Archive for July, 2010

Cap-And-Trade, Killed By (Lack Of) Consensus

2010/07/28 1 comment

There’s much commentary of course about the recent “death” of climate-change related cap-and-trade legislation in the US Congress (eg by Krugman, Douthat and Wasserman at the New York Times).

It is not straightforward to follow all the various, complex reasonings used to apportion blame. And is all that really necessary? At the end of the day, in a modern democracy bills are approved because a suitable majority of Parliamentarians votes for them. And such a majority only comes together because a consensus is built around each bill.

In this context, Walter Russell Mead’s “The Big Green Lie Exposed” makes perfect sense. In fact, who has actually tried to build a consensus in the USA regarding cap-and-trade? Those activists liberally accusing the rest of humanity of “denialism”? Or those promising a Nuremberg-style trial to all “dissenters”? Or those more or less explicitly trying to manipulate primal fears in order to change society wholesale?

In the Bible, Qohelet says: “Whoever watches the wind will not plant – whoever looks at the clouds will not reap“. Indeed.

The Big Green Lie Exposed – Mandatory Reading

2010/07/28 1 comment

Thanks to Andy Revkin, here’s the link to Walter Russell Mead‘s blog post “The Big Green Lie Exposed“, that I believe vindicates all The Unbearable Nakedness of CLIMATE CHANGE has been writing about since December 2007.

The text is incredibly jam-packed with quotable remarks, such as:

the reason that the Great Global Green Dream is melting lies in the sad truth that whatever the scientific facts of the matter, the global green movement is so blind and inept when it comes to policy and process that it has deeply damaged the causes it cares most about

(about Climategate) The greens were found innocent of inventing the science, but guilty of systematically hyping their case

excitable greens have oversold a wide variety of worst case scenarios — and underestimated the complex nature of the relationship between climate change and world politics

The Big Lie is that the green movement is a source of coherent or responsible counsel about what to do

Many leaders of today’s environmental movement are like the anti-alcohol activists before Prohibition

The green movement’s strategic failure is also reminiscent of the Peace Movement of the 1920s

You can diagnose a disease but have no clue how to treat it. You can be an excellent climate scientist and a wretched social engineer. You can want to do good and end up furthering exactly the evils you most deplore

The real and lasting damage that the green movement sustained in the last eight months has been the revelation that it is strategically and politically incompetent

Precisely because a growing body of science points to the existence of some serious concerns about climate, we must think carefully and clearly

Alcohol abuse was a real problem in 1918, but the Prohibitionist belief that there was One Big Legislative Answer only made things worse

At best, the green movement might be compared to an alarm clock: jangling shrilly to wake up the world. That is fair enough; they have turned our attention to a problem that needs to be carefully examined and dealt with. But the first thing you do when you wake up is to turn the alarm clock off; otherwise that shrill beeping noise will distract you from the problems of the day

And so on and so forth. Whatever one thinks of AGW, “The Big Green Lie Exposed” has to be mandatory reading!

A Genuine (Doom-laden) Website?

2010/07/26 1 comment

Connolley’s is just too algid. RC is just too onanistic. Tamino’s is just too quixotic. Skeptical Science is just too embarrassing (and for the wrong reasons). Desmogblog is just too self-contradictory. Greenfyre’s is just too impermeable to outside contributions. And so on and so forth.

Is there a genuine pro-catastrophical-AGW website out there where the basic tenets of debate and exchange of ideas are not seen as a backdoor for denialism? Perhaps there is: in “Science of Doom” one can even read about “why Global Mean Surface Temperature should be relegated, or mostly ignored“. And the post about the “lunar greenhouse effect” or lack thereof explicitly steers clear from the usual puerile mudslinging attempts of so many other websites.

Time will tell if SoD will slip down the activism route or provide a stable science-based counterpoint to Roger “I can’t believe my fellow AGWers behave so idiotically” Pielke Jr.’s.

In Case You Happened To Think Any Good About The BBC…

2010/07/23 3 comments

…here’s a story that will make you stop fantasizing.

There’s an old Italian proverb, “mal comune mezzo gaudio“, i.e. “a shared pain is half a pleasure”. Evidently, the destruction of journalistic standards about science has now spilled way beyond climate change.

Perhaps we could all save a quid or two on the TV licence by replacing all BBC science hacks with press release feeds based on RSS. At the very least, those are supposed to be verbatim copies of somebody else’s work…

UPDATE 25 Jul: The following comment of mine at the BBC is still in the “moderation queue”. Go figure.

To Tom (the commenter): Had Tom (the journalist) and the BBC reacted more promptly, none of the accusations would have appeared. There’s full 25 hours between comments 2 (Switek pointing out the similarities between his blog and Feilden’s) and 4 (the first comment about “Shame!”), and the “correction” must have happened three days after Switek raised the issue.

If you’re ever in court and you think you can reply to questions and requests with a 72 hours’ delay, you’re going to have a hard time whatever the jury…

To Tom (the journalist): Had you put a link to Switek’s blog, nobody would have ever accused you of plagiarism. Now, could you and the BBC Editors please come around to understand what the Internet is, and stop agonising about adding any link to outside sources??? THANK YOU!

UPDATE 26 JUL: As if by magic, the comment above has now been released from the moderation queue.

Is Anthropogenic CO2 To Blame For Increase In Women’s Breasts?

2010/07/22 5 comments

It’s a scandal! There are 760 “things caused by global warming” on Numberwatch, and not even one of them makes the obvious connection between the observed decadal increase in average bra size, and the vast amounts of greenhouse gases we humans have been pumping in the atmosphere for decades.

Who knows…perhaps somebody out there will try to score a “Cello Scrotum” against Nature or Science, or boobs (rather than tits of all sorts) will contribute to the IPCC AR5…

Peer-Review Flaws, circa 2002

2010/07/16 4 comments

People familiar with what happened in climate science during the last year might find Lawrence K. Altman’s NYT article “THE DOCTOR’S WORLD; When Peer Review Produces Unsound Science” of June 11, 2002 more than prescient (emphasis all mine, of course):

[…] Yet for all its acclaim, the system [of peer-review] has long been controversial. Despite its system of checks and balances, a number of errors, plagiarism and even outright fraud have slipped through it.

[…] A particular concern is that because editors and reviewers examine only what authors summarize, not raw data, the system can provide false reassurances that what is published is scientifically sound.

[…] Researchers reported [in the “The Journal of the American Medical Association” in June 2002] considerable evidence that many statistical and methodological errors were common in published papers and that authors often failed to discuss the limitations of their findings. Even the press releases that journals issue to steer journalists to report peer reviewed papers often exaggerate the perceived importance of findings and fail to highlight important caveats and conflicts of interest.

[…] Because the anonymous peers chosen to review manuscripts are often the authors’ scientific competitors, jealousies and competitive advantage can become factors in the reviews.

[…] The peer review system also tends to set a very high barrier for authors to publish truly novel findings.

[…] Yet research on peer review has found that many studies are conducted without the benefit of adequate consultation with statisticians, sometimes because none were available.

[…] Once statistical errors are published, it is hard to stop them from spreading and being cited uncritically by others. […]

Climategate: Mr Bean At The UEA

If I had to bet money on Climategate, most of it would go to back up Fred Pearce’s interpretation, as described in Damian Carrington’s blog about the Jul 14 Guardian debate:

Pearce was passionate in arguing that ‘Climategate’ was a very human tragedy, in respect of scientists feeling under siege and becoming fiercely defensive – which only spurred on the sceptics, who thought there must be something to hide. But he thought many CRU critics were not sceptics at all: “They are actually data libertarians, rather than climate sceptics, still less climate deniers. It turned into data wars.” Pearce’s conclusion was that at this turning point for climate science, more “candour” was needed from all.

Count me in as Data Libertarian!

Scientists feeling under siege and becoming fiercely defensive – which only spurred on the sceptics, who thought there must be something to hide“? Just like Mr Bean at the airport then…

And yes, I would recommend medication for anybody still trying to smother FOI and/or in the business of hiding any data directly related to published scientific papers…


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 85 other followers

%d bloggers like this: