Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Defense Department retaliates against General John Riggs, who had the temerity to suggest there were insufficient troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Standard "kill the messenger" routine from the Bush Administration.
Fascinating NY Times article on intergender children. These people represent a real problem for those who want to discriminate against homosexuals, as well as for society's attempts to control what people are.
keywords: Iraq, Peiser, global warming, science
Friday, May 27, 2005
Financial Post letter about Dr Benny Peiser
I discovered a while back that Canada's Financial Post published an incorrect and possibly dishonest attempt by Dr. Benny Peiser to refute the global warming consensus. I emailed a response to the Post, but as far as I know it hasn't been published, so I'm posting it below.
Very strange that Dr. Peiser wrote in the May 17th Financial Post Op-Ed that he “checked the same set of abstracts” as the Oreskes study affirming a global warming consensus, when on the exact same day, Dr. Peiser responded to me on the same question by saying, “Did I use a wider search than Oreskes? I don't know.”
In fact, Dr. Peiser does know that he used a wider search, and has known that fact since he participated in a web dialogue on May 8th. He has dishonestly repeated the “same set” argument in at least one other publication, MSNBC.com, and if his Financial Post Op-Ed was submitted after May 8th, then he was dishonest here as well.
The websites http://backseatdriving.blogspot.com/2005_05_01_backseatdriving_archive.html#111630828673744298
and http://cgi.cse.unsw.edu.au/~lambert/cgi-bin/blog/science/peiser2.html lay out the proof.
Peiser’s work is riddled with flaws, and the integrity of his attack is suspect. If this is the best the global warming denialists can do, then the consensus position seems all the stronger.
Keywords: global warming, Peiser
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Shorter Juan Cole - We're screwed in Iraq
Readers occasionally write me complaining that I do not offer any solutions to the problems in Iraq. Let me just step back from the daily train wreck news from the region to complain back that there aren't any short-term, easy solutions to the problems in Iraq.
The US military cannot defeat the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement any time soon for so many reasons that they cannot all be listed.
The guerrillas have widespread popular support in the Sunni Arab areas of Iraq, an area with some 4 million persons... Guerrilla movements can succeed if more than 40 percent of the local population supports them. While the guerrillas are a small proportion of Iraqis, they are very popular in the Sunni Arab areas. If you look at it as a regional war, they probably have 80 percent support in their region.
There are simply too few US troops to fight the guerrillas. There are only about 70,000 US fighting troops in Iraq, they don't have that much person-power superiority over the guerrillas. There are only 10,000 US troops for all of Anbar province, a center of the guerrilla movement with a population of 820,000. A high Iraqi official estimated that there are 40,000 active guerrillas and another 80,000 close supporters of them. The only real explanation for the successes of the guerrillas is that the US military has been consistently underestimating their numbers and abilities. There is no prospect of increasing the number of US troops in Iraq.
The Americans have lost effective control everywhere in the Sunni Arab areas.
So far the new pro-American Iraqi troops have not distinguished themselves against the guerrillas, and it will probably be at least 3-5 years before they can begin doing so, if ever. Insofar as the new army is disproportionately Shiite and Kurdish, it may simply never have the resources to penetrate the Sunni Arab center-north effectively.
The political process in Iraq has been a huge disaster for the country. The Americans emphasized ethnicity in their appointments and set a precedent for ethnic politics that has deepened over time. The Shiite religious parties, Dawa and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, won the January 30 elections. These are the parties least acceptable to the Sunni Arab heartland... They so far have no reason to hope for a fair shake in the new Iraq. Political despair and the rise of Shiite death squads that target Sunnis are driving them into the arms of the guerrillas.
The quality of leadership in Washington is extremely bad. George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and outgoing Department of Defense officials Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, have turned in an astonishingly poor performance in Iraq. Their attempt to demonstrate US military might has turned into a showcase for US weakness in the face of Islamic and nationalist guerrillas, giving heart to al-Qaeda and other unconventional enemies of the United States.
If the US drew down its troop strength in Iraq too rapidly, the guerrillas would simply kill the new political class and stabilizing figures such as Grand Ayatollah Sistani. Although US forces have arguably done more harm than good in many Sunni Arab areas, they have prevented set-piece battles from being staged by ethnic militias, and they have prevented a number of attempted assassinations.
In an ideal world, the United States would relinquish Iraq to a United Nations military command, and the world would pony up the troops needed to establish order in the country in return for Iraqi good will in post-war contract bids. But that is not going to happen for many reasons. George W. Bush is a stubborn man and Iraq is his project, and he is not going to give up on it. And, by now the rest of the world knows what would await its troops in Iraq, and political leaders are not so stupid as to send their troops into a meat grinder.
Therefore, I conclude that the United States is stuck in Iraq for the medium term, and perhaps for the long term. The guerrilla war is likely to go on a decade to 15 years. Given the basic facts, of capable, trained and numerous guerrillas, public support for them from Sunnis, access to funding and munitions, increasing civil turmoil, and a relatively small and culturally poorly equipped US military force opposing them, led by a poorly informed and strategically clueless commander-in-chief who has made himself internationally unpopular, there is no near-term solution.
In the long run, say 15 years, the Iraqi Sunnis will probably do as the Lebanese Maronites did, and finally admit that they just cannot remain in control of the country and will have to compromise. That is, if there is still an Iraq at that point.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
I am a fiscal conservationist
"Conservative" and "conservationist" both have their roots in "conserve": to keep in a sound or safe state. I think it's very clear that "fiscal conservationist" better describes someone trying to stop budget deficits than "fiscal conservative".
I'm a conservationist: one who advocates "conservation," which is "a careful preservation and protection of something." I'm now a fiscal conservationist, as is anyone else who tries to fight massive deficit spending. If the Republicans clean up their act and keep it clean for the next 25 years, we can revisit the issue, but the word choice is clear right now.
P.S. Thought I'd invented the term "fiscal conservationist", but I guess not.
keywords: politics, budget, Lakoff
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Betting on global warming
Below are some bets I'm willing to make on global warming, as in betting with actual money if someone wants to take me up on it:
- Successfully-arranged bet number one! With David Evans over 10-20 years, details here.
- A bet that sea level rise will continue over the next five years.
- The bet Richard Lindzen refused to take, after saying that there was a 50% chance that temperatures would drop over the next 20 years and that he was willing to bet on it: that temperatures will increase over the next 20 years, and if they don't, he gets a 2:1 payout.
- George Monbiot on BBC Radio offerring to bet a denialist 5,000 British pounds that temperatures will increase over the next 10 years.
- Paul Ehrlich's second bet offered to Julian Simon in 1995 that the years 2002-04 would be warmer than 1992-94 (Simon wisely declined). (this bet would obviously be adjusted to future years, say 2006-08)
- A proposed global warming bet that pays to charity at longbets.org.
- That randomly picked glaciers will retreat over a ten-year period.
- A bet for those who argue we're just going through another of the "natural" temperature cycles. Also, a bet that warming will accelerate in the next 10-20 years compared to the overall rate in the last century.
- That temperatures would not drop significantly 10 years after the anomalously-hot 1998 El Nino year.
- That the post-2005 hurricanes will be found to have become more intense partly due to anthropogenic global warming.
- For those who deny we have enough knowledge to place odds, think about this - I'll also bet temperatures will DROP in 10 years, if given 20:1 odds. If 20:1 sounds good to you but 2:1 doesn't, we've established your estimate of global warming.
- Successfully-arranged bet number two, except this time I'm on the cold side about Arctic ice not disappearing, with details here.
If some denialist is interested, please get in touch with me.
UPDATE: corrected odds originally offered to Lindzen from 3:1 to 2:1. For a 20 year bet, I'm willing to give 3:1 odds to my opponent, and I expect James Annan, who originated the bet, would be willing to do the same.
UPDATE 2: Elsewhere I offered to bet a right-wing radio host on global warming, and he backed down.
The arch-conservative Free Republic forum deleted my posting and banned me for offering to bet people on global warming.
UPDATE 3: I'm fixing a "bug" in the bets, that large volcanic eruptions at the end of the betting period will skew the results while telling us nothing about humanity's effect on climate. My fix is a three-year reset into the future for the bet period from the time of any large eruption occurring in the last three years of the bet. For example, say someone bets against me over global warming in the 2005-2025 time period. In 2024, a large eruption occurs. Betting period gets reset three years from the eruption, so it's from 2007 to 2027.
Large volcanic eruption would be anything equivalent to the Mount Pinatubo eruption, measured in terms of energy. I'm open to alternative definitions.
I'm also open to a similar fix for strong El Nino-type events, if any betting opponent wants to include it.
UPDATE 4: I'd love to take a bet similar to the one that James Annan finally arranged.
UPDATE 5: I deleted a very short-term (3 year) bet because there's too much noise in that data. I had figured that it would work out fine over time with many bets, but I no longer think I'm likely to find many denialists who are willing to bet me.
UPDATE 6: deleted a paragraph discussing the "natural warming" proponents, after figuring out a bet that should interest them.
UPDATE 7: I've challenged Senator James "Global Warming Is a Hoax" Inhofe to a bet.
UPDATE 8: Added sea level rise bet.
I'm also keeping a running list of blogs that I've challenged to a bet.
UPDATE 9: old comment thread to this post is saved here, but I recommend any new comments be added to this post, not the old thread.
UPDATE 10 (April 2012): I don't think IPCC AR5 is going to make the call on current hurricanes yet, so I jumped the bet back one, and start in 2005 instead of 1995. Someone should've taken me up on it beforehand.
keywords: science, global warming, bet
Archived comment thread for global warming bet post of 4.24.07
Remind me - who has bet #2?
I just came across your blog about Global Warming and wanted to drop you a note telling you how impressed I was with the information you have posted here. I also have a blog about Global Warming so I know I'm talking about when I say your site is top-notch!Global Warming Keep up the great work, you are providing a great resource on the Internet here!
William - I'll have to dig it out, but it was at a British newsgroup called something like Stormworld, and one of the guys with the climateprediction.net made a bet for 1,000 pounds on temps going up (like James' bet). Sorry, the details are hazy. I should put a better reference in my blog somewhere handy. James wrote about it too.
James called my bet 'number 2' but it was only for 500 pounds and so it could be disregarded as 'chump change' or below William £1000 threshold to be considered serious.
"From here on in this blog, references to denialist, septics, etc. involve only skeptics who won't put their money where their mouths are."
Well done and well explained. Since this bet appears to be carefully considered, I'll assume that you and Mr. Evans have an agreed upon criteria for what constitutes a a volcanic eruption large enough to affect temperature.
Chris - 500 pounds doesn't seem like chump change to me!
You could nail down the volcano thing by defining it in terms of SO2 injected into the upper trop as defined by the TOMs volcano group Volcanos that blow out sideways like Mt. St. Helens don't affect global T much.
I'm puzzled by the odds. The climate change lobby is urging governments around the world to bet the world economy on the economy-destroying climate change. If that is going to happen, it's worth the bet. But what are the odds? If this bet is anything to go by, your personal appraisal of the risk of continually rising CO2-driven temperatures is, overall, 3:2. That doesn't jell with the public or political perception. That perception is that destructive climate change is, for all practical purposes, certain.
I don't how you define climate catastrophe, Peter, but I think the odds are near certain that the costs of controlling greenhouse gas emissions will be less than the costs of not controlling GHGs.
"I'm puzzled by the odds. The climate change lobby is urging governments around the world to bet the world economy on the economy-destroying climate change."
"Even if doubling GHGs only made the globe 1 degree C warmer, we'd still have to control emissions, because without controls we'd just go on and triple and quadruple GHG levels."
There's a lot of coal out there - we could easily get 1000 ppm, so quadrupling is possible.
PJ: "At 0.15C per 10 years, we could have 100 years of such warming and it would have zero meaningful negative effects on sea level, ice caps, etc."
"No - we're already getting impacts that would get worse. More important, most scenarios show accelerating warmth- the ones that don't assume we do something about emissions."
Ron - try to hold back a little on the accusations. If you read what I said a little more closely, or if you knew much about the IPCC, you'd see I was talking about scenarios for future temperature changes.
Our present energy course is not sustainable.Responding to this demand while minimizing further climate change will need all the determination and ingenuity we can muster.The problem is not yet insoluble but becomes more difficult with each passing day.G8 countries bear a special responsibility for the current high level of energy consumption and the associated climate change. Newly industrialized countries will share this responsibility in the future.
Monday, May 23, 2005
Saved comment thread for "Betting on global warming" post
Vill has given a response to your bet offer on http://www.ukweatherworld.co.uk/...art=26& posts=37
Thanks Tom - I've tried to explain it to Vill, but no luck.
...large volcanic eruptions at the end of the betting period will skew the results while telling us nothing about humanity's effect on climate...
TomK, if you have suggestions on what would constitute a fair bet, I'm open to it. I think I've made plenty of fair offers for denialists of different stripes. Let's see what bet they want to make.
I bet you're a (expletive deleted by siteowner) kook. I win!!
I haven't followed all the links to analyze this carefully, but at first reading I don't see anything here that allows people to make bets based on support or denial of human-induced global warming.
Byrd, you argue that we don't know what's going to happen, in which case the favorable odds I offer should be appealing.
I'll bet you 1000 units of afterlife / next world currency that within the next 50,000 years, the current interglacial will have ended, with significant ill effects upon living conditions in North America and Europe.
Steve, that's as meaningful as many other skeptic responses to my challenges.
See comment #1 on this thread: http:// sciencepolicy.colorado.ed...sus_statem.html - perhaps SH wants to bet?
I joined the thread - apparently he thinks it's beneath his dignity.
Adam, I take the IPCC consensus position as my starting point, and the consensus position is .1-.2oC/decade for the initial decades, likely accelerating thereafter. If you think that means global warming is unimportant, then you haven't been paying attention.
I've been told that you are willing to bet on global warming. I thought I would find something on the odds you are offering, but it looks like you are all mouth and no action.
My, you're a pleasant one, Mike. Okay, compare 5 year average centered on 1998 with 5 year average centered on 2008. I'll bet you that, even odds. I prefer GISS data, but I could think about others.
I said 2008 and 1998, and using HADCRUT3 data. I'm a scientist not an idiot!
Well now you're not fooling anyone, Mike. 1998 had an anamolous El Nino that pumped up temps. Whether any one year is slightly warmer or colder than a subsequent year is only a little more important than whether February 21, 2008 is warmer or colder than February 21, 1998. It's the overall trend that matters and is better captured by the 5 year average.
Are you refusing to bet that this next year on Hadcrut3 figures will not be colder than 10 years ago. If you are not prepared to give odds then I will take that as a refusal to bet.
I'll answer your question if you promise to answer mine - will you bet even odds that the 5-year average centered on 1998 will be colder than the five year average centered on 2008? Fine, I'll even use HADCRUT data. You don't have to tell me your answer yet, just promise you'll answer.
I'll take that as a refusal to bet unless you give me odds.
I've no more refused your bet than you've refused my offer, which is even odds, 5 year averages centered on 1998 and 2008.
I forgot to add that I don't recall saying I'd bet any skeptic. Part of the reason is I only want to bet skeptics substantial amounts of money, and that means we need to figure out how to ensure payment. It's not easy in the absence of a betting market.
The biggest increase we see is that of a rising lower temperature. More so than the rising high temp.
Richard - that's my understanding too, and the effect is to raise the average temp.
Brian, a choice of bets:
"In the year 2015, the global average temperature will be 0.15 degrees Celsius warmer than 2005, plus or minus 1 degree Celsius."
"In case you're wondering how .1 to .2 degrees/decade translates into 1.4 to 5.8 degrees by 2100 forecasted by the IPCC, the IPCC believes it is possible that warming will accelerate after the first few decades."
"So for instance, here in the Northwest the winter minimum temps are substantially higher over the last few year. Also the night time minimum temps are much higher."
"You've cherry-picked the year and the data set"
Nope. Yes, the weather is colder, the daily highs are cooler. But the minimum low temps are considerable warmer. ie we are not getting the 20 below nights... even though the days may be cooler. This is born out by many studies done in the Pacific NW. You must study the data over many years.
Important link on how graphics fools:
So what's next, the minimum of arctic sea ice in winter 2008-09 or not ? Or do you know if the december slowing is an artefact ? http://nsidc.org/data/ seaice_ind..._timeseries.png
I'd guess that's a question of what's the smallest maximum ice extent. I haven't seen anyone focus on that issue, but maybe they should.
Saw your comment over at OB. I hold what I call the well-informed skeptic's position. I think CO2 is a first order forcing but the total second order effect 0.
Kevin - I think that sounds reasonable. The IPCC estimates are for surface temps and I believe satellites just measure tropospheric temps. I'd have to check to see whether the rate of changes should be the same, but I'd expect they would be, at least in the long term.
It is easy to make bets when you know that the people at the CRU are fixing the results!
"Dr." Jack - yes, there are conspiracies everywhere. But we can try GISS data, or satellite data instead....
I'd gladly bet on the issue of hurricane intensity, only the way you got it set up its a sucker bet.