"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, November 3, 2010

Silver linings

OK, maybe I am a teensy bit political. So here are a couple of snippets of hope among the gloom.

My part of the hopelessly gerrymandered Texas landscape is still represented by the estimable Lloyd Doggett.
"At least we can say we put a little spoonful of sugar in that bitter brew," Doggett said to cheers.
Hispanic backlash against racist ad in Nevada re-elects Democrat Reid.

Of the 39 Democrats who voted against Health Care Reform, only 12 are going to be returning in the next Congress.

In Joe Romm's words, "in only two Senate races did a candidate’s position on global warming become a major issue. In those two Senate races, the candidate that stood with the Senate’s top global warming denier and embraced denial of basic scientific reality lost".

California! Jerry Brown!

A climate blogger holds statewide office!

On the other hand, Feingold was defeated! The smartest and most decent person in Washington, summarily fired! Wisconsin! What's got into you? Are you insane?

Update: More surprisingly bad news. Boucher is out.


dhogaza said...

Well, here in Oregon, one of our two Dem Senators was up for re-election.

He won handily.

Of our five Reps, all four D and one R incumbents were re-elected.

That means Peter DeFazio defeated Art Robinson (of OISM fame). 54% to 45%, as a matter of fact.

And in CA, don't forget Prop 23's defeat, despite funding by the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel interests.

Francis said...

In California, the attempt to roll back the Greenhouse Gas Law was soundly rejected.

And in unrelated news, Judith Curry seems to have gone 'round the bend. She apparently now knows better than all the scientists who authored IPCC AR IV.

Steve Bloom said...

Brian's office is a tad less than statewide, I'm afraid, although I think he ought to puff up its importance with a more suitable title such as "Grand Panjumdrum of the Golden Elixir" or some such. A cheeleading team at the meetings would help too.

Also, what kind of world do we live in where Art Robinson gets 45% of the vote running for anything?

Re WI, is this the same state of cheeseheads who handed Pat Michaels that mick PhD? Thought so.

wv advises "nostopp" (proving that while it may know what it's talking about, it doesn't know to whom)

dhogaza said...

"Also, what kind of world do we live in where Art Robinson gets 45% of the vote running for anything?"

That part of the world that includes a slice of Oregon that is populated with deeply entrenched Republican voters.

The district also includes Lane County, which includes Eugene, which includes University of Oregon, which happens to host the #1 football team in the country and, more importantly, is a heavily-democratic county.

If it weren't for Lane County, you'd never see a Dem elected out of the district.

Robinson was running only because the Republicans didn't think they had a chance to unseat DeFazio back when they were picking races to concentrate on in the run-up to the primaries.

They were right, though it was closer than anyone had imagined at the beginning of the year.

Guillaume Tell said...

"...some political analysts are already predicting Republican-led...roll backs in climate change and energy legislation..."

"...the GOP plans to hold high-profile hearings examing the alleged "scientific fraud" (emails) behind global warming."
Popsci.com, Nov 3

Rep. Barton is specific about his plans. But his chairmanship is uncertain, because he needs permission to go beyond the usual 6year leadership limit.

King of the Road said...

My California business is hastily putting together a strategy to leave the state. We employ approximately 275 people. Unfortunately, it's not a very portable business but we're working on it.

dhogaza said...

King of the Road ...

It's unlikely that California will miss you.

And it's obvious you don't employ any high-tech types who are interested in continuing CA's history of dominating high tech (after having worked so hard to wrest it from Route 128 west of Boston/Cambridge).

Word verification: "faken"

which I suspect you're doing.

Michael Tobis said...


You're a fan. I appreciate it. King of the Road is an old friend. I appreciate that a good deal more.

I don't always agree with either of you but if it comes to a flame war, please take one and only one guess whose side I'll take.

KOTR is indeed one of three partners in a construction engineering firm in California. I had no idea they had so much staff but I doubt he's making that up. I can personally vouch for the rest of it.

Will they actually leave? I don't know. But where do you come off having an opinion about it?

dhogaza said...

"KOTR is indeed one of three partners in a construction engineering firm in California."

Construction engineering isn't high tech (read my comment closely). I would define high-tech as being driven by avant-garde physics and software engineering/computer science (or, as the Europeans more rationally describe it, informatics).

Of course, if you choose to side against me in this simple definition of terms, feel free to do so...but I did mention "high tech" explicitly.

"Will they actually leave? I don't know. But where do you come off having an opinion about it?"

I didn't state an opinion as to whether or not his heritage technology company might leave ... why do you think I said it was obvious he's not in the high tech world?????????

CA's future isn't built on his remaining, get it?

CA's future is based on pushing bleeding edge technology.

That's much of what this vote was about ... a referendum on the future, rather than the past. Your friend represents the past, and his vision has been stomped by 21% at the polls.

He's probably a good fit for Texas ... or Wasilla.

dhogaza said...

Oh, and at least learn the Google to the extent that you understand that "dhog" has nothing to do with my handle.

At best "dho", the first word in "dho gaza".

I'd almost prefer that people understood it was an arabic word and accuse me of being the second coming of bin Laden than to say "dhog".

(in reality, I'm german/dutch of methodist heritage, a "dho gaza" has as much to do with my person as does "wicket" or "soccer net" or "door knob")

Michael Tobis said...

Well, I figger we'll take him too, dhog. But now yer gittin pers'nal.

I'll do the Texas-bashin roun here, son.

I don't want to hear any Texas-bashin from anybody who hasn't put in some time here and don't love the place dearly.

It's a mighty odd time to be crowin about them polls, too. Wud'ncha say?

dhogaza said...

"And it's obvious you don't employ any high-tech types who are interested in continuing CA's history of dominating high tech (after having worked so hard to wrest it from Route 128 west of Boston/Cambridge)."

And, for the record, this is history. When I began my career in the software industry, I spent a lot of time flying red-eye from PDX to Logan, catching the Digital helicopter to Parker Street, then the Digital van to Avis and renting a car before driving to the Mill in Maynard.

This was about 1980, when Digital was the second largest computer company in the world (after IBM, HQ's in NY). Wang was a Route 128 company, too, and Data General, and many others.

My statement that the high tech people in CA - you've heard of Silicon Valley? - worked hard to wrest the heart of the computer industry from Route 128 (mostly) is a historical statement having nothing to do with your friend's beliefs.

Nor am I being inaccurate in stating that, unlike your friend, the high tech people aren't moving out because of CA's commitment to future technology (the opposite, they're expecting to make shitpiles of money by expanding their dominance of the computer industry into PVs, electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, etc).

Rather, they're embracing it CA's commitment (and in fact, have been helping to drive it).

Do you really think your friend's construction engineering firm will be missed if he moves because the high tech people have seen the people uphold the legislation they had lobbied for???


I wish your friend luck outside CA ... meanwhile, my current 6-digit contract is with high-tech folk in Menlo Park, CA (though I live in PDX).

dhogaza said...

"Well, I figger we'll take him too, dhog. But now yer gittin pers'nal.

I'll do the Texas-bashin roun here, son. "

How do you figure it's Texas-bashin, Mich To? Different culture, that's all.

And as far as the "son" bit ... I'm 56.

I live in Oregon, a much different culture than CA, but I do most of my business in CA, MA, and Europe.

I wouldn't live in CA for the world, but my reasons are different than your friends. I don't mind their forward-thinking about technology (why would I want to starve?).

Your friend does.

Do you, too?

He'd say the same about a straightforward CO2 tax, I'm sure - construction engineering types have vested interests in concrete.

dhogaza said...

"It's a mighty odd time to be crowin about them polls, too. Wud'ncha say?"

With regards to people's belief in climate science, the need to take action, etc?

No, not odd at all. It's pretty much off the radar for most voters. Home foreclosures, irrational fear of the "socialist takeover of health care", the fact that Obama's black, the fact that he appears to have no inner Bill Clinton (i.e. lacks political savvy), and

the recession!!!!

are the relevant drivers behind last night's results.

The economy drives a lot, I'm sympathetic in that my own consulting income dropped 50% last year, and has only recovered the last couple of months, and will clock in at about double next year.

But I'm lucky, and resilient. If I didn't have the resources to have saved my personal business from going under after last year's 50% drop in revenue, I'd be out on the street, too.

Didn't someone once say, "it's the economy, stupid!" ?

guthrie said...

I don't see it explained why it is so necessary now to leave CA, given it has been an economic basket case for a while. What's the rationale? POlitical economics or economic politics?

King of the Road said...

Well, I feel like some response to dhogaza is necessary.

First, you're quite correct, CA will not, assuming were are able to make it happen, miss us specifically when we leave. On the other hand, we're not contemplating it to spite CA. And they most assuredly do miss and will miss the aggregate of companies who have done so and will do so.

Second, as to "heritage technology" and "representing the past" my company has a research division and research contracts with Caltrans, with CAIT (Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation) out of Rutgers University, and with various private entities. We're at the leading edge of research into the implementation of high volume supplementary cementitious materials replacement in concrete, i.e., use of industrial byproducts such as fly ash, ground granulated blast furnace slag, etc. to dramatically reduce the energy use and carbon footprint of concrete production. We're also part of research into recycled aggregates, sulfur based asphaltic concrete pavements in lieu of petroleum, full-depth in-place recycling of existing deteriorated asphaltic concrete paving, among other things.

Like it or not, there will continue to be a built environment. Where are you thinking the clouyd servers will be hosted? We represent the past in the sense that humans have created constructed environments since the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago. Are you claiming that the virtual world will enable us to stop doing so?

You state that you didn't have an opinion on whether we'd leave, yet you accused me of "faken," so to what would you be referring?

I don't want to start a flame war but I think you seriously need to think before you type.

King of the Road said...

Yes, California has been a basket case for a long time, and hypothetical plans to leave have been simmering. The most recent election, with Jerry Brown, a democratic legislature, and the passage of Proposition 25 dramatically increases the urgency, however.

The more businesses that leave (and anyone claiming there isn't a huge net outward migration of businesses and employers has lost touch with reality), the more compelling departure becomes for those that remain.

I like living here. I can camp in the Mojave, ski Mammoth, and go to the beach without leaving the state. While some may argue about a lack of culture, the fact is that if there's something you like to do, you can do it here. I will be sorry to go elsewhere, and it may not be possible - as I said, our business is not very portable in its present form.

But the money to avoid complete collapse is going to be extracted from somewhere. I'm willing to pay my share but not willing to pay mine and a few thousand others' fair share.

EliRabett said...

California did pretty well the last time Jerry Brown was Governor, and he was pretty competent in his other jobs too. Much of CA prosperity was based on a world class k-PhD educational system which was taken apart by the strange tax law propositions, effectively defunding the system at all levels. This is really biting hard now, and, unfortunately, the only way of repairing it is to rewrite the state constitution.

Eli's take would be that companies would be well advised to relocate until the tax/infrastructure/education issue is solved.

crf said...

The best thing about this election is that it further removes congress from any relevancy.

It will force Obama to pay more attention to government, which is something he has so far been neglectful of (and wasn't this also the main criticism of Bush?). The problems in the US have not been for lack of legislation, but a lack attention to the nuts and bolts of good governance: the implementation of legislation in the best way possible.

NewYork said...

"On the other hand, Feingold was defeated! The smartest and most decent person in Washington, summarily fired! Wisconsin! What's got into you? Are you insane?"

I couldn't agree more. He was a genuine leader, willing to go against his own party when it made sense and had a long track record of working across the aisle. This Democrat will be missed the most.

The clobbering of Prop. 23 by such a large margin was nice to see. It's another reality check to the RPJ/Breakthrough narrative that broad-based climate change legislation can't pass or gain support. It's always a matter of political and public will, and in the US's largest state economy, it continues to move forward.

Fat Bastard said...


Could you elaborate on why the defeat of prop 23 is making you consider leaving? Or is it just the passage of prop 25? what about 26? are your margins so bad that these things represent a tipping point for your business?

King of the Road said...

Prop 23 was supported by my partners, I personally voted against it, but it's not generally a factor in our decision making. Prop 22, which also passed, is favorable to our business. But the combination of Prop 25 together with both a legislature and governor beholden to organized labor in a huge way and specious bookkeeping practices to ostensibly create a balanced budget but whose provisions will come due mean that businesses such as ours will be in the crosshairs. The regulatory environment here is already close to intolerable.

Rob said...

More bad news: Bill Foster, a physicist who worked at Fermilab, lost in Hastert's old district after winning in 2008.

Steve Bloom said...

OT: Michael, apparently earlier in the year the southern hemisphere also had one of those blocking events.

Brian said...

Steve Bloom is right, I'm just a local elected official, albeit one that has some important climate-related work. I don't know if it's bad news or good news that Santa Clara Valley Water District already took climate disruption seriously without me, or that my Republican opponent wasn't a denier (although he didn't seem too interested in it).

I will try and focus some more on this issue though.