The Dim-Post

February 22, 2013

Just like in the REAL world

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:57 am

Via the Herald:

Solid Energy is at a crisis point, with a Government bailout almost inevitable, mine closures possible and further job cuts likely in another restructure to try to salvage the debt-ridden coal mining company.

The state-owned enterprise yesterday revealed it was in talks with its banks and the Government over its future after its debt rose to $389 million and a further “significant loss” would be in its half-year result.

The company posted a $40 million loss last year.

So Solid Energy geared itself for debt which it used to pay massive salaries to its executives and boost its dividends, now it’s collapsed and the taxpayer will bail it out.

I guess that’s the advantage of having the John Key National government running things: they bring the benefit of their commercial experience to the public sector, so the state-owned assets they oversee can be stripped and gutted and the losses socialised as effectively as their privately owned counterparts.

About these ads

79 Comments »

  1. Standard neo liberal politics. Privatise the profits and socialise the losses.

    Comment by Stephen Doyle — February 22, 2013 @ 10:03 am

  2. Solid Energy’s financial condition has deteriorated over the past two years, a slump it attributed to a 40 per cent fall in coal prices and low returns on investment attempts in areas such as biofuels.

    There’s nothing the govt could have done about coal prices and perhaps the biofuels thing was mistake. The govt could have refrained from taking dividends but then what point would there be in owning the company.

    It’s a boom and bust industry and I’m not sure that a govt should be completely exposed to these sorts of risks.

    Comment by NeilM — February 22, 2013 @ 10:46 am

  3. The general idea of a SOE paying dividends to the government in good times, and then getting bailed out by the government in the bad times, doesn’t really seem too problematic.

    As long as the government does something useful with the dividends when it gets them, and that the nett long term result is positive for the government books, then it is both socialising the profits and the losses.

    There doesn’t seem to be any good reason to pay massively inflated salaries to SOE executives though.

    Comment by RJL — February 22, 2013 @ 11:00 am

  4. I feel some facts are required to support this position. Has anyone published accounts supporting that a) Solid energy loaded up on debts and b) Paid it’s executives excessively and/or funded dividends from borrowing?
    So that righteous indignation about it can be confidently expressed and justified?

    I’d hate for people to rail against National using damp ammunition that fizzles in the pan.

    Comment by Fentex — February 22, 2013 @ 11:01 am

  5. Has anyone published accounts supporting that a) Solid energy loaded up on debts and b) Paid it’s executives excessively and/or funded dividends from borrowing?

    Well, there is this news item that opens with: “Finance Minister Bill English is distancing the Government from reports Solid Energy paid out $11 million in bonuses just eight months ago.”

    http://www.3news.co.nz/No-more-bonuses-at-Solid-Energy—English/tabid/421/articleID/287745/Default.aspx#ixzz2LZhC1n9T

    And if you look at the graphs on page 3 of the 2012 Annual Report, you’ll see steadily increasing levels of net debt from 2008 onwards, even as it was continuing to report net profits (and pay a dividend to the Government)

    http://www.coalnz.com/publications-and-resources/annual-reports/solid-energy-annual-report-2012.pdf

    So … there is that.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 22, 2013 @ 11:26 am

  6. Solid Energy total liabilities (Group):

    2009 $358m
    2010 $557m
    2011 $614m
    2012 $743m

    Solid Energy total revenues after COS (Group):

    2009 $376m
    2010 $155m
    2011 $174m
    2012 $157m

    Solid Energy Dividend (Group):

    2009 $60m
    2010 $54m
    2011 $20m
    2012 $30m

    Solid Energy employees over 500k rem:

    2009 – 2
    2010 – 3
    2011 – 4
    2012 – 7

    CEO rem:

    2009 – $1.273m (76% of potential)
    2010 – $1.406m (94% of potential)
    2011 – $1.360m (87% of potential)
    2012 – $1.110m (69% of potential)

    CEO rem as % of gross profit:

    2009 – 0.45%
    2010 – 1.42%
    2011 – 0.79%
    2012 – 0.71%

    Comment by Gregor W — February 22, 2013 @ 11:57 am

  7. According to the annual report the debt went up $200m plus from 2011 because of investment in a coal processing plant at Stockton and other investment at the same mine plus more investment at the other underground mines. This of course was followed by collapsing coal prices and the temporary closure of one mine and a slowdown in production at another. There was also a $100 m plus associated write off. These are a little more fundamental than high salaries or dividends which have declined since 2009.

    Comment by Roger — February 22, 2013 @ 12:26 pm

  8. This of course was followed by collapsing coal prices and the temporary closure of one mine and a slowdown in production at another.

    Which does raise the question, what are these highly paid execs for if not to undertake a degree of business intelligence?

    Comment by Gregor W — February 22, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

  9. Which does raise the question, what are these highly paid execs for if not to undertake a degree of business intelligence?

    Agree about over paid execs but business is a risky business. It’s always about predicting the future and sometimes people get it right and sometimes the get it wrong.

    Sometimes it’s just bad luck. (And people are often extremely keen to down play good luck whenever things do go right).

    The alternative to the current SOE model would be to have the govt micro manage. I can see that being a lot worse than an independent board.

    The dividends don’t look onerous, certainly the govt had been asset stripping but there had been the familiar inverse correlation between profit and exec remuneration.

    Comment by NeilM — February 22, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

  10. Dam italics again

    And should read “certainly the govt hasn’t been asset stripping”.

    Comment by NeilM — February 22, 2013 @ 1:12 pm

  11. Hmmm, is that KDS I smell?
    (But I agree: governments are mostly evil and/or stupid.)

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 22, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

  12. (And will the bail out/capital injection be as big as that for kiwi rail..?)

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 22, 2013 @ 1:27 pm

  13. Solid Energy balance sheet as at June 2012:

    Assets: $1,167m
    Liabilities: $744m
    Equity: $423m

    Even if the company has made losses, it’s not entirely clear what the $389m in debt that the Herald is so worried about (a) actually is, and (b) what it was in the June’12 balance.

    There are $219m in ‘current liabilities’ at June, so if that is what now sits at $389m, then the totaly equity today is, ballpark, $253m.

    Sure, that’s a lot of money and the company should rightly be concerned and doing something about it (which is what the original press release from Solid energy says) but it’s not like the company is going to be bankrupt next week.

    Comment by Phil — February 22, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

  14. According to Wikipedia, Don Elder – that master of the universe who managed this disaster from the lofty heights of a seven figure salary – went to Christ’s College in Christchurch. A very narrow list of top schools would characterise almost all our executive class – AGS, Lindisfarne, Collegiate, Kings, Christs. Maybe 15,000 students in total. Maybe what we are seeing in Don Elder and our business class are symptoms of a general decadence of a class drawn from to narrow a base? For sure, the general incompetence and degenerate entitlement of our business reflects similar observations of the degenerate incompetence of the British managerial middle class in the era of British industrial collapse…

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 22, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

  15. If it was a complete basket case probably the govt wouldn’t be signalling assistance. Most likely Labour govt would do the same.

    But a Labour/Green govt, that would interesting.

    Comment by NeilM — February 22, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

  16. A sensible government would see this as an opportunity:
    – shutter Solid Energy and mothball/close the mines. Coal will be worth a lot in the future when it’s the only organic chemical feedstock, but not now. The best place to store it is in the ground.
    – encourage the Tiwai Point smelter to shutdown, preferably paying big penalties to buy out their contract (idiot prior governments probably didn’t bother to get a corporate guarantee, though)
    – demolish Huntly, which without the smelter would no longer be necessary

    Result would be that we drastically reduce our carbon emissions and get close to 100% renewables in one step. Then retrain the mining/smelter workers to build the wind and hydro we need to get past 100% and replace direct heat and transport usage of fossil fuel. We’d wind up with an economy uniquely proofed against energy shocks and carbon costs.

    Comment by richdrich — February 22, 2013 @ 2:07 pm

  17. Yes Sanctuary clearly alumni of Christ College and Epson Girls Grammer are incompetent and degenerate. Maybe less time looking for confirmation bias might result in a better quality comment.

    I think Solid Energy highlights the risks for political parties in taking absolute positions (e.g., no asset sales…) as this means you also own the bailouts.

    Comment by WH — February 22, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

  18. #16 – you do realise that Tiwai is powered by clean green hydro electricity and not coal?

    Comment by WH — February 22, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

  19. I’m pretty sure richdrich does know that, the point being if 800 MW that Manapouri generates wasn’t all going to Tiwai it’d be available on the national grid. It wouldn’t be enough to close Huntly completely though as, it generates a total of around 1400 MW. And I’m not sure the Cook Strait cable and the transmission lines could cope with moving all that power to Auckland anyway. Even if it could there’d no doubt be significant transmission losses to cover as well.

    Comment by Conrad — February 22, 2013 @ 2:29 pm

  20. @phil – the company could well go bankrupt next week given that the net cash position in the 2012 AR was $2.3m (not counting $94m in inventories of declining value)

    Comment by Gregor W — February 22, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

  21. “similar observations of the degenerate incompetence of the British managerial middle class in the era of British industrial collapse…”
    Sanc, I assume you refer to how those managers failed to employ age old practices of flogging the striking workers? And quietly beating up the union organisers? And all the while the labour govt nationalised the industries, helping imbed cosy work practices that seemed to involve little work? How degenerate indeed for the British managerial classes to allow all that to happen.

    Or are you refering to the economic problems after world war one?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 22, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

  22. “Result would be that we drastically reduce our carbon emissions and get close to 100% renewables in one step”
    Psst, even the UK Met Office acknowledges that, in spite of the world going berserk and emitting even more CO2 each year of the currency of Kyoto, there has been no statistically significant warming for 20 years. Give CAGW a break: like Sasquatch, and the loch ness monster, they haven’t found any evidence for a “positive feedback mechanism” yet.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 22, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

  23. richdrich,

    Maybe a sensible govt. would do those things, but that’s starting from a low point ( govt. ), and a viable business probably wouldn’t.

    Coal is not going to be in short supply anytime in the next few centuries, besides even the coking coal market could reduce if steelmaking processes change, or demand for raw steel reduces – which is likely. Gas from fracking etc. is a superior fuel.

    Tiwai Point will probably close anyway, given aluminium market and production trends. If govt. was smart, they would fund research into another electricity-hungry industry, the obvious one is aluminium’s replacement – carbon fibre. Carbon fibre production requires heaps of low cost electricity, and already some factories are situated by cheap hydro to enhance green credential of product. Advantage is high value product that’s easy to export or help create high value manufacturing industries.

    Not smart to move electricity long distances, even HVDC has losses, and would require major infrastructure to get useful links from Manapouri to Auckland, far better to reduce demand in north and industrialise the south.

    Comment by Bruce Hamilton — February 22, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

  24. Psst, even the UK Met Office acknowledges that, in spite of the world going berserk and emitting even more CO2 each year of the currency of Kyoto, there has been no statistically significant warming for 20 years.

    That’s funny. These blogposts by the UK Met Office says that they said no such thing. You appear to be confusing what the Daily Mail said the UK Met Office says with the real thing.

    http://metofficenews.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/met-office-in-the-media-29-january-2012/

    http://metofficenews.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/met-office-in-the-media-14-october-2012

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 22, 2013 @ 3:15 pm

  25. But lets face it ladies if National let solid go under and the banks eat the losses you lot would squealing like stuck pigs. One party state.

    Comment by Simon — February 22, 2013 @ 4:14 pm

  26. Andrew Geddis: Edgelering people when Graeme isn’t about.

    Comment by David C — February 22, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

  27. God Sanctuary do you ever grow up you pretentious tosser.

    Comment by titsonabull — February 22, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

  28. Andrew Geddis: Edgelering people when Graeme isn’t about.

    Notice how you never see us on the same thread at the same time? I’m just a sock puppet he uses when he’s feeling a bit misanthropic.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 22, 2013 @ 7:20 pm

  29. At what point does the equation: don’t want National badly enough so will settle for Gareth Hughes being in government become a sad fact of life.

    His celebration of the perceived demise of Solid Energy and loss of jobs doesn’t really sit that we’ll with the union orientated tradition of Labour.

    Comment by NeilM — February 22, 2013 @ 8:13 pm

  30. Transmission losses on HVDC are a few percent. You don’t need to run all the power across the Cook Strait all the time. ATM, the North Island hydro is typically throttled back so they can economise on water (and maximise returns from the inefficient pseudo-market). The link is also often run N-S, again for water economy reasons.

    In a future system, you can run the Waikato dams at maximum when Auckland’s making the proverbial cup of tea, and indeed double up some of the generator stations. You’ve also got the gas-fueled generators (which it would be good to get rid of also eventually).

    We can get to 100% plus with the smelter (which is effectively a means of exporting electricity, and in some ways a good thing if it stops a coal-fueled smelter overseas being used), but we’ll get there a lot quicker if it closes.

    Plus, if the government plays hardball and the contracts were written right, there might be a windfall from RTZ/Sumitomo.

    Comment by richdrich — February 22, 2013 @ 8:17 pm

  31. @ sanc

    ” A very narrow list of top schools would characterise almost all our executive class ”

    Load of bollocks. Says more about your chipped shoulder

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/8256614/Two-schools-of-thought-on-education-options

    That is in stark contrast to the leaders of our top businesses where almost three-quarters of the chief executives and board chairs of top-10 companies on the New Zealand stock exchange went to public schools.

    Comment by insider — February 22, 2013 @ 8:35 pm

  32. Also, until last November, Huntly’s maximum capacity was 1000MW of coal and 448MW of gas. One of the coal units is now mothballed http://genesisenergy.onlinereports.co.nz/2012/#energy-management and another is scheduled for next year. So the Manapouri dam (800MW) now has more capacity than Huntly’s active coal generation (750MW).

    The gas fired units produce around a third of CO2 per KWh as coal and are a lower priority to decommission. Also, unlike coal, they can be started and stopped rapidly.

    Comment by richdrich — February 22, 2013 @ 8:43 pm

  33. C’mon we have a PM used to Wall Street deals and Hollywood deals. How could he possibly get anything wrong?

    Of course exploiting mineral wealth was worth it.

    We still have national party supporters?

    Sigh!

    Comment by peterlepaysan — February 22, 2013 @ 8:45 pm

  34. Pete you are a retard.

    Comment by titsonabull — February 22, 2013 @ 9:14 pm

  35. @rich

    Hvdc losses may be low but when you add on the hundreds of kms of hvac at eitHer end they start getting significant. Average losses in nz are 7.5%. If sending to Auckland from manapouri you could lose much more than that.

    Comment by insider — February 22, 2013 @ 9:36 pm

  36. If Tiwai closed, Meridian’s plan B was to sell Manapouri. No idea what their current plan would be, but that suggests that several “what if” scenarios gave poor returns.
    They don’t control other generators, so market prices may disadvantage long distance supplies. Generators only want maximum prices for all they can produce – free market stuff. As HVDC only starts at Benmore, and doesn’t address the issues of link capacity to the north, despite the southern and link upgrades. Better to make the NI consumer pay market rates to encourage conservation, and add new industries to the SI.

    Aside from jobs and toll fees, NZ gets very little from the smelter – as the $1 billion exports go to the owners, and the smelter gets electricity at a fraction of the price to other users. Exporting aluminium is like exporting trees, destination processors make the lucrative value-added margins. The worldwide aluminum smelting industry is in a major recession, with new facilities more cost-effective and producing cheaper product. Without investment, Tiwai Point pot lines will struggle to compete, even if NZ drops the price of electricity – which is the option Rio Tinto Alcan ( not Zinc ) – Sumitomo Chemical would prefer.

    Comment by Bruce Hamilton — February 22, 2013 @ 9:37 pm

  37. Data centres in the south are one option that needs a big, reliable electricity supply and can generate sustainable, higher value associated companies and jobs than exporting ingots or milk powder – or coal.

    Comment by Sacha — February 23, 2013 @ 12:39 am

  38. Sacha, great suggestion. I presume NZ would need to upgrade fibre links locally and internationally, but that could help other users, possibly better returns than roads and cycle ways of national significance.

    Comment by Bruce Hamiltonu — February 23, 2013 @ 6:44 am

  39. Hi Andrew. Thanks for bringing that Daily Mail article up. But their misinterpretation about a different issue: the Met Office’s apparent rewriting of their forecasting history.
    more on that issue here:

    http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/spot-the-difference/

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 23, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

  40. BTW: did you read the comments on those blog posts you link to?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 23, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

  41. um, you may not have noticed, CF, but your horse appears to be dead…

    Comment by nommopilot — February 23, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

  42. “BTW: did you read the comments on those blog posts you link to?”

    True that. the comments is where the Real Truth is always to be found…

    Comment by nommopilot — February 23, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

  43. “your horse appears to be dead”
    And yours is still moving, according to this hockey stick graph someone prepared earlier…

    “True that. the comments is where the Real Truth is always to be found…”
    It’s amazing that people who aren’t climate scientists will dare question the orthodoxy. How DARE these statisticians, physicists and meteorologists pick the methodology and data to bits.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 23, 2013 @ 6:26 pm

  44. CF, genuine question, does it ever give you pause for thought how closely the arguments you make about AGW resemble those made by Intelligent Design proponents?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 23, 2013 @ 7:29 pm

  45. people who aren’t climate scientists

    Exactly.

    How DARE those dentists, accountants, psychologists, haberdashers, marketing consultants, plumbers, insurance adjusters, hairstylists and astrologers question the physicists when despite the trivial, irrelevant fact that their narrow, discipline-specific criteria and methods are unsuitable outside their specific disciplines …and yet so many people suffer because gravity makes them overweight!

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 23, 2013 @ 9:15 pm

  46. … or with the sarc off, the critiques of climatology by tribologists have to pass peer review with climatologists, not tribologists. That’s how science works. Science is littered with people who have excelled in their particular fields and embarrassed themselves badly when they’ve tried to take on others. Fred Hoyle’s efforts (he was an astronomer) in palaeontology were particularly amusing.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 23, 2013 @ 9:21 pm

  47. http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/opinion-analysis/7613703/High-hopes-end-with-some-harsh-reality

    It was written a few months ago now but is is a very good analysis of what went wrong at Solid Energy, my favourite line is the ”Field of Dreams’ analysis session at an off-site meeting in a Rotorua hot tub’.

    I’d be able to laugh at all this if it didn’t actually directly affect me as a contractor to Solid Energy.

    Comment by rocketboy2007 — February 23, 2013 @ 9:45 pm

  48. Solid Energy management seem to have believed that alternative fuels were within the organization’s skill set, also purchasing a biodiesel plant ( subsequently sold to the plant management). Money was frittered away on new technologies for coal and alternative fuels with unrealistic estimates of returns and costs. Management should have asked hard questions, given how non-viable alternative fuels can be without subsidies. Another triumph of hope over experience.

    Comment by Bruce Hamilton — February 23, 2013 @ 11:00 pm

  49. “discipline-specific criteria and methods are unsuitable outside their specific disciplines”
    “and embarrassed themselves badly when they’ve tried to take on others.”
    So, when statisticians busted the hockey stick graph, you’re saying: ”your statistical methods are not valid here”?
    Statistics isn’t the measurement of statistics: it’s “the study of the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data”.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 24, 2013 @ 6:37 pm

  50. meteorologists

    Oh for God’s sake, you do know that weather is not climate, right?

    Either that or you seem prey to the myth of the omnicompetent scientist, which is as false as the omnicomptent manager or professional. A dentist is great at dentistry, right?! Hoorah! Then as a professional, my dentist will also be a great optometrist! Right? Right??!!

    You know that that’s nonsense.

    Anyway, they hardly busted it – old news:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18776-climategate-scientists-chastised-over-statistics.html

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11646-climate-myths-the-hockey-stick-graph-has-been-proven-wrong.html

    I suppose that next I’m going to hear “temperatures have been declining since 1998″ and so on.

    The problem is that climate is a complex system. That’s not a glib brush-off – physics is generally easy to model, and physicists, because of the nature of their practice, are notoriously inept at dealing with complex systems. You may have heard of the “butterfly effect” – that is, if a butterfly flaps its wings over Beijing, then one day, a hurricane strikes New Orleans. The chain of causality is too long, there are too many factors involved to use the sorts of models that physicists use, so other, more stochastic methods based on observations of trends have to be used.

    Statistics isn’t the measurement of statistics

    So I’m not sure if that’s a tautology or an oxymoron, but both are meaningless. Do you really know what you’re talking about?

    Look, I’m going to be generous and assume that you’re a lawyer, or think like one – and that isn’t a snark, because as a social rule, the presumption of innocence is essential.

    The “golden thread” as Rumpole put it, is the presumption of innocence and lawyers, quite rightly, must look for reasonable doubt in legal cases. If there is any possibility for doubt, then the case stalls.

    However, no law of nature or physical phenomenon has ever been established in a court.

    Science doesn’t have that luxury, because if it indulged in such, it would have to stop until 100% certainty is assured in every case (and then we’d have no applied science – ie., technology – think about that). Even quantum physics, the most successful theory in the history of science is only accurate ninety-nine-point-however-many-nines-you-like accurate. Instead, it has to rely on constant checking and reproducibility and peer review and other mechanisms to ensure that it remains on track. These aren’t rituals, these aren’t conspiracies (and some of your arguments, I have to say, do venture into tinfoil hat territory, such as using “orthodoxy” as an insinuation), because the processes are entirely open. If you have an hypothesis, then make it falsifiable and design an experiment that can falsify it and then publish it. Anyone then can… and then your own observations have to pass muster in the relevant field.

    Those are things you don’t seem to grasp: observation, peer review and reproducibility. Look them up. I don’t care in the least what the world’s best physicist has said about climate or hairstyles or whether some pet “expert witness” has some contrarian point to make. They still have to pass muster with climatologists to ensure that they haven’t been deliberately in inadvertently cherry-picking through a linear rather than complex analysis/modelling – and that’s the flaw with your claim that somehow a physicist’s analysis of statistics is relevant: it’s selective (deliberately or not), according to their experience and discipline. Their instincts and likely their methods are inherently flawed.

    A case in point on the divergence between legal practice and scientific practice: physics. Newtonian physics is not absolutely accurate. Observational evidence showed that it is not – specifically, observed irregularities in the orbit of Mercury have shown this. In a court of law, the inconsistencies could mean that a case was not proven and therefore “Newtonism” should be thrown out. However, a scientist looks at an irregularity and thinks, “hmm, that’s funny, something else must be at play… I wonder what it is?” As it turns out, Relativity is at play. Mercury is deeper in the Sun’s gravitational field and that effects time – not much, but enough (even data from GPS satellites’ clocks have to “adjusted” to account for the fact that they’re further from the earth than your average cellphone). So, there’s another factor at play – Relativity – but that doesn’t mean that Newtonian physics is wrong; it only means that under certain extreme circumstances, the new factor must be accounted for.

    A lawyer will be exasperated, or see an opportunity to have case dismissed, but a scientist sees nature unfold before them. They know that their predecessors aren’t wrong – instead they know that there is more to be learned.

    To me, the anti-AGW arguments that you put forward are those of a lawyer at best (and law is really, in the scheme of things, just an arbitrary social construction), not those of someone who understands science.

    So yeah, some statistician, lawyer, colour consultant, astrologer or whatever is going to find problems, and they’ll find a lot with complex systems, so you stick with the best working solution that happens to pass muster. Someone’s going to say that if 94% of climate scientists accept AGW, then that means that 6% don’t, and that will be the “benefit of doubt” sufficient for a court – but courts really are special, protected cases living in an ideal world compared to nature.

    My primary training’s not in law, but in technology, and when you’re pushing the boundaries beyond the most basic, then you go with the highest probabilities, because you know that there will never, ever, be a 100% certainty – indeed, the expectation – the demand – for such is simply untenable, impossible and idiotic.

    It’s an old joke, but here goes. A theoretical physicist is fired from university. Since his family has farming connections, he is able to get a job on a farm. After a while, he decides to present a seminar to his co-workers and so he arranges one. The first thing he does is draw a circle on a blackboard. “Consider the properties of a spherical cow…” he begins. Moral of the story? Theories outside a discipline are worse than worthless, they are, as another joke has it, “not even wrong.” Get some observations and pass peer review in the relevant discipline – anything else is bullshit.

    Another example. Aerospace engineers have a proverb: “Build a little, fly a little”. Again, do – and then observe . The most withering term of contempt that they have is “Powerpoint Ranger”. Climatologists have the data, the skills, the methods and the peer review processes. They are quite right to ignore physicists unless their work is peer-reviewed within their own discipline as you would be justified in refusing to take legal advice from a dentist, despite knowing that a dentist is a highly-trained and trusted professional.

    So one cherry-picked endocrinologist has said something? So what? Are their methods transparent? Does what they say pass peer review? Are their observations reproducible? Do their models match observations? Do they have predictive power? It comes down to that.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 24, 2013 @ 10:11 pm

  51. Wouldn’t this whole thing cast a cloud of FUD over the power co’s as well?

    Comment by deepred — February 24, 2013 @ 10:12 pm

  52. This guy (yeah, yeah, said to be paid by the Koch brothers) reckons he does science, see what he says about the hockey stick. He subsequently undertook a review of the science in conjunction with his daughter and concluded that AGW is real, so he’s not a denier. (Although many believe he is only pretending to believe. Whatever, if you can continue to hail and defend Mike Mann, I can call on this guy.)

    I love the propaganda you link to, which includes this admission: “Further back in the past, though, it certainly has been hotter – and the world has been a very different place.” So why no runaway global warming back then? No positive feedback mechanism?
    And:
    “Hand pointed out that the statistical tool Mann used to integrate temperature data from a number of difference sources – including tree-ring data and actual thermometer readings – produced an “exaggerated” rise in temperatures over the 20th century, relative to pre-industrial temperatures.”

    So all this is evidence that statistics matters to CAGW, and that Mike Mann, a prominent climate scientist, can’t really do statistics.

    (Since we’re talks stats & science n stuff, can you provide a link to the study that says that 94% of climate scientists agree with CAGW.)

    “meteorologists – Oh for God’s sake, you do know that weather is not climate, right?” Err, you claim the world is warmer. Do you know who has been measuring the temps? Do you know why many of them scorn what’s been done with the data?About how incomplete the data sets are? How is appears to have been cherry picked? And how come AGW is mentioned whenever there’s “unusual” weather. Sandy was initially linked by some to AGW. The media report this stuff, but seldom bother to go back and say “actually, the experts say there’s no evidence to suggest Sandy has anything to do with AGW, either way. Apologies we didn’t hear them at the time, but perhaps next time they’ll shout louder and sooner so we won’t have to publish shrill claims by non-scientists in order to sell our newspapers”.

    “Those are things you don’t seem to grasp: observation, peer review and reproducibility.” True, it’s hard to reproduce results when you lose or delete the data and won’t share your methodology (CRU of UEA).

    “To me, the anti-AGW arguments that you put forward are those of a lawyer at best…, not those of someone who understands science.”
    As I’m not a politician, I couldn’t possibly be allowed to vote, either, eh? So you continue to imply that climate science somehow is above statistical analysis, even those most of climate science is the study of data? I’m no climate scientist (are you?), but I hear what the statisticians and physicists are saying. (No, I don’t watch Fox News, I don’t listen to talk-back, I don’t read Kiwiblog or Whaleoil, Daily Mail.)

    “If you have an hypothesis, then make it falsifiable and design an experiment that can falsify it and then publish it.”
    Good point! And how do you falsify CAGW? Show that temperatures haven’t increased (in spite of ever increasing CO2) for 10 years? 15 years? 20 years? When the incidence of landfall of hurricanes falls?

    “The problem is that climate is a complex system.”
    Sure is! How come some clowns reckon they have it sussed enough to model it? How come the models have failed to predict the lack of warming in recent years? Err, because it’s so complex that have haven’t got it sussed, especially as they assume a positive feedback because that’s what the theory relies on. I guess they are starting to rue that they didn’t take your aerospace advice on board: ““Build a little, fly a little”!

    “Climatologists have the [flawed] data, [lack some of] the [statistical] skills, the [computer modelling] methods and the [flawed] peer review processes.”

    You are a

    But the big issue is really: why kick our economy to death (through increased cost of carbon-based energy) when the real co2 emitters are doing nothing? That is the key issue for me. We can agree or disagree of the reality of AGW, we can agree/disagree that it is/will be catastrophic, but surely we can agree that we will make no difference to it all when China, India, Russia, Japan and the US* will do nothing to reduce their co2 emissions. (*US emissions are said to have fallen due to a switch from coal (boo, hiss) to gas (hurrah, err, oh fracked gas you say? Boo hiss then)).

    But here’s the nub. You say of sceptics: “Are their observations reproducible? Do their models match observations?” But you are wrong: all they need do is show where the CAGW models are wrong, don’t match observations, come o untenable conclusions having used flawed statistical methods. Folk such as you have to DEFEND the CAGW theory: it’s not up to others to prove it wrong by offering an alternative. I don’t have to prove your miracle drug is rubbish by inventing a miracle drug of my own: I need only point out the flaws in your testing methodology, flaws in your interpretation of the data.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 25, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

  53. Apologies here’s the actual video I meant to link to, above a playlist:

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 25, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

  54. Nope, never heard a Creationist sounding exactly like that. <—- LIE.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 25, 2013 @ 5:19 pm

  55. Hey that’s real interesting CF. Thanks for telling us, yet again, what you think about climate change. the world appreciates your fighting the good fight!

    I can’t wait for the next thread that has nothing to do with climate change so you can repeat it all again for all of us. it’s not boring, really. Hey why don’t you email Pete George about it. he’d love to hear from you and you guys are both so interesting I have no doubt you’ll have no end of interesting discussions…

    Comment by nommopilot — February 25, 2013 @ 5:26 pm

  56. Oooh, good response there, got me pegged, PB. A creationist I am! I mean, I, like, believe in god and stuff and that the gummint bombed the WTC (hear me scream “building 7!”) and is responsible for the gases that are released from jet airlinersTM to brainwash us, so I gave guns to my children for to protect themslves when the zombies (or Big Foot) try to enter our bunker, etc.

    Wait up: no I don’t.

    So PB: how did temperatures fall after the last few warmings?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 25, 2013 @ 5:34 pm

  57. “Science doesn’t have that luxury, because if it indulged in such, it would have to stop until 100% certainty is assured in every case (and then we’d have no applied science – ie., technology – think about that).”
    So what level of certainty does CAGW have, Rhino? And where’s the applied science in CAGW? The increased production of computer models? Better weather forcasting? Just because I’m “anti-climate-change science” (in your mind) doesn’t mean I’m anti science. Nice attempt in painting it so, though.

    So nommo, rhino, PB (and DM): are decent statistical skills required for climate science or not? Easy question.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 25, 2013 @ 5:58 pm

  58. Didn’t say any of that CF.

    All I asked was if you ever stop to consider that the arguments you use parallel those used by creation ‘scientists’.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — February 25, 2013 @ 6:43 pm

  59. Clunking Fist,

    That video by Muller (at 53) was actually kind of interesting. But, in the interests of balance, perhaps you should have included this more recent Op-Ed piece by him from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/opinion/the-conversion-of-a-climate-change-skeptic.html?_r=0

    Opening paragraph:

    CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

    And futher:

    How definite is the attribution to humans? The carbon dioxide curve gives a better match than anything else we’ve tried. Its magnitude is consistent with the calculated greenhouse effect — extra warming from trapped heat radiation. These facts don’t prove causality and they shouldn’t end skepticism, but they raise the bar: to be considered seriously, an alternative explanation must match the data at least as well as carbon dioxide does. Adding methane, a second greenhouse gas, to our analysis doesn’t change the results. Moreover, our analysis does not depend on large, complex global climate models, the huge computer programs that are notorious for their hidden assumptions and adjustable parameters. Our result is based simply on the close agreement between the shape of the observed temperature rise and the known greenhouse gas increase.

    Ain’t science grand?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 25, 2013 @ 7:49 pm

  60. “58.Didn’t say any of that CF.”
    I didna say you said any of that.

    Amended to “I constatntly think and consider how the arguments I use parallel those used against creation ‘scientists’.”

    Frinstance: asking a creation scientist: “how do you explain dinosaur fossils”, I ask “how come when, during dinosaur times and co2 levels were orders higher than today, did we not get Catestrophic global warming?”

    But you keep on playing the man, not the ball. Paint sceptics as mad, nazis, baby eaters, child molesters, deranged, right-wing, in the pay of big oil/gas/coal/tobacco, anti-science, etc.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 25, 2013 @ 8:47 pm

  61. Thanks Andrew “These facts don’t prove causality and they shouldn’t end skepticism.” He says.
    There’s that statistical stuff agian!
    “The carbon dioxide curve gives a better match than anything else we’ve tried. Its magnitude is consistent with the calculated greenhouse effect — extra warming from trapped heat radiation”
    And there’s those models again, the ones that failed to predict the lack of warming in recent years.
    Someone once asked “Can you predict the future? No? Well why do you think your computer models, based on, from your own admissions, an incomplete understanding of the climate, can predict the future?”

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 25, 2013 @ 8:53 pm

  62. CF,

    And there’s those models again, the ones that failed to predict the lack of warming in recent years.

    Sorry, but that’s a blatant misrepresentation of the article. Go back and read the full extract you selectively quote from … the bit where Muller specifically says:

    Moreover, our analysis does not depend on large, complex global climate models, the huge computer programs that are notorious for their hidden assumptions and adjustable parameters. Our result is based simply on the close agreement between the shape of the observed temperature rise and the known greenhouse gas increase.

    In other words, it is matching observed data to observed data and concluding that the fit between temperature change (as actually measured) and CO2 levels (as actually measured) is far, far better than any alternative explanation. There are no “models” at play.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 25, 2013 @ 9:28 pm

  63. Ah, fair point, I only skimmed (honest). But there’s no denying he also said: “These facts don’t prove causality and they shouldn’t end skepticism.”

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 26, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

  64. But there’s no denying he also said: “These facts don’t prove causality and they shouldn’t end skepticism.”

    Of course. But then, these facts are strong enough for this former skeptic (who, remember, you yourself put forwards as part of the case against AGW) to proclaim himself convinced of the theory’s accuracy. Which seems relevant.

    Further, whilst no amount of correlation “proves” causality, and skepticism is always healthy in regards anything … in the absence of any better alternative explanation for an observed phenomenon (such as ongoing and significant increases in the earth’s temperature over a short period of time), why wouldn’t you be prepared to accept the “best fit” one? At the least, it makes it look like the objection is no longer based on “the available evidence”.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — February 26, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

  65. OK, away a while – work and leisure commitments.

    FWIW, Clunking Fist, I respect you for arguing in good faith, as you usually have, even if I think that you are mistaken.

    “Climatologists have the [flawed] data, [lack some of] the [statistical] skills, the [computer modelling] methods and the [flawed] peer review processes.”

    Well, with the exception of that

    The “”FIFY” style of argument is not honest, because it’s just a straw man. “I hate Justin Bieber” can easily become “I hate Justin Bieber [except on days with "y" in them] – and what does that prove? It’s misrepresentation.

    Sandy was initially linked by some to AGW… And how come AGW is mentioned whenever there’s “unusual” weather

    … and lots of other trivia…. Look, I have no interest in individual cases. Once again, I only care about the consensus.

    So what level of certainty does CAGW have, Rhino?

    Something like 97% agreement among those who actually know the discipline. As I’ve said.

    To paraphrase Churchill, Science is the worst way of finding out how the world works – except for all the others.

    are decent statistical skills required for climate science or not? Easy question

    Have you stopped beating your wife yet? “Easy question” is nonsense. Appropriate statistical methods is better.

    all they need do is show where the CAGW models are wrong, don’t match observations… wonder drug

    See my example of Mercury’s movements. The discrepancy in Mercury’s movements didn’t mean that “Newtonism” was flawed; it meant that Relativity was the extra factor. You’re still thinking like a lawyer.

    why kick our economy to death

    Believe me, I have no sympathy for the organic-everything-wish-they-were-algae Luddites. I’m pro-GE, pro-nuclear and I only leave my comfort zone to enter my luxury zone. Just like James Lovelock. “Green” does not – should – not mean Luddite, and I an anguished that it often does. I’m with Colin Chapman, Buckminster Fuller, Norman Foster and so on. Green has to be Hi-tech, because otherwise, seven million people in a real civilisation are going to die and a few thousand in an organic hunter-gatherer society won’t have lives worth living.

    I’m anti science. Nice attempt in painting it so, though.

    I don’t think that you’re anti-science. I think that you’re naive about of science and how it works.

    Folk such as you have to DEFEND the CAGW theory

    Actually it comes down to risk. I admit that there is a verysmall probability that the theory of AGW may be wrong, but the probability is so small and the risks so great that sticking my fingers in my ears while simultaneously cherry-picking is very, very foolish.

    “Can you predict the future? No? Well why do you think your computer models, based on, from your own admissions, an incomplete understanding of the climate, can predict the future?”

    But you keep on playing the man

    Where did I do that?

    lack of warming in recent years

    OK, so a version of the “1998 was the hottest year!” Sigh, eyeroll and so on. The oceans seem to be absorbing a lot of heat, as part of a super cycle, similar to ENSO, but that will reverse. It’s been reported already…. and it’s expected to reverse. Look at your own word: “recent”. Forget short term trends. Really, I despair at humanity’s obsession with the short-term…

    This looks like a desperate search for wiggle room. So what if there is a probability of a few percent that driving a car at full speed at a concrete wall will not result in death? Is that a risk you want to take?

    So PB: how did temperatures fall after the last few warmings?… co2 levels were orders higher than today, did we not get Catestrophic global warming?”

    OK, this is the nub. In principle, I do not think that a cool world turning into a warm world is a bad thing, any more than I think that a moving car becoming a stationary car is a bad thing. This change is not a “catastrophe”. If you apply brakes to slow the car, it’s fine and everyone adjusts. If you stop the car by driving it into a wall, it’s another matter. If GW happened over a millennia, and other mechanisms kicked in (change of albedo etc), then that’s fine. If it happens over decades, then it’s a car crash.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 26, 2013 @ 5:46 pm

  66. Oh, for the hate of Cthulhu, an edit function, please! Every other blog can manage it! “seven million people in a real civilisation” should be “seven BILLION…”

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 27, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

  67. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change

    specifically:

    “A 2010 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS) reviewed publication and citation data for 1,372 climate researchers and drew the following two conclusions:
    (i) 97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field support the tenets of ACC (Anthropogenic Climate Change) outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.[110]”

    Cherry-pick to your heart’s content.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 27, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

  68. Andrew: “…whilst no amount of correlation “proves” causality… in the absence of any better alternative explanation for an observed phenomenon”
    You mean the way temperatures have increased as we come out of an ice age? We haven’t yet achieved the apparent temperatures seen during the mediaeval warm period…
    And what of the fact that studies seem to indicate that co2 levels rise AFTER temperature rises? No wonder causality was not demonstrated.

    Hi Rhino, you don’t think the temp. data are flawed? Cherry picked stations? Urban heat island effect? Arbitrary “corrections” for stations that move? Stations coming into, and dropping out of, the series? Parties caught making strange adjustments to data series (NZ included)? Temperatures recorded for regions that have no stations (North Pole, etc.)?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/01/leaked-emails-climate-jones-chinese

    http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/jgr07/jgr07.html

    http://www.greatglobalwarmingswindle.co.uk/temperature_record.html

    “Something like 97% agreement among those who actually know the discipline. As I’ve said.”
    Could you link to the survey(s) please?

    “Appropriate statistical methods is better.”
    So how are these new, appropriate, statistical methods different from that used for other time series data?

    “I admit that there is a very small probability that the theory of AGW may be wrong, but the probability is so small and the risks so great”
    Can you explain (other than the alleged 97% agrrement, which of course does not equal 97% certainty, or 1SD or anything) how you get a small probability?
    And how do you know the consequences of warming planet are bad? Do you know what happens to plant yields when it’s warmer? When there’s more CO2? (You get dinosaurs… just joking) The incidence of hurricanes? Blizzards? Droughts? Fires?
    Scientists don’t know whether GW will bring more or less precipitation, nor where the changes will occur.
    The models that predict runaway warming RELY on an ASSUMPTION of a positive feedback mechanism. That is, CO2 sensitivity is quite low: a doubling to date (if you believe the link) has led to less than 2deg warming. And new studies out suggest that sensitivity is lower than previously assumed/thought. Therefore, the real bogey is this positive feedback mechanism. For which there is no empirical evidence: past warmings (to levels beyond what we experience now) have not led to runaway warming. Why will it now? (You did say “observation, peer review and reproducibility”, right?)

    I’m no lawyer, but the prosecution have to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Even civil cases rely on “the balance of probabilities. So, we have to be sure there’s warming: CHECK(ISH: the data may be flawed, the statistical analysis may be wrong), it has to be caused by CO2 (UNPROVEN) and that humans are the cause of the increase in CO2 (PROOF IS WEAK), that a positive feedback mechanism will cause runaway warming (UNPROVEN), that moderate warming is BAD (PROOF IS WEAK).
    Sorry if my “understanding of science” is weak. But we have a plague, it’s caused by cats and dogs (because they are, like, bloody everywhere, so it’s obvious) so if we get rid of the cats and dogs, we’ll reduce the plague.

    “So one cherry-picked endocrinologist has said something? So what? Are their methods transparent? Does what they say pass peer review? Are their observations reproducible? Do their models match observations? Do they have predictive power? It comes down to that.”
    Actually, yes: they have picked holes in the methodologies of certain proofs, studies, claims and data. They DO NOT have to have to offer any alternative theory (although some do).

    Now, my data are few, but here’s an example of someone (a social scientist) who knows more about social sciences than I (want to). But this scientist got tripped up by statistics (causation, correlation, all that jazz):

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/8320462/TV-watching-linked-to-criminal-activity?cid=edm:stuff:dailyheadlines

    “If GW happened over a millennia, and other mechanisms kicked in (change of albedo etc), then that’s fine. If it happens over decades, then it’s a car crash.”
    But the only way it can happen over decades is if this mysterious positive feedback mechanism kicks in.

    “Forget short term trends. Really, I despair at humanity’s obsession with the short-term…”
    When does the pause in warming become long enough to stop being short term. Remember, the industrial revolution was only a historical blink of an eye ago, less than 300 years. So for the most recent 10% of that time, there’s been (approx.) no warming, inspite of co2 levels accelerating.

    Cheers

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 27, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

  69. ha, I did read BILLION, but only after a few seconds trying to work out which country you was refering to…

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 27, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

  70. As I’m not a politician, I couldn’t possibly be allowed to vote, either, eh?

    As you’re not a dentist, I won’t let you near my teeth.

    You are a

    The rest, please… a good ad hominem would should clearly how you choose to argue.

    Our result is based simply on the close agreement between the shape of the observed temperature rise and the known greenhouse gas increase.

    Spherical cow. It deliberately leaves out factors such as oceanic absorption of heat, ENSO, etc, “Simpler” is not “truer”.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 27, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

  71. “You are a”n artifact from a recycled word document? I have no idea what that was, except perhaps Cthulhu’s pet hate: a lack of edit function?

    “As you’re not a dentist, I won’t let you near my teeth.”
    Not even close, how about:
    As you’re not a statistician, I won’t let you near my statistics.
    Or:
    As you’re a computer programmer (not a climate scientist), I won’t let you near my climate computer model. But feel free to enjoy the climate.
    Or:
    I’m not a dentist, but I do clean and floss my own teeth. I’m also licenced to masticate.
    Howsabout:
    I’m not a climate scientist, simply a statistician, but I can see from here that you have a co-linearity problem, the wrong r value, and have used strange propaganda reasons to move from one proxy to another when it suits your purpose, and have attempted to hide the fact that you did it and got angry with me when I pointed it out. But all good: it’s for the cause! (Please delete my email, by the way: I would’t want someone to see this using Freedom of Information/Offical Information Acts.)

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 27, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

  72. “You are a”n artifact from a recycled word document? I have no idea what that was, except perhaps Cthulhu’s pet hate: a lack of edit function?

    “As you’re not a dentist, I won’t let you near my teeth.”
    Not even close, how about:
    As you’re not a statistician, I won’t let you near my statistics.
    Or:
    As you’re a computer programmer (not a climate scientist), I won’t let you near my climate computer model. But feel free to enjoy the climate.
    Or:
    I’m not a dentist, but I do clean and floss my own teeth. I’m also licenced to masticate.
    Howsabout:
    I’m not a climate scientist, simply a statistician, but I can see from here that you have a co-linearity problem, the wrong r value, and have used strange propaganda reasons to move from one proxy to another when it suits your purpose, and have attempted to hide the fact that you did it. But all good, it’s for the cause.

    (I shall have a look at your 97% data later.)

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 27, 2013 @ 3:22 pm

  73. Eh? I did think I’d already hit “post” but thought I must’ve dreamt it, so pushed “post” again. WordPress? Free cloud services: not free of bugs…

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 27, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

  74. Jesus tap-dancing Christ in a sidecar, I fucking HATE WordPress. This is my third or forth attempt.

    Yes, as you see, that is my name. Wonderful. Wonderful WordPress morons – you’re shits. You just need to know that. So much for confidentiality.

    Anyway…

    Sorry, you show no sense of syntax, so I can’t reply and I can only guess at what you mean to say.

    I’m not a climate scientist, simply a statistician, but I can see from here that you have a co-linearity problem, the wrong r value, and have used strange propaganda reasons to move from one proxy to another when it suits your purpose, and have attempted to hide the fact that you did it. But all good, it’s for the cause.

    I’m sorry, but this sentence shows no syntax.

    I’m not a climate scientist, simply a statistician, but I can see from here that you have a co-linearity problem, the wrong r value, and have used strange propaganda reasons to move from one proxy to another when it suits your purpose, and have attempted to hide the fact that you did it. But all good, it’s for the cause.

    I can’t respond because I simply cannot tell what you are trying to say. Anyway, I can say that the principle of GIGO applies – that is, Garbage In Garbage Out. Statisticians’ work is limited by the information that that is given to them and the methodology that they employ.

    That’s it. I’m unlikely to post again because fucking WordPress is so unreliable.

    Comment by rhinocratesBrett Davidson — February 27, 2013 @ 5:58 pm

  75. Hi Rhino, I was working through that Wikipedia list of studies/surveys of scientists’ opinions.
    It all looks a bit flawed. Take Naomi Oreskes study: 75% of the papers she reviewed did not disagree with the consensus position in their abstracts. But this seems to include many studies which implicitly accept the position, because their remit was to evaluate impacts or study mitigation proposals.
    A possible analogy: An engineer, who sees no need for a motorway that has been approved for her town, will still likely consider quoting for the engineering consultancy work.

    The Harris Interactive study, I can’t find the response rate, etc.

    I’m getting bored with all these “Christians admit to belief in god” surveys.

    So here’s a survey for you, which I made up earlier: we ask loads of Doctors in 1950 “What causes ulcers and what to do about them?”
    97.7% said “Caused by stress. Relax, if that doesn’t work, we’ll cut it out!”.
    Turns out that it is mostly bacteria, and treatment can comprise antibiotics. So, no need to step down as CEO of Solid Energy just yet.

    The consensus once held that the sun revolved around the world, nationalism was healthy, eugenics is scientific & moral, powered flight is impossible, etc.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 28, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

  76. Here’s a statistician talking about the complexities around the temperature data:
    “James Annan has indeed attacked the use of a uniform prior when estimating climate sensitivity. As I recall, he initially tried to do so by way of a comment on the Frame et al (2005) paper, but could not get the journal to publish it. So he had to write a full paper, dealing with other things as well.

    The real problem is that very few people involved in climate science have any real understanding of objective Bayesian methods, which require the use of a noninformative prior. Consequently, they (and readers of their papers) can have little understanding of the extent to which the priors they have chosen bias their estimation of climate system parameters. I am doing what I can to to help remedy this, along with one or two others. Unfortunately, one the very few published climate science papers about noninformative priors, which relates to estimating climate sensitivity, is badly wrong.”

    Jan 12, 2013 at 10:04 PM | Nic Lewis
    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2013/1/12/lewis-on-schmidt-on-climate-sensitivity.html (yes, yes it’s a blog, not quite as good as wikipedia I know)

    Comment by Clunking Fist — February 28, 2013 @ 1:40 pm

  77. (I’m staying the fuck out of the climate discussion but as a philosophy-of-statistics pedant I note that there is no direct connection between objectivity and noninformative priors. A noninformative prior is not objectively true and is sometimes (pace E.T. Jaynes) demonstrably wrong. At best, inference is objective conditional on a noninformative prior, just as at best inference is objective conditional on an informative prior. This is not to imply that the paper in question should or should have used a noninformative prior because I haven’t read the paper and I don’t care to.)

    Comment by bradluen — March 1, 2013 @ 7:01 am

  78. It doesn’t matter, Brad: your statistical techniques are rendered obsolete by this new “climate” science.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — March 1, 2013 @ 12:22 pm

  79. (Rhino, I read your comment by email. it seems once the no. of comments increase AND time has elapsed since the first comment, WordPress gets bored and moves on.)
    “I can’t respond because I simply cannot tell what you are trying to say. Anyway, I can say that the principle of GIGO applies – that is, Garbage In Garbage Out. Statisticians’ work is limited by the information that that is given to them and the methodology that they employ.”
    Even if they employ the best methodology, if the “info given them” is poor, then the results will be poor.
    (cross my fingers and press “post comment”)

    Comment by Clunking Fist — March 5, 2013 @ 8:21 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Rubric Theme. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 404 other followers

%d bloggers like this: