Author Archives: Editor of the Fabius Maximus website

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What are your recommendations: how to re-start the climate change debate?

Summary:  Today’s post gives a challenge and two useful presentations about climate change. How can climate scientists restart the debate — and gain majority support for large-scale public policy measures for mitigation of and adaptation to climate change? Plus a presentation overflowing with insights about climate science (not what you might expect from a Professor of Statistics), and a presentation by Roger Pielke Sr. about the state of the art in climate science.

“The climate is what you expect; the weather is what you get.”
— From Robert Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love.

Your ideas

A challenge for you

Last week I posted What climate scientists did wrong and while the massive climate change campaign has failed. After 26 years, one of the largest longest campaigns to influence public policy has failed to gain the support of Americans, with climate change ranking near the bottom of people’s concerns. It described the obvious reason: they failed to meet the public’s expectations for behavior of scientists warning about a global threat (i.e., a basic public relations mistake).

The next few posts explain how climate scientists can re-start the public policy debate about climate change and win — gaining approval of large-scale public policy measures for mitigation and adaptation). It’s taken longer than I planned to research; the first goes up tomorrow. So for today I pass the ball to you. Post your recommendations for climate scientists in the comments!

Recommendation #1, a brilliant presentation overflowing with ideas

Here are the slide decks to two interesting presentations. The first is by Leonard A Smith (Prof of Statistics, London School of Economics): “Distinguishing Uncertainty, Diversity and Insight“.  It’s long, dense, and difficult to follow without the speech — but brilliant and over-flowing with insights. I especially recommend slides 76-86 describing the constraints limiting climate models. He does it unusually clearly using simple graphs of model complexity (run time) vs. forecast lead time (how far in the future it can see).

Presentation by Leonard Smith

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A big month for police violence. Will they reform? Lessons either way.

Summary: Seven big incidents during the past 30 days! This post looks not just at what’s happening, but at the likely consequences. Unless they respond effectively, this growing flood of videos will inevitably redefine the image of police in the minds of many America, with ugly results. Unfortunately they, like so many of our institutions, appear dysfunctional in this most vital sense.

“There are two fairly standard approaches to political power used by those who seek it. Some seek power with the assumption that the citizenry are the source of legitimacy and are to be treated with respect. Others concentrate on identifying whatever insecurities there are within the citizenry and on exploiting them.”

— John Ralston Saul’s Reflections of a Siamese twin: Canada at the end of the twentieth century (1997).

Ahmed Mohamed


A busy month for America’s police

Video shows Philadelphia police officer threatening to have car towed unless driver for donates to police fundraiser., AP: incident occurred in August. Also see the NYT story.

Video Suggests Suspect in San Antonio Shooting Had Hands Raised When Shot“, New York Times: on August 28. Also see the second video of the incident.

Retired tennis star James Blake tackled by officer, without warning, while standing outside hotel. He resembled suspect of credit card fraud (a nonviolent crime), ABC News: September 11.

Video shows 4 Stockton police officers tackling a 16-year-old boy to the ground for jaywalking (it’s an infraction in California, not even a misdemeanor), LA Times: on September 15. See the video: “9 cops detain 1 US teen for refusing to use sidewalk (VIDEO)“. This article describes the beating.

Ahmed Mohamed interrogated by 5 police for building a clock and saying it was a clock. Taken away in cuffs, fingerprinted, suspended from school for 3 days: on September 15. His parents were not allowed to be present during police interrogation (and no attorney).

Cop Beats Unarmed Woman with a baton, Pulls Gun On Witnesses, ThinkProgress: on September 18. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officer arresting woman on a bus for theft.

Policeman harasses and cuff man for suspiciously eating a hamburger in the parking lot of an apartment building (plus an illegal search), AlterNet: on September 19.

This is probably an incomplete list of incidents during these few weeks, showing the usual mix of brutal of small but telling incidents plus an execution.

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Despair: so common these days, so good for the 1%

Summary:  Despair at the confident predictions of doomsters has become an almost defining characteristic of both Left and Right in America, as documented in so many posts here. Nothing but abject servitude serves the 1% better.  Here’s an example, looking at the effects of the quarter-century-long campaign predicting doom from climate change.


Edvard Munch’s “Despair” (1894).

Assessing the record, and alarmists’ responses to it

Gore correctly predicted a “time of consequences”, but got the details backwards. He quoted Churchill’s 1936 warning about Hitler, given less than 3 years before the invasion of Poland. What have we seen 10 years after Gore’s speech, and 26 years after James Hansen’s Senate testimony)? Few of the predicted horrors have appeared.

The world is a fraction of a degree C warmer. The record pause in hurricane landfalls continues, global numbers and energy of hurricanes has not risen, number of severe tornadoes, area burned in wildfires, number of extremely hot days in the US, the extent of arctic sea ice, Antarctic sea ice, and area of global sea ice — most metrics of extreme weather have remained stable or within historical norms during the past decade (more details here and here). Nor is there evidence we’ve hit the “tipping point”, despite passing so many deadlines during the past 30 years.

Even the air temperature has frustrated Gore’s predictions, as the pause continues in its second decade while scientists debate its causes. The somewhat ramshackle global surface air temperature networks showed a peak of hundredths of a degree in 2014 (and YTD 2015), less than their error bars; the two satellite-based networks show no record for 2014 (details here).

The consequences: a loss of credibility for the climate change activists, as the US public rates it among the least serious threats (see polls by Pew Research and by Gallup). Historians might see this as one of the most incompetent publicity campaigns ever.

Instead of learning and adapting from their failure, climate activists have doubled down. They ratchet up their claims about future doom, with journalists’ support. Often contrary to the IPCC’s findings, as in these articles about the “methane monster”. And as in this gem…

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Stratfor looks at Iraq, the Center of a Regional Power Struggle

Summary: Nothing shows the magnitude of our failure in Iraq as its transformation from foe to friend of Iran. More than an ally, Iran has become powerful in Iraq’s internal politics. Neither Iraq’s rulers nor its neighbors are happy with this, and now they push back. Stratfor seems optimistic about their odds of success. Color me skeptical about this analysis. However, Stratfor’s greatest value is as a window into the values, assumptions, and thinking of US elites. This shows how little we’ve learned after 14 years of FAILs in Iraq.


Iraq, the Center of a Regional Power Struggle

Lead Analyst: Omar Lamrani
Stratfor, 18 September 2015


  • The Iraqi prime minister will continue to pursue reforms to loosen Iran’s grip on his country.
  • A growing number of regional rivals will seek to challenge Iran’s position as the dominant foreign influence in Iraq.
  • Iran’s powerful proxies and considerable clout in the Iraqi parliament will continue to cement its presence in Iraq for the foreseeable future.


Iraq, a historical crossroad between major empires to the east and west, is once again caught in the middle of a battle among regional powers looking to protect their own interests. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iran has maintained its dominant foreign influence in Iraq, a status quo that was only reinforced after the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2011.

Now, however, Iran’s standing may not be so assured. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has pushed through several reforms that have increasingly challenged Iran’s role in the country, creating an opening for other states in the region to make a play for greater leverage in Iraq. But Iran will not back down without a fight. Tehran will use every tool it has, including proxy forces, to guard its interests in Iraq.

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Martin van Creveld looks at Amazons: women warriors in the real world

Summary: Martin van Creveld looks at the accounts of women soldiers from the ancient Amazons to modern armies, cutting away the myths to real the facts. It’s a timely analysis, with the US radically revising the role of women in our military.

Peshmerga Women

Peshmerga Women by Jan Sefti. Published under a Creative Commons License.


By Martin van Creveld. From his website, 27 August 2015
Posted with his generous permission

I get feedback on my articles. For that I am grateful; it makes me think. Recently someone took issue with my claim that, in the military, where there are women there are no bullets and where there are bullets there are no women. How about the brave Kurdish women who are fighting Daesh? Don’t they make up 30-35%?

30-35% of what? I asked. After all, women make up nearly 30% of the Israel Defense Force. Nevertheless, in the so-called Second Lebanon War of 2006, 130 male soldiers were killed against just one female. The 66 IDF soldiers who died in operation Protective Edge in 2014 did not include a single woman. So just what do 30-35% mean?

Regarding the fighting Kurdish troops  he answered rather brusquely. In support he sent these sites:

I opened them. They did not mention any figures on the ratio of brave Kurdish fighting females to brave Kurdish fighting males. And the headline? “No Frontline Deployment for Female Kurdish Troops.”

What the article did say was that, in a place called Dobruk, there is or was a colonel who commanded “a 30-woman unit.” Strange, that: since when do colonels command platoons? Isn’t their job to command brigades in which there are normally 27 platoons as well as other units? Never mind.

The purpose of the unit? “To show,” says the colonel, “that we are different from IS, which will never let women fight.” In other words, propaganda. Though whom the propaganda is intended for, the Kurds themselves or their slavering Western admirers, is left unsaid.

That business disposed of, I decided to do a little research. And yes, I did find a Reuters photo report titled, “Kurdish women fighters wage war on Islamic State in Iraq.” It claimed that women made up some 30%. Thirty percent of exactly what? Military personnel (assuming that, in a place like Kurdistan, there is a clear distinction between the military and civilians)? All kinds of support troops? Fighters who actually hold a gun, fire at the enemy, and are fired at in return? The article provides no answers. What it does provide are nice-looking pictures of women posing with Kalashnikov assault rifles. So do a great many similar sites.

The words “photo report” are important. Many years ago, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels used to tell his public that “pictures do not lie.” That, of course, was itself the greatest lie of all. I do not want to imply that Reuters was lying. Only that doing so with the aid of pictures is, if anything, easier than with words.

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How climate change can help the GOP win in 2016

Summary: Republicans have adopted a purely negative platform for dealing with climate change, a difficult to explain policy that puts them in opposition to most scientists. This post describes an alternative platform, one that is consistent with their principles, easy to explain, appealing to undecided voters, and cuts through the chaff of factional bickering. It’s the kind of policy that helps create coalitions that win elections.

“… a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.”
— Martin Luther King’s speech “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution“, at the Episcopal National Cathedral in Washington on 31 March 1968.

Republicans Flag


  1. GOP weakness on climate change
  2. An agenda for the 21st century.
  3. Conclusions.
  4. Other posts in this series.
  5. For more information.

(1) The Republicans’ weak stance on climate change

The Republicans have ceded the politics of climate change to the Democrats. The only mention of it in the 2012 Republican platform is trivial…

“Finally, the strategy subordinates our national security interests to environmental, energy, and international health issues, and elevates “climate change” to the level of a “severe threat” equivalent to foreign aggression.”

So far the GOP’s 2016 presidential candidates have little to say about it. I see no policy statements about climate change on the issues pages of campaign websites for Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul.

Carly Fiorina says that the solution to climate change is “innovation not regulation”, without many details (her website points to video clip here, and here). She also says — logically — that California should have prepared better for the drought — although her specific recommendations are illogical: more dams and water infrastructure (ineffective and too expensive to cope with multi-year droughts) and massive destruction of California’s ecology (e.g., damage to key species such as the delta smelt — calling it unimportant because it’s a “small fish”).

When questioned, Republican candidates tend to respond with evasions and half-understood techno-babble (even if they understood it, the public would not) — or just deny the problem (see responses at the CNN debate). There is a better way, one consistent with their commitment to a strong defense and a sound infrastructure for America.

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The Fed sees a darkening future – and the key fact about our economy

Summary: Today’s economic forecast by the Fed gives us another dose of bad news, wrongly overshadowed by their decision not to raise interest rates (resulting from it). Ignore economists’ guessing about the next tick up or down in the economy. The key insight is that America can’t grow fast but cannot afford to slow.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Fast Snail



  1. A darkening Fed forecast
  2. America in the “coffin corner”
  3. For More Information

(1)  A darkening Fed forecast

The Fed’s forecasts get too little attention, although they play a large role in the setting of Fed monetary policy. Since the crash the Fed has started its out-year forecasts high, and then dropped them at an accelerating rate as they approach the present. The high end of 2015 has fallen 40% vs. a fall of only 4% for 2017. Hope dies slowly.

  • 2015 from 3.0 – 3.8% in Sept 2012 to 2.0% – 2.3% now.
  • 2016 from 2.5 – 3.3% in Sept 2013 to 2.2% – 2.6% now.
  • 2017 from 2.3 – 2.5% in Sept 2014 to 2.0% – 2.4% now.
  • 2018 started at 1.8% – 2.2% (median of 2.0%).

As this graph shows, since the crash GDP has swung between 1% and 3%. When GDP falls below 2% the odds of a recession rise rapidly. This recovery already has had two close calls. The Fed responded to the slowdown that began in Q4 2010 with QE2 (Nov 2010), and to the slowing  that began in Q2 2012 with QE3 (Sept 2012).

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