Axioms of ecological policy

by Judith Curry

Many of today’s ecological policy issues are contentious, socially divisive, and full of conundrums.” – Robert Lackey

Dr. Robert T. Lackey is senior fisheries biologist at the U.S. EPA research laboratory in Corvallis, Oregon, whose current professional focus is providing policy-relevant science to help inform ongoing salmon policy discussions. His recent publications can be found [here].  Many of the issues he discusses are relevant for the climate science-policy interface.  This post focuses on the following paper:

Lackey, Robert T. 2006. Axioms of ecological policy. Fisheries. 31(6): 286-290. [link]  Excerpts of particular relevance to the climate science-policy interface:

[These problems] are often described as wicked, messy policy problems (e.g., reversing the decline of salmon; deciding on the proper role of wild fire on public lands; what to do, if anything, about climate change; worries about the consequences of declining biological diversity; making sense about the confusing policy choices surrounding notions of sustainability).

Wicked, messy ecological policy problems share several qualities: (1) complexity — innumerable options and trade-offs; (2) polarization — clashes between competing values; (3) winners and losers — for each policy choice, some will clearly benefit, some will be harmed, and the consequences for others is uncertain; (4) delayed consequences — no immediate “fix” and the benefits, if any, of painful concessions will often not be evident for decades; (5) decision distortion — advocates often appeal to strongly held values and distort or hide the real policy choices and their consequences; (6) national vs. regional conflict — national (or international) priorities often differ substantially from those at the local or regional level; and (7) ambiguous role for science — science is often not pivotal in evaluating policy options, but science often ends up serving inappropriately as a surrogate for debates over values and preferences.

As if they are not messy enough, ecological policy issues may become further clouded by skepticism about the independence of scientists and scientific information.

Much of the available science is tendered by government agencies, companies and corporations, and public and private organizations, as well as myriad public and private interest and advocacy groups. Each arguably has a vested interest in the outcome of the debate and often promulgates “science” that supports its favored position.

All ecological policy problems have unique features, thus there are exceptions to every generality, but are there lessons learned that can be broadly applied? The purpose of this article is to propose a set of such lessons learned.

Axiom 1 — The policy and political dynamic is a zero-sum game

Probably the most sobering reality for the uninitiated is that selecting any proposed policy choice results in winners and losers. The search for a “win-win” choice, which sounds so tantalizing to decision makers, is hopeless with even superficial policy analysis. There are always winners and losers even though people running for office may try to convince the voters otherwise.

Except for the most trivial policy issues, compromise is necessary to craft a proposed policy that is democratically possible. Thus, ecological policy winds up as the classic zero-sum game. Accepting this reality encourages serious discussion about how to best resolve complex ecological policy issues.

Axiom 2 — The distribution of benefits and costs is more important than the ratio of total benefits to total costs

Complicating ecological policy analysis is that, exclusive of money, one person’s benefits may be another’s costs. Preserving a wetland, for example, is a benefit for those wishing to preserve such land in its unaltered condition, but such a policy option is a cost to those who wish to ditch and drain the same land to improve agricultural productivity.

To the uninitiated it may seem that the most important factor in decision making is weighing the total benefits against the total costs. Rather, it is usually the case that the most important factor is the perception of who receives the benefits vs. who will bear the costs.

Axiom 3 — The most politically viable policy choice spreads the benefits to a broad majority with the costs limited to a narrow minority of the population

To gain sufficient political support (votes) for a proposed policy, it is prudent for the decision maker to spread the benefits across a sufficiently large number of people to garner majority support. The corollary is that those (including future generations) who bear the costs should be a minority and the smaller the better.

In political dialog the narrowly-defined minority is often labeled pejoratively as a “special interest” or some other term meant to isolate the group from the majority and weaken the force of its argument.

None of these policy advocacy tactics necessarily are wrong, immoral, or unethical, but rather reflect the nature of democratic debate. Those involved in policy analysis or providing science to help inform policy debates, however, should be attuned to such tendencies.

Axiom 4 — Potential losers are usually more assertive and vocal than potential winners and are, therefore, disproportionately important in decision making

With many ecological policy questions, those who bear the costs, the losers, have a disproportionately greater influence on the decision making process. While policy analysis tends to evaluate the rationality of competing policy arguments, the political process tends to weigh breath and vigor in support of each competing policy option.

Axiom 5 — Many advocates will cloak their arguments as science to mask their personal policy preferences

Those of us who work in applied ecology must be constantly on guard against the incursion of normative science into our scientific language and thought. Normative science has built-in, often subtle, policy preferences and biases. Referring to an ecosystem as being ‘sick’ or ‘healthy’ is predicated on a value judgment that one state of that ecosystem is preferable to another. Such a diagnosis may be appropriate as personal or collective policy judgments, but should not be offered under the guise of providing policy neutral science.

Scientists should, as they often do, play an important role in ecological policy deliberations, however their role should be carefully circumscribed even though political institutions rarely provide clear boundaries or guidance. Some of the players in policy deliberations, along with much of the public, remain ignorant to what is scientific information vs. a policy preference that sounds like science.

Axiom 6 — Even with complete and accurate scientific information, most policy issues remain divisive

The lament that “if we just had some better science, we could resolve this policy question” is common among both scientists and decision makers. Calls for more research are ubiquitous in ecological policy debates.

In most policy cases, even if we had complete scientific knowledge about all aspects of an issue, the same rancorous debate would emerge. Root policy differences are invariably over values and preferences, not science and facts.

Axiom 7 — Demonizing policy advocates supporting competing policy options is often more effective than presenting rigorous analytical arguments

Scientists and policy analysts become frustrated when they fail to recognize that political debates are partly logical argument and partly image. Negative images are often considered more effective in swaying people than positive ones.

In fractious ecological policy debates, proponents often spend more energy demonizing their opponents than sticking to rational policy analysis. My experience is that such tactics are often effective in policy debates; many people are moved by negative arguments.

Consider salmon recovery in western North America. No one has ever argued that we ought to eradicate salmon. The conflict is over which of the myriad competing human priorities is most important — food, electricity, water, transportation, fishing, or a host of others. To label proponents of abundant electricity, efficient farming, cheap transportation, or consumptive fishing as “enemies of salmon” is unfair in policy debates. Rather, each policy choice or priority tends to constrain others.

Conclusion

Those of us who provide information to help inform the participants involved in ecological policy debates need to be cognizant of and appreciate the importance of scientific information, but we also must recognize the reality that scientific information is just one element in complex political deliberations in a democracy.

167 responses to “Axioms of ecological policy

  1. The question of who will pay and who will benefit is one of the most easily answered questions. The politicians and the rich who get them elected will be sure the middle class pays and the “poor” win. That way, the politicians get their winning proportion of voters that the rich can’t supply.

  2. It’s an incredibly bad analysis.

    Axiom 1 is patently false, as are the following so-called axioms, where they aren’t merely useless or harmful to decision and policy dynamics.

    There may be times in some questions of policy where there is a net loss or zero sum game; however, net sum games in ecological policy are commonplace where one assigns positive values to resources commonly held to be intangible or of negligible benefit.. and while “axioms” four and five are operational here with regards to undervaluing such assets as fertile wild lands and viable water courses, such cherry-picked approaches to value only have weight when parties allow inferior accounting.

    The first axiom of ecological policy is that ecology is the first value. We hand down to our heirs a world at least a little better for our having been here, that ought be our main policy.

    Anything else is religion or insanity, not politics or valid argument.

    • Bart,

      Have any experience in salmon issues in the PNW?

      I am only tangentially acquainted with them, as much of our curriculum is based on studying salmon habitat, but what Robert L is saying rings true.

      • timg56 | July 12, 2013 at 3:58 pm |

        Of course it rings true. It’s very persuasive. It appeals to cynicism about politicians and prejudices about economists and businessmen. And if we let ourselves be engaged within frameworks of discussions where it applies, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

        If we do for example as the coastal governments with an obligate duty to husband, marshal and manage ocean and freshwater ecologies affecting salmon did, and consider ‘empty ocean’ as worthless, not counting the protective effect against sea louse infection of keeping areas traversed by wild salmon free from farmed salmon pens, then we will only have winners and losers in equal number, or we will have what it turns out to be: a net loss game. Salmon farming in the PNW could have been done with barriers to exchange of water in place, at very low additional cost to salmon ranchers. That would have had a small cost, miniscule compared to the loss of wild salmon that resulted from foregoing the expense.

        There would have been a few licensees for salmon farms with the short-run additional capital cost of barriers, and still a growing world taste for salmon founded on the regular availability of their product and a knock-on effect promoting the prestige of wild salmon and expanding that market too. That’s a win-win. There would have been trust and goodwill and proof-of-concept that might have encouraged GMO salmon, which now face an incredibly hostile populace due the sea lice epidemic. That’s a lose-lose.

        The axiom of zero-sum game is on its face false in the PNW salmon case, due undervaluing of ecosystem qualities.

      • Bart R, wants a power of attorney for Mother Nature. She is smarter than he thinks.

      • maksimovich

        Salmon farming in the PNW could have been done with barriers to exchange of water in place, at very low additional cost to salmon ranchers.

        The best of both worlds

        http://www.mtcookalpinesalmon.com/our-farm.aspx

      • Of course it rings true. It’s very persuasive. It appeals to cynicism about politicians and prejudices about economists and businessmen.

        A binary mentality (if there are any losers you are, necessarily, engaged in a zero sum game) fits well with “skepticism.” Skepticism not so much:

        http://judithcurry.com/2013/07/12/axioms-of-ecological-policy/#comment-343279

      • Tom | July 12, 2013 at 8:58 pm |

        I’m calling for an end to subsidies to those who think they’re smarter than the Market from those who think they’re smarter than Nature.

        How does that correspond to your claim?

    • Steven Mosher

      Note that he said there will be winners and losers. he never argued that it was a zero sum game. Axiom 1 isn’t patently false, its trivially true.

      In fact I dont think you can find a single counter example to any of the axioms.
      The problem with these axioms is that nothing follows from them.

      • maksimovich

        Axiom A eg Smale

      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘Except for the most trivial policy issues, compromise is necessary to craft a proposed policy that is democratically possible. Thus, ecological policy winds up as the classic zero-sum game. Accepting this reality encourages serious discussion about how to best resolve complex ecological policy issues.’

        In game theory – a zero sum game is merely one in which one side loses and the other wins. Any advantage in negotiation is gained at the expense of the other.

      • Steven Mosher | July 13, 2013 at 12:56 am |

        “The policy and political dynamic is a zero-sum game”

        ..he never argued that it was a zero sum game?”

        It was his heading. Read harder.

      • Ted Carmichael

        Hi, Mosh. Are you kidding? I know you have an odd sense of humor sometimes. But he did said this: “Axiom 1 — The policy and political dynamic is a zero-sum game.”

        This axiom IS patently false. He uses the word “complex” to describe the problems and this has a pretty specific definition. A complex system is always non-linear – a key feature – and thus non-zero-sum.

        People who don’t understand what a complex system is often conflate the word with “complicated.” That seems to be what he is doing here: causally using a word that he doesn’t really understand.

        Declaring such an axiom is, I believe, the first step towards rigid and close-minded thinking. He’s not looking for a reasonable solution. He has already that there is no “win win” compromise to be found, which is an astonishing position to take as a general rule. Rather, he seems to be saying: the solution(s) is (are) evident; we just have to suck it up.

        That is a deeply stupid way to begin a policy discussion.

    • Bart makes incredibly bad criticisms – dressing up his insane religious/political ideology as valid argument, trying to sweep under the carpet the obvious fact that that a gain to A can have have costs to B.
      I may prefer the plot opposite me to remain undeveloped, but someone else may prefer to build on it. This is more the norm than the exception in our world of limited resources.

      • Punky | July 13, 2013 at 3:02 am |

        So, if you own the plot opposite you, and someone else starts developing on it, what then? Because that’s the case we’re talking about here.

        Air is an unsurrendered property of everyone who breathes. Someone’s developing a skyscraper of CO2 on the air, without compensation to the owners, or permission, or consent.

        And that development is costing the owners. In the USA in 2012, the President officially declared the cost at least $100 billion dollars. That’s $100 billion stolen from Americans by the few who make money drilling, baby, drilling.

      • @bart
        Staggering nonsense. Scientists are not even close to determining that cagw is a serious issue – let alone quantifying it – the president is just talking out of his backside for political gain.

        Further nonsense is your added idea that – assuming briefly for the sake of the argument cagw to be true – that the drillers (of coal etc) are gaining at everyone else’s expense. Since the whole economy largely runs on what they drill, everyone benefits from the cheapness of what is drilled. If we had to switch to one of the joke technologies like wind or solar, everyone would be paying more for everything that uses energy to produce.

      • Punky | July 14, 2013 at 5:34 am |

        Barack Obama has determined with the full might of executive power that the fossil fuel industry cost the USA alone $100 billion in 2012 alone.

        The drillers of oil and burners of coal and frackers of volatiles get paid for what they do. Arguing that society benefits above the amount of a fair Market price is anti-capitalist crap. It’s communism, Punky, that you preach. The subsidies and gifts and favors to the fossil industries? Corporate communism.

        It’s because of your corporate communism, your faith in a benefit the Market does not show to be real, that energy costs as much as it does, in hidden and indirect ways.

      • @Bart
        “Barack Obama has determined with the full might of executive power that the fossil fuel industry cost the USA alone $100 billion in 2012 alone.”

        Since you deviously duck my previous response, I repeat it :
        Staggering nonsense. Scientists are not even close to determining that cagw is a serious issue – let alone quantifying it – the president is just talking out of his backside for political gain.

        “The drillers of oil and burners of coal and frackers of volatiles get paid for what they do. Arguing that society benefits above the amount of a fair Market price is anti-capitalist crap. It’s communism, Punky, that you preach. ”

        No, what is anti-capitalist, communist economically illiterate claptrap, is the comical way you try and strawman what I said. Which is : that *everyone* benefits from the drilling of oil etc – by having lower energy costs than they would if you and your fellow eco-loonies and liars like Obama forced us to use wind and solar etc.

        “The subsidies and gifts and favors to the fossil industries? Corporate communism.”

        You seem to think that repeating the patent nonsense that fossil fuel is subsidized, will make it come true. More eco-drivel. Or eco-lies, more correctly.

      • Punky | July 14, 2013 at 6:06 pm |

        Your opinions are noted. They’re then put in context. The opinion of you, of the less than 3% of scientists who work for the fossil industry, and of the gullible who think there’s still any sort of scientific debate going on at all about these conclusive facts.. and the opinion of the Presidency of the United States — not the man himself, but of the full might and reach of his Office, backed by the full resource of the United States of America — and the rest of the world.

        See, this is argumentum ad populam in the only context that it might make any sense: that of pure opinion.

        Your opinion is pure garbage, by that standard.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Bart R, not only are you promoting a statistic (97%) in a misleading way (it has no bearing on what is being discussed here), you manage to imply every scientist not covered by the statistic is a shill for the oil industry.

        You probably shouldn’t go around calling things pure garbage while doing that.

      • Bart
        Your opinion noted. The context is

        – all the scientists with who “conclude” that there is cagw, have proven links to government, so of course their findings are going to argue for more government, regardless. Many pinches of salt needed when dealing with them.

        – government-funded climate science is undeniably infected by heavy bias, advocacy, fraud and other assorted trickery. And lest you think Climategate etc was just a few rotten apples, the deafening silence to this day from most of the others tells us they see nothing wrong with science fraud in the pursuit, and that this is the form in their “profession”.

        – state-worshippers, both the empty-headed and the devious like Obama, rush to rest weight on this manufactured, fraud-based, paid-for “consensus”

        – the ongoing divergence of models and measurements tells everyone except those like yourself with totalitarian motives, that much work is still needed

        Face it – paid-for vested-interest science, is not real science, especially one that has form like Climategate, with all the supportive “scientists” quietly acquiescent.

      • Put another way, the 97% ‘consensus’ of scientists, are just state shills.

      • There is a tide in the affairs of natural variability.
        ===========

    • Gee, I actually thought the analysis was very good and very appropriate.

  3. A #Sharknado of axioms.

  4. Paul Vaughan

    1 thing needs to be axed here:
    notions that these are sound axioms.

    The most immediately obvious example:
    So-called “Axiom” 1 — which insists unnaturally on the nonexistence of paradox — is patently false.

    Paradox is a common, widespread feature of nature. Following a leader who’s unable to recognize paradox = hazardous.

    • Steven Mosher

      paradox is a human invention.

      • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

        More than that, paradox is a human perception. In reality, there aren’t any paradoxes.

      • Paul Vaughan

        Misinterpretation. Paradox (as intended here) is a technical term used in stats. It has a very specific meaning.


        Mosher: In a civilized world it would not be necessary to say this again: STOP harassing.

      • Paul Vaughan

        http://judithcurry.com/2013/04/27/open-thread-weekend-15/#comment-317060

        Paul Vaughan | April 28, 2013 at 11:52 pm |

        “Mosher, my patience for your ignorance &/or deception has expired. Don’t ever address me again.”

        The stalking has continued since then.

        Society must do whatever it can to stop cyberbullying, PM says
        http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/society-must-do-whatever-it-can-to-stop-cyberbullying-pm-says-1.1276185
        =
        “”We are expediting a review of the Criminal Code [...] to identify potential gaps with regard to cyberbullying,” Harper said [...] “And we are looking for other practical suggestions to combat such terrible acts.”
        [...]
        Todd said Internet and cellphone service providers should be forced to cut off service to people who engage in cyberbullying.
        [...]
        “If you harass someone offline and you’re driving them insane, they can go to the police and they can have you arrested. [...]” Canning said.”
        =

    • Paul Vaughan

      The foolishly — (& potentially dangerously in some contexts) — naive fallacy of “Axiom” 1 is made clear & simple by the classic negotiation school example of the orange — e.g. read the grey box on p.2 here:
      http://www.cemproc.org/manualexcerpt.pdf

  5. Chief Hydrologist

    Sorry for the long comment – I may after all provide a post on this.

    2002 Australian Biodiversity Assessment

    • The trend of riparian zones is declining significantly across much of Australia (73% of subregions assessed).

    • 2891 threatened ecosystems and other ecological communities are identified across Australia.

    • 94% of bioregions in Australia have one or more threatened ecosystems, with the greatest numbers in the highly cleared regions of southern and eastern Australia.

    • Mammal extinction has been substantial within the last 200 years. Twenty-two Australian mammals are now extinct which represent a third of the world’s recent extinctions: a further eight species now persist only on islands.

    • There has been massive contraction in the distribution of mammals in arid and semi-arid parts of the continent, particularly the small to medium critical weight range species.

    • The rapid decline and loss of many mammal species that respond rapidly to environmental stress provides an insight of what may be occurring with other groups of species over a longer time frame.

    • For birds, though the extinction debt has yet to become apparent in many bioregions as they are more mobile and can persist longer, populations of some species have markedly reduced.

    • Based on an analysis of 6 million records, 29 species over the past 20 years show significant decrease in agricultural areas where an increased proportion of the landscape has been cleared.

    • Birds most affected are the grassland, woodland and ground nesting guilds.

    • Vegetation clearing is the most significant threat to species and ecosystems in eastern Australia.

    • Overgrazing, exotic weeds, feral animals and changed fire regimes are additional key threats to wetlands, riparian zones, threatened species and threatened ecosystems across much of Australia. These threats are widespread and pervasive.

    • Implementing fire regimes and sustainable grazing management will provide major returns for biodiversity from investment as key protective management activities for much of Australia’s rangelands.

    • Fragmentation of remnants, increased salinity and firewood collection are threats to biodiversity in the highly modified regions of southern and eastern Australia.

    2008 Australian Terrestrial Biodiversity Assessment

    • Key threats are habitat fragmentation and the spread of invasive species. A national analysis of the documentation and recovery plans for threatened species and communities listed under the EPBC Act found that the most frequently cited threats are those of habitat fragmentation and the spread of invasive species

    • Weeds remain a threat to biodiversity but their impacts on biodiversity are not generally assessed.

    • Weed management strategies and policies have historically failed to address impacts on biodiversity adequately.

    • There are already a number of observed impacts from changes in the climate.

    • Observations of changes in native species and natural systems linked to climate change in Australia include: the expansion of rainforest at the expense of savanna; the encroachment by snow gums into sub-alpine grasslands at higher elevations; saltwater intrusion into freshwater swamps; and changes in bird behaviour including arrival of migratory birds, range shifts and sea-surface temperature- induced reproductive changes.

    • Selected case studies illustrate specific impacts of climate change.

    • A number of findings emerge from the selected case studies: impacts of threats are complex and variable; impacts are difficult to predict and generic modelling will require substantial localised input to be relevant; long-term monitoring is required.

    • Case studies of land use change show the threat posed to biodiversity by such change. A high percentage of species are absent from cleared areas. Most species, however, can occur in regrowth (Queensland) or corridors of native vegetation (Northern Territory).

    • Understanding species’ requirements in terms of patch size and connectivity may allow the ‘design’ of landscapes with some clearing that retain vertebrate biodiversity.

    • Grazing pressure is a longstanding threat over much of the Australian landscape.

    • Almost 60 per cent of the Australian land mass is used for the production of livestock based on native pastures. Strong linkages between artificial watering points and impacts on biodiversity can serve as an indicator of grazing pressure.

    • Information on monitoring fire distribution and frequency has improved greatly. Fire frequency maps over the period 1997 to 2006 illustrate: higher frequencies of fire in the central arid lands and northern savannas; a clear relationship with extended aridity; and frequent uncontrolled wildfires in southern Western Australia, south-east Victoria and coastal southern New South Wales.

    • Our knowledge of biodiversity responses to fire is still patchy. Altered fire regimes threaten biodiversity and interact with other threats in complex ways that are not yet fully understood.

    There was a distinct change in emphasis between the 2002 and 2008 biodiversity assessments. Whether this reflects a change in authors or a shift in the zeitgeist is immaterial. All solutions involve integrated landscape management. In a significant way CO2 mitigation involves changes in the way native grasses are grazed. But the emphasis shifts in a very noisy ideas marketplace to obsessions with CO2.

    It is well known what the problems are. The causes of the declines in biodiversity are land clearing, land salinisation, land degradation, habitat fragmentation, overgrazing, exotic weeds, feral animals, rivers that have been pushed past their points of equilibrium and changed fire regimes. Globally the situation is not radically different. There are huge opportunities to turn around biodiversity loss but very little effective action.

    The individual solutions are often fairly simple and only in aggregate do they become daunting. But we seem unable to focus on solutions other than imposing carbon taxes on fossil fueled energy. The result is a loss for everyone and everything.

  6. Professor Curry,

    Ecological policy has been misguided since 1945, when it decided to form the United Nations on 24 Oct 1945 to protect the world from nuclear annihilation by

    1. Hiding information on the source of energy that destroyed Hiroshima on 6 Aug 1945 and Nagasaki on 9 Aug 1945

    2. Eliminating national constitutions and national boundaries, and

    3. Taking total control over mankind to avoid nuclear annihilation.

    World leaders are now sitting on a powder keg of social discontent.

    Another EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) from the Sun – as happened in the late 1850’s may be the only way to knock sense into leaders of the unholy alliance of scientists and nations that produced the current unstable situation.

  7. It’s important to distinguish conservation, which is common virtue supported by common sense, from environmentalism, which is a destructive mass neurosis. It is such a danger because of its emotional appeal, its fashionable plausibility and its ability to infect the pivots and control points of modern Western society.

    There never was any danger of the educated and urban middle classes of the West donning jackboots or marching with the hammer and sickle in a repeat of the 1930s. Green is the new Black or Red (although those old jackboot guys had quite a nature cult going when in their Wandervogel mode).

    The New Class were never going to follow Shariah or the Westboro church. No, their sacred rituals involve ensuring that their expensive Ethiopian Yirgacheff coffee is marked as both organic and sustainable by some earnest-seeming bureaucracy with an exquisite green logo. The first thing an ambitious villain will do these days is flash his “green credentials”. Because this is not my website, I will not name the guru of environmental policy in Australia who bears responsibility for shocking and deliberate pollution of rivers and seas very close to Australia. He’s the same guy who will tell you C02 is a global pollutant – to be given its very own global market, with the help of certain people we neglected to lock up after 2008.

    New Guinea fish don’t matter when you’ve got money to make and a whole planet to save!

    • +1

      And the gullible Progressives who blog here are part of the movement

    • Chief Hydrologist

      ‘Life is too short for bad coffee’

      Come now – the Ethiopian Yirgacheff coffee is nowhere near as expensive as the Jamaican Blue Mountain. Which is OK coffee – but inflated on demand from celebrity baristas.

      http://beanbay.coffeesnobs.com.au/ViewProduct.aspx/380-jamaican-blue-mountain

      Here’s a cheap starter pack – http://beanbay.coffeesnobs.com.au/ViewProduct.aspx/18-starter-pack – and it has a nice burlap bag you can use for sackcloth and ashes. Don’t forget to roast he coffee first.

      Yirgacheff coffee is much less expensive than my local source of 100% Arabica beans – http://www.caphai.com/ – good as it is. Much better quality than the generic blends found in supermarkets or – horrors – instant coffee. I am going to order some green beans for home roasting as soon as I get out of here.

      It takes a lot of coffee to keep up the tree hugging. Honestly – Moso – sometimes I just don’t know what you are thinking of.

      • Now what would a Queenslander know about the finer points of anything?

      • Chief Hydrologist

        I have just bought 2.5 kg of Ethiopian Yirgacheff for $43 including delivery. The equivalent local Capricorn Coast brand costs $30/kg at ‘Woodies’. Do the math.

        You were wrong about girls in rags and feathers and you are wrong about Ethiopian Yirgacheff coffee. Why don’t you admit it instead of indulging in out of state xenophobia. Best not to wash our sackcloth in public – I’d be tempted to use some of our more endearing terms for cockroaches – and they just wouldn’t understand.

      • Your cane toad coffee is okay if brewed in a vacpot or aeropress. I’ve roasted some in my time. But – you are convincing for once! – it is as overpriced as all that Qld real estate sold to Victorian PS retirees at low tide.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        So the bamboo cocky from south of the border admits to being wrong – and I get to have a warm inner glow about ‘FairCrack’ coffee donations – http://beanbay.coffeesnobs.com.au/FairCrack.aspx

    • mosomoso | July 12, 2013 at 6:23 pm said: ”It’s important to distinguish conservation, which is common virtue supported by common sense, from environmentalism, which is a destructive mass neurosis”

      +1.

    • Well, I’m certainly progressive. Whether I’m gullible or not depends on what you’re selling and what I’m buying. I’m not buying mosomoso’s description. There are certainly more than a few people who match his description. But to say it’s characteristic of progressives is frankly delusional.

      I’ve been saying to CAGW adherents for years that eventually they will have to make peace. It’s just as true for you guys, too. Mosomoso’ statement has roughly the same validity as one equating all conservatives with those few who have resorted to violence in the past.

      It’s a nonsense. There have been times when conservatives were the major contributors to improvements in the human condition and the advancement of liberty. There have been times when that has been more effectively advanced by progressives.

      I submit that neither faction is serving that role now. And I think it’s part of what makes these decades a tragedy rather than a period where we make real progress in improving the human condition.

      So maybe my next book will be Gullible’s Travels.

      • Tom, I spoke of conservation, not conservatives. I did indeed describe environmentalism as a destructive mass neurosis. You may quote me on that.

        I am not a right-winger or libertarian. I am a conservationist, living contentedly in hippie country, one who favours taxes, regulation, public ownership, public initiatives, welfare and such like things. I am, indeed, also a conservative, which means that I favour those things only in strict measure.

        I’m clearly a nature lover, but no nature fetishist. Pristine nature is like stable climate: people refer to it but it has never existed. Everything is on the churn. The reason my bamboo is “organic” is because there is no point in irrigating or chemically fertilising or spraying it. If there was a point, I would do those things…with thrift and caution.

        As for improving the human condition, that’s already happening, thanks to chemicals, fossil fuels, synthetics, drugs, industry etc etc. I’d call billions of people surviving the womb, childbirth and childhood a radical improvement to the human condtition. When you’re dead – which is what used to happen to most people very early – you can’t really fuss over whether things are sustainable, renewable, organic etc. I’m also proud to be living in the first age when obesity is the main nutritional problem for a huge part of the world. I love to marvel at thousands of people shopping for cheap goods in enormous and well-stocked malls. Nor do I doubt that new ways will be found to produce goods and provide energy for all these aspirational humans. (If I claimed to know what those ways will be, I would be as silly as a climate modeller.)

        I was sitting at dinner in Sydney the other night (secretly missing my fibro shack in the scrub). I was with some very well-off people, in a large and expensive apartment, equipped with every conceivable appliance, and we were dining on lamb chops and barramundi. Some of the guests, who had arrived in expensive new cars along well lit streets of asphalt, began to talk of the evils of fossil fuels and the virtues of vegetarianism. Really! Right over their grilled lamb chops!

        There is a crisis. It’s called Global Ingratitude.

      • Have you any idea of the historical roots of the term? It is Eugenics, the self-anointed new superior humanity, aka Fabians, entitled to cull the inferior ‘Rest of Humanity’ so they would have a pristine globe to themselves. Arrogant evil incarnate.

  8. We certainly see the potential loser 3% being more vocal than their numbers would suggest, and also using a tactic of demonizing individuals rather than proposing any scientific competing theory, so I agree with those parts.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      ‘We construct a network of observed climate indices in the period 1900–2000 and investigate their collective behavior. The results indicate that this network synchronized several times in this period. We find that in those cases where the synchronous state was followed by a steady increase in the coupling strength between the indices, the synchronous state was destroyed, after which a new climate state emerged. These shifts are associated with significant changes in global temperature trend and in
      ENSO variability. The latest such event is known as the great climate shift of the 1970s. We also find the evidence for such type of behavior in two climate simulations using a state-of-the-art model. This is the first time that this mechanism, which appears consistent with the theory of synchronized chaos, is discovered in a physical system of the size and complexity of the climate system.’
      Citation: Tsonis, A. A., K. Swanson, and S. Kravtsov (2007),
      A new dynamical mechanism for major climate shifts, Geophys.
      Res. Lett., 34, L13705, doi:10.1029/2007GL030288.

      There is a new paradigm in climate science – and it was identified as such as long ago as the 2002 NAS report on abrupt climate change. Tsonis and co. merely used a numerical method on real world data to confirm – a major achievement for major climate shifts.

      Your inability to understand this paradigm is in the way of being a space cadet. A dinosaur is a scientist who can’t quite grasp a new idea. A space cadet doesn’t have the credibility of being a scientist in the first place. Not understanding is not the same as there not being a new and far superior paradigm. The theory is that climate shifted after 1998 to a cooler state likely to persist for 20 to 40 years. Who’s the loser now Jim?

      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘This was only one of the success stories that emerged at a conference in Switzerland this week on land restoration. Counter-intuitive techniques developed by Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean farmer and biologist, are successfully revitalising 15 million hectares of degraded land on five continents, by grazing livestock very intensively on small areas for short periods: their dung and the grass they trample enrich the soil, mimicking the natural practices of the once-vast herds of gnu or American bison.’

        The trees are fantastic – and this caught my eye. All without a lick of carbon tax because it is business as usual according to the UN. While they pay for coal fired power plants and CFC’s to be created and destroyed. How insane is it all?

      • Chief, the initiatives in the DT article can be taken locally around the world without actions aimed at destroying capitalism and establishing socialist world government. Of course the UN and its allies have no interest.

    • Jim D | July 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm said: ”and also using a tactic of demonizing individuals rather than proposing any scientific competing theory, so I agree with those parts”

      WRONG! you can be wrong without even trying! the competing theory is on my blog: http://globalwarmingdenier.wordpress.com/

  9. This is a useful paper because it brings ecollogical arguments down to earth. Thanks, Judith.

  10. Much Enviro policy in the US is not true policy at all. It is simply a command structure that imposes costs and requirements with little or no consideration of benefits or consequences beyond achieving some metric that may or may not be significant, much less important.

  11. Bart R states:
    “The first axiom of ecological policy is that ecology is the first value. We hand down to our heirs a world at least a little better for our having been here, that ought be our main policy.”

    Why?

    This is a statement with which I, as a humanist, strongly disagree. In my view, the management and control of the natural world should only be undertaken for the benefit of humanity and for no other reason. This overarching concern for preserving Nature or “The Ecology” for its own sake as if it were some sort of sacred machine in need of regular maintenance is ridiculous. Nature is noisy, chaotic, unpredictable and amoral. Once conservation issues are stated in a humanitarian way they immediately become much less contentious. It is this element of environmental fanaticism which causes most of the problems. Talking about “better for having been here” does not help. What on earth does it mean anyway?

    “Anything else is religion or insanity, not politics or valid argument.”

    No Bart R, your “first axiom” is itself a religious statement. It is not a valid argument.

    • John, I disagree with Bart in putting ecology axiomatically first – though good policy will often have to have regard to ecology and at times give it high priority (nod to Chief) – but I also disagree that “the management and control of the natural world should only be undertaken for the benefit of humanity and for no other reason.” We are (probably) at one end of a spectrum of living beings: that doesn’t mean that we should have no regard for non-human beings. I could reconcile my view with yours only if you accept that “the benefit of humanity” includes an awareness that we are one species among many who share common attributes, most notably being born, striving to live and procreate, and dying, and that we should have empathy and concern for non-human creatures. We need pro-human policies, but that does not exclude concern for other beings.

    • John Reid | July 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm |

      If we were talking about humans in an abstract sense, I could see your argument.

      The totality of humans, including the ones on planets with other options, and the ones in space ships and the ones in extradimensional tunnels and the ones existing as computer memory executing in a massive internet would be largely immune to reasoning extending only to those planet-bound ones.

      But we’re not talking about abstract humans. We’re talking about humans on this planet. The living ones, not the dead. The ones whom humanists ordinarily regard as the ones who matter.

      So you can claim to be a humanist, but you’re very bad at it, as you’ve lost the premise upon which humanism is based.

      The benefit of humanity of a stable ecosystem in which to thrive that is known and familiar is quite high. It has the lowest Risk of the possible alternatives, and allows for the widest variety of future directions that do not terminate in extinction, not extinguishment of all life or extinguishment of species, but extinction of options for prosperity.

      This has nothing to do with sacred engines, but with simple cost accounting. We cannot do a full cost benefit analysis of anything as large as “all the globe forever”, it’s a quixotic mission to try. But we can know if we put ourselves in a poorer strategic posture today than we were yesterday, we’re not likely to be playing a winning game.

      If we delude ourselves into thinking our position is better because we’ve borrowed from the future to enjoy luxuries today, and please do not bore us all with the lie that the borrowing from the future is to pay for investment in a better future: we cannot devise a technology for tomorrow by depending on resources tomorrow will not have.

      That is why the ecology comes first. Not because it’s sacred, or we profane. Because it’s good business.

  12. blockquote>The search for a “win-win” choice, which sounds so tantalizing to decision makers, is hopeless with even superficial policy analysis. There are always winners and losers even though people running for office may try to convince the voters otherwise.

    Except for the most trivial policy issues, compromise is necessary to craft a proposed policy that is democratically possible. Thus, ecological policy winds up as the classic zero-sum game. Accepting this reality encourages serious discussion about how to best resolve complex ecological policy issues.

    This is a rather bizarre generalization.

    I recently bought a house and some land in West Hurley, NY, right next to the Ashoken Reservoir. As you drive along Dike road, that runs along the edge of the reservoir, you pass a sign that indicates that you are passing the site where West Hurley formerly stood. Indeed, there were some losers in that decision to flood that area- people who fought, bitterly, the creation of the reservoir. But zero sum game? Really?

    Under the replacement cost method, the value of a service is viewed as the cost of replacing that service by some alternative means. For example, the value of clean drinking water provided by watershed protection has been examined using the cost savings from not having to
    build a water filtration plant (Champ, 2003). Indeed, the textbook example of this concept in practice is the New York City reservoir system. New York City elected to buy upstate property around the reservoirs, rather than build more expensive treatment plants. This decision allowed
    New York to maintain buffers of undeveloped land, protecting the water. Completed in 1964, the Catskill/Delaware Watershed now provides approximately 90 percent of New York City’s water. Primarily transported by gravity and natural flows, water currently reaches New York City untreated except for some chlorine and filters designed to catch dead fish (Daily, 2002).

    • The search for a “win-win” choice, which sounds so tantalizing to decision makers, is hopeless with even superficial policy analysis.

      It’s not hopeless from a technical or economic perspective. It is only hopeless from a political perspective and the reason for that is that the ‘Progressives’ are intent on blocking economically rational policies. The ‘Progressives’, like you, are doing all you can to block progress and have been for some fifty years.

      The ‘Progressives’ doomsaying cannot be taken seriously because they have shown no genuine interest in advocating for realistic, achievable policies.

      The “win-win” choice is explained here:

      Decarbonising the global economy requires economically rational policies’

      http://judithcurry.com/2013/04/19/open-thread-weekend-14/#comment-313509

      Alternative to carbon pricing – Reduce existing market distortions
      http://judithcurry.com/2013/04/19/open-thread-weekend-14/#comment-313514

      All you have to do is understand it and then get out and explain it to your ‘Progressive’ comrades and get them to advocate it to John Holdren (good luck with that!), Obama and his anti-progress ‘Progressive’ administration.

      • Yes Peter, I know. The world is black and white. Progressives are bad. You are good. Progressives are wrong. You are right. I’ve read this from you many times. I know it’s your perspective, and it is clear that you are bound and determined to view any and all situations to confirm that viewpoint.

        ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

      • Said by Joshua, the specialist and expert in the practice of motivated reasoning.

      • See my comment above. Progressivism is Eugenics in new clothes. Evil incarnate.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      There are always adversaries – and so winners and losers – hence zero sum. But the environment nearly always loses.

      • The fact that there are winners and losers does not imply zero sum.

        10 + (-1) does not equal zero.

        I always thought that the way WHT characterizes your math skills was implausible.

        Maybe not.

      • Joshua, funny.

        Zero sum as far as fisheries go, is a perfect analogy. Increased regulations tend to change the way the pot is split instead of adding to the pot. Protecting one species just shifts the burden to another. Complicating seasons and adding slots just reduces the smaller operations in favor of the bigger ones with deeper pockets and more “suits”.

      • Cap’n –

        Even if we granted that your characterization of regulation of fishing (which while I would assume is true in some instances, I would also assume it is not likely true as blanket characterization – but lack the requisite knowledge to comment on) were true as a broad-stroke characterization of all fishing regulations, the problem is that such a truth would not be applicable across the board.

        This is why I described the author’s generalization as bizarre – and gave an example of a situation where the existence of winners and losers did not imply a zero sum game.

        The problem here is binary thinking. Just because something is true in one circumstance does not mean that it is true in all circumstances.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        There is a pot – it is either won or lost. You have problems with the simplest of concepts. And webby’s math is about curve fitting to climate trivia – and inevitably an incorrect understanding of the Earth sciences and the physics. And then this over the top prattling and preening alternating with brown nosed sycophancy. You really want to be identified with such an odd character? Or is this just your usual opportunistic twaddle?

      • Joshua, “The problem here is binary thinking. Just because something is true in one circumstance does not mean that it is true in all circumstances.”

        So are you saying his model might be wrong sometimes :)

        His point was that fisheries management is a zero-sum game, not that is has to be or always will be, just it is that way now.

        There are a lot of zero sum examples, derivatives, options and futures are zero sum. A carbon tax would most likely be zero sum. Other than the overhead skimmed off the top, there will be no increase in the pot just some pockets.

      • There are a lot of zero sum examples, derivatives, options and futures are zero sum.

        Oh dear, the Levin inquiry into the UK whaling suggests that the cost was neither zero and the risks catastrophic.

        In April 2012, Americans were confronted with a story of Wall Street excess and the derivatives disaster now known as the JPMorgan Chase whale trades. The largest U.S. banks today are deep into derivatives, complex financial instruments that derive their value from other assets. The derivatives behind the JPMorgan whale trades were part of a so-called “Synthetic Credit Portfolio” that essentially made outsized bets on whether particular financial instruments or entities were creditworthy or would default during specified time periods. The bets were made by traders in the London office of U.S. banking giant, JPMorgan Chase. Their trades – meaning their bets — grew so large that they roiled the $27 trillion credit derivatives market, singlehandedly affected global prices,

        That the JPMC model was not even wrong (it was full of schoolboy howlers) shows that policy and oversight are selective when it comes to certain players ie there is no fair game.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘There are a lot of zero sum examples, derivatives, options and futures are zero sum.’

        None of these are necessarily zero sum depending on the underlying assets, loans etc.

        ‘So, if Bank A buys protection to hedge a loan it has made to Daimler AG, then it doesn’t make money when Daimler AG files for bankruptcy – its gain on the CDS is offset by its loss on the loan. So the party losing in this example is Bank E.

        In this instance, the economics in the chain of CDS still amount to zero, but because we’ve added a loan to the chain the overall economics no longer net to zero. At the end of the chain, Bank E loses money because it has taken on credit risk to Daimler AG.’

        The classic zero sum game is poker. The winners always exactly balance the losers. In the game of policy there are many players who place ‘value’ on winning or losing any particular battle. The value doesn’t even have to be real – merely perceptions of value. It doesn’t have to be equal. One side may want to win billions of dollars and the other may want to save the save the planet. There are winners and losers but the aggregate of values remains given more or less players.

        The actual state of the fisheries is a different question entirely – there we have actual gains and losses. And as I say – it is most commonly losses.

        In Australia – our rivers are still carrying huge excesses of sand and mud. The mud washes out onto coastlines destroying seagrass and corals. The sand chokes up pools and riffles and fills billabongs putting intense pressure on inland, aquatic ecologies. In 1992, the Mary River in south east Queensland flooded carrying millions of tonnes of mud into Hervey Bay. A thousand square kilometres of seagrass died off decimating dugongs, turtles and fisheries. The seagrass has grown back but the problems of the Mary River have not been fixed. The banks have not been stabilised and the seagrass could be lost again at any time. A huge excess of sand working its way down the river is driving to extinction the Mary River cod and the Mary River turtle. The situation in the Mary River is mirrored in catchments right across the country. Nationally, 50% of our seagrasses have been lost and it has been this way for at least 30 years.

        Talking to a mate – who is an expatriate American fisheries biologist – the multifarious pressures on American fisheries seem as poorly managed.

      • Chief, “None of these are necessarily zero sum depending on the underlying assets, loans etc. ”

        Those would be called unintended consequences which is why zero sum is a euphemism for disaster. “Ideally”, the game would just be exchanges between players.

      • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

        In the real world of life on earth, in the midst of competition, a greater good is achieved and that greater good is the web of interrelationships between species known as the web of life. A lion may eat a gazelle, but that competition ensures that the system of relationship known as Lion-Gazelle will go on. This is a win-win and is more than a zero-sum game.

      • That is not my understanding. Bank E is supposed to have hedged its CDS risk, as would be the company making the Bank E CDS, and so on.

        That is one reason why CDS notional is so high.That and the fact that anybody can tag in.

        AIG failed to hedge themselves. This was incompetence. CH’s Bank E.

      • The classic Non zero-sum game in economics is two person trade with comparative advantage. Think about yourself working and a 10 year old doing housework. Although you are better at both, you both derives benefits from the trade between these services.

        In ecology and the modern economy (industrialized, low pop growth), there might be zero-sums payoffs at individual sites, but on the grand scale, there is a win-win as Chief puts it upstream “Only wealthy communities have environments” (and environmentalists).

    • Joshua, yes, it’s not necessarily a zero-sum game, one of the rationales for cost-benefit analysis is to assess whether or not there are net benefits. If they are, than compensatory measures when required can provide for those who might be losers without them.

      Of course, this needn’t be on a case-by-case or specific project basis. For example, among the suite of reforms initiated by Australia’s Hawke government, including the National Competition Policy in which I was involved, there were people who would lose from a particular change but would benefit more from other reforms and the broader impact on increased economic growth and opportunity etc. There was generally no case for seeking to address a particular detriment.

      I addressed some of these issues in an NCP review paper, I don’t have an electronic copy but will try to redraft pertinent material. Possibly even a head-post now that these issues have been raised. No deadlines set.

      • Faustino,

        If you have a hard copy you can scan it into a pdf or Word document and then edit it from there. pr you can take it to OfficeWorks and they’ll do it for you while you wait.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        In game theory – a zero sum game is merely one in which one side loses and the other wins. Any advantage in negotiation is gained at the expense of the other.

        Actual gains and losses occur after there have been winners and losers in the policy game.

      • Thanks, Peter, my printer-scanner is playing up. And my PC just blew a fuse, now up & running. Probably worth a trip to OfficeWorks and/or getting my daughter’s IT-savvy boyfriend in.

        Chief, we’re talking policy not game theory, and any policy worth adopting will have positive net present value and therefore a basis for accommodation. I’d have written about that by now in my draft head-post if my PC hadn’t crashed. I’ll leave this for now.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        No we are talking adversaries and winning and losing. CBA may be one factor in the game – but it is hardly a science even a dismal science – in environmental matters. Stated preference methods, maximum willingness to pay, minimum willingness to accept, contingent valuation, deliberative group valuation, the value of statistical life, valuing ecosystem services, revealed preference methods, hedonic price method, benefits (or value) transfer. It is all a little up in the air. It is more often questioned and challenged by the sides rather than accepted as some sort of elusive objectivity. You should talk to someone who is trained in this and not an economist. An environmental scientist perhaps.

        We are talking environmental policy and not something far simpler where we may have more concrete costs and benefits.

      • Chief –

        In game theory – a zero sum game is merely one in which one side loses and the other wins. Any advantage in negotiation is gained at the expense of the other.

        This is not accurate. Didn’t you learn when I spanked you for pontificating about interpreting that poll – not to act like you know what you’re talking about when you don’t know what you’re talking about?

        Which policies affect people in such a balanced manner?

        In the real world, your math is absurd.

        If you have policies where millions benefit at the loss of hundreds, it is not zero sum game – or in other words, zero sum gain

        In game theory and economic theory, a zero-sum game is a mathematical representation of a situation in which a participant’s gain (or loss) of utility is exactly balanced by the losses (or gains) of the utility of the other participant(s). If the total gains of the participants are added up, and the total losses are subtracted, they will sum to zero.

        Just back away now, Chief. You were wrong because you are applying a simplistic and contrived reasoning. Why make me spank you more? It isn’t something I like to do. In fact, I think it hurts me more than it hurts you.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘ZERO-SUM GAMES are games in which one side wins and the other loses. Hard zero-sum insists that only when the other loses can one win. Hard zero-sum reflects an emotional demand that a victory can only be savored when the defeated one knows himself to be defeated. All sports and gambling games are zero-sum. War, theft and raiding are hard zero-sum. The dominating imperative: “rule or be ruled” takes zero-sum relations at a political level as axiomatic. I must dominate lest you do the same. “Do onto others before they do onto you.” The joke about the peasant whom the genie offers one wish, but whatever he asks for his neighbor gets double illustrates the zero-sum mentality to perfection: “Poke out one of my eyes.”

        The zero sum game is where there is no net gain. It is really quite simple.

        ‘Axiom 1 — The policy and political dynamic is a zero-sum game

        Probably the most sobering reality for the uninitiated is that selecting any proposed policy choice results in winners and losers. The search for a “win-win” choice, which sounds so tantalizing to decision makers, is hopeless with even superficial policy analysis. There are always winners and losers even though people running for office may try to convince the voters otherwise.’

        We are still not talking about policy implementation in some rational sense – but at the stage where different policies are contending. The winners gets their policy and the losers don’t.

        And Joshua – you are an pathetic idiot. As I remember it there was something months where I admitted that I may have misinterpreted some minor point regarding some poll or other. This is a sign of maturity and a willingness to self correct. Something you are incapable of with your trivial and juvenile point scoring. You froth at the mouth about spanking me? All I can do is laugh. The very idea is so ultimately pathetic, appalling and revolting. What could possibly convince you that this is acceptable to anyone? What was the other one? The homophobic jibe? You descend from the trivial and tendentious to the creepy too often.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Let’s correct the bolding.

        ‘ZERO-SUM GAMES are games in which one side wins and the other loses. Hard zero-sum insists that only when the other loses can one win. Hard zero-sum reflects an emotional demand that a victory can only be savored when the defeated one knows himself to be defeated. All sports and gambling games are zero-sum. War, theft and raiding are hard zero-sum. The dominating imperative: “rule or be ruled” takes zero-sum relations at a political level as axiomatic. I must dominate lest you do the same. “Do onto others before they do onto you.” The joke about the peasant whom the genie offers one wish, but whatever he asks for his neighbor gets double illustrates the zero-sum mentality to perfection: “Poke out one of my eyes.”

        The zero sum game is where there is no net gain. It is really quite simple.

        ‘Axiom 1 — The policy and political dynamic is a zero-sum game

        Probably the most sobering reality for the uninitiated is that selecting any proposed policy choice results in winners and losers.’

        We are still not talking about policy implementation in some rational sense – but at the stage where different policies are contending. The winners gets their policy and the losers don’t.

        And Joshua – you are an pathetic idiot. As I remember it there was something months where I admitted that I may have misinterpreted some minor point regarding some poll or other. This is a sign of maturity and a willingness to self correct. Something you are incapable of with your trivial and juvenile point scoring. You froth at the mouth about spanking me? All I can do is laugh. The very idea is so ultimately pathetic, appalling and revolting. What could possibly convince you that this is acceptable to anyone? What was the other one? The homophobic jibe? You descend from the trivial and tendentious to the creepy too often.

      • Heh!

        The Chief of unintentional irony strikes again.

        As I remember it there was something months where I admitted that I may have misinterpreted some minor point regarding some poll or other.

        By their very nature, these are all minor points, Chief. They are blog comments. By definition, they are minor,.

        In the case in question, you signed on to condescendingly “correct” someone else’s interpretation of the poll and the discussion of the poll. When I pointed out you were wrong, you first flat-out ducked accountability, and then you said something on the order of “I may not be correct,” when, in fact, you were obviously incorrect. I gave you the opportunity to show some accountability for your sloppiness in your interpretation – you declined.

        We have the exact same thing occurring in this thread. Stop making me spank you, Chief. I guess you like it but I find it unpleasant. I don’t like embarrassing you like this.

        This is a sign of maturity and a willingness to self correct.

        I have always acknowledged that you are the Chief of unintentional irony – but I do believe that this takes the cake. You spend hour after hour writing cheap insults in blog comments, and flat out refuse accountability for error (such as in this thread, such as with the question about how that poll should be interpreted, such as when you fail to acknowledge uncertainty in predictions about future climate, etc.), and then pat your self on the back for your “maturity” and your willingness to self correct?

        Not only may WHT be correct about your math skillz, but I’m beginning to think that maybe he’s correct about you writing what you write as a put on.

        Either way, Chief, I have to give you credit for being hands down hilarious.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        I always hold that you are the champion of the trivial, the tendentious and really appallingly creepy.

        ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Let’s just make a final comment here. I talk mostly science – something that Joshua is certainly unable to do. Joshua thrives on long diatribes heavy on emotion charged ploys but light on any meaningful content. I respond to attacks by empty headed twits as I do to him – but this is not my first impulse.

        I provide calm and rational justifications for seeing the process of choosing between policy alternatives as akin to a football game. There are winners and losers. One side wins and the other side loses. There is a reason it is axiom 1 – because this is the most fundamental aspect of the environment debate. An adversarial conflict between sides in which no one wins – least of all the environment.

        Joshua responds with an utterly over the top, frothing at the mouth rant laced with spanking and other inanities – with no actual content. The whole is quite inappropriate. He is utterly relentless – repeating the same nonsense again and again in long winded complaints about whomever – myself, Judith, Peter Lang, etc. It is obviously only about demonizing and trivialising the other side and scoring a win in his fetid little mind. Proving without doubt the nature of the adversarial game even where played in a forum where there is nothing to gain but knowledge. Is he even aware of his motivations? Or is he just thrashing about in paroxysms of mean mouthed delusions of moral superiority. Don’t know – don’t care.

  13. no surprising that: every ”Greene” is a Warmist – every Warmist is a Greene / the ”something for nothing / FREE LUNCH” MAFIA

  14. Earth is a closed system. It’s been artificially goosed by fossil fuels to (temporarily) host more humans than it could otherwise sustain. Take away the massive agar-agar injection, and the organisms in the Petri dish are left to compete for the reduced resources.

    There are no good choices in this closed system.

    • savetheicecap. Why?

    • Peter Nielsen

      Not just “compete”. Being led by wise technological humans, Earth’s “organisms” can do more than compete. They can co-operate and invent and continue to Progress, by making better use of existing resources, finding new uses for new resources and so on, as they have always done. Leaders still know this, increasingly in the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). All that is happening is that the West has become confused Deep Ecologically, and that this confusion (originating in US “hippy” counter culture) is indulged in, imitated by BRICS countries, reflected back to the West as insurance against being bombed and so on. And such confusion is evident in our media, such strings as this one and so on . . .

    • I agree with Peter Nielsen. I also agree with taking away the Agar injection, the unknown 19-year-old thrust into the current England-Australia Ashes test three days ago transformed the game, coming in when Australia were on the ropes at 117-9 and scoring a rapid 98, then getting the wickets of England’s top two batsmen.

      (Ashton Agar for the non-cognescenti, rather than agar-agar.)

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Batting at 11 – with a no. 6 who managed to hang on long enough in what was a fairly pathetic innings otherwise. All according to a cunning plan of course.

      • A classy innings from a number 11! The team selectors should have been aware that he can bat and he should have been much higher in the order IMO.

      • Not biting, Faustino. Not even nibbling.

      • Peter, it was much more effective for Agar to come in at 11. Australia were totally demoralised at that point, England would have been confident of an early victory. If that had transpired, it would have set the tone for the series. Agar’s innings transformed everything, and has made the series highly contestable.

        Not being a wingeing Pom, I’ll not dwell on the fact that Agar was stumped on 6. I think that poor captaincy by Cook helped Agar and Hughes to take the game away from England.

      • Faustino,

        Did you see my reply to your comment about the great 1976 summer in England. I explained about the great 1975 summer in England (real Aussie summer in fact), the victory by the Ian Chappell cricket team, and the excellent descriptions and demonstrations of the previous day’s play. These explanations and demonstration – every wicket taken by Lillee and Thomson and every good shot played by the Aussie batsmen – were provided as a free service by Aussies travelling on the London Tube as the Poms went to work each day (and attempted to read their newspapers without looking up)? Great sport. :)

        The comment is here in case you missed it:
        http://judithcurry.com/2013/07/11/climate-vs-weather-prediction-should-we-rebalance/#comment-342984

      • Peter L, missed your London comment. In June ’75 I travelled across the desert from Quetta (NW Pakistan) to Zahedan in SE Iran, I reckon it was about 125F, zero humidity. No discussion of cricket on the desert train.

      • Some old dude name of Alex enjoyed his touristing around those spots, too, but a bit earlier than you, F.
        =================

    • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

      Fortunately for us, Earth is not a closed system, and also fortunately for us this wonderful web of life has evolved on this open system planet whereby each species may compete both intra-species and inter-species, but within that completion there is a greater cohesiveness and interdependence at work, i.e., a lion may indeed eat a gazelle, but because of that the greater dynamic of lion-gazelle will go on.

      • Open or closed system? A simple and easy problem to ponder. So, let’s leave that aside for the moment and remind R Gates, Skeptic, that a warmer world supports more total life and more diversity of life and more lion-gazelle dynamics.
        =================

      • ‘Sustains more t.l, more d. of l. & more l-g d’. Sorry ’bout dat, Boss, I usually get it right.
        ===============

  15. “Environmental worry is universal; the sickness of the end of the world is purely Western. To counter this pessimism, we might list the good news of the last 20 years: democracy is making slow progress; more than a billion people have escaped absolute poverty; life expectancy has increased in most countries; war is becoming rarer; many serious illnesses have been eradicated. But it would do little good. Our perception is inversely proportional to reality.

    http://www.city-journal.org/2012/22_2_apocalyptic-daze.html

    • Oh, my Gawd, RG. Everything in every way is getter better and better every day in this best of all possible worlds.

      So look up Mills.
      =========

      • Dang, this is supposed to be below Gates’ 8:59 below.
        =====

      • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

        I almost always read your stuff cooling Kim, so I caught it.

        Problem is, everything is not always getting better and better, as in sometimes things get worse and worse. Sometimes nature hits the reset button on a planet, as in massive volcanism or asteroid strike. But in between, the web of life evolves, and the trends during those times are to the greatest good for the greatest number. It is a pity for the single gazelle that is dinner for the lion, but in being dinner, the symbiotic web of life, the lion-gazelle system can go on.

      • Nice, RG, and why I read you, too. You see AnthroGHGs as catastrophic and I don’t.
        ===========

      • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

        Please tell me Cooling Kim, where I see Anthro-GHG’s as catastrophic? You are either confusing me for someone else, or confused in thinking that all Warmists believe it will be catastrophically so.

        But even so, ultimately I am an optimist. Even in the off chance that the human carbon volcano should turn out to be catastrophic for the current web of life on Earth, we know that it is only a matter of time after such a mass extinction event that a new web would evolve. Life will find a way.

      • Yes, for sure I jumped to the conclusion that you expect AnthroGHGs to be catastrophic. But your actions speak louder than your words. Heh, I mean some of your words speak louder than others of your words.
        =====================

      • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

        Cooling Kim,

        CO2 in the atmosphere, just like CO2 in your blood, is necessary and needed WITHIN bounds. It is the not the case in either example that more is always better. Determining what those bounds are is the point of research.

      • OK, and not in greening, warming, or other effects are AnthroGHGs likely to exceed previous levels, none of which were catastrophic. So that much we know, albeit poorly. Rate of change is another question, again, presently not exceeding historical patterns which have not led to catastrophe, nor seem to be now.

        Now, name the harms of the last 2 deg C. of warming. Try to be convincing that we can get more than 2 more deg C. from AnthroGHGs.
        Try to remember that we are at the end of the Holocene and facing an imminent 8-10 deg C. drop in temperature.
        ========================

      • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

        Nowhere in the geological record do we find this rapid of an increase in GH gases, so we have no point of comparison. The last time CO2 was at this level was the warm part of the Pliocene or even Miocene. Could be great for humans…or maybe not so. Either way, it was our human carbon volcano, so we’ll get exactly what we deserve.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        It seems more likely that the last time CO2 was at this level was at the last glacial termination.

      • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

        Chief,

        Not sure what you’re referring to, but not in the past 800,000 years have GH gas levels been this high, and if the data from Lake El’gygytgyn is to trusted, probably not in the past several million years have GH gas levels been this high.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/Steinthorsdottir_CO2_stomata_2013_zps0180f088.png.html?sort=3&o=1

        I am inclined to think it happened because of an increase in soil respiration as conditions warmed. Soil carbon content is highest in cold soils.

        http://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/fig-1_page_3.jpg

        But really – if you are going to make bold assertions have the courtesy to provide relevant links and sources.

      • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

        Chief,

        My assertions are hardly “bold”. Ice core data and the sediment data from Lake El’gygytgyn are quite readily available and discussed widely. I haven’t the time nor inclination to be your errand boy.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        The ice core data in the graph I linked to. What we understand about the ice core data is that CO2 is both more variable and concentrations significantly higher than in the ice core record.

        The comparisons of the Pliocene to the Quaternary period are little strained. But why would you depend on one sediment record a few million years old and not another a few millennia old? Odd indeed. You are not very good at this data thing are you gatesy.

        Your obsessions suggest that I should take everything you say skeptically.

      • RG, name the harms of the last 2 deg C of warming. Try to be convincing that we can get more than 2 deg C more warming from AnthroGHGs. Try to remember that we are walking along the edge of an icy cliff, and one slip will drop our whole society 8-10 deg C.
        =================

      • kim | July 14, 2013 at 3:31 am |

        I know I’m not RG, but I believe BHO already answered that question, in part. $100 billion in the USA alone, in 2012 alone, on a short enumerated list alone, mostly from weather events the work of Dr. Jennifer Francis and others show to be the result of human emission of GHGs.

        Though, that’s not degrees. That’s Forcing.

        It’s almost like you _want_ to measure the wrong thing.

      • Heh, you’re forced to that metric, and you fail attribution. It’s an elementary question my dear.
        ===============

      • kim | July 14, 2013 at 3:42 am |

        Any measure not money is only a trick, and via jet stream changes, attribution is clear.

        Hasn’t the Snowden case taught you, to question the President is treason? You’re shown to be wrong, by Unimpeachable Reason.

    • Oh, well, it’s kinda cute here, too, Girma. Take a cup of Malthus, half a cup of Mills, a soupcon of sun-dried Hegel, shake and bake.
      ================

    • And they know pictures will be worth billions of bucks…

      http://www.storagefront.com/therentersbent/what-will-sea-level-rise-look-like-west-coast-edition

      in just a jiffy too.

  16. “Since Ehrlich made his famous prediction, the global death rate declined from 13 to 9 deaths per 1,000 lives, and India’s fertility rate declined from 5.5 to 2.5, thanks not to forced sterilizations and cutting off food aid, as Ehrlich advocated, but due to the continuing development and modernization of Indian society.”

    http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/article/Environmental-apocalypse-is-a-myth-4587726.php

  17. R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

    This statement:

    “Probably the most sobering reality for the uninitiated is that selecting any proposed policy choice results in winners and losers. The search for a “win-win” choice, which sounds so tantalizing to decision makers, is hopeless with even superficial policy analysis. There are always winners and losers even though people running for office may try to convince the voters otherwise.”

    Is nonsense. The best choices, as in the the greatest good for the greatest numbers (of human and other species) always, by definition is a win-win. It means, by definition, that everyone won’t get everything they want, and some small few may actually not get anything they want, but the greatest number will get something they want. There is always a win-win to be found if the parties are willing to compromise. The real issue is the unwillingness of some to compromise, or the failure to look at the longer-term and find the win-win.

  18. Axioms for scientific behaviour:
    1. Adhere to facts. Facts only.
    2. Be cautious in promoting hypotheses and theories.
    3. Don’t make predictions, unless they are solidly based on knowledge.
    4. Admit when knowledge is lacking or uncertain.
    5. Abstain from unscientific fear-mongering.
    6. Abstain from promoting ideology-based policies.

    Adhering to these axioms is a win-win solution.
    Ignoring them creates a wicked problem.

  19. Since they did not follow the Axioms, the men of science will come up with a way to pay US back somehow they are scientists after all.

    • Well, I finally understand that ‘US’ is just a loud vox populUS, but it looks too much, at cursory glance, like the ‘United States’. Ain’t de same ting, to my parochial knowledge.
      ==============

  20. Axiom 4: But poverty silences debate
    Robert T. Lackey provides an excellent summary of major issues – for wealthy countries. His Axiom 4 ignores the poverty or extreme poverty of most of the world. It must be modified in light of wealth and extreme poverty to read:
    Axiom 4 — Relatively wealthy potential losers are usually more assertive and vocal than potential winners and are, therefore, disproportionately important in decision making, while the extreme poor go unheard.

    e.g., the wealthy American “green” lobby’s forcing the burning of > 40% of US corn via ethanol with NO greenhouse benefit is starving to death ~ 192,000/year of the extreme poor in developing countries via higher global food prices. That is immoral.
    See Indur M. Goklany, Could Biofuel Policies Increase Death and Disease in Developing Countries? J. American Physicians & Surgeons Vol 16 (1) Spring 2011, pp 9-13

    • David Springer

      Immoral seems a bit harsh, David. Every resource you personally use that isn’t critical to your well being is, in the same sense, immoral.

    • Also, many times people are poor because their government is corrupt, incompetent, or ruled by Sharia law. We know how successful we have been ousting such governments – not very. We have to accept that there are some problems we can’t fix and put our energy into self defense, then use it only when needed.

    • David L. Hagen

      David R. Legates addresses: Does Caring for “the Least of These” Demand Fighting Global Warming?

      Draconian legislation to curtail energy use by restricting fossil fuel emissions will have little, if any, impact on Earth’s climate. . . .Even an elimination of all CO2 emissions by the United States would prevent only 0.17C of warming.

      Instead of fighting global warming, the most important environmental task facing Christians today is economic development, because poverty is the greatest threat to both human well-being and the environment.

      We need to find more efficient ways to use energy and more sources for energy to keep the cost low. Why? If we make energy so expensive that only the rich can afford it, then the poor and the vulnerable will be denied access. That will condemn them to a life of poverty, sickness, and low life expectancy.

      David Springer
      Immoral: Violating the principles of right and wrong
      Webster 1913:

      “Im`mor´al Not moral; inconsistent with rectitude, purity, or good morals; contrary to conscience or the divine law; wicked; unjust; dishonest; vicious; licentious; as, an immoral man; an immoral deed.”

      The “Renewable fuel standard” is immoral because it breaches the duty to care for the widow and the orphans, and instead it kills them. The coercion of legislative mandates forces food to be “burned” via corn to ethanol which causes more poor to starve from higher prices. We could equally mandate coal to ethanol or methanol. From the lower fuel prices we could ship the corn to the poor to lower their cost of food or give it to the extreme poor to help them up.
      Corn to ethanol consumed the threefold increase in US corn productivity resulting in static corn exports in the face of a growing global population.
      Corn Ethanol Production, Food Exports, and Indirect Land Use Change

      Politicians can be persuaded to act like statesmen to implement moral policies. e.g. Florida Repeals Renewable Fuel Standard; Silly Senator, Corn is for Food!

  21. David L. Hagen

    Creativity can transform debate and Axiom 1
    Lackey’s Axiom 1 presumes static technology, excluding ingenuity. He assumes a zero-sum game where winners=losers since there is usually no win-win solution. However Lackey ignores potentials for technology breakthroughs giving more winners than losers, especially breakthroughs in energy resources or conversion transform the situation. The consequence was winners > losers. e.g., the industrial revolution based on cheap coal and steam engines, the 19-20th power and transportation revolution based on internal combustion and cheap oil & gas. e.g. the USA’s economy grew 9%/year for 80 years from 1860 to 1940. See Tad Patzek Exponential growth, energetic Hubbert cycles, and the advancement of technology, Archives Mining Sciences Polish Academy of Sciences, May 17, 2008. Höök, M., Junchen, L., Noriaki, O. & Snowden, S.
    Descriptive and predictive growth curves in energy system analysis” Natural Resources Research, 2011, Vol. 20, Issue 2: 103-116 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11053-011-9139-z

    Making sustainable fuel and electricity cheaper than fossil fuel and electricity would transform the “global warming” debate. The Copenhagen Consensus recommends focusing resources on sustainable energy R&D to transform the future, noting that subsidies often waste resources.

    Lacky’s Axiom 1 needs to be modified to read:

    Axiom 1 – Without ingenuity and technological change, the policy and political dynamic is often a zero-sum game.

    • David Springer

      David L. Hagen | July 13, 2013 at 10:14 am | Reply

      “Making sustainable fuel and electricity cheaper than fossil fuel and electricity would transform the “global warming” debate. The Copenhagen Consensus recommends focusing resources on sustainable energy R&D to transform the future, noting that subsidies often waste resources.”

      In this I think we can agree without reservation.

      • We can agree on that, but many here think we should pour Federal money (read “middle class money”) into these green energy boondoggles. I don’t agree with the suck-the-middle-class-dry for an iffy, Mosher-like cause.

      • David L. Hagen

        Jim2
        Think
        Developing a replacement fuel CHEAPER than oil would be win win for all. No wasteful boondogle.

  22. A thoughtful, provocative essay–but as an economist, I have a different view of several of the axioms

    Axiom 1: The fact that there are both winners and losers is not what is meant by a “zero-sum game.” It is perfectly possible in any case that a policy produces a sum of benefits that is greater than the sum of losses or vice versa. Obviously a really bad policy, say one that allows salmon fishing just one day a year, will produce losses that exceed the gains. Equally obviously, reversing such a bad policy produces gains that exceed losses. I think Lackey understands this, he just uses the wrong term.

    Axiom 3: This axiom seems exactly backwards. Decades of literature from the economics of public choice suggest that policies that concentrate benefits narrowly and spread costs widely are the most politically viable. Consider subsidies for corn-based ethanol as a case in point. For a lot of reasons, narrowly focused interests have disproportionate influence on the political debate.

    Axiom 4: I agree, losers are more active than winners. Behavioral economists call this “loss aversion.” (The rule of thumb is that a $1 loss calls forth the same degree of political activity as a $2 gain.) Note, however, that it is one of the factors that makes Axiom 3 incorrect. If a policy imposes losses on a small group of losers, those losers are likely to go all-out to defeat it, outweighing the efforts of small per person gains to larger groups of winners.

    I like the other axioms, though. I think Axiom 6 is especially important: Even with complete scientific knowledge, policy action would still be controversial. One good example: Suppose we knew the exact trajectory of climate change with certainty for the next 1000 years, down to all the details about which areas would get wetter, which dryer, how high the sea would rise, and so on. Undertaking policy to affect climate change would still be controversial because there would be disagreements about the discount rate, that is, about how much weight to give the welfare of various generations.

    • Ed, “Axiom 1: The fact that there are both winners and losers is not what is meant by a “zero-sum game.” It is perfectly possible in any case that a policy produces a sum of benefits that is greater than the sum of losses or vice versa. Obviously a really bad policy, say one that allows salmon fishing just one day a year, will produce losses that exceed the gains. Equally obviously, reversing such a bad policy produces gains that exceed losses. I think Lackey understands this, he just uses the wrong term.”

      Nope, he used the right term. Consider your example, limiting salmon fishing to one day is bad for human salmon eaters but good for salmon. The salmon fishermen would make more money per pound, but their net income would be reduced. Some other fish species would suffer because they would be needed to fill the salmon gap.

      If you want another example consider corn to ethanol. That originally was started, by corn farmers, as a means to make money off of surplus and low grade corn. It was a win-win for the corn farmers. When policy mandated corn ethanol at a fixed percentage of gasoline sales, the corn required exceeded the surplus, even though animal feed was a by-product of the ethanol process. Mexico bought corn futures to hedge against higher corn prices, spurring a run up in corn prices.

      Policy involvement turned a small private win-win into a wicked zero sum game.

      • “Nope, he used the right term. Consider your example, limiting salmon fishing to one day is bad for human salmon eaters but good for salmon. The salmon fishermen would make more money per pound, but their net income would be reduced. Some other fish species would suffer because they would be needed to fill the salmon gap.”

        I have some problems with your analysis. The biggest one is your entry of the welfare of salmon into the equation. Throwing the welfare of nonhumans into the equation obviously radically changes the cost-benefit equation of any environmental policy, but even if we allow it, how do you calculate that the increased welfare of salmon exactly balances the decreased welfare of salmon fishers? What is the unit of measurement? If the balance isn’t exact, whichever way it goes, you still don’t have a zero-sum situation. “Zero sum” means the gains and losses sum exactly to zero, not that there are both gains and losses.

        I don’t think you are right, either, that salmon fishers would make more money per pound but their welfare would be reduced. We don’t know whether their gross revenue would go up or down unless we know whether demand for salmon is elastic or inelastic. We don’t know whether their net revenue would go up or down unless we know what happens to their costs. Experience with limited days of fishing for, say, the Alaska halibut fishery showed that fishers invested hugely in more powerful boats to catch more in the few allowed days, which undermined their net revenue. However, that might not be true for the salmon fisheries.

        In short, I don’t think your counterexamples convince me that we have a zero sum game here.

      • “I don’t think you are right, either, that salmon fishers would make more money per pound but their welfare would be reduced.”

        That is an educated estimate that should be close. Of course one day a year is a bit extreme, but shorter seasons favor larger operations. The little guys have too much transit time to compete, they lose, the big boys win. Net is less revenue.

        “I have some problems with your analysis. The biggest one is your entry of the welfare of salmon into the equation. ”

        Salmon, mountain tops, snail darters, Hefner Bunnies (seriously http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvilagus_palustris_hefneri) etc. all are gains, ie tools, on one side

  23. Peter Nielsen

    Wake up warmists ! ! ! Look into where you are coming from ! ! ! The Warmist hysteria that so pervades this and too many other strings derives from Deep Ecology, a product of the US Counter Culture while “the Americans . . . are heated and inflamed . . . easily deluded . . .” So said Lord Mansfield, 2nd only to Shakespeare amongst architects of the Anglosphere. In:
    http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1244&context=flr, page 6 : At the time when Edmund Burke delivered his famous speech “On Conciliation with
    America,” Mansfield was pressing for the vigorous prosecution of the
    war with the colonies . . . . It is interesting to read Lord Mansfield’s peroration in his speech on American taxation, in the House of Lords, set forth in full in HOLLIDAY, Lord Mansfield (1797) 242 et seq.: “You may abdicate your right over the colonies. Take care my lords, how you do so, for such an act will be irrevocable . . . The Americans, as I said before, are a very good people, and I wish them exceedingly well; but they are heated and inflamed. The noble lord who spoke before concluded with a prayer; I cannot end better than saying to it, Amen; and in the words of Maurice, Prince of Orange, concerning the Hollanders, ‘God bless this industrious, frugal and well meaning but easily deluded people.'” (250-251).

    • ‘God bless this industrious, frugal and well meaning but easily deluded people’ – and remove the veils from their eyes.

      • No one can say serfs aren’t industrious and frugal, the
        latter from necessity. Well meaning is all well and good
        but if, as a well meaning person yer don’t “keep yer ear
        ter the ground,” “keep a cool head on yer shoulders,”
        “look before yer leap” and ask “cui bono?” yer likely
        ter end ” up the proverbial creek w/out a paddle.”

        And if enough of the people most of the time act
        likewise as a group, why, we’re all likely ter end up
        up *** creek, or down a lazy river! (
        Bts

      • God bless those industrious, frugal and well meaning, and not so easily deluded six peers.
        =============

  24. axiom – Merriam-Webster says:
    \
    Definition of AXIOM
    1
    : a maxim widely accepted on its intrinsic merit
    2
    : a statement accepted as true as the basis for argument or inference : postulate 1
    3
    : an established rule or principle or a self-evident truth
    ———————————————–
    Like many scientists who venture into the murky waters of policy, Dr Lackey means well but ends up tangled in the weeds. Let’s go through them one by one:

    Axiom 1 — The policy and political dynamic is a zero-sum game

    As others have pointed out, this is just plain wrong. Otherwise, there would no difference in effect between bad policy and good policy. The objective of good policy is to maximise benefits for the greatest number at the lowest possible cost. If you think it’s a zero-sum game, go and live in Zimbabwe for a while and report on how “zero-sum” decisionmaking is working out for them. Hint – it’s not just redistributing benefits from a fixed pool, it’s actively reducing the size of the pool.

    Axiom 2 — The distribution of benefits and costs is more important than the ratio of total benefits to total costs.

    Again, completely backwards. See the comment on (1) for why.

    Axiom 3 — The most politically viable policy choice spreads the benefits to a broad majority with the costs limited to a narrow minority of the population

    Nope. There are many policies which impose relatively small costs on individuals (such as tariffs and hypothecated taxes) but confer very large benefits on a few influential actors. They are often extremely difficult to change, as he acknowledges in his contradictory …

    Axiom 4 — Potential losers are usually more assertive and vocal than potential winners and are, therefore, disproportionately important in decision making

    Yes.

    Axiom 5 — Many advocates will cloak their arguments as science to mask their personal policy preferences

    Trite, but true.

    Axiom 6 — Even with complete and accurate scientific information, most policy issues remain divisive

    I wasn’t aware that there is such a thing as “complete and accurate scientific information”, but I assume that he is referring to subjects such as the benefits of vaccination, which all but a few crackpots agree on. But the world is not static – there is still plenty of debate about individual vaccines, who should get them, how they should be delivered, whether there should be sanctions against the un-vaccinated and so on.

    The relationship between science and policy is not constructed in the way that he thinks. To continue with my vaccines example, the science continues to move on and generate new issues, and that applies to any other field of science as well. This affects the non-scientific issues (such as personal freedom) accordingly.

    Axiom 7 — Demonizing policy advocates supporting competing policy options is often more effective than presenting rigorous analytical arguments

    True, and trite. Hardly news to anyone with a modicum of interest in politics or policy.

    While it is nice to see a scientist trying to grapple with the real world, and I wish him well on his journey, it does highlight why scientists should stick to their knitting, just as politicians and policy-makers should stick to theirs. It is a rare individual that can grasp the essentials of both, which is why anything I attempted to write about Dr Curry’s field of expertise would probably be much worse than this piece. :)

    • Chief Hydrologist

      You too have got it completely arse backwards. Say we have a policy of shutting down ports in Queensland – opposed to that is a policy to expand ports for an ever increasing coal trade.

      How do you that works out in reality?

      • Now my arse is unhorsed. Both these commenters are among the most reliable. Must be a local tangle, and I best beat feet away.
        =================

      • Sorry, I don’t understand your point – too cryptic for me.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        How is that cryptic? There are winners and losers – it is just like a cricket game. How’re we doing?

      • Oh, Gawd, now I have to learn arithmetic, too? I’ve always been content to leave the summing up to others.
        ============

      • Chief, these are two policy options on a spectrum, not an either-or choice, and there have been many posts on how to address such issues, including from Peter Lang, Johanna, Hilary and me. I agree with Johanna’s critique.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        https://theconversation.com/why-australia-must-stop-exporting-coal-9698

        Sorry we can either stop exporting coal or not – that’s the debate. We can have a carbon tax or not. These policy options are mutually exclusive.

        Frankly – Johanna, Peter Lang and you come from the technocratic class. I can see the arguments but they seem so divorced from real world politics. So enamored with your net public benefit technocrat policy that surely we should recognize the intrinsic superiority of the new and rational technocratic elite charting optimal futures for the benefit of the majority. Seriously – has anyone been an environmental scientist or a green activist? Axiom 1 was about winners and losers in environmental causes around policy choices – a zero sum game by definition. No one gives a rat’s arse about your rational technocratic policy – this is a culture war for the future of the world. But you insist that if only we would listen to the technocrats we could move boldly on to a brave new world of net public good. I would rather go back and reread the Road to Serfdom.

        ‘What is promised to us as the Road to Freedom is in fact the Highroad to Servitude. For it is not difficult to see what must be the consequences when democracy embarks upon a course of planning. The goal of the planning will be described by some such vague term as “the general welfare.” There will be no real agreement as to the ends to be attained, and the effect of the people’s agreeing that there must be central planning, without agreeing on the ends, will be rather as if a group of people were to commit themselves to take a journey together without agreeing where they want to go: with the result that they may all have to make a journey which most of them do not want at all. ‘

        The rest of Johanna’s ‘analysis’ I was ignoring frankly. It seemed so trivial. Of course there is no complete scientific information – he wasn’t claiming there ever was – but the point remains that even if there were these things would be decided on the values people place on particular issues. This is just one point – and I cannot be bothered continuing.

        An environmental scientist works in interdisciplinary settings to define optimal solutions in economic, social and environmental terms. Triple bottom lines as they say. It is also about risk management and due diligence. All these nice rational and scientific integrated analyses. This gives a project or a policy the best chance of success – and the least chance of going horrendously wrong – but doesn’t resolve the issue of choice which is irredeemably social.

    • Johanna,

      +1000,

      Unfortunately, much of what you say goes over the heads of those who have little understanding of policy development and implementation (of policy that will succeed, survive and deliver the purported benefits).

      • That’s a nice round sum, and I agree, despite my poor understanding of policy development and implementation of policy worth the implementation.
        ===============

  25. But you are reinforcing my point. There are policies with a range of outcomes, from appalling (cf Zimbabwe), to neutral, to positive. Within that, there are winners and losers. The Zimbabwe elite are doing fine – they’re winners, even if everyone else (the losers) is worse off.

    I said that it’s not a zero sum game, but it is a game with winners and losers. What’s the problem?

    • Chief Hydrologist

      As I said – it is not about implementing policy – it is not about rational policy with explicit costs and benefits – it is about competing policies advanced by people with differing world views. The climate war is an extension of a culture war that has been going for more than a hundred years. There is nothing rational about it – it is fought on both sides with lies, appeals to emotion, rhetoric, spin, adversarial experts, etc. It is astonishing that you can’t understand the distinction. Your opponents do all too well.

      ‘Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left. As to the scope of this tolerance and intolerance: … it would extend to the stage of action as well as of discussion and propaganda, of deed as well as of word.’ Herbert Marcuse

      So all in all – you strike as a useful idiot of the right. Pious platitudes chasing the technocratic ideal of superior types plotting the advance of humanity. As dubious as that ideal is – it is quite irrelevant. Within the climate war there is victory or defeat.

      • Chief Hydrologist | July 14, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Reply

        As I said – it is not about implementing policy – it is not about rational policy with explicit costs and benefits – it is about competing policies advanced by people with differing world views. The climate war is an extension of a culture war that has been going for more than a hundred years. There is nothing rational about it – it is fought on both sides with lies, appeals to emotion, rhetoric, spin, adversarial experts, etc. It is astonishing that you can’t understand the distinction. Your opponents do all too well.
        ——————————————————–
        Chief, I am not discussing “culture wars”, and nor is the head post. What is on the table here is a series of so-called axioms about environmental policy – and policy axioms, as a general rule, are transferable from one field to another. It has nothing whatever to do with ideology, and your personal characterisation of me further down is both wrong and offensive.

        Your assertion that “there is nothing rational about it” certainly seems to be true in this instance.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘Probably the most sobering reality for the uninitiated is that selecting any proposed policy choice results in winners and losers.’

        WTF do you think is under discussion? It is a battle of values around environmental issues.

        You have fixed ideas in a technocratic policy development framework. You haven’t stopped to understand what is meant by choice of policy but merely superimposed your confidence in your ability to impose technically superior policy. You are a planner – in the sense of Hayek. Dubious but irrelevant to the discussion. It doesn’t work as a technocratic exercise – it is inherently a clash of world views.

      • After 3 glasses of wine, I ask myself: Who is the winner?

        The Middle Ages wars serves an illustration.

        ‘Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left. As to the scope of this tolerance and intolerance: … it would extend to the stage of action as well as of discussion and propaganda, of deed as well as of word.’ Herbert Marcuse”

        The “Church” was on the right, the preservers of the status quo. The Protestant Reformation, an empowerment of diverse opinions on the Left.

        Where to align?

        Today we are the beneficiaries of a diverse opinion of the populous.

        Would we benefit from a diversity of policies? Not one to cover all contingencies?

        In my mind, I can hold mutually exclusive and contradictory ideas in my mind precisely because there are such diversity in opinions and options. Trials into many areas seems to me to be warranted, rather than an all or nothing approach.

        The carbon tax seems to be an all or nothing approach.

        People vs systems seems to be what is at stake.

      • Chief,

        You should stay right away from discussing policy. You haven’t even the most basic understanding of what is involved.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Thought you were ignoring me? Your stock answer to anyone is that they don’t have a clue. My immediate inclination is to call someone a pompous and pedantic little twit with little wit and less imagination. I will refrain.

        Again – we are talking about choices between policy and not policy development as such. That was clearly the point of the first axiom – and in plain English. Perhaps you should stay away from green politics Peter – you clearly don’t understand that it is not going to succumb to your technocratic bent. Perhaps it is that you don’t understand plain English?

      • @ Chief Hydrologist

        You have fixed ideas in a technocratic policy development framework.

        You haven’t stopped to understand what is meant by choice of policy but merely superimposed your confidence in your ability to impose technically superior policy.
        ———————————————————-
        Please quote words where I expressed anything of the kind, especially about my alleged “confidence in my ability to impose technically superior policy.” In fact, one thing I have learned is that my personal preferences can be quite wrong, as demonstrated by later events.

        During my career,I have provided analysis and advice on policies I strongly disagreed with to the very best of my ability, and not regretted it. Besides, I have never had the capacity to impose any policy whatsoever, not being an elected official.

        The head post is about the theory of policy, not whatever battle of ideas you are engaged in this week. I have refrained from the personal abuse that you hold so dear. It isn’t helping your case at all, but rather demonstrates the difference between an advocate and a policy professional better than anything I could say.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        “My adherents are useful idiots.” – Karl Marx

        I have little patience for circular discussions or self serving rationalisations. I certainly wasn’t accusing you of being socialist but of being a technocrat – if you didn’t get the reference.

        ‘EVEN before Plato conceived the philosopher-king, people yearned for clever, dispassionate and principled government. When the usual run of rulers proves cowardly, indecisive or discredited, turning to the wisdom and expertise of a technocrat, as both Italy and Greece have done in recent days, is particularly tempting.’ http://www.economist.com/node/21538698

        It was certainly in a disparaging way – do you think I should approve of technocrats? Do you have a thin skin? Do you take dire umbrage? More to the point – do you deny being a technocrat? It seems to me that you just confirmed it yet again.

        Again – and for the last time – Axiom 1 was about choices between competing policy and the politics surrounding that. That was clearly expressed in plain English and you superimposed an idea about optimal policy development devised by a superior, technocratic elite. We can move beyond conflict to where rational policy choices prevail with improvements in the general welfare? It may appeal to your vanity – but is utter nonsense and quite dangerous if we can take Hayek at face value.

  26. “Axiom 3 — The most politically viable policy choice spreads the benefits to a broad majority with the costs limited to a narrow minority of the population”

    Absent a constition that limits what governments are allowed to do to people – regardless of how large the majority – then democrcy is just the rape and plunder of the few by the many – the welfare state being a case in point.

  27. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?

  28. Peter Nielsen

    I agree with BFJ on this point, largely because I agree with what John Reid wrote June 12 which, tellingly, none of you ever really addressed: “The Ecology” for its own sake as if it were some sort of sacred machine in need of regular maintenance is ridiculous. Nature is noisy, chaotic, unpredictable and amoral.” What explains how these two ideas are connected is how “some sort of sacred machine” is exactly what we end up getting, however flawed, because this is how bureaucracies work, the only way they can work. Hence IPCC models, none of which predicted the “pause” of global temperature increase of the last 15 years. Hence a Carbon Tax which now has to be abandoned. Hence “Juden Raus” and and other great producers of “collateral damage”. Western Civilization is the major victim in the case of Climate Change Alarmism, Warmism, and other Environmental nonsense . No end of nonsense throughout my life, starting with Vietnam.