Monday, November 30, 2009
Document Reveals U.N.'s Goal of Becoming Rule-Maker in Global Environmental Talks
Environmentalism should be regarded on the same level with religion "as the only compelling, value-based narrative available to humanity," according to a paper written two years ago to influence the future strategy of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), the world's would-be environmental watchdog....
...Among other things, both documents argue for:
—a "new and central position for environmentalism in the world's thinking," as the Swiss paper puts it. "The current environmental challenges and opportunities will cause the environment to move from often being considered as a marginal issue at the intergovernmental and national levels to the centre of political and economic decision-making," says the medium-term plan.
—a new position in the international power game for UNEP, reaching far beyond the member governments that currently finance its core budget and make up its normal supervisors. "It will have to make itself relevant well beyond the world of those already concerned with the environment, including very prominently its own formal constituency," as the Swiss paper puts it.
UNEP will "actively reach out to Governments, other United Nations entities, international institutions, multilateral environmental agreement secretariats, civil society, the private sector and other relevant partners to implement the Medium-term Strategy," says the UNEP document.
—a major restructuring of international institutions to merge environmental issues with economics as the central priority. "We require an Environmental Bretton Woods for the 21st Century," Halle argues — a reference to the meeting that laid the foundations of Western international finance and economic regulation after World War II. "The linkages between environmental sustainability and the economy will emerge as a key focus for public policymaking and a determinant of future markets opportunities," according to the UNEP strategic plan.
—new environmental rules, regulations and standards, and the linking of existing environmental agreements, in a stronger global lattice-work of environmental law, with stronger authority to command national governments. The Swiss paper calls it a series of "ambitious yet incremental adjustments" to international environmental governance. Indeed, the document says, UNEP's "role is to 'tee up' the next generation of such rules."
The UNEP four-year strategy puts it more obliquely, and only in a footnote on page 7 of the document: "UNEP will actively participate in the continuing international environmental governance discussions both within and outside the United Nations system, noting the repeated calls to strengthen UNEP, including its financial base, and the 'evolutionary nature of strengthening international environmental governance.'"
—an extensive propagandizing role for UNEP that reaches beyond its member governments and traditional environmental institutions to "children and youth" as well as business and political groups, to support UNEP strategic objectives....
...According to Halle, however, in an e-mail exchange with Fox News, there are signs that the hugely ambitious role he and his fellow-thinkers sketched for UNEP as religion's main competitor are "beginning to happen." Halle pointed to UNEP's espousal this year of a so-called Green Economy Initiative, a proposal to radically redesign the global economy and transfer trillions of dollars in investment to the world's poorest developing countries, but one that is couched in terms of providing new green jobs, an end to old, unfair carbon-based energy subsidies, and greater global fairness and opportunity. Halle called the development "quite exciting."...
MichaelCrichton.com | The Case for Skepticism on Global Warming
Michael's detailed explanation of why he criticizes global warming scenarios. Using published UN data, he reviews why claims for catastrophic warming arouse doubt; why reducing CO2 is vastly more difficult than we are being told; and why we are morally unjustified to spend vast sums on this speculative issue when around the world people are dying of starvation and disease....
Hansen of NASA Arrested in Coal Country
[UPDATE 6/24: Details added from Ken Ward Jr.'s fine coverage.] James E. Hansen, the NASA climate scientist who has become an outspoken campaigner against coal burning, was among 31 protesters arrested on charges of obstructing officers and impeding traffic during a protest against mountaintop mining....
Sunday, November 29, 2009
How Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac Sank In The Subprime Quicksand
In 2002, the George W. Bush administration urged Congress to pass the American Dream Downpayment Act, which subsidized the down payments of prospective homebuyers whose incomes were below a certain level.
After passage of that act, the president also urged Congress to pass legislation permitting the Federal Housing Administration to begin making zero-down-payment loans at low interest rates to low-income Americans.
In 2004, Federal Housing Commissioner John Weicher said, "the White House doesn't think those who can afford the monthly payment but have been unable to save for a down payment should be deprived from owning a home."
He added, "We do not anticipate any costs to taxpayers." Who, if not the taxpayers, would pay for these government subsidies — much less the defaults from making riskier loans — was not revealed.
For some homebuyers, the standards were relaxed to the point where there was no down payment at all required, contrary to a long-standing tradition that homebuyers should have some stake in the home, so as to reduce the risk of default on the mortgage. The reduction or elimination of traditional safeguards in mortgage lending entailed a rising riskiness of the mortgages acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under the new and lower mortgage loan approval standards.
Under these political pressures, traditional mortgage loans with traditional safeguards began to decline and mortgage loans made under the "innovative" and "flexible" standards urged by government increased.
Traditional 30-year mortgages with a fixed interest rate, which were still 57% of all mortgages in 2001, fell to 33% of all mortgages by the end of 2006. Meanwhile, subprime loans rose from 7% of all mortgage loans to become 19% of such loans over the same span of years. Other nontraditional loans rose from less than 3% of all mortgage loans to nearly 14%.
Between 2005 and 2007, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac acquired an estimated trillion dollars' worth of subprime and other nontraditional mortgages. This was approximately 40% of the value of all the mortgages they purchased from banks and other lenders during those years....
...Ordinarily, financial markets would become less willing to invest in an enterprise with ever-growing risks. But, although Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are officially private, profit-making enterprises, their size and the federal government's involvement in both their creation and their ongoing operations led many investors to assume that the federal government would never allow them to fail.
Which is to say, the increasing riskiness of the assets of these two mortgage market giants was an increasing riskiness for the taxpayers, whether the taxpayers knew it or not.
Since more and riskier mortgages meant more profits to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who could likewise rely on the federal government to cover any losses, it was perfectly rational for them to expand their purchases of riskier mortgages from the banks and other mortgage lenders.
Moreover, "creative" accounting within Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac themselves concealed the full extent of the risk until independent audits turned up discrepancies at both places, which led to the resignation of the heads of both institutions....
...Market criteria had long required such things as substantial down payments, as well as income and credit histories that made continuing payments likely. But all that was brushed aside in the political crusade for "affordable housing" and bigger homeownership statistics.
Both the unrealistic nature of policies pursued in the name of "affordable housing" and the serious dangers that such policies posed to the entire economy provoked many warnings from economists and others. But these warnings were repeatedly brushed aside by political leaders, often by shifting the focus to the supposed benefits of creating more homeownership through "affordable housing."...
The Disgusting Use of “Denialist” by Warming Advocates Trivializes the Holocaust
Nothing in the climate debate which I’ve been paying sporadic attention to is more repulsive than the global warming advocates’ attempt to smear skeptics of their theories and models and predictions as “denialists.” As if they were some analog of holocaust deniers.
Not all those concerned about climate change use the term. (Some stick to a sneering use of “skeptics” as a stigmatizing word, as if science itself wasn’t an ongoing process of skepticism about received wisdom. Copernicus was a skeptic about the idea the sun revolved around the earth. He wasn’t a “solar denialist.”)
But nothing causes me more revulsion — and skepticism — than the warming advocates’ (I think the CRU scandal — and the shameful reaction to it — has revealed many of the most celebrated of them to be more p.r. advocates than scrupulous scientists) application of the opprobrious term “denialist” to anyone who questions the work they have so assiduously screened from scrutiny.
When I started paying attention again to the controversy after the release of the pathetic CRU e-mails, I noticed the most desperate of the last ditch defenders of the CRU charlatans — and indeed the CRU charlatans themselves — would resort to calling any of those who disagreed “denialists.” That the use of “denialist” had grown as the failure of their predictions (the discredited “hockey stick” chart) increased.
To me that shameful, trivializing word use alone is more exposure than any e-mail could be of their lack of critical intelligence of the sort that makes them unfit to call themselves scientists, or, in the case of many of their “green journalist” sycophants, ignorant of how actual science works.
Are they really so stupid they can’t see the difference? Let me try to explain it in simple terms for them: The holocaust happened. Already. It’s history. Up to six million were exterminated. They’re gone and their families still mourn. Climate scientists show us graphs and charts and predictions of terrible things that will happen (but have not or may not) because of human perpetrators. Unfortunately, many of their predictions have not come true. Others are based on (we now know) flawed or terminally tweaked models and dishonestly skewed data sets. There is doubt, there is room for skepticism. There may be warming, but it may not be caused or curable by man. So you see, denying every tenet of anthropogenic global warming is not the same as denying the Holocaust. Get it?...
Quote of the week – Krugman’s LOL on skeptics
...When I read what Paul Krugman said, I laughed out loud. He’s truly clueless.
Here’s the context:
WILL: Speaking of the marketplace, the biggest industry in the world right now may be fighting climate change. There are billions, trillions of dollars on the table, and when you say, well, they are academics and they are scientists and they talk in funny ways — academics are human beings, and the enormous incentive to get on the bandwagon on global warming, the financial incentive, the market driving this, is huge.
KRUGMAN: There is tremendously more money in being a skeptic than there is in being a supporter.
KRUGMAN: It’s so much easier, come on. You got the energy industry’s behind it. There are 20 times as many believers as there are skeptics in the scientific community. They get almost equal time in the media.
WILL: Is there a larger venture capital firm in this country than the Energy Department of this government, which right now is sending out billions and billions of dollars in speculation on green energy?
Noel Sheppard writes:
Skeptics get almost equal time in the media? Yeah, that’s why this appears to be the first time ABC addressed this ClimateGate issue.
As for there being more money in being a skeptic than there is in supporting this myth, the facts say otherwise.
The Science and Public Policy Institute issued a report on the money involved in funding the global warming debate in August concluding, “Over the last two decades, US taxpayers have subsidized the American climate change industry to the tune of $79 billion.”
By contrast, the same study found that the media bogeyman “Exxon Mobil gave a mere $23 million, spread over ten years, to climate sceptics.”...
Climategate Implosion is Bush’s Fault
...The New York Times, in a stunning bit of hypocrisy, says they won’t report on Climategate because they didn’t like the way the information was discovered. To the NY TImes, the real story, if they ever deign to cover it, will be about the method in which the story was found, and the ends not justifying means....
...But I also had a journalist I admired, and who I still consider a friend, privately and gently suggest that if I doubted the truth about AGW then I was as deluded (and perhaps as evil) as a “holocaust denier.”
Yes. The left went that far. The press went that far. They embraced this unsettled science, this unproven theory, with a fervor of moral righteousness; to dispute AGW was to be a bad and stupid person, even if were a dissenting scientist....
... The AGW/Climate Change question became a rigorous boondoggle that got out of control not because the scientist who first suggested a connection between human carbon emission and a change in climate were bad people, or that the question was not worth asking, but because bad people then took the uncertain hypothesis, put it on media-fueled steroids, demonized anyone who disagreed with them, made it political -so much so that even the scientists got caught up in the good/bad, smart/stupid, Gore/Bush, Left/Right identifiers- and found real power there; they allowed the AGW movement to become the dubious centering pole upholding the giant circus tent of their worldviews.
As such, it is not permitted to be shaken. Shake the centering pole, and everything could come tumbling down: Oh. My. Gawd! If the Gore-doubters were right about this, what else might they be right about? And if they’re all stupid, and I’m smart, but they’re right and I’m wrong . . .
If the true-believers of AGW got this wrong, and they’d attached it to all of their politics, all of their hate, all of their superiority, then everything is in a free-fall.
And this is why the mainstream media cannot possibly report on Climategate until they have an acceptable counter-narrative that they can haul out in order to either debunk the story or soften its edges, even as they break the news. ...
The inconvenient truths Mr Gore and his fanatical friends DIDN'T tell you about climate change
...What you will find out is this. That much of what passes for accepted truth is not. Facts have been ruthlessly twisted, suppressed or invented. Scientists are greatly divided on the subject.
Many people – and bodies – presented as experts actually have little or no knowledge of the science involved. Gullible politicians and gullible media men and women have repeatedly fallen for it.
Hucksters, profiteers, world-government fanatics and, of course, the EU (always searching for an excuse to increase its power) have latched on to it.
Huge public subsidies, including the carbon-trading racket and the tragicomic building of hideous, worse-than-useless windfarms, now depend upon it.
But take, just for example, the famous picture of polar bears on a melting ice-floe, supposedly doomed victims of global warming.
The USA’s ex-Vice President, the propagandist Al Gore, got audiences going ‘Aaah!’ by saying the bears had ‘nowhere else to go’. Really? The picture was taken in August, when the Alaskan ice always melts. The polar bears were fine. Think about it.
They can swim and they weren’t far from land. Recent studies show that most polar bear populations are rising.
The world was warmer than it is now in the early Middle Ages, long before industrial activity increased CO2 output, a fact that the warming fanatics have worked very hard to obscure.
Oh, and the most important greenhouse gas by far is not CO2 but water vapour, which is not influenced by human activity at all.
Meanwhile, an English court of law (despite buying the CO2 argument) has identified nine significant errors of fact in Gore’s Oscar-winning alarmist film An Inconvenient Truth, ludicrously being inflicted on children in British schools.
Among these: sea levels are not going to rise by 20ft any time soon; there’s no evidence that atolls in the Pacific have been evacuated because of rising waters; the Gulf Stream is not going to shut down; the drying-up of Lake Chad, the shrinking of snow on Mount Kilimanjaro and Hurricane Katrina were none of them caused by global warming; the only polar bears that have drowned were four that died in a storm.
Booker also reminds us that even if all the measures demanded by the warming zealots were put into action, according to their own calculations this would only delay the effects they fear by six years. ...
Nasa is out of line on global warming
Considering that the measures recommended by the world's politicians to combat global warming will cost tens of trillions of dollars and involve very drastic changes to our way of life, it might be thought wise to check the reliability of the evidence on which they base their belief that our planet is actually getting hotter.
There are four internationally recognised sources of data on world temperatures, but the one most often cited by supporters of global warming is that run by James Hansen of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).
Hansen has been for 20 years the world's leading scientific advocate of global warming (and Al Gore's closest ally). But in the past year a number of expert US scientists have been conducting a public investigation, through scientific blogs, which raises large question marks over the methods used to arrive at his figures.
First they noted the increasingly glaring discrepancy between the figures given by GISS, which show temperatures continuing to race upwards, and those given by the other three main data sources, which all show temperatures having fallen since 1998, dropping dramatically in the past year to levels around the average of the past 30 years.
Two sets of data, from satellites, go back to 1979: one produced by Dr Roy Spencer, formerly of Nasa, now at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, the other by Remote Sensing Systems. Their figures correspond closely with those produced by the Hadley Centre for Climate Studies of our own Met Office, based on global surface temperature readings.
Right out on their own, however, are the quite different figures produced by GISS which, strangely for a body sponsored by Nasa, rely not on satellites but also on surface readings. Hansen's latest graph shows temperatures rising since 1880, at accelerating speed in the past 10 years.
The other three all show a flattening out after 2001 and a marked downward plunge of 0.6 degrees Celsius in 2007/8, equivalent to almost all the net warming recorded in the 20th century. (For comparisons see "Is the Earth getting warmer, or colder?" by Steven Goddard on The Register website.)...
...It was McIntyre who last year forced Hansen to publish revised figures for US surface temperatures, to show that the hottest years of the 20th century were not in the 1990s, as Hansen had claimed, but in the 1930s. He has now shown that Hansen had been adjusting almost all his pre-1970 global temperature figures downwards, by as much as 0.5 degrees, and his post-1970 figures upwards.
Although Hansen claimed that this only resulted from more careful calculations, McIntyre pointed out how odd it was that the adjustments all seemed to confirm his thesis.
Watts meanwhile has also been conducting an exhaustive photographic survey of US surface weather stations, showing how temperature readings on more than half have been skewed upwards by siting thermometers where their readings are magnified by artificial heat-sources, such as asphalt car parks or air-conditioning systems.
All this has raised such doubts over the methodology behind the GISS data that informed observers are calling for it to be independently assessed. Hansen himself is notoriously impatient of any criticism of his methods: earlier this month he appealed to Congress that the leaders of those who question global warming should be put on trial....
Climate change data dumped
SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based.
It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years.
The UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation.
The data were gathered from weather stations around the world and then adjusted to take account of variables in the way they were collected. The revised figures were kept, but the originals — stored on paper and magnetic tape — were dumped to save space when the CRU moved to a new building.
The admission follows the leaking of a thousand private emails sent and received by Professor Phil Jones, the CRU’s director. In them he discusses thwarting climate sceptics seeking access to such data.
In a statement on its website, the CRU said: “We do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (quality controlled and homogenised) data.”
The CRU is the world’s leading centre for reconstructing past climate and temperatures. Climate change sceptics have long been keen to examine exactly how its data were compiled. That is now impossible. ...
Saturday, November 28, 2009
The Jobless Gender Gap
...The unemployment rate for men, 11.4%, based on seasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, outpaces the rate for women, 8.8%. We now have the largest jobless gender gap since tracking became possible in 1948. The gap reached its previous peak, 2.5 points, in 1967 and 1978. Today's gap has exceeded that for three months. It's endured at two points or above for an unprecedented length, eight months and counting.
As of the end of October, the U.S. had lost 7.3 million jobs in this Great Recession. Men account for 5.3 million of that loss. The shift is so dramatic that women now constitute 49.9% of the work force and will soon outnumber men.
So some have come to call this downturn the "he-cession." And yet, for all its unprecedented scope and nature, the limited attention and passive response it has received are remarkable. Imagine the outcry if women amounted to roughly three in four lost jobs in this recession.
What has happened to men is fundamentally a product of the times. This recession made America's already declining manufacturing sector decline more rapidly. About half of all job losses have been in manufacturing and construction, overwhelmingly male sectors.
Government policy has also exacerbated this trend. The stimulus dollars were disproportionately directed away from those who lost the most jobs. The Obama administration estimated early this year that more than four in 10 stimulus jobs were going to women, about twice women's estimated job losses. There was no major new infrastructure spending, as during the New Deal, in part because women's groups such as the Nation Organization for Women and the Feminist Majority lobbied hard against the president's proposed "shovel ready" stimulus program.
The jobless gender gap could exacerbate Democrats historic problems with male voters. The importance of that tension is captured best with independents. Democrats regained the majority by winning back the middle. Earlier this month, however, independents sided with Republicans by a 2-to-1 ratio in gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey. Women make up the majority of voters. However, men constitute roughly 55% of independents, according to Gallup poll data.
It is among the oldest of political lessons that infrastructure spending can also build votes. The political impact of the stimulus has been blunted because the emphasis was on securing the social safety net by spending in areas such as health care and education, where more women work....
The world has never seen such freezing heat
A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.
This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China's official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its "worst snowstorm ever". In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.
So what explained the anomaly? GISS's computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running....
...A GISS spokesman lamely explained that the reason for the error in the Russian figures was that they were obtained from another body, and that GISS did not have resources to exercise proper quality control over the data it was supplied with. This is an astonishing admission: the figures published by Dr Hansen's institute are not only one of the four data sets that the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) relies on to promote its case for global warming, but they are the most widely quoted, since they consistently show higher temperatures than the others.
If there is one scientist more responsible than any other for the alarm over global warming it is Dr Hansen, who set the whole scare in train back in 1988 with his testimony to a US Senate committee chaired by Al Gore. Again and again, Dr Hansen has been to the fore in making extreme claims over the dangers of climate change. (He was recently in the news here for supporting the Greenpeace activists acquitted of criminally damaging a coal-fired power station in Kent, on the grounds that the harm done to the planet by a new power station would far outweigh any damage they had done themselves.)
Yet last week's latest episode is far from the first time Dr Hansen's methodology has been called in question. In 2007 he was forced by Mr Watts and Mr McIntyre to revise his published figures for US surface temperatures, to show that the hottest decade of the 20th century was not the 1990s, as he had claimed, but the 1930s....
...“You know, when you consider that ‘We’re Saving The Planet’ is the biggest power/money grabbing scam since ‘We’re Saving Your Souls,’ whoever leaked/released those e-mails and such is kind of like the modern scientific equivalent of Martin Luther. This person/persons may well have broken the backs of the Global Warming Priests who did everything in their power to make sure that the common man, and those who would oppose them, had no direct access to the Spoken Word of God.” ...
UEA Climate Scientist: “possible that…I.P.C.C. has run its course”
This is a surprise. Professor Mike Hulme of the University of East Anglia suggests that the “I.P.C.C. has run its course”. I agree with him. We really need to remove a wholly political organization, the United Nations, from science....
IPCC too “politicised” to survive
... (The UN’s Copenhagen summit) is about raw politics, not about the politics of science… It is possible that climate science has become too partisan, too centralized. The tribalism that some of the leaked emails display is something more usually associated with social organization within primitive cultures; it is not attractive when we find it at work inside science.
It is also possible that the institutional innovation that has been the I.P.C.C. has run its course. Yes, there will be an AR5 (fifth report) but for what purpose? The I.P.C.C. itself, through its structural tendency to politicize climate change science, has perhaps helped to foster a more authoritarian and exclusive form of knowledge production – just at a time when a globalizing and wired cosmopolitan culture is demanding of science something much more open and inclusive....
... I may confirm what has been written in other places: research in some areas of climate science has been and is full of machination, conspiracies, and collusion, as any reader can interpret from the CRU-files …
I am also aware that in this thick atmosphere – and I am not speaking of greenhouse gases now – editors, reviewers and authors of alternative studies, analysis, interpretations, even based on the same data we have at our disposal, have been bullied and subtly blackmailed. In this atmosphere, Ph D students are often tempted to tweak their data so as to fit the ‘politically correct picture’.
...By writing these lines I will just probably achieve that a few of my future studies will, again, not see the light of publication. ...
ObamaCare’s Cost Could Top $6 Trillion
Congressional Democrats are using several budget gimmicks to disguise the cost of their health care overhaul, claiming the House and Senate bills would cost only (!) about $1 trillion over 10 years. Now that critics have begun to correct for those budget gimmicks, supporters of ObamaCare are firing back.
One gimmick makes the new entitlement spending appear smaller by not opening the spigot until late in the official 10-year budget window (2010–2019). Correcting for that gimmick in the Senate version, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) estimates, “When all this new spending occurs” — i.e., from 2014 through 2023 — “this bill will cost $2.5 trillion over that ten-year period.”
Another gimmick pushes much of the legislation’s costs off the federal budget and onto the private sector by requiring individuals and employers to purchase health insurance. When the bills force somebody to pay $10,000 to the government, the Congressional Budget Office treats that as a tax. When the government then hands that $10,000 to private insurers, the CBO counts that as government spending. But when the bills achieve the exact same outcome by forcing somebody to pay $10,000 directly to a private insurance company, it appears nowhere in the official CBO cost estimates — neither as federal revenues nor federal spending. That’s a sharp departure from how the CBO treated similar mandates in the Clinton health plan. And it hides maybe 60 percent of the legislation’s total costs. When I correct for that gimmick, it brings total costs to roughly $2.5 trillion (i.e., $1 trillion/0.4).
Here’s where things get really ugly. TPMDC’s Brian Beutler calls “the” $2.5-trillion cost estimate a “doozy” of a “hysterical Republican whopper.” Not only is he incorrect, he doesn’t seem to realize that Gregg and I are correcting for different budget gimmicks; it’s just a coincidence that we happened to reach the same number.
When we correct for both gimmicks, counting both on- and off-budget costs over the first 10 years of implementation, the total cost of ObamaCare reaches — I’m so sorry about this — $6.25 trillion. That’s not a precise estimate. It’s just far closer to the truth than President Obama and congressional Democrats want the debate to be....
Michael Gerson has lousy timing. In The Washington Post, in one of those now familiar elegies for old media, he writes:
And the whole system is based on a kind of intellectual theft. Internet aggregators (who link to news they don't produce) and bloggers would have little to collect or comment upon without the costly enterprise of newsgathering and investigative reporting. The old-media dinosaurs remain the basis for the entire media food chain.
That's laughably untrue in the Warmergate story. If you rely on the lavishly remunerated "climate correspondents" of the big newspapers and networks, you'll know nothing about the Climate Research Unit scandals - just the business-as-usual drivel about Boston being underwater by 2011. Indeed, even when a prominent media warm-monger addresses the issue, the newspaper prefers to reprint a month-old column predating the scandal. If you follow online analysis from obscure websites on the fringes of the map, you'll know what's going on. If you go to the convenience store and buy today's newspaper, you won't. That's the problem....
Climategate: So Who Sues Whom?
An exchange between Hugh Hewitt -- an attorney and law professor -- and columnist Mark Steyn on Hugh's radio program, Thanksgiving eve:
HH: Is it fair to say, Mark Steyn, that everything that the tobacco companies were ever accused of doing with data about cigarettes is now true about the CRU and its global warming data?
MS: Yeah, that's absolutely, that is actually a good way to put it. I mean, I think this idea...they've corrupted the very essence of science. They've corrupted peer review, they've had editors from journals fired who disagree with them, they've corrupted the data. They basically are the antithesis of science. They decide the result, and then figure out how you need to set up the computer model to get the result. This is disgraceful....
Rise of sea levels is 'the greatest lie ever told'
...One of his most shocking discoveries was why the IPCC has been able to show sea levels rising by 2.3mm a year. Until 2003, even its own satellite-based evidence showed no upward trend. But suddenly the graph tilted upwards because the IPCC's favoured experts had drawn on the finding of a single tide-gauge in Hong Kong harbour showing a 2.3mm rise. The entire global sea-level projection was then adjusted upwards by a "corrective factor" of 2.3mm, because, as the IPCC scientists admitted, they "needed to show a trend".
When I spoke to Dr Mörner last week, he expressed his continuing dismay at how the IPCC has fed the scare on this crucial issue. When asked to act as an "expert reviewer" on the IPCC's last two reports, he was "astonished to find that not one of their 22 contributing authors on sea levels was a sea level specialist: not one". Yet the results of all this "deliberate ignorance" and reliance on rigged computer models have become the most powerful single driver of the entire warmist hysteria. ...
Friday, November 27, 2009
Hundreds of patients died needlessly at NHS hospital due to appalling care
Poor nursing care, filthy wards and lack of leadership at Basildon and Thurrock University NHS Hospitals FoundationTrust led to the deaths of up to 400 patients a year.
Figures compiled by a health watchdog showed death rates at the Essex trust were a third higher than they should have been.
Among the worst failings discovered by the Care Quality Commission were a lack of basic nursing skills, curtains spattered with blood on wards, mould in vital equipment and patients being left in A&E for up to ten hours.
Concerns about death rates at the foundation hospital trust were first raised a year ago, but an internal investigation failed to find anything wrong and managers dismissed the concerns. ...
ClimateGate: The end of credibility and the need for process control
...First, the slope of warming diminishes considerably if you exclude the adjustments. This was true in New Zealand, and it is true in lots of other local data around the world. As I understand it, a large part of the case for historical warming lies in the adjustments.
Second, it did not take the CRU document leak to know that many if not most of the scientists performing these adjustments are not only interested in determined what is, but in influencing what ought. They are not only describing a version of reality, as scientists are supposed to do, but using their description to advance a policy agenda. NASA's James Hanson is the leading exemplar of this phenomenon, but there are obviously many others. This conflation of science with policy advocacy makes it especially important that all matters of judgment, including especially the adjustment of raw data, be completely transparent.
Third, for reasons legitimate and otherwise, the data adjustments have not been transparent to scientists, journalists, and interested citizens outside the climate specialist community. The Kiwis have not released their adjustments, and actually refuse to do so in the linked article. In at least one case, the raw data has been lost or destroyed, so there is no way to examine the changes that were made. Steve McIntyre, the increasingly expert blogger who runs Climate Audit (and who earned mention in today's Wall Street Journal editorial), is repeatedly stonewalled in his efforts to get the same data (which has almost always been created using public funds) that the insiders have used to produce the "official" record.
Fourth, it is increasingly clear (especially from the computer code that drives the climate models) that neither the science behind what has been (studying the historical climate to see what happened) nor the construction of the models that purport to tell what will happen have been subject to the internal controls and quality systems that we require of, say, medical technology companies that produce and validate software that will be used to diagnose or treat an individual human being. It seems to me that we the voters ought to require the detailed validation -- and there are "internationally accepted" methods for doing this, to coin a phrase -- of any computer model cited as justification for any policy intervention. After all, lives hang in the balance....
Hiding the Decline: Part 1 – The Adventure Begins
From the CRU code file osborn-tree6/briffa_sep98_d.pro , used to prepare a graph purported to be of Northern Hemisphere temperatures and reconstructions.
; Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline!!
2.6,2.6,2.6]*0.75 ; fudge factor
if n_elements(yrloc) ne n_elements(valadj) then message,’Oooops!’
This, people, is blatant data-cooking, with no pretense otherwise. It flattens a period of warm temperatures in the ... 1930s — see those negative coefficients? Then, later on, it applies a positive multiplier so you get a nice dramatic hockey stick at the end of the century....
Eric S. Raymond on the East Anglia CRU's Global Warming Fraud
... Those who claim “scientific consensus” as a justification for any position are attempting to perpetrate a fraud, and have only themselves to blame when it blows back on them. The proper justification of any theory is not “consensus”, it is predictive power.
The most data could tell you is that average temperature is rising and CO2 is too. Well, except that average temperature isn’t rising – it was flat between 1998 and 2008, plunged sharply in 2008, and has not resumed the previous trendline. This is embarassing to AGW alarmists, since CO2 has kept rising and their theories require anthropogenic CO2 forcing to swamp anything that mere nature might be doing – and that’s manifestly not happening.
My point is that the data fails to meet the criteria the alarmists themselves have set. That is, they’ve been quite willing to interpret a short-period temperature rise between 1975 and 1998 as indication that we’re on a long-term trend with that slope, but when we get a decade of flatness after that they ignore it. It’s not responsive and not honest to point out that a decade is too short to mean anything unless you’re also willing to dismiss the previous 23 years.
Over longer timeframes, I don’t think there’s any statistically significant evidence that we’ve deviated off the very shallow warming trend following the last Ice Age. If you scrutinize the alleged data claiming otherwise, you keep finding noise and fraud....
New ‘catastrophe’ climate report authored by discredited scientists
It couldn't have been a better case of worst timing – a long anticipated climate change scare report designed to boost public support for Copenhagen has been released amid a scandal that has destroyed its credibility before it even hit reporters' desks worldwide.
The Copenhagen Diagnosis, a round-up of the latest gut feeling 'science' about global warming, is co-authored by Michael Mann, inventor of the fake hockey stick temperature graph and star of the Climategate emails.
And not just him. Quite a few of the names on the list made an appearance in the emails in some way shape or fashion.
As I mentioned to a commenter in a previous thread, appeals to authority when the authors include anyone associated with Climategate just are not going to work any more...
...How cosy it must be for the elite, knowing they will be favourably peer-reviewed by their friends as long as they keep paying homage to the human caused global warming scam.
Peer-review should be independent and objective. The scientist should never know, let alone be able to nominate, who reviews his or her papers. The lobbying, the schmoozing, the commonality of purpose, the use of their dominant clique to freeze out scientists they didn't agree with – this is why the Copenhagen Diagnosis is now worthless. ...
A French scientist’s temperature data show results different from the official climate science. Why was he stonewalled? Climate Research Unit emails detail efforts to deny access to global temperature data
...Their first step was to assemble a database of temperature measurements and plot temperature charts. To do that, they needed raw temperature measurements that had not been averaged or adjusted in any way. Courtillot asked Phil Jones, the scientist who runs the CRU database, for his raw data, telling him (according to one of the ‘Climategate’ emails that surfaced following the recent hacking of CRU’s computer systems) “there may be some quite important information in the daily values which is likely lost on monthly averaging.” Jones refused Courtillot’s request for data, saying that CRU had “signed agreements with national meteorological services saying they would not pass the raw data onto third parties.” (Interestingly, in another of the CRU emails, Jones said something very different: “I took a decision not to release our [meteorological] station data, mainly because of McIntyre,” referring to Canadian Steve McIntyre, who helped uncover the flaws in the hockey stick graph.)
Courtillot and his colleagues were forced to turn to other sources of temperature measurements. They found 44 European weather stations that had long series of daily minimum temperatures that covered most of the 20th century, with few or no gaps. They removed annual seasonal trends for each series with a three-year running average of daily minimum temperatures. Finally they averaged all the European series for each day of the 20th century.
CRU, in contrast, calculates average temperatures by month — rather than daily — over individual grid boxes on the Earth’s surface that are 5 degrees of latitude by 5 degrees of longitude, from 1850 to the present. First it makes hundreds of adjustments to the raw data, which sometimes require educated guesses, to try to correct for such things as changes in the type and location of thermometers. It also combines air temperatures and water temperatures from the sea. It uses fancy statistical techniques to fill in gaps of missing data in grid boxes with few or no temperature measurements. CRU then adjusts the averages to show changes in temperature since 1961-1990. ...
...The decision to consider the 1961-1990 period as ‘normal’ was CRUs. Had CRU chosen a different period under consideration, the IPCC graph would have shown less warming, as discussed in one of the Climategate emails, from David Parker of the UK meteorological office. In it, Parker advised Jones not to select a different period, saying “anomalies will seem less positive than before if we change to newer normals, so the impression of global warming will be muted.” That’s hardly a compelling scientific justification!...
...In addition to calculating temperature averages for Europe, Courtillot and his colleagues calculated temperature averages for the United States. Once again, their method yielded more refined averages that were not a close match with the coarser CRU temperature averages. The warmest period was in 1930, slightly above the temperatures at the end of the 20th century. This was followed by 30 years of cooling, then another 30 years of warming....
How to Forge a Consensus
...But the furor over these documents is not about tone, colloquialisms or even whether climatologists are nice people in private. The real issue is what the messages say about the way the much-ballyhooed scientific consensus on global warming was arrived at in the first place, and how even now a single view is being enforced. In short, the impression left by the correspondence among Messrs. Mann and Jones and others is that the climate-tracking game has been rigged from the start.
According to this privileged group, only those whose work has been published in select scientific journals, after having gone through the "peer-review" process, can be relied on to critique the science. And sure enough, any challenges that critics have lobbed at climatologists from outside this clique are routinely dismissed and disparaged.
This past September, Mr. Mann told a New York Times reporter in one of the leaked emails that: "Those such as [Stephen] McIntyre who operate almost entirely outside of this system are not to be trusted." Mr. McIntyre is a retired Canadian businessman who fact-checks the findings of climate scientists and often publishes the mistakes he finds—including some in Mr. Mann's work—on his Web site, Climateaudit.org. He holds the rare distinction of having forced Mr. Mann to publish a correction to one of his more-famous papers.
As anonymous reviewers of choice for certain journals, Mr. Mann & Co. had considerable power to enforce the consensus, but it was not absolute, as they discovered in 2003. Mr. Mann noted to several colleagues in an email from March 2003, when the journal "Climate Research" published a paper not to Mr. Mann's liking, that "This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the 'peer-reviewed literature'. Obviously, they found a solution to that—take over a journal!"
The scare quotes around "peer-reviewed literature," by the way, are Mr. Mann's. He went on in the email to suggest that the journal itself be blackballed: "Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board." In other words, keep dissent out of the respected journals. When that fails, re-define what constitutes a respected journal to exclude any that publish inconvenient views. It's easy to manufacture a scientific consensus when you get to decide what counts as science....
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Climategate: The Skeptical Scientist’s View
...I’ve doubted the reliability of the global warming data for some time now, so I personally am not surprised by the contents of the emails. What the released data provide is additional proof that the temperature data can’t be trusted and that climate scientists are engaged in a worldwide conspiracy. And like all conspiracies, it was finally exposed. In this case, it was most likely exposed by an honest man inside CRU who believed that the FOIA law should be obeyed.
Two factors have enabled this particular conspiracy to survive for so long.
First, the actual data for surface temperatures have been available only through a small number of organizations. Every experienced scientist has had occasion to doubt a colleague’s reported experimental result. No problem: The skeptical scientist merely has to try to replicate his colleague’s result, and a failure means that the claim is false. But how does one replicate the claim that the average temperature of the Earth — an average computed from taking the data at thousands of temperature stations all across the globe — was one degree Fahrenheit lower in 1900 that it was in 2000? It is impossible to visit all the stations today, to say nothing of the stations of 1900. Replication is impossible.
...The second reason this conspiracy has been able to survive so long is simply that climatologists are now trained to believe in global warming theory. Remember the overwhelming urge of scientists to believe in their own pet theory, to believe that the data simply must confirm the theory, to believe that the only valid data points are those which confirm the theory? Data that are inconsistent with the theory are not recorded by believers, or not published. To true believers, such data are obviously due to an error in making the measurements, and so need not be recorded.
This human failing is why we need outside non-believers to check the theory against all the data — not just the data selected by the believers.
Scientific conspiracies like the global warming conspiracy are actually quite common. They occur whenever it is difficult for outsiders to check the claims and whenever a pet theory is involved.
The late Harvard paleontologist Stephen J. Gould has pointed out that punctuated equilibrium — the fact that species are typically not replaced by other species gradually, but “instantaneously” — was for centuries seen by professional paleontologists in the fossil record. But before Gould, such observations were considered inconsistent with Darwin’s theory of evolution. Thus the observations were not recorded. All paleontologists were trained to believe in Darwin, and so they adjusted the data to confirm Darwin, or did not record data “refuting” Darwin. Only after Gould showed that such data did not refute Darwin did paleontologists cease to adjust the data and start recording what they had been actually seeing....
Why 'climategate' won't stop greens
If you're wondering how the robot-like march of the world's politicians towards Copenhagen can possibly continue in the face of the scientific scandal dubbed "climategate," it's because Big Government, Big Business and Big Green don't give a s*** about "the science."
They never have.
What "climategate" suggests is many of the world's leading climate scientists didn't either. Apparently they stifled their own doubts about recent global cooling not explained by their computer models, manipulated data, plotted ways to avoid releasing it under freedom of information laws and attacked fellow scientists and scientific journals for publishing even peer-reviewed literature of which they did not approve.
Now they and their media shills -- who sneered that all who questioned their phony "consensus" were despicable "deniers," the moral equivalent of those who deny the Holocaust -- are the ones in denial about the enormity of the scandal enveloping them. ...
... The problem, however, is those who hijacked science to predict a looming Armageddon unless we do exactly as they say, have already done their damage.
The moment they convinced politicians the way to avert the End of Days was to put a price on emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the unholy alliance of Big Government, Big Business and Big Green was forged.
Big Government wants more of your taxes. Big Business wants more of your income. Big Green wants you and your children to bow down to its agenda of enforced austerity. ...
CRU's Source Code: Climategate Uncovered
As the evidence of fraud at the University of East Anglia's prestigious Climactic Research Unit (CRU) continues to mount, those who've been caught green-handed continue to parry their due opprobrium and comeuppance, thanks primarily to a dead-silent mainstream media. But should the hubris and duplicity evident in the e-mails of those whose millennial temperature charts literally fuel the warming alarmism movement somehow fail to convince the world of the scam that's been perpetrated, certainly these revelations of the fraud cooked into the computer programs that create such charts will. ...
...Skimming through the often spaghetti-like code, the number of programs which subject the data to a mixed-bag of transformative and filtering routines is simply staggering. Granted, many of these "alterations" run from benign smoothing algorithms (e.g., omitting rogue outliers) to moderate infilling mechanisms (e.g., estimating missing station data from that of those closely surrounding). But many others fall into the precarious range between highly questionable (removing MXD data which demonstrate poor correlations with local temperature) to downright fraudulent (replacing MXD data entirely with measured data to reverse a disorderly trend-line)....
...But here's what’s undeniable: If a divergence exists between measured temperatures and those derived from dendrochronological data after (circa) 1960, then discarding only the post-1960 figures is disingenuous, to say the least. The very existence of a divergence betrays a potential serious flaw in the process by which temperatures are reconstructed from tree-ring density. If it's bogus beyond a set threshold, then any honest man of science would instinctively question its integrity prior to that boundary. And only the lowliest would apply a hack in order to produce a desired result.
And to do so without declaring as such in a footnote on every chart in every report in every study in every book in every classroom on every website that such a corrupt process is relied upon is not just a crime against science, it’s a crime against mankind.
Indeed, miners of the CRU folder have unearthed dozens of e-mail threads and supporting documents revealing much to loathe about this cadre of hucksters and their vile intentions. This veritable goldmine has given us tales ranging from evidence destruction to spitting on the Freedom of Information Act on both sides of the Atlantic. But the now-irrefutable evidence that alarmists have indeed been cooking the data for at least a decade may be the most important strike in human history.
Advocates of the global governance/financial redistribution sought by the United Nations at Copenhagen in two weeks, and also those of the expanded domestic governance/financial redistribution sought by Liberal politicians, both substantiate their drastic proposals with the pending climate emergency predicted in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Kyoto, Waxman-Markey, Kerry-Boxer, EPA regulation of the very substances of life -- all bad policy concepts enabled solely by IPCC reports. And the IPCC in turn bases those reports largely on the data and charts provided by the research scientists at CRU -- largely from tree ring data -- who just happen to be editors and lead authors of that same U.N. panel.
Bottom line: CRU's evidence is now irrevocably tainted. As such, all assumptions based on that evidence must now be reevaluated and readjudicated. And all policy based on those counterfeit assumptions must also be reexamined. ...
The Pilgrims' Real Thanksgiving Lesson
...In 1620 Plymouth Plantation was founded with a system of communal property rights. Food and supplies were held in common and then distributed based on equality and need as determined by Plantation officials. People received the same rations whether or not they contributed to producing the food, and residents were forbidden from producing their own food. Governor William Bradford, in his 1647 history, Of Plymouth Plantation, wrote that this system was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. The problem was that young men, that were most able and fit for labour, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. Because of the poor incentives, little food was produced.
Faced with potential starvation in the spring of 1623, the colony decided to implement a new economic system. Every family was assigned a private parcel of land. They could then keep all they grew for themselves, but now they alone were responsible for feeding themselves. While not a complete private property system, the move away from communal ownership had dramatic results.
This change, Bradford wrote, had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. Giving people economic incentives changed their behavior. Once the new system of property rights was in place, the women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability.
Once the Pilgrims in the Plymouth Plantation abandoned their communal economic system and adopted one with greater individual property rights, they never again faced the starvation and food shortages of the first three years. It was only after allowing greater property rights that they could feast without worrying that famine was just around the corner. ...
Uh, oh – raw data in New Zealand tells a different story than the “official” one.
The New Zealand Government’s chief climate advisory unit NIWA is under fire for allegedly massaging raw climate data to show a global warming trend that wasn’t there.
The scandal breaks as fears grow worldwide that corruption of climate science is not confined to just Britain’s CRU climate research centre.
In New Zealand’s case, the figures published on NIWA’s [the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research] website suggest a strong warming trend in New Zealand over the past century...
...But analysis of the raw climate data from the same temperature stations has just turned up a very different result...
...Gone is the relentless rising temperature trend, and instead there appears to have been a much smaller growth in warming, consistent with the warming up of the planet after the end of the Little Ice Age in 1850....
...Straight away you can see there’s no slope—either up or down. The temperatures are remarkably constant way back to the 1850s. Of course, the temperature still varies from year to year, but the trend stays level—statistically insignificant at 0.06°C per century since 1850.
Putting these two graphs side by side, you can see huge differences. What is going on?
Why does NIWA’s graph show strong warming, but graphing their own raw data looks completely different? Their graph shows warming, but the actual temperature readings show none whatsoever!...
...What did we find? First, the station histories are unremarkable. There are no reasons for any large corrections. But we were astonished to find that strong adjustments have indeed been made.
About half the adjustments actually created a warming trend where none existed; the other half greatly exaggerated existing warming. All the adjustments increased or even created a warming trend, with only one (Dunedin) going the other way and slightly reducing the original trend.
The shocking truth is that the oldest readings have been cranked way down and later readings artificially lifted to give a false impression of warming, as documented below. There is nothing in the station histories to warrant these adjustments and to date Dr Salinger and NIWA have not revealed why they did this.
One station, Hokitika, had its early temperatures reduced by a huge 1.3°C, creating strong warming from a mild cooling, yet there’s no apparent reason for it....
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Men Behaving Badly
...Here are some of the highlights of the documents released.
1. The scientists colluded in efforts to thwart Freedom of Information Act requests(across continents no less). They reference deleting data, hiding source code from requests, manipulating data to make it more annoying to use, and attempting to deny requests from people recognized as contributors to specific internet sites. Big brother really is watching you. He's just not very good at securing his web site.
2. These scientists publicly diminished opposing arguments for lack of being published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In the background they discussed black-balling journals that did publish opposing views, and preventing opposing views from being published in journals they controlled. They even mention changing the rules midstream in arenas they control to ensure opposing views would not see the light of day. They discuss amongst themselves which scientists can be trusted and who should be excluded from having data because they may not be "predictable".
3. The scientists expressed concern privately over a lack of increase in global temperatures in the last decade, and the fact that they could not explain this. Publicly they discounted it as simple natural variations. In one instance, data was manipulated to hide a decline in temperatures when graphed. Other discussions included ways to discount historic warming trends that inconveniently did not occur during increases in atmospheric CO2.
4. The emails show examples of top scientists working to create public relations messaging with favorable news outlets. It shows them identifying and cataloging, by name and association, people with opposing views. These people are then disparaged in a coordinated fashion via favorable online communities....
Climategate: hide the decline – codified
WUWT blogging ally Ecotretas writes in to say that he has made a compendium of programming code segments that show comments by the programmer that suggest places where data may be corrected, modified, adjusted, or busted. Some the HARRY_READ_ME comments are quite revealing. For those that don’t understand computer programming, don’t fret, the comments by the programmer tell the story quite well even if the code itself makes no sense to you....
The CRU “climategate” proxy code: a primer
...Here is a list of all the sources of error, variability, and uncertainty and whether those sources—as far as I can see: which means I might be wrong, but willing to be corrected—are properly accounted for by the CRU crew, and its likely effects on the certainty we have in proxy reconstructions:
1. Source: The proxy relationship with temperature is assumed constant through time. Accounted: No. Effects: entirely unknown, but should boost uncertainty.
2. Source: The proxy relationship with temperature is assumed constant through space. Accounted: No. Effects: A tree ring from California might not have the same temperature relationship as one from Greece. Boosts uncertainty.
3. Source: The proxies are measured with error (the “on average” correlation mentioned above). Accounted: No. Effects: certainly boosts uncertainty.
4. Source: Groups of proxies are sometimes smoothed before input to models. Accounted: No. Effect: a potentially huge source of error; smoothing always increases “signal”, even when those signals aren’t truly there. Boost uncertainty by a lot.
5. Source: The choice of the model m(). Accounted: No. Effect: results are always stated the model is true; potentially huge source of error. Boost uncertainty by a lot.
6. Source: The choice of the model m() error term. Accounted: Yes. Effect: the one area where we can be confident of the statistics.
7. Source: The results are stated as estimates of β Accounted: No. Effects: most classical (frequentist and Bayesian) procedures state uncertainty results about parameters not about actual, physical observables. Boost uncertainty by anywhere from two to ten times.
8. Source: The computer code is complex. multi-part, and multi-authored. Accounted: No. Effects: many areas for error to creep in; code is unaudited. Obviously boost uncertainty.
9. Source: Humans with a point of view release results. Accounted: No. Effects: judging by the tone of the CRU emails, and what is as stake, certainly boost uncertainty....
Gene Healy: Obamacare is unconstitutional
As Harry Reid's health care bill moves to the Senate floor, the debate over Obamacare finally begins in earnest. Shouldn't the Constitution be part of that debate? By what authority, after all, could Congress force all Americans to buy health insurance?
In a recent press release, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., argues that constitutional objections to the individual mandate are "nonsensical," because "the power of Congress to regulate health care is essentially unlimited." We eagerly await your orders, ma'am!
Pelosi is wrong, but that doesn't mean the court can be counted on to strike down Obamacare. Legislators have an independent obligation to consider the constitutionality of the laws they're debating -- and the individual mandate is flagrantly unconstitutional....
...Supporters of national health care are counting on congressmen not to take that obligation very seriously. Their attitude toward the rule of law echoes that famously expressed by FDR in 1935. Trying to push through a key New Deal measure, Roosevelt wrote to an important congressman: "I hope your committee will not permit doubts as to constitutionality, however reasonable, to block the suggested legislation."
Barack Obama fancies himself Roosevelt reincarnated; in this, at least, he has a legitimate claim to FDR's legacy.
How Much Does A Decade of Health Care Reform Cost? It Depends on What You Mean By "First Decade."
When the Congressional Budget Office scores a bill, its looks at the budgetary effects over the immediate ten year window. So on the health care bill, the headline cost of $849 billion covers the period between 2010 and 2019. Problem is, it's a misleading figure since most of the new programs don't actually kick in until 2014, and, as a result, most of the spending—99 percent, according to the CBO—doesn't occur until the final six years. That means it's not actually a very good reflection of how much it's going to cost to run the bill's new programs over a decade-long period.
Think of it this way: If you decided to add the cost of a gym membership to your budget next year, at $100 a month, it would cost you $1200. But if you decided to wait until July to join, the cost would only be $600 in next year's budget. Cheap, right? Well, not really, because the following year, and every year after, the membership would cost you the full $1200. That's basically what Democrats are doing here: Holding off on implementing the bulk of the reform's new programs and new spending in order to make the initial total seem less expensive. ...
...In other words, according to data provided by the CBO, starting up the entire reform apparatus is going to cost more like $1.8 trillion over its first real decade of operation.
The economy is struggling, the unemployment rate is high, and many Americans are struggling to pay the bills, but one class of Americans is doing quite well: government workers. Their pay levels are soaring, they enjoy unmatched benefits, and they remain largely immune from layoffs, except for some overly publicized cutbacks around the margins. To make matters worse, government employees—thanks largely to the power of their unions—have carved out special protections that exempt them from many of the rules that other working Americans must live by. California has been on the cutting edge of this dangerous trend, which has essentially turned government employees into a special class of citizens....
...The old deal seemed fair: public employees would earn lower salaries than Americans working in the private sector, but would receive a somewhat better retirement and more days off. Now, public employees get higher average pay, far higher benefits, and many more days off and other fringe benefits. They have also obtained greatly reduced work schedules, thus limiting public services even as pay and benefits shoot ever higher. The new deal is starting to raise eyebrows, thanks to efforts by groups such as the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility, which publishes the $100,000 Club, a list of thousands of California government retirees with six-figure, taxpayer-guaranteed incomes. But even in these tough times, public employees continue to press city councils for retroactive pension increases, which amount to gifts of public funds for past services. Officials fear the clout that these unions, especially police and fire unions, wield on Election Day.
The story doesn’t end with the imbalance in pay and benefits. Government workers also enjoy absurd protections. The Los Angeles Times did a recent series about the city’s public school district, which doesn’t even try to fire incompetent teachers and is seldom able to get rid of those credibly accused of misconduct or abuse. Misbehaving teachers are sometimes kept from teaching, but they may spend years, even a decade, getting paid while they fight attempts to fire them. A state law referred to as the Peace Officers Bill of Rights, along with excessive privacy restrictions, likewise makes it nearly impossible to fire police officers who abuse their authority....
Global Warming With the Lid Off
...Yet even a partial review of the emails is highly illuminating. In them, scientists appear to urge each other to present a "unified" view on the theory of man-made climate change while discussing the importance of the "common cause"; to advise each other on how to smooth over data so as not to compromise the favored hypothesis; to discuss ways to keep opposing views out of leading journals; and to give tips on how to "hide the decline" of temperature in certain inconvenient data....
...Yet all of these nonresponses manage to underscore what may be the most revealing truth: That these scientists feel the public doesn't have a right to know the basis for their climate-change predictions, even as their governments prepare staggeringly expensive legislation in response to them.
Consider the following note that appears to have been sent by Mr. Jones to Mr. Mann in May 2008: "Mike, Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise. . . . Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same?" AR4 is shorthand for the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change's (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report, presented in 2007 as the consensus view on how bad man-made climate change has supposedly become.
In another email that seems to have been sent in September 2007 to Eugene Wahl of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Paleoclimatology Program and to Caspar Ammann of the National Center for Atmospheric Research's Climate and Global Dynamics Division, Mr. Jones writes: "[T]ry and change the Received date! Don't give those skeptics something to amuse themselves with."
When deleting, doctoring or withholding information didn't work, Mr. Jones suggested an alternative in an August 2008 email to Gavin Schmidt of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, copied to Mr. Mann. "The FOI [Freedom of Information] line we're all using is this," he wrote. "IPCC is exempt from any countries FOI—the skeptics have been told this. Even though we . . . possibly hold relevant info the IPCC is not part of our remit (mission statement, aims etc) therefore we don't have an obligation to pass it on."
It also seems Mr. Mann and his friends weren't averse to blacklisting scientists who disputed some of their contentions, or journals that published their work. "I think we have to stop considering 'Climate Research' as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal," goes one email, apparently written by Mr. Mann to several recipients in March 2003. "Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal."
Mr. Mann's main beef was that the journal had published several articles challenging aspects of the anthropogenic theory of global warming....
Deconstructing ClimateGate’s Smoking-Gun Email
...From: Kevin Trenberth
To: Michael Mann
Subject: Re: BBC U-turn on climate
Date: Mon, 12 Oct 2009 08:57:37 -0600
Cc: Stephen H Schneider, Myles Allen, peter stott, “Philip D. Jones”, Benjamin Santer, Tom Wigley, Thomas R Karl, Gavin Schmidt, James Hansen, Michael Oppenheimer
Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming? We are asking that here in Boulder where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record. We had 4 inches of snow. The high the last 2 days was below 30F and the normal is 69F, and it smashed the previous records for these days by 10F. The low was about 18F and also a record low, well below the previous record low.
This is January weather (see the Rockies baseball playoff game was canceled on Saturday and then played last night in below freezing weather). …
The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate....
Our New Medical Judges?
Americans are familiar with -- if not altogether comfortable about -- unelected officials exercising great authority over our lives. The nine justices on the Supreme Court and hundreds of other jurists exert their power from the bench. The economy is managed by the Federal Reserve Board, though no one ever forced Alan Greenspan or Ben Bernanke to campaign for a vote.
If President Obama has his way, another such unelected authority will be created -- a manager and monitor for the vast and expensive American health-care system. As part of his health-reform effort, he is seeking to launch the Independent Medicare Advisory Council, or IMAC, a bland title for a body that could become as much an arbiter of medicine as the Fed is of the economy or the Supreme Court of the law. ...
...Obama is recommending that the successor agency, IMAC, be smaller and potentially more decisive. Under his plan, the president would name five physicians or other health-care-savvy members to serve for five-year terms on its board, picking one of them as chairman. Like the nominees to the Fed and the Supreme Court, they would have to be confirmed by the Senate.
Each year, IMAC would have two responsibilities. First, it would recommend to the president updated fees that Medicare would pay doctors, hospitals, rehab centers, nursing homes, labs, home-care and ambulance services, equipment manufacturers, and all other providers. That is now done by Congress itself, and the lobbying by potent hometown individuals and institutions is one reason Medicare costs keep growing. To control costs, IMAC's recommendations could not exceed the "aggregate level of net expenditures" under Medicare.
Second, IMAC would annually recommend a set of broader reforms to improve the quality or reduce the cost of medical care. On each report, the president would have 30 days to approve or reject the recommendations, but he would have to act on the whole package, not pick it apart. ...
1919: Betrayal and the Birth of Modern Liberalism
...But a central strand of modern liberalism was born of a sense of betrayal, of a rejection of progressivism, of a shift in sensibility so profound that it still resonates today. More precisely, the cultural tone of modern liberalism was, in significant measure, set by a political love affair gone wrong between Wilson and a liberal Left unable to grapple with the realities of Prussian power. Initially embraced by many leftists as a thaumaturgical leader of near-messianic promise, Wilson came to be seen—in the wake of a cataclysmic war, a failed peace, repression at home, revolution abroad, and a country wracked by a “Red Scare”—as a Judas. His numinous rhetoric, it was concluded, was mere mummery.
One strand of progressives grew contemptuous not only of Wilson but of American society. For the once-ardent progressive Frederick Howe, formerly Wilson’s Commissioner of Immigration, the prewar promise of a benign state built on reasoned reform had turned to ashes. “I hated,” he wrote, “the new state that had arisen” from the war. “I hated its brutalities, its ignorance, its unpatriotic patriotism, that made profit from our sacrifices and used it to suppress criticism of its acts. . . . I wanted to protest against the destruction of my government, my democracy, my America.”
Making a decisive break with Wilson and their optimism about America, the disenchanted progressives renamed themselves “liberals.” The progressives had been inspired by a faith in democratic reforms as a salve for the wounds of both industrial civilization and power politics; the new liberals saw the American democratic ethos as a danger to freedom both at home and abroad....
Climategate: When Scientists Become Politicians
...But scientists are human, with human failings. Thomas Kuhn noted half a century ago that science doesn’t always follow the idealized model of the objective scientist seeking only truth; it is often driven by fashions and fads, peer pressure, and a lust for glory and respect by the other courtiers of the court that fund them. So we may never know whether this defense of a flawed theory arose from the sense of power that it might give them over the rest of our lives. Or perhaps it was due to simply an emotional attachment to a theory in which they had invested their careers. Either way, what they did was not science, and they should be drummed out of that profession. They can no longer be trusted.
Many in the climate change community have condemned what they call “skeptics,” often to the point of declaring them de facto criminals and assigning them to the same category as Holocaust deniers. They tell us that “the science is settled” and that we should shut up. But every scientist worthy of the name should be a skeptic. Every theory should be subject to challenge on a scientific basis. Every claim of a model’s validity should be accompanied by the complete model and data set that supposedly validated it, so that it can be replicated. That is how science works. It is how it advances. And when the science is supposedly “settled” and they refuse to do so, it’s not unreasonable to wonder why.
Well, now we know.
In fact, when scientists become politicians but continue to pretend to be doing science, that is the real crime. The theory being promoted by these men was being used to justify government actions that would result in greatly diminished future economic growth of the most powerful economy on earth (and the rest of the world as well). It would make it more difficult and less affordable to address any real problems that might be caused in the future by a change in climate, whether due to human activity or other causes. It could impoverish millions in the future, with little actual change in adverse climate effects. And when such a theory has the potential to do so much unjustified harm, and it has a fraudulent basis, who are the real criminals against humanity?
Judge: Pa. Jurists Immune from Liability for Courtroom Acts
We’ve written a bit, both here on the LB and in the WSJ, on whether Luzerne County, Pa., judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. would be granted immunity from civil suits filed by juveniles and families who claimed to have been hurt by their allegedly corrupt judicial rulings. (Click here for a recent LB post coverage of the Pennsylvania judicial scandal; here for a recent WSJ story on judicial immunity.)
Well, now we know. Federal judge Richard Caputo granted partial immunity to the judges, both of whom have been accused of taking kickbacks from juvenile detention centers in return for sending business their way, in the form of juveniles, many of whom were sent off for weeks or months at a time for relatively minor infractions.
Writing that judicial immunity does not operate on a “sliding scale,” Judge Caputo ruled that the judges are protected by immunity from facing legal action for their courtroom acts. “The degree of corrupt behavior is not the touchstone of the immunity doctrine’s application,” Caputo wrote, acknowledging that his ruling runs contrary to “popular will.” He added: “The doctrine holds that judges with bad intentions, as well as those with good intentions, are immune from suit.” Click here for the Legal Intelligencer story; here for the 26-page opinion itself. ...
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Congress May Probe Leaked Global Warming E-Mails
In addition to e-mail messages, the roughly 3,600 leaked documents posted on sites including Wikileaks.org and EastAngliaEmails.com include computer code and a description of how an unfortunate programmer named "Harry" -- possibly the CRU's Ian "Harry" Harris -- was tasked with resuscitating and updating a key temperature database that proved to be problematic. Some excerpts from what appear to be his notes, emphasis added:
I am seriously worried that our flagship gridded data product is produced by Delaunay triangulation - apparently linear as well. As far as I can see, this renders the station counts totally meaningless. It also means that we cannot say exactly how the gridded data is arrived at from a statistical perspective - since we're using an off-the-shelf product that isn't documented sufficiently to say that. Why this wasn't coded up in Fortran I don't know - time pressures perhaps? Was too much effort expended on homogenisation, that there wasn't enough time to write a gridding procedure? Of course, it's too late for me to fix it too. Meh.
I am very sorry to report that the rest of the databases seem to be in nearly as poor a state as Australia was. There are hundreds if not thousands of pairs of dummy stations, one with no WMO and one with, usually overlapping and with the same station name and very similar coordinates. I know it could be old and new stations, but why such large overlaps if that's the case? Aarrggghhh! There truly is no end in sight... So, we can have a proper result, but only by including a load of garbage!
One thing that's unsettling is that many of the assigned WMo codes for Canadian stations do not return any hits with a web search. Usually the country's met office, or at least the Weather Underground, show up – but for these stations, nothing at all. Makes me wonder if these are long-discontinued, or were even invented somewhere other than Canada!
Knowing how long it takes to debug this suite - the experiment endeth here. The option (like all the anomdtb options) is totally undocumented so we'll never know what we lost. 22. Right, time to stop pussyfooting around the niceties of Tim's labyrinthine software suites - let's have a go at producing CRU TS 3.0! since failing to do that will be the definitive failure of the entire project.
Ulp! I am seriously close to giving up, again. The history of this is so complex that I can't get far enough into it before by head hurts and I have to stop. Each parameter has a tortuous history of manual and semi-automated interventions that I simply cannot just go back to early versions and run the update prog. I could be throwing away all kinds of corrections - to lat/lons, to WMOs (yes!), and more. So what the hell can I do about all these duplicate stations?...
AD HOC COMMITTEE REPORT ON THE ‘HOCKEY STICK’ GLOBAL CLIMATE RECONSTRUCTION, AKA "The Wegman Report", PDF (2006)
(Background from the Wall Street Journal)
The Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce as well as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations have been interested in an independent verification of the critiques of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) [MBH98, MBH99] by McIntyre and McKitrick (2003, 2005a, 2005b) [MM03, MM05a, MM05b] as well as the related implications in the assessment. The conclusions from MBH98, MBH99 were featured in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report entitled Climate Change 20013: The Scientific Basis. This report concerns the rise in global temperatures, specifically during the 1990s. The MBH98 and MBH99 papers are focused on paleoclimate temperature reconstruction and conclusions therein focus on what appear to be a rapid rise in global temperature during the 1990s when compared with temperatures of the previous millennium. These conclusions generated a highly polarized debate over the policy implications of MBH98, MBH99 for the nature of global climate change, and whether or not anthropogenic actions are the source...
...In general, we found MBH98 and MBH99 to be somewhat obscure and incomplete and the criticisms of MM03/05a/05b to be valid and compelling. We also comment that they were attempting to draw attention to the discrepancies in MBH98 and MBH99, and not to do paleoclimatic temperature reconstruction. Normally, one would try to select a calibration dataset that is representative of the entire dataset. The 1902-1995 data is not fully appropriate for calibration and leads to a misuse in principal component analysis. However, the reasons for setting 1902-1995 as the calibration point presented in the narrative of MBH98 sounds reasonable, and the error may be easily overlooked by someone not trained in statistical methodology. We note that there is no evidence that Dr. Mann or any of the other authors in paleoclimatology studies have had significant interactions with mainstream statisticians.
In our further exploration of the social network of authorships in temperature reconstruction, we found that at least 43 authors have direct ties to Dr. Mann by virtue of coauthored papers with him. Our findings from this analysis suggest that authors in the area of paleoclimate studies are closely connected and thus ‘independent studies’ may not be as independent as they might appear on the surface. This committee does not believe that web logs are an appropriate forum for the scientific debate on this issue.
It is important to note the isolation of the paleoclimate community; even though they rely heavily on statistical methods they do not seem to be interacting with the statistical community. Additionally, we judge that the sharing of research materials, data and results was haphazardly and grudgingly done. In this case we judge that there was too much reliance on peer review, which was not necessarily independent. Moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that this community can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility. Overall, our committee believes that Mann’s assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade of the millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year of the millennium cannot be supported by his analysis....
...Recommendation 1. Especially when massive amounts of public monies and human lives are at stake, academic work should have a more intense level of scrutiny and review. It is especially the case that authors of policy-related documents like the IPCC report, Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, should not be the same people as those that constructed the academic papers.
Recommendation 2. We believe that federally funded research agencies should develop a more comprehensive and concise policy on disclosure. All of us writing this report have been federally funded. Our experience with funding agencies has been that they do not in general articulate clear guidelines to the investigators as to what must be disclosed. Federally funded work including code should be made available to other researchers upon reasonable request, especially if the intellectual property has no commercial value. Some consideration should be granted to data collectors to have exclusive use of their data for one or two years, prior to publication. But data collected under federal support should be made publicly available. (As federal agencies such as NASA do routinely.)
Recommendation 3. With clinical trials for drugs and devices to be approved for human use by the FDA, review and consultation with statisticians is expected. Indeed, it is standard practice to include statisticians in the application-for-approval process. We judge this to be a good policy when public health and also when substantial amounts of monies are involved, for example, when there are major policy decisions to be made based on statistical assessments. In such cases, evaluation by statisticians should be standard practice. This evaluation phase should be a mandatory part of all grant applications and funded accordingly....
5. SOCIAL NETWORK ANALYSIS OF AUTHORSHIPS IN TEMPERATURE RECONSTRUCTIONS
One of the interesting questions associated with the ‘hockey stick controversy’ are the relationships among the authors and consequently how confident one can be in the peer review process. In particular, if there is a tight relationship among the authors and there are not a large number of individuals engaged in a particular topic area, then one may suspect that the peer review process does not fully vet papers before they are published. Indeed, a common practice among associate editors for scholarly journals is to look in the list of references for a submitted paper to see who else is writing in a given area and thus who might legitimately be called on to provide knowledgeable peer review. Of course, if a given discipline area is small and the authors in the area are tightly coupled, then this process is likely to turn up very sympathetic referees. These referees may have coauthored other papers with a given author. They may believe they know that author’s other writings well enough that errors can continue to propagate and indeed be reinforced.
In order to answer such questions about the relationships among authors in the area of temperature reconstructions, we developed two datasets. The first specifically focusing on Dr. Mann was developed by first considering all of his co-authors and then examining the abstracts produced by the co-authors. We focus on Dr. Mann because he is the lead author of MBH98/99 and because he is extremely influential in this area as can be seen by his high degree of centrality. Drs. Bradley and Hughes also appear in the social network, but do not exhibit the centrality that Dr. Mann exhibits. We used the Engineering Compendex database, which is available on the web, to develop the abstract database of his coauthors. Based on the expanded database we examined the co-authors of his co-authors. This first database is Dr. Mann centric with the idea of understanding the relationships among his reasonably close associates. This first database consisted of 43 individuals all of whom have close ties to Dr. Mann. The second database was developed by looking for abstracts in the Engineering Compendex that treated aspects of temperature reconstruction. This second more expanded database contained more authors. In our analysis, we considered only the top 50 and top 75 in terms of numbers of papers published. There were more authors who wrote only one paper in the area and are thus not consistent researchers in the area. We report here the analysis with the top 75 authors, i.e. the 75 most frequently published authors.
...Michael Mann is a co-author with every one of the other 42. The black squares on the diagonal indicate that the investigators work closely within their group, but not so extensively outside of their group. The occasional off diagonal boxes indicate that some investigators have joint papers with investigators outside of their immediate group. The order of the authors on the vertical and horizontal axes is the same. Unfortunately, there is overprinting on the horizontal so that individual authors are not readable. However, it is immediately clear that the Mann, Rutherford, Jones, Osborn, Briffa, Bradley and Hughes form a clique, each interacting with all of the others. A clique is a fully connected subgraph, meaning everyone in the clique interacts with every one else in the clique.
...As mentioned before, Michael Mann is his own group since he is a co-author with each of the other 42. The cliques are very clear in this layout. In addition to the Mann-Rutherford-Jones-Osborn-Briffa-Bradley-Hughes clique there are several others that are readily apparent. They are Rind-Shindell-Schmidt-Miller, Cook-D’Arrigo- Jacoby-Wilson, Folland-Vellinga-Allan-Knight, Stahle-Shugart-Therrell-Druckenbrod- Cleveland, Sangoyomi-Moon-Lall-Abarbanel, and Clement-Zebiak-Cane. The last cluster is somewhat of the miscellaneous cluster of people who had published with Michael Mann, but not much if at all with each other.
...Other authors of the remaining 42 that have some degree of centrality are Cook, Rutherford, and Lall.
...There are some interesting features. Although Michael Mann remains an author with high centrality, Tett, Briffa and Cook emerge as belonging to their own cluster and they also exhibit high centrality. Schweingruber and Collins also appear to have relatively high centrality. One interesting observation is that although Tett is fairly central, he has no direct linkage to Mann. Similarly the Gareth Jones-Allen-Parker- Davies-Stott clique also has no direct linkage to Mann. There are two Joneses Gareth Jones is not the same person as the person previously labeled as Jones.
...Several other interesting details emerge. The clique Claussen-Ganopolski- Brovkin-Kubatzki-Bauer is completely isolated from the other researchers in the area. Similarly, the Ribe-Gimeno-Garcia-Herrera-Gallego clique and the Arbarbanel- Rabinovich-Tsimning-Huerta-Gibb clique are nearly isolated with only linkages to Mann in the first case and linkages to Mann and Lall in the second case.
...The social network analysis of authors’ relations suggests that the “independent reconstructions” are not as independent as one might guess. Indeed, the matrix outlined in Figure 5.8 illustrates the proxies that are used more than one time in twelve major temperature reconstruction papers. The black boxes indicate that the proxy was used in a given paper. It is clear that many of the proxies are re-used in most of the papers. It is not surprising that the papers would obtain similar results and so cannot really claim to be independent verifications....