A status report on global warming. Much depends on the next few years.

Summary: Alarmists went hysterical about the warming during the 2015-16 El Nino. In October the decline began from that spike. The climate policy debate might depend on what the world’s temperature does during the next year or so. Will the pause continue, or will warming resume? Here are several perspectives on the current warming, provided by NOAA and NASA.

775 degree warming

“It is extremely likely (95 – 100% certain) that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in global mean surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.”
— One of the most important conclusions of IPCC’s AR5 Working Group I

This statement about past warming is important. But for making public policy decisions future warming we need to know the odds of various amounts of warming during the 21st century. There is no easy answer to this, let alone a consensus of climate scientists about it. So climate activists either ignore the research (such as the 4 scenarios described in AR5) or focus on the worst of these (the truly horrific RCP8.5) while ignoring its unlikely assumptions.

So far the weather has sided with the skeptics, with little of the extreme weather activists predicted. No surge of hurricanes after Katrina (despite the predictions). No sign of the methane monster. Northern hemisphere snow extent has risen since in both the Fall and the Winter. There is little evidence that we have passed one of the often declared “tipping points”.

So it is logical that — despite the efforts of government agencies, academia, and many ngo’s — the public’s policy priorities have been unaffected (details here). Republican control of the Presidency, Congress, and most States makes policy action almost impossible for the next 4 years (ceteris paribus). As a result, activists are going thru the 5 stages of grief for their campaign.

Current trends: what’s the weather doing now?

Both sides in the public policy climate wars obsess over short-term weather, even local weather. They rejoice over statistically insignificant changes in the global average temperature. They celebrate record highs and lows in obscure corners of the world. But there is a gram of sense in this, as short-term (decade long) trends have had great influence on the policy debate — and might bring decisive victory to either side (no matter what the climate does by 2050).

There is no one true way to show trends in global temperature. Bob Tisdale produces a detailed monthly analysis. Here are some perspectives better suited for the general public. First, a graph by NOAA (excellent, as usual) clearly showing the trend since the reliable instrument era began in 1880. This graph exaggerates the flatness because warming is concentrated in months of May, June, & July. Click to enlarge.

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The secret source of fake news. Its discovery will change America.

Summary: Our leaders have made a discovery of the sort that changes the destiny of nations. It is a secret that explains much of modern American history. We have become gullible, seeing the false beliefs of others but credulously believing what our tribal leaders tell us. The avalanche of “fake news” is the logical response by our ruling elites.

“in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
— A saying for our time, although not by Orwell.
Logical contradiction

We caused the rising tide of fake news

After WWII our ruling elites have grown increasingly bold in their lies (see the Big List of lies by our government). They have seen how we credulously believe even the most implausible stories, and that we inflict little or no penalty when their lies are discover (even Bill Clinton’s conviction of contempt of court and disbarment for lying under oath didn’t dent his popularity among Democrats).

The rising tide of fake news naturally results as awareness of our gullibility spread among our ruling elites. We see the lies of our foes but remain delusionally ignorant about the lies of our tribe. This is comically obvious on comment threads, where attacks on tribal truths are brutally repulsed, but politically pleasing and outrageous lies go without contradiction or protest.

The Right muttered about Obama’s missing birth certificate while describing Obama as a radical leftist anarchist commie Muslim Nazi. They believe that cutting income taxes usually increases tax revenue, that torture produces reliable answers (it doesn’t), and that foreign armies usually defeat local insurgents (they don’t). Their websites overflow with lies about gun rights, about economics, about history, and scores other subjects.

The Left is no better. The IPCC was the “gold standard” description of climate science research — the most reliable statement of climate scientists’ consensus. By 2011 activists were saying it was “too conservative”, which became a widespread response to the release of AR5 in 2013 (e.g., see Inside Climate News, The Daily Climate, and Yale’s Environment 360). Propagandists like Phil Plait misrepresent or even hide the science.

For fifty years Leftists doomsters arouse the faithful with fake stories, and still the Left eagerly believes the next one. For years their articles and comments casually mentioned destruction of humanity or even the biosphere. They believed that 30,000 species go extinct every years. Now they casually discuss the imminent collapse of the Republic, with gulags and no election in 2020. They look at Team Trump’s collection of right-wing politicians, CEOs, and billionaires but seeing fascist revolutionaries.

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Disturbing research about the use of “narratives” in climate science papers

Summary: A new paper provides valuable information about climate science — evidence of the politicization that helped collapse the public policy debate. The authors conclude that narratives are “used to positive effect” in peer-reviewed papers. It puts science on the slippery slope to becoming propaganda (or, in today’s jargon, “fake news”). Scientists achieve career success but destroy the public’s esteem accumulated over centuries.

Clocks

Narrative Style Influences Citation Frequency in Climate Change Science

By Ann Hillier, Ryan P. Kelly, and Terrie Klinger.
From PLOS ONE, 15 December 2016. Red emphasis added.

Climate change is among the most compelling issues now confronting science and society, and climate science as a research endeavor has grown accordingly over the past decade. The number of scholarly publications is increasing exponentially, doubling every 5±6 years. The volume of climate science publications now being produced far exceeds the ability of individual investigators to read, remember, and use. Accordingly, it is increasingly important that individual articles be presented in a way that facilitates the uptake of climate science and increases the salience of their individual research contributions.

…Despite this, professional scientific writing tends to be more expository than narrative, prioritizing objective observations made by detached researchers and relying on the logical proposition “if X, then Y” to define the structure of the argument.

Narrative writing, on the other hand, is commonly used to good effect in popular science writing. Both simple narratives and apocalyptic climate narratives are known to capture public attention and spur action. Moreover, narratives can influence perceptions of climate risk and policy preferences among the public, and the narrative style has been proposed as a powerful means of research to address problems of knowledge, policy, and action as they relate to climate change.

Here we explore the influence of narrative in the professional communication of climate science research, acknowledging that the perception of narrative can be subjective and context- dependent.

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"Plutocracy" bumper sticker

Trump is the next logical step as America becomes a plutocracy

Trump is just the next step in the natural evolution of America into a plutocratic state. The US — like the rest of the West — was sliding along this path until the great depression and WWII destroyed that regime.

Our elites have spent several generations rebuilding their institutional power. Now new technology and massive immigration are further increasing their power, shifting the balance from labor to capital. The US public is gullible, apathetic, passive.  Easy prey.

“If God didn’t want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.”
— Calvera, bandit leader in the movie “The Magnificent Seven” (1960).

Both parties are owned by our plutocratic elites. Campaign 2016 revealed this, for those who wish to see. Hillary was supported by the war industry (i.e., neocons, military-industrial complex, senior elements of the national security complex, geopolitical “experts”) and Wall Street. Six weeks after the election, we learn that they just as eagerly support Trump.

Both parties hide this simple fact through misdirection. Rather than show that Team Trump consists largely of plutocrats and their servants, much of the Left touts Trump as Hitler. Rather than point to Obama’s loyal service to Wall Street and the MIC, the right said touted Obama as Hitler. In this respect both Left and Right are the anything but the truth parties.

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Stratfor looks at the drug cartel’s insurgency against Mexico

Summary: Immigration from Mexico was a hot issue in Campaign 2016. An equally serious danger was ignored — contagion to the US from the insurgency of drug cartels against Mexico. Geopolitical infections spread just as biological ones do. Here Stratfor gives us a status report for Mexico’s decade-long war on drugs. A wall will not keep it from spilling into America.

Stratfor

A Decade Into Mexico’s War on Drugs

Lead analyst: Reggie Thompson.
Stratfor, 11 December 2016.

Today marks the 10th anniversary of Operation Michoacan, and to many, the start of Mexico’s deadly war on drugs. But a decade later, the country’s prospects for security and peace don’t seem much better than they did when the massive crackdown on Mexican cartels began in 2006.

Most people point to Felipe Calderon’s presidency as the moment when things began to go wrong for Mexico. In the face of rising crime, and under mounting pressure from the United States to stem the flow of drugs across its southern border, Calderon sent 5,000 soldiers and federal police officers into the streets of Michoacan state, firing the first shots of what would become a long and bloody struggle. But it is neither fair nor accurate to pin the blame for the conflict that ensued on a single decision. Crime-related violence plagued Mexico long before Calderon took office, albeit at a lower level than in the years that followed his declaration of war on the country’s cartels. Moreover, Calderon was not the first president to deploy Mexico’s armed forces against drug lords and their assets; he was just the first to do so on such a tremendous scale.

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A German general explains how to understand Donald Trump

Summary: Trump has been called an authoritarian, a fascist, and another Hitler. What is his true character? The question becomes more important as Trump approaches the White House. An interwar insight from a German general can help us evaluate him. The answer helps explain why Trump did so well on November 8, despite his many obvious faults.

President Donald Trump

“For all Trump’s bluster, missteps, foibles and crassness, nobody can question his astonishing energy.”
— An interesting comment posted by Bernie.

Is it good that Trump has “astonishing energy”? For a perspective on this we can turn to an insight attributed to a German General, Freiherr (baron) Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord.

“I divide my officers into four classes as follows: The clever, the industrious, the lazy, and the stupid. Each officer always possesses two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious I appoint to the General Staff. Use can under certain circumstances be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy qualifies for the highest leadership posts. He has the requisite nerves and the mental clarity for difficult decisions. But whoever is stupid and industrious must be got rid of, for he is too dangerous.”

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Trump forced the Fed to raise rates. The results could be ugly.

Summary: Trump’s unexpected election forced changes in the forecasts and plans of the Fed’s leaders. Today’s decision to raise rates is their first result. Janet Yellen was quite candid about this. The implications of the rate rise are complex. The effects might prove calamitous.

Janet Yellen

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Janet Yellen’s remarks at the press conference

She clearly pointed to Trump’s plans for a combination of tax cuts plus large increases in infrastructure and military spending. The Fed’s leaders have obviously been thinking about the effects of the resulting massive deficits — and decided to preemptively strike against them.

“…We’re operating under a cloud of uncertainty at the moment, and we have to wait and see what changes occur and factor those into our decision-making as we gain more clarity,”

“…Changes in fiscal policy or other economic policies could potentially affect the economic outlook. Of course it is far too early to know how these policies will unfold. Moreover, changes in fiscal policy are only one of the many factors that can influence the outlook in the appropriate course of monetary policy.”

“…There may be some additional slack in labor markets, but I would judge that the degree of slack has diminished. So I would say at this point that fiscal policy is not obviously needed to provide stimulus to help us get back to full employment. But nevertheless let me be careful that I am not trying to provide advice to the new administration or to Congress as to what is the appropriate stance for policy. There are many considerations that Congress needs to take account of and many bases for justifying changing fiscal policy.”

“…Our decision to raise rates should certainly be understood as a reflection of the confidence we have in the progress the economy has made and our judgment that that progress will continue. …It is a vote of confidence in the economy.”

“…We want to feel that if the economy were to suffer an adverse shock that we have some scope through traditional means of interest rate cuts to be able to respond to that.”

From Reuters. Also see Yellen’s opening statement at the press conference.

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