WWF aims for World Domination?

Donna Laframboise has a posting on the sheer scale of the World Wildlife Fund (cross- posted at wattsupwiththat). No longer a small cuddly charity it has global revenues of €524m, 5,000 staff and a presence in 30 countries.

This is Part 1. What will part 2 bring? Might I guess that it could be on future ambitions?

Might I suggest that Donna Laframboise will direct us to pages 26 & 27 of the 2010 Annual Review (Page 14 on Google Docs)? WWF is celebrating its’ 50th Anniversary, so naturally it will look ahead.

The Section is “WHAT WE WILL ACHIEVE“. There is no “might” or “by supporting others”. It is what WWF will achieve on their on.

The first is mild and a laudatory objective, well-within their remit.

By 2022 the number of tigers in the wild has doubled from just 3,200 in 2010.”

That is great and why many support the WWF, along with saving pandas and polar bears. Although, they might need to persuade others, like the Indonesian and Indian Governments, to do most of the work. Next is a bit more ambitious.

By 2030 “the amazon’s land and freshwater ecosystems are properly conserved, so they’re no longer under threat.”

A bit more ambitious, but short of funding thousands of armed environment enforcement officers to police over a million square miles of Brasil, Peru, Columbia, Bolivia and Venezuela, along with the necessary legal powers this may not be achieved without some assistance. Sovereignty issues spring to mind.

By 2020 “Through energy efficiency, sustainable management of natural resources and emissions cuts, China’s economy is growing within the capacity of one planet.

Now, unless this is meaningless guff, China will make actual cuts in their emissions through the actions of WWF (not the UNIPCC). Currently the Chinese government has said it will grow their emissions by less the nation’s growth rate. With 10% growth, it means the current plans are for China’s emissions will more than double from 2010 levels and still meet the targets. An actual cuts would mean closure of new coal-fired power stations, closing the airports, denying hundreds of millions the prospect of car ownership, covering the area in windmills and a drastic reduction of growth to maybe 2-3%. This could only be achieved by a coup d’etat followed by a government as brutal as Mao Zedong or Josef Stalin in their primes. But the biggest one is.

By 2050 “Global Greenhouse gas emissions have been cut by 80% compared to 1990 levels”

This is the biggest ambition by far. Since 1990 greenhouse gas emissions has increased substantially. So the level of cuts in little more than a generation is immense. There is no global agreement in place, nor is there likely to be. Even if there were an agreement, it cannot be achieved without vast human suffering (here & here). To impose a reduction not just in growth, but in living standards as well, would require a highly repressive global regime, the like of which the world has never seen. There are three possible scenarios

1. WWF has advanced plans underway for World Domination

First it will take over the UNIPCC (where it is already highly influential). Then it will organise a coup d’etat in China. It will then use this as a springboard for world domination.

2. The WWF has a vastly overblown sense of its’ own importance

The WWF has been taken over by a bunch of climate extremists who have lost a true perspective on reality.

3. The WWF does not internally check its’ major annual report

Which means that the longer reports WWF produces on climate change, (the famous grey literature on UNIPPC AR4) are probably not checked as well. WWF therefore needs to clean-up its act if it is to be taken seriously as an environmental organisation.

One might notice an ascending order of likelihood in the scenarios :)

Economic v Climate Models

Luboš Motl has a polemical look at the supposed refutation of a sceptics arguments. This is an extended version of my comment.

Might I offer an alternative view of item 30 – economic v climate models?

Economic models are different from climate models. They try to model empirical generalisations and (with a bit of theory & a lot of opinion) try to forecast future trends. They tend to be best over the short term when things are pretty much the same from one year to the next. The consensus of forecasts are pretty useless at predicting discontinuities in trends, such as the credit crunch. At there best their forecasts at little better than the dumb forecast that next period will be the same as last period. In general the accuracy of economic forecasts is inversely proportional to their utility.

Climate models are somewhat different according to Dr MacCracken.

“In physical systems, we do have a theory—make a change and there will be a response in largely understandable and calculatable ways. Models don’t replace theory; their very structure is based on our theoretical understanding, which is why they are called theoretical models. All that the computers do is to very rapidly make the calculations in accord with their theoretical underpinnings, doing so much, much faster than scientists could with pencil and paper.”

The good doctor omits to mention some other factors. It might be the case that climate scientists have all the major components of the climate system (though clouds are a significant problems), but he omits to include measurements. The interplay of complex factors can cause unpredictable outcomes depending on timing and extent, as well as the theory. The climate models, though they have a similarity of theory and extent, come up with widely different forecasts. Even this variation is probably limited by sense-checking the outcomes and making ad hoc adjustments. If the models are basically correct then major turning points should capable of being predicted. The post 1998 stasis in temperatures, the post 2003 stability in sea temperatures and the decline in hurricanes post Katrina are all indicators that models are overly sensitive. The novelty that the models do predict tend not to be there, but the novelties that do exist are not predicted.

If it is the case that climate models are still boldly proclaiming a divergency from trend, whilst economic models have much more modest in their claims, is this not an indicator of climate model’s superiority? It would be if one could discount the various economic incentives. Economic models are funded by competing in institutions. Some are private sector, and some are public sector. For most figures there is forecast verification monthly (e.g. inflation, jobs) or quarterly (growth). If a model were consistently an outlier if would lose standing, as the forecasts are evaluated against each other. If it was more accurate then the press would quote it, being good name placement for the organisation. In the global warming forecasts, there is not even an annual variation. The incentive is either to conform, or to provide more extreme (it is worse than we thought) prognostications. If the model projected basically said “chill-out, it ain’t that bad man”, they authors would be ostracized and called deniers. At a minimum the academics would lose status and ultimately lose out on the bigger research grants.

(A more extreme example is of a major earthquake forecast. “There will not be one today” is a very accurate prediction. In the case of Tokyo area over the last 100 years that would have been wrong only twice, an accuracy of greater than 1 in 10,000).

Al Gore’s faulty case for CAGW

Wattsupwiththat have an estimate of Al Gore’s Climate Reality online viewing figures. I posted at the follow-up article

manicbeancounter says:

September 22, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I was one of those who stayed for over 5 minutes.

A video they had justified the case for global warming by re-doing the CO2 in a jar experiment – very nicely as well. Only they did not say what the concentrations were compared to the atmosphere (probably >1000 times the 0.04% at the moment).

Then in the space of a sentence mentioned feedbacks amplifying the effect.

So of the predicted warming up to 6 degrees centigrade this century predicted by the most extreme alarmists, Al Gore’s little video had a flawed experiment to justify the insignificant first 20%, and a “trust the computer models” for the alarming bit.

Don’t take my word for it – I am just a (slightly) manic beancounter. Check out for yourself at http://climaterealityproject.org/video/climate-101/

By the way – don’t worry about the stats – Alexa currently ranks this site at 16,989 and Climate Reality at 64,734.

REPLY: I have a post coming up on this video, which is online here also, without the need to visit Gore’s site: http://vimeo.com/28991442
-Anthony


Antarctic Ice Melt at the dogmatic “Skeptical Science”

Have just posted the following at BishopHill (who has being looking at review comments skepticalscience.com)

The comments are not the major issue with skepticalscience. It is the analysis. It picks from the peer-reviewed data to give the most alarmist spin, often ignoring the more rounded, more recent and less alarmist articles or data. (a pattern familiar to those who have read the Hockey Stick Illusion)

On Antarctic ice melt, this is certainly the case. SkS relies on a single author – Velicogna (two papers 2006 & 2009) – to substantiate the claim that the Antarctic pack ice is not just melting, it is accelerating. The 2009 paper looked at only six years of data. Yet less than two months ago there was published a paper that looked at a much longer period, looked at various studies (including Velicogna) and at different ways of estimating. It concluded that there may be some ice loss, but no acceleration. Anthony Watts summarises this paper quite nicely at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/07/27/antarctic-ice-%E2%80%93-more-accurate-estimates/

Watts’s article also links to the original article. Do not take the word of a (slightly) manic beancounter. Do the comparison and you will find that the SkS is anything but sceptical and far from scientific.

I would suggest that this is not an isolated incident either. I have found at least two more. Perhaps others could have a delve?

Would anyone like some suggestions where to start comparing SKs with other (more rounded) viewpoints?

  1. Why has it not warmed since 1998? SKS – It is because the oceans have been warming instead says Sks. But their data stops in 2003 – just when we started to get far more accurate data from some fancy buoys (search wattsupwiththat). It has stabilised since then. The air is not warming, neither are the oceans, so the alarmists have to go beyond the measurable.
  2. The economic case for carbon pricing has been made. If you take economic models as being reality, ignore the contrary arguments and most importantly ignore the public policy problems. I explain in theoretical terms here. Alternatively read books by Roger Pielke Jnr (the Climate Fix), Nigel Lawson (An Appeal to Reason), or Tim Worstall (Chasing Rainbows) for a better understanding of why policies will necessarily fail.

Will add others when I come across them.


Another example of Censorship of Skeptics

The blog Zone5 (written by an environmentalist who is thoughtfully sceptical of global warming) has had an article taken down from what has been one of the more moderate pro-CAGW blogs. I left the following comment

The removal of your article is another small example of what you were writing about. Any attempt to offer counter arguments, or to criticize, is being shut down. This is true of blog comments or of peer-reviewed papers. But enough of the negative. Your article made some excellent points, particularly on Al Gore’s movie

First he misrepresents the science by claiming we are facing near certain doom, then he completely downplays the kind of changes we would have to make to prevent catastrophe if we accept the worst case scenario.

It is the crux of what I consider to be the problem of the climate change agenda. I believe there is quite strong science to back up the claim that a doubling of CO2 will cause about one degree of warming. Maybe the climate models are right, and this effect will be doubled or more by clouds feedbacks (though the virulence with which scientific papers that suggest otherwise have been attacked, and a similarly weak rebuttal suggesting the opposite praised greatly, suggests this is an Achilles heel). However, your comment on Al Gore’s film neatly summarises the issue in general. The potential effects of climate change are over-estimated in two ways – of magnitude and likelihood. The most important magnitude is time. For instance, the potential sea level rise is treated as if it would be in metres per year. So fast that large areas of land would be swamped before the harvest could be brought in. But even if global temperatures rose by five degrees in a generation (very unlikely), the resultant sea level rise would be sufficiently slow to relocate homes and agriculture, or to build dykes. People’s ability to adapt to rapidly to changes are remarkable, as emigrants from Britain to Australia (or from Asia to Britain) can testify, yet this is vastly underplayed.

The downplaying of effective policy issues is, if anything, even worse. It is assumed that with a little extra tax, everybody will switch to electric cars or bicycles, and plug a few drafts to cut heating bills by 90%. All this until we get a technological breakthrough in a few years to allow super-abundant carbon free power and near costless power. If Britain (or the EU) takes the lead, then everybody else will follow. No problem about over-running on costs, or pursuing the wrong type of green energy. No concern that a million or more families will enter fuel poverty every year, whilst still failing far behind on emissions reduction targets.

The overplay of risks / underplay of policy costs was put in a more sophisticated way in the Stern Review. I have attempted to analyse this at

http://manicbeancounter.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/climate-change-policy-in-perspective-%E2%80%93-part-1-of-4/

Please continue to encourage people to think for themselves and compare the various perspectives.

Is this another example of shutting down any sort of dissent, like the increasing dogmatism & extremism of sceptical science? (see here
here
here).

Feedbacks in Climate Science and Keynesian Economics

Warren Meyer posts of a parallel between Climate Science and Keynesian Economics. I posted about a subject close to his heart, and central to Keynesianism – Feedbacks. I have also attempted to update on the current debate on feedbacks.

Warren

There is a parallel between Keynes and the CAGW that is close to your heart – feedbacks. Pure Keynesianism is that an increase in government expenditure at less than full employment would have a positive feedback response. Keynes called the feedback measure the multiplier. (The multiplier is the reciprocal of the proportion of Government expenditure to GDP. So if government expenditure was 20% of GDP, then a $1bn fiscal boost would increase output by $5bn.)

By the 1950′s the leading sceptic was Milton Friedman who, in his 1962 book “Capitalism and Freedom”, estimated empirically that the multiplier was about 1 – that is it did not have any impact. Friedman was denounced as a denier and a dinosaur. (At the same time, mainstream economics adapted his verificationist methodology.) Indeed by the end of the 1960s it was generally agreed that the long-term feedback impact of government demand management was negative, as increased government expenditure crowded out the private sector, caused escalating inflation (as economic actors ceased to be fooled by the false signals 0f increased expenditure), slowed economic growth and generally undermined the very structures of the capitalist system. (see Friedman’s Nobel Prize lecture “Inflation and Unemployment“)

Keynesian thinking is that the capitalist economic system is inherently unstable. Stability is only achieved through the guiding hand of government. Keynes contrasted this with a caricature of neoclassical economics, with the macroeconomic system would rapidly come back into equilibrium. Similarly, the climate models assumption of chronic instability is contrasted by an extreme caricature of those who disagree with them. That is the “deniers” are saying that the climate is incredibly stable, with human beings having no influence. In both cases the consequence of this caricaturing is to automatically claim any extreme occurrence as vindification of their perspective.

The Positives of Global Warming in Context

David Friedman makes some good points about the positive aspects of global warming. I would like to put the positives of global warming into context and pointing the way to making the analysis of the consequences of global warming more rigorous.

The consequences of global warming may have positive and negative consequences. The severity of any consequence should be assessed according to three factors.

  1. Magnitude – how large it will be. This can be over a number of dimensions. So a predicted worsening of hurricanes, for instance, might be in frequency, power and area.
  2. Likelihood. The Probability of a forecast event it occurring.
  3. Randomness. It is predicted the weather systems will become destabilised, so the weather will become the norm.

When extreme events are postulated, the magnitude that is most often over-stated is time. So sea levels are imagined to rise by a foot a year, not a century at the current rate (3.2mm per year is the best estimate). The rate of change is crucial here. Incremental changes over generational times scale we will not notice globally, as economic conditions change much more rapidly than this. Also there are unstated assumptions about the likelihood of the events. From an economic point of view, the potential costs can be many times over-stated by a combination of magnitude and likelihood. There are two main reasons to believe this is the case – adaptation and way-markers.

Adaptation is people changing to changed circumstances. The reason that living standards are over 30 times greater and the world population is more than 10 times greater than 300 years ago is than the human race cannot just adapt to changing conditions – in wealthy countries extreme weather events and failed harvests are hardly a problem. Look back to the 1960s and 1970s, the mainstream forecasts were for increasing poverty and starvation. With the exceptions where governments are extremely bad (North Korea, Zimbabwe) or there has been extensive conflict (Zaire), this has not been the case. But many of the prophesies of doom assume no adaptation at all. So literally, farmers will grow the same crops they always have, and people will not think of moving as the sea immerses their houses.

Way-markers are the signals of climate change happening now. Many of the extreme short-term forecasts have been falsified, or shown to be based on pseudo-science. Sea levels have failed to rise by 25 metres anytime soon, the Arctic was not ice-free in the summer of 2008, nor will it be in 2013; the snows of Kilimanjaro are not primarily disappearing due to rising temperatures; and the Himalayan glaciers will not be gone by 2035. The Bangladesh landmass has increased; the Amazon rainforest is not about to reach a tipping point; and the Maldives will not disappear beneath the waves. With these clear near-term failures, it is reasonable to say that more long-term extrapolations will be unlikely and exaggerated in magnitude.

On the other side, whilst individuals and communities are incapable of adapting to changes, the assumption is that Governments can fix anything at minimal cost. So, subject to a global agreement, CO2 can be constrained (according to the UK Stern Review) at one fifth to one twentieth of the likely costs of doing nothing. No allowance is made that government projects tend to overrun on costs and underperform on benefits, nor that the this degree of underperformance tends to proportionately rise with lack of planning, vagueness of objections, complexity of organisations involved and scale.

Finally, for those with a grounding in economics, I have an unfinished project analysing the above issues graphically here and here.

Phillip Morris’s FOI is in the Public Interest

The BBC gave headline news today about a FOI request by Phillip Morris about Government funded research. The Guardian and Telegraph joined in as well. This is a comment left at Bishop Hill.

There are some legitimate reasons why a cigarette company (and the general public) might want to know more details of a research study. This is Government-funded research to justify legislation, without counter-studies for balance. Bearing in mind that the study was of 6,000 young people, who the Professors believe are highly impressionable from marketing.

1.    Were the questions neutral and held in a neutral venue?

2.    Did the resulting peer-reviewed article draw conclusions that the data substantiates? Are they statistically significant?

3.    Can other conclusions be drawn by the data?

It should be borne in mind by those who jump to conclusions that

a)    The two professors who did the study have PhDs in marketing and in social policy.

b)    The study is not about the health affects of smoking. It is about justifying compulsory neutral packaging for cigarettes.

c)    This particular study is very difficult to find on the internet, and is not listed on either of their websites amongst the publications. One has a list of over eighty.

One of the Professors was co-author of a similar study (only with adults), which got an unfavourable review in the Guardian. This time the sample size was 43, divided into 3 distinct groups.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/may/30/smokers-health-warnings-cigarette-packets

The level of research into the harm smoking can cause is considerable and of high quality. The original British Doctors Study than confirmed the link between both lung cancer and coronary thrombosis was ground-breaking statistically. That does not mean that all the policy research is of a similar quality.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Doctors_Study

It is my belief Government social policy should aim at the net improvement of society. That implies that in funding research into social policy there is a duty of care to ensure balance, and that conclusions are robust. There are very legitimate reasons that this line of research falls short.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 30 other followers