Week in review 8/3/13

by Judith Curry

A few things that caught my eye this past week.

Climate change and conflict

Researchers from Princeton University and the University of California-Berkeley who reported in the journal Science that even slight spikes in temperature and precipitation have greatly increased the risk of personal violence and social upheaval throughout human history.  Perspectives on this include

 The uncertainties in attribution/causal analysis on a topic like this seem overwhelming to me.  The issue seems to me that any substantial deviation from the norm (e.g. recent memory), either hot or cold, wet or dry, or stormy or not, would cause problems if there are resource shortages.  I’m sure it won’t surprise you that this topic is being hotly debated.

Papers on the pause

AGW Observer has a bibliography of papers  on global surface temperatures since 1998, including abstracts.  I’ve seen almost all of these papers, a few new ones here.  In any event, it is useful to read all of these abstracts collected together.

RP Jr on Anti-Science

At the Breakthrough Institute, Roger Pielke Jr has a n article Against ‘Anti-science’ Tribalism.  The article starts off with this statement:

As a corollary to Godwin’s Law, in which during the course of a debate a given argument is equated either with Hitler or Nazism, scientists and politicians have their own version that amounts to labeling a person “anti-science.” The phrase “anti-science” is meant to be a trump card in political debates, one that utterly ends the conversation and defines one’s opponent as illegitimate. What if instead we struck the phrase from our vocabulary and asked ourselves to reengage with the actual data, values, and arguments.

When I hear anyone use the phrase ‘anti-science’, it is like finger nails on a blackboard.  I doubt that anyone in actuality  is ‘anti-science’ in terms of being against the idea of science. Rather someone might have an incorrect understanding of the science on a particular topic (being stupid or ignorant does not imply anti-science), or more likely they object to a policy being pushed in the name of science by advocates who think that ‘science’ demands certain policies.

Pielke’s essay also brings to mind this essay on progressive anti-science, entitled Friends of the Earth hate clean energy and so does President Obama, which is a turnaround on the usual anti-science accusations.

Are climate skeptics the real champions of the scientific method?

With all the kerfuffle surrounding Tamsin’s article, there is another equally provocative essay published in the Guardian by Warren Pearce entitled  Are climate skeptics the real champions of the scientific method?  Well worth reading, it is also of relevance to RP Jr’s post and Tamsin’s essay.  This sentence sums up his piece:

However, how can criticisms of sceptics as politically motivated be squared with science’s commitment to findings always being provisional and open to challenge?

Pearce is being called ‘young and naive’ by the knowledgable people of the twitosphere.  It will be interesting to see if Pearce and Tamsin will be ‘forgiven’ for their ‘transgressions’ against the expectation that you not only toe the line scientifically, but also that you support the ’cause.’


I’ve decided to step up my engagement with the Twitosphere.  I have stayed out of it until now, since I frankly didn’t ‘get’ it. But I now appreciate it as a source that points to new and interesting papers/blog posts etc., that can provide material for my blog.  I am now tweeting my blog posts.  I don’t have any particular interest in trying to build a big twitter following, but mainly want to use it as a pointer to new information/analyses.  I’ve selected about a dozen people to follow; I would appreciate your suggestions as to who gives good tweets.

315 responses to “Week in review 8/3/13

  1. Twitosphere?


    A derogatory term for the place where ridiculous, meaningless, and tacky content from social networking sites resides on the Internet. – Urban Dictionary

    You’re already there, Dr. Curry. Climate Etc. has been in the twitosphere from its inception.

    Perhaps you mean twitterverse?

    • try googling the word twitosphere.

      • curryja | August 3, 2013 at 12:46 pm |

        I live there.

      • curryja | August 3, 2013 at 12:46 pm |

        More to the point, and less lamelolishly, this raises some interesting questions of semantics.

        The subset of the blogosphere which had been slammed by pundits as being the twitosphere took ownership of the word, wrested it from its original meaning, and filled the blogosphere with the interpretation that twitosphere meant twitterverse, as opposed to its original meaning.

        This Luntzian use of language, redefining words so they can’t even mean any more the concept they are meant to communicate, is a hallmark of what was once called the twitosphere, and of political speech now more than ever. Telling someone to google a word for its meaning is a bit like telling schoolchildren to google questions about climate science but not read the actual articles with critical skepticism. Oh, wait, that’s David Wojick’s GWPF-sponsored plan, isn’t it.

        There’s no validity in finding out what the twitosphere thinks a word means, beyond the practice of descriptive linguistics.

        Apply some inference and skepticism, Dr. Curry. What is more likely: that a pundit used “twitosphere” to describe the part of the blogosphere inhabited most dominantly by twits, as a play on words for twitterverse, or that two completely different words evolved with identical meanings out of thin air? Twitterverse has an easily traced pedigree. You can find its earliest uses, not if you google it but if you google it skeptically and diligently. Twitosphere, too.

        Guess which etymology doesn’t reflect well on your usage?

      • The things that set off some of the denizens never cease to amaze me. It’s not like Twitter is itself a subject of great ideological debate. Perhaps it should be called the Twitstream.

      • I have always said that this CE comment area is no different than a Twitter feed.
        “I always said that this is more of a twitter feed than anything else, and it still is.”

        I think it is a good idea to go to twitter instead — as I said before, consider some poor sap Googles “temperature trends” and they find 10,000 graphs by Girma, believing it is significant.

      • “Too many twits makes a tw@” as our illustrious Prime Minister said

      • I too have begun wondering whether or not I should try what I call ‘Twitterdom’, but the 140-character limit worries me — about what kind of sense can be involved in discussions there.

      • The 140 character limit is no problem as as you can link to a blog or to an image to convey more information. For example, this comment section is a joke in being able to markup a math model or present graphs informatively

      • I prefer tweets. 140 chars help focus.

        The twitterverse is bigger than the blogosphere. With the disparition of RSS, it becomes mandatory.

        See you there.

      • John Carpenter

        You got Judith real good Bart. Good job correcting her for misusing such an important word in our new lexicon, hey and I love how you threw in another reference to Luntz, give him another stab while your at it. And telling someone to google something.. Heh, yeah, sooo passé, what was she thinking? The nerve of some people. Hey, whatever happened to that new lexicon you worked so hard on for describing AGW more accurately? I don’t see you pushing that anymore. Maybe it was a little too cumbersome to remember all those terms and abbreviations? I dunno, I kinda had a hard time with it myself, didn’t really roll off the tongue too easy in my opinion. You need to make it more flashy, you know, something with a little more pizzazz. Twist the words around a little in ways they look like something else… Oh wait, what am I saying, you don’t want to copy someone like that shyster Luntz, sorry. Well, I’ll let you get back to that etymology hobby of yours. G’bye.

      • John Carpenter | August 3, 2013 at 8:44 pm |

        You appear to imply — if I interpret the sarcasm I’ve been told is in your comment — mean-spirited or low motives in my remarks. I assure you, I intend only to help.

        As for “Unnatural Climate Kinetics due Forcing”, how is that phrase more cumbersome than the inaccurate and inept Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming? Is the technically apt “Unnatural Normalized Trendology in Climate” really more of a mouthful than Global Warming Policy Foundation?

        If it’s that hard for you, perhaps make an acronym of the terms. I used them several times here in the past day before your remark, so perhaps it is that you aren’t following Climate Etc. very closely. Perhaps use the find feature on your browser?

        As for whether or not they become common parlance, I don’t care: consensus that is in the wrong doesn’t sway me to do the same wrong myself.

        Would you jump off a bridge because some stranger on the interwebs did?

      • Web,

      • John Carpenter

        Bart, see here


        I didn’t get down to your later comment. I also have to honestly say I don’t read every single comment you write, sorry, sometimes they get get a bit long winded.

      • Web

        If you are correct about this site, is your regular presence here a sign you are auditioning for the job of head clown?

      • Head clown timg56? The competition for this title on CE is pretty intense!!!!!

      • “With the disparition of RSS, it becomes mandatory.”

        Twitter is essentially a simple RDF graph of relationships expressed as triples. Twitter feeds are conceptually very simple so it seems quite a pain to support RSS feeds of variously formatted blog comments when all you have to do is support one twitter format.

        The semantic knowledgebase that I am working on as part of the open-source http://ContextEarth.com environmental modeling project is all triple stores tied together with first-order logic. It takes some discipline to maintain the ontological hierarchy, but it is worth it for indexing.

        If Bart is finding fault with precise meaning of words, I would pay attention. The semantic web is all about using the underlying meaning to disambiguate terms in doing directed searches and reasoning about graphs.

        Contrary to what Tim and Peter say, the project is very un-clownish.

      • You guys just don’t get it. Words means what Bart says they do, because otherwise he’d have to produce actual arguments one day.

      • Chief Hydrologist


        1. The online Twitter community ( a subset of the blogosphere).


        1. The cyberspace area of twitter. This naturally extends beyond twitter.com to anywhere you can twitter, which includes cell phones.

        2. The name for the people of twitter and the space they occupy

        Urban Dictionary

        Bart first of quotes the second meaning from urban dictionary which – which much as I like to use it for amusing and usually vulgar definitions – is not usually considered entirely reliable. He then engages in his usual display of fatuous babble – an absurd and trivial stream of consciousness fantasy whose only purpose is to insult Judith. It is just so utterly silly yet again.

      • Peter,

        Web isn’t really a clown. I simply found it ironic that he spends so much time here, considering he thinks it is a joke of a site.

        Then there is his Clown List thing.

      • David Springer

        When asked to google ‘twitosphere’ BartR replies:

        Bart R | August 3, 2013 at 12:51 pm |

        “I live there.”

        It has always been obvious that Bart doesn’t live in reality. Now we know exactly where.

      • David Springer

        Webby is on a mission. That’s why he’s here. What mission you might ask? That’s a very good, question. Even David Springer doesn’t know the answer to it.

      • David Springer | August 4, 2013 at 11:19 am |

        Webby is on a mission. That’s why he’s here. What mission you might ask? That’s a very good, question.

        I have occasionally explained the reason I am here. I do analysis and find a couple of ways to get inspiration. One is to to go on a training run or ride and let the endorphins kick in. The other is to see someone comment on something I say here, get agitated and thus let the endorphins kick in. Yes, I do get ideas here, and have a tolerance for punishment.

        And to add to that, you don’t find the new ideas from people that have the same mindset as you, but from people that differ from you. Moreover, I still have a kid’s curiosity in kicking over rocks to see what kinds of creatures scurry away. There is also the possibility that people are trying to hide something the more they complain, or the more they try to rationalize.

    • Bart: Re your comment:
      For shame!

  2. Studies of effects of temperature variation on violence reach back decades, and observations are noted for centuries or millennia in literature (Tonyb ought be able to provide references from jolly ye Olde Englande). Also, demographic factors like crowding, education level, poverty and tax rates are studied. So too are the effects of pollutants like tetraethyl lead, mercury and the like known in population aggression profiles.

    So a timely reminder that, oh yeah, we’ve known for ages that warmer weather contributes to crime rates and aggression and that too will be an inevitable cost of Unnatural Climate Kinetics due Forcing by lucrative industry?

    That’s just good open communication of established science from a field I believe Dr. Curry is not overqualified to comment on. How is that Anthropology degree going, Doc?

    Perhaps invite Benny Pieser to remark, as it’s actually his field of study, or once was before he went off bubble?

    • Bart – you need to research the link between hunger and violence – it is much stronger. Warmer weather and more CO2 means more food. Exactly what the doctor ordered.

      • jim2 | August 3, 2013 at 1:27 pm |

        Specious reasoning, and false claims certainly do fall from your mouth like rotting fruit from a diseased tree.

        The link between hunger and violence? Do you have a reference comparing the strength of this connection to the correlation with temperature?

        More CO2 means more depletion of nitrogen in the soil. It means plants divert energy from fruiting bodies to woody tissue mass. It means plants take up less water and thus have less available to cool by transpiration and to transport sugars. You’re basing your expectations of more food on long vines and branches.

        Do you eat branches?

        Do you eat vines?

        What really happens is more drought wiping out crops, more floods wiping out crops, more aggressively branching and strangling by weeds, and more active vermin, with more need for expensive fertilizers to maintain soil’s dying beneficial microbes against the warmth-loving crop spoilers.

        And if you ask people who run cattle and swine and poultry and fisheries about whether Unnatural Climate Kinetics due Forcing by lucrative fossil industries, they’ll look at you like you’re babbling utter nonsense.

      • Right, Bart. Specious reasoning … look in the mirror.

      • Actually, Bart, more biological activity means more nitrogen fixation. I suppose you don’t think we are running out of nitrogen? Wait. DO YOU???

        Anyway, warmer climate means more regions amenable to the growing of crops and (maybe) more rain. Add that to more CO2 and you have happy plants, Happy Earth, Happy Humans. A win-win-win.

      • > look in the mirror.

        This is Godwin for RHETORICS, jim2.

        Cf. Brice de Nice, Ridicule, etc.

      • jim2 | August 3, 2013 at 4:20 pm |

        What the heck are you talking about?

        Nitrogen is fixed by no plant. It’s fixed by soil microbes.

        Legumes, the chief classification of plants associated with nitrogen fixing do so because their roots host a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

        These bacteria are highly sensitive to soil conditions, and field tests have shown that increased CO2 concentration in the air, and increased warming (in particular less night time cooling) leads to faster net depletion of soil nitrogen.

        There are other nitrogen-fixing bacteria than the legume symbiotes in plants; experiments are ongoing with a microbe found in the roots of a type of bamboo that might work with other plant species. However, as farmers have known for decades, the need for fertilizer for exhausted soil is growing at a rapid rate.

        Check out the world sales of ammonia in agriculture over the past century, if you wish confirmation.

        Note also its peaks in the years following high levels of flooding, drought or heatwave.

      • John Carpenter

        “Unnatural Climate Kinetics due Forcing by lucrative fossil industries”

        Bart, I take part of my previous comment back,


        I see you are still pushing that new lexicon and it does look a little more refined from the original version…. but still, UCKDFBLFI, man that is ugly and maybe even looks like a bit of a swear word, so maybe using it as an abbreviation is out. But like I said above, it really doesn’t roll off the tongue so good. Honestly, I don’t think ‘anthropogenic’ does either, just to be fair. But it’s only one hard word to say while your new terminology has seven big awkward words that don’t really mesh together well. Keep working at it, I’m rooting for you!

      • Bart – from now on supply links for your blatherings.

        “Higher CO2 Produces Several-fold Increases in Plant Nitrogen Fixation
        One of the reasons why low soil nitrogen levels, in particular, are not an insurmountable impediment to CO2-induced growth enhancement is that plants exposed to elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations do not need to invest as much nitrogen in their photosynthetic apparatus, as it operates so much more efficiently at higher CO2 levels. In addition, atmospheric CO2 enrichment has the ability to directly stimulate the activity of nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

        The capacity of these symbiotic microorganisms to remove nitrogen from the atmosphere and make it available to vegetation appears to be limited by their host plants’ rates of carbohydrate production. Consequently, anything that stimulates vegetative productivity, including atmospheric CO2 enrichment, generally stimulates bacterial nodule growth and activity. It is not surprising, therefore, that several-fold increases in the air’s CO2 content have been found to produce several-fold increases in nitrogen fixation in a number of experiments.

        Indeed, the evidence clearly shows that, even in the face of severe shortages of nitrogen and other nutrients, plant photosynthetic rates may still be significantly stimulated by atmospheric CO2 enrichment, setting in motion a number of ”


      • CO2 and nitrogen fixation:

        Probably can be done with any plant:

        Oceans will fix more nitrogen with more CO2:

        There are more papers that document the increased nitrogen fixation with elevated CO2. The truth is out there – as I’m sure you are sad to hear.

      • Silly Bart,

        Don’t you know, wjen it gets warmer in the Sahara, plants will thrive!

      • jim2 demands links and then posts a link to a VERY strange site.

        The page he links to contains absolutely no references for it’s wild claims, which to my mind is as good as not posting a link in the first place.

        It cites Archibald’s false CO2 graph among other nonsense:

        Whois shows that the domain plantsneedco2.org is registered to “Quintana Minerals Corporation”

        “Quintana Minerals Corporation explores and develops oil and gas.”

        Only in upsidedown world does it make sense why an oil and gas company would expend money and time setting up a website about CO2 and plants…

      • @lolwot | August 4, 2013 at 5:50 am |
        lolwot denies that CO2 has an effect proportional to the log of concentration. Talk about strange!

      • David Springer

        Bart R | August 3, 2013 at 2:15 pm |

        “Specious reasoning, and false claims certainly do fall from your mouth like rotting fruit from a diseased tree.”

        Yo momma is a diseased tree and you da fruit. So there.

      • lolwot reported:

        “Quintana Minerals Corporation explores and develops oil and gas.”

        Only in upsidedown world does it make sense why an oil and gas company would expend money and time setting up a website about CO2 and plants…

        After a certain number of these relationships exist, these can no longer be discounted as coincidental.

      • Bill Clinton once called carbon dioxide ‘plant food’, but amusingly, only once. I think he couldn’t help himself and couldn’t resist the dig at Gore.

      • From the PlantsNeedCO2 web site:

        About us

        “Our mission is to educate the public on the positive effects of additional atmospheric CO2 and help prevent the inadvertent negative impact to human, plant and animal life if we reduce CO2. Plants Need CO2 is a 501 (c)(3) non profit corporation.”

        H. Leighton Steward
        Contact for Press & Media speaking engagements

        Leighton Steward is a geologist, environmentalist, author, and retired energy industry executive. He has written about the reasons for the loss of much of the Mississippi River delta (Louisiana’s National Treasure) and has given advice on how the nation can achieve “no net loss” of wetlands in the future; advice that has been accepted by the EPA and U. S. Corps of Engineers. Leighton was lead author on a book about nutrition and health (Sugar Busters) that gave advice on how to lose weight and prevent and or treat diabetes. The book became a #1 New York Times Best seller for sixteen weeks and made a significant contribution to the changes that have occurred regarding the availability of no-sugar-added, higher fiber, and low-glycemic products in the super markets. More recently, he has written a book (Fire, Ice and Paradise) that is an endeavor to educate the non-scientist about the many causes of global climate change so that the reader will be better prepared to understand what they hear, see, and read about in the media and from the politicians. In recognition of his many environmental efforts, Leighton has received numerous environmental awards, including the regional EPA Administrator’s Award for environmental excellence.

        He is Chairman of the Board of The Institute for the Study of Earth and Man at SMU, was Chairman of the National Wetlands Coalition, and was twice Chairman of the Audubon Nature Institute. Leighton currently serves on the boards or boards of visitors of the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, EOG Resources, The Buffalo Bill Historical Center, the Southwest Research Institute, and is an emeritus member of the Tulane University board.

        Leighton’s current interest lies in helping to educate the general public and the politicians about the tremendous benefits of carbon dioxide (CO2) as it relates to the plant and animal kingdoms and their related ecosystems and habitats, and the general health of humanity.

      • jim2 that graph doesn’t show a logarithmic relationship.

        It’s complete BS. It has a maximum of 1C warming from ANY increase in CO2

    • “Firearm-related homicides declined 39%, from 18,253 in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011.”

      Must of got colder.

      • sunshinehours1 | August 3, 2013 at 2:12 pm |

        The fall in violent crime since the 1970’s is generally attributed to the end of leaded additives in gasoline. Though it helps if your data is actually true.


        Sure, the Pew Center did put out a misleading report making bogus, spinny claims by carefully parsing their figures, but on the whole the gun death figures in the USA have been remarkably stable compared to the falling trends for other forms of violence. Not surprising, as prosecutors report triple the difficulty obtaining a conviction for gun homicide. If you’re a murderer, or want to be, and don’t want to spend time in jail in America, use a gun.

        Picking out single factors among multiple signals takes some statistical finesse.. oh. Sorry. Forgot my audience.

      • Steven Hawking, said one obvious vector were strip clubs.

      • Bart R: “gun death figures in the USA have been remarkably stable”

        23, 000 murders in 1992 to 14,000 in 2011.


        Bart, your meds are causing you all kinds of problems.

      • sunshinehours1 | August 3, 2013 at 6:59 pm |

        That’s nice and all, but ‘murder’ is a specific legal term following a finding of fact by a trial court.

        All the FBI claim shows is that cops and prosecutors are getting worse at their job.


        Within three years, the biggest single killing machine in the USA for the past century — the car — will lose its crown to the gun.

        You can call this an improvement. I call it spin.

      • Bart, They have said that there was nothing they could do to stop the terrorist act. Get over it.

      • Sunshine,

        you just found Bart’s other big boogie man. People using his air without compensating him and guns.

      • Bart – all accidents are #5 and homicide #15 in the top 15 causes of death. I bet you make one mean cherry pie.


      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘From these results it would appear that blood lead levels of above 3µg/dL have significant impacts at key developmental stages on the long term violence related behaviour of exposed children. While these impacts are only part of a larger picture exposure to lead is, to a fair degree, avoidable (Rae 2006 p16, Bellinger 2008). Further research is required to determine the mechanisms involved though the balance of probability lies in lead impact on executive function, specifically its ability to impair inhibitory responses that govern impulse control and reduce the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.’


        ‘Drum correctly notes that simply looking at the correlation shown in the graph to the right is insufficient to draw any conclusions regarding causality. The investigator, Rick Nevin, was simply looking at associations, and saw that the curves were heavily correlated, as you can quite clearly see. When you look at data involving large populations, such as violent crime rates, and compare with an indirect measure of exposure to some environmental risk factor such as levels of TEL in gasoline during that same time, the best you can say is that your alternative hypothesis of there being an association (null hypothesis always being no association) deserves more investigation. This type of design is called a cross-sectional study, and it’s been documented that values for a population do not always match those of individuals when looking at cross-sectional data. This is the ecological fallacy, and it’s a serious limitation in these types of studies. Finding a causal link in a complex behavior like violent crime, as opposed to something like a specific disease, with an environmental risk factor is exceptionally difficult, and the burden of proof is very high.’ http://hisscienceistootight.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/the-link-between-leaded-gasoline-and.html

        Crime is multi-factorial and of course the US violent crime rate is multiples of civilized countries.


      • timg56 | August 3, 2013 at 9:29 pm |

        Other big?

        Pfft. Everything is my bogeyman. I’ve simply resigned myself to picking the nits I’m going to nitpick upon.

        To clarify, I have no problem with guns. I simply agree with GOP strategic advisor Luntz: people who can’t even care for themselves have no business being entrusted to take care of firearms.

        Can you care for yourself?

        Then I have zero quibble on your gun, and if you find greater peace of mind in its presence in your home, what business is that of mine, or of anyone else?

        My issue is with deception, lies, falsehood. You might even say I find the sin of bearing false witness betrays the values America was founded on.

        In that sense, my only real bogeyman is treason.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Bart R relies upon a classic deception gun control advocates use: Counting suicides against guns. That’s it. He’s effectively saying people kill themselves with guns so guns should be restricted.

        And to avoid addressing this point, he insults law enforcement agencies via making things up: He claims homicides are only declared homicides after a court convicts someone. That’s untrue. A homicide is labeled a homicide as soon as the investigators determine it was a homicide. Even if a case is never closed, it’s still labeled a homicide.

        Bart R just makes things up and uses deception to try to support a point he cannot justify.

      • I have a problem with gun ownership.

        Same reason I have a problem with people being able to own grenades. Or bombs.

        It’s unnecessary and leads to a society that is not safe.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        It’s good to know you have a problem with gun ownership lolwot. Next time a coyote comes around my house, I’ll make sure to ask you to kill it with a baseball bat.

        Because clearly guns are comparable to explosives. It’s not like there are perfectly good reasons for people to own them.

      • The promise of 72 virgins in Heaven is enough justification for some people to own bombs. The trouble, as there always is in Paradise, is that the virgins remain so forever.

      • Heh, BS, lolwot better be fast, or the coyote will be furious.

      • Bart,

        As someone who qualified people on small arms, I am a firm believer in requiring a qualification course before issuing a carry permit. (Note: I don’t have one and have little desire to.)

        I also, at least philosophically, would support expanding background checks. The reason I say philosophically is because the people proposing them cannot be trusted.

        Ask yourself why the first topic always raised in this debate are “assault rifles”. The term itself indicates a lack of knowledge on firearms or a deliberate attempt to spin the debate.

        If people are serious about reducing gun related violence, they do not focus in the type of firearm which historically, Constitutionally, statistically and practically, is the type people should own.

        But what should one expect in a world where the POTUS and AG can state we need a dialogue on “stereotyping” as if that plays any even insignificant role is gun violence, while thousands of mostly black males kill thousands of mostly black males.

      • David Springer

        Has anyone proposed the hypothesis that the rotting baby Bart, after falling from the diseased tree, ate leaded paint chips?

        I know there are many possible explanations but science is all about the best explanation and mine seems to perfectly fit the available evidence. It is falsifiable too. For instance it might turn out that Bart didn’t fall from a diseased tree but was rather delivered by a syphilitic stork. Syphillis also causes mental derangement.

        In fact the syphilitic stork is a simpler hypothesis and, all else being equal, the principle of Occam’s Razor sugggests we should prefer it. Thoughts?

      • David Springer

        A police officer is far more likely to be killed by his own gun than someone else’s gun. And the person who pulls the trigger is both killer and killed. In a simple world like Bart’s (he claims to live in the twitoverse so all ideas must fit into 140 characters and the smartest guy in the room is the one who can abbreviate the best) the twit-worthy conclusion is we should take guns away from cops and give them to someone who isn’t a cop to save the lives of police officers.

        Or maybe police officers have stressful jobs and they’re not the most tightly wrapped people to begin with, which is what draws them into the profession, and that explains why they eat their own guns so often.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        kim, the good news is even though a bat would be a terrible choice, it’d still work to scare the coyote off. The bad news scaring the coyote off wouldn’t prevent it from coming back and attacking a pet. A rifle did a good job of that. I suppose a bow could have worked if guns were banned, but this isn’t medieval times. We don’t need to use bows anymore.

        timg56, people saying “assault rifle” are nowhere near as bad as those saying “assault weapon.” That’s one of the dumbest phrases to ever make it into mainstream media (which says a lot). People using it might as well just come out and say they have no idea what they’re talking about and are using scary language just to rile people up.

      • Are you armed with garlic, wooden stakes and silver bullets?


        Neo Age for the world. Move on people they say.

      • David Springer | August 4, 2013 at 11:34 am |

        Good to see you trying to get your insult muscles back in fighting trim. Though you appear to have lost the ability to aim, and you’re going off a bit premature, and, sadly, many of your attempts fall short.

        Perhaps it’s an age thing?

        Maybe spend some time at the range, clearing your mind.

      • Bart R:
        I agree, we should have acted on leaded gasoline earlier.
        Forbes has a summary using some of Oil Change International’s data about Oil Subsidies:

        It could have been titled better.

        The largest subsidy, is for adding to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
        Second largest is for the farm fuel exemption. Don’t drive on the roads? Don’t pay the fuel tax.
        Third largest is for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program.
        The total of all subsidies are in the neighborhood of $4.5 Billion per year.

        CNN did a story about an annual $1.7 Billion subsidy related to IRS section 199. I cannot find that included in the Oil Change International numbers.
        The Section 199 deduction:
        Did you produce something the United States?
        Did you make money on that specific production?
        Did you pay wages related to that production in the United States?
        Was your taxable income from all activities, at least as much as the deduction you plan to take?
        Subject to still more rules not mentioned, take a deduction not exceeding 9% of your taxable income. But if you are Exxon, use 6% instead. (Where the 6% came from?)

        The idea behind the subsidy is to keep production in the United States. It is no way that I can see exclusive to Oil Companies, other than they produce.

        It is a subsidy. An expense should equal money spent as a rule. They don’t specifically spend money directly related to their deduction. The books do not balance. The deduction drops out of the sky and they use it.

      • On Ragnaar’s suggestion to end fossil fuel subsidies.


        Put bluntly, either we’re heading for a climate catastrophe, or the carbon asset bubble will go the way of sub-prime mortgage stock.

        Developing countries are also trapped in a cycle of policy-induced carbon-intensive growth. Currently, they are spending over $1tn annually to subsidise fossil fuel use, according to the IMF. These transfers often dwarf budgets for health and education. As research at the Overseas Development Institute has highlighted, most of the benefits go to industry, large-scale agriculture and middle-class consumers.

        Eliminating subsidies for fossil fuels could open the door to a win-win scenario. It would cut energy-related CO2 emissions by 13%, slowing the drift towards the dangerous climate-change cliff. Coupled with signals to indicate that carbon prices will rise and early investment in renewables, it would unlock the private investment and spur the technological breakthroughs needed to drive a low-carbon transition.”

      • “It’s good to know you have a problem with gun ownership lolwot. Next time a coyote comes around my house, I’ll make sure to ask you to kill it with a baseball bat.”

        So lets only give licenses to people who have to deal with coyotes.

        I guess that would eliminate 99% of gun owners.

      • “the twit-worthy conclusion is we should take guns away from cops and give them to someone who isn’t a cop to save the lives of police officers.”

        You could do that. Because when guns become rare enough you don’t need police to carry guns. In the UK most police do not carry a gun. Special unit of armed police exist who very rarely come out to deal with criminals with guns.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        lolwot, you have a problem with gun ownership, comparing it to owning bombs. Despite this you’re willing to give out licenses to every person living in rural areas so they can deal with dangerous wildlife.

        Interesting standard. If I move out to the country and start a farm, does that mean you’re cool with me having grenades too? I mean, you directly compared gun ownership to grenade ownership. That means if I’m allowed one, I should be allowed the other.

      • timg56 | August 4, 2013 at 11:23 am |

        The reason I say philosophically is because the people proposing them cannot be trusted.

        Admirable points and all, but you seem to think I’m proposing background checks by government.

        See, I’m a capitalist and a _min_archist. I don’t want the government involved at all. I want the idiots who let those with sick minds have powerful weapons to serve time, and pay civil damages.

        Sell a gun to a crackhead? Well, you’re a fiend who is making the addict a victim, and their victims are your victims, as surely as if you’d pulled the trigger.

        Leave an unlocked and loaded gun in your house and get burgled by a teenager high on crystal meth?

        Explain to me again why you shouldn’t get the chair when methmouth shoots up a bus with your weapon?

        Give your immature and violence prone troubled teenager an armory?

        Well, when they kill you before they turn a gradeschool into an abattoir, not much more the state can do to you.

        But the people who sold the gun to an idiot like you?

        How are they not serving sequential life sentences?

        I don’t want the government interfering in people’s decisions. Government should stay out of decisions.

        But consequences?

        There should be those, and they should be severe enough to discourage responsible individuals from handing over their duty of care to the incompetent and ill.

      • Homicide and murder are not the same word, or the same meaning.

        And how can anything that ends in death by physically entering the body and blowing apart any person’s internal organs not be called violent death?

        That’s a quibble.

        I don’t even have to go into the demographics that suggest when comparing populations that suicides by all other means are roughly equivalent, but among groups that have suicide by firearm — many don’t — the firearm deaths are off the scale a distinct phenomenon.

        In essence, almost everyone who commits suicide by firearm would not have committed suicide if they hadn’t had the firearm. Period.

      • Bart,

        I was stating my opinion regarding background checks, not attributing it as yours.

        I also am generally in agreement with your opinion regarding consequences for one’s actions. (Though I thought you were getting off the rails a bit with that long screed about meth heads and abattoirs.)

        As for your statement regarding the terms homicide and murder, I believe you are basically incorrect. I’ll check with my brother. As a prosecutor, he would know.

        As for lolwot, he has added firearms and the issue of gun control to the growing list of topics he hasn’t a clue on.

        I will look it up to make sure, but it is my understanding that a large percentage of law enforcement in GB are now armed.

      • lolwot, I am not sure why you are so concerned with firearms. Since gas is now unleaded violet crime will be a thing of the past. Firearms are just collectors items for the passive masses.

      • Responding to WebHub:
        Eliminating say oil subsidies is a win/win. Raising the price a bit and cutting CO2 a bit. It seems it would bring the two camps closer. I’ve said that some things are not subsidies though, trying to use an accounting view of things. The biggest one first. The Strategic oil reserve. The time seems right to cut additions to it in half. Whether it is a true subsidy or not, is a bit complicated. If it’s use is for in times of war things get a bit hazy for me.

      • Ragnaar
        No, the strategic oil reserve isn’t a subsidy, unless you can show the reserve is excessive. And even if it is excessive, it’s a one-off excess rather than an ongoing one.

        Would anyone want to have to rely on wind or solar in time of war or other emergency ?

      • If we relied on solar and wind, the reason to go to war would be reduced. Why did Iraq invade Kuwait? It wasn’t to get their sunlight.

      • timg56 | August 5, 2013 at 1:00 pm |

        In general, a coroner makes a finding of homicide; a criminal court makes a finding of murder.

        Homicide may include manslaughter, murder, justifiable homicide, suicide (in some jurisidictions), or otherwise.

        I’m a bit more professionally familiar on the whole, I suspect, with such findings than your brother, unless he’s been for many decades a prosecutor in Louisiana; in which case he has my sympathy.

      • lolwot

        If you have a problem with gun ownership, don’t own one.

        Problem solved.


    • Bart, it is gratifying that people take an interest in both heavy metal chemistry and neurochemistry, but I cannot help be slightly alarmed at the notion that serum lead levels cause violence.
      Many of the problems in studying the relationship between environmental factor “X” and an intrinsic brain function; e.g. IQ or 3D spacial test scores, or an outside measure of brain function; e.g. violence or graduate level education, can be summed up in this lyric:-
      “It’s the Rich what’s gets the gravy and the Poor what’s gets the blame”.
      The poor live in crappy accommodation, with crappy plumbing and live crappy lives, and generally, have crappy outcomes. If the trappings of wealth are to be found surrounding a person, the trappings of poverty are found within. The Black, White and Hispanic underclasses are noted for much, including living in crappy areas, scoring badly at school and in standardized tests, and grow up to gain admittance to various jails and penitentiaries, for crimes, including violent crimes. There some post-Doc takes their blood, examines the lead levels, compares it to the levels of freshmen at Harvard, and Hey Presto, a hypothesis is born.
      The thing is, are we looking at the cart or are we looking at the horse? Does lead cause violence and criminality or do the environments that cause people to chose violence also include lead?
      When in doubt, look to the CDC

      “In the 1991–1994 NHANES, the overall prevalence of BLLs ≥10 µg/dL was 2.2% but decreased to 0.7% by the 1999–2002 survey. Overall, the geometric mean (GM) decreased significantly (p<0.05; two-tailed t-test) from 2.3 µg/dL to 1.6 µg/dL during the same time period. Among children aged 6–12 years, boys had significantly higher GM BLLs than girls in all age, racial, and income groups .

      Despite the considerable progress in decreasing BLLs, children aged <6 years continue to be exposed to lead. Although disparities among various subpopulations of children with BLLs ≥10 µg/dL are no longer significant, disparities in risk for exposure have persisted over time. In addition, mean BLLs continue to be higher for children from low-income families, non-Hispanic black children, and children living in older housing (i.e., built before 1950). For example, the mean BLL for non-Hispanic black children (1.9 µg/dL) was significantly higher (36%) than that of white children (1.4 µg/dL) during 2007–2008."


      Now the U.S. Department of Justice states that the homicide rate from Blacks is 8 times that of whites.


      So done deal? Blacks have more lead and so commit more violent crime?

      No, the consensus is that poor maternal education, disrupted family life in childhood and poverty are the three main causes of crime, including violent crime. Unlike in Dickens time, poverty is not linked to oysters, but to being exposed to a crappy and polluted environment.

      In all truth, I do not know if lead levels 'cause' violence, which is a bit embarrassing as I am a bit of an expert on the neurochemistry of heavy metals. I suspect that much of the societal effects blamed on lead are more a product of the environment. On the other hand, stopping the introduction of neurotoxic heavy metals in to the environment, especially lead, mercury and cadmium, is a very good idea.

      • Doc, the reduction in violent crime is due to the end of lead in gasoline, just like Bart said. The decrease in violence had the same time lag in years in every country the lead ban was instituted. Kids absorbed lead at an early age, when the brain function was still developing, then wait 15 to 20 years, and the adult crime based on aggressive behavior was observed.

        It’s a good test case for the power of objective statistics that the recent Nate Silver story is about.

      • Web, you have no idea what you are talking about. There is a hypothesis that the removal of lead from fuel caused a drop in violence, but there is no evidence of causality.
        I know there is no damned evidence because its my damned field and I know how damned difficult it is to show a causal relationship.

      • Whoa, Doc, you have no idea how easy it is for Web to prove causation.

      • Could you provide an example of evidence of causality, Doc?

      • DocMartyn | August 3, 2013 at 4:01 pm |

        Not up on the literature in epidemiology, Doc? Tch.

        Opinion as to the weight of epidemiological evidence is understandably quite sharply divided. If we’re living in the 1910’s.

        I’m all for lab work and all, but I don’t pretend to be ignorant of sciences outside the lab just because no one has yet put them in a test tube.

      • Don’t confuse Bart with facts. He believes that whatever he says is true – because he said it. Notice he seldom supplies links to back his blather.

      • jim2 | August 3, 2013 at 9:52 pm |

        Want to go back through a month of posts and compare ratio of citations, links and references per post or per claim for the two of us?

        Doc’s well aware of the epidemiology, I’m quite sure. My gibe was to remind him there’s a world outside his lab, which he seems to forget. He also seems to think I made a causal argument; read over what I said, and see that I referred to population statistics, not mechanisms.

        You think me wrong on facts?

        List the error you imagine, I’ll provide supporting references.

      • “I know there is no damned evidence because its my damned field and I know how damned difficult it is to show a causal relationship.”

        Doc, It is human nature that you get angry about this. According to all accounts the statistical work is comprehensive. From the MoJo article

        “In fact, Mielke has even studied lead concentrations at the neighborhood level in New Orleans and shared his maps with the local police. “When they overlay them with crime maps,” he told me, “they realize they match up.”
        Put all this together and you have an astonishing body of evidence. We now have studies at the international level, the national level, the state level, the city level, and even the individual level. Groups of children have been followed from the womb to adulthood, and higher childhood blood lead levels are consistently associated with higher adult arrest rates for violent crimes. All of these studies tell the same story: Gasoline lead is responsible for a good share of the rise and fall of violent crime over the past half century.”

        OK, somebody can consider this is all circumstantial evidence. So I suppose we can ask how much more circumstantial evidence do you need? Or is it about doing controlled experiments and subjecting groups of humans to excess levels of level like in past centuries?
        That sounds quite brutal.

      • Why not test the hypothesis that atmospheric lead levels, from gasoline, are a causal agent for violence?
        Let us look at the violent crime rates and lead emission:-
        The lower figure, 3B, shows the violent crime rate in five European countries and in the USA
        Full Paper

        Now let us examine the levels of lead in four of these European nations:-


        Go to the official stats on lead in Britain,


        and have a look on the official UK statistics on murder, the most easily monitored violent crime (page 32)


        Now this is quick and dirty because I have not analyzed the size of the 18-24 demographic profile with respect to the total population.


        So why does the UK, or indeed any European nation have the same correlation between Pb emissions and murder rate?

        In the USA, why does lead only affect violence in males and not females, and yet causes a lowering in the IQ of both?

        Why in the USA does production of tonnage of lead in paint, which has very poor entry into the biosphere, give the same correlation as to violence as tonnage of lead from gasoline, which has very good entry into the biosphere?

        Why is the huge, sustained increase in crime during the period of Prohibition in the United States, not present in the UK statistics, when the UK was not only manufacturing and using lead based paints but lead pipes for water distribution?


      • I ought soften or amend somewhat my point.

        I’m all for leavening poverty, improving education, addressing unfairness and every wrong or sin committed against the people of America.

        In general, heavy metals don’t belong in people. Their elevated presence is sufficient evidence of wrong. It is admirable, and desirable to seek better understanding. We don’t need a causal mechanism to be demonstrated to know this well enough to act on it.

        Most people don’t know precisely how fire works, but you can be pretty sure if they find themselves lit on fire they’ll know it’s a bad thing.

        Speaking of, was the sample contaminated with copper?

      • Chief Hydrologist

        No one suggested not acting on it.

        On the other hand, stopping the introduction of neurotoxic heavy metals in to the environment, especially lead, mercury and cadmium, is a very good idea.

        Merely that an one dimensional approach to complex social issues seems unwise.

      • I had a look at the discussion on the influence of lead on violent crime.

        My first reaction is based on a rule that I have developed for myself:

        Never trust recent dramatic scientific discoveries until they have been thoroughly analyzed by other scientists and confirmed by independent studies.

        I’m basically really skeptic on every new scientific result, while I have great trust in the scientific process given enough time to mature.

        Some of the caveats brought up by DocMartyn were immediately obvious. I have noticed that several tests had been made, like those comparing results from individual states. Thus the result cannot be entirely dismissed, it has certainly enough support to warrant further research. The result is now so recent that we must still wait for a while for the results of the further independent studies. It’s also possible that criticism of the type DocMartyn presents gets so strong that the original results are not anymore given much weight at all.

        This is actually a good example to be compared with insufficiently justified dramatic papers on climate change. There seem to be all too many of those. I’m strongly skeptical on very many climate change related papers and conclusions while I’m not skeptical on the basics. Being skeptical does not contradict worrying about outcome of a phenomenon that’s known much less precisely than I would hope.

        Judith discusses the uncertainty monster. That’s really a multiheaded wicked monster. Finding most rational ways to react to such a monster is difficult. The right answer is, however, not to pretend that it isn’t there.

      • I too prefer sufficiently dramatic papers.

        I disagree about heavy metals not belonging in us. Some of my friends are metal heads.

        Still waiting for an evidence of causality, BTW. I doubt I will get it, though, as causality might never be directly connected to observations.

      • Web,
        Of course I have no idea whether lead directly causes violent behavior. And you don’t either. Doc explained it all beautifully, but in truth despite my high school level science, I have the brains to understand all on my own that the real culprit could be any number of things, separately or in combination, that are associated with lead in the environment…

        As I mentioned above, it’s taken me all my life to appreciate how very dumb educated people can be,

      • Judith, would you be so good as to get my earlier post out of moderation?

        Can we turn to the statistics of comparison? In the Pb production rate and in the violent crime rate what is being compared is line shape. Moreover, the production rate of lead paint and tetraethyllead are used as proxies for levels of lead exposure in children; despite the fact that in one case the lead is immobilized withing an organic matrix and applied to objects and in the other is injected into the atmosphere as particulates.
        Now, what is generally used as the likelihood that two series share the same distribution around a mean or correlate against a common common axis? Typically, the answer is 5% or that there is a one in twenty of a perverse correlation or false positive.
        However, what happens if you are working on something ‘hot’, something really, really, important; like crime rates or Autism rate?
        How many investigators examine the line-shape of your hot topic with some environmental stimuli?
        Here is the incidence of autism in the US over the past few decades:-
        Now it is obvious to any keen-eyed climate buff that autism incidents completely follow the Keeling curve, indeed we know that Autism rates in the winter months are higher than in the summer months; slam dunk. Obviously Autism is caused by atmospheric [CO2]. But, [CO2] isn’t responsible for the increase in global temperature, people like Judy and Mosher have missed the obvious; global temperature is directly coupled to the NBA salary scale, the more players are paid, the warmer the temperature:-
        Can you see how NBA average salary captures the lag?

        For the past decade biomedical researchers have had the ability to measure the expression levels of all the genes in a very small sample and so they have been doing comparisons of the gene products of all 20,000 protein-coding genes, in different diseases. This has caused a huge number of studies to claim that they have found gene:disease correlations that are statistically significant. Alas, on the whole they have reported ‘very pretty rubbish’. As the number of comparisons you make increases, so does your false positive rate.
        The simplest way around the problem of false positives, is to do what the authors suggest; Determine the prior probability of the hypothesis before viewing study results. However, people still do not do this. People ‘fish’. Fishing is fine, you take cells, split them into two populations, add ‘X’ to one group and then at time equals t, analyze the difference between the two populations. The you formulate an hypothesis for why ‘X’ does the thing it does, and then test the hypothesis to destruction using a n of sufficient power to determine if the null is correct.
        What you cannot do, is compare line shape ‘A’, with line-shape ‘B’ and fail, then compare with line-shape ‘C’ and fail, line-shape ‘D’ and fail………the compare to line-shape ‘CB’ and find a near perfect fit and proclaim to the world; ‘Look, condition ‘A’ is caused by effector ‘CB’! At a p=0.001 for a pair-wise comparison.

        What you cannot also do is cheat; biomedicals love the Japanese, Western economy, great health system, meticulous record keeping and definitely not American, or even European. If you want to know if ‘A’ is affected by ‘X’, you look in the US (who write the grant cheques), then the UK (they speak English) and then Japan (just like us but not).
        Japan is an internal control, so in the case of the link between organo-mercury and Autism, Japan is great as they both record Autism cases, but removed organ-mercury from their MMR vaccine in 1993. No fall in the rate of Autism after organo-mercury was removed from the MMR vaccine.

        So what about lead and violent crime? Do Japanese kids exposed to lead turn into violent criminals?
        Japanese violent crime.
        Now Japan stopped the addition of tetraethyllead to gasoline in 1986.

        Now if you propose a hypothesis that has a causal relationship between lead exposure in children and their going on to becoming violent criminals, then the ONE thing you HAVE to demonstrate is universality; like climate models have to not only model the Earths temperature record NOW, they have to also fit the 400K ice-core temperature reconstruction.
        The lead causes violence, appears to me at least, is at least unproven if not completely bollocks. Human brain function is complex, the interaction of people in societies is even more so.
        The idea that lead is the cause of violence is a perfect hypothesis for some people.
        If lead is the cause then it isn’t poor/Black peoples fault that they commit crime.
        If lead is the cause then it was environmental campaigners, and not Prison Works Republicans, who can take credit for the drop in violent crime.
        If lead is the cause then it is ‘Big Oil’, who caused the horrifyingly violent inner cities and not competing drug gangs.
        If lead is the cause then it means that life is actually reasonably simple, that single targets of political action and cause massive and good societal pay-offs. The campaign against lead has saved millions, so chemical banning campaigns, DDT, PCB’s, CFC’s and lead, enhance human existence, and now is the time to pick new targets, SOx, CH4 and CO2.

      • PG said:

        “Doc explained it all beautifully,”

        Actually, Bart explained it beautifully. We don’t want to put toxins in our environment if we have a choice.

        We can’t do poison-dosing experiments on the population in terms of a controlled experiment so we try to make the correct choice.


        I can agree that the Lead/Crime link is useful as a comparison to what we should do about CO2/Warming link.

      • Steven Mosher

        “We can’t do poison-dosing experiments on the population in terms of a controlled experiment so we try to make the correct choice.”

        damn. I was going to suggest a study using twins.

      • Heh, probably a better explanation for ‘evil twin’ than Doppelgangers. The study could be done retrospectively, with twins separated at birth and with reliable measurements of their distinctive lead exposures.

        So it’s all good, moshe; now about the funding.

      • damn. I was going to suggest a study using twins.

        Studying differences between identical twins separated early in life can resolve many of the problems with controlled experiments, but they have some problems of their own. One blog I follow, by Kevin Mitchell, has frequent discussions of the effects of random processes, including de novo mutations, that can mess up some cases in twin studies. For instance:

        Probabilistic inheritance and neurodevelopmental phenotypes: location, location, location

        Developmental neurobiologists are well used to the scenario where mutation of a gene leads to an anatomical defect, but only some of the time. Depending on the scale at which the defect is defined that can mean “in only some individuals” – for example, whether the connections between the two hemispheres of the brain form. In genetically identical people (or animals) carrying a mutation affecting this process these connections sometimes form normally and sometimes do not form at all. But other phenotypes reflect processes that are played out, independently, many, many times across the developing brain. “Only some of the time” can thus mean in “only some brain regions” or “affecting only some axons” or “only some cells”. Importantly, what determines which regions or axons or cells are affected may be largely down to chance.

        What often happens when mutations arise that affect one of the components of these processes is that the phenotype does not change from always wild-type to always mutant – instead, phenotypic variability increases.

        De novo mutations in autism

        A trio of papers in this week’s Nature identifies mutations causing autism in four new genes, demonstrate the importance of de novo mutations in the etiology of this disorder and suggest that there may be 1,000 or more genes in which high-risk, autism-causing mutations can occur.

        These studies provide an explanation for what seems like a paradox: on the one hand, twin studies show that autism is very strongly genetic (identical twins are much more likely to share a diagnosis than fraternal twins) – on the other, many cases are sporadic, with no one else in the family affected. How can the condition be “genetic” but not always run in the family? The explanation is that many cases are caused by new mutations – ones that arise in the germline of the parents. (This is similar to conditions like Down syndrome). The studies reported in Nature are trying to find those mutations and see which genes are affected.

      • Twins?

        Why not clones?

        As they’re unnatural abominations of science in the first place, shouldn’t the lab that created them own them to experiment on as it sees fit?

        Won’t the net benefit to society of knowing the exact mechanism explaining the statistics be worth it?

        Yes, I get Doc’s well-considered and sober warning that relying too much only on a few demographic papers and results and studies spanning many populations and decades could lead to the same situation as happened with vaccines and autism in a case where ONE SINGLE study by one researcher obtained too much credence and caused numerous deaths and suffering among children who ought have been inoculated but did not because of a media-fed panic.

        Oh. Wait. No, I don’t. Because Doc’s in the wrong here. He’s making invalid comparisons and expressing a view that dissents from the conventional wisdom of the field of epidemiology. Not because he cautions that the brain is complex — which it is — nor that understanding mechanisms of causation is valuable — which it is — but because he scorns to acknowledge that policy responses to demography-revealed patterns are not just appropriate but the most healthy possible course.

        So should the government have gotten out of the business of subsidizing leaded gasoline, a product of government-funded research, immediately when demographic studies started finding elevated levels associated with the practice, rather than three decades later?

        I think so. Why don’t you?

      • David Springer


        re; following expression rate of 20,000 genes

        Humans produce, IIRC, at least 50,000 and as many as 100,000 different proteins. The one gene one protein rule went out the window back around 2000 when the human genome project was completed and found far fewer coding genes than expected. Since then all sorts of stuff like transcription splicing, frameshifting, and reverse transcription (I’m sure this list is incomplete) have been found to explain why there are more proteins without one-to-one correspondence that don’t correspond to coding genes that ones that do correspond.

        I’d also read a paper some time backthat found human genome has more introns than any other species.

        Adding more weirdness is that redundant coding for the same amino acid doesn’t necessarily produce the same protein product. This was discovered quite some time ago when bacteria were loaded with genes to produce proteins like insulin needed alternative redundant coding because their ribosomes didn’t process the information quite the same way. The best description I recall is that a ribosome reads codons at slightly different speeds for codons that redundantly code for the same amino acid. The product coming out the other end of the ribosome is sort of like grease coming out of a grease gun where the exit speed influences how the grease folds. So a redundant codon migh produce a protein of the same sequence but one which folds differently which can, as you know, drastically change its function. In the case of enlisting bacteria to produce human proteins they weren’t folding right using human coding gene sequence because the bacterial ribosome had different preferences for redundant codons and the product was a useless precipitate.

        My information is dated by about 5 or 6 years now since I bowed out of hte intelligent design debate. My focus there was always mainly at the molecular level where information processing is instantiated by biochemical means and thus my forte, computer architecture, provides great insight. There are a great many parallels between cellular information processing and things of human invention in the same area. Basically you’d have to believe that your cell phone could self-assemble in order to believe that the molecular machinery in living cells could do the same thing. I find the concept doubtful. In every case where we can unambigously determine the origin of a coded language the origin is a mind expressing an intent. The null hypothesis, as far as I’m concerned, is that life is no exception to the rule. In fact laws that govern the universe itself are so interdependent and reliant on precise values, with no theory or even hypothesis to explain why laws and constants have the values we observe, that the leading non-design explanation is the so-called multiverse where there are uncountable trillions of universes with different laws. And that doesn’t really take into account the different initial states. Presumably there’s a universe out there where you and are in agreement on these matters, crazy as that sounds. Teh non-design theories of cosmological origins are mostly all about crazy. In fact, in an infinite multiverse there must be one where the bible is the inerrant truth. That’s just the nature of infinities.

      • DNA has header cards, all in the write order. Zen like.

      • Heh, AK, we’re not really curious, we just want to plumb up the narrative.

      • Oops, wrong place. Sorry bout dat. It will happen again, Ladies and Gentlemen.

      • Bart asks:

        “So should the government have gotten out of the business of subsidizing leaded gasoline, a product of government-funded research, immediately when demographic studies started finding elevated levels associated with the practice, rather than three decades later?

        I think so. Why don’t you?”

        The contrarians are suggesting that lead was removed from gasoline because it was not compatible with the emerging catalytic converter technology being put to use, but I think the suspicion with lead as being bad news was there all along and that was part of a No Regrets policy of removing lead.

        So we had no regrets removing lead because it wasn’t going to work with catalytic converters anyways.

        But also ask, why did we go to catalytic converters but to remove noxious exhausts which produces smog and and leads to respiratory problems. That was a no regrets decision in moving to catalytic converters because it would force us to remove lead, in any case.

        You can see how the decision making was almost all self-reinforcing in terms of minimizing regrets.

        The point of CO2 mitigation has the same type of self-reinforcing regret minimization, as going to alternate fuels has many benefits, not the least of which is the need to come up with replacements for rapidly depleting crude oil reserves.

      • David, it is impossible for me to make you believe or to understand evolution by natural selection. That simple replicants became life, then became more and more complex, over a huge amount of time, seems to be rather straight forward. That the vast majority of speciation is just a question of changing the levels on the ‘mixing desk’ of developmental master control genes I find no challenge. That we, and other members of the biotica, have evolved to evolve is not surprising. You continue to arrive at the watch requires watch-maker and the what use is half an eye level of criticism. Evolution isn’t a bunch of monkeys banging out the keys of an infinite number of typewriters, its is a long slow process whereby novel gene rearrangements, duplication’s, mutations and can give a slight advantage in a niche.

        Bart, I ended my first post
        “On the other hand, stopping the introduction of neurotoxic heavy metals in to the environment, especially lead, mercury and cadmium, is a very good idea”

        You do me a disservice. When it comes to neurotoxins, I am always on the right side of the barricade.

      • Matthew R Marler

        David Springer: My focus there was always mainly at the molecular level where information processing is instantiated by biochemical means and thus my forte, computer architecture, provides great insight. There are a great many parallels between cellular information processing and things of human invention in the same area. Basically you’d have to believe that your cell phone could self-assemble in order to believe that the molecular machinery in living cells could do the same thing. I find the concept doubtful. In every case where we can unambigously determine the origin of a coded language the origin is a mind expressing an intent.

        This might be a more compelling argument if cell phones had parents and children, as do biological organisms..

        A fact neglected by your presentation is that in every generation in every lineage, the progeny have a great deal more variability than the parents that produce them. Also neglected is the fact that almost all of that additional variation is independent of any goals that an intelligent designer might want for the progeny. Also neglected is the fact that among all those progeny, very few will survive to have progeny of their own, fewer than 0.1% in most species, though perhaps as many as 15% in humans historically (as long as you ignore the high rate of death among ova and sperm); all the rest are starved, eaten, crushed etc by their living and nonliving environment. Thus, for almost all of the progeny, the goals entertained by an intelligent designer were not achieved. The mechanisms of life look well-designed to humans because they are studied by humans in the tiny fraction of survivors.

        Humans have one of the highest successful reproduction rates of all species, yet a half of all adult women historically had no children. Of fertilized ova, about 1/3 die before birth in spontaneous abortions or “miscarriages”. Historically, about half of newborns died before 2 years of age, and about half of the survivors of that holocaust die before sexual maturity. We are the result of 1/6 of fertilized ova, generation after generation, that survived to have progeny of their own; with hundreds of ova per girl and billions of sperm per boy dying in futility. And that’s the best case. To say of a system that has a 5/6 death rate that it displays “intelligent design” (or a “mind expressing intent”), is to assert that intelligence is indistinguishable from random variation and natural selection, or that the “mind expressing intent” is incompetent. It’s exactly as though the “mind expressing intent” is actually “playing at dice.”

      • DocMartyn | August 4, 2013 at 3:01 pm |

        The twitosphere is not an operating table, but a minefield. Posters do not use scalpels, but grenades. Collateral damage is inevitable in the design of the forum.

        I very much regret that you feel hard done by. It takes a good deal of extending goodwill in reading to find the intention of a commentator without jaundice, suspicion, or offense.

        Oh, and in case I’ve never said it, I’m deeply grateful for the work you do.

      • The “identical twin climate/crime test” sounds like a winner.

        Give two identical twins to adoptive parents at birth: one located in Texas (let’s say Houston) and the other in Michigan (let’s say Detroit). Both sets of parents have the same income and standard of living. Both children get identical schooling and treatment. The only difference is a few degrees of difference in average ambient temperature.

        See which of the twins grows up to become a criminal.

        Conclude from this:

        a) that warmer climate generates more criminal behavior than colder climate and that, therefore a warmer world will be a world with more crime
        b) that colder climate generates more criminal behavior than warmer climate and that, therefore a warmer world will be a world with less crime
        c) that there is no difference between the two


      • PS Forgot the most important part:

        Repeat the test until you get the answer you want.

    • No comments? The article is about a fuel cell design that uses a graphene with iodine catalyst instead of rare metals. No matter what you use for a fuel cell you know what you will get out. With an ICE you are always going to have some product due to incomplete combustion at some time in the life of the motor that the EPA whackos will find some reason to suspect of causing something.

      If the researchers are right, the fuel cell can operate on hydrogen, methanol and likely a variety of other fuels without carbon loading being a major issue. This would make their fuel cell the holy grail of batteries.

      • That article is indeed interesting. I always discount these kinds of reports in terms of practicality by an order of magnitude, but the growing number of discoveries for ways to use graphene is part of a macro-trend which lends some extra plausibility–graphene manufacturing is very likely to develop over time in all sorts of variations.

      • Stevepostrel,

        This is the first one I have seen that supposedly out performs pt/graphene. The others have been cost/performance compromises.

      • David Springer

        Fuel cells solve a limited number of problems and creates others at the same time since the application that gets everyone excited involves electric wheel motors. Fuel cells can’t be recharged by regenerative braking so you still need a conventional battery. The fuel cell is basically used instead of a small conventional motor to produce a hybrid vehicle. The little charging motors in like the Prius are already inexpensive and extremely efficient mostly due to engineering constraints that are lifted in designing internal combustion motors that run at constant RPM and loading. I don’t think fuel cells offer a lot of room for improvement in either cost or performance of the vehicle since battery recharge is a small part of the total equation.

      • David, ” I don’t think fuel cells offer a lot of room for improvement in either cost or performance of the vehicle since battery recharge is a small part of the total equation.”

        There is some room. Toyota prototypes supposedly have 68% efficiency. There are a lot of other hurdles though.

    • David Springer

      In addition to a naked encrypted link try adding the title of the article and maybe even a tiny explanation of why you think it click-worthy.

      Here’s why I didn’t click it initially:


      • He finds big fish. They can’t all be reeled in.

      • Springer generally I do, but I was in a bit of a rush. That article was interest though because instead of the “performs nearly as well as..” it had “out performs PtPEM..” Platinum catalyst Proton Exchange Membranes have been the default standard for some time now with a realistic efficiency range around 60% to 70 percent. If the Iodine breaks that barrier, low temperature fuel cells could push 100 percent with a lower cost catalyst that is less susceptible to carbon and other impurity loading. That is a pretty big hurdle.

        In addition to basic power conversion, fuel cells can be used for scrubbing some of the more nasty pollutants.

        http://gas2.org/2013/06/15/in-the-army-now-military-developing-ethanol-fuel-cell/ The army is trying a less efficient PEM technology to remove Nitramides and there are also ammonia/urea fuel cell designs. So an Iodine PEM FCV would likely help clean air instead of just not polluting air. BartR would have to justify subsidizing such a project to protect his Bartosphere.

  3. I would reserve the word anti-science for the commonly expressed view that the peer review system, scientific community, professional scientific societies, government scientists, etc., are corrupt. This usually goes with a resentment of academia in general. These people usually don’t want to understand the science, and jump on any even moderate view expressed by mainstream scientists here on guest posts as part of the plot.

  4. All the usual references to Arctic and Antarctic sea ice show the current trend. Antarctic sea ice is routinely setting daily records for maximum extent. In the Arctic, the 2013 is following parallel to the average melt, and is just inside the 2 SD level on extent. We are well into the melt season, so it seems a fairly safe guess that there is not going to be a record minimum Arctic sea ice extent set this year.

    There is an interesting expedition; see http://mainstreamlastfirst.com/?slide=home There are four seasoned adventurers who set out to row through the NW passage; in the belief that the warmists were going to be right, and the Arctic would be nearly ice free this summer. They seem to be in real trouble, and I only hope they succeed in extracating themselves from this foolhardy enterprise, without loss of life, and without having to make use of Canadian resources to rescue them.

    • Record minimum Arctic Sea Ice Extents are not usually back to back. The Record minimums cause record snowfall that cools the next year and/or the next several years. Look at when the most snow falls. The most snow falls when the Polar Sea Ice is the least. When the polar oceans are frozen, less snow falls and warming follows.

    • Jim Cripwell | August 3, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Reply

      This was already covered last week by the response from Craig Thomas | July 30, 2013 at 2:23 am |

      See this link:


      You’re repeating your errors from last week without noting that they’ve been corrected since with citations and evidence.

      Why is that?

      The Antarctic continental ice mass even in the Antarctic winter is sloughing into the Antarctic seas at such a rapid rate that it is breaking records for the speed, volume and mass of this conveyor belt of melting the Antarctic.

      In the meantime, http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/charctic-interactive-sea-ice-graph/ inspires the question, will 2013 follow 2009’s August path, or 2010’s or will it break away as observers in the field anticipate the decayed ice must do the first big arctic cyclone of August?

      Your rowers are only a small percentage of the way through their adventuresome attempt, and showing us that just because the Arctic is warmer doesn’t make it welcome or safe or a good place to for example build an oil rig or a pipeline. Check out the number of incidents the Trans Alaska Pipeline has had, and that’s largely on land.

      • “The Antarctic continental ice mass even in the Antarctic winter is sloughing into the Antarctic seas at such a rapid rate”

        What rate? Where is the proof?

        Quit fabricating explanations.

      • sunshinehours1 | August 3, 2013 at 2:18 pm |

        That’s an interesting bit of hypocrisy.

        The rate is in the aforementioned response from Craig Thomas | July 30, 2013 at 2:23 am |

        Read harder.

        And perhaps look before you defame.

      • Bart, you write “You’re repeating your errors from last week without noting that they’ve been corrected since with citations and evidence.”

        What “errors” am I making? All I have written are factual statements as to what is actaull;y happening to Arctic and Antarctic sea ice. And then a guess about the minimum. I have made absoluitely no errors whatsoever..

    • Jim Cripwell | August 3, 2013 at 4:14 pm |

      Errors of omission remain error; seeking to imply for careless readers a false conclusion remains a deceptive practice; it is hardly safe, or fair, to guess there will be no new Arctic sea ice extent record minimum this year.

      There is already a record of non-decayed sea ice extent. Decayed sea ice is vulnerable to extreme weather. The Arctic sea cyclone season is in summer and twice as intense as the Atlantic hurricane season.

      Where is safe in that absurd guess? It is no more likely than odds of one in five that the Arctic record — already extraordinary — will hold, based on these facts.

      • Record Low Arctic Sea Ice Extents often do not occur back to back. A record year has record snowfall and it can take several years to warm enough for another record.

      • Herman Alexander Pope | August 4, 2013 at 12:03 am |

        Extreme low records often are not consecutive. The behavior of the Arctic is hardly evidence for your claims; indeed, if anything the stepwise descent of the Arctic sea ice levels such that every six year span is uniformly lower than the six years prior puts the lie to anything contained in your fingoism. Observations do not support your claims. The data mocks your assertions. Give them up.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘This circulation change results in more frequent episodes of blocking patterns that lead to increased cold surges over large parts of northern continents. Moreover, the increase in atmospheric water vapor content
        in the Arctic region during late autumn and winter driven locally by the reduction of sea ice provides enhanced moisture sources, supporting increased heavy snowfall in Europe during early winter and the northeastern and midwestern United States during winter. We conclude that the recent decline of Arctic sea ice has played a critical role in recent cold and snowy winters.’ http://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/pnas.pdf

        HAP is right as far as he goes. It is not the whole story obviously.

        ‘The perennial (September) Arctic sea ice cover exhibits large interannual variability, with changes of over a million square kilometers from one year to the next. Here we explore the role of changes in Arctic cyclone activity, and related factors, in driving these pronounced year-to-year changes in perennial sea ice cover. Strong relationships are revealed between the September sea ice changes and the number of cyclones in the preceding late spring and early summer. In particular, fewer cyclones over the central Arctic Ocean during the months of May, June, and July appear to favor a low sea ice area at the end of the melt season. Years with large losses of sea ice are characterized by abnormal cyclone distributions and tracks: they lack the normal maximum in cyclone activity over the central Arctic Ocean, and cyclones that track from Eurasia into the central Arctic are largely absent. Fewer storms are associated with above-average mean sea level pressure, strengthened anticyclonic winds, an intensification of the transpolar drift stream, and reduced cloud cover, all of which favor ice melt. It is also shown that a strengthening of the central Arctic cyclone maximum helps preserve the ice cover, although the association is weaker than that between low cyclone activity and reduced sea ice. The results suggest that changes in cyclone occurrence during late spring and early summer have preconditioning effects on the sea ice cover and exert a strong influence on the amount of sea ice that survives the melt season.’ Emphasis added.

        There are a number of factors – including a cooling Pacific. My high end 5.7 million square km guess is lookin’ real good.

  5. The real champions of the scientific method


    Popper is entertaining, and recent enough to be hotly debated still, and often useful.

    However, Popper applies principally to the conduct of laboratory methods, which is a subset of the scientific method, and Popper does not speak either to policy in any meaningful or significant way. What Popper does speak to, the experimental research the Physics that climatology relies on, that Physics is scrupulously solid in the labs for CO2’s properties and the various radiative transfer effects and thermodynamics. But the sheer wackiness of siting inferior and irrelevant sources at this level of discourse demands the strongest rebuttal and evokes dismay.

    Isaac Newton is the foundation on which Popper stands, and exceeds Popper in relevancy to the questions of policy and climate science outside the laboratory.



    Four Rules of Scientific Reasoning
    from Principia Mathematica
    by Isaac Newton

    Sir Isaac Newton was a significant contributor to the Scientific Revolution. Newton believed that scientific theory should be coupled with rigorous experimentation, and he published four rules of scientific reasoning in Principia Mathematica (1686) that form part of modern approaches to science: 1.admit no more causes of natural things than are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances,
    2.to the same natural effect, assign the same causes,
    3.qualities of bodies, which are found to belong to all bodies within experiments, are to be esteemed universal, and
    4.propositions collected from observation of phenomena should be viewed as accurate or very nearly true until contradicted by other phenomena.

    Newton’s rules of scientific reasoning have proved remarkably enduring. His first rule is now commonly called the principle of parsimony, and states that the simplest explanation is generally the most likely. The second rule essentially means that special interpretations of data should not be used if a reasonable explanation already exists. The third rule suggests that explanations of phenomena determined through scientific investigation should apply to all instances of that phenomenon. Finally, the fourth rule lays the philosophical foundation of modern scientific theories, which are held to be true unless demonstrated otherwise. This is not to say that theories are accepted without evidence, nor that they can’t change – theories are built upon long lines of evidence, often from multiple pieces of research, and they are subject to change as that evidence grows.

    Which sounds more like Newton? The IPCC, or the GWPF?

    • Steven Mosher

      2. to the same natural effect, assign the same causes,

      “The second rule essentially means that special interpretations of data should not be used if a reasonable explanation already exists. ”

      there is the rub. To some who look at the temperature series, a reasonable explanation already exists. As always its easier to state a generality like 2 than it is to apply it. “the same natural effect” is of course ambiguous. In climate science, some look at the rise in temperature to the 40s and argue that this “effect” ( the trend) is the same as we saw very recently. And further they explain this rise as coming from “natural variation”. So now we have the same effect, but we would like to explain the second rise as the effect of added external forcing.

      put another way,, newtons rules are either unhelpful or trivially true. platitudes.

      • Steven Mosher | August 3, 2013 at 5:39 pm |

        Er, no. That would be cherrypicking questions to foster fingoism, the feigning of hypotheses neither necessary nor accurate (thus not true) but provoking an exception for CO2 originating from lucrative industrial emissions to the question of “How does CO2 affect the climate?”

        As to the question of “Why is the temperature rising?” it is plausible without Newton’s Principles that many explanations might be put forward without violating what some in their unschooled ways call common sense, but that would violate universality: which one explanation best answers both questions, not what possible fictional accounts might be ascribed to either.

        Draw the Venn diagram of all the explanations necessary but sufficient to account for all the questions most parsimoniously and with the fewest exceptions. This is a nontrivial exercise, and helpfully trims away dross like a scalpel.

      • Steven Mosher


        “Er, no. That would be cherrypicking questions to foster fingoism, the feigning of hypotheses neither necessary nor accurate (thus not true) but provoking an exception for CO2 originating from lucrative industrial emissions to the question of “How does CO2 affect the climate?”

        1. its not cherry picking.
        2. I am showing you AN EXAMPLE of how the principle is useless in a given
        3. The principle is generally useless absent an operational definition of the
        key terms.


        “As to the question of “Why is the temperature rising?” it is plausible without Newton’s Principles that many explanations might be put forward without violating what some in their unschooled ways call common sense, but that would violate universality: which one explanation best answers both questions, not what possible fictional accounts might be ascribed to either.”

        1. You presuppose that the one principle answers both questions.
        2. In fact the one principle does not answer both questions.
        3. Parsimony is a pragmatic principle. There is no reason to
        presuppose that non parsimonious explanations are irrational
        You might prefer parsimony, but strictly speaking you can’t logically
        rule out non parsimonious explanations.


        Draw the Venn diagram of all the explanations necessary but sufficient to account for all the questions most parsimoniously and with the fewest exceptions. This is a nontrivial exercise, and helpfully trims away dross like a scalpel.

        Not only is it non trivial but it’s intractable and presupposes that the questions can be enumerated and limited.

      • Steven Mosher

        And Bart if you like a better example

        many preferred Newtons particle theory of light over Huygen’s wave theory because of the simplicity of the former. opps the answer ended up being quite odd.

        While arbitarily choosing the simpler theory alllows one to “move on” to other physics, it has nevertheless been the case that the choice of “simpler” has ended up wrong. Basically, choosing the parsimonious solution depends upon choices about what you want to explain ( drawing boundaries around that phenomena ) , and how you “measure” simplicity.
        There has been some work done on measuring the “simplicity” of explanations in the computation fields, but not much beyond that.

        In short, by appealing to parsimony without a quantitative canonical proceedure for determining it, you basically lose the entire mechanistic appeal of the newtonian project.

      • Steven Mosher | August 3, 2013 at 9:28 pm |

        Perhaps a truce in this dispute may be found in extending goodwill toward Newton that what he intended was not the most asinine possible reading of his work. After all, his Principia was forged out of the furnace of hammer-and-tongs debate with the top minds of Newton’s day, and has in the three centuries since withstood every criticism and challenge.

        Is it possible you’ve misread Newton, or relied only on the small fragment of Newton’s writing cited here, without delving for deeper?

        Einstein, who also extended Newton by the very means Newton commends in his fourth principle, among the luminaries resolving particle/wave duality, and who himself has since been extended for a more accurate and very nearly true explanation, is said to have quipped, “as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

        This reading I think reconciles Newton with your objection.

      • Steven Mosher

        Bart let me make it as clear as possible.

        Lets say that in your view of things we are trying to reduce the world of observations to a collection of statements that are quantifiable.

        The problem with the appeal to simplicity is that it has resisted quantification, except in some specialized cases. So, we have a dispute over say two competing theories, Deciding which is better by applying a rule that cannot be quantified, is a problem.

        In short we have no simple way of “counting” how much a theory explains and no simple way of “counting” or measuring how simple it is ( except in computational science ). In short, to decide between two theories you have to inject something, a rule system, that operates according to other less reliable principles . To be sure there cases where it appears easy to count: for example, where one theory requires more entities and another theory requires fewer entities, the decision might seem easy.
        However, its easy to recall situations where one solution involves junking a law and an alternative solution involves positing the existence of an unobservable entity.


    • David Springer

      Bart interpreting Popper. This might be entertaining in the same way a 5-year old interpreting the evening news might be entertaining.

  6. Judith Curry,

    Pearce’s Guardian piece:

    “…risk constricting material policy measures, issues of wider public significance than scientific debates about climate change.”

    The current climate change debates seems to enshrine narrow policies, i.e. focus on mitigation, when the broader questions may be:

    1) What is climate change and what influences those changes?

    2) What are rational international energy policies?

    3) How does science participate in the development of cheap energy and make that energy available for the entire world population?

    It appears to me the issue of science within a policy debate misses the societal give and take necessary to discuss aspects or nuances within that debate. Science IMO is a piece in a very large puzzle and by no means plays the dominant role nor is it the driver of the debate.

    The climate change debate has been highjacked by the climate scientists who envision themselves as keepers of the body of climate science. From my listening and readings, the very broad participating sciences that goes to make up climate science provides many scientists, engineers and others who have some expertise in individual sciences a legitimate say in the content of that climate science.

    To me the division of who is or who is not a scientist re: believers/skeptics is quite artificial. I view the piece by Pearce querying whether skeptics are real scientists? is not germane as the consensus group appears to not want anyone else to play in what they see as their sandbox. KEEP OUT!

    In addition, the climate change focus upon mitigating CO2 and its policy implications has obviated the broader social question of cheap energy available to all, in which we all have a stake.

  7. Regarding the RPJr column, the other red herring that gets thrown around a lot in relation to “antiscience” is “creationism”. An in, Dr. XXX is a “creationist” (based on the fact that he/she was seen entering a church/synagogue/mosque once), therefore creationist therefore antiscience therefore shut up. I think the analogy to Godwinism is a lot stronger when you look at that attack, because its so categorical and so utterly off topic.

    You don’t have to be a creationist to see what a red herring this is. RPJr is right – debate the issue, not some side red herring.

    • Creationists believe a magic sky fairy spontaneously magicked a fully formed human male and female onto the surface of the Earth. They don’t think it’s a story. They think it really happened. As in reality. And they think science is compatible with that. That has to be the definition of antiscience no?

      Climate skeptics talk about trust and credibility of scientists all the time when it comes to emails.

      So can we not agree that scientists who advocate something as absurd as creationism lose a hell of a lot of trust on science?

      • If believing something goofy disqualifies one from credibility, what does that say about the “we’re all gonna die!!!11” crowd?

      • May I ask if you believe that atheists are better professionals in fields like physics, chemistry, medicine, engineering or architecture?
        You see the thing is I know people who have religious faith, in these professions, and I have not noted any problems.
        Although I am an atheist, I do not belittle those who have faith, nor do I think that people, say Muslims, who believe that the universe and its life was created by a supernatural being need to have their scientific arguments ignored on the grounds they believe in sky-fairies.
        I work in a hospital with its own Islamic Prayer room and Chapel. Imagine, a building housing houses of worship and cutting edge research labs.
        I personally think that both, in their own way, are trying to help people, especially people who are ill or dying. I also note that both types of sisters we have give comfort to the sick.
        I also believe that bigots, like yourself, need to examine their consciences and consider if they are truly playing the ball or playing the man.

      • I knew a doctor once who told all the preachers in his practice that he felt sorry for them, because they both treated the same thing, human misery and suffering, and the doctor had powerful medicines and the preachers only had religious faith and prayer. I’m told that the preachers all got the joke and much hilarity ensued.

      • Harold | August 3, 2013 at 4:16 pm |

        If believing something goofy disqualifies one from credibility, what does that say about the “we’re all gonna die!!!11″ crowd?

        Unless you think you are Ponce de Leon or are anti-science, you would have to look at the statistics and admit that each human has a finite life-span and each of us will eventually die.

      • Look up the phrase “I am convinced that He (God) does not play dice.” – obviously said by a non-atheist. Contrary to your mistaken belief, science doesn’t care if you are/are not religious, believe that the government listens to everything or wear tinfoil on your head. What it does demand is that your theory must agree with observations and that it stand up to continued scrutiny over time. Trying to use Argumentum ad Hominem just shows bigotry of the person using it.

        It’s somewhat amusing (but mostly annoying) that many who sling the “anti-science” label really don’t understand what science really is. Think of the question “Does science say you shouldn’t smoke?” I’m sure practically all would say “yes”, but they would be mistaken because science makes *no statement* about desirability. It’s all cause and effect. Smoking increases your chance for cancer by XXX% or decreases life expectancy by YY years is what science says – it *never* answers the “should” question. Look up “eugenics” as another example of people not understanding the differences between ‘science says’ and ‘what you should do’.

      • creationism isn’t belief in god, it’s a belief about biology and geology that contradicts science. Like belief in UFOs, ghosts or chemtrails it calls into question a person’s ability to assess evidence.

      • Steven Mosher

        Actually there are various positions


      • Many atheists believe there are an infinite number of universes that popped up out of nothing, and coexist, without having the faintest idea how. And they think science is compatible with that.

        They believe this because it is the only alternative they can think of that hopes to explain the existence of this universe, that leaves out a creator.

        Of course neither alternative answers the ultimate question. But don’t tell the “scientists” that.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        People often criticize creationism for being Christian fundamentalism, but that isn’t what it is. It covers a vast variety of beliefs, including theistic evolution, which Mosher mentioned, and the idea that Earth’s genetic material was seeded by aliens.

        The problem is right-wing fundamentalists began calling themselves “Creationists” to associate themselves with a respected philosophical/theological position in order to appear more credible. Nobody called them out on it, and now the name has stuck. People generally call the fundamentalists Creationists instead of creationists, but that’s about it.

        By the way GaryM, it’s remarkable how many atheists believe in things like the multiverse. I understand faith, but I don’t get faith in what is basically just a scifi bastardization of quantum physics.

      • David Springer

        Actually that should be biblical creationists.

        I believe the observable universe exists and had a beginning. Logically that means it was created either by intent or accident. Either way it was created. Given the law of entropy states that a closed system moves towards decreasing order then our universe, at the instant of its creation, was in its most ordered state. If you choose to believe that low entropy state, which by the laws of thermodynamics means that things like the library of congress was already encoded into its fabric 14 billion years ago just waiting to be expressed in current form, that’s your business but I find beliefs where all that order is simply an accident is prettty preposterous and requires believing in not a closed universe described by the so-called big bang but rather in an infinite universe where every low probabability event that’s physically possible must happen and indeed happen an infinite number of times with infinitely many tiny permutations. Even in that situation an entity that would appear to us to be “God” must have been created who then created everything else. Infinities are like that. So the question is really about what we can know about the creation by observing it. That’s called science. Science is the rational study of a rational universe by rational man. It actually helps to begin from a framework that the universe is rational because it has a rational creator. Otherwise upon what do we base our assumption that the secrets of the universe are understandable by a rational mind?

      • And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. – Genesis 1:3, NIV
        Not bad for something written in 1450-1410 B.C.

  8. The spectacular silliness of the paper on climate and violence is hard to believe. I simply cannot understand how some take that crap seriously. Emblematic of the whole CAGW debacle imvho.. It took me 62 years to fully understand how stupid educated people can be.

    • The Beginner’s Mind is Open.
      The Expert Mind is Closed.
      We do need to be very careful on how we educate our Grandchildren!

    • David Wojick

      And yet it was published by Science magazine which is ranked as one of the top journals and which rejects the vast majority of papers submitted to it. I confess I have become anti-Science (but pro-science) because of the climate stuff they choose to publish. See also http://www.sciencemag.org/content/341/6145/435.full and
      http://www.sciencemag.org/content/341/6145/472.full for the introductions to Friday’s special issue of Science magazine. A cornucopia of AGW science on the coming destruction of nature.

      Science gone nuts.

      • I noticed who published it was well, David. Which of course makes it all the more pathetic.

        “Science gone nuts,” indeed.

      • Not nuts, just abusive, in a very old-fashioned manner.

      • Being the top scientific journal (mainstream) means crap, just like anything else (art, music, literature, movies…).

    • + 1 pokerguy.

      Most likely an attempt to attract some of that climate change money.

      Though there have been at least a couple of cases where the link between violence and climate change is pretty solid. Involves parties forcing people off their land on order to cash in on carbon credits. Imagine that.

    • David Springer

      In colder climates nature keeps the population density down to where evolution favored literally favored copulation over war. Undoutedly some great thinker realized this in the 1960’s and produced the popular American meme “Make Love Not War”.

      I could probably get that all in a tweet if I worked at it.

  9. David in Cal

    Judith Curry says, “Substantial deviation from the norm…would cause problems if there are resource shortages.” By the same token, deviation from the norm in a way that increases resources ought to help solve problems. Both theory and observation support the idea that increased atmospheric CO2 and warmer temperatures lead to increased food production. A proper study should look at both the good and the bad,

  10. Fergit twitter, what’s busting out all over is tittering, for boobs to giggle together. Maybe it’s jiggle together.

    • When I showed your comment to my wife she didn’t get it. Although she’s a genius, she’s not very good with word play and such. I on the other hand, I found it to be one of the funniest things I have ever read from you :)……

  11. “Anti-science” is just another on the Left’s list of slanders used against opponents to shut down debate. Concerned about rampant vote fraud and think the US should have voters show ID like they do everywhere else in the world and as an overwhelming percentage of Americans support? You are a nasty RACIST.

    Think that religious liberty is infringed when govt forces the church to fund birth control? You are a nasty SEXIST, waging a War on Women.

    Support the traditional view of marriage along with the overwhelming majority of people around the world? You are a nasty HOMOPHOBE.

    Point out that the polar bear study is a bad joke, the hockey stick is worse and a host of other studies are junk? You’re ANTI-SCIENCE! ‘Cause being pro-science means believing every stupid fairy tale that someone with a PhD tries to peddle. Regardless of how badly it trashes the scientific method.

    As Glenn Reynolds often writes about the modern Left — “Shut up, he explained.”

    • Do you have any examples of this “rampant voter fraud?”

      What part of the US constitution’s bill of rights applies to individuals, not organized religious entities do you not understand? Especially the Catholic Church, which is more like a foreign country.

      Can you give a reasonable reason why gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry?

      So the polar bears are ok because we have stopped shooting them?

      The hockey stick has been replicated enough times to be considered accurate.

      • You write, “What part of the US constitution’s bill of rights applies to individuals, not organized religious entities do you not understand?”
        Amendments I, IX, and X.
        Amendment I in particular, re: government establishment of religion prohibited, free exercise of it guaranteed, as well as the right to peaceably assemble.
        Read the fine manual.

  12. even slight spikes in temperature and precipitation have greatly increased the risk of personal violence and social upheaval throughout human history.

    I haven’t read the paper or any of the discussion on this bu my reaction is to suggest that the level of wealth or poverty would be far more important factor in causing “the risk of personal violence and social upheaval throughout human history“.

    Therefore, we would be much better off in spending our money on policies that reduce poverty than in reducing GHG emissions. We reduce poverty by maximising economic growth, and we do that by increasing free trade, globaisation, increasing the flexibility of labour markets and reducing the cost of energy. Any policy that increases the cost of energy is wrong headed.

    • + 1 Anyone who is seriously concerned for the well-being of the poor and other disadvantaged people should know that the vast increases of well-being over the last 60-100 years have come from economic growth, which in turn has been facilitated by capitalism, free markets and free trade. If you oppose those, you aren’t serious about helping others, you have some other agenda.

      • Well free-markets fundamentalists say so, but there seems to be some other very important factors like significant improvments in health care, educuation and the like.

        I like how the skeptics crowd have decided that ‘concern for the poor’ is a very important topic, but in my skepticism I suspect it’s mainly a debating tactic re: AGW.

      • Sorry to reply on your post, but Michael said something naive that should be answered to:
        I like how the skeptics crowd have decided that ‘concern for the poor’ is a very important topic, but in my skepticism I suspect it’s mainly a debating tactic re: AGW.
        Whether or not it’s a debating tactic is irrelevant because it happens to be true. Anyone who has thought about the problem quickly realizes that in the modern world, “wealth” (and we can define “poor” as the absence of “wealth”) and “the ability to use energy” as being practically synonymous. Do you think the improvements in heath care (xrays, MRI, genetic testing) or education (computers, the http://www..) comes without the expenditure of an enormous amount of power? What poverty fighting method are you advocating that doesn’t require the use of energy (and a lot of it)? So when policies are put forth that tries to curtail the use of energy over a broad spectrum of human society, it can be viewed as nothing but being against the poor, since they need energy the most to get out of poverty.

      • Just another BRIC in the wall.

      • Michael,

        What do you think fuels those improvements in health care and education, if not economic growth?

        The phrase “Couldn’t pour piss from a boot if the instructions were on the heel.” must have been coined with you in mind.

    • Add “Liberty” to the list.

  13. Here are excellent articles I enjoyed reading:

    1) The first one is by Andrew Neil in BBC’s Sunday politics:

    The main purpose of the interview was to establish if the government thought the recent and continuing pause in global temperatures meant it should re-think its policies in response to global warming.

    This is a vital policy issue since the strategy of this government and the previous Labour government to decarbonise the economy involves multi-billion pound spending decisions, paid for by consumers and taxpayers, which might not have been taken (at least to the same degree or with the same haste) if global warming was not quite the imminent threat it has been depicted.

    It might also be argued that challenging interviews on matters in which there is an overwhelming consensus in Westminster – but not necessarily among voters who pay for both the licence fee and the government’s energy policies – is a particularly legitimate purpose of public-service broadcasting.


    2) The second one is by Jeff Tollefson in Nature magazine:

    It is one of the biggest mysteries in climate science: humans are pumping more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere today than ever before, yet global temperatures have not risen much in more than a decade.


    • David Wojick

      It is only a mystery because the models were tuned to make the 1978-98 temp rise be due to the CO2 rise.

  14. Funny how ” slight spikes in temperature and precipitation” are now climate.

    • It’s worse than that. They are catastrophic. The doomsayers use it to justify their case for policies that would cost trillions of dollars and disadvantage just about everyone for no demonstrable benefit whatsoever.

  15. “When I hear anyone use the phrase ‘anti-science’, it is like finger nails on a blackboard. I doubt that anyone in actuality is ‘anti-science’ in terms of being against the idea of science.”

    Pseudoscience is anti-science.
    It’s robbing the status of science- it’s pretending to be science.
    So yes, few are against the “label” of science.
    But there is no more destructive force to science than pseudoscience.

    People blissfully believing in fairies is not something which is opposing science or any concern to science.
    It’s not any more significant than someone loving chocolate.
    It’s only when fraud is used “to demonstrate” that fairies exist, using some kind of trick, and it’s implied it’s employing scientific means, which as consequence appears to establish that fairies exist, that this becomes something against science.
    So error in science is not anti-science. Errors deliberately disguised/hidden, are serious offense.
    And making up stuff related the realm of science, and lying about it is anti-science.

  16. Proof positive that the British Conservative Party, isn’t the least bit conservative.

    “The Conservative Party has hired Barack Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina for its general election campaign team….”


    • Say – Gary, speaking of proof positive.

      I was wondering if you’ve ever provided an explanation for how you could have been so completely wrong about something you were so positive about – you know, that whole thing about the pollsters in a conspiracy to throw the election by skewing their polls to inflated Obama’s numbers?

      You did notice, didn’t you, that actually he outperformed the polls?

      How do you explain how you were so completely wrong? How could someone be that far off on the math as you were? What would bias your analysis so badly? Got any ideas?

      • So? Explain Benghazi to me in plain English. Oh, and while you’re at it, I’ve a list.

      • Joshua – it happens all the time. Climate science is replete with examples.

  17. Something which caught my eye – British insanity.

    We could soon be paying billions for this wind back-up: the National Grid’s latest plan is taking off into the weirdest scheme yet, thanks to our politicians’ obsession with wind turbines

    By Christopher Booker Daily Telegraph 5:19PM BST 03 Aug 2013

    Occasionally, one comes across a story so mind-blowingly unexpected and out-of-left-field that it seems hard for readers to take on board that it is true. Such is the story I first reported here last month, under the heading, “Our lights will stay on, but it’ll cost us a fortune”, about the scheme being devised by the National Grid to solve what has long been the most intractable problem created by the Government’s plan to see the best part of £110 billion spent in seven years on building tens of thousands more wind turbines – namely, how to keep our national grid “balanced” when it has to cope with all those unpredictably wild fluctuations in the speed of the wind.

    The answer National Grid has come up with, only made possible by the latest computer technology and “cloud software”, is to hook up thousands of diesel generators, remotely controlled by the grid, to provide almost instantly available back-up for when the wind drops. As we can see from recent reports, such as the National Grid’s draft consultation on “Demand Side Balancing Reserve and Supplemental Balancing Reserve”, this is now taking off into the weirdest and most ambitious scheme yet called into being by our politicians’ obsession with wind turbines. As uncovered by the tireless research of my colleague, Richard North, on his EU Referendum blog, owners of diesel generators are being incentivised with offers of astronomic fees to make them available to the grid – subsidies equivalent to up to 12 times the going rate for conventional electricity, and even, on very rare occasions, up to £15,000 per megawatt hour (MWh), or 300 times the normal rate of £50 per MWh.

    Initially, this “short-term operating reserve” only envisaged relying on existing standby generators, many owned by public bodies such as hospitals, prisons and military installations – which stand to earn hundreds of millions of pounds from the Government, paid for by the rest of us as a “stealth tax” through our electricity bills. But so lucrative is the subsidy bonanza now being proposed that dozens of private firms, with names such as Renewable Energy Generation and Power Balancing Services, are flocking to cash in by building dedicated “virtual power stations”, capable of generating up to 20MW or more, knowing that they can expect up to £47,000 a year in “availability payments” for each MW of capacity, even before they have generated a single unit of power.

    This solution to the “grid balancing” problem created by wind was pioneered in the US. The first firm to set up a “virtual power station” in Britain was UK Power Reserve, run by a former governor of Oklahoma, who was amazed to find the British offering subsidies seven times larger than those available in his native state. When last week I asked National Grid, Ofgem and others for an estimate of how much we will all be having to pay for this “balancing” scheme, the general response was that this is still too much a “work in progress” to allow for overall cost estimates – although National Grid has been quoted as suggesting that within two years it could be £1 billion a year, adding 5 per cent more to our already soaring electricity bills. But, without question, we are looking here at one of the most sure-fire moneymaking wheezes of our time – what one firm happily describes as “money for nothing”.

    And the final irony, of course, is that those diesel generators chuck out almost as much, per unit, of that supposedly polluting CO2 as any of the coal-fired power stations our politicians want to see taxed and regulated out of existence.


    • Another article showing the utter lunacy of the renewable energy advocates. But like religious zealots, they are incapable joining the dots. They are incapable of rational analysis.

      Here http://oznucforum.customer.netspace.net.au/TP4PLang.pdf is a comparison of the cost of low emissions electricity system for Australia where most of the generation is renewable energy versus mostly nuclear power. It compares four mostly renewable energy scenarios and one mostly nuclear scenario on the basis of:

      – CO2 emissions intensity
      – capital cost
      – cost of electricity
      – CO2 abatement cost.

      The mostly nuclear system is 1/3 the capital cost, 1/2 the cost of electricity, and 1/3 the CO2 abatement cost of the least cost mostly renewable energy system See Figure 6 for a comparison of the costs and Figure for a comparison of the CO2 emissions intensities from the whole system to meet Eastern Australia’s electricity demand

      • Check out Great Britain’s latest boondoggle, ‘Diesel on Demand’, a ludicrously expensive and corrupted method to contend with the unreliability of windmill arrays. This is the stuff of comedy, yet I’m sure it can be portrayed as tragedy.

      • Tragedy, indeed. Senior British citizens are dying from cold (unaffordable energy). It is heartless as well.

        Nelson, Fraser. “It’s the Cold, Not Global Warming, That We Should Be Worried About.” Telegraph.co.uk, March 28, 2013, sec. elderhealth. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/elderhealth/9959856/Its-the-cold-not-global-warming-that-we-should-be-worried-about.html

        No one seems upset that in modern Britain, old people are freezing to death as hidden taxes make fuel more expensive.
        The government’s chief scientific officer, Sir David King, later declared that climate change was “more serious even than the threat of terrorism” in terms of the number of lives that could be lost. (2003).
        Since Sir David’s exhortations, some 250,000 Brits have died from the cold, and 10,000 from the heat.

        More? Google: England death seniors cold

    • Oh well, I’m sure there’s a market mechanism in there somewhere, so it’ll all be fine. It’s a kind of privatisation, isn’t it, when governments overpay any wally they can find to run a genny? And never mind about all that CO2: it’s private CO2, not public CO2. Different isotope altogether.

      These days, when loopy collectivists are charged with concocting their loopy collectivist schemes, they just say the word “market” – and do their best Adam Smith impression. Soon they’ll be chomping cigars and showing us their gun collections and stuffed marlins.

      Think I’m gunna have to turn socialist, Faustino.

    • “adding 5 per cent more to our already soaring electricity bills”

      5%? Is that all? Is that all Christopher Booker of all people could come up with?

      I notice also there has been a quiet U-turn. Skeptics used to wail that wind intermittency would result in the lights turning off in Britain (because apparently humans are ingenuous enough to adapt to climate change, but cannot adapt an electrical grid for wind intermittency…)

      The U-Turn was heralded last month by Christopher Booker penning an article “Our lights will stay on – but it will cost us a fortune” which was basically a “(i was wrong) BUT BUT BUT SOMETHING ELSE” headline.

      Now we find out the “fortune” Booker is wailing alarmism over is just 5% extra.

      And what of the claim that renewables would need backup gas generation? Skeptics like Booker insisted this would be so. And they would claim that the backup generators would need to be spinning 24/7 even when not needed and so CO2 would not be reduced by wind power.

      Has that argument been U-Turned too? Well watch the pea closely. Booker now says:
      “And the final irony, of course, is that those diesel generators chuck out almost as much, per unit, of that supposedly polluting CO2 as any of the coal-fired power stations our politicians want to see taxed and regulated out of existence.”

      Which suspiciously doesn’t mention whether the generators are producing CO2 when the wind is down or when it is up . He always used to mention that before. Hmmm…

      Not to mention that most of the article is just him being indignant that “SOME PEOPLE ARE MAKING MONEY”. Which is odd. If it was the banks making money, or the supermarkets, I am sure Booker wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

      • The increasing share of intermittent sources of electric power are a real problem. As so many other issues it’s not as fatal as most extreme opponents claim, but it’s a real problem anyway. In particular, a modest amount of solar and wind power leads to small additional costs even relative to the amount of electricity used, but the problems and costs of solving these problems grow highly non-linearly with increasing share of these sources.

        In countries like Denmark and Germany the nonlinear effects are already clearly visible. They are to some extent aggravated by the regulation in force to support renewable generation. One sign of this are the highly negative prices seen often on electricity markets in Denmark and Germany.

        The specific question of using existing Diesel generators not only as reserve power for their owners but also as peak power producers for the grid is just a small detail. As a small detail it cannot lead to very high cost relative to the total cost of the power system. Creating both the tools for this use and an incentive for the owners of reserve generators sounds a reasonable idea. What’s the right price to pay for that has to be determined from the costs to the owners and from the value of the service they provide for the power system. For some of the owners this right price is lucrative because the same price must be paid to all who participate, and because the costs for owners varies greatly.

      • Pekka says:

        The specific question of using existing Diesel generators not only as reserve power for their owners but also as peak power producers for the grid is just a small detail. As a small detail it cannot lead to very high cost relative to the total cost of the power system.

        That is true. But it is just one example of many. The question you and others should be asking is why do it? Why spend vastly more money on generational and grid systems when it is not necessary. As Franc has been demonstrating for 30 years we can have low cost, low emissions reliable electricity without the complexity and cost of an inherently unreliable renewable energy system. As the link I posted above shows, renewable energy at large energy penetration is hugely expensive. It is expensive at any level of penetration. And for what reason? Simply to satisfy the inner feelings of the greenies.

        In Australia the average size residential PV installation is subsidised about $340 per year by other electricity customers for its use of the grid and hidden costs transferred to the dispatchable generators (and then passed on to customers). The renewable energy advocates don’t want to know about these costs.

      • Heh, the argument of one with a cheap diesel generator in his backyard.

      • Peter,

        When I write that this is just a small detail, it should be obvious that there are many others. The rest of my previous comment should make that even more obvious.

        The eager supporters of solar power in Finland like to point out that there’s as much solar radiation in Southern Finland as in Northern Germany. They have obviously missed the point that in Northern Germany the value of electricity produced by solar panels has been small fraction of the subsidies, 10% might be a reasonable rough number to describe the situation.

        People do not understand that in the climate of Finland – or Northern Germany – even the right to have the same electricity tariff, when solar panels reduce the consumption at the time of when the cost of production is at it’s lowest, means that they get significant subsidies that other consumers will ultimately pay in their power bills. That kind of hidden subsidies are highly dependent on the local climate and consumption patterns. In some places they are close to the full rate of the tariff, while they may be essentially absent elsewhere.

        The problems related to the intermittency of wind are different and depend on different characteristics of the power system.

      • Fire it up! There’s more confabulation than power on this grid.

      • Pekka,

        That is another pile of gobbledygook and irrelevancies. Do you find it impossible to understand and focus on what is important. here are a few examples what is important and relevant;

        – wind and solar power are very expensive (compared with fossil fuels and nuclear power to provide equivalent ‘fit for purpose’);

        – they are unreliable and need costly back up generation and expensive additions to the grid, in both operation and maintenance

        – they abate far less CO2 emissions than proponents claim and do so at very high CO2 abatement cost

        – they require an order of magnitude more material resources per quantity of energy supplied over their life than the viable alternative low emissions electricity supplier, nuclear power

        – they make negligible contributions to energy and at very high cost; this applies in countries with high solar incidence too. such as Australia. Solar power generates just 0.8% of electricity in Australia and this is after decades of subsidies at to up to ten times the cost of conventional power supplies.

        I’ve provided substantiation for all these statements many times before. If you’d read the links you’d know by now that all those statements are correct.

        Pekka, you keep making these long comments advocating renewable energy but say nothing of relevance – and at times make statements containining significant errors of fact. Your comments are the sort of claims made by the greenie extremists.

      • I said on my comment to Pekka @ August 4, 2013 at 7:10 am

        In Australia the average size residential PV installation is subsidised about $340 per year by other electricity customers for its use of the grid and hidden costs transferred to the dispatchable generators

        To put that in figures more familiar to most people, that amounts to about an additional 10 c/kWh of subsidy being paid to owners of residential PV by those who do not have PV. And this is in sunny Australia.

      • Peter,

        I wonder, how many others read my message as advocating renewable energy.

        Looking from an extreme enough position almost anything appears to be on the other side.

      • Just for interest, Australia has strongly funded solar power research and development since the 1970s. The first solar thermal power station began operation in 1983 and operated until about 1993. It cost about $1.6 million for 25 kW peak power ($64,000/kW peak).

      • Pekka,

        The important issues is you are very cunning at writing long comments that say absolutely nothing of value, just arm waving, motherhood, generalities and FUD. You do not explicitly address what is important, like cost, fit for purpose, reliability, lifetime emissions avoided, CO2 abatement cost, etc, amount of subsidies required, etc. Instead you talk about irrelevancies and FUD.

        When I point out that nuclear is far cheaper fit for purpose, etc. you kill it with faint praise and make statements like its unpopular and politically unacceptable. And you make unsupported and unqualified statements like solar works better where there is more sun (or words to that effect). Its all just nonsense stuff. After over 30 years of massive subsidies (per MWh of electricity supplied) in sunny Australia we still have only 0.8% of electricity supplied by solar. For virtually all of that time, France has been supplying about 75% of its electricity with nuclear power and producing negligible CO2 emissions from electricity generation. It is all so damned obvious, only a closest greenie could not see the bleeding obvious.

        And the reason I respond to your comments as I do is because you write as if you are an authority and often tell us you were a chair of energy economics or something like that. If that was the case a) you should know better than to make the statements you do, and b) you should be prepared to admit when you are shown to be wrong as has happened in the past.

      • Persuasive personally und mit peers,
        Rocks crash under waves of fears.

      • Lolwot,

        So now you are an expert on electrical generation and transmission grids?

        As someone who works for an electrical utility that owns the 2nd largest capacity of wind generation in the US, it is clear you haven’t a clue about the subject.

      • Peter Lang,

        It appears you are talking past Pikka to make your point and not paying attention to what he is saying.

        He most certainly is not advocating for renewable. In fact he’s not really advocating for anything. Simply providing some information.

      • timg56,

        It appears you are talking past Pikka to make your point and not paying attention to what he is saying.

        He most certainly is not advocating for renewable. In fact he’s not really advocating for anything. Simply providing some information.

        Pekka’s comments are just the latest in a long line of comments about energy, energy policy, renewable energy, nuclear power, carbon pricing and fuel taxes. As I understand it Pekka is a physicist who held a position as a chair of energy economics in Finland. He is very good at writing meaningless, arm waving comments which basically say “Its all very complicated, so too hard for anyone here to understand”. He’s an expert ant verbiage that says nothing.

        When he does make a point worth debating he rarely provides links or substantiation. If he is challenged on it he says “its a clear fact” or it’s all over the internet. If you follow through long enough on a point as I did on about three a year or so ago it shows hos “clear facts” are not facts at all, he was wrong, tried to change the goal posts and would never admit he was wrong. Examples were:

        – proportion of wind capacity and wind generation in Denmark,
        – Amount of that energy ultimately consumed in Denmark (including after storage in hydro in Norway and Sweden)
        – fuels taxes as viable alternative to GHG emissions pricing for mitigating global GHG emisisons
        – economic viability of renewable energy vs nuclear power
        – deflecting discussion of the economic viability of nuclear power by diverting to it being unpopular and dangerous.
        – continually raising the issue of the dangers of nuclear power despite it being the safest way to generate electricity
        – effectively dismissing with faint praise nuclear power as a major part of the solution to reducing global GHG emissions.

        Many more, but we can expect either no reply or another arm waving comment muddying the waters and saying nothing of significance or relevance that would move the energy policy and GHG emissions abatement debate forward.

        To see what I advocate see here:

        If we want to decarbonise the global economy, we need to approach it in an economically rational way. http://judithcurry.com/2013/04/19/open-thread-weekend-14/#comment-313509
        Alternative to carbon pricing

      • lolwot’s illiterate critique of Booker – that switching to wind from fossil fuel will add only 5% to energy costs – is laughable.
        Please give us the details of your misquote.

  18. Kim and Peter,

    The stuff of black comedy’n tragedy. The musicale,
    ‘How the Holy Grail of Environmentalism Ruined a
    Great Civilization.’

    • You forgot to mention Faustino. Did you both, Beth and Kim, read his comment?

      • Sure. Stole from it. Isn’t it obvious?

      • I said years ago that the main effect of windmills was to drive rate dispatchers crazy. I misunderestimated the real effect: Driving politicians nuts. Please, anyone, tell me that ‘Diesel on Demand’ is not totally nuts.

      • Sorry, ‘drive power dispatchers crazy’.

      • Kim and Beth,

        It’s called DPRE

        (diesel powered renewable energy)

  19. Forgot to add:
    :-) :-(

  20. Peter,
    I always read Faustino’s comments even when, like this one,
    they make me shake me head and weep at the machinations
    of power cliques. :(

    • Benefits of open market and technological innovation:


      Today, on an average wage it costs you one second to earn
      one hour of reading light. Back in 1800 you needed to work
      six hours ter pay fer a candle that burned fer one hour.
      Of course costs of renewable energy will change all that,
      ………………………………………….. renewable regressionism.
      A serf.

  21. Bart : You’re already there, Dr. Curry. Climate Etc. has been in the twitosphere from its inception.

    Only because she allows twits like you free reign. Still, better that than the ‘consensus’ approach of silencing those one disagrees with though.

    • BFJ | August 4, 2013 at 4:06 am |

      I agree.

      Climate Etc. is far superior to WUWT.. and I recall, there’s a phrase I’ve heard. How does it start?

      Oh, yeah, but RealClimate moderation..

      Who do you think NCADAC has silenced?

      Upon who’s free speech has Barack Obama trod?

      Spell it out. Be specific. Be detailed. Don’t just handwave propagandistically. Cough up something substantive. Stop being just another twit, and try saying something not meaningless or trite.

    • BART > Climate Etc. has been in the twitosphere from its inception

      BFJ > Only because she allows twits like you free reign. Still, better that than the ‘consensus’ approach of silencing those one disagrees with though.
      Bart’s supposed “response” to the above includes

      * Climate Etc. is far superior to WUWT.. and I recall, there’s a phrase I’ve heard. How does it start?

      * Oh, yeah, but RealClimate moderation..

      * Who do you think NCADAC has silenced?

      * Upon who’s free speech has Barack Obama trod?

      * Spell it out. Be specific. Be detailed. Don’t just handwave propagandistically. Cough up something substantive. Stop being just another twit, and try saying something not meaningless or trite.
      More unconnected, incoherent gibberish would be hard to find.
      (a) he’s on drugs,
      (b) has mixed up who he thinks responding to (perhaps because of (a) )
      (c) is at heart just a propagandizing, handwaving twit, unable to ssay something not meaningless or trite or distorted. Textbook alarmist behavior.

      • BatedBreath | August 4, 2013 at 4:54 pm |

        Thank you for furnishing supplemental evidence for the definition of twitosphere as applies to CE.

        A shame you couldn’t furnish contrary evidence sometime.

      • Bart
        Clear evidence of your dogged twittery is above.
        But do feel free to keep ignoring it. It’s what makes you so special.

  22. “Wage, wage war against
    the lying and the fright.”
    H/t kim

  23. If science is the belief in the ignorance of experts, the opposite is anti-science. Fine with me.

  24. Please visit

    The difference betrween current sea ice area, and the average value for this date has fallen below 1 msk, at 0.898 msk; for the first time in weeks. The highest value earlier in the year, was around 1.5 msk. So Bart R.’s “decayed” ice, (whatever that is), is obviously melting slower than normal ice. I agree with Chief that his estimate of 5.7 msk is looking very good indeed. My bet with Bob Droege is looking better and better, from my point of view, all the time.

    Antarctic sea ice seems to be setting more high value records, and total sea ice is well above the zero anomaly. The papers written recently by the UK Met. Office claiming that decreasing Arctic sea ice was a sign of CAGW, are looking distinctly awkward for the authors. If Arctic sea ice is, in fact, starting to increase, the UK Met. Office will lose altogether what little credibility is still has; together with people like Julia Slingo and John Mitchell FRS.

    • Go Baby Ice, Go. Oops, the baby is now a sullen teen-ager.

    • If Arctic sea ice is, in fact, starting to increase,..

      Look, you can stop insulting the intelligence of readers of Climate Etc. any time now.

      The analyses in http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/ disagree with your implication, with extreme weather causing another never-before seen weather event: the Arctic gaining substantial sea ice extent in August (for another look: http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/recent365.anom.region.1.html) and still leaving the Arctic almost two standard deviations below average extent for the date for the past 20 years.

      So what we have is fishtailing on a graph where excursions are not typical, in an extreme phase. This is well known in Chaos Theory to demark a tipping point or period doubling.

      You’re not seeing a return to normal. You’ve just seen the end of normal.

      • Bart, you write “The analyses in http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/ disagree with your implication,”

        I disagree. From Neven’s blog. “But huge or no huge, the impact of the weather has been huge as well. In fact, it’s so big that I’m starting to doubt my eyes.”

        In other words, the Arctic sea ice seems to be doing something which Neven never expected. I cannot see why this is any different from my analysis. For whatever reason, it appears that the freeze season will start this year with far more first year ice than last year; which means there will be far more second year ice to start next season’s melt. This is clearly a scenario for a reverse of Merk Serreze’s “death spiral”; a gradual return to the summer levels we saw in 1980.. So far as I can see, Neven and myself have the same interpretation of what is happening.

      • David Springer

        What you are probably seeing in Arctic sea ice is one of the limits in mutli-decadal ocean oscillation. Probably set up by very limited exchange between Alantic and Pacific basins in the northern hemisphere so you get a beat frequency between the two. Not much of interest is happening in the southern hemisphere.

        Scafetta & Loehe 2011 I think does the best job of showing just two oscillations, 20 and 60 year (Pacific and Atlantic respectively) in 3:1 phase synchronicity, and how well they track observations with two linear residuals. An underlying 0.1C per century linear trend since 1840 which coincides with the end of the Little Ice Age and subsequent natural warming associated with it. A second linear trend of 0.1C per decade beginning in 1950 makes the fit perfect so far.

        Notably the data used in S&L 2011 ends in 2010. The data since 2010, which has been a comparatively rapid drop in global average temperature, fits their prediction perfectly. I know of no mainstream climate models that have done this well. Every one of them missed the pause but not S&L 2011. And every one of them that missed the pause from 2000-2010 really frickin’ missed the period from 2010-2013.

        There’s an old saying “Never argue with success”. A corollary is “If it isn’t broken don’t fix it.” S&L 2011 is better than anything else and near as I can tell by comparing its predictions to reality it isn’t broken at all.

    • Jim Cripwell | August 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm |

      Oh, I have no doubt “death spiral” is an inept and inaccurate term for what will unfold.

      The “spiral” part at the very least is a concept that isn’t much like the chaos expected in complex systems with extreme external forcings added.

      What we ought expect is increasing frequency of broken records and changes, new states not before observed, breakdown of seasonal norms, and sudden shifts to new modes. We ought not expect linear predictability to hold forever at every geotemporal scale.

      I’m not even sure the phrase “year ice” holds much meaning any more.

      Like there’s enough other than “first year ice” to really have any effect?

      Like it will be easy to disambiguate multiyear decayed ice from well-formed first year ice?

      It’s certainly past time to come up with better classification for the quality of ice by its properties, not its age.

      In short, people casting predictions on the Arctic chaos — other than of chaos — are facing a large and growing likelihood of unprecedented and incalculable outcomes.

      When complex systems break, when the hornet nest is poked with too big a stick of CO2E, there is no telling what swarm will come or what it will descend upon with all its pent up fury.

      • Your pinata isn’t brittle and fills cracks with plastic pitch.

      • “what swarm will come or what it will descend upon with all its pent up fury”

        Poetry Week at Climate Etc.


      • Positively Cyclonic.

      • Kim,

        He’s stepping on your toes. Clumsily, I might add. ;)


      • Bart, you write “When complex systems break, when the hornet nest is poked with too big a stick of CO2E, there is no telling what swarm will come or what it will descend upon with all its pent up fury.”
        Spoken like a true believer in the Church of CAGW. It reminds of a time, many decades ago, when I attended Public School in the UK. We had to go to church every Sunday. At an appropiate time in the service, the congregation stood up, faced the high altar, and recited The Creed.

      • Jim Cripwell | August 5, 2013 at 1:35 pm |

        Too bad they didn’t recite the Commandments.

        That ninth one seems to be giving you trouble.

      • Bart, The empirical data cannot lie.

    • Jim Cripwell | August 5, 2013 at 3:19 pm |

      Yeah. The empirical data isn’t what’s been bearing false witness.

      The papers written recently by the UK Met. Office claiming that decreasing Arctic sea ice was a sign of CAGW, are looking distinctly awkward for the authors. If Arctic sea ice is, in fact, starting to increase, the UK Met. Office will lose altogether what little credibility is still has; together with people like Julia Slingo and John Mitchell FRS.

      The AGU position statement sets out ample reasoning that supports the Met. Office position, so the authors are not looking awkward, distinctly or otherwise.

      The premise “If Arctic sea ice is, in fact, starting to increase,” when put in the context of AUGUST increase, does not undermine the Met. Office’s credibility; it’s a extraordinary event that tends to underscore how chaotically devolved Arctic climate patterns have become, unexpectedly soon.

      The person losing credibility?

      That’d be Jim Cripwell. If he had any still.

  25. “North Pole Sees Unprecedented July Cold – Arctic Sees Shortest Summer On Record — ‘Normally the high Arctic has about 90 days above freezing. This year there was less than half that’ ”


    • David Springer

      Climate Depot made the Drudge Report with that. If it was news that the Arctic had just had the longest summer on record instead of having the shortest on record the mainstream media would be all over it. Nobody in the MSM ignores the Drudge Report so you can be assured they all know about it right frickin’ now.

  26. Is anyone familiar with Pevensey?
    Was the ocean really much higher 1100 or so years ago? Are there any other indicators beside Pevensey?

    • M Hastings

      The ocean was higher 2000 years ago and also it was higher around1000ad.

      I wrote about the period from the Holocene to the Romans here.


      Pevensey is mentioned I believe but you need to take into account whether the land is rising or falling, which is detailed in the article


      • Thank you very much!

      • Usually it is a bad assumption to say that local sea-level changes relate to global ones, because of geological processes. It is well known that the eastern coast of England is sinking for example, even without sea-level rise, and for similar reasons the western parts may be rising.

      • David Springer

        What I find more interesting is that in the Eemian interglacial sea level peaked 5-9 meters higher than anytime in the Holocene and in the Eemian it did it in the very beginning of the interglacial. GIS was substantially thinner if not nearly gone accounting for some of the higher sea level.

        There are good arguments to be made that the Younger Dryas, unique to the Holocene interglacial transition, acted like sand in the gears of the melt, sapped its inertia short of its usual ending, and left the ocean too cold and smaller in surface area to generate the annual snowfall needed to rebuild the NH glaciers and thus draw out the length of this particular interglacial period. It will take a thousand years to melt GIS and technology just a century from now should be able to enlist biology to remove CO2 from the atmosphere almost without cost if it’s a problem. In fact I believe that since carbon is the most flexible of all construction materials and the handiest source of it is atmospheric carbon, and the handiest source of energy is sunlight, we’ll be using biology to build almost whatever we need for civilization using energy from the sun and carbon from the air. We’ll need to limit how much carbon can be removed rather than how much can be added because nobody will be adding everyone will be taking in order to build stuff. Mark my words. Way less than a hundred years from now carbon credits will be granted for putting more CO2 in the air than what you take out.

      • The Holocene Optimum in the early Holocene is probably similar to that early Eemian period, because from Milankovitch cycles that is the period that favored Arctic melting, which led to the ends of the preceding Ice Ages in each case. 12000 years later we are in a period that favors Arctic ice growth (!), just from the precessional turning of the pole. Either Milankovitch was wrong or something else is happening now.

      • David Springer, using carbon from the air for construction. Isn’t that like using wood for construction? If all future cities were built of wood with renewable forests, maybe that will help sequester carbon into the infrastructure, if only we can prevent it rotting.

      • Either Milankovitch was wrong or something else is happening now

        Orbital forcing for the high NH latitudes is around 0.1c per century (ar4) .

        The foremost problem with M theory is that Quaternary ice ages effect not one. but two planets over the same time period which would intuitively suggest a coupled system.

      • maksimovich, that is consistent. Milankovitch has us in a cooling phase. I am not sure about the quantification because it depends on albedo and sea-ice extent, which are currently being messed with.

      • The increased high latitude forcing (solely insolation) is 0.1c per century or around 1c since the MCA. no feedback calculated.

      • maksimovich, OK, but that doesn’t become a global forcing until the albedo changes. That is, it is largely compensated in the southern hemisphere.

      • When the metric becomes global, the forcing reduces to 0.1% hence you need to introduce more “exotic” models such as stochastic resonance (mode locked behavior) and its implications for determinism.

      • In the end Milankovitch works by the sensitivity of global climate to albedo, and the sensitivity of global albedo to local insolation at the ice edge.

      • Which would cause a hemispheric asymmetry in global metrics such as temperature .By an amazing coincidence we have seen an increase in SH sea ice concomitant with a decrease in SH st and sst (mostly in the SO).

  27. I am puzzling over Lucia’s Blackboard posting
    How can the AR5 models have trends of 0.3 C per decade for the chosen 22.5 years period 1991-present? For the forcing change that I estimate to be 0.57 W/m2, 0.3C per decade gives a rise in excess of 0.6 C, which is like a 4 C per doubling just in the transient climate response. I think she has taken a century trend up to 2100 and used that as the model trend for 1991-2013, or got off by a factor of two in converting a 22 year trend to a decadal one. Anyway she says the models are twice the observed trend on this basis.

  28. “twitosphere”

    Perhaps there’s a serious point here. In the interests of clarity and avoiding overloading the word, perhaps we should henceforth use the term “bartosphere” in connection with matters ridiculous, meaningless, and tacky on the internet.

    Anyone know how to update the Urban Dictionary?

    • Chief Hydrologist

      ‘The Portsmouth met office today predicted there will be no hot weather til 1880. The unusual climactic conditions were blamed on Carbon emissions from factories…er factory (Bart Industries Fish Head Stew factory). The thick green smoke emanating from the chimney stacks of Bart Industries has formed a new layer in the upper atmosphere which scientists have dubbed ‘The Bartosphere.’


      Definitely a worthwhile exercise.


      • Chief

        The odorous atmospheric layer known as the “Bartosphere” was also referred to in climatology circles as the “Bartophart”.


    • Memphis | August 4, 2013 at 5:06 pm |

      You’d want to make it bartrosphere, to disambiguate from Bart V, Bart, Bartemis,..

      I mean, there’s nothing wrong with inaccurate or idiotic additions to Urban Dictionary; those are made all the time. But if you handcuff yourself with an early mistake like that, there’s no telling how limiting you’ll find it later.

      Having thus acknowledged what I owe those who have aided and approved me, I turn to another class; a small one, so far as I know, but not, therefore, to be overlooked. I mean the timorous or carping few who doubt the tendency of such books as “Jane Eyre:” in whose eyes whatever is unusual is wrong; whose ears detect in each protest against bigotry–that parent of crime–an insult to piety, that regent of God on earth. I would suggest to such doubters certain obvious distinctions; I would remind them of certain simple truths.

      Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.

      These things and deeds are diametrically opposed: they are as distinct as is vice from virtue. Men too often confound them: they should not be confounded: appearance should not be mistaken for truth; narrow human doctrines, that only tend to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world-redeeming creed of Christ. There is–I repeat it–a difference; and it is a good, and not a bad action to mark broadly and clearly the line of separation between them.

      The world may not like to see these ideas dissevered, for it has been accustomed to blend them; finding it convenient to make external show pass for sterling worth–to let white-washed walls vouch for clean shrines. It may hate him who dares to scrutinise and expose–to rase the gilding, and show base metal under it–to penetrate the sepulchre, and reveal charnel relics: but hate as it will, it is indebted to him.

      Ahab did not like Micaiah, because he never prophesied good concerning him, but evil; probably he liked the sycophant son of Chenaannah better; yet might Ahab have escaped a bloody death, had he but stopped his ears to flattery, and opened them to faithful counsel. — Charlotte Bronte, preface to the 2nd edition

  29. Thanks for the link to the AGW Observer post listing articles about the pause.

    I have built a list of 8 statements by climate scientists and climate-related institutions about the pause, plus abstracts (and ungated links, where available) to 14 articles in peer-reviewed journals mentioning the pause. I have added 3 from this post to the list.

    Still good news: global temperatures remain stable, at least for now.

    We have come a long way from even a year or two ago, where distinguished climate scientists like Judith Curry were attacked for mentioning the “pause”. Perhaps eventually even Phil Plait at Slate and the folks at Skeptical Science will stop denouncing it as doubleplusuntruth.

  30. This just in … marine life is changing, but we don’t know if it’s due to man-converted CO2.

    “Species that depend on the sea are reacting more quickly to global warming than land-based life, according to a study in scientific journal Nature Climate Change, with implications for fisheries and food supplies. ”


  31. The smart grid is just as good an idea as a smart toilette.

    August 01, 2013 TWSL2013-020.txt Hard-Coded Bluetooth PIN Vulnerability in LIXIL Satis Toilet


    • “The “My Satis” Android application has a hard-coded Bluetooth PIN of “0000”
      as can be seen in the following line of decompiled code from the

      BluetoothDevice localBluetoothDevice =
      BluetoothManager.getInstance().execPairing(paramString, “0000”)

      As such, any person using the “My Satis” application can control any Satis
      toilet. An attacker could simply download the “My Satis” application and
      use it to cause the toilet to repeatedly flush, raising the water usage and
      therefore utility cost to its owner.

      Attackers could cause the unit to unexpectedly open/close the lid, activate
      bidet or air-dry functions, causing discomfort or distress to user.

  32. Pekka Pirila @ August 4, 2013 at 8:17 am

    I apologise for not reading your comment properly at first reading. I have just re-read it.

    Timg56 @ August 4, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Thank you for pointing out that I was talking past Pekka and not paying attention to what he said in his comment.

    Pekka said:

    The eager supporters of solar power in Finland like to point out that there’s as much solar radiation in Southern Finland as in Northern Germany. They have obviously missed the point that in Northern Germany the value of electricity produced by solar panels has been small fraction of the subsidies, 10% might be a reasonable rough number to describe the situation.

    People do not understand that in the climate of Finland – or Northern Germany – even the right to have the same electricity tariff, when solar panels reduce the consumption at the time of when the cost of production is at it’s lowest, means that they get significant subsidies that other consumers will ultimately pay in their power bills. That kind of hidden subsidies are highly dependent on the local climate and consumption patterns. In some places they are close to the full rate of the tariff, while they may be essentially absent elsewhere.

    I agree with most, but I doubt the subsidies (hidden and visible) for solar energy are essentially absent anywhere (other than in places far removed from grid connections). Perhaps you could provide an example or two.

    The Australian government has just approved funding for a large solar power station in outback NSW. It has agreed to pay half the capital cost. Of course the cost will blow out as they always do on such projects, and the government will have to stump up a lot more or lose face.

    In announcing it the government and MSM employed so much spin it is amazing people still fall for it; for example:

    it will need to cover an area four times the size of Sydney’s CBD to provide enough electricity for a town the size of Tamworth [population ~60,000]

    Fact: The power station is PV and has no storage so would provide sufficient power for only a few hours per day, not much in winter, and near useless for days at a time when heavily overcast of covered by dust storms.

    the equivalent of two large coal-fired power stations now sit on Australian rooftops

    There are about a million Australian homes with solar PV installations with a total capacity of about 2,400 MW contributing some 800 GWh a year to electricity supply. The 2,600 MW Bayswater coal power station generates 16,000 GWh per year. For solar PV to generate the same energy output we’d need 20 million roof tops, and there are less that 10 million homes in all of Australia (and no grid connection between eastern, western and northern Australia.) Furthermore, there is no storage capability to store the energy generated over a few hours per day to use during the other hours.

    • Peter,

      The hidden subsidies are mostly based on the fact that only a fraction of the costs of power system are strictly variable. I included the word strictly to refer to those costs only that are variable on essentially all time scales and in all scenarios about the future.

      In addition a sizable fraction of costs is partly or conditionally variable. That means that it can be considered variable when considered at some specific time scales. All generation belongs to this category as the level of consumption affects also future investments in generation at some time scale (from years to decades depending on the technology).

      Finally we have also costs that are essentially fixed at all time scales. A major part of the costs of distribution is of this nature (one might argue also on that, but I believe my classification can be justified).

      Adding solar in places like Finland reduces only the most directly variable costs. The need for capacity of other generation is not affected even over long periods. Therefore the value of the solar generated electricity is given by the strictly variable costs calculated under load conditions that apply at the moment of generation. That saving is typically 20-30% of retail tariff. The owner of the panel gets an overcompensation by a factor of 4 or 5 assuming that the tariff is almost totally based on the energy, while the fixed charges are very low as they typically are. This is a very sizable hidden subsidy that few of those who receive it recognize as subsidy. (Even in Finland the ratio may be smaller when tariffs are chosen differently, but it’s never as low as a factor of 2.)

      If we move to a very sunny location in Southern California, where air conditioning leads to peak consumption at the time of best sunshine, the situation is different. Solar generation cuts directly off the peak power demand both in generation and in transmission. It’s timing coincides probably with the time of highest marginal variable costs at conventional power plants. A large number of solar panels in a community affects even the capacity demand set for the transmission and distribution network. Under these conditions it’s quite possible that the extra factors that increase the value of solar generated power are equal to the fixed costs not covered by the fixed part of the tariff.

      Here we are comparing two sizable factors that go in opposite direction, and that makes it difficult to be sure even of the sign of the net outcome. That’s perhaps not true, when short term cost structure is considered, but may be true in longer term considerations that include investments in generation.

      Even under favorable conditions the outcome may be reversed again, when the penetration of solar generation gets very high. At that point the demand for other generation peaks again at time of little or no sunshine. Extra solar does not cut need for other capacity any more. The needs for transmission capacity start to rise again, and sharply relative to the annual energy produced by solar.

      Above I list three cases. One of them is favorable for additional solar, the two others are not. In the most favorable case the hidden subsidies may be absent.

      • Pekka,

        I have a great deal of trouble understanding a lot of what you write. However, I did pick up on this statement:

        If we move to a very sunny location in Southern California, where air conditioning leads to peak consumption at the time of best sunshine, the situation is different. Solar generation cuts directly off the peak power demand both in generation and in transmission.

        This statement is not correct. I previously provided links to the Graham Palmer paper and the ESAA Discussion paper. I am wondering if you read them as you never acknowledge having done so:

        Graham Palmer (2013) Household Solar Photovoltaics: Supplier of Marginal Abatement, or Primary Source of Low-Emission Power?

        Energy Supply Association of Australia (2013) Who pays for solar energy

      • Pekka,

        I am struggling with your comment because you think of the costs and distortions in a totally different way to me. You begin:

        The hidden subsidies are mostly based on the fact that only a fraction of the costs of power system are strictly variable.

        I interpret your words “are mostly based on the fact” to mean the cause.

        If I have interpreted your meaning correctly, then I don’t see it this way. i see the cause of subsidies, both hidden and visible, as due to distortions caused by regulations, subsidies, etc.

      • Pekka,

        In the most favorable case the hidden subsidies may be absent.

        Solar advocates try to make that argument. I don’t believe it is the case, nor even close to being the case. The very high capital cost of PV compared with conventional generation and the cost of transmission and distribution to handle the fluctuating output of solar PV, and especially if power may flow in the opposite direction to what the distribution system is designed for, is far too high to be viable without high subsidies.

        I am ignoring your adjective “hidden”, because I do not see how it is relevant. What is important is whether solar is economically viable without subsidies irrespective of whether they are hidden or visible.

      • Peter,

        By hidden subsidy I mean here something that results from a tariff that’s not representative of the cost structure. The ratio of variable costs to the fixed costs of the power system is different form the ratio of the variable part of the tariff to the fixed charges.

        Typically most of the power bill is calculated as the product of energy delivered and price per kWh, while only a smaller part is fixed charge and independent of the energy amount. The cost structure of a power system is much less dependent on the amount of energy delivered and contains a much larger share of fixed costs.

        When an owner of solar panel reduces his consumption his power bill goes down much more than the costs of the power system in case of Finland and many other places, but not necessarily in Southern California. Sooner or later that influences the tariff, and other consumers pay part of the savings of the owner of the solar panel (in the case where a hidden subsidy is present).

        Most of the other subsidies are not hidden in the same way. People do understand better their role. In some cases the hidden subsidy is, however, very significant and larger that the other subsidies.

      • Peter

        In the most favorable case the hidden subsidies may be absent.

        Solar advocates try to make that argument. I don’t believe it is the case, nor even close to being the case.

        My comment was on the hidden subsidy, discussed again in the above comment. There may be other subsidies as well, but those are known case by case when they apply.

        In most parts of the world it’s certainly true that at locations with grid access the cost of solar electricity is much higher than the cost of electricity from the grid. The lowest cost panels are, however, so cheap, and the cost of electricity from grid varies so much that there may be exceptions to that rule.

      • Pekka Pirila @ August 5, 2013 at 7:50 am

        By hidden subsidy I mean here something that results from a tariff that’s not representative of the cost structure.

        That is a different to what we mean by ‘hidden subsidy’. Visible subsidies are those that are reported and easily determined, such as feed in tariffs, direct subsidies for installation, renewable energy certificates. Hidden subsidies include:

        Cost of additional infrastructure such as for the grid,
        Higher cost for retail, metering, etc
        Costs to the distributors of having to comply with renewable energy certificates (this is a substantial cost)
        Costs transferred to the dispatchable generators (such as reduced efficiency of their generators due to more fluctuations, higher maintenance costs, reduced energy sales to pay for their fixed costs and a host of other costs that are substantial
        Benefits of favourable laws and regulations, such as for planning, approval, siting, grid connections, etc, that favour renewable energy over other sources of electricity generation
        Decommissioning and waste disposal

        The issue of ‘fixed’ versus ‘variable charges is a discussion equivalent to moving the chairs on the Titanic. It is irrelevant to the total amount of subsidies and the total cost of the distortions that favour renewable energy. What is important is the amount of subsidies, both visible and hidden, compared with other electricity generation technologies.

        The subsidies for solar energy, in total, are many times the value of the electricity they produce.

        The rest of your comment seems to be trying to say mush the same as the link I provided, but it seems you still have not read it so, you seem to just keep repeating what I call motherhood statements. That is frustrating because we are talking past each other – you as much as me. It would help if you would read the two links I gave you so you understand what I am saying. The ESAA Discussion Paper is about 4 pages.

        Pekka @ August 5, 2013 at 8:25 am

        My comment was on the hidden subsidy, discussed again in the above comment. There may be other subsidies as well, but those are known case by case when they apply.

        It is the total subsidy that is relevant. There is n o point discussing the breakdown until we and everyone understand the total subsidy that people are being forced to pay, one way or another, to encourage renewable energy. Discussing some parts of the total subsidy without having first established the total subsidy causes confusion and FUD.

        The lowest cost panels are, however, so cheap, and the cost of electricity from grid varies so much that there may be exceptions to that rule.

        That statement is misleading. It is like arguing about the a car salesman talking about the low cost of a car’s engine and avoiding talking about the total cost of the car. The cost of panels has cone down over time, but the total cost of PV nowhere near as much. The total cost of PV is still very high – in the order of five times higher than from conventional sources. If you’d read the Graham Palmer paper I’ve provided the link for around five times so far, you’d understand some of this stuff, and all in one well researched, well written, comprehensive and internally consistent source.

      • Peter,

        Hidden subsidies are present when customer pays less than his fair share of the cost of the power system. Your list and my discussion refer both to this. I emphasized a specific component of that, because that’s typically larger than the others combined. I don’t disagree on those components that you list, but they are usually not as large. That may be changing with increasing solar share as the additional costs of network reinforcements is growing rapidly and non-linearly, but so far the one I discussed tends to dominate.

        It’s true for almost all of these hidden subsidies that they are large, when availability of solar power anticorrelates with the system load, and much smaller when the correlation is positive and solar generation cuts off the demand peaks of other generation and also transmission. The cost-reducing influence of reducing the variability of other generation may be larger than factors that cause additional costs. In those cases the hidden subsidies are absent.

        Understanding the importance of these costs is impossible without an analysis of fixed and variable costs and of the timing of the consumption relative to the system load. Without such an analysis you may err by a big factor on the correct result (both up and down, and in the most extreme case even on the sign).

        When the open subsidies are high, they are much higher than the hidden subsidies, but that’s not always the case. Therefore I emphasized the importance of hidden subsidies.

      • Pekka,

        Debating the breakdown of the subsidies into visible and hidden is a secondary issue. First get the total subsidy. I agree detailed analysis is needed. That is why I’ve pointed you to the Graham Palmer paper about five to ten time so far and apparently you still haven’t read it. Until you do I think you will continue to misunderstand what I am trying to explain to you.

        As I believe I explained some time ago, almost the sole justification for mandating and subsidising renewable energy generation is to abate global GHG emissions. But the cost of doing so, in sunny Australia, is about $600/ tonne CO2 abated. It’s actually more than that if the hidden subsidies are included. That is about 100 times the current EU carbon price. This shows how ridiculous the support for renewable energy really is.

        Wind is somewhat cheaper but still a ridiculously costly way to abate GHG emissions. It is irrational to be supporting wind and solar except in a few niche locations. IMO, it is highly unlikely they will be economically viable in the foreseeable future, if ever. Many European countries are starting to realise and take actions to back track on the policies they’ve already implemented to promote renewable energy. They now realise it is seriously damaging their economies and will get much worse if they don’t stop the growth.

      • Peter,

        Starting with the abstract of the Graham Palmer paper, everything in that is 100% in agreement with what I have written here on solar power. It emphasizes the fact that high penetration adds essentially to the cost , exactly as I have done. I have not written or even hinted anything on Australian situation as I don’t know it well enough.

        It’s getting obvious that I cannot write in a way understandable enough for you, and surely many others. It has been very common that I have been really surprised on your reaction on the points that I have made, when I thought that you would rather applaud on those. There are also issues on which our views are really different, not opposite as far as I can judge, but significantly different.

      • Pekka,

        In a comment above you said:

        If we move to a very sunny location in Southern California, where air conditioning leads to peak consumption at the time of best sunshine, the situation is different. Solar generation cuts directly off the peak power demand both in generation and in transmission.

        That statement is wrong. If you read the Graham Palmer paper carefully and in full, you will understand why. Peak demand occurs well after peak solar generation. That is why there so much interest (by renewable energy researchers and researchers) in solar thermal with as many hours of storage (at full power) as possible.

        Secondly you keep talking about fixed and variable charges (and calling the ‘fixed’ charges ‘hidden’ which is not a normal meaning of’ hidden’ charges). As I have pointed out repeatedly, this breakdown is not relevant at the first level of getting a handle on the full cost of electricity, including subsidies (of all kinds), from solar and wind .

        The important point is that the real cost of renewable energy (like solar and wind) is very high. And that statement applies almost everywhere for grid connected systems although I agree it is highly variable between regions We are paying dearly for small amounts of electricity and for CO2 abatement. It is irrational.

        Policy advisers should understand this and should be advising against subsidising and advocating economically irrational, renewable energy subsidies and favourable regulations not supporting it.

        That is my central point. You seem to disagree with these key points.

        Another of my points I make elsewhere is:

        if we want to cut global GHG emissions we need to facilitate the developing world getting electricity supply cheaper than from fossil fules. RE will not deliver that (except where the grid connection to central power stations is not viable).

        The countries that have been at the forefront of developing nuclear power, especially the USA, is in the position to remove the impediments that are preventing the world transitioning to the next major primary energy source, nuclear energy. Countries like Australia, with it cheap and plentiful fossil fuels cannot make any significant contribution to cutting their GHG emissions until the cost of nuclear power in developed countries reduces substantially. The USA could make that happen. I’ve explained ho elsewhere.

        p.s., if you can’t access the Graham Palmer paper let me know an email address where I can send you a pdf (but for your use only)
        The paper explains the hidden charges and provides conservative (low) estimates for many of them. It also explains how to calculate the CO2 abatement cost of solar PV in a more rigorous way than the conventional method. There is a lot of really valuable information in this paper from an engineer in the industry who is also concerned about GHG emissons and studied under Dr Mark Diesendorf (a renewable energy zealot and antagonistic anti-nuke doomsayer).

      • Pekka

        What ARE the hidden subsidies you claim exist for fossil fuel relative to others ? (be they of a fixed or variable nature).
        If anyone could identify any such subsidies, moves could be made to end them along with the renewable ones.

      • I haven’t written a word about subsidies of fossil fuels, not for or against, or neutral. Not absolutely, nor relative to others. Not in this thread, nor in any other other thread as far back as I can remember.

      • Perhaps you could have chimed in about the lies being told about fossil fuel subsidies. Do you see the problem? Why, yes you do; you are proud of your silence.

      • Pekka Pirila,

        You seem to have a habit of ignoring the main points, such as in my last comment on this sub-thread here: http://judithcurry.com/2013/08/03/week-in-review-8313/#comment-360858 . Instead it seems you frequently digress to ‘down in the weeds’ issues. This causes confusion and prevents real progress on the significant issues and on policies that could achieve the objectives people say they want.

  33. I saw this in the NY Times ( a comment by “jrobinson, Washington, DC”:), is this true? Does it mean what it implies?….
    Follow the math – none of these facts are controversial, and are all well-established and easy to verify on your own (and I recommend that you do):

    – 1% of the total atmosphere’s volume are green house gasses.

    Of the 1%:
    – 91% is water vapor, the most prevalent greenhouse gas. It is 3-35 times more insulating than any other greenhouse gas, and caused by the sun striking the ocean. (Which is why solar variations drive climate more than anything else)
    – 8% of greenhouse gasses are CO2.

    Of the 8% CO2:
    – 4% represent the entire human footprint. 96% of CO2 is naturally occurring, and we couldn’t do anything about it if we tried. And if we destroyed all of human civilization, it would only affect 4% of the total CO2.

    Of the 4% human-caused CO2:
    – Kyoto and Copenhagen only sought to regulate 12-17% of that.

    It’s obvious that there isn’t enough CO2 to affect temperature, we aren’t responsible for enough of it, and we aren’t even trying to regulate enough of that. A special shout out to James Hansen, who has been touring the world, blathering about the need to reduce global CO2 to 300ppb (parts per billion). What’s wrong with that? Well, not only is it pointless since it has nothing to do with temperature, but it currently stands at 400ppb. Which would mean an 8.75% reduction in global CO2. But we just learned that the entire human race is only responsible for 4% of global CO2 – so, after eliminating the human race, how does Mr. Hansen intend to achieve the further reductions?

    • Andy May,

      What you don’t understand is that climate scientists can’t model the climate without anthro CO2 acting as the Earth’s thermostat.

      Of course, they still can’t model the Earth’s climate even with CO2 as the thermostat, but let’s not quibble.

      Think about that though. The CAGW modellers are like card sharps, who get to stack the deck. And for the last 15 years, they can’t even win a hand. Imagine what would happen if the climate models weren’t all created by true believing chicken littles, and were not chock full of warmist assumptions about the climate.

      Same with the temperature models. They program them, fill them with their own biases, constantly adjust past temperatures to conform to their expectations, create “data” with nifty statistical prestidigitation. And they still can’t show a statistically significant warming trend since 1998.

      If things don’t change, pretty soon they are just going to decide their starting assumptions were too “conservative,” and that their “adjustments” did not go far enough. And the “pause” will simply disappear. There is too much at stake to let something as irrelevant as reality get in the way.

  34. The claim that fossil fuel is being subsidized :

    Instead of endless repetition and handwaving, why don’t those pushing ever cite the alleged subsidies ?

    If they could name any, they’d get a whole lot of support from those with a market orientation. So they fact that they don’t, tells us they know all too well it’s nonsense, shamelessly trotted out for ulterior political motives.

    • BatedBreath | August 5, 2013 at 12:55 pm |

      Asked and answered over, and over, and over, again.

      Documented by Congress.

      Documented by the Executive Office.

      Documented by the Judiciary.

      Documented by academia.

      Documented by Forbes and Fox News and countless journals of every stripe.

      Documented by business.

      In many freaking cases, documented by the recipients.

      You can deny the evidence has been presented, but that doesn’t make it so.

      At this point, wasting time pointing to citations about ethanol subsidies as co-promotion of fossil fuel and inefficiency in the transportation industry, the accounting fraud that is accelerated depletion (according to SCOTUS, 1911), outright gifts of land to refineries and pipelines, expropriation for private enterprises under eminent domain as political favors to donors, infrastructure regulations preferring more fossil fuel use, Lamar Alexander’s reports on how much more money coal and fossil fuel and corn ethanol got than all other components of energy markets combined by a ratio of over 100:1 for decades, is futile. If you’re sincere, Google it for yourself.

      In the meantime, some light reading:


      Also available in book form: http://www.amazon.ca/The-High-Cost-Free-Parking/dp/1884829988

      • parking is a “fossil fuel subsidy”? Is it a subsidy for hybrids if you park a Prius?
        Do you think that is clear to Joe Sixpack that when Democrats talk about “ending subsidies for fossil fuel” that they really mean they want to jack up the price of parking? And you won’t object when Republicans point that out in their rebuttals, right?
        BatedBreath, the problem is that what counts as a “subsidy” depends entirely on the politics of the person doing the analysis. I recall one advocacy group that wanted the biggest number possible for “subsidies to fossil fuel,” so they counted all the gasoline purchased by local, state and federal government. Those mail trucks you see running around? The fact that they use fuel is a “subsidy” to Exxon. Presumably “ending subsidies” would mean horse-drawn fire engines, and an end to mail delivery. On the good news side of that, not many state troopers would be able to catch you on their bicycles to issue you a speeding ticket.
        So, yes, “ending subsidies to fossils fuels” is one of those mantras that the climate concerned say, but don’t really mean. Like “switch to renewables” (well, only 20-30%), “we must act now” (except in any way that reduces emissions), and “binding international agreement to reduce emissions” (which should exempt developing nations so that it, in no way, reduces emissions, but would redistribute money from the US)

      • “According to the AAA, the average operating cost of a car is about 18¢ per mile. Because the parking subsidy at work is twice the operating cost of driving to work, free parking at Cato reduces the out-of-pocket costs of driving to work by two-thirds.” – Streetblog.org.
        Are parking subsidies, subsidies for fossil fuels? They make it less expensive to drive a car. The oil companies see an increased demand, is that a subsidy? It’s like when farmers see corn prices go up because of all the moonshining going on because of Ethanol mandates. Is that a corn farmer subsidy? Parking is expensive. Retail space sometimes has an equal amount of parking space. Look at a Walmart. Is all that paved land next to it somehow zero cost? What is a partial answer? More bicycle use. Which to be fair involves bicycle parking costs. Bicycle commuters and advocates are the deniers of the the auto-cencentric consensus. While I don’t bicycle commute often enough, I find it rewarding.

    • Bart
      The fossil-fuel-is-subsidized myth gains no credibility at all from Congress and its politically-funded academia claiming/”stating” it to be true, no more than such groups “stating” that CAGW is true. Nonsense repeated from on high doesn’t stop it being nonsense.

      It’s just politically motivated deception with zero substance. Congress just lies over and over and over.

      • BatedBreath | August 8, 2013 at 2:22 am |




        The Libertarian Party?

        But sure, Congress does lie over and over and over. I can’t dispute that.

  35. Oh look.

    Another chance for Denizens to feel like lab rats:


    So.. according to the dominant hypothesis, kim is a highly-educated, extremely intelligent person with high self-image.