Re: Pipeline

1

I'm agreeing with McMegan, which probably means I'm wrong.

Correct.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 6:47 AM
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For the record, I don't think Obama plans on fighting it whatsoever ...

He has been delaying making a decision which amounts to fighting it.

Anyway liberals love symbolic fights which show that they care even if winning won't actually make any real difference.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 6:58 AM
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Embarrassingly, I haven't paid enough attention to this one to figure out why to oppose it at all. Just on general 'don't build fossil fuel infrastructure' principles, or is there something particularly unsavory about this pipeline?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:00 AM
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It is the right thing to fight the pipeline because the Athabasca Tar Sands are a fucking nightmare that is incredibly destructive to indigenous communities around there, and the pipeline process is just going to continue to speed that up. (Also this from the Indigenous Environmental Network) Sure, it's happening right now, but that doesn't mean we just throw up our hands and pull a Doctor Pangloss. The tar sands area is is just insane-looking - it's like some kind of dystopian science fiction landscape. It is a reminder that to those of us who are not living in devastated parts of the planet, who are not forced to take those jobs or live with the social and environmental consequences of those jobs - we don't see this stuff because we are very, very fortunate, but if it persists long enough these bad landscapes will be everywhere, these bad things will sweep over even us eventually.

I used to think that being against the big NAFTA roads and pipelines was stupid and quixotic, just like McMegan (although she's a whole Bad Landscape herself, while I was just young and naive). But I've been keeping my eye on this stuff since the nineties and these roads and pipelines really do have a cumulative effect on flows of labor and capital, on the militarization of the border, on the destruction of fragile environments. Roads and pipelines seem so normal because we have so many of them, and we think to ourselves "oh, there's already so much commercial traffic on the ones we have, what does another Super Duper Giant one really change?"

At some point you have to say "just what are we saving all this political capital for, anyway?" It reminds me of that scene in Joanna Russ's (problematic but interesting) novel The Two of Them where the mother is explaining to her daughter that she's doing all this embroidery to sell so that the mother can afford beautification surgeries for the daughter so the daughter can marry well and sit in her own parlor doing embroidery to raise money for her daughter's surgeries so that her daughter can marry well, so that....

At this point, what we've established as a society is basically "fuck indigenous people and their lands and communities, fuck long term sustainable jobs, fuck working people's health" - we've established precisely what we're willing to throw under the bus in the name of saving political capital, which strongly suggests to me that eventually "political capital" comes to mean "the votes of the absolute most fortunate and secure white people", and there are certain political and logistical problems with that.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:08 AM
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4

Embarrassingly, I haven't paid enough attention to this one to figure out why to oppose it at all. Just on general 'don't build fossil fuel infrastructure' principles, or is there something particularly unsavory about this pipeline?

The claim is that extensive development of the oil sands (shale?) deposits in Canada will be bad for the environment (particularly from a CO2 emissions perspective). The problem is killing the pipeline won't stop development except at the margin by making the oil produced a little less valuable by making it a little more expensive to ship to market.

Given that a certain amount of oil is produced I expect a pipeline is the most environmentally friendly (as well as the most economical) way to ship it.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:09 AM
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Basically, 4. The Canadian government is too greedy, stupid and pusillanimous to do something itself, so the idea about stopping Keystone is that it will be one way for the US to limit the amount of damage that the Canadians can cause to Canada (and the rest of the world, indirectly).

Another way would be to invade! We promise not to burn the White House this time.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:11 AM
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3: The pipeline is for oil from Canada's tar sands, which is about the most environmentally damaging oil source you could come up with. The process is dirty and produces buttloads of greenhouse gasses along the way.

Personally I think it's worth delaying as much as possible as long as too much political capital isn't wasted on it. I'm much more concerned about other priorities, so if it came down to horse trading Keystone XL for something like ending these idiotic manufactured budget crises I'd not be upset at all.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:11 AM
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5 was to 3 not 4.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:11 AM
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...aaaand multipwned, dagnabit.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:12 AM
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We appreciate that you tried hard, togolosh.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:15 AM
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Basically, there is already a Keystone pipeline from the Athabasca tar sands to the big oil hub at Cushing, Oklahoma. The Keystone XL plan is to:
a) add another pipeline that allows US oil to join the network at Baker
b) add more pipeline down to the Gulf Coast refineries and export terminals

Bit a) is causing the most problems because it goes through a lot of indig territory in the US, as Frowner points out.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:20 AM
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I'm not sure all the responses here are really addressing the question. The extraction of fuel from the tar sands is very much worth fighting, although it's hard for me to believe it will be stopped. But would stopping the pipeline actually make a difference? Much as I hate to say it, what McMegan says sounds plausible to me: that they'll just turn to more environmentally unsafe ways of transporting the product, without slowing down its production.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:21 AM
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The problem is killing the pipeline won't stop development except at the margin by making the oil produced a little less valuable by making it a little more expensive to ship to market.

I have to admit that I haven't paid much attention to the issues involved, but this is my (admittedly limited and underinformed) understanding as well. Canada's going to extract that oil regardless of whether the pipeline runs to Gulf Coast refineries or not, so the question is whether it will be piped to Louisiana or put on trains to Oklahoma and *then* piped to Louisiana. I'm not sure whether that's really an improvement or worse in terms of greenhouse gasses.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:23 AM
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Pwned.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:23 AM
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Anyway liberals love symbolic fights which show that they care even if winning won't actually make any real difference.

Way to give away the game, dude.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:23 AM
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the question is whether it will be piped to Louisiana or put on trains to Oklahoma and *then* piped to Louisiana.

Actually it's already being piped to Oklahoma.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:34 AM
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16: Huh. Then I understand even less of the debate than I thought.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:43 AM
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16: Huh. Then I understand even less of the debate than I thought.

I believe there are existing pipelines but they don't have enough capacity to handle all the current (and projected) production


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:47 AM
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I think I like the idea of a pipeline going to the BC coast even less.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:54 AM
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I think McMegan did a nice job with quoting Grunwald, and I haven't got much to add, but I would like to ask the Econ 101 types why build a pipeline if it doesn't aid the movement of this particular type of oil?

James has the correct answer to that question: It will only have an impact at the margins. I find it suspicious that nobody making this argument wants to try to define the size of the margins here.

But whatever. If the only difference you can make today is at the margins, then that's what you do. The idea that we can't solve the problem entirely right now is no argument in favor of doing nothing. And as togolosh says, if Canada or Big Oil or Congress want to make a deal, then perhaps something satisfactory can be arranged.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:56 AM
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20 - Can you travel back in time and get the useless Senate to pass the cap-and-trade carbon pricing bill they sat on in 2009 and 2010?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:00 AM
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IMO this is a pretty misguided thing to fight.

Regulating fracking so that methane leaks are minimized and the liquids are piped underground in a way that minimizes poison in the water and earthquakes is a much bigger win environmentally.

People in the US are driving less and the economy as a whole is using less refined petroleum.
http://www.afdc.energy.gov/data/tab/all/data_set/10315
http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=MTTRX_NUS_1&f=M

Declining demand due to cheaper natural gas is more important than transport of petroleum. (roughly twice as effective in BTU/ton CO2 emissions, neglecting production emissions of I think methane)

Also, the alternative to using Canadian petroleum is Saudi petroleum.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:05 AM
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From what I understand 13 is largely correct, except that there already is a pipeline. This is tangential to shiv's industry. The oil is going to be extracted; prices are high enough that it's worth it to them to get it out of the tar sands. The oil is going to be shipped to the U.S. They want the pipeline because it will be cheaper and faster to use it, but what determines whether the oil comes out of the ground is mostly price per barrel.

That doesn't mean that there aren't good reasons to oppose it, but it's not the case that the tar sands are not going to be touched unless the pipeline is approved, because tar sands work in Alberta and Saskatchewan became profitable about five years ago (iirc.) What's driving that is demand. (Back in the 90s when gas was really cheap, the companies shut down production in some places on the grounds that at $12/barrel, the oil could sit in the ground until the price was better. It's been there millions of years. It's not as though it goes bad.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:07 AM
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22: you can fight more than one issue at a time.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:09 AM
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"Political capital" is a metaphor, a bad one, and is therefore banned.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:14 AM
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If environmentalists offer no resistance on this issue, surely the government will be more likely to reward them on the next. Is how politics never works.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:16 AM
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20 The idea that we can't solve the problem entirely right now is no argument in favor of doing nothing.

I dunno. I mean, that's true, strictly speaking, but putting a lot of money and energy into things that don't change the big picture isn't necessarily a good idea, either. The only thing that really matters in the long run is putting a price on carbon.

Of course, the effects on local populations that Frowner mentioned are a separate issue and possibly a stronger argument than climate for doing something.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:18 AM
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24. If you say so. Incremental improvements in battery performance will affect demand regardless of what happens here, and natural gas is replacing diesel more frequently.

I don't see excess environmental influence on US politics, neither a rising tide of green sentiment that will inevitably bring us a better future. What I see is that as technologies become cheap and easy enough to use without any inconvenience, people shift towards them.

Right now, there are senators proclaiming that the sludge pumped underground should be a protected trade secret for the undercapitalized morons that are fracking. IMO, developing better batteries, investment in solar, and more nuclear plants are the most practical steps for CO2 mitigation.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:29 AM
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I think showing the President can be moved by the activist left is worth a lot, however "symbolic", if you want the activist left to be at all involved in trying to move policy rather than just burning shit down.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:30 AM
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One area of research I'd like to see the government fund is environmentally benign (or at least low impact) fracking fluids. Fracking is clearly here to stay, and natural gas is at least slightly less horrible for the environment than oil, so might as well try to minimize the downside.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:32 AM
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4 et seq.: I love you guys. I've been avoiding getting up to speed on this one for months now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:42 AM
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What I see is that as technologies become cheap and easy enough to use without any inconvenience, people shift towards them.

What I see is market forces producing an environmental catastrophe.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:45 AM
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This issue bugs me so much. All this effort to stop a easily bypassed tube when there are all kinds of issues the Americans can take on where they'll have so much more influence. Like ones in their own country! There's probably nothing Canadians hate more than Americans telling us, hypocritically or ignorantly, what to do. We know that the oil sands are horrible, some of us have been working to get these issues addressed (not me but Colleagues) and the pipeline has fuck all to do with things. It's a minor minor problem in the grand scheme of things.


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:55 AM
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The tar sands themselves are a lost cause already, Cala. The issue is whether a) we should encourage ever more and, in this case, ever dirtier fossil fuel extraction; b) communities, many of which are majority indigenous, should have to live with an environmentally damaging landscape feature (that will, apparently, create very little long-term employment for local people) in their midst; c) the environmental movement, or what's left of it (as a movement) should commit to die in these sands, and thus people of conscience should join the fight.


Posted by: vw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:01 AM
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That seems like more than one issue, vw.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:02 AM
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You're innumerate. Not my fault.


Posted by: vw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:05 AM
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34: Those are all things that are worth addressing and fighting for but stopping the pipeline does exactly nothing for them. Except give environmentalists something to congratulate themselves about.


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:05 AM
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The way adults behave (at youth sporting events) is scandalous and leaves me feeling like we're irredeemable as a culture (or species).


Posted by: vw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:08 AM
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34: I'm.. not sure that you're disagreeing with me?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:09 AM
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33 Yeah, but whether to approve this pipeline is a US decision. You move the earth with the lever you have, not the lever you wish you had.

We were one of the US battlefields on this for a while because, as I mentioned here at the time, huge machinery for the oil sands was going to be shipped through town. (Manufactured in Korea, shipped across the ocean and up the Columbia to Idaho, trucked over Lolo Pass into MT, over Rogers Pass (the continental divide) and then up the Old North Trail. Or the interstate, I forget). Folks in Idaho sued and got a delay, but ultimately lost. Our county commissioners sued, got an injunction, and ultimately prevailed on environmental grounds: they hadn't done enough study on the impacts on streams from building the extra large turnouts that would be required. This substantially delayed some operations up there, and increased some costs. I think Exxon was pretty shocked.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:10 AM
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37: see b. That said, I'm Canadian (insert hockey shibboleth) so let's stand (politely) together and feel somewhat inferior.


Posted by: vw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:11 AM
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39: I'm not. I'm just saying that the sands themselves are beside the point. Plus, poutine!


Posted by: vw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:12 AM
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I agree very much with 30. Also, in general, in the US coal is still a bigger problem than oil and is also kind of still the low hanging fruit for a lot of energy issues. Of course Essear is right that pricing carbon (either through cap and trade or a tax) is the only real solution.

With that said, get your head out of your ass, of course you should oppose this pipeline. Probably the only way the petroleum industry in this country can even conceivably be brought around to accepting reasonable and more effective limits on pricing is for them to live in fear of populist environmental backlash. A defeat here leads to more defeat down the road, not extra environmentalism chits you can spend someplace else.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:16 AM
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Political capital really is a terrible metaphor, because while you can horsetrade on issues, you can't bank capital for later -- pre-emptively giving up on an issue doesn't get you anything on a later issue. The better metaphor would be something valuable with no shelflife, although nothing's coming to mind. (Well, airline tickets and bananas, but I'm not successfully constructing an appropriate metaphor.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:19 AM
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44 crossed with 43, which is right.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:20 AM
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Doesn't "political capital" just mean "pick your battles"?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:20 AM
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Political bacon.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:21 AM
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Political blowjobs.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:21 AM
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With that said, get your head out of your ass, of course you should oppose this pipeline. Probably the only way the petroleum industry in this country can even conceivably be brought around to accepting reasonable and more effective limits on pricing is for them to live in fear of populist environmental backlash. A defeat here leads to more defeat down the road, not extra environmentalism chits you can spend someplace else.

I assume this is to me? Or some other strawman who secretly is rooting for the pipeline?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:22 AM
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But political capital has this strong implication of bankability.

"Pick your battles" might make sense if the situation were "What is wrong with you paying attention to something unimportant like Keystone when there is this specific much more important issue where your attention and effort will be useful right now!" But if it's just "Man, there's probably something more important than this out there," you're not picking a battle, you're skipping one to go sit on your ass.

You can bank capital for later. You can't bank time and attention like that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:24 AM
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43. Zero sum mindset.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:24 AM
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(Now, I generally do sit out most battles in favor of staring into space thinking vaguely about pie. But I think anyone advocating this as political strategy is misguided.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:25 AM
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Pie is delicious. What were we talking about?


Posted by: vw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:28 AM
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What battles? This is a forum where people who basically agree with each other exchange opinions, occasionally facts or arguments.

How misguided would an organization with virtuous goals have to be before they can be ignored or mocked? I like animals, but the people at PETA don't appeal to me.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:28 AM
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This is a forum where people who basically agree with each other exchange opinions, occasionally facts or arguments.

No it isn't.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:29 AM
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Fixies suck.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:30 AM
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Global warming is in the long term the most important issue of our time. Every bit of shale oil that stays in the ground, unburned, is an important victory.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:31 AM
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57: so you're saying that opposing the pipeline isn't relevant?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:33 AM
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54: No, no, the 'battle' here isn't talking about Keystone here, this blog is supremely irrelevant to anything useful at all anywhere. The 'battle' is all the actual political work -- giving money and writing letters and working for the organizations that are opposing the pipeline. Someone who's got a clear sense of how much time they're going to spend on useful political activity should be picking their battles and spending it as usefully as possible. Most of us should be doing more of anything useful, and thinking about the relevant tradeoffs in terms of watching fewer back episodes of old TV series.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:35 AM
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OK, how's this-- The fight over this pipeline has as its larger significance broad public opinion rather than the opinion of a handful of legislative functionaries.

Environmentally responsible policies which impose no penalties on economic growth have much broader support than policies that cost something. The only way forward is to minimize the cost of responsible behavior. Environmentalists interested in pointless measures and condescending lectures, nobody is going to listen to such people.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:37 AM
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41: I'd count the damage to local communities as a reason to oppose the pipeline, but I'd count that as a separate reason, not an argument that doing so will affect oil production significantly.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:37 AM
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It's true that the attention of politicians, when that's what is needed, is a finite resource. Ditto the attention and sympathy of the general public. The energy of activists is also a finite resource. How this energy is to be spent garnering which kind of attention is a serious question, and I think it's fairly captured by talking about gaining or spending political capital.

That's not to say that all the eggs in a single basket is the way to go. One bunch of people can fight the proposed new coal port in Washington, and another the pipeline, and yet another the opening of a huge new coal district on the plains. (But be wary of candy magnates bearing cash grants). But when it comes to getting national attention, it does make sense for various groups to consider yielding the initiative to a limited number of projects.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:44 AM
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I think they're interrelated. Activist networks -- enviro and indig, among others -- are trying to build something around this case, which they see as especially resonant. If you buy that, then it could lead to "significant" gains over the long term, returning us to the argument about political capital often accruing to those most willing to spend it (wisely?).


Posted by: vw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:46 AM
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63 to 61, I guess.


Posted by: vw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:47 AM
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62: I think the point is that activists become energized by victory, that the public loves a winner (and a good story), and that politicians, assuming they're not bought and paid for, listen to their constituents and make time for the pressing issues of the day. So again, spending political capital can generate more political capital. Sometimes.


Posted by: vw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:52 AM
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Though I'm not sure I believe all of that.


Posted by: vw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:53 AM
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Is there an organization effectively fighting the WA coal port?

The last small issue I cared about was drones in the hands of local police within the US. I started putting a website together, the next day there was an article explaining how the FAA was going to be responding to the flood of money that would be responsible for clouds of automated aircraft.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:55 AM
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Shouldn't the Ogallala Aquifer get mentioned here? They came up a with a revised, less egregiously dangerous route, but the Aquifer, which waters about 30% of all US crops, would still be at risk from contamination.

Incidentally, since this is a decision entirely in the hands of a lame duck administration, I'm entirely unclear on what "political capital" Obama is supposed to be expending here. Will it cost him votes in 2016? Will it make the Syrians less amenable to Kerry's negotiations? Will it reduce Exxon's campaign contributions to Democrats in 2014? Will it cause Republicans to start filibustering his nominees? Will it make the House more resistant to tax increases?

What am I missing here?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 10:07 AM
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On the Aquifer note, it's important that opposition to the pipeline in Nebraska is led by local (Republican) farmers. That seems like an opportunity to build alliances, no?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 10:08 AM
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Environmentally responsible policies which impose no penalties on economic growth have much broader support than policies that cost something.

But they all cost something to someone. It may be that carbon pricing is more politically popular than delaying Keystone, but I don't think the political track record of both those proposals makes that clear.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 10:15 AM
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Political bandwidth.
Is this a battle we want to fight? Is there some other battle we would prefer to spend our time losing?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 10:18 AM
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Political bandwidth.

A much better metaphor. OK, people, start disseminating.

Or are we allowed to use that word?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 10:39 AM
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I prefer "sneezing".


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 10:40 AM
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Is there an organization effectively fighting the WA coal port?

There are plenty of people fighting it locally; I don't have a good sense of how effective they are. As I understand it one of the groups who might be best positioned to have leverage are the Lummi tribe. But I have not been following it as closely as I should.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 10:40 AM
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I'd count the damage to local communities as a reason to oppose the pipeline, but I'd count that as a separate reason, not an argument that doing so will affect oil production significantly.

But the pipeline isn't just a discrete issue. It's a tactical stand in the US that global climate activists--most prominently 350--have chosen to take on prominently. I don't see a path to other action on climate (including pricing carbon) that doesn't involve continuing to grow the activist presence in the US, and I don't see that movement growing in the US without political victories that give it momentum.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 11:08 AM
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Or what VW said.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 11:11 AM
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Prominently pwned prominently


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 11:17 AM
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while you can horsetrade on issues, you can't bank capital for later -- pre-emptively giving up on an issue doesn't get you anything on a later issue.

worse than that, it can weaken you on later issues because people reasonably assume you may surrender on that too.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 11:39 AM
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The Ogallala aquifer is a myth. There are only ruggedly individual sources of water in the West, discrete and easily bounded, endlessly renewable (like the boundless enthusiasm that was the taproot of the region's settlement!), and perfectly congruent with lines marking property and state borders on maps.

Also, never forget that rain follows the plow! And fortune favors the brave!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 11:50 AM
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Aquifer depletion is one of those stories where I have no idea at all how scared to be. What happens when agriculture has to depend completely on that year's rainfall again? Who knows?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 11:53 AM
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60 The only way forward is to minimize the cost of responsible behavior.

Fuck that. The only way forward is to impose a cost on irresponsible behavior.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 11:53 AM
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What happens when agriculture has to depend completely on that year's rainfall again?

We run out of food. I mean, Megan knows much more about this as a matter of policy (rather than history) than I do. But still, I'm dead certain that "we run out of food" is, barring some major innovation (which, sure, there likely will be, but it won't necessarily be enough), accurate.

But the issue with the aquifer, as JRoth suggests, isn't depletion; it's pollution.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 11:56 AM
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The Keystone fight is a good way to build the movement, and what's needed now is movement building. Totally worth the fight. You don't win on big issues by making noise only about the big issue; you build a movement, scare politicians, develop power (in part by getting more and more people to perceive you as powerful).


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 11:58 AM
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Also, as much as I agree with rob that climate change is the issue of the moment, the coming water wars also fascinate me. Of course the two are interrelated, which is why I've hired sifu tweety to build me a killer robot/mad-max-style-bacon-fueled-roadster/desalinization plant.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 11:58 AM
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Oops. I thought you wanted a cocktail robot.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 12:02 PM
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That too. Get to work.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 12:04 PM
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But the issue with the aquifer, as JRoth suggests, isn't depletion; it's pollution.

Both are issues, no?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 12:07 PM
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Yes, but depletion is a much longer-term concern.


Posted by: vw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 12:18 PM
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I don't see that movement growing in the US without political victories that give it momentum.

Every major flood that disables a city creates more support than a mere political victory. Again, I see the worthwhile audience to be many voters rather than few legislators/staffers/lobbyists. I don't see a victory in a pointless struggle to be more significant than tweets about a PETA ad.

68.2 and 69 are both good points, though.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 12:32 PM
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lw, I'm going to go out on a limb here and surmise that you have exactly zero experience as an activist, a lobbyist, or as a governmental official/policymaker who has to respond to either activists or lobbyists, whether in the environmental field or elsewhere, so you may want to consider the possibility that you have no idea what you're talking about.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 12:35 PM
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Keystone is well placed in the political sense. The action right now is on a question that is not only Executive, but especially Executive (for once the erroneous over-emphasis on the Executive's foreign policy powers works in our favor). And Kerry may be the most amendable SS to environmental concerns in a generation. Primary beneficiaries of the development live in another country: this is not really covered by the Drain America First caucus ('drill baby drill'). Congress hasn't got much of a role to play, and neither to the affected red state legislators; there's not that much culture war resonance to be had. A couple of recent pipeline spills (Kalamazoo, the Yellowstone) that weren't handled well make even the passive advocates hesitate.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 12:46 PM
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||

The candidate who was subjected to my colleague's proud description of breaking wooden spoons over her kids' asses accepted our job offer. So in a few years I can find out exactly what he thought during that dinner.

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 12:47 PM
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92: Program a reminder into your phone.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 12:49 PM
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91 is another good and important point. It's worth noting that this is a choice that has to be made by the executive -- approve pipeline, yes or no -- which puts it in a very different category than, say, organizing to get a new bill passed into law.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 12:52 PM
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81: one should both push and pull


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 12:53 PM
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1. Speaking of Canada, this, from a studio exec about the box office fizzle of "Jack the Giant Slayer" (didn't see that one coming!), cracked me up: "Our audience in the United States was a little bit more narrow than we wanted, but the Canadian numbers are really strong."

Well, then, problem solved!

2. Speaking of the coming water wars, I figure Texas will be uninhabitable in a couple of years. Any of you have a spare room?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 12:53 PM
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91, 94: and it is explicitly why 350 decided to go all in on the issue:

"This is the moment. We will support you. But you must lead and take action, starting first and foremost with your rejection of the presidential permit required by the Keystone XL pipeline, which is your decision and yours alone."

http://act.350.org/signup/an-open-letter-to-president-obama/


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 12:59 PM
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96: You are welcome to stay with us! Northeast Ohio is anxiously awaiting the water wars that will bring everyone and their money back to the Great Lakes!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 1:01 PM
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98: By then global warming will have made the winters tolerable, right?


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 1:03 PM
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94 And way less in the way of regulatory capture. State apparently let the pipeline's consultant write the draft EIS, but I'd imagine they"ll play a bigger role in crafting the final. It may turn out that the "capture" here would be the Canadian government, rather than Exxon, and the Canadians may not go to the mat for this one.

We'll see.

I meant to say also in 91 that the risk/reward analysis for red statians along the route isn"t exactly favorable. Our former gov got us a special deal, if the thing goes through, so there's not so much opposition to the pipeline here (and pretty much no one is going to go to the mat with our senior senator, who's out raising money like crazy for 2014).


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 1:04 PM
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98: By then global warming will have made the winters tolerable, right?

Preeeecisely.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 1:13 PM
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All right, then. I'm in!


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 1:42 PM
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Or possibly sweltering summers and Buffalo winters, no?

Maybe we should say "climate chaos" instead of climate change.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 1:56 PM
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84-86 LOLed me good.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 1:57 PM
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OT: It only now occurred to me that Paul's filibuster wasn't anti-drone so much as pro-filibuster PR. Hence picking a topic with cross party appeal.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 2:23 PM
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||

Speaking of pipelines: this is a reminder of the importance of vibrators with a flared base.

|>


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 2:27 PM
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I don't think anyone's ever lost money betting that the members of the Paul family don't actually believe in anything other than enriching themselves and their cronies while immiserating others.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 2:28 PM
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Am I the first person to notice that since government spending was cut by the sequester, the Dow hit a record high, and unemployment is down? All the economy needed was for the government to get out of the way!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 2:34 PM
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103: Weather in Pittsburgh has sure as hell followed "global warming" as a model: Summers have been getting progressively hotter, and winters milder/less snowy. Presumably most of that is random variance (iirc one of the last 5 summers was in fact pretty mild), but I suspect that there are also some climactic reasons - our position on the Ohio Valley, between Great Lakes and Atlantic weather patterns. That's always moderated the local climate to an extent, but I'm not sure we've had a really snowy winter* in the last 15 years (while there had been 2 in the previous 5-10 years). Almost every winter weather system this year has arrived with temps in the upper 30s, meaning low or no accumulations.

It'll be interesting to see how it develops. Well, interesting and horrifying, in a slow motion kind of way (appropriately, like a George Romero zombie).

* without checking, I think we had one winter with record snow for Jan or Feb, but not otherwise extraordinarily snowy, and then a winter with a HUGE snowfall, but otherwise less than usually snowy.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 2:40 PM
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I'd say NYC has been both warmer and snowier in the last decade than it was in my childhood. More big snowstorms, but it's warm enough that the snow all melts the same week.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 2:46 PM
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103: In Cleveland we are betting on the climate apocalypse, because it is the only way we can imagine people moving back here. Don't take this one hope away from us.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 2:48 PM
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It makes me insane when people talk, in the context of a discussion about climate change,about short-term changes in local weather patterns. And yet I do this myself all the time!


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 2:49 PM
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I'm a bundle of unappealing contradictions and self-hatred. Which is to say, a 100% typical Jew.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 2:50 PM
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111: What about the dream that LeBron will return?
Don't you have that, too?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 2:52 PM
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112: Okay, at this point, is it really out of line to talk about perceptible differences in average weather for the last decade or so? That came out belligerent sounding, but I'm really asking. I should look up the stats before I say what I'm about to, but I swear that there was no winter in my children's lifetime as cold as any winter before I graduated from high school in NYC.

This seems to me to be plausibly an effect of climate change, although I suppose it could just be a coincidence.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 2:57 PM
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More big snowstorms, but it's warm enough that the snow all melts the same week.

Well, oversimplifying a lot, that's the expectation overall: more water in the atmosphere because the warmer atmosphere can carry more, and in most places much burstier precip events dropping that water (I forget why -- it may be emergent from the sims), but because of the warmer baseline temperatures less snowpack. Bursty thawing precip means more floods. Ouch.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 2:58 PM
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115: I can't find the link, but no-one under ?27? has experienced an officially average year. They've all been warmer.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 3:01 PM
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115: that didn't sound belligerent to me at all. And I think clew answered your question, though it's my understanding that local conditions are easily hand-waved away as anomalous/potentially nothing more than regular meteorological fluctuations. On the other hand, the fact that the whole globe is warmer now that it has been for millennia is somewhat more telling.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 3:09 PM
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Warmer on global average. I'm genuinely unsure to what extent that means that the weather's going to have been perceptibly changed to someone living in the same place for the last forty years. I think it has, but I also think that people, including me, are very good at making up superstitious theories that they mistake for direct sense perception.

(Along those lines, remember Newt's friend who was suddenly, violently, lactose intolerant? Turns out, no. He had some kind of multiple-week digestive thing that has since cleared up, and his parents decided it was a response to lactose. Not that they're idiots, that's what people do, but people are really bad at accurately drawing connections between causes and effects when there's any kind of confounding stuff going on.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 3:11 PM
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119: See 108 for good example!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 3:13 PM
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One of the things is that climate scientists seem to have agreed to ditch the probity of "no single weather event blah blah", because, really, these weather events are being caused by climate change, which is happening far faster than all but the most aggressive models foresaw just a few years ago.

And I think that goes hand in glove with witnessing changed weather. At all times throughout history, locales experienced multiyear fluctuations - see Bowl, Dust - that didn't necessarily relate to anything global (or were simply the flipside of some other locale seeing an opposite fluctuation). But we're now in a new norm in which pretty much all weather records are in the direction of either hotter or more volatile (e.g., if there's a snow record, it's from 3 megastorms, not from a dozen common events spread over 4 months). And so yeah, in many, many locales, there's a witnessable trend, some of which is confirmation bias, but what's being confirmed is real.

Fortunately for me, there's an analogy ban in place, so I don't have to struggle to come up with one.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 3:38 PM
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119 I'm genuinely unsure to what extent that means that the weather's going to have been perceptibly changed to someone living in the same place for the last forty years.

I think there are some noticeable phenomena that are distributed pretty widely, like plants blooming systematically earlier than they used to.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 3:41 PM
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plants blooming systematically earlier than they used to

Yup. And timber lines rising. And insect ranges expanding. And glaciers retreating. And and and. I hope tweety finishes building me my doohickey before the hit really shits the fan.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 3:44 PM
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Hypocritically, I am both very worried about climate change and dying for spring to come. I'd been holding my breath through February thinking "It'll get springy in March", and this week has not made me happy. I want sunlight and warmth.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 3:45 PM
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Just to extend a bit, because the baseline is moving and things are getting more volatile, what you'll tend to see (at least in temperate climates - I don't know how weather works in non-temperate locales) is a five-year stretch with 1 or 2 hot summers, 2 or 3 "normal" summers, and 1 mild, but not cool, summer. Even though such a distribution is possible under any climate condition, it's simply going to be a more common one going forward, and it's both recognizable* and, for those who know about climate change, a red flag.

IMO talking about how climate change can't be tied to any given blah blah is equivalent to throat clearing about how the deficit is indeed a problem, but nonetheless now is the time for.... Whatever, Poindexter, you just gave away the game.

*I'd add here that it's particularly recognizable because you're talking about places going from not needing AC to suddenly needing it. So there's a threshold being crossed, not just a vague sense of "did I need my heavy coat quite this many times last winter?" Instead it's "the entire month of July was hotter than it ever got in '95 - '01."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 3:47 PM
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Elbee, I'm pretty sure that all of the climate models agree that the days will continue to get longer throughout the first few months of the year pretty much regardless.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 3:49 PM
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125: are you talking about some particular place? Pittsburgh, maybe? Because what one will "tend to see" is very much not known, is it? There are all kinds of projections about what might happen in given locations, and I'm not sure enough of them overlap that it's safe to use a word like "tend" without being much more specific. But again, maybe you're talking about a particular model or place.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 3:49 PM
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Brian Beutler continues to be my favorite political reporter.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 3:50 PM
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125: re-reading you comment, I'll say again that for climate scientists working on global models one or two or even ten hot summers in a row in given a locale isn't evidence of much of anything -- other than it being hot in that one place -- is it?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 3:54 PM
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I'll take your answer off the air, as I have to return to the spectacle of adults acting like children at a youth sporting event.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 3:55 PM
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There's a really really awesomely specific climate change forecasting model for LA, breaking it down very specifically by microclimate. They've released the temperature sections but not any others (eg precipitation) yet. I believe it's the best model that's been done for any US city, and I don't think they claim to be able to give the kind of specific predictions (certainly not year over year) that JRoth is offering here.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 4:04 PM
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Did anyone see this?

As far as I can tell, every year, we exceed the worst-case warming forecasts, and fail to slow emissions. I expect we will hit one of many irrevocable positive feedback triggers, like permafrost methane, or low sea ice levels very soon. Combine this with the total indifference of our political class, and I expect we will do nothing until the capitol hill is knee-deep.


Posted by: Light Rail Tycoon | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 4:28 PM
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When I first started paying attention to this, in about 1999, the CO2 concentration was around 370 ppm. It still kind of blows my mind that it could have changed so much since I was in high school.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 4:34 PM
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That's an interesting way of putting it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 4:48 PM
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Pause/play that or something.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 4:48 PM
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129: I think you're missing my point completely: a warm summer or three in New York isn't evidence of climate change: it's what climate change will cause. Climate loops are complex (most obviously, that if the Gulf Stream shuts down, Europe will get colder, not hotter), but ceteris paribus, places will tend to be warmer after the global temperature rises by 10 degrees F. Are you suggesting otherwise?

I should add that the specific prediction from climate scientists for Pennsylvania is, indeed, "Northern Alabama", in my lifetime, but what do they know? I'm sure that the weather here won't change at all noticeably until the day that prediction comes true.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 4:51 PM
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You know, it's funny, I had the exact same kind of maddening discussion about PEDs on a baseball blog a few weeks ago, and I even went so far as to characterize my interlocutors as using climate denial logic to explain why a decade of offensive output that exceeded anything that had happened in the previous 60 years might be suggestive. Turns out I was more right than I knew.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 4:53 PM
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I think you're missing my point completely

I'm pretty confident you're right, though I'm afraid I can't locate the source of the confusion (because I guess I still don't really know what you're talking about). Anyway, my point, which was very limited, was that I didn't (and don't!) understand the source of your projections of things that one would "tend to see" (I think those were the words you used), as the climate models, at least the ones I know about, aren't that specific about forecasts for given durations in give places. In fact, the models are all over the place -- when place is at issue -- other than saying in aggregate, "It's going to get much hotter overall."

I also can't figure out if, in 137, you're likening me to climate-change denialists. If so, I suppose I should reassure you that I'm really not. But given what I've written in this and other threads, I don't actually think it's worth the time. And again, I could be completely misreading you. I just have no idea.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 5:11 PM
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132: I think the permafrost methane thing is already happening much more quickly and much more intensely than the models of a decade or even five years ago predicated, right? Which is to say, I really do think we're kind of hosed. Jon Christensen is pretty interesting on some of these issues.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 5:18 PM
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Who or what is 137 aimed at? I can't even tell if it's trying to attack people on this blog or if it's limited to talking about people elsewhere.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 5:21 PM
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132:Like I have said, I give it 5 years. Maybe Friedman years, probably not. That does not mean dogs in the street and living envying the dead, but massive socio-political-economic consequences and events that will make procedural liberalism and whatever rule of law we have left much less relevant.

In other words, a coup, suspension of constitution, or martial law or something very offensive to incrementalists. Aggression overseas, China vs Japan. A military buildup. Whatever. What will be seen as black swans, nobody coulda known, history didn't end after all.

The fucking oligarchs are extracting and accumulating like it is the end of the world and there will not be any systems left to call them to account. They're right.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 5:29 PM
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Like I have said, I give it 5 years.

And how many years ago did you start saying that?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 5:30 PM
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Maybe it will all look like Russia in the 90s and aughts.

And I am kinda envying the dead already.

But the socio-political-economic events and activities will, I guarantee, lead the real weather catastrophes. By years or decades.

Because they're smarter, or can buy smarter, than we are.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 5:34 PM
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142:And it has gotten much worse than I expected already.

Again, not the climate. The climate is not the problem.

The fucking politics is always the problem.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 5:36 PM
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||

Terrific

Brennan ...requests to be sworn in on a Constitution without a Bill of Rights.

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 5:41 PM
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If I might make an effort at JRoth's point (which seems pretty clear to me) it's that whatever local projections are, by the nature of averages higher average global temperatures is going to mean higher average local temperatures in more places than not, probably. So while a run of hottish summers in one particular place isn't strong evidence of global warming, and the absence of such a run wouldn't mean anything, it is the kind of thing that's likely to happen lots of places as global warming goes on.

Not a claim of knowledge about a Pittsburgh-specific projection, just a guess about what such a projection would be likely to entail.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 6:04 PM
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146 makes sense, but may I just point out that JRoths point about PEDs in baseball is stunningly idiotic, unless you want to also use it as conclusive proof that hitters in 1930 were juiced up, unlike their innocent, drug-free forerunners from 1880-1920.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 6:10 PM
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US northeastern phenology. There are also some superb UK series, dating back not quite to Tradescant.

When talking to people about specific local weather vs climate change, I describe the effect of the latter on the former as loading the dice.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 6:13 PM
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146: again, in the aggregate, that's almost certainly true. But to the best of my knowledge, there's no way, at least based on the models I've seen*, to extrapolate with any precision at all from global and regional projections to localities. And suggesting otherwise actually plays into the hands of denialists -- which is why I find it so frustrating when I do this myself -- by allowing for the, "Well, it's snowing/cold/whatever in Fargo this year, so global warming must be a hoax." gambit that is so familiar.

* I haven't seen the model that Halford is talking about for LA, so that well might be an exception. And there may well be many others just like that. Again, though, my point above was that the local level projections have been (are?) incredibly noisy and constantly subject to revision and dispute. So it's very difficult to talk about what things might "tend to look like" at the local level with any precision at all. Insofar as JRoth seemed to be arguing with me -- and I'm still not entirely sure that's what he was doing -- I'm definitely not convinced by what I think/assume/guess he was saying.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 6:14 PM
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Again, not to speak for JRoth, but I think that "conclusive proof" is probably not what he meant to assert there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 6:15 PM
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150 -- sure, but in the baseball case it's not even particularly persuasive evidence, since you had more than one similar offensive upsurges without PEDs. Of course we know that people used PEDs because we have direct evidence of that, but teasing out the effect of use on baseball as a whole is actually pretty difficult.

Back to climate, here is the LA region study.. It certainly looks impressive and claims to be impressive, although I'm obviously not trained enough to criticize it scientifically.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 6:23 PM
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They're going to use that gambit regardless of what we say about the weather, and years of being reasonable about probabilities and fluctuations haven't changed that.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 6:25 PM
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||

Dudebro beerweekend update! People were giving the guy who organized the trip mild shit for being exclusionary today in the lab, even though most of the people in the room at the time couldn't go anyhow (as they're out of town). Then a (female) postdoc came in, and was asked what she thought, and laid out chapter and verse for why, while in this case it was essentially fine by her, especially since he basically doesn't have friends from outside the lab, of course it was exclusionary and ran the risk of creating a culture that people like her would be per se shut out of, and how that could be problematic for her career, and for the cause of women in science more generally, and pointed out that it would be obviously bad for this guy to do something like this if he was a PI, rather than a postdoc. Dudebro beerweekend organizer was completely outmatched in trying to explain himself. It was pretty epic.

|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 6:28 PM
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The fantasy that we can can stop conservatives from making outrageous claims, citing cool summer days, by being scrupulous is pervasive, but it's a fantasy.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 6:29 PM
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And suggesting otherwise actually plays into the hands of denialists -- which is why I find it so frustrating when I do this myself -- by allowing for the, "Well, it's snowing/cold/whatever in Fargo this year, so global warming must be a hoax." gambit that is so familiar.

This seems like an overstated worry to me. I'm pretty sure that NYC is having milder winters now than in my childhood. My guess is this is related to global climate change, but of course that alone isn't much evidence at all of anything. Anyone who thinks that commits me to believing that cold weather someplace disproves climate change isn't the sort of person whose hands I'm going to worry about playing into, because they're either dishonest or too confused to argue with.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 6:32 PM
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Or what Eggplant said.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 6:33 PM
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by the nature of averages higher average global temperatures is going to mean higher average local temperatures in more places than not, probably

This doesn't really have anything to do with the nature of averages, I don't think.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 6:35 PM
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As you said above, causation, even in cases much less complex than the climate, is pretty hard to discern. But that doesn't mean people shouldn't tell themselves whatever stories the want, especially since you're probably right that the stories likely won't do much harm.


Posted by: vw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 6:39 PM
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In fact, it seems to me like the nature of averages would lead to something close to the opposite conclusion; higher average global temperatures tell us something about the distribution of global temperatures, but by the nature of averages don't tell us much of anything about any location or set of locations in isolation.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 6:40 PM
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158 to 155.


Posted by: vw | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 6:41 PM
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The interplay between beer and gender in the workplace is a bit tricky to me. On the one hand there's nothing stopping women from liking beer and there are certainly men who don't like beer, but it's also clear that the effects of beer-centric post-work socializing is generally bad for women. But I like beer and don't want to give up post seminar beers.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 6:42 PM
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Aren't there good alternatives? Post-seminar dinners? Post-seminar-drinks-of-undetermined-nature?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:03 PM
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Focus on specifics of the beer-centric events, so as to make sure any women involved feel welcome? It can be tricky, but I think that's all you can do.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:03 PM
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Huh, I've never experienced post-seminar beers to feel like a boys club.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:05 PM
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Coincidentally, I was just reading the Crooked Timber thread on women in academia and god, what cave did some of those commenters crawl out of?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:06 PM
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164: I haven't either, actually. After-work or after-seminar beers seem differentiable enough from a dudes-only beer drinkin' weekend that it wouldn't have occured to me that I was talking about the former.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:15 PM
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Now I'm feeling kind of guilty for not having any women on the list of people we admitted to grad school in my subfield this year, although only a handful even applied. Although we did have a shockingly high fraction of underrepresented minorities.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:15 PM
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20

James has the correct answer to that question: It will only have an impact at the margins. I find it suspicious that nobody making this argument wants to try to define the size of the margins here.

Quantifying the argument requires one to obtain the price difference between shipping oil by pipeline and shipping by oil by train which is surprisingly difficult. Rail shipment rates are clearly not prohibitive as volume is exploding and the railroads are spending a lot of money adding capacity. This article quotes a current price difference of $2 a barrel which is minor. But this is taking into account the increased opposition to pipelines. It is unclear how much this has raised the pipeline cost.

Some industry watchers say the price difference is diminishing: "The cost of rail versus pipe isn't hugely significant these days, especially now with the increased regulations and delays on pipelining," Crescent Point Energy Corp. CEO Scott Saxberg told the Globe and Mail. "We see it being in the $2 a barrel range."


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:17 PM
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151: YES: I AM VERY IMPRESSIVE... LAYDEEZ


Posted by: OPINIONATED STUDY | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:27 PM
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43

With that said, get your head out of your ass, of course you should oppose this pipeline. Probably the only way the petroleum industry in this country can even conceivably be brought around to accepting reasonable and more effective limits on pricing is for them to live in fear of populist environmental backlash. A defeat here leads to more defeat down the road, not extra environmentalism chits you can spend someplace else.

I don't understand what you are trying to say about prices here. The more environmentalists succeed in limiting production the higher the market price of oil is going to be. And the greater the incentives to find a way around the restrictions. Suppose environmentalists succeed in making Canadian tar sands production uneconomic at an oil price of $100 a barrel. Will it stay uneconomic at $200 a barrel, $500 a barrel, $1000 a barrel as the other oil runs out?


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:27 PM
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Well, at some point there's crossover with the cost of solar/other alternative energy sources, and it doesn't pay to do anything but leave it in the ground. Or if that's not the case, then sometime in the near future we hit TEOTWAWKI because we've burnt the last of the fossil fuels and there's nothing to replace them with, so it really doesn't matter.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:33 PM
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171

Well, at some point there's crossover with the cost of solar/other alternative energy sources, and it doesn't pay to do anything but leave it in the ground. ...

Sure but the crossover point is a lot higher than current prices (maybe not $1000 a barrel).


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:39 PM
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Doesn't the particular field matter a lot here? I mean it's not like I have any real knowledge, so correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Tweety's field have like a 50 year head start on being decent about women in academia, to the point where if anything it skews female (certainly in terms of undergrads, but maybe also in terms of grad students)?*

*Bro weekend! I will advocate for you on Unfogged!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:39 PM
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170, 171 -- I meant being willing to compromise on higher pricing to the consumer via tax, whether a direct carbon tax or cap and trade. Pressure is the only thing that will get the behemoths anywhere near the table on those issues.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:41 PM
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173: Which is what Sifu said in the thread where this first came up and I mentioned worrying about it being exclusionary, more or less.

I'm pretty sure Upetgi's field has a lot more women than my field, for that matter. At least that was true of the classes I took in college.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:43 PM
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I think in my subfield things might be a little worse than the norm in the broader field (well, one of the applicable broader fields), but even if things were numerically fine it'd be worth thinking about, certainly. I (along with everybody else in the lab) do think it's fine (if silly) in this case, but it's good that the guy who organized it had some of the potential weirdnesses pointed out to him. Also, it was hilarious.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:53 PM
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174

I meant being willing to compromise on higher pricing to the consumer via tax, whether a direct carbon tax or cap and trade. Pressure is the only thing that will get the behemoths anywhere near the table on those issues.

The oil companies have no problem with higher prices to the consumer as long as it increases their profits which would be trivial to arrange. Simply give them a chunk of the money. Which just points out that oil company opposition isn't the real problem.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 7:55 PM
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I feel like I should have something to say about the issues discussed in this thread, but I don't particularly.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:01 PM
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147: I just point out that JRoths point about PEDs in baseball is stunningly idiotic

This is both stunningly uncharitable and quite idiotic as a retort to the stated claim that a trend "might be suggestive". I believe JRoth is pretty much triply wrong* on the Pittsburgh snow trends as evidence of global warming point, but you overstate on this one.

*i) The complete snowfall record over the relevant time period does not match his characterization despite his having several specifics right.
ii) Snowfall itself (as he does acknowledge


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:15 PM
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Climate change got JP!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:20 PM
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Oops 179 (cont.)
ii) Snowfall itself (as he does acknowledge) does not necessarily decrease with global warming, neither locally nor globally.

iii) Even if it did and the observed trend was in alignment over that time period, it would only be considered supporting evidence as part of an ensemble of other supporting data. (I agree with vw's take on this.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:21 PM
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180: You know what the secret of climate change is, teo?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:22 PM
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No, what?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:23 PM
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Beer!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:25 PM
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Sounds good to me.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:27 PM
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Eh, I'm a veteran of too many Internet baseball PED wars to be even a tiny bit charitable. Saying "offensive explosion of the 90s becazz roids roids roids" is pretty much bog standard dumb sports commentary and needs to be combatted with maximum prejudice at all times.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:28 PM
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For anyone else who was confused, "PED" apparently stands for "performance-enhancing drugs."


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:45 PM
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109: but I'm not sure we've had a really snowy winter* in the last 15 years (while there had been 2 in the previous 5-10 years). ... and then a winter with a HUGE snowfall, but otherwise less than usually snowy.

Following up 179.*i), but not meaning to pile on, but rather to illustrate that even relatively careful observers suck at casual remembrances of meaningful statistics about past weather.

There were in fact 3 quite snowy winters in the early '90s (the 4th, 6th and 7th most of all time in P'brgh) but they came in the midst of a period of below average snow years; (41.9 is the 1981-2010 mean)
30, 35.1, 21.7, 28.4, 17.2, 33.9, 72.1, 76.8, 23.4, 74.5, 29.9, 24.2, 39.2, 27.1, 35.6, 25.7.

The recent HUGE snowfall year was the 3rd most and the one big storm (and the following week) accounted for ~30 inches, but the rest of the winter had ~47 in., more than an average winter.

Almost every winter weather system this year has arrived with temps in the upper 30s, meaning low or no accumulations.

And yet we stand at 49.6 in., and will land in the top quintile of years--and have not had any big dumpers.

Shorter me: There is no trend in recent snowfall in Pittsburgh that lends even an iota of support for or against a hypothesis of global warming.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:51 PM
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Timing.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 8:52 PM
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Interesting, Alaska has been unusually cold over the past ten years, apparently due mainly to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. The global climate system is hugely complicated and we're nowhere near being able to adequately model it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:01 PM
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I'm personally trapped in the snow right now.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:12 PM
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The analogy I have in my head has always been a pot of boiling water; as you inject more energy, you create more turbulence. Sure, that's goofy and simplistic, too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:14 PM
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Analogy for what? PEDs in baseball? Beer in boardrooms? The climate in LB's and Pauline Kael's living room? I'm so confused.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:20 PM
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193: all one and the same.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:24 PM
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I want to hear more about 134, if only because Li/sa Ran/dall was the single worst lecturer in my undergraduate physics program.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:25 PM
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I'm not even sure she gives lectures anymore. A couple of times lately she's sent me emails when she's supposedly in class teaching. I think she probably sits in front of the room poking at her Blackberry while the students discuss things.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:45 PM
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But you should totally Google the "Great Tea/chers of Har/vard" site and its profile of her. Watch the video of her former grad student and try to decode what he really means.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:46 PM
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These are the sort of comments I'm really going to regret posting someday, presumably.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:47 PM
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It probably depends on whether you're actually Brian Leiter.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:52 PM
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198: let's all just assume 199 is the case.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 9:54 PM
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199: slanderous!


Posted by: aduren | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 10:05 PM
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I have nothing invested in this besides sending vicious stalking email to physicists as the suspiciously Azeri-sounding Aleirbag Lartsim, but yeah, 198 is probably wisdom. We can all agree that the widely publicly available books by the author in question are clunky and incomprehensible, though, surely, without endangering any professional norms?

Did I miss the thread where you posted a list of the best popular physics books available, essear? I am actually curious. My vice is finding skepticism to be overly persuasive, and I don't really know what to look for.

In the humanities, I never found beer nights to be segregated by gender.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 10:42 PM
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Speaking of beer, when I was at the liquor store earlier this evening I noticed that they had a variety of Unibroue beers and, remembering it being mentioned in a recent Unfogged thread, picked up a four-pack of La Fin du Monde. Verdict: it's good!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 10:45 PM
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I should really give it another shot one of these days.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 10:57 PM
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Another vote in favor of La Fin du Monde - I meant to register my support when the subject last came up, but I zoned out for several days there.

Also, correlation is not causation, but my taste-test took place less than 24 hours before my first comment.


Posted by: joyslinger | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 11:03 PM
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What? The offensive explosion of the 90s _was_ caused by PEDs.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 11:46 PM
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This better not turn into a baseball thread.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 8-13 11:52 PM
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Global warming is on a collision course with global capitalism . I don't think a carbon tax alone will solve it.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 1:23 AM
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Walt and JRoth are right and Halford is way wrong. The 1930s was because the American League juiced the ball.

Before 1996, there had been only three seasons in all of baseball history when two or more players hit 50+ homers. But it happened five times between 1996 and 2001.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 1:38 AM
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We're long past the point where we could have prevented significant climate change, and probably also past the point where we could have substantially mitigated it. We may still be able to mitigate it to some extent, and should, but the name of the game now is adaptation.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 1:39 AM
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I don't see how you can say we're past mitigation. I mean, we may be locked in to passing 2 C, but there's still plenty of space between 2 C and the surface of Venus.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 2:00 AM
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Fin du monde is probably my favorite non-sour beer.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 3:24 AM
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TEOTWAWKI is somewhere in New Zealand, amirite? If we're going to hit it, I assume it's a big rock.

If the climate modelers can tell if something in the weather is due to climate change, they'll usually say so. Frex, over here the last few years, the weather has been a lot wetter and more violent (but warmer) than usual. This is because some atmospheric current that used to run north of the Isles and only annoy trawlermen has shifted south and is dumping over land. OK, climate change, though the questions of whether it's permanent and whether it's anthropogenic or simply part of a cycle that nobody had measured before remain entirely unresolved.

OTOH, a couple of years ago we had unseasonably hot weather in October. Why? Who knows, certainly not the climate scientists, who just got out their recliners along with everybody else. That was just weather until anybody comes up with a convincing explanation otherwise.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 4:39 AM
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210

We're long past the point where we could have prevented significant climate change, and probably also past the point where we could have substantially mitigated it. We may still be able to mitigate it to some extent, and should, but the name of the game now is adaptation.

Speaking of mitigation here is a Technology Review article about active mitigation schemes. In my view climate change alarmists like Pierrehumbert (quoted at length) who don't even want to do such research are implicitly admitting they don't actually find climate change all that alarming. A truly desperate situation would call for considering such options.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 6:04 AM
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Just saw this story about how Natives are way overrepresented in Canada's prisons, and it's getting worse. The numbers are pretty shocking.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 8:21 AM
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Sigh. It's like Nate Silver never had a career before politics.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=3881

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=4845

http://steroids-and-baseball.com/actual-effects.shtml

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/22/opinion/22cole.html?ex=1356066000&en=38ae29f2075786cc&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 8:36 AM
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Also this:

http://www.sabernomics.com/sabernomics/index.php/2010/01/what-caused-the-steroid-era/


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 9:53 AM
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The link (and graph) in 217 is probably the quickest and easiest refutation of PGD and Walt.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 10:35 AM
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I don't even know what PED means.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 10:42 AM
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I don't even know what PED means.

Walk, don't run.

And, since I seem to have been primed, to the OP: this.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 11:16 AM
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Nate Silver may be the most overrated expert alive today.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 11:21 AM
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Gay wizardry ain't all that.


Posted by: vw | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 11:23 AM
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There are several points that I feel compelled to share here.

Scientists agree that a two degree rise in global temperature is the upper limit which allows for anything like a livable situation. We are currently headed toward something more like a 4 to 6 degree rise in temperature. (http://youtu.be/KumLH9kOpOI)

350.org tells us that "350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide--measured in "Parts Per Million" in our atmosphere. 350 PPM--it's the number humanity needs to get back to as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change."

NOAA research at Mauna Loa, reveals that current levels are getting closer to 400 ppm.
February 2013: 396.80 ppm
February 2012: 393.54 ppm
(http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/#mlo)

Climate scientist James Hansen says extracting and burning the tars sands would have disastrous results. "If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate." Extraction exposes the tar sands to the air, water, and ground adding to environmental pollution levels. Extracting requires a huge expenditure of fossil fuels by colossal machinery at the site. Transportation to pipelines, refinement of the bitumen, transport from the refineries to the point of use requires more fossil fuel use. Finally, despite refinement the tar sands produce the dirtiest emissions of all of the fossil fuels. There is no way that this carbon footprint is affordable if it's cost is accurately calculated.
But that ain't all folks. Perhaps the most tragic result of tar sands extraction is the destruction of the Boreal Forests in Canada, which act as the lungs of the entire planet, thus exacerbating the death spiral we have begun.
(http://www.ted.com/talks/garth_lenz_images_of_beauty_and_devastation.html)

CO2 capture technology is undeveloped and has too large a carbon footprint to utilize now or in the foreseeable future.

Nuclear power is impractical because of the as yet unsolved problem of nuclear waste. Water used in cooling these facilities is also contaminated and released into the surrounding watershed. Additionally, when temperatures rise to a certain level, waste water is too hot to release into rivers and streams without significant damage to the environment, rendering nuclear power plants too dangerous to use in increasingly warm weather.

Basically our best hope lies in leaving all fossil fuels in the ground and ceasing to burn any. We must close down every coal plant. Stop driving emissions producing cars. Develop sustainable mass transit where ever possible. Retrofit all buildings to conserve energy loss. Wear clothes which allow us to live in substantially cooler homes and offices.
We need to support vegetarians & vegans, and substantially decrease the amount of meat consumed by omnivores.

Since humans respond better to positive adaptation, I think all activists, governments and noncynical corporations need to focus on sustainable, alternative energy work immediately.

But, the first step is saying "absolutely fucking not" to the KXL pipeline.

IMHO.


Posted by: C Trewhitt | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 11:54 AM
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From 217, the key assumption:
If steroids were the cause of the steroid era, then we should have gradually seen them enter the game.
Or not.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 11:59 AM
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I only started to read 216.1, but it looks like he's going to base his analysis on this assumption:
Rather, the distinguishing mark would be that variance in player performance would increase. If some players, be they hitters or pitchers, were gaining a new and substantial competitive advantage, while others were remaining in place, then we'd expect a greater amount of differentiation between the best-performing players and the worst-performing players...
Or, you know, there could be fairly uniform use, or even use and gains from use weighted towards the worst players. On further reading of that article he actually mentions these theories but doesn't mention that it undermines the hypothesis of his article.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 12:12 PM
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204: I tried Rusty Nails on your recommendation and it worked for me. They do hit you fast if your drinking pace is set by Yuengling.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 12:27 PM
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Sorry for the longwinded post above. Wanted to share one other thing, just in case anybody's listening. The infamous Koch brothers have a sizable interest in the KXL pipeline, supposedly to better compete with Venezuelan oil.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/oct/05/koch-keystone-xl-pipeline


Posted by: C Trewhitt | Link to this comment | 03- 9-13 1:20 PM
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Semi-contrarian argument from unexpected source.

The draft assessment of the pipeline's environmental impact, published last week by the US Department of State, compares it with carrying the oil to Oklahoma by train and then piping it the rest of the way, or shipping it the whole way. Both would produce more greenhouse gases - 8 and 17 per cent, respectively.

Scrapping Keystone, says the DoS, would only cut Canadian oil sands production by 0.4 per cent by 2030, because the oil would be exported by other routes to the US or further afield.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 03-10-13 3:59 AM
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But, from the same article:

"IT'S a green way to be bad for the environment. Canada's tar sand oil is far more polluting than the conventional kind, but the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is the cleanest way to get it to market.

But the real problem is that we are exploiting tar sands at all, says Kevin Anderson of the University of Manchester in the UK. Tar sand oil is far dirtier than conventional oil, so generates between 10 and 20 per cent more greenhouse emissions."

Best to stop digging the stuff up at all. If no one will allow it to be shipped through their turf, then it becomes a bad business idea to try to produce and sell it.

Best to stop the whole operation and cover it back up, quickly.


Posted by: C Trewhitt | Link to this comment | 03-10-13 9:34 PM
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