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Advice for a young climate blogger

Filed under: — group @ 9 March 2009 - (Italian) (Español)

Congratulations! You have taken the first step towards attempting to communicate your expertise and thoughts to the wider world, which remains poorly served by its traditional sources of information when it comes to complex societally relevant issues like climate change. Your aim to clarify the science (or policy options or ethical considerations or simply to explain your views) is a noble endeavor and we wish you luck and wide readership. But do be aware that you are dipping your blog into sometimes treacherous waters. Bad things can happen to good bloggers. So in a spirit of blog-camaraderie, and in light of our own experiences and observations, we offer some advice that may be of some help in navigating the political climate relatively unscathed.

Be honest to yourself and your readers. If your aim is to educate, say so. If your aim is to push for more funding for your pet projects, or advocate for a specific policy, be upfront about it. Don’t however be surprised if people spend their time trying to find hidden motives in what you do. There is a school of thought had has decreed that any public speech must be directed towards public action and that there is no such thing as a pure information supply. In the widest sense this is probably true – everyone blogs, writes or speaks out for a reason. However, this is often interpreted as implying that all public speech must be either pro-or-con some very specific proposal. This is nonsense. One can criticize George Will’s or Alexander Cockburn’s misuse of climate science without agreeing or disagreeing or even having looked at their public policy proposals. Of course, the corollary of this position, that any such criticism of your statements must itself be directed at supporting the opposite political action is very rarely appreciated. On the other hand, assuming that criticism of your statements must be politically motivated is usually a mistake. Sometimes that is true, but there are enough exceptions that it should not be assumed.

Know that there are people who will misrepresent you. Climate science is perceived to have political, economic and ethical implications. Most of the what gets discussed really doesn’t have any such implication, but the ‘scientization‘ of political discourse on this issue means that micro-parsing of published work and blog postings is a common practice. Advocates of all stripes (though predominantly those outside the mainstream) will examine whether a new result or comment appears to project onto their particular agenda, and trumpet it widely if it does. The motives can range from specifically political to a desire for publicity or position, though the exact reasons are often obscure and mostly not worth debating. Thus 15th Century tree rings become an argument against the Kyoto Protocol, just as bacterial flagella are whipped into service when discussing the role of religion in public life.

In the specific world of climate-related blogs there are a number of conduits by which misrepresentations gain wider currency. Matt Drudge for instance, spends an inordinate amount of time finding crackpot climate science stories in fringe media and highlighting them on the widely-read Drudge Report. Marc Morano (who we hear is leaving his post as a staffer for Senator Inhofe) is a very diligent reader of the climate blogs (Pielke2, WUWT, RC etc.) and any misrepresentation found there, or criticism that could be misrepresented, will quickly find its way into many email in-boxes. From there, if you are lucky, further misrepresentations might find their way onto the Rush Limbaugh’s show (via Roy Spencer), or Glenn Beck as throwaway lines confirming (to them) the perfidy of mainstream climate science.

Be aware that the impact that you have might be very different from the impact that you think you should have. Over time, if you find yourself constantly misquoted or used to support positions or ideas you don’t agree with, think about why that might be. You will likely find yourself accused of ‘stealth advocacy’ i.e. of secretly agreeing with the misquoters. If that isn’t actually the case, remember that the abandonment of responsibility for your words (i.e. “how was I to know I would be misquoted so often?”) is not an option that leaves you with much integrity. Being misquoted once might be a misfortune, being misquoted more often smacks of carelessness.

Don’t expect the world to be fair. Read Mamet’s “Bambi v. Godzilla“, and in particular the section containing this line:

“In these fibbing competitions, the party actually wronged, the party with an actual practicable program, or possessing an actually beneficial product, is at a severe disadvantage; he is stuck with a position he cannot abandon, and, thus, cannot engage his talents for elaboration, distraction, drama and subterfuge.”

Since you are presumably stuck with a coherent set of ideas, you won’t be able to adopt ten mutually contradictory inconsistent arguments in the same paragraph, or engage in the cherry-picking, distortion or deliberate misquotation. Though it is occasionally instructive to show what you could have claimed if you didn’t have such ethical principles.

Don’t let completely unfounded critiques bother you. If you speak out in the public sphere, as sure as night follows day, you will be criticized. Some criticisms are constructive and will help you find your voice. Many are not. If you are successful, you will start to come across an online simulacrum of you that bears your name and place of work but who holds none of your views, has no redeeming character traits and would be a complete stranger to anyone who has actually met you. Ignore him or her. There are some people who will always be happier demonising opponents than honestly interacting with real people.

Don’t defame people. This should go without saying, but trivially accusing scientists of dishonesty, theft, academic malpractice and fraud pretty much rules you out of serious conversation. Instead it will serve mainly to marginalize you – though you may gain a devoted following among a specific subset. Don’t be surprised if as a consequence other people start to react negatively to your comments.

Correct mistakes. Again, it should go without saying that maintaining integrity requires that errors of fact be corrected as soon as possible.

Realize that although you speak for yourself, if you take mainstream positions, you will be perceived as speaking for the whole climate science community. Don’t therefore criticize unnamed ‘scientists’ in general when you mean to be specific, and don’t assume that the context in which you are speaking is immediately obvious to casual readers.

Avoid using language that can easily be misquoted. This is hard.

Don’t use any WWII metaphors. Ever. This just makes it too easy for people to ratchet up the rhetoric and faux outrage. However strongly you hold your views, the appropriateness of these images is always a hard sell, and you will not be given any time in which to make your pitch. This is therefore almost always counter-productive. This can be extended to any kind of Manichean language.

If you get noticed by the propagandists, wear that attention like a badge of honor. You will be in very good company.

If you get caught in a blogstorm, know that this too will pass. Being targeted like this is not very much fun (ask Heidi Cullen). But the lifecycle for a blog-related kerfuffle is a few days in general, and the blogosphere as a whole has an extreme attention deficit disorder. After finding that your post and followups were all anyone can talk about on Monday, it likely won’t get mentioned again after Thursday.

Recognize that humor is far more effective than outrage. But try and rise above the level of the schoolyard. Think Jon Stewart rather than Rodney Dangerfield.

If all of the above doesn’t put you off the idea completely, welcome to the blogosphere! Your voice is sorely needed.


434 Responses to “Advice for a young climate blogger”

  1. 351
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Wow, “truth” actually brings up a relevant point and not just a “talking point” for Australia’s badly mangled tories:

    “He was pointing out that focus on the near-term goals like cutting 20% of emissions by 2020, diverts too much attention from the research that’s required to bring about the massive breakthroughs that would be needed to meet the 2050 goals.”

    Answer: No. This is a false dichotomy. The emphasis on the 2020 goals is needed so that we can buy time and avoid turning points that render the 2050 goals meaningless. The era of false dichotomies is over. We can’t ignore one critical need for the sake of meeting another. Conservation and rapid technological advancement are both prerequisites for development of a sustainable economy and the preservation of human civilization.

  2. 352
    Jim Bouldin says:

    John (344)

    I’m with you 100%. However, even with that mechanism, Gavin or someone still has to wade through responses and make the call as to which bin to throw it into. It would be an improvement for sure, but the best solution is for certain readers not to clog up the pipes with off topic comments, and others not to respond to them.

  3. 353
    Hank Roberts says:

    One last try for ‘truth’ to pay attention:

    What source are you quoting? Why do you consider it reliable? Have you looked at the primary, the original, source? Or are you just quoting some second or third hand excerpt of part of his presentation?

    I found it for you and posted the link. Did you read it?

    Do you recognize this quote from Lewis?
    —-excerpt follows—-
    Summary
    • Need for Additional Primary Energy is Apparent
    • Case for Significant (Daunting?) Carbon-Free Energy Seems
    Plausible (Imperative?)
    Scientific/Technological Challenges
    • Energy efficiency: energy security and environmental security
    • Coal/sequestration; nuclear/breeders; Cheap Solar Fuel
    Inexpensive conversion systems, effective storage systems
    Policy Challenges
    • Is Failure an Option?
    • Will there be the needed commitment? In the remaining time?

    Observations of Climate Change
    Evaporation & rainfall are increasing;
    • More of the rainfall is occurring in downpours
    • Corals are bleaching
    • Glaciers are retreating
    • Sea ice is shrinking
    • Sea level is rising
    • Wildfires are increasing
    • Storm & flood damages are much larger ….
    —-end excerpt—-
    That’s from the PDF by Lewis that I linked above, and it’s just one of Lewis’s presentations, maybe the one you got your tidbit from, maybe not.

    It’s up to _you_ to identify _your_ source.

    Don’t throw trash in here and insist it’s up to the other readers to sort it out for you.
    We’re just readers here like you, and we’ve got plenty of homework.

    He says nothing to support your claim that his piece calls for “a debate that needs to be had, before economies and lives are damaged for no good result.” He’s entirely clear the damage is happening.

    If you want good information, go to the original source.
    If you care to tell us the truth, tell us who you’re quoting and where you’re getting the little biased bit from Lewis’s work that you’re presenting as though it were supporting your argument.

    This is the most tiresome, time-wasting, and annoying thing about people who come banging their personal political drum and claiming someone prominent and competent supports their position — but deceptively, on the base of second-hand or third-hand fragmentary quotes out of context.

    Shape up. Find the original source of what you think you know.
    Read it and check the footnotes and look at papers that cite it.
    Learn to question the PR for yourself.

    And cite where and how you find what you claim you’re quoting.
    If it’s from WTF or some other blogger, so be it, but _cite_ it.

  4. 354
    holly says:

    hi!
    im just reading through some of the articles you have on your site as i have an essay due on global warming. however in the title it mentions phoney science and how global warming could be seen as a hoax (which i totally dont believe). the only thing is i havent heard of “phoney science” to do with global warming. i was wondering if you could point me in the right direction of where i would find evidence to this global warming “phoney science”??

    thanks!

  5. 355
    Mark says:

    Hank asserts: “One last try for ‘truth’ to pay attention:”

    I’m afraid you’re not getting it Hank. THE TRUTH is that AGW is a lie. Anything that says it isn’t a lie is not THE TRUTH. Any papers not promoting THE TRUTH is a conspiracy to subvert THE TRUTH and the lack of any scientific paper showing THE TRUTH is not because THE TRUTH is wrong, but because there is a conspiracy against THE TRUTH.

    If you want an example of what truth hears from you, watch “The Simpsons” episode where Santa’s Little Helper has to go to dog obedience classes. truth is SLH.

    Once again The Oracle has it: shrug reckoning.

  6. 356
    James says:

    truth Says (23 March 2009 at 2:56 AM):

    “Surely this is a debate that needs to be had, before economies and lives are damaged for no good result.”

    The problem is that you’re assuming your conclusion – that economies & lives will be damaged by reducing CO2 emissions – without (so far as I have noticed) providing any scrap of evidence that this will actually be the case. Absent such evidence, you’re just using scare tactics.

  7. 357
    John Mashey says:

    re: 352 Jim
    1) If someone is moderating a blog, they’ll already be taking a quick look at each post anyway.

    2) But, more importantly, consider the following behavioral effect:

    a) Some blogs don’t really moderate, and much intemperate junk can appear.

    b) Some, of which John Quiggin is a good example, have an explicit policy, he enforces that policy, and the observed result is a fairly temperate level of discourse.

    c) Now, I would speculate (I don’t have the data) that when one first emplaces such a policy, that one may have to take action frequently, but after a while, if people break the rules, and their posts just never show up, I suspect they stop … in which case the enforcement overhead should go down.

    This speculation is at least consistent with other effects. For example, when people park, do they put coins in the meter? Maybe, maybe not, but if their experience tells them that if they don’t, the chances of a fine are ~100%, they do.

    In any case: PUBLISH A CLEAR DISCUSSION POLICY, whatever it is.

    === OK that was on-topic, but since all this discussion of Nate Lewis is getting through:

    I heard him talk at Stanford a few months ago, and he gave a very interesting talk, accorded by many as one of the most exciting in a good symposium, although it has a long way to go.

    Lewis at GCEP.

    Read p.53, p.52, p.12, and then the details.

    Also useful is his Caltech website.

  8. 358
    SecularAnimist says:

    commenter ‘truth’ wrote in #317: “… voters are, in the main, deliberately kept uninformed about the alternative views and scientists, by a mainstream media that’s almost 100% promoting the consensus.”

    Like most of what you post here, that is far from the truth. Indeed it is pretty much the polar opposite of the truth.

    The reality is that the so-called “mainstream” mass media from which most voters get most of their information has given inordinate coverage to the denialists, including those that are rather blatantly funded by ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel corporations, presenting their “views” (and sometimes their outright falsehoods) as equivalent to the overwhelming consensus of the world’s scientific community. Until very recently, every “mainstream media” article about new developments in the science of climate change was “balanced” with the views of some lunatic fringe fraud or crank casting doubt on whether global warming is even really happening or whether human activities are the cause.

    Your comment amounts to whining that the media occasionally reports the actual facts about actual science that you obstinately refuse to accept.

  9. 359
    Hank Roberts says:

    Thank you John Mashey, for additional good cites and for pointing within it exactly where to look. Good example of how-to.

    For “truth” — seriously. Cite your source, tell us why you consider it reliable, and show us you know how to check what you read on blogs. Credibility follows.

  10. 360
    Jerry says:

    To the list of “advices” to the Young Climate Blogger, add

    “Offer something worth coming back for”.

    RC brings me back with reportage on newly published
    climate science and paleoclimatology work.
    The quality of the discussions, however variable,
    is a bonus. It’s fun to learn from well-articulated argument.

  11. 361

    Adding my own thoughts to John Mashey’s (356) regarding moderation…

    As far as moderation policy goes, there are different points in the discussion. Early on you want things to remain on topic. Maybe the first 200 comments. If you have a guest poster you may want things to remain on topic for longer. But one thing you do not want to have happen is keep things on topic beyond the point at which everyone has run out of things to say. You need to keep your audience between posts. So I would recommend stricter moderation early on, but more lax moderation later in the game.

    Now obviously there is some tension between this approach and what John Mashey had to say. What he wrote might be taken to at least suggest that the level of moderation must be constant. But what I would suggest is that it must be rational, and by rational I mean in the appropriate ratio where “appropriate” is determined by context.

  12. 362

    SecularAnimist wrote in 357:

    commenter ‘truth’ wrote in #317: “… voters are, in the main, deliberately kept uninformed about the alternative views and scientists, by a mainstream media that’s almost 100% promoting the consensus.”

    Like most of what you post here, that is far from the truth. Indeed it is pretty much the polar opposite of the truth.

    The following might help make sense of it all…

    “War is peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength.”
    – George Orwell, 1984

  13. 363
    Ray Ladbury says:

    John and Hank, Actually, I think that many commenters (not all) could self police and would be happy to flag their posts as being off-topic. This might assist the blogger in such decisions.

  14. 364

    truth wrote in 345:

    Surely this is a debate that needs to be had, before economies and lives are damaged for no good result.

    James wrote in 355

    The problem is that you’re assuming your conclusion – that economies & lives will be damaged by reducing CO2 emissions – without (so far as I have noticed) providing any scrap of evidence that this will actually be the case. Absent such evidence, you’re just using scare tactics.

    I would like to add to this.

    We also know that continuing CO2 emissions will cause a great deal of damage. The scientific debate over this is largely over. It took place in the scientific journals over the past several decades — although it reaches back as far as the late 1800s.

    What are left are merely the details. Whether business as usual raises the sea level one meter or two meters this century, whether the glaciers of the Himalayas will be gone by 2030 or 2050, whether the US Southwest will face severe drought or more intense flooding and when, how quickly we will destroy the oceans simply due to rising PH levels, and how many hundreds of millions will face severe drought and famine by the late 2090s, and how strong positive feedback from the carbon cycle will be when it kicks in.

    Why is it that you insist upon only taking into account the presumed costs of renewables, not the costs of of fossil fuels — where coal has twice the emissions of oil per unit of energy and tar sands has three times the emissions? Why not the costs to our world due to our remaining dependent on fossil fuels? And what of the fact that fossil fuels exist in a limited supply and that increasing hunger for energy must necessarily exceed that supply at some point, and with population growth and the rising living standards of the third world, sooner rather than later?

    Being so close to Peak Oil — which we seem to have passed in 2005 but if not will soon pass, we are at a branching point. We can invest in the infrastructure that will make us dependent upon other fossil fuels or we can invest in renewables. If we invest in fossil fuels, not only are there the consequences to our world that result from higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the acidification of our oceans, but given the diminishing supply and growing demand, we will necessarily face higher and higher prices. What will be the cost to our economies of this? And what of the wars that will be fought over such limited resources? They have already begun.

    And regarding renewables, I have already pointed out one approach to solar energy which is currently competitive with coal (347). Do you choose to ignore this? And what of the economies of scale which will result from the more widespread use of renewables? Sure — I am looking for breakthroughs and investments in further research and development, but there will always be more breakthroughs to be had. We are at a branching point. Action can no longer be postponed.

  15. 365
    David B. Benson says:

    Patrick 027 (338) — Thank you.

  16. 366

    CORRECTION

    In the third paragraph of 363:

    What are left are merely the details…. whether the US Southwest will face severe drought or more intense flooding and when, …

    … “US Southwest” should have been “US Southeast.” I am used to having the South at the bottom of the map and the East on the right, but I have been focusing on the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation, the North Pacific Oscillation, and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation recently (but neither the Arctic Oscillation nor the North Atlantic Oscillation) over at Tamino’s and on my own and was looking at the map with the North at the bottom (where I was viewing the map) rather than at the top as I am used to seeing things.
    *
    Captcha fortune cookie:
    “Restaurants Diego”

    I remember being at a bar in Diego Garcia — more or less in the middle of the Pacific Ocean where El Nino Southern Oscillations are strongest. Actually it was more of a bar than a restaurant, come to think of it…

  17. 367
    John Mashey says:

    re: #361
    yes, that seemed within “e) Obviously good/bad are judgements of the moderator(s), and reasonable people can disagree.”

    Where I have problems is when a *long* blog thread has turned into multiple conversations, most of which have departed far from the original topic. This can work OK in blogs/newsgroups that do nesting or attach replies to specific comments, so that OT comment chains are easily recognizable.

    Examples: DeSmogBlog, The Oil Drum, and the latter has a nice +/- button per post that collapses/expands not only the post, but also its dependent posts.

    Of course, that style also burns screen space, and can get a bit irksome with deep indents for long chains, but it does help in reading complex discussions. One could wish both of those examples numbered comments as well, but that’s awkward with nested schemes.

    This is not to argue for any particular scheme, just the observation that:

    a) Some discussions may be fun while they’re going on, but could disappear shortly thereafter with little loss. This is not necessarily bad.

    b) On the other hand, some discussions (not just the original post) are well worth keeping for future use by non-participants, and there, high S/N Ratios seem helpful.

    For old-timers, this is a little like the use of the APL language, sometimes accused of being a write-only language, as it could be wonderfully expressive, but sometimes nearly-incomprehensible to someone reading it later.

  18. 368
    Patrick 027 says:

    I think we spend in the U.S. about $300 billion/year on electricity, or at least on that order of magnitude (U.S. energy fuel equivalent total is about 3 TW – rounding to 3 TW (~ 95 EJ/yr, ~ 26 trillion kWh/yr), about 40% of that – 1.2 TW (~ 38 EJ/yr, ~ 11 trillion kWh/yr) goes to electricity generation which is about 40% efficient, producing about 0.48 TW electric power (~ 15 EJ/yr, ~ 4.2 trillion kWh/yr). If the electricity costs about 7 cents per kWh, that’s about $295 billion/year. Now, a few years ago the total fuel equivalent was around 100 EJ/yr, so there’s some fudge factor there, but it should be close.

    For an average of 200 W/m2 insolation on the panels, solar power from solar cells will cost $20/W for a price of $4/peak W (solar cell prices are generally given for electric power produced at 1000 W/m2 solar power; I’m assuming the fill factor is close enough to 1 for power to be nearly proportional to incident power; this won’t quite be true because solar cells tend to become less efficient with reduced sunlight (with some exceptions?) and the mix of wavelengths will vary near sunset and sunrise, although the majority of power will be available when the sun is higher in the sky anyway…). This not including some balance-of-system (mounting, inverters, … tracking, concentrators, batteries, new power lines, where applicable).

    At $20/W, replacing 0.48 TW of electric power will cost $9.6 trillion. BUT over 40 years, that’s $240 billion/year. (Cell lifetimes will generally be long – some degradation along the way, so energy equivalent to 60 years at rated power might actually take 70 or 80 years of service to produce.)

    Now imagine if the price per peak W drops to $2, or $1.

    Running out of resources?

    With so much electricity to be generated, multiple kinds of solar technology, including a variety of solar cells, can be introduced into the market without losing mass market advantages for each – some may find their own niches (rooftop residential vs rooftop commercial vs large scale desert installation; also, different places with different mineral resources – although transportation costs should be minimal for the devices compared to lifetime output). Deploying multiple technologies reduces the problem of limited resources for producing any one kind (although for the energy produced, it may be possible to mine such metals as Zn and Cu, etc, from common rocks and still come out way ahead in energy profit; I’m a bit more concerned about the availability of Te – see my comments (229,236) at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/03/olympian-efforts-to-control-pollution/langswitch_lang/sp
    - SUCH AS:
    Various combinations of: polycrystalline Si, polycrystalline Si with light trapping (total internal reflection reduces necessary thickness of photovoltaic material, thus boosting efficiency, reducing internal resistance and electron-hole recombination for given level of crystal lattice perfection and substance purity – or allowing greater dopant concentration to reduce resistivity?? – and giving a higher fill factor ??), amorphous Si, CdTe, GaInAs concentrator devices, CIGS, (V,Ti,Mn,Fe,Co,Ni,Cu,Zn,Ce,Nb,Y,Zr…)x(O,S,Se,Te…)y, camphoric (or other?) soot (yes, you read that correctly) or more ‘exotic’ forms of C (nanotubes and fullerence, thin film diamond?), semiconducting polymers, photosensitizing dyes/pigments/nanoparticles, nanostructures producing multiple electron-hole pairs, nanopatterned cells (the antenna idea brought up earlier), photonic structures, multijunction cells, nanoporous cells, bulk heterojunctions, folded p-n junctions, interpenetrating electrodes, buried electrodes, electrolytes, spheral cells (a lot of Si beads), spectrum splitting geometric concentrators, luminescent concentrators (doubling as windows, skylights, greenhouse roofing…), single or double axis tracking, solar concentrating with mechanical heat engines or thermophotovoltaic cells (perhaps that’s what the antenna idea was tested for, regarding high temperatures) or thermoelectric cells (also imagine drawing power from thermocouples attached between dark pavement and/or sewer pipes and snow drifts in winter), made by chemical vapor deposition, freezing from melt, precipitation from solution (sol-gel – nanoparticles for nanoporosity to produce interpenetrating n,p type networks), electrochemical process (grow dendrite forms?), X-ray lithography for large scale nanopatterning…? – taking advantage of crystal habits as a function of conditions, eutectic phase transitions and other self-organizing habits of some mixtures (imagine mixtures of limited mutual solid solubility that dope each other p and n type…)…)

  19. 369

    John Mashey wrote in 367:

    This is not to argue for any particular scheme, just the observation that:

    a) Some discussions may be fun while they’re going on, but could disappear shortly thereafter with little loss. This is not necessarily bad.

    b) On the other hand, some discussions (not just the original post) are well worth keeping for future use by non-participants, and there, high S/N Ratios seem helpful.

    I know that I often find the search function rather helpful — in which case it doesn’t matter quite so much which discussion a given topic comes up in. You use the search function to find the web page, then you use the browser’s find to find the that part of the discussion which mentions the topic. And that helps if I want to look up what someone else said, find a few links, or use part of one of my earlier formulations that I am especially happy with — although there is something to be said for forcing oneself to formulate things anew each time as this exercises one’s memory and understanding.

  20. 370

    John Mashey wrote in 367:

    re: #361
    yes, that seemed within “e) Obviously good/bad are judgements of the moderator(s), and reasonable people can disagree.”

    When I stated in 361:

    Now obviously there is some tension between this approach and what John Mashey had to say. What he wrote might be taken to at least suggest that the level of moderation must be constant.

    … I didn’t mean to suggest that there was a contradiction between your approach and mine, but only that there was “a tension” or what might appear to be a conflict between the two — as the following from 357:

    c) Now, I would speculate (I don’t have the data) that when one first emplaces such a policy, that one may have to take action frequently, but after a while, if people break the rules, and their posts just never show up, I suspect they stop … in which case the enforcement overhead should go down.

    This speculation is at least consistent with other effects. For example, when people park, do they put coins in the meter? Maybe, maybe not, but if their experience tells them that if they don’t, the chances of a fine are ~100%, they do.

    In any case: PUBLISH A CLEAR DISCUSSION POLICY, whatever it is.

    … might suggest a constancy of approach that did not take into account the different stages of a discussion.

    You were emphasizing clarity and consistency, I emphasized a certain flexibility, but in truth you need both and the ability to balance the two. And I believe neither of us disagrees.

  21. 371
    John Mashey says:

    re: 370 Timothy
    Oh, I don’t think we particularly disagree.
    There was no implication of constancy of approach in the sense you mean.

    Here’s a possible policy:
    “Anything I think is off-topic goes to the shadow thread”.

    here’s another:
    “OT posts goes to the shadow thread unless I think they’re interesting anyway, and that may change during the discussion. By looking at past threads, you may get some idea of my effective behavior.”

    and another:
    “Even if OT, if it gets repetitive or overly wordy, I’ll move it.”

    As you may guess, I have some familiarity with using computers to search for things … but remember, this thread was supposed to be advice for young bloggers. Good discussions are attractors. Having to search around to wade through too many diversions is not an attractor. Anyone who does a blog can pick where they want to be. Without naming any, I just observe that I’ve given up on some blogs because the S/N Ratio has degraded too far, just as it did with some USENET newsgroups that used to have excellent discussions.

  22. 372
    truth says:

    Timothy Chase[364]:
    Even if you’re right about the damage from the increase in CO2, the huge amounts of funding needed to solve the very large problems with renewables, will only come out of healthy, prosperous economies, will they not?
    You quote the accusations of ‘scare tactics’ directed at me from James regarding damage to economies—but isn’t the whole aim of emissions trading schemes to make carbon much more expensive than it is now—thereby making coal-fired electricity much more expensive than it is now—thereby making everything manufactured, and every service much more expensive than they now are?
    Obama certainly claimed that ‘electricity prices will soar’. Does he think most other prices won’t then soar ?
    With such huge rises in prices of almost everything, won’t those inflated prices precipitate a need for increases in wages—followed by business either scaling back or going offshore to low-wage countries, both contingencies causing increased unemployment, as is already happening in Australia, with the prospect of the ETS about to begin in 2010 ?
    Inflation and slowdown in business and manufacturing and mining are certainly damaging impacts for an economy.
    You would probably say that there’ll be compensation for increased prices, but here, that’s only intended for lower socio-economic groups, leaving middle-income earners to fend for themselves in an inflationary and consequently high interest rate , low growth economy.
    So how could a price increase on everything not have an economic effect?
    The usual reply on this blog is that there’ll be lots of jobs in renewables, but how will governments and industry fund the enormous research needed to solve the energy storage problem , the problems of the costly materials involved in solar generation, and the problems with huge losses in the distribution of electricity, if our present recessions are exacerbated by self-inflicted impacts of an ETS or equivalent?
    You talk about economies of scale with renewables, but from what I’ve read, that’s exactly what will be sacrificed, if there’s a mix of renewable technologies.
    You say the debate is over—that it was dealt with in the journals over recent decades.
    Could it be that incidents like the following , have something to do with what many of us [ whether the true believers like it or not] perceive to be a shut-out of any dissenting science—
    [----‘ the paper[ submitted to the Journal of Climate], was knocked back. This largely because of an unbelievably vitriolic and indeed rather hysterical, review from someone who let slip that “ the only object I can see for this paper is for the authors to get something in the peer-reviewed literature which the ignorant can cite as supporting lower climate sensitivity than the standard IPCC range”.’ ]
    How often does such petulance and bias prevent publication?
    The paper was published subsequently by another journal.
    That sounds more like fragility and post-normal science, than an objective peer review process.
    It’s the cost of ditching coal for renewables before renewables are anywhere near up to the job of providing base load power that I think is mad.
    I agree with the sensible mitigation measures like reforestation on a huge scale, sustainable building, encouragement of personal cuts in emissions via energy efficient appliances, vehicles etc—as much conservation as can possibly be done—but why are you so anxious to risk economies that are already damaged, when people like Nathan Lewis say that focus on the near-term targets is a distraction from the big solar research goals that are vital for base load power provision ?
    Are you saying that solar power is going to be ready to take up the slack, if funding dries up for coal-fired power stations, if some people on this blog have their way and coal –fired power is demonised , to the extent that it’s on death row as an industry?
    You talk about the limited supply of fossil fuels, but according to Nathan Lewis, there’s enough coal in reserve for [ I think] 2000 years—for an awfully long time, anyway—he cites Germany’s use of coal when oil ran out in WW2.
    The business as usual thing really is a straw man—most who are sceptical about AGW still want sensible mitigation and adaptation—and copious funding for research.
    I would like to think that , eventually , solar power could be our main energy source, if global warming is the problem you think it is, but just claiming it’s ready to go won’t make it so.

  23. 373

    truth, I will let others respond to other portions of your post. However, your description of the journal review process is, I think, not so damning on the face of it as you perceive it to be.

    I can’t comment on subjective adjectives, such as “vitriolic” or “hysterical,” but what I hear in the quoted criticism “the only object I can see for this paper is for the authors to get something in the peer-reviewed literature,” is a potentially valid criticism–ie., that the paper does not really seek to advance the science. Such concerns do inhibit publication all the time, and yes, assessing them is subjective to a degree–irreducibly so, since questions not only of fact but of value are involved.

    Getting published isn’t that easy, and isn’t meant to be. Generally, quite a bit of persistence is involved.

  24. 374
    SecularAnimist says:

    truth wrote: “… Are you saying that solar power is going to be ready to take up the slack, if funding dries up for coal-fired power stations …”

    Yes, solar power is ready. That’s why major utilities are investing in both photovoltaics and concentrating solar thermal power plants today.

    You really should educate yourself about what is really happening with the wind and solar industries today. Even with the poor economy and the credit crunch, which have hit the wind and solar industries just as they have hit other industries, both technologies are growing rapidly.

    If you are going to discuss the potential of wind and solar, you ought to know what you are talking about. And you don’t.

  25. 375
    Dan says:

    Based on comment 372, It has become clear that the person named “truth” has a poor understanding of the scientific method. Peer-review has been discussed extensively here. There was actually a thorough discussion by the moderator regarding the fact that peer-review is not perfect but it certainly has worked as a cornerstone of science for ages, Peer Review: A Necessary But Not Sufficient Condition, at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=109. (Not) “truth” has also provided support for the last two sentences at my comment at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=656#comment-114491. There is also an excellent comment re: peer-review and the scientific method at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=656#comment-113915.

  26. 376
    Hank Roberts says:

    > truth … coal

    Ocean pH. Duh.

  27. 377

    #366 Timothy Chase:

    I remember being at a bar in Diego Garcia — more or less in the middle of the Pacific Ocean where El Nino Southern Oscillations are strongest.

    Eh, Diego Garcia, AKA The Rock, is located in the Indian ocean…

    Some days just are like that ;-)

  28. 378
    Jim Bouldin says:

    truth, how many off topic book chapters are you planning to write in this thread?

  29. 379
    Jim Eager says:

    Untruth wrote @372: “but isn’t the whole aim of emissions trading schemes to make carbon much more expensive than it is now—thereby making coal-fired electricity much more expensive than it is now—thereby making everything manufactured, and every service much more expensive than they now are?”

    No, in short.

    The whole aim of emissions trading or a carbon tax is to make carbon more expensive than it is now by including its external costs in its price—thereby making coal-fired electricity and petroleum fuels more expensive than they are now—thereby making renewably generated electricity and alternatives to petroleum fuels more competitive then they are now, and thus spur research and investment in them.

    Since you got something that basic so wrong I didn’t bother reading your post any further.

  30. 380

    “truth” wrote in 372 (25 March 2009 at 8:53 AM) in response to 364 (23 March 2009 at 1:44 PM):

    You quote the accusations of ‘scare tactics’ directed at me from James regarding damage to economies—but isn’t the whole aim of emissions trading schemes to make carbon much more expensive than it is now—thereby making coal-fired electricity much more expensive than it is now—thereby making everything manufactured, and every service much more expensive than they now are?

    Hardly. Currently the costs associated with coal-fired electricity are far more expensive — but these costs are externalized such that those who benefit — in the present generation — are not those who bear the costs — in the present and future generations. Carbon taxes and carbon trading approaches are attempts to make businesses and consumers bear the true cost of carbon — such that they will reduce their carbon use and the costs to others.
    *

    “truth” continues:

    Obama certainly claimed that ‘electricity prices will soar’. Does he think most other prices won’t then soar ?

    Where did he make this claim?
    *

    “truth” continues:

    With such huge rises in prices of almost everything, won’t those inflated prices precipitate a need for increases in wages—followed by business either scaling back or going offshore to low-wage countries, both contingencies causing increased unemployment, as is already happening in Australia, with the prospect of the ETS about to begin in 2010 ?

    Why should it involve generally higher prices — assuming (for example that it is carbon neutral?

    Consider Jim Hansen’s approach:

    Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies, is one of the leading voices for a carbon tax to address climate change, rather than backing the more widely used cap-and-trade approach. In his plan, Hansen recommends levying a rising tax on fossil fuels and redistributing 100 percent of the proceeds to taxpayers – a “tax and dividend” approach [PDF].

    Hansen to Obama: Support a Carbon Tax
    Ben Block
    December 15, 2008 3:39 PM
    http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/009194.html

    *

    “truth” continues:

    You would probably say that there’ll be compensation for increased prices, but here, that’s only intended for lower socio-economic groups, leaving middle-income earners to fend for themselves in an inflationary and consequently high interest rate , low growth economy.

    Maybe if by “middle class” you mean anyone making $250,000 or above per year. Otherwise where is your evidence?
    *

    “truth” continues:

    The usual reply on this blog is that there’ll be lots of jobs in renewables…

    Wind already seems to be doing rather well in terms of job creation…

    Here’s a talking point in the green jobs debate: The wind industry now employs more people than coal mining in the United States.

    Wind industry jobs jumped to 85,000 in 2008, a 70% increase from the previous year, according to a report released Tuesday from the American Wind Energy Association. In contrast, the coal industry mining employs about 81,000 workers. (Those figures are from a 2007 U.S. Department of Energy report but coal employment has remained steady in recent years though it’s down by nearly 50% since 1986.) Wind industry employment includes 13,000 manufacturing jobs concentrated in regions of the country hard hit by the deindustrialization of the past two decades.

    JANUARY 28, 2009, 11:27 AM
    Wind jobs outstrip coal mining
    http://greenwombat.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2009/01/28/wind-jobs-outstrip-the-coal-industry

    … relative to coal.

    And interestingly, wind also seems to be doing rather well…

    Another sign that wind power is no longer a niche green energy play: Wind accounted for 42% of all new electricity generation installed last year in the U.S. Power, literally, is shifting from the east to west, to the wind belt of the Midwest, west Texas and the West Coast. Texas continues to lead the country, with 7,116 megawatts of wind capacity but Iowa in 2008 overtook California for the No. 2 spot, with 2,790 megawatts of wind generation. Other new wind powers include Oregon, Minnesota, Colorado and Washington state.

    ibid.

    … as a percentage of all new electricity.
    *

    “truth” continues:

    … the problems of the costly materials involved in solar generation

    I have done the homework on solar and wind, I will let you do the homework on this:

    … but how will governments and industry fund the enormous research needed to solve the energy storage problem

    … but I will let you know beforehand that there are a wide variety of technologies.

    As I have already pointed out, the costs of solar appears to be coming down:

    The company said that during the fourth quarter of last year, the manufacturing cost for its solar modules stood at 98 cents per watt, taking it below the $1 per watt mark for the first time.
    Mike Ahearn, chief executive at the company, hailed the achievement as a “milestone in the solar industry’s evolution towards providing truly sustainable energy solutions”, adding that it provided evidence that solar manufacturers could prosper in the long term even as government subsidies are reduced.

    First Solar said it was confident that plans to more than double its production capacity through 2009 to more than one gigawatt would allow it to reduce costs further to a point where energy from solar panels can undercut that from natural gas and coal.

    First Solar reaches “dollar per watt milestone”
    Thin-film solar manufacturer claims to have produced modules at cost of 98 cents a watt
    BusinessGreen.com staff, BusinessGreen, 25 Feb 2009
    http://www.businessgreen.com/business-green/news/2237250/first-solar-reaches-dollar-per

    … and they say that doubling the production at their company will make their product competitive with coal.
    *

    “truth” continues:

    … and the problems with huge losses in the distribution of electricity, if our present recessions are exacerbated by self-inflicted impacts of an ETS or equivalent?

    Costs come down when you are talking of High Voltage Direct Current:

    The trouble with most renewable energy is that you can’t put the fuel in a ship and take it to where you want the power. Unlike oil or gas or coal, you can’t transport the hot sunshine from Africa to Britain, or the North Sea wind to Italy.

    But backers of a new European super-grid say the next best thing is to move the electricity across continents using a new generation of high-voltage direct-current cables (HVDC) that leak far less electricity than conventional alternative-current pylons.

    December 12, 2008 3:26 PM
    Green ‘super-grid’ could let Europe harness African Sun
    http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2008/12/plans-for-a-super-grid-across.html

    … and this is what the plans for a grid are suppose to achieve for the United States.
    *

    “truth” continues:

    You talk about economies of scale with renewables, but from what I’ve read, that’s exactly what will be sacrificed, if there’s a mix of renewable technologies.

    Not if a doubling of capacity is all that is required to achieve an economy of scale that is competitive with coal. (See above.) And the fact that wind power expanded more rapidly than coal in 2008 suggests that it is already competitive.
    *

    “truth” continues:

    You say the debate is over—that it was dealt with in the journals over recent decades.
    Could it be that incidents like the following , have something to do with what many of us [ whether the true believers like it or not] perceive to be a shut-out of any dissenting science….

    Give us the cites. Tell us which article it was so that we can judge it for ourselves. Otherwise I personally can only conclude that it is the usual crackpottery published in such industrial rags as Energy and Environment.
    *

    “truth” continues:

    You talk about the limited supply of fossil fuels, but according to Nathan Lewis, there’s enough coal in reserve for [ I think] 2000 years—for an awfully long time, …

    What use do you think we have for your cites when you confuse the figures of 10,000 at 1 every other day with 10,000 every other day and you still aren’t able to provide the cites?

    *
    “truth” continues:

    … anyway—he cites Germany’s use of coal when oil ran out in WW2.

    I have mentioned the fact that Germany switched to synthetic oil made from coal — which would roughly double the carbon emissions per unit of energy:

    Robert Williams, a senior research scientist at Princeton, said “it’s a step backward” to operate a plant like Rentech’s without capturing the carbon. “It almost doubles the emission rate,” he said.

    Search for New Oil Sources Leads to Processed Coal
    By MATTHEW L. WALD, July 5, 2006
    http://zfacts.com/p/420.html

    *

    “truth” continues:

    The business as usual thing really is a straw man—most who are sceptical about AGW still want sensible mitigation and adaptation—and copious funding for research.

    I suppose you think that they are considering synthetic oil at nearly twice the emissions and…

    “We don’t want to spend taxpayer dollars on fuels that make global warming worse,” said Eugene, Ore., Mayor Kitty Piercy, who submitted the resolution.

    “Tarsands oil emits up to three times the greenhouse gases in the production process per barrel as convention oil production. Our cities are asking for environmentally sustainable energy and not fuels from dirty sources such as tarsands.”

    U.S. mayors join call for ban on oilsands-based gasoline
    Monday, June 23, 2008
    http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/06/23/us-mayors-oilsands.html

    … tarsands at up to three times the emissions proof of their concern.
    *

    “truth” continues:

    I would like to think that, eventually, solar power could be our main energy source, if global warming is the problem you think it is, but just claiming it’s ready to go won’t make it so.

    I others provide cites. I and others provide links and exact quotes. You give us claims and occasionally mention names without so much as a mangled reference — and when we do look up your claims we find that you greatly misunderstood your sources. Who should people believe, “truth”?

  31. 381
    Ray Ladbury says:

    The ironically named “truth” accuses scientists of being peevish.

    Look, my time is valuable to me. I value my colleagues’ time similarly, so when I receive an absolute turd of a paper for me to review, I don’t feel I am under any obligation to be nice. And when the object of the paper is to obfuscate rather than clarify, pray, why should I be bound by niceties?

  32. 382

    Two corrections to 380:

    Why should it involve generally higher prices — assuming (for example that it is carbon neutral?

    “Carbon neutral” should have been “revenue neutral.” However, the the quoted passage which immediately follows discusses Hansen’s “revenue neutral” suggestion, so there shouldn’t be (much) confusion.
    *

    I closed 380 with the paragraph:

    I [and] others provide cites. I and others provide links and exact quotes. You give us claims and occasionally mention names without so much as a mangled reference — and when we do look up your claims we find that you greatly misunderstood your sources. Who should people believe, “truth”?

    Of course there is no one individual who you should believe, not Pat Michaels, not Jim Hansen. If you can’t afford to invest your time in becoming an expert, then you should have measured trust in the scientific consensus. However, I believe that you should take much more seriously someone who provides cites, quotes and links than someone who simply issues claims — particularly when they involve the existence of a conspiracy involving tens or hundreds of thousands of papers, hundreds of scientists and all major scientific organizations that have taken a position on the existence and seriousness of anthropogenic global warming.
    *

    My apologies for the haste of my earlier response — I was in a rush to get somewhere. I probably should have waited.

  33. 383

    Martin Vermeer wrote in 377

    Eh, Diego Garcia, AKA The Rock, is located in the Indian ocean…

    Some days just are like that

    YouRight…

    I mostly remember it was close to the equator, shellback initiation when we crossed the equator, and the heat of the engine room. That and shaking hands with a crab, climbing a tree and getting a coconut that wasn’t quite ripe, the warning about a big shark near the shore, the odd footprint-like shape of the island and its lagoon, the Long Island ice teas, and, well, the rest of it is more of a blur. Can’t even remember at this point whether it came before or after Comoros and Madagascar. Oh well, it has been a while.

  34. 384

    “truth” writes:

    isn’t the whole aim of emissions trading schemes to make carbon much more expensive than it is now—thereby making coal-fired electricity much more expensive than it is now—thereby making everything manufactured, and every service much more expensive than they now are?

    Fallacy of composition. Making one good or service more expensive does not mean all other goods and services will be more expensive. In fact, one would expect their prices to decrease slightly if the money supply remains at the same level and velocity doesn’t change.

  35. 385
    truth says:

    Jim Eager: [ 379]
    I think you knew I was focusing on the on-costs from an ETS in answer to the questions directed at me about the economic impacts, but you couldn’t resist pretending otherwise for your own agenda—– to allow yourself to avoid addressing the impact issue.
    I would think you would all know that the reason the carbon would be made more expensive one way or another, was in order to make renewables more price-competitive—but my point was the impact of that.

    Barton Paul Levenson: [ 384]
    More expensive input costs for manufacturers and service providers are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices—-that’s always been so—-competition might mitigate some of the rises, but the pricing would still be at a higher level.
    When it comes to exports, products from countries with an ETS or with a more stringent one, will find many of their exports priced out of the market, with product from countries unaffected by an ETS winning market share.
    Export economies will be very negatively affected by that—-and renewable research is going to need help in funding , from healthy economies.

    Kevin McKinney [373]
    Why did you leave out the last part of the quote—the part that says—-‘which the ignorant can cite as supporting lower climate sensitivity than the standard IPCC range’?
    Does that sound objective to you?

    Secular Animist [374]
    When you say solar power is ready, are you saying it’s ready to provide base load power?
    Would Steven Chu say that, do you think?
    Does the following quote reported in Environment News Service on March 12 2009, from Department of Interior Secretary Salazar, indicate that?
    ‘The Department of the Interior will continue to “responsibly” develop oil and gas resources on public lands’
    And ‘In the last six weeks, we have had five major oil and gas lease sales offshore, netting more than $32million in revenue for taxpayers’.
    Do you claim that the solar storage problem is solved—that there’s solar storage technology ready for deployment in the next few years?
    If so, why the excitement over the MIT announcement in recent days of very early research results on the possible basis for a storage solution—one that has already raised doubts among other scientists, not the least by a former mentor of the researcher?
    Have the problems of expense and availability of materials for solar energy been solved—and the HVDC problems of switching etc—and the nervousness in Europe of using HVDC over long distances that would be required for linking renewable sources , for power-sharing between European nations—the worries about energy security, national security and economic security?

  36. 386
    Timothy Chase says:

    Kevin McKinney 373

    Although “Truth” has left the study unnamed, he is speaking of:

    Paltridge, G., Arking, A., and M. Pook Trends in middle- and upper-level tropospheric humidity from NCEP reanalysis data, Theoretical and Applied Climatology DOI

    … which was quite ably analyzed in:

    What if relative humidity was not constant?
    March 5, 2009 at 4:04 pm
    http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2009/03/05/what-if-relative-humidity-was-not-constant/

  37. 387
    Patrick 027 says:

    “truth” –

    PART I:
    free markets are not perfect, and I do not worship them, but I like them, I think they are useful, there is a logic and grace to the concept. Setting aside that the energy market and agricultural markets, etc, are not even free today (there are a number of stupid subsidies and tariffs in the U.S., at least), emissions from fossil fuel combustion, cement production, deforestation, cows and rice paddies, landfills, etc, have a public cost – an externality.

    PART II (just to make you think – skip to PART III if you want):
    As in evolution, free markets tend towards local optima, and kinks in supply and demand curves can create traps – although unlike evolution, the timescale to evaluate profitability is not set and short term barriers to evolution may vanish in long-term perspectives (and if not, then it was not possible to cross the barrier in the first place – ecological succession can only follow various paths depending on extant species and climate and minerals and so forth, though ecology will shape evolution, climate, soils, etc.), but public policies can also affect the kinetic barriers toward more stable thermodynamic conditions (pardon the mixed metaphor) (Prime example – drive on left or right side of the road – also example of how decisions have moral and economic value through the situations and choices they give to other decision makers, and an example of how the value of one thing is affected by other things, which is related to – when small decisions are made, they can be made with the approximation that the basic state of the system is unchanged (as with linearizations of weak amplitude waves in fluid dynamics), whereas when large decisions are made, there can be nonlinearities; there can be multiple equilibria, etc, … and maximizing the enjoyment of food is accomplished by planning for different meals, because different things go together or not, and if one cannot rely on a next meal, they may just have the same favorite over an over again, which may be momentarily enjoyable but not as much as a variety over time (depending on an individual’s tastes) – and so on, the value of additional vitamin C in a diet, while depending on how much vitamin C has already been consumed (marginal utility), also depends on other foods (it has no use if one has already died of starvation) – there can be either decreasing or increasing returns),
    and government policies and programs themselves have costs (potential for corruption (depending on how programs are designed and what they are for) and thus the need for an enlightenned electorate to monitor government performance) and benifits (of externality regulation and fraud regulation, etc, (protection of rights), organization (to avoid negative sum games (competitive fertility, in some cases, can be ameliorated with social security (or the religious analogue of it – ancestor worship vs _____)), work through kinks in supply/demand curves, to increase profitability in the broadest sense)) and profitability
    –(as with the distribution of resources to decision making, based on expected importance of consequence and need of information, time, etc, some level of approximation has the cost of innaccuracy that may be outweighed by the benifit of efficiency, effectiveness)–(economic in a strict sense or profit in a more total measure of value (moral, aesthetic (apatite, aspiration, happiness, beauty), etc, … where economic value comes from, as it is determined by desires of people interacting with each other through other resources and interacting with other resources etc… with the total economy extending throughout all behavior, from choice of direction in train of thought, to investments in self, investments in and earnings from social capital, ecosystem services, etc.)–, and at least urban planning surely has it’s benifits, as does regulation of negative sum games, and protection of rights (in themselves of value with costs and benifits – costs of less than optimal behavior, benifits related to the inability to determine what optimal behavior is in all situations from a third non-omniscient person vantage point, the value of freedom itself, the value of having a margin of error, reduced legal costs) A. is economic regulation, for surely money could be made in theft and murder, and B. can extend to such things as regulation of pollution; or otherwise civil suits could be used and privatization of the commons could be used alternatively to avoid tragedies of said commons, but might it be more efficient for zoning laws and regulating use of commons, up to a point and in some cases, both for feasability (time travelling lawyers are not necessary if people plan for future legal costs and behave accordingly, however, … cost of infrastructure for toll roads down to the level of residential streets, inefficiency in traffic, although the later has been alleviated by technological advancements; how would the owner of wetlands charge per view of migrating birds?) and aesthetics (the value of nature is partly dependent on it’s being natural – also of scientific value; also the feeling of freedom of having public property, of having some allowance of fair use in copyright laws (also of value to social dynamics and consequences for elections?))(PS what is natural? – humans are natural, so anthropogenic global warming is natural (a climate feedback operating on several time scales), but human behavior is natural – if we have a government, that’s natural; if we regulate emissions, that’s natural – should we prevent the next ice age 50,000 years from now or let it run it’s course (comment 68 here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/Is-Antarctic-ice-melting-or-growing.html ) – it’s natural either way, I guess, but scientific and aesthetic value (live in interesting times – pluses and minuses, also applies to present day situation – but is the Holocene so boring; we haven’t ‘explored’ all of it yet, really, and it has variety, and it’s hard to get back into a geologic time division once one has left, and anyway, rapidity of change and uncertainty of outcome are sources of costs in themselves) in living through an ice age (or global warming) vs food value of having arable land…, — but of course, including the government as part of the total system, there is still the problem of evolution through the profitability landscape (analogous to fitness landscape in evolution – which, for a given allele, depends on the rest of the genotype, the environmental factors in phenotypic plasticity and with which the phenotype interacts, including other individuals of same species (frequency dependent selection, sexual selection, effect of learned behavioral patterns of a group (culture) etc.) and other species, and coevolution occurs among many things at many levels), that short-time frame valleys cannot be crossed if it is not removed when in the long-term view, as long as current availability of potential investment in the future allows; – the difference in deciding whether or not to enact some public policy or program is essentially a decision whether or not to choose some path on the total profitability landscape (which may be longer-term than can be viewed (other than as a pipe dream) by smaller-scale planners in the private sector) – rules of thumb may advise for or against some paths based on patterns in actual costs and benifits, but ideological opposal can be a ‘kinetic barrier’ to a ‘thermodynamic equilibrium’, while ideological support for any and all measures is also inadvisable, of course…
    meanwhile, there is also the problem of negotiating power (possible theoretical justification of progressive taxation; also justification for some regulation, for big business can become the tyrranical power, though there is also the risk of big business harnessing big government – as in stupid agricultural policies) … and the mysteries of my comment 200 at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/03/olympian-efforts-to-control-pollution/langswitch_lang/de

    PART III:

    But set all of that aside. The free market cannot optimize when there is an externality; the externality takes away the necessary price signal in order for the information processor (free market as computer model of itself, as everything is) to find the answer, and for the learning algorithm to learn the best lesson, and thus for the evolving system to climb higher on the profit landscape. It just makes sense (when benifits (magnitude of the issue) outweigh costs (bureacracy, etc, if it is required)) to enforce some internalization of the public cost back into the transaction that produces it (as far as fossil fuels are concerned, this can be as simple as a sales tax on fossil fuels by C content (minus that which goes into materials, except for those materials that will at some point be incinerated, etc.). Sure, without proportional regulation of land use, farming practices, etc, one could end up driving deforestation in order to supply biofuels. But it doesn’t have to be that way. (Revenues: energy, efficiency, agriculture (cows, rice emissions) and sequestration (including land-use) R&D and incentives, cuts in other taxes, equal per capita pay-out (“cap-and-divident”, James Hansen), adaptation R&D (farming) and compensation (but in such a way as to avoid moral hazard – for example, encourage farmers to make most of changes rather than paying them to do inefficient things (also should be done even without climate change, and so on with FEMA), aid to poor in initial adjustment to new energy pricing patterns, population growth reduction initiatives (family planning resources, education)

    International issues? 1. ideally, a global tax rate and distribution of revenue. 2. in absence of that, cap-and-trade, with international trading market – must be near or at 100% auction, or else it could just turn into a status-quo protection. 3. Or have coutries contribute to international fund according to their emissions (incentive for domestic policies as above), and if they do, they can recieve revenue for purposes as stated above ((sharing) technological advancements (with other countries) would be rewarded, etc. As would something analogous to CDM from Kyoto – but better formulated to avoid perverse incentives – the reason for this is that we want developing countries to progress, for their good and ours, but for their good and ours, to progress cleanly and efficiently; there is an opportunity to start off with better infrastructure to begin with (rather than remodel the home later, instead of building efficiency and solar roofing into the initial design) – but that opportunity could be wasted if they can not afford it initially.)

    …and also consider
    comments 187,317,322 (policy) and 225,229,236,254 (energy, mainly solar cells) at the same site referenced above, and also:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/08/are-geologists-different/langswitch_lang/sw
    (in particular, 251 (what is optimal climate), and 257 (climate change), 265 and 267 (policies), and (solutions): 266, 268 (has erroneous claim about $700 billion being just form imports), 271, 273, 285 (NOTE LINKS))

    and

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/08/friday-round-up/langswitch_lang/sw
    (in particular, 86 (last 5 paragraphs pertaining to policies, economics), and (all about policy and economics)(NOTE LINKS): 132, 138, and 141).

  38. 388
    Patrick 027 says:

    forget to put in PART II above:

    (and I would like to know Ayn Rand’s definitions of ‘rational’, ‘self’, and ‘interest’ – (don’t forget the ‘metarational’ (honestly, she probably was aware of that – I don’t really disagree with her on everything, some of it makes good sense); ‘self’ changes over time unless you consider your full life history into the future, and ‘self’ can be dissected to isolate ‘self’ up to a point until it dissolves away, and ‘self’ is not a pre-ordained entity but evolves over time as forces initiate and act on it and then it acts on itself and those forces (the value of being ‘one’s self’ vs being well-adjusted, etc.); interest – some people like being heros, some people enjoy giving, some people care about what is thought of them after they die, etc… (not that Rand was not aware of those things either – well, I’m not sure, I haven’t truly studied her work (only 24 hours in the day)).

    Re 385 – we need a healthy economy so as to have resources to invest in clean energy, etc. Okay (sort of – we still pay for a lot of things right now in the U.S.). But how do we allocate resources to that purpose, especially in the absence of a policy to internalize the public costs of emissions? Where does public funding come from?

    A tax (or something with that effect) on fossil C emissions as CO2 (and other emissions, or their sources, etc.), by raising the prices along the supply-demand chains, shifts demand more toward efficiency and clean energy, etc. The prices their go up as well as a result, but that draws in investment to increase supply in those markets, mitigating the price rise over time, and driving R&D to make it better and more affordable into the future (and maybe someday we’ll be selling solar cells to India and Africa (too late to sell to China?)).

    Trade issues could be handled by an international organization(s) (WTO – not that I’m a fan) so that in response to international variations in emissions policies, some proportionate tariff response can be implemented with the understanding of it’s justification and avoidance of spiralling into a trade war. However, there must be some allowance for developing countries to have a bit more time before having to play by the same rules. See previous comment.

  39. 389

    “truth” writes:

    More expensive input costs for manufacturers and service providers are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices—-that’s always been so—-competition might mitigate some of the rises, but the pricing would still be at a higher level.

    Aren’t you assuming the demand curve is straight up and down? And you still haven’t addressed the fact that increasing the cost of one commodity doesn’t necessarily increase the cost of other commodities.

    Captcha: “lowest Marks”

  40. 390
  41. 391
    Hank Roberts says:

    Patrick27

    Comment _numbers_ change in forum software. You’re pointing to changeable numbers. This breaks over time.

    Point to the HTML code behind the date. View Source.

    Please, at the very least, hit a carriage return in betwen thoughts.

    Your stuff may be excellent. But it’s unreadable as you type it stream-of-thought style unformatted, not easily findable since you’re dropping it off-topic, hard to follow as you’re dropping chunks interspersed in other conversations, and unreliable because you’re not using cites that will work.

    Aside from that, carry on …. fun to watch anyhow.

  42. 392

    Patrick 027 Re 387 Part II

    Early on in college I took a course in Modern Philosophy and wrote a twenty page term paper on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. This was about twice as long as his recommended upper limit.

    I had not divided the paper into parts or sections and the professor refused to read it because it was “too long.” I then broke it up into parts and sections but made no other changes. He loved the paper, even asking me how long I had been taking philosophy.

    *

    But how do you break things up assuming you didn’t divide it into sections in the first place?

    Well, another time a friend of mine (at least at the time) wanted to take a speech of his and post it at the online version of his glossy monthly. It consisted of one long string of paragraphs.

    I read it backwards, reading each sentence forwards, but reading the sentences in reverse order. This brought into bold relief the transitions between different topics so that I could break things up into sections. Then I gave each section its own title based upon its content.

    Afterwards I was able to group sections together based upon their content into parts, trying to keep things to no more than five sections in each part. Then I gave each part its own title — striving for something poetic in each case. At that point I was able to more clearly understand what he was aiming for and had accomplished with that speech.

    I gave the speech a title: In the Revolution’s Twilight. (It was about the failure of an earlier New Zealand free market “revolution” and the need for a newer one based upon a more solid foundation.) Then I presented my friend with his speech. He absolutely loved it. I would even dare to say that he had a much deeper appreciation for his own work.

    *

    It helps to have breaks in your text. It helps to divide things into smaller paragraphs, into sections and into parts. There are fairly severe limits on how much the human mind can take in for the first time. Then it needs to pause, reflect upon what it has read and digest the various ideas so that it can see the relationships between them.

    Only afterwards is it able to treat the whole as a larger unit and later repeat the process of integrating similar units into still larger units. We do not have the synoptic vision of a god that can take everything in within the first glance.

    The fact that you see things as so related, so integrated that you take it all in a single stream of consciousness says something rather remarkable about how much thought you have given to your subjects and how well you understand them. Help us to see and understand them too by recognizing the limitations on what we can understand for the first time at any given time.

    *

    Captcha fortune cookie:
    Mohammed stress

  43. 393
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 391,392 – thanks for the feedback. (It’s kind’a funny, there have been times I’ve found myself reading something backwards just for the case of reading it – usually that happens when I don’t start with the intention of reading in full.)

    I really didn’t intend “PART II” to be a coherent set of arguments but rather a very very compressed mention of them, perhaps just to stimulate thought in the reader; I expect an initial response of “What the?”. (And it was getting late…)

    In some of the links I do have those ideas (or some of them) more delinneated and elaborated in coherent arguments (especially in the links in the last three comments in 387 (25 March 2009 at 11:45 PM ) above (and tangentially related, a link to discussion on evolution in the link within a “Forecast Earth” comment in a blog I refered to in one of the linkes in one of those last three comments).

    If I had my own blog (interesting – full circle back to original topic) I’d probably go through and repost all previous comments of mine (that are worthwhile) with some logical order.

    (PS – comment numbers – I tend to figure that they become hardenned into place in the older blogs and older parts of blogs. I realize though that I did also refer to a few rather recent comments).

  44. 394
    truth says:

    Timothy Chase [380]
    Obama made the statement ‘under my plan, electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket’ to a journalist on the San Francisco Chronicle.
    The statement and video were widely released only in the last week or so of the campaign.
    He seems to contradict himself in parts of his reply to the questions, but you can see him actually saying it all on the video [ actually audio with his picture up there] at
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0Px4ccLQ-w
    and at other sites as well.
    As I said in another post, electricity cost is an input in everything that’s made and every service that’s provided, so businesses will do what they always do and pass on at least a large part of the extra cost to consumers.
    The fact that it’s revenue neutral for the government overall, doesn’t mean some consumers won’t be bearing the extra cost.
    In Hansen’s plan, someone will be paying that tax he recommends , and they’ll be passing it on to consumers.
    He seems to favour the ‘food miles’ issue, with his remarks about UK exports—but what about your US exports to far-flung countries?
    Does the US not need or want that huge amount of export income?
    What will it do to your economy, if he has his way and the food miles/energy issue freezes up world trade?
    Some African farmers have invested everything they have and gone into debt to plant organic crops that Europeans encouraged them to plant with the promise of big markets in Europe.
    Now, they’re worried about losing everything due to the food miles issue.
    How is it possible that we can all go back to buying everything locally, and making stuff only for our own local domestic markets?
    That would be a recipe for trouble on a huge scale—surely.
    If you think it would work, I’d be very interested to know how—-without a giant global bureaucracy and strict and arbitrary political control that is.
    If we had a giant global democracy coordinating such trade, who would be running it, and how would it not be tied up in disputes and haggling—and lobbying ?
    I didn’t say ‘middle class’—I said ‘middle income’.
    Wind power that’s deployed now is working because the base load power is provided by coal.
    I don’t believe it’s working anywhere without that back-up.
    Denmark is usually mentioned as an example of wind power working, but it’s only viable because Denmark has neighbouring countries [ Germany, Sweden and Norway], ready to supply hydro power, and nuclear and coal-fired power for when the intermittent wind lets them down.
    In the link you gave me re wind power for the US, did you not notice that most of the turbines and other technology is imported from Europe, so many of the jobs will go to Europe—[ ‘The US wind industry is dominated by European wind developers and turbine makers’.]
    HVDC still has problems to overcome with switching and overload capacity, and European countries are apparently worried about potential national security and energy security problems with HVDC and the co-dependency involved—especially with their recent problems with threats to the reliability of gas supplies from Russia.
    http://conradiator.wordpress.com/2008/11/25/desert-power/
    No—I don’t think ‘they are considering synthetic oil’.
    Your last paragraph must be from someone who never ever makes a typo or any other mistake, is it?
    Well, congratulations on your exalted status .
    Many of my comments are from material I’ve read some time ago, not today or yesterday, so I haven’t got the links at hand—and I notice your snide admonitions don’t apply if it’s someone who agrees with you.
    You can believe them or not—doesn’t worry me.
    The venomous responses on this site to an alternative view is a real eye-opener—looks as though only ‘yes’ people are to be treated like human beings—the worst possible advice to a young blogger—-good for you —be very proud.

  45. 395
    Dan says:

    “Truth” disingenuous comments have really set an all-time low with with “Obama made the statement ‘under my plan, electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket’ to a journalist on the San Francisco Chronicle. The statement and video were widely released only in the last week or so of the campaign. He seems to contradict himself in parts of his reply to the questions, but you can see him actually saying it all on the video [ actually audio with his picture up there] at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0Px4ccLQ-w and at other sites as well.”

    If he had any sense of objectivity instead of simply regurgitating what others told him to think he would know that the quote he refers to was solely in the context of *new* coal plants that did not address CO2 emissions. Period. That was made quite clear at the time. The only ones who did not make it clear were the Rushs, Drudges, Hannitys, Catos, and Climate Audits of the world. It is no small coincidence that the You Tube link he provides is an anti-Obama post as well.

    It speaks volumes about “truth” that he posted disingenuous comments that others have fed him, without applying any skepticism to the what he was told/read. It is intellectually lazy to simply regurgitate was others tell you simply because that is what you want to believe.

    “Truth’s” post are the *true* eye opener with regards to the blatant anti-science beliefs held by denialists. He should be proud of making such grossly embarrassing comments on a subject he knows so little about. He reflects the height of arrogance to assume that he knows something that literally every professional climate science organization/society in the world (e.g. NSF, RMS, EPA, NOAA, DOD, AAAS, AGU, etc.) and peer-reviewed climate science journal does not. What an embarrassment his comments have become. It is obvious he does not even understand the definition of the word “truth”. Seriously.

  46. 396

    “truth” wrote in 394:

    Timothy Chase [380]
    Obama made the statement “under my plan, electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket” to a journalist on the San Francisco Chronicle.

    The statement and video were widely released only in the last week or so of the campaign.

    He seems to contradict himself in parts of his reply to the questions, but you can see him actually saying it all on the video [ actually audio with his picture up there] at
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0Px4ccLQ-w
    and at other sites as well.

    You see, it is possible for you to use exact quotes, even if they are only fragmentary sentences — and to provide links to your sources. However, I think what you have been aiming at these last couple of posts are “gotcha” moments where you don’t provide your sources, people call you on it and then you are able to provide your sources and show that you have used exact albeit fragmentary quotes.
    *
    I have made a transcription of Obama’s exact words with repetitions and blemishes as exact as I could. I will post the rest of my response separately as I live in Seattle and my wife has nearly finished preparing a late dinner. I have broken it up and given times in case anyone wants to make exact references or check what has been said. The whole audio — at least with respect to what Obama says regarding coal and energy — is as follows….

    [0:25] I’ve already — I’ve already done it. You know — I voted against the Clear Skies bill. In fact I was the deciding vote, despite the fact that the fact that I’m a coal state and that half my state thought that I had thoroughly betrayed them because I think clean air is critical and global warming is critical

    [0:46] But this notion of no coal is I think an illusion. Because the fact of the matter is that right now we are getting a lot of our energy from coal and china’s building a coal powered plant once a week.

    [1:04] So what we have to do then is figure out how can we use coal without emitting greenhouse gases and carbon and how can we sequester carbon and capture it if we can’t then we are still going to be working on alternatives…
    [interruption]

    [1:29] Let me sort of describe my overall policy. I mean what I have said is that we will put in place a cap and trade in place that is more that is as aggressive if not more aggressive than anybody’s out there. That is the first call for a 100% option on the cap and trade system. which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases that is emitted would be charged to the polluter.

    [1:56] That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented whatever power plants are being built that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratched down caps that are placed that are imposed every year.

    [2:22] So if someone wants to build a coal powered plant they can, its just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that is being emitted.

    [2:25] That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar wind biodiesal and other alternative energy approaches.

    [2:35] The only thing that I have said with respect to coal — I haven’t been some coal booster — what I have said is that for us to take cozal off the table as a ideological matter as opposed to saying if tech allows us to use coal in a clean way we should persue it — that I think is the right approach. The same thing with respect to nuclear.

    [3:04] Right now we don’t know how to store nuclear waste wisely and we don’t know how to deal with some of the safety issues that remain and so its wildly expensive to persue nuclear energy.

    [3:18] But I tell you what: if we could figure out how to store it safely then I think that most of us would say that that might be a pretty good deal. The point is that if we set rigorous standards for the allowable emissions then we can allow the market determine and technology and entrepeneurs to persue whats the best approach to take as opposed to say from the outset here are the winners that we’re picking um and maybe we pick wrong and maybe we pick right.

    [3:54] That requires mobilizing a citizenry, that requires them understanding what is at stake. And climate change is a great example. When I was asked earlier about the issue of coal.

    [4:12] You know, under my plan of a cap and trade system electricity rates would necesssarily skyrocket even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad because I’m capping greenhouse gases coal power plants, you know natural gas you name it what ever the plants were they would necessarily have to retrofit their operations.

    [4:43] That will cost money, they will pass it on to consumers. They–you can already — you can already see what the arguments are going to be during the general elections.

    [4:50] People will say, “Ah, Obama and Al Gore, these folks, they are going to destroy the economy. This is going to cost 8 trillion dollars” or whatever number their number is.

    [5:01] Um, if you can’t persuade the American people that yes there is going to be some increases in electricity rates on the front end but that over the long term because of a combinations of more efficient energy usage and changing lightbulbs and more efficient appliances but also technology improving how we can produce clean energy that the economy will benefit, if we can’t make that…

    [The audio ends at 5:33.]
    *
    Captcha fortune cookie:
    restraint onside

  47. 397

    “truth” wrote in 394:

    Timothy Chase [380]
    Obama made the statement “under my plan, electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket” to a journalist on the San Francisco Chronicle.
    The statement and video were widely released only in the last week or so of the campaign.
    He seems to contradict himself in parts of his reply to the questions, but you can see him actually saying it all on the video [ actually audio with his picture up there] at
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0Px4ccLQ-w
    and at other sites as well.

    You see, it is possible for you to use exact quotes, even if they are only fragmentary sentences — and to provide links to your sources. However, I think what you have been aiming at these last couple of posts are “gotcha” moments where you don’t provide your sources, people call you on it and then you are able to provide your sources and show that you have used exact albeit fragmentary quotes.
    *
    I have made a transcription of Obama’s exact words with repetitions and blemishes as exact as I could. I will post the rest of my response separately as I live in Seattle and my wife has nearly finished preparing a late dinner. I have broken it up and given times in case anyone wants to make exact references or check what has been said. The whole audio — at least with respect to what Obama says regarding coal and energy — is as follows…
    [0:25] I’ve already — I’ve already done it. You know — I voted against the Clear Skies bill. In fact I was the deciding vote, despite the fact that the fact that I’m a coal state and that half my state thought that I had thoroughly betrayed them because I think clean air is critical and global warming is critical.
    [0:46] But this notion of no coal is I think an illusion. Because the fact of the matter is that right now we are getting a lot of our energy from coal and China’s building a coal powered plant once a week.
    [1:04] So what we have to do then is figure out how can we use coal without emitting greenhouse gases and carbon and how can we sequester carbon and capture it if we can’t then we are still going to be working on alternatives…
    [interruption]
    [1:29] Let me sort of describe my overall policy. I mean what I have said is that we will put in place a cap and trade in place that is more that is as aggressive if not more aggressive than anybody’s out there. That is the first call for a 100% option on the cap and trade system. Which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases that is emitted would be charged to the polluter.
    [1:56] That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented whatever power plants are being built that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are placed that are imposed every year.
    [2:22] So if someone wants to build a coal powered plant they can, its just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that is being emitted.
    [2:25] That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar wind biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches.
    [2:35] The only thing that I have said with respect to coal — I haven’t been some coal booster — what I have said is that for us to take coal off the table as a ideological matter as opposed to saying if tech allows us to use coal in a clean way we should pursue it — that I think is the right approach. The same thing with respect to nuclear.
    [3:04] Right now we don’t know how to store nuclear waste wisely and we don’t know how to deal with some of the safety issues that remain and so its wildly expensive to pursue nuclear energy
    [3:18] But I tell you what: if we could figure out how to store it safely then I think that most of us would say that that might be a pretty good deal. The point is that if we set rigorous standards for the allowable emissions then we can allow the market determine and technology and entrepreneurs to pursue what’s the best approach to take as opposed to say from the outset here are the winners that we’re picking um and maybe we pick wrong and maybe we pick right.
    [3:54] That requires mobilizing a citizenry, that requires them understanding what is at stake. And climate change is a great example. When I was asked earlier about the issue of coal…
    [ 4:12] You know, under my plan of a cap and trade system electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad because I’m capping greenhouse gases coal power plants, you know natural gas you name it what ever the plants were they would necessarily have to retrofit their operations.
    [4:43] That will cost money, they will pass it on to consumers. They–you can already — you can already see what the arguments are going to be during the general elections.
    [4:50] People will say, “Ah, Obama and Al Gore, these folks, they are going to destroy the economy. This is going to cost 8 trillion dollars” or whatever number their number is.
    [5:01] Um, if you can’t persuade the American people that yes there is going to be some increases in electricity rates on the front end but that over the long term because of a combinations of more efficient energy usage and changing light bulbs and more efficient appliances but also technology improving how we can produce clean energy that the economy will benefit, if we can’t make that…
    [The audio ends at 5:33.]
    *
    Captcha fortune cookie:
    restraint onside

  48. 398
    Patrick 027 says:

    395 – nice work.

    Re ‘truth’ 394:

    As I implied and stated outright above, I am not a worshipper of the free market, but I think it is a basically good idea.

    One thing I forgot to mention is that it is also problematic to change the rules in midcourse. Hence, the CO2,etc. tax rate should start low and then rise (PS initially, a high rate subsidy to clean energy and efficiency could be funded by a low rate tax; as the market shifts, the situation would eventually reverse). Hence, aid to poor people for whom energy may be a proportionately larger budget concern. Hence, some grace period allowed for developing countries. Hence, a grace period for organic food exports from Africa. (However, this must be balanced by the fact that people should have seen this coming (that’s my libertarian streak, I guess).)

    However, after all that, if some people are more adversely affected – free market logic suggests: well perhaps they should be. What are they doing to be more adversely affected? What choices might they make to better their own lot?

    Some people may, for reasons of pride, advocacy, and demonstration, go to extremes in some things, but generally, I don’t think we’ve (most of us?) been advocating strictly eat and buy local. I would guess that it is still more energy efficient as well as efficient in total value (including energy, labor, time, etc.) to get one’s oranges from Florida than from a Minnesota greenhouse. But there is likely a component to trade that would be shifted by climate policy incentives. And so be it.

    “‘The US wind industry is dominated by European wind developers and turbine makers’.”

    Free market suggests: Well, that’s our (U.S.) fault, isn’t it? What ever happened to personal responsibility? We’ve made our bed and now we’ll lie in it. Fortunately, there is much bed making yet to do.

    (Of course, you can argue that the markets have already been distorted by government policies; some of which are not very good. Well, that’s a problem in the market of governance, I guess. But my point still carries some weight.)

    Part of the problem is that people have gotten accustomed to some entitlements which are not truly deserved. And a number of people seem unable to be honest with themselves about what is and is not fair.

    Anyway, why can’t we reduce coal usage while allowing it to supply baseload until storage problems are better solved? And that doesn’t take away the mass market advantages of the replacements. The energy market is very very large and can support multiple mass markets. (Not that there are not real difficulties, but it is very annoying when somebody complains that a pizza cannot be made because the tomato sauce is still in the refrigerator. Just get it out of the refrigerator, for Pete’s sake!)

  49. 399

    Response to 394, Part I of II

    “truth” wrote in 394:

    Obama made the statement ‘under my plan, electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket’ to a journalist on the San Francisco Chronicle.

    Yes, he actually does use those exact words. I put the time at a little after 4:12 according to my transcription.
    *

    “truth” wrote in 394:

    The statement and video were widely released only in the last week or so of the campaign.
    He seems to contradict himself in parts of his reply to the questions…

    What do you mean by “contradict himself”?

    And what exactly does he mean by “skyrocket”?

    He also states at about 5:01, perhaps correcting himself a bit, “… if you can’t persuade the American people that yes there is going to be some increases in electricity rates on the front end…” (You should remember, this is not a prepared speech or even a comment in a blog but rather an extemporaneous response to a question from a reporter.)

    So does he mean that the price of electricity would increase by 400%? Does he mean 25%? He doesn’t say. But in either case, raising the prices on coal-generated electricity will result in businesses and people becoming more efficient in how they use coal-generated electricity, and it will result in their shifting away from coal to other sources of energy.

    Moreover, even at the current rate of production, one of the solar outfits I have mentioned would be able to compete with coal-generated electricity right now if coal cost 100% more than what it currently costs. However, they have also made the point that if they were to double their production they could compete with coal at the current price. (Please see my comment 347.)
    *

    “truth” wrote in 394:

    …but you can see him actually saying it all on the video [ actually audio with his picture up there] at
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0Px4ccLQ-w and at other sites as well.

    Why is there a still photo rather than actual video? And why that particular picture — with the cigarette hanging out of his mouth? Is this the result of some production by the Heritage Foundation with some sort of two-for-one deal where they are defending the fossil fuel industry while trying to promote the products of their old friends at Phillip Morris? No matter. But there are some suspicious pauses in the audio where you could hear a pin drop.
    *

    “truth” wrote in 394:

    As I said in another post, electricity cost is an input in everything that’s made and every service that’s provided, so businesses will do what they always do and pass on at least a large part of the extra cost to consumers.

    Yes, they will pass on part of the cost to consumers. But as I have said, I prefer Jim Hansen’s revenue neutral approach where consumers would get back the proceeds from any tax levied on fossil fuel. (As such I am more than a little suprised that you are still expecting me to talk about Obama’s cap-and-trade rather than Hansen’s tax-and-dividend.)

    Please see:

    Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies, is one of the leading voices for a carbon tax to address climate change, rather than backing the more widely used cap-and-trade approach. In his plan, Hansen recommends levying a rising tax on fossil fuels and redistributing 100 percent of the proceeds to taxpayers – a “tax and dividend” approach [PDF].

    Hansen to Obama: Support a Carbon Tax
    Ben Block
    December 15, 2008 3:39 PM
    http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/009194.html

    If they got back those proceeds they could spend them on the same fossil fuels as before — and they would even be somewhat ahead as the fossil fuel industry would pass on only part of the cost of the new taxes to consumers. But chances are they would spend those proceeds a little differently, particularly as alternate energy became more competitive.
    *

    “truth” wrote in 394:

    The fact that it’s revenue neutral for the government overall, doesn’t mean some consumers won’t be bearing the extra cost.

    It is true that we wouldn’t be able to exactly distribute the proceeds of the taxes as before, but as you have admitted, we aren’t speaking of consumers bearing “the extra cost,” only some of the extra cost. Therefore all consumers could still come out ahead once the proceeds were distributed.
    *
    “truth” wrote in 394:

    In Hansen’s plan, someone will be paying that tax he recommends, …

    The fossil fuel industry, I believe.
    *

    “truth” wrote in 394:

    and they’ll be passing it on to consumers.

    Part of it. And the consumers will be getting all the proceeds from the tax — so all of the consumers could come out ahead, and on the whole, consumers would generally come out ahead.
    *

    “truth” wrote in 394:

    He seems to favour the ‘food miles’ issue, with his remarks about UK exports…

    And this would seem to be a fairly unrelated topic.

    However, Jim Hansen states:

    Moving from fossil fuels to clean energy is challenging, yet transformative in ways that will be welcomed. Cheap, subsidized fossil fuels engendered bad habits. We import food from halfway around the world, for example, even with healthier products available from nearby fields. Local produce would be competitive if not for fossil fuel subsidies and the fact that climate change damages and costs, due to fossil fuels, are also borne by the public.

    Global Warming Twenty Years Later: Tipping Points Near
    James Hansen
    http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/TwentyYearsLater_20080623.pdf

    Now this does not immediately translate into “we should all buy only locally produced food.” He is against the fossil fuel subsides. And he apparently is also concerned with the fact that agribusiness produces food that is sometimes unhealthy. I know I am — particularly when we are speaking of various food-borne illnesses — the source of which is oftentimes almost impossible to trace as people become ill across the nation. Spinach. Peanuts. Beef. Chicken. We are seeing more of it nowadays. But maybe if we “beef-up” the EPA things will be a little different.

    But in any case, I myself would argue that judging where we should get our food simply based upon how far it had to travel is itself irrational. If our sole criteria is how much carbon dioxide gets produced per unit of food agribusiness with produce travelling across the country isn’t necessarily that bad — if 30,000 pounds travels in a truck at 5 mph and this cuts in half the distance that you have to travel at 30 mph to pick up a five of pounds of tomatoes. Assuming the truck travels 1000 miles and reduces the distance that you have to travel from two miles to one mile then things are already looking pretty good — and that is before you talk about some local farmer driving his produce to a farmer’s market.

  50. 400

    Response to 394, Part II of III

    “truth” wrote in 394:

    —but what about your US exports to far-flung countries?
    Does the US not need or want that huge amount of export income?
    What will it do to your economy, if he has his way and the food miles/energy issue freezes up world trade?

    Well, lets see, gross domestic product seems to have been 13,000 billion dollars in 2006.

    Please see:

    http://www.supportingevidence.com/Government/US_GDP_over_time.html

    US exports for that year were 1,037 billion dollars.

    Please see:

    http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba632

    Somehow I don’t think that the effects upon our exports should be our primary concern. And of course the dollar has become much cheaper in the past few years without drastically increasing our exports — so I don’t see that it would make that much of a difference. However, if the cost of living drops as the result of the proceeds from taxes on fossil fuel, I would imagine that this will reduce the cost of some of our products going overseas.

    Likewise, to the extent that the fossil fuel industry is taxed and much of it is outside of the United States — in countries that are less stable and may easily become quite hostile to US interests, it would appear that the taxes would in fact be tarrifs and would promote domestic alternate energy and jobs at home — while simultaneously making us less dependent upon unstable regions of the globe.
    *

    “truth” wrote in 394:

    Some African farmers have invested everything they have and gone into debt to plant organic crops that Europeans encouraged them to plant with the promise of big markets in Europe.
    Now, they’re worried about losing everything due to the food miles issue.

    I am sorry, but this red herring is a dead fish, pining for the fjords — or some such thing. The position that Hansen takes isn’t the position that you are arguing against — and even if it were it would be a separate issue from the revenue neutral tax-and-proceed.
    *

    “truth” wrote in 394:

    How is it possible that we can all go back to buying everything locally, and making stuff only for our own local domestic markets?
    That would be a recipe for trouble on a huge scale—surely.
    If you think it would work, I’d be very interested to know how—-without a giant global bureaucracy and strict and arbitrary political control that is.
    If we had a giant global democracy coordinating such trade, who would be running it, and how would it not be tied up in disputes and haggling—and lobbying ?

    Your red herring has suddenly become a school of red herring — no mean feat considering that it was dead to begin with.
    *

    “truth” wrote in 394:

    Wind power that’s deployed now is working because the base load power is provided by coal.

    Good reason to consider more than one alternate energy source, perhaps?


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