Thursday, April 26, 2018

Carbon tax survives in the US (as a tax credit)

Been meaning to blog about this for a while, so I'll just get it out here, a piece of good news that we're slowly creeping towards recognition of a carbon tax:

Among the energy credits tucked inside the budget deal eked out in early February lies a controversial measure: carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) credits designed to push the technology from the clean energy margins toward the mainstream. 

For years the technology has divided environmentalists and many working in the energy industry, even as some researchers argued for its essentiality in a decarbonized world. Now, modifications to an existing credit called Section 45Q offer more money per ton of carbon dioxide captured and remove a cap on how much plants can store.

“These changes to the tax code and the enhancements of the 45Q tax credit will absolutely make the difference between a whole bunch of projects being financed and a whole bunch of projects not making it,” said Julio Friedmann, formerly of the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy, and now a distinguished associate at the Energy Futures Initiative and CEO of Carbon Wrangler, LLC.

The changes extend tax credits to carbon capture projects constructed over the next six years. Projects formerly received $10 for each ton of carbon captured and used for enhanced oil recovery and $20 for each ton captured and put “in secure geological storage” underground. The new credit bumps those sums to $35 and $50, respectively. It also eliminates a pre-existing annual volumetric cap of 75 million tons of carbon dioxide.
A tax credit for reducing carbon is equivalent to a tax for producing it. Maybe not as flexible in this format, but it's a way to slowly get there.

I'll take good news where I can get it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Shaking the Cup for Science

Having retired Eli is reduced to blegging.  He seeks but a cup of coffee and some help with the expenses, admission fees to exotic stuffy rooms with science talks and carfare there unto.  Maybe also a beer now and again.  Thus the Ko-Fi button in the upper left corner which links to PayPal.  Those wise enough to not have a PayPal account must suffer.

All expenses go to conference fees, spectroscopy apps and buying a jar of carrot juice or other beverage of choice for friends of Rabett Run who track the Bunny down.  Maybe some day even a Bunny Pin or T Shirt.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Mann, Bradley and Hughes Is 20

The first multiproxy global temperature reconstruction was published twenty years ago, almost to the date, April 23, 1998.  Michael Mann has an article in Scientific American about having fame thrust upon him.  Whether it was high sticking or spearing, Eli will leave to Willard.

Nothing in my training as a scientist could have prepared me for the very public battles I would soon face. The hockey stick told a simple story: There is something unprecedented about the warming we are experiencing today and, by implication, it has something to do with us and our profligate burning of fossil fuels. The story was a threat to companies that profited from fossil fuels, and government officials doing their bidding, all of whom opposed efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As the vulnerable junior first author of the article (I was a postdoctoral researcher), I found myself in the crosshairs of industry-funded attack dogs looking to discredit the iconic symbol of the human impact on our climate…by discrediting me personally. 
But, as Mann points out, the reconstruction has held up remarkably well.  Eli will borrow an image from Kevin Anchukaitis' Twitter feed.

IEHO proxy reconstructions have only been possible because of the rapid climate change accompanied by significant global warming in the past century. To achieve a useful relationship between proxies and instrumental measurements both have to change.  Given interfering factors if the change is not significant no reliable relationship can be found between a proxy and an instrumental set of measurements.  Eli is avoiding the words natural variability here, because, again, IEHO, the real problem is that changes in proxies such as tree rings, ice cores, whatever, are functions of many factors and the proxy is only useful to the extent that one of them dominates and can be related to a set of instrumental measurements or that all of the others vary randomly over periods that are relatively short.

During the period before 1850, nothing much changed, or it changed very slowly at least globally.  It would have been challenging or impossible to do a proxy reconstruction before then.  

Moreover, to achieve a useful calibration of the proxy record to an instrumental one local changes are more significant than global ones, especially where they are more extreme such as in the Arctic.  This raises an interesting point that if one were to go proxy hunting, it would be best to do so where you know that things have changed a lot, for example maybe if you are a borehole person, you want to look in a park in an urban area maybe.

This is recognized by PAGES 2K who only include records
. . . .when the original study described the relation between the proxy value and one or more climate variables, including temperature, or when the correlation with nearby instrumental temperature data was high enough to reject the null hypothesis of zero correlation at the 5% level, taking into account both temporal autocorrelation and test multiplicity.
It is not clear that all reconstructions use local instrumental data.  It would be best to calibrate all proxies against local instrumental data, It also suggests a strategy for paleo folks to set up high quality instrumental stations in areas where they (meaning the field) intend to work.  While it will require patience, over a forty or fifty year career the capstone calibration might be a useful thing to have.  Of course you gotta get tenure and funding in the meantime and there are only some types of proxies where this could pay dividends, but for areas where the paleo people return again and again, it would be useful.

Rabett Run, Where You Read It Before It Happens, Unless You Forget It In the Meantime

Some recent things have shown Eli how nothing changes.  Stuff that was a farce back then remains a farce today,  It's not that history occurs first as tragedy then as comedy, it always was comedy.  Now and again, Eli points out that Rabett Run is the Onion of climate blogging, America's best news source where you read it before it happens.

To frame this discussion Eli was reading Climate of Gavin

Eli thought this left something important out
A couple of days ago the Run featured an interchange between Roger Pielke Jr and Michael Mann, no strangers they to the climate wars

Heartland has been notified.  Roger sorely put upon.   How dare they.  Whoo boy read the entire thing and you will need to wash the spit off.

A bit of poking in the archives and what turns up :)  Surprise, Roger played this tune before back when in 2012, big surprise to him, Heartland listed him as a Heartland Expert.  Knew nothing about it but the same lots of indignation that anybunny dare think he was a Heartland Expert (Heartland took it down too).  Even more spit.

Now some, not Eli to be sure, might think that this is a little close to 3), just enough implausible denial that you can't quite pin stuff on Roger, but strange that he didn't recall Act I.  Very strange.

Some, not Eli to be sure, might think that Roger is quite happy to cuddle in with Heartland as long as no one calls him on it, and if you do, be sure that he will react with indignation and bad words.

Gotta get back to science.  This is too depressing.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Apologia Pro Vita Sua

Recently the how to say it wars have picked up again and Eli thought he would have one.  Now some, not Eli to be sure, might think that there is neither rhyme nor reason over here, but a couple of things have popped up which have helped Eli recognize he has to be more like he was.  Also blog more, perhaps tweet less.

A watchword in the house of Eli is that when somebunny gives Ms. Rabett a hard time, she points to Eli and says:  Eli, you know how your are, be that way.  Sad to say after November 2016 the Bunny has been way too serious.  The point was brought home by an interview with one of the Parkland kids who was asked how do you deal with the gun nuts,

He provides a good answer.  Eli never has had to deal with the volume that the Parkland group has, but a bit comes his way, and Hogg's answer was pretty close to how Eli's position in the game of Climateball.

Over the last year, Eli has been increasingly caught up in the bullshit.  That is not the way to go because it validates the trolls.  The only response to idiocy that works is humor, turning fears and conspiracy theorists into jokes.

And when the conspiracy theorists clutch pearls and whine that you are not taking them seriously, well yeah.  It would be hard to, even if a bunny wanted to.

Responding seriously gives too much credit. They are only going to be taken seriously if you take them seriously, so why take them seriously?

David Hogg makes another point, when someone with a platform, a Laura Ingraham, goes after you, don't go after them, go after their money, their sponsors.  Don't go after the think tanks,find their sponsors and ask if they want to be associated with the nonsense. And yes, if one of your dearest friends is on an expert panel of Heartland, send them a tweet.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Pruitt's Sweetheart Deal Was With an Energy Lobbyist, Not Just the Wife

Seems like a minor point, but it's artificially lowering the level of sleaze to say Pruitt was only getting a sweet deal from the energy lobbyist's wife, and not from him.

Steve Hart's name was originally on the lease, presumably because he owns or co-owns the property through the LLC (really, a LLC for your residence? Seems like he planned something fishy from the beginning, although maybe he's just got a little empire going). Crossing his name off the contract doesn't remove his ownership interest in the property that Pruitt was renting.

The framing of this issue soft-pedals what's actually happened with this penny-ante corruption. Pruitt got a great deal on a property owned by energy lobbyist, who without a doubt was happy to tell his clients that the EPA Administrator lived in his condo.

For the Republican leadership, draining the swamp is only meant literally, not figuratively.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Pal Review

A rather scathing editorial comment on pal review has appeared in Global and Planetary Change  sadly behind a paywall, but Eli suspects soon to be featured, if not already on a number of blogs.  It concerns a paper published earlier by Hermann. Harde: “Scrutinizing the carbon cycle and CO2 residence time in the atmosphere”. Global and Planetary Change 152 (2017), 19–26 which can be viewed on line.  This paper was much commented on, in the sense of how did this crap get published in an ostensibly useful journal as well as a Detailed Comment by a number of extremely distinguished lagomorphs,  and today we have an answer from the editorial board
During the initial manuscript submission, H. Harde suggested five potential reviewers. Most if not all of them are prominent individuals advocating that currently raising CO2 concentrations would be natural and not related to human influence. A careful assessment of their CVs, fields of expertise and publications lists leads to the conclusion that none of the five reviewers proposed by Harde can be considered as an expert or authority in carbon cycle, carbon or climate sensitivity or similar fields of research.
Two of them agreed to take on this onerous task.  This pal review kinda bothered the editors, nononono, not the editor who, shall Eli say, guided the Harde paper through the process that when they sent Harde's reply to the Detailed Comment itself out for review,
In reviewing the Reply, the reviewers felt that Harde's argument is “...too simplistic, based on invalid assumptions, ignores a whole body of observational evidence, and cites selectively literature that has long-time been disproved”. The experts confirm the suggestion by Köhler et al. (2018) that “...the paper be withdrawn by the author, editor or publisher due to fundamental errors in the understanding of the carbon cycle.” Most importantly, the expert reviewers clarified that Harde (2017) does not contribute to a seemingly open scientific debate or provides an alternative view. In contrast, it “...contains many mistakes, misconceptions and omissions and ignores a vast body of scholarly literature on the subject” (quotes from the reviews).
and the other editors and Elsevier were extremely not happy about how the reviewers of Harde's manuscript were selected and between the line, the editor who did the deed
. . .however in the case of the initial submission of Harde (2017), this was not done. Additional factors indicated the potential for there to be flaws with this submission: it is highly unlikely that a single author without any demonstrated scientific track record in this field can ‘scrutinize’ and disprove the work of dozens or hundreds of experts performed over several decades; work that has been verified with multiple lines of independent evidence and is regularly reviewed in an utmost transparent process such as the Assessment Reports of the IPCC (2013).
 Suggestions?  Of course, the editors had some including publishing the name of the handling editor for all papers and increase the involvement of the entire editorial board
The Editorial Board is more than decoration; it is an exclusive pool of highly qualified experts who are committed to support the entire review process and provide additional expert opinions in the case of conflicting reviews or doubt.
and the publisher agreed
in this case the author selected an editor who was not an expert in the field and that editor invited the reviewers suggested by the author without checking their credentials – the editor was therefore not in a position to perform a sufficiently critical evaluation of the manuscript.
 Elsevier agreed with the suggestion to publish the name of the editor who makes the decision to publish with on the publication, to appoint new editors to better cover the field and that authors should not suggest the names of possible reviewers.

This all reminds Eli of yesteryear.  Some here abouts may remember Gerlich and Tscheuschner published a 90 page paper on how atmospheric science was wrong in a condensed matter journal, the International Journal of Modern Physics B.  Georg Hoffman had something to say about the process which reminds us that this is not the first time that motivated editors have slipped nonsense into a journal.  It's in German so allow Eli to translate
I wanted to know a little more detail then. Who made what decision regarding G / T at the Journal? A request via the email address of the journal, which, as far as I can see, has a focus more in Asia, led me to editor Mr. Wong Chee Keong Benjamin, who was very proud of the 90 pages:
Physics is able to explain natural phenomena, such as climate change. Furthermore, heat transfer and thermodynamic concepts such as Gibbs theorem have numerous applications in solar technology and condensed matter physics.
I wondered if he had read the paper, and indeed, if anyone at IJMPB had read the paper. When asked who had accepted the paper, he sent me much to my surprise back to Germany. According to Mr. Keong Benjamin the final decision would have been made by Professor Wolfram Schommers. In turn, he was not pleased that I even considered reporting on this paper. He said that he had to stand by the decision of the house editor (not knowing who that was) and trust the reviewers. The only way to respond to G / T would be via peer-reviewed response in IJMPB.  
This appears to have been Prof. Schommers fall back position.  Unfortunately for him, the bunnies pushed on but that is another story.
When the lion roars, who will not fear? The same peer review, which not only allowed this paper through especially including comments about the "scientific misconduct of Raschke / Bakan"? I mean, you can do one thing (write this post) and you do not have to do the other one (provide a formal reply). Professor Schommers, I think, should be less worried about what I'm writing in this little blog at the end of the world than about how peer review works in his journal. The Gerlich / Tscheuschner paper is one of the saddest examples of how peer review can sometimes go down the drain, and it would be desirable if the journal would do something to limit the damage. An apology to Stephan Bakan and Ehrhard Raschke would be a first step.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Guns, Part 2: A "Well-Regulated" Militia for Concealed Carry

Borrowing in a way from William's prior comment that didn't like my idea of guns that didn't last forever:

I think this kind of thinking is just the wrong way to go. Overly complex, hard to sell. I'd go the other way: take the constitution more literally. Accept the right to bear arms, but in the context of "a well-regulated militia", which is your justification for extensive background checks, etc. etc. I think your path to success is convincing folk that the liberals aren't coming for their gunz, providing they are responsible. Offering them rubbish gunz that fall apart doesn't seem likely to work.

I could get distracted here:  I wasn't saying to sell guns that wouldn't work, but rather guns that wouldn't work forever. If you keep a gun for self-defense (mostly stupid, but whatever) then get your lazy butt off to a gun range once every five years and shoot a few rounds to make sure it works. You'll probably have to dump that gun after five to fifteen years and get another one. It won't kill you to do that.

That's not what I wanted to talk about though, but rather the well-regulated milita angle. I think that's a good one too. The gun-control researched often cited in favor of gun-control, John Donohue, said that the "good guy with a gun" that helped stop the Texas church shooter last year had the type of training that would fit into a well-regulated civilian militia. I've thought that is an area where the left side of the spectrum could say if someone is fixated by the idea of self defense with a gun, then get serious about and qualify for a civilian milita. If you're not willing to do that amount of work, then your self-perceived need for a gun couldn't actually be all that great.

The milita-service requirement could be to own a handgun or to have a concealed-carry permit, according to whatever the local politics will allow.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Guns for Self Defense Shouldn't Last Forever (And Maybe the Same for Ammo)

Kevin Drum lists the demands of the March For Our Lives:

Fund more gun violence research. We actually made a step in this direction when President Trump signed the 2018 budget, which clarifies that the 1996 Dickey Amendment doesn’t prohibit the CDC from conducting gun research.

Unleash the ATF. Let them store their background-check records on a computer, for example.

Universal background checks. In theory, everyone is in favor of this. In theory.

High-capacity magazine ban. This has long been my favorite. MFOL is calling for a 10-round limit. I’d make it six, myself.

Assault weapons ban. The gun folks are right when they say it’s tricky to define “assault weapon,” but it’s not actually impossible.
I agree with Kevin that more could be asked, so here's one more idea: guns (and maybe, ammunition) shouldn't last forever. It would help, slightly, in keeping our country from being overrun by guns if the guns had their own limited lifespans.

Simply requiring guns sold for self-defense be made of parts that tend to wear out and rust would be fine. If you want a gun that will last for decades and could be fired thousands of times (if say you're someone who actually goes to a range regularly) then pay an extra $50-$100 that will go into a fund that will help respond to violence made worse by guns flooding our country. I expect most people will go for a cheaper option.

Even more intriguing would be ammunition that degrades with normal atmospheric moisture but is fine is fine if kept sealed. The great advantage in this case is that idiots will stop leaving loaded guns lying around because they can't guarantee then that bullets will fire. I'm not sure this is feasible, but it doesn't seem impossible.

UPDATE:  borrowed this from a previous idea that weapons supplied in dicey situations like Syria, if they should be supplied at all, shouldn't last forever.