My best review ever

I don’t know how many referee reports I’ve received over the course of my career – certainly many thousand. Some have been insightful and helpful, some have missed the point entirely, and some have been outright nasty. But I just got the nicest report I’ve ever had, and I can’t resist sharing the opening paras, with my thanks to the anonymous referee. The paper in question is my contribution to a special issue of Econometrics on the replication crisis, arguing that the crisis can be understood as a kind of market failure. Here’s a link to the draft

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What limited hazard reduction burning? Climate change.

Between making calls not to politicise the bushfire disaster, Barnaby Joyce and others have been busy denouncing the Greens, who allegedly prevented hazard reduction burning. This isn’t actually true: The rate of burning in NSW has more than doubled.

But there is one factor that has clearly limited hazard reduction burning. Because of the increased frequency of hot, windy days, even in winter, the window of time in which burning can be undertaken without the risk of accidentally starting fires has been narrowing. Here’s an example from August 2017, with authorities calling on landholders to limit burning off whenever possible, and noting that a number of hazard reduction burns have already escaped.

Triggering global warming

It’s tempting to dismiss Deputy PM Michael McCormack’s attack on “inner city greenies” who draw the link between climate change and bushfires as an ignorant rant. In reality, McCormack is pointing to a central truth about rightwing denialism on this issue.

Deniers like McCormack don’t (in most cases) believe the stupid things they are saying about climate change. It’s a shibboleth (a signal of tribal membership) and for this purpose, the stupider the better.

Nor is primarily about the economic interests of the fossil fuel lobby. McCormack doesn’t (AFAIK) have any coal mines in his electorate, and the farmers who put him in Parliament are being hit harder by the drought than anyone else.

In reality, it’s all about the inner city greenies: that is, people like the readers of this blog, whether or not we live in the inner city, and whatever our attitude to cafe latte. The whole point of rightwing politics now is to express antagonism to people like us or, in the parlance of Donald Trump Jr to “trigger the libs”

Climate denial has been one of the main avenues of this antagonism. The fact that the right has been proved catastrophically wrong isn’t going to change anything: as McCormack has shown, it is just making them worse.

Welcome to Armageddon!

Armistice Day

With the smoke of a global catastrophe swirling all around, I nearly forgot to mark the end of the Great War, the (the first stage of the) long-ago catastrophe that defined most of the 20th century, and is still causing chaos and suffering even today. Lest we forget.

Monday Message Board

Back again with another Monday Message Board.

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link


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Wouldn’t know if their a**e was on fire

From 2014, sadly more apposite today

John Quiggin

As I type this, it’s currently 35 degrees, at 9am on an October morning in Brisbane. And, while one day’s temperatures don’t prove anything, a string of studies have shown that the increasingly frequent heatwaves in Australia can be reliably attributed to global warming. We haven’t had an El Nino yet, but according to NOAA, the last 12 months have been the hottest such period on record.

It will be interesting to see what the denialists come up with in response to this combination of record breaking local and global warming. We can safely rule out anything along the lines of “as a sceptic, I like to wait for convincing evidence before accepting a new hypothesis. But, with the steady accumulation of evidence I’m now convinced”. I suspect we’ll get more along the lines of

* Graham Lloyd, reporting a new study by Jennifer Marohasy, showing that the…

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