HIstoric Cyclones

From the Weather Underground, via Planet Gore.  Please forward this to Al so he can stop embarassing himself.  The twenty deadliest cyclones (that we know about):

Rank: Name / Areas of Largest Loss: Year: Ocean Area: Deaths:
1 Great Bhola Cyclone, Bangladesh 1970 Bay of Bengal 550,000
2 Hooghly River Cyclone, India and Bangladesh 1737 Bay of Bengal 350,000
3 Haiphong Typhoon, Vietnam 1881 West Pacific 300,000
3 Coringa, India 1839 Bay of Bengal 300,000
5 Backerganj Cyclone, Bangladesh 1584 Bay of Bengal 200,000
6 Great Backerganj Cyclone, Bangladesh 1876 Bay of Bengal 200,000
7 Chittagong, Bangladesh 1897 Bay of Bengal 175,000
8 Super Typhoon Nina, China 1975 West Pacific 171,000
9 Cyclone 02B, Bangladesh 1991 Bay of Bengal 140,000
10 Great Bombay Cyclone, India 1882 Arabian Sea 100,000
11 Hakata Bay Typhoon, Japan 1281 West Pacific 65,000
12 Calcutta, India 1864 Bay of Bengal 60,000
13 Swatlow, China 1922 West Pacific 60,000
14 Barisal, Bangladesh 1822 Bay of Bengal 50,000
15 Sunderbans coast, Bangladesh 1699 Bay of Bengal 50,000
16 Bengal Cyclone, Calcutta, India 1942 Bay of Bengal 40,000
17 Canton, China 1862 West Pacific 37,000
18 Backerganj (Barisal), Bangladesh 1767 Bay of Bengal 30,000
19 Barisal, Bangladesh 1831 Bay of Bengal 22,000
20 Great Hurricane, Lesser Antilles Islands 1780 Atlantic 22,000
21 Devi Taluk, SE India 1977 Bay of Bengal 20,000
21 Great Coringa Cyclone, India 1789 Bay of Bengal 20,000

Oddly uncorrelated with atmospheric temperature or CO2, huh?  In fact, three of the four most recent occured in the seventies, a time known for its cooling.  Two of the top five occured around the period of the little ice age.

What is normal?  One other thought.  I have often asked, vis a vis climate, the question "What is Normal?"  Because of the quality of observation by sattelites, we tend to define normal by what we have observed since about 1979, when the first satellites began gathering relevent global climate data.  For example, when news stories last year said the Arctic sea ice was at "an all time low," they actually meant the lowest point since satellites began observing the ice c.1979.  "All time" meant the last 30 years.  Note that only one of these 22 storms occured in the last 30 years.  By defining "normal" as the last 30 years, we would in this case miss over 95% of the severest storms.  Even defining "noral" as the time since 1900 would cause us to miss 7 of the top 10 storms.

Spot the correlation:  Do you see a correlation in this list?  How about with poverty?  When cyclones hit US low-lying coastal areas and drive flooding up river valleys and deltas (think Katrina) we get a few hundred or at most a couple of thousand deaths, at most.   A tragedy for sure, but Katrina did not even kill 10% of the people killed by the bottom storm on this list.  What is the difference?  Poverty.  From this data table, which option makes more sense:

  1. Reduce CO2 and perhaps ocean temperatures by a few tenths of a degree, in the process limiting economic growth and increasing poverty.
  2. Burn all the fossil fuels we can on the path to helping people in Bangladesh and China and India become wealthier.

I am sure I know which would save more lives.

  • Scientist

    Yes, loss of life in storms has far more to do with poverty than with any properties of the storm itself. No, burning fossil fuels is not a prerequisite for being wealthy, and cutting CO2 emissions will not limit economic growth or increase poverty. Let me give you some information about the power generation from fossil fuel burning in the 10 most developed nations in the world. The figure I’ll give is the percentage of their electricity that these nations generate with hydroelectric and nuclear power stations. All figures are from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Energy and Environment Data Reference Bank.

    1. Iceland: 83.5%
    2. Norway: 99%
    3. Australia: 8%
    4. Canada: 70%
    5. Ireland: 4%
    6. Sweden: 90%
    7. Switzerland: 95%
    8. Japan: 35%
    9. Netherlands: 4%
    10.France: 89%

    So of the 10 most developed nations in the world, only three rely heavily on burning fossil fuels to generate power.

    Your suggestion that if ‘we’ burn fossil fuels it will somehow help China and India to get richer is too bizarre to argue with, but if you are suggesting that to get rich, they have to burn fossil fuels, then you’re incredibly wrong. Interesting, I think, that Suntech, the largest manufacturer of solar cells in the world, is Chinese, and Suzlon, one of the largest manufacturers of wind turbines, is Indian.

  • Adirian

    Your “10 most developed nations” list is, er, missing the biggest (Or, considering the nature of that particular federation of nations, fifty of the biggest). Two of those nations import most of their power, and few of them has a GDP to compare with, say, New York.

    Moreover, I challenge you to name one of those nations that isn’t meeting its marginal needs with biofuels – that is, carbon-based fuels – which is a FAR more telling indicator of what is economically viable than what they have invested their infrastructure in in the past.

    Your opposition is laughably bad, and quite typical of you.

  • Scientist

    Ah, the touching faith you have in your home country. It is not one of the ten most developed nations in the world.

    How very bizarre, to claim that if these developed nations use any fossil fuels, then that tells us something more significant than the fact that they generate the vast majority of their power without them.

  • Rob

    Scientist,

    “No, burning fossil fuels is not a prerequisite for being wealthy, …”
    Could you describe for the blog readers, the process of developing a nation from nothing to a standard of living we see in developed nations, without burning fossil fuels? I’m stuck in the box and I think you might have already thought outside of it…

    “… and cutting CO2 emissions will not limit economic growth or increase poverty.”
    Do you imply that there will be no reduction in standard of living? If there is no cost difference, then why hasn’t the market shifted due to the forcing of most consumers caring about their environment?

  • The US not one of the ten most developed nations on Earth? What the fuck kind of crazy development scale would give you that?

  • It is now obvious what kind of troll “Scientist” is. The kind that argues based on pretty bizarre definitions of common terms.

  • Scientist doesn’t provide a link, but those numbers must exclude automobiles. Either that, or Norway has no cars and trucks.

    The internal combustion engine is probably the single greatest factor in fostering a broad base of middle-class wealth, as well as keeping the poorest out of abject poverty. It allows goods to be distributed cheaply, and the mobility for people to find work outside their immediate neighborhood and to choose where to live.

    So, yes, pseudo-scientist, burning fossil fuels is a necessary prerequisite to generating wealth.

  • Scientist

    Could you describe for the blog readers, the process of developing a nation from nothing to a standard of living we see in developed nations, without burning fossil fuels? I’m stuck in the box and I think you might have already thought outside of it… – consider Brazil, which generates 80% of its electricity from hydroelectric power, is the 10th largest economy in the world, and saw GDP increase by 5.4% last year.

    If you don’t believe it’s possible, then most nations in the world are screwed anyway. I don’t see sub-Saharan Africa reaching a European standard of living before fossil fuels run out. Do you think they are then forever condemned to poverty?

    Personally I just can’t fathom why there would be some link between the means of energy generation and economic growth. Can you explain how such a link would arise?

    Do you imply that there will be no reduction in standard of living? – certainly. In the UK, CO2 emissions dropped during the 1990s and early 2000s, a time of strong growth in our economy.

    why hasn’t the market shifted due to the forcing of most consumers caring about their environment? – what is the evidence that most consumers care about their environment? Is there any evidence that consumers care about other people’s environment?

    The US not one of the ten most developed nations on Earth? What the fuck kind of crazy development scale would give you that? – the UN Human Development Index.

    those numbers must exclude automobiles – do automobiles generate electricity?

  • Rob

    Scientist,

    consider Brazil, which generates 80% of its electricity from hydroelectric power, is the 10th largest economy in the world, and saw GDP increase by 5.4% last year.
    What was the source of energy to produce the materials and build that hydro-electric plant?

    Do you think they are then forever condemned to poverty?
    Evolution at its best! They need to adapt to their conditions or die. That’s life.

    Personally I just can’t fathom why there would be some link between the means of energy generation and economic growth. Can you explain how such a link would arise?
    Well, in order to grow an economy, something physical needs to be produced from existing materials, or something virtual (i.e. ideas), and sold. By increasing productivity, you are able to produce more, and grow faster. In order to produce more, you need more energy, whether it be an engine or someone on a bike peddling. Now consider the industrial revolution where people stopped peddling on bikes and started using other forms of energy generation. During this time period, the combined wealth of the world skyrocketed.

    what is the evidence that most consumers care about their environment? Is there any evidence that consumers care about other people’s environment?
    Well, if consumers don’t care, then that means this is not a driving force in the market. The only other driving force would be cost. If cutting CO2 emissions for producing goods were to cost less, then the market would move in this direction. I don’t see this happening, so it makes me believe that cutting CO2 emissions is not cost effective. If companies were forced to do so, then the cost of production would go up which ultimately leads to a less productive economy.

    UN Human Development Index
    In the UK, CO2 emissions dropped during the 1990s and early 2000s, a time of strong growth in our economy.
    The USA is 12th and the UK is 16th. Strong growth, but not strong enough…

  • TDK

    Scientist’s list comes as he says from the UN Human Development Index eg. here

    This is a controversial list.

  • Stevo

    Fascinating logic.

    Consider the analogous case of the problem of the poor being poorly fed due to a shortage of bread (following a campaign to shut all the the bread bakeries), and it being proposed that they eat cake instead. They object that cake is too expensive, that the supply is limited, and that they will never escape poverty if they are forced to spend what little money they have on it. The counter is a list of the 10 richest aristocrats in France, the percentage of cake in what they eat, and the claim that you clearly can get rich while eating lots of cake. QED.

    Correlation implies causation?

  • Luis Dias

    TDK et al. You are confusing power with human development. No one I know here in europe wants to live in the US. You’ll see it probably as a snobbish attitude. It’s not. It’s as good as it gets. The myth that the US is the most “spectacular uber fantastic mind-bogging country in the fucking world” is just … a myth. Of course, that’s what’s my personal opinion, and of everyone I know. You are free to just think the opposite.

    @ Scientist.

    The main issue here is transportation. Private cars aren’t going anywhere, and those stats you provide are percentage of electricity production, you are not counting heating gas and gasoline/diesel. Most of the Energy by BTUs in developed nations are fossil fuels. You can’t simply say “EV car” because those aren’t yet economical. And I don’t see a carbon tax without riots. Sincerely, I don’t.

  • Scientist

    The claim, Stevo, if you read the entry, is that there is a correlation between fossil fuel burning and wealth. I’ve shown that the claimed correlation does not exist. Your analogy is the wrong way round. It’s as if the poor were complaining about a lack of cake, only to find that actually, the rich don’t eat much cake either. No-one has even attempted to provide evidence that fossil fuel burning is somehow essential for economic growth.

    Consider the five fastest growing economies in the world (excluding East Timor and Equatorial Guinea, which are not listed in the IEAE data reference bank)

    1. Azerbaijian – thermal power dominates
    2. Angola – hydroelectricity dominates
    3. Armenia – Roughly even three way split – thermal, nuclear, hydroelectric
    4. Sudan – 50-50 split between hydro and thermal.
    5. Georgia – hydroelectricity dominates

    Again, no correlation between the dominant mode of electricity generation and economic growth.

    Do you have any contrary evidence?

  • Scientist

    Luis Dias – true, I’m ignoring transportation by only considering electricity generation. In this regard, it’s worth considering, out of China and the USA, which has the more stringent fuel standards, and which is enjoying the largest economic growth.

  • Stevo

    “The claim, Stevo, if you read the entry, is that there is a correlation between fossil fuel burning and wealth”

    The claim was that more fossil fuel burning would be needed to give developing countries wealth. A different proposition entirely.

  • Scientist

    Did you not notice the claim that cutting CO2 would limit economic growth and increase poverty? Either way, the evidence comprehensively destroys the claim. The UK cut emissions at a time of strong economic growth; there is no correlation between amount of fossil fuels burned and human development; nor is there any correlation between economic growth and amount of fossil fuels burned. The claim falls.

  • Pseudo-Scientist, no, automobiles do not generate electricity. That’s why your entire point about electrical generation is a straw-man. The claim wasn’t that using fossil fuels vs other means to generate electricity corresponded to wealth creation, it was that using fossil fuels vs not using fossil fuels corresponds to wealth creation. Your little table has absolutely nothing to do with that claim.

    Cars use fossil fuels exclusively (with utterly inconsequential exceptions). And since cars are one of if not the biggest factor in wealth creation, any arguments that don’t account for them is utterly irrelevant.

    But you know that, and I know you know that. You’re just a bald-faced liar. Everything you say from your name to your claim that these statistics are germane to the argument to the claim that a statistical blip in the UK’s emissions prove a correlation is a flat out deliberate lie.

  • Scientist

    Cars are the biggest factor in wealth creation? What on earth makes you think that?

  • Stevo

    Yes, I noticed it. I agree with it. I don’t agree that your evidence disproves it.

    The correlation or lack of it between the type of energy and wealth says little if anything about the relationship between the amount of energy and wealth. Wealth takes energy, lots of it, and the developing world will need much more if it is to emerge from poverty. There are other factors at work certainly, and if you consider small enough units then you can find reversals of the general relationship in among the noise, but considered globally I don’t see anything in your examples that says we can increase energy generation most cost effectively by any other means than more use of fossil fuels.

    Yes, a rich country can pay the premium for non-fossil sources and still be rich. Yes, a small country can get a boost from changing a bad government and recovering from economic mismanagement, or from trading natural resources, that is large compared with its economy. (Three of your examples of economic growth, ironically, are doing so because they are benefiting from a boom in oil and gas sales. The fossil fuel might be burnt elsewhere, but their new wealth is largely because of it.) But neither deals with the causal argument – you need cheap plentiful energy to develop more than minimally, and the cheapest, most plentiful source is fossil.

    You need to develop your causal argument. Are you arguing that countries can develop without energy usage, or are you saying that if they all went nuclear they could supply the necessary energy without burning fossil? Do you think hydroelectric can be expanded much further? Does trading for goods manufactured elsewhere, with the energy usage therefore not counted against you, count as clean development? Do you think there is a way to develop that doesn’t involve increased energy use anywhere, either directly or by proxy, and if so how? Expand on that side of things.

    I might well entertain an argument that deregulating nuclear would make it cheap enough to compete, and therefore provide a viable alternative to coal. The idea has some obvious problems, but from a pure energy supply point of view, it may have some merit. Nothing else is in the game, yet. Development without oil is not impossible, and although I don’t think there’s any particular reason why it’s desirable either, I’m by no means totally averse to such a position. But dredging statistical noise for supposedly contrary correlations isn’t going to convince anyone.

  • Your suggestion that if ‘we’ burn fossil fuels it will somehow help China and India to get richer is too bizarre to argue with

    How about this: if we access all of our untapped reserves, the price of petrol will go down, thus enabling the poorer countries to afford it. You have to include the whole world in the “we,” there.

    For us spoiled rich countries to get all scrupulous about CO2 emissions when there are children starving in India is the height of arrogance and downright evil, IMAO.

  • Scientist

    The correlation or lack of it between the type of energy and wealth says little if anything about the relationship between the amount of energy and wealth – obviously, but you seem confused about which argument we’re having. The claim here is that the means of energy generation determines the wealth. No good trying to change the argument to something you feel more comfortable with.

    I don’t see anything in your examples that says we can increase energy generation most cost effectively by any other means than more use of fossil fuels – did you miss the bit about the United Kingdom cutting emissions while maintaining strong economic growth? How do you reckon they did that?

    the cheapest, most plentiful source is fossil – seen the price of oil lately? Do you understand that fossil fuels are a finite resource? Do you realise that hydroelectric, wind and solar power are essentially unlimited? Why do 6 out of 10 of the most developed nations not rely on the apparently cheapest source of energy? Why do four of the fastest growing five economies not rely on the apparently cheapest source of energy? Do you believe they have deliberately sought out a more expensive option?

    For us spoiled rich countries to get all scrupulous about CO2 emissions when there are children starving in India is the height of arrogance and downright evil, IMAO. – for internet bloggers to take it upon themselves to give a shit on behalf of the spoiled rich who have previously only shown indifference is beyond despicable.

  • Mesa Econoguy

    Those Anheuser-Busch commercials are funny. For example:

    No, burning fossil fuels is not a prerequisite for being wealthy
    Posted by: Scientist

    Dude.

    and cutting CO2 emissions will not limit economic growth or increase poverty.
    Posted by: Scientist

    Dude.

    Scientist, you’re an economic retard. Dude.

  • kuhnkat

    You are partially right Scientcyst,

    the equation should be wealth and energy use in general.

    Of course, you have to have the means to utilise the energy, of whatever type, before you need to acquire energy. No light bulbs, no stoves, no lawnmowers, no aircraft, no computers, no farm equipment, no pumps, no water purification… no need for anything except burning fecal matter after you have burnt all the available dry vegetable matter.

    Kinda ties into disease and short life spans.

    I would also point out that fossil fuels are easier to utilise and are more likely to be part of the economy before nuclear or electrical. Takes a lot of WEALTH to build large generation and transmission systems, not to mention the devices that need the electricity. With WEALTHY COUNTRIES help (that is those countries who are still using or transitioning off Fossil Fuels) poor countries may be GIVEN technology like windmills, solar cells, geothermal and nuclear plants… so they can skip part of the the fossil fuel cycle.

    This is a rather large technological jump. Unless you are a nation with large income from, say, FOSSIL FUELS or other natural resources for large cash income, and no elite soaking up the revenue for personal waste, it will take a while. In the mean time your people can continue to die burning fecal matter!!!

    Scientcyst,

    fossil fuels are a limited resource. Well, they are if they actually ARE fossil. Read anything lately about the abiotic methane and other carbon based chemicals being found around our planet and the rest of our solar system?? Like the expedition researching the fissures in the mid-atlantic ridge and other areas where there ain’t no dead dinosaurs?? The best Russian scientists still claim that oil is NOT fossil and have made most of their oil finds based on their ABIOTIC theory of oil. Let me know when they run out of oil and natural gas will you??

    You DO know we can create synthetic fuel don’t you?? The primary way has been coal liquification and gasification.

    http://www.physorg.com/news9723.html
    http://www.fossil.energy.gov/programs/powersystems/gasification/howgasificationworks.html

    Last week I read an article about a gentleman who has patented biological conversion of vegetable matter into gas. He has modified bacterial organisms to do it and has built a small test facility. If he can make a deal with a large company we will have you and the rest of the Eco-Freaks going nuts. He estimates a cost to produce of about 25 cents a gallon!!

    http://www.tiftongazette.com/opinion/local_story_126213442.html?start:int=0

    So, we may not be running out of “fossil” fuels, and even if we are we can make plenty more. Of course, we will need the ENERGY to drive some of it. Remember how dumb you guys think Bush is?? Wonder why he suddenly announced the US returning to the moon?? Wondering why Russia, China, and others seem to be on it also??

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium-3

    Sadly, what we think we know, but is WRONG makes people like you TOTALLY ridiculous!!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  • Mesa Econoguy

    Did I mention Scientist is a statistical fraud?

    Oh, by the way, scientist is a statistical fraud.

  • Stevo

    “The claim here is that the means of energy generation determines the wealth.”

    That wasn’t said. I can understand how you might interpret it that way, but it’s a misunderstanding.

    “did you miss the bit about the United Kingdom cutting emissions while maintaining strong economic growth? How do you reckon they did that?”

    Because when the electricity suppliers were privatised in the early 90s they needed more generating capacity fast and gas turbine power stations only take a couple of years to build. This caused a massive 30% swing from coal to gas generation, and as gas contains more hydrogen and less carbon, it burns to produce more H2O and less CO2. That, and the collapse of Soviet industry were the reason the base year for Kyoto was backdated to 1990, because European emissions had dropped during the 90s for other reasons before forging ahead, while the US’s had risen rapidly through the 90s before levelling off. They set the starting line so that they were already well ahead of the US, so it would hurt the Americans more. Had they set the base year to be when Kyoto was signed, the UK’s situation would not look so rosy.

    It was a one-off, taken for economic rather than environmental reasons, and still involved burning of fossil fuels. Energy generation with fossil fuels still increased over the period, to meet increased demand.

    “seen the price of oil lately?”

    Yes. But is it permanent?

    “Do you understand that fossil fuels are a finite resource?”

    Yes. But like every resource they only have to last until technology moves on. At current rates of use we’ve got a few thousand years worth left, so there’s plenty of time. I don’t have a problem with the idea of us shifting to other energy sources – only with this mad insistence on doing it right now.

    “Do you realise that hydroelectric, wind and solar power are essentially unlimited?”

    In time, yes, but not in space. There are only so many river valleys suitable for damming. There is only so much wind and so many places you can put up turbines. Solar power is limited by the availability of empty land, of course, but that’s not the problem with it. Solar is the only one of those with the necessary growth potential, once the cost per watt comes down a bit more. Give it another 30 years, and I expect to be seeing a lot more of it.

    “Why do 6 out of 10 of the most developed nations not rely on the apparently cheapest source of energy?”

    Politics, I suspect. France, for example, went nuclear partly in order to build bombs and partly to get energy independence, for which they were willing to pay a premium.

    “Why do four of the fastest growing five economies not rely on the apparently cheapest source of energy?”

    Because I suspect they can get UN grants for one-off hydroelectric schemes more easily than they can for regular imports of oil, or they inherited it from the Soviets. And for any growth in capacity they will have to rely on fossil. Georgia, for example, is busily expanding its energy generation by importing gas from Azerbaijan, to take just two on your list.

    “Do you believe they have deliberately sought out a more expensive option?”

    No. I think they’ve picked those options for all sorts of reasons, cost being only one. This is the same as the cake argument. You can’t argue that cake must be cheaper than bread because wealthy people and those rising fast have chosen to eat it. You can’t argue that bread is unnecessary for feeding the poor because cake is available. Cake is more expensive and in shorter supply, but there are other reasons for preferring it if you have the money or have it given to you charitably.

    Now if you want to give a list of costs/Watt as evidence, that might help, and if you can show that the capacity to expand at the same prices is there, and that they haven’t already picked all the low-hanging fruit, that would be even better.

  • Mesa Econoguy

    The faulty underlying premises of AlGore’s stupidity are that 1) storms are getting worse 2) due to man-made factors. Both are demonstrably false, as shown here. The increase in monetary damage is a function of more people living in storm-prone areas (and poor building standards, irrational insurance choices, etc).

    Scientist, you could make the converse argument that given our vastly improved weather information forecasting ability, this net effect should be a wash.

    But you won’t do that, because you are ignorant.

    Also, to SteveO’s point

    “Why do four of the fastest growing five economies not rely on the apparently cheapest source of energy?”

    A) they don’t (at least not directly – they rely on oil and nat gas just as much as every other economy), and B) the “alternatives” are heavily subsidized in every country, and producers of this economically inefficient technology seek economic rents wherever they can find them.

  • We’d be more than happy to generate all of our electricity from nuclear, but the “Scientists” of the world won’t let us.

  • Mesa Econoguy

    …for internet bloggers to take it upon themselves to give a shit on behalf of the spoiled rich who have previously only shown indifference is beyond despicable.
    Posted by: Scientist

    I’m more than sick of this bullshit attitude that “the rich” and especially “evil oil companies” are somehow exploiting current market conditions and/or manipulating oil prices

    There is noting whatsoever preventing you from taking an equity ownership stake in these publicly traded companies. You can very easily participate in these revenue streams, effectively as a hedge against rising oil and gas prices. Full disclosure: I am a holder of several of these securities, including Canadian oil and gas pass-thru trusts.

    You have no right to tell me what I can and cannot own. If you were smart, which you are not, you would own them too.

    It is this liberal arrogance and stupidity that is truly despicable.

  • kuhnkat

    Mesa Econoguy brings up an excellent point Scientcyst.

    Why aren’t you buying oil futures to help finance the conversion of the US to a CO2 free economy??

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Have you read these papers:

    http://met.hu/doc/idojaras/vol111001_01.pdf

    http://www.ecd.bnl.gov/steve/pubs/HeatCapacity.pdf

    http://www.globalwarminghype.com/0707.1161v2.pdf

    They all seem to agree that CO2 isn’t the problem!!

  • Adirian

    Haven’t been by in a bit, but scientist – yes, it’s marginal production that is relevant. If all of France’s new power plants are coal – it tells you something extremely important about the power infrastructure already in place. Specifically, it tells you that it is no longer being pursued. When you point to a country and say, “Look, they’re doing it,” if they’ve STOPPED doing it, then you haven’t proven anything. (And if you’re naming a nation with the population less than some cities, say, Mexico, then you really haven’t proven anything except the existence of outliers, which we’d already expect.)

    And, uh, yeah. I’m interested to know how you’re calculating “most advanced” and leaving out, y’know, the global superpower, on whom every single one of those nations’ current existence depends.

  • Scientist

    Stevo – you provide no evidence to back a single one of your claims.

    Adirian – you should be less blindly patriotic. Google ‘un hdi’ and you’ll learn more.

  • Stevo

    “you provide no evidence to back a single one of your claims”

    So? 🙂 There’s no point in wasting the effort. Your history here* indicates you wouldn’t concede a single point if I did, and I have no particular interest in persuading you anyway. Besides, the background isn’t hard to find.

    (* Anticipating your challenge to provide an example, you will recall your statement “obviously you haven’t” that you made in an earlier discussion without offering evidence and I challenged you then to back it up. In what way is it “obvious”? What prior evidence did you base your statement on? You never did say. 🙂
    – Seriously, I don’t expect an answer and it would be off-topic here anyway, but if you never give an inch, you can’t seriously expect us to be bothered with you either, can you?)

  • Scientist

    I provide evidence to back all the arguments I present. It’s not so much for the benefit of the closed-minded people who frequently post here – you don’t consider evidence any kind of prerequisite for coming to a conclusion – it’s for passers by. Anyone who hasn’t made their mind up can see that an argument backed up with evidence is stronger than an argument which is not.

    The future of the free world is being steered by some crufty code hacked together by a handful of academics, full of GOTOs and fudge factors and “adjustments”. Seriously. I’ve seen it. – I replied obviously you haven’t, because your statement was as ridiculous as if you had said the future of the free world is being steered by a committee of lizards which meets on top of Mont Blanc every full moon. Seriously. I’ve seen it. Dismissing crazed paranoia as crazed paranoia doesn’t really need the kind of justification you are seeking.

  • Stevo

    So you didn’t actually have any evidence, you just thought it was “ridiculous”? Meaning, I presume, that it came into such conflict with your prior beliefs about the sources from which the IPCC were providing guidance to policymakers that you mentally couldn’t accept it as possible?

    Well, fair enough. That was kind of what I suspected, but I was being generous. I did wonder if you were referring to it being “obvious” I couldn’t have seen it since you knew it was being carefully kept unpublished and undocumented – which until several applications of the Freedom of Information Act, threats of Congressional intervention, and the embarrassment caused when reverse engineering of the algorithm from the data revealed strong evidence of several software bugs, would have been perfectly true.

    I’ve heard the IPCC being called many things, but “lizards” is a new one on me. 🙂

  • jep, Kansas USA

    This really isn’t a good argument for disproving the Goracle’s silly statements.

    Loss of life is not a good measure of a storm’s intensity. Modern nations have good forecasting and warning systems, so a very strong hurricane, cyclone or typhoon could have very little loss of life if it struck the right place. Likewise, a storm that hits an area with a small population may have a very low loss of life but still be very powerful. Monetary damage isn’t a good way to measure the size or strength of storms, either.

    Is there a scale for cyclones as there is for hurricanes? Can hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones and tropical storms all be rated on a universal scale? That would make a better comparison for ranking storms.

  • Scientist

    Stevo, you missed the point completely. If you think the “future of the free world” is in the hands of any piece of computer code, you’re a bit mental. Such a powerful code does not exist.

  • mbabbitt

    Scientist “and I have no particular interest in persuading you anyway.” You mean to tell us that you spend so much time here– at a site you disagree with just to get attention and love?

  • Stevo

    Does code even have hands? 🙂 I’m constantly amazed at how your quotes mutate. Unsubtle, though.

  • Scientist

    How does it steer if it doesn’t have hands?

    mbabbitt – odd attitude isn’t it? But it’s Stevo’s, not mine.

  • Mesa Econoguy

    Oh, and in case you missed it, here are the numbers for subsidizing non-fossil fuels:

    “An even better way to tell the story is by how much taxpayer money is dispensed per unit of energy, so the costs are standardized. For electricity generation, the EIA concludes that solar energy is subsidized to the tune of $24.34 per megawatt hour, wind $23.37 and “clean coal” $29.81. By contrast, normal coal receives 44 cents, natural gas a mere quarter, hydroelectric about 67 cents and nuclear power $1.59.”

    Today’s WSJ, Wind ($23.37) v. Gas (25 Cents)

    Most of these other “sources” die if the subsidy is removed.

  • Stevo

    Ah! Grammatical misunderstanding!

    The world is steered by code in much the same way a ship might be steered by the stars. How an aircraft may be flown by the seat of ones pants. A piano played by ear. Fine adjustments made by eye. A theorem proved by contradiction. A journey travelled by road or rail.

    I’ll admit, I can’t make up my mind now whether you’re serious; whether you really interpreted relatively straightforward English in such a bizarre way unintentionally, or whether it was all supposed to be an obscure-but-clever pun that I just didn’t get. Amusing, anyway.

    I was, as you will recall, talking about whether the science being presented was “the sort of quality data on which you ought to feel comfortable making multi-trillion dollar decisions.” In context, it seems reasonably obvious to me that it wasn’t the science/data making the decision, but people making judgements based on the data. And that as I said, these decisions were being made on the basis of data of insufficient quality.

    So you’re saying you never had a problem with the idea that the IPCC and AGWists might be relying on duff code when advising the United Nations of the World, you just thought I had meant to say the code itself was doing the advising, and you thought that was crazy? And it never occurred to you that in that case I probably meant something else? Do I believe that? 🙂

  • Scientist

    Stevo, if you actually believe the ‘future of the free world’ has anything at all to do with the bit of code you quoted, you’re seriously paranoid and a bit wrong in the head. The fact that you’re struggling to understand this simple point is also telling.

  • Luis Dias

    Stevo rants without sequitur and logic. Scientist at least tries to make a point and provides facts. I can’t even understand why he keeps at it. It’s not like it is a civil discussion without ad hominems and respectful disagreements.

  • Stevo

    My word! Another one! 🙂

    Luis, it will take more than a bare assertion if you want to convince anyone that I argue without logic. The burden of proof here is upon the AGW faithful, and empty assertions carry no weight. ‘Facts’ need to be relevant and correct. And the principle source of ad hominems and foul language around here is the character you seem to be praising. That doesn’t speak well for your judgement.
    Try posting an argument with some intellectual content.

    “Scientist”, when the IPCC provides its guidance to policymakers, do the policymakers pay any attention? If they do, (and I think many of them have,) that looks like a steer to me. When the media and the campaigners seek to influence public opinion and behaviour by presenting NASA’s temperature graphs, are they not seeking to steer society? Do you think they have had no influence over people? When you yourself have posted the same numbers here, have you not been seeking to steer public opinion, that of “passers by”? Or are we not supposed to pay any attention to you all when you point us to these charts and data?

    I find it most amusing that you seem to have such difficulty with basic English comprehension, while at the same time imagining that calling someone “wrong in the head” and “struggling to understand” is the act of a intelligent and mature debater, or someone whose opinion is worth listening to. As I explained to you before, every time you start it, you get dismissed as a not very bright troll, which of course suits me. I find it even funnier that I can even tell you what I’m doing, and you still fall into it every time. I expect you’re going to escalate to incoherent swearing again next. You usually do when you’re losing. 🙂

  • Scientist

    Odd, Stevo, that we’re now arguing about something totally unrelated to the original post. You were obviously so aggrieved at my earlier dismissal of your paranoid ramblings that you just had to bring it up again, regardless of topic. Well, they are still just paranoid ramblings, and rambling on about them doesn’t make them any more sane. You couldn’t provide any evidence to back any of your claims in the original argument. The change of subject is a really lame attempt to hide that.

  • Stevo

    I thought I had explained that earlier. There’s no point in providing you with ‘evidence’ because as your history here demonstrates you’re clearly not interested in any evidence you disagree with, only in dismissing our arguments any way you can. That particular example was only one among many. (And I don’t believe you could have really misunderstood the grammar as you claim.) Calling it names doesn’t change anything.

    You don’t need me to find the evidence. You can easily check for yourself to see if wealth is correlated with energy use per capita, whether the cost/Watt of renewable sources is higher or lower than for fossil, or whether the drop in UK emissions was more to do with the “dash to gas” in the early 90s than it was our building wind farms and making speeches about going green post-Kyoto.

    I don’t actually care whether you believe me, and I’m pretty sure there’s nothing that anyone could say that would change your mind. I was simply telling you that your argument had failed to convince, and why. If you want to adjust your argument in response, you’re welcome. If you want to correct any point of mine you think is wrong or to explain where you think it is misleading, please do. If you think you’ve proved your point, don’t have anything else you think you can usefully add and want to drop it, that’s also OK. Or if you think you have a devastating logical argument that rises above name calling, then go ahead.

    Dismissing something as “paranoid ramblings” isn’t an argument, and repeatedly describing an opponent in debate as not sane, wrong in the head, a bit mental, and so on just makes your case look like it came straight from the playground. Distinctly unimpressive.

    Seriously, I’ve debated a few AGW believers that I had a good deal of respect for. They always strove to raise the level of debate without losing their patience or temper, they acknowledged valid points and areas of uncertainty, and they provided some good solid arguments that I had to acknowledge from time to time. I learnt a lot from them. It’s not impossible.

  • Scientist

    Ha ha! Very rarely does one see someone arguing in all seriousness that presenting evidence is not necessary. It says a great deal for your arguments that you won’t back them. You have offered nothing of substance to this thread for quite some time. Move on, eh?

  • Luis Dias

    Stevo, I meant no disrespect. You presented valid comments, but some ideas are not very bright. This idea that a GW code will “rule the world” may have some valid metaphorical fear, with comic puns at the religious theologies out there that decide things out of the blue. I don’t think that such fear has good chances of becoming true. Data is analysed and criticized. Politics are discussed. People disagree. People debate. Technology evolves, social and political solutions are found. I have no problem with this method. I don’t see the politicians going against the voters if they don’t buy into the scientists’ word.

    Many other posters have been responding very aggressively (and wrongly). I’ve even seen here references of subsidies for renewables. I don’t understand much this hatred against subsidies to the beggining of a new market. That is how the internet began. Worse, that is how the oil market began. That is how the gas market began. Coal. Nuclear. Etc. Why would wind and solar not have the same treatment? Just because they are infants (and the hell with infants?)

    And if you want to compare subsidies, that’s fine by me. A question: how many dollars is the oil REALLY costing to the US, if you have to go to war to secure the market? Trillions? Does it double the cost of the barrel? Triple? I’ve seen calculations that went to 400$/barrel as the true cost of the barrel. How’s that for a subsidy? People are so focused at trying to see mice in the floor that they forget to look at the elephant in the room.

    I agree with you that Fossil Fuels, specially coal, is very important to undeveloped nations. Sadly, its cost is soaring.

    “it will take more than a bare assertion if you want to convince anyone that I argue without logic. The burden of proof here is upon the AGW faithful”

    I simply do not understand your stance on the “code” thing. It seems ridiculous indeed. Could you clarify?

    Last, but not least, the matter of fact is that the poster of the blog has an agenda of nitpicking every goddam error in the scientific panorama about GW in order to create confusion and refute its reputation. Where’s the acknowledged valid points on that? It’s inherently destructive.

    I do understand the why of it, and that’s why I respect it. There’s a feeling that GW advocates are winning the “war” on the people’s minds and certain free-thinkers get angry at the sheepish mood that is embebbed in the “Consensus” tag, and try to snipe it out. I love that, the destructive force of skepticism.

    But one must also keep in mind that this is a skeptic point of view, which means that there is a mainstream view which is more or less coherent, aka GW. The skeptics don’t have to be coherent, they simply snipe everything. Sometimes it’s the GW itself, some other times, they acknowledge GW but say that it isn’t by much, sometimes they acknowledge even that, but argue that it doesn’t matter much. It’s called goalpost changes. And it behaves exactly like Creationism does.

  • Stevo

    Luis,

    Thank you for that. You explain your point of view a lot more clearly now.

    I have not intended any claim that “a GW code will rule the world”. That’s a misunderstanding. What I intended by my phrase was a far more ordinary thing.

    What I was arguing about was whether the science and data used to support the case for AGW was of sufficient quality that it is safe to use it in guidance for setting economic and social policy. Government leaders stand before us calling for action, set taxes and targets, sign international treaties, create markets for carbon credits, and apply pressure in a myriad of ways to try to get everyone to reduce CO2 emissions. The media and a variety of campaign groups seek to influence public opinion to bring about social changes. And all of these changes have economic effects that have been calculated to be on the order of trillions of dollars, affecting the welfare of billions of people. And they do so on the basis of “science” presented by political organisations like the IPCC.

    When you write code to fly a jet aeroplane, or the space shuttle, or a nuclear reactor, the safety implications of getting it right require extreme care and the highest quality. The code is documented and checked and re-checked. It is written following strict procedures and methodologies by people qualified in software engineering so as to minimise the possibility of error. And that’s for cases involving only a few hundred lives. Shouldn’t we be taking just as much care when it’s going to affect billions?

    When the politicians and general public listen to the scientists, they get the impression that the science is so well-established and so carefully checked that it cannot be argued with. And yet much of it is based on methods and data that are of very poor quality. Exactly how much of it was done isn’t very well documented, but a few little bits of it have become visible, and they give cause for worry.

    One particularly prominent temperature anomaly reconstruction, appearing in the IPCC reports and many of the media presentations, is GISTEMP, which is published by a division of NASA called GISS. Because it’s NASA, and because it is produced and endorsed by some of the most prominent of the IPCC experts in climatology, it has a great deal of credibility. It is by no means the only such data, but it is an important piece of the evidence, and it may be considered fairly typical. It is widely regarded as an authority one can cite without having to add caveats by some of the most respected figures in climatology. And yet up until recently the way it was actually calculated was unpublished. There had been a number of requests made of NASA regarding the algorithm, but only some rather vague high level summaries of the method were ever made available, insufficient to replicate the calculations.

    Anyway, it’s a long story, but after various interested parties started to try to work out how the algorithm worked from looking at the data inputs and outputs, and found some glaring errors that had somehow lain undetected by the whole climate community for about 6 years, NASA was eventually forced to publish the actual code. Far from being the high quality software engineering you would expect of a flagship data product from NASA, a product used in the IPCC reports to make a case for drastic social change, it turned out to be of lower quality than one would expect from undergraduate student homework. There is no formal documentation and the comments are few and terse. The variable names are short and cryptic. The program flow is a spaghetti of GOTO statements. It is written using obsolete versions of the language compilers. There are numerous ad hoc fixes and adjustments to get round the many gaps and anomalies in the raw data. There are complicated rounding issues to do with the way numbers are represented. When overlapping temperature series are spliced together, offsets are added to one or other to get them to line up that have unknown effects on the trends. And so on. It’s a mess.

    Now I am far from being obsessive about software having to be well written, and for academic study in a subject area that doesn’t much matter, I probably wouldn’t bother. SMPs and SCRs and regression tests are boring. I’d probably hesitate to publish on the basis of it myself, but I wouldn’t get anal about it if it sometimes happened. But this is the end of the world as we know it they’re predicting here, or so Al Gore and Ted Turner would have us believe. This is the most important crisis of our generation, possibly the most important threat to civilisation since the black death. You would have thought, wouldn’t you, that it was important enough that they could employ a dozen or so software engineers and statisticians to make sure the code was done right, so that we could know that the data is correct?!

    Now you may be right, and maybe the leaders of the world won’t really march us all off the cliff, or we won’t really follow them or whatever. But it won’t be for want of trying on the part of the AGW campaigners at the IPCC. In any case, I hope you would agree that for your statements “People disagree. People debate.” to be true, sceptics are needed and they need to be allowed to voice their views freely in public debate. If those views are of poor quality and unconvincing, so be it. And if the pro-AGW scientists’ arguments are also of poor quality, then people really ought to be told about that, too.

    I can talk about some the other issues you mention too, if you like, but I’d like to deal with things one at a time. Otherwise the argument diverges all over the place and nothing gets dealt with properly.

    Do you understand what I mean now about the “code” thing?

  • Scientist

    Ah yes, of course, it’s our fault for ‘misunderstanding’, not yours for saying something idiotic and then backtracking.

    So rather than GISTEMP being used to control the future of the world as you initially claimed, you now just think that the code used to produce it has too many GOTO statements in it, and variable names that aren’t what you’d choose to call them? And you think this somehow means that all of climate science is on shaky ground? Does it mean that the 40% rise of CO2 concentrations does not affect the radiative balance of the atmosphere? That glaciers aren’t actually receding? That arctic ice is not shrinking rapidly? That sea levels are not rising?

    What you can’t seem to get your head around is the wealth of observational evidence showing that global warming is happening. Even if it were impossible to measure the surface temperature accurately, we’d still know that the temperature was rising. But it is very possible, and we can see that GISTEMP is accurate because it is independently corroborated. Or do you also think that HadCRUT3 is wrong? And RSS? And UAH?