Decision making under uncertainty: the dog and the frisbee

by Judith Curry

As you do not fight fire with fire, you do not fight complexity with complexity. Because complexity generates uncertainty, not risk, it requires a regulatory response grounded in simplicity, not complexity.

To ask today’s regulators to save us from tomorrow’s crisis using yesterday’s toolbox is to ask a border collie to catch a frisbee by first applying Newton’s Law of Gravity. – Haldane and Madouros

Roger Pielke Jr points to an interesting paper by Andrew Haldane,  Executive Director of Financial Stability of the Bank of England, and Vasileios Madouros, entitled The Dog and the Frisbee.

The basic challenge is described in the following way:

Take decision-making in a complex environment. With risk and rational expectations, the optimal response to complexity is typically a fully state-contingent rule. Under risk, policy should respond to every raindrop; it is fine-tuned. Under uncertainty, that logic is reversed. Complex environments often instead call for simple decision rules. That is because these rules are more robust to ignorance.

From Roger Pielke Jr.’s  summary of the recommended “Five Commandments” of decision making under uncertainty:

1. “Complex environments often instead call for simple decision rules”

The simplest explanation is that collecting and processing the information necessary for complex decisionmaking is costly, perhaps punitively so. Fully defining future states of the world, and probability-weighting them, is beyond anyone’s cognitive limits. Even in relatively simple games, such as chess, cognitive limits are quickly breached. Chess grandmasters are unable to evaluate fully more than 5 chess moves ahead. The largest super-computers cannot fully compute much beyond 10 moves ahead.

Most real-world decision-making is far more complex than chess – more moving pieces with larger numbers of opponents evaluated many more moves ahead. Simon coined the terms “bounded rationality” and “satisficing” to explain cost-induced deviations from rational decision-making (Simon (1956)). A generation on, these are the self-same justifications being used by behavioural economists today. For both, less may be more because more information comes at too high a price.

2. “Ignorance can be bliss”

Too great a focus on information gathered from the past may retard effective decision-making about the future. Knowing too much can clog up the cognitive inbox, overload the neurological hard disk. One of the main purposes of sleep – doing less – is to unclog the cognitive inbox. That is why, when making a big decision, we often “sleep on it”.

“Sleeping on it” has a direct parallel in statistical theory. In econometrics, a model seeking to infer behaviour from the past, based on too short a sample, may lead to “over-fitting”. Noise is then mistaken as signal, blips parameterised as trends. A model which is “over-fitted” sways with the smallest statistical breeze. For that reason, it may yield rather fragile predictions about the future.

3. “Probabilistic weights from the past may be a fragile guide to the future”

John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern established that optimal decision-making involved probabilistically-weighting all possible future outcomes. 

In an uncertain environment, where statistical probabilities are unknown, however, these approaches to decision-making may no longer be suitable. Probabilistic weights from the past may be a fragile guide to the future. Weighting may be in vain. Strategies that simplify, or perhaps even ignore, statistical weights may be preferable. .

4.  “Other things equal, the smaller the sample, the greater the model uncertainty and the better the performance of simple, heuristic strategies”

The choice of optimal decision-making strategy depends importantly on the degree of uncertainty about the environment – in statistical terms, model uncertainty. A key factor determining that uncertainty is the length of the sample over which the model is estimated. Other things equal, the smaller the sample, the greater the model uncertainty and the better the performance of simple, heuristic strategies.

5.  “Complex rules may cause people to manage to the rules, for fear of falling foul of them”

There is a final, related but distinct, rationale for simple over complex rules. Complex rules may cause people to manage to the rules, for fear of falling foul of them. They may induce people to act defensively, focussing on the small print at the expense of the bigger picture.

JC comments:  I find this article to be particularly interesting since it is written by authors on the actual front lines of making decisions under uncertainty (rather than merely writing about the topic from an academic perspective).

While financial regulation is the context for this paper, there is relevance also for climate policy. “Robustness to ignorance” is the key point here.  In this context, I would like to remind readers of a previous post Can we make good decisions under ignorance?

301 responses to “Decision making under uncertainty: the dog and the frisbee

  1. Primum non nocere.
    ===============

  2. “By authors” not “my authors” at the end

  3. David Springer

    A new topic. Thank God.

  4. Yes: “I find this article to be particularly interesting since it is written my authors on the actual front lines of making decisions under uncertainty (rather than merely writing about the topic from an academic perspective).”

    Presumably, they either invest directly or sell analysis (i.e. competing with others who do likewise). They have skin in the game every day.

    • jbmckim,

      All the climate scientists have skin in the game too – their entire careers are devoted to CAGW and their income is totally dependent on it.

      • Climate scientist may be more occupational mobile than you think. Plus, you have contrarian climate scientists like Christy and Spenser who have income.

      • Yes, there is the odd Curry, Christy etc. But the bulk of government money is given those who exhibit CAGW positions. It’s a basic reward system.

  5. It is ironic that after pointing out, quite correctly, that optimal decision making is impossible in complex environments, they then talk about choosing the optimal decision strategy, which would be a case of optimal decision making.

    In any case we need to hear what their simple heuristic strategies are. Mine is try not to act on speculation. (I was sort of a student of Simon’s by the way, while a CMU junior faculty member. He was a great guy. But I never liked the term bounded rationality, as it suggests that reason is bounded. What is bounded is reasoning, bounded by available time.)

    • This post lacks substance for discussion, since it gives no examples of simple heuristic strategies. However, by way of clarification, in Simon’s school of decision making satisficing means accepting the first satisfactory solution to a problem, rather than trying to find the optimum solution.

      A heuristic is any way of simplifying the problem so that a solution can be found in the time available, which usually means that the optimum will not be found. For example, instead of trying to optimize the combination of all the important parameters, just try to optimize each individually.

      I doubt that much of this applies to the climate debate, but I could be wrong. It requires being able to construct a state space with all possible states of the problem system, such as a chess game. Scientific uncertainty is not that kind of problem. Simon and I argued about this.

      • From wiki definition of heuristic

        Examples of this method include using a rule of thumb, an educated guess, an intuitive judgment, or common sense.

        I.E. In mortgage banking a good ‘rule of thumb’ is to require a 20% down payment and loan no more the 4 X annual income.

      • In decision theory the term has a more precise technical definition. Yours is the vague ordinary language concept.

      • And had all bankers abided by that rule, the entire economic history of the world would have changed.

      • “David Wojick | September 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Reply
        It requires being able to construct a state space with all possible states of the problem system, such as a chess game. Scientific uncertainty is not that kind of problem. Simon and I argued about this.”

        At some level, all physical systems composed of particles can be modeled by states of differing energy.with the ensemble average anchoring the distribution of states. This is the basis of statistical mechanics and statistical physics, and what do you know, but Simon was one of the first to apply these ideas to economics, studying the distribution of firm sizes. (Krugman later applied these ideas to city sizes in his own early work). That branch of economics is now commonly referred to as econophysics. Just like in science, this is almost completely aleatory uncertainty, the distribution of fluctuations in the observable becoming a natural property of the system under study.

        It’s no wonder that you and Simon argued about this. He probably understood the difference between aleatory and epistemic uncertainty.

      • If you can model scientific uncertainty using particles be my guest. As for the rest, I do distribution analyses of science. But they have nothing to do with scientific uncertainty. You have either missed my point or I have missed yours. Statistical analysis cannot predict which of several competing hypotheses is correct. Would that it could. It is not a question of economics, like firm size. On the other hand, statistical analysis suggests that belief in the CAGW scare is fading. That is good news.

  6. While financial regulation is the context for this paper, there is relevance also for climate policy.
    Humanity has grown from a toddler to restless child old enough to be able to do serious damage to itself.

    • When was humanity not able to do damage to itself?

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        I think Vuksevic means collective damage as in species level. Prior to our modern era it would have been impossible for humans to have been capable of destroying enough of the global ecosystem so as to impact the whole species across the planet. In fact, the previous natural event do such was probably the eruption of Mt. Toba around 70 thousand years ago. Certainly, as the two previous world wars clearly indicated, and the advent of nuclear weapons as well, we clearly are capable of doing serious mass damage to ourselves, and global environmental degradation and global climate change may simply be “soft and slow” ways we can damage ourselves.

      • To the point and well said.

      • We seem to be doing quite well, thanks anyway. There is no real prospect that using fire will exterminate humanity. This is the scare at its stupidest. But perhaps you should buy some antarctic corn futures, if you really believe this nonsense.

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates) | September 6,

        Gates, climate can change for better and for worse; climate is not perfect now. Regular topsoil moisture on land, water storages and water vapor in the air = creates mild climate. No moisture on land -> water vapor builds up above the sea, but avoids land, for long times = extreme climate.

        Because of bigots like you and vukcevic, misrepresenting constant climatic changes as “”GLOBAL warmings” The ideology is sick / doing bad, by pretending that are concerned about the phony GLOBAL warming. Lots of NARROW-MINDED ignorants turned into ”Climate from Changing Stoppers” As long as you know that: you, the Warmist bigots are committing double crimes: http://globalwarmingdenier.wordpress.com/5floods-droughts-we-dont-need-to-have/

  7. David Springer

    Frisbee catching in dogs is an example of a biological machine controlled by a neural learning network pre-tuned by millions of years of evoution for putting jaws around moving prey animals whether that’s launching at the throat of a fleeing deer, a quail flushed out of the brush, or a rabbit.

    And humans with a shotgun can do far better than any dog ever dreamed of doing. So there.

  8. Without uncertainty (and ignorance) rational decisions are not very interesting decisions.

    • Ever seen a master play chess?

      • Maybe it is more interesting to watch because we do not see all of what the master sees. That is, we the observers are uncertain and ignorant. Not being a chessmaster I don’t know what is ‘seen’ from that perspective.

      • What is “seen” is a set of simplifying rules.
        1. control the center
        2. develop before attacking.
        3. open lines of attack/ close lines of attack.
        4. And when the situation merits it, calculate in detail.

        of course the simple rules have exceptions/ conflicts/ ect
        and knowing when to calculate isn’t always clear.

      • Steven Mosher –

        As stated your list seems to be one of guiding principles more than rules for taking specific actions,* although principles are rules of a sort–say governing strategy. They do not result in a specific actions (choosing an alternative). The items are like metarules for use in one or more ‘play’ algorithms. Again none of these rules pulls a trigger. They guide but are not sufficient for making a rational(?) move/decision.

        Clearly rules and decision trees may be related in some cases. For example, a decision tree(decision nodes and uncertainty nodes) can be used in a classification scheme to a set of derive rules for the decision modeled. But I suspect going from rules to a tree could be an big issue–thinking of your “exceptions, conflicts, etc.” Interesting stuff.

        But all this good stuff misses my intended point to P.E.–a patzer observing the master and trying to ‘decide’ what the latter will do is by comparison operating with a lot of uncertainty and ignorance. Watching and anticipating a chess game is the same process as playing the game. For example, a devil here is in your ‘detail’ in item 4; the two players are not likely to make the same decisions starting from a given situation, and the master will be making much more informed decisions. Of course, the patzer may upset the master with a particularly erratic move, that is, a good decision does not always lead to a good outcome and vice-versa.

        * I am assuming that a decision must end in an action.

      • mwg.

        They are sufficient for making a decision. In the game a decision is made.
        The point is the rules are not ‘complex’. the game is not thought out all the way to the end. The issue here is defining what is “rational”.
        applying a set of simple rules known to work in many cases to simplify
        a problem is rational and warranted. The delusion is that you have to understand things down to the end game to act. There is a clock, you can lose on time trying to find the optimal path

      • Steven Mosher

        One last hurrah and then you can take your shot.


        “They are sufficient for making a decision. In the game a decision is made.”

        We aren’ t going to agree here, but that’s fine — talking past each other a little. For example, consider that there are 3 moves which look promising to control the center. Your rule 1 as stated is incapable of choosing one of the 3–there is nothing in in its language that speaks to that question. Rules 2 and 3 as stated are similarly incapable of choosing one of the three moves. All three rules inform the decision: “hey this is a good move because it projects control of the center, etc.” Now one might evoke rule 4 and calculate more detail, but rule 4 also does not contain specific language to the move at hand. This (to me) means firing/using other rules that are outside of your four, meaning they are insufficient. I like and agree with your rules, but they are insufficient. This is a structural problem. (more in next item.)


        “The point is the rules are not ‘complex’. the game is not thought out all the way to the end.”

        I did not state or imply that the rules are complex and I did not state that a game is thought out all the way to the end so this comment. I assume you are making the points for general emphasis. That said, I concur with the remarks. In the larger context I have always considered parsimony to be desirable when constructing models–for physical systems, decisions, etc. In the present discussion I would say that you need rules that provide legals ways to move each type of piece, you need rules on how capture of an opponents piece are effected, etc. You have to have more rules (heuristics) for your inference engine (mind) to work with.


        “The issue here is defining what is ‘rational’. applying a set of simple rules known to work in many cases to simplify a problem is rational and warranted.”

        I strongly agree with that thought. How about “The issue here is defining what is ‘rational’ and ‘warranted’.” I put warranted on the same level with rational. It is kind of interesting that in addition to data needs/completeness, a need for transparency, and a need for a sufficient degree of reality, the extent of simplification is also influenced by the risk seeking/neutral/avoidance behavior or psychology of the decision maker(s) or in this case player. This is another area where an observer of the chess game will have a different view than a master participant. Increasing complexity runs the risk of decision-maker/client glazing over and taken out of the process–not a good thing. In our chess game modest player derails. (BTW, got to exclude savants!)

        Again parsimony is a good mantra throughout the process.


        “The delusion is that you have to understand things down to the end game to act.”

        Well, I am not under that delusion and I never made that statement myself, so again I will presume your usage to be a generic ‘you’ . That said, I agree and think that it is an important point, as I have indicated above. Its importance in the climate change debate is huge (overwhelming) in my opinion and already that delusion severely handicaps any real movement in the lines of the debate.


        “There is a clock, you can lose on time trying to find the optimal path”

        Amen.

        Anyway, it is late. Regards

        Michael Grant

      • Mosher’s 5 simple rules are an example of the simple kind of heuristics mentioned in the paper. A way to approach a complex problem without having to analyze the whole thing in detail, which is good, since it cannot be done.

        So control the center of the board may have three possible moves. The player chooses, the rule does not. The player doesn’t know if their choice is the best one, but it generates a new layout on the board and forces a specific set of moves onto the opponent. Repeat until mate or draw.

        Current climate science was formulated to answer political questions, hence it’s lousy science. An example of a simple rule for the complex climate, that should have been followed from the beginning, would be what is the main driver of climate in the ecosphere. Energy from the sun. The main question: how does energy move through the ecosphere? Instead of haring off after things like air temperature records and assuming radiative transfer is the major mechanism, the basic approach should be starting measurements of energy transfer.

      • ferocious20022002 | September 9, 2012 at 11:02 pm |

        1,) “The player chooses, the rule does not.”

        Yes, that is correct. With the rules restricted as stated the player must decide. The player applies the 4 rules to arrive at a decision point and three alternative moves that have presumably successfully fired ‘control the center’–but then, outside of the 4 rules. The rules have hit a brick wall and now the player must decide from among the three moves. This means Mosher’s rules are incomplete with respect to making the decision. The player will use one or more (additional) heuristics, i.e., a RULE. Note this back-and-forth was just impish tweaking over Mosher over the use of ‘sufficient’, and not disagreeing with the the approach.

        2.) “Current climate science was formulated to answer political questions, hence it’s lousy science….basic approach should be starting measurements of energy transfer.” The original comment was about the nature of rational decisions. Nothing is stated in the thread about climate science specifics or politics, so this last paragraph likely could have found a better home.

  9. Dr. Curry,

    Are we ever going to get a post from you that has to do with actual climate science? Like one that examines evidence, methods, etc?

    Andrew

    • Andrew,

      There’s been over 20 years of down-in-the-weeds arguing about temperature trends and what causes them. It’s going nowhere. Get over it. Move up to a higher level. Focus on the information we need for making informed policy decisions. We are unlikely to improve the uncertainty of climate sensitivity very fast, since we haven’t in over 20 years, so let’s get over these naval-gazing arguments.

      At my first read of this post, without having looked at the references yet, it looks interesting. It could be the basis for some valuable, interesting and constructive contributions.

      • “Move up to a higher level.”

        Peter, the topic provided by Dr. Curry is not on a “higher level.” It provides no useful information.

        Andrew

      • Bad Andrew,

        I suggest you’d do well to expand your outlook. I get the impression you are interested in research in areas that are down in the weeds and of decreasing relevance to policy decisions.

      • Peter,

        If you are going to base policy/decisions on what climate science says, then you need to know…

        …climate science.

        Andfrew

      • Bad Andrew,

        If you are going to base policy/decisions on what climate science says, then you need to know …climate science.

        No one “knows” climate science. It’s far to complex.

        What we need is the relevant information that informs policy decisions. The damage function is poorly defined; this causes more uncertainty in projected costs and benefits than climate sensitivity. So spending more time trying to reduce the uncertainty in climate sensitivity at the expense of other more important factors, is a waste of resources. More important still, IMO, is we have put little real effort into the ‘rate of decarbonisation’ that could be achieved with appropriate policies.

        We are not progressing much with “climate Science”. We need to put more effort into what informs policy.

    • David Springer

      There is no actual climate science. You might just as well ask for some actual werewolf science.

    • Uncertainty is the focus of climate science. Climate is too complex to have much certainty.

      Let’s take another known-unknown. What effect do subduction zones in the earth’s crust have on climate? Back of the envelope, subduction zones are about 40,000 km and extend some 660 km into the crust with a total volume of 26,000,000 km^3. The total mass involved is some 2.7×10^12 kg moving at roughly 5 cm/yr. That equates to about 10x the volume of the oceans and about 2.5x the amount of energy in the ocean. The subducted material is about 10% water and includes some 585,000,000 kg of CO2 vs. ~180,000,000 kg. in the atmosphere.

      This puts the potential error or variation in the change in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere somewhere in the range of 3900 ppm. A 1% change in the subduction rate for a hundred years could cause this.

      Just another reason not to get into the complex problem of trying to model the behavior of the climate when we are looking at changes in the 10th decimal place. A more simplistic approach would be highly desireable.

  10. Obama’s 2 degree rule is an example. The world need do nothing about global temperature except watch and wait and measure and contemplate action should it look like we’re going to get near 2 degrees of warming.

    Gambling strategy is another example. Gamblers think they can win. People who know statistics don’t play. People who think it’s fun spend money on entertainment.

    Stock market prediction is similar to global temperature prediction. High complexity. Loads of data. Long term outcomes are far more certain when the short term noise is filtered out. Humans persists in thinking they know better.

    I don’t think we’re seeing any simple sensible strategy in global financial markets yet. The financial markets suck value out of the real world hard economy, creating muck risk for nations while protecting marketeers. (The world just needs a Tobin Tax so it can afford to fund the bailouts instead of being held to ransom by banks.)

    • Good comment except for the bit about “The financial markets suck value out of the real world hard economy, creating muck risk for nations while protecting marketeers.”

      That statement is rubbish. The financial markets are far from perfect, just like everything. But they provide capital for development. They are highly flexible and able to provide enormous amounts of capital to where it is needed at a cost that is based on the assessment of the risk involved. It is an excellent system (could be better of course) and is lifting people out of poverty at a rate that could not possible be achieved without the financial system.

      • blouis79,

        I retract “That statement is rubbish” and replace with “I offer an alternative point of view”.

        Sorry.

      • At present, the markets offer opportunity but no insurance excepting government bailouts. The markets need to fund their own “insurance” and a Tobin tax or similar makes sense. When the markets can properly cover their own risk, then the true cost of capital will be factored in. This is not the case at present. The suckers continue to fund the bailouts while the marketeers pocket the cash with no risk.

        (Taking risks with limited liability is a core element of corporations law, too.)

      • That gives me a cue for printing my letter in today’s Australian, in response to an ignorant furore about selling Australia’s biggest cotton farm to a Chinese company:

        “Australia would be a poor, backward and inconsequential country without foreign investment. Since European settlement, there have been massive opportunities for development which could only be taken with foreign capital, and there will always be a cost to policies which restrict its entry. This applies to purchase of existing assets as well as new ventures. In the case of Cubbie Station, the Chinese see more value in it than do any local investors, including the existing owners, who feel they can make better use of their capital elsewhere.

        “As for water allocation, this is a separate issue. The new owners will have to deal with developments in water use policy, and presumably took account of this in their offer price.”

        Most large investments require access to international capital markets.

      • Faustino,

        Great letter. Well said. I sent one a letter yesterday too regarding the wind energy furor started by the article in the Weekend Australian. It wasn’t published, so I’ll follow your example and post it here too.

        Russell Marsh, a wind energy advocate, says “there has been a 27.4% reduction in the emissions from [South Australia’s] electricity sector” (letters 6/9). How does he know, given Australia has no measurements of emissions from power stations (we have crude estimates based on models and long term average fuel consumption)? We don’t even measure the fuel used in most power stations, let alone at the frequency needed to estimate the emissions avoided by wind generation.

      • Peter Lang,

        So you’ve had a letter rejected by the Australian? I wonder why. You write such interesting essays on a wide variety of topics like the carbon tax, nuclear power, wind turbines, the carbon tax ( oh I’ve already said that sorry!)

        I’ve never liked that Mr Murdoch anyway. Take no notice, Pete.

      • Robert I Ellison

        Another really interesting pile of ordure from tt – is there any that he imagines this adds to rational dicourse? No? It is just a nonsensical snark just for the hell of it? Surely not.

      • Robert I Ellison

        Yes Joshua – irony

    • blouis79,

      At present, the markets offer opportunity but no insurance excepting government bailouts. The markets need to fund their own “insurance”

      That seems a bit simplistic to me. The paper discussed in this thread shows the enormous amount of analysis the banks do to analyse and manage their risks. It shows the enormous regulatory burden. We pay for the costs of all that through our bank fees and cost of money. All of this is a cost to society. We need to weight how much more risk we want the banks to carry (that we would all have to pay for) against how much of the risk should be carried by “the commons” as the ‘Progressives’ like to call it.

      Best practice risk management says that risks should be carried by the party best able to manage that risk. Therefore, it is better that some risks are carried by the owner, not the supplier of a service. In the case of financial industry, it seems from the paper this thread deals with there is a case to say we have gone too far with financial regulation. It has become too complicated. Less would be better. We are imposing the higher risk by excessive regulation. It is best for society to carry the cost of that risk, not the banks.

      I suggest there is an important lesson in this for policies to regulate climate mitigation. The message I see is to back off the climate related regulations (such as mandating renewable energy and government imposed carbon pricing) many CAGW activists advocate.

      • @PeterLang “That seems a bit simplistic to me.” “Best practice risk management says that risks should be carried by the party best able to manage that risk. ”

        That’s the whole point of the article. Simple can be better and less costly than complex. Regulation is complex and wasteful and tends to absolve risk takers. Governments carry the bottom line risk but are not in a position to manage it. A small transactions tax means the traders who are making money just moving money around can chip in to the government who gets left holding the baby.

        Climate regulation and trading is similarly wasteful. And a large carbon tax is nonsensical for everyone except the traders siphoning off profits.

      • Blouis,

        OK. Thank you for that. I’ll take that on board and digest it. I had previously been opposed to transaction taxes. We’ve had them at various times in Australia and they were considered to be highly distorting taxes. they were one of the first that the Federal and State Governments agreed to remove when Australia introduced its Goods and Services Tax (GST).

        To be fair, the transaction tax would have to be ‘progressive’, i.e proportional to the risk of the product. If its not progressive, then people buying groceries will be hit to heavily. If it is progressive, there will be high compliance costs. I recognise you are not advocating it is applied to all transactions, but once started it creeps until we have Wold Government with armies to impose the UN regulations (Like Agenda21) all of which is funded by such taxes. I am exaggerating of course to make the point, but I am sure you can understand how it will creep up once started.

      • A Tobin style financial transactions tax or currency trading tax is designed to reduce speculation. Rates have been mooted between 0.1-1%, I had 0.5% in my cobwebs. This is different from a large stamp duty. I would not expect it to creep, because it is not primarily a revenue raising tax – it is a speculation disincentive tax slightly discouraging short term trading (harmful) over long-term investment (beneficial). The financial industry would not be happy but that’s what governments are meant for – to work in the common good.

      • blouis,

        Thank you for more information on this. I know little about what you are advocating so I am listening. But I am cautious.

        This is different from a large stamp duty. I would not expect it to creep, because it is not primarily a revenue raising tax – it is a speculation disincentive tax slightly discouraging short term trading (harmful) over long-term investment (beneficial).

        I wasn’t referring to stamp duty. I was referring to transaction taxes. We had them in Australia until about 2000. They were applied to all transactions at a rate of about 0.1% to 0.2% (from memory). However they were different in each state and different for deposits and withdrawals. So it was better to deposit money in NSW and withdraw in Victoria.

        One was Financial Institutions Duty (FID) and another as Bank Account Debits tax (BAD):
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_transaction_tax

        I realise this is not what you are proposing, but i am not convinced that some of you reasons for wanting this are correct.

        it is a speculation disincentive tax slightly discouraging short term trading (harmful) over long-term investment (beneficial).

        I am not convinced that statement is correct. I believe it is simplistic. Of course there are some disadvantages of short term trading but there are also enormous advantages. Traders take the big risk. In so doing they provide enormous liquidity and flexibility to financial markets. They allow capital to flow quickly and freely to where it is needed. They allow entrepreneurs to get the capital they need to invest. They price risk. It’s not as simple as you say. The more we try to regulate all this the more we stuff it up.

    • blouis79,
      You have completely misidentified the villain here. The problem is not the banks that go bust, but the governments who for selfish/power-greed reasons stand ready to bale them out. Knowing this, the banks then quite rationally take more risks than they otherwise would.

      It’s similar to what would happen to drivers if governments provided them with free insurance, offering to cover any accident or other mishap. Driving habits would deteriorate, people would be careless about locking up their vehicles, etc.

      The root cause in both cases – and hence the blame – is the government cover. Get rid of this, and bankers and drivers would both start behaving more responsibly.

  11. As you do not fight fire with fire,
    That is not true. Fire is fought with fire. They do controlled burns across the path of uncontrolled burns. This can be very effective.

  12. Although there is considerable uncertainty in predicting the climatic effects of increasing CO2 in the 21st century, there is even more uncertainty in what to do about it and what it would cost. Since the President and seemingly the Congress want an 80% reduction in emissions (87% reduction from BAU) by 2050, the technology to do this, the impacts on modern technological/industrial societies, the tie to population growth and developing nations, and the impact on the world economy which is already shaky, overspent and mostly bankrupt introduce much more uncertainty than whether delta-T is one, two or three degrees. The US is a poor nation. A significant fraction of its population is below the poverty line. The national debt is $50,000 per citizen. The rest of the world isn’t much better. I suppose that if we could put ten million people to work monitoring CO2 that would solve the unemployment problem and add to the GDP. We could pay for it with borrowed money.

    • Donal Rapp,

      Good points. And as the World Economic Forum’s “Global Risks – 2012” shows, and as the Copenhagen Consensus has been saying for nearly a decade, CO2 emissions are nowhere near our highetst risks. Financial failures, economic issues, social disruptions and system failure of or global systems (e.g. communications) are greater risks than CO2 emissions.
      http://www.weforum.org/reports/global-risks-2012-seventh-edition

      • But what about the risks for the years 2052 and beyond? Or, are you saying you’ll be dead before then, and therefore it doesn’t matter?

    • Not all good points. The US is not a poor nation. The poverty line is an arbitrary one, defined as having less than a certain proportion of average income. In developed countries, it has nothing to do with real poverty. Almost all of those below the poverty line in Australia are far better off than my family when I was a child, and in both the US and Australia, they will be better off than the middle class in most countries.

      • Faustino,

        True. When determining whether a family is below the poverty line, the government ignores all the transfer payments those families receive from government.

    • Donald Rapp,

      “The US is a poor nation. A significant fraction of its population is below the poverty line.”

      The US is seventh in the world in terms of GDP per capita so it obviously isn’t a poor country in absolute terms. Its about the same as Switzerland in fact.

      But, having said that, it’s been some time since I last visited Switzerland, but you don’t see the same numbers of obviously poor people there. A visitor to Geneva wouldn’t have worry about wandering into some run-down crime ridden ghetto area.

      Total GDP isn’t everything, and this statement is truer than it might appear at first glance.

  13. I’m going to have to disagree with much of this post, especially the “small sample size leads to simple heuristics working best” and the whole “ignorance can be good” thing.

    The problem is that all of the authors’ arguments only work when we have a lot of knowledge and a very large sample size in general, but may not know much about a particular instance.

    To give a clarifying example: rain.

    When we see what may be rain clouds forming we don’t have a lot of information about whether it will rain or not. However, we do have TONS of information about past instances of rain, and we can use those expierence to help us determine whether it’s going to rain today. In cases like this one I agree with the authors that simplicity is often the way to go (for the reasons they stated).

    However, if this was the first time we were ever witnessing rain clouds, and we have no basis of similar expierences, then heuristics and ignorance is the opposite of what we want. In this and similar cases what we most want is information. Of course, it is unlikely information will do us much good today (in that we will not be able to make accurate predictions, and any decisions we make will pretty much be a WAG), but after expierencing many instances and building up our knowledge base, we will hopefully make better predictions in the future.

    • When we see what may be rain clouds forming we don’t have a lot of information about whether it will rain or not

      So maybe the smart thing to do is buy an umbrella just in case and delay our decision to use the umbrella until we have better certainty.

      Or in the case of ‘Climate Change’ a robust R&D program to find ways to produce energy cheaper then fossil fuels. If we could figure out how to produce energy cheaper then fossil fuels then the complexities of climate science become irrelevant.(Unless of course we discover we need to emit a lot of CO2 to stave off an ice age..but we already know how to do that).

      • Producing cheap energy is cake. Storing it until you need it is the bear.

      • We already have such a program. Globally govt and industry are spending many billions a year on renewables R&D. So far it just can’t be done, especially the storage part, as Capt correctly points out. Technology is its own master, money does not buy what cannot be done.

      • I know we have been over this before, but at present the only really potential viable renewable energy source is cellulose ethanot. The storage problem for this fuel is solved, and it is portable. It does not use food to produce it. There is debate as to whether the cellulose used as the raw material, is needed in agriculture, or whether cellulose is merely food for various microbes that dont really contribute to our well being.

      • I really like ‘Ethanot’!
        ===============

      • Ethanaught, ethanaughty.
        ==========

      • Govm is spendig billions on renewable research but hundreds of billions on windmills that are totally useless.
        Here is a simple heuristic rule for policy makers: don’t waste money.

      • @Jacob “Here is a simple heuristic rule for policy makers: don’t waste money.”

        It is the nature of governments to waste money, since they are responsible only for voter perception and have no stake in financial ROI, excepting the brown paper bags containing incentives to make decisions.

        If politicians had performance-based remuneration (best practice in human resource management), we would see rather different decisions.

      • Or in the case of ‘Climate Change’ a robust R&D program to find ways to produce energy cheaper then fossil fuels.

        Yes.

        And while the ‘robust R&D’ is underway, we could educate the population of the western democracies about nuclear power so they can get over their nuclear phobia.

        At the same time, research would be done to find the least cost way to reduce CO2 emissions. The difference between this proposed research and the research that has been going on for the past 20 years – i.e. into renewable energy – is that the R&D I am proposing would be funded on an objective basis, not on the basis of ideological preferences. It would be funded on the basis of likelihood of success.

        My belief for the reasons I’ve stated on previous threads, is that removing the impediments to low cost nuclear power will be an important action to get underway early.

        See these three nearly consecutive comments near the end of the thread on ‘CO2 snow deposition the Antarctica’:
        https://judithcurry.com/2012/08/24/a-modest-proposal-for-sequestration-of-co2-in-the-antarctic/#comment-234611
        https://judithcurry.com/2012/08/24/a-modest-proposal-for-sequestration-of-co2-in-the-antarctic/#comment-235399
        https://judithcurry.com/2012/08/24/a-modest-proposal-for-sequestration-of-co2-in-the-antarctic/#comment-235406

      • Jim Cripwell,

        at present the only really potential viable renewable energy source is cellulose ethanot. The storage problem for this fuel is solved, and it is portable. It does not use food to produce it.

        I find those statements very difficult to accept. You said “potentially viable” but even with that caveat, I find the statements strain credulity. I have two reasons:

        1. there is insufficient land area

        2. the costs are nowhere near competitive with fossil fuels

        Land area is insufficient

        Recent research proposed that Australia could run its electricity system with 100% renewable energy. The back up generators would be gas turbines running on biofuels. They would provide 13% of our electricity. http://www.ies.unsw.edu.au/docs/Solar2011-100percent.pdf

        But, to provide just 13% of our electricity would require about twice the area sown to grain crops each year in Australia. And that is in average years. To manage decade long droughts and other years of crop failures we’d need probably five times Australia’s average grain crop area. We’d need efficient transport between all the sites to ship biomass from one area to another to keep all plants running at high capacity factor when some regions suffer crop failures. And we’d need storage for several years supply of biomass, and several years of biofuel. The logistics and infrastructure costs would be huge.

        All that is for 13% of electricity. But transport fuels use more energy than electricity generation. So, to provide sufficient biofuels to supply Australia’s currentdemand for transport fuel would require around 15 times the area of Australia’s grain crop in an average year. To get us through decades long droughts we’d need five times more than this.

        These figures are based on current consumption. Energy consumption is projected to double by 2050 (from memory, or is it before that?). So we’d need to double the land area again.

        I’ve written this from memory. I may have some of the numbers wrong. They are in comments on this thread http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/09/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-the-cost/ . However, even if I have some numbers wrong, and even if I was out by a factor of ten, there is insufficient area to produce the biofuel we need.

        Cost

        If biofuels were anywhere near to being cost competitive with fossil fuels – to provide the quantities required to fuel our land transport – there would be signs of competitive activity somewhere. If not in Australia then in Russia, or Africa or Asia or somewhere. [I recognise Brazil does have significant bio fuel but we do not have Brazil’s climate.] For example, the cost of gas (in Australia) is expected to increase by a factor of about 2 to 3 over the next five years or so (due to moving to international prices). If biofuels were anywhere near competitive other than in niche small quantities as a by-product of other activities like wood chip mills, then we’d been seeing entrepreneurs advocating their smart idea. It is not even on the radar as a solution to transport fuels.

      • Peter you write “1. there is insufficient land area
        2. the costs are nowhere near competitive with fossil fuel.

        Land area is not an issue. Current plans are to use the “waste” products now discarded. The first raw material will be the corn cobs when the corn kernels have been used. There is enough corn cobs etc.now not being used in the production of ethanol, to make 16 billion gallons of cellulose ethanol a year.

        Cost is THE issue. Poet/DSM believe that they can produce cellulose ethanol and make a profit, if the wholesale price for gasoline in the US is over $2 per gallon. The price is now around $3 per gallon. They are using $300 million of private money to build the first production facility; Project Liberty. This is due to make cellulose ethanol at a rate of around 25 million gallons per year in the year 2014. We will then find out

        a. If commercial production is viable
        b. What the costs are.

        Poet/DSM estimate that if all goes as planned, the US will be producing 16 billion gallons of celluose ethanol per year by 2020, using the corn stover left over from the production of fuel ethanol.

      • Jim Cripwell,

        Thank you for your detailed reply. Very interesting. You say:

        Land area is not an issue. Current plans are to use the “waste” products now discarded. The first raw material will be the corn cobs when the corn kernels have been used. There is enough corn cobs etc. now not being used in the production of ethanol, to make 16 billion gallons of cellulose ethanol a year.

        Hmmm. Well, I know Canada gets a lot more rain than Australia. However, I do wonder about these figures. I’ve been seeing these sorts of figures produced by academics for over 20 years, but the assumptions on which they are based bear little relation to reality. An excellent example of how far out they are is provided by Mark Diesendorf’s analysis (critique linked in my previous comment) and his response to the critique here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/27/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-response-to-lang/

        I’ll post one response to Mark Diesendorf in full here for the benfit of readers. Although this applies to biofuels for electricity generation rather than for transport fuels, many of the issues raised are applicable to both. I also point out that this analysis is based on using part of the stubble for grain crops. This comment and subsequent comments can be found here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/27/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-response-to-lang/#comment-152532

        Dr Diesendorf.

        I have a few questions for you regarding ‘gas turbines running on biofuels’. I don’t have access to your 2007 book, and nor do most of those following this thread, so I am not sure what your concept is. Firstly, let me provide some background to my questions.

        Grattan Institute (2012) (p 8-9) http://www.grattan.edu.au/publications/125_energy__no_easy_choices_detail.pdf states:

        For a 30 megawatt power plant at a 70% capacity factor the land area would be around 240,000 hectares and involve nearly 500 average sized wheat farms.

        For 24 GW of power plants operating at an average of 13% capacity factor (assumed by EDM-2011), the land area would be around 35 million hectares and involve nearly 75,000 average sized wheat farms. Australia’s annual grain crop is about 20 million hectares http://www.cropscience.org.au/icsc2004/poster/0/981_walcottj.htm . The 20 million hectare figure includes Western Australia’s grain crops. Therefore, EDM’s assumptions for gas turbines running on biofuels sourced from grain crops would require twice Australia’s annual grain crop area – and that is in average years!

        I’d expect we should assume double or quadruple the 35 million hectares figure to get us through long droughts and seasons of failed crops. We can also add the cost of storage to provide reliable fuel supply through years of below average biofuel production. And we should add the cost of transport facilities used to move biomass from one location to another for seasons when the crops succeed in one region but fail in another. We’d need roads, trucks, railway lines and rolling stock, which must have sufficient capacity for the worst conditions but would be used rarely. The capital costs and the O&M costs must be included in the cost of the biofuel.

        The costs just keep on increasing the more we think about the concept of gas turbines running on biofuels.

        Since I don’t have access to your 2007 book, I wonder if you could please answer the following questions about your proposed ‘gas turbines running on biofuels’ system:

        1. Would the generators be located near the demand centres or near the source of the biomass fuel?

        2. If the generators are to be located near the demand centres:

        a. Where would the biomass to biofuels processing plants be located; i.e. near the biomass source or near the generators?
        b. Where would the fuel storage be located, near the biomass source or near the generators?
        c. How would the fuel be transported to the gas turbine generating plants?
        d. How much overbuild of biofuel production and storage capacity would be required to ensure reliable supply for extended periods of drought and to cover for regions that have crop failures?
        e. How would the biomass or biofuels would be transported from Western Australia to the eastern states’ electricity generators? How woud this be done?
        f. What would be the delivered cost of fuel from a system that can reliably deliver biofuels to the gas turbines through long periods of drought and crop failures?

        3. If the generators are to be located near the biomass source (i.e. in the grain growing areas:
        a. What is the optimum sized generator unit you envisage?
        b. How will the biomass be collected and transported to the biofuel processing plant? What are the logistics and the costs?
        c. How much biomass storage and how much biofuel storage would be required at each generator unit
        d. How much overbuild of biomass and biofuel production and storage capacity would be required to ensure reliable supply throughout extended periods of drought and to cover for regions that have crop failures?
        e. How would you propose to transport biomass between generating plants during periods when one region has crop failures and they need the biomass to be shipped in from other regions to keep the plant running?
        f. How would the biomass or biofuels be transported from Western Australia to the eastern states’ electricity generators?
        g. Or would you envisage transmitting electricity rather than transporting biofuels? If so, would you envisage the transmission lines have the capacity to transmit the maximum power that can be generated from all the generators in Western Australia at times when they have ample fuel but the Eastern states do not?
        h. If you envisage transmission lines, how would the biofuel production and generating plants that are idle in the eastern states be paid for; i.e. where does their revenue come from?
        i. What would be the delivered cost of fuel from a system that can sustainably deliver biofuels to the gas turbines through long periods of drought and crop failures?

        I recognise that many assumptions and details in these questions could be easily dismissed. However, could you please look beyond that and explain your concept and importantly what would be the cost ($/GJ) of a 100% reliable supply of the biofuels delivered to the generating units (to meet their highly variable demand for fuel).

        Following is an extract from another comment:
        http://bravenewclimate.com/2012/02/27/100-renewable-electricity-for-australia-response-to-lang/#comment-157880

        How does a biomass plant gets its feedstock when the surrounding region is suffering a long term drought. How does a plant gets its feedstock when the crops in the supply area are ruined by floods, storms, pests and disease, so they are not worth stripping that year? In poor years, the plant will need to get feed from elsewhere. Who pays for the infrastructure to allow the feed stock to be provided for the 1 in 10 or 1 in 50 year bad season? When pays the farmers to keep maintain their capacity to supply so they can be ready to provide supply in bad years but who are not required to provide feed in the good years? What is the cost of all this?

      • Peter, you write “Hmmm. Well, I know Canada gets a lot more rain than Australia.”

        These are not Canadian figures. They come from the US company Poet. If you are interested google Project Liberty. Poet is the largest produced of corn ethanol in the world.

  14. Messrs Nyquist and Shannon would be amused at the ‘proofs’ of long term climate change, whatever the postulated drivers, based on as few as ten to at most a couple hundred years of actual, measured planetary temperature data. Or maybe appalled, considering the actions which are being justified or required because of the ‘proven’ climate changes.

  15. Exactly– It used to be that a classical education at its best hoped to achieve something very simple and worthwhile–i.e., teaching people how to think for themselves. But, what do we have nowt?

    Essentially the modern education is comprised of a bunch of government workers who could never survive outside academia who are only interested in telling their students what to think. In other words, what we have now is education at its worst.

    Schoolteachers have become mindless ciphers spreading propaganda in dropout factories.

    • You seem like a trouble maker, so you probably got paddled a lot by public school teachers. But if you had been in a private (parochial) school, those nuns would have made you wish you were in a public school. So stop whining, and be glad you still have hide on your butt.

      • David Springer

        The Catholic clergy it seems, men and women both, just can’t keep their hands off the kiddies. I’m not certain that was the message Christ wanted them to receive…

      • Yes, those horrible Catholics and their almost 5000 hospitals, almost 7000 primary and secondary schools that teach where the state fails utterly, food banks, hospices, 2000+ orphanages….

        Reflexive religious bigotry is the last socially acceptable form of hatred.

      • Do not send to know for whom the Bel Dolan, he toils for thee.
        ===============

      • What Western schoolteachers have achieved is a dread of reality. It would be better for all if only secular, socialist schoolteachers actually were only atheists and not worse: disbelieving of nature at first but now they have come to fear it.

    • Wagathon | September 6, 2012 at 6:15 pm said: ”Schoolteachers have become mindless ciphers spreading propaganda in dropout factories”

      .Yes Wagaton; and the worse of those teachers have being lying that: climatic changes are GLOBAL warmings, and GLOBAL ice ages – they are the worse of them all. ”Pretending to know all the temp above the oceans, 2/3 of the planet – for 2000y ago, 800, y ago and 300y ago. One cannot get lower than that. Because of those lies, now is all the phony GLOBAL warming rip-off. Because those maggots were not able to understand the difference between climatic changes and phony GLOBAL warmings – now they became ”Warmist’ Geldings” (Wagaton, one of those ”Warmist Gelding” is hiding inside your mirror…)

  16. MattStat/MatthewRMarler

    What makes them think you don’t fight fire with fire?

  17. We can legitimately undertake the task of modeling the Earth’s climate only if we can first admit that our understanding of anything that is a holistic process will always be very limited. Only those with such candor also will know that our ability to effectively model climate is very limited.

    Humans lack the capability and capacity to perceive and analyze the relevant information or to even manipulate in any meaningful way any of factors that are involved in such a grand heuristic undertaking. And, there is nothing humanity can do that will ever have the slightest effect on the outcome of the process. Believing otherwise is to dedicate the living to an irrelevance that can only result in the building of another Tower of Babel.

    Divining the future from the shadows on the walls of Plato’s prison cave may be as close the science of climate prediction will ever come to reality: the shifting crusts and volcanic eruptions, oscillations of solar activity on multi-Decadal to Centennial and Millennial time scales with variations in gamma radiation, the roles of the big planets, Saturn and Jupiter, a changing North Pole and variations in the magnetosphere all are but a part of a holistic process that is the Earth’s climate. Humanity is along for the ride. A man’s got to know his limitations. ~Callahan

  18. MattStat/MatthewRMarler

    Executive Director of Financial Stability of the Bank of England

    How about “diversify your portfolio”, or “hedge your bets”?

  19. David Springer

    Dogs are pretty good at catching a frisbee but they can’t throw worth a tinker’s damn. :-)

  20. “As you do not fight fire with fire…”

    Well, actually, you do. Back-burning for bush fires.

    An inauspicious start for an article made all the more interesting as England was in one of the more precarious positions regarding financial stability during the GFC because of the build-up of unsustainable debt.

  21. Judith Curry

    OK. It’s not directly about climate, as has been pointed out here already, but there are points that apply.

    First of all, there is the comment about expectations:

    rational expectations assumes that information collection is close to costless and that agents have cognitive faculties sufficient to weight probabilistically all future outturns.

    This is certainly not the case in climate science today. If we include the costs related to climate models as well as collection of real climate information, billions of dollars are being spent on climate science, yet it is obvious that we are unable today ”to weight probabilistically all future outturns”

    The IPCC “very likely”, “likely”, etc. designations regarding the attribution of climate changes to natural or anthropogenic factors and future projections are largely based on what IPCC refers to as ”expert judgment rather than formal attribution studies”

    This does not inspire confidence that the scientists cited by IPCC really ”have cognitive faculties sufficient to weight probabilistically all future outturns”

    A good quotation is that of physicist Richard Feynman: “It is not what we know, but what we do not know which we must always address, to avoid major failures, catastrophes and panics.”

    [Nassim Taleb stresses the same point in his Black Swan. Taleb writes that this is the main cause of failure of predictions by experts – they “do not know what they do not know”. It’s so simple, it hurts – yet it appears that many climatologists have lost sight of it. ]

    There is some discussion of causes of “uncertainty”.

    The choice of optimal decision-making strategy depends importantly on the degree of uncertainty about the environment – in statistical terms, model uncertainty. A key factor determining that uncertainty is the length of the sample over which the model is estimated. Other things equal, the smaller the sample, the greater the model uncertainty and the better the performance of simple, heuristic strategies.

    This point fits well for the current climate debate. Essentially all of the bases for the model inputs have been taken over the period since the mid to late 1970s, when satellites were first able to make physical measurements of our planet’s climate and environment and when the late 20th century warming cycle occurred (IPCC’s ”widely acknowledged ‘climate shift’, when global mean temperatures began a discernable upward trend that has been at least partly attributed to increases in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere” [AR4, Ch.3, p.240]. So we have 30 to 40 years of data. Based on this, IPCC is making model projections to the year 2100 and even beyond.

    Another point made:

    The general message here is that the more complex the environment, the greater the perils of complex control.

    This was made in context of complex versus simple financial controls (with a comparison of the simple Basel Accord and the very complex Dodd-Frank legislation), but it applies equally well for proposed “climate controls”. Here we move outside the field of “climate science” to “climate policy”

    Carrying this over to the current policy debate regarding “climate change”, the questions must be answered:

    – What specific objectives do we want achieve with these controls?
    – Will these controls actually achieve these specific objectives?
    – What do “cost/benefit” analyses of theses controls show?
    – What negative consequences could occur if we wait with implementing these controls until we have more certainty that our assumptions and projections are correct?
    – What unintended negative consequences could these controls have if implemented?
    – How can we ensure that these unintended negative consequences do not occur?
    – Are there alternate control possibilities, which will not result in these unintended negative consequences?

    [Just to list a few.]

    The study is an interesting read, even if it does not apply directly to the ongoing climate debate.

    Max

    • Feynman: “It is not what we know, but what we do not know which we must always address, to avoid major failures, catastrophes and panics.”

      And it’s not (just) what climatologists do tell us, but what they don’t tell us. What other data and declines and … are they hiding ?

  22. This is an interesting post. Thank you Judith Curry for broadening the debate and for making those who are buried in climate science more aware of what can be learned from other disciplines far removed from climate science.

    • Peter Lang,

      That’s an interesting theory. The way to understand the workings of the atmosphere is to ignore all that stuff about Stefan-Boltzmann and Clausius-Clapeyron equations, radiation balance etc etc. Who needs all that nonsense?

      What these university professors need do is go out into the fields and learn how to grow potatoes and plant rice. Is that far enough “removed from climate science”? That will bring them in touch with reality. Is that the theory?

      Wait a minute. Hasn’t this sort of anti-intellectualism already been tried out in Cambodia in the 70’s? If you check, I think you’ll find that it didn’t work out too well then .

      • tempterrain | September 8, 2012 at 2:47 am said: ”The way to understand the workings of the atmosphere is to ignore all that stuff about Stefan-Boltzmann and Clausius-Clapeyron equations, radiation balance etc etc. Who needs all that nonsense?”

        tempterrain, all ”that stuff” has being abused for misleading. Confusing the ”stuff” that influences the ”weather” as if is creating all those phony non-existent GLOBAL warmings; is the mother of all lies!!! BEFORE ALL OF YOU SUCCEED TO CROSS THE TWO ”UNAVOIDABLE HURDLES” all the rest is smokescreen / crap / empty talk. Avoiding those two big elephants in the room, is admission of your insecurity and alert / awareness; that you all know that you are all WRONG!!! Face your nightmare, or leave in shame, forever! There are many people visiting the climates blogs, without commenting – they are not the ”herd mentality” they see how the biggest blubber mouths are avoiding my proofs /. facts – those people are part of the 99% of the people on the street. On the end, will depend on them, not on you or Webhub-thecrackpot, or Vaughn, vuk http://globalwarmingdenier.wordpress.com/unavoidable-two-hurdles-to-cross/

  23. Predicting the future from past behaviour depends on stationarity. If stationarity is uncertain, it is probably better to follow simple rules. In theory, computer modelling should help, but again stationarity is a potential barrier, depending on how much knowledge is built into the mathematical model. When asked as a scientist to do serious futurology I used to think of the future as being like an old-fashioned gramophone horn for ever expanding in all directions and getting more uncertain with time. I lost my job once for correctly predicting the future, because almost everyone else disagreed. So the possible unpopularity of correct decisions has to be taken into account by the forecaster. If one is forecasting in a field where economic or military security is important and so secrecy and ‘need to know’ are paramount, the forecaster faces a difficult dilemma in not following the majority.

  24. What we are tempted to understand — by way of the Dog and Frisbee analogy — is that sometimes something exceedingly complex can in some small way be very simple. For example, there may be nothing we can do to exert the slightest influence on any single aspect of a system where the complex interaction of a myriad number of factors goes beyond our ability to understand or even describe what is happening. Still, if we are open minded enough to let ourselves be aware of the world around us we can be there to appreciate how it all turns out in the end.

    • I have always been a fan of difference engines. My mentor is a polymath and his abilities to do complex maths in his head have to be observed to be believed. He actually knows roughly how he does it, he uses a difference engine technique of aiming high and low with iterated guesstimates.

  25. David Wojick reflects:
    Simon’s school of decision making satisficing means accepting the first satisfactory solution to a problem, rather than trying to find the optimum solution.

    The above comes with a caveat: the willingness of all parties to abandon the chosen solution when faced with contravening information. At times all this gyrating, this direction and then another, may appear to be a random walk, but it isn’t. There is general directionality when viewed over time. The key in my mind is to feel comfortable in holding uncertainty in mind and in modifying one’s course and not get caught up in the “noble cause” mantra.

    Much to climate sciences’ detriment, uncertainty is viewed as a liability and not as a usual course of science.

    • Quite so. Decision-makers too often get “locked in” to their decision rather than being open to information which indicates a need for change.

  26. A point I take from Andrew Haldane’s paper is, it’s easy to see why the World Economic Forum, “Global Risks 2012” views systemic collapse of the banking sector as about the greatest risks facing the world. http://www.weforum.org/reports/global-risks-2012-seventh-edition

    It’s also easy to see that ever increasing regulation is a major concern. It can actually cause the crash.

    My conclusion: let’s not increase the risk by imposing high risk policies like carbon pricing.

    Each time the issue of carbon pricing comes up I recall something I was told long ago. “There are two fundamental inputs to everything mankind has. They are energy and human ingenuity.” (a third has been added recently). Two impose a carbon price, and risk subjecting energy prices to the increased political interference and volatility that is so apparent in EU carbon price, is a high risk strategy.

    • Peter Lang,

      You’re almost as bad as Judith with her constant harping on about uncertainty.

      If, by any chance, any Climate Etc readers have missed your all first 20 posts telling us that climate change is not the biggest risk to humanity for the rest of this year, and that also you’ve decided that having a price on carbon ( carbon tax , Cap and trade etc) is a bad thing, they probably wouldn’t have missed all of your next hundred, which nearly all included references to each other anyway.

      So, yes, we all know what you think now, OK ?

      • Robert I Ellison

        Another pointless, content less whine from tt. If you will simply refrain form comment we will take it as read that to are:

        1. in favour of punitive carbon taxes
        2. in favour of negative economic growth
        3. in favour of vastly increased government
        4. in favour of jailing journalists who don’t toe the party line
        5. and any other pissant progressive idea that comes along

        So now you hav noyhing left to say – and trust me don’t need to keep saying it over and over again – we can let people with more than one neuron have some civil discourse.

      • Robert I Ellison

        brain – typing – gap – but i am sure you get the idea tt and will be happy to oblige by pissing off

      • Robert I Ellison | September 8, 2012 at 3:40 am said: ” If you will simply refrain form comment we will take it as read that to are:
        1. in favour of punitive carbon taxes
        2. in favour of negative economic growth”

        Robert, how many times you have repeated your own lies?! this comment of yours above, is indication that: the reality / truth is becoming your bigger and bigger nightmare, and you are reacting to it

        only solution is: face your nightmares that bothers you – not running away from them. Over 70% of the commenters have Ostrich brains = ”Ostrich Tactic” is suitable for them. But YOU obviously know that: for every crime should be appropriate penalty. Repent Ellison, repent and half will be forgiven!…

    • tempterrain

      You’re almost as bad as Judith with her constant harping on about uncertainty.

      So uncertainty is best handled by brushing it under the carpet ? How well does that strategy work out for you?

  27. The legislative response to this time’s crisis, culminating in the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, could not have been more different. On its own, the Act runs to 848 pages – more than 20 Glass-Steagalls. That is just the starting point. For implementation, Dodd-Frank requires an additional almost 400 pieces of detailed rule-making by a variety of US regulatory agencies.

    Australia’s “Clean Energy Future” legislation (carbon tax and ETS), run to over 1100 pages.

    That was before the major changes that have been made in the past two weeks, just two month after the legislation took effect. Imagine what this monster will become if it is not repealed.

  28. In the period since, the number of UK financial supervisors has increased dramatically, rising almost forty-fold (Chart 1). In response to the current crisis, regulatory numbers are set to rise further. Over the same period, the number of people employed in the UK financial services sector has risen fractionally. In 1980, there was one UK regulator for roughly every 11,000 people employed in the UK financial sector. By 2011, there was one regulator for every 300 people employed in finance.

    This is a good example of what ever-more regulation is doing to the western democracies. It is strangling our capacity to be productive, to do business, to innovate. It is driving our businesses out of our countries to places with less regulation.

    That is the main reason why we are in trouble – continually increasing the level of regulation, increasing bureaucracy, increasing taxation, strangling our productive capacity.

    It has stopped us having cost competitive, low-emissions energy. According to Bernard Cohen, http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html regulatory ratcheting of the nuclear industry had increased the cost of nuclear power by a factor of four by 1990 for virtually no benefit. I expect it has probably doubled the cost since 1990. This has caused global CO2 emissions to be 10% to 20% higher now than they would otherwise have been and caused us to be are on a far slower trajectory to reduce global emissions over the decades ahead.

    Today, the combined regulatory resources of the FDIC, OCC, Federal Reserve banks and SEC is closer to 18,500 people. That is three regulators for every US bank.

    Just imagine what the regulatory burden would become on industry and business if carbon pricing is implemented. According to EPA, its costs alone would be $21 billion per year to administer just the current laws, let alone what they would have to grow to if the assumptions underpinning the carbon price economic modelling were to be implemented. And that is just the EPA’s share. What would be the cost to business. One estimate (I think it is EPA’s) is that there would be 10,000 businesses affected by the current laws. But the cost to business with measuring and reporting emissions would be much higher that to the EPA which just has to look after the data and take business to court that get it wrong somewhere along the line. Does that mean the cost to business would be $210 trillion per year (for the current laws if they were applied)? How many would be effected eventually when all emissions from all sources must be included and what would be the compliance cost for each business?

    The ultimate compliance cost of the ETS
    http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13578

  29. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Seems to me that we ought to listen to some of America’s greatest leaders:

    The USMC versus Analysis Paralysis

    The Marine Corps battles “Analysis Paralysis” syndrome with the “70 percent solution.”

    If you have 70 percent of the information, have done 70 percent of the analysis, and feel 70 percent confident, then move.

    The logic is simple: a less than ideal action, swiftly executed, stands a chance of success, whereas no action stands no chance.

    The worst decision is no decision at all.

    It seems to me that plenty of climate-change denialists aren’t lacking in brains … they’re lacking in courage, vision, and leadership.   :shock:   :sad:   :cry:

    If we care to listen — if we dare to listen — to what Nature is telling us loud-and-clear … then we’ll know what needs to be done, eh? &nbs; :grin: &nbs; :lol: &nbs; :!:

    • +1.
      captured in the common wisdom of cliches. he who hesitates is lost.
      but look before you leap

    • Fan,
      Great if you’re fighting battles. Crappy for long term planning. The Marines do not use this algorithm for long term plans. They use a technique of maximum flexibility: Choose steps that allow shifting direction as need arises.

      There are lots of variations on “do something without full knowledge”. While some folks seem to think that means a specific single action must be defined and executed. That is rarely a successful path for solving real world problems. For your Marine example, the 70% solution is not likely to be to just tell everyone to grab a rifle and start shooting. Some sort of quickly chosen overall strategy with some contigincies will be chosen. They don’t simply “do something.”

      You could claim to identify a single “magic bullet” to fix all problems with one simple step. In the case Global Warming, there is a set of individual potential problems to consider such as sea level rise, changing agricultural climate zones, and so on. That magic bullet had better be an easy thing to accomplish at low cost or it will fail. In many cases in the real world, the correct “do something” action is to just be observant and fix problems as they present themselves (sometimes even in battle.) A stratagey of “Adapt and Overcome” has many virtues!

    • It seems to me that plenty of climate-change denialists aren’t lacking in brains … they’re lacking in courage, vision, and leadership.

      Let us not set up a false dichotomy. Plenty of them lack all of the above. ;)

    • Do the marines get a 70% consensus first? Why bother getting 70% of the info before you rush in? Why not 50%? No wonder friendly-fire incidents are so common. But this is a joke, right? Why not simplify it further and just say “Just Do It”? As in a western: “OK, we’ve heard enough, hang ’em now I say.”

      The link Fan gave doesn’t go to the marines; it goes to a blog summarizing a Forbes article. Of which one bullet point is the 70% solution. It gives nine decision making pitfalls. I like the cure for #9: “What would Sara Lee do?”

      • Mark B (number 2)

        Diag, I think you are being a bit harsh on Fan. Admit it, his post made you smile, with the (possibly flawed) logic of the 70% solution. And,as ever he has decorated his contribution with lots of yellow smiles. And though, technically, you are right in saying that his link did not take you to an article about the Marines, you got one about a fella in a subMARINE which is pretty close.

      • Mark B (number 2)

        Sorry Diag, I clicked on the other link which took me to a SEA ICE BLOG.
        I will now read the one that you are talking about now.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Diag says “The link Fan gave doesn’t go to the marines …”

        Diag, here is the USMC Commandant’s verbatim analysis.

        Hopefully this material will inform your understanding, Diag!   :)   :grin:   :lol:   :!:

      • fan,

        strat·e·gy/ˈstratəjē/
        Noun:
        1. A plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.
        2. The art of planning and directing overall military operations and movements in a war or battle.

        Once you have won the election, and the CAGW policy of decarbonization is adopted, you can get back to us with some more nifty strategy memos.

        But it is irrelevant on the issue of whether to decarbonize.

        A quick summary for you. Policy is the end goal established by the government. Strategy is the planning that goes into how to achieve that goal. Tactics are the nuts and bolts of how best to implement the strategy.

        WW II and the defeat of Germany, Italy and Japan was policy. The invasion of Europe and North Africa, and the island hopping campaign in the Pacific, were strategy. How a local commander achieved his objective of taking a town or bridge, was tactics.

        A strategy memo tells you nothing on how to decide what policy to set. And in the case of the memo you link to, that is no surprise. The Marine Corps does not set policy. It is a tool to implement that policy.

        Nice side track though.

    • In Fan’s post, I saw

      “The worst decision is no decision at all.”
      _________

      Yes, “no decision” is a decision.

      “No forecast” is a forecast.

      “No prediction” is a prediction.

      • Max_OK

        So I suppose that you and Fan agree that ignoring the advice of CAGW doomsayers to “act now!” would be a “decision”?

        I would agree with this.

        The question arises whether or not it is a “wise decision”.

        And neither you nor Fan can answer that.

        Max_not from OK

      • Yea, I can. It’s a wise decision. A revenue-neutral carbon tax right now is a wise decision. Not only will it curb global warming, and make the air we breath cleaner, It will encourage people to wear more clothing in winter and less clothing in summer instead of wastefully depleting our precious reserves of fossil fuels.

        Of course this is not an argument that will appeal to energy hogs, pollution advocates, and silly economists who believe the more energy we use the happier we are.

    • Hey, fan – what exactly is “Nature” telling us about AGW from human CO2?

      Since the new millennium started (Jan 2001):

      – Atmospheric CO2 has increased by 22 ppmv (From 370 to 392 ppmv)
      – Global land/sea surface temp (HadCRUT3) has decreased by 0.1°C

      Is this a ”travesty”?

      [Or is it good news for doomsday worriers?]

      Max

      • manacker | September 7, 2012 at 7:32 am said: – ”Atmospheric CO2 has increased by 22 ppmv (From 370 to 392 ppmv) – Global land/sea surface temp (HadCRUT3) has decreased by 0.1°C”

        Max, nobody knows by how much CO2 has increased; because nobody knows how much the rain washed in the sea and is growing as algae.
        2] nobody is monitoring everywhere in the atmosphere, to know the amount of CO2 that is at present in the troposphere. (CO2 distribution is similar as H2O distribution – NOT EVENLY DISTRIBUTED!!! B] winds are redirecting it in different directions, same as with H2O.

        3] Just debating that CO2 can change the climate – and just the debating that GLOBAL temp OVERALL goes up and down as a yo-yo = the Warmist are riding on your back = they know you as an official ”Warmist Gelding”’ Cheers, Stefan

    • David Springer

      Possibly appropos to the culture wars but to science, not so much. There are the same number of syllables in Taliban and troposphere, and they both start with same letter, but the similarity pretty much ends there, dopey.

      • It starts with ‘T’ and it rhymes with ‘P’ which stands for….well, what does it stand for?
        ==============

    • Doing nothing is the best course nine times out of 10.
      (Paraphrase of Calvin Coolidge)

    • Saying we we have cracked 70% of the problem, Fan castigates skeptics for lack of courage to act.

      The problem he faces, is that the cretinous credulity needed to believe that figure is in short supply. Even the people who say they believe it are only in it for the political implications (more taxes etc).

  30. Take the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and the 700 million barrels, 36 days of oil, it contains.
    The US should be able to influence the global oil price by filling the reserve when prices are low and using it when prices are high.
    However, when the price rises due to speculators filling and parking Supertankers or there is a restriction on pumping by the OPEC cartel, the SPR doesn’t appear to work.
    One would, a prior, think that this would be easily modeled using game theory. My guess is that the most effective strategy for price modulation would depend on people not knowing if the SPR was being utilized or not. However, it appears when ever oil from the SPR is used, it is announced with much fanfare.
    Very odd.

    • Who quietly built up the SPR and who released it for perverse financial and political reasons?
      ===============

    • DocMartyn | September 6, 2012 at 8:42 pm

      Doc, storing large amounts of oil for rainy days in USA; would be blessed by Al Qaeda, as a soft target.

      2] USA needs to borrow money from China at 6% interest, ”to buy” that oil. You didn’t think about those hot potatoes, did you?!

    • Doc has it back to front. The way to smooth prices to have speculators – not tax or eliminate them – since they buy when supply is plentiful, and sell when supply is short. Speculators who get it wrong are automatically bankrupted.

  31. This question applies to climate regulations too:

    Of course, the costs of this regulatory edifice would be considered small if they delivered even modest improvements to regulators’ ability to avert future financial crises. The public policy question is – will they? In financial regulation, is more more or is more less?

    • First rule in first Aid;

      Ignore the screamers, if they have energy to scream they are not dying.
      Look at the quiet ones, they may be dying and can’t ask for help.

      • DocMartyn,

        Yes. And another first rule is: “First, do no harm”.

      • Important principle to apply to spewing carbon pollution into the atmosphere.

      • Robert,

        You might want to think a bit more broadly than your single issue obsession. There is more to policy than just your obsession. Try to think of the health and welfare of the people in poverty. Perhaps, that is impossible for your to do if you’re totally obsessed with your beliefs and think that is the only thing that is important

      • Robert,

        Did you read the paper? Do you think you understood the relevance of it to climate change policy?

      • Peter Lang,

        So you’re criticising Robert for a “single issue obsession” ? Really?

    • Australia’s parliament passed 7,100 pages of legislation last year. What is the benefit?

      • That is the problem with legislators, they take their titles too literally.

      • Maybe there is a mention somewhere that elderly Australian retirees shouldn’t spend all their days writing crap on the internet? That would be a significant benefit :-)

      • Robert I Ellison

        Yes – and we would like to suggest that pinhead progressives take a flying f_ck of a high bridge – but unlike you we believe in free spech.

        Have you ever considered that dropping in with illconsidered piles of ordure is just pathetic?

      • Robert I Ellison

        And please Joshua – this is irony and very much intended.

      • @tempterrain

        Why the obsession with ‘retirees’? They seem to have become your latest hate group.

        Perhaps it is because they have accumulated some knowledge and experience of the world outside academia? And therefore do not (necessarily) dampen their underwear and run around like headless chickens the first time some environutter shouts ‘panic!’

      • tempterrain | September 8, 2012 at 3:08 am said: ”Maybe there is a mention somewhere that elderly Australian retirees shouldn’t spend all their days writing crap on the internet?”

        Permission to speak Sir!!! The socialist government in Australia cannot threaten the ”Dad’s Army” that they will be fired – if they don’t promote the misleading propaganda about the non-existent GLOBAL warming.., Not many of the Dad’s Army are on the wacky-tobacy, or cocaine snorters, as the Warmist swindlers

  32. “As you do not fight fire with fire . . .”

    Firefighters fight fire with fire all the time: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controlled_burn#Back_burning.

    When the very first clause of the first sentence of the post is factually wrong, it really makes it difficult to lend credence to what follows.

    • on;y if you reflexively look for disagreement. You could be generous and “get” what they they are trying to say.

      or you could robotically find the first point of contention, however, minor and close your mind. hmm contempt prior to investigation.

      That pattern of behavior signals to other that you will not “reason together”

      • Or, such an obvious blunder might be a signal to the rational skeptic that what follows needs a careful critical appraisal.

      • Exactly. As it happens, I think the article makes some interesting and valid points. But making a stupid mistake up front does tend to put one on one’s guard.

        But this concept of building trust through accuracy is a difficult one for “skeptics,” who feel that no matter how many crude factual errors they make they should not reflect on their, the skeptics, credibility.

      • Critical appraisal is a GIVEN. But that means understanding what mistakes are fundamental and what mistakes are inconsequential.
        That means finish reading the damn thing. I read Mike manns book.
        he made a mistake in the very first sentence. Would you suggest that invalidates the entire work.

        Thank you for playing.

      • “Critical appraisal is a GIVEN…”

        Not here, it isn’t.

        Credulity and confirmation bias are the norm.

      • So you agree with Robert Michael.
        Mann’s mistake means that we can pretty much disregard the entire book.
        Thank you for playing.

        And yes, being critical is a given. being dismissive is a choice. you cant help yourself.

      • Mosher, in reality decision trees have to be pruned. Life is too short, and there are too many books out there to read them all. So for better or worse, an error in the first sentence is a strong hint that the rest of the book is not likely to be worth the effort.

        Often we miss some key information because of this decision tree pruning, but practically, there really isn’t a choice. I suppose you could try to judge a book by opening it to random pages and spot checking quality, but that doesn’t guarantee anything, either.

      • Empty book, empty stick,
        Empty chair, I feel sick.
        ================

    • Robert I Ellison

      Sure – you set fire to on side of the house to stop the fire on the other. What an obnoxiously silly comment.

  33. David L. Hagen

    Climate is a highly complex system. The article advocates: “Complex environments often instead call for simple decision rules. That is because these rules are more robust to ignorance.”
    However, biased data and politicized central planning can cause major harm. The greatest example is Mao’s Great leap Forward in China which caused the Great Chinese Famine of 1959-61. Frank Dikötter estimated that there were at least 45 million premature deaths from 1958 to 1962. There have been comparable estimates of tens of millions of reduced births.
    China’s Great Leap Forward

    At the beginning of the Great Leap Forward, Mao proclaimed that China would overtake Britain in production of steel and other products within 15 years. . . .
    The government also plunged the country into a deep debt by increasing spending on the development of heavy industry. Government spending on heavy industry grew in 1958 to represent 56 percent of state capital investment,. . . .
    In pursuit of its goals, the government executed people who did not agree with the pace of radical change. The crackdown led to the deaths of 550,000 people by 1958. . . .
    People were mobilized to accomplish the goals of industrialization. They built backyard furnaces for iron and steel and worked together on massive building projects, including one undertaken during the winter of 1957-58 in which more than 100 million peasants were mobilized to build large-scale water-conservation works. . . .
    In the frenzy of competition, the leaders over-reported their harvests to their superiors in Beijing, and what was thought to be surplus grain was sold abroad. . . .
    by the spring of 1959, the grain reserves were exhausted and the famine had begun.

    From this catastrophe, a critical “simplified” rule will be to avoid centralized planning when dealing with “climate change” aka “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.” Higher CO2 will strongly help the developing world to increase agricultural productivity that will be essential to feed their growing population. Investing a unprecedented fortune to bury CO2 will both starve the developing world of critically needed investment finance AND will directly reduce growth in food production, amplifying global hunger and starvation. Such a centralized politically driven response could easily exceed the global deaths from Mao’s mismanagement.

    • … and a cue for the letter I sent to The Australian today:

      “Markets are very efficient devices for providing and processing information, for organising production and distribution of goods and services so as to allocate resources to their highest valued use and thus maximise community income. Very occasionally, there may be “market failure,” where markets do not produce the most efficient outcome. The identification of market failure alone is not, however, sufficient reason for government intervention. There can be no presumption that governments outperform markets: indeed, “government failure” is more common.

      “Such failure is highlighted in the four Commentary articles on 7/9 {in today’s Australian], which cover only a small part of the massive failure of government since 2007. The next government must accept the limits on its reach and capacity, in order to allow individuals, companies and the nation to flourish and prosper.”

      Centralised planning is never successful, but seems to be considered essential by many CAGW proponents.

      • In the US, I would love to see all the welfare programs, along with the respective agencies and including social security and medicare, rolled up into one program modeled after a modified negative income tax or fair tax. It would preserve the incentive to work since getting a job wouldn’t get you cut off from aid. The amount of money an individual would get would be calculated by a simple formula, and if he got a job, he would get the money from the job plus welfare so he was making more money, but some of the welfare would be pulled back. The disabled and retired would get special consideration – but one group that would get no government aid would be the rich. They would have to paddle their own canoe without help from the government. There would be no complex bureaucracies and the rules would be fairly simple, the program run by the IRS. Fraud would be vigorously detected and prosecuted.

      • jim2, I argued against the Australian Government throwing money around in response to the GFC (which had little impact here), but said that if they were going to, they should do so by revamping the welfare payments “system” so as to ease the benefits-to-work transition, getting rid of the extremely high effective marginal tax rates which often apply. A form of negative income tax is one of the simplest ways of doing this, and, as you say, probably involves a lot fewer bureaucrats and compliance measures than other options. Governments and bureaucracies unfortunately tend to favour policies which expand their role rather than reduce it.

      • Faustino – You certainly hit the nail on the head! The Obama administration and the Democrats write extremely lengthly and complex regulations. It requires armies of bureaucrats to administer, not to mention no small number of lawyers. These armies become unionized Federal workers who overwhelmingly vote Democrat. It is truly a racket – one that is very costly to the common citizen. And of course it projects an image that the Democrats care about the voters. The system is so corrupt. All this money in one place invites and enables corruption. It’s so sad, really.

      • A government grown too big to fail can only fail. The real problem became real obvious when Clinton was relected for a second term: it isn’t Clinton or Obama it’s the people who pick their leaders that are the problem. Failure to admit America is in decline is what is pushing the country off the cliff and the surest sign of it is when the Democrat party believes it is un-American to admit it. The Left has turned English into a liars languange and has created a socio-political environment where truth no longer has value.

        On the night that Obama had won his primary victory over Hillary Clinton’s bid to be the party’s presidential candidate, among his promises and claims, he said, “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” You cannot get more absurd than that. It would translate into the administration’s push for cap-and-trade legislation. ~Alan Caruba

    • The poor go hungry from Obama’s increasing biofuel mandates.
      Simplifying TOO much can cause great harm.
      Obama touts biofuels

      “a future where the U.S. keeps investing in wind and solar and clean coal; where farmers and scientists harness new biofuels to power our cars and trucks;”

      However, rising mandated ethanol use on top of drought has caused corn prices to skyrocket.
      Mazama Science graphs of futures show corn prices increasing ~ 220% from 360 c/bu in 2010 to 800 c/bu. by 4Q 2012 through 2nd Q 2013. That is an enormous hit on buying food by the poor in the 83 corn importing countries. E.g.

      For Mexico they estimate that from 2003-4 to 2010-11 U.S. ethanol expansion cost Mexico about $3.2 billion, while financial speculation added another $1.4 billion to the country’s seven-year corn import bill. They estimate that U.S. ethanol expansion raised prices and import costs 27% for the entire period, consistent with the range of estimates in the literature. Financial speculation added another 13% . . .
      The G-20 countries have largely ignored the international consensus that biofuels policies are contributing to global hunger.

      The Cost to Mexico of U.S. Corn Ethanol Expansion, Timothy Wise, 2012

      Almost 50% of US corn must be converted to ethanol in 2012. Obama has refused to bend on the increasing ethanol mandate, despite appeals by numerous legislators and the World Bank.
      In practice, Obama’s “renewable fuel” policy is:

      “Starve the poor to buy green votes.”

      • Mexico is purchasing more U.S. corn because drought has hurt it’s domestic corn crop.

        http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/02/usda-sale-idUSL2E8J276E20120802

        I’m no fan of ethanol, but to blame ethanol on a problem caused by drought seems crazy.

        I wonder if American farmers would be growing as much corn in the first place if not for demand for ethanol.

      • David

        You wrote: “The poor go hungry from Obama’s increasing biofuel mandates.”

        That is NOT true. There are many reasons why countries do not produce food to feed their own people. You make it sound like the US has some responsibility to keep corn prices low to feed the world. We picked up this responsibility how exactly?

      • Rob Starkey
        Re poor go hungry – “not true”.
        Then consider Lester Brown’s (2006) warning: Ethanol could leave the world hungry

        We are facing an epic competition between the 800 million motorists who want to protect their mobility and the two billion poorest people in the world who simply want to survive. . .
        The grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol, for instance, could feed one person for a year. If today’s entire U.S. grain harvest were converted into fuel for cars, it would still satisfy less than one-sixth of U.S. demand.

  34. Robert I Ellison

    ’ Taken together, the emerging picture is of a steadily-rising regulatory tower. New floors have been added in response to each crisis episode. Extra filing cabinets have been ordered and installed to house the explosion in regulatory returns. And many new skulks of supervisory foxes (together with the occasional hedgehog) have been installed on the upper floors.’

    The collapse of asset bubbles is entirely predictable – and was predicted in the most recent crisis. It is facilitated by governments suppressing interest rates to create unsustainable growth and therefore revenue to finance spending and borrowing. In Australia there is a simple rule to set the interbank borrowing rate to maintain inflation in a range of 2 to 3%. More than anything this is the instrument of 21 years of continuous growth.

    The spectacular extent of securitised loans was revealed at the first ill-wind and could only have been prevented by internal management systems – I could cite the difference between Wells Fargo and Lehman Bros – and effective prudential supervision. The regulators failed to do their job in spite – and perhaps because in part – of the increasing complexity of the regulatory systems. The bankers failed in their jobs because of a lack of moral fibre. Governments failed in their jobs because no-one had the foresight to constrain spending, balance budgets and manage interest rates. Simple hedgehog rules.

    ‘The Australian banking system has withstood the worst international banking crisis in memory far more robustly than many overseas counterparts. No Australian bank has been bailed out, local banks did not create a northern hemisphere-style liquidity crunch, and Australian banks have avoided abnormal loan write-downs. No Australian bank has seen its credit rating downgraded, and share prices of our banks have been relatively strong in the circumstances.
    This paper has identified a number of key factors that explain the remarkable resilience of the Australian banking sector, its strength and safety. A culture of prudent lending prevails. Australian banks are soundly capitalized, with a well-diversified and stable funding base, and a track record of healthy profitability. The industry is marked by vigorous competition, as well as sound corporate governance, and robust consumer protection. Official oversight of banks is effective, involving the renowned prudential regulation system, and the separation of commercial banking from social-assistance policy.
    Consequently, Australian banks have performed exceptionally well during the recent turmoil and have insulated Australia against the full impact of the credit crisis, which originated in the United States. The latest IMF commentary on Australian banking affirms this assessment:
    ‘The securitization of mortgages in Australia was not widespread before the crisis, with only about 18 per cent of housing loans securitized. These mitigating factors implied that Australian banks suffered only limited direct losses, compared to their counterparts in North America and Europe, and their credit ratings remained high throughout the period.[15]
    Return on equity (ROE) for the Australian banks has hovered around 15–20 per cent since the mid-1990s, with the system experiencing very strong balance-sheet growth driven by high demand for residential (prime) housing loans. At the same time, because of the prudent philosophy of favoring loan origination over securitization, the quality of Australian bank assets is high, with non-performing assets equivalent to less than 1 per cent of on-balance-sheet assets. Just the same, Australian banks have maintained a comfortable level of provisioning. Recent events have shown the regulatory framework in Australia is successful. Unlike in the UK, Europe and the US, no taxpayer’s money has been allocated to support a private Australian bank.’ http://epress.anu.edu.au/agenda/016/03/mobile_devices/ch09s02.html

    Not sure where the relevance of this to climate is – the guy is talking about simplified processes for prudential regulation. Hedgehog principles rather than the ever growing edifice of the Tower of Basel. I like to separate climate science and policy. In science we love ever bigger and better towers. We build on the past to create the future. We make ever more astonishing intuitive leaps between the solid footings of empirical research. As a general rule – rational science has always considered that there is far more that is unknown than is known. Although we can laugh at their errors – I am always unutterably grateful for the fruits of millions of toilers in the garden of natural philosophy and have one eye on the million year future of the human race.

    In policy I would do what should be done first – and I think that taxes and caps have been a distraction. I would have done it 20 years ago. It is a simple calculation to show that a 1% increase in soil organic content sequesters one hundred tonnes/ha of carbon dioxide. But the primary purpose of this would be to increase food productivity by the 70% needed by 2050, increase farm and smallholder income and to mitigate the effects of flood and drought. The Millennium Development Goals and the Copenhagen Consensus describe objectives that bring other benefits in population restraint and conservation and restoration of ecosystems. The only other thing we need to do is ensure that our technologies are fit for any contingency. All of these are simple and cheap hedgehog rules – and we are doing poorly at all of them.

    The author quotes Einstein – and as usual Einstein is especially perspicacious. “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

    • The Australian example reinforces my comments on central planning and over-mighty government. In spite of my 2007 warnings ( :-) ), Australia’s main economic problems today arise from totally unnecessary and ill-directed “counter-cyclical” spending in response to the Global Financial Crisis. Australia didn’t have a crisis, so the government created one.

      • Robert I Ellison

        Eliminating payroll tax would have been a much better way to go than Keynesian stimulus – as John Howard and many other said at the time.

      • Your faith-based economics are pretty widely off-topic here.

      • Robert I Ellison

        Your definition of off topic is a little bizarre to say the least. I read the paper, I discussed the paper and I agree with it without hesitation. The so-called faith based economics is practiced monthly in Australia and is a key feature of economic management. Avoiding unsustanable government debt and spending is generally advisable from common sense principles – not to mention from the examples world wide of not practising fiscal restraint. Reducing taxes on jobs seems preferable to giveaways spent on TV’s and iphones.

        What is it exactly that you object to Robert of the loser blog?

      • Robert, a payroll tax is very similar in effect to a value-added tax, as most added value comes from use of labour. In general, it would be much more efficient to scrap payroll taxes and raise the GST commensurately. The problem is that the PRT accrues directly to each state, the GST payments to the states are mediated through the Grants Commission. As a short-term measure, scrapping PRT would have been better than school-building and roof insulation. My first preference would have been no stimulus measures, or none beyond the initial $950 hand-out. My second (as mentioned elsewhere) would have been addressing the welfare-to-work transition, which could have been done quickly as Treasury and others had done lots of work on it and it would have long-term benefits. Longer-term, I’d scrap all industry assistance and cut the Corporation Tax commensurately – from memory, that would fund a reduction of 3-4%, encouraging the growth of viable firms and removing subsidies from non-viable ones.

      • Nah, Keynesian is better. Some people rathole their tax cut money or use it to pay down debt, neither of which is much of a stimulus for the economy.

      • Max_OK, I don’t know of any successful example of counter-cyclical spending. In every case, such spending peaks after the start of the upswing, just at the time business is looking for employees, capital and resources. It leads to higher interest rates, higher inflation and higher government debt, which must be serviced. The stimulus spending is almost never economically sensible, it’s not used for, for example, provision of viable long-term infrastructure. Government debt goes up and the capacity of the economy goes down. Of necessity, the tax burden is higher than it would have been.

        I doubt if Keynes would be a Keynesian now.

      • Faustino,

        Payroll Tax is off-topic for this thread, but since its being discussed I’ll chime in with my 2 cents worth too. Payroll Tax is a dreadful tax. It taxes employment, so discourages companies from employing more people. It causes all sorts of distortions. For example, it causes small companies to limit their growth and to start up multiple companies so they can keep their number of employees in each company below the PRT threshold. The rules, thresholds and rates are different in each state. It’s a mess, like many other state based taxes. It should be abolished.

        I don’t understand why there isn’t more serious consideration for Australia adopting a system modelled on how Canada handles responsibility for collecting state and Federal Income tax. I’ll make up some figures to explain (Canadian’s please fix what I say, because my recollection is from 23 years ago).

        The Canadian Government collects Income Tax, GST (and other taxes). It collects Federal income tax and provincial income tax and gives the provinces’ income tax to the provinces. Each province defines its own income tax rates. The rates differ between provinces. Some provinces set higher rates and provide more benefits than other states. When I was there, Manitoba had the highest rate and had more benefits such as the best state provided medical and dental cover (from memory). Alberta had the lowest rates but had lots of oil (so they were rich in resources – and had the best hockey team too). The Federal government’s tax rate might have been say 30% (marginal rate) on my salary and the Manitoba tax rate say 50% of that, in which case my combined marginal tax was 45%. (I’ve made these numbers up; the rate was less than that).

        I suggest Australia should do something similar to get past our dysfunctional Federal-state relations. The ongoing blame-game between Federal and state governments is encouraged by lack of clearly defined responsibilities for who is responsible for delivering what services. Furthermore, the States are not held accountable to their electorate for the taxes the collect and for their efficiency in delivering their services. Sharing and shifting of responsibilities for the politically contentious policy areas (like Health and Education) is a great way for both levels of government to avoid ever being accountable to their electorates. They just blame the other level of government.

        I advocate a close look at the Canadian system where the Provinces define their revenue needs, and are responsible to their electorate for they level of tax they charge and for the services they deliver.

      • Peter, You say “(Canadian’s please fix what I say, because my recollection is from 23 years ago).” You dont mention the most important part of the Canadian system; namely equalization payments. Under our constitution the federal government has the ultimate say in how much money it gives back to the Provinces, and who gets how much. We are taxed equally, and part of this tax is paid back to the Provinces unequally. The rich provinces subsidize the poor provinces, and, when push comes to shove, the provinces have no say in exactly what happens; the federal governmnet decides, and that is that. It is precisely because no such similar system exists in Europe, that they are involved in their debt crisis.

      • Jim Cripwell,

        You don’t mention the most important part of the Canadian system; namely equalization payments.

        Yes. I should have mentioned that. I’d didn’t because Australia has them to and it was not the key point I was trying to make.

        In Australia nearly all the money is handed out by the Federal Government to the states and equalisation payments defines the split (I am simplifying greatly).

        However, in Australian, the states do not define the share of income tax they demand from their residents. So there is no responsibility. They simply complain the Federal Government doesn’t give them enough money. In Canada, it seemed the Provinces at least had to nominate and justify to their residents the level of income tax their residents were required to pay. I think that is better than what we have. There is some accountability for quality of services they provide and for what level of income tax residents have to pay for those services.

        We are taxed equally, and part of this tax is paid back to the Provinces unequally.

        As far as I can recall that is not how it worked in the 1970s and 1980s. From what I recall, Canadians wer taxed equally by the Federal Govt but they paid different amounts of income tax depending on which Province they resided in.

        The rich provinces subsidize the poor provinces, and, when push comes to shove, the provinces have no say in exactly what happens; the federal governmnet decides, and that is that

        It’s similar in Australia except that the States do have some revenue earning capability. But they are nearly all through inefficient taxes. The states can raise revenue from royalties on mineral deposits, land taxes and rates, sales taxes and may infuriating bad taxes and levies such as levies on insurance premiums (which discourages people from insuring their house).

      • Faustino said: “Max_OK, I don’t know of any successful example of counter-cyclical spending. In every case, such spending peaks after the start of the upswing, just at the time business is looking for employees, capital and resources. It leads to higher interest rates, higher inflation and higher government debt, which must be serviced.”
        —-
        So does the tax cut unless government spending is cut by a compensating amount. And try selling that one.

        The U.S. has had historically low interest rates and little increase in inflation in recent times. When this will come to an end is anyone’s guess.
        If you think you know, put your money at risk.

        Spending creates a need for workers, regardless of who is doing the spending. The surge in defense spending during WWII brought America out of a long depression. The stimulus spending before the war just wasn’t enough to get the economy going.

      • Max

        The amount that government speading impacts the overall economy depends upon which segment of the economy that money is spent within. Different sectors have different multiplier effects. Infrastructure spending on high technology such as the design and build of a nuclear power plant has the highest positive impact as it impacts multiple sectors and it provides an asset that can be used long term. Designing and building a dam would be similar

      • Rob, I favor spending on infrastructure if stimulus spending is needed. However, the multiplier effect can be slow if spending is on things that have a high ratio of materials costs to labor costs if the former is already in inventory.

      • Max – stimulus will have a limited impact. The greater impact is from baby boomers paying down debt and saving for retirement. The government can’t tax the rich enough to compensate for that trend. It’s much better for the government to butt out. Less debt! Much less!

      • Max

        Actually the multiplier is a different issue from the speed of the impact. You are correct that the spped of the impact is slower on higher technology infrastructure spending that on say paying someone to plany flowers. The administration’s stimulas put the priority on spending that had faster impacts and did not encourage spending on high multiplier projects. That was poor policy, which was my original point of why Iwill no vote for Obama this time

      • Jim

        It is also true that republicans are being untruthful when they claim that we can balance the budget without increasing taxes on the higher income earners.

      • Jim, I don’t think people saving money stimulates the economy. I think people spending money stimulates the economy. Part of the problem is people like me who live well below their means. It’s a hard habit to break.

      • Rob – as I recall the Republicans are talking about eliminating tax loop holes for the rich. The devil is in the details and, frankly, I’m not up on everything in their plan.

      • Max – that is exactly my point. The baby boomers are paying down debt and saving for retirement. That means less economic activity, which will slow the economy. The government isn’t big enough to counter that trend – the boomer generation is too big. Therefore, the government should stop trying to stimulate the economy and save people from their own bad decisions.

      • Robert I Ellison

        Max – you have misunderstood the tax cuts under discussion. Understandable as it was in the Australian context and an especially controversial tax known as a payroll tax. It is a tax on the wages paid to employees. It is paid by employers. A minor element in the tax base but a tax that impacts directly on jobs.

        Interest rates are the major determinant of both economic activity an inflation. In Australia rates in the wider economy are influenced by the cash rate – overnight bank lending rates – which is set by the reserve bank on a monthly basis. Reducing interest rates is a much quicker and broader way of stimulating activity than Government spending. Government spending as well leaves tends to leave a legacy of debt.

      • Yes, Robert, I did misunderstand. I know nothing about Australia’s payroll tax.

        BTW, the U.S has a payroll tax for Social Security, paid by both the employer and the employee.

    • Robert I Ellison | September 6, 2012 at 9:16 pm said: ”Australian banks have performed exceptionally well during the recent turmoil and have insulated Australia against the full impact of the credit crisis, which originated in the United States”

      WRONG! it wasn’t the banks, but the bigger and more sophisticated machines for digging the minerals out of the ground, in a ”fire sale” If it wasn’t for those minerals, the amounts of money squandered senselessly – in Australia cannibalism would have already started.

      2] everybody talks about the federal deficit; but avoid the States’s deficits, the Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide deficits PLUS the trillion bucks private deficits. Every Australian owns per capita three times more than every Greek.

      3] During that time, profitable Australian assets sold to foreign interest – you are ignoring those hot potatoes Ellison, aren’t you? Small example: today selling the biggest cotton farm. Until now – when cotton was sold from that farmn $100million a year – when money changes hands -> government takes half in taxes. Now Chinese GOVERNMENT OWNED textile factory is buying the cotton farm -> money will not change hands in Australia = for the next 100y, Australia will not benefit. Same as Chinese government owned steel mills buying the iron ore mines = getting it for free. Sorry, just for investing in the beginning, to buy it. Robert, when a ton of coal, iron ore, copper is sold – cannot sell it again next year… gone. Farmers are collecting sunshine and CO2 from the air and are turning it into food, fiber and export dollar. Reason the farmers are constantly attacked by traitors like you and similar…. Robert Ellison, the virgin prostitute.

  35. Regulation of modern finance is complex, almost certainly too complex.

    What is the lesson for regulation of climate change?

    What will be the ultimate cost of climate change regulation if it is to be made to work globally? We already have enormous numbers of (conflicting) climate related regulations, but we’ve hardly scratched the surface of what will ultimately be required if we go down this path (remember, there is a far better and far simpler way).

    At the moment no country measures its CO2 emissions. USA comes closest but for just a small sample of emitters, and with large gaps in the reporting requirements. No other country measures emissions.

    Furthermore, eventually the requirements would have to be extended to all emissions sources. We are starting with ‘honeymoon rates’ to get us roped in. Once started the regulatory complexity will escalate and continue to do so indefinitely. And the compliance costs will escalate in sync.

    The modelling that the advocacy of carbon pricing is based on makes the assumptions listed here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/news.php?n=1325#82373. It is clear that the starting position of carbon pricing in EU, Australia and the proposed cap and trade scheme for USA are nowhere near meeting these assumptions.

  36. Decision Making under uncertainty.

    There is no uncertainty!

    The globe is not going to warming at IPCC’s rate of 0.2 deg C per decade.

    Statistics shows no warming until 2030 => http://bit.ly/OsdxJf

  37. If I may be permitted one more non-serious comment:

    I spent a few months on a border sheep farm (near Netherwitton for those with fine knowledge of UK geography). The 2-3 working collies and 5-6 adolescents were the best dogs I’ve ever met, full of zest, life and energy, having enormous enjoyment from life and, in the case of those working, extremely efficient and intelligent. They could sense and anticipate what an errant sheep would do, much harder than dealing with a frisbee.

    As for global warming, the farmer’s wife would love it. She said: “Here we get nine months of winter and three months of bad weather.”

  38. Judith, hallelujah!!! Finally to see Roger Pielke shooting himself in the foot,; in the process shot at every Warmist & Fake’s foot.

    Cross the ”IRRELEVANT ZEROES.

    1] the amount of ice on the polar caps has NOTHING to do with any imaginary GLOBAL warming, or CO2; but on the availability of raw material, to renew the ice lost to other factors

    2] sea temperature is ‘STORED HEAT” same as is getting stored in the new trees, in the magma, heat stored in the plutonium, fossil fuel. All those and others are used exclusively to create confusion!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ”Official GLOBAL temperature’ is: ALL the heat in the troposphere; from the ground and from the sea-surface – as far up as there is oxygen & nitrogen (cannot be defined, because: when any extra heat is produced; as extra volcanic activity on land & bottom of the sea, by any reason -> those two gases expand – or shrink extra, when cooled extra; as it is in solar eclipse. That’s how O&N regulate to be same warmth overall in the troposphere – which is the ”official GLOBAL temperature”

    O

  39. Judith, hallelujah!!! Finally to see Roger Pielke shooting himself in the foot,; in the process shot at every Warmist & Fake’s foot.

    Sorry folks, my comment above got printed, before I finished. Something must be getting spooky… posted itself… here it is, complete:

    Cross the ”IRRELEVANT ZEROES.”

    1] the amount of ice on the polar caps has NOTHING to do with any imaginary GLOBAL warming, or CO2; but on the availability of raw material, to renew the ice lost to other factors

    2] ”sea temperature” is ‘STORED HEAT” same as is getting stored in the new trees, in the magma, heat stored in the plutonium, fossil fuel. All those and others are used exclusively; to create confusion!!!

    ”Official GLOBAL temperature’’ is: ALL the heat in the troposphere; from the ground and from the sea-surface – as far up as there is oxygen & nitrogen (cannot be defined, because: when any extra heat is produced; as extra volcanic activity on land / bottom of the sea, by any reason -> those two gases expand – or shrink extra, when cooled extra; as it is in solar eclipse. That’s how O&N regulate to be same warmth overall in the troposphere – which is the ”official GLOBAL temperature”

    Instead of monitoring the official heat ABOVE the seawater; which is 2/3 of the planet’s heat – they are confusing it with the temp anomaly in the sea!… (sea temp is for meteorologists, not for climatologist!!!!!!}

    CONFUSING SMALL / BIG CLIMATIC CHANGES; AS THE PHONY ”GLOBAL” WARMINGS; IS THE MOTHER OFF ALL CON JOBS, EVER

    Incorporating polar ice, seawater heat in the ”official” global temperature is to create uncertainties, confusion – to confuse the ignorant and pull the Warmist rabbit out of the hat = dirty tricks. WOOL over the Urban Sheep’s eyes!!! (especially over the active Warmist&Fake’s ”regular bingo players” in the global WARMING Blogosphere)

    In my book ruffly states something like this: ”stored heat is: in the center of the earth, in the oceans, in the fossil fuel, in the trees, in your oven – is all ”stored heat” same as assets. Heat in the troposphere is THE official GLOBAL HEAT – same as CASH. Before the heat is released from the volcanoes, from burning fuel, from the seawater, from the plutonium, from your oven – cannot be wasted!!! As soon as stored heat is released (assets converted into cash)-> extra heat makes O&N to expand INSTANTLY!!! In 2-3minutes the troposphere expands extra / according to the extra heat – wastes that extra heat in less than 10 minutes!!! Asset cannot be wasted – before is converted intro liquid cash / heat from the sea or from plutonium, volcano, cannot be wasted, before is released = ALL OF YOU HAVE BEING WRONG, I’m correct!!! http://globalwarmingdenier.wordpress.com/climate/

    Cutting the dead wood, to get to the solid / crossing the irrelevant zeroes, is what I’ve being doing the whole time. If anybody wants to be confused, or to stay confused – stick to what comes from IPCC and from Ian Plimer’s camp. If you need to get read of their crap – on my blog is, like turning the lights on.

    Localized temp changes are more or less, all the time – OVERALL GLOBAL temperature is always the same!!! Shonky ”climatologists” for the last 150y have being confusing extreme localized temperatures as GLOBAL warmings and as GLOBAL Ice Ages = is the precursor of ALL today’s crimes in progress. Problems cannot be solved, unless the reality is recognized

  40. “Sleeping on it” doesn’t work when you have a steering wheel in front of you. Just because the road behind was straight doesn’t mean the one ahead is. You can’t drive by the rear-view mirror with climate either. Taking no action just puts you in a ditch. Also even if you don’t see the road ahead clearly, you slow down. Lessons from driving apply here because we are in a moving system, and conditions are changing around us.

    • Robert I Ellison

      You can do anything with an analogy. Most accidents are the result of doing the wrong thing. Please what do you define as the right thing? I keep saying what I would do – where is there an equivalant range of solutions from you guys.

      • I prefer this to one about frisbees and dogs, which was meaningless to me in the context of the climate policy decisions.

      • My interpretation of the frisbee and the dog. The dog is the policymaker and the frisbee is the policy. The dog can “get” the frisbee because it is self evident what it has to do from what is happening, without needing to know the science of what is driving the climate change. This is a responsive way of seeing climate policy (like a dog) rather than a predictive one (like an intelligent human).

      • Robert I Ellison

        ???? What is the right policy?

      • You probably noticed that this discussion, like many here, is a meta-policy discussion. It is about how to make policy, not policy itself. There is a level of abstraction, but I figured what I offered was worth thinking about. Are we dogs or humans when making decisions? Human decision making has the benefits of better seeing consequences of doing or not doing things down the road. The dog only acts on the present information and past experience.

      • Jim D | September 8, 2012 at 2:55 pm said: ”without needing to know the science of what is driving the climate change”

        Jim D, water H2O is controlling the climate! Being scared to acknowledge that water is changing and controlling the climate instead of CO2 – just to continue paddling the IPCC’s crap -> makes you as a dog chasing the Frisbee down the cliff, instead of guarding from the thieves.

        If you don’t have enough brains to see that: where is regular topsoil moisture, water storages and water vapor – it’s good / mild climate – where H2O is absent = bad / extreme climate – you should go deep into the IPCC’s septic tank – where is never any sunlight – will be more comfortable for you

      • S the D, thanks for reminding people about water. It is very important. We don’t want it to decrease because that is generally considered bad for farming.

    • Jim D

      To your driving analogy:

      Taking no action just puts you in a ditch.

      Huh?

      “Officer, I was just parked along side of the road and the ditch attacked me…”

      • which is why I said it was moving, but anyway, i can see some people get lost with analogies especially if they don’t read them to the end. Maybe you can explain the frisbee thing.

  41. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Mark B (number 2), Gary W, Dave Springer, Max_OK, and (several others) … if you want to study the official, full-proof, not-dumbed-down USMC description of “paralysis by analysis,” the document you want is USMC Commandant Charles Krulak’s MCDP-1: Strategy (1997), in particular Chapter 4, “The Making of Strategy”, from which the following quotations are faithfully transcribed:

    STRATEGY-MAKING PITFALLS

    Given the complexity of making strategy, it is understandable that some seek ways to simplify the process. There are several traps into which would-be strategists commonly fall: searching for strategic panaceas; emphasizing process over product in strategy making; seeking the single, decisive act, the fait accompli; attempting to simplify the nature of the problem by using labels such as limited or unlimited wars; falling into a paralysis of inaction; or rushing to a conclusion recklessly.

    Paralysis and Recklessness Competent strategic-level decisionmakers are aware of the high stakes of war and of the complex nature of the strategic environment. Successful decisions may lead to great gains, but failure can lead to fearful losses. Some personalities instinctively respond to this environment with a hold-the-line, take-no-chances mentality. Others display an irresistible bias for action.

    Unless we understand the specific problems, dangers, and potential gains of a situation, the two approaches are equally dangerous. Paralysis is neither more nor less dangerous than blindly striking out in the face of either threat or opportunity. Unfortunately, the very process of attempting to ascertain the particulars can lead to “paralysis by analysis.”

    Strategy makers almost always have to plan and act in the absence of complete information or without a full comprehension of the situation. At the same time, strategists must guard against making hasty or ill-conceived decisions.

    The strategist’s responsibility is to balance opportunity against risk and to balance both against uncertainty. Despite the obstacles to focusing on specific strategic problems and to taking effective action, we must focus, and we must act.

    As the sobering reality of climate-change becomes plainly evident to every citizen, as the pace of climate-change inexorably accelerates, and as the strategic consequences become more evident, we appreciate more clearly that in the words of USMC General Krulak, “We must focus and we must act.”   :!:   :!:   :!:

    Mark B (number 2), hopefully this USMC leadership analysis will be helpful to you!   :)   :grin:   :!:

    • Fan,
      Wow, you really do not understand what you just quoted if you think this is a rebuttle of what I said. You wish to commit your whole army to the destruction of one enemy out of many who are attacking you. Bad weather and climate shifts will occur reguardless of how successful your army is at stopping human produced CO2.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Gary W, you forgot to add hellip; unless James Hansen’s worldview is scientifically correct.   :grin:   :lol:   :!:

        In which event, Hansen’s scientific worldview and USMC Gen. Krulak’s strategic worldview mesh naturally, eh?   :!:   :!:   :!:

        The satellites are showing us almost two full centimeters of sea-level rise over the last two years.   :shock:   :cry:   :!:

        Is this recent acceleration sea-level rise purely a random fluctuation … or will it be sustained in the coming decade? Will it be confirmed by measurements of ice-mass-loss from Greenland and Antarctica? And will it be further confirmed by ARGO measurements of sea-temperature data? Hansen and colleagues have predicted a simple answer to these three questions: “yes”.

        These multiple, overlapping, reinforcing affirmations of Hansen’s scientific worldview will complete the natural link-up of Hansen’s science with USMC strategic principles, eh GaryW?

        Good. Because according to Marine doctrine, that’s what’s needed.   :!:   :!:   :!:

      • For those who followed Fans link to examine his claim of a rapid 2cm rise in sea levels, some explanation is limited.

        This is the sea level with seasonal signals removed-Fans version
        http://sealevel.colorado.edu/content/2012rel4-global-mean-sea-level-time-series-seasonal-signals-removed

        This is it with seasonal signals retained

        http://sealevel.colorado.edu/content/2012rel4-global-mean-sea-level-time-series-seasonal-signals-retained

        This is an explanation of what these terms mean, and a clarification of why sea levels dropped so sharply in 2010/11.

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/sea-level-fall-2010-intermediate.htm

        This explains how sea levels are calculated in the first place, how accurate they are-what areas are omitted (such as coasts and higher latitudes)

        http://sealevel.colorado.edu/faq#n3176

        The 2cm rise claimed by Fan is difficult to see. There has been a miniscule rise over the last 30 months and this must be set against the shortcomings of the measurements.

        tonyb

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        ClimateReason, your well-reasoned caveats are entirely consonant with the main strategic point, namely, that Hansen and his colleagues scientifically predict that in the coming decade we will observe:

        • accelerating ice-mass loss (by GRACE) in the Arctic and Antarctic, and

        • accelerating ocean-warming (by ARGO), and

        • accelerating sea-level rise (by JASON).

        If we observe all three of these predicted accelerations, then rational skeptics will very substantially raise their estimates of the probability “James Hansen’s climate-change worldview is scientifically correct”.

        In which case USMC strategic doctrine plainly asserts “we must focus, and we must act.”   :!:   :!:   :!:

        Is that not plain common-sense, ClimateReason?   :?:   :!:   :?:

      • Famn

        We shall see what happens next decade, but at present nothing untoward is happening-escpecially a 2cm sea level rise when viewed in context of what preceded it in 2010/11..
        tonyb

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Yes, very roughly in the coming decade:

        Skeptics win  if sea-level rise decelerates to near-zero or negative values.

        IPCC wins  if sea-level rise remains at present ~3mm/year levels

        Hansen wins  (and USMC doctrine applies) if sea-level accelerates to ~5+mm/year levels

        Given this years astounding Arctic ice-melt, it appears that Hansen and his colleagues plausibly are holding the winning scientific hand.

        So it’s simple, eh?   :)   :)   :)

      • Fan

        How does the IPCC “win” if sea level continues to rise at the uneventful 1 foot per century instead of at the rate the IPCC predicted of more than double that?

      • Fan,
        Again, you are misunderstanding military strategy plus you are throwing in a red herring. At no point did my statements imply CAGW is not possible, or that it may not be occuring now. I was discussing what the appropriate approachs to handling the various potential problems should be and how we might decide them. While it may be comfortable to choose one specific problem to work on to the exclusion of all others and one specific approach to solving it, that is pure lazyness. That violates all levels of military doctrin.

      • Fan

        You’ve yet to tell me what Dr Hansen thinks is the cause of the 350 year warming trend we can observe, which means that Giss 1880 is merely a staging post and not the starting post of the current warm era. He must have written a paper on it surely?
        tonyb

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        ClimateReason, Reconstructed changes in Arctic sea ice over the past 1,450 years establish that the present ice-mass loss is unprecendented over periods extending back 4,000 years and more.

        It’s looking more-and-more like Hansen’s climate-change worldview is scientifically accurate, eh?   :shock:   :?:   :shock:   :?:   :shock:

        In which case, USMC strategic doctrine regarding “decision-making under uncertainty” applies to climate-change, eh?   :shock:   :!:   :shock:   :!:   :shock:

        Either that, or climate-change denialists are gonna have to break-out their highest-power “spinning” and “cherry-picking” and “conspiracy-theorizing”, eh?   :)   :grin:   :lol:

      • Fan

        You haven’t answered my question but seem to have wandered off into arctic ice. Here it is again. What do you think?

        —— ——-

        “You’ve yet to tell me what Dr Hansen thinks is the cause of the 350 year warming trend we can observe, which means that Giss 1880 is merely a staging post and not the starting post of the current warm era. He must have written a paper on it surely?”
        tonyb

      • Robert I Ellison

        I really shouldn’t encourage a troll with such persistence, annoying personal habits and limitd understanding of cience.

        But here’s some cherries for you.

        Arctic sea ice form Russian records over the last century.

        Arctic temperatures.

        Decadal variability shows up strongly in the Arctic records as it does in the US, Canada and Alaska. Where is this going. Don’t really know. I’m not a sceptic of the simple radiative physics. I think we should take actions that make sense in terms of increasing organic content of agricultural soils and technological innovation – and these address comprehensively any greenhouse gas concern. Can they be derailed as the world doesn’t warm over the next decade or three? Will the world reactively adopt the opposite view as the immoderate and sceintificlly naive claims of FOMBS and fellow travellers fail to materialise over the next few decades at least. I think I will work on the food and cheap energy angles. But really these idiot climate warriers are too much to bear.

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        Fan said:

        “Hansen wins (and USMC doctrine applies) if sea-level accelerates to ~5+mm/year levels

        Given this years astounding Arctic ice-melt, it appears that Hansen and his colleagues plausibly are holding the winning scientific hand.”

        _____
        This kind of acceleration in the sea level rise is quite plausible in the mid to late 21st Century. And while Hansen et. al could be set to “hold the winning scientific hand”, this sort of acceleration in sea level rise will be anything but “winning” for many coastal areas.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        ClimateReason, no-one’s sure precisely which skeptical cherries you’re picking from the mighty tree of climate data! That’s why we have to judge the case by the aggregate weight of the evidence/a>, eh?   :)   :)   :)

    • This link is much more useful than the 70% solution one Fan gave above.
      This Marine document is worth reading. Fan, your quotes are from the last chapter, pages 95 and 100-102. I note that you left out some paragraphs without indicating that you did so. In particular, this one (p. 101):

      At the same time, strategists must guard against making
      hasty or ill-conceived decisions. The strategic realm differs
      from the tactical arena both in the pace at which events occur
      and the consequences of actions taken. Rarely does the strategic
      decisionmaker have to act instantaneously. The development
      of strategy demands a certain discipline to study and
      understand the dynamics of a situation and think through the
      implications of potential actions. While it is often possible to
      recover from a tactical error or a defeat, the consequences of
      a serious misstep at the strategic level can be catastrophic.
      Boldness and decisiveness, which are important characteristics
      of leadership at any level, must at the strategic level be
      tempered with an appropriate sense of balance and perspective.

      That paragraph cools down your argument considerably and does not sound like a 70% solution at all.

      Also, the last paragraph, which you do include in your quote, the conclusion to this whole document, rather goes against your call to action:

      The strategist’s responsibility is to balance opportunity
      against risk and to balance both against uncertainty.

      BALANCE, risk, uncertainty — good words for this blog.

      I will add another quote from the same document (p. 18):

      One of the most interesting things about complex systems
      is that they are inherently unpredictable. It is impossible, for
      example, to know in advance which slight perturbations in an
      ecological system will settle out unnoticed and which will
      spark catastrophic change. This is so not because of any flaw
      in our understanding of such systems, but because the system’s
      behavior is generated according to rules the system itself
      develops and is able to alter. In other words, a system’s
      behavior may be constrained by external factors or laws but is
      not determined by them.

      Even in “simple” games, such as chess, complexity abounds. No simple 70% rule is going to help you win at chess. Bottom line: don’t let the stupid and ignorant make important strategic decisions.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        LOL  Diag, when General Krulak’s 122-page. 25,000-word strategic doctrine gets pared-down to a six-word PowerPoint bullet, it looks like this:

        • BE 70% SURE — THEN TAKE ACTION

        You are entirely correct that this 4000-fold compression forfeits some nuances!   :)   :grin:   :lol:   :!:

        None-the-less, when it comes to climate-change, the likelihood that “James Hansen’s climate-change worldview is scientifically accurate” is getting pretty close to the USMC’s 70% threshold-for-action, eh?   :!: :shock:   :!: :shock:   :!: :shock:   :!:

      • 100% sure: don’t compress a 25,000 word essay into a six word bullet point, especially if it is absurd.

        Here is a better quote for you with a different take on overthinking. Tina Fey or the Marines, your choice:

        “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30.”
        This is something Lorne has said often about Saturday Night Live, but I think it’s a great lesson about not being too precious about your writing. You have to try your hardest to be at the top of your game and improve every joke you can until the last possible second, and then you have to let it go.
        You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.

        — From the book “Bossypants” by Tina Fey, 2011

        That’s about TV; it may not generalize. See also:
        https://judithcurry.com/2012/08/03/post-normal-science-deadlines/

      • You may be 70% sure, but that only says something about your faith. Lots of people are 100% sure that the rapture is coming in the next 12 months.

    • Fan,

      The Marine Corps requires of its leaders that they set the example and lead from the front. So if we really do have the basis for CAGW-related action–known to you and others–then set the example and lead from the front. Adopt that mid-19th century, low-carbon life-style you advocate for us “snuffies”. There’s nothing stopping you, you know.

      And when you have Al Gore and all the other carbon-piggie flunkies who spew carbon on a daily basis attending one boondoggle eco-conference after another living in teepees and grubbing for tubers for their caloric intake, I’ll take your exhortations for “action” to be something other than a cheap hustler’s trick.

      Until then I use the “Marine Corps” method of busting through the uncertainty of the CAGW business with its twin hazards of “Look before you leap” and “He who hesitates fails”. I use my “coup d’oeil” intuitive judgement. And I come up with this: The whole business is a make-a-buck/make-a-gulag scam. So I take a pass on the whole deal. And, yes, that’s a form of “action.”

      You know, don’t you, fan, that Marine “leaders” who bug-out and fail to set the example and lead from the front are held in complete contempt by their subordinate Marines. So how should we regard the hypocrites who urge CO2 sacrifice on us “grunts”, but suck deeply at the carbon-trough themselves?

      • The Marine Corp are already leading from the front:

        “The Navy and Marine Corps are deeply committed to changing the way energy is used and produced, preserving the environment, and planning for and mitigating the harmful effects of climate change.”

        http://greenfleet.dodlive.mil/

      • Semper Fi et Sic Semper Tyrannis.
        =========

      • Louise,

        My oh my, what a passionate interest the hive has suddenly taken in the Marine Corps and it’s leadership from the front ethic. And let’s just hope that Marine Corps’ leadership style “rubs off” on our carbon-piggie, CO2-spew, eco-hypocrite, greenshirt betters.

        So Louise, what has the Marine Corps’ inspiring lead-from-the-front example done for you? You know, just what sort of carbon-footprint do you now maintain, given your acute awareness of the carbon-peril and urgent advocacy of carbon-reduction and devotion to leadership-from-the-front?

        You might also check out the “General Mattis” article linked in one of fan’s improbable posts below. It appears that the “thinking”, with regards to fossil fuels, in the study the General ordered up, does not include: carbon-reduction; solar-power; wind-mills, or preservation of the obscene, rip-off gravy-trains, troughs, and perks currently enjoyed by those tenured, do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do, carbon-glutton, flunky, two-faced, green-washed worthies, busy, as we speak, running the CAGW scam.

        But the General’s study does put a high, national-security premium on shale-oil production. And the report also recommends a back-up source of fossil fuels in the form of a robust coal-gasification industry. In other words, the General’s report offered a serious-minded, practical consideration of POL needs from a national-security perspective–a refreshing example of leadership-from-the-front, I’m sure you’ll agree. And a striking contrast with the scamster, flim-flam crapola that dominate the hive’s discussions of national fuel needs–again, I’m sure you agree, Louise.

      • Mike – frankly, I’m a bit disappointed that the General didn’t consider PV cells on submarines. It’s just the kind of game changer the greenies like.

      • Jim2,

        I really can’t add to your comment since I know next to nothing about fuel cells. But, please, if you’ve got an item that will reduce POL requirements, that’s great! Please pursue it–in some of the military professional publications, if nothing else. And then there’s always unsolicited proposals.

      • mike: PV = photo-voltaic, AKA solar cells.

      • jim2,

        Thanks for the gentle nudge in the direction of enlightenment–again you see my ignorance, generically, with “cells”–which caused me to miss your quality zinger. Sorry for the fumble of a good joke.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Mike, your strategic path dismally disrespects USMC Gen. James Mattis’ broad-implication guidance: Unleash us from the tether of fuel.”   :!:   :shock:   :!:

      • fan reminds me of my brother’s dog. He gets a new chew toy, and he doesn’t eat, sleep, or play with any other toys until he has chewed that thing to death.

        Hopefully, after another 60 or 70 comments by fan completely misreading the strategy memo he is worrying to death right now, he will move on to his next obsession du jour.

        And if my monitor runs out of yellow toner because of all the smiley faces, I expect fan to buy me a new cartridge.

      • The good news is that the smiley faces seem to be limited to 20 per day now

      • fan,

        You know, fan, your repellent attempt to hi-jack the good and honorable name of the Marine Corps and employ it as a part of your hive-bozo, shyster pitch on behalf of your CAGW scam would be more off-putting if you weren’t such a bumbling, doofus, screw-up incompetent.

        I mean, like, you didn’t even read the “General Mattis” article, did you, guy? I mean, like, you otherwise would not have put on the agit-prop hit-parade an article that showed not the slightest concern with carbon-reduction, solar-power, wind-mills or the like. An article that extolled shale oil as a national defense treasure. An article that advocated a robust coal-gasification industry. An article that provided a serious-minded, purposeful, problem-solving consideration of POL logistical support of expeditionary, combat operations. In other words, fan, an article that doesn’t give the slightest aid and comfort to your little CAGW con. I mean, like, you’re a real prize, fan. Jeez.

      • Gary M

        Fan’s real problem is a doomsday obsession combined with a pathological smiley fetish.

        Sad case.

        Max

  42. Mark B (number 2)

    ;) :D :) Thanks I’ll look at it, even though I’m not a marine (or a sub-mariner) myself. :D

    • Mark B (number 2)

      I have now read that paper. It does not mention the 70% solution anywhere in it.
      This is what it says about Paralysis:

      “Successful decisions may lead to great gains,
      but failure can lead to fearful losses. Some personalities instinctively
      respond to this environment with a hold-the-line,
      take-no-chances mentality. Others display an irresistible bias
      for action.
      Unless we understand the specific problems, dangers, and
      potential gains of a situation, the two approaches are equally
      dangerous. Paralysis is neither more nor less dangerous than
      blindly striking out in the face of either threat or opportunity.”

      Can anyone tell me how to put text into italics, please?

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        MarkB, please be aware that the “70% solution” is the one-line PowerPoint summary of USMC strategic doctrine   :)   :)   :)

      • What’s the next move when by the heuristic method one is more than 70% certain that the claims of global warming and AGW are science frauds, that none of the data from “climate scientists” can be trusted and so all the tax grab and legislation enacted already and further planned based on it is an unwarranted imposition at the very least even if there is some uncertainty that it is criminal?

        For example: “Mann was at the heart of the Climate-gate scandal in 2009, when emails were unearthed from Britain’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. In one email sent to Mann and others, CRU director Philip Jones speaks of the “trick” of filling in gaps of data in order to hide evidence of temperature decline:

        “”I’ve just completed Mike’s nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline (in global temperatures),” the email read.

        “It was that attempt to “hide the decline” through the manipulation of data that helped bring down the global warming house of cards.”

        From: http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/082312-623331-climate-gate-zealot-michael-mann-threatens-lawsuit.htm?p=full

        What’s the quickest way to get rid of them all and stop this?

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Myrrh  “What’s the quickest way to get rid of them all [climate scientists] and stop this?”

        Myrrh, it is my pleasure to answer your question!   :)   :)   :)

        Answer  Given that “Nature can be fooled”, and given also the increasing evidence that “Hansen’s climate-change worldview is scientifically accurate”, then there is no circumstance whatsoever in which climate-science can be “got rid off.”

        Or as the Marines put it: “A good commander will always remember that the enemy has a say in the outcome”.

        Whether Nature is humanity’s best ally, or worst enemy, depends largely upon how much we abuse her, eh Myrrh?   :!:   :!:   :!:

        Which is mighty sobering, eh?   :eek:   :eek:   :eek:

        What is your next question, Myrrh?   :)   :)   :)

      • Italics

        hit:

        To close

        hit:

        Max

      • Sorry, didn’t work

        Italics

        hit: “less than” sign
        hit: em
        hit: “greater than” sign

        close italics
        hit: “less than” sign
        hit: /
        hit: em
        hit: “greater than” sign

        Let’s see if it works this time

        Max

  43. Modern airliners are nothing if not complex and when something goes wrong in flight the cause is often unknowable. From Blogging at FL250

    … at an appropriate speed [I] commanded “Flaps 1.” The FO reached for the flap handle and slid it back into the first detente. Normally this results in a 10-second sequence of the slats moving 15 degrees down, followed by 5 degrees of flaps, during which the airplane pitches down appreciably as the lift devices enable a lower angle of attack. Instead we were immediately rewarded with a loud “ding!,” flashing yellow master caution lights, and four messages displayed on the EICAS:

    SLAT FAIL
    SPOILER FAULT
    AOA LIMIT FAIL
    SHAKER ANTICIPATED

    … The FO already had the spiral-bound, plastic-tabbed rectangular booklet that is the JungleBus’ Quick Reference Handbook out and was thumbing to the appropriate page.
    … The very first step in the QRH was to return the slat/flap handle to its last position – UP – and see if the messages cleared. They did. The second step was to extend the slats again and see if the messages returned. The slats and flaps deployed normally this time. “Proceed with normal operations.”

    And often the solution is simple.

  44. Lo! Bank risk and climate change are meeting in California:
    “Big banks weigh risks, rewards of California’s new CO2 market”
    http://planetark.org/wen/66470

    Heuristics anyone?

    • David Wojick

      “Thar’s GOLD in them thar hills!”

      (Maybe…)

      But back in those days most of it ended up in the pockets of swindlers or hookers.

      (This time around…?)

      Max

  45. Richard M. Hammer

    A very small nit to pick. Opening sentence a bent syllogism. Back burning a common fire control method.

  46. Ahhh… the wonders of government run capitalism.

    “The 69.9 per cent labor force participation rate for men is at lowest level recorded since the US government began tracking it in 1948.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2199815/Obamas-DNC-2012-speech-Bleak-unemployment-numbers-morning-Obama-tells-DNC-problems-solved.html

    • That’s a feature, not a bug. That’s why CO2 emissions are back to 1990s levels. That’s why the seas are ceasing to rise, just as promised in 2008, despite what Fan says.

  47. Instead of spreading fears about burning oil we should have been burning the midnight oil across America. And now we have a declining middle class under the Obama regime because the economy is shrinking under The Left’s stonkernomics.

    But, under the current cash-for-clunker anti-business thinking (e.g., using public money to bailout of the Union that bankrupted GM with all of the people who investing their savings in GM simply left holding the bag) we have more people everyday who simply leave the job market altogether with their hand out and looking for government to provide lifetime benefits.

    Bush inherited recession from Clinton when he took office in 2001. Then, If you remember, the Democrat party maligned every employer of every new worker by labeling every a rise of employment under Bush as more “hamburger flipper jobs.”

    “When I took office, our economy was beginning a recession. Then our economy was hit by terrorists. Then our economy was hit by corporate scandals” ~GeorgeBush

    The 2002 corporate scandals included Enron, Tyco International, Adelphia, Peregrine Systems, WorldCom… and then, The Democrat party’s Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 that shot all of the horses in the head.

  48. Judith,

    Uncertainty, the uncertainty monster, deep uncertainty, Psychology of Uncertainty, Uncertainty is not your friend (?) Education and the Art of Uncertainty , ‘Handling Uncertainty in Science’, Making decisions under deep uncertainty…… etc etc etc etc

    I think we’ve heard all this before. How many more times are you going to rehash the same thing? Its all getting very stale and very boring.

    Look, the Arctic ice has just reached a new minimum. You’ve written papers on what’s happening in Antarctica. Why not tell us about those changes?

    What not clarify some of the uncertainties as you promised to try to do originally?

    • tempterrain

      Yes.

      There is great uncertainty regarding the validity of the key IPCC claim that

      Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.

      This uncertain claim forms the basis for the IPCC projections of significant AGW carried out to the end of this century and beyond, which in turn form the basis for the uncertain IPCC position that AGW, caused principally by human CO2 emissions represents a serious potential threat to humanity and our environment unless actions are taken to dramatically curtail human GHG emissions, primarily CO2.

      It also formed the basis for IPCC projections of warming of 0.2 degC per decade for the first decades of this century (as you know from the HadCRUT3 record, there is no uncertainty whether this projection was correct – it actually cooled by around half this rate since the new century started – but there is great uncertainty whether or not the present lack of warming will continue for another decade or so).

      [As you remember, you and I have a related wager, which runs out the end of this year.]

      This uncertainty is a key concern of climate scientists all over the world, and an ongoing topic in blogs, which concern themselves with the ongoing scientific and policy debate on AGW.

      So, TT, you see that the defining issue in the entire scientific debate on AGW is uncertainty, in other words the science is NOT settled.

      Max

    • Max,

      There is uncertainty. The IPCC would put it at the order or 10% or so which isn’t “great”, as you put it.

      There is a big difference between acknowledging that nothing in science is absolutely certain, and trying to clarify what those uncertainties are. Judith, and she can correct me if I’m wrong, at one time promised to try to do just that.

      Instead, as we all know, she’s emphasised and exaggerated the uncertainty levels. She’s failed to point out that uncertainty means that things could just as well turn out worse than the IPCC have predicted as better.

      Judith Curry has joined the ranks of climate deniers and is can now quite rightly be termed a ‘merchant of doubt’.

      • To be fair, Curry has occasionally made comments that indicate she does accept things could be worse. She has made several comments on CS – one that it could be 0-6 C, and another suggesting a 90% confidence level for, incredibly, 0-10 C.

        But sure, the emphasis is mostly in the other direction, for no clear reasons.

      • OK Yes we can be fair, if you like, and admit she has said that, although I would say its pretty obvious she now wishes she hadn’t.

        Judith isn’t speaking to me at the moment, but I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to persuade her to assign percentage figures for each possible range. 0-1 degC, 1-2deg C etc.

        CE is supposed to be about the exchange of scientific ideas so I can’t see why that should be regarded as a silly question.

      • Robert I Ellison

        The trouble is that you are profoundly unscientific, talk in slogans, have a single misfiring neuron which you mistake for frisson and then keep asking silly questions of someone vastly intellectually superior to you and which you couldn’t possibly understand if an answer were given.

        I would suggest not expecting an answer any time soon – perhaps you try reading the posts for guidance and doing some homework.

      • Robert I Ellison,

        You’re right that I don’t expect an answer from Judith. In spite of what she claimed at the start she doesn’t want to use CE to discuss the science of global warming. Judith is extremely reluctant to any direct questions from me or anyone else.

        As Michael above has said, Judith has given a range for the likelihood of climate sensitivity. It was 1-6 deg C (to 66% confidence level).

        I suggested that therefore she was saying that there was a 1 in 6 chance of CS being higher than 6 degC. Are you with me so far?

        Judith disputed this figure, but of course without offering an alternative, mentioning a possible asymmetry in the pdf. Still with me? So if not 1 in 6, what is it? That’s what I’m asking.

      • General Malaise

        She would do well to dispute any simplisitic assessment of of this non-sensical parameter. I am not with you – I am way ahead of you. Try asking asking a rational and sensible question. Try doing some broad ranging homework before making an idiot of yourself.

        One of the biggest problems with the idea of climate sensitivity, λ, is the idea that it exists as a constant value.

        From Stephens (2005), reference and free link below:

        The relationship between global-mean radiative forcing and global-mean climate response (temperature) is of intrinsic interest in its own right. A number of recent studies, for example, discuss some of the broad limitations of (1) and describe procedures for using it to estimate Q from GCM experiments (Hansen et al. 1997; Joshi et al. 2003; Gregory et al. 2004) and even procedures for estimating  from observations (Gregory et al. 2002).

        While we cannot necessarily dismiss the value of (1) and related interpretation out of hand, the global response, as will become apparent in section 9, is the accumulated result of complex regional responses that appear to be controlled by more local-scale processes that vary in space and time.

        If we are to assume gross time–space averages to represent the effects of these processes, then the assumptions inherent to (1) certainly require a much more careful level of justification than has been given. At this time it is unclear as to the specific value of a global-mean sensitivity as a measure of feedback other than providing a compact and convenient measure of model-to-model differences to a fixed climate forcing (e.g., Fig. 1).

        [Emphasis added and where the reference to “(1)” is to the linear relationship between global temperature and global radiation].

        If, for example, λ is actually a function of location, season & phase of ENSO.. then clearly measuring overall climate response is a more difficult challenge. http://scienceofdoom.com/2011/09/22/measuring-climate-sensitivity-part-one/

      • General, or Robert, or whatever you are calling yourself today,

        If what you say is correct, the concept of climate sensitivity has little meaning. But if Judith thought that to be the case she wouldn’t have used the term.

        I notice Peter Lang, on the US Presidential Politics thread, has said of you:
        “I can see you have strong opinions. I can also see it is based on big ego and little knowledge.”
        That was very amusing! The same description applies to you both, of course, but at least he’s not wrong about everything>

      • General Malaise

        To be fair – the general malaise of talking through your arse is not limited to you. Peter at least has the sense to do some homework. You on the other can not possibly have read or even have the capacity to understand the SoD article I linked to. Or to go beyond that to seek a balanced understanding.

        It is piles of drivel you leave behind. A series of slimy gotchas, insults or snarks. Do you think I give a rat’s arse about your pathetic little characterisation?

        https://judithcurry.com/2011/02/26/agreeing/ – if you refuse to actually think about issues but simply want to score points – perhaps others will be more honest, capable and thoughtful. Sensitivity is 1 to 6 degrees complicated by decadal and longer variability. Although it may be variable based on local and regional conditions (Cloud Feedbacks in the Climate System: A Critical Review, Stephens, Journal of Climate 2005). Take that to the bank.

        Of course – in a chaotic system there are all sorts of different problems.

        Climate Sensitivity, Feedback and Bifurcation: From Snowball Earths to the Runaway Greenhouse

        The concept of climate sensitivity lays at the heart of assessment of the magnitude of the imprint of human activities on the Earth’s climate. Most commonly, the “climate” is represented by a simple projection such as a global mean temperature, and we wish to know how this changes in response to changes in a single control parameter — usually atmospheric CO2 concentration. This problem is an instance of a broad class of related problems in parameter dependence of dynamical systems. I will discuss the shortcomings of the traditional linear approach to this problem, particularly in light of the spurious “runaway” states produced when feedback becomes large. The extension to include nonlinear effects relates in a straightforward way to bifurcation theory. I will discuss explicit examples arising from ice-albedo, water vapor, and cloud feedbacks. Finally, drawing on the logistic map as an example, I will discuss the problem of defining climate sensitivity for problems exhibiting structural instability. Raymond Pierrehumbert, University of Chicago, USA

        You are seriously misguided if you think that probabilities can be simply assigned – again it is the general malaise of talking through your arse.

      • Pierrehumbert’s talk looks interesting, but i couldn’t find anything online besides the abstract?

      • If sensitivity with feedback is extremely sensitive to initial conditions (the butterfly effect) then there is in practical terms no such number. It sounds like this will be P’s point.

      • My limited physics tells me that the only aspect of climate sensitivity that makes any real scientific sense is total climate sensitivity. This I define as the amount that global temperatures rise as a result of a rise in CO2 concentration. This is the only number with respect to climate sensitivity that can, in theory, be actually measured; though no proponent of CAGW seems to show any interest in actually trying to get a value for this number from the empirical data. All other numbers are hypothetical, in that it is impossible to actually measure them. They, therefore, have no meaning in physics.

        What little empirical data we have, and it is not very much, gives a strong indication that total climate sensitivity has a value that is indistinguishable from zero. There is no empirical data which shows that as more CO2 is added to the atmopshere, this causes global temperatures to rise.

      • Jim Cripwell,

        Why is there so much focus on climate sensitivity and so little focus on two other parameters that are perhaps even more relevant, at this stage, for informing policy decisions:

        – ‘Damage Function’

        – ‘decarbonisation rate’

      • Peter Lang, you write “Why is there so much focus on climate sensitivity`
        `
        Simple. If the value of total climate sensitivity is, indeed, indistinguishable from zero, then there is no need to do ANYTHING about CAGW, such as damage function and decarbonization rate.

  49. The U.S. presidential candidates on science, including globalclimatewarmingchange,

    http://www.sciencedebate.org/debate12/

    • Gary M

      Excellent comparison of the positions of the two US Presidential candidates.

      Thanks for posting it.

      Max

  50. Jim Cripwell,

    In case you don’t see it buried in the thread above, I’ve replied to your comment about biofuels here:
    https://judithcurry.com/2012/09/06/decision-making-under-uncertainty-the-dog-and-the-frisbee/#comment-236934

  51. Max 7 Sept @7.44pm:
    Max, isn’t pathological smiley fetish a symptom of Abilene Organizational Syndrome? I believe the treatment is Feynmann’s get back ter tough review and also a ‘don’t fool yerself’ exercise regime.

  52. For both, less may be more because more information comes at too high a price.

    The principle is correct, but the reason given is false. Less may be more not because information is expensive, but because more information will not necessarily improve decisions made via simple decision rules.

    ————————————

    In contrast to doing the science, which requires a lot of detailed information, you can analyze the case for mitigation using very simple rules:

    1. Climatic conditions that have not existed on earth for millions of years cannot be said to be safe for humans, who depend on agriculture and large urban centers and many other things that have developed and are adapted to a narrow range of climatic conditions.

    2. We have only one earth, which we depend on for survival.

    3. If we postpone burning fossil fuels now, they can easily be burned later. In contrast, if we radially change the climate, those changes will unfold over the course of thousands of years, and be irreversible with any technology we now possess.

    Aggressive mitigation is highly robust to ignorance. Rapidly warming the earth is not. I would like to think Dr. Curry understands this basic fact and is presenting this article in a spirit of open-minded inquiry. I fear, however, that it may be another example of her misunderstanding of how uncertainty and complexity strengthen the case for mitigation.

  53. Faustino (way upthread) said:
    “I argued against the Australian Government throwing money around in response to the GFC (which had little impact here), but said that if they were going to, they should do so by revamping the welfare payments “system” so as to ease the benefits-to-work transition, getting rid of the extremely high effective marginal tax rates which often apply.”
    ——————————————
    I was involved in some very large and detailed costing exercises on fixing the EMTR problems some years ago. (For general readers, EMTRs describe the phenomenon where, as a welfare recipient’s income rises, their benefits decrease, sometimes dollar-for-dollar. It is argued that this is a disincentive for people to undertake paid work.)

    The problem is, increasing the taper is horrendously expensive, given that our political masters specified that under any proposal, no-one should ever be worse off than under the current system. Without going into boring detail, due to the interactions of various benefits and the tax system, it would have cost billions of dollars a year to significantly change anything.

    There is a saying that only half a dozen people in Australia completely understand the tax system, the social security system, and how they interact – and three of them are dead. It is not far from the truth. But the exercises I was involved with (Cabinet papers, so not available for another 20 years, unfortunately) made it clear that it’s an intractable problem.

    Given that any change to a negative income tax system would also have the caveat that no-one should be worse off, I doubt that the savings would be as great as you might think. It would have to be riddled with exceptions, and politicians would continue to tinker with it every time an election was in the offing.

    Sigh. I just wish you were right, but sadly, it’s unlikely.

    More generally, the tendency of even initially simple and clear rule frameworks to accrete size and complexity over time is well known. Democracy’s often to blame – politicians give in to this or that interest group, which causes knock-on effects that require or create pressure for more regulations, and so on.

    The only solution is if a government has the guts to start with a clean sheet and sweep everything away. Nick Greiner’s government did some stellar work on that 20 odd years ago. But since then, populists and urgers have undermined much of it. It’s an endless cycle, seemingly.

  54. The delusion is that you have to understand things down to the end game to act

    In software engineering that pitfall is called analysis paralysis.
    What you do instead is have iterative development; you make a start, and adjust and correct yourself as you go along.

  55. tempt. yer chastise Judith Curry fer emphasising uncertainty, but isn’t sweeping uncertainty under the carpet a symptom, (tempt) of Abeline Syndrome, a response in large organisation group behavior replacing critical thinking … i’m only asking as an escapee from the humanities who seeks ter understand, so i’d be grateful fer any crumbs of wisdom yer might like ter impart on why JC’s noting uncertainty jest ain’t appropriate. Thanx tempt.

  56. Jacob,
    @ September 7, 2012 at 3:02 pm |

    Govm is spendig billions on renewable research but hundreds of billions on windmills that are totally useless.
    Here is a simple heuristic rule for policy makers: don’t waste money.

    True. The issue of the costs of wind power, the emissions avoided by wind generation and the CO2 abatement cost with power hit the news in Australia with an article in the “Weekend Australian”. It has initiated a new avalanche of heated discussion on the issue.

    One response was the article on this web site which is aimed primarily at those inside the electricity industry: http://www.wattclarity.com.au/2012/09/high-wind-production-in-south-australia/

    I’ve posted two comments. The first points out how the proportion of emissions avoided by wind generation decreases as the proportion of the electricity generated by wind (called ‘wind penetration’) increases.

    The second is about the emissions avoided and the CO2 emissions avoidance cost
    http://www.wattclarity.com.au/2012/09/high-wind-production-in-south-australia/#comment-4745

    I’ll post the comment in full for the interest of those interested in climate policy and renewable energy costs and ineffectiveness.

    Hi Paul,

    Thank you for your quick response and for your upper bound calculation of the emissions avoided by wind generation in the SA grid.

    You say:

    In the analysis we publish (and tools we provide) we strive to remain technology agnostic – and just to present facts, such that people can make up their own minds in terms of judgements such as large/small and expensive/inexpensive.

    However, you’ve estimated an upper bound but not a lower bound or best estimate. I suggest it is really important to present this information objectively and with proper balance. The costs and benefits of wind energy is an important issue. Australia is committing to and spending billions of dollars on wind energy, apparently without objective analysis of the costs and benefits. So I’d urge that the estimates for CO2 emissions avoided and the CO2 avoidance cost be calculated and presented objectively.

    Your upper bound estimate assumes 100% of the wind power displaces coal power. Many studies show this is not the case. The paper I linked to in my previous comment is one example. There are many others from Europe and North America that reach similar conclusions. Australia does not have any emissions measurements, so we are guessing. We don’t even have accurate emissions estimates, let alone at the 5 to 15 minute time spacing that is needed to do the equivalent of the study of the emissions avoided by wind generation in the EirGrid..

    I’d urge you to balance your comment by also presenting the lower bound and the best estimate.

    I would suggest the emissions avoided should be compared against three baselines:

    1. the average emissions intensity of the SA grid, excluding wind power

    2. the average emissions intensity of the fossil fuel generation that would have been the case now if the government had not mandated and subsidised wind power – if government policy had not mandated and subsidised wind power, the SA grid would have more CCGT and less OCGT, and the OCGT would be running more efficiently (lower emissions intensity) than they are, so the average emissions intensity of the fossil fuel generators in the SA grid would be lower than it is now.

    3. Baseline #1 with the emissions embodied in the wind farms included.

    Below I show an example of how I suggest the calculation could be done for the first case above. However, please note that numbers used in my example below are fictitious. I’d urge the analysis be redone using the best available numbers.

    Assumptions and calculations:

    CO2 emissions avoided:

    SA grid average emissions, excluding wind = 0.7 t/MWh

    Wind power displaces 65% of emissions at 27.5% wind penetration (“Emissions savings from wind power”: http://joewheatley.net/emissions-savings-from-wind-power/ )

    Emissions avoided by wind generation = 65% x 0.7 t/MWh = 0.46 t/MWh

    CO2 Avoidance cost:

    Additional cost of electricity from wind generation (this cost should include all the hidden subsidies and hidden cost transfers to the fossil fuel generators) = $60/MWh

    CO2 abatement cost with wind generation in SA = $60/MWh / 0.46 t/MWh = $132/t.

    I’d urge that the best available numbers be used to calculate a lower bound and best estimate.

    .

  57. Robert Ellison,

    You seem to be back with another word. “Ordure”. Very good. But now that you’ve picked it up I hope you aren’t tempted to overuse it in quite the same way you’ve tended to overuse “pissant” in the past. I notice you’ve already used “ordure” twice on this blog but “pissant” only once.

    I notice that you’ve said “pinhead progressive” this time which is slightly different and a step in the right direction.

  58. This is an interesting article. i fully support the statement that certain very complicated problems need simple decision in order to get solved. These “simple decisions” are often very subtle and common sense i think. In order to make progress decision sometimes need to be taken fast and effieciently. Maybe a poll or something on certain decisions would make it easier for politic or sientific issues to be solved.(a well educated group which understands the matter, of course). This like this happen on YahooClever or sodene(http://www.sodene.com) and show great results even on very very complicated problems.this approach should be used in real life too.

  59. MAX OK

    Keynesian is better. Some people rathole their tax cut money or use it to pay down debt, neither of which is much of a stimulus for the economy.

    This is riddled with elementary errors.

    – There is no such thing as a Keynesian “stimulus”.
    Since spending power doesn’t grow on trees, all that happens is that spending and economic activity is shifted from some places to others (usually with elections in mind).

    – “ratholing” money.
    People don’t stuff money in mattresses anymore, they put it in banks where other people borrow it. (And even if they did it would have zero effect on total spending power, since removing it from circulation inherently increases the spending power of the money that remains in circulation).

    – paying down debt
    Again, this money doesn’t mysteriously disappear either, it goes to creditors (who also don’t stuff it into mattresses; they spend it).

  60. Hey it’s a post in my area of expertise. How uncertain is that?

    Where to begin? Well let’s try this oft-cited passage: “[R]ational expectations assumes that information collection is close to costless and that agents have cognitive faculties sufficient to weight probabilistically all future outturns.”

    But does it? Here’s what ‘Party Bob’ Lucas once said about the precise content of the rational expectations hypothesis… and since he’s the Nobel Laureate on that particular subject, I guess we can pay more than normal attention to his opinion:

    “Economics has tended to focus on situations in which the agent can be expected to…have learned the consequences of different actions so that his observed choices reveal stable features of his underlying preferences. We use economic theory to calculate how certain variations in the situation are predicted to affect behavior, but these calculations obviously do not reflect or usefully model the adaptive process by which subjects have themselves arrived at the decision rules they use. Technically, I think of economics as studying decision =rules that are steady states of some adaptive process, decision rules
    that are found to work over a range of situations and hence are no longer revised appreciably as morrational expectations assumes that information collection is close to costless and that agents have cognitive faculties sufficient to weight probabilistically all future outturns.”

    It should be obvious that the first quotation and the second quotation are very different. One is about what Vernon Smith would have called ‘constructive rationality,’ that is deliberatively rational behavior, the explicit and overt solution (by a ‘mind’) to a decision problem. The second is about an evolutionary process that ends after discarding many rules and/or recipes for behavior. These are VERY different conceptions of the meaning of rational expectations.

    Obviously, under the second view, there’s not much special about uncertainty as opposed to risk, because a mindless evolutionary process couldn’t care less about the nature of risks and/or uncertainties faced, whether they be aleatory or epistemic or whatnot. Therefore, the theorist who views all this from an evolutionary (or adaptive) perspective need not concern herself with epistemic angst. Nor does a theorist, looking for an adaptive steady state of decision rules, need to worry about how agents weight things. That is a question about algorithms and machines, not about adaptive steady states.

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