Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Kzinti Lesson

Explication:  It has been pointed out to Eli that the Kzinti lesson is a bit obscure and maybe even not the right description of Richard's tactics.  In one of the books about Known Space, a human is forced to challenge some kzin, which he does with a fairly elegant short speech (imagine an academic doing a polite, but very firm refutation of someone else's paper).

The kzin tells the human that his challenge was needlessly verbose: a kzin would just "scream and leap".  Of course, kzin have learned that sometimes they need to apologize, sometimes.
Richard Tol is an interesting character, interesting, not admirable.  As he himself is proud of mentioning he ranks high in the h-number sweepstakes amongst economists as the most cited for this or that like 9th in the 2007 Top-40 of Dutch Economists (a productivity ranking); 18th in 2006; 2nd in 2005; 18th in 2004, 25th in 2001; not ranked in 2002 and 2003, go read his CV.  OTOH, until last year, he never had a permanent position.  Lots of jobs, visiting professor here, adjunct professor there and his interactions with others have always been. . . . . difficult.

Richard's way of dealing with anyone who questions Richard is full throated Kzinti roar and attack. For the most part this succeeds because few want the joy of dealing with an axe murderer, and Richard does an excellent impression.  This discourages criticism.

However, over a long enough time, the act wears thin, and the Kzinti run up against people who ain't gonna take it.  In Richard's case, Frank Ackerman, who with Charles Muntz published a paper about a divide by zero flaw in the FUND model.  Ackerman relates how this inspired Tol
to launch a relentless, multi-year campaign to have the article retracted, and to discredit me – including hostile letters about me to my former and current employers.

On the one hand, I am delighted to report that this campaign was essentially a total failure. The article was not retracted, and achieved much higher visibility due to Tol’s critiques. I very much appreciate the support of numerous economists, and of my former and current employers, who have all made public statements opposing the vendetta against me and my article.

On the other hand, the ensuing debate – focused on a specific flaw in FUND 3.5, which has been fixed in later versions – has distracted attention from the underlying issues which my coauthor and I sought to raise in our article. Compared to many other researchers, Tol’s work in general argues for an overly optimistic view of climate change, and a correspondingly less urgent approach to climate policy.
Eli made the same point in the middle of the set to about Tol's dissing the IPCC as did many others.  Ackerman is back with an analysis of Tol's contribution to the IPCC WG II report and an associated review article.
Tol’s 2013 review article, despite its appearance of objectivity, is founded on faulty selection of data and analyses, and contains interpretive flaws that make its facile conclusions unsupportable. First, it highlights 16 studies, some of them very old, from a handful of authors, as if they represented all we know about climate damages.

Second, it identifies a larger number of studies of the social cost of carbon, more than half from the same handful of authors, and then focuses almost entirely on the subset of results with a high discount rate. Where it reports on my own work, the survey clearly misrepresents the original published source.

Third, it purports to prove that low-carbon stabilization targets are expensive by ignoring models and analyses that reach these targets, but making ad hoc adjustments to other analyses that fail to describe a path to a stable climate.

The field of economic analysis of climate change is a work in progress, with many interesting, sometimes contradictory, developments and approaches appearing in recent years. Most of the field, and most of what economists are writing about climate change, cannot be seen through the narrow, distorting lens of Tol’s review article.
This does not even get into the gremlins fiasco that consumed Retraction Watch and others with Eli taking a bite or two about how Richard managed to mangle a whole bunch of signs.  As Andrew Gelman (the others) put it, even if you correct the signs, the model makes no sense.

Frank Ackerman points out that selective citing drives Richard Tol's conclusions.
Even a stable, gremlin-free version of this curve is problematical, however. It treats a narrow and dated collection of studies as the best available estimates of the economic severity of climate change. .  .

Despite the appearance of 16 different studies, Tol’s data represent the views of a small circle of economists, some of them counted repeatedly as their estimates evolved over the years.  As Tol notes later in his article, “the researchers who published impact estimates are from a small and close-knit community who may be subject to group-thinking, peer pressure and self-censoring.”
Somebunny in the editorial offices and the WG II working group should have smelled a problem, but as Eli said, Richard is very aggressive.  Ackerman, could have recycled his summary of Bjorn Lomborg's Cool It to describe Richard's body of work
He offers a definitive-sounding explanation of the climate problem for a nontechnical audience, identifies and summarizes recent research, and tells his readers who to trust and who to doubt. This claim of authority fails both because the book is riddled with small inaccuracies, and because it displays a pervasive bias in its coverage and evaluations of climate issues.
Eli might speculate that the 97% wars on top of the IPCC WG II fiasco and the gremlin attack may have caused Richard to lose control of the dialog.  One may hope.

Direct Deposit

Brian, being obsessed with water supply, he is from California, in writing about water reuse, missed this little goodie which Eli found at the AGU in the Good Hotel (a nest of relatively low cost hotels near the Convention Center and in the coffee zone. ).  While this is rather simple, a bit of plumbing accomplishes the same thing with your sink of choice.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Noah Smith is having fun with automatic priors, pointing out that the reasonable person's prior on personal immortality is that you got it because you ain't dead yet.

Consider Proposition H: "God is watching out for me, and has a special purpose for me and me alone. Therefore, God will not let me die. No matter how dangerous a threat seems, it cannot possibly kill me, because God is looking out for me - and only me - at all times."

Suppose that you believe that there is a nonzero probability that H is true. And suppose you are a Bayesian - you update your beliefs according to Bayes' Rule. As you survive longer and longer - as more and more threats fail to kill you - your belief about the probability that H is true must increase and increase. It's just mechanical application of Bayes' Rule:
Frequentists may disagree, bodycounts tell a bunny something, Noah points out that while there are other reasonable priors, how to determine which one should be used appears to be a religious matter.  OTOH, there are people, particularly teenage boys who use Proposition H daily. 

Eli and Socrates debated similar issues a while ago and Andrew Gelman about eight years ago pondered same
The fundamental objections to Bayesian methods are twofold: on one hand, Bayesian methods are presented as an automatic inference engine, and this raises suspicion in anyone with applied experience, who realizes that di erent methods work well in different settings (see, for example, Little, 2006). Bayesians promote the idea that a multiplicity of parameters can be handled via hierarchical, typically exchangeable, models, but it seems implausible that this could really work automatically. In contrast, much of the work in modern non-Bayesian statistics is focused on developing methods that give reasonable answers using minimal assumptions.

The second objection to Bayes comes from the opposite direction and addresses the subjective strand of Bayesian inference: the idea that prior and posterior distributions represent subjective states of knowledge. Here the concern from outsiders is,  first, that as scientists we should be concerned with objective knowledge rather than subjective belief, and second, that it's not clear how to assess subjective knowledge in any case.

Beyond these objections is a general impression of the shoddiness of some Bayesian analyses, combined with a feeling that Bayesian methods are being oversold as an allpurpose statistical solution to genuinely hard problems. Compared to classical inference, which focuses on how to extract the information available in data, Bayesian methods seem to quickly move to elaborate computation. It does not seem like a good thing for a generation of statistics to be ignorant of experimental design and analysis of variance, instead becoming experts on the convergence of the Gibbs sampler.
Lars Syll riffs off Smith with a little less patience noting that as a religion Bayesianism is dangerous.  The right to carry automatic priors can produce nonsense.  James Annan showed this with Myles Allen's way to wide uniform prior, and the recent discussion about Nic Lewis' attempt to mangle C14 dating priors should caution the Bayesians.

Long live frequentism, at least when there is enough data. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Curious Rabett

The British House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee has issued its report on the AR5 WG I.  While the report strongly supports the IPCC (see below), there is opposition within the Commons and the Murdochsphere.  An important issue is how does one know the opposition is blowing smoke.  There are tells. 

In commenting on climate change, Eli has always been of the opinion that the thin bench is the weakness of denialism.  In this, it was interesting to note that the opponents of the IPCC on the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee invited Richard Lindzen and Nick Lewis accompanied by one Donna Laframboise to give oral testimony.  Bunnies can go back and forth about Lindzen and Lewis.  Lindzen has been wrong about a lot of things.  Lewis has a hammer.  Laframboise, well, it is difficult to say what she is, at least politely, and she was a challenge to the Committee.  A bit of the oral testimony shows that they knew they were being insulted  and oh yes, Richard Lindzen was maybe not held too seriously either.

Q75 John Robertson: I remember a movie that I think was called The Core, and the scientist who was a bit of a pain in the backside made a statement that “science is a best guess”. Nobody knows exactly what it is, but it is a best guess. We have to go on the best guess. You need to help us.

Professor Lindzen: Yes, but the question is, how do you decide on policy? In other words, it is kind of a point of amusement. Somebody says, “There is a problem”, and the politician says, “We have to do something”.

John Robertson: There lies your problem. Your problem is the science. Our problem is the policy. I do not get involved in the science and perhaps probably you should not get involved in the politics.

Donna Laframboise: If I might make a comment. I am a journalist with no scientific background whatsoever and I had left journalism for seven years. I got laid off at the National Post with 130 other people. I decided to do something else with my life. Then I started doing some independent research on climate change and decided I should write a book because I realised that there was a wide diversity of scientific opinion about climate change, but that diversity was not being reflected in the news reports that I was reading. I thought I was writing a book about 10 reasons to be calm, cool and collected about climate change because there are diverse points of view. Instead, I ended up writing an expose of the IPCC, quite unexpectedly, because the more I did some basic fact-checking about what we were told about how the IPCC works as an organisation, the more concerned I got.

I compare it to a criminal trial. If we find out that there was bias among the jurors, then we have to throw out the verdict and start again. What I see is there are so many questions and biases and potential problems with the IPCC process that I do not think it is trustworthy. I do not think any reasonable person can look at the IPCC in depth and say, “We can trust this decision”. It is unfortunate. I wish we could because it would be much clearer what we should do.

John Robertson: With the best will in the world, you are one person and a lot of other people would disagree with you and you have had your chance to sell your book.
One must thank the members of the committee in denial, Graham Stringer and Peter Lilley, for inviting Ms. Laframboise.  It would be hard to think of a clearer marker that denial is not to be taken seriously.  The fact that she was invited shows that there is no there there.

The Committee report issued just now is quite strong:
80. The conclusions of this inquiry are very clear: the WGI contribution to AR5 is the best available summary of the prevailing scientific opinion on climate change currently available to policy-makers. Its conclusions are derived with a high confidence from areas of well understood science. Uncertainty remains in a small number of important areas but these are diminishing. It is important to consider all lines of evidence together when assessing climate change rather than focusing on particular aspects of the report. The overall thrust and conclusions of the report are widely supported in the scientific community and summaries are presented in a way that is persuasive to the lay reader.
81. The size and scale of the report reflects the huge effort by the international climate science community, who volunteer their time and expertise. We can now be more confident than ever that human activity is the dominant cause of the warming witnessed in the latter half of the 20th Century. The most significant human impact is through the release of carbon dioxide, which is predicted to continue to cause warming in the coming decades and centuries.
On the issue of climate sensitivity the report states that
The WGI contribution to AR5 has considered the full range of both Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity and Transient Climate Response and given the best assessment possible within the constraints of the evidence available at the time. It does not appear that a consistent pattern for higher or lower sensitivities than that stated in the WGI contribution to AR5 has emerged since its publication. (Paragraph 48)
and on the global temperature anomaly
Periods of hiatus are consistent with earlier IPCC assessments that non-linear warming of the climate is to be expected and that forced climate changes always take place against a background of natural variability. The current period of hiatus does not undermine the core conclusions of the WGI contribution to AR5 when put in the context of the overall, long-term global energy budget. Despite the hiatus, the first decade of the 2000s was the warmest in the instrumental record and overall warming is expected to continue in the coming decades. (Paragraph 53)
and on models
The models used in the IPCC’s Assessment Reports have a successful history of simulating past climate and their future projection of substantial warming over the next century in all but the most aggressive mitigation scenarios is well founded and overwhelmingly clear. (Paragraph 64) 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Climate change, desal and astronaut water

As Eli points out, California has a water crisis, and much of the rest of the country needs to be much more water efficient. Water efficiency is the obvious place to start but then the next-step question comes up.

While plenty of people don't live near the ocean, lots do. Oceanside areas with large populations are going to have wastewater treatment plants (in developed countries, anyway).  These places therefore have two potential sources of new water supply:  ocean desalination or potable reuse of recycled wastewater.

Potable reuse of wastewater is nothing new. Almost any city drawing water from a river which has another city upstream is already doing it; the question is can we do it without lying to ourselves. In the case of astronauts and the International Space Station, they can do it outright, but the rest of us have to catch up.

Or not. Ocean desal actually uses the same technologies that potable reuse requires, either distillation or more commonly through reverse osmosis. The difference is that ocean water has a lot more stuff in it (mainly salt) than wastewater which already has to go through some purification before it reaches your reverse-osmosis system. That means a lot more energy and cost is involved in ocean desalination than potable reuse, so we've got a climate change issue.

The other climate change issue is that the lack of water currently stops a lot of unwise sprawl development, but ocean desal could change that, or maybe even mandate it - a very expensive desal system could be built on the expectation that there will be a lot more development to pay for it. I suppose there's some sprawl risk from potable reuse as well, but because it functions best in an existing populated area, starting at the wastewater treatment plan and then spreading from there, the risk is lower.

Many other factors involved of course, but these are the main climate issues. All but one of the factors weigh in favor of potable reuse. The one factor favoring ocean desal is psychology and political acceptance. People hesitate to drink this water, and that hesitation killed an earlier potable reuse project in San Diego (p. 17).

I view desal and portable reuse as being in a race. Money is limited so communities are going to prioritize. As much as I can I've supported potable reuse and opposed desal.

First step for potable reuse is Indirect Potable Reuse, achieving psychological acceptance by making the treated water sit somewhere for a while before reuse, either in a reservoir or underground. It's good but maximum flexibility and less cost require Direct Potable Reuse, shunting the water to your drinking water plants.

At my water district we've set up a reverse osmosis system. Currently it's just to improve the quality of non-potable recycled water which will help with certain types of uses, but the goal is potable, if we can get public acceptance.

Note:  stumbled across this - Los Angeles actually constructed an indirect potable reuse plant in the 1930s, but shut it down when they acquired Colorado River water. Back to the future, like with electric cars.

Also, desalination sometimes refers to desal of brackish water, usually groundwater. This water is much less salty than ocean water so a lot of the energy concerns are reduced with brackish desal. But brackish water and even potable reuse require a fair amount of energy, just nowhere near as much as ocean desal.

Tweeting science over the last few thousand years

Twitter conversations by scientists, beginning with one of Pythagoras' tweets. Be sure to read the ones from Jonas Salk.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Meeting Michelle yesterday

(Not very substantive post on meeting Michelle Obama, click here to read if you're idly curious....)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Future Today

Over at ATTP, Rachel, playing while Wotts is away, asks about community driven solutions to climate change.  Pekka misses the point in one comment (there are others in the thread which is worth reading, by Pekka and others)

Governments have had some role in those technologies as well, but what has made exactly these fields to grow at an exceptional rate, has not been the government. It’s worthwhile to ponder, what leads to the huge success of some developments, but not of the others. One factor is certainly that technology development has revolutionized data and signal processing, while most other technologies have not shown potential for anything comparable.
Eli was not as nice as he could be, pointing out that government is a vital player in anything that has to do with anything
Government had nothing to do with the coming of the railroads, road traffic or air travel. OK Pekka?
You could add electrical distribution networks and pipelines to that.  In this regard Eli would like to point to a map of the future today

More than there are gas stations inside the Périphérique.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stigma for fossil fuel companies, the reverse for the churches that dump them

World Council of Churches, Unitarian Universalists, United Church of Christ, and many smaller/regional church denominations and affiliated organizations have established climate divestment policies. Others are percolating - the Methodists are studying their investment policy, the Presbyterians are first going to try to persuade the companies to give up their core business model (good luck with that!)* and then we'll see them and others consider this issue.

People involved in climate divestment and had also been involved in South Africa divestment a generation ago say that climate divestment is moving faster. An Oxford study backs that up (p. 11).

The same study acknowledges limited direct financial impacts of divestment except for coal industry, but then focuses on the stigma issue:

As with individuals, a stigma can produce negative consequences for an organisation. For example, firms heavily criticised in the media suffer from a bad image that scares away suppliers, subcontractors, potential employees, and customers. Governments and politicians prefer to engage with ‘clean’ firms to prevent adverse spill-overs that could taint their reputation or jeopardise their re-election. Shareholders can demand changes in management or the composition of the board of directors of stigmatised companies. Stigmatised firms may be barred from competing for public tenders, acquiring licences or property rights for business expansion, or be weakened in negotiations with suppliers. Negative consequences of stigma also include cancellation of multibillion-dollar contracts or mergers/ acquisitions. Stigma attached to merely one small area of a large company may threaten sales across the board.
(p. 14, citations removed)

The stigmatization from divestment will have financial consequences. These companies will have to pay more for employees and for other businesses to work with them. Companies with a toe-hold in the fossil fuel sector will find it better for them to get out.

Most important is that stigmatized industries will find it tougher to manipulate the political sector. That's one reason why they disguise their funding, but the disguise is imperfect, and the difficulty gets worse with the stigma.

Two other points. The study acknowledges political restrictions resulting from the climate divestment effort could destroy the perceived value of reserves that end up staying in the ground. When the carbon bubble pops is hard to predict, but any downward pressure increases the possibility of it happening soon.

Second, when companies divested from South Africa they weren't required to physically blow up the businesses they left behind - they sold them. The argument that it had no financial impact was around then, but we see what happened in the end.

*I think there is a business case that fossil fuel companies should 1. stop wasting money exploring for new reserves, 2. sell the reserves they're not going to be allowed to develop before the carbon bubble bursts, 3. play out the remaining and cheapest reserves and 4. either distribute the profits and wind down their companies, or invest in another business model. Not bloody likely to happen, though.

I'm ignoring the complications of when natural gas can substitute for coal. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Down the Drain

Eli has long been an advocate of the five fold way
  • Adaptation to deal with the damage already done
  • Amelioration, eliminating harmful effects of our actions
  • Conservation with needed and desired but not wasteful usage
  • Substitution of green systems for destructive ones
  • Mitigation reversing our thoughtless abuse
and not just for dealing with climate change.  Neat and tidy are two virtues Mom Rabett was strong on, and Ms. Rabett, well at times she is just plain cheap, Eli being thrifty.  Thus waste offends.

There has been considerable noise in the climate set about leaks from natural gas pipes and wells.  An  article in the NYTimes by David Bornstein points out that water systems are sieves. 
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates (pdf) that public water systems lose, on average, one-sixth of their water — mainly from leaks in pipes. The E.P.A. asserts that 75 percent of that water is recoverable. (In truth, the volume of leakage in the nation’s 55,000 drinking-water systems is unknown, because few conduct water audits.
with loads of consequences
It’s been widely reported that California is experiencing its worst drought in history. But take a look at the United States Drought Monitor: much of the country is abnormally dry or in drought. Internationally, the problem is even more serious. The World Bank reports that, over the next decade and a half, water availability may fall 40 percent short of global need (pdf).

Meanwhile, utilities in the developing world are hemorrhaging water. The World Bank estimates that water systems have real losses (leakages) of 8.6 trillion gallons per year, about half in developing countries (pdf, 11MB, p.6). That’s enough to serve 150 million Americans (and we use a lot of water!)
Bornstein describes how the Bahamas are dealing with the problem in collaboration with a consulting firm Miya and the obvious progress they are making

Sealing up systems can not only save money, but because water systems are often limited by water supply, it can insure delivery.  Doing so requires commitment, technology and funding, but pays multiple dividends.
One study (pdf) conducted for the California Public Utilities Commission examined audits done by 17 water utilities and found that losses were 1.6 to 6.6 times higher than optimum levels.  Assuming that 40 percent of the losses could be recovered economically, the study’s lead author, Reinhard Sturm, estimated potential savings at 113 billion gallons per year — equivalent to the annual production of six Carlsbad projects.

It’s vital to consider the impact on energy use and the environment. Water is often lost between the main pipe and the customer, which means it has already been extracted, treated and transported a very long way. That’s expensive. All that energy is lost — and more has to be used — and that, of course, increases carbon emissions. California’s water system is already the state’s largest single energy user. At the same time, desalination plants are energy intensive. Electricity accounts for roughly half the cost of their water.
Oh yeah 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Suderman meets Tojo

Japanese citizens reading their newspapers during World War II noticed that the reports of unending series of Japanese victories in the Pacific had a pattern - each time that the Japanese smashed Allied forces, it was closer to the home islands than the previous time the Allies had been smashed.

Peter Suderman's critique of Obamacare over time follows a similar eerie pattern.

After losing Saipan, Imperial Japan did start to come clean about what was happening, somewhat. We'll see when that happens with the Republican leadership.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Eli is on vacation

Eli is on vacation, a little surfing now and again.  Back eventually, till then there is this to ponder

Statistical mathterbation has broken out everywhere, Beenstock is back, Force X is out there, and Eli was reading Andrew Gelman who posted a useful comment from George Box on models
It is widely recognized that the advancement of learning does not proceed by conjecture alone, nor by observation alone, but by an iteration involving both. Certainly, scientific investigation proceeds by such iteration. Examination of empirical data inspires a tentative explanation which, when further exposed to reality, may lead to its modification. . . .
Now, since scientific advance, to which all statisticians must accommodate, takes place by the alternation of two different kinds of reasoning, we would expect also that two different kinds of inferential process would be re- quired to put it into effect.
The first, used in estimating parameters from data conditional on the truth of some tentative model, is appropriately called Estimation. The second, used in checking whether, in the light of the data, any model of the kind proposed is plausible, has been aptly named by Cuthbert Daniel Criticism.
In the comments, Corey refers to a paper which purports to show that Kepler's model was a worse fit to the data than the Ptolemaic model, however that paper had some problems
In brief, Spanos shows that the residuals of the Keplerian model fit to Kepler’s original n = 28 data set are indistinguishable from white noise, while the residuals of the Ptolemaic model fit to a data set of one Martian year (~2 Earth years) of *daily observations from the US Navy Observatory* (n = 687) show unmistakable autocorrelation. I don’t mind telling you that my jaw literally dropped when I realized that Spanos was checking the statistical adequacy of the two models on *two different data sets*.
 This, however, to Eli was unimportant, because physics, chemistry and increasingly biology are built upon the principle of parsimony, and this is something that need be made much more explicit in teaching science at all levels.  Realizing this, the epicycles were roadkill.  Kuhn, Popper and the rest never really came to terms with the two bedrocks of science, parsimony and consistency to understand the world.

The developments of the last thirty years have provided such models for biology and climate science, but the stamp collectors have not caught up.  Cladistics is useful when simplicity is lacking.  Pattern recognition can be powerful, but it also masks understanding.  Neural nets have no sense of guilt.


Sunday, July 06, 2014

Two by JQ

John Quiggin has two good climate-related posts out from recent days. Tobacco International discusses the recent decision in Australia to mandate plain-packaging for cigarettes, mainly featuring pictures about the health effects of smoking. Tobacco companies fought the law tooth and nail and are now doing the same in England against a proposed law. Their apologists claim the law doesn't work. John points out it's the same people who deny climate change at work, doing the same type of data torture (in this case, seizing on a too-short trend line and drawing conclusions from it).

John also takes apart the funhouse-mirror justification for being wrong on climate change by Ross Douthat, something that was much needed. Douthat says the recession somehow changed the need to respond to environmental issues that have been festering for decades and will be with us for centuries.


The best way to understand Douthat’s piece is by reverse engineering his argument as a constrained minimization problem The objective is to minimize the craziness he needs to embrace, subject to the constraint that he must end up in line with the denialist conspiracy theorists who dominate the base. The best approach is to combine the most inflated estimates of the cost of mitigation, with the rosiest projections of the implications of doing nothing.
I'd say that's pretty widespread among the inactivists who aren't fully embracing the lizard people conspiracy theory of climate fraud. The science is correct up to the point where it obviously mandates action, and then by a huge coincidence the "honest skeptic" suddenly decides the science got turned off somehow.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Turn About

Of course, Eli is sitting on the couch, switching back and forth between the World Cup and Monckton

vs. Svalgaard at Willard Tony's place.  Eli must admit a feeling of guilt for having let the air out of the causus bellow, Jr. Rocket Scientist David Evans Theory of Nothing, but us scientist types do have responsibilities.  Still, popcorn futures are doing well.  Eli has discovered new things, for example, that Leif does not hold a high opinion of Michael Mann (it always comes back to Mike, don't it?) and that the Good Lord Monckton thinks that Mike's suit against NRO is godly and good.  WHAT!!

Well Eli was giggling through the comments and came across a letter from Monckton to the world and Leif.  The issue is that Chris has invested deeply in Evan's futures, and is watching his pounds flow out the channel, and Leif is, well, rather protective of his turf and terse, compared to the Florid Flouncer.  Leif is upset that Evans produced a downturn at the end of his TSI series by padding it in a certain way, and that the data itself is older than Eli and not the best.  Bunnies can go over there and read the details if they must.  Willard Tony censors comments not eyeballs, and so we have this from Lord Monckton

WARNING:(True, Eli has substituted Mann for Evans in this and Steyn for Svalgaard, but it does not take a good lawyer to imagine that any willingness of Mr. Steyn's lawyers to call Lord Monckton has just plunged.  Eli has perhaps enhanced this a bit)
In the Britannosphere, accusations of fraud (and adding the word “almost”, particularly given the manner in which Mr Svalgaard Steyn has interpreted what he meant by “almost”, will not help the defendant much) are taken very seriously indeed by the courts. I have now compiled a list of some of the things Mr Svalgaard  Steyn has said about Dr Evans Mann. It has taken two hours. That’s a long list.

Thanks to my former career, I have had to become something of an expert in what is and is not libel in multiple jurisdictions. Mr Svalgaard  Steyn’s remarks constitute what is known in British and Australian law as “a libel of Mr Evans Mann in his calling” – and a grave one at that. Falsely and repeatedly to accuse a fellow scientist, in the most widely-read public forum on the climate worldwide, of having used wrong data and of having fabricated data, just at the moment when Dr Evans Mann is preparing to launch the culmination of many years’ patient work, and to persist in these libels even after having been given numerous plain warnings to desist, would in my not inexpert opinion – if the case were proven – require Mr Svalgaard  Steyn to pay Dr Evans Mann not less than $100,000 in aggravated damages, particularly because Mr Svalgaard Steyn was given so many opportunities to apologize and persistently failed to take them.
a bit of interpolation here to fit the wrong case and
I do not speak for Dr Evans Mann in any way, and I have no idea of whether he will decide to sue. As a first step, he might request National Review to allow him to answer the allegations in a head posting, which would go some way towards expunging Mr Svalgaard Steyn’s nastly libel of him in his calling as a scientist.

Perhaps in the United States, as one thoughtful commenter has suggested, persistently and falsely calling someone “almost fraudulent” for allegedly “fabricating” scientific data is thought acceptable. Not in Australia. There, as in any British-law jurisdiction, such a libel is taken very seriously indeed. I had hoped I had made that plain to Mr Svalgaard Steyn, so as to give him the chance to get himself off the hook.

For my part, I am referring Mr Svalgaard Steyn’s long list of malicious comments about Dr Evans Mann (but not about me: I give as good as I get) to his university, which will know best how to handle the matter, for there is a rather delicate aspect that I am not at liberty to discuss here. The university will most certainly realize that the do-nothing option is not an option. The libel is too grave and too persistent. My lawyers are looking at it tomorrow to see whether malice is present, in which case the damages would triple, to say nothing of the costs. Their corresponding lawyers in the U.S. will be giving advice on whether Dr Evans Mann would count in U.S. law as a “public figure”, Probably not, from what I know of the “public-figure” test, in which event, in order to enforce the judgement of the Australian courts in the U.S., it would not be necessary to prove malice (for, though malice seems evident, the test in Australian law is high).

It would also be open to Dr Evans Mann simply to apply to the court for a declaration (in Scotland, declarator) that he had not fabricated anything or engaged in any of the other varieties of scientific misconduct of which Mr Svalgaard Steyn has seen fit to accuse him with such vicious and unbecoming persistence.
 and again a break during with Eli wiped the spittle off the inside of his LCD screen, concluding with
And there, I think, we had better leave it and let the appropriate authorities take over. I have only been as explicit as this because this posting will also go some little way towards expunging the libel and minimizing the damage to Dr Evans Mann’ reputation that Mr Svalgaard Steyn seems to have intended.
Eli is sure that Prof. Mann's lawyers will call Lord Monckton as a witness of law.  Ethon will provide transportation free of cost, however, Eli is also sure that Mycroft and Scrotum are arranging a long trip to the end of nowhere for Chris. 

It's okay

I've finally slogged my way through last week's Supreme Court decision on EPA regulation of some sources of greenhouse gases. For those with livelier things to read, it was generally seen as an okay-to-good result for climate hawks - the EPA tried to regulate 86% of stationary sources using two legal theories under the Clean Air Act. On a 5-4 vote the Court rejected Theory Number 1 and on a 7-2 vote the Court accepted the more restrictive Theory Number 2, which still allows regulation of 83% of the sources.

Put me closer to the "okay" side of the spectrum in terms of what this hints at for future challenges to the proposed regulation that Obama announced in early June.

The big picture is that the Clean Air Act is very broad legislation from the 1970s meant to regulate air pollutants that would be specified at a later date, but it is still difficult to adapt the law to very unexpected air pollutants in the form of greenhouse gases. Past current and future litigation revolves around the extent to which the EPA can be flexible. Climate hawks mostly want flexibility.

Theory Number 1 tried to install flexibility to avoid an over-harsh result (a numerical limit that catches relatively small producers of GHGs), which the Court rejected, but it had a backup theory to use (larger producers were already regulated for their other emissions and therefore could be regulated "anyway" for GHGs). Not clear how that approach affects the June proposal, which would limit overall emissions but look "outside the fence" of emitters and allow energy efficiency and carbon markets to achieve reductions. I think the previous decision earlier this month is somewhat more indicative.

Some commenters think this decision reaffirms the 2007 Massachusetts v EPA ruling establishing EPA's ability to regulate GHGs, but I think it just treats it as the controlling law without commenting on whether it's correct. If President Cruz gets to replace Ginsburg or Breyer, then we could be in big trouble.

Some other comments:

One thing I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere is this excuse the Court majority gave for rejecting the EPA's proposal to rescue Theory 1 by someday issuing general permits that cover small emitters:

"Nor have we been given any information about the ability of other possible “streamlining” techniques alluded to by EPA—such as "general ” or “electronic” permitting—to reduce the administrability problems identified above."

I don't know if no one briefed them (they could always demand more briefing, they are the Supremes) but anyone with a passing familiarity with environmental law knows that one-size-fits-all general permits are commonly used to make permitting easier for the regulated and the regulators. This excuse doesn't work.

To read more, the first link above is for the case, read as much as you like. Or to get the essence, read these two paragraphs in the dissent as to why EPA should have prevailed:

The implicit exception I propose reads almost word for word the same as the Court’s, except that the location of the exception has shifted. To repeat, the Court reads the definition of “major emitting facility” as if it referred to “any source with the potential to emit two hundred fifty tons per year or more of any air pollutant except for those air pollutants, such as carbon dioxide, with respect to which regulation at that threshold would be impractical or absurd or would sweep in smaller sources that Congress did not mean to cover.” I would simply move the implicit exception, which I’ve italicized, so that it applies to “source” rather than “air pollutant”: “any source with the potential to emit two hundred fifty tons per year or more of any air pollutant except for those sources, such as those emitting unmanageably small amounts of greenhouse gases, with respect to which regulation at that threshold would be impractical or absurd or would sweep in smaller sources that Congress did not mean to cover.” 
From a legal, administrative, and functional perspective—that is, from a perspective that assumes that Congress was not merely trying to arrange words on paper but was seeking to achieve a real-world purpose—my way of reading the statute is the more sensible one. For one thing, my reading is consistent with the specific purpose underlying the 250 tpy threshold specified by the statute.The purpose of that number was not to prevent the regulation of dangerous air pollutants that cannot be sensibly regulated at that particular threshold, though that is the effect that the Court’s reading gives the threshold. Rather, the purpose was to limit the PSD program’s obligations to larger sources while exempting the many small sources whose emissions are low enough that imposing burdensome regulatory requirements on them would be senseless.