What’s on Your Mind? (July)

Jane Meyer says the Koch brothers’ PAC has representatives pledging to vote against “legislation relating to climate change unless it is accompanied by an equivalent amount of tax cuts” and that “the pledge essentially commits those who sign to it to vote against nearly any meaningful bill regarding global war[m]ing”. Comment on this or other matters?

But wouldn’t a tax such as R Street and Citizens’ Climate Lobby propose be consistent with that pledge? Voice your opinion on this or other matters!

Comments:

  1. Hansen-style dividing-out of federal royalties and other special tax revenues on fossil fuels would be a tax cut for everyone, larger in proportion to income for those with lower incomes.

    As such, it might be a tax cut the Koch brothers wouldn't like, but the legislation to make it happen would be “legislation relating to climate change" that was a tax cut.

  2. So, to stoke the fires, here's another article by Robert Rapier regarding Keystone XL. I'd be interested in his response to Michael's strategy to make potential Keystone investors worry that their investment is at risk (obviously for reasons OTHER than intentional damage to the pipeline - note that I don't use the "s" word for fear of garnering the attention of our ever-vigilant government watchdogs). I will ask him about that and even encourage him to drop in here for a conversation. Please note that I'm still in agreement with his analysis.

  3. Almost everyone likes problems that can be contained in neat divisions. Counting the problems with Keystone leads in a lot of directions - for example the rape of the countryside and the multiple health problems and deaths of the local natives would not be tolerated in some wealthy American suburb.

    It's easy to discount the various inefficiencies involved in all the extreme fuels, and KXL has a lot of them. The extraction process is not straightforward and I suspect the accounting there is less than complete. While it has been pointed out that all pipelines spring leaks, dilbit seems to present a stronger cleanup problem, and the vast distances involved and poor regulatory structure make them more likely. The business of extraction involves huge amounts of water, and water is rapidly becoming an issue in many parts of the world. Those without political power are also more likely to have to make do with less energy power. Nobody is counting in the property owners "in the way" who appear to be set at naught.

    Then there's the symbolic part. We seem bent on extracting every last bit of fossil fuel to feed our increasing sense of entitlement to more and fancier equipment. Keystone is such an obvious rape of much else that should be valued. It may be relatively small but it represents a significant part of the increasingly frenetic effort to twist our way to planetary extinction.

    We have become so wedded to our marketing model of what is civilized we have lost our way.

  4. Even if I agree completely with each point that you make - excluding your conclusion that Keystone XL shouldn't be built that is the crux of the argument and hand - (and, in fact, I agree with some of your points completely and all at least in part), it doesn't lead to the conclusion "Keystone should not be built." Unless the externals are priced somehow, that carbon will find its way to the market. You may abhor that, but I don't see how you can falsify it. If it does find its way to market, then what is the best way to get it there?

    So let's hypothesize that we don't find a way to price the externals of tar sands extraction in such a way that they don't find their way to market. Does that change your conclusion as to whether the pipeline should be built? Does it sway your opinion at all in that direction? There are certainly economic arguments for the U.S. (or at least for some in the U.S.) in favor of building it (not to say that they're necessarily dispositive) including jobs for the builders, work for the refinery workers and profits for the refiners. Were this not the case, we wouldn't be having the discussion.

    And, as we've sadly seen today, shipping petroleum products by rail has the potential for catastrophe as well. I debated with myself long and hard before deciding to include that sentence but decided that it needed to be said.

  5. Thanks. here's a link.
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-train-20130706,0,5046014.story

    I agree trains are no better, especially with our neglect of infrastructure and increased weather extremes which make all transport more subject to accidents. But, for what it's worth, I'm against tar sands. I think we need to think again, and I reject utterly the idea that since we've failed in the past, we write a neat little period and pretend it isn't real. There is never a good excuse to send good money and energy after bad.

    We've been refusing to get serious about clean energy for almost four decades now. Time to give it a real try. That includes the "greens" who allow themselves to be exploited to prevent progress too.

    I got in a stupid argument earlier because someone refused to treat people as people instead of statistics. On this I feel I am on solid ground. Extreme fuel exploitation is a not a victimless crime.

  6. not about KXL:

    The New Yorker

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2013/07/scenes-from-a-melting-planet.html

    Today, novels that would once have been called science fiction can be read as social realism. Rich’s “Odds Against Tomorrow” tells the story of Mitchell Zukor, a young mathematician who models disasters for a private Manhattan consulting firm in “the near future.” Midway through the book, an actual disaster—not unlike one of the “worst-case-scenarios” he has calculated—strikes the city in the form of a category-three hurricane, leaving much of it underwater.... Rich has said that he was editing the final proofs of the book when Hurricane Sandy hit, last October. He may not be the last novelist of environmental disaster to find his story overtaken by events. Rich has pointed out that the term “climate change” does not appear in the novel. That was wise. It’s become a tired and increasingly meaningless trope, loaded with distracting political implications. Instead, Zukor thinks, “A few more years of these new meteorological patterns, a few more disasters, and every person on the street would be able to speak intelligently about drought, methane pollution, UV poisoning. The intricacies of planetary collapse would be general knowledge. Kid stuff.” Rich isn’t righteously threatening what might happen to us; rather, he’s writing from a conviction that it’s already begun. He’s doing what the best novelists do: by imagining the near future, he illuminates the present.

    Kingsolver’s novel is set a world away ... She has no qualms about mentioning climate change. Her heroine ... is a stand-in for the millions of Americans who might have heard the words “global warming” but don’t have the time, money, or education to care what they mean. They’re too busy getting by.

  7. Just checking a graphic found at Rabett's

    and found this (Scientific American)

    <blockquoteAlberta's oil sands represent a significant tonnage of carbon. With today's technology there are roughly 170 billion barrels of oil to be recovered in the tar sands, and an additional 1.63 trillion barrels worth underground if every last bit of bitumen could be separated from sand. "The amount of CO2 locked up in Alberta tar sands is enormous," notes mechanical engineer John Abraham of the University of Saint Thomas in Minnesota, another signer of the Keystone protest letter from scientists. "If we burn all the tar sand oil, the temperature rise, just from burning that tar sand, will be half of what we've already seen"—an estimated additional nearly 0.4 degree C from Alberta alone.

    As it stands, the oil sands industry has greenhouse gas emissions greater than New Zealand and Kenya—combined. If all the bitumen in those sands could be burned, another 240 billion metric tons of carbon would be added to the atmosphere and, even if just the oil sands recoverable with today's technology get burned, 22 billion metric tons of carbon would reach the sky. And reserves usually expand over time as technology develops, otherwise the world would have run out of recoverable oil long ago.</blockquote)

  8. These days I invented a new philosophical technical term (in German) - ******* logics. We were debating some ******s burning civilizational garbage in the camp fire in our artist collective garden near Munich. The ****** ******'s logic was essentially: Munich is filthy and polluted, therefore it makes no sense to not pollute the garden. (And similarly other ******s were defending to have a second [rooster] there: Munich is noisy anyhow, so you have to bear the crowing of a second [rooster]. (These s.a. were of course not sleeping next to the [rooster]s but farther down the place.))

    Unless the externals are priced somehow, that carbon will find its way to the market. You may abhor that, but I don’t see how you can falsify it. If it does find its way to market, then what is the best way to get it there?

    The most expensive way, of course. That might even reduce the amount that finds its way. You are actually (if ethically serious) arguing against KXL.

    Which reminds me of the Paul Revere thread: The British find their way anyhow. Let's build them a highway.

    [ Martin, please mind the language and please consider that Rob is a personal friend of mine. In general the rule is to use language no stronger than you would at a holiday banquet hosted by an elderly aunt, though subtle sarcasm is most welcome if it is funny, and that cuts both ways. I love your argument but not at all the way you presented it. -mt ]

  9. On the other hand as Arlo said, "I figured one big pile of garbage was better than two little piles of garbage."

    For every proverb, you know, there is eventually an equal and opposite proverb.

    This argument is also relevant to the dilbit pipeline/KXL debate. The reason to oppose tar sands is quite specifically that they are NOT economically established in the same way that coal, gas, and offshore oil are. Every huge economic sector that must be disrupted is another social and political problem. Best not to establish new ones, methinks?

    So, Arlo's Observation in action. The problem is not the pipeline. The problem is the new economic sector. And it is a very big problem. This is a wedge that cuts the wrong way. It's ridiculous.

  10. Well, as I've stated before, the resources at your (our) disposal are limited and the targets (needs) are many and great. It seems to me that these limited resources would be best deployed where they'll do the most good and prevent the most harm. And there's a price to pay for being perceived as obstructing everything - especially when "but it will provide jobs" gets thrown into the mix.

    In Rob's perfect world, we'd not need (desire) the bitumen. In fact, petroleum based products would be used only in industry, not burned for fuel. But with the BRICSs on a growth trajectory and a population headed toward 9 billion souls, most of whom desire at least a European lifestyle, this will not happen in the near term (or happen significantly in the intermediate term). Thus, in my opinion, we need to be thinking about how to overcome this seemingly impossible obstacle. Wasting time and effort on the pipeline is spending resources we don't have on things that are unimportant to impress people who can't be of help.

    Susan, as best I understand the situation (better than average), the chances of extracting a significant portion of the "other 90%" of the bitumen with foreseeable technical and economic circumstances are vanishingly small. Not to mention the energetic returns as extraction becomes more intensive with respect to energy invested.

    And I have to add what I imagine will be Rapier's last (for a while) comments on this matter.

  11. I think figure 2 is fundamentally wrong, because fuel is not an ordinary commodity. It does not consume much aluminum to produce aluminum.

    It does cost a little food to grow some food. Imagine an extremely labor intensive crop, that required more calories to keep the workers fed than the crop produced. In fact there are such luxury goods! But that can never be the staple that feeds the population - you won't have enough people to produce the amount that people want to consume!

    Similarly it costs energy to produce energy. The availability of a given fuel is of little global consequence if its energy return on investment is less than unity, though there may be specific reasons to use it in particular situations. So eventually the price of energy will go up, regardless of the quantity of low-quality reserves.

    But that doesn't mean figure 2 is conceptually wrong. It may be the case that we are still far enough from zero net energy fuels that the prices will stabilize. My intuition is that in pure EROEI terms we are far from the end of the triangle, and that what we really need to look at is uncaptured externalities of chemical, physical and biological damages from rapid buildup of CO2. We keep looking away from this obvious constraint for some reason.

    So that's a very important quibble but probably not one of immediate import.

    That being the case the rest of it seems sound to me. My conclusion is that we have to stay on the up escalator until we invent an alternative to the down escalator.

  12. Michael, Rob, I'm sorry for the language. It wasn't directed at Rob, whom I respect. (I had to use that technical term for a whole weekend, for the polluters seem to overwhelm the place sometimes. And Barvarians sometimes enjoy dropping verbal bombs.)

    Indeed methinks Nonviolent communication is sometimes inefficient. Instead of wasting hours/years/... of debate, a crisp technical term sometimes sinks in better: Making folks flap their ears (if not scream) at least induces some brain activity on the other side, which raises the chance having afterthoughts later. Perhaps much later, but better than never. Methinks some "non-nonviolent communication" is badly needed these days. (But not necessarily towards Rob.)

  13. "It does not consume much aluminum to produce aluminum."

    From the point of view of sector consumption/production, that's wrong. Here's UK consumption (millions of pounds, sectors buying more than £50m) of `basic iron and steel' ordered by sector buying the most. Unsurprisingly, fabricated metal products is at the top, but `basic iron and steel's second biggest customer, by some way, is itself.

    That's fairly standard for intermediate trade matrices: sectors are usually one of their own largest customers. I can imagine one might want to argue it's not the same thing using fuel to produce fuel. I'm not sure quite how you'd distinguish the two.

  14. If I had picked steel I'd have thought twice. Steel plants are enormous installations made of steel.

    If it took destroying two tons of steel to make a ton of steel, nobody would make any steel.

    Energy gets used up. Iron does not. Most, arguably all, of the iron refined to date is still available.

    So one way to look at it is whether the resource is consumed by its use.

  15. Net of corrosion, I guess so. Of course, you can input energy to turn iron oxide into iron, but then you can add energy to turn CO2 and H2O into CH3(CH2)6CH3 as well and people are working on doing just that (well, similar reaction chains anyway) at Sandia and elsewhere. Still though, your conclusion is generally valid, it's much easier to recycle used steel (and more so aluminum) than used gasoline.

    Pedantic quibble: Energy doesn't get used up, it gets dissipated.

  16. "The availability of a given fuel is of little global consequence if its energy return on investment is less than unity, though there may be specific reasons to use it in particular situations."

    Just wanted to come back to this to clarify a bit. You mention "there may be specific reasons", but also that the general rule is (I think you're saying) if EROEI (as a ratio) < 1. EROEI doesn't allow any distinction between energy types being input. It's not (necessarily) true that, if energy input is higher than energy output, oil extraction is unfeasible. I was mulling over the idea of using a renewable source to extract oil and thought, hmm - oil companies must be way ahead of me on this; here's an example from a quick google that suggests so.

    I don't know if that's more widespread now but the principle's entirely predictable. The advantage of oil is its massive energy density and thus its portability. That's VERY hard to beat. The disadvantage of oil fields is the fact they're in specific geographical locations. Oil companies can deal with that in part by building renewable or other energy sources nearby. The same basic principle applies to aluminium, since we were discussing that example: e.g. the 800MW Manapouri hydro station in NZ was built for aluminium smelting; proximity is essential for that.

    I can't see any reason why, if energy intensity of oil extraction increases, oil companies wouldn't increasingly turn to localised renewable plants to keep the oil flowing - perversely, this could happen more as renewables become more efficient.

  17. I have been listening to a couple of Senate hearings on climate and ocean, ongoing. Politics is an important subset of our culture, and I was reminded of how important it is to do opposition research and develop skills in responding to hostile questioning. When I was a tadpole (relatively speaking) I went to a Boston Redevelopment Authority for a hearing at Boston's Faneuil hall about a development issue and noted the booming voices and social dominance skills of the large men at the dais. (Interestingly, I was doing some sketches and though I was in a crowd of hundreds somewhere near the back, suddenly I found them all looking at me, but that's another story.) Another place to get a flavor of this kind of powerful cultural dynamic is courtrooms; being effective in that environment, which changes people's lives and is high drama at times, is essential.

    The first part of the hearing had some real nasty actors, ably supported by the usual suspects, and Heidi Cullen, who is a young, pretty, nice woman, was out of her depth answering pointed questions meant to undermine science, though she has the knowledge to do so.

    Jennifer Francis was quite another story. She saw them and raised them. It was helpful that there was a senate vote so the ocean segment was led by Sheldon Whitehouse, who had done his homework.

    There was an interesting little tidbit with a query to Roy Spencer about creationism, which ended up with his dodging (reasonably I thought) a slightly OT question, but saying people have trouble with the idea that things don't happen for a (human-centric) reason. I have become tired of this meme, which implies that God will step in and take over. I'm a big fan of trying to understand and include the vast majority's focus on spirituality and find a way to include them, rather than making a religion of hating religion, but this is a huge problem.

    This was an interesting experience for me, and I will come back and post a link when it is made available.

    As a side note, Spencer was very focused on what he said was the only legitimate temperature record and included the atmosphere up to 10 (it might have been 12) kilometers. I think including the upper atmosphere is likely to distort the record, as it is cooling while closer to earth it is warming, but am not going to take the time right now to look up exactly where the change occurs.

  18. I watched/listened to a portion of that hearing. To my discredit, I've never watched a legislative hearing before. So my reaction to it was that it's quite reminiscent of the typical climate blog. Every Democrat asked friendly questions of the panelists who agree with the consensus and hostile questions of those who don't. Every Republican the opposite. No minds were changed, no thought was given by either "side" that "huh, you might have something there, let me think about it." No minds were swayed, let alone changed. Nothing new was said in the portion I was able to hear. The Senators clearly read from talking points prepared by staffers. All in all, it left me thinking "what in God's name have any of us gained by paying for any of this?"

    Speaking of God's name, another note, it is altogether possible to be a believer both in science (I have my xkcd "Science - it works, bitches" t-shirt and wear it proudly) and in God. I present myself as an example and can name many others. They're not mutually exclusive and all scientists who have faith in a monotheistic God are not creationists, deniers, etc. I know, Susan, that you weren't meaning to imply that they are but I wanted to be very clear on the point because I agree that it's very important.

  19. Then again, we talk across each other here, so what's the difference? I told a story from my own life to make my point and it didn't get your attention enough that you even mentioned it.

    Did you honestly believe that the talking points had equal weight? I have spent the last several years delving into each of these points, and the "sides" were not equal. One was trying in the face of considerable opposition to present factual material, and the other was doing its best to prevent that from happening. One side chose conservative voices such as reinsurance and the military to demonstrate that this is not a "liberal" cause. Or do you really think the unified congressional Republican front against admitting that climate change is real and is happening, or that discussion of the ocean is irrelevant and the subject must be changed to drive a stake into the heart of any real data, is right? I know there are Republicans who are well able to discern that this is wrong, but they are not in government, having been driven out of office for heresy. The mirror world of phony data is carefully constructed to resemble the real stuff but the glue at the seams is obvious to an open mind.

    One of my points is that nice Heidi Cullen was not prepared for the level of - I might almost call it hatred - organized opposition to the truth. I asked a practical question about our atmosphere as well. Points about motivation and financing were meant to uncover that, but they were too polite to make any headway.

    As to religion, I agree with you; people's choices and faith are their own business, and there is no reason why faith and reality need be in conflict until a believer begins to invent a god that encourages them to impose on others. I was actually having an argument in my head with some other people in my recent experience whose dislike of religion seems to have carried them to extremes. Myself, I'm a bit of a mystic but don't believe in any god that resembles humans. I just like the idea of opening up to what might be out there.

  20. Here's a link; the hearings start at about 19:30. I thought the ocean one (second, starts a few seconds after 2:29) was excellent after Drs. Pielke Jr. and Spencer finished (3:29); I admire Jennifer Francis a lot and what she had to say was interesting and to the point, but when Senator Sessions returned the conversation was derailed and it resumed being politics instead of science as he was bent on discrediting the information.

    http://www.senate.gov/isvp/?type=live&comm=epw&filename=epw071813

    As a point of self-criticism, I would say you are right that the people in the hearing were probably not listening to each other. That's the nature of these things.

  21. Hi Susan, I'm not at all sure why we need to be at cross purposes here. I read your story (obviously, since I read the whole comment) and I see your point. But what purpose is served by my paraphrasing it? I responded in the way that the concept affected me.

    Do I believe the talking points had equal weight? I can only guess you've read only sporadic comments of mine. I DO NOT think the talking points had equal weight. OF COURSE I think that Cullen, Francis, etc. have the facts on their side. My point is that it was metaphorical kabuki regardless. Who was the beneficiary? Everyone watching had the things they "know" confirmed by the "experts" they "believed" and scorned the "liars" and "frauds" on "the other side." Sorry for all the scare quotes but they seem necessary to impart the meaning I intend.

    I have high confidence in the Cullen, Francis, etc. position. I did before I watched. So what was accomplished? I didn't know of Cullen before, and I agree that she was ill-prepared for the animus hurled her way. But suppose she'd been well-prepared, been loud, aggressive, exercised the booming voice and social dominance skills you mention? How would the outcome have been any different? Did the Democrats thing they'd sway the Republicans?

    That's my frustration. And it's multi-faceted. Why do they waste their time and our money on these exercises in futility? What failing in the human thought process enables people to ignore factual information that doesn't suit their philosophy? How does what I understand to be conservatism become bastardized in the way that I see? Etc.

    In general, and especially on climate, you and I would agree pretty much down the line though I'm certain that, in many other areas, we would not. But someone could read the last sentence of your second paragraph and say "yes, by someone with an open mind, Susan means 'someone who agrees with me'" And yet I do agree with you.

    Finally, it's much easier and much less infuriating to learn about the facts and data by reading what these experts write and say in a completely different venue. I was, frankly, disgusted by the entire charade.

  22. I'm sorry Rob. I have a horrid case of poison ivy and was being cranky. Will try to think a little more clearly later. I agree that these charades in Congress accomplish very little, but Jennifer Francis was surprisingly coherent. I continue to be boggled by the amount of skill that is put into misleading people. later ... and thanks. My point was not that booming is successful, only that the larger than life quality was interesting.

  23. But suppose she’d been well-prepared, been loud, aggressive, exercised the booming voice and social dominance skills you mention? How would the outcome have been any different?

    The Reptilians might have made look stupid:

    There was a recent hearing where a Reptilian asked Ernest Moniz something like "how can you know that" and he replied:

    I know how to count

    http://grist.org/news/climate-change-101-with-ernest-moniz-count/

    Dear scientists, such public humiliation of the enemies of reality is of utter necessity. Don't be shy. Train belly breathing (like some of you do for better lecturing performance) and learn some catchy phrases. And then make them look stupid: This is them only way to "convince" these folks, for their convictions are entirely socially constructed. Political correctness can be counterproductive.

  24. Yes, Rob, I'm just getting to know you and have some baggage that makes me too reactive. I also need to remember that this is a place for supposedly constructive argument. There are routine behaviors on both sides that I think need to be called out. The old model of male authority figures that props up people like Senator Sessions is a sad reality; a southern accent is a great help. On "my" side are too many people willing to bend over backwards to accommodate the rigid and unified opposition, and too many people willing to take impossibly narrow positions and exclude people who should be their allies. An extreme example of this is the pro and antinuclear people (I find myself on the fence there, awkward ...). The circular firing squad provides a lot of ammo to exploit.

    Martin, it is not necessary to boom to be effective. I recommend for your attention Jennifer Francis and our Senator Elizabeth Warren, who seems to be a real dragon-slayer. Every time she shows up her opposition is made to look what they are, not what they would like to appear to be, which brings up the point that Pielke and Spencer were very busy promotion appearances in place of substance. There should be an opening there, but we are so good at shooting at each other, we don't take advantage.

    I also think it is important to encourage any unseen audience to think of themselves with enough respect to open their minds. This means they must be reminded that the carefully crafted materials they are getting from their leaders contradicts reality available materials from the best and most qualified experts.

    Here's a link, OT, from Elizabeth Warren so you can see the line of country. Our newest senator Ed Markey (I'm from Massachusetts which is blessed with both of them) is also a powerhouse of modest mien and one of the strongest promoters of legitimate climate science ever. We have some real public servants in our government, and I'd put him near the top. I couldn't find one showing him at his best, but these two are brief and effective in their way.

    Warren:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Mwj0NK57VBQ

    Markey:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tR0t5X8ouKg
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWs7O3d74VA

  25. Well, I wasn't going to point out my typos, but readily available, not reality is worth noting, since I have something to add (when do I not). Huffpost points out the Senator Warren's bout with CNBC has been removed from its main location. Jim Cramer is a real creep.

    Also, I have a question about those temp charts that go up too high, with a request for information hoping for a reply from somebody who knows more about these things.

    included the atmosphere up to 10 (it might have been 12) kilometers. I think including the upper atmosphere is likely to distort the record, as it is cooling while closer to earth it is warming

    And totally OT, but Boston is going very near 100F today (37C) which is not normal for these parts, seventh day of a heatwave, due to break with storms tomorrow, which should be pretty violent. Ocean temps appear to be fluctuating wildly.

  26. Methinks 10km is OK, but surface should be enough. A classic fingerprint of AGW is Stratospheric Cooling and Tropospheric Warming, i.e. cooling above ca. 10-13km. So it seems going up to 10km is O.K. Following link is currently dead: http://www.skepticalscience.com/Stratospheric-Cooling-and-Tropospheric-Warming.html

    Now me need to run. Thanks for the videos! Will look later.

  27. I think booming may well be successful. But again we have to discuss the purpose of these charades.

    I was invited to give a live commentary on one of these. I found the whole episode depressing in the extreme and said I would not do it again. (Also Gavin was doing the same simultaneously, and had the current state of science much more at his fingertips, which makes me wonder what my proper role in all this is. But that's another matter. I found Christie's testimony so disingenuous as to be arguably felonious. The point of course is that one testifies under oath so sheer lies should be filtered out, but in practice this does not happen. The circus that would follow if one actually tried to prosecute someone like Christie would probably be counterproductive.

    The absurdity of the process is somewhat obscured because the facts are so overwhelmingly on one side here. In issues where there is something worthy of discussion (nuclear power, GMOs, fracking) you will find exactly the same pattern - two groups of more or less predictable witnesses lined up. A pastiche of a discussion. Rancor. Point scoring. Complete indifference by the public. A bit of sloganeering leaking into the press. No perceptible movement. Certainly no advance in understanding either in the policy sector or the general public.

    I believe that at the Continental Congresses in the 1770s, people actually hashed out disagreements and came to workable consensus. It is possible that the same has happened in the British Parliament in the distant past. These vestiges of public conversation do no good, and I think in the end they do harm. It would be nice if we could elect people with the capacity to converse with one another and sway one another's opinions based on evidence.

    At present I do not know of a country where anything of the sort exists at the national or regional level.

    This is not to say that the democratic process is utterly broken. Real debates between overlapping and competing interests do happen behind the scenes, though with less effect than formerly, I think. That these discussions happen in secret to be revealed decades later is not reassuring for the prospects of democracy, but they do seem to work out at least sometimes.

    Meanwhile, unless people are prosecuted for lying to Congress when they do so, the "hearings" are just part of the kabuki. The real drama is backstage.

    How the Republicans got cornered into flatly delusional positions on climate and other matters is of course a serious question. Their ability to parade a bunch of pathetic Moncktons onto the stage is just a symptom combining their delusional stance with the pantomime of debate, of no real importance in itself.

  28. I know it's possible to be an intellectually rigorous scientist and a monotheist, at least in the sense that such people apparently exist. Unfortunately, AGW deniers claim support from some prominent scientists who have allowed their Christian faith to override their scientific training. John Christy, Richard Lindzen and Roy Spencer, among others, have all signed the Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, promulgated by the Cornwall Alliance. Excerpt:

    We believe Earth and its ecosystems – created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence – are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception. Recent global warming is one of many natural cycles of warming and cooling in geologic history.

    "Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself" (Feynman), but the signatories are announcing to the world their willingness to fool themselves. Is it fallacious to say that the "skeptical" arguments of Christy, and the other credentialed scientists who signed, are a priori dubious, and their credibility as expert witnesses impeachable?

  29. Very rich pickings today. A pleasure to see Mike Mann's further progress in the courts (h/t Tenney Naumer, again):

    http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/2013/07/19/dc-court-affirms-michael-manns-right-to-proceed-in-defamation-lawsuit/

    Time to donate to the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, too.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/jul/15/global-warming-games-legal-defense-fund
    http://climatesciencedefensefund.org/2013/07/

  30. Prosecute Christie... Well, f*** (as Bill Maher likes to say), why not, even if it's a bit late to start such a binge party. Perhaps a better "victim" would have been Pat Michaels. Or the funny folks who invited him a second time -- Reckless disregard for truth might perhaps be an offence for "representatives"?

    Actually methinks the U.S. political process is totally broken - technically (pre-telegraph age 2-party voting system with gerrymandering), philosophically (who cares about reality) and ethically (who cares if nobody cares). You are beyond any serious hope. Perhaps at least try to sue your congressional puppets -- Isn't America the land of lawyers?

  31. Way after the fact, but I wish to emphasize that there was a claim by Dr. Spencer that the only valid temperature record was the one from high up. I don't have the moral fiber to listen through the whole thing again to check the detail (which I should since I'm making an issue of it), but this was something I thought needed some attention. Insisting that the only valid continuous temperature record is one taken from 10 or 12 kilometers up is nastily plausible and I haven't seen any real response to it. Saying maybe it's OK is not a real response to a lie.

  32. I listened a bit to Heidi Cullen: Why the hell is she falling in that "not warmed since 15y" trap and then heroically digging herself out by boring folks with a litany of pesky scientific details? That assertion is obvious nonsense for anyone who can look at noisy data. No physics necessary. Just show the damned temperature graph and point out the noise (and perhaps mention the 1998 El Nino). Period. Case closed. Next question please.

    What she has also missed to point out is that sea level rise is the ultimate planetary thermometer. And see level continues to rise. Period. Case closed. Later, Sen. Whitehouse made that point very clear.

    ---------------------------------

    On Spencer's temp graph compared to model prediction: In 3:25:32 it is said that the graph is from the tropical mid troposphere. That would indeed be fraudulent, since the temp of the tropics does not represent the global average. The tropics are actually the least warming region. And surely Spencer knows that.

    Alas I've got neither time nor patience to dig into this.

  33. Still not quite up to posting this as an article (I know it's not hard).

    Rachel Maddow has an superb summary starting with the current Gulf blowout and tar sands spills and following with political obstruction and EPA budget cuts:

    http://www.nbcnews.com/id/26315908/#52571348

  34. One more. Being a Bostonian, I noted with despair that their coverage of the Arctic and Jason Box got completely buried by the Tsarnaev cover controversy. ClimateCrocks has picked up on this:

    http://climatecrocks.com/2013/07/23/oops-wrong-cover-for-rolling-stone/

  35. Once again, important news. Climatecrocks covers McAuliffe advert about how Cuccinelli wasted state funds persecuting Mike Mann:

    http://climatecrocks.com/2013/07/29/new-politcal-ad-cuccinellis-witch-hunt/

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gss2D-s6SvQ&feature=player_embedded

  36. Oops, Spencer, not Christie. Spencer's testimony almost surely was intentional fraud. He might plead mentally incompetent, having signed the Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming and driven insane for his G*d failing on him...


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