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Krugman weighs in

Filed under: — david @ 11 April 2010

After weeks and months of press coverage seemingly Through the Looking Glass, Paul Krugman has sent us a breath of fresh air this morning in the New York Times Magazine, entitled “Building a Green Economy“. Krugman now joins fellow NYT columnist Tom Friedman as required reading in my Global Warming for English Majors class at the University of Chicago.

There is a lot here to comment on and discuss. The extinctions at the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum, for example, were mostly limited to foraminfera, single-celled shelly protozoa living at the sea floor, not really a “mass extinction” like the end Cretaceous when the dinosaurs got feathered. The Gulf Stream is not the only thing keeping Northern Europe warmer than Alaska. Krugman’s four reasons why it’s dubious to compare costs of climate mitigation to adaption didn’t include the unfairness, that the people paying the costs of climate change would not be the same ones as reap the benefit of CO2 emission. He also seems to have missed the recent revelation that what really matters to climate is the total ultimate slug of emitted CO2, implying that unfettered emission today dooms us to more drastic cuts in the future or a higher ultimate atmospheric CO2 concentration, which will persist not just for “possibly centuries”, but almost certainly for millennia.

But despite a few off-notes, reading this very nicely written, beautifully laid out and argued piece felt like getting a deep sympathetic body massage after a bruising boxing match. Thank you, Mr. Krugman.


510 Responses to “Krugman weighs in”

  1. 201
    Rod B says:

    Gavin (183), a minor clarification: I think when one extols the history and benies of cap and trade they really ought to use cap and trade examples.

  2. 202
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Sure, if you put on your statisticians goggles and look at an isolated series of data they’re going to look like a random walk to you”

    More importantly, a random walk around WHAT?

    The locus of that random walk is determined by the forces involved.

    The eponymous random walk still generally leads to home, because the force that moves him (he’s drunk) is “I wanna go home now”.

    The random walk of the air molecule has a loci determined by local energy and density patterns. This is how such random stochastic processes cause on average, the Ideal Gas Laws.

    This may be what Septic Matthew meant with his comment (in which case, sorry for the kick).

    E.g. when it comes to ***Chaos*** and ***Chaotic*** (and ultimately ***random***), you have deterministic issues.

    However, and this is what Doug showed far better and Septic missed completely, is that you can’t determine this with ***statistics*** ***alone***. You have to know the ***processes***.

    This is why statisticians working on the temperature graph fit periodic functions and state that we’re cooling.

    Because they are asserting that the only determinant of the graph is the small set of figures displayed.

    Smart people who know their physics know that they have to assert what processes exist that are known and how will they determine the loci the data points are expressing.

    THEN you can use your statistician to work out how much of that determining process can be fitted to the graph and the residuals thereof.

    Then the physicist comes back in with the next determining process to fit the residuals.

    Until all the knowns are accounted for.

    The change in CO2 accounts for 72% of the change.

    200% of that change is human induced (half isn’t going in to the atmosphere).

    AGW.

    But you can’t just ignore the processes as the statisticians like VS want to do. Because there’s no deterministic process in a purely stochastic series.

    The only deterministics are the processes working therein.

  3. 203
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Actually if everyone reduces their energy use, this will cause a recession because GDP will automatically fall because of that.”

    No it won’t.

    “Energy costs money and it counts as GDP as do all the expenses made while generating it.”

    So why are all the rich people saving money????

    PS: Bollocks. Unless you’re burning money, energy is not money.

    OK, for the *ENERGY COMPANIES* there will be a recession. Which is why they fight it *and* also invest in renewables.

    Maybe you work there in which case your assertion has some merit in your specific case.

    Not for the vasty majority though.

    “as there aren’t any other energy sources in sufficient abundance”

    did you miss that glowy bright thing that turns up in the morning each day???

    “and with similar characteristics to support growth.”

    What? Electrons from wind farms won’t move electric cars or something? Wrong shape?

    Are you a sock for Gilles?

    “Which, in turn means that growth will end soon no matter what we do.”

    If we sit on our collective arses going “there’s no fuel like fossil fuel”.

    How about NOT doing that?

  4. 204
    t_p_hamilton says:

    “Here’s an overview of our ‘argument’, including my reply to both his blog entries:

    http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/global-average-temperature-increase-giss-hadcru-and-ncdc-compared/#comment-1643

    Get your facts straight, Doug.

    Best, VS”

    I went to some links and found this from Mar 4: http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/global-average-temperature-increase-giss-hadcru-and-ncdc-compared/#comment-1216 “In other words, global temperature contains a stochastic rather than deterministic trend, and is statistically speaking, a random walk.”

    From the overview link you provided: “**I’m not claiming that temperatures are a random walk.”

    How can I get the facts straight?

  5. 205
    Septic Matthew says:

    200, CFU: Now, if you don’t know now to determine the future state, how is it deterministic?

    Because you might be able to learn how to determine the future state. That is the hope in weather/climate forecasting. In the case of correcting telescopic images for atmospheric variability, they did in fact learn how to correct. You can’t know that something is deterministic until you learn how to predict it accurately, but neither can you know something is not deterministic just because you can not predict it now.

    202, CFU: This is why statisticians working on the temperature graph fit periodic functions and state that we’re cooling.

    I do not know about all other statisticians, but my claim is that there is so much random variability that we can not now honestly claim to know which predictions are the most dependable. The possibility of a long period of non-warming can not be ruled out, and is included in the models of Latif (ca 5 more years) and Tsonis (ca 20 more years), each of whom believes in AGW. The problem with depending on the physics is the implicit assumption (sometimes explicit) that nothing else important remains to be learned. What could it be? I can only conjecture: (1) a really good detailed physical explanation for the start and end of the Little Ice Age would help; (2) a really good explanation for the (apparent) covariation of earth temp changes with changes in the integrated activity of the sun. Covariation nearly always implies causation, but the mechanism may be too indirect to be of any use, and may be in the opposite direction from what is first thought. (3) More decisive knowledge than what we have now about the effects of CO2 on plant growth. As CO2 increases plants store more of the insolation energy in carbon bonds (perhaps 10% to 15% more), but an estimate of the quantitative effect on temp is lacking. (4) More precise knowledge than we now have about the ways in which earth’s radiation deviates from the idealizations — all laws are approximations, and for something as complex as the GCMs, the errors in the approximations accumulate. The difference between 1C of warming and 0C or 2C is a little over 1/300 th of the base temp, so random variabilities in the measurements on which the model parameters are based are larger than the effects being predicted.

  6. 206
    Georgi Marinov says:

    Completely Fed Up says:
    16 April 2010 at 1:03 PM
    “Actually if everyone reduces their energy use, this will cause a recession because GDP will automatically fall because of that.”

    No it won’t.

    “Energy costs money and it counts as GDP as do all the expenses made while generating it.”

    So why are all the rich people saving money????

    PS: Bollocks. Unless you’re burning money, energy is not money.

    OK, for the *ENERGY COMPANIES* there will be a recession. Which is why they fight it *and* also invest in renewables.

    Energy companies comprise a big enough sector of the economy to make sure that if energy usage falls by half, there will be a recession, just because this will mean that the money that passed through it will be cut by half and this will cause a drop of GDP by a few percentage points at least. GDP is mostly neutral to what is good for society.

    Maybe you work there in which case your assertion has some merit in your specific case.

    I don’t.

    “as there aren’t any other energy sources in sufficient abundance”

    did you miss that glowy bright thing that turns up in the morning each day???

    Did you miss the fact that you have to cover a few millions square kilometers of the planet’s surface with solar panels to harvest the amount of energy needed to power the current economy? And that you will have to do it again and again every 20-30 years as they age and have to be replaced. And that the economy in 50 years is projected to be a lot bigger due to growth?

    “and with similar characteristics to support growth.”

    What? Electrons from wind farms won’t move electric cars or something? Wrong shape?

    Electrons from wind farms will move cars. But they will not move airplanes and heavy agricultural and construction machinery because of the weight of the batteries.

    “Which, in turn means that growth will end soon no matter what we do.”

    If we sit on our collective arses going “there’s no fuel like fossil fuel”.

    How about NOT doing that?

    Growth is God and we have to worship it no matter the consequences, right?

  7. 207
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Energy companies comprise a big enough sector of the economy to make sure that if energy usage falls by half, there will be a recession,”

    Nope.

    The money the energy companies USED to get will get spent elsewhere.

    Can I point you to here for elucidation:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_broken_window

    Or is this why NOT buying an SUV is unamerican and why crappy milage is NECESSARY for American Prosperity?

    “Did you miss the fact that you have to cover a few millions square kilometers of the planet’s surface with solar panels to harvest the amount of energy needed to power the current economy?”

    Did you know that is bollocks:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/10/an-open-letter-to-steve-levitt/

    “That’s a square 231 kilometers on a side, or about the size of a single cell of a typical general circulation model grid box.”

    “And that you will have to do it again and again every 20-30 years as they age and have to be replaced.”

    Uh, any building needs to be rebuilt. Please pick something that makes a difference.

    The ROI is far far shorter, so your problem is no problem at all.

    “But they will not move airplanes and heavy agricultural and construction machinery because of the weight of the batteries.”

    Aye. Neither will Diesel. Or Tarmac. Or coal. Or gas.

    How much of the world energy budget goes to aircraft?

    Do you have ANY clue?

    Here’s one: not a lot.

    We also have biodeisel and other high octane organic and synthetics whose creation can be carbon neutral. So even that small amount, if we decide that it’s removable, can be removed.

  8. 208
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “I do not know about all other statisticians, but my claim is that there is so much random variability that we can not now honestly claim to know which predictions are the most dependable.”

    The random variability doesn’t accumulate.

    The trend does.

    YOU may not be able to honestly claim, but people who do this for a living can. Try reading their work.

    Here’s a link:

    http://www.ipcc.ch

  9. 209
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “200, CFU: Now, if you don’t know now to determine the future state, how is it deterministic?

    Because you might be able to learn how to determine the future state.”

    And we may get saved by Aliens who give us Jump Gate Technology and we’ll be having rampant sex with cute alien women throughout the galaxy, and isn’t THAT what man has always dreamed of? Come on, Kif, I’m asking here.

    You can’t determine the future state.

    So it’s not deterministic.

    To BE deterministic, you would have to be able to determine the future state.

    I would have hoped this would be http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tautology

  10. 210
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Georgi, I notice that you silently drop the assertion of millions of km2 taken up just to meet our current demands.

    Given that one pillar of your edifice relied on the impracticality of millions of km2 taken up and your new attempt includes how expensive it is (so should, logically have been an equivalently larger problem when you thought it millions), aren’t you going to go off and consider if you have other things REALLY wrong?

    One pillar has tumbled.

    Maybe that house isn’t strong enough to last.

    Get someone to look at it.

  11. 211

    See, this is what I struggle with:

    “Actually if everyone reduces their energy use, this will cause a recession because GDP will
    automatically fall because of that. Energy costs money and it counts as GDP as do all the expenses
    made while generating it.”

    (#195)

    It doesn’t seem obvious to me that this is necessarily true–what do people do in order to reduce their
    energy use? If they spend more money in order to save that energy, then it would seem that GDP may in
    fact grow. (Ignoring, firmly, any questions about money supply and all that.)

    I really think that we forget how deeply cheap energy has affected not only our economy, but our culture. For instance, electronic repair: a large proportion of consumer electronics are essentially disposable,
    because cheap energy and mass production render them too cheap to repair. Similarly in a number of areas: human labor is priced out of large chunks of the economy.

    What happens if energy becomes more expensive again, relative to other inputs? Less of some things, no
    doubt. Perhaps, however, more of others.

  12. 212
    Septic Matthew says:

    200, CFU: The second half of your post is better put than I would do it.

    Thank you. I hoped when I wrote it that it would fit in with your thoughts.

  13. 213
    David B. Benson says:

    Septic Matthew (205) — I’m not sure what date to use for the start of LIA, but the end is traditionally taken to be 1850 CE with the end of glacial advances in the Alps. So look at Law Dome CO2 data from about 1500 CE to 1850 CE and use a sensitivity of between 2.3 K and 3 K. That’ll account for much of LIA I think. In addition, during the Maunder Minimum reduce the temperature by about 0.7 K based on the analysis of the solar cycle of Tung & Camp (2007?). Finally, determine the volcano forcings over the same time; the should be enough available at GISS about forcings to enable you to do this, although you probably need some good tables of volcano dates and VEIs. There are several web sites for this last.

    I opine that the above three forcings are enough to explain all but internal variability; AMO for that long ago might be obtainable, but if not, just consider internal variability as unexplained variance.

  14. 214
    Gilles says:

    CFU, take it the other way.

    There ARE plenty of people who walk to the shop, just because they don’t have a car. These people ALREADY have a low fossil fuel consumption – but also of course a low purchasing power, and a low contribution to GDP. So start from the average standard of living of current people having the “good” FF consumption (four times less than a US citizen? or 10 times maybe?).

    Now try to answer these simple questions :
    * is the life of these people optimal for you, and if not, what is missing following you to have a good life ?
    * which of the “missing” things do not require more fossil fuels ?

  15. 215
    Septic Matthew says:

    209, CFU

    Here is another example of “deterministic random variation”, namely random assignment in clinical trials. First, lots of things are known to affect health outcomes, and without expressly trying to the people who conduct the trials will usually arrange so that the people who have the most favorable predicted outcomes will be given the favored treatment; or perhaps, the expt treatment will only be given in hopeless cases. Each of those makes it impossible to fairly judge the effect of treatment. So patients are randomly assigned to treatment groups, which results in a whole slew of deterministic relationships being at random within and between groups, the only systematic difference being the drug treatment. Secondly, the “random number generator” is a deterministic process that results in “random numbers”, meaning numbers that can not be predicted in any way except by running the program. They are called “pseudo-random” sometimes, but empirically they are as random as anything that has ever been observed.

    208, CFU: The random variability doesn’t accumulate.

    Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.

    208, CFU: Try reading their work.

    You should avoid statements like that. There is no need to make an opponent into an enemy.

    209, CFU: And we may get saved by Aliens who give us Jump Gate Technology and we’ll be having rampant sex with cute alien women throughout the galaxy, and isn’t THAT what man has always dreamed of? Come on, Kif, I’m asking here.

    You should avoid statements like that. Right now nuclear decay is random; we may learn enough some day to predict which nucleus will decay next, and then nuclear decay won’t be random. Empirically, the appearance of random variation is not sufficient evidence that it is not generated by a deterministic process. Heartbeat variation looks random, but interbeat intervals are negatively correlated and not-exponentially distributed; heartbeat variation might be a deterministic chaotic process that is not completely understood. As far as I have read lately, you can’t tell.

  16. 216
    Ray Ladbury says:

    VS, the assumption of a linear trend is anything but ad hoc. It is in fact what we expect to see from the logarithmic forcing due to an exponentially rising CO2 content. That’s physics, and it fits the data pretty well. There is certainly a random variation about that trend–just as there is random variation (sometimes quite large) about generally rising market indices over the past 100 years or so. I suspect that if you applied your analysis to stock prices, you’d be recommending we all sell immediately. No offense, but I’ll stick with physics on this one.

  17. 217
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Septic Matthew, while I agree that random behavior can be generated by deterministic processes, I have to take issue with the following: “Right now nuclear decay is random; we may learn enough some day to predict which nucleus will decay next, and then nuclear decay won’t be random.”

    Ain’t gonna happen. We understand nuclear decay. It is a purely quantum process. It occurs when a nucleus pops a W boson out of the vacuum and the boson changes the flavor of a meson and an electorn and neutrino. I commend to you the Theorems of one John Bell, who placed pretty tight limits on hidden variables in quantum mechanics.

    Again, in the physical world, I’ll tend to go with physics. That’s why a random walk for global temperatures won’t fly.

  18. 218
    Georgi Marinov says:

    Completely Fed Up says:
    16 April 2010 at 4:39 PM
    Georgi, I notice that you silently drop the assertion of millions of km2 taken up just to meet our current demands.

    Given that one pillar of your edifice relied on the impracticality of millions of km2 taken up and your new attempt includes how expensive it is (so should, logically have been an equivalently larger problem when you thought it millions), aren’t you going to go off and consider if you have other things REALLY wrong?

    One pillar has tumbled.

    Maybe that house isn’t strong enough to last.

    Get someone to look at it.

    Actually you got totally wrong because you fail to actually understand what you read, or, alternatively, you are too ignorant of the real situation. First, the numbers you quoted were for total ELECTRICITY consumption, not for total energy consumption, which is more than 3 times higher, and a lot of it consists of oil, which can not be fully replaced by electricity. I was talking about electricity here. Second, you completely ignore the issue if EROEI, because if the EROEI of solar panels is twice as low as that of fossil fuels, which is about the case, then you are actually getting half as much energy as you need from the same quantity of electricity you produce. So we have a factor of at least 6 difference already. But we haven’t finished. The 231x231km assumes 15% conversion efficiency, however you only get 15% with solar panels that use the kinds of elements that aren’t in particular abundance like tellurium and indium. If you are to cover the areas we are talking about, you will not be able to do that because of shortage of raw materials for the purpose, which means that you will have to use the less efficient ones that only get 8-10% at most. In addition, you have to rebuild the entire electrical grid, especially if you are to put these panels in the desert. And you have to do against the background of an economy falling apart due to Peak Oil. It is indeed hard to see this happening, and much harder to see it being repeated, because when it has to be repeated many other resource limits will have also hit. However, because your point is that not only can we do that, but we can do it at an even bigger scale so that we can also support future growth, which is an even bigger lunacy.

    In the end, you can’t have exponential growth in a finite physical system, it is as simple as that. If you think you can, eventually you collapse, the hard and ugly way

  19. 219
    Septic Matthew says:

    217, Ray Ladbury: Ain’t gonna happen. We understand nuclear decay. It is a purely quantum process. It occurs when a nucleus pops a W boson out of the vacuum and the boson changes the flavor of a meson and an electorn and neutrino. I commend to you the Theorems of one John Bell, who placed pretty tight limits on hidden variables in quantum mechanics.

    You are claiming that what isn’t known (how to predict radioactive decay) can’t be known because of what is known (how it happens); and because what is known isn’t sufficient to make the predictions. Bell’s theorem needs to be revisited by someone with a deep understanding of Simpson’s paradox.

    I am doubtful that we can ever predict nuclear decay, but it is not more difficult intrinsically than studying entanglement — where also a random outcome can be predicted perfectly given knowledge of another random outcome.

    Obviously I do not know what will be discovered in the next 100 years, but your writing reminds me of Albert Michelson’s prediction that future developments in physics would consist of learning constants to extra precision. Bell’s theorem is equivalent to a proof, ca 1890, that the laws of physics proved that the precession in the perihelion of mercury could never be modeled.

    People know a lot about the deterministic processes that govern gene expression. But when using gene expression data to diagnose cancer, or when breeding better crops, gene expression is random across samples or seeds. Random variation vs. deterministic variation is a false dichotomy, because what is random and what is predictable depends in many cases on what else is known. There is a school of thought that it depends entirely on what else is known, but that idea can’t be tested.

  20. 220
    Septic Matthew says:

    213, David B. Benson

    You might be right, but it would be better to have all the details filled in and substantiated.

  21. 221
    t_p_hamilton says:

    Septic Matthew:”You are claiming that what isn’t known (how to predict radioactive decay) can’t be known because of what is known (how it happens); and because what is known isn’t sufficient to make the predictions.”

    The “how to predict radioactive decay” is a math problem, not a problem of understanding the process or theory. As far as I know – it is certainly true for quantum theory for electronic structure of atoms and molecules.

  22. 222
    t_p_hamilton says:

    I should add that what is to be predicted is the probability per unit time per nucleus. As decay is random, it is arguable that the idea of predicting individual decays is nonsense.

  23. 223
    Ron R. says:

    Septic Matthew #190 said Every nation with a growing economy has a declining fertility rate, and some without growing economies have declining fertility rates

    See http://www.worldometers.info/

    You’ll notice that the numbers are going up, Up, UP. Scroll down and watch the earth’s resources going up in statistical smoke. Down farther and see forests and species disappearing. People can speculate about world population growth ending on its own in the future but it’s just that, speculation. The obvious trend is MORE.

    Discussion and action are well underway.

    When is the last time you heard any American politician talk seriously about the problem of world overpopulation and overconsumption? Maybe there have been but I can’t think of any (maybe Kucininch). I do remember Dick Cheney saying something to the effect that conservation is not the American way. No, I don’t think that we are taking the issue seriously.

  24. 224

    SM (219),

    It’s not a question of an inadequate theory or not having good enough instruments. If quantum mechanics is correct, you can NEVER determine when one nucleus will decay, or that another won’t. It’s outside the set of things that can be known empirically.

    We know quantum mechanics is correct because it explains such diverse things as why nuclei decay and why the sun shines. We also know it from the fact that we can build radios and PCs and scanning tunneling electron microscopes that work.

  25. 225
    VS says:

    Ray Ladbury (216) says:

    “VS, the assumption of a linear trend is anything but ad hoc. It is in fact what we expect to see from the logarithmic forcing due to an exponentially rising CO2 content. That’s physics, and it fits the data pretty well. ”

    Actually, the whole point is that this (overly simple) hypothesis doesn’t fit the data ‘pretty well’ when you apply proper formal methods for relating the series. For an example of how *not* to do it, see Tamino’s spurious regressions (his ‘Still Not’ post) and the references to the (formal) proofs which, in conjecture with formal test results, indicate that these regressions are indeed complete nonsense (listed in my reply to his ‘debunkation’).

    It also doesn’t fit (formally) with the other climatological variables (e.g. solar irradiance, sea level heights, all GHG forcings, etc) that all test positively for unit roots (i.e. are not stationary). Having temperatures being (trend-)stationary would severely complicate, if not (almost) invalidate, any statistical relationship (i.e. formally derived correlation) between global mean temperatures and these variables, that arguably drive it in some way or another.

    Now *that’s* unphysical.

    Empiricists should pause and reflect before dismissing the results of formal handling of observations. Statistics is *not* an enemmy of physics. In fact, given the non-experimental nature of the observations we are dealing with, statistics is a (positive) scienitist’s best friend.

    Quit the bunker mentality, and read the thread in question with an open mind. The only thing disputed is how trends are currently ‘determined’ within climate science. This is a (purely) methodological issue. Furthermore, my calculations/estimates/simulations regarding the ARIMA(3,1,0) stochastic trend specification, which are strawmanned here as my ‘main claim’, only served as a tool in my (side-)discussion with Eduardo Zorita (about his 2008 GRL paper). This too, I explained multiple times in the thread.

    I guess that confirmation bias is what prevented everybody from looking a bit harder: “Oh, trend-stationary fit, great, just as we expected! No need to test for the underlying assumption of trend-stationarity!”.

    As a side note, shouldn’t it be obvious that these fitted straight lines are nonsense? Look at the 15-20 year long debate between ‘warmists’ and ‘deniers’ on where the ‘trend line calculations/estimation’ should start (i.e. are we in a ‘cooling’ or ‘warming’ trend at the moment?). This debate will never (ever) end because it is not conducted on the basis of formal results, but on the basis of ‘informed opinions’ (yes, phenomenological models too are ‘informed opinions’, until they are formally tested).

    Best, VS

  26. 226
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “First, the numbers you quoted were for total ELECTRICITY consumption, not for total energy consumption, which is more than 3 times higher”

    So still not a few millions.

    PS did this delay happen because you had to pop off and confer with confederates?

    Also note

    1) that the scenario didn’t have high-end estimates of efficiency
    2) Not just solar PV is needed
    3) we don’t need 100%, didn’t you read? 60% if we just were less profligate with our energy. 48% if we cut back on unnecessary uses.

    Your “three times” is now irrelevant.

    Stop propping that pillar up with chalk.

    “In the end, you can’t have exponential growth in a finite physical system, it is as simple as that.”

    Strawman.

    Who cares? This doesn’t make use of fossil fuels inevitable and unavoidable (therefore making your byline “so why not use it all up now and to hell with the descendants”, you misanthrope).

    If THAT was the house you were building, you’ll need the roof, floor, walls and several other items first. The ones you’ve used have nothing to do with the house you’re building.

  27. 227
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.”

    But that accumulation doesn’t cause wider divergence from the loci.

    If a bubble in a pot releases vapour, the extra energy is lost and the pot cools slightly.

    Each bubble is a random emerging process and not predictable.

    Yet the random walk doesn’t continue further deviations from the boiling of the water.

    Neither can it make the boiling pot freeze.

    Your argument is right in the most pointless manner possible.

  28. 228
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “There ARE plenty of people who walk to the shop, just because they don’t have a car. ”

    And plenty more people doing so will have more effect.

    And NONE OF THAT POST means that reducing energy use means a recession, any more than reduced use of the horse and cart caused one.

  29. 229
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Septic Matthew,
    OK, I can tell from your post #219 that you haven’t even bothered to look up Bell’s Theorem and are now, in fact, bullshitting.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell%27s_theorem

    All Bell’s Theorem says is that if you introduce “hidden variables” that explain the random nature of quantum mechanics, that the resulting theory will not reproduce the predictions of quantum mechanics–in other words, that randomness is in fact inherent to quantum theory. And the evidence sure looks as if quantum mechanics–especially the random part–is correct.

    You are falling victim to your own experience of statistics. However, quantum mechanics is different. I would recommend that you familiarize yourself with it a bit before merely applying your past experience. It is not that you are not in good company–Einstein did the same thing. It’s just that in this case, Einstein was wrong.

  30. 230
    Georgi Marinov says:

    Completely Fed Up @ 226

    I can not understand why so many people suffer from such a severe lack of basic reading comprehensions skills.

    I can not imagine how anyone who has such would read my posts and think that I am somehow advocating the continued use of fossil fuels. To begin with, I am talking about Peak Oil/Gas/Coal, limits to growth, and other such things all the time. Where the idea that I am pro fossil fuels came from?

    The point I am making is that it is a delusion to think that you can convert to renewables, do it on time to make Peak Oil not an issue and continue BAU with respect to everything else. It takes a truly deluded mind to look at the data and not reach the same conclusion.

  31. 231
    Gilles says:

    “And NONE OF THAT POST means that reducing energy use means a recession, any more than reduced use of the horse and cart caused one.”
    Of course they will. Automotive industry represents a fair part of a modern economy , and less use means less cars produced a year. And if you employ the money to other things, you have to demonstrate that it won’t be associated with any fossil fuel consumption – which is hard to imagine. And you have also to explain clearly why people rich enough to buy a car wouldn’t do it – which is obviously not common around the whole world.

    You didn’t answer my question : given that the energy intensity is not much different from one country to another (there are differences of course, but the US one is close to the world average), starting from the current standard of living associated with a FF consumption low enough (= the one you would like for everybody), how could they much improve their standard of living without increasing their FF consumption?

    If you can’t clearly answer this question, I will consider that you basically agree with me : it is not possible to decrease substantially the FF use without decreasing the GDP (which of course is a defensible option : it is advocated by the proponents of “de-growth” – although I can hardly imagine how this could be achieved).

  32. 232
    Septic Matthew says:

    229, Ray Ladbury: All Bell’s Theorem says is that if you introduce “hidden variables” that explain the random nature of quantum mechanics, that the resulting theory will not reproduce the predictions of quantum mechanics–in other words, that randomness is in fact inherent to quantum theory. And the evidence sure looks as if quantum mechanics–especially the random part–is correct.

    Bell’s theorem predicts the rank orders of pairs of probabilities. It does not take into account Simpson’s paradox, which is that observed rank orders can be reversed conditional on unobserved but potentially observable conditions. This is explained well in the book “Statistics” by Freedman, Purvis and Pisani, using the Berkeley graduate school admissions data as an example. Without intentionally doing so, Bell assumed that the rank orders can’t be reversed conditional on the hidden variables. That’s why I wrote that Bells’ theorem should be revisited by someone with a deep understanding of Simpson’s paradox.

    If I may return the ad hominem compliment, you really should study more about conditional probabilities and conditional distributions, not to mention statistics more generally. You repeatedly assert without foundation that what you don’t know can’t possibly matter because what you do know says so. In the history of science and technology, that has seldom been adequate. If I were advocating deployment of perpetual motion machines, or claiming that the second law of thermodynamics proves civilization has reached its limit, that would be one thing. But for most of what I have addressed, there is much that is not known with sufficient accuracy.

    227, cfu: But that accumulation doesn’t cause wider divergence from the loci.

    Wider than what? And over what time span? Random walks always produce surprisingly large deviations from the expected value over surprisingly large time spans: that’s why investors get suckered into betting on “trends” that are not trends. Revisit Jean Perrin’s experiments on Brownian motion: no particle stays near the expected value most of the time, where “near” is small compared to the s.d. Let me recommend some books: by Oksendal “Stochastic Differential Equations” (elementary); by Crauel and Gundlach (eds.) “Stochastic Dynamics” (less elementary, but focused on Stratanovich ); by Arnold “Random Dynamical Systems” (even less elementary respects, still but focused on Stratanovich integrals.)

  33. 233
    Septic Matthew says:

    I have to leave, but I thank you for all of your rejoinders, links and book recommendations.

    Matt

  34. 234
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Septic Matthew, It is one thing to say that we may at some point better understand a phenomenon–be it climate or radioactive decay. It is quite another thing to say that future developments will render our current understanding in a mature field of study utterly incorrect. What Bell’s Theorem says is that randomness is fundamental to quantum mechanics–that is is not a result of complexity or deterministic chaos, but rather a characteristic of the fundamental processes at the quantum level. There could be a theory that someday explained the random nature of these processes. Bell’s Theorem says that this theory would not be quantum mechanics and would not reproduce the phenomena explained by quantum mechanics. Given that quantum mechanics has been verified to an astounding degree of precision, that doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for hidden variables–and Ed Simpson ain’t gonna be much help to you.

    In a similar manner, it is very unlikely that CO2 sensitivity will be found to be significantly below 2 degrees per doubling. There is simply to much evidence against that proposition. Do you seriously think that we’ll come across a treasure trove of data and find that CO2 cools rather then warms the planet? If you do, I would suggest that it is YOU who needs to revisit Simpson’s Paradox.

  35. 235

    Gilles, again an excluded middle: people can buy *more efficient* cars and use less energy. If the value of the more efficient cars is comparable to the older, less efficient models, then no economic loss will result. (In principle, economic gain could result, at least from the point of view of the auto industry.)

    Energy is not equal to money.

  36. 236
    flxible says:

    Gilles problem is evident in the repeated use of phrases like “which is hard to imagine” and “I can hardly imagine how …”.

  37. 237

    Ron R (223): You’ll notice that the numbers are going up, Up, UP. Scroll down and watch the earth’s resources going up in statistical smoke. Down farther and see forests and species disappearing. People can speculate about world population growth ending on its own in the future but it’s just that, speculation. The obvious trend is MORE.

    BPL: The world’s population growth rate in 1960, the year I was born, was 2.2% per year. It is now 1.1% per year. That’s an improvement.

  38. 238

    VS (225): Look at the 15-20 year long debate between ‘warmists’ and ‘deniers’ on where the ‘trend line calculations/estimation’ should start (i.e. are we in a ‘cooling’ or ‘warming’ trend at the moment?). This debate will never (ever) end because it is not conducted on the basis of formal results, but on the basis of ‘informed opinions’ (yes, phenomenological models too are ‘informed opinions’, until they are formally tested).

    BPL: The debate ended in 1935, when the 30 year standard for climate trends was adopted for reasons that had nothing to do with global warming.

  39. 239
    Hank Roberts says:

    Hm. It looks like ‘Simpson’s Paradox’ explains the notion VS is promoting re cooling!
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/47/Simpson%27s_paradox_continuous.svg/220px-Simpson%27s_paradox_continuous.svg.png
    (illustrating a declining trend across eight data points, or two rising trends picking just the first or last four of them)

  40. 240
    Ray Ladbury says:

    VS@225
    While I agree that statistics is not an enemy of physics. Rather, it is a tool to illustrate physical reality. But like any good tool, it has to be subordinated to that reality. What that means is that a statistician who wields the tools of his craft without understanding the physics will produce bullshit.

    Tamino, who understands both the physics and the statistics, showed this pretty convincingly by demonstrating that your conclusion of a unit root was not robust–as expected from the physics. If you are truly interested in contributing to the understanding of climate, I would suggest that you take some time off from pontificating about statistics and learn some of the physics. It’s not so bad, it only took me, with a PhD and 20 years experience, a couple of years to grasp most of it. Or you can continue to bullshit. Your choice.

  41. 241
    Gilles says:

    “Gilles, again an excluded middle: people can buy *more efficient* cars and use less energy. If the value of the more efficient cars is comparable to the older, less efficient models, then no economic loss will result. (In principle, economic gain could result, at least from the point of view of the auto industry.)”

    I totally agree, I didn’t say that no improvement of fossil fuel use was possible, I even said that the growth (per capita) of the last 30 years was entirely due to it since the energy use per capita has remained approximately constant.

    The point here is exactly what you mentioned yourself : with more efficient cars, what can prevent more people to buy more cars and cancel the efficiency gain by more users? we don’t miss candidates ! generally speaking, the curve of fossil fuels consumption has been more or less constantly growing (except during strong recessions but it has recovered rather rapidly after) , and it will probably limited only by their growing extraction cost. Why would this be changed with an improved efficiency ? I don’t see any reason why it would have grown with an efficiency X and not with an efficiency Y > X. The flaw in your reasoning is obvious : you reason with a constant amount of cars (or generally of produced goods). But there is no reason why an improved efficiency would not allow MORE people to use MORE goods with a constant fuel consumption. It has always been the case, and it will much likely be the case. Yes I say “in my opinion” , because I do not pretend being the only one knowing the Holy Truth. But it doesn’t mean that I’m wrong. If you think so, give a good argument.

  42. 242
    Hank Roberts says:

    > with more efficient cars, what can prevent more people to buy more cars
    > and cancel the efficiency gain by more users?

    Paying actual costs including the externalized costs.
    Carbon tax. This is a generally effective approach, and
    so one greatly resisted by those who don’t want such control.

    Frankfurter (November 16, 1934) to William O. Douglas:

    “Turn your attention … to an instrument of control far more powerful–resourcefully and skillfully formulated devices of federal taxation, graduated according to size, as it were of the big corporations…. It’s awfully easy to write these nice laws for control. I think your lawyer-banker friends would write them for you.” He concluded, “tax ‘em, my boy, tax ‘em.”

    quoted in: The Rhetoric and Reality of the American Dream: Securities Legislation and the Accounting Profession in the 1930s Barbara D. Merino, Alan G. Mayper
    originally found at http://panopticon.csustan.edu/cpa99/html/merino
    Now paywalled by a publisher.

    Our recent financial market gyrations suggest he was quite correct in his advice.

  43. 243
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Of course they will. Automotive industry represents a fair part of a modern economy ”

    As did the production of the Hansom Cab Company.

    Or indeed, slavery.

    MASSIVE economic issue, slavery.

    Yet, after abandoning horse and carriage and slavery, economies have managed to reach new peaks of value.

    You’re repeating the same old shit.

    Money and energy are not the same.

    Using less energy doesn’t lead to an economic collapse.

    Do you have ANY example where that was the case?

  44. 244
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “I can not understand why so many people suffer from such a severe lack of basic reading comprehensions skills. ”

    That’s OK, just learn how to read properly, Georgi.

    “I can not imagine how anyone who has such would read my posts and think that I am somehow advocating the continued use of fossil fuels.”

    I don’t: I’ve told you off for going “there’s no way we can stop using fossil fuels” because that is fuel (pun intended) to asshats like Gilles who love to see increased fossil fuel use.

    I really can’t understand how someone can complain about the lack of thought of others by yourself when you display such inability to listen to your own codswallop.

    “The point I am making is that it is a delusion to think that you can convert to renewables,”

    Why? All you’ve said is “you’d use millions of km2 of land” when that wasn’t true, said “ah, but we’d have to rebuild”. Then complained that you need three times that anyway, then ignore the fact that we can reduce.

    Your point just seems to be repeated repetition (pun again intended) of the same cry “you can’t do it”. When you’ve been so very wrong on the basics, you refuse to think maybe you have other stuff wrong too.

    ” do it on time to make Peak Oil not an issue”

    ” and continue BAU with respect to everything else.”

    Can I call your mind back to your original statement:

    “I can not understand why so many people suffer from such a severe lack of basic reading comprehensions skills. ”

    What do you think “we can reduce our energy needs to 60% just being less wasteful” means “BAU”?

    Try reading.

    “It takes a truly deluded mind to look at the data and not reach the same conclusion.”

    You mean the data of “a few million square km” which turns out to be 1/16th of 1 million…?

    You failed to look at that data.

    Probably because you don’t like the conclusion.

  45. 245
    Ron R. says:

    BPL #137, this is how Optimum Population Trust addresses that question.

    the global birth rate is falling, but world population is still increasing by about 77 million a year and will continue to increase for a long time. A population can grow faster than it did a few years before even if its birthrate is falling – this is partly due to the ‘compound interest’ effect of births – just as 5 per cent interest added to 00 produces the same result (50) as 4.878% on 25, so a lower birth rate can result in the same, even larger numbers, if the base population is still increasing.http://www.optimumpopulation.org/opt.faqs1.html

    But let’s say that population bottoms out at the 9 to 10 billion some assert will happen for the middle of the century, that’s still way more than the earth can sustain for long according to population scientists.

    According to Russell Hopfenberg “human population increases are a function of increased food availability.” http://panearth.org/WVPI/Papers/CarryingCapacity.pdf

    IOW, as long as we have the means to grow food, by taking yet more and more land from other species we will continue to grow. Where does that leave the rest of earth’s 99.999% of species? Out in the cold.

    How many people do we really need on this planet? Some species now number in the hundreds and some in the thousands. We are now closing in on 7 billion of us!. If we know that at some point we have to stop populating if we want to preserve this planet isn’t it better to do so while we still have something left worth saving or do we wait until the last minute, when it’s all gone? Why must we always do that?

    Peter Raven, former President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), in their work AAAS Atlas of Population & Environment, says “Where do we stand in our efforts to achieve a sustainable world? Clearly, the past half century has been a traumatic one, as the collective impact of human numbers, affluence (consumption per individual) and our choices of technology continue to exploit rapidly an increasing proportion of the world’s resources at an unsustainable rate. … During a remarkably short period of time, we have lost a quarter of the world’s topsoil and a fifth of its agricultural land, altered the composition of the atmosphere profoundly, and destroyed a major proportion of our forests and other natural habitats without replacing them. Worst of all, we have driven the rate of biological extinction, the permanent loss of species, up several hundred times beyond its historical levels, and are threatened with the loss of a majority of all species by the end of the 21st century.http://atlas.aaas.org/index.php?sub=foreword

  46. 246
    Gilles says:

    Hank Roberts :”Paying actual costs including the externalized costs.
    Carbon tax. This is a generally effective approach, and
    so one greatly resisted by those who don’t want such control.

    You’re in a complete paradox. As I said, the most obvious way of reducing FF use is to reduce the standard of living (or the GDP). But you insist that it is not the only solution and that we could keep on growing while reducing FF. It means that you think that growing is a good thing. Nice. And now you want a growth but you want to limit the number of people having a car. A very strange situation indeed, in which more and more people would get richer .. but no one would use his money to but things other richer people can have ! that’s full economy-and sociology fiction.

    Carbon tax is only a toy for rich people thinking that they will save the world by giving money in penitence; for the vast majority of the world, it is a total incongruity.

    CFU :”Yet, after abandoning horse and carriage and slavery, economies have managed to reach new peaks of value.”

    Only by increasing a lot the energy consumption !! gosh, how can you be so blind ? so it’s perfectly contradictory to assume growth is good, and at the same time think that we will limit the access to which allows it. There will be always people much poorer than you : how can you expect forbidding them to access your way of life if they can , and how could you justified it ?

    remember : economic growth is just due to the fact that nobody sees any objection in living like people earning just 1% more than them, one year after.

    I’m afraid that your blindness comes from the fact that you seem to imagine that the world shares the concerns of american people, which is only the case for 5% of the population. 80 % just want to access the basic comfort, and I do not see how you can prevent them to do it if they can.

  47. 247
    Hank Roberts says:

    Gilles, please don’t attribute your ideas _or_ their polar opposites to me.
    The era of growth is long gone; we’ve lost almost all the big animals and fish in the past fifty years! We’re in an extremely fast collapse right now. All we have is ‘money’.
    The notion that ‘money’ or GDP measures growth is nonsense; mostly it measures stripmining.

    http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/63fae3tq9780252008184.html
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZkwewR69w8
    http://forum-network.org/lecture/overfishing-and-collapse-coastal-ecosystems

  48. 248
    Ron R. says:

    To add to Hank’s #247 comment, “A country could cut its forests and deplete its fisheries, and this would show only as a positive gain to GDP, despite the loss of capital assets. If the full economic value of ecosystems were taken into account in decision-making, their degradation could be significantly slowed down or even reversed. From the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment http://www.greenfacts.org/en/ecosystems/#3

  49. 249

    #241–Gilles, if people were buying more efficient cars that cost more (presumably because fuel costs had risen), then there is no obvious reason that they would buy more cars than at the previous lower prices.

    Is it possible that they drive more miles, knowing that the cost per mile has decreased? Sure, but since people don’t usually drive just for the sake of driving, cost is only one factor–presumably their actual need to travel hasn’t changed.

  50. 250
    Gilles says:

    HK :”he notion that ‘money’ or GDP measures growth ”

    ??
    Growth (in my English at least) means “increase of a quantitative parameter”. If it is not GDP, what is it ? GDP doesn’t “measure” growth, it IS the growing quantity.
    Now if you think that growth is almost over (an opinion that I would readily share), then you’re saying that all IPCC are bogus (an opinion that I also would readily share). Strangely enough, IPCC economists simply ignore all consequences of resources depletion (including energy, but not only). For them, only the average temperature could have an effect on the world !


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