That Didn’t Take Long

When I wrote that denizens of the east coast had to shovel a couple of feet of global warming, I was right:

…this record-breaking snowstorm is pretty much precisely what climate science predicts. Since one typically can’t make a direct association between any individual weather event and global warming, perhaps the best approach is to borrow and modify a term from the scientific literature and call this a “global-warming-type” deluge…

Global warming. Is there anything that it can’t do?

More over at The American Spectator, where I got the link, with some history in comments:

The worst storm for the East Coast occured in late Jan 1888 (just a few weeks after the horrible Children’s Blizzard). The entire Mid Atlantic states were buried under 15-20 foot snow drifts

The strongest cyclone to hit the UK occured in the 17th Century, and resulted portions of upper Scottland be buried under 60 foot of sand.

Some of the most spectacular rain fall events for Europe occured in the 14th and 15th centuries, which caused widespread famine and starvation. In Normandy, during the summer of 1318 it rained every day but 3.

Ditto for China. The 14th through the 17th centuries saw both record droughts and rainfalls.

And none can be attributed to AGW.

Of course it can. The planet was anticipating our voracious energy usage in the future.

First Of Many?

Parker Griffith is switching parties:

While the timing of his announcement was unexpected, Griffith’s party switch will not come as a surprise to those familiar with his voting record, which is one of the most conservative among Democrats.

He has bucked the Democratic leadership on nearly all of its major domestic initiatives, including the stimulus package, health care legislation, the cap-and trade energy bill and financial regulatory reform.

He’ll stand a lot better chance of reelection now. He could read the handwriting on the wall. How many others will follow him before the blowout next November?

The New Utilities

Trust busting, or cartel building?

if you think monopoly bargaining is the problem in health care, our cost problem is going to get worse, not better. Think of the one area where we see the most customer complaints: quasi-public utilities like the cable and phone companies. They also have a rather ponderous rate of innovation, and no particular interest in controlling their costs. That’s not an accident; it’s a feature of a regulatory structure that starts from provider costs and works up to what extra percentage they will be allowed to charge essentially captive consumers.

The notion that we need the government to “compete” with insurance companies is economically insane. As I’ve said before, if they need competition, let them compete with each other. That they don’t is a result of flawed government policy, which the lunacy that is passing the Congress will only make much worse.

As a commenter there notes, this bill will essentially ban true private insurance. If this becomes law, expect to see an underground economy and black market in health care.

The Politicization

…of peer review:

What these and other episodes reveal was that there was a concerted effort to stage-manage the appearance of an ironclad consensus at the expense of the scientific process. Rather than make an open and honest argument that, despite persistent uncertainties, there is substantial theoretical and empirical evidence to support the hypothesis that human activity is contributing to a gradual warming of the atmosphere, they focused on squelching dissenting scientific views, corrupting science in the process.

Unfortunately, as a commenter there notes, there isn’t anything really new about this. Kuhn understood it over half a century ago. This episode simply provided an ugly window into it, and in a case where the science is deeply consequential. It doesn’t “prove” that the earth is not anthropogenically warming (and people who think that science “proves” things in general simply demonstrate their lack of understanding of science). What it does show is that the people who have been telling us that it does are not to be trusted, and that a thorough, and transparent, review of the evidence is in order before we base major policy on their preferences.

[Update a few minutes later]

Another good point in comments, and you should really read all the comments over there. It is in response to the comment that we shouldn’t throw out all of the good science and scientists based on these bad apples:

100% of the scientists with like conclusions who have had their emails and code exposed to the world seem to have engaged in bad behaviour. Furthermore, very few of the scientists with like conclusions condemned the bad behaviour, instead beginning by defending it. Given these facts, I think we should say that we don’t know whether other scientist with like conclusions have engaged in bad behaviour, rather than just assuming that they haven’t.

Also:

…it is critical to examine the influence the bad apples have had over everything subsequent. To do that you first need to realize that although there are reams of studies on AGW indeed, they are almost all based off a shocking small group of data. Historic temperature wise, there are 3 major datasets in the world, and (apparently now that CRU has lost theirs) one repository for raw data. These datasets are references in a staggering amount of research, and their creators and care takers are the exact people in question here. Doug [sic] Jones being the godfather. The Wegman report warmed of how a small group of climate scientists from a small number of institutes were working too closely together to hope for any independent analysis. That has proved entirely true.

Slightly OT, but that first comment reminds me of the national, even global exchange we’ve had over the past eight years:

Defense: Not all Muslims are terrorists.

Retort: Yes, but to first order, at least lately, all terrorists have been Muslim.

Sadly for those scientists with integrity working in this field (and we don’t know how many there are — perhaps most of those with integrity have been chased out by now), this scandal has tainted them all, even if the media continues to misreport or ignore it.

Smart Diplomacy, Part Whatever

The Europeans and others aren’t as enamored with the president as they were a year ago, before they had to actually deal with him:

Together with Chancellor Angela Merkel, the leaders of Russia, Brazil, Japan, the European Union and of other important countries, Obama went to work. But it did not go quite as the Nobel Peace Prize-winner had imagined. Only Norbert Röttgen, Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety remained optimistic. In spite of the tough negotiations, a compromise can be found, he said. “Today the die will be cast.”

Instead a fiasco had begun making itself visible and felt. It began during the night of Friday and Saturday. A small group of negotiators assembled from among the 30 important and representative countries, among them Germany, were still discussing the main features and principles to be included in a twelve-point document. It was titled “The Copenhagen Accord” and consisted of a three-page collection of vague aims, without specific legally-binding goals that were to be achieved.

Although China is among the worst climate polluters and has had a long ascent in becoming an industrial power deserving of respect and recognition, Premier Wen Jiabao was not among the participants in the talks-not that his participation was not desired. To the contrary!

According to rumors in the Bella Center, US President Barack Obama at about 11 PM, had impatiently asked to speak with Wen Jiabao in order to advance the discussion. But Obama had to wait. Wen, who, it was rumored, had rarely left his hotel room, could not be found. Finally, the US delegation located him in a room set aside for negotiations. A visibly furious Obama, according to reports, stormed into the room. “Are you now ready to talk with me, Premier Wen?” he was reported to have shouted. “Are you now ready? Premier Wen, are you now ready to talk with me?” What a scene for a US president.

Wen was not alone in the room at the time when Obama quite literally burst into the room, according to participants. At the time, the Premier was in a conversation with India’s head of state, Mammohan Singh and South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma. Suddenly the group saw itself forced into a conversation with the US president.

At the insistence of the impatient Obama, this unplanned and coincidentally-assembled negotiating round and participants, agreed on a minimal compromise.

Obama should have discussed, coordinated with and agreed to this compromise with his closest partners: the European Union or the G77 Developing Nations. Instead, at about 10:25 PM, he called together a number of American journalists for an impromptu press conference. There he announced, the “Copenhagen Accord” as the conclusion and product of the two-week long conference. He was aware, that many countries would consider the result as insufficient and unsatisfactory. More, however, was not achievable.

He thought it a significant achievement and milestone that large developing countries like India and China had, for the first time, recognized the necessity of reducing emissions and accepted to limit warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

With that, he packed his bags and flew home.

I suspect they’ll be happy if he stays there.

Not Fascist Enough

Naomi Klein is complaining about the president:

Obama, it’s worth remembering, also came to office with the big banks on their knees — it took real effort not to nationalize them. Once again, if Obama had dared to use the power that was handed to him by history, he could have mandated the banks to provide the loans for factories to be retrofitted and new green infrastructure to be built. Instead he declared that the government shouldn’t tell the failed banks how to run their businesses. Green businesses report that it’s harder than ever to get a loan.

Imagine if these three huge economic engines — the banks, the auto companies, the stimulus bill — had been harnessed to a common green vision. If that had happened, demand for a complementary energy bill would have been part of a coherent transformative agenda.

Imagine. It’s easy if you try.

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