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How much did we warm in November?

23 December 2013

Summary:  As the pause in the warming of the world’s surface temperature enters its 17th year, activists hide this by focusing on areas of the world reporting record warm weather (areas with cold weather are un-news). We need not fall for this deceit. NASA funds a monthly report of global temperature measured by satellites — a consistently high-quality data set going back to 1979 (roughly the end of the previous mini-cooling cycle). The truth is out there for people willing to learn it.

Pure alarmist propaganda

Pure alarmist propaganda

Contents

  1. Status report: what do satellites tell us about global warming?
  2. The UK Met Office shows the long-term history of warming
  3. Who produces this satellite data & analysis?
  4. About The Elusive Absolute Surface Air Temperature (SAT)
  5. A few key things to remember about global warming!
  6. For More Information

To the right is a typical over-the-top image to arouse fear, about a world now less than one °F warmer than the 30-year average.

(1) Status report: what do satellites tell us about global warming in October 2013?

Satellites provide the most comprehensive and reliable record of the atmosphere’s warming since 1979.

The November 2013 Global Temperature Report
by the Earth System Science Center of the University of Alabama in Huntsville
(Blue is cold; red warm}. Click to enlarge.

November 2013 Global Temperature map

Earth System Science Center of the University of Alabama in Huntsville

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Key points from the report, which show a world that has warmed since 1979, but only slightly (few alarmists know this; fewer admit it):

  • Global composite temperature in November: +0.19°C (0.34°F) above the average for November during 1981-2010.
  • Global climate trend of temperature starting in 16 November 1978: +0.14°C (0.3°F) per decade.
  • Compared to seasonal norms, in November the coolest area on the globe was in northwestern Greenland, where temperatures in the troposphere were about 4.16°C (7.5°F) cooler than normal,
  • The warmest area was in Eastern Antarctica, where tropospheric temperatures were 5.32°C (almost 9.6°F) warmer than seasonal norms.
  • Anomalies are computed per the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recommended method, comparing the current temperatures vs. a 30 year base period ending with the latest decade.

Let’s look at the satellite data since 1979. It shows, very roughly, 2 decades of cool weather, followed by 15 years of warm weather (click to enlarge):

Read more…

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A behind-the-scenes look at the making of propaganda, the kind that paints the world we see

22 December 2013

Summary: Today we have a brief fascinating look behind the scenes at the creation of propaganda, the primary tool shaping not just the opinions but the worldview of 21st century Americans. Continuing my pattern of alternating between sides, today’s post looks at an example on the Left.

Lies and Truth

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Our elites have discovered our gullibility, and built pretty organizations to exploit it, spinning professionally-produced stories that match our biases and feed our fears. Such as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, providing advice to journalists and commentary to the public.

Today we review two articles in which they take us behind the scenes to show the making of climate propaganda.  First, “TV News and Extreme Weather: Don’t Mention Climate Change“,  18 December 2013 — Excerpt:

Dramatic weather-related disasters are ready made for TV news. But what’s not on the screen? The human-made climate change that is affecting, and in some cases exacerbating, that extreme weather.

A new FAIR survey of the national network newscasts (CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, ABC World News) finds that extreme weather is big news. In the first nine months of 2013,  there were 450 segments of 200 words or more that covered extreme weather: flooding, forest fires, tornadoes, blizzards, hurricanes and heat waves.

But of that total, just a tiny fraction–16 segments, or 4% of the total–so much as mentioned the words “climate change,” “global warming” or “greenhouse gases.”

… It’s almost as if the altered climate and the weather were happening on two different planets.

What odd definition of extreme weather includes all forms of flooding, forest fires, tornadoes, blizzards, hurricanes and heat waves? These are all normal weather. The IPCC special report about extreme weather defines it more narrowly:

The occurrence of a value of a weather or climate variable above (or below)a threshold value near the upper (or lower) ends of the range of observed values of the variable. (see Box 3.1 for more detail)

How does F.A.I.R. show a connection between global warming and these incidents of quite normal weather? This second article explains: “Attributing Weather Events to Climate Change Is the Easy Part“, Jim Naureckas (bio here), 14 November 2013 — Excerpt:

Read more…

How can we arouse a passion to reform America in the hearts of our neighbors?

20 December 2013

Summary:   People usually focus on the details of reform, such as the specific policies that if enacted will reform America. But that’s the easy part of the process, and several steps down the road. Instead we should focus on the first steps, such as how to arouse Americans and motivate them to work for reform. Today we try for a different perspective on this task: how to rekindle America’s passionate love of liberty.

Anger

“We speak not strictly and philosophically when we talk of the combat of passion and of reason. Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.

… Morals excite passions, and produce or prevent actions. Reason of itself is utterly impotent in this particular. The rules of morality, therefore, are not conclusions of our reason.

— David Hume in A Treatise of Human Nature (1740)

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Scores of posts on the FM website provide analysis of the Republic’s ills, its decline and the rise of a New America on its ruins. Just like the articles in scores of hundreds of other websites. I see the problem as our mysteriously broken observation-orientation-decision-action loop (OODA loop). More specifically, our lack of clear sight, our gullibility, our inability to choose strong leaders, to formulate goals and plans to achieve them. these render us ineffectual. We are no longer the unruly, skeptical people that maintained the Republic for its first two centuries.

The comments to these posts prove my analysis to be a dead end, similar to the results of others (e.g., Naked a Capitalism, to name one of hundreds or thousands). We producing entertainment, like News at 11.

Why so little effect? As a people we are indifferent to logic (a commonplace in history). More importantly, and a decline from previous generations, we now lack the motivation to change, let alone undertake the great effort required to rebuild the Second Republic — or create a Third. Restoring that motivation is perhaps the first task for those seeking to reform America. No plan, no organization, no goals can succeed without people committed to the project.

Read more…

Today’s indoctrination: “7 ways to shut down a climate change denier”

19 December 2013

Summary: Yesterday’s post gave an example of conservative propaganda, pleasant myths embraced by believers. Today we do the same, but for the Left. Both sides are Americans, with the same vulnerabilities — exploited by our ruling elites to keep us divided and ineffectual.  I believe that reform is impossible while we remain so credulous. That’s a choice that keeps us weak.

Timendi causa est nescire.
— Ignorance is the cause of fear. A useful dynamic, exploited by rulers throughout history.

Ignorance is a choice

To prepare for your family gatherings, let’s rehearse a conversation about climate change. John Rennie (science writer, former Editor of Scientific American; see Wikipedia) provides a helpful script: “7 ways to shut down a climate change denier“, Salon, 18 December 2013 — “Comprehensive rebuttals to contrarians’ pseudo-scientific explanations why global warming is just a myth”.

This was originally published at Scientific American on 30 December 2009.  Showing how the debate has changed, the original title was the slightly less incendiary and condescending “Seven Answers to Climate Contrarian Nonsense — Evidence for human interference with Earth’s climate continues to accumulate.”

Sample responses are follow each item.

What follows is only a partial list of the contrarians’ bad arguments and some brief rebuttals of them.

Claim 1: Anthropogenic CO2 can’t be changing climate, because CO2 is only a trace gas in the atmosphere and the amount produced by humans is dwarfed by the amount from volcanoes and other natural sources.Water vapor is by far the most important greenhouse gas, so changes in CO2 are irrelevant.

Rennie, thanks for the info. But this is not a view of “the contrarians”. For example, it is not a belief of prominent climate scientists condemned as “deniers” (e.g., Judith Curry, Roger Pielke Sr), or found on the major “skeptic” websites. The people who believe that are in the far corner of the room, with the creationists, conspiracy nuts, communists, and radical libertarians.

Claim 2: The alleged “hockey stick” graph of temperatures over the past 1,600 years has been disproved. It doesn’t even acknowledge the existence of a “medieval warm period” around 1000 A.D. that was hotter than today is. Therefore, global warming is a myth.

Read more…

Propaganda shaping America’s minds. For 2014 resolve not to be fooled!

18 December 2013

Summary:  More examples of our broken observation-orientation-decision-action loop (OODA), that makes it difficult for us to see the world clearly and take effective action. I increasingly believe this to be one of the major factors driving the death of the Second Republic, allowing construction of the Plutocratic New America on its ruins. Today we look at examples from the Right (but it afflicts both Left and Right). We can fix this with more skepticism, critical thinking, and shunning of those who lie to us.

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The Truth is Out There

Contents

  1. The Death Spiral of Liberal States
  2. The bailout of GM was a failure
  3. Being on welfare counts as employed

These are widely circulated lies. I have seen them repeated by smart, educated people. We have to be as careful with what we believe as what we eat. America would be stronger if we had more info-vegans (i.e., highly skeptical people, who push-back against those who tell us lies).

(1)  The Death Spiral of Liberal States

“These 11 States now have More People on Welfare than they do Employed! And Surprise-Surprise!!! These States vote straight democrat ticket every election – living on the government plantation.”

A commonplace tale on Right-wing chain emails and blogs. Repeatedly debunked as false on several levels. See the analysis by the estimable Snopes (should be bookmarked on your PC), and another at PoliFact-Texas.

(2)  The bailout of GM was a failure

Many on the Right-wing continue to say this, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. See Dana Milbank at the Washington Post for the facts.

(3)  Being on welfare counts as employed

“One of the reasons the reported unemployment rate isn’t higher is that the State of California’s statistically considers all 1,427,000 welfare recipients to be “employed.”
— By Chriss Street at The American Thinker, 14 December 2013

Read more…

What are the big questions that 2014 might answer?

17 December 2013

Summary:  December brings forth a crop of retrospective analysis about the past year and confident forecasts about the next. The FM website has posted almost daily doses of the former, and I lack the confidence to do the latter. Instead let’s ask about questions. What issues might dominate 2014, and influence the years beyond? Finding the right questions can help us open our minds to the unexpected, and perhaps even prepare for it. Post your questions in the comments.

Question Mark #1

“Uncertainty … is painful, but must be endured if we wish to live without the support of comforting fairy tales.”
— From the introduction to A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell (1945)

Questions

  1. Effects of the taper?
  2. Results from Abenomics?
  3. The War on Terror?
  4. The global warming campaign?
  5. For More Information

(1)  The taper

What effect will normalizing monetary policy (slowing QE3 being the first step) have on the economy? Will it slow the economy? Will it depress asset prices? Will it boost interest rates, perhaps ruinously? If it ends badly, will it decrease public confidence in the Federal Reserve, perhaps in economists?

Also, how strong are the deflationary forces at work? Inflation has fallen during QE3, despite credit and GDP growth, with little change in the value of the US dollar. That’s an anomaly (much of my forecasting success comes from attention to anomalies ignored by the consensus). What happens to inflation as QE3 ends? Do we get the widely predicted inflationary hangover, or lapse into deflation?

Click here to see posts about the taper.

(2)  Abenomics

There were to be three arrows:

  • double the money supply in two years,
  • boost the fiscal stimulus (borrow and spend even more),
  • structural reform.

So far the government has fired the first two arrows, but not the third and most important one. The arrows were to produce:

  • increased real wages,
  • increased inflation (specifically, core inflation; not just increased cost of imports) with flattish interest rates,
  • increased volume of exports (using the lower value of the Yen to gain market share, not just increase profits),
  • a more efficient Japan (from the combination of faster growth, more investment, and reform).

The results to date are zero out of four. Wages are falling; real wages are falling even faster. Import prices are rising, but not other prices. Export volumes are not up strongly (+4.4% YoY in October). Reforms so far remain only talk.

Read more…

Consequences of growing inequality in wealth, income, and power

16 December 2013

Summary: Part One looked at America’s rising inequality. Today we look at the resulting wide range of ill effects, a major driver building a New America. A rising concentration of income and wealth quickly becomes self-perpetuating as the 1% exploits their control of the government to gain yet more money and power. At some point we will have (or already have) a new political regime.

“In a state which is desirous of being saved from the greatest of all plagues — not faction, but rather distraction. There should exist among the citizens neither extreme poverty, nor, again, excess of wealth, for both are productive of both these evils.”
— Plato’s Laws

“Avarice, the mother of all wickedness, who, always thirsty for more, opens wide her jaws for gold.”
— Claudianus, De Laudibus Stilichonis (~400 AD)

Fed Survey of Consumer Finance

Fed Survey of Consumer Finance

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Contents

  1. Causes of income inequality
  2. “The Impact of Inequality on Growth”
  3. The cost to America of wasting our human resources
  4. The primary effect: concentrating political power
  5. Pushback
  6. For More Information
  7. Another perspective

(1)  Causes of income inequality

Inequality over the Past Century“, Facundo Alvaredo, Finance & Development, September 2011 — “After declining in the first half of the 20th century, income inequality makes a comeback” Excerpt:

Sources of Income of the 1%

IMF’s Finance & Development, September 2011

In the United States, average real incomes grew at a 1.3% annual rate between 1993 and 2008. But if the top 1 percent is excluded, average real income growth is almost halved, to about 0.75% a year.

Incomes of the top 1% grew 3.9% a year, capturing more than half of the overall economic growth experienced between 1993 and 2008.

… The new data call into question the standard relationship between economic development and income distribution—that growth and inequality reduction go hand in hand. But that relationship, postulated by economist Simon Kuznets, appears to be less certain — especially in English-speaking countries, which had a period of falling inequality during the first half of the 20th century followed by a reversal of the trend since the 1970s.

(2) The cost to America of wasting our human resources

Becoming a better America paid off after WW2; stopping has cost us dearly: “The Allocation of Talent and U.S. Economic Growth“, Chang-Tai Hsieh et al, 22 February 2013 — Summary:

In 1960, 94% of doctors and lawyers were white men. By 2008, the fraction was just 62%. Similar changes in other highly-skilled occupations have occurred throughout the US economy during the last 50 years. Given that innate talent for these professions is unlikely to differ across groups, the occupational distribution in 1960 suggests that a substantial pool of innately talented black men, black women, and white women were not pursuing their comparative advantage.

This paper measures the macroeconomic consequences of the remarkable convergence in the occupational distribution between 1960 and 2008 through the prism of a Roy model. We find that 15 to 20% of growth in aggregate output per worker over this period may be explained by the improved allocation of talent.

(3)  “The Impact of Inequality on Growth”

The Impact of Inequality on Growth“, Jared Bernstein, Center for American Progress, December 2013 — Summary:

Read more…

Growing inequality powers the rise of New America

15 December 2013

Summary: Five years ago I wrote my first article about the problem of rising inequality in America. Now it’s become big time following a speech by President Obama. Today we review the evidence about the problem Additional information added Sunday morning, and the post broken into two. This is now part one. Part Two looks at its effects, and the inevitable pushback.

Wealth distribution of USA
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Contents

  1. Comparing America with our peer nations
  2. “Being Smart Isn’t Always Enough to Make it in America”
  3. Even worse news: a trend of greater inequality
  4. For More Information
  5. Another perspective

(1)  Comparing America with our peer nations

The Rise and Consequences of In equality in the United States, Alan B. Krueger Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers, 12 January 2012 — Introduces the Great Gatsby Curve.

Recent work by Miles Corak finds an intriguing link between the Intergenerational Income Elasticity (IGE) and in come inequality at a point in time. Countries that have a high degree of inequality also tend to have less economic mobility across generations. We have extended this work using OECD data on after-tax income inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient.

This next figure shows a scatter diagram of the relationship between income mobility across generations on the Y-axis (measured by IGE) and inequality in the mid-1980s, as measured by the Gini coefficient for after-tax income, on the X- axis [Figure 7]. Each point represents a country. Higher values along the X-axis reflect greater inequality in family resources roughly around the time that the children were growing up. Higher values on the Y-axis indicate a lower degree of economic mobility across generations.

I call this the “Great Gatsby Curve.” The points cluster around an upward sloping line, indicating that countries that had more inequality across households also had more persistence in income from one generation to the next.

Great Gatsby Curve

2012 Economic Report of the President

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For more about this see “Income Inequality, Equality of Opportunity, and Intergenerational Mobility“, Miles Corak (Prof of Economics, U of Ottawa), Journal of Economic Perspectives, Summer 2013. See his other research here.

(2)  “Being Smart Isn’t Always Enough to Make it in America”

Being Smart Isn’t Always Enough to Make it in America“, Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, 12 December 2013, about  a chart from “Seven Steps Toward Social Mobility in President Obama’s Speech“, Richard V. Reeves and Kerry Searle Grannis, Brookings, 6 December 2013:

The chart below is a little tricky to read, but basically it shows how likely you are to make more money than your parents. You’d naturally expect smart kids to do better than dimmer kids, so it tracks that too.

Take a look at the green column on the far left. It’s for kids who grow up in the very poorest families. If you have high cognitive ability, you have a 24% chance of becoming a high earner as an adult. That’s not too bad. But if you come from a high-income family, you have a 45% chance of becoming a high earner as an adult. Same smarts, different outcome.

Read more…

Let’s defend the oceans, before it’s too late

13 December 2013

Summary:  The environmentalist community has put their resources into fighting anthropogenic global warming. For reasons discussed in other posts, that campaign has achieved few of the political gains sought. Meanwhile the prosaic forces of commerce destroy the oceans through pollution and and overfishing. We can do better.

Dead fish

From CNN, by David McNew/Getty Images

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Contents

  1. Today’s warning
  2. Resources to learn about this serious problem
  3. For More Information

(1) Today’s warning

The clock is running. Pay attention to warnings like this:

Overfished and under-protected: Oceans on the brink of catastrophic collapse“, CNN, 27 March 2013 — Opening:

The Census of Marine Life, a decade-long international survey of ocean life completed in 2010, estimated that 90% of the big fish had disappeared from the world’s oceans, victims primarily of overfishing.

Tens of thousands of bluefin tuna were caught every year in the North Sea in the 1930s and 1940s. Today, they have disappeared across the seas of Northern Europe. Halibut has suffered a similar fate, largely vanishing from the North Atlantic in the 19th century.

In some cases, the collapse has spread to entire fisheries. The remaining fishing trawlers in the Irish Sea, for example, bring back nothing more than prawns and scallops, says marine biologist Callum Roberts, from the UK’s York University. “Is a smear of protein the sort of marine environment we want or need? No, we need one with a variety of species, that is going to be more resistant to the conditions we can expect from climate change,” Roberts said.

The situation is even worse in Southeast Asia. In Indonesia, people are now fishing for juvenile fish and protein that they can grind into fishmeal and use as feed for coastal prawn farms. “It’s heading towards an end game,” laments Roberts.

Trawling towards disaster

One particular type of fishing, bottom-trawling, is blamed for some of the worst and unnecessary damage. It involves dropping a large net, around 60 meters-wide in some cases, into the sea and dragging it along with heavy weights from a trawler.

Read more…

A summary of the state of climate change and extreme weather

12 December 2013

Summary: Today we look at climate change politics, as an example of how we are one people. Our Left and Right, each confident it is the reality-based community, remain unaware that they’re mirror images of one another. Each has fears that the other see as exaggerated, neither aware of how easily the 1% manipulate them. We are a gift to our leaders, but it need not be this way. The truth is out there, if only we’d see. Today two  scientists tell us about some vital aspects about climate change — summary of the climate science rebuttal to the doomsters.

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Tornado

The Guardian, 13 June 2011, scaring you with photo of a non-extreme tornado in Baca county CO, May 2010. Willoughby Owen/Getty Images/Flickr

There is no need to rely on paid propagandists to tell interpret the work of climate scientists. They speak for themselves quite clearly through the IPCC, the major climate agencies, and individual scientists relying on their work. Such as the testimony at “A look at the Relationship Between Climate and Weather“, Hearing of the Subcommittee on Environment of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on 11 December 2013

Witnesses:

  1. Dr. John R. Christy, Professor & Director, Earth System Science Center, U AL-Huntsville
  2. Dr. Roger Pielke Jr., Professor & Director, Center for Science & Technology Policy Research, U CO
  3. Dr. David Titley, Director, Center for Solutions to Weather & Climate Risk, Pennsylvania State

Titley’s testimony

This was interesting. He gave the straight climate-activists’ line, supported by tiny slivers of carefully arranged data. Amusingly he considers as a reason to act that “the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence”, which argument Roger Pielke Jr notes was originally devised to prove the existence of God (explained here).

Excerpt from Pieke’s testimony: summary of current state of climate science

There exists exceedingly little scientific support for claims found in the media and political debate that hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and drought have increased in frequency or intensity on climate timescales either in the United States or globally. Similarly, on climate timescales it is incorrect to link the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases. These conclusion s are supported by a broad scientific consensus, including that recently reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its Fifth Assessment Report (2013) as well as in its recent special report on extreme events (2012).

Here are some specific conclusions , with further details provided below:

Read more…

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