Sunday, September 30, 2012

False balance and simplistic denunciation of the anti-GMO movement: Keith Kloor and Ed Yong, call your offices

Ed Yong certainly and Keith Kloor possibly understand false balance in climate reporting:  the scientific mainstream and a few outliers should not get equal billing.  Keith Kloor certainly and Ed Yong possibly don't understand the false balance problem in the simplistic and blanket denunciation of opposition to GMO foods that equates the anti-GMO movement to climate denialists.*

Neither can distinguish wheat and chaff, separating a few real environmental concerns and some pretty hypothetical health concerns from an admittedly-large amount of unfounded anti-GMO concerns, particularly about health.  One real environmental concerns is of genetic contamination in the wild from GMO genes, both of species related to domesticated species and of plant species gone "feral".  Another is how GMOs facilitate increased herbicide use through inserting resistance genes in targeted crops.  A hypothetical health concern is from transferring allergenic genes to otherwise non-allergenic foods.  Another (possibly less-hypothetical) is farmworker exposure to the increased herbicide use.

Despite that, the Kloor article that Yong cites has this disingenuous summation:

After 14 years of cultivation and a cumulative total of 2 billion acres planted, no adverse health or environmental effects have resulted from commercialization of genetically engineered crops.
Emphasis added.  Several paragraphs later, even Kloor has to admit poorly-phrased versions of some of the environmental issues, but that didn't get him to remove his summation or false equivalence to climate denialism.  He just then segues into the particularly-inane argument that GMOs are just a fast form of traditional breeding.  No.  Or at least, horizontal gene transfer from wildly different species is so unlikely in traditional breeding as to make it a ridiculous claim.

GMOs have real promise.  I'm particularly interested in the possibility of turning annual grasses like corn into perennials, something that could have significant climate benefits by allowing more carbon to be stored in no-tilled soils.  No point in being simplistic about GMOs though, including their real problems.


*This is mostly about Kloor, but Yong has a blog history of simply supporting the anti-anti-GMO people, including this Kloor article.


UPDATE:  Another potentially-good example of a GMO - inserting resistance to a non-native disease in the all-but-disappeared American chestnut.

This is all getting too serious


Through a Reef Darkly

Simon Donner provides a gliss on the fate to come of coral reefs in a warming world, and, to be frank, it ain't pretty.  The reefs are toast in a 2 C warmer world.  Commenting on Freiler, Meinshausen, Golly, Mengel, Lebek, Donner and Hoegh-Guldbergs' paper "Limiting global warming to 2 C is unlikely to save most coral reefs", Simon points to the obvious, if 2 C is an average, then the extremes are worse, and it is the extreme hot spells that doom the reefs.

Frieler et al. relates the projected frequency of heat stress events – what I often call ocean “heat waves” – in coral reefs worldwide – that can cause coral bleaching to global mean temperature change, the metric discussed so often in policy circles, the public and the press.  In past studies, including several of my own (Donner et al., 2005, 2007), we estimated the frequency of bleaching events under different future greenhouse gas scenarios. In those studies, we are able to show the difference in the outcome for coral reefs between futures with different levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases). For example, my “Coping with Commitment" (open access) paper concludes  with a discussion of the level of atmospheric CO2 necessary to avoid one definition of "dangerous" impacts to coral reefs.

In those past analyses, though, if you wanted to know what the coral reefs picture looked like under some specific global mean temperature increase – like, say, the proposed 2 deg C threshold – you’d need to take apart the results and find the point in the emission scenarios were global average warming reaches (or, depending on your question, stabilizes) at that level. In response to a request in advance of the UN Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, a group of colleagues and I did that analysis (pdf) for the Caribbean and found a clear difference between the coral reef outcomes in +1.5 C and a +2 C world. Frieler et al is the first paper to do a comprehensive analysis of coral reef outcomes under different temperature thresholds for the whole planet.
Now some, not Eli to be sure, might point out how useful proper framing could be in this matter.  Eli is simply depressed.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Too Many Vowels


Celery Stalks at Midnight

Strained Silver and strange predictions on climate

It's not the usual lopsided intellectual battle we discuss here at Eli's.  This is Michael Mann criticizing Nate Silver's somewhat skeptical take of climate prediction capability in Silver's new book:

It's not that Nate revealed himself to be a climate change denier; he accepts that human-caused climate change is real, and that it represents a challenge and potential threat. But he falls victim to a fallacy that has become all too common among those who view the issue through the prism of economics rather than science. Nate conflates problems of prediction in the realm of human behavior -- where there are no fundamental governing 'laws' and any "predictions" are potentially laden with subjective and untestable assumptions -- with problems such as climate change, which are governed by laws of physics, like the greenhouse effect, that are true whether or not you choose to believe them.
As usual, I'll leave the heavy lifting to someone else, Mann in this case.  Also as usual, I haven't read Silver's book, so maybe there's more to it.  What I can add, however, is that it's helpful to look at climate predictions by Silver himself and by a denialist he credulously supports.

Three years ago, Nate offered to bet climate denialists on a monthly basis over whether the temperature in their hometown was one degree above or below the historical average.  As I said at the link, this was a somewhat aggressive bet offer that could've been vulnerable to letting his opponents rely on a short-term seasonal prediction of colder temps to game the system against him.  It would be interesting to see if he discusses his past bet offer and why he's critical of predictions that are much less affected by random noise.

Second is Silver's enthusiasm for the discredited Scott Armstrong, a crackpot climate denier.  In that case, there was a prediction and a betting market created by Armstrong's fans at InTrade, a skewed and unfair prediction that they still managed to lose spectacularly (link goes to a series of posts on Armstrong and the bet).

Like Mann, I'm a Fan of Nate, but he whiffed on this one.

One more thing:  Nate apparently wrote something about Gavin Schmidt (no relation) and his unwillingness to get involved in betting over climate models.  As someone who is willing to bet over climate, here's my response about climate denialists who won't bet over their predictions:
Of course any particular skeptic might honestly not be interested in betting, but the widespread lack of interest tells you something.
There's a difference between an individual's disinterest in betting versus the widespread disinterest among denialists as a community (with honorable skeptic exceptions) in putting their money where their mouths are.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Don't Look at the Little Man Behind the Curtain

Inspector Clouseau has, after twenty seven or so months of excruciating labor, given birth to a minor reprimand for Charles MonnettBunnies will recall the surreal set of cross examinations lead by Eric Colouseau May of the Department of the Interior's Inspector General Division.

Special Investigator May was indeed special in at least one sense of the word.  It was always unclear what about the polar bear paper that Monnett and Jeffrey Gleason wrote that got this amateur gumshoe with a shiny badge going.  However, the little man has indeed peaked from the curtain.  First,  the BOEM press secretary admitted the obvious
"We have confirmed that the [inspector general's] findings do not support a conclusion that the individual scientists involved engaged in scientific misconduct,"
Given the back and forth over the months it will be interesting to finally see what is in those findings, but, at least to Eli, the revealing point is what the reprimand was about, and indeed, most likely the entire farago.  Monnett
has received a letter of reprimand for allegedly improper disclosures back in 2007 and 2008 which helped reveal that Bush administration Arctic offshore drilling reviews illegally suppressed adverse environmental consequences.
and if you dig a bit into the letter of reprimand itself, lo and behold,
On April 5, 2007 you made an  improper release of an internal government document.  You forwarded an email message with the subject "Weekly report" to Robert Suydam of the North Slope Borough and to Rick Steiner, who at the time was a professor at the University of Alaska and has since served on the Board of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
PEER, of course is the group that has been providing legal representation to Dr. Monnett, who, the bunnies now learn, had been serving as an important whistle blower to PEER, and, among other things, these leaks resulted in an important loss in federal court for BOEM in a case about oil development in Alaska.  Steiner himself was involved at the University of Alaska in a very messy case where he was stripped of a grant by the University and later resigned his position.

It all goes back to BOEM and the state of Alaska wanting to develop oil resources.  Oil, not money, is at the root of all farces.  Slippery stuff.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Angry Rabett

Angry Bear is quite wroth with the work rate of the current US Supreme Court, Eli's POV is more the more they work the more problems they create, however, there is one case on the docket that rings the Rabett's chimes. 

As old time readers of Rabett Run know, every Fall Eli goes on a five alarm rant about the practices of textbook publishers and the co-respondent faculty.  This year the US Supremes confront a case that could significantly lower the cost of textbooks.

A few years ago, an enterprising math grad student at Berkeley, Supap Kirtsaeng, noticed the large difference in price between the inexpensive (ok, not so pretty) textbooks at home in Thailand and those in Berkelistan.  Supap wrote home and told his folks to buy every textbook in sight and ship them to him in the US, which, upon arrival he resold.

John Wiley threw a fit and sued after Dr. (now) Kirtsaeng had earned about a million bucks.  The issue is picky picky and goes by the name of the first sale doctrine, e.g. that the publisher can only control the price of the original sale, the point of contention is whether this only applies to books printed in the US or all books on which there is a US copyright.  Lower courts have sided with Wiley but the decisions were narrow and everyjudge moaned that the Congress could have been clearer on that point.  There is some related law in a suit where Omega sued Costco and won for selling grey market watches at cut rate prices.

One can only hope.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Shorts

1. AAUP proposes revisions of rules on research misconduct:

The proposal defines research misconduct as "fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results." To arrive at a finding of research misconduct, in-vestigators would have to establish that the conduct in question was a significant departure from accepted practices in the relevant research community, and that the action was committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly.
My emphasis added.  Doesn't sound all that different from current rules that are being flaunted by George Mason University over plagiarism among their climate denialist academics.

UPDATE:  No wonder it sounded familiar, it actually was the old set of rules - I stumbled through a link and thought it was new (HT to John Mashey).  Even more importantly, I should've said "flouted" the rules instead of "flaunted" the rules.

2. My sadly-unpaid advertising for Chris Mooney's Point of Inquiry continues, this time about the Truth Markets innovation that attempts to reward truth in political discourse with money.  Great idea, no idea if it will work.  I don't share Mooney's concern that the conservative reaction to the mostly truthful wikipedia - creating Conservapedia - represents a successful response on any level.  OTOH, the proposal for a Truth Campaign, "Over 95% of American scientists believe climate change is real" is problematic.  It should read "over 95% of climatologists publishing on climate change believe climate change is real."  Still, I hope the overall idea works out.

3. Nice Felix Salmon article about the positive interaction between straight regulation, a gas tax, and a theoretical carbon tax:
Porter is also right that in countries with higher gas taxes, fuel economy tends to be much higher. But he’s not necessarily right that the higher gas taxes alone are responsible. Porter implies that the US only has fuel-economy standards just because “a tax on gasoline doesn’t stand a chance” of being passed. But the fact is that even countries with very high gas taxes have fuel-economy standards as well. And, guess what, they’re significantly tougher than ours, and they always have been.... 
Auto emissions pollution was a problem in the 70s and 80s; it’s not a problem now, with today’s much cleaner cars. [Wow, that was a really wrong sentence in an otherwise smart article - Ed.
The fact is that fuel-economy standards are a pretty good way of ensuring that carmakers can plan for a more fuel-efficient future, without worrying about competitors undercutting them with gas-guzzlers. If the US government ever comes to its senses and increases the gas tax, or if it — wonder of wonders — actually implements a broader carbon tax, then at that point you would have three different forces conspiring to make America’s fleet more efficient. You’d have the tax, you’d have the fuel-economy standards, and you’d have the general global increase in fuel efficiency.
I added the emphasis, a point that I hadn't thought of before.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Your Joe Bastardi entertainment moment

In 2010, predicting a big recovery in sea ice nearing historical levels in 2011, and slow progress over 20-30 years to above normal levels:


Apparently he now claims it's all just cycles that will turn around.  Funny how cyclical effects are producing new records, and they just happen to tend to be records you'd see from humans changing the climate....

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012

Chill Out

Romney refuses to disclose whether he paid a significant amount of income taxes before 2010

The headline above is the takeaway I get from the "disclosures" by the Romney campaign that just went up an hour or so ago.  All they're saying is percentage of adjusted income spent on taxes, not whether the income is virtually eliminated by tax strategies like write-offs from capital losses.  If the vast majority of his $250 million is in investments that lost money, and he made some money on speaking fees that paid normal income taxes, his overall tax bill would be not that much larger than someone in the upper middle class.


What they need to do is show the tax returns, which would give some way to examine if they've been playing games.  Failing that, they should at least provide brief details with actual amounts paid in each of the years they've summarized, just like they did for 2011.  If we believe the summaries released today, Romney did pay taxes every year, but we don't yet know if the taxes amounted to a hill of beans.

The Fat Man Swings



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Willard Tony and Dr. Who

Now some, not Eli of course, have had their fun with Willard Tony, but Eli has always been serious and respectful (oh yeah, well this one was early days).  OTOH there are, to be sure, problems with his approach, his papers and his all around understanding of what he is doing, many of which surfaced with what Roger Pielke the Elder called the major game changing paper in the history of the world, and NigelSteve called crap

Over at the Weasel's, Evan Jones is proclaiming that all is well and fixed.  Well, young Eli asks, what do you find, and Evan says

The City
September 2, 7:52 am
 4.) We find that Tmean trend for compliant (i.e., Class 1\2 stations using Leroy 2010 proximity ratings) stations is fully 0.11C lower than that of poorly sited stations (Class 3\4\5). This includes consideration for both TOBS and MMTS.
5.) Unless LeRoy 2010 is wrong in a manner which reflects on our use of it or unless our ratings are incorrect (or both), our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that stations with poor sitings not only have higher readings, per se, but significantly higher trends as well.
6.) Stations with both good microsite and mesosite warm at a rate of approximately half their NOAA-adjusted trends, which, in turn, coincide with the adjusted trends for poorly sited stations.
7.) Therefore US ground surface temperature is exaggerated by that amount of difference.
Far be it from your humble bunny to throw a spanner into the wheels of progress, but this is EXACTLY what you would expect from the Dr. Who Effect (TM E Rabett).  As Eli pointed out back in the year dot, taking pictures of surface stations today (or in 2009) tells you nothing about the condition of the stations in 1980 or 1950 or whatever, without a functioning time machine.

Watt and Jones classify stations based on recent condition.  If the condition were the same in 1980 or 1950 or whatever, this would yield (with TOBS correction, etc.) a valid trend.

What about stations that were, let us say worse, in 1980, 1950 or whatever, why assuming as they do that measured temperatures for class 3-5 stations are higher, then the trend will be lower.  The Dr. Who Effect which lowers any trend in the Class 1/2 today stations.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

One If By Law Two If By Executive Order

Don't tell Eli or your local US government official that the Obama administration is ignoring climate change.  They may not be passing laws but they are doing stuff, often under cover of bureaucratese, but things that really affect the nation (EPA CO2 regs) and more.  Not noticed by many, Executive Order 13514, issued October 5, 2009 set forth serious motherhood

In order to create a clean energy economy that will increase our Nation's prosperity, promote energy security, protect the interests of taxpayers, and safeguard the health of our environment, the Federal Government must lead by example. It is therefore the policy of the United States that Federal agencies shall increase energy efficiency; measure, report, and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions from direct and indirect activities; conserve and protect water resources through efficiency, reuse, and storm water management; eliminate waste, recycle, and prevent pollution;leverage agency acquisitions to foster markets for sustainable technologies and environmentally preferable materials, products,and services; design, construct, maintain, and operate high performance sustainable buildings in sustainable locations;strengthen the vitality and livability of the communities in which Federal facilities are located; and inform Federal employees about and involve them in the achievement of these goals.
but EO 13514 does have hard and fast goals for reducing some emissions, including those from motor vehicles
reducing, if the agency operates a fleet of at least 20 motor vehicles, the agency fleet's total consumption of petroleum products by a minimum of 2 percent annually through the end of fiscal year 2020, relative to a baseline of fiscal year 2005;
More importantly it set up a consistent set of requirements for reporting emissions across the federal government AND contractors and required formulation of plans to REDUCE total greenhouse gas emissions.
within 90 days of the date of this order, establish and report to the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ Chair) and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget(OMB Director) a percentage reduction target for agency-wide reductions of scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms by fiscal year 2020, relative to a fiscal year 2008 baseline of the agency's scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions.Where appropriate, the target shall exclude direct emissions from excluded vehicles and equipment and from electric power produced and sold commercially to other parties in the course of regular business [TVA clause-ER].
Scope 1 is ghgs directly produced by the feds, scope 2 is ghgs resulting from the generation of power used by the feds and scope 3 (they had 240 days to report) are ghgs produced by others in activities related to federal government activities. Like everyone else, NIH is signed up  and OMB is issuing scorecards to the agencies, some doing better than others but they do have to bring them home and show em to dad and mom.

Quibbling may commence, but Eli was at a meeting last week where some of the large agencies described, en passant to the assembled peasants how this is controlling their planning. 

Coda to Eli's UVa post

See previous post.

Eli's right about ruling from the bench, as opposed to listening to the lawyers babble, ask some questions, and then taking the matter under submission to re-emerge weeks later with an opinion.  Ruling from the bench means the judge was very confident about who was right, and nothing in the four hours of oral argument preceding the ruling made the judge waver and consider delaying action to review the written briefs.  It's a smack-down of the side that loses.

Getting fees from the losing side when the losing side is a private entity is very unusual in America, so unfortunately I doubt that'll happen in this case.  OTOH, it's all a matter of state law, so maybe Virginia law might have something that would help.

A grain of salt about the accuracy of the summary by the losing side.  Maybe it's accurate, but don't bet the farm.  They make it sound like Mann's side lost some backup arguments they were trying out in case the main argument failed.  Losers are putting on a brave face, but they can't help noticing that they lost.  I expect there may be cross-appeals from Mann's side about their backup arguments, assuming he has the legal resources available to put in the effort.

It would be interesting to know if the judge ruled from the bench while reading a carefully-prepared statement or spoke more colloquially.  The former would probably carry more weight on appeal.

I read somewhere that 14 or so other states have similar provisions in their laws.  If the ruling is appealed and sustained, then the appellate court precedent could be persuasive elsewhere.  If it's not appealed, the decision by a lower court like this one has little or no persuasive authority.  Bad guys get to decide whether to double down on the issue.

UVa is Much in the News These Days

UVa is much in the news these days, both with the top-down coup against President Sullivan (nice long but somewhat less filling article in the NYTimes magazine) and not with a bench ruling by Judge Paul Sheridan that Michael Mann's Emails are indeed not subject to Freedom of Information disclosure as

Data, records or information of a proprietary nature produced or collected by or for
faculty or staff of public institutions of higher education, other than the institutions'
financial or administrative records, in the conduct of or as a result of study or research on
medical, scientific, technical or scholarly issues, whether sponsored by the institution
alone or in conjunction with a governmental body or a private concern, where such data,
records or information has not been publicly released, published, copyrighted or patented.
What is especially encouraging is that this was a bench ruling, the judge read the briefs, heard four hours of pleadings and said bullshit to ATI.  Eli eagerly awaits snarking opportunities once the written record is releases.

Other links for bunnies reading pleasure:

Prof. Mann's facebook page
Climate Crocks
Climate Science Watch
And any day the people who initiated this inquisition lose one is a good day.
DeSmogBlog
Climate Progress

Not a whole lot of different stuff here there and anywhere, but Eli figures a bench ruling after a long and drawn out process is pretty much a sign that the judge is wondering why the losing side wasted everyone's time and money.  If this were the UK, costs would be under discussion, in the US, probably not.  Brian should take a swing at this one.

Still, it is fun to read the American Tradition Institutes lawyerly take on this, especially given that their counsel, the eminent Schnare was moonlighting for them while working for the EPA.  By the by, Eli wonders where is the FOIA and complaints to the DC Bar on that one? :

ATI's lead paragraph ends
The trial-court level judge ruled from the bench, siding with ATI on the first two questions, with theUniversityofVirginiaon the third, while rejecting the arguments of intervenor Michael Mann.
and
The Virginia court came down in agreement with ATI on the threshold questions: the university is indeed covered by VFOIA, as is the department at issue, as are those very records ATI seeks. 
Since no one disagreed with that and UVa has an office and procedures to deal with FOIA requests, that is indeed unexpected, esp in light of the many FOIA requests granted in the Dragas v. Sullivan imbroglio.  One bit of new information is that
The judge rejected all arguments by Intervenor Michael Mann whose intervention, the Court said from the bench, unnecessarily complicated matters, and without impact. 
As to why they were without impact, well, sadly 
 The Court then stated that, under VFOIA’s exemption 4 for “proprietary” information, [see law above] so long as the discussions somehow reflect discussion about research among academics — even ‘hide the decline’ — they may be withheld or disposed of so long or however the university sees fit. 
In other words, get out of my court, and if the bailiff kicks you on the way out, well that's your problem.

Still, there was something interesting in the ATI release, covered with spittle, but interesting nonetheless,
Regardless, ATI has succeeded in obtaining hundreds of records from other state schools and government agencies, including several hundred of Mann’s emails while at UVa. The University of Arizona, employer of two lead players in Climategate including one of the co-authors of the infamous “Hockey Stick”, has also produced an index of email records a professor has refused to turn over, laying out a helpful chronology of the mysterious, supposedly exculpating but secret-at-all-costs “context.”

Monday, September 17, 2012

The bridge we need? Fracking depends on context.



Whether fracking for gas really is a bridge to reduced greenhouse emissions depends on context - does gas replace coal, or not?

That may seem too obvious to be worth discussing, but it's helpful to me as a matter of geography and chronology, especially chronology.  The reason for time being important depends on whether you accept that the long-term trend of significant decline in solar power costs, faster than efficiency for coal, will continue in the future and reach grid parity.  Similar evidence for wind, if not quite as dramatic.  I'm mostly buying these arguments.

On the geographic scale of the middle and eastern US, fracking has clearly replaced coal, and seems beneficial from a climate perspective (ignoring the other environmental issues).  In the western half of the US and much of western Europe, coal is much less important a power source, and gas from fracking seems more competitive with low emission energy.  When you add the chronological aspect that fracking will take 5-15 years to really develop, the same time period when renewables are approaching grid parity, then the argument for its development seems a lot shakier.

Exporting gas from the US will also take a decade or more, so again from a climate perspective, that only makes sense if the exports replace reliance on coal.  Maybe in China, India, and other developing markets, the climate would be better off if they had more gas.  Exports to Europe would be bad, I think. Not sure where the gas is really anticipated to go.

Fracking is an emerging issue here in California, where we have very little coal use to displace.  And even more locally in Santa Clara County, we've got lots of shale, where we've stored in underground aquifers a year's worth of drinking water for 1.8 million people.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

That stagflation they predicted in 2009 doesn't seem to be happening

Here's me bloviating in February 2009:

Conservatives choose inflation as a test of whether the stimulus will be a failure
I've seen conservatives railing against the stimulus package as something that will bring inflation without economic growth, or a return to stagflation. Sounds like we've got a good, Republican-chosen, measurable parameter of whether the stimulus fails.
If inflation in the next year or two spikes dangerously far above last year's 3.85%without being caused by something external like an oil shock, then the Republicans turned out to be right. I don't think the absence of inflation by itself proves the stimulus worked, but it will show the downside risk was very low.
Of course, I expect conservatives will attempt to have people forget everything they said about stagflation when the time comes around, but this is one way to make it slightly harder.
For related fun, here are the Republican prophecies of doom at the time of the Clinton 1993 stimulus plan.

Now with the latest action by the Fed, we hear more of the same inflation nonsense from the same people, such as this genius given a February 2009 Op-Ed space in the NY Times:

Thirty Years Later, a Return to Stagflation  
CONGRESS has made a terrible mistake. Amid a rhetorical debate centered on words like “crisis,” “emergency” and “catastrophe,” it acted too fast. While arguments were made about the stimulus bill’s specific components — taxpayer money for condoms, new green cars and golf carts for federal bureaucrats, another round of rebate checks — its more dangerous consequences were overlooked. And now the package threatens a return to the kind of stagflation last seen in the 1970s.
 Be sure to check out the entire entertaining read from the future Vice-Presidential nominee of the GOP.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Needed: a November 1 blog blizzard that more snow doesn't mean less warming


Things Break beat me to the punch on this issue with a much better post that included some actual science-type material.

It's pretty simple.  Lots of snow doesn't tell you anything about temperature trends.*  If you see lots of recently fallen snow, you could probably derive that temperatures somewhere in the nearby atmosphere had recently been below freezing, but not whether overall temperature trends are neutral, declining, or warming.  As TB points out, the right conditions of warming could actually lead to more snow, and we might get a lot this year.

Record cold, or average temperatures that are significantly below long term averages, are much more relevant.  Of course a single season doesn't tell you a whole lot either, but at least it's a relevant-if-minor data point.

We had plenty of idiocy two years ago when we had lots of snow, but this time we can anticipate it.  November 1 might be a good time for blogs based on the real world to rally around and remind people in advance that snow tells you nothing about warming.


*UPDATE:  okay, it's a little more subtle than telling you absolutely nothing about temps - as usual, see the comments for edification.  Let's say that lots of snow doesn't tell you anything about temperature trends that can be coherently discussed in a 30 second Fox News soundbite or a dismissive tweet.  Increased temps could mean more snow or less snow, depending on circumstances, so if you're trying to understand temperature trends and don't have lots of time to put into it, the better focus would be to look at temperature trends.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Administrivia

Getting rid of the re-captcha has increased spam, but most of it is falling into the spam box so readers don't see it.  Eli is going to be a sometimes thing for a few days, so things may be a bit rougher than usual.  Persevere

The Value of Blogs

There is an interesting colloquy going on at Deep Climate between Zeke and Deep about the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Record.  Deep has uncovered some interesting information about Berkeley and Zeke, of course is part of the Berkeley team.  On the whole a high level discussion.  From Eli's point of view Deep is being a touch too McIntyre, but only a touch, and not without some justification given Muller's public statements, but there are, as said, some insights there worth looking at.

Please, no food fights.  Keep it civil.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Celebrity Deathmatch


Those of us on the sidelines are enjoying the Lewandowsky vs. McIntyre death match.  Phil Clarke is playing the chalk
You're in real trouble now, Professor. You've come to the attention of The Auditor. He has asked you Questions. You now have two choices:-

(1) You could assume the questions are posed in good faith, The Auditor is genuinely interested in the knowing the answers, and will make constructive and reasonable use of the information. This would be a category error. It's like those email scams where if you respond the spammers know the address they've hit is real. Next thing you know there will be a second round of followup questions, and so on ad nauseum. Dr Gerald North writes:-

"This guy can just wear you out. He has started it with me but I just don’t bite. But there are some guys, Ben Santer comes to mind, who if they are questioned will take a lot of time to answer. He’s sincere and he just can’t leave these things along. If you get yourself in a back-and-forth with these guys it can be never ending, and basically they shut you down with requests. They want everything, all your computer programs. Then they send you back a comment saying, “I don’t understand this, can you explain it to me.” It’s never ending. And the first thing you know you’re spending all your time dealing with these guys.”

Do you really want that?

(2) You ignore the Questions. This will lead to a post at the Audit weblog using words like 'stonewall', 'petulance', 'refusal'. You won't be directly accused of malpractice or fraud, naturally, however the comments will be a playground where those with a desire to speculate about 'What is Lewandowsky hiding?' will be given free rein. There will then be a short hiatus during which you may think your life is getting back to normal, but then the orchestrated FOI requests for any and all emails relating to the paper will start ...

Do you really want that?

There is no 3rd choice. 
 Let us see how NigelSteve is doing

(-Snip-)
Moderator Response: Future instances of accusations of dishonesty/impropriety (snipped above) will result in a revocation of posting privileges, as all comments are now audited.
So a friend appears
Perhaps this will be more acceptable - please feel free to snip as you feel necessary:

Mr. McIntyre's question comes from his (-snip-) detailed review of the data (-snip-). A read of his review shows it is not an ad-hominem attack, but rather a factually supported observation based on detailed analysis of the survey data. His conclusions and findings are well documented in his review.

This was also first pointed out by Tom Curtis at Skeptical science - certainly not a usual critic - whose review of the data finds the same issue that the data shows a (-snip-) the survey data.

Steve McIntyre notes, as does Curtis, that the data in the paper includes these (-snip-) responses. And that when this (-snip-) data is properly excluded, there is no longer factual support for the paper's conclusions.

Additionally, a number of sites have documented open discussion of this attempt to manipulate the survey results at several pro-AGW sites.

One "skeptic" and one "pro-AGW" reviewer have come to same conclusions based on a detailed examination of the data. These appear to be legitimate, well documented, fair questions.

As the paper's conclusions are being widely disseminated publicly, if in fact there are legitimate issues with the data, asking for these issues to be addressed by the authors seems reasonable and appropriate. 
Moderator Response: The words of Mr. Curtis: "I believe that Lewandowsky has no recourse but to rewrite, withdraw or correct if he agrees with my analysis"
Until addressed in peer-review, this claim by Mr. McIntyre is not proven and remains assertion. Furthermore, guidance provided by "skeptic" sites on how to concertedly manipulate future surveys is utterly reprehensible.
 True, Prof. L. is controlling that playing field, but you know the line about home field advantage.  Now some, not Eli to be sure, might even think that Stephan L. is enjoying this and has a few more rounds in his canon. 

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Eli Was Once Young


Assigned Reading

Down there in the comments, one of the bunnies, Louise, quotes a comment from Willard Tony's blog of ill repute which is trying to freep the Lewandowshy poll, to establish once and for all that those who deny human's having a major effect on climate are not conspiracy junkies

WUWT is attempting to replicate the survey, some of the comments are particularly amusing:

"the warmists will be discussing this secretly" - wot, you mean a conspiracy?

"I won’t be completing the survey. Here’s why. First, I strongly agree with several of the conspiracy theories, (secret services assassinate people – that’s their job) and I don’t want that fact being used to dirty the name of scepticism." - Hmm, again, not a conspiracy believer?

"Also, I would note that not all “conspiracy theories” are wrong, and not all conspiracy theorists are whack-jobs. Almost noone believes the lone gunman and magic bullet theories of the JFK assassination"

"I, like many sceptics, accept that fossil fuels are having an influence on the climate but I also believe that its influence is exaggerated by “scientists who wish to spend more taxpayer money on climate “research””. "
Eli is an old beast who grew up in the culture wars of the 1950s only to emerge full eared as the paranoid style in American politics took the Republican party by the throat and threw out the progressive wing of the party (and there was one, mostly in the Northeast and the Upper Midwest). Viewed through these lenses, the uproar about Stephen Lewandowsky's (some of the links here) paper is deja vu all over again.  With one simple substitution the start of  Richard Hofstadter's observations about the Goldwater capture of the Republican party in 1964 is an iron law today
    American politics has often been an arena for angry minds. In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the tea party movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority. But behind this I believe there is a style of mind that is far from new and that is not necessarily right-wind. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind. In using the expression “paranoid style” I am not speaking in a clinical sense, but borrowing a clinical term for other purposes. I have neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past or present as certifiable lunatics. In fact, the idea of the paranoid style as a force in politics would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to men with profoundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant.

    Of course this term is pejorative, and it is meant to be; the paranoid style has a greater affinity for bad causes than good. But nothing really prevents a sound program or demand from being advocated in the paranoid style. Style has more to do with the way in which ideas are believed than with the truth or falsity of their content. I am interested here in getting at our political psychology through our political rhetoric. The paranoid style is an old and recurrent phenomenon in our public life which has been frequently linked with movements of suspicious discontent.
 The conclusion is, again, something that could have simply been copied into the Lewandowsky paper
  This glimpse across a long span of time emboldens me to make the conjecture—it is no more than that—that a mentality disposed to see the world in this way may be a persistent psychic phenomenon, more or less constantly affecting a modest minority of the population. But certain religious traditions, certain social structures and national inheritances, certain historical catastrophes or frustrations may be conducive to the release of such psychic energies, and to situations in which they can more readily be built into mass movements or political parties. In American experience ethnic and religious conflict have plainly been a major focus for militant and suspicious minds of this sort, but class conflicts also can mobilize such energies. Perhaps the central situation conducive to the diffusion of the paranoid tendency is a confrontation of opposed interests which are (or are felt to be) totally irreconcilable, and thus by nature not susceptible to the normal political processes of bargain and compromise. The situation becomes worse when the representatives of a particular social interest—perhaps because of the very unrealistic and unrealizable nature of its demands—are shut out of the political process. Having no access to political bargaining or the making of decisions, they find their original conception that the world of power is sinister and malicious fully confirmed. They see only the consequences of power—and this through distorting lenses—and have no chance to observe its actual machinery. A distinguished historian has said that one of the most valuable things about history is that it teaches us how things do not happen. It is precisely this kind of awareness that the paranoid fails to develop. He has a special resistance of his own, of course, to developing such awareness, but circumstances often deprive him of exposure to events that might enlighten him—and in any case he resists enlightenment.
    We are all sufferers from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well.
and what better exemplars of this style exist besides Lucia and StevenNigel of how those addicted to these fantasies adopt scholarly argument to their ends
A final characteristic of the paranoid style is related to the quality of its pedantry. One of the impressive things about paranoid literature is the contrast between its fantasied conclusions and the almost touching concern with factuality it invariably shows. It produces heroic strivings for evidence to prove that the unbelievable is the only thing that can be believed. . . . . .But respectable paranoid literature not only starts from certain moral commitments that can indeed be justified but also carefully and all but obsessively accumulates :evidence.” . . . . . The paranoid seems to have little expectation of actually convincing a hostile world, but he can accumulate evidence in order to protect his cherished convictions from it.
and, of course we have the Heartland Institute and the NIPCC reports:
    The higher paranoid scholarship is nothing if not coherent—in fact the paranoid mind is far more coherent than the real world. It is nothing if not scholarly in technique.
As anyone living in it knows, the real world is messy, people are, well messy, which is why, for the purposes of the thing Eli much prefers being a Rabett

Finally a word of caution implicit in Hofstadter's writing.  The entire essay is to be read, and to be read again every so often when the political world descents into the mire of conspiracy.  The central theme, that the paranoid style originates with a perceived loss of control, is key, the warning is not to go down that path, and there are times that those of us trying to inject reason and scientific observation into various arguments are all too tempted (and sometimes succumb) to tit for tat, it being wearisome to keep knocking the moles down.

Romney, Obama fiddle while the planet burns

The Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA)posted a depressing piece on Friday Sept. 7, about Obama and Romney. While the airwaves are full of advertisements about the differences between them, they have one thing in common: Both are "playing games with environmental disaster."


Daphne Wysham, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, says that Obama," -- like his Republican opponent -- seems to place a higher value on achieving 'energy independence' via expanded oil and gas drilling than on action on climate change. The Obama administration has promoted policies that will result in enormous greenhouse gas emissions being released from the expanded mining and burning of coal -- regardless of whether it is burned via unproven 'clean coal' technology -- and via the poisonous and dangerous practice of fracking for gas, as well as via expanded offshore oil drilling. He has also signaled that, after the election, it will be full steam ahead for a pipeline for the dirtiest of all fossil fuels -- tar sands from Canada. This is what happens when moneyed fossil fuel interests, like the Koch brothers, maintain their grip on our nation's politics."

Richard Steiner, a retired professor at the University of Alaska, was deeply involved in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Steiner says that "Neither the Republican Party, nor the Obama administration seem to grasp the severity of the energy/climate crisis we are in… both are playing games with something that is truly a life and death situation."

Romney "belittled sea level rise in his convention speech one night, and the very next day toured southern Louisiana, flooded with sea water from Hurricane Isaac, was one of the most spectacular ironies in the history of American politics." ...

"The Obama administration just approved Shell's oil drilling in offshore waters…their offshore drilling program for the coming five years is worse than that of the former Bush administration."

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Denialists denied by judge in New Zealand lawsuit

Via John Mashey, there's a blog post by Gareth on yet another attempt by climate denialists to muddy the record on climate change, this time by suing New Zealand's National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research for publishing a temperature record that shows New Zealand warming up over the last century.

Definitely check out Gareth's post, or if you have time, the ruling itself.  Skimming it, seems like the denialists didn't have very good lawyers at first (or none at all) and then found someone more reasonable to help them.  A lawyer can't make magic out of bad material though, so in the end they got shut down completely (to be a fly on the wall and hear what their new lawyer told them about their prospects, or to see what document the lawyer required them to sign acknowledging those prospects).  Kind of fun to see my old friend Bob Carter get the skeptical treatment he's earned for himself.

And also these results:

[172] In summary on this point, the Trust [denialist group -ed.] alleges generally that NIWA failed to properly deal with the UHI/shelter issue which had the effect of other stations acquiring derivative warming from the inclusion of the Albert Park (Auckland) and Kelburn (Wellington) sites. Dr Wratt disagrees. He says that the excess temperature trend identified by the Trust for the Auckland series is incorrect. Further, even if it was correct, the effect it would have on the other sites would be negligible. Dr Wratt is of the view that Dr Carter has misinterpreted the scientific literature in making the claims he does.
....
[178] NIWA refers to eight lines of evidence that indicate New Zealand has warmed significantly over the period 1909 to 2009: 
  • the consistent results of the recalculated 7SS following the review, which was consistent with the results recorded in the original 7SS series based on the Salinger 1992 work, plus subsequent annual updates; 
  • peer review for the pre-2010 versions of 7SS, including by the editors of International Journal of Climatology; 
  • the analysis and calculation of the trends using the Salinger post-1992 7SS by a separate set of scientists within NIWA; 
  • trends from the independent 11SS, which disclosed that with no homogenisation the warming trend was 1.0 degrees Centigrade for 1931 to 2008; 
  • results from the 21+3 station series; trends from ship measurements and surrounding oceans;52 retreat of New Zealand glaciers; 
  • observed global climate changes. The IPCC 2007 assessment concludes warming of the climate system is unequivocal. It reports the 100 year linear trend (1906 to 2005) and global surface temperature is +.74 degrees Centigrade ±0.18.
Someone is judicially unimpressed with the ubiquitous urban heat island argument, and with the other arguments ignoring the mountain of evidence showing us that we're warming.

Should be interesting to see whether the agency will get its costs covered as the judge ordered.  Like Gareth, I wonder if the non-profit trust created to bring the lawsuit, instead of the denialist Climate Science Coalition, will be found to be a mysteriously asset-free husk capable of paying its own lawyer in advance, but otherwise broke.

One final note:  while Americans are legitimately criticized as litigious, this type of ridiculous lawsuit can't be done here.  It was just a scientific report - if you don't like it, then go do your own scientific report and argue it out.  You can only sue here over an action taken on the basis of a report, not to suppress the report itself (on the federal level at least, I can't vouch for Red states).  We did just barely dodge this bullet - industry groups snuck a two-paragraph rider into a budget bill in 2000 called the Information Quality Act or Data Quality Act as a means of gumming up the works and preventing exposure of their misdeeds.  Chris Mooney included it in his Republican War on Science book, but courts have generally told industry groups to go away when they tried to sue with it as a tool.  So that's one thing we've done right, at least.

Arsenic and Odd Life

From Boing Boing, but Eli sorta remembers seeing it elsewhere.  Thee and Eli sorta remember the cold fusion follies, with a refresher course recently when Martin Fleischmann passed on to the great calorimeter in the sky, but all the bunnies know that politicians have too much to do to bother their pretty minds staying up on the state of the science, and Mitt has the added burden of being from Utah with all the native pride that that entails,  Now some, not Eli to be sure, would make a connection between what Romney said in a Washington Examiner interview (the other right wing rag in town the Washington Times is on critical life support with the passing of the Rev. Moon) and others surely might note that the remaining true believers believe themselves victims of a conspiracy.

As Stephan Lewandowsky might put it the beat goes on, and Mitt appears tobe humming along to the music on his iPod:

I do believe in basic science. I believe in participating in space. I believe in analysis of new sources of energy. I believe in laboratories, looking at ways to conduct electricity with -- with cold fusion, if we can come up with it. It was the University of Utah that solved that. We somehow can’t figure out how to duplicate it.
Wanna bet?

Friday, September 07, 2012

The REAL problem with CCS?

 Nobel Prize winning physicist Burton Richter discussed CCS in his 2010 book Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Climate Change and Energy in the 21st Century (pp. 88 fl). Richter based his remarks on a 2005 IPCC Special Report, and a 2007 MIT report entitled The Future of Coal.

Richter concluded that it could be done if we're willing to spend the additional money. HOWEVER, the CO2 has to stay sequestered for a very very long time: almost forever. That's where Richter is skeptical. Two scenarios are being discussed: first, depositing the CO2 in the deep ocean (by pipeline or as  a liquid on  a ship). "This one doesn't work", he says flatly. Second, in depleted oil and gas reservoirs or in deep saline aquifers. "This one might work".

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Meta Lewandowsky


Stephan Lewandowsky's conspiracy theory is metastasizing.  Prof. L. has a paper in print base on an on line survey which was advertised in several blogs, but none denizened by those who deny humans are changing the global and local climates.  He dropped a remark that he had asked five of the latter to post a link, and well, you can figure out the uproar by reading the three posts he has placed at Shaping Tomorrow's World.

Sou here, there and at Rabett Run has been dipping her stick in, and a great time is being had by all in spite of the absence of popcorn, which, thanks to the mid-west drought in the US is too expensive for popping.   Sou points out that the survey's main point is that extreme free market types are attracted to climate change denial as moths to flames.  Others think that the paper claims (right or wrong) to show that denial is a family business, with all types on sale in the same head.  Many are speculating that the original survey was designed to poe the denialists.

The latest entry comes from John Cook at the Conversation.  The interesting part about that one is how John threw down the gauntlet

To reduce the influence of those who reject the science, confirmation bias and misleading rhetorical arguments need to be exposed. Now is as good a time as any to start practising so I recommend beginning with the inevitable deluge of comments to this article. Look for cherry picking, conspiracy theories, comments magnifying the significance of dissenters (or non-experts) and logical fallacies such as non sequiturs.

You might think those who reject climate science would refrain from employing these methods in such an obvious fashion. But consider the Arctic sea ice example. On one contrarian climate blog, a commenter predicted five ways that people would avoid the inevitable implications of the precipitous drop in Arctic sea ice. Climate sceptic blogger Anthony Watts fulfilled all five predictions.
And sure enough, go read the comments, full of conspiracy theories, cherry picking, etc.

So the question is why can't the poor dears help themselves, and the answer is subtle, but it explains why Prof. L's survey can not be dismissed.  Conspiracy theories are important parts of the denialists' world view.  Of course there are the few conspiracy examples as well as the all arounders but single conspiracy folk are rare on the ground.  Chris Monckton can no more not be a birther than he can stop denying that humans have anything to do with climate change.  It's his birthwrong.  Libertarianism is not a longing for liberty, but a denial of obligation to other humans.

It may take a village, but there are plenty of arsonists for hire.

Eli Has Much to Answer For

The elder among the bunnies will remember when Eli brought down the wrath of McIntyre upon GISSTEMP after Willard Tony had pointed to a photo of the station at Detroit Lakes.  The discussion soon figured out that there was something strange about all of the local stations, and that pointed strongly at software issues.  Upshot was that GISS had missed a change in the way that NOAA reported the USHCN data and the US temperature anomalies in GISSTEMP had to be changed a bit.

Then again there was the recent flurry about the Most Important Paper In History (TM Roger Pielke Sr.) by Willard Anthony Watts.  Eli had a paw into that one.

Still, Willard Tony has challenged Eli as to whether the Rabett ever gave him a hand with the science, and pawing through the archives here at Rabett Run, Eli was shocked and ashamed

The implication of this is that Fall and Co. (and Menne) can and should not simply compare results from categories with each other, but should first look and see how the rural, suburban and urban distributions vary within categories, and indeed they do.
Bunny culpa, Bunny maxima culpa.


Useful with a boulder of salt

Shell has a good, simple explanation of a planned carbon capture and sequestration facility in Alberta:



So the good stuff first:  they're not using it for enhanced oil recovery, which creates additional emissions.  They're injecting CO2 into salty groundwater 2 kilometers down, which is also supposed to maximize retention.  And they claim it will start in 2015, soon enough to know in short order if this is a real project or just an excuse to keep going after the tar sands.

OTverybigOH, it's tar sands, with plenty of environmental problems in addition to climate change.  While this project may recover emissions from the refining process, it won't from the extraction process, where the sands have to be heated to extract the bitumen (and of course there's the emissions from end use).  No word in the video about what percent reduction of CO2 they expect to achieve with the project.  And my understanding is the biggest problem with CCS is cost, so we'll have to see how well they handle that issue.

So it's an interesting component of a bad overall project.  More on CCS from Shell here.

UPDATE:  lots of good comments as usual, and in John's post on the same issue.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Rolling Stone shows Romney's elite twist in his poison pill

Rolling Stone has lays it on the line about how Romney solved a fiscal crisis involving the parent Bain Company to his own Bain Capital - he let taxpayers take the hit via FDIC to rescue the company while his spinoff walked off with $4 million for providing that "service".  Two points struck me about the piece.

First, Romney proved he's Bush when Romney faced his own little fiscal crisis.  In the global fiscal crisis with strong American roots, several options were on the table:

1. Nationalize failing banks and other institutions, leaving creditors with the haircuts while maintaining a functioning credit and liquidity system, and then sell them off.  Similar to what Obama did with the auto industry, and what Sweden did with its banking industry.

2. Rescue failing banks and other institutions, and include modest reforms of the system through Dodd-Frank legislation that make the crisis somewhat, but only somewhat, less likely to be as bad in the future.  In other words, what Obama did.

3. Rescue failing banks and other institutions, and do nothing substantial to fix the system that created the crisis.  What Bush did.

4. Let them all fail, do nothing in response.  What the Tea Party originally wanted before they became a wing of the Republican Party.  I'm cheating by including this option, it was never realistic or on the table.

The Republican elite is really about Option 3, while pretending some level of sympathy to support for Option 4 among its base, especially because supporters of Option 4 oppose Dodd-Frank only on the belief that financial institutions should just be allowed to fail.  Romney showed where he stood - it's the taxpayers who should pick up the tab.

Second, it's how he made sure the taxpayers got stuck with the tab that shows the elitism:

With his rescue plan a bust, Romney was forced to slink back to the banks to negotiate a new round of debt relief. There was only one catch: Even though Bain & Company was deep in debt and sinking fast, the firm was actually flush with cash – most of it from the looted money that Bill Bain and other partners had given back..... 
Under normal circumstances, such ample reserves would have made liquidating Bain an attractive option: Creditors could simply divvy up the stockpiled cash and be done with the troubled firm. But Bain had inserted a poison pill in its loan agreement with the banks: Instead of being required to use its cash to pay back the firm's creditors, the money could be pocketed by Bain executives in the form of fat bonuses – starting with VPs making $200,000 and up....
What's more, the bonus loophole gave Romney a perverse form of leverage: If the banks and the FDIC didn't give in to his demands and forgive much of Bain's debts, Romney would raid the firm's coffers, pushing it into the very bankruptcy that the loan agreement had been intended to avert. The losers in this game would not only be Bain's creditors – including the federal government – but the firm's nearly 1,000 employees worldwide. 
In March 1992, according to the FDIC documents, Romney approached the banks and played the bonus card. Allow Bain to pay off its debt at a deep discount, he demanded – just 35 cents on the dollar. Otherwise, the "majority" of the firm's "excess cash" would "be available for the bonus pool to its officers at a vice president level and above."
So the plan was to rescue the elite at Bain through bonuses while pushing everyone else out the door.  My question - why bonuses for just the vice presidents and higher, and not for everyone at Bain? It's meaningful that even as Romney played chicken with the debt owed to others, he designed a poison pill that would benefit only the topmost players at Bain.  Not that the other 1,000 employees were all secretaries - they were pretty elite too, just not enough.

This falls in the same category as the estate tax debate.  the Romney elite aren't even about the class interest of the wealthiest 10 percent - it's a much smaller group that they represent.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Monday, September 03, 2012

Here There Really Be Tygers

Institutional Review Boards, commonly known as IRBs, are the here there be really Tygers of research, no sensible bunny wants to go there if it can be avoided, and the Human Subjects IRB, aka those fuckers, are a particularly vicious and confused sub species.  This brings Eli to the current version of Clint Eastwood addresses a chair in the climate blogs, with an on leave Stephan Lewandowsky sitting for the examination in advanced parsing.

So, young bunnies ask, what do IRBs have to do with all this?  Well, Australia, where Stephen resides and works, is not the US, where Eli is in residence at least this month, but for the purpose of blogging, let us pretend that the Earth is round.  The bright lights of lukewarmerism and worse have decided that there is a conspiracy yea verily, when Stephen said that he wrote to a number of the denialaty asking if they would post a request to take his survey designed to ascertain the prevalence of conspiracy theory predilection among the various types inhabiting science blogs.  Prof. L also wrote to a number of the other type blog owner operators.  The resulting manuscript was based on response from readers of the later, which L listed and, as shown by the current hoo ha, showed that why yes, climate change denial is associated with a fair degree of belief in the various Illuminati.

Now Lucia, for the sake of argument, has, as is her wont, had a half bright idea of writing to the various proprietors of the Climate Audits, Bishop Hills, WUWT, asking if L. had written to them would they object to it being made public.

Bottom line:  In doing so, the divine Ms. L. has guaranteed that just about all US IRBs would forbid Prof. L. from making public  the names of those he wrote to.  Why the little hares ask?  Well, IRBs are very worried about social pressure being brought onto any subject involved in a study.  She just did.

But despair not, the whole rigamarole can be (Eli suspects is being) written up for a second publication demonstrating the truth of the hypothesis put forth in the first.

Willard Willard (not Willard Anthony) is going to have a lot of fun with this.

UPDATE:  Stephan L. IS having fun with this.  

It has been pointed out that the major association in the Lewandowshy paper was between the Ayn Randies and the denialists.  Eli wishes to point out that most of the Ayn Rand fans, when not running sub three marathons spend their lives wondering what conspiracy kept them holed up in the attic and not, as their destiny insures, becoming stinking rich.  The few who make it spend their lives holed up in their cellar protecting their wealth from those who conspire to steal it.

Same thing