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The tragedy of climate commons

Filed under: — gavin @ 7 May 2009 - (Svenska)

Imagine a group of 100 fisherman faced with declining stocks and worried about the sustainability of their resource and their livelihoods. One of them works out that the total sustainable catch is about 20% of what everyone is catching now (with some uncertainty of course) but that if current trends of increasing catches (about 2% a year) continue the resource would be depleted in short order. Faced with that prospect, the fishermen gather to decide what to do. The problem is made more complicated because some groups of fishermen are much more efficient than the others. The top 5 catchers, catch 20% of the fish, and the top 20 catch almost 75% of the fish. Meanwhile the least efficient 50 catch only 10% of the fish and barely subsist. Clearly, fairness demands that the top catchers lead the way in moving towards a more sustainable future.

The top 5 do start discussing how to manage the transition. They realise that the continued growth in catches – driven by improved technology and increasing effort – is not sustainable, and make a plan to reduce their catch by 80% over a number of years. But there is opposition – manufacturers of fishing boats, tackle and fish processing plants are worried that this would imply less sales for them in the short term. Strangely, they don’t seem worried that a complete collapse of the fishery would mean no sales at all – preferring to think that the science can’t possibly be correct and that everything will be fine. These manufacturers set up a number of organisations to advocate against any decreases in catch sizes – with catchy names like the Fisherfolk for Sound Science, and Friends of Fish. They then hire people who own an Excel spreadsheet program do “science” for them – and why not? They live after all in a free society.

After spending much energy and money on trying to undermine the science – with claims that the pond is much deeper than it looks, that the fish are just hiding, that the records of fish catches were contaminated by being done near a supermarket – the continued declining stocks and smaller and smaller fish make it harder and harder to sound convincing. So, in a switch of tactics so fast it would impress Najinsky, the manufacturers’ lobby suddenly decides to accept all that science and declares that the ‘fish are hiding’ crowd are just fringe elements. No, they said, we want to help with this transition, but …. we need to be sure that the plans will make sense. So they ask their spreadsheet-wielding “advocacy scientists” to calculate exactly what would happen if the top 5 (and only the top 5) did cut their catches by 80%, but meanwhile everyone else kept increasing their catch at the current (unsustainable rate). Well, the answers were shocking – the total catch would be initially still be 84% of what it is now and would soon catch up with current levels. In fact, the exact same techniques that were used to project the fishery collapse imply that this would only delay the collapse by a few years! and what would be the point of that?

The fact that the other top fishermen are discussing very similar cuts and that the fisherfolk council was trying to coordinate these actions to minimise the problems that might emerge, are of course ignored and the cry goes out that nothing can be done. In reality of course, the correct lesson to draw is that everything must be done.

In case you think that no-one would be so stupid as to think this kind of analysis has any validity, I would ask that you look up the history of the Newfoundland cod fishery. It is indeed a tragedy.

And the connection to climate? Here.

I’ll finish with a quotation attributed to Edmund Burke, one the founders of the original conservative movement:

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”

See here for a much better picture of what coordinated action could achieve.


1,401 Responses to “The tragedy of climate commons”

  1. 1351
    bobberger says:

    FurryCatHerder
    I think its just a misunderstanding. You are totally right, of course, that most Whs from renewables more or less offsets some CO2 that would have otherwise been produced by a coal or gas plant somewhere. The tricky question is, what does it overall cost, how far can it scale and is it really the most practical way to reduce emissions to the levels we want. From all my calculations, I think nuclear is more practical and a lot cheaper. Wind and solar may have a place here and there, although to be honest, I can’t think of a reason for having it in a (possibly) predominantly nuclear powered world. If you can think of a way to reach, say, 80% with renewables (about the percentage France currently produces with nuclear) for a price anywhere near what the french payed for their plants and secondary costs – and if you could put some halfway solid numbers to it, please post them.

  2. 1352
    Rod B says:

    FurryCatHerder, You seem to be making a case for wind (in this case) renewable electricity. I’m not attacking that; I don’t think James is either. What I am pursuing is the factual objective with blemishes and all reality on how it works and what it costs, coming down a bit from the almost exalted, pure, simple, and nearly cost-free position that it is often so described by its advocates (or so it seems). Is the cost of wind power 9 cents in CA? I’m not looking for an ethereal prognosis estimate; I’m asking if Johnny User can call up PG&E and contract for wind power at 9 cents. Are you buying 100% wind generated power (assuming you sign up with Green Power for discussion)? The real answer is no, you are not. Are you somehow helping out the situation by somehow supporting wind power? The answer is yes — but that ain’t the question!

    Curiosity question: Do you actually sign up with Green Power? Do they send you the electric bill? Do they read your meter? I assume they don’t provide the local transmission lines; do you know what their arrangement is with TXU?

  3. 1353

    #1349 bobberger

    Thanks.

    Do I get this right?: You pay money to buy a certain amount of kWhr to be used in the future. The price is fixed at that time based on a standard mix with a correction representing interest on your money. The only things green are the words bandied about, and the color of ink on the money (of course it might not be green in Germany).

    But somewhere in your earlier comment there was something about a commitment to supply renewable energy. Are you concluding that this is really not meaningful?

  4. 1354

    # 1346 James

    You sure can spend a lot of time on less important things but that is your MO. Red herrings for everyone :) I must admit you are one of the most confusing writers I have ever read on this thread… a tribute to you capabilities of obfuscation.

    You seem to be saying you are a nudist that prefers anonymous dictatorships over clarity and republican democracies. / The custom here is everyone that is part of the RC team uses their real name. I take that as precedent. you choose not to post your name, that is your choice but it is not in line with the original precedent. Just because you live in fantasy land makes little difference to the place you are visiting. / You can nitpick, but I doubt many care. / I placed a resource section on the OSS site. I don’t care in the slightest whether or not the name, or the fact that it is in my signature, offends you.

    On Chernobyl, you continue to present an amoral argument (Oops, I mean ‘your’ different morality.) that is inconsiderate of relevant factors.

    I asked you a question based on your presented reasoning. You have still not answered it or admitted your reasoning is flawed. Instead you keep throwing red herrings into the basket to cover up the problem of your lack of clear and/or holistic perspective. And now you say your answering the question is a trap that I want you to jump into? How bizarre.

    On the CO2 comments it still seems as if you prefer red herring to relevance (I guess taste is in the mind of the taster). I’m not talking about hypotheticals. I’m talking about our current reality. Over-consumption of energy that is CO2 positive IS the major problem. All else (relevant issues) are merely things that will be imposed upon and exacerbated in degradation, and, and, and…

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/the-copenhagen-distraction

    As Jeremy Jackson has eloquently pointed out, it is quite improper for an American to complain about population being that the US has consumed, or continues to consume, or are/is the cause for consumption of the energy that emits/has emitted the vast majority of CO2, which is causing global warming.

    As to your red herring regarding the Air France crash… well that is a red herring now isn’t it (as Hank Roberts has already pointed out #1347). You are merely misdirecting and continuing to miss relevant points.

    I get the throw away society inference from the fact that you have targeted population, not CO2 energy consumption as the major problem. Extrapolating from your arguments it is clear you are arguing for cleaner burning (depending on your definition of clean i.e. nuclear), but what does that have to do with increased risks of using more of the current nuclear technology? Adding more weapons grade plutonium to the mix at this stage of the game imposes massive future risks. I still don’t know how you feel about wasting energy or a more utilitarian energy perspective as opposed to the current throw away society we exist in today. As I have indicated, your reasoning is not holistic enough and therefore lacks relevance and importance.

    As to your last comment, the paragraph was a comment, not a question. Just another attempt on your part to avoid the question at hand though. You’re really good at that.

    Once again you have missed the entire point of my post and successfully avoided the question, so…

    Using your logic and reasoning,

    – you do not hold humans exalted
    – the problem is overpopulation
    – Chernobyl was net positive because nature is flourishing and people died.

    wouldn’t it be net positive if you were to commit suicide? It’s a yes, or no, question.

  5. 1355
    bobberger says:

    > “Do I get this right?: You pay money to buy a certain amount of kWhr to be used in the future. The price is fixed at that time based on a standard mix with a correction representing interest on your money.”
    Yep.

    >”The only things green are the words bandied about, and the color of ink on the money…”
    Again – its just a model for payment. You can take it or leave it. Whether or not you buy renewable (synchronously or non-synchronously) or nuclear or coal or mix or whatever has got nothing to with it.

    “But somewhere in your earlier comment there was something about a commitment to supply renewable energy. Are you concluding that this is really not meaningful?”
    Not at all. Its even checked by the authorities. If they sell renewable, they really have to put enough into the grid to cover the usage of those who payed for renewable. In fact, they’re putting much more renewable into the grid than people explicitly pay for and prices are close to indistinguishable (see my personal example somewhere above – renewables and mix cost practically the same for the customer). And it must be that way in our system. If you erect a windturbine or cover your roof with PV cells, you hook it up to the grid and get payed a fixed amount per kWh, depending on what technology is used (you get more for solar) and how effective your installation is. Whoever runs the grid in that area must pay you that amount and must pick up your electricity. Consequently they also, automatically, sell it. Whether they are clever about it and sell it with a green label or simply don’t bother and sell it along with everything else is only really a matter of marketing for most providers. There are a few, who go “green only” and they usually have higher prices but even the difference between them and other companies who only have coal plus whatever green stuff they had to pick up along the way, is relatively small.

  6. 1356
    Ike Solem says:

    RodB, we are trying to get at real ways of estimating real costs of various forms of renewable energy. We can include nuclear as an energy technology that is not based on carbon combustion, although it is not renewable in the sense that uranium is limited in the long run.

    Now, if you are saying that utilities are best off making their decisions on the basis of bad information and rigged markets, then you are simply wrong. It was such decisions that forced the two major California utilities towards bankruptcy during 2000-2001, for example.

    One key issue is the future of coal-fired power plants – can they be converted to ‘clean coal power plants?’

    ‘Superstar’ economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University just told the world that coal carbon capture is the key to the future, for example – not based on any scientific facts, however – see this quote:

    “Either we figure out how to live with coal, or we’re going to have to figure out how to live with climate change.”

    Since coal is clearly here to stay, Sachs argued, the US should work with China to make a massive investment in developing and testing a new coal processing technology designed to reduce emissions.

    While this technology, known as carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), is still expensive and unproven, Sachs believes it’s the best way to address climate change quickly. “I’ve thought for the last eight years that is the number one strategic thing to do, period,” he told the audience.

    Professor Sachs even went on BBC and dished out more – he attacked the Bush Administration for their “mismanagement” of the FutureGen project, and demanded that billions more be applied to “find out what works”. He then trotted out a blurb about “promising new technology”, which he didn’t bother to describe (there is no promising new technology) – and that was that.

    So that’s my main question, RodB – do you think it worth starting a petition asking Obama to direct the National Academy of Sciences to conduct an independent review of the plausibility of coal carbon capture schemes?

    Failing that, can we see the details of the theoretical models and the ‘working’ prototypes? Or do you think that should all remain where it has been for the past eight years – under proprietary wraps?

    Funny thing, the BBC interviewer didn’t bother to ask the Great Professor any of those questions… Overall, this is just more proof that modern economics is mostly propaganda, unbased in any form of factual reality. Questioning a ‘leading economist’ on fundamentals is like asking a 14th century high priest to give proof that the Sun really does orbit the Earth, not the other way around – you don’t get to talk to economists, you get to listen to them.

    And no, physical energy is not the same thing as economic utility, so the entire mathematical foundation of ‘modern econometric modeling’ is built on nothing but ideology. Economists need to go back and learn basic sciences like thermodynamics and ecology, or they’ll continue to be the laughingstock of the scientific community, as well as an embarrassment to the other Nobel Prize winners.

    If you take economic advice like that, you are basing your decisions on rotten information – and that will lead inexorably to the Eastern Island resource exhaustion / cannibalism scenario. Sachs would have you believe that we’ll go back to the pre-industrial era without coal – sheer nuttiness, just look at all the (working) renewable energy prototypes, as well as the developed technologies – and notice that no such FutureGen prototypes exist.

    Would you invest $2 billion in FutureGen, or $2 billion in solar PV?

    Yes, you can replace coal with wind and solar and energy storage, despite the claims of the fossil fuel lobby. Change on such a scale is difficult and expensive, it’s true, but not as bad as the alternative – and you end up with cleaner, pollution-free skies as a nice side benefit.

  7. 1357

    #1355 bobberger

    (1) What are the respective prices for “renewable (synchronously or non-synchronously) or nuclear or coal or mix or whatever” ?

    (2) You say that “– they’re putting much more renewable into the grid than people explicitly pay for –” So I interpret this to mean that, whether a customer pays for renewable, explicitly or not, the same sources are used. This fits my definition of the word, meaningless. If the utility companies were at risk of falling short with the renewable types, then there could be an impact, but you say this is not the case.

  8. 1358
    James says:

    FurryCatHerder Says (9 juin 2009 at 2:18 PM):

    “No, it really just plain doesn’t make a bit of a difference. If I consume 300KWh / month from the grid, and next Tuesday the wind is dead calm in West Texas, that 10KWh will have been made up and the CO2 emissions produced by the coal plants that provided power next Tuesday will have been offset.”

    Sure, what you describe is what actually happens, but it’s not what the ad is selling (except maybe down in the fine print somewhere). The point is that that “100% wind” works for 1% of the customers only because the other 99% of the customers take whatever the grid offers.

  9. 1359
    James says:

    Hank Roberts Says (9 juin 2009 at 1:26 PM):

    “If not, if you simply don’t believe that physics will work in the future the same way it works up til now, it’s pointless to try to get you past your stubborn insistence that what you see is all that will happen.”

    I think you have it backwards: you’re the one claiming that some new biology will happen in the future: that eventually some of the radioactive isotopes from Chernobyl will bioaccumulate and kill everything off. Well, maybe, but the skeptic in me wants quite a bit more detail, and keeps asking awkward questions like “How come this doesn’t happen in areas of natural high radioactivity?”

    On the other hand, I see the possibility that the misdirection is on the other foot, as it were. Despite what the anti-nuclear types had told us, the “Dead Zone” turned out not to be so dead after all. So they have a choice: either admit that they might have been wrong, or replace their “Omigawd, it’s radioactive, we’re all gonna die right now!” with “Omigawd, the radiation is bioaccumulating, we’re all gonna die at some unspecified future date!”

    As to the possibility of comparative studies, I think it would be a great idea, but no one seems to have done anything, at least at a high level. So come up with some objective measures of ecosystem health: find three similar areas: the “Dead Zone”, one of those nature reserves, and an area similar to Chernobyl before the accident, and do the study. I’d certainly be interested in seeing the results.

  10. 1360
    bobberger says:

    Jim 1357

    1) Just an example:
    Synchronous from a Company called “Lichtblick”. They use mostly biomass for baseload and buy wind and water for the rest. At 5,000 kWh per year, this would cost 920 Euros
    Mix from a Company called “FlexStrom”. They sell the mix and would charge 790 Euros. (Both not including tax).
    Not much of a difference, really.
    2) More or less that’s true. They could theoretically fall short and in that case the price for renewable would rise and could lead to more investments in wind and biomass. But in our “market” that signal would be so weak due to taxation and regulation, that you’d hardly see a real difference. Theoretically thats bad for renewables – but so far the regulation has succeeded in bringing us to 14% renewables (electricity) wihtout any consumer having to decide much one way or the other. Investing in wind and solar is still a way to make some money. Even at locations where the wind harvest is relatively small, people build turbines and don’t have to care whether anybody expicitly wants their energy or not. They get their (fixed) share and as long as that pays for the turbine and saves some income tax on the side… you get the idea.

  11. 1361

    james, still believing that Chernobyl was a good thing, writes:

    Now here is a perfect example of how my reasoning eludes you because you don’t try. The population prior to the accident was about 120,000 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zone_of_alienation ). Most sources give the number of deaths from the accident as around 50. The positive changes to the ecosystem of the so-called Dead Zone came about because humans were (mostly) removed, not because they died.

    Now if it’s the fact of people dying because of industrial accidents that bothers you, why aren’t you campaigning against for instance jet airplanes? One accident – the recent Air France crash – killed more than four times as many as Chernobyl.

    Thousands of people, mostly children, got thyroid cancer. Why don’t you mention that?

  12. 1362

    James @ 1358:

    Sure, what you describe is what actually happens, but it’s not what the ad is selling (except maybe down in the fine print somewhere). The point is that that “100% wind” works for 1% of the customers only because the other 99% of the customers take whatever the grid offers.

    No, the ad is saying that if a customer uses X KWh that X KWh will come from wind / solar / hydro / whatever is being advertised. And it does.

    “100% Wind” (or whatever) works because electricity is fungible. If you don’t know what that means, look it up. It has nothing to do with 99% of customers (and that’s an over-estimate on your part) accepting whatever is offered.

    You and Rod B have got this notion about how electric grids and utilities and generators all work, and that’s just not how they work. The notion you’ve got says that my neighbors on the same transformer as me are running on “solar power” whenever I output enough power to support that entire transformer’s loads. Except that I retain the =legal= right to call that electricity “solar” and I =legally= turn the power TXU Energy sends me at night back into “solar”. (Okay, I don’t because TXU Energy is ripping me off, but IF they weren’t ripping me off …) Those electrons, because electricity is fungible, remain “mine”. Neither my neighbors, nor you, nor anyone in the State of Texas get to claim ownership of them.

  13. 1363
    James says:

    Barton Paul Levenson Says (10 juin 2009 at 6:38 AM):

    “james, still believing that Chernobyl was a good thing…”

    Still can’t understand the difference between “good” and “less bad”, can you?

    “Thousands of people, mostly children, got thyroid cancer. Why don’t you mention that?”

    1) When the subject was the number of deaths, because those thousands of people didn’t die.

    2) When the subject is health of the ecosystem, because I don’t see any connection.

  14. 1364
    James says:

    FurryCatHerder Says (10 juin 2009 at 9:13 AM):

    “You and Rod B have got this notion about how electric grids and utilities and generators all work, and that’s just not how they work.”

    So I suppose I should give the local power company back the decade or so of salary they paid me for doing things like writing system control software & maintaining WSCC (now WECC, I think) powerflow & stability programs?

    “The notion you’ve got says that my neighbors on the same transformer as me are running on “solar power” whenever I output enough power to support that entire transformer’s loads.”

    Basically, but the critical part comes when you are not producing enough solar power to supply even your own use. (Say you were here, where we’ve had a very rare two-week spell of mostly cloudy weather.) Then you either draw power from the grid, or go dark. Your “100% solar” only works because you’re connected to a grid that has sufficient non-solar power to supply your needs. (Even the off-the-grid houses I’m familiar with usually have a gas or diesel generator for these rare cloudy spells.) What you can legally call it is a different matter: I’ve never thought of law books as much of a guide to successful engineering :-)

  15. 1365
    Ike Solem says:

    For more evidence that coal and tar sand carbon capture schemes are implausible, see this from the Canadian Environment Minister.

    http://www.desmogblog.com/carbon-capture-wont-solve-tar-sands-canadas-environment-minister

    “Only a small percentage of emitted CO2 is ‘capturable’ since most emissions aren’t pure enough,” the notes say. “Only limited near-term opportunities exist in the oilsands and they largely relate to upgrader facilities.”

    This means that all experiments done with pure streams of CO2, or air/CO2 mixtures (10% CO2 is a ballpark figure for tailpipe emissions from combustion) vastly underestimate the costs of purifying the CO2 away from the other combustion residues – the particulates, hydrocarbon residues, sulfur compounds, arsenic and mercury, and a whole host of other contaminants which vary with the geological history of the coal deposit in question.

    The technology used in carbon-capture experiments is highly implausible on all fronts. The main backers of coal carbon capture concepts in the U.S. are the DOE and their main National Lab contractor, Battelle Memorial Institute (they also co-manage the National Renewable Energy Lab with Bechtel). BMI is also known as the #1 biological warfare defense contractor for the U.S. government. They are the world’s largest private research corporation, although they call themselves a ‘non-profit’ – that’s the DOE for you:

    http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/proceedings/01/carbon_seq/pan1a.pdf

    The technology is not described in that “review” – just a big “carbon capture” bubble. This is why the President needs to direct the National Academy of Sciences to conduct and independent external scientific review of DOE-Battelle claims on carbon capture, post haste.

    Bush directed the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a review of uncertainties in climate science – and Obama should order a similar review of uncertainties in fossil fuel carbon capture science.

  16. 1366
    Ike Solem says:

    Note to FCH: “100% wind” does not mean 100% wind unless the grid you are drawing power from is charged only with wind tubines, or stored electricity originally generated by wind turbines.

    Your notion of ‘fungibility’ denies physical reality, by the way. Fungible means that if I provide you with a quantity of grain for an equal amount of the same kind of grain, it doesn’t matter if the grain came from Africa or from Kansas – grain is grain, right? Wrong.

    We have to include ecological life-cycle analysis in the cost of goods, something economists are untrained in – you need a year of thermodynamics and a year of biology to be able to analyze agricultural production economics, for example. That’s not on the economist’s syllabus or course list, is it? The whole field needs massive reform, starting with that.

    From the end-use consumer’s point of view, all they care about is that the grid stays up and their electricity needs are met. However, the utility, publicly or privately owned, has to ensure that it has energy sources that can be converted to electricity – and just like grain, electricity transportation costs money.

    Quiz: How do energy losses increase with distance traveled for a 10 kilovolt AC transmission line?

    Quiz: How do grain costs depend on fuel transport costs?

    It’s not fungible – those are called ‘hidden costs’ or ‘externalities’ and if you do not include them in your econometric models, then your models are disconnected from physical reality.

    As far as how utilities work, they work rather like banks – using energy instead of currency. You seem to have a poor grasp of this. The profit or solvency (private or public, respectively) of the utility depends on the difference between what the customer pays for power and the utility’s cost in generating that power.

    In the case of utilites, however, the transmission lines are often privately owned – as in Old England, when the coal monopoly owned the rivers and roads and so controlled the coal market. This is actually a good argument for publicly owned grids working with privately owned energy generators in order to maintain a secure energy supply, with long-term contracts being the glue that holds it all together.

    Regardless, the fact is that utility is the one that has the choice of power source, not the consumer – but since they operate “natural monopolies”, the government plays a huge role as well. So, when it comes down to the choice of a solar PV setup, a wind farm, a nuclear reactor, a coal-fired plant, or a natural gas turbine setup, many factors come into play. It is nothing like the idealized free market, i.e. what you see at a local farmers market, for example.

    Before you repeat the free-market mantra, “Deregulation” of the electricity market simply allowed the suppliers of energy to the utilities to collude with one another to rig prices, as in California, 2000-2001. This did have the positive but unintended effect of spurring a drive towards renewable energy in California from 2001 onwards.

    This drive has been partially rolled back by the federal government’s insistence on subsidizing fossil fuels at the expense of renewable energy, as well as by undue fossil fuel influence at the state, county and city level (driven by government fuel contracts for city bus systems, for example). Those government signals tend to push utilities away from renewables.

    It all comes down to the same thing: you have to include the ecological costs of energy generation when it comes to economic decisions about what technological strategies to pursue. To put it in econ-speak, electricity is not fungible, and treating it as such invites both ecological and economic collapse.

  17. 1367
    Mark says:

    re 1366, I would suspect that if there were the potential to maintain 100% load from wind then it would be 100% wind.

    Hard peaks may require some drop-dead measures that aren’t wind, but could be maintained by wind (electrolysis and storage of H2 using wind to generate the needed energy).

    But in a shared grid, the power doesn’t come *from* any one station, so there’d be no way to know that electron came from the wind turbine, is there.

    So you’d have to say “if the contracted supply is covered 100% by wind power, then it is 100% wind power”. After all, sometimes that wind power is being used by someone using “100% fossil fuel” electricity.

  18. 1368
    Hank Roberts says:

    >> thyroid cancer. Why don’t you mention that?”

    > 2) When the subject is health of the ecosystem,
    > because I don’t see any connection.

    ______________
    “festers Stipulation” says ReCaptcha

  19. 1369
    James says:

    Ike Solem Says (10 juin 2009 at 12:28 PM):

    ““Deregulation” of the electricity market simply allowed the suppliers of energy to the utilities to collude with one another to rig prices, as in California, 2000-2001.”

    Wasn’t quite so simple as you make out. The problem was that the deregulation only went halfway: power producers could basically charge California utilities whatever the market would bear, while the utilities 1) had to buy however much energy was needed to meet customer demand, regardless of price; and 2) had to charge their customers regulated prices, even if that price was less than the utilities paid.

    Either continued regulation or full deregulation would have worked (as it seems to have done in other states), but California’s halfway measure set up a system that was just begging to be gamed.

  20. 1370

    James writes:

    “Thousands of people, mostly children, got thyroid cancer. Why don’t you mention that?”

    1) When the subject was the number of deaths, because those thousands of people didn’t die.

    Yet.

  21. 1371
    Douglas Wise says:

    re 1370: Barton Paul Levenson

    Mortality from Chernobyl-induced childhood thyroid cancer was apparently 9 up till 2005. There is no reason to suppose that this will increase hugely. (www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr38/en/index.html )

    Chernobyl represents the worst ever civil nuclear accident and one which is most unlikely ever to be repeated. While it might be surprising that so little mortality ensued, it is nevertheless reassuring that a nuclear accident of this nature caused vastly less mortality than can be expected annually from the burning of coal.

    On another thread, you intimated your belief that an example of 4th generation nuclear power was being constructed in Finland and running greatly over budget. This is incorrect as you could quickly discovered had you bothered to check the links given to discussions of the technology before lambasting it.

    I have come to the conclusion that any solution to global warming would suit you so long as it isn’t nuclear. A pity, because I am sure you are well intentioned. As one who has reluctantly come to the view that failure to expand our nuclear energy capabilities in the very near future is likely to doom hundreds of millions of people to starvation, I would urge you to consider the possibility that you could be wrong.

  22. 1372
    Mark says:

    “Mortality from Chernobyl-induced childhood thyroid cancer was apparently 9 up till 2005. There is no reason to suppose that this will increase hugely. (www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2005/pr38/en/index.html )”

    Which isn’t to say that it won’t increase.

    So whose kid do we kill?

    “Chernobyl represents the worst ever civil nuclear accident and one which is most unlikely ever to be repeated.”

    Sounds like the wording at the end of The Great War.

    Followed by its sequel: WW2.

  23. 1373
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    re 1249 – “I meant, of course, the sort of leftist politics that sees anything done by a corporation as bad, pretty much by definition, and probably the product of some conspiracy.”

    I’m sorry … you haven’t really answered the question … why does this have to be associated with a political position, particularly when what is actually is being discussed is real-world data?

    Please, try not to wander afield.

    And while we’re on the subject, is it “political” to observe the fact private industry has been shown repeatedly to engage tactics to undermine legitimate science in the media, in state and federal legislatures, and through litigation? The tobacco companies are rather obvious in this regard. The tactics employed to avoid dealing with AGW are likewise obvious. I mean, seriously, the evidence of this type of behavior is very easy to track. Heck, I know litigators who have argued on both sides of these things. It is fairly common.

    “I can partway agree about issue of fudging data, but why is it only a problem when corporations do it for a profit, and not when some advocacy group does it to further its notion of “the public good”?”

    Non-sequitur and something of a red herring. After all, when did an advocacy group create a product that caused 138,000 heart attacks before it was pulled off the market? (See the report if the reference confuses you.) While there is no argument advocacy groups can – and do – influence public policy, sometimes to the detriment of the body politic, that is a far cry from the a corporate entity that engages in deliberate efforts to make market a product that can cause harm.

    “The problem there is that while any good accountant ought to be able to nail down profit & loss, “the public good” is a far slipperier and often purely subjective matter. Who gets to define it, you or me?”

    You are dodging here, James. Tell me: would you agree 138,000 heart attacks knowingly caused by a product that was rushed to market – this is one of many real world examples, I remind you – qualifies as not being for the common/public good?

    Put another way, something that is harmful to the public good could be defined as a product or practice quantified as detrimental to the general health of a population, or a segment thereof, and/or detrimental to the sustained existence of said population and its descendants.

    James: “I think it rather indicates that you’ve still failed to understand the point I was trying to make, which is that “public” research usually works out the basics of an idea, then private research takes that and does more research to turn it into a commercial product.”

    Oh, no. I got your “point”. My response was that in the context of what is happening in the real world of research, your “point” is one more of “opinion” than it is of objective fact and, as I said earlier, somewhat meaningless. Private research has grown to 65% of all research, while government – independent! – research has been nearly halved from what it was 40 years ago. The government, as I understand it, supposedly allocates 20% of its research budget to basic R&D (that would be 10% in 1965 numbers). And as underscored in the report, given the pervasive efforts of private industry to have its way, there is some question as to what extent that research might be compromised by those private agendas. Meanwhile the other source of ‘basic’ R&D you cited – universities – is growing increasingly compromised by private interests, surrendering its independence and, as in the case of UC Berkeley, its oversight. Many researchers admit to growing conflicts of interest in their own work as a consequence of accepting funding. So that’s now an increasingly eroded source of uncompromised basic R&D.

    So there is reason for real concern as to what percentage of basic R&D, both in universities and sponsored by government monies – and in what fields – is compromised by private interference… and with that concern a commensurate understanding that innovation, the real engine that has driven the U.S.’s economic growth, is increasingly being blunted and stymied in favor of profit.

    Does that strike you as being a formula for long-term success? (rhetorical question – no need to answer).

    James: “No, I’m saying that private research has to be concerned with making a profit, otherwise the company involved goes bankrupt.”

    So, using the medication noted above as an example, rushing a product to market, ignoring data that suggest said product has serious problems, and defending that product’s continued presence on the market as it continues to harm people is morally more acceptable than concern for the public good. Another example: polluting rivers and habitat is immaterial in the face of short-term profit.

    Do you even understand what it is you are arguing for?

    More important, you are offering nothing to suggest your argument re bankruptcy has any validity! You are using extremes here, trying to defend your position by making this an either/or outcome when in the real world such extremes are the exception, not the rule. For example, there is a world of difference between market or die (your example) and properly test to be sure the product is safe before marketing.

    James: “As for the public good, first define it.”

    I did, above. Again: would you agree 138,000 heart attacks knowingly caused by a product that was rushed to market (and then was kept there as its company tried to fend off calls for its removal) – a real world example, mind you – qualifies as not being for the common good?

    If you agree, then you already know the definition. If you don’t, then you are either obtuse, or there is something seriously skewed in your view of reality. I can see no other explanation.

    Here’s another question: What’s more important: the long-term survival of the body politic/civilization (or the health and well-being of a segment thereof) … or short-term profit of an artificial, legal entity engaged in practices that are detrimental to that continued survival (or to the health and well-being of a segment thereof)?

  24. 1374
    Hank Roberts says:

    > which isn’t to say that it won’t increase

    Guys, guys, you can look up the statistics on this sort of thing and make a reasonable prediction based on the known physics and epidemiology.

    Why set a bad example by trying to argue logic without checking the actual numbers? That’s what the deniers do, whatever they’re denying.

    http://www.cancer.gov/i131
    http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=713157

  25. 1375

    James

    Since you still have not answered my question at the end of post #1354, or in #1343, #1242 (even though you inferred I should ask you more direct questions, rather than makes statements), I must assume that your “I feel trapped by the question” is admission that you realize that your reasoning failed.

    Thank you for the clarification.

    To summarize your view, pertaining to the subject at hand

    – you do not hold humans exalted
    – the problem is overpopulation
    – Chernobyl was net positive because nature is flourishing and only ‘some’ people died.
    – you want more nuclear power

    One can extrapolate from this reasoning that we (humans) should enjoy the wonderful short term benefits of current nuclear technologies (even though humans really are not that important) until there is enough weapons grade plutonium in the world, combined with enough economic degradation, that it ends up in the hands of someone that will use it in a weapon/weapons triggering a nuclear war over the ensuing power struggle caused by latitudinal shift from global warming (resource scarcity issues) and the increased tensions placed on increasing tribal like systems as political borders begin to degrade.

    So you are for increased risks to the human population, at the expense of that human population, in favor of short term benefit and natures long term ability to do well without humans.

    No wonder you choose to remain anonymous ;)

    I guess it’s true, if you give a fool enough rope, he really will hang himself with it.

  26. 1376
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    James, regarding nuclear energy as a “solution” I would recommend you read Alan Wiesman’s ‘The World Without Us’, starting at Chapter 15 “Hot Legacy” and continue on (though, frankly, the entire book is an informative read). He does a very good job of laying out the problems associated with NE production, waste storage and long term problems, while underscoring why your arguments are essentially non-starters.

    I doubt reading this will change your mind, but it might make you understand why your arguments carry no currency.

  27. 1377

    So after we have done everything posssible about electricity generation with hydro, wind, solar, etc., and these source types are fully utilized, meaning there is no reserve capacity, there will be a lot of natural gas fired reserve capacity. I would expect that at such a time the amount of natural gas used to produce electricity will be determined by legal requirements rather than by economics, and if the price of natural gas stays low the cost of such legal requirements will be tolerated.

    Now it is time to think, “Should we plug in a car or not?”

    The big advantage of an electric car is regenerative braking which is achieved with a gasoline powered hybrid. That is a good thing.

    Making that gasoline powered hybrid into a plug-in to get hooked up to the electricic generating system can only have the effect that extra power will come from the big fossil fuel burning systems that have reserve capacity. If coal is made very expensive such that natural gas will be the economic choice, then the response to each plug-in load will be burning of natural gas. Otherwise that response will be burning of coal.

    It is a judgement call whether coal will be meaningfully restricted. I read the Waxman Markety results so far as an indication that there will not be any such meaningful restrictions.

    So now we need to go the next step of cogeneration as has been previously discussed. This could swing the economic choice to natural gas, such that coal use would be displaced. There would still be some CO2 released, but it would be about 83% reduced by this arrangement.

    Would the cogeneration system along with all the accumulated renewable systems be able to cut back the use of coal?

    If the electric system has to deliver energy to a world of Hummers and Yukons, even if these are equipped with good regenerative braking machinery, the use of coal will almost certainly surge. A world of plug-in Prius cars would be better, but as far as CO2 goes, even the Prius would be better left to run as a hybrid without the extra batteries.

    It could be otherwise only when hydro, wind, and solar exist to provide a sufficient steady reserve capacity that can meet the loads represented by plug-in cars.

  28. 1378
    Ike Solem says:

    James, I was wondering how long it would take before someone trotted out the Enron perspective on the 2000-2001 rigged California energy markets. I also wonder how you reconcile the “natural monopoly” theme pushed by utilities with the “free market” theme pushed by the same interests?

    Consider the actual sequence of events:

    1) During the last days of Pete Wilson’s governorship, deregulation was pushed through by an alliance of fossil fuel interests and utilities.

    2) The next governor, Gray Davis, signed long-term electricity contracts with those same pushers – why? It was a bad idea, but Davis claimed he could get a better deal on long-term contracts – even though the price was not fixed (kind of like a giant subprime deal, only worse).

    3) In 2000, the ‘independent power suppliers’ began rigging markets – taking down power plants for “unscheduled maintenance”, tightening gas supplies to California (Enron’s game), etc. The FERC refused to intervene in this market rigging, or to set price caps.

    4) This rigging ran up something like $10 billion in debt in California – all illegally obtained. Lt. Gov. Bustamente instituted a lawsuit aimed at recovering that $10 billion.

    5) Fossil fuel interests lined up behind Arnie for a special election, one of the strangest in California history. Arnie wins, and his first act is to settle the lawsuit for tiny percentage – 1% of the total rigged debt. That began California’s fiscal disaster, which has now peaked out – and Arnie and Salazar are using the situation to call for more offshore oil drilling – even though Arnie fought hard against the oil production tax previously (when it was earmarked to finance renewable research):

    Schwarzenegger’s embrace of an oil extraction tax marks a reversal of the position he took just two years ago in opposing Proposition 87, an initiative that would have taxed crude to pay for research and development of alternative energy programs. The measure failed, getting only 45.3% of the vote in November 2006. Oil companies spent about $95 million to defeat Proposition 87.

    Salazar also agrees with Sarah Palin on the Chukchi Sea oil leases, using the fraudulent Baliunas – Soon polar bear study as ‘scientific justification’. This was all done by the Minerals Management Division – noted for, let’s see, criminal behavior.

    Now, we’re seeing the push to overturn the offshore oil drilling ban – it’s being pushed by the fossil fuel-owned media sector as well, most notably examiner.com. Here is an alternative perspective:

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who knows better, is trying one of the all-time end runs. The governor appears ready to ditch his past pledges to bar coastal drilling, leapfrogging past the State Lands Commission, which oversees coastal waters, and urging the Legislature to sign a devil’s bargain to permit deep-water oil exploration.

    This is called using economic disaster to push even worse policies on the public – the so-called “shock doctrine” in action. You can see the same thing in Peru, where the Hunt Oil/IMF/Congess – backed Peruvian oil push is leading to the slaughter of native Indian populations, who, just like California citizens, don’t want their natural world destroyed for the benefit of oil barons and Wall Street financiers – whatever are they thinking? “Fighting progress”, no doubt…

    So, that’s the fact of the matter, James. Now, if you agree that ‘full deregulation” would have allowed the state to drop their long-term contracts with their power suppliers – well, I can see the deregulation crowd go white – no, we want those regulations! We don’t want the customer to be unregulated – just the supplier! The sanctity of contracts cannot be undermined, and contract enforcement cannot be deregulated – right?

    It’s called corruption, fraud, and theft – that’s what the 2000-2001 California energy crisis was all about. You’ve presented one PR line – the other PR line is that ‘environmental regulations prevented utilities from building new power plants’ – but as the records show, there was no power plant shortage – just “unscheduled maintenance” – the cartel cut supplies in order to push prices up – noncompetitive monopolistic market manipulation – that’s what deregulation of the electricity supplier gets you.

    Note to Hank Roberts: What do you think of my idea of having President Obama direct the NAS to conduct an independent review of coal carbon capture science?

    What do you think, James? RodB? John P. Reisman? It seems like the right thing to do, doesn’t it? I urge everyone to write a letter to their Senators and Congressmembers urging them to do just that.

  29. 1379
    Hank Roberts says:

    I’m not aware that there’s much science to be reviewed, just yet. Sometimes you have to build it before the researchers can assess it. I hope they’re documenting the things they’re going to be trying out.

    http://www.energy.gov/news2009/7429.htm
    http://www.energy.gov/recovery/

  30. 1380

    #1375 John P. Reisman

    Re. summary of James position

    Refinement of one summary statement:

    So you are for increased risks to the human population, at the expense of that human population, in favor of short term benefit (for the human population) and natures long term ability to do well without humans.

  31. 1381
    James says:

    Hank Roberts Says (11 juin 2009 at 10:59 AM):

    “Why set a bad example by trying to argue logic without checking the actual numbers?”

    I agree in principle (and indeed, it’s what I’ve been trying to do all along, with notable lack of success). However, I don’t find anything much in the way of actual numbers at your link: http://www.cancer.gov/i131 (Though it is interesting to note that I’m in the high-risk group there, since all of the milk I ever drank as a kid came from fresh from the farm across the creek.)

    The problem, of course, often lies in getting those actual numbers. In this case there’s (presumably: I’m not a physician) a normal background rate, so you have to look for a statistical increase. But you also have to be aware of the “butterfly collector” effect* – the harder you look for something, the more likely you are to see it.

    * My own name: when I was a kid, I went through a butterfly collecting phase, and was amazed at how all of a sudden there were many more butterflies in the fields, and many more different kinds. It was as if they’d decided to show up just so I could collect them. Of course they’d been there all along, it’s just that now I was actively looking…

  32. 1382
    James says:

    J.S. McIntyre Says (11 juin 2009 at 10:22 AM):

    “I’m sorry … you haven’t really answered the question … why does this have to be associated with a political position, particularly when what is actually is being discussed is real-world data?”

    It doesn’t HAVE to be, it’s just that – by my empirical observation – it almost always is.

    “Please, try not to wander afield.”

    I won’t if you won’t :-)

    “And while we’re on the subject, is it “political” to observe the fact private industry has been shown repeatedly to engage tactics to undermine legitimate science in the media, in state and federal legislatures, and through litigation?”

    No, it’s political (and leftist politics) to insist that ONLY private industry does this, when advocacy groups and the government itself are at least as prone to the same tactics.

    “fter all, when did an advocacy group create a product that caused 138,000 heart attacks before it was pulled off the market? (See the report if the reference confuses you.)”

    Your herrings are blushing, too. When have advocacy groups ever created any product? And what report? I don’t see a link or anything…

    But just in hypothetical terms, suppose your product causes heart attacks, but prevents cancer or diabetes? How do you manage the tradeoffs? Or to take a more climate-related example, how about all the advocacy groups that gave us “safer” cars, greatly increasing fuel consumption & emissions in the process? Which public good is being served?

  33. 1383
    James says:

    Ike Solem Says (11 juin 2009 at 1:00 PM):

    “I also wonder how you reconcile the “natural monopoly” theme pushed by utilities with the “free market” theme pushed by the same interests?”

    I don’t reconcile them. “Natural monopoly” in power generation is a crock, suitable for fertilizing your rose bushes. Maybe the grid itself, and particularly the distribution end, is a natural monopoly (akin to roads) but that’s only a small part. I think net metering customers here pay about $9/month for grid maintenance…

    “2) The next governor, Gray Davis, signed long-term electricity contracts…”

    Which pretty much proves my point that California really wasn’t deregulated, but set up to be gamed. If the electricity market was really deregulated, why was the governor signing electricity supply contracts? In a deregulated/free market environment, that surely should have been left to the utilities – which might well have balked at open-ended, no fixed price deals.

  34. 1384
    James says:

    John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) Says (11 juin 2009 at 1:29 PM):

    “So you are for increased risks to the human population, at the expense of that human population, in favor of short term benefit (for the human population) and natures long term ability to do well without humans.”

    Again, a gross misunderstanding. I’ll try – just for the exercise, since you’ve pretty well demonstrated that you’re incapable of comprehension – to state it as simply as possible.

    1) Human survival in the long term depends on a healthy ecosystem.

    2) Human quality of life depends on access to, and interaction with, a healthy ecosystem.

    Now does anyone really want to argue with either of those?

    Your claim of “increased risk” comes from your particular set of mental blinders. You allow yourself to see only the potential risk from this one source (which you greatly exaggerate), and deliberately close your mind to anything else, such as the reduction of risk elsewhere.

  35. 1385
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    1382 “It doesn’t HAVE to be, it’s just that – by my empirical observation – it almost always is.”

    I’m sorry, you are again dodging the question. This is a hand wave on your part. What “empirical observations” do you have to suggest my motivations in discussing things is political in nature? Frankly, it is rather clear you are engaging in subtle ad hominem to no good cause, for no good reason. Seriously, if you think your position is so salient, why do you resort to playing games?

    “No, it’s political (and leftist politics) to insist that ONLY private industry does this, when advocacy groups and the government itself are at least as prone to the same tactics.”

    Excuse me? We are discussing private companies and the fashion they operate in. No one said they are the ONLY parties … that wasn’t the point, and your reply does nothing to address the question.

    And why is it “leftist” to point out the obvious regarding facts that are readily available for all to say? using your skewed logic, one would then be forced to infer that those folks of a “rightest” orientation (whatever that is supposed to mean) are simply mewling sheep lacking any true individuality or critical thinking abilities. Do you realize how absurd such a position is. (No need to answer – clearly you do not).

    Again, you are wandering afield and avoiding actually discussing anything relevant. Why is it you feel this sort of tactics has any value?

    Regardless

    “Your herrings are blushing, too. When have advocacy groups ever created any product? And what report? I don’t see a link or anything…”

    Um, James, it would help if you paid attention. I referred to the report we supposedly were discussing and which, clearly, you ignored. You know, the one I cited back in 1157, which you’ve supposedly been replying to?

    http://discovermagazine.com/2007/oct/sciences-worst-enemy-private-funding

    And your red herring …. sorry, there is no other way to describe it … regarding advocacy groups remains, and you have not addressed it.

    “But just in hypothetical terms…”

    We’re not discussing hypotheticals, James, though I am sure you would prefer to. We are discussing the real world, something you are demonstrating increasing difficulty in dealing with.

    Of course, based on my own observations (which, I might add, I would never be silly enough to suggest are empirical in nature) when someone starts obfuscating as you are doing here, the tacit assumption is you are acknowledging you really can’t address what is being said to you.

    Thanks for clarifying, all the same.

  36. 1386
    Rod B says:

    J.S. McIntyre (1373), I’m in the peanut gallery here, but I have two bits to add.

    So you assert that no advocacy group has ever pushed through some product/idea/ practice that was harmful to others?

    You in fact dodged James’ logical question: is it you or someone else (who, pray tell?) who will define the public good. Your answer implied that it is in fact you because you can see the “obvious.” Detremental to the general health of a population? So something that is harmful to a small minority wouldn’t count? Can you find anything that, if taken in sufficient quantity, is not detremental to health?

    Let’s see. You think corporations should spend research dollars only on stuff that would hurt and diminish their profit. Can I assume you analyze and conclude things that are only detremental to your well-being — to prove you’re a decent guy, presumably?

    etc…

  37. 1387
    Rod B says:

    Ike, as I said earlier, the State of California instituted “free market” electricity in a fit of stupidity then hung a sign on their back that said ‘come screw me.’ And you spend paragraphs trying explain how the electric producers and utilities (or maybe the devil?) did it.

  38. 1388
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    1386: “So you assert that no advocacy group has ever pushed through some product/idea/ practice that was harmful to others?”

    If you can find where I asserted such a thing, I’ll be happy to answer.

    You won’t.

    My point was James was dodging the question being asked of him. (It would probably be helpful for you to retrace the conversation so you might actually gain some context to what was being discussed. We both made notice of either the post number, or time, when replying to each other, so it shouldn’t be too difficult.)

    Also, you might note what I actually said: “Excuse me? We are discussing private companies and the fashion they operate in. No one said they are the ONLY parties … that wasn’t the point, and your reply does nothing to address the question. ”

    Let me emphasize: “No one said they are the ONLY parties …”

    … and further, from the same paragraph:

    “While there is no argument advocacy groups can – and do – influence public policy, sometimes to the detriment of the body politic, that is a far cry from a corporate entity that engages in deliberate efforts to make market a product that can cause harm.”

    More important to the actual discussion, James’ introduction of advocacy groups was a red herring, an apples and oranges argument: he was dodging the focus of the discussion by trying to change the nature of the discussion.

    “You in fact dodged James’ logical question: is it you or someone else (who, pray tell?) who will define the public good. Your answer implied that it is in fact you because you can see the “obvious.” ”

    Sir, you are being obtuse. I was very plain in my language re what constitutes the public good, to wit:

    ===================
    “You are dodging here, James. Tell me: would you agree 138,000 heart attacks knowingly caused by a product that was rushed to market – this is one of many real world examples, I remind you – qualifies as not being for the common/public good?

    “Put another way, something that is harmful to the public good could be defined as a product or practice quantified as detrimental to the general health of a population, or a segment thereof, and/or detrimental to the sustained existence of said population and its descendants.”

    ===============

    In spite of your criticism, you offer nothing in rebuttal, just what amounts to an ad hominem attack on what you seem characterize as my daring to offer a rational answer. If you think I’m wrong, then you are more than welcome to argue with yourself about what does constitute harm to the public good. Me, I’m comfortable with what I said, and see no reason to alter its substance.

    “Let’s see. You think corporations should spend research dollars only on stuff that would hurt and diminish their profit.”

    Again, if you think you can provide – contextually, mind you; no cherry-picking, please – where it was I actually said what you represent, be my guest. You won’t, of course, as I neither said – nor inferred – such a thing. Oh, and perhaps you should actually read the report, eh?

    Regardless, all you are putting up here is are straw man arguments and mild ad hominem to no good purpose …

  39. 1389
    Hank Roberts says:

    “… Krugman turned out to be absolutely right…..”
    http://www.economicprincipals.com/issues/2003.10.19/66.html

  40. 1390
    James says:

    J.S. McIntyre Says (11 juin 2009 at 3:37 PM):

    “I’m sorry, you are again dodging the question.”

    I don’t think I’m dodging anything, except to the extent that I’d like to avoid bringing down the ire of the moderators by degenerating to political debate.

    “What “empirical observations” do you have to suggest my motivations in discussing things is political in nature?Frankly, it is rather clear you are engaging in subtle ad hominem to no good cause, for no good reason.”

    I have not said that YOUR motivations are political. I’m saying that the motivations of those advocacy groups under discussion are. They are frequently motivated as much by leftist politics as by concern for their core issues, so that anything done by a corporation, or from a profit motive, is automatically bad. This is hardly ad hominem: it is simply an observation.

    “Excuse me? We are discussing private companies and the fashion they operate in.”

    So who exactly are you calling “we” here? Or did someone fail to tell me about the rule that says you get to set the terms of discussion?

    “Again, you are wandering afield and avoiding actually discussing anything relevant. Why is it you feel this sort of tactics has any value?”

    That’s strange – I could have said exactly the same thing about you :-)

    “Um, James, it would help if you paid attention. I referred to the report we supposedly were discussing and which, clearly, you ignored. You know, the one I cited back in 1157, which you’ve supposedly been replying to?”

    Obviously I DON’T know, or I wouldn’t have asked :-) About 300 messages back in the thread, with no back reference, and maybe a couple of dozen other reports mentioned in between? You overestimate either my memory or your own importance.

    Be that as it may, I did look at that report at the time (my browser still has the link flagged as visited), and disagreed with much of it. Consider those drugs mentioned: if you or your advocacy group say “Drug X caused N heart attacks”, you have a simple story with which to attack big pharma. Reality is more complicated: suppose drug X raises the risk of a heart attack, but also performs its intended function of treating diabetes or arthritis? Who gets to decide how to weight benefits versus side effects? Your advocacy group, which I think would cheerfully use any excuse to remove a drug from the market, as they did with the ones mentioned?

    Drugs have side effects. That’s your real world.

  41. 1391
    Rod B says:

    J.S. McIntyre, you said (1373) “…when did an advocacy group create a product that caused 138,000 heart attacks before it was pulled off the market? (See the report if the reference confuses you.) While there is no argument advocacy groups can — and do — influence public policy, sometimes to the detriment of the body politic, that is a far cry from the a corporate entity that engages in deliberate efforts to make market a product that can cause harm.”

    You do some tap dancing and slick parsing to claim you said “detremental to body politic,” whatever that is, but it’s obvious you said corporate entities cause harm and advocacy groups, in a far cry from, don’t.

    Also, “…If you think I’m wrong, then you are more than welcome to argue with yourself about what does constitute harm to the public good. Me, I’m comfortable with what I said, and see no reason to alter its substance.” Which is exactly as I said: to James’ question as to who determines the public good, your answer is (drum roll…) you.

    Lastly, “…So there is reason for real concern as to what percentage of basic R&D, both in universities and sponsored by government monies — and in what fields — is compromised by private interference… and with that concern a commensurate understanding that innovation, the real engine that has driven the U.S.’s economic growth, is increasingly being blunted and stymied in favor of profit.” (I took the whole paragraph to insure I didn’t pick any cherries.) Well, it sounds like you say things would be not bad in R&D if it weren’t for the myopic “profit only” attitude of private enterprises. But then maybe I’m misreading it. Want to try it again in simple English?

    It seems people you discourse with do nothing but cherry pick, build strawmen, and throw out ad hominems. You need some new friends.

  42. 1392
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    Re 1391.
    1. J.S. McIntyre, you said (1373) “…when did an advocacy group create a product that caused 138,000 heart attacks before it was pulled off the market? (See the report if the reference confuses you.) While there is no argument advocacy groups can — and do — influence public policy, sometimes to the detriment of the body politic, that is a far cry from the a corporate entity that engages in deliberate efforts to make market a product that can cause harm.”

    You do some tap dancing and slick parsing to claim you said “detremental to body politic,” whatever that is, but it’s obvious you said corporate entities cause harm and advocacy groups, in a far cry from, don’t.

    No, actually, I made a throwaway comment regarding the apples and oranges character of James’ remarks in response to my earlier post … which, apparently, you are choosing to ignore. I realize that makes sense … it allows you to pretend the context of what I was saying is in different character to what it actually was. Even then, you offer nothing to actually validate your ‘claim’.

    Of course, it is worthwhile to note that aside from your attempt to infer something, you haven’t ponied up anything.

    1. Also, “…If you think I’m wrong, then you are more than welcome to argue with yourself about what does constitute harm to the public good. Me, I’m comfortable with what I said, and see no reason to alter its substance.” Which is exactly as I said: to James’ question as to who determines the public good, your answer is (drum roll…) you.
    Lastly, “…So there is reason for real concern as to what percentage of basic R&D, both in universities and sponsored by government monies — and in what fields — is compromised by private interference… and with that concern a commensurate understanding that innovation, the real engine that has driven the U.S.’s economic growth, is increasingly being blunted and stymied in favor of profit.”

    (I took the whole paragraph to insure I didn’t pick any cherries.) Well, it sounds like you say things would be not bad in R&D if it weren’t for the myopic “profit only” attitude of private enterprises. But then maybe I’m misreading it. Want to try it again in simple English?

    Are you serious? You sincerely got that out of what I said? Wow.

    Okay, let me see if I can help you here. Oh, and before I begin, you are cherry picking, as I expected. Here’s the whole para, and while it does a better job of setting things in context, the fact of the matter is you really have to look at the comment for what it is, part of the larger narrative:

    Private research has grown to 65% of all research, while government – independent! – research has been nearly halved from what it was 40 years ago. The government, as I understand it, supposedly allocates 20% of its research budget to basic R&D (that would be 10% in 1965 numbers). And as underscored in the report, given the pervasive efforts of private industry to have its way, there is some question as to what extent that research might be compromised by those private agendas. Meanwhile the other source of ‘basic’ R&D you cited – universities – is growing increasingly compromised by private interests, surrendering its independence and, as in the case of UC Berkeley, its oversight. Many researchers admit to growing conflicts of interest in their own work as a consequence of accepting funding. So that’s now an increasingly eroded source of uncompromised basic R&D.

    So there is reason for real concern as to what percentage of basic R&D, both in universities and sponsored by government monies – and in what fields – is compromised by private interference… and with that concern a commensurate understanding that innovation, the real engine that has driven the U.S.’s economic growth, is increasingly being blunted and stymied in favor of profit.

    When read in context, what I said is very consistent with a simple understanding … basic research is being undermined in favor of the pursuit of profit. Not just basic research, but simple morality, as illustrated by the efforts of corporate tobacco, corporate medicine and corporate medicine, all of which were illustrated in the report I linked … and which you either haven’t read or chosen to ignore.

    What part of this don’t you understand?

    “It seems people you discourse with do nothing but cherry pick, build strawmen, and throw out ad hominems. You need some new friends.”

    Naw. What I should really do is just ignore willful ignorance…

  43. 1393
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    Re 1390

    ME: I’m sorry, you are again dodging the question.”

    J: I don’t think I’m dodging anything, except to the extent that I’d like to avoid bringing down the ire of the moderators by degenerating to political debate.

    I didn’t bring up politics, James. You did. I’m trying to understand why.

    Me: “What “empirical observations” do you have to suggest my motivations in discussing things is political in nature?Frankly, it is rather clear you are engaging in subtle ad hominem to no good cause, for no good reason.”

    “I have not said that YOUR motivations are political. “

    Wow. Absolutely amazing.

    No, sir. You were very clear in that regard.

    Post 1218:

    Me: “I think your representation is far too trusting of the intentions and goals of private research, to put it kindly.”

    JAMES: And I think yours is far too representative of a certain brand of politics. Opinions differ.

    ME: Really? And what ‘brand of politics’ would that be?

    How else shall we interpret ‘Representative of a certain brand of politics…?”

    JAMES: I’m saying that the motivations of those advocacy groups under discussion are. They are frequently motivated as much by leftist politics as by concern for their core issues, so that anything done by a corporation, or from a profit motive, is automatically bad. This is hardly ad hominem: it is simply an observation.

    I’m not interested in your interjection of advocacy groups. I am not a member of an advocacy group. Advocacy groups have nothing to do with the subject at hand.

    ME: “Excuse me? We are discussing private companies and the fashion they operate in.”

    So who exactly are you calling “we” here? Or did someone fail to tell me about the rule that says you get to set the terms of discussion?

    You and me, bub.
    Nothing to do with rules. We’re discussing something. You interject of topic red herrings, I call you on it. Get over it.

    “Again, you are wandering afield and avoiding actually discussing anything relevant. Why is it you feel this sort of tactics has any value?”

    That’s strange – I could have said exactly the same thing about you

    Yeah, but when I say it, it’s actually true.

    ME: “Um, James, it would help if you paid attention. I referred to the report we supposedly were discussing and which, clearly, you ignored. You know, the one I cited back in 1157, which you’ve supposedly been replying to?”

    JAMES: Obviously I DON’T know, or I wouldn’t have asked About 300 messages back in the thread, with no back reference, and maybe a couple of dozen other reports mentioned in between? You overestimate either my memory or your own importance.

    You had back reference, son. I clearly identified what I was responding to. The inference is you are an intelligent human being and can easily figure these things out for yourself and track a conversation back to its beginnings with relative ease, like the rest of us. Otherwise, why are you here?

    JAMES: Be that as it may, I did look at that report at the time (my browser still has the link flagged as visited), and disagreed with much of it.

    Wow! Really? I am stunned!

    JAMES: Consider those drugs mentioned: if you or your advocacy group say “Drug X caused N heart attacks”, you have a simple story with which to attack big pharma.

    You really need to stay on subject and stop obsessing about imaginary boogiemen who have nothing to do with the subject at hand. Now, what was that figure? 138,000 heart attacks? A large pharma, clearly with knowledge of their drug’s relation to the growing heart attack count, does not act as a responsible citizen and instead has to be forced to withdraw the product. Yeah, there I go, pickin’ on poor widdle big pharma. I am soooooo ashamed.! Really!

    JAMES: Reality is more complicated: suppose drug X raises the risk of a heart attack, but also performs its intended function of treating diabetes or arthritis?

    So as long as the diabetes is under control, it is okay to die of a heart attack.

    Great logic! Seriously! *sarcasm off*

    JAMES: Who gets to decide how to weight benefits versus side effects?

    The term is regulated industries. That tends to do a better job than depending upon an legal entity that is built around profit with no allegiance to the commons or body politic calling its own shots. If you want another example of why regulation is important, look at Wall Street. (Oh, and James, this has nothing to do with liberal or conservative politics. Simple pragmatism, based on the evidence of that “reality” you like to toss about like you are making a point about something.

    JAMES: Your advocacy group, which I think would cheerfully use any excuse to remove a drug from the market, as they did with the ones mentioned?

    I’m sorry. You still have yet to explain where you get advocacy groups from. You could yelp: “Look! It’s the Great Pumpkin!”, and your comments would have similar cachet, which is to say, none at all.

    Really, try and focus on the subject.

    JAMES: Drugs have side effects. That’s your real world.

    Oh, wow. Drugs have side effects.

    And that, pretty much, sums up your contribution to the discussion.

    I think we’re done here.

    And I still have a half of basketball to watch…

  44. 1394
    James says:

    J.S. McIntyre Says (11 juin 2009 at 9:48 PM):

    “So as long as the diabetes is under control, it is okay to die of a heart attack.

    Great logic! Seriously! *sarcasm off*”

    Not sarcasm at all, but apparently a major difference in values. I have an acquaintance whose diabetes progressed to the point where he had both legs amputated. Now if I were in the unfortunate position of having to choose between something that and taking this drug, which would control the diabetes but increase my risk of a fatal heart attack, just see how fast I grab the drug. Same with the arthritis medicine. Same with a lot of my lifestyle choices: I’d rather live life than sit & watch because I’m afraid of dying.

    “And I still have a half of basketball to watch…”

    Explains a lot, that does.

  45. 1395
    Rod B says:

    J.S. McIntyre, you deny that you ever said it’s greedy profit motives of private enterprises that are bringing down R&D by saying (1392) in addition to R&D they brought down morality, too!

    Oh! Wrong! You didn’t really say that either probably, except within some ethereal context that only you can vision. :-P

  46. 1396

    #1384 James

    Well, at least you’re partly right on something. I do have difficulty comprehending some things you say.

    So you are saying that when you said that humans are not to be exalted and the problem is over population and Chernobyl was net positive because not that many people died and lots of plants and animals live in the radioactive exclusion zone that is still to radioactive for people… that what you really meant to say was

    1) Human survival in the long term depends on a healthy ecosystem.
    2) Human quality of life depends on access to, and interaction with, a healthy ecosystem.

    I dunno, apparently I’m pretty stupid. Those points seem to be largely unrelated based on your original points and presented context. And to me, being as stupid as I am, I get the impression that you are kinda trying to make yourself look smart by creating all these ‘well I meant to say this’, or ‘I meant to say that’, even though that’s not what you said… but as you said, I am incapable of comprehending what you are saying (I guess you might call that circular unreasoning on your part).

    Heck I’d venture a guess that many here are having trouble with comprehending what you are saying (meaning the reasoning you are presenting), or trying to say, as evidenced by the responses you are getting from others.

    Maybe we are all too dumb to understand your version of morality, or intellect; and how it is germane to reasonable discussion of the issues of the global commons… or maybe the problem is that your largely incomprehensible, because you just don’t make that much sense?

    You seem to be trying to make yourself look smart by presenting straw man arguments and red herrings to avoid answering the questions directed to you, especially when they illuminate your lack of logic.

    But if that is true (which seems rather obvious), then you are not being smart, your just a charlatan trying to pose as an intellectual. Hmmm… well, I think you are a charlatan.

    Websters Dictionary: Charlatan
    1 : quack
    2 : one making usually showy pretenses to knowledge or ability

    Your new argument can also be looked at as backpeddling on your previous argument, but I would venture a guess that your ego is the size of Manhattan, and no matter how often your are shown to be wrong you will always, similar to Narcissus, be drunk on your own impression of your intellectual prowess (I doubt you have the beauty problem he had, but I may be wrong), and respond by saying things like, ‘that’s not what I meant’ or ‘you are too dumb to understand my intellectually superior obfuscations’. Gee, I guess you really are smarter (in your own mind) than everyone one else here.

    Your claim of “increased risk” comes from your particular set of mental blinders. You allow yourself to see only the potential risk from this one source (which you greatly exaggerate), and deliberately close your mind to anything else, such as the reduction of risk elsewhere.

    Exaggerate? Why would I do that.

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/security

    Case 2 – Sever Climate Change

    Armed conflict between nations over resources, such as the Nile and its tributaries, is likely and nuclear war is possible.

    then review the Warren Buffet perspective regarding the odds of nuclear war

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9407EED6153EF936A15751C0A9619C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=6

    Then add the economic degradation caused by latitudinal climate shift and resource scarcity and the fact that weapons grade plutonium would be in demand on the black market (sort of like it is right now today).

    If you can’t bring all the pieces together, then you are simply not able to comprehend what all this means, but don’t worry, I can’t comprehend (reasonably) what you are saying either. So I guess we are even.

    As to reduction of risk elsewhere, I’m all for it.

    Oh, and I have not closed my mind to anything else (other than obviously irrelevant information due to its lack of relevant context); that is just you apparently being immature and projecting on me again (did you actually forget to look in the mirror?). Try studying some of Sigmund Freud’s work, some of it apparently applies rather well to your particular psyche.

  47. 1397

    Douglas Wise writes:

    As one who has reluctantly come to the view that failure to expand our nuclear energy capabilities in the very near future is likely to doom hundreds of millions of people to starvation, I would urge you to consider the possibility that you could be wrong.

    As someone who thinks needing to greatly expand nuclear to prevent mass starvation is a really dumb idea, I invite you to do the same.

  48. 1398
    Mark says:

    How else shall we interpret ‘Representative of a certain brand of politics…?”

    Obviously, when he said “a certain brand of politics” he didn’t mean “a certain brand of politics” but “a certain brand of politics”.

    Sheesh, I’ve been caught once with this (long argument and meaning does change subtly as arguments wind on) but I’ve at least admitted it when pointed out and clarified the position.

  49. 1399
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    Re 1395 – ROD: J.S. McIntyre, you deny that you ever said it’s greedy profit motives of private enterprises that are bringing down R&D by saying (1392) in addition to R&D they brought down morality, too!

    “Brought down morality?” Wow, major hyperbole.

    What I actually said: “When read in context, what I said is very consistent with a simple understanding … basic research is being undermined in favor of the pursuit of profit. Not just basic research, but simple morality, as illustrated by the efforts of corporate tobacco, corporate medicine and corporate medicine, all of which were illustrated in the report I linked … and which you either haven’t read or chosen to ignore.”

    Truth hurts, I guess.

    I would recommend you get over it.

  50. 1400
    J.S. McIntyre says:

    re 1398: It gets better … he clarified that he was referencing ‘leftist’ politics.


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