by a layer of perfect insulation, then the body has thermal energy, but no heat. Because the thermal energy isn't flowing from one body to another.
to which Eli replied
John, while that is fairly standard, as John Donne Rabett said,
No body is an island
No energy stands alone
Each body can be subdivided
Into more bodies
In which internally heat is flown

That definition gets you into the issue of where is the system and where is the surroundings which is arbitrary. For example take a chunk of metal and heat a small part of it. Heat flows within the chunk.

Moreover, even in an isothermal body, energy is flowing from one part to the other, in balance, but there are fluctuations which can be used for some purposes such as random noise generation.
Of course, the nonsense has its roots in Mama Nonsense, Gerlich and Tsch. who try and define radiation exchange as something else (e.g. they claim that the only heat flow is the net, which means that the thermal radiation (aka heat) flowing from the colder to the hotter body ain't heat, so since this warms the surface, blah, blah.

The same issue came up at the Weasel's, and the renter was not amused. Eli's response was

The argument depends on deceptively and incorrectly manipulating the definition of heat. As far as energy goes there is heat and everything else. Everything else can be converted to work with unit efficiency, heat conversion to work is limited by the second law.

It's a Krammie.

but Martin wins

But William, Your Eminence, what you're both missing is that that downwelling radiation doesn't actually warm anything. It's just informational. Those photons are gathering in Internet cafes around the planet, writing intellectually dense blog comments...

[Aieeee, my brain has started hurting :-). I need to keep a link to “Blah blah blah” vs Equations handy -W]

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Climate betting update - back to where we started, and I'm not worried

Several weeks ago I received my annual friendly email from David Evans, my betting partner/opponent over future temperature increases, with the 2011 temp data from GISS.  Bet details are here, summary is that I've bet $9,000 and David $6,000 for a series of decade-plus bets over whether temps will increase somewhat near the IPCC projected rate or at a much lower rate.

David mentioned that the five-year average we're betting on is, for 2009, back to where we started in 2007, which would be very bad for my side of the bet, but he also politely added that we've had some La Ninas to affect things.  I'm not too worried for my pocketbook - the five year average for 2009 overlaps too much with 2007 to expect a lot of movement.  The five year average for 2012, which we won't know until 2015, will be the first that has no overlap.  First bets pay out or are voided in 2020, so as David says, this betting will take a while.

One way to look at it is to assume a counterfactual that the bet started in 1989 and ended in 2009 - fair from my viewpoint of expecting past rises to continue/accelerate, but not what David expects.  My calculation is that I win all three of the low end bets, void one of the high end bets, lose the other two high end bets, and come out ahead $1000.

Not much other activity from me on the climate betting front, and I haven't heard much from others either besides William's sea ice, unless I've missed it.  I've been thinking that sea level rise might be less noisy than temps, allowing shorter bet periods and maybe using three year averages.  Maybe will look into that later.

Last year's betting update here.


Now the IPCC has been very soft on those trying to muck up the AR5 drafting process, and Eli has been a bad bunny, but they do have a way of controlling the rabble, simply ignore any material submitted by those who ignore their confidentiality policy.

Yes, there are ways around that, e.g. have someone else submit in your name, Nigel Persaud for example might come out of retirement, but do you really think Steve could resist commenting on that.

Who needs twitter when you have a blog?

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Law Blogging

In never never admit you are wrong land, there has been a recent outbreak of IAAL, Steve Mosher went into lawyer mode

Is the IPCC a legal entity? capable of entering into a legal agreement? Now we know that individuals can enter into contracts and corporations can. they can both have the intention to enter into a legally binding agreement with legal obligations and consequences. Can the IPCC? If the IPCC cant be held to FOIA law because its an extra legal entity, can it enter into contracts or even own a copyright?.
and Lucia brought out her parsomatic
Also, there are questions about what precisely, they have copyright in. As the authors are not employees of ‘ “THE” IPCC’inc, the work can’t be “work for hire”. The review comments are… what? Did the reviewers transfer copyright ownership to ‘ “THE” IPCC’inc? If so, is ‘ “THE” IPCC’inc the sole owner, or do the reviewers co-own with ‘ “THE” IPCC’inc? All these would be interesting questions if ‘ “THE” IPCC’incany UN document — draft, not draft, obtained by hacking etc. is going to fall under fair use for comment most of the time. So whatever case against copying they want to make US copyright law isn’t going to help them much.
So Eli wrote the IPCC copyright office
Do the authors of IPCC reports assign copyright to the IPCC? In the case where they are employed by governments do the governments agree to this?
and got a reply
Thank you for your message. Please note that the material covered in the IPCC reports cannot be attributed to one single author and therefore the issue of individual copyrights is not relevant.
Best regards,

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

An alternative approach to the contraception coverage issue

I don't have an ethical problem with Romneycare's support for mandating birth control coverage by religiously-run institutions doing secular activities like running hospitals, with similar provisions in many states, or with similar provisions in Obamacare.

Another way to handle this issue though is to require the same total level of financial commitment from religious employers and then let them choose something additional to cover, to make up for their decision not to cover contraception.  Their hospital employees can get breaks on plastic surgery, while other hospitals' employees get contraceptive coverage.  No financial reward accrues to a religiously-based resistance to coverage, and secular employees can keep the coverage differential in mind when deciding which jobs to apply to.

This could be done even more broadly:  rather than every insurance provider being required to cover the same standardized basket of services, just figure out how much that basket would cost for your average provider, and tell other providers that they can choose a different basket so long as that different basket, if paid for by the average provider, cost at least as much as the standardized basket.  If they can then figure out a way to do things differently and cheaper, then more power to them.

I doubt these solutions are allowable currently, but maybe that could change someday.  I generally prefer determining the fair cost approach for someone who wants to deviate from a standard, like requiring lifelong coma/quadraplegia insurance for motorcycle riders who don't want to wear helmets, rather than simply telling them what they can or can't do.

UPDATE:  Apparently I should clarify.  I was comparing replacement of contraceptive coverage with something trivial like plastic surgery not in order to indicate that contraceptive coverage is trivial, but that employers IMO are unnecessarily and significantly reducing the value they provide to employees if they really want to follow this unwise path.

UPDATE 2:  Just like I don't have a problem with the original proposal, I don't have a problem with the new one.  The cost issue is less than entirely clear to me - if it's really the case that it saves insurers money, then that's fine, but if the coverage costs money on net, then there's the question of who pays for it.  And the Catholic Bishops want to exempt not just the religious charities but any business run by Catholics from the same obligations as other business, which is a real race to the bottom if the exemption saves them money.  And there's self-insured Catholic charities, but they're getting ever further afield from religious service and being more like any other business entity in that case.  I still think the best approach would be to develop a basic cost basket, and a clear, mandatory disclosure of when the insurer deviates to add and subtract from the standardized basket.

What the heck, UPDATE 3:  my classmate Laura MacCleery battles it out on Fox News.

Eli Liked This One Better

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

One of these things not like the other?

The ad that so offended Karl Rove:

The ad that didn't (AFAIK):

I have a hard time seeing the difference, except that Rove is sorry that things worked out well in Detroit.

Incidentally, that second ad is kick-ass. That's the kind of thing that the green side of the equation needs.

FN.  Clean coal is a misnomer if it includes mountaintop removal or excludes carbon sequestration.  I'm not yet prepared to say it's always a misnomer, though.

A Contest

Define heat.

Now that looks silly, but a lot of confusion starts there especially when somebunnies blather about radiation exchange between two bodies at defined temperatures. It is, IEHO, a lot trickier than it looks.

Eli has been piddling, or at least trying to get the confused to think about this, over at Science of Doom.

While you are at it take a look over at the Weasel's, and then at this talk by Leif Svalgaard, interesting implications for all the solar cyclists, little ice age and medieval hot pot fans out there.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Simon Donner Retorts

Andy Revkin, who is running to be the David Broder of climate science, has been criticizing those who took issue with the 16 WSJ moles for venturing from science into politics. Simon Donner retorts

The difference, I would argue, is twofold. First, some of the signatories to the letter actually conduct research at the interface of science (diagnosis, in Revkin's example) and policy (treatment). Second, we recommend a very general response to the diagnosis (reduce emissions) rather don't prescribe a particular treatment. Certainly an X-ray technician, after seeing hundreds and hundreds of X-rays and working with doctors over the years, is justified in telling a patient "Hey, you should probably put some type of a cast on that broken leg".

Science Confusion of the Day

The clock stopped (but did run again) allowing the LA Kings to score.

Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi said via email that the clock was correct and no extra time had been added.

"Those clocks are sophisticated instruments that calculate time by measuring electrical charges called coulombs," he said. "Given the rapidity and volume of electrons that move through the measuring device the calibrator must adjust at certain points, which was the delay you see. The delay is just recalibrating for the clock moving too quickly during the 10-10ths of a second before the delay.

"This ensures that the actual playing time during a period is exactly 20 minutes. That is not an opinion. That is science. Amazing device, quite frankly."
Tip to Kevin Drum and his commenters
This is all just a great big hoax by hoax stirred up by scientists who've manipulated the data for their own purposes. I'll bet those clocks run just fine in China! These people follow Hitler’s belief that if you tell a lie often enough it will be taken as fact, and the more outrageous it is the more likely to be believed. With the media being near unanimously leftist, they delight in being state-controlled propagandists and spreading the lies to further their cause. The whole debate over this issue is predicated on fear rather than science.
I get it, the clock is like a water wheel but sometimes too many electrons get flushed through and the wheel goes too fast. Really just basic quantum principles. And sometime the wheel gets rusting so you have bath it in neutrons to make sure it's accurate.
as someone said, these electrons suffer from photon envy.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Arsenic and Old Buses

The sound you just heard is most likely the co-authors' bus backing over Felica Wolfe-Simon. Bunnies more than a year old will remember how the NASA Exobiology Program trumpeted a strange paper that appeared in Science a year ago (and Science was no innocent) with FWS as first author claiming that a Mono Lake bug could incorporate arsenic in the place of phosphorous. This made no chemical sense. While Wolfe-Simon was not only first author, but first publicist, and very aggressive at that but she was and remains very junior in the pecking order and the others are busy backing away from here (quoted on page 4 of Tom Clynes profile)

In June, Science reported that Wolfe-Simon had left Oremland’s USGS laboratory to look for a location with better molecular and genetic research facilities. “Actually,” Wolfe-Simon says, “I didn’t leave out of choice. Ron basically evicted me from the group. It was a political decision on his part that I don’t understand, and I didn’t see it coming.” Although she received a NASA fellowship in 2010 that provides support through 2013, she is still seeking a new home for her work.
Clynes, subtitled a rather sympathetic profile of Wolfe-Simon, "Soon she found herself plunged into a maelstrom of bitter backlash and intemperate criticism. A dispatch from the frontiers of the new peer review ".

Others do not agree and much of the disagreement centers on the way that NASA and Science pushed the paper and Wolfe-Simon's way with words.

You will recall that the original study was published online in December amidst a crapflood of publicity. First, the authors and NASA held a preposterous press conference to trumpet their results. Soon afterwards, they were bowled over by a second wave of press regarding the shoddiness of the study. This backlash from the scientific community caused Science to delay publishing the paper in print until earlier this month so they could run it alongside eight technical notes with peer-reviewed criticism of the study.

I’ve already talked about the original paper and some of my personal interactions with Dr. Wolfe-Simon. Now, I’ve also had the chance to look at the technical comments, the authors’ response, and some of the secondary coverage online. Sadly, nothing has changed.

Continuing with ChemBark,
I do not agree with the common sentiment that “this is how the system is supposed to work”. This whole evolution has been a farce, and it is not how the system is supposed to work. Yes, continued work in a field is supposed to be undertaken to confirm or correct original ideas, but a study as flawed as Wolfe-Simon’s should never have been published in Science in the first place. The most obvious problems and omissions should have been ironed out by peer review. For a paper as manifestly flawed (or incomplete—take your pick) as Wolfe-Simon’s to be published in a top-tier journal, something went wrong.
Old news to the exobio types, but just the sort of thing that Andrew Gelman was writing about, commented on here.

One of the folk who lead the doubt was Rosie Redfield who took up the challenge. Well, the results are coming in, papers are being submitted contesting the original claims, with comments being solicited, and the birds are tweeting, or rather not.