158 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. Further to upthread references to methane flaring and overseas forest conservation I think there is an error of principle here and in practical terms an invitation to blackmail. If a nation or firm creates GHGs that is debit against them in the first instance. They must mitigate the emissions to reduce that debit. If they want money to refrain from doing something they shouldn’t do in the first place that is in effect legalised extortion. Moreover transferring the emissions ‘avoided’ to another party allows the purchaser to continue emitting as before, only now at slight cost.

    Now it appears the government will enshrine this principle as a get out of jail card and also heavily compensate major emitters like brown coal generators. To my knowledge there is no binding legal precedent for that compensation. Having exhausted the clean coal mantra the government now appears to think that gas plus renewables might replace coal. If that’s true then the ETS should steer things in that direction without extra giveaways.

    I suggest the government is only compounding its own errors, both in principle and practice. The ETS is an illogical clumsy muddle. Some would say a nightmare. I would not vote for any of the major parties in a DDE. Alternatively if the ETS gets up in a hopelessly compromised form the whole exercise may have been pointless.

  2. RC also had comments re: Terje’s highlighted email:

    regarding the Jones, I will delete if FOIed comment to Mann

    [Response: It is obviously not meant seriously, but that is hard to discern from little snippets like this. – gavin]

    It’s possible. But how is it OBVIOUS? Do you have enough info to really judge that so definitively Gavin? Or just suggesting a possibility that is less damning?

    [Response: It’s obvious because I know the people involved. – gavin]

  3. Alice Says:

    …but the smart kid said 100+1=101, 99+2=101, 98+3=101, “Hey this is easy”

    My maths teacher described it as “a trick”. Practitioners of maths and science often use the expression “a trick” to describe an ingenious way to save time and effort.

    The “smart kid” was reputedly Carl Gauss, as in Gaussian (normal) distributions, Gaussian elimination, etc.

    The opposite story is told about John von Neumann, who didn’t get the“trick”:

    In her biography of John Nash, Sylvia Nasar relates another telling von Neumann anecdote, about a famous trick-question math problem. Two cyclists start out 20 miles apart, heading for each other at 10 miles an hour. Meanwhile a fly flies back and forth between the bicycles at 15 miles an hour. How far has the fly flown by the time the bicycles meet? You can solve it by adding up the fly’s many shorter and shorter paths between bikes (this would be known in mathematical terms as an infinite series). If you detect the trick, though, you can solve the problem in an instant – it will take the bikes an hour to meet, so the fly obviously will have flown 15 miles.

    When jokesters posed this question to von Neumann, sure enough, he answered within a second or two. Oh, you knew the trick, they moaned. “What trick?” said von Neumann. “All I did was sum the infinite series”.

  4. nanks :note iain how terje has changed his complaint – it appears he is now just saying the emails damage people’s reputations – quite different, and milder, than the earlier claim of “deliberate attempts to obstruct”. Is this tactic deliberate or something else? I do not know, however I have seen this tactic used many times before on the web.

    Nanks – My reference to damaged reputations was in response to Iains constant suggestion that I was engaged in slander. It was not a case of me having “changed his complaint”. It was a case of me being able to dealing with more than one issue.

    I stand by my original observation of deliberate attempts to obstruct. I have not backed away from it in the slightest. Why would I when it is so self evident from the leaked emails. The only out for these guys is if the leaked emails are a hoax and so far nobody has made that claim.

    At 09:41 AM 2/2/2005, Phil Jones wrote:

    Mike,

    I presume congratulations are in order – so congrats etc !

    Just sent loads of station data to Scott. Make sure he documents everything better
    this time ! And don’t leave stuff lying around on ftp sites – you never know who is
    trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone. Does your similar act in the US force you to respond to enquiries within 20 days? – our does ! The UK works on precedents, so the first request will test it. We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind. Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it – thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that. IPR should be relevant
    here, but I can see me getting into an argument with someone at UEA who’ll say we must adhere to it !

    http://www.anelegantchaos.org/cru/emails.php?eid=490&filename=1107454306.txt

  5. So TerjeP have you read through many of those private emails and, while I think of it, is Crikey also the source of your opinions on climate science?

    This grotty little episode is turning out to be a good test of character.

  6. Terje – if you stand by your assertion that there is seemingly clear evidence that Phil Jones deliberately obstructed FOI – then you are, indeed, a slanderer (with no basis for your claim whatsoever). You may also want to reassess the legal ground you are on by making these allegations.

    The line you highlight in bold can be taken in many ways. It is not “evidence” of obstructing FOI. And, as Gavin Schmidt, has repeatedly pointed out at RC, it is in his opinion, not meant seriously.

    If you have any serious evidence – please provide it. Otherwise withdraw your slander and apologise for making it. thanks.

  7. thanks, I think my logic and reasoning has been laid out clearly.

    You, on the other hand, have cut and pasted a section of one email and highlighted a couple of sentences.

  8. @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    Sorry Terje, I think that while it’s possible that you are correct concerning your judgement of misconduct by CRU staff, it is far from solid at this point. As we all know from blogging, the email and epost on blogs are notoriously difficult for expressing emotion and intent behind a sentence quickly written. My view on the following text:

    The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone.

    is that the author may have been incredibly frustrated by what he sees as the M&M serial pest behaviour, and that has led him to make the remark about deleting stuff. I don’t think it is reasonable to take that sentence as meaning that the author was actuallyserious about really carrying out that action. It read to me as an expression of exasperation – at the behaviour of the M&Ms – between colleagues/friends. Indeed, without significant context supporting your interpretation Terje, I think you are jumping the gun. Some datestamps and digital archive demonstrating file evaporation would be rather more solid and incriminating, or at least a string of emails directly connected to this one, in which some individuals have admitted following through on deleting the particular file(s) under discussion. And even then, the file(s) must be data that must be kept, or else it is irrelevant anyway.

  9. Indeed, the character test aspect is striking. I’d be grateful if anyone could point me to a sceptic (and I would be willing to use the term in such a case) who has
    (i) condemned the dishonesty, at multiple levels, associated with stealing and selectively publishing these emails
    (ii) noted the total failure to establish anything of relevance to the debate and the total absence of any global conspiracy

    Even a prominent anti-AGWer who has maintained a conspicuous silence on this would gain some points from me. I wondered about Pielke, but Google turns him up, cited by Andrew Bolt (I won’t give a link).

  10. Now, for consistency, when are they all going to FOI the crap out of Pielke, to find out what he’s been hiding? Hiding, as in, not announcing to the world every step of the way. Hey, I made a copy and edited my dataset to change the formatting. Hey, I edited it again to improve the formatting. Hey,…,when does it end?

    Oh, I forgot, Pielke is considered by the delusorati to be one of them – a free pass.

  11. Donald – if it was that one email I would agree. However within the context of the multiple emails that discuss ways to avoid FOI and to stop the MMs from getting information I think obstruction is clear.

    John – you seem to assume that this is insignifcant because it doesn’t change the scientific evidence for AGW. You are absolutely correct in observing that it doesn’t change the evidence but wrong to assume it is therefore insignificant.

    I have not tried to claim that this proves the AGW theory is wrong. Neither did the Crikey article I quoted.

  12. Perhaps re CRU hack the question of the week is “When did you stop hiding your data?”, the natural evolution of the old trick – there’s that word again – question.

  13. @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    I agree that it is significant in the political mileage that will come of this. From that perspective it is quite a blow for climate science – and if it eventually transpires that actual obstruction in the legal sense took place, it will be another blow.

    On a related note, some time ago I railed against commercialisation of the academic research process. The issues if significance revolve around those of IP ownership, contractual rights and obligations, and even the possible perversion of the original motivators for all academic scholarship and research. Curiosity-driven research was never sexy and it is certainly way back in the queue for grants these days. Better to find a commercial partner to assist the uni in liking you a little bit more, even at the cost of locking up the research into a mosaic of publically available and privately-held research.

    In the current situation those issues can be exploited by both “armies” in the fight over what data/code/emails to release. Pity.

  14. What multiple emails would they be Terje?

    We have discussed the email you have highlighted – and your assertion fails. This has been clearly pointed out to you many times.

    We have discussed the email where deletion was requested – and your assertion fails. The emails requested to be deleted were (as far as anyone can tell by the correspondance) private body IPCC related emails – which Phil Jones went out of his way to clarify with the FOI office that they were not part of FOI. It is hardly obstructing FOI when you specifically clarify with the FOI office that the emails are not part of FOI – and you clearly document the discussion you had with the office of FOI about this.

  15. Terje – there is little doubt that Jones, almost certainly, will lose his job title at CRU, and he will definitely have his career forever sullied.

    There is also little doubt that his request to delete emails was a poor one.

    There is also little doubt that he first confirmed with the FOI that the emails he requested to be deleted were not subject to FOI.

  16. Iain – the request to delete emails may have been within the letter of the law but it still shows bad form. He also described to others what his tactics would be to avoid FIO requests including use of the Data Protection Act and deleting files. Even if he never did these things his position within the organisation is a leadership position and yet he was making plain to others that FIO was a problem to be vigourously avoided rather than an obligation to be respected. Whether he broke the law or not isn’t the point. He obstructed the intent and spirit of FIO even if he deleted nothing.

    Also of concern is why he did this. Surely FIO is an annoyance and a burden like any other regulation but why was this particular regulation of such dire concern to Phil Jones? What was it that he was afraid of? I don’t presume to know but his behaviour does seem rather paranoid. Either that or vindictive.

  17. Terje – you ought to be ashamed of yourself trying to get mileage for libertarianism or radicalism from this seedy illegal hack.

  18. Alice :Terje – you ought to be ashamed of yourself trying to get mileage for libertarianism or radicalism from this seedy illegal hack.

    Where have I tried to get milage for either libertarianism or radicalism off the back of the email leak?

  19. Alice – yes I’ve had a lot to say about it. However nothing that I have said about the email leak has anything to do with getting milage for libertarianism or radicalism. You may as well have said I should be ashamed of myself for trying to get milage for fathers and IT professionals.

  20. Terje, this is utterly pathetic. Until now, you were one of the handful of libertarians who hadn’t made themselves deliberately stupid and ignorant by swallowing and regurgitating delusionist talking points. No longer.

    And, in case you hadn’t noticed, the primary political outcomes of all your work on this have been to destroy the Liberal Party, utterly discredit libertarianism and saddle Australia with a scheme that is twice as expensive and half as effective as it ought to be. I can’t say I’m particularly unhappy about the first (though not happy either since we need a good opposition), or the second (though again, its a pity to see an important stream of thought sink into utter delusion), but I’m very disappointed and angry about the third. Badly done, so-called sceptics.

  21. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, the primary political outcomes of all your work on this have been to destroy the Liberal Party, utterly discredit libertarianism and saddle Australia with a scheme that is twice as expensive and half as effective as it ought to be.

    John – I’m blushing. You really think I’ve destroyed the Liberal party? I would never have claimed to have such influence. And all I had to do was post the occasional article at ALS and stick a few comments on the John Quiggin blog. Clearly my powers of influence are much more vast then I ever realised.

  22. Sad to say, Terje, this kind of snarky misreading is pretty typical of the process by which rational people turn into deliberately ignorant delusionists.

    “Your” in my post refers to the general delusionist shipwreck – “your” (Terje’s) contribution has been to be among the last on to the sinking ship.

  23. Until now, you were one of the handful of libertarians who hadn’t made themselves deliberately stupid and ignorant by swallowing and regurgitating delusionist talking points. No longer.

    It’s interesting that all the delusional behaviour is coming out of the woodwork now after the Liberal Party took a very similar ETS to the one we’ll probably get to the last election. The delusionals were very quiet about their now-professed position even though it contradicted their party’s election policy. Wonderfully honest aren’t they?

  24. I wasn’t supposed to be snarky. Just a bit cute perhaps. 😉 Although I would like to bring down the Liberal party. That sounds like fun.

    John I don’t agree with your assessment on lots of things. I don’t see how this particular issue makes me any stupider (in your assessment) than the many other things I disagree with you on.

  25. Chris – I didn’t vote for the Liberals at the last election. I stood as a senator for another party. On election day I spent the day handing out how to vote cards in Bennelong which put the Liberal candiate below the Labor candidate. Not that Maxine McKew has impressed me that much so far.

  26. […] Climategate Obviously the leaked emails from East Anglia University are quite topical. I don’t have much to say here at the moment that hasn’t already been said elsewhere. And I’m really just putting this up so those that want to comment on the issue have a space to do so. However I’ve had plenty to say about it in comments at the John Quiggin blog. So if you want to know my view then take a look. […]

  27. […] Climategate Obviously the leaked emails from East Anglia University are quite topical. I don’t have much to say here at the moment that hasn’t already been said elsewhere. And I’m really just putting this up so those that want to comment on the issue have a space to do so. However I’ve had plenty to say about it in comments at the John Quiggin blog. So if you want to know my view then take a look. […]

  28. Truly it’s pathetic Terje that you a loudly self-professed libertarian – you’d better just remind us what principles of your philosophy they were that you were standing on at the last election because your performance right now in no way reminds me of them – is proudly associating himself with, and reproducing the dumb and delusional work of, people with absolutely no respect for others’ property, privacy or individual freedom to go about their honest work (honest until proven guilty by a higher court than you are genuflecting to) unmolested by the State and by the lowest form of do-gooders. You’ve just forgotten all of your supposed principles in a public and fairly absurd fashion, I’m sorry to have to say to you. It’s kinda flabbergasting.

    You’re of course free to either wake up and apologise or carry on as you’ve been going. Good luck with that!

  29. Smaller government, lower taxes, more freedom, stronger society. Libertarian principles. Those were the principles I stood for. Why is it pathetic that I stand up for what I believe in?

  30. Franklis – I forgot to graciously thank you for granting me the freedom to carry on as I’ve been going. Thankyou so much. My feelings would have been badly hurt if you had denied permission. Being called stupid and pathetic is one thing but making my own decisions without your permission would simply be too much for me.

  31. Smaller government that can’t or doesn’t stand for protection of your privacy and your private property? Freedom for thieves and lynch mobs? Stronger society by the rule of the baying crowd? Where do any of these four derived principles of yours stand without firm foundation in deeper personal principles held by libertarianism’s leaders and at least a sizable minority of people?

  32. Frankis – what are you on about? Do you want to discuss property rights and the proper role of government or are you just fishing for more opportunities to be rude to me? If you want an honest and open dialogue on this topic then I’m happy to engage but if your going to simply make silly and inaccurate characterisations of libertarian thinking for the purposes of insulting people why should I bother. If you don’t know what libertarians think start asking rather than accusing. Let me know which way we proceed?

  33. Suppose for a moment Terje that some of my personal emails were to get via an enemy of mine into your hands. Suppose you had it on the authority of my enemy that the content of my emails showed graphically just what a low character I really am, and that they are a must-read for you. Let’s suppose “all’s fair in war!”
    ….

    Well – this (scientific research into climate change) is a war, is it?

  34. I notice you have changed topic again. It somewhat suggests you don’t actually want dialogue because you don’t actually engage. However for the moment I’ll try and keep up because this might be one of those fun turing tests.

    I have done the supposing you have requested. I have carefully considered your question. My answer is no. Climate change science is not a war.

  35. [2nd posting, some server issues apparently]

    OK Terje you’re a sport.

    So, now that you have my private and personal email correspondence delivered into your hands by my enemies – what do you do with it?

  36. Frankis – I’m sorry you have enemies. Is it KGB? ASIO perhaps? Either way I’m honestly not interested in your email and I have no idea why your enemies would try and give it to me. Have we met? Are you following me?

    Assuming that ASIO has sent me a copy of your private emails and I know they have stolen it from you I’d be asking them why they want me to have it. There is already enough rubbish on my hard disk? Have you been dodging taxes again? Are you engaged in child prostitution or some such immoral activity? Have you murdered some people? What exactly have you been up to Frankis? Why is ASIO after you?

  37. My letter to Crikey about Davidson’s smear piece:

    Sinclair Davidson has systematically misrepresented the stolen emails in order to smear climate scientists. For example, when scientists discuss how to quite properly avoid taxes on research funds he accuses them of the crime of tax evasion. When a scientist asks for suggestions as to who he should nominate as possible peer reviewers, he accuses them of attempting to subvert the peer review process. He accuses them of refusing to make data available to journals while artfully omitting the fact that the scientists had signed an agreement to not redistribute the data.

    He accuses them of attempts to manipulate the editorial stance of journals without mentioning that the context was a scandal were a rogue editor had slipped a plainly defective paper into the journal. He accuses them of making threats to physically assault rivals giving the impression that there was a real threat when it was obvious that the threat was not real and there are more serious threats made on his Davidson’s blog. And on and on.

    Science historian Spencer Weart has observed:

    “The theft and use of the emails does reveal something interesting about the social context. It’s a symptom of something entirely new in the history of science. Aside from crackpots who complain that a conspiracy is suppressing their personal discoveries, we’ve never before seen a set of people accuse an entire community of scientists of deliberate deception and other professional malfeasance.

    “Even the tobacco companies never tried to slander legitimate cancer researchers.”

    Davidson and Crikey should be ashamed of themselves.

  38. @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    says “Frankis – I’m sorry you have enemies. Is it KGB? ASIO perhaps? Either way I’m honestly not interested in your email”

    Then why are you so interested in this hack of genuine scientists going about their daily work Terje? The whole findings are innocuous but the hack itself is an organised funded illegal activity with the intention by “snipping, cutting and pasting” to distort and twist real communications into something they are not and to actually hinder advance in this area by people who think they can manipulate distort the public view and discredit genuine scientists who should not have to go about their work with a “bunker mentality”. Wouldnt you be much more interested in a hack of the Heartland Institute group’s communications?. Im absolutely certain it would be far more salacious and downright shocking to many.

  39. In between laughing, despite myself … Terje this is not disingenuousness by you is it, it’s for real?

    Suppose ASIO has a plausible rationalisation as to why they wish for you to have my stolen private correspondence, presumably against my will. What do you do?

    You know I think I’ve seen the following fragment of philosophy up somewhere lately, do you recognise it at all?

    The central element of libertarian thought is that people should generally be free to do what they want with what they own, so long as they don’t interfere with other people or property without permission.

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