"System change is now inevitable. Either because we do something about it, or because we will be hit by climate change. '...

"We need to develop economic models that are fit for purpose. The current economic frameworks, the ones that dominate our governments, these frameworks... the current economic frameworks, the neoclassical, the market frameworks, can deal with small changes. It can tell you the difference, if a sock company puts up the price of socks, what the demand for socks will be. It cannot tell you about the sorts of system level changes we are talking about here. We would not use an understanding of laminar flow in fluid dynamics to understand turbulent flow. So why is it we are using marginal economics, small incremental change economics, to understand system level changes?"

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Texas Education - Opportunity for Climate Science

As is well known, recently the State Board of Education of our Great State of Texas met in pursuit of the Scientific truth, in order to decide what to impart to our youth via the High School curriculum.

They began with a document crafted by professional "teachers" and "scientists", who freely admit to having a so-called "teaching real science" agenda. The Board, in its wisdom made a number of last minute Amendments to the proposed policy. These will affect classroom practice in our Great State and will have a strong effect on textbook publishers nationwide.

A great deal of national attention has been directed toward these Amendments, particularly as they affect biology, but as a climatologist practicing out of Texas I was gratified to see that they had not left our humble science out of the picture entirely.

As stated in a press release by the Environmental Defense Fund:
"Surprising environmentalists, the board’s last-minute decision Wednesday changed the language in a school textbook chapter on Environmental Systems to include the phrase “analyze and evaluate different views on the existence of global warming.”
It is gratifying to have the vast platform of the Texas Public School System to advance alternative theories about Global Warming. The media along with certain elements based in East Coast cities as well as Hollywood and San Francisco have been effectively promoting a flawed theory involving something they call Greenhouse Gas Theory.

The many flaws in Greenhouse Gas Theory do not typically get aired. Alternative views have been given altogether too short of a shrift.

Therefore I call on my fellow scientists to do everything possible to create a fair presentation of the main alternative hypothesis, the hypothesis of Interventionist Carbohydrates. (Now, that is quite a mouthful, so we can call it "IC" for short.)

Here is a graph showing how the flawed Greenhouse Gas Theory fails to account for observations:

In that graph, the red line corresponds to Greenhouse Gas Theory Gases, and the green line to global mean surface temperature as measured in the central location of Abilene TX. As you can see, Texas temperatures are not predicted by the Greenhouse Gas Theory Gases (GHGTGs).

On the other hand, consider the following graph, which indicates the number of Pirate Attacks, versus the global mean average surface temperature of the great state of Texas, again, as measured in Abilene. You will see that it is a very good predictor, going up when the temperature goes down, and down when it goes up. Unlike the GHGTGs, where there is no match that can be seen, in this case the match is perfect, as one would expect from good science.

There is a Scientific Explanation for this.

You see, it appears that there is a great carbohydrate-based presence in the sky that thrives on heat, water and salt. It gets all the water it wants from the clouds, but its need for salt is crucial. And it is the salty language and demeanor of sea pirates that gives it salt which it needs.

Fortified by the salt, the great carbohydratic presence is able to intervene in earthly matters, soaking up the great heat particles (warmons) and also the lesser ones (warminos) from the skies over Texas, and Oklahoma and Kansas too! This protects our land from the fierce summer heat of all those warmons and warminos.

Unfortunately, the advance of civilization has led to a decrease in the population of pirates, which has led to an increase in warmons and warminos, causing some discomfort, especially in August and September when we are really tired of it.

There are those who complain that our position is a disguised argument in favor of a dogmatic religious sect. Far from it. We are merely pointing out the evidence, and the evidence says there is an ethereal carbohydrate presence protecting us from the sun's heat best when there are pirates.

While many of the advocates of Interventionist Carbohydratism happen to be members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or pastafarians, not all of us are. Far from it! There is for example the example of non-pastafarian Richard Lindzen of the atmospheric science department at M.I.T., whose meteorological publications have long been entirely consistent with Interventionist Carbohydratism.

The core of IC investigates how and why the connection between temperature and pirates is due to the ineffable presence of an animated carbohydrate presence. Whether that presence is constituted by, say, intelligent potatoes or biscuits or pasta or even turnips is a matter for the individual's conscience; the state indeed has no business making such a distinction. (We have, however, ruled out corn, field corn, and hominy.)

Now that we understand about IC, what should we do about the pirate crisis? Should we reconstitute the Texas Navy, forcibly boarding and looting the ships of other nations and northern states? No, of course not. We Texans are an honorable people, and we do not force our will upon random foreigners, at least not without a fairly strong suspicion of reasonable cause.

Fortunately it turns out not to be necessary. The Carbohydrate Intervention process is mediated not by piracy itself but simply by the salty language, dress and demeanor of the pirates. Accordingly, as part of the high school instruction in Carbohydragenic Global Warming we will train the students to sing and perform a vast collection of dirty limericks and bawdy drinking songs. The provision of these materials in pilot classrooms in various sophomore and junior level high school classes has been met with great enthusiasm by most of the students. We look forward to educating many more of our state's teenagers, in service to the environment, to set them off on the right foot in their stewardship of the mighty Texas land.

Now THAT, not the tiresome and flawed correlations of the teachers and professors, that my friends is real Science, Texas style!

Make no mistake. Our position is for Science, about Science, and through Science. We will follow the truth no matter where it leads. And it leads to giant plates of carbohydrates of some sort. Possibly pasta, as some of us believe within the privacy of our own homes and houses of worship, but that is not for us curriculum developers to say.

Indeed, it is our opponents, in their arrogant refusal to consider the piracy data, who have become so stubborn, so dogmatic, so intolerant of opposition, that it is they, not we, who represent the injection of religion into the classroom. They should be grateful for our generosity in not trying to force their Greenhouse Gas Theory out of the curriculum altogether. Unlike our opposition, though, we believe that every scientific viewpoint, no matter how peculiar or unfounded, deserves the time for a fair hearing in the classroom. Anything less is a betrayal of our youth.

It is wonderful that our great State is finally opening the door to examination of this long-suppressed theory and many other scientific theories of comparable value. That is something that Texans of all backgrounds, be they Aggie, Longhorn or Raider, can reflect upon with great Texas Pride. Arrr!

Update: I am very pleased to note how many people apparently have read this article and been swept up by the power of its Scientific Evidence. Several important Greenhouse Gas Theory websites have folded up their tents today and can now be counted as among the 450 PhD's supporting Carbohydrate Interventionism: Gavin Schmidt et al. at RealClimate, James Hrynyshyn (hope I spelled it right that time) and Rajenda Pachauri can now be added to the list of CI supporters and sympathizers. Most remarkably, there is the confession from Al Gore. It is worth noting that none of them is a practicing pastafarian.

Truly the first day of April in 2009 is a date worthy of note in the history of scientific progress! All hail Flying Spagh... er... hurrah!


bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

Warmons, warminos. But there's already a unified theory which encompasses warmonism, and it's called... Orgonomy! That's why I'm a signatory of the new Orgone Petition.

-- bi

Arthur Smith said...

Hi Michael, that was a little half-hearted wasn't it? I mean, the data labels on your graphs were dead giveaways? :-)

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

Arthur Smith:

You'll be surprised. Inactivist idiocy knows no bounds.

-- bi

tidal said...

Sorry to bother you, but do you have the R^2 for the second correlation? Eyeballing it, it's obviously robust, but I am curious as to what the stats say. Even even a rough guess about it would be useful.

Michael Tobis said...

My calculations indicate about -0.999 or so.

Aaron said...

COULD mean, “Walk the students though all the denialist and skeptical arguments and develop a factual and logical base for rejecting these arguments in favor of a model of global warming based on science.” That is what that language would have meant if it had been written by real scientists/teachers. My father was a teacher, who prepared textbook guidance. However, when he used such language, he meant, “Make the student read everything, talk about it in class, and then write a critical essay that demonstrates a knowledge of the facts and logic.” However, that language was written by a lawyer and means something else.

The good thing here is that real scientists/teachers are learning to understand lawyer speak; and, to recognize lawyer speak even when the vocabulary and syntax is identical to teacher speak.

On the other hand, I think your response my alienate people that you really need to influence. We can have a rude, elitist party later. Now, we need to communicate with these people. Not talk at them, but really communicate and influence these people.

Yesterday, while teaching, I realized that I am a guilty as anyone about global warming elitism. Our job is to teach. We need to do it thoughtfully, and we need to do it now. We have to prove ourselves worthy of being teachers, and then we have to gather students. We have to be such excellent teachers that the Texas Board of Education will turn to us and learn. We need to be such excellent teachers that we win friends and influence people.

Michael Tobis said...


sigh, yes, good points, but I couldn't resist...

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...


"On the other hand, I think your response my alienate people that you really need to influence."

The way I see it, any communications or 'framing' strategy on the Wild Wild Web quickly runs against the problem that the climate inactivists can simply drown it out with a lot of noise.

-- bi

Aaron said...

I am going to propose that the best current outline for an economic analysis of global warming is at http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/rest.91.1.1 (On Modeling and Interpreting the Economics of Catastrophic Climate Change by Martin L. Weitzman)

Well worth reading with paper & pen at hand.

cpwinter said...

FB wrote: The way I see it, any communications or 'framing' strategy on the Wild Wild Web quickly runs against the problem that the climate inactivists can simply drown it out with a lot of noise.

There is this about that sort of noise: Given enough repetition, it gets recognized as noise, and filtered out. Assuming, of course, that there is a coherent signal present.

And the inactivists may be louder, but we are more coherent.

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...


"There is this about that sort of noise: Given enough repetition, it gets recognized as noise, and filtered out."

I don't know. It seems that some people cope with repetition by integrating the repeated message into their personal identities.

"Assuming, of course, that there is a coherent signal present."

Ah. That's important too. :)

* * *


Thanks. The general conclusion is something that some of us have been saying for quite some time, but it's still good to have some actual numbers to pore over.

tidal said...

Just w.r.t. Weitzman reference above. He has two new working papers on his website. One is a response to Nordhaus' critique of the Feb09 paper Aaron linked to. The second (and there is some overlap here) develops his "fat-tail" scenarios in more detail, and he also makes a case as to why climate change is a particularly troubling dilemma - "Perhaps it is little more than raw intuition, but for what it is worth I do not feel that the handful of other conceivable environmental catastrophes are nearly as critical as climate change. I illustrate with two specific examples." (His examples come from bioengineering and asteroid disasters...).

That latter paper is quite non-technical.

It reaches some deeply disturbing conclusions. One of which is that the situation may turn out to be so bad that he feels we must invest research and planning for "fast geoengineering" solutions. It's not that he is recommending that we go that way, just that we may get to a point that we need to buy some time, find some way to flatten the tails somewhat... He is arguing for aggressive, urgent mitigation, but can't seem to avoid concluding that we need to consider a contingency plan: "The opinion that follows might be construed as editorializing, but it seems to me that the analysis of this paper leads logically to a narrowly-defined niche role for a reliable backstop technology that can e¤ectively knock down high planetary temperatures quickly in case of emergency."

What fascinates me about Weitzman is that he is coming at this initially from a very conservative posture. It's clear that he himself is deeply disturbed at where is reserach is leading him. He is looking at fat-tailed probability distribution functions for temperature (and economic damages) that can't rule out a 5% chance of ΔT 11.5°C, or a 1% chance of 22°C! (I know, that seems high, but he is quite robust in his derivations... and specific about the climate science...)Whereas in Nordhaus' DICE models - the more traditional CBA analysis - these tails just get truncated, as I understand it.

I was thinking of having a go at the second paper in more detail.