by Judith Curry
A few things that caught my eye this past week.
A score for the auditors
I suspect that most people who stop by here are aware of the drama surrounding the paper by Gergis et al. on an Australian hockey stick, and its withdrawal following critiques by Steve McIntyre and others. Andy Revkin has a good recap, I find this remark to be particularly noteworthy:
Indeed, this is an increasingly normal part of science these days. While the blogosphere comes with lots of noise, it also is providing a second level of review — after the initial round of closed peer review during the publication process — that in the end is making tough, emerging fields of science better than they would otherwise be.
Kudos to Steve McIntyre and others that were involved in auditing this paper.
Richard Muller interviews
kqed.blogs has two recent interviews with Richard Muller:
Some interesting comments about their funding from the Koch brothers:
CM: The temperature study was at least partially funded by the Koch Brothers’ foundation. You must have known going in that that was going to be controversial.
RM: The foundation actually worried about that more than we did. They worried that our results would be looked at with a political light because of the fact that they had supported it. But they gave us an unrestricted educational grant and they made it clear to us that what they really wanted was to have the issue settled. They didn’t even indicate which side they hoped it would be settled on. My own suspicion is they don’t care. They just want this issue settled because it creates great uncertainty in future planning.
CM: So when your results ended up supporting the prevailing view that the climate was warming and you testified to that effect on Capitol Hill, did anyone from the Koch Foundation or any of your funders, or anyone from Washington come to you and express some disappointment or unhappiness with that?
RM: No, not at all. Just the opposite. They were delighted that we had come up with some solid results that we could defend scientifically.
With regards to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP has requested emails from Woods Hole researchers who investigated the environmental impacts. This has landed in the courts, and the scientists have been ordered to turn over their emails to BP. Rick Piltz reports on this here.
An article in EOS: White House and Agencies Focus on Space Weather Concerns. Excerpts:
“Space weather is a serious matter that can affect human economies around the world,” Tamara Dickinson, a senior policy analyst with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), told attendees at the 2012 Space Weather Enterprise Forum, held 5 June in Washington, D. C. With the 2013 solar maximum nearing, researchers and government agencies are focusing on how the greater solar activity could affect our increasingly technological society and what measures can be taken to help prevent or mitigate any threats to the electricity grid, GPS, and other potentially vulnerable technologies.
Earlier this year, Obama directed OSTP and the national security staff “to aggressively move forward with space weather mitigation efforts,” Dickinson said. Based on the president’s direction, she restructured OSTP’s Geomagnetic Interagency Working Group. “We are focusing on achievable, strategic implementation actions, at least initially focused on the [electricity] grid,” she said.
Tamsin has a really good post up entitled “Limitless possibilities“, which is about uncertainties in climate models. I think this is her best post so far, and the comments are well worth reading. I’m pleased to see that several of the Denizens have migrated over there to make comments.
Cheering up the Dismal Theorem
You may recall the previous thread Uncertainty, risk and (in) action, where we discussed Martin Weitzman’s Dismal Theorem. I provided my own arguments about why I thought the DT was not useful. Now Ross McKitrick has a new paper out entitled Cheering up the dismal theorem. Here is the abstract:
The Weitzman Dismal Theorem (DT) suggests agents today should be willing to pay an unbounded amount to insure against fat-tailed risks of catastrophes such as climate change. The DT has been criticized for its assumption that marginal utility (MU) goes to negative infinite faster than the rate at which the probability of catastrophe goes to zero, and for the absence of learning and optimal policy. Also, it has been pointed out that if transfers to future generations are non-infinitesimal, the insurance pricing kernel must be bounded from above , making the DT rather irrelevant in practice. Herein I present a more basic criticism of the DT having to do with its mathematical derivation. The structure of the model requires use of ln(C) as an approximate measure of the change in consumption in order to introduce an ex term and thereby put the pricing kernel into the form of a moment generating function. But ln(C) is an inaccurate approximation in the model’s own context. Use of the exact measure completely changes the pricing model such that the resulting insurance contract is plausibly small, and cannot be unbounded regardless of the distribution of the assumed climate sensitivity.