Saturday, May 31, 2014

On June 3, pricing carbon becomes a more conservative option than a status quo

All the kids are waiting to see exactly what Obama's going to do on Monday to regulate existing power plant CO2 emissions. The hope is that it would be fairly substantial regulation, a 20% cut by 2020, possibly modeled on the Natural Resources Defense Council proposal we've discussed before. The proposal pushes states towards action, with more coal-dependent states having to do more but not having to get the same result as the less coal-dependent ones, and lots of flexibility for reaching results, including cap-and-trade.

My main point is that Monday will change the status quo. Until then we've referred to pricing carbon, either via a tax or cap-and-trade, as the conservative/free market approach to solving climate change. Next week it will also be more free-market oriented than sitting on your hands, because one of the status quo options under the new rules will be lots of economic regulation instead. The states may choose to operate cap-and-trade programs anyway, but those programs will likely only be part of the state response, just like it is here in California.

A free market conservative will be able to argue that a fairly comprehensive price on carbon that replaces regulation is more capitalist than inaction. A populist conservative could even argue that passing all of the money back to individuals shrinks government and the power of big businesses. (I don't agree with all this, btw, but it's a feasible position from that perspective.) They don't even have to believe in climate reality, this argument stands as a free-market argument on its own. The analogy would be the Paul Ryan approach to Medicare in 2012, which basically argued for converting it to Obamacare. They wanted to do it because it was more conservative than the status quo.

Whether conservatives will make the same realization this time around is another question. My guess is that some will at the state level but few will at the federal level.

I've been thinking a lot about prison reform efforts sweeping through conservative states. Back in the early 90s if you asked which was the more firmly conservative position - that climate change didn't require action or that society needed to get consistently tougher on crime - it was the latter. It may not be easy to get conservatives to move on this issue as well, but we need to try.

Other relevant point is the Chamber of Commerce's "sky is falling" economic analysis of regulation. Same thing happened several years ago when the Western States Petroleum Association produced a "sky is falling" economic analysis of California's climate legislation, AB 32.  So far, the sky's still up there and California's doing reasonably well. That one will be worth revisiting, maybe now and definitely in a few years.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Eli Reads Again

Some links for the bunnies

Magnus Westerstrand discusses the hidden Bengtsson and his media gambit.

I am sad to have witnessed the changes in Lennart Bengtsson's media presence over the last few years. At first it was just a few comments in local media such as this article in UNT 2009 stating among other things that a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would only result in a temperature increase of about 1 oC as a result of the logarithmic forcing of CO2.  This is misleading, of course, because it ignores feedbacks which increase that number substantially.   He even admits in his comment, that this could be taken as a way of playing down the problem, but at the same time he writes that it should provide perspective. 

Thomas Stocker discusses how climate scientists are being intimidated by the deniers.
Prof Thomas Stocker, Swiss-born co-chairman of the panel’s working group on the scientific basis for climate change, said the campaign to undermine its fifth assessment report was led by “people and organisations with vested interests”.
An interesting comment from Thomas Piketty on the nature of real world data, not about climate, but IEHO it applies none the less.
For the time being, we have to do with what we have, that is, a very diverse and heterogeneous set of data sources. . . . I have no doubt that my historical data series can be improved and will be improved in the future. . . . but I would be very surprised if any of the substantive conclusions about the long run evolution . . . . was much affected by these improvements.
The details may differ, but the substantive conclusions have remained the same over a very long time.

The Weasel, has lifted some comments from Andy Lacis which explains this as well as an appreciation of  L'Affaire Bengtsson.

And Andrew Gelman has been dipping into econometrics.  He and those who comment at his blog have a few questions.   They are not impressed with Richard Tol's answers.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Globul Warmins Not a Scam, It’s Social Signaling!

Dano has a question for the late Lee Atwater

Recent breathless articles about the consensus being false (remember back in the day when they spelled it ‘concencus’?), arrogant certainty about models being unable to tell us the climate in 2035, endless parroting the received wisdom of “no warming for 17 years (or 15, or 18…)…sigh…bunnies have heard these recycled talking points a billlll-yunnnnnn times, right?

Well, we’re going to hear them a lot more often in the run-up to the American mid-term elections. And maybe again for the Presidential election in 2016.

 Why? Why must we put up with a steady diet of this hokum? Because this year’s “Globul warmins a SCAM” is last election cycle’s “makers and takers”. That is: man-made climate change (“CAGW”, “warmists”, “money-making scam”) is social signaling – a shorthand way to exchange in-group bona fides and identities. It’s part of the spectacle of Mitch McConnell standing on a stage, awkwardly brandishing a gun. It’s Marco Rubio confidently asserting the National Climate Assessment isn’t settled science. No national Republican politician with aspirations will even grant scientists the benefit of the doubt today.

Some dismiss this posturing to the base with anti-science and guns as…erm…shooting yourself in the foot. I think this view is incorrect. Judging from my right-wing canaries/indicators on my Facebook feed and elsewhere, this new social signaling is an effective way to rile up the base (and I do mean ‘base’).

The fossil fuel funnel for Keystone XL pipeline is thousands of good-paying jobs that enviros don’t want you to have. Carbon taxes are a way to take hard-working people’s money. Liberal’s regulations on fracking are job-killing regulations and big-government intrusions into patriotic businesses’ god-given right to profit. Liberals want to herd people into cities to alleviate a non-problem and to control you.

See the pattern? Many of us do. There are others that do not, choose not to, or choose to use this pattern as an advantage. And it’s working: the gap between conservative acceptance of scientific findings and liberal acceptance of scientific findings is growing ever wider wider than the abortion gap (!) according to a recent poll (albeit of a small sample size in a small geographic region).

Long-term polls find the same

Widening a social divide may be a way to forestall the fracking bubble and to delay additional class-action lawsuits and insurance industry action, in addition to a Get Out The Vote (GOTV) strategy against The Other.

IMHO this is momentum and an opportunity for PR firms to get their GOTV programs spun up. We can see it beginning already. So, American bunnies: your family picnics will likely be sprinkled with the big three talking points in my first paragraph. Steel yourselves and stock up on carrots (more expensive this year due to the California drought).

What do somebunnies think? Is cynical Dano too cynical this time, even for Dano?

Sadly no - Eli

Monday, May 26, 2014

Lomborg Screws the Poors

In an amusing way, when thinking of two things, bunnies are likely to run across something illuminating  about one when net doodling the other.  Today the one is the Lomborgian, "don't do anything about climate change because of the poors" a position adopted by the Bengtsson
Dreams of better worlds have always existed. I remember all the images from long ago at the happy Big Rock Candy Mountain where the cigarettes grow on trees. There were dreams that many poor had in 1700s Germany. That many poor people today in the 3de world can have similar dreams, I can understand, but on the other hand  I have a hard time understanding dreams of a worse life and a worse world. For me that is rather perverse and contributes to my extremely negative perception of the green-red ideology. (translation w. help from RayP)
Eli has mentioned before there are many reasons for, well, being skeptical about whether this argument is, shall the Rabett say, an argument from convenience, but it has many problems on moral grounds.  Stephen Gardiner points out there are issues
The first is the threat of a false dichotomy. Arguments from opportunity cost crucially rely on the idea that if a given project is chosen, then that choice forecloses some other option. But this is not the case in Lomborg's version. Helping the poor and mitigating climate change are not obviously mutually exclusive. . .

Second it is not clear even that the two projects are independent of each other, in the sense that they are fully separable opportunities rather than necessarily linked and perhaps mutually supporting policies. . . .

Third, it is not clear that the opportunity that Lomborg wants to emphasize is really available.
After all, the poors have always been with us, and there is no evidence that rich countries will step in to eliminate poverty (or, as Gardiner points out to mitigate climate change). To Gardiner and Eli this looks a lot like the first step in a "bait and switch" strategy.  Bengtsson and Lomborg are arguing that climate change is a concern of the well off who are morally obligated to do something that would really help the poors, but, as it turns out Gardiner hit the nail on the second point.  Not mitigating climate change screws the poors. 

It is here that Eli's pursuit of Tol's demon provided illumination.  The Rabett was re-reading Tol (2009), and in particular Table 1, the one where all the mistakes are.  The big one is obvious, Plambeck and Hope, and was pointed out in the comments by Julie Nelson in 2009 but she merely noted that +2.5% was from a study that the Stern review was based on and it contradicts the Stern review so something was fishy.  Eli, simple bunny that he is, only asks how can the net impact be +2.5% GDP when all the regional impacts range between -0.5 and -11.4?  Even Dickie and his Demon should have spotted that through his GWPF blinkers.

Setting aside for another post the Bob Ward issue about where some of the numbers come from, or how they were calculated by R. Tol, or where the calculations are hidden, what screeches out is that the developing countries, particularly Latin America, South Asia and Africa get hammered by climate change.

Tol himself brings this home in his 2011 position paper for Lomborg's Copenhagen Consensus on Human Challenges,

Climate change threatens the developing world more than the developed world according to every economic model and remember in many ways FUND is the most optimistic of the integrated assessment models.  Were Eli to believe FUND, or DICE or PAGES it is not only the Pacific islands or Bangladesh that need worry, but the almost every third world, or developing country and seriously so.  Read Tol's map bunnies, the Copenhagen Consensus, Lomborg, Tol and Bengtsson are advocating policies (screw mitigating climate change, help the poors with other things) that screw the poors and help the rich.

Eli understands that the Richard and Roger Sr show will be featured at a US House of Representatives hearing in the coming week.  Perhaps someone could show him a map?  A clue might also be useful.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The WAIS and Resilience

Eli has pointed out that something like the WAIS collapse, once it enters the final stage, which only takes decades, cannot be adapted to, and, given that the long slide towards an inevitable collapse has begun, mitigation is a train that has long left the station. 

A word from Dano, more of a world view about what to do


By now, bunnies surely have shared carrots at the bar discussing the two new papers about the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) passing a ‘tipping point’ to an inevitable collapse. I’m interested in the way so many outlets recently reported about “tipping points” – especially in the context of decades‐old warnings  about the WAIS instability. Especially with respect to the threat to coastal cities and the additional sea level rise from the WAIS.

So what are ‘tipping points’ anyway? In simple terms, it is the “point” at which change occurs beyond which there is no return. In ecological terms, it is the “point” at which ecosystems “flip” into a different state, which can be more or less stable than the previous state. I like to modify this visualization below, originally from Bass that attempts to depict social diffusion to help explain tipping points. The inflection point I sometimes label as an ‘a‐ha’ moment depending on the audience:

In the previous paragraph, I put “points” in non‐scare quotes because these “points” depend on scale and in terms of time, can take years or centuries. The important…erm… point to remember here is that our senses cannot perceive slow‐moving phenomena (hence, science) and therefore confusion and lack of understanding is always present in understanding phenomena taking years or centuries. This fact is part of the reaction to the sensationalist headlines from the recent findings – some saw the scale of the announcement; others saw the scale of the “disaster” so far in the future as to be incomprehensible (and thus, not actionable).

Scale is important in human endeavors too. When practitioners talk about “sustainability”, if they are educated in the sciences they mean something paraphrased from Brundtland: “not using it all up now and saving some for future generations”.

OK, great. So what?

It is safe to say that in human endeavors, too often action is not taken or change is not made until some threat is recognized. I often describe the change process as:
  • Recognize
  • Realize
  • Galvanize
  • Organize
  • Mobilize
We have been moving out of the country and into cities at an amazing pace, building willy‐nilly and reactively to address the population increase. Only lately have we realized we should build “sustainable” cities. Stories like the WAIS are a wake‐up call: we should be more “sustainable”!

We are not “sustainable” now. We likely haven’t been for a century or so at current consumption levels.

And, with the realization of the impact of the WAIS on sea levels, we are even less “sustainable” than before, because of something in ecology called “emergent phenomena”, or in layman’s terms, “surprises”. We simply cannot plan to “sustain” a way of life in an indefinite future full of surprise. Also, a city may be “sustainable” for a century, then a storm overtops the seawall and “sustainability” is lost.

What then? We should plan for even longer time frames?

So “sustainability” is a poorly‐considered goal. Now what? Personally, I think we should drop the term “sustainable”, which has been co‐opted by business, diluting all remaining meaning. In my opinion, ”resilient”  is a better term to describe both a goal and a process for cities. Resilient, in ecology and other disciplines, basically means “being able to recover from disturbance or shock.” Whether or not that recovery is in the same state is irrelevant. Recovery is relevant. Adaptability, flexibility, perseverance and planning are important to human resilience – things we used to do and still do now. Being resilient means being prepared, and being prepared means tipping points aren’t scary.

Before we moved to cities and became specialized, humans were very resilient. It’s in our genes. We just forgot (and got lazy because of cheap energy) how to do it. I think we have enough time to remember.


There have been complaints that Eli is not helpful enough.

That's what Science of Doom is for.

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Statistical Analysis of Tol's Demon

The bunnies have been asking for some hints about the dance Dickie Tol is attempting.  Ok, as Eli wrote over at Retraction Watch a couple of days ago (May 21)

What Tol is saying is that if one includes his outlier even with corrections the curve is rather banana like with a net positive benefit at modest warming. As Frank Ackerman has shown this is a result of the curious way in which Tol’s FUND model calculates agricultural effects, the positive benefit is large and completely different from every other study.
If you do not include the Tol and Anthoff result, then you pretty much get a simple aX2 fit which is negative everywhere, rather than what Tol shows (see And Then There is Physics for a long discussion of this). If you force the fit using Tol’s data, then to encompass the other results the curve has to descend more rapidly past 3 C of warming taking into account the other models including the questionable Tol mode. This means that Tol’s fit predicts more damage at higher warming than the aX2 fit however, as the IPCC AR5 points out, Integrated Assessment models (IAMs) past 3C warming are economic fiction, because the damage would be so great and from so many directions not included in the IAMs that the models lose validity.
Given that, Tol's statement that
The assessment of the impacts of profound climate change has been revised: We are now less pessimistic than we used to be.
is just parlor games.  Neither old nor new are valid much past 3 C .  But what does Eli know, he's only a bunny. Perhaps the good Professor Tol will accept the analysis that Andrew Gelman posted today

CIA should hack Chinese trade secrets and post them to Wikileaks

Not as if I know anything about cyberespionage, but if China's playing the game of stealing commercial secrets for their companies and we don't want to play it as well, then just hack their state-owned companies and post their trade secrets publicly.

The rest of the world benefits, and China can hardly complain. The spooks could even do it anonymously, and then cut it out when China cuts it out. Admittedly China may not have the same level of intellectual property now as we do, but they're getting more, and still have secrets.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cooking Tol

So over at Retraction Watch, this little interchange

Klaas van Dijk
May 22, 2014 at 5:10 am
Bob Ward ( ) wrote: “Despite numerous requests, Professor Tol has so far failed to make available the details of these aggregations so that I might check them for further errors.”
Please note that the 2009 paper (Tol, Richard S J. 2009. “The Economic Effects of Climate Change.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 23(2): 29-51) lists Free University Amsterdam, The Netherlands as one of the affiliated institutes.
Please note that all researchers of Free University Amsterdam must strictly work according to “The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Scientific Practice” ( ).
Page 7 of the Code: “III. Verifiability. Presented information is verifiable. Whenever research results are publicized, it is made clear what the data and the conclusions are based on, where they were derived from and how they can be verified. (…). III.3 Raw research data are stored for at least five years. These data are made available to other scientific practitioners at request.”
I fail to understand why Bob Ward is unable to get these details.
and response

The data are all in the public domain.
 :)  Eli had a bit of FUND over there, and needless to say, Richard did not appreciate it much at all

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Third Referee Waits In The Wings

ERL has now published the comments of the second referee for Bengtsson's rejected paper. After pointing out that the authors used the wrong equation, calculating the smaller transient climate sensitivity when they meant equilibrium climate sensitivity and used the wrong, well inappropriate, units for the climate sensitivity, K/(W/m2) instead of K for same, the second referee piles on, concluding

The study would be much more valuable if it attempted to also begin to address the four questions posed in the conclusions. I suspect the answers are really quite mundane, although the tone of the discussion implies otherwise.
And, oh yes, the ERL chief editor, Dan Kammen, is mad as hell.  Graham Readfearn interviewed him, eliciting
He said the recent news coverage appeared to be an attempt to publish research “via the media” after it had been rejected through the academic peer review process. 
He pointed out that even though Bengtsson’s paper had been rejected by ERL, “they are free to submit the paper elsewhere”.
 We at Rabett Run, await the review of the third referee

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Interesting Readings

For the bunnies pleasure:

The Christian Science Monitor on Farmer's Insurance suing a number of midwestern towns for not preparing for climate change leading to insurance losses from flooding.

Paul Krugman Friday on the Point of No Return, which, with respect to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet many have already been passed.

The comments at the Times and elsewhere, have already moved to the fifth stage of denial, there is nothing we can do, so why bother doing anything.  Big error, there may be little or nothing that can be done about that particular ice sheet collapsing, but there is more out there, and continuing on today's course will lead to us passing more and more nasty points of no return. 

Neven talks about the Sea Ice blog at the Sea Ice Prediction Network. 

The Dark Snow Project is gearing up for 2014 and soliciting funds

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Propositions and Dots

A bit of a while ago Eli pointed out that much of the attack on Mike Mann, John Cook, the IPCC, Al Gore and others to be named later were about the inconsequential. 

A friend of the blog pointed to the perfect illustration of this

Thanks to Pinko Punko for finding the source.  Breen is quite far on the right side of political cartoonist.  This was from 2010

Bay Area Local: the good, bad, and ugly in Santa Clara County elections, and an open thread

Haven't done a Bay Area Local post in a while, and thought I'd also make it an open thread for any comment.

Here in Santa Clara County elections (and San Mateo County), the good issue on the ballot is Measure AA, a bond measure funding open space protection in two counties for the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District. I know they were cheered when my water district got 74% approval to renew its property tax measure in 2012. In California you need a two-third's vote to pass these measures; here's hoping they get it.

The bad would be an incumbent in a contested judicial election. I'm a lawyer and even so I often have no clue who to vote for in these elections - and so I usually don't. In this one case though, incumbent judge Diane Ritchie has shown herself to have enough trouble in the job to be rated unqualified by the County Bar Association. I agree with the San Jose Mercury News that either challenger is better, but opinion seems to be favoring Matthew Harris.

As for the ugly, it hasn't quite happened yet in any June elections. My own election is in November. I hear rumors about what may happen but won't know until August as to whether I will definitely have a race. Will be sure to let you all know what's happening.

Again, an open thread below in case you are interested in anything beyond my neck of the woods.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Even the Editors Are As Mad As Hell at Bengtsson

The Editors of Environmental Review Letters are as mad as hell and ain't gonna take it anymore from Lennart Bengtsson, the GWPF and the Times of London.  The Times, of course, interviewed Lennart Bengtsson right after he resigned from the GWPF advisory board.  In support of his persecution complex, Lennart dropped a small bomb about how a paper of his had been rejected by ERL because, according to the Times, "Research which heaped doubt on the rate of global warming was deliberately suppressed by scientists because it was “less than helpful” to their cause, it was claimed last night."

The IOP and the ERL editors have gone nuclear, releasing the entire referee's report, quite a long one, with the agreement of the referee.  Go read the whole piece, Eli will only copy the conclusion (btw there are strong reasons to believe that the referee was not from North America)
Summarising, the simplistic comparison of ranges from AR4, AR5, and Otto et al, combined with the statement they they are inconsistent is less then helpful, actually it is harmful as it opens the door for oversimplified claims of "errors" and worse from the climate sceptics media side. 
One cannot and should not simply interpret the IPCCs ranges for AR4 or 5 as confidence intervals or pdfs and hence they are not directly comparable to observation based intervals (as e.g. in Otto et al). 
In the same way that one cannot expect a nice fit between observational studies and the CMIP5 models. 
A careful, constructive, and comprehensive analysis of what these ranges mean, and how they come to be different, and what underlying problems these comparisons bring would indeed be a valuable contribution to the debate. 
I have rated the potential impact in the field as high, but I have to emphasise that this would be a strongly negative impact, as it does not clarify anything but puts up the (false) claim of some big inconsistency, where no consistency was to be expected in the first place. 
And I can't see an honest attempt of constructive explanation in the manuscript. 
Thus I would strongly advise rejecting the manuscript in its current form.
Even Mom Rabett would get the point.and the Times may be consulting solicitors.

L'Affaire Bengtsson

L’Affaire Bengtsson is all over the Climate Blog world and even has penetrated into the real media. What Eli and the bunnies need is perspective. While this flood appears to have come from nowhere, it came from Sweden, and has been percolating there for a few years, but, of course, in Swedish. While Eli cannot read Swedish, he gets a few words here and there, and has both Google translate and a few Swedish friends who will look over and correct the mistakes.

Here is the first article, by Olle Häggström, originally published at the Uppsalainitiativet and Häggström hävdar on 11 May 2014.  It describes how Bengtsson has been working with the Swedish equivalent of the GWPF for some time, unnoticed, because, of course, he did so in Sweden, well, unnoticed by all but the Swedes.  The latest theater should have been no surprise if all the bunnies spoke Swedish..

Meteorologist and Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien KVA) member Lennart Bengtsson, born in 1935, is one of Sweden's most qualified climate scientists.1 However, a substantial scientific CV is no guarantee of good judgment, and Bengtsson has in recent years made himself known through a series of startling assertions meant to trivialize the threat of climate change. He has moved close to the denialist camp, and it has been a dismal trip to behold.

Last week he took a step that can hardly be perceived as other than that his official coming out as a climate denier,2 by joining the Academic Advisory Council, of the British climate change denial organization, the Global Warming Policy Foundation 3 (GWPF), where he enjoys the company of notorious climate deniers such as Ian Plimer, Richard Lindzen, Bob Carter and Freeman Dyson .

The first time I came in contact with Lennart Bengtsson was in a climate seminar in Rosenbad 2009, when we were both employed to discuss a report by Markku Rummukainen and Erland Kallen. I willingly admit that I at that time was quite impressed by his authority and his person, and little did I know his tendencies towards climate change denial. From what I have seen, his recent contributions to the debate have been very much in the tradition of Dr-Jekyll-and-Mr-Hyde. He occasionally has (for example in a guest post he helped with for the Uppsalainitiativet [Uppsala Initiative]) addressed very sharp criticism against the simple minded rhetoric of  those who don’t believe in climate change, associated with the Stockholm Initiative and their fellow travelers, while in other moments he found it necessary to emit such rhetoric himself (an article UNT in 2009 entitled Greenhouse gas impact is minor is an early example).

I do not know if we in the Uppsalainitiativet could have been able to stop Bengtssons drift over towards the denialist camp by nurturing our relationship with him even a little bit better,4 but he began eventually to comment more and more frequently on the Stockholm Initiative blog, formerly known as The Climate Scam but which now carries the Orwellian-sounding name of  Klimatupplysnigen (Climate Enlightenment). It is obvious that he is very happy with the crude anti-intellectual tone with a hint of hate speech found in Internet comments that predominates there, and he has smoothly inserted himself into the discourse that prevails.

A typical example is the following comment that he made on January 23 of this year:
It's a shame that the GDR disappeared otherwise would have been able to offer one-way tickets there for these socialists. Now there's unfortunately not many orthodox countries left soon and I surely do not imagine our romantic green Communists want a one-way ticket to North Korea. But if interested I'd gladly contribute to the trip as long as it is for a one way ticket. Perhaps you could arrange a Gallup study, since it can not be ruled out that I underestimated rush to the exit5
He happily mixes that kind of grotesqueness with posts that appear to be almost entirely sensible, as last year's high toned article in Dagens Nyheter (DN), although even there there emerges a somewhat tendentious overemphasis of results pointing to a slightly lower climate sensitivity, at the expense research results in the opposite direction.

A recurrent feature of Lennart Bengtsson's rhetoric is his complaint on the politicization of climate issues, as in a DN interview with him in 2013 . This position, combined with his actions in general, verges on incomprehensible if one does not realize that Bengtsson on politicization of climate policy, refers only to politicization in a different direction than the one he wants. A clear example of how he happily mixes climate policy and climate science is the following exchange between him and me from a Summit on Climate Change at the KVA in May 2012; I quote from what I wrote to some friends later that day:
Today, he [Bengtsson] presided over a discussion session in which he (in spite of the very qualified panel) perceived his function as chair to be that he must be sure to talk at least half the time and explain the whys and wherefores. He ranted about how feedbacks operate on very different time scales, and that we need to be practical and focus on the time scales that are relevant to our policy decisions, namely "a couple of decades" - When I requested the floor and asked, "You said Lennart, That the practically relevant timescale for climate politics is a couple of decades. Do you REALLY mean that?? Do you really mean that whatever happens after 2050 is unimportant?" He replied that he regretted its obscurity, and that he certainly would find it serious if it turned out that we risk climate disaster in 2100, but if that was the case then we have plenty of time to put things right, and therefore there is nothing that has any bearing on the decisions we make today.
Yes, so he actually said. I was completely speechless. In the silence that occurred, he said "Do not you agree with me? ... I Can Tell That You Do Not Agree ...".
It is increasingly clear to me that Lennart Bengtsson in recent years has brought great confusion and great harm to the Swedish climate debate. In the KVA, he is undoubtedly a major reason the 2009 Academy statement on climate change was so weak and watered down. He also seems to be a driving force on the KVA's energy committee that is so hostile towards wind energy.  His influence there comes by virtue of his great scientific prestige, but I hope that now, after the blatant statement he made upon his joining the climate deniers organization, the GWPF, he will be treated with somewhat greater skepticism in both the KVA and media.6


1) I am publishing this blog post Simultaneously at the Uppsalainitiativet and on my personal blog Häggström hävdar.

2) See this blog post for an explanation of why I use the term climate denier and not climate skeptics or some other euphemism.

3) Anyone who perchance has doubts about whether the GWPF deserve the designation "Climate Change Denial Organization" is asked to browse on their website, where you can quickly find a range of typical Climate Change Denial products, such as this and this. Take a look also at the Guardian on the latest controversy surrounding the GWPF.

4) I could have chosen to refrain from the small heated E-mail exchange I had with Bengtsson shortly after he in January 2013 poured out a filthy personal attack on my good friend and Chalmers colleague Christian Azar.

5) I do not really want to provide more links to the so-called Klimatupplysningen, but can not resist but reproduce another Bengtsson quotes from there, showing that he is not afraid to use the reckless "Sweden is still so small "-argument:
Europe is currently around 10% of global emissions and little Sweden who always wants to take the lead stands where 0.2-0.0% depending on inclusion of net uptake in the Swedish vegetation or not. Sometimes I think I'm in an enchanted forest and not in reality when I read and listen to what politicians say they want to do. Surely in heaven's name are more pressing concerns such as providing meaningful jobs for young people and integrating immigrants into Swedish society! This, especially, is a huge challenge.
(If, just for fun, we pretend that we are buying the "Sweden is still so small" concept, it is not difficult to see that Bengtsson's counterproposal fall on his own trap: Why in heaven's name would he invest resources such an idiotic trifle like "get meaningful jobs for young people and integrating immigrants into Swedish society"? Sweden has, of course, only about a thousandth of the world's population and the specific groups that Bengtsson mentions are yet less. So even if we made a huge investment in the social integration of the groups he mentions, then it's not reasonably upsetting the global unemployment by more than (at the most) 0.01 percentage points. Absolutely negligible and wasted money!)

6) Let me, for clarity, emphasize that in saying this I do not encourage anyone to excommunicate him or his opinions, or suggest that his writings be burned at the stake. What I call for is only a slightly higher level of critical thinking (and correspondingly lower degree of naivety) in facing him, now that we have such clear information on what kind of agenda drives him.

That this is so must surely be obvious to most of this blog's readers, but perhaps not for Bengtsson himself, who is quick to see ghosts in the form of restrictions on his freedom of expression. See for example, what he wrote about only yesterday (and now unfortunately I have to link to yet another quotation from the so-called Klimatupplysningen):
The next step will be well to banish the false thought or banish, or even burn unsuitable books as the eminent Belgian energy expert Samuele Furfaris new book: "Vive les énergies fossils" with the subtitle "La contre-révolution énergétique" The only hopeful thing is that these unter subscriber or rather their climate warring students do not normally read books in French. In the final stage, we expect to also various unsuitable people being banned in this Modern Swedish inverse of Enlightenment.[...]
A lot of what has been achieved in the Academy of the energy group at risk now will also be banned.
As an individual you must now also consider the risk of being banned or, at best, even critical thinking will be banned. I read enough about the 1930's intellectual atmosphere in Europe to give me real discomfort.
Update 14 May 2014: Lennart Bengtsson now announces that he is leaving GWPF.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Second-highest April temps ever, says GISS

Data here. Top was 2010, but that was an El Nino year, and we're not quite there yet.

They Are Mad As Hell And Not Going to Take it Anymore

The latest news is about Lennart Bengtsson joining the big (well, well funded) GWPF machine and then leaving within a week.  Bunnies can read the details at the Weasels, Hot Whopper, and even an interesting discussion with the likes of Neven, cRR and Roger Jr at Marcel Crok's.  Eli's censorious friends at Willard Tony's and such are in full bleat

Over at the Weasels, Magnus Westerstrand provided some needed background available in scientific meeting English.  Evidently, Prof. Bengtsson has been following Lubos' path into incoherent hating on socialists  spittle, a  sample from Bengtsson, provided at the link

It's a shame that the GDR disappeared otherwise we would have been able to offer one-way tickets there for these raving socialists. Now there's unfortunately not many orthodox countries left soon and I surely do not imagine our romantic green Communists want a one-way ticket to North Korea. But if interested I will gladly contribute to the trip as long as it concerns a one way exit. Perhaps you could arrange a Gallup study, then it can not be ruled out that I underestimated utresebehovet. 5
Since Bengtsson is a card carrying meteorologist with a position at Reading, he really cannot deny that there is a greenhouse effect but has adopted a position somewhat between Curry and Pielke Sr.  "nothing, here, move on" at least in Swedish.  On the other hand, few of his collaborators in the other world read Swedish.

Thus his surprise at the reaction of his scientific colleagues to his joining the GWPF as expressed in his letter of resignation
I have been put under such an enormous group pressure in recent days from all over the world that has become virtually unbearable to me. If this is going to continue I will be unable to conduct my normal work and will even start to worry about my health and safety. I see therefore no other way out therefore than resigning from GWPF. I had not expecting such an enormous world-wide pressure put at me from a community that I have been close to all my active life. Colleagues are withdrawing their support, other colleagues are withdrawing from joint authorship etc. I see no limit and end to what will happen. It is a situation that reminds me about the time of McCarthy. I would never have expecting anything similar in such an original peaceful community as meteorology. Apparently it has been transformed in recent years.

Under these situation I will be unable to contribute positively to the work of GWPF and consequently therefore I believe it is the best for me to reverse my decision to join its Board at the earliest possible time.”
Prof. Bengtsson might reflect on the stresses that that originally peaceful community has been put under by his friends at the GWPF, something that appears unremarked as yet, but has had, IEHO, repercussions in how the originally peaceful community has reacted to Prof. Bengtsson's joining the GWPF.

Bengtsson told the Times of London that
. . the pressure had mainly come from climate scientists in the US, including one employed by the US government who threatened to withdraw as co-author of a forthcoming paper because of his link with the foundation.
and, quote
"It was the climate science community in the US which took this very negatively. I think the reason is the very loaded atmosphere in the US... they would like to do something very substantial about climate change."
The short take on this is that Prof. Bengtsson ran into a wall of disgust from his colleagues which took him by surprise. 

Somebunnies may ask why the principle negative reaction to Bengtsson joining the GWPF came from US climate scientists, others might recall the merry little jihad against US climate scientists that Benny Peiser and Lord Lawson and their US associates have engaged in.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The invisible modifier and another fine mess in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse

There's a philosophical significance to the recent papers suggesting WAIS collapse is now unstoppable over the course of 200-900 years. The documentary video below depicting global climate change policy management since we became aware of the issue in 1896 gives the context:

Now we've really done it. Many of the other large-scale harms caused by climate change are reversible. On a human scale, the loss of life isn't, but this type of planetary modification takes it to a different level. I've been noncommittal on whether tipping-point arguments are convincing, but if these studies are correct, then we need to acknowledge that we've tipped into a fine mess.

As Eli discusses below, Andy Revkin completely misses this and instead makes what I call the "invisible modifier" argument that when somebody says X, the invisible modifier turns it into Y. This invisible modifier could be a shield, so when I say A and you point out that A is grossly exaggerated, I say that A only refers to certain situations I hadn't actually said it was limited to. Invisible modifier to the rescue! Here, Andy uses it as a sword:

Some headlines are completely overwrought — as with this NBC offering: “West Antarctic Ice Sheet’s Collapse Triggers Sea Level Warning.” This kind of coverage could be interpreted to mean there’s an imminent crisis. It’s hard to justify that conclusion given the core findings in the studies.
Here, Andy says the invisible modifier added the words "of an Imminent Crisis" to the end of the headline. That modifier was so powerful it even covered up the article's first sentence, "Two teams of scientists say the long-feared collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has begun, kicking off what they say will be a centuries-long, 'unstoppable' process that could raise sea levels by as much as 15 feet."

Like the slippery slope and many other bad arguments, what makes it worse is that it is on occasion a valid argument - not everything is always stated, so there could be an unstated qualifier that could reasonably limit or unreasonably overextend an argument. Here, it's pretty clear that Revkin is wrong.

The key issue is the near-permanence and this tipping point demonstration of climate change.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Last Chance

Chris Hadfield's cover of Space Oddity comes down today, they only had permission to show it 365 days

Monday, May 12, 2014

Something Scary Comes This Way

Two papers have appeared today which, in the words of Richard Alley, are the equivalent of the guys over in the corner screaming bloody murder.  Both describe the coming, and in their view, inevitable collapse of the West Antarctic ice shelf at some point in the next 200-900 years.  While the exact time of collapse is not predictable, the inevitability is, and 200 years is not so long in the future.

Rignot, Mouginot, Morlighem, Seroussi and Scheuch map the observed retreat of these grounding glaciers, and over the past twenty years, and yes, once they let go, there is nothing holding the ice shelf back from lurching into the Southern Ocean.  They conclude
Using two decades of ERS-1/2 data, we document a continuous and rapid retreat of the grounding lines of Pine Island, Thwaites, Haynes, Smith and Kohler glaciers, which drain a large sector of West Antarctica on a retrograde, submarine bed, a configuration deemed unstable by ice sheet numerical models (e.g. Favier et al., 2014, Katz and Worster, 2010; Parizek et al., 2012) unless normal and tangential ice shelf buttressing could increase significantly (Gudmundson, 2013), which is unlikely. The retreat is proceeding along fast-flowing, accelerating sectors that are thinning, become bound to reach floatation and un-ground from the bed. We find no major bed obstacle upstream of the 2011 grounding lines that would prevent further retreat of the grounding lines farther south. We conclude that this sector of West Antarctica is undergoing a marine ice sheet instability that will significantly contribute to sea level rise in decades to come.
The process is an avalanche, with the ungrounding of the blocking Twaites and Pine Island Glaciers leading to rapid collapse.  From the paper by Joughin, Smith and Medley appearing in Science,
When simulated losses exceed 1 mm/yr sle, much greater losses generally follow within a few years. Using our basin-­scale model, however, such rapid collapse is difficult to model, especially since interaction with other basins becomes increasingly important. Thus, we take 1 mm/yr sle to be a threshold that, once crossed, marks the onset of rapid (decades) collapse as the grounding line reaches the deepest regions of the marine basin.
Now other bunnies will say this better, and already have, for example, Suzanne Goldenberg and those to be named later, what Eli is looking at is how the Mysterious Mr. Revkin appears, to tweet in glee and error at Ms. Goldenberg
The link goes to a post at his Dot Earth blog at the NY Times, where our hero manages to miss the entire point about the rapid (decades) collapse once the melt exceeds the threshold.  Our Mr. Revkin starts with a quote from the abstract
Except possibly for the lowest-melt scenario, the simulations indicate that early-stage collapse has begun. Less certain is the time scale, with the onset of rapid (>1 mm per year of sea-level rise) collapse in the different simulations within the range of 200 to 900 years.
To translate a bit, that means sometime between 200 and 900 years from now the rate of ice loss from this glacier could reach a volume sufficient to raise sea levels about 4 inches (100 millimeters) a century. At that point, according to the paper, ice loss could pick up steam, with big losses over a period of decades.* But in a phone conversation, Joughin said the modeling was not reliable enough to say how much, how soon.
 The *, of course, is the Pielke *
Update, 8:03 p.m. | * At the asterisk above, I added a phrase indicating that the modeling showed abrupt and large ice losses at the discussed stage some centuries from now.
And, of course, some centuries could be one or two centuries if we are not lucky.

Well, who picks this up but our friend Willard Tony

The Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg jumps the shark again – gets called out by NYT

 Except, of course, if the bunnies read the footnotes.  Eli leaves Tony to the Hot Whopper.

Richard Tol Stakes Himself on a Hill, Ethon Takes a Nibble

Richard Tol is engaged in staking himself on a hill so that the animals may take a nibble.  Several are so engaged including the Weasel and ATTP.  In passing Dickie reveals why he, Steve McI, Carrick, Lucia, Brandon and several others near and dear to Eli are simultaneously risible and impossible

Richard Tol (@RichardTol) says:May 12, 2014 at 5:56 am@Dana
Results derived from incorrect methods are, by definition, incorrect.
Given that all economic work is incorrect, Tol boxes himself in. The confusion between incorrect and imperfect is the tool of those seeking to confuse. Box’s extended rule is that the results of imperfect methods can be useful. Given that all methods describing the real world are imperfect, this is useful.

Much of the attack on Mike Mann, John Cook, the IPCC, Al Gore and others to be named later uses the confusion between imperfect and incorrect.  Bunnies may strive for perfection, but outside of formal logic, perfection is never to be reached, and even there, some things can never be proven.

Of curse, the Tols, McIntyres, Carricks, Brandons and Lucias of the world, amongst others, would never believe this except for their themselves, and thus waste everyone elses time and patience.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Friday, May 09, 2014

The Day They Red Dogged Coal

Brian has a short post below describing the first large success has had convincing institutions to disinvest (somewhat like disrespect, a useful word that turns the stomach of the proper) in coal stocks.  As the comments point out this went down a lot smoother because coal stocks are falling like rocks in a frothely rising market.  The smart institutions have taken their losses, the dumber should and if you can get a bit of credit for it, well lagniappe is popular other places besides New Orleans.

The title of this post comes from George Goodman* who died this winter, a writer of the markets with wit and wisdom, whose perception of the madness of crowds and markets puts the wood to the illusion of rational expectations.  If you have not read them, run out and get copies of "The Money Game" and "Supermoney" (readable parts on Amazon).  In "The Money Game" Goodman writes
 That day, September 27, 1966 is going to be one of those days like December 7, 1941, peculiar to history, the day Wall Street stopped believing in anything, at least for that Bear Market, and you can mark it by minutes on the clock, just the way it happens in the diaster books when the water goes gurgling into the Titanic.  September 27 was the day they red-dogged Motorola.
May 6, 2014 could be such a day, with the release of the National Climate Assessment Report and Stanford's disinvestment announcement.  Bunnies may hope.

* Eli might point out to the hard of understanding that Goodman wrote under the nym of Adam Smith,

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Stanford University to divest from coal

Big news for the climate divestment movement:  Stanford is getting out of coal. While getting out of oil and maybe even natural gas would be good, this is a great start and will put enormous pressure on other universities. And as the article says, the action is just the start and not the end of their process for handling the issue.

Left unmentioned in the article is the tanking of coal stocks, down 70% over the last few years - why not get out of coal?

I'm sure the email I sent to the university president and my piddling status as a donor made a huge difference.

Now it's time to get some more water districts to do the same thing. I talked to one today and another yesterday, so I'm working on it....

Stanfords press release is here, and from the students who made it happen here.

You can feel the National Climate Assessment in your bones

Blog long enough and you can just repeat yourself. The Third Climate Assessment is telling us something we already know, that the climate has gone screwy and disrupted. We know that because of science, but for non-scientists they know it because they can feel it in their bones. I suppose it would be better if people relied more on statistical knowledge and less on personal experience, but that personal experience does reflect a reality of climate change over decades. I think it's that personal message that should be used.

Climate disruption is true - you know it's true, your experience tells you it's true, the experience of people who've been around for a long time in one place tell you it's true. Science then backs it up.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Tol's Demon

Maxwell's Demon, is a cute little bunny who sits at the door between two bags of wind.  When the Demon sees a fast one coming from the right side she (the ladies are demons of course and the guys ogres, you never heard of Maxwell's ogre, did you?) opens the door and lets it through, but blocks the slow ones.  This lead to a paradox which was only solved when it was realized that the Demon did not work for free energy.

Which brings us to today's post.  Richard Tol has published a correction to 'The Economic Effects of Climate Change" which appeared in the Journal of Economic Perspectives (2009), with an interesting start

Gremlins intervened in the preparation of my paper "The Economic Effects of Climate Change" published in the Spring 2009 issue of this journal. In Table 1 of that paper, titled "Estimates of the Welfare Impact of Climate Change," minus signs were dropped from the two impact estimates, one by Plambeck and Hope (1996) and one by Hope (2006). In Figure 1 of that paper, titled "Fourteen Estimates of the Global Economic Impact of Climate Change," and in the various analyses that support that figure, the minus sign was dropped from only one of the two estimates.
Get Energy Smart Now parses the correction
“minus signs were dropped … minus sign was dropped”.
Who dropped those minus signs and “overlooked estimates”.  Evidently, those unnamed and nefarious “gremlins” who  ”intervened” to undermine the quality of Professor Tol’s research and publications.
Using the passive voice makes one wonder whether editors, research assistants, technical glitches, or Professor Tol, himself, were the “gremlins” who “intervened”.
without realizing that Tol's Demon is unidirectional

Richard was pushed to his correction by Bob Ward of the Grantham Insitute who looked at the original paper and commented on the possibility that these errors influenced the IPCC report and various EPA reports that referenced the FUND model and this paper.  Richard is his usual gracious self in describing the situation.  Get Energy Smart has some of the better details of the flame war that ensued with links, and Richard's acknowledgement is sweet
I am grateful to Bob Ward for finding a small error, to Mike Mastandrea for finding a bigger one, to Doug Arent for checking things again and again, to David Autor and Tim Taylor for their understanding, and to Ann Norman for superb editorial support. All remaining errors are, of course, mine and mine only.
ATTP has a post on the meaning of the correction which references to Grant McDermott's take on this especially when he removes the single hugely positive value, from guess whom, Tol's One Way Demon

The original with errors and Tol's positive value at 1 C had a positive bump.

This, will be chewed on by many, however Eli wants to point to a comment by Grant in the discussion
The most famous IAM, William Nordhaus’s DICE model, using a quadratic damage function that is calibrated on Tol (2009)… But offset by an (arbitrary) 25% adjustment factor to account for the many accounted factors such as biodiversity loss, extreme events, etc (see page 10, 11 here). The function in question is: D(T) = 0.00267*T + 0.00267*T^2, where T is change in global surface temperature relative to the pre-industrial period.
Eli, being a RTFR type of bunny went and RTFR, which reads
The 2013 model (DICE-ER) instead uses a highly simplified damage function that relies on current estimates of the damage function.  More precisely, DICE-2013 uses estimates of monetized damages from the Tol (2009) survey as the starting point.
Extra carrots if to anybunny who figures out what the Tol (2009) survey is.


Saturday, May 03, 2014

More tornadoes

In an earlier post discussing tornadoes, Eli showed a figure from Harold Brooks

together with some from James Elsner and Roger Jr.  Harold dropped by and commented
Elsner's result depends very strongly on reported path width-the intensity is a strong function of width and then he multiplies the implied v^2/2 by the area of the tornado (width*length). Path width is the worst part of the dataset. Reported value changed from mean to max width in '94. More detailed surveying will lead to increased max width. With adoption of EF scale in '07, there's an abrupt doubling of the reported widths for reasons that aren't clear. No trend in width from '94-'06, nor in '07-'12. Just a step function at '07.

One of the big things about the first graph is that it's an updated version from one that was first made in 2000. At that time, it was still a question as to whether the decline had stopped (were '98 and '99 just a couple of big years and the next few would drop well below the regression line?). My co-author and I predicted that it would be clear that the decline had stopped with a few years after 2000. Our very simple model of that was based on the much greater risk of death (15-20X) for mobile home residents compared to permanent home residents and the increase in the fraction of housing units that are mobile homes. Just using that led to a flat line in the overall deaths/million that we predicted would be apparent shortly after our publication in 2002. Brooks and Doswell 2002
Eli thought this was not as open and shut as Harold thought
If what we are seeing is the mobile home effect, then the great recession in 2008 which threw a lot of people out of their homes should have produced a notable uptic in deaths of those in trailers. Has it?
 The Rabett wondered if Harold's SWAG was the answer so he went to the American Housing Survey and tried to pull out the data, in this case the number of mobile homes per million people in the US

Now this is not perfect, because the AHS groups mobile and manufactured homes, but other surveys show the same trend so Harold Brooks was right, the tornado death curve leveled off, but not for the reason he expected.

Something else?  Something that is level to ~ 1920 changes fairly quickly afterwards and then levels off ~1980.  Hmmm.  MT will love this.  Eli not so much

If you want to read more about Piketty start here or here, but it certainly suggests that raw GDP is maybe not the right thing to use.  It would be macabre, but informative to plot the average income of people who die in tornadoes.  Safe rooms cost $$

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Peering at Supreme Court entrails

Everyone says the recent Clean Air Act victory in the Supremes was a 'rare EPA success' and an equally rare defeat to the US Chamber of Commerce. Not too surprising given that the Court hasn't had an environmentalist serving on it since William Douglas left in 1975, while big corporate lawyers abound as justices.

The full decision is here, a good and brief writeup here. Some comments I've seen suggest it bodes well for more direct regulation of greenhouse gases. My first reaction was probably not, my second reaction is more hopeful.

The decision is about coal (mostly) pollution crossing state lines. Rather than the EPA beating up private industry, it's about the federal government playing an umpire role between states. Justice Kennedy makes a big deal about the important role of the states, so here he may have seen the EPA make sure states play nice with each other. Greenhouse gas regulation won't be seen in the same terms of protecting sovereign states from impacts across their borders.

On the other hand, EPA used a fairly liberal interpretation of its ability to protect against cross-border pollution that made the rule less onerous by applying a cost-benefit analysis. Opponents tried to make the law's required application so difficult that it wouldn't even be attempted, or at least delayed for years - a trick they've tried previously on Obamacare and greenhouse gases. Being flexible in order to make the law workable is a useful precedent here.

And of course this is one more thing making it hard for dirty coal plants to keep polluting. One more step in the right direction.