Matt Ridley: Lukewarmer

Matt Ridley has a quite remarkable article in the Times called My life as a Lukewarmer (extensive exerts here). I’ve written about Lukewarmers before, but I had not realised – until I read Matt Ridley’s article – how difficult things must be for such people. It does seem as though being a Lukewarmer is a tough and arduous path.

Matt Ridley’s article starts with

All the fury must mean that my arguments are hitting home, or efforts would be made to demolish them rather me.

What? I thought he was a science journalist, not a scientist. Normally science journalists talk to scientists and then write articles that present our current understanding of a topic; they don’t really have ideas of their own. I guess they can develop their own interpretations, but that’s normally what’s done for editorials, not for people who are writing about science. If Matt Ridley thinks science journalism is about developing your own ideas about science, then I think he’s doing it wrong.

Matt Ridley goes on to say

I think recent global warming is real, mostly man-made and will continue but I no longer think it is likely to be dangerous and I think its slow and erratic progress so far is what we should expect in the future.

Well, this might start to explain some of the problems Matt Ridley is having. He’s perfectly entitled to believe that warming in the future will continue to be slow, and that global warming will not be dangerous. One might even argue that this is technically consistent with the evidence, since the evidence doesn’t rule out that climate sensitivity will be low. The problem is, though, that the evidence does not suggest that it is likely that climate sensitivity will be low enough that warming will continue to be slow if we choose to follow a high (or even moderate) emission pathway.

So, just because Matt Ridley’s view is not inconsistent with the evidence, doesn’t mean that his view is a fair representation of the evidence. I’ve seen a number of people argue that because their view is consistent with the evidence, that their view is somehow correct. What this often ignores is that the evidence actually suggests that they are more likely to be wrong than right.

Matt Ridley then points out

My middle-of-the-road position is considered not just wrong, but disgraceful, shameful, verging on scandalous. I am subjected to torrents of online abuse for holding it, very little of it from sceptics.

To be fair, much of the online debate can be abusive and unpleasant. I don’t really have a problem with people not being happy with that; I’m not. On the other hand, Matt Ridley’s blocked me on Twitter and I don’t remember being abusive. I’ve certainly been critical of what Matt Ridley has said, but I don’t think I’ve said anything that would be regarded as particularly extreme. Of course, I’ve blocked plenty of people, so I can’t really bring myself to criticise others who do the same (unlike Andrew Montford, who seemed to criticise my blocking people without acknowledging that he’d blocked me).

To be honest, I’m halfway through what I was going to say and can’t really be bothered going much further. Matt Ridley’s article just continues in the fairly standard pseudo-skeptic way: the “pause”, models, past exaggerations (some of which appear to be serious problems that we chose to solve, rather than problems that were exaggerated), the hockey stick, climategate.

I know Matt Ridley won’t want any advice from me, but here goes anyway. If he is serious about how he is treated because of his views with respect to global warming, what he should really do is go and talk to as many scientists as possible; not just those few who say things consistent with the Lukewarmer position. Choose scientists who aren’t high-profile and who he hasn’t encountered before. Ask questions and actually listen to their responses. If he did this and did it properly, he might discover that the reason people respond to his views as they do is not really because they don’t like what he is saying, but because they’re tired of him continuing to present views that are largely wrong.

Of course, he could just be using his Times column to tone troll those who disagree with what he says; another example of professional ClimateballTM.

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633 Responses to Matt Ridley: Lukewarmer

  1. dana1981 says:

    What’s really irritating is that he complains people attack him instead of his arguments – but his arguments are just a bunch of myths that have been debunked repeatedly for years (hockey stick and Climategate? Really??). If somebody keeps making arguments that have been repeatedly disproven, yes, of course you then start to question their motives.

  2. Dana,

    If somebody keeps making arguments that have been repeatedly disproven, yes, of course you then start to question their motives.

    Yes. I’ve heard people comment that Matt Ridley always remains polite. Well, that is nice, but remaining polite while ignoring people’s critiques of what you’re saying isn’t nearly as commendable as one might think.

    jsam,
    Thanks, I hadn’t seen that. Bob Ward seems to have a remarkable skill of irritating those associated with the GWPF.

  3. Hans Erren says:

    It’s a travesty.

  4. and here we go again

    Ridley (who is qualified as a scientist) should Do His Job and Faithfully Report what Real Scientists say

    Nuccitelli and Ward (who are not so qualified) can report whatever drivel they like, and are under no obligation to talk to experts

    double standards, anyone?

  5. Richard,

    Ridley (who is qualified as a scientist) should Do His Job and Faithfully Report what Real Scientists say

    Yes.

    Nuccitelli and Ward (who are not so qualified) can report whatever drivel they like, and are under no obligation to talk to experts

    No.

    Incapable of presenting an actual argument again?

  6. jsam says:

    Bob Ward was my Tol clickbait. It worked. :-))

    Shame Matt “King Coal” gets so much science wrong for a science writer. “Middle of the road”? Do us a favour.

  7. Rachel M says:

    I like what George Monbiot said about Ridley way back in 2007:

    … whenever a conflict arose between his scientific training and the interests of business, he would discard the science. Ignoring hundreds of scientific papers which came to the opposite conclusion, and drawing instead on material presented by a business lobby group called the Institute of Economic Affairs, he argued that global temperatures have scarcely increased, so we should stop worrying about climate change(4). He suggested that elephants should be hunted for their ivory(5), planning laws should be scrapped(6), recycling should be stopped(7), bosses should be free to choose whether or not their workers contract repetitive strain injury(8) and companies, rather than governments, should be allowed to decide whether or not the food they sell is safe.(9) He raged against taxes, subsidies, bail-outs and government regulation. Bureaucracy, he argued, is “a self-seeking flea on the backs of the more productive people of this world … governments do not run countries, they parasitise them.”(10)

    http://www.monbiot.com/2007/10/23/libertarians-are-the-true-social-parasites/

  8. Richard Mallett says:

    Well, I can’t speak for Matt Ridley, and I don’t read newspapers; but for myself, since the latest global temperatures from NCDC and GISS show temperatures rising since 1880 at 0.65 C per century, or 0.66 C per century, respectively, it’s difficult to see what all the fuss is about.

    Since 1880 the globe has cooled (1880-1911), warmed (1911-1944), cooled (1944-1956), paused (1956-1976), warmed (1976-1998) and then paused again, while CO2 has been steadily increasing.

    The global temperature now is comparable (as far as can be determined) to the Medieval Warm Period, and other periods of the Holocene, with much lower levels of CO2 (and, needless to say, they did not lead to extinctions of polar bears and penguins, which some have been warning us about)

    If those are among the arguments that have been repeatedly disproved, then I would like to know.

  9. John Hartz says:

    I highly recommend that everyone take a couple of minutes to read the op-ed linked to below.

    Although its topic is not directly related to the OP, it is definitely indirectly linked — plus I could not find a more appropriate thread to make this comment on.

    Is a Climate Disaster Inevitable? by Adam Frank, Sunday Review, New York Times, Jan 17, 2015

  10. Rachel M says:

    And I’ll just add that abusing Ridley is a colossal waste of good web space. He should be completely ignored by the human race.

  11. Richard,

    NCDC and GISS show temperatures rising since 1880 at 0.65 C per century, or 0.66 C per century, respectively, it’s difficult to see what all the fuss is about.

    Whether you’re fussed or not is entirely up to you. Bear in mind that if we continue along a high emission pathway we could double anthropogenic forcings in the next 30-40 years.

    Since 1880 the globe has cooled (1880-1911), warmed (1911-1944), cooled (1944-1956), paused (1956-1976), warmed (1976-1998) and then paused again, while CO2 has been steadily increasing.

    Yes, and we largely understand why this is. Whatever you may have read on pseudo-skeptic blogs, it’s not just CO2 that can influence how we warm.

    The global temperature now is comparable (as far as can be determined) to the Medieval Warm Period, and other periods of the Holocene, with much lower levels of CO2 (and, needless to say, they did not lead to extinctions of polar bears and penguins, which some have been warning us about)

    Hmm, we’re probably warmer now than we’ve been for about 2000 years. Penguins?

  12. Joseph says:

    In general lukewarmers remind me of the Neoconservatives here in the US. Not necessarily their politics but the fact they are considered more moderate than either of the major parties and accept some ideas from both sides, while at the same making arguments that don’t always make sense (like their foreign policy) and seem intended to meet their desired policy goals regardless of their validity.

  13. jsam says:

    There was no globally synchronous MWP. Try again.
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v6/n5/full/ngeo1797.html

    The 30 year HadCRUT4 trend, the minimum for climate, is 0.17C per decade – right where models said it would be.

  14. austrartsua says:

    I haven’t read his article yet (he usually posts them to his blog about a week after publication) so I will read ATTP’s article fully then. However I will say one thing, based on the first paragraph of ATTP’s article. Ridley has a PhD in zoology from Oxford. If that doesn’t qualify someone as a scientist, I don’t know what does. Why can’t he be a scientist and a science journalist? This distinction you are trying to make is totally artificial. Of course he can have his own opinions, in fact you don’t even need a PhD for that!

  15. jsam says:

    “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.” – RW Emerson.

    Matt’s inverted persecution complex is a hoot.

  16. austrarta,

    Ridley has a PhD in zoology from Oxford. If that doesn’t qualify someone as a scientist, I don’t know what does.

    I didn’t say he wasn’t a scientist, but he’s not a practicing scientist.

    Why can’t he be a scientist and a science journalist?

    Well, he could be, but he isn’t being. If he wants to be a scientist, do some science. Just because he has a PhD in a science area doesn’t mean that when he has an opinion that differs from that of most relevant scientists that he’s suddenly doing science.

    This distinction you are trying to make is totally artificial.

    I disagree. A science journalist with a PhD is still a just a science journalist.

    Of course he can have his own opinions, in fact you don’t even need a PhD for that!

    Of course he can, as can we all. He can also be wrong.

  17. Michael Hauber says:

    In the ideal world it would be the science journalists job to accurately write about the science. In the real world media outlets are rewarded for publishing stuff that people want to read and so the most successful media outlets are those that are the best at hiring and promoting journalists who are entertaining or comforting or controversial or whatever it is that people want to read/listent/watch etc.

  18. Nathan says:

    He needs to actually define what being a Lukewarmer is. It’s currently just a marketing ploy.
    He needs to define it and make predictions. That would be science.

  19. Catmando says:

    Austrartsua, did he ever have a job as an actual,working scientist, doing science to earn his living. As I read his bio, he went from PhD to The Economist as a journalist and never again has he done work as a scientist. Do you see the distinction? He trained as a scientist. It’s like saying Monckton is a classicist when all he did was a degree in Classics.

  20. > Ridley has a PhD in zoology from Oxford

    Of course he doesn’t. What an awful solecism.

    > If that doesn’t qualify someone as a scientist

    Nothing “qualifies” you as a scientist. A scientist is someone who does science, not a person who has a doctorate. I’ve got a doctorate (from Oxford, yey!) and I *was* a scientist for 17 years but now I’m a software engineer. Its not some stamp from God that stays on you forever.

    Wiki gets it about right, as ever: “…is a British journalist who has written several popular science books”.

    FWIW, a “lukewarmer” is someone who accepts the science, kinda sorta except everything on the low side, y’know, and who thinks Al Gore is fat and hates Michael Mann. Fits ’em all.

  21. Richard Mallett says: “since the latest global temperatures from NCDC and GISS show temperatures rising since 1880 at 0.65 C per century, or 0.66 C per century, respectively, it’s difficult to see what all the fuss is about.

    That would be 0.8°C per century and 1 degree Celsius since 1880.

    The main problem is also not the warming we had up to now, but the warming that is still coming.

    This is a good illustration of the strategy of Matt Ridley and many mitigation sceptics, first make a clearly wrong statement, get corrected, cry about persecution.

    I guess they pay a large reputation price, but apparently it is worth it.

    There was just an item on the radio about self-cybermobbing. People who create sockpuppets to attack themselves, typically to get other peoples attention. Negative attention is better than no attention. In the first survey on this amount 18 year old American youth, 15 % self reported has tried this strategy.

  22. Yes. Wiki gets it right, of course.

  23. I know how important these things are to you Oxford graduates 😉

  24. guthrie says:

    When someone writes “No longer think it will be dangerous” it’s a good idea to ask when they thought it was going to be dangerous. As far as I can remember, back a decade and more, Ridley has always been anti-science on this matter and has never given a hint of ever actually understanding the science.

    Also being a Zoologist doesn’t make you a climate expert. It certainly doesn’t give you so much of a grounding in the physical sciences. Oddly enough his name doesn’t come up on the British LIbrary Ethos PhD dissertation digitalisation project; usually they have a note at least of PhD’s even if they don’t have access to it. It would be interesting to see what work he was doing back then, but bear in mind it was before the genetic revolution etc.

  25. toby52 says:

    Richard Mallett said:
    The global temperature now is comparable (as far as can be determined) to the Medieval Warm Period.. If those are among the arguments that have been repeatedly disproved, then I would like to know.

    Jeez, I though even deniers had given up on the good old MWP. Peter Sinclair did a good 5-minute video on it.

  26. Vinny Burgoo says:

    guthrie, his PhD was on pheasant polygamy.

    (Does anyone want to see a video of pheasant necrophilia?)

  27. Vinny,
    DPhil!

    (Does anyone want to see a video of pheasant necrophilia?)

    No, I don’t think anyone wants to see that and – if they do – that’s what Google is for.

  28. guthrie says:

    Vinny – that’s oddly appropriate, given the kind of people that go and shoot them.

  29. jsam says:

    guthrie – pheasant or peasant? It”s easy to confuse them in the murk.

  30. guthrie says:

    Come now, you wouldn’t expect scientists to study peasants, that’s the job of lefty sociologists. Real scientists and gentlemen of leisure study sporting birds.

  31. > pheasant necrophilia?

    You’re not thinking of the classic http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/sillymolecules/papers/duck.pdf are you?

  32. Ian Forrester says:

    > Ridley has a PhD in zoology from Oxford

    Of course he doesn’t. What an awful solecism.
    —————————————–
    Ridley seems to think he has a PhD

    My PhD was “The Mating System of the Pheasant.” I was still on birds. The zoology department at Oxford had quite a strong team in molecular genetics, but also had a strong whole-organism side. That was the direction I was very interested in, ecology and behavior studies.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1200669/

  33. BBD says:

    Rachel – thanks for the link to that Monbiot article about parasitic libertarians and the true nature of Matt Ridely. Well worth a read.

  34. BBD says:

    It doesn’t matter if Ridley has a PhD or not (unless he doesn’t but claims he does). What matters is that he is not a climate scientist but merely an opinionated libertarian who doesn’t understand that lukewarmer fantasies are incompatible with paleoclimate behaviour.

  35. guthrie says:

    Oops, in default of any actual real argument from him, we’ve devolved to insults. Ah well.

  36. T-rev says:

    ” respectively, it’s difficult to see what all the fuss is about.”

    RCP 8.5, Precautionary Principle etc

    My (applied) Science degree is old and maybe I worked with way too many Engineers but one thing they used to do that I thought was a good idea was over design. eg a bridge

    We should apply the same thinking to our World, eg designing for a 4m sea rise and hoping for 1m. As Professor Richard Alley keeps stating, the uncertainty is not your friend.. If we design for 0,8m and it’s 2m like Professor Wanless suggests…

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/rising-sea-levels-could-make-florida-residents-climate-refugees-1.2871710

    Sea level rise appears to be accelerating, a doubling of the 1,.5mm the IPCC suggested suggest n the last couple decades, if it doubles again and again ? Here in Australia, the QLD Government is removing the ability to account for ANY sea level rise in development decisions

    How do we handle the hundreds of millions or billions of climate refugees that we’ve been advised are a consequence of our actions ? Shoot them ? What happens when Sao Paulo runs out of water ?

    http://peakoil.com/forums/s-america-s-largest-city-on-verge-of-collapse-t70392-440.html

    If (when ?) it gets to 4, what do the Scientists say ?

    “Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute and climate adviser to the German Chancellor and to the EU, has said that in a 4-degree warmer world, the population “carrying capacity estimates [are] below 1billion people” ”

    My “alarm” is in the complete lack of any applied prescience based on what the people (Scientists) who look at this stuff are telling us… Horrible as a couple people getting shot at in a magazines office is, the world goes crazy… WHO already estimates 150,000 a year killed by climate change.

    http://www.who.int/heli/risks/climate/climatechange/en/

    Wrong colour skin in the wrong part of thee world ?

    I am off to read more at Professor Kevin Anderson’s Blog and depress myself over the inaction 🙂

    http://kevinanderson.info/blog/full-global-decarbonisation-of-energy-by-2034-and-probably-before/

    My main grip though i with those who understand and accept the Science not actually mitigating. Until that start to happen and reaches a significant minority we’ll never have any effective action on the national or international level. It’s like smoking, knowing it’s bad for you and continuing… and then claiming others need to give it up..

    and that’s what the fuss is about…

  37. Vinny Burgoo says:

    WMC: No. That’s a fascinating article but this was heterosexual necrophilia by Phasianus colchicus. Filmed over two days on one of my estates last year. (The estate that, mostly for historical reasons, we call The Back Garden.) Interestingly, he preferred to copulate with the dead hen’s head.

    The camera was behind him on the few occasions that he went at it from the right end and, with his hunched shoulders and rhythmic shuddering, he looked like a crazed pianist.

  38. Joshua says:

    ==> “Yes. I’ve heard people comment that Matt Ridley always remains polite. ”

    Indeed. What could be more polite than calling environmental researchers currupt?

  39. Craig says:

    It seems even God has an opinion on being a ‘lukewarmer’:

    ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.’

    Revelations 3:16

  40. Michael 2 says:

    ATTP: “I’ve written about Lukewarmers before, but I had not realised how difficult things must be for such people.”

    Difficult only in the case that a lukewarmer is trying to persuade someone to NOT have a point of view. It is necessarily nuanced; taking any extreme point of view is easy but taking a more nuanced point of view requires a bit of study and decision making.

    “Normally science journalists talk to scientists and then write articles that present our current understanding of a topic; they don’t really have ideas of their own.”

    I would like an example so I have some idea what you mean by “science journalist”. I imagine that Scientific American ought to be an example but their reporters certainly seem to have ideas of their own. It can be a bit subtle; as in choosing what stories to report as a proxy for their own ideas.

    Scientists also are not supposed to have ideas of their own, but it seemed like a good idea to have a bunch of Australians write how horrified they are. Maybe the religions should take a page from that playbook (okay, they already have http://www.mormon.org/me/4tm7)

  41. Michael 2 says:

    BBD says: “What matters is that he is not a climate scientist”

    Name three. I don’t mean for you to name three physicists, meteorologists or anything like that. I mean three with a PhD in climatology.

  42. Magma says:

    My heart is breaking. I read Viscount Ridley KG GCVO TD DL FRSL FMedSci DPhil’s tragic tale of woe, abuse and swimming against the tide and realized how cruel I’ve been in those (very) few but (very) hurtful moments I thought of him.

    In the spirit of kindness I will try to think of him no more.

    PS. I hope he gets his bank back. And that the other Viscount fellow is nice to him.

  43. John Mashey says:

    Greg Laden’s compendium on Ridley leads me to a summary:
    There are no bank bailouts for *intellectual* bankruptcy.

    Put another way, in the real world (although not the punditocracy), people build credibility accounts. Somebody who’s often been early, and proved later to be right, gains much.
    Making mistakes in complex situations is forgiven, and correcting errors applauded.

    Being determinedly wrong, again and again, on basics of fields far outside one’s own expertise, puts one deep in intellectual debt, to the extent that NO one should ever pay any attention until they rebuild credibility by undoing the damage they did. They never get to just ignore the past, there is no bank bailout or Chapter 11 to cancel the past.
    Ridley by now is now around negative infinity, which would take a lot of work to cancel.

    (For instance, if someone had made a career of cigarette companies, and downplaying secondhand smoke … they don’t get to say: “Well, I was wrong, but here’s how public health should be done” and expect anyone to listen to them for a long time.)

    This is an interesting combination:
    http://www.iea.org.uk/in-the-media/press-release/matt-ridley-wins-iea-free-enterprise-award
    http://www.tobaccotactics.org/index.php/Institute_of_Economic_Affairs
    http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9197731/vape-alarm/ E-cigarettes are making tobacco obsolete. SO why ban them?
    http://www.desmogblog.com/2014/01/28/familiar-think-tanks-fight-e-cigarettes
    http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/tobacco-denial-and-pesticide-alarm.aspx

    If there is a group that privatizes the profits and socialize the damages, Ridley seems to like it., right with certain think tanks.employed to give pseudo-academic cover.

    If people think Ridley is a scientist, presumably they’d have gone to Michael Crichton for medical treatment. If they think field experience is irrelevant, surely they will choose a brain sugeon to do open heart surgery for them.

  44. Michael 2 says:

    jsam says: “Matt’s inverted persecution complex is a hoot.”

    Say what? Is an inverted persecution complex a “praise complex”? Fears that people love and praise him?

  45. Michael 2 says:

    On other news, I watched the movie “Snowpiercer” and am favorably impressed. It is about trying to mitigate global warming and producing a snowball earth. Written as a comic book in the 1980’s by two Frenchmen. Amazingly prescient.

  46. dana1981 says:

    Richard Tol says,

    Ridley (who is qualified as a scientist) should Do His Job and Faithfully Report what Real Scientists say

    Nuccitelli and Ward (who are not so qualified)…

    Wait, what? I’m actually a scientist, whereas Ridley is a writer. I’ve actually published peer-reviewed climate science papers, whereas Ridley has not. Now, I don’t call myself a climate scientist; I defer to the experts and communicate what they say. Ridley on the other hand only reports what a few select (mainly GWPF) scientists say. But in any case, I’m far more qualified to talk about climate science than Ridley is. Bob Ward probably is too.

    At least Tol was right in one of his comments – here we go again indeed.

  47. Rob Painting says:

    By taking the time to address Ridley’s bogus arguments about climate science, bloggers infer there is actually some merit to the nonsense that he writes. Anyone unfamiliar with him should just be referred to George Monbiot’s articles about him. Either the one linked to by Rachel above, or one like this: The Man Who Wants to Northern Rock the Planet.

    If climate trolls want to complain about ad homs who cares? Ridley’s own actions and words have damaged his credibility more than anyone else could hope to accomplish.

  48. @Dana
    I seem to recall this recent piece on the economics of climate change in the Guardian. You cited a lot of non-economists. You also misquoted two economists.

  49. Richard,

    You also misquoted two economists.

    Really? Who who misquoted?

  50. jsam says:

    The topic is Matt, not Dana. Do not let Tol troll.

  51. harrytwinotter says:

    Matt Ridley sounds like another fake expert with opinions and a lot of PRATTs.

  52. jsam,

    The topic is Matt, not Dana. Do not let Tol troll.

    Yes, good point.

  53. jsam says:

    It is fascinating to see a right wing economist defend a man who broke a bank that was rescued by the state.

  54. Rachel M says:

    Matt Ridley makes my blood boil. The more I read about him and the more of his stuff I read, the more unbelievable he is. George Monbiot has the best stuff on Matt Ridley. Here’s another quote:

    … men like Fred Goodwin and Matt Ridley are left in peace to count their money while everyone else must pay for their mistakes(4).

    http://www.monbiot.com/2012/05/07/a-monstrous-proposal/

    And then I read part of his Times article (not the whole thing as I’d never pay to read a word of his shite) where he shamelessly discusses his landowner status and the money he receives from being a landowner. Perhaps it’s my Australian heritage but the snobbery and the lack of humility and the shamelessness and the complete lack of responsibility for his role in the failure of Northern Rock are appalling. How can he face his family everyday or look at himself in the mirror or expect anyone to take him seriously any more? It’s astonishing.

  55. @jsam
    I indeed am not interested in Dana’s prowess as a journalist. I used this to illustrate the double standards of Wotts.

  56. jsam says:

    @Tol
    I am not interested in your excuses for vendettas. I used this to illustrate your hypocirisy.

  57. Richard,

    I indeed am not interested in Dana’s prowess as a journalist. I used this to illustrate the double standards of Wotts.

    Yes, I got that. I have double standards because when I write something criticising someone you like, I don’t also criticise those you don’t? I’ve written and deleted the next part of this comment so many times, I’ll just stop and let everyone else determine for themselves the merit of Richard’s argument.

  58. Nick says:

    You got it in one: Ridley is a troll, a well-paid public troll.
    He trades on his degree, and connection to Britains oligarchs.
    His arguments are well documented to be well debunked.
    He repeats them from a range of lobbyist and conservative media soapboxes.
    He has that cheeky attitude, ‘if I raise hackles I must be right’, that is seen in more than a few politicians. They like to infuriate, these ‘conviction’ politicians. And falsify history: his arguments have been often debunked, but he frames those debunkings as personal attacks.
    That he should block you on Twitter for politely puncturing his ‘arguments’ tells you he is a bad-faith actor.
    He knows how to keep a poker face and deliver articulate facile nonsense for his backers.
    Thus I disagree with John Massey’s ‘there are no bank bailouts for intellectual bankruptcy.’ Ridley is bailed out constantly by the bank of lobbyists and spin doctors that employ him.

  59. Rachel M says:

    Comparing Ridley, with his parasitic errors, to Dana is insulting to Dana so let’s drop it.

  60. verytallguy says:

    Well, I for one, have a lot of sympathy for Matt, and I can’t understand why anyone would pick on him. It must be because he’s right and has hit a raw nerve.

    After all, if you imagine someone (not Matt, obviously) who:

    – was in charge of the UK’s bank with the worst risk management track record of all time, a position gained through nepotism
    – ignores almost all expert advice on the risk management of climate change
    – was nepotistically appointed to the UK parliament as a conservative
    – is closely politically aligned and socially aligned to leading conservative climate change deniers
    – is one of the UK’s largest owners and extractors of coal, on land he inherited
    – is paid to promote climate change denial syndicated to a political lobby group promoting climate change denial in a newspaper owned by a climate change denier

    then I’m sure they’d get a much more open reception

  61. verytallguy says:

    Tol is attention seeking. Again.

  62. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    If you haven’t taken our survey yet, now is a good time: [Mod : removed link to survey that apparently does not have proper ethics approval.]

  63. Andrew Dodds says:

    Rachel –

    That would be the good old class system alive and kicking..

    Even with Ridley’s ‘genuine’ achievements.. he goes from Dphil in Zoology to Science Editor of the Economist in one year. I’m sure that was an open, competitive position and not contacts driven at all.. This is how the system works – no doubt he will have convinced himself that his hard work was the entire reason. People do this – no one wants to admit that luck had a part in anything positive that happened to them. Whilst the very fact that they consider themselves super-competent means that they’ll attribute anything bad that happens to bad luck and external factors.

  64. verytallguy says:

    Andrew,

    it is very instructive to look at the backgrounds of “Fred the Shred” Goodwin (RBS), and Ridley (Northern Rock), then compare their fortunes post-crash.

    Fred was publicly humiliated and had his knighthood removed.

    Matt was appointed to the House of Lords unremarked.

    You have to be impressed, in a strange sort of way.

  65. jsam says:

    Take Tol’s survey, respond to the next PPI seller – and win a real live unicorn.

  66. Andrew Dodds says:

    @Tol

    Is this approach something you teach in ‘Advanced research methods for economics (PhD econ)’? ‘Cause if it is, I reckon a lot of your students should be asking for a refund.

  67. Rachel,
    Yes, well said.

    vtg,
    Yes, I’ve also been amazed by the difference between how Goodwin and Ridley were treated post crash.

  68. Andrew Dodds says:

    @vtg

    I’m not sure that public humiliation works on someone with no apparent capacity for self-criticism.

    Personally, I think the only fitting punishment for these guys would be to be stripped of all money, identity, and family connections and set to live on benefits in one of the less glamorous Northern cities. I’m sure that they would be able to quickly work their way back up, what with their Randian-Superman abilities. If they didn’t starve to death when their benefits were sanctioned, because they didn’t spend 30 hours a week looking for non-existent jobs..

    (This kind of think can get me a bit worked up.. can you tell?)

  69. rational troll says:

    M2
    “Amazingly prescient.” I couldn’t possibly agree more. Snowpiercer is the most amazing documentary I’ve ever seen. The first thing I did afterwards was to go out and find someone who would sell me a ticket to ride on the magical perpetual motion train. Now I must admit that it was difficult, but I did eventually find this one geezer, I even managed to beat the price right down, what a sucker.

    So I’m just getting ready to go, I’ve packed my favourite trolley bar for the revolution, and a stack of adult diapers and wet wipes, I imagine toilet paper is probably pretty hard to come by at the end of the world.

    Ooops, I’d better go, that “THE END IS NIGH” sandwich board isn’t going to wear itself.

  70. verytallguy says:

    ATTP,

    it’s a democracy, right?

    Matt Ridley was voted into parliament with an electorate of 90 aristocrats. It’s possible to be voted in with an electorate of as few as two people. (for non-Brits, I assure you, this is actually true. I know it sounds like fantasy)

    Our democratically elected House of Commons yesterday voted on and had a self-congratulatory debate on how to fast track women Bishops into parliament to be able to vote on laws I have to follow. ‘Cos MPs are so progressive.

    According to Wiki, 18 current government ministers went to the same school. Ridley, by amazing coincidence, also attended.

    Oldest democracy in the world, right?

  71. vtg,
    Yes, you don’t need to convince me that there are some rather strange idiosyncrasies in our democracy. I was listening to Radio 4 this morning and they had some kind of panel discussing democracy and how it should work. It included some members of the public and some MPs. What amazed me is that they couldn’t even really agree on what defined a democracy. Of course, the conservative party MP felt first-past-the-post was fine as it allowed for accountability (couldn’t quite work out how). There was one MP who was honest enough to admit that even though he was happy to be an MP, it was rather concerning that 67% of those who voted in his constituency, didn’t vote for him.

  72. Andrew Dodds says:

    aTTP

    Indeed..

    There is an argument for local constituencies – simple PR with party lists puts far too much power in the hands of the parties, at least with local MPs you can vote individuals out, at least until the next safe seat comes up. However, there are much better ways of achieving this than FPTP. AV would have done a bit (and ironically defused the Conservative’s UKIP problem). But that ran into ferocious Establishment opposition.

    The real fun with voting percentages happens when you take account of non-voters. If you randomly selected 30 people (including children) in the UK, you’d expect 5 Conservative voters, 3 Lib Dem voters and 4 Labour voters from 2010. It would be interesting to get them in a room to explain why the 8 Con/Lib voters should have the power to make laws for everyone.. (never mind the 2005 election where the 5 Labour voters would have the same power).

  73. lord sidcup says:

    @verytallguy

    “Matt Ridley was voted into parliament with an electorate of 90 aristocrats.”

    You are giving Ridley far too much credit. 48 hereditary peers were eligible to vote, and 46 voted. Ridley won with 24 votes seeing off a challenge from Douglas Hogg who got 11 votes. Hogg is the disgraced ex-MP claimed moat cleaning on parliamentary expenses. Ridley must have been very proud of his achievement.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21358553

    I call myself a lord as well, btw.

  74. Andrew,
    I think Scotland and Wales get around that by having top-up lists. You still have constituency politicians, but you also have a list of extra candidates who get appointed to ensure that the representation is proportional. Someone on Radio 4 criticised this by arguing that it creates coalitions. As far as I’m concerned, if that is how our populations is split, that’s how it should be. Having a voting system that is more likely to allow a party to govern when that is not how the population would have voted proportionally, does not seem particularly democratic.

  75. verytallguy says:

    Imperfect as the House of Commons is, at least in principle it is possible to change representation by popular vote. Even those in ultra safe constituencies are not immune (Neil Hamilton knows this).

    Ridley, on the other hand, has a nepotistic right to rule over us and the public are entirely disenfranchised from the process.

    Ask yourself if he’d even win a safe seat given his background. I think not.

  76. verytallguy says:

    sid (I don’t recognise titles :-)),

    I stand corrected. I couldn’t be arsed to look up the exact figures, I didn’t think Ridley was worth it.

  77. izen says:

    @-“I think recent global warming is real, mostly man-made and will continue but I no longer think it is likely to be dangerous …”

    There are very limited options to make this a logically consistent position.
    These aren’t some of them.

    1)Warming has been slow and erratic so far so not dangerous and any possible emissions scenario for the future will not change this slow and erratic progress to make it dangerous.

    2)I know of secret plans to severely limit emissions within the next 20 years which will ensure that there is very little further warming, although I do concede the present levels will persist and sea level rise will continue. However it will not be dangerous.

    3) Human ingenuity and adaptability will convert any dangerous problems into an opportunity for further GRowth! Danger is in the mind of the timid, the brave and resourceful can weather any change in climate. Why look at my career, I was responsible for a major financial institution that faced danger, people cried it was a disaster, catastrophic, but everything got bailed out and look where I am now!

    @-“…now is a good time.”

    WHY is now a GOOD time ??

  78. Andrew Dodds says:

    @izen –

    4) It’s unlikely to be very dangerous for Eton graduates, who are the ones that really matter.. Indeed, for landowners whose land is more than ~10 meters above sea level and therefore likely to go up in value when SLR really kicks in, it’s a multi-generational bequest..,

  79. jsam says:

    Coalitions are better governments, they have fewer disasters than “decisive” government.
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Blunders-Governments-Anthony-King/dp/1780742665

  80. guthrie says:

    Part of the difference between the treatment of Goodwin and Ridley can surely be attributed to the fact that Goodwin was CEO, i.e. directly overseeing the operations and strategy of the bank, whereas Ridely was Chairman of the board, the board being what oversees the likes of executive officers. I.e. he was too high up the hierarchy to have a clue what was going on or was not aware; his sins were probably seen as being by omission, whereas Goodwin was certainly sinning by commission.
    But the British owning class has a long history of being treated differently from people who have only just worked their way up.

  81. verytallguy says:

    guthrie,

    McKillop was the equivalent at RBS. He apologised and slid quietly into obscurity.

    I don’t see him subsequently ennobled or lecturing us on risk management.

  82. guthrie says:

    Jsam – if by blinders you mean recession extending economic policy and deliberately grinding the faces of the poor in the dirt, as well as continuing disastrous privatisation and PFI projects, then I don’t think that can be right.
    That book is on my to read list, I’ll wait until it is in paperback.

  83. izen says:

    @-Andrew Dodds

    Yes, democracy is meant to be the least worst way of avoiding the dominance of the few and spread accountability. But it can get ‘captured’ by the ruling elite. The quote from The Hitch Hikers Guide seems appropriate in these days of rising inequality, –
    ” Many men, of course, became extremely rich. But this was perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of, because no one was really poor – at least no one worth speaking of.”
    D Adams.

  84. andrew adams says:

    Yes, Ridley has a science degree so has more scientific credentials than, say, me. He is also a fairly successful science writer so one might have some expectation that he could write with some authority about scientific matters. Which is why he is given a prominent platform to air his views and is treated by some as a “serious” skeptic. I’m sure many of us who would like to have our views given similar exposure and treated as seriously.

    But the corollary of that is that he is opening himself up to criticism, especially given that he is expressing views which are somewhat controversial. And some of that criticism will inevitably touch on his credibility to pronounce in the topic in question, as well as his opinions themselves, especially so given his involvement with the GWPF. None of the criticism I’ve seen (and to be fair there is no doubt much that I haven’t) has been unreasonable.

    His victim playing, although not quite as egregious as what we saw last week from certain “skeptic” quarters in the wake of the atrocities in Paris, is pretty pathetic – he just comes across as a petulant whiner. If people want to be “players” in the political battle over climate change policy they should be prepared to take some flack, albeit with certain limits.

  85. Andrew Dodds says:

    @izen –

    The problem being, of course, that we voted the wrong lizards in.

    Me, I’d have people put up for election on the same basis as jury service..

  86. ligne says:

    “Matt Ridley was voted into parliament with an electorate of 90 aristocrats. It’s possible to be voted in with an electorate of as few as two people. (for non-Brits, I assure you, this is actually true. I know it sounds like fantasy)”

    just to clarify an important but often-confused point: the Dungeons and Dragons rule-book was based on the British constitutional set-up, not the other way round. not a lot of people know that.

  87. victorpetri says:

    Bleh, all this Matt Ridley bashing is disgusting.

  88. BBD says:

    Michael 2

    Name three. I don’t mean for you to name three physicists, meteorologists or anything like that. I mean three with a PhD in climatology.

    Climate scientists study climate science professionally, as a career. They have a body of published studies in reviewed climate science journals. This is what makes them climate scientists, not the topic of their PhD thesis.

    RIdley is not a climate scientist and is not therefore qualified to dispute the findings of an entire field.

  89. Nick Milner says:

    > Bleh, all this Matt Ridley bashing is disgusting.
    And it’s proving his point, quite admirably. Some of the comments above are embarrassingly childish.

  90. vp,

    Bleh, all this Matt Ridley bashing is disgusting.

    Yes, poor Matt Ridley. Everyone keeps criticising him. What’s he ever done to deserve that?

  91. BBD says:

    victorpetri

    Bleh, all this Matt Ridley bashing is disgusting.

    It is necessary. He pushes himself into the public view and is loudly, insistently wrong. Much like you, in fact, but on a grander and more troubling scale.

  92. ligne says:

    vp: “Bleh, all this Matt Ridley bashing is disgusting.”

    why? he insists on speaking out about a subject he clearly knows very little about, not least because he is apparently incapable of fencing it off from his political views. sounds like a perfectly justified target of criticism.

  93. Nick,

    And it’s proving his point, quite admirably. Some of the comments above are embarrassingly childish.

    In what way is it proving his point? That he is regularly criticised? Sure, so what? As far as I can tell, it is deserved.

  94. jsam says:

    Vp defended Junior too. And attacked Greenpeace. It’s a hat trick for vp.

    guthrie – you’d enjoy the book. I heard King speak just before Christmas. He said he’d completely changed his mind over the last few years. He’d sold British democracy and it’s first past the post yeah-boo sucks form of democracy as the finest in the world. But, increasingly, he realised it put ideologues into power who institute expensive flavour of the week policies paid downstream.

    So King wrote his book about British failures. He had to cull a long list down. As part of his research he went to his European counterparts for their stories. What caught him was there were none. Unlike Britain where we can reel a few off there they stumbled trying to think of one.

  95. Joshua says:

    Now I’m not a climate scientist :-)…..so maybe someone can help me out.

    Matt says:

    “…and I think its slow and erratic progress so far is what we should expect in the future….”

    Given that emissions are growing at an accelerated rate, if you accept the basic physics of the GHE – which I imagine Matt would say that he does – then how could the “slow and erratic progress” so far be what we should expect in the future? I could see an argument it’s possible that even with an accelerated rate of emissions, due to low sensitivity it still shouldn’t be a concern…

    but if Matt accepts the basic physics of the GHE – which I imagine that he would say that he does – then wouldn’t Matt necessarily be expecting an accelerating rate in the future?

  96. Sam Taylor says:

    Can we stop calling Ridley a science writer. The Rational Optimist is either a tragedy or a comedy, depending on how black you like your laughs.

  97. Joshua says:

    vp –

    ==> “Bleh, all this Matt Ridley bashing is disgusting.”

    Why?

    Is it because you find “bashing” in general to be disgusting (and if so, where do you hang on the Internet without regularly being disgusted?)

    Or is there something about the nature this “bashing’ in particular that disgusts you, or is it just a matter of the target?

  98. ligne says:

    “RIdley is not a climate scientist and is not therefore qualified to dispute the findings of an entire field.”

    i disagree: he’s perfectly entitled to dispute it. but he might wish to bring more convincing arguments than “the scientists are all big meanies and poopooheads” to the table if he doesn’t want to be mocked for his embarrassing (and apparently uncorrectable) ignorance. especially if he’s going to do it so often, in such a public way.

  99. Joshua,

    Given that emissions are growing at an accelerated rate, if you accept the basic physics of the GHE – which I imagine Matt would say that he does – then how could the “slow and erratic progress” so far be what we should expect in the future? I could see an argument it’s possible that even with an accelerated rate of emissions, due to low sensitivity it still shouldn’t be a concern…

    Exactly. We can increase anthropogenic forcings as much in the next 30-40 years as we’ve done in the last 120 years. If so, we’d expect to warm by the same in the next 30-40 years as we’ve done in the last 120 years. It clearly depends on our pathway and suggesting that it will continue to be slow appears to completely ignore this and seems to ignore the basics that he claims to accept.

  100. ligne,
    I agree with you. Of course he’s quite entitled to do as he wishes. However, he isn’t entitled to do so without criticism. Of course, he is also entitled to complain when he is criticised, but that doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t do so.

  101. Willard says:

    > His victim playing, although not quite as egregious as what we saw last week from certain “skeptic” quarters in the wake of the atrocities in Paris, is pretty pathetic – he just comes across as a petulant whiner.

    I’d rather say an honest broker.

    Speaking of quarters, the Charlie thread was the best thread ever at Judy’s. This comment won:

    The parallel between the moral issues involved in Charlie Hebdo and those trying to silence free speech in the West is not perfectly congruent. But it is close enough to be useful.

    Alarmists have called for skeptics to face Nuremburg trials, go to prison, ad absurdium. Alarmists have killed their children and then themselves in a chilling echo of Jonestown. Alarmists have committed suicide by cop at the Discovery Channel headquarters. They trash archaeological treasures, agitate against cheap energy for the poor in South Africa and tell skeptics ‘we know where you live.’ The issue is serious enough to warrant comparison with what happened in Paris, if not exactly the same.

    It is the alarmists who say that climate change is a species survival issue. And they are the ones who want to shut their opponents up. The fact that violence has been mostly absent is luck, nothing else.

    Alarmists do want to shut Judith Curry et al the hell up. And if they can’t do that yet, they will trash her reputation, calling her a delayer, denier, incompetent, or even showing up at her weblog and clogging up the discussions with their trollery.

    The ethical parallel is that neither radical Islamists nor CAGW prophets of doom will engage in honest debate with their opponents. Demonisation is sufficient for their cause. They are not trying to win an argument in either case. They are trying to hammer their opponents into submission.

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/01/11/charlie-challenging-free-speech/#comment-663210

  102. jsam says:

    Thank you, Willard. I love to read a bit of faux outrage. It’s my very favourite sort!

  103. verytallguy says:

    Willard,

    tempted as I am to pile on to the criticism of Judy’s thread, could I ask that we don’t overflow it here? It’s bad enough over there.

    You could always ask ATTP to host a guest post if you wanted to open it up.

  104. Willard,
    I didn’t read all of the Charlie thread over at Judith’s, but some of the comments were quite amazing (as was the whole post, really). I had missed the comment you highlight. I think you’re right, that is clearly the winner.

  105. vtg,
    Yes, you make a good point. I actually would rather we didn’t discuss the Charlie issue here.

  106. Andrew Dodds says:

    @ligne –

    That’s terrible offensive to the perfectly rational world of D&D with it’s simple and consistent rules..

    @vp, @Nick Milner

    It might help to tell us disgusting and childish alarmists which of our comments are, well, disgusting and childish, and why. After all, we are here to learn.

  107. victorpetri says:

    @Joshua
    It is the matter of target. Having read 2 of his books, and many of his blogs, I have come to learn and appreciate Ridley’s views on many subjects. Although I definitely do not agree with everything he says and I am not a libertarian, it does strike me that Ridley holds his views in good faith; he argues what he does because he believes it to be the best. Whether he is right is a whole different matter, but all these ad hominem attacks, to see his name and his background ridiculed and these assumptions of bad character are really just unworthy, childish and disgusting.

  108. vp,
    Well, I disagree. I think someone’s background can be relevant when it speaks to their assessment of risk, their ability to take advice from experts, and their tendency to blame others for their own failings. You may want to sweep all of that under the carpet. Maybe you should ask yourself why.

  109. verytallguy says:

    vp,

    all these ad hominem attacks, to see his name and his background ridiculed and these assumptions of bad character

    citation needed, Victor. I have posted facts on the thread, and they are all fair comment and directly relevant to Ridley’s credibility as a commenter on climate, IMHO

    If you feel otherwise, why not show us specifically which you object to, and why, otherwise you’re just ad-homming the ad-hommers.

    I agree that Ridley’s evolution books were good.

  110. Willard says:

    > Having read 2 of his books, and many of his blogs, I have come to learn and appreciate Ridley’s views on many subjects.

    That VictorP shares with MattR’s lukewarm affinities has nothing to do with any of this.

  111. Rachel M says:

    And it is precisely comments like VictorPetri’s most recent one that makes me think we should continue to expose Matt Ridley’s errors and his failure to acknowledge and correct them. At my place of work, it’s ok to make mistakes; but it’s not ok to fail to acknowledge and correct them.

    Monbiot writes:

    But if no one else is prepared to call him out on this, he will continue to get away with both the disavowal of his own record and the denial of his glaring mistakes. And he will continue to deceive the growing band of people who are treating his book as the self-justification they have always sought. Paradoxically, many of them are the same people who, devoted to free market principles, have been denouncing both the evil bankers who trashed the economy and the governments who bailed them out. If they knew a little more about Dr Ridley’s interesting attempt to put his theories into practice, they might be less ready to believe his misleading assertions.

    You can read the full article and some of his mistakes here:
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cif-green/2010/jun/18/matt-ridley-rational-optimist-errors

  112. Sam Taylor says:

    In case anyone would like to understand why Matt Ridley is such an indefatigable optimist, even in the face of overwhelming data, I would direct them to the following paper:

    http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/v14/n11/full/nn.2949.html

    It’s not his fault if his brain is incapable of properly filtering negative data. I think it’s quite likely that people with this [Mod: Disrespectful] would feature disproportionately highly in the skeptic community. It might also explain why there seems to be a pretty big crossover between climate skepticism and peak oil denial. I’m not sure how much research has been done into the neuroscience/psychology of people’s reactions to issues like climate change, but I’m sure it would be a fruitful research area.

  113. Rachel M says:

    Rob Painting linked to another of Monbiot’s articles upthread which, in case Victor hasn’t read, I’ll paste the first two paragraphs here. They ought to be pasted all over the web:

    Brass neck doesn’t begin to describe it. Matt Ridley used to make his living partly by writing state-bashing columns in the Daily Telegraph. The government, he complained, is “a self-seeking flea on the backs of the more productive people of this world … governments do not run countries, they parasitise them.”(1) Taxes, bail-outs, regulations, subsidies, intervention of any kind, he argued, are an unwarranted restraint on market freedom.

    Then he became chairman of Northern Rock, where he was able to put his free market principles into practice. Under his chairmanship, the bank pursued what the Treasury select committee later described as a “high-risk, reckless business strategy”(2). It was able to do so because the government agency which oversees the banks “systematically failed in its regulatory duty”(3).

    On 16th August 2007, Dr Ridley rang an agent of the detested state to explore the possibility of a bail-out. The self-seeking fleas agreed to his request, and in September the government opened a support facility for the floundering bank. The taxpayer eventually bailed out Northern Rock to the tune of £27bn.

    Source: http://www.monbiot.com/2010/06/01/the-man-who-wants-to-northern-rock-the-planet/

    Who exactly is the self-seeking parasite in this example? Clue: It isn’t the government.

  114. andrew adams says:

    Willard,

    I must admit that the distinction between “honest brokers” and “petulant whiners” is a pretty fine one ; )

    I couldn’t face reading that thread at Judy’s – I could see how it was likely to play out and judging by that comment you quoted I was absolutely right. I won’t say any more than that on the subject given our host’s injunction, but I do think that it was relevant to raise it WRT the point about victim playing.

  115. Rachel M says:

    And I’ll also add that I despise, absolutely despise, the fact that people in positions of privilege can abuse and take advantage of this without a care for anyone else and also that who your parents are or what school you went to is somehow important or relevant when you apply for a job.

  116. Rachel M says:

    And it’s worth pointing out, in case anyone missed it, that Matt Ridley wrote his book in which he “attacks the ‘parasitic bureaucracy'” AFTER he fucked things up at Northern Rock and was forced to beg and grovel the parasite for a bailout. Does he mention this in the book?

  117. Nick Milner says:

    [Mod: Edited comment this refers to]

  118. verytallguy says:

    Go Rachel!

  119. victorpetri says:

    @Rachel,
    Yes he does mention it in his book, in fact, in his opening remarks, since the book rational optimist just came out after the bank failure.
    The failure of companies is an essential part of the workings of a capitalist free market, governments should not have bailed them out, but you can hardly blame him for trying.

  120. vp,
    Classic. It’s the government’s fault for doing what he asked them to do? They should have known better and ignored him? Hold on, you may actually have a point.

  121. Joshua says:

    vp –

    Thanks for that response:

    ==> ” I have come to learn and appreciate Ridley’s views on many subjects. Although I definitely do not agree with everything he says and I am not a libertarian, it does strike me that Ridley holds his views in good faith; he argues what he does because he believes it to be the best.”

    I think that the trait of arguing what [they] do because [they] believe it to be the best characterizes mostly everyone in this discussions, which then leads me back to wondering why you seem to find the bashing of this particular target to be notably disgusting.

    ==> ” it does strike me that Ridley holds his views in good faith…”

    I’m not sure how you come to assign that trait to Ridely as opposed to his bashers. I have found it to be rather characteristic of Ridley to assign guilt by association, impugn the motives and integrity of people he disagrees with, to play rhetorical games, etc. That does not match my view of “good faith” engagement.

    ==> “Whether he is right is a whole different matter, but all these ad hominem attacks, to see his name and his background ridiculed and these assumptions of bad character are really just unworthy, childish and disgusting.”

    I think that you’re drama-queening there. If you were disgusted by ridicule and assumptions of bad character, you’d be in more or less a permanent state of disgust whenever you spend time on a climate-related blog…and I get the sense that you spend time at climate-related blogs a fair amount. Why would you willfully expose yourself to so much that you find disgusting?.

    But….I agree that ad homs, ridiculing of background, and assumptions of bad character are sub-optimal, and IMO more an indication of identity battles than well-reasoned discussion of science and related policy.

  122. jsam says:

    “The failure of companies is an essential part of the workings of a capitalist free market, governments should not have bailed them out, but you can hardly blame him for trying.”

    Yes, you can blame him for trying. £27B of lemon socialism and nurses on near pay freezes?. Too right he can be blamed.

  123. Nick Milner says:

    Apologies for my previous comment (and I recognise and appreciate that you also edited the comment that provoked my bad behaviour.) Let me come at it from another angle: The lead author of that paper, Tali Sharot, states that the optimism bias affects 80% of us, so it’s a rather crude stick with which to attack any particular person.

  124. BBD says:

    Rachel

    Does he mention this in the book?

    If you mean The Rational Optimist, then yes he does, once, on p.9. He says that Northern Rock was:

    […] one of many banks that ran short of liquidity during the crisis.

    And:

    This is not a book about that experience (under the terms of my employment there [Northern Rock] I am not at liberty to write about it).

    Then he distinguishes between markets in capital and assets (prone to irrational exuberance and consequent dyspepsia) and those in goods and services, which he claims are efficiently self-regulating. He states explicitly that capital and asset markets “need careful regulation, something I have always supported”.

    Then he goes on to blame government for the extent and severity of the crash:

    But what made the bubble of the 2000s so much worse was government housing and monetary policy, especially in the United States, which sluiced artificially cheap money towards bad risks as a matter of policy and thus also towards the middlemen of the capital markets. The crisis has at least as much political as economic causation, which is why I also mistrust too much government.

    The last sentence is a monument to Ridley’s self-serving illogicality. It was a failure to regulate sufficiently wisely or well that allowed the disaster to occur. A failure of too little government and too much unrestrained greed and risk-taking by “the middlemen of the capital markets”.

  125. victorpetri says:

    @Joshua
    That is dishonest of you, you all do not hold his views to be in good faith.
    Do you guys discuss any sentence I write? I am not about to start a discussion whether or not I am disgusted.

    @attp
    Hate the game, not the player.

  126. Joshua says:

    vp –

    ==> “especially in the United States, which sluiced artificially cheap money towards bad risks as a matter of policy and thus also towards the middlemen of the capital markets.”

    I consider that to be pretty much the epitome of bad faith arguments. He’s ducking responsibiilty – by mischaracterizing (through selectivity in his rhetoric) the causes of the financial crisis.

  127. vp,

    Hate the game, not the player.

    It’s got nothing to do with hate. It has to do with whether or not someone’s past is relevant to what they say and do today. I would argue that your “disgust” at what some have said here (all of which I understand to be true) might suggest that it’s hard for you to argue that it isn’t, or else you wouldn’t really care. Bear in mind, noone has actually said “ignore what he says on climate change because of what he’s done before” – that would be an ad hom.

  128. Sam Taylor says:

    It doesn’t matter if it affects 99% of people, a bias is still a bias, and thus it’s still legitimate to criticise his beliefs if they seem to exhibit this bias. I would describe Ridley as almost pathologically optimistic. If anything, research like this certainly puts his claim to being “rational” to the test. The psychology of self deception is a powerful force.

  129. vp,

    I am not about to start a discussion whether or not I am disgusted.

    Then maybe don’t say things like

    to see his name and his background ridiculed and these assumptions of bad character are really just unworthy, childish and disgusting.

  130. jsam says:

    Sorry, ATTP, I do tend to fall into the “ignore what he says on climate change because of what he’s done before” camp. He’s out of his field of expertise. He’s broken a bank. He’s cost me money. I think he can reasonably be ignored on climate change – and just about everything else.

    Reputation counts.

  131. jsam,
    That is a fair point. Of course you could nuance it by pointing out that you can also ignore what he says on climate change because it’s mostly wrong 🙂

  132. victorpetri says:

    @attp
    Hate the game, not the player, was aimed at Northern Rock being saved by public money.

    @joshua
    The governments housing policy is very often named as one of the main causes of the crisis.

    My take on all this is that the importance of crisis is way underrated. IMO these cyclical events are absolutely essential for a healthy economic system. As hard as it seems, these events are essential for moving forward many crucial policy, behavioral and economic changes as well as disposing of ill-run companies.

  133. jsam says:

    vp – why should Ridley’s incompetence not count against him? He should not hold any office again, private or public.

    We should indeed learn from cycles – and not allow the incompetents back onto the playing field. By doing so we have shown we have failed to learn from history and condemn ourselves to repeat it.

  134. lord sidcup says:

    Ridley’s article is now available on his website. Going back to my early comment, I note he says he refuses green subsidies as a matter of principle, yet his principles don’t prevent him taking a seat in the house of lords on the basis of an inherited title and pocketing the accompanying state-funded daily attendance allowance.

    He also states “When I first started writing about the threat of global warming more than 26 years ago, as science editor of The Economist, I thought it was a genuinely dangerous threat…. Gradually, however, I changed my mind.” I know for sure Ridley was downplaying AGW as early as 1993:
    “Global warming, too, has shot its bolt, now that the scientific consensus has settled down on about a degree of temperature increase over a century-that is, little more than has taken place in the past century.”
    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2013/01/13/the-australians-war-on-science-81-matt-ridleys-20-year-old-wrong-prediction/

    1 degree per century is pretty much the same line he takes now, and so his change his mind hardly seems gradual, but who can be bothered to look at back copies of The Economist to find out what Ridley was saying about AGW 26 years ago.

  135. izen says:

    @-vtg
    “I agree that Ridley’s evolution books were good.”

    I don’t.
    His biology tends to be only slightly less dubious than his climate science.
    It tends to the sociobiology that ends up using genetic determinism to justify the status quo
    Now where else does that tendency to use the science to defend current practise appear…..

    Richard Lewontin, now IS a good writer on biology, evolution and genetics, and just won the Crawford prize.
    http://www.crafoordprize.se/press/arkivpressreleases/thecrafoordprizeinbiosciences2015.5.3110ee8c1495db7443260c7.html

  136. Steven Mosher says:

    Matt isnt being Lukewarm enough.

    At some point if he really wants to earn his lukewarmer badge he has to spend more time
    correcting the junk that skeptics put out. then he will really get it from both sides.

  137. verytallguy says:

    Izen

    I don’t.
    His biology tends to be only slightly less dubious than his climate science.

    My approval is, to be fair, based on ignorance. I might buy myself Lewontin’s with my Christmas money.

  138. victorpetri says:

    @jsam
    We should definitely not exclude people that are involved in failed companies, what a stupid idea. By some estimates 90% of all start ups fail, most first companies of entrepreneurs fail.
    Corruption might be reason for permanent exclusion, not incompetence.

  139. Sam Taylor says:

    Those of you advocating allowing the banks to fail are treading dangerous ground. The problem we had was that the investment arms were too intertwined with the commercial. If they’d been allowed to fail then there is a genuine risk that global payment systems could have siezed up and crashed global trade in very short order (this very nearly happened – look at the baltic dry shipping index around then). It is not too far from the realms of possibility that we could’ve seen things like supermarkets being emptied of food within a week (most major cities have 3 days of food on hand) and things getting progressively nastier from there. The global financial system is essentialy the OS of the networks which supply us with our daily needs, and allowing it to crash would be harmful in the extreme.

    Now, I agree totally that allowing this situation to develop was foolish in the extreme, and the way the bailouts have been contucted is likely far from ideal, but hindsight tends not to be all that useful in the middle of a crisis.

  140. Andrew Dodds says:

    @vp

    ‘Creative destruction’ indeed.

    Yet it bears repeating that the 1945-73 period of growth – with the financial sector nailed down – saw huge improvements in living standards for the majority, full employment, large scale innovation (admittedly as a mix of commercializing WWII new tech and cold war projects) and a distinct lack of crises. Now, whilst accepting that bad companies have to go bust, I could also suggest that having this happen via a chaotic financial crisis that also obliterates otherwise-viable companies is not the best way. A hurricane will take down the rotten trees, but it’ll also take down a lot of unlucky ones.

    On the other hand, these crises provide an opportunity for those with established wealth to acquire assets at knockdown prices.

    The question is, do these crises actually result in longer term growth? That’s a pretty important question to establish.

  141. Michael 2 says:

    T-rev says: “We should apply the same thinking to our World”

    There is no “our” world and there is no “should”. As Master Yoda says, do, or do not.

    “How do we handle the hundreds of millions or billions of climate refugees”

    Any way you wish, or not at all. Why do you believe it is your mandate to “handle” anyone? What is likely-to-certain is that Great Britain, likely also Australia, won’t be their destination. India, on the other hand, will likely continue to experience overpopulation problems.

  142. izen says:

    @-vp
    ” IMO these cyclical events are absolutely essential for a healthy economic system. As hard as it seems, these events are essential for moving forward many crucial policy, behavioral and economic changes as well as disposing of ill-run companies.”

    …and decrease the surplus population.
    C. Dickens.
    http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f5239

    @-lord sidcup
    “He also states “When I first started writing about the threat of global warming more than 26 years ago, as science editor of The Economist, I thought it was a genuinely dangerous threat…. Gradually, however, I changed my mind.”

    I doubt he ever touted it in writing as anything more of a threat than was fashionably acceptable at the time in the Economist.
    But claims of conversion are an old technique to bolster the ‘sincerity’ and legitimacy of your opinion. It purports to show that they have shared your point of view, but had the flexibility of mind to think about the issue clearly and change their views to a better and truer position. Which they are now only to willing to share with you….
    “I too was a sinner… but now I am SAVED!”

  143. victorpetri says:

    @Andrew

    I guess that is the main question then indeed.
    I dare note that preceding 1945 there was a quite thorough “creative destruction”.
    Further, global improvements of living standards are bigger now, than they were back then, just as innovation is way faster now, than then.

    Interesting story:
    The Russian Kondratiev was one of the first describing these cycles in the twenties of last century.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolai_Kondratiev
    He wrote that these cycles were intrinsic to capitalism and that every downfall would be followed by an even greater ascend, conclusions not appreciated in Marxist Russia so he ended his life before a firing squad.

  144. BBD says:

    victorpetri

    Corruption might be reason for permanent exclusion, not incompetence.

    Once again, you seem peculiarly resistant to the actual argument being made so I will repeat it.

    Ridley is not a climate scientist. He is not professionally competent to make trenchant public statements contradicting the scientific consensus. So one has to ask why he is doing this, and the answer is readily supplied by his ideological orientation. The same appears to be true of you, which presumably explains your willingness to defend Ridely’s indefensible public statements about CC/AGW.

  145. BBD says:

    Is ‘c**ruption’ an auto-moderation trigger word? I quoted vp above and the comment got whacked.

  146. John Hartz says:

    Speaking about the ability of Western democracies to address manamde climate change…

    “How depressed would you be if you had spent more than 40 years warning of an impending global catastrophe, only to be continually ignored even as you watch the disaster unfolding?

    “So spare a thought for Jørgen Randers, who back in 1972 co-authored the seminal work Limits to Growth (pdf), which highlighted the devastating impacts of exponential economic and population growth on a planet with finite resources.

    “As politicians and business leaders gather in Davos to look at ways to breathe new life into the global battle to address climate change, they would do well to listen to Randers’ sobering perspective.

    “The professor of climate strategy at the Norwegian Business School has been pretty close to giving up his struggle to wake us up to our unsustainable ways, and in 2004 published a pessimistic update of his 1972 report showing the predictions made at the time are turning out to be largely accurate.

    “What he cannot bear is how politicians of all persuasions have failed to act even as the scientific evidence of climate change mounts up, and as a result he has largely lost faith in the democratic process to handle complex issues.”

    ‘It is profitable to let the world go to hell’ by Jo Cofino, The Guardian, Jan 19, 2015

  147. BBD,
    Not that I can see. Not sure why that one got moderated.

  148. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : jsam

    Why do you only look at the last 30 years, when industrialisation has been increasing for centuries, and solar and ocean cycles affect climate over decades ?

  149. Richard,

    Why do you only look at the last 30 years, when industrialisation has been increasing for centuries, and solar and ocean cycles affect climate over decades ?

    The 30 years refers to the length of time you need to consider if you want to determine trends in the surface temperature datasets that are not dominated by short-term variability. 30 years doesn’t allow you to necessarily establish if the trend is anthropogenic, solar, internal variability, but it does allow you to establish if it is most likely there (rather than simply being dominated by noise).

  150. Joseph says:

    VP, I guess we could talk about what Michael Mann may have done over a decade ago and bash him. I think if we were talking about what Ridley said from 10 years ago, I agree it would be a bit over the top. But if you are going to do op ed journalism you should expect your fair share of criticism (bashing).

  151. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : Victor Venema
    Obviously you calculate linear trends differently from the way that Excel 2013 does it.
    As for the increase since 1880, you are obviously rounding up. GISS annual anomaly has gone from -0.21 C to +0.68 C = change of +0.89 C. NCDC annual anomaly has gone from -0.14 C to +0.69 C = change of +0.83 C. Let’s call it an average change of +0.86 C over 164 years = +0.52 C per century.

  152. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : Victor Venema :-

    Sorry, that should be +0.86 C over 134 years = +0.64 C per century. That makes more sense 🙂

  153. jsam says:

    victorpetri said “We should definitely not exclude people that are involved in failed companies, what a stupid idea. By some estimates 90% of all start ups fail, most first companies of entrepreneurs fail.”

    We almost agree!

    Matt King Coal was not a startup entrepreneur. He was a chancer who drove an established bank bust and made me, and other taxpayers, pay for it. I was in three startups. Matt was in none.

    I’m not asking for his incarceration. But to kick him upstairs and give him a platform in The Thunderer to spearhead Murdoch’s anti-science, and to not remember he is a commercial failure, is nigh on unforgiveable.

  154. jsam says:

    Richard – shy 30 years? Because…WMO.
    http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/wcp/ccl/faqs.html#q1

    New here? New to climate science?

  155. jsam says:

    @izen – yes, I hear this all the time. “Once I too believed in your CAGW hypothesis but then I did my own research and realised it was just a pretence for wealth redistribution and sochulism!” Often an Ayn Rand quote follows.

  156. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : toby52

    Craig Loehle, in Time Series Analysis and Climate Change (Lambert Academic Publishing, 2011) used non-tree ring proxies from all over the world to show a MWP from 820 to 1040 and an LIA from 1440 to 1740.

  157. Richard M.,

    Craig Loehle, in Time Series Analysis and Climate Change

    Well, there’s your problem right there 🙂

    I’m not quite sure what your point is. The general view (a few papers notwithstanding) is that the MWP was not globally synchronous and was probably not as warm as we are today. As many have pointed out here before, there is an interesting issue with arguing for a globally synchronous MWP that is as warm as we are today. If this is true, then it suggests our climate is MORE sensitive to changes in external forcings than would be the case were the MWP not globally synchronous and not as warm as we are today.

  158. izen says:

    If you pick your endpoints to cover a round 110 years and exclude the recent ‘hiatus’ the rate of warming is even lower, LESS than 0.6deg C/century!

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/from:1888/to:1998/mean:12/plot/gistemp/from:1888/to:1998/trend

  159. jsam says:

    Loehle agrees it is warmer now.
    More to the point, Loehle agrees it is warmer now.

  160. Michael 2 says:

    John Hartz (quoting Jo Cofino, The Guardian, Jan 19, 2015 writing about Jørgen Randers) “he has largely lost faith in the democratic process to handle complex issues.”

    Did it really take him 40 years to figure that out? The pyramids probably weren’t a democratic project, the aqueducts of Rome might have been slightly democratic.

    Standing in opposition to democratic process is the “Great Man theory”. Whether the G.M. moves the public by persuasion or command is a detail, but what matters is the G.M.

    In the United States, John F. Kennedy had little scientific training and yet without his persuasion the Apollo project would never have happened. He can command a little and persuade a lot.

    The problem in this context and as I see it is “rivalry” — Jorgen sees one problem and wishes to persuade the public; but he’s not the only one that sees a problem and is persuading the public. Most public education in the United States is at the mercy of the largest union, the NEA, which seems to be rather Marxist in a Santa Claus sort of way. By that I mean that children eventually realize that Santa Claus is a myth (although based on a real person) and all that social justice stuff is just another religion. Global warming is in there somewhere mixed in with the Affirmative Action, Gender Equality and so on — quite a shopping list of things rival for attention and money.

    So the difference that Jorgen Randers makes is “one at a time”, same as me with my community service. One of his students might become a “Great Man”.

  161. Michael 2 says:

    victorpetri “Interesting story: The Russian Kondratiev was one of the first describing these cycles in the twenties of last century.”

    You made my day brighter. I did not know this story but the truth of it seems almost self evident.

  162. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Perhaps it’s time to, once again, remind everyone that Annual Mean Global Surface Temperature is just one of a multiple metrics that can be used to measure changes in various components of the Earth’s climate system over time.

  163. John Hartz says:

    Michael 2: “No man is an island.”

  164. Joshua says:

    vp –

    ==> “@Joshua
    That is dishonest of you, you all do not hold his views to be in good faith.

    ???

    I am questioning whether he engages in good faith.

    No doubt, there are some who think that he offers viewpoints that he doesn’t actually believe. That seems highly unlikely to me. I don’t see many people engaged to the degree that he is engaged who, IMO, are lying about their actual beliefs.

    I still think that your “disgust” is drama-queening.

    Ridley engages in bad faith. And others respond in like manner.

    Sameolsameol.

    I don’t understand why you would find their behavior “disgusting,” and not his – or why you would find this particular bad faith exchange notably disgusting.

  165. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : ATTP

    So 30 years is the absolute minimum, right ?

  166. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : jsam
    New here. New to climate science since reading Craig Loehle’s book in 2011.

    So if we look at 1944-1976 GISS anomaly went from +0.14 C to -0.12 C and NCDC anomaly went from +0.22 C to -0.08 C. An average of -0.28 C in 32 years, or -0.88 C per century. So I guess the media were correct in those days in warning us about global cooling ?

  167. jsam says:

    @Richard –

    You should listen to Richard Alley’s discussion about how he grew up with global cooling.

    His 2009 AGU talk is a classic.
    ametsoc global cooling

    You might want to read more from Ametsoc about your global cooling myth.
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2008BAMS2370.1

    You will save yourself, and everyone else, quite a lot of bits if you first show some scepticism about your views.

  168. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : ATTP

    The point is that (a) Michael Mann’s opinion is not the only one in town; and (b) the MWP and LIA may have been part of a long term cycle (Loehle says about 1470 years) and (at least some of) the present warming may be that we’re still recovering from the LIA. The other point (on which we seem to agree) is that the industrial era warming is about +0.64 C per century, which is less than the cooling rate when we were being warned of an impending ice age.

  169. jsam says:

    Apologies. . I shall correct a link.

    Richard Alley’s 2009 AGU talk is a classic.

  170. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : jsam

    Loehle told me that it’s very difficult to compare proxy temperatures with instrumental temperatures. What did he tell you ?

  171. jsam says:

    @Richard Mallett –

    Why is it very difficult? Why then did he do it?

    Why do you put so much stake in an outlier?

    On his 2007 paper:>/b>
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/new-remperature-reconstruction-vindicates.html
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Kung-fu-Climate.html
    https://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/vindication/

    On the man:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craig_Loehle#Climate_change_research

    “In 2004, Loehle published a study which concluded that “global and northern hemisphere temperature will drop on century scale in the next 20 years.” Not yet….

    “A 2009 paper by Loehle reported that the global oceans had been cooling since 2003.” Just wrong. http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/

  172. dhogaza says:

    Micheal 2:

    ““How do we handle the hundreds of millions or billions of climate refugees”

    Any way you wish, or not at all. Why do you believe it is your mandate to “handle” anyone? What is likely-to-certain is that Great Britain, likely also Australia, won’t be their destination.”

    In other words, since poor countries rather than first world countries will suffer most from CO2 emissions that are dominated by emissions from first world countries, there’s not problem.

    Screw them,eh?

  173. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : jsam

    That video makes my point very precisely. If we take the whole of the global temperature record, and not just our favourite parts of it, then yes, the globe is warming at about +0.65 C per century. All we have to decide now is whether that is something that is good or bad for the planet, or whether it doesn’t make much difference. On balance, I personally would prefer to have lived in the MWP than in the LIA. Polar bears and penguins are welcome to disagree 🙂

  174. dhogaza says:

    Richard Mallett:

    Assume Loehle is correct. What are you left with? This “comforting” comparison?

    Not that there’s any reason to believe that Loehle’s “global” reconstruction isn’t overwhelmingly dominated by northern hemispheric data …

    “Loehle told me that it’s very difficult to compare proxy temperatures with instrumental temperatures.” – so? “difficult” is not “impossible”, and the comparisons have been made, and the conclusions pretty simple to understand from the above graph.

    And as jsam has said above, Loehle’s track record is abysmal, overall.

  175. ligne says:

    Richard Mallett: “Craig Loehle, in Time Series Analysis and Climate Change (Lambert Academic Publishing, 2011) used non-tree ring proxies from all over the world to show a MWP from 820 to 1040 and an LIA from 1440 to 1740.”

    aaah, a work which was of such a high academic standard that he couldn’t decide which of the many interested publishing houses to go with, so he decided on a vanity press (that doesn’t even appear to carry out basic copy-editing) instead.

  176. BBD says:

    Richard Mallett

    The warming isn’t going to stop unless CO2 emission are curtailed. It’s the ‘isn’t going to stop’ bit that should catch at your attention.

    Glib remarks about misrepresentation of the MCA aren’t really an appropriate way of addressing the key issues.

  177. Richard M.,

    So 30 years is the absolute minimum, right ?

    No, but it’s a pretty standard time interval.

    The point is that (a) Michael Mann’s opinion is not the only one in town; and (b) the MWP and LIA may have been part of a long term cycle (Loehle says about 1470 years) and (at least some of) the present warming may be that we’re still recovering from the LIA.

    Yes, obviously Michael Mann’s opinion is not the only one in town. Why would you possibly think that it was. Loehle’s talking rubbish if he thinks there is evidence for a 1470 year cycle or any plausible physical mechanism that could produce such a cycle.

  178. Tom Curtis says:

    Richard Mallet:

    “So I guess the media were correct in those days in warning us about global cooling ?”

    No, it would not have been correct! In the 1970s (strictly, 1965-1979), 62% of relevant papers predicted warming, while only 28% predicted cooling. The media, to the extent that it ran stories suggesting global cooling without indicating the majority scientific view was that, despite the decades long cooling trend, we would soon face rapid global warming due to the greenhouse effect, was failing in its duty as the fourth estate. It was not reporting facts, but the copy that would sell the most papers (or magazines). However, as it happens there was plenty of reporting of the warming by media as well – the opposite impression being created by cherry picking.

  179. jsam says:

    I’m pleased to hear you agree the planet is warming and is warmer now than for probably millennia..

    Seeing as it’s warmer now than either the LIA or MWP, and continuing to warm, you really don’t have a choice, although I’m pleased you’ve expressed a preference.

    The published literature does find that warmer isn’t better. Here’s a summary.
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-positives-negatives.htm

    And the rate of warming is of particular concern. Civilization grew up in a period of relatively stable climate, with overall gentle cooling. That stability is disrupted.
    http://news.stanford.edu/news/2013/august/climate-change-speed-080113.html

    Enough Loehle, eh? Good call.

  180. BBD says:

    RM sez:

    The point is that (a) Michael Mann’s opinion is not the only one in town; and (b) the MWP and LIA may have been part of a long term cycle (Loehle says about 1470 years) and (at least some of) the present warming may be that we’re still recovering from the LIA.

    The climate isn’t a bouncing ball, RM. It doesn’t ‘rebound’ so some previous, ideal state. It responds to a net change in forcings. Currently, it is responding to a dramatic increase in forcing from CO2.

  181. dhogaza says:

    It is clear, though, why RM leans on Loehle and dismisses various other reconstructions – that deep LIA in the graph I posted above, which allows the naive and unphysical “perhaps we’re still recovering from the LIA” dismissal of modern climatology.

  182. toby52 says:

    [i]Craig Loehle, in Time Series Analysis and Climate Change (Lambert Academic Publishing, 2011) used non-tree ring proxies from all over the world to show a MWP from 820 to 1040 and an LIA from 1440 to 1740.[/i]

    Deniers always cite the one and only study that feeds their fantasy! 🙂 Single study bias at its best. Michael Mann’s may not be the only opinion in town, but he has the sheriff on his side in the form of the US National Academy of Science, and most of the world’s palaeoclimatologists.

    Incidentally, I also checked the GISS temperature record between 1944 and 1976, and found a warming rate of +0.015C/ decade. A flat period in the temperature record, rather than “global cooling”, I suggest. But by choosing endpoints to suit a certain bias, you can “prove” nearly anything.

  183. Willard says:

    > All we have to decide now is whether that is something that is good or bad for the planet, or whether it doesn’t make much difference

    https://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com/do-not-panic/

  184. jsam says:

    The world was cooling until the industrial revolution. Funny that.

    “Recovering from the LIA due to a cyclical surfeit of rainbow butterfly unicorns kittens.”

  185. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : jsam

    Thank you for the links. They seem to show that scientists disagree (based on different proxies) on the timing and severity of the MWP and LIA, not (as was Toby52’s claim) on the existence of the MWP itself.

    As far as Loehle’s predictions, Hansen and the IPCC have made a host of predictions which have failed to come true.

  186. Michael 2 says:

    dhogaza “In other words, since poor countries rather than first world countries will suffer most from CO2 emissions that are dominated by emissions from first world countries, there’s not problem. Screw them,eh?”

    As you say. I hope, but do not expect, that someone here — the worlds smartest or at least above average in intelligence — can declare a solution rather than restate the problem.

    But it should not be stated in terms of “we” because “we” do not control 7 billion people. What can you do, what are you doing? Saying “we” is the easy way out when it means “y’all think up something!”

  187. jsam says:

    You’ve agreed that there was no globally synchronous MWP. And you’ve agreed it’s warmer now. Sir does not need a larger spade, sir needs to stop digging.

    Hmm. Ocean cooling is stupid. Surface cooling is stupid. Outside Slayers and Goddard there isn’t much of a poorer track record.

    Hansen’s 1988 stuff was pretty good.

    The IPCC tends to underestimate the effects.

    Try again.

  188. guthrie says:

    Ah, so it’s turned into the Educate Richard Mallett thread has it?

  189. pbjamm says:

    Richard Mallet : “The point is that (a) Michael Mann’s opinion is not the only one in town”

    nor is Craig Loehle. Perhaps a broad view of all scientific opinions would be in order.

  190. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : BBD

    ‘It isn’t going to stop’ is another one of those predictions, when we have been through cooling, warming, cooling, stasis, warming and stasis in the last 130 years. What is your prediction based on ? Evidently not (or not only) ‘past performance’ of global temperatures.

  191. @Richard Mallet.

    Given that atmospheric CO2 has risen from 270ppm to 400ppm in the last 150 years or so (the highest it’s been for at least 800,000 years), the warming we’ve seen is what we’d expect. So before you offer alternative explanations, I’d very much like to hear your explanation as to why the warming isn’t the result of the additional CO2.

  192. BBD says:

    Richard Mallet

    What is your prediction based on ?

    Radiative physics and paleoclimate behaviour.

  193. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : jsam

    Lots of ‘may’, ‘it has been suggested’, ‘can’, ‘is likely’, ‘could’, ‘expected’, ‘widely believed’, ‘appear to be’, ‘predicted’, ‘feared’, ‘possible’ in the skeptical science article, which is neither sceptical nor scientific.

    Stanford expects 5-6 C increase in 85 years, when there has been 0.83-0.88 C increase in 130 years, so we shall see. The IPCC have been revising their estimates downwards.

  194. Richard M.,
    I know you’re being really pleasant, but you are rather repeating a large number of largely debunk pseudo-skeptic myths. I’m not particularly keen for my blog comments to be cluttered up by things that are almost certainly wrong.

  195. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : BBD

    What proportion of the current increase of 0.65 C per century since 1880 has been due to CO2, and what proportion to natural variability ?

  196. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : dhogaza

    ‘Perhaps’ does not constitute dismissal. What caused the LIA ?

  197. jsam says:

    Ah, RM is not familiar with cautious scientists and their argot. This does not bode well. Weaning off wingnut denier blogs can be tricky.

    I also note he can’t actually cite anything specifically or accurately.

    He can;t back up his Hansen assertion. He can’t back up his IPCC assertion. He couldn’t back up his MWP assertion. When challenged he just switches topic.

    There may be a troll here. 🙂

  198. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : toby52

    GISS anomaly 1944 +0.14 C
    GISS anomaly 1976 -0.12 C
    Change -0.26 C in 32 years = -0.81 per century.

    But yes, I prefer to use the whole 1880-2014 period, where the GISS trend is +0.66 C per century.

  199. jsam says:

    I’m now just cutting and pasting from my “laugh out loud at a denier” library.

    Huber and Knutti (2011) quantified that human attribution as being 74% and 122% due to humans (with a best estimate of around 100% human attribution). In other words, natural variability is not responsible for the observed warming trend.
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v5/n1/abs/ngeo1327.html

    Since then, Gillett et al (2012) also examined the human attribution of the warming trend observed. They found that humans are responsible for 102% of observed warming from 1851 to 2010 and 113% of the observed warming from 1951 to 2000 and 1961 to 2010 (averaged together).
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2012/2011GL050226.shtml

  200. BBD says:

    RM

    What proportion of the current increase of 0.65 C per century since 1880 has been due to CO2, and what proportion to natural variability ?

    All of it is anthropogenic.

    See panels (a) and (b):

  201. BBD says:

    RM

    But yes, I prefer to use the whole 1880-2014 period, where the GISS trend is +0.66 C per century.

    This is a very basic error. The trend is in response to forcing change for the period 1880 – 2014. The period 2015 – 3014 will see much greater GHG forcing and so will exhibit a higher centennial trend.

  202. BBD says:

    That should have been ‘the period 2015 – 2114’.

  203. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : johnrussell40

    The warming from 1880-2014 of 0.65 C per century is due (in part) to CO2. Obviously, in the last 800,000 years, there have been ice ages and inter-glacial periods, so there are many other effects on temperature.

    I have heard that, as more CO2 is added to the atmosphere, the effect of each additional 100 ppm on temperature becomes less, so that it’s not a linear relationship.

  204. RM,

    I have heard that, as more CO2 is added to the atmosphere, the effect of each additional 100 ppm on temperature becomes less, so that it’s not a linear relationship.

    Yes, the relationship is logarithmic. That’s why we often talk in terms of doubling CO2. The influence of going from 200ppm to 400ppm, is the same as going from 400ppm to 800ppm. Despite this, if we continue to increase our emissions along the pathway we’re currently following, we can produce the same change in anthropogenic forcing in the next 30-40 years as we’ve done in the last 120 years. That’s why we would expect it to accelerate.

  205. Steve Bloom says:

    Anders, why do you hate sea lions?

  206. BBD says:

    At this rate, it’s going to be a long night.

  207. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : ATTP

    That’s why I try to stick to the actual global temperature records over a long enough period of time, rather than ‘hockey sticks’ or ‘projections’ so that we can find out the real scientific basis for some of the alarm that’s out there. Science is all about disproving what is almost certainly wrong by looking at the evidence. I would say that the Stanford article is almost certainly wrong, or at least is not currently supported by the evidence. Even if all the +0.65 C per century since 1880 is caused by CO2, that’s no reason (without further supporting evidence) to extrapolate an increase of 5-6 C in the next 85 years.

  208. izen says:

    @-Richard Mallett
    “‘Perhaps’ does not constitute dismissal. What caused the LIA ?”

    The very high sensitivity of the climate to very small changes in the amount of energy that enter or leave the atmosphere.
    This high sensitivity results in large global changes in average temperature.
    In the case of the LIA it was mainly volcanic dust/SOx with some contribution from solar variation.

    Perhaps it is worth noting that neither the LIA or the MWP (synchronous and hotter or not) caused any significant change in sea level, unlike the last ~80 years of warming that have led to a rapid and accelerating rise in sea level unprecedented in human recorded history.

  209. BBD says:

    Another +2C would be bad enough.

  210. RM,

    That’s why I try to stick to the actual global temperature records over a long enough period of time, rather than ‘hockey sticks’ or ‘projections’ so that we can find out the real scientific basis for some of the alarm that’s out there.

    The word “alarm” is yours, not mine.

    Science is all about disproving what is almost certainly wrong by looking at the evidence.

    No, it isn’t really.

    Even if all the +0.65 C per century since 1880 is caused by CO2, that’s no reason (without further supporting evidence) to extrapolate an increase of 5-6 C in the next 85 years.

    The evidence is radiative physics. We’re halfway to doubling CO2 in forcing terms today. We’ve had about 0.8cC of warming. If we double CO2 twice in the next 85 years (as is possible), that means roughly 4 times more than we’ve had so far. In other words, if we follow a high emission pathway, another 3-4oC by 2100 is entirely plausible.

  211. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : jsam

    Thank you, that’s very interesting. As I was beginning to suspect (since we now have global temperatures from a period that’s longer than the postulated natural cycles) if it were not for anthropogenic CO2, we could be in a prolonged cooling period right now.

  212. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : ATTP

    ” Despite this [the logarithmic relationship between CO2 and temperature], if we continue to increase our emissions along the pathway we’re currently following, we can produce the same change in anthropogenic forcing in the next 30-40 years as we’ve done in the last 120 years. That’s why we would expect it to accelerate.”

    Can you please explain that to me ? Anthropogenic forcing is Watts/m^2 right ? Why would that rate of annual increase accelerate to 3-4 times of its present value ? This could be crucial.

  213. Steven Mosher says:

    “Ridley is not a climate scientist. He is not professionally competent to make trenchant public statements contradicting the scientific consensus. ”

    Which statement did he make that contradicted the scientific consensus that has been estbalished
    by say Cook et al.

    Here is a yet another way we see the consensus argument misused.

  214. Steven,

    Which statement did he make that contradicted the scientific consensus that has been estbalished
    by say Cook et al.

    Cook et al. didn’t establish the scientific consensus, as you well know!

  215. BBD says:

    Don’t waste my time, Steven.

  216. RM,

    Anthropogenic forcing is Watts/m^2 right?

    Yes, anthropogenic forcing is in Wm-2.

    Why would that rate of annual increase accelerate to 3-4 times of its present value ? This could be crucial.

    There are various emission pathways. In the most extreme scenario (burn lots of coal, do nothing to mitigate climate change) we could reach 8.5Wm-2 by 2100. We’re currently probably at just over 2Wm-2. Hence, we could potentially quadrupole anthropogenic forcings by 2100 and hence quadrupole the amount of warming (and remember, that’s the transient warming. The equilibrium response is probably 20-30% greater).

  217. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : izen

    What is your source for the rapid and accelerating rise in sea level unprecedented in human recorded history ? I could only find the University of Colorado Sea Level Research Group figure of 3.2 +/- 0.4 mm. per year from 1992. I guess human recorded history goers back 6-7 thousand years.

  218. Steve Bloom says:

    I’m sure Anders will answer that last from you, RM, patient fellow that he is, but did you notice how in asking the question you screwed up the arithmetic?

    Stocks and flows, the misapprehension thereof.

  219. guthrie says:

    Well, no, science is not “Science is all about disproving what is almost certainly wrong by looking at the evidence. ” It’s about having a hypothesis, testing it by gathering appropriate evidence, and seeing how it does, then modifying it as appropriate, with the usual caveat that it can all change if more evidence is forthcoming.

    Now blog posts are a different matter; they are indeed usually done by disproving what is wrong by considering the evidence.

  220. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : ATTP

    Is the possible quadrupling of CO2 in 85 years (when so far the graphs I have seen from Mauna Loa have been very nearly linear) based on the assumption that China, India and Russia (and maybe the African nations) will vastly accelerate their use of fossil fuels to produce electricity ?

  221. Steve Bloom says:

    That last being 8:09 PM. Anders is quick on the draw, although he didn’t hghlight the conceptual error.

  222. BBD says:

    RM

    What is your source for the rapid and accelerating rise in sea level unprecedented in human recorded history ?

    See eg. Lambeck et al. (2014) Sea level and global ice volumes from the Last Glacial Maximum to the Holocene

    This discussion of very recent work will also be of interest.

  223. RM,

    What is your source for the rapid and accelerating rise in sea level unprecedented in human recorded history ? I could only find the University of Colorado Sea Level Research Group figure of 3.2 +/- 0.4 mm. per year from 1992. I guess human recorded history goers back 6-7 thousand years.

    Human history is probably too vague, but sea level rise today is over 3mm/yr. Prior to the 1900s, it was less than 1mm/yr.

    Is the possible quadrupling of CO2 in 85 years (when so far the graphs I have seen from Mauna Loa have been very nearly linear) based on the assumption that China, India and Russia (and maybe the African nations) will vastly accelerate their use of fossil fuels to produce electricity ?

    Yes, I think so, but am not sure why that’s all that relevant. The basic point is that how much we warm over the coming century will depend on how much we choose to emit. If we assume that the global economy will continue to grow and that China, India, Russia, Africa…get wealthier, then they will need energy to do so. If that energy comes in the form of fossil fuels, we will significantly increase our emissions and will warm accordingly.

  224. jsam says:

    Our WUWT contributor does not appear to know his stuff. What makes him a sceptic?

    RM – which RCP do you think we’re traversing?

  225. BBD says:

    RM

    Is the possible quadrupling of CO2 in 85 years (when so far the graphs I have seen from Mauna Loa have been very nearly linear) based on the assumption that China, India and Russia (and maybe the African nations) will vastly accelerate their use of fossil fuels to produce electricity ?

    Well, what do you think? Aliens? All from Brazil? Perhaps instead of peppering ATTP with questions you could slow down a bit. You are sealioning.

  226. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : ATTP

    OK, so yes, if everybody ignores the ‘fossil fuels are bad’ warnings, that could possibly happen. 2100 is a long way away, perhaps the world will have gone nuclear by then.

  227. BBD says:

    So RM appears to accept that we need emissions regulation policy to stave off excessive warming. Jolly good. Can we go to the pub now?

  228. RM,

    OK, so yes, if everybody ignores the ‘fossil fuels are bad’ warnings, that could possibly happen. 2100 is a long way away, perhaps the world will have gone nuclear by then.

    Without even trying to? Something to bear in mind is that what we do is essentially irreversible. The longer we wait before doing something to reduce our emissions, the more we will warm. If we decide that we should have acted sooner, well it will be too late. If we carry on along our current pathway, we could reach 2oC by the mid-2040s. Maybe that won’t actually be dangerous, but if we do nothing to stop ourselves from getting there, then we’d better hope that that is the case and that all of those who say that we should probably be aiming to stay below 2oC are wrong.

  229. Richard Mallett says:

    I screwed up the arithmetic ? I thought I quoted from the University of Colorado Sea Level site.

  230. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : ATTP

    I’m glad we agree.

  231. Richard Mallett says:

    Reply to : jsam

    RCP 4.5

  232. BBD says:

    RM

    I screwed up the arithmetic ? I thought I quoted from the University of Colorado Sea Level site.

    Please don’t just ignore what is written. If you aren’t interested in the answers, then don’t keep asking questions.

  233. jsam says:

    Global emissions are increasing at around 2% per annum. What caused you to select 4.5?

    I’ve read we are tracking 8.5.

    Call me a sceptic but I see nothing that will cease radiative forcing on the horizon. What do you see that will call a halt?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representative_Concentration_Pathways
    http://asr.science.energy.gov/publications/program-docs/RCP4.5-Pathway.pdf

    http://www.wmo.int/pages/themes/climate/emission_scenarios.php
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/rcp.php?t=3

  234. Eli Rabett says:

    To return to the excellent game of Climateball, Matt King Coal spent all of his spare time bashing the regulators. Then he moans that the regulators didn’t stop him from crashing the bank. His is very very patricide orphan territory. Perhaps it is not too late for criminal charges. One might hope.

    (Oh yeah Fred the Shred too)

  235. John Mashey says:

    Given Loehle’s past history, I’m not sure why anyone would give much credence to anything he wrote on climate change, in common with others affiliated with Heartland Institute.

    In 1990, as in IPCC(1990), paleoclimate scientists certainly doubted global synchronous MWP,
    Everybody agreed it was generally warmer around the North Atlantic then than it was in the LIA, which was generally thought to be global, unlike the MWP. This

    By 1993 had done enough more research to strongly think it wasn’t, and that the term MWP wasn’t that useful, since it was warm in different times in different spots, unsurprising given ocean oscillations.

    In 1991, Western Fuels Association (Powder River Coal) produced a widely-distributed video that included the “Big MWP, climate has always changed naturally, grapes in Scotland(!)” meme family, the earliest such I’ve been able to find.
    The deception has appeared ever since, with mutations and embellishments.

    Of course, whatever the global average temperature was in 1000AD has exactly zero effect on the attribution of recent warming to human causes, although understanding paleoclimate certainly helps us lessen uncertainties.

  236. jsam says:

    John M – I don’t think your link works. Or is that meant to be a Loehle meta-comment made in inscrutable Willard fashion?

  237. John Mashey says:

    Sorry, that was supposed to be Craig Loehle profile at DeSmog, but people might want to check out history at RealClimate, too.
    (I use 7 displays with numerous open windows, and sometimes confusion occurs.)

  238. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Mashey in planet doom shock horror probe after bizarre seven active displays boast.

  239. Steven Mosher says:

    “Given Loehle’s past history, I’m not sure why anyone would give much credence to anything he wrote on climate change, in common with others affiliated with Heartland Institute.”

    Normally in science one reads the paper, finds the mistake and points it out.
    That way other folks dont rely on the work or at least they have a good fact based reason for doing so.

    of course we could hold hearings and ask folks if they have ever been a member of the communist party, but that’s what politicians do.

    personally, if somebody asks folks to delete mails I consider that grounds for doubting their science. ya makes sense.

  240. Willard says:

    > personally, if somebody asks folks to delete mails I consider that grounds for doubting their science. ya makes sense.

    Personally, if somebody already doubts the science, vex scientists with their fishing in the dark, and then promotes that the emails provide the grounds for their doubt, I’d doubt many things they say.

  241. John Mashey says:

    Richard Mallet wrote:
    “Craig Loehle, in Time Series Analysis and Climate Change (Lambert Academic Publishing, 2011) used non-tree ring proxies from all over the world to show a MWP from 820 to 1040 and an LIA from 1440 to 1740.”
    Note of course, that there is relatively little consistency in the timing of relative warmth among regions, but these are rather specific years. Anyway, I’d seen Loehle’s earlier work, but not that one, so Google was helpful.

    Loehle(2011) is a book whose price is $106., but it has no reviews.

    See Lambert Academic Publishing: A Must to Avoid., by Jeffrey Beall, whose blog on predatory publishers is well-known and excellent, one I read often. He starts:
    “I receive many emails from all over the world complaining about LAP Lambert Academic Publishing GmbH & Co. KG. (This publisher is so bad, I will not even provide a link to them).”

    Now, perhaps Mr Mallet will tell us:
    1) Did he actually get this comment from the book, and if so, can he tell us the page number and quote the surrounding context?

    2) If not, could he tell us where it came from and explain why this cite wouldn’t be called false citation in academe? Could it have been from a paper I had before,Loehie in Energy and Environment and its Correction?, dissected by Gavin Schmidt at RC. That’s worth rereading, as is Tamino’s take on it, People might find informative the comments attached to both posts.

    3) If it wasn’t from the E&E paper itself, perhaps it was from some other blog, perhaps one that really liked Loehle’s paper? And if so, perhaps Mr. Mallet will cite the specific blog?

  242. Joshua says:

    ==> “personally, if somebody asks folks to delete mails I consider that grounds for doubting their science. ya makes sense.”

    And there I thought that scientific claims should be judged based on the scientific evidence. Another day, another lesson about how to be “skeptical.”

  243. Michael 2 says:

    BBD says: “You are sealioning.”

    And a mighty fine job of it too! Hooray for the sea lion that asks relevant questions and will probably listen to an answer; if only the rude humans would be willing to answer.

  244. dhogaza says:

    Moshpit:

    “of course we could hold hearings and ask folks if they have ever been a member of the communist party, but that’s what politicians do.

    personally, if somebody asks folks to delete mails I consider that grounds for doubting their science. ya makes sense.”

    That’s a nice juxtaposition, if you think about it. Sums up Moshpit nicely, I’d say.

  245. Michael 2 says:

    jsam says: “from my “laugh out loud at a denier” library. Huber and Knutti (2011) quantified that human attribution as being 74% and 122% due to humans…”

    Seriously? You can attribute more than 100 percent to anything? That’s like having three halves of one pie. No wonder I don’t quite grok all this. Anyway, looking it up took me to SkS http://www.skepticalscience.com/posts.php?u=2770 Author “Daniel was employed in the pharmaceutical industry also for many years, where he was much happier. No doubt due to the meds. Now Daniel labors in advertising,”

    He links to this as the source of Huber and Knutti:

    “Anthropogenic and natural warming inferred from changes in Earth’s energy balance”
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v5/n1/abs/ngeo1327.html

    Unfortunately, I do not see this 122 percent figure in the abstract and I’m not going to purchase this article just to see if this whopper is really there.

    http://www.gwfotd.com/debunkit.php?debunk=Natural-Cycle-long — same story, same author, nice chart. Obviously part of the Echo Chamber.

    “it might well have been worthwhile to add a statement about the likely range of the anthropogenic trends (i.e 80-120% of the actual trend or similar), so that a better picture of the appropriate distribution could be given (see Huber and Knutti, 2011) for examples.”
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/01/the-ar4-attribution-statement/comment-page-2/

    Okay, that makes more sense. It is possible to have 120 percent of a trend line (y=1.2(cx)), a very different thing than saying 122 percent of global warming is human caused. That 122 percent on the trend line probably signifies a counter-forcing; in other words the trend line would have been up to 122 percent steeper of slope except something is pulling it down to the observed trend line.

    So how did we get from 122 percent of a trend line to 122 percent of Attribution? An Earth Scientist working in advertising, writing for SkS and echoed by the faithful.

  246. Joshua says:

    Actually, I thought that this was a nicer juxtaposition:

    First this:

    ==> “Normally in science one reads the paper, finds the mistake and points it out.”

    And then this:

    ==> “personally, if somebody asks folks to delete mails I consider that grounds for doubting their science. ya makes sense.”

    A juxtaposition on the first order of niceness, IMO.

  247. Who is Matt Ridley? Should I know this person?

  248. Steven Mosher says:

    Joshua doesnt get the sarcasm. ya makes sense. Cause I still read Jones papers. Cant do good work with reading them. Still read mann’s papers. Basically, I dont give a rats ass about their funding, politics, orientation, past behavior, you name it.

    It also helps to be a wicked fast reader.

    pull those blinds down son, or raise your pants

  249. Steven Mosher says:

    waaa.. even dhog fell for it.

    ya makes sense.

  250. Steven Mosher says:

    waa willard too.

    ya makes sense

  251. Jan,

    Who is Matt Ridley? Should I know this person?

    In case your question wasn’t a subtle joke 🙂 he’s a journalist for the Times, a member of the House of Lords, an Academic Adviser to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, has coal mines on his estate, and was the Chairman of Northern Rock at the time when it became the first bank in the UK in more than 100 years to have a run on its finances.

  252. Richard Mallett, I have no idea what you did wrong with MS Excell, but I guess that NOAA is able to compute a simple least squares trend. They find in the GHCNv3 the global land surface temperature is estimated to have increased by about 0.8°C between 1880 and 2012 (Lawrimore et al., JGR, 2011).

    Just looking at the plot, your trend estimate also looks too small.

    http://woodfortrees.org/graph/gistemp-dts/from:1880/to:2014/mean:12/plot/gistemp-dts/from:1880/to:2014/mean:12/trend

  253. jsam says:

    “Seriously? You can attribute more than 100 percent to anything?”

    Innumeracy is less charming than you might think.

  254. jsam says:

    “Hooray for the sea lion that asks relevant questions and will probably listen to an answer; if only the rude humans would be willing to answer.”

    Really? I thought your sealion showed evidence of lack of understanding of the basics. And he’s had all his answers.

    Oh well, if you really don’t want to understand no-one can make you. But ignorance then becomes a choice.

  255. jsam says:

    Richard “Sea Lion” Mallett –

    Come back. Why did you choose RCP 4.5? That choice seems to run counter to the evidence.

  256. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Jan
    Matt Ridley has a PhD in zoology from Oxford and published a number of journal papers on the behaviour of various birds. He worked for the Economist for a decade, initially as their science editor, and then wrote a series of best-selling books popularizing the biological sciences.

    I suspect some are upset with Dr Ridley because they believe his scholarship should have put him on their side, and his accomplishments and talents would have made him good ally. Some of the sentiments that you find above may reflect a sense of betrayal.

  257. Richard,

    Matt Ridley has a PhD in zoology from Oxford

    As William pointed out, he doesn’t.

    I suspect some are upset with Dr Ridley because they believe his scholarship should have put him on their side, and his accomplishments and talents would have made him good ally. Some of the sentiments that you find above may reflect a sense of betrayal.

    Jeepers, you do talk a lot of crap sometimes.

  258. Andrew Dodds says:

    @Tol

    Well, you are apparently a professor of economics, but you are also apparently incapable of running a basic internet based survey. Sometimes qualifications can be a bit misleading.

    Upset with Ridley? Well, 80 years ago, the utterly complacent Eton-educated ‘leader’ classes allowed us to sleepwalk into a catastrophic war. I’m still angry with them, as any sane person would be. History would appear to be repeating itself.

  259. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Wotts
    DPhil, PhD, tomayto, tomahto, potayto, potahto

  260. BBD says:

    Michael 2

    Hooray for the sea lion that asks relevant questions and will probably listen to an answer; if only the rude humans would be willing to answer.

    Which thread have you been reading? This one is full of answers to RM’s sealioning. What is notably absent is any effort by RM to assimilate the answers.

    For example, he ignored me twice. And yet to you, I’m the one being ‘rude’. Your inversion of reality does you massive discredit.

  261. BBD says:

    WTF, Richard? Seriously. Get a grip will you.

  262. verytallguy says:

    Tol’s attention seeking on Ridley’s “betrayal” should simply remind us that his beliefs are expected by Lewandowsky

    “that endorsement of a laissez-faire conception of free-market economics predicts rejection of climate science”

  263. jsam says:

    @Tol – Matt Ridley broke a bank. Let’s give him a second chance at breaking the climate.

    There really is honour amongst GWPF thieves after all.

    Who does pay for the Global Warmers’ Protection Fund?

  264. Rob Painting says:

    Jan P Perlwitz – “Who is Matt Ridley? Should I know this person?”

    The man who wants to Northern Rock the planet.

  265. ligne says:

    Michael 2: “Seriously? You can attribute more than 100 percent to anything? That’s like having three halves of one pie. No wonder I don’t quite grok all this.”

    it’s not exactly complicated maths. (hint: think negative numbers.)

    “Unfortunately, I do not see this 122 percent figure in the abstract and I’m not going to purchase this article just to see if this whopper is really there.”

    i guess we can add google to the list of things that M2 doesn’t understand.

  266. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    Q: Who is Matt Ridley?

    A: A man whose character must be assassinated!

    “All the fury must mean that my arguments are hitting home, or efforts would be made to demolish them rather me.”

  267. jsam says:

    We know who assassinated Matt’s character. It committed suicide some time ago.

    The culprit playing the victim is pretty loathsome.

  268. Rachel M says:

    Richard Tol is trying to wind everyone up. It’s fairly obvious from the comments about Matt Ridley in this thread and the links to his numerous errors over the years and his failure to acknowledge and correct them [Mod : unnecessary.] why people are not impressed with Matt Ridley. Loyalty and betrayal has nothing to do with. And personally, I’m not at all impressed by wealth, status, and titles.

  269. verytallguy says:

    Richard Tol is trying to wind everyone up.

    Say it ‘aint so!

  270. Steve Bloom says:

    m2’s 3:56 AM comment is a perfect example of an inability to grasp stocks and flows at the most basic level.

  271. Rob Painting says:

    Jsam – Ridley would appear to be a mimophant. Another character seppuku.

    As for demolishing his zombie denier myths, well planet Earth seems to be doing a splendid job of that.

  272. Richard,

    A man whose character must be assassinated!

    Well, if telling the truth about someone’s past assassinates their character, maybe it’s deserved.

    “All the fury must mean that my arguments are hitting home, or efforts would be made to demolish them rather me.”

    Or, people have demolished them time and time again and it has no impact on what Ridley is willing to say publicly?

  273. Willard says:

    > I dont give a rats ass about their funding, politics, orientation, past behavior, you name it.

    As if this was more relevant than the fact that the Moshpit used this for years as some kind of green line test, published a book on stolen emails and plays the investigative journalist from time to time.

  274. jsam says:

    It’s obviously important to assassinate the characters of Ward and Debden. :-))

    Ridley doth protest way too much. His critics arguments must be hitting home. Good.

  275. Marco says:

    “All the fury must mean that my arguments are hitting home, or efforts would be made to demolish them rather me.”

    Tol is projecting. See:
    http://frankackerman.com/tol-controversy/
    Which documents efforts by Richard Tol to demolish Ackerman, including harassment of his employers. This must mean, by Tolian and Ridleyian logic, that Ackerman’s criticisms have hit home.
    Bob Ward can probably relate a slightly downgraded version of how his arguments have apparently hit home, with Tol reverting to ridicule of Ward on Twitter and his earlier comment on this thread that Ward is not a scientist, whereas Ridley is (hence, therefore, errr, yeah, what is that an argument for or against?).

    There is thus a good explanation as to why Tol believes supposed ridicule of Ridley proves Ridley’s point: it’s the way Richard Tol acts himself.

    Of course Richard will now tell us that Ackerman and Ward deserved it, whereas Ridley…well, he is a scientist, you know!

  276. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Marco
    Your argument would be more credible if you would cite both sides of the story, and in Ackerman’s case the results of the independent inquiry.

  277. jsam says:

    BTW, ATTP, next time some faux-skeptic (or economissed) talks of double-standards, moderation or censorship, it is worth noting this on Matt King Coal’s blog “Please note that this blog no longer accepts comments

  278. Richard,

    Your argument would be more credible if you would cite both sides of the story, and in Ackerman’s case the results of the independent inquiry.

    I didn’t get the impression that Marco was really trying to make a watertight argument; simply pointing out some interesting parallels. You could always link to the other side of the story.

    jsam,
    To be fair, I do have some sympathy with that 😉

  279. Joshua says:

    Speaking of interesting parallels:Q: Who is Matt Ridley?

    ==> “All the fury must mean that my arguments are hitting home, or efforts would be made to demolish them rather me.”

    I wonder if Richard can think of any others whose arguments “must be hitting home?”

  280. Joshua says:

    It’s quit interesting to observe when Richard is concerned about the mix of activism and science, and when he isn’t.

  281. tallbloke says:

    Anders says: “I’ve seen a number of people argue that because their view is consistent with the evidence, that their view is somehow correct. ”
    “One might even argue that this is technically consistent with the evidence, since the evidence doesn’t rule out that climate sensitivity will be low.”
    “the reason people respond to his views as they do is not really because they don’t like what he is saying, but because they’re tired of him continuing to present views that are largely wrong.”

    On your own assessment, Matt may be right about low sensitivity. And since no central estimate is forthcoming any more, you can’t say that on the balance of probability, he’s more likely wrong than right either. The ‘largely wrong’ claim is just bad logic speciously derived from a mistaken belief that high is more likely than low.

    Also, Matt said plenty of other things in that article apart from discussing the narrow issue you wish to limit discussion to that are ‘largely right’. Especially the bits about the conduct of people on the other side of the debate.

  282. Tallbloke,

    On your own assessment, Matt may be right about low sensitivity.

    Of course he could be right. However, the current evidence would suggest that he’s more likely to be wrong, than right.

    Especially the bits about the conduct of people on the other side of the debate.

    Of course you can criticise individuals and choose to ignore what they say as a result. Basing your view of an entire field of the basis of the behaviour of a few is, however, silly (to put it politely).

  283. Rachel M says:

    Richard Tol is concerned that we’ve misrepresented Matt Ridley’s CV here so for the sake of correcting any possible mistakes – and I’m not sure where they are – here’s a link to Matt Ridley’s online bio on his own web site:

    http://www.rationaloptimist.com/biography

  284. Marco says:

    “the independent inquiry” did nothing to excuse your behaviour, which by your own favourable reference to Ridley’s statement means that you admit Ackerman’s arguments hit home.

  285. Joshua says:

    See – this is why I love the climate wars. Compare and contrast:

    ==> “Also, Matt said plenty of other things in that article apart from discussing the narrow issue you wish to limit discussion to that are ‘largely right’. Especially the bits about the conduct of people on the other side of the debate.

    and

    (Don’t have the direct tallbloke quote):

    ==> andthentheresphysics says:
    December 8, 2013 at 12:37 pm
    tallbloke, yes, I’m a physicist. I’m surprised you’ve decided to comment here. If I remember correctly, our last exchange ended you with you calling me an “unscientific f**kwit”.”

  286. Rachel M says:

    Matt Ridley has said some quite astonishing things according to George Monbiot (and I’m happy to stand corrected if any of these things is wrong):

    1) Elephants should be hunted for their ivory.
    2) Recycling should be stopped.
    3) Companies should be able to decide whether the food they sell is safe.

    They’re all referenced here:
    http://www.monbiot.com/2007/10/23/libertarians-are-the-true-social-parasites/

  287. matt says:

    MWP
    70’s cooling consensus
    LIA recovery
    CO2 rising steadily but temperatures haven’t
    Past temps were high when CO2 was low
    Logarithmic, not linear
    Hansen 1988
    Climategate
    Mann

    This comment thread is starting to resemble
    https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

  288. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Marco
    Why don’t you remind people of the bit where Ackerman was caught out, not just publishing false claims, but publishing claims that he knew to be false when he published them? Did you see his sheepish admission that he wrote something he knew was not true?

  289. verytallguy says:

    Richard,

    when it comes to reminding, let’s remind you of your advice to take a look in the mirror.

    Yet again, Richard, what do you see when you read the Ackerman affair and look in the mirror.

    What are your reflections, Richard?

    We’re waiting.

  290. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Rachel, there used to be sensible arguments in favour of hunting elephants (not sure if they still hold up) and there are still sensible arguments against certain forms of recycling. I can’t see how your #3 could be sensible. (But perhaps Monbiot misrepresented him. He does get overexcited at times.)

  291. jsam says:

    Vinny –

    There were never any sensible arguments for hunting elephants for their ivory.
    Arguing against all recycling is daft.
    And self regulation has proven its worth. It has failed.

    You do get overexcited a lot.

  292. I don’t particularly want this to get into a thread where we focus on bashing Matt Ridley (deserved or not). As Rachel points out, if anything that’s been said is not true or misreresents anything, someone is welcome to point that out. It’s certainly never my intent to allow anything that isn’t true to be said here.

    However, I thought I’d point this out. In Matt Ridley’s article, he says,

    When I first started writing about the threat of global warming more than 26 years ago, as science editor ofThe Economist, I thought it was a genuinely dangerous threat.

    26 years ago is 1989. According to George Monbiot’s article that Rachel links to above, there was a Ridley article in the Daily Telegraph on 28 March 1994 with the title.

    Let’s not get too steamed up about the greenhouse effect.

    I can’t find it, so can’t really say what it says, but the title might indicate a fairly rapid change from being “alarmed” – as he claims he was in 1989 – to not being “too steamed up” in 1994.

  293. tallbloke says:

    Anders says:
    Of course he could be right.

    Then your assertion that he’s “largely wrong” is, just, wrong. It’s like saying Schrodinger’s cat is largely in this corner of the box. You won’t find a ‘largely dead’ cat after you choose where to put a bullet through.

    However, the current evidence would suggest that he’s more likely to be wrong, than right.

    Evidence is provided by empirical science, and the empirical studies of sensitivity are tending to the low side. The idea that high sensitivity estimates that are derived from ‘evidence’ provided by models isn’t largely wrong, it’s completely wrong. Models don’t provide evidence.

  294. Marco says:

    Richard, that would be a rather liberal reading of what Ackerman wrote, and in my opinion *still* does not excuse your own behaviour with the personal attacks, and *still* means that by Ridleyian logic you admit his arguments hit home.

    Oh, and #FreeTheTol300

  295. Marco says:

    ATTP, don’t forget his 1993 piece in a book by the Economist, in which he minimized the warming too (see Lord_Sidcup’s link earlier in this thread – do note that Tim Lambert wrote it was published in the Globe and Mail, which we are to believe just reprinted it without Ridley’s knowledge).

  296. Tallbloke,

    Then your assertion that he’s “largely wrong” is, just, wrong. It’s like saying Schrodinger’s cat is largely in this corner of the box. You won’t find a ‘largely dead’ cat after you choose where to put a bullet through.

    No, I said the evidence suggests he’s more likely to be wrong than right. This has nothing to do with cats, dead or alive.

    Evidence is provided by empirical science, and the empirical studies of sensitivity are tending to the low side.

    No, a particular class of studies are tending to the low side. Many other empirical studies do not. Also, even these newer studies do not rule out ECS and TCR values quite a bit higher than the values Ridley prefers to quote.

    The idea that high sensitivity estimates are derived from ‘evidence’ provided by models isn’t largely wrong, it’s completely wrong. Models don’t provide evidence.

    Models provide information that should not be ignored just because you don’t like the results. I, however, have no interest in a semantic discussion about the meaning of the word “evidence”.

  297. If you throw dice, you a rational optimist expects to get on average 3.5. It is not impossible that when you throw dice you will get a string with only 5 and 6, but to expect that may be optimistic, but is not rational. Just because a value is in the possible range, does not mean that you can simply pick it and expect that to be the average.

    You may naturally have arguments why a certain value is a better estimate of the average, and if you have strong arguments that value may well be outside of what scientists currently see as reasonable, but a value just being in the range of possible is no justification for expecting that to be the average.

  298. Willard says:

    > I, however, have no interest in a semantic discussion about the meaning of the word “evidence”.

    I, OTOH, welcome it.

    What evidence do you have that the Sun will raise again tomorrow, Tall One?

    Perhaps you prefer a less worn-out argument. Suppose you see a car speeding right in front of you. Do you wait until you have conclusive evidence to get out of its way, like your caricature of an empirical scientist would do?

  299. Willard says:

    > It is not impossible that when you throw dice you will get a string with only 5 and 6, but to expect that may be optimistic, but is not rational.

    If that’s your only chance to save the game, it would be quite rational to expect that [this is the only scenario that matters].

    Let’s not forget that rationality may have evolutionary fitness.

  300. verytallguy says:

    I just *love* this.

    Evidence is provided by empirical science, and the empirical studies of sensitivity are tending to the low side. The idea that high sensitivity estimates that are derived from ‘evidence’ provided by models isn’t largely wrong, it’s completely wrong. Models don’t provide evidence.

    A beautiful, multilayered dazzling turd of a paragraph so bejewelled with putrefying misconceptions it is a thing of wonder and amazement to behold.

    Every model requires empirical evidence to build it, and every piece of empirical evidence requires a model to interpret it.

  301. tallbloke says:

    Willard: What evidence do you have that the Sun will raise again tomorrow, Tall One?

    I can already see the glow on the horizon getting brighter, unlike you. 😉
    Anyway, my understanding of the lifecycle of G dwarf stars and knowledge of the Earth’s angular momentum give me confidence. Even when it’ cloudy. Because I’m confident there are no missing variables which could spanner my hypothesis.

    While we’re on the subject of cyclic phenomena and the Sun, Our harmonic solar-planetary model which successfully hindcasts 4000yrs of 10Be records and climate shifts is now being given serious consideration and evaluation.

    Anders: If they did rule them out, they wouldn’t have been published.

  302. pbjamm says:

    Once, years ago, I tried to have a rational discussion with Tallbloke. Once.

  303. Willard says:

    Damn ad homs:

    Notice how Richard tries to remove @mattwridley’s handle.

  304. BBD says:

    Models don’t provide evidence.

    Wot, not even EBMs?!

    🙂

  305. Rachel M says:

    I just saw your other tweet, Willard:

    And I watched the clip. Matt Ridley was given a warning, according to John McFall, which he did not listen to. It sounds very like the scenario we have right now with climate change. He, and many others, are not listening to the warnings which climate scientists are giving us.

  306. Marco says:

    Willard:
    “Bob Ward as you probably know is a failed PhD student who is now the PR man for Nick Stern”.

    Add this to that photoshop picture Tol made, and as per the Ridley interpretation, Tol has said Ward’s arguments hit home.

    http://www.rtcc.org/2014/08/04/tol-v-ackerman-debating-the-costs-of-climate-change/

  307. jsam says:

    Some people have lower standards for what constitutes empirical evidence than others.
    https://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/doug-proctor-dowsing-and-divining-the-direction-of-debate/comment-page-1/#comment-58783

    No models have ever predicted dowsing to be bollocks. There is a recognisable pattern to Tallbloke’s physics.

  308. Tallbloke,

    While we’re on the subject of cyclic phenomena and the Sun, Our harmonic solar-planetary model which successfully hindcasts 4000yrs of 10Be records and climate shifts is now being given serious consideration and evaluation.

    Why? (okay, that’s rhetorical).

    Anders: If they did rule them out, they wouldn’t have been published.

    Okay, no conspiracy ideation please.

  309. Michael says:

    BBD says: (January 20, 2015 at 12:53 pm) “Climate scientists study climate science professionally, as a career.”

    There’s a circularity problem here. Reminds me of the U.S. Supreme Court’s definition of science — being that thing that scientists DO.

    It appears that you are not arguing for degrees or any other qualification beyond getting paid to study “climate” which word will be defined by the very people getting paid to study it. As such it could be essentially anything, or more to the point, it could be several different things each with its own Authority, catechism and priesthood.

    In a sense it resembles the nuances of the science of evolution — when a person says, “I believe in evolution”, it isn’t clear whether he is speaking of Punctuated Equilibrium or any of the other competing theories of evolution.

    So here you have competing theories of “climate” and each theory has a cluster of “climate scientists” that cling together and deprecate the others.

  310. pbjamm says:

    Michael I double-dog-dare you to provide links to those competing theories of “climate”. What is with the scare quotes?

  311. Michael,
    This is just semantics. Someone with a science degree can justifiably call themselves a scientist. However, normally you could describe yourself more in terms of your career path than your degree. A doctor who becomes a politician, is a politician. A scientist who becomes a journalist is a journalist. A scientist who remains in a research environment and publishes papers is still a scientist. We can always use more than a single word to describe someone and their expertise.

    Matt Ridley has a DPhil and has published some papers. When I searched Google Scholar, the last appears to be 1987 (if I search using MW Ridley) and was on pheasants. I don’t really think that qualifies Matt Ridley to claim any kind of special expertise in climate science.

  312. Joshua says:

    ==> “…and as per the Ridley interpretation, Tol has said Ward’s arguments hit home.”

    Which points to one beautifully ironic (unintentionally so) pattern in the climate wars. Combatants on both sides argue that the nastiness on the other side is proof of the veracity of their arguments, even as they ignore how that logic would apply to their own nastiness and that from others on their own side.

    Not surprising in the least that Ridley would miss the irony, and even less surprising that Richard Tol would be impressed enough to quote Ridley’s use of the argument because he found it so valuable.

    Gotta give Richard credit for one thing…his arguments are consistently really, really, bad.

  313. Joshua says:

    If i hadn’t been observing the climate wars for a while, i would probably think that the following coming from Tol would have to be satire:

    RT: Which is a bit peculiar given he’s not an economist… right. There are mistakes in Hope’s work that is perhaps for another time. No there’s a good few people working in this field, so I don’t think this is a problem. The issue that is going on here right is that somebody who is not at a university, but works for a consultancy, writes what he claims to be an academic, writes it, puts it on the web, it gets publicity apparently. It’s not peer reviewed, it’s not from a credible source, and yet we are talking about it. –

    Spectacular!

  314. verytallguy says:

    Dana, that’s really well done.

  315. Michael says:

    (Might be two of these — browser or server malfunctioned.)

    Joshua says: (January 20, 2015 at 1:15 pm) “Or is there something about the nature this ‘bashing’ in particular that disgusts you, or is it just a matter of the target?”

    It is group maintenance, a ritual. The literary example is from George Orwell’s “1984” and called the Two Minute Hate (*), where for two minutes every day people expressed hatred for Goldstein whose actual existence is irrelevant.

    Its purpose (IMO) is three-fold: (1) It focuses everyone’s mind on the enemy, and by so doing, affirms the existence and nature of “wrong thinking”; its opposite naturally being “correct thinking”. (2) It discovers or reveals persons that fail to adopt correct thinking. Any person that fails to insult Ridley will be assumed to be in his camp. (3) It establishes and reinforces the leader by designating the target du jour. Whether the target knows that any of this is happening is irrelevant.

    * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_Minutes_Hate

  316. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Forgive me, jsam. I forgot for a moment that the only valid arguments are simplistic, all-or-nothing, doctrinaire green diktats. Everything else is not just mistaken; it’s invalid, irrelevant and most likely evil.

    Won’t happen again.

  317. dana1981 says:

    Thanks vtg. By the way, your handle always reminds me of Tallbloke, and then I’m surprised when you say sensible things.

    And yes, the energy balance models used in the studies Tallbloke prefers for reasons of confirmation bias are indeed models, as BBD has noted.

  318. ATTP,

    “In case your question wasn’t a subtle joke 🙂 he’s a journalist for the Times, a member of the House of Lords, an Academic Adviser to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, has coal mines on his estate, and was the Chairman of Northern Rock at the time when it became the first bank in the UK in more than 100 years to have a run on its finances.”

    Thanks. I really didn’t know these details. I only had read the name somewhere, occasionally. Of course, I could have looked up all of this by myself. But then, there was also the aspect of the joke. From all of it I take he is not someone who is relevant for climate science. He is not someone a scientist who works in the fields should know. Thus, paying attention to him would just be a waste of time for me. Most of my colleagues would probably just ask, “Who is Matt Ridley?”

  319. tallbloke,

    “On your own assessment, Matt may be right about low sensitivity.”

    Where can I read Matt Ridley’s research on climate sensitivity?

  320. jsam says:

    Vinny – Your word salad was a very long way of saying you couldn’t substantiate your rant – and were wrong.

    Thank you for your concern.

  321. jsam says:

    Come back, Richard, come back. Why did you choose 4.5 when we are on an 8.5 trajectory? Inquiring minds want to know.

  322. Michael says:

    ATTP says “This is just semantics. Someone with a science degree can justifiably call themselves a scientist. However, normally you could describe yourself more in terms of your career path than your degree.”

    Agreed, but it depends on the audience. Among scientists, those actually doing science will have more weight (if they are commenting within their expertise obviously). But to the public, what matters is your PhD, in the case that there’s no other evidence at hand.

    For instance, I have absolutely no way of knowing whether anyone found a Higgs boson. The janitor might claim to have found one hiding behind a wastebin. So the more PhD you have claiming it, the more likely I am to agree that one was found. I also expect the PhD, not the janitor, to explain why it is important — although it is entirely possible for the janitor to “grok” the significance and put it in plainer language than any PdD.

    This relates to the circular argument of what exactly is science. The U.S. Supreme Court decided science is what scientists do (1) and of course, a scientist is someone doing science (2). As to what exactly that might be, it has many definitions but I’m reminded of the Supremes saying “I cannot define it but I know it when I see it” (3).

    1 https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/evolutionary-psychology/conversations/topics/13763
    2. “Scientists own the exclusive right to define science!” (same source)
    3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_know_it_when_I_see_it

  323. Joshua,
    That is truly spectacular. I was going to say more, but I don’t think I need. It speaks for itself.

  324. @Rachel
    Not quite.

    The Bank of England issued a warning and Northern Rock responded.

    BoE, however, did not warn about Lehman’s and Lehman’s led to the run on Northern.

    You can say many things about how Northern was run, including having a layman as chair, but not that they knew Lehman’s was coming and closed their eyes.

  325. dana1981 says:

    You can say many things about how Northern was run

    For example that it was run using the same high-risk, reckless strategy that Ridley wants to apply to the global climate.

  326. @Joshua
    That was a response to a paper that got publicity before it was even submitted to a journal. As far as I know, it was never published. It had a couple of basic errors.

    I am not a fan of science-by-press-release.

  327. Another spectacular interjection by Richard

    BoE, however, did not warn about Lehman’s and Lehman’s led to the run on Northern.

    You can say many things about how Northern was run, including having a layman as chair, but not that they knew Lehman’s was coming and closed their eyes.

    Also, probably a taste of things to come. I can just imagine Richard and Matt in 20-30 years time saying: “but you didn’t warn us that this specific thing was going to happen. If you’d warned us about this, we would have done something to avoid it”.

    That was a response to a paper that got publicity before it was even submitted to a journal. As far as I know, it was never published. It had a couple of basic errors.

    I am not a fan of science-by-press-release.

    That wasn’t Joshua’s point, as you probably well know. It’s your supposed defense of Ridley here because he’s a scientist etc., while publicly deligitimising those with whom you typically disagree “Ward doesn’t have a PhD. Chris Hope isn’t an economist. He didn’t get it peer-reviewed and works for a consultancy….Dana’s a poopyhead (okay I made that one up)”.

  328. Willard says:

    So now Richard tries the good old “but it could have been foreseen” when the issue is that Northern Rock’s directors were found guilty of mismanaging their risk, something quite related to the Lord’s lukewarm gambit.

    An interesting quote:

    There were more than ten questions to the directors of Northern Rock asking them why they were the only bank that failed (Questions 460, 474, 475, 476, 529, 640, 641, 642, 643, 644 and 649). This was a grim reminder of what Keynes wrote 75 years ago: “A ‘sound banker’, alas, is not one who forsees danger and avoids it, but one who, when he is ruined, is ruined in a conventional and orthodox way along with his fellows, so that no one can really blame him.” (Consequences to the Banks of a Collapse in Money Values, 1931).

    https://jrvarma.wordpress.com/2007/10/28/liquidity-risk-and-northern-rock/

    Out of sociobiological principle, Matt should have considered filing for a personal bankruptcy and liquidate all his family assets.

    It’s all a matter of reciprocity, after all.

  329. Michael says:

    jsam says: (January 21, 2015 at 7:52 am) “I thought your sealion showed evidence of lack of understanding of the basics. And he’s had all his answers.”

    The cartoon is designed to be ambiguous and there is no indication in the cartoon that the sealion has had his questions answered. It is clear that you miscomprehend the cartoon.

    The proper application of the cartoon is that readers here are discussing Matt Ridley; he would be the sea lion if he suddenly came here asking why you were offended at his existence, and you would be the humans of the cartoon if, rather than just explaining why you don’t like Matt Ridley, you told him to go away or advise that he’s in your bedroom — that is to say, instead of answering or refusing you start commenting on his social etiquette failings.

    Whether it would be appropriate for someone being discussed to make a personal entrance is something each must decide for himself. This cartoon faciliates that introspection.

    I’ve handled “sea lions” since the 1980’s when Tymenet and Telenet made that sort of thing very expensive. Just answer the question, take advantage of the opportunity to lay out what you believe and why you believe it.

    Of course, to actually do that you have to believe something and then know why you believe it.

  330. M2,
    You clearly don’t understand the cartoon. Firstly, it wasn’t a public discussion. Secondly, it became about tone, rather than actual content. If Ridley came here and said “you’re being mean to me, justify yourselves”, an appropriate response would be “okay, yes we are, but no, we don’t have to justify ourselves”. On the other hand, if he came here and said : “you said this about me, it’s not true, this is what actually happened”, maybe then we would be obliged to verify what had been actually happened. We should be obliged to very the true of what we claim to be true. We don’t have to verify our opinions.

  331. Michael says:

    Joshua says: (January 21, 2015 at 5:05 pm) “…even as they ignore how that logic would apply to their own nastiness and that from others on their own side.”

    If one is instead polite, the accusation then is of being a “sea lion”. But that’s not such a bad thing to be.

  332. M2,
    Again, you don’t understand the cartoon. It’s not about being polite. It’s about appearing to be polite while actually being incredibly rude.

  333. Rachel M says:

    Nice Keynes quote, Willard. Reminds me of the old maritime tradition of “the captain goes down with the ship”. I think this is why I’m so worked up about the whole Matt Ridley thing. He writes about his income from coal and his wealth without, or so it seems, a care in the world for what happened to Northern Rock when he was chairman. I’m not saying he should be left penniless or anything, but the current situation just doesn’t seem right. Where’s the humility and the acknowledgement of fault and the taking of responsibility? I just don’t see it. He’s now doing exactly the same thing with regards to climate change by downplaying the risks. I know that some people have a very optimistic view of the world, which is great, but I’d rather heed the advice of climate scientists and mitigate the risk.

  334. verytallguy says:

    Why is it called sealioning?

  335. BBD says:

    Is “Michael” the same as “Michael 2”?

  336. BBD says:

    VTG

    Because of this… Be sure to look at the cartoon…

  337. BBD says:

    How predictable that M(2?) doesn’t get it. How inevitable.

  338. Willard says:

    Rachel,

    Matt seemed to be quite apologetic by moments:

    We were all taken by surprise by that. There was almost nobody who saw it coming. Those who did were not in the right place to warn everyone else. Northern Rock ended up suffering a fate no different from any other mortgage bank. They all disappeared as a result of the crisis, and I learnt a lot from it.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/7969974/Northern-Rock-chief-admits-to-catastrophic-black-mark.html

    OTOH, either Northern Rock was the only mortgage bank in England, or his and Richard’s “but it was all so unforeseen” is a bit moot.

    Oh, and please remind Richard over T that Matt’s dad has been a chairman of that bank when Matt was a kid, so I think Richard’s just being cheeky when he’s asking for evidence of nepotism.

  339. BBD says:

    Rachel

    Where’s the humility and the acknowledgement of fault and the taking of responsibility?

    That is a question that can be asked of the entire f***ing banking industry, not just Ridley. There’s never been a f***ing ounce of humility or remorse. And the damage they did is still unfolding.

  340. BBD,
    Indeed!

    Willard,

    Oh, and please remind Richard over T that Matt’s dad has been a chairman of that bank when Matt was a kid, so I think Richard’s just being cheeky when he’s asking for evidence of nepotism.

    I would have thought that being a hereditary peer, especially as he actually has ended up in the House of Lords, is the epitome of benefiting from nepotism?

  341. Rachel M says:

    Willard,

    That’s not an apology. An apology usually includes the words “I” and “sorry”. And what’s even more irritating is he ends with “I learnt a lot from it”. But then not long afterwards he writes a book in which he says “governments do not run countries, they parasitise them.” What exactly did he learn?

    He got a warning from the Bank of England and ignored it. I can just picture him saying at the time that he doesn’t think it will be a problem and all will be fine which is essentially what he says now about climate change. It’s all tra la la la la. Nothing to worry about. All will be fine.

  342. Rachel M says:

    BBD,

    Yes, that’s probably true. The list of things to get riled up about for Matt Ridley is just so long and hard to ignore.

  343. Michael says:

    ATTP says (Re: Sea Lion) “We don’t have to verify our opinions.”

    Precisely, and that’s the ambiguity and cleverness of the cartoon. It is whether you should and there’s no sure answer. This cartoon is very clever, a Rorschach SeaLion test. What you see in it is what you put there.

    It is also recursive — the sea lion intrudes because the humans were deprecating it, probably discussing its intrusive behavior — the very thing that brings it. In other metaphor, if you feed the trolls they will come. What feeds a troll? Negativity. If everyone was polite and disgustingly civil the sea lions and trolls would go somewhere else.

  344. M2,

    What feeds a troll? Negativity. If everyone was polite and disgustingly civil the sea lions and trolls would go somewhere else.

    No, they wouldn’t. They’d just intrude even more.

  345. Willard says:

    > That’s not an apology.

    Neither have I said it was one. Here’s a primer on apologies:

    While Nature’s apology is better than a nonpology, it’s not actually a full apology, and it doesn’t surprise me that it’s not being as well-received as the editors likely hoped. I detailed some of my issues with the apology on Twitter this morning, but I wanted to take the time to actually expand on what is necessary for a complete apology.

    http://www.kellyhills.com/blog/a-primer-on-apologies/

    Yes, scientists can be critical of Nature. Fancy that.

  346. BBD says:

    Michael

    Please clarify. Are you Michael 2?

    Thanks

  347. Tom Curtis says:

    Richard Tol in tweet quoted by Rachel:

    “I wasn’t there. Were you? Over here, companies are run by the CEO rather than the Chair.”

    That is a transparent cop out. In Australia (and I am sure, Britain and the US), the board, particularly the chairman of the board is supposed to scrutinize the activities of the CEO to ensure those activities are not harming the company. Clearly the board of Northern Rock, and Matt Riddley in particular, failed in that role. Not only that, it is very clear that the board, and Matt Riddley in particular, knew of, and approved of the very aggressive leveraging of debt by the Northern Rock CEO. This is not an example of their failing to detect the dubious activities of the CEO. This is a case of their knowing of them, and endorsing them. They are, therefore, as much to blame as the CEO for the failure.

    An economist should be expected to recognize these facts; and to base an argument on eliding over them shows dubious honesty.

  348. verytallguy says:

    BBD,

    so, yes, I get what sealioning is .

    But why sealioning? As opposed to, say “giraffing”, or “walrusing”

  349. Joseph says:

    I heard people talking about the possibility of a housing bust in the US in 2004. Not that it was apparent at the time there was in fact a bubble being created, but such a boom could lead to a bust.

  350. Willard says:

    > I would have thought that being a hereditary peer, especially as he actually has ended up in the House of Lords, is the epitome of benefiting from nepotism?

    Nepotism is “just a bad word,” AT:

    Matt Ridley (Op-Ed, March 15) argues that Congress could learn some lessons about cooperation from animals. He also says ”nobody is suggesting that the human instinct for cooperation stems from nepotism.”

    In fact, many evolutionary biologists have been suggesting exactly this for some time.

    There is a revolution under way in biology, stimulated by the Oxford theorist William D. Hamilton’s insight more than 30 years ago that evolution operates most effectively at the level of genes rather than of species, groups or even individuals.

    A small army of sociobiologists and a growing number of anthropologists have for years been documenting the universality of nepotism — also called ”kin selection” — as a powerful motivator of human cooperation. In my work on shared genes, I am developing this idea not just for Congress but all human beings.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1997/03/19/opinion/l-would-shared-genes-help-congress-behave-165581.html

  351. Joshua says:

    Can someone explain the sea lion references?

  352. Willard says:

    > That is a transparent cop out.

    It’s more than a transparent cop-out, Tom:

    The directors of Northern Rock were the principal authors of the difficulties that the company has faced since August 2007. The directors pursued a reckless business model which was excessively reliant on wholesale funding. The Financial Services Authority systematically failed in its regulatory duty to ensure that Northern Rock would not pose a systemic risk.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmtreasy/56/5603.htm

    I asked Richard if he was at CRU, because, you know, I too can channel my inner Joshua. He keeps telling me he worked with CRU, but he does not tell me if he was there. This inspired me this line of questions:

  353. Michael says:

    ATTP says “It’s about appearing to be polite while actually being incredibly rude.”

    Exactly! But what constitutes rude? Rude is also “rede” or “rule”; capricious and abstract, depending on cultural norms and nothing else. When I lived in Iceland, the French were considered incredibly rude (about which I tended to agree but characterize as prideful and intrusive). The French considered the Icelanders incredibly rude (where I would describe them as aloof and private, the very opposite of intrusive).

    In the realm of debate, polite often wins the hearts of the audience. It is highly valued and that is why the sea lion gets any sympathy.

  354. verytallguy says:

    Lehman’s led to the run on Northern.

    No, Richard, the Rock’s appetite for risk and over reliance on short term finance led to the run.

    In which aspects they were worse than any other UK bank. Which is why they went down first and hardest. Under Ridley s leadership.

  355. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    ==> “Dana’s a poopyhead (okay I made that one up)”.

    Based on the quality of Richard’s other arguments, I wouldn’t be surprised if had come up with that one on his own.

  356. Joshua says:

    Funny cartoon, willard – if perhaps a bit too close for comfort.

  357. Steve Bloom says:

    Anders, much above, agreeing with Tallbloke: “Of course [Matt may be right about low sensitivity].”

    You keep saying this from time to time. Every time you do, or nearly so, I point to e.g. the paleo evidence and the inability of GCMs to reflect polar amplification, and you seem to back down. But then here it is yet again. Do you really think so?

  358. Rachel M says:

    I can clarify that Michael and Michael 2 are the same person.

  359. Steve,

    You keep saying this from time to time. Every time you do, or nearly so, I point to e.g. the paleo evidence and the inability of GCMs to reflect polar amplification, and you seem to back down. But then here it is yet again. Do you really think so?

    Okay, I was being pedantic. Matt’s chosen TCR is 1.35K which is within the IPCC range. Of course, this is the median of an energy balance estimate that is influenced by the choice of temperature dataset and by the forcing dataset, both of which may be resulting in an underestimate of the TCR and which, of course, ignore slower feedbacks and internal variability. So, all I was trying to accept is that the evidence suggests that there is a chance that he could be right. I agree, though, that it is unlikely that he’ll be right.

    Of course, what he also typically fails to do is make clear that our future emission pathway will determine how much we warm. Saying “it will only be another 1K is wrong on many counts”.

  360. Michael says:

    verytallguy says: “But why sealioning? As opposed to, say giraffing, or walrusing”

    The artist writes: “The sea lion character is not meant to represent actual sea lions, or any actual animal. It is meant as a metaphorical stand-in for human beings that display certain behaviors”

    http://wondermark.com/1k62/

    In other words, probably a random choice based on vague parallels (big, intrusive, crushes opponents, large numbers of sea lions haul out on favored rocks).

    He also writes “It has been further suggested that they [the humans] be read as overly privileged, because they are dressed fancily, have a house, a motor-car, etc. This is, I suppose, a valid read of the comic, if taken as written.”

    Well, yes. I am pedantic. I read words and assume they mean what they say. All parties are “rude” in that comic.

  361. Willard says:

    > perhaps a bit too close for comfort.

    My specialty, Joshua.

    An old Storification between Thingsbreak and members of the Lomborg Collective:

    https://storify.com/thingsbreak/nic-lewis-and-matt-ridley-s-claims-about-aldrin-et

  362. BBD says:

    Thank you Rachel.

    It seems that Michael 2’s obsession with good manners does not extend to his own.

  363. BBD says:

    Joshua

    Can someone explain the sea lion references?

    At first I thought this was a fairly clever joke. Then I realised that you hadn’t bothered to read the thread.

  364. BBD says:

    VTG

    But why sealioning? As opposed to, say “giraffing”, or “walrusing”

    This on the other hand, may well be a fairly clever joke.

  365. Joshua says:

    BBD –

    ==> “At first I thought this was a fairly clever joke. Then I realised that you hadn’t bothered to read the thread.”

    Ha, Ha…you should have known that i couldn’t be that clever! Occam’s razor.

  366. Vinny Burgoo says:

    IMO, the chairmen and directors of the UK’s failed and nearly-failed banks should have been stripped of a good wodge of their wholly unearned banking wealth and some of them should have been sent to jail, if only pour encourager etc. Ditto the bigwigs on the boards of the big institutional investors.

    Dunno if Viscount Ridley should be in jail for his own misdeeds alone. My bete noire is HBOS’s Baron Stevenson of Coddenham, a complete **** who, by claiming that his banking failures exacerbated a long-existing tendency towards depression, has been given a free pass to slip under the banking scandal radar and carry on as usual as a complete ****.

    Coddenham has likely backed out of his dodgy West African jatropha etc. investments. Is he still financing dodgy West African fishing, though? Does anyone have any solid info on what he’s financing in West Africa or elsewhere?

  367. Willard says:

    A Baron, Vinny? Fascinating. Please tell us more.

    All I got is this:

    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/peer/13387/lord_stevenson_of_coddenham

  368. Willard says:

    Our Viscount also has a page:

    Viscount Ridley never rebelled against their party in this parliament

    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/peer/25174/viscount_ridley

    Nothing much there.

  369. Am I reading this right? So, both the ex-Chairman of Northern Rock and the ex-Chairman of HBOS are currently members of the House of Lords? Good grief!

  370. verytallguy says:

    Democracy, ATTP, Mother of Parliaments and all.

  371. Bryan says:

    Matt Ridley was the non-executive Chairman of Northern Rock

    This was a kind of chairman keeping the directors in order rather than a strategic post.
    Northern Rock was a relatively innocent victim of the general banking crisis.
    This can be shown by the decision of the Government to split the Nationalised Bank into two parts.

    1. A good bank
    2. A bad bank

    The bad bank contained virtually all the mortgages and bond commitments.
    Two years ago most people thought that this part would lose money and could not be sold.
    Recently however the “bad bank” has been making a profit while the good bank is still making loses.

    Northern Rocks model was to borrow against its existing mortgages.
    But when the AAA rated American Mortgage Obligation Bonds was shown to be worthless nobody would lend against mortgage backed credit.
    Several of the major banks were technically insolvent because they held large quantities of these by now worthless bonds.

    One choice fact for those who believe in conspiracies.
    The British Government was paying for advice from Goldman Sachs about what to do with Northern Rock.
    Meanwhile Goldman Sachs had a massive hedge fund which was betting an a housing bond crash.
    Goldman Sachs have been forced to pay compensation to other Banks because of this chicanery.
    Northern Rocks mortgage book was always relatively clean as is now proved by the “bad” bank making a profit.
    Compare also with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) a gigantic bubble of worthless assets.
    The British puplic will never recover the lost value in RBS and this is the main cause of years of austerity they will have to endure.

  372. Tom Curtis says:

    In an otherwise excellent comment, Michael said:

    “Exactly! But what constitutes rude? Rude is also “rede” or “rule””

    According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “rude” actually comes from the Latin, “rudus”, meaning unwrought or uncultivated. It is not epistemicaly related to the anglo-saxon “rede”. Nor are either related to “rule”, which comes via Old French from the latin for a straight stick.

  373. dana1981 says:

    ==> “Dana’s a poopyhead (okay I made that one up)”.

    Based on the quality of Richard’s other arguments, I wouldn’t be surprised if had come up with that one on his own.

    I actually thought that was a pretty accurate paraphrasing of Tol’s arguments in support of Ridley and against me.

  374. Andy Skuce says:

    I wrote about Ridley’s role at Northern Rock a few years ago:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Ridleyriddle3.html

    -NR was unusually highly leveraged, even by the generally reckless standards of the time. There was a reason that it was the first British bank to fail in the credit crunch.
    -Some financiers did see the unusual degree of exposure of NR. It is inconceivable that the investor relations dept of NR was unaware of this.
    -Some senior officers of NR were found guilty of incomplete reporting, in effect hiding the decline in the quality of NR’s books. They were later sanctioned for this.
    -Ridley has never expressed any contrition for presiding over this mess. It’s the job of the chairman to preside over the broad strategy of the company and to ensure that the corporate culture is sound. The job is not a sinecure and, by any measure, Ridley’s performance was an abject failure.
    -Ridley nevertheless was outraged at the performance of Chairman Pauchari for his failures to quickly correct the Himalayan Glacier typo, while being unrepentant about his own much greater failings. Ridley has a brass neck, to say the least.

    Ridley was a great science writer and a few of his books remain among my favourites. It was a disappointment and surprise to learn of his involvement with NR. But his shabby scholarship and utter lack of objectivity in his writings on climate change was a much bigger let down.

  375. Willard says:

    A guest appearance:

    My Lords, given that the heart of the Lima agreement was merely “an invitation” for countries to define a carbon dioxide reduction target and that “may” was substituted for “shall” throughout the key text, does my noble friend think that sending a delegation to Lima was really worth all that money and aviation fuel? I declare my energy interests as listed in the register.

    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2015-01-07a.344.2&s=speaker%3A25174#g345.0

    Other concerns raised by the Viscount include lots of energy questions:

    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/search/?pid=25174&pop=1

  376. Bryan says:

    Northern Rocks downfall was that it had very few branches and relied on bundling mortgages and selling them on in bulk packages to for example Pension Funds.
    When American mortgage bonds were shown to be worthless nobody would lend money to Northern Rock.
    Perhaps NR should have know about the American Junk but then the Financial Regulator and the Bank of England were caught by surprise.
    Unlike RBS and HBOS , Northern Rock did not have any of the American Collateralised Debt on its books
    We now know that the NR bonds were safe investments.
    Virgin Money bought the ‘good bank’ and makes a profit.
    The ‘bad bank’ makes a profit and the net result is Northern Rock will not cost the British Public anything.
    The Chancellor Alistair Darling said on the day they nationalised NR that the banks assets were in excess of their liabilities but the assets were illiquid.

  377. jsam says:

    I like the excuses. But you get paid the big bucks to take the big hit.

  378. Joseph says:

    Conservatives here in the US are always talking about personal responsibility. As a Conservative in the UK, I wonder what Ridley thinks about personal responsibility? Should leaders of failed institutions be allowed to avoid accountability by saying “It wasn’t us it was someone else. We didn’t know.” And if everyone makes the same claim then no one is held accountable which is for most part the situation we now have.

  379. Willard says:

    While buying out the Bank may be profitable in the long run, for now it’s a debt:

    The addition of this borrowing to the Government’s totals increases the National Debt from £537 billion, or 37.7% of GDP to around 45%, breaking the so-called Golden Rule which sets the Public Sector Borrowing Requirement threshold at below 40%. The figure is the equivalent of £3,000 additional borrowing for every family in Britain. In the 2008 Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the government would issue £14 billion of gilts in order to cover the Northern Rock debt.

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

  380. ligne says:

    Anders: “Am I reading this right? So, both the ex-Chairman of Northern Rock and the ex-Chairman of HBOS are currently members of the House of Lords? Good grief!”

    well, Ridley needs somewhere warm and dry to set his stupidity to paper — may as well be the place where he can also get paid to keep the benches heated with his viscountly behind.

  381. Michael says:

    Tom Curtis says: “rude actually comes from the Latin, “rudus”, meaning unwrought or uncultivated.”

    Thank you sir; it is an embarrassment for me to get etymology incorrect, one of the few things that does actually make me squirm a bit. Lazy on my part. I did mention that folks here are, on average, above average!

  382. Willard says:

    Seems that Matt can play the beloved Bishop’s game:

    Dear Committee on Climate Change,

    Please supply me with all correspondence and all other information
    relating to:

    1. the decision to commission the “policy note” publication on your
    website entitled “Scrutiny of IPCC report “Climate Change 2013: The
    Physical Science Basis” “, which begins “During the House of Lords
    Energy Bill Debate on 28 October 2013, Viscount Ridley
    announced…”.

    2. the authorship of the above document.

    3. the editing of the above document.

    Yours faithfully,

    Matt Ridley

    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/scrutiny_of_ipcc_report#incoming-496133

    Well played, UK tax payers!

    ADDENDUM. This one could make a nice comedy of menace:

    The question at the heart of this FOI request, of course, remains unanswered. viz – the former Board Director and Head of Risk and Audit at Northern Rock Bank was denounced by the All Party Treasury Select Committee as culpable in the collapse of Northern Rock Bank, which is now owned by the taxpayer. That same individual now has a seat on the FRC’s Board for Actuarial Standards (BAS), tasked with setting prudential protocols for our pensions industry. That absurd dichotomy needs to be addressed.

    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/is_the_frc_a_private_body_or_par

    Strange that the Auditor never expressed any interest in Northern Rock.

  383. Eli Rabett says:

    T Tol

    Why don’t you remind people of the bit where Ackerman was caught out, not just publishing false claims, but publishing claims that he knew to be false when he published them? Did you see his sheepish admission that he wrote something he knew was not true?

    Gremlins Eli tells you, simply gremlins.

    Oh yeah, Eli has turned #MattKingCoal into a hashtag. Feel free

  384. Michael says:

    ATTP says “They’d just intrude even more.”

    I’ll admit I’ve never encountered a blog where everything is polite so as to give the test a theory but I do have experience with the “alt” newsgroups. I liked the newsreaders that could block specific writers. They had freedom of speech and I had freedom not to see those I deemed the worst.

  385. Michael 2 says:

    I’m not sure why the “2” has vanished. Let’s try this again.

  386. ligne says:

    Prof Rabett: with its rhymes about vice lords casually creating catastrophes, trashy yellowback fiction books and Zig-Zag zombie zealots, maybe this would be more apt?

  387. ligne says:

    (though as a chemistry Rabett, he may find this work to be of greater interest.)

  388. Vinny Burgoo says:

    ligne: ‘Zee-lots’?

    Have them come back when that’s been corrected.

  389. Rachel M says:

    That’s a great article about Matt Ridley’s role at Northern Rock, Andy Skuce. Thanks!

    I love the Q&A with Mr Fallon because it shows how Matt Ridley is incapable of accepting responsibility and saying he’s wrong:

    Q406 Mr Fallon: But you were wrong?

    Dr Ridley: We were hit by an unexpected and unpredictable concatenation of events.

    Q407 Mr Fallon: So you are the Chairman of a bank that ran out of money and that caused the first bank run in this country for 150 years; you have had to borrow billions of pounds of public money from the Bank of England; you have damaged the good name of British banking; why are you still clinging to office?

    I would expect Matt Ridley to apologise for his role in the Northern Rock debacle, to accept his share of the responsibility, to also apologise to the British tax payer, and finally, to pay back, at the very minimum, the compensation he received from Northern Rock while he was chairman. He could perhaps even do more than this but I would expect nothing less.

  390. Andrew Dodds says:

    Bryan –

    With base rates at 0.5% and charging perhaps 5% on mortgages it’s quite hard not to make a profit on secured lending, especially if the bail out means you don’t need to worry about depositors. Never mind the huge efforts put into keeping house prices sky-high in the UK – an indirect bailout that has been fantastically expensive for families in general.

    On a slight tangent.. the amount of cash and loan guarantees given to the banking sector, with minimal oversight or parliamentary scrutiny, in a few months, would have been sufficient to completely decarbonise the UK economy. Except that such a decarbonisation effort would act as a massive economic stimulus instead of the dead weight of bank support..

  391. Bryan says:

    Andrew Dodds
    I agree with most of your points.
    The BoE is forced to keep interest rates low to save a crisis in the housing market.
    It should be noted however that low interest rates are currently a feature of most Western Markets.

    Northern Rock was the first British Bank to suffer from the sudden lack of liquidity in the system.
    The politicians thought at first it was a rogue bank, a ‘one off ‘.
    Only later when all the British Banks were in serious trouble and some of them technically insolvent did the Bank of England introduce Quantitative Easing to inject billions of Pounds to ease the chronic lack of liquidity.
    This boils down to the BoE printing money to buy gilts and other corporate bonds.
    Had the BoE had the foresight to introduce QE earlier and purchased some Northern Rock corporate bonds then the crisis would not have been so acute.
    The chronic lack of liquidity was a worldwide problem.
    The real villains of the story must be the American Banks like Goldman Sachs and the rating agencies that awarded AAA status to worthless junk.
    Northern Rock assumed that there would always be market liquidity.
    Because it had few branches and an efficient backroom system its costs were well below average and there was much misplaced admiration of their operation.
    Of the British Banks RBS was the most irresponsible.
    The Northern Rock failings can mostly be put down to a naive belief in the Capitalist System.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantitative_easing#United_Kingdom

  392. verytallguy says:

    The Northern Rock failings can mostly be put down to a naive belief in the Capitalist System.

    Exactly. And Ridley’s views on climate change likewise.. can mostly be put down to a naive belief in the Capitalist System

  393. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    To wrap up, Dr Ridley claimed that his writings inspire others to write about what he wrote. To illustrate his point, Ken, Greg and Dana write about Ridley’s writings.

    Dr Ridley claimed that there have been more attempts on his character than on his arguments. To underline his point, Pitchfork Anonymous smears his name.

    Anyone who points out the irony of all this receives the same treatment.

  394. BBD says:

    Dr Ridley claimed that there have been more attempts on his character than on his arguments.

    Whereas in fact, Ridley’s incessant repetition of various misrepresentations and debunked errors has prompted some people to become irritated with him.

  395. Andrew Dodds says:

    @Tol

    Ah, that must be another one of those good ol’ ‘Advanced Research Techniques’ – write a load of speculation and half truths, get it published prominently thanks to your position, and then claim credit for ‘inspiring a response’.

    Frankly – a person who uses Anthony Watts’ blog or stolen emails as the basis of his arguments has no credible scientific arguments to begin with, and if he is going to talk about risk then the NR issue is extremely relevant, not ‘an attempt on character’. But it is so much easier to whine about character attacks, real or perceived, than to actually build an argument. Isn’t it?

  396. verytallguy says:

    To sum up:

    Tol continues to attention seek.

    Ridley continues to use his social network to gain a platform his historical actions would otherwise preclude him from

    Ridley uses this platform to whine about people who point out what his historical actions were in order to avoid responsibility for them.

    Ridley also continues to use his platform to proclaim a position on climate science not supported by the vast majority of experts in the field.

  397. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    Please help our research and take this poll
    [Mod : removed link to survey without – apparently – proper ethics approval.]

  398. Richard,

    Anyone who points out the irony of all this receives the same treatment.

    I really don’t think you understand the meaning of the word “irony”!

  399. ligne says:

    “write a load of speculation and half truths, get it published prominently thanks to your position, and then claim credit for ‘inspiring a response’.”

    …a response that can pretty much be summarised as “what is this i can’t even.” maybe Ridley never learned the difference between good and bad attention? you know, like that kid at school who’d stick twigs up his nose.

  400. victorpetri says:

    The believe that private companies should not or could not fail in capitalism is genuinely naive.

  401. vp,

    The believe that private companies should not or could not fail in capitalism is genuinely naive.

    Sure, what’s your point?

  402. Rachel M says:

    VictorPetri,

    I’ve worked for a startup before and it failed. The taxpayer did not have to pay for my failed enterprise.

  403. jsam says:

    Tol defends the indefensible.
    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2015/jan/21/matt-ridley-wants-to-gamble-earths-future-because-wont-learn-from-past#comment-46482436

    Who pays for your employer, the Global Warmers’ Protection Fund? Why won’t you come clean?

  404. verytallguy says:

    Tol defends the indefensible.

    In other news, Pope Francis is confirmed as Catholic, and ursidae faecal matter discovered in arboreal areas.

  405. Willard says:

    > Dr Ridley claimed that his writings inspire others to write about what he wrote.

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=made+you+look!

  406. Willard says:

    > to pay back, at the very minimum, the compensation he received from Northern Rock while he was chairman.

    There was no golden handshake, at the very least:

    He had been in the £315,000-a-year job for the past three years.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1566852/No-golden-handshake-for-Northern-Rock-boss.html

  407. Bryan says:

    One possible reason that Matt Ridley is a climate disaster sceptic is his unfortunate experience with the ‘consensus’ financial advice then current when NR was under his chairmanship .
    The consensus then among Professors of Economics and other commentators was that markets self regulate.
    Light touch regulation was ‘consensus thinking’ and this approach was backed by all the main political parties in the UK, the USA and elsewhere.
    So listening to the so called financial regulators would convince you that the Banks could rely on the rating agencies to correctly calibrate risk in the financial instruments.

    However this was the real world………….

    http://rt.com/business/224899-standard-poors-fined-banned/

  408. Bryan,

    One possible reason that Matt Ridley is a climate disaster sceptic is his unfortunate experience with the ‘consensus’ financial advice …….
    The consensus then among Professors of Economics and other commentators was that markets self regulate.

    Well, that was silly of him, if so. Admittedly, a large fraction of his co-Academic Advisors to the GWPF are economists, so he doesn’t seem to have too much trouble associating with them.

  409. jsam says:

    @Tol – which bit of Dana’s scientific demolition of Tol did you find in error?

  410. @jsam
    My employers are the University of Sussex and the Vrije University Amsterdam.

  411. BBD says:

    Oh well that invalidates everything then.

  412. BBD says:

    One possible reason that Matt Ridley is a climate disaster sceptic

    Another, more parsimonious hypothesis is that he has little understanding of physical climatology but is driven by a strong ideological bias. The correlation between climate science denial and right wing / conservative / libertarian bias is well established.

  413. Andrew Dodds says:

    @Bryan

    Yes, but the difference between Economists and Scientists is that Scientists try to based their models on the real world, Economists try to make the real world fit their models..

    And Economists actually get listened to* , no matter how many times they stuff up.. , base western economic policy on an error ridden spreadsheet, no problem. Small correction to temperature graph – tar and feather all climate scientists.

    *When their advice consists of things like ‘cut taxes for rich people/organisations’, ‘Ignore those pesky scientists’, or ‘You don’t have to make any hard choices, The Market ™ will fix it..’. So much nicer than having to actually, like, do stuff that is bound to annoy people.

  414. Willard says:

    Very Tall mentioned Fred the Shred earlier:

    The only thing that mattered to Goodwin was growth. He was on the prowl for the next takeover. The hapless board waved through each plan (in so far as he bothered to tell them). Their lack of curiosity or knowledge of complex issues was, as the author points out, a disgrace, but an inevitable consequence of the “you scratch my back” culture of corporate life. Goodwin’s own knowledge of collateral debt obligations, credit default swaps or over-leveraging against US sub-prime mortgages was equally rudimentary. Anyone who aired doubts was shouted at or sidelined.

    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/sep/16/making-happen-goodwin-martin-review

    Thereby it is shown that appealing to growth is a Goodwin argument.

  415. jsam says:

    @Tol – so your stint at the GWPF is unpaid? Worth every penny.

    Go on, who does pay for the FWPF? Just between friends.

  416. @[Mod : redacted]
    You either support such things with facts, or you retract.

  417. Richard,
    Your integrity is showing!

    You either support such things with facts, or you retract.

    Retract what? That you stating who your employers are does not mean that you’re not benefiting financially from your association with the GWPF? To be fair, I don’t really care and you certainly have no obligation to prove it one way or the other. Others, of course, are not obliged to retract what they’ve implied.

  418. jsam says:

    Thank you, Eli. Having spent many a long year in corporate and City life myself I have an inkling of how the “my employer is…” game is played. To recover from those arduous meetings at 1 Birdcage Walk it’s handy that Roux at Parliament Square is open late.

  419. BBD says:

    I think the key point here is whose views does Richard represent? Those of his employer(s) or those of the GWPF?

    Whether Richard is paid or not to represent those views is irrelevant.

  420. @Wottsywotts
    For what it’s worth:
    I’m employed by U Sussex and Vrije U Amsterdam.
    Our research is supported by grants from the European Commission and the Economic and Social Research Council.

    Anyone who claims otherwise is a liar.

  421. @RichyRich,
    Fine by me. In fact, Rachel’s convinced me that we should moderate Eli’s earlier comment. She’s softer – sometimes – than I am. Happy now?

  422. BBD says:

    Richard

    Perhaps we crossed. See above. It is easy to resolve this and you can do it yourself with two links.

    What is the public position of the University of Sussex and the Vrije University Amsterdam on AGW?

    We will come to the public position of the GWPF once those of your employers is established.

  423. @Wottsywotts
    Would I be happier with you following Rachel’s suggestion or WordPress shutting down this blog and your boss getting really pissed with you? I’m evil, remember.

  424. Willard says:

    > Our research is supported […]

    Which research, Richard, and how does this relate to what’s being discussed?

    Many thanks!

  425. BBD,

    What is the public position of the University of Sussex and the Vrije University Amsterdam on AGW?

    To be fair, that’s probably a rather irrelevant question, academic freedom and all that.

  426. Richard,

    Would I be happier with you following Rachel’s suggestion or WordPress shutting down this blog and your boss getting really pissed with you? I’m evil, remember.

    Come on, Richard, you’re not evil. You’re many things, things I shouldn’t put here because Rachel will simply moderate them, but evil you’re not.

    Of course, I should add that it wouldn’t surprise me if you wrote to my boss or to WordPress, because you’re a whiny [Mod : redacted]

  427. BBD says:

    Has anyone ever written to your bosses, Richard?

  428. Willard says:

    > Anyone who claims otherwise is a liar.

    Who claimed otherwise, Richard?

    Substantiate your claim or please retract.

    Many thanks!

  429. ligne says:

    “Whether Richard is paid or not to represent those views is irrelevant.”

    this. if Tol is willing to provide an academic fig-leaf for a secretive denialist lobby-group pro bono Esso, then so be it. it doesn’t exactly leave him smelling any more of roses.

    (neither does publishing the real names of people who have chosen to be pseudonymous, which is at best petulant and childish, and at worst smacks of bullying tactics…)

  430. Willard says:

    > it wouldn’t surprise me if you wrote to my boss

    Why would that be, AT?

    Ah yes:

    Does your long silence imply that you condone the smear campaign by your staff?

    http://frankackerman.com/Tol/Tol_e-mails_to_SEI.pdf

  431. Joseph says:

    Well, Richard, as everyone else is pointing out there are a lot of flaws in his op eds. Now we are trying to explain why he is may be making such flawed arguments. After all they are his arguments and past activities and statements are all relevant to why he writes the things he does. This is just a blog after where we all share our opinions..

  432. Willard says:

    Wait, this:

    [I]t has been repeatedly pointed out to him that our results are unaffected by the bug in the code.

    http://frankackerman.com/Tol/Tol_e-mails_to_SEI.pdf

    rings a bell. I’ve heard that one somewhere, but where? Ah, yes:

    As I’ve told you before, but you prefer to ignore, a corrigendum is a very restrictive format. The corrected data do not materially affect the results.

    http://andrewgelman.com/2014/05/27/whole-fleet-gremlins-looking-carefully-richard-tols-twice-corrected-paper-economic-effects-climate-change/#comment-167656

    Gremlins are fantastic creatures. The more they spread, the less they matter.

  433. Willard says:

    Now, let’s recall that Andrew Gelman disputes Richard’s claim:

    I know that you wrote that the corrected data do not materially affect the results, but as discussed in my post above I don’t agree with that statement of yours, as your paper includes several important statements that are affected by the corrections:

    http://andrewgelman.com/2014/05/27/whole-fleet-gremlins-looking-carefully-richard-tols-twice-corrected-paper-economic-effects-climate-change/#comment-167676

    Does it mean Andy should contact Richard’s employer to ask them if they condone misrepresentations campaign by their staff?

    Perhaps we ought to seek redress with all the blogs where Richard is spreading his misinformations.

    I’d rather have this settled the good old way. Pistols. Gloves. A car race.

  434. verytallguy says:

    Tol’s law:

    However obnoxious you anticipate Richard’s behaviour to be, he will immediately exceed that level.

    Remember that fair comment is a defence to libel.

    Ref: Akerman, Gelman, #freethetol300

  435. Rachel M says:

    I have been at swimming lessons with my son and am coming to this late, sorry.

    It is unethical to disclose the identity of a blog commenter or a blog author who wishes to remain anonymous. Comments that do so will be moderated.

    WordPress also takes a hard line against censorship:
    http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/striking-back-against-censorship/

  436. @Rachel
    Fine. We’ll continue to pretend that we do not know who is Eli or Wotts. (Hint: Google)

  437. BBD says:

    Fishing exercises should not be confused with actual knowledge.

  438. jsam says:

    @Tol – seriously? If Google therefore not Ethics?

  439. Rachel M says:

    Richard Tol,

    Fine. We’ll continue to pretend that we do not know who is Eli or Wotts.

    It’s very easy to do. I learnt how to keep secrets when I was about 5 years old.

  440. Rachel M says:

    This post is about Matt Ridley so I’d prefer the discussion focus on that instead of on Richard Tol or anyone else.

  441. @Rachel
    Naturally, people want to know whose the brains behind such gems as “I should probably read this before writing my own post, but I haven’t and I’ll write something anyway.”

  442. jsam says:

    Why doesn’t Matt allow comments on his blog?

  443. Richard,

    Naturally, people want to know whose the brains behind such gems as “I should probably read this before writing my own post, but I haven’t and I’ll write something anyway.”

    Yeah, I know. Blogging’s great. You can almost write whatever you want to. Of course, I can’t quite remember when I said that and – as usual – you don’t provide any kind of link. That would, of course, allow people to actually scrutinise what you’ve suggested and that might be inconvenient for the message you’re trying to present – a symptom of much of your behaviour.

  444. Willard says:

    Since you’re good at outing people using the Google, Richard, could you confirm if Viscount’s Blagdon Estate covers 7500 acres? Also, my source tells me that:

    Blagdon Farming Limited received in Single Farm Payment £196k in 2013, which would equate to around 1000ha of eligible farmland. In addition they also received £41000 from Rural Development grants.

    This very friendly piece in his local paper tells us that the Blagdon estate covers over 12 square miles. This means Ridley owns over 3100ha or nearly 7500 acres. As you can see from the Blagdon website, Ridley has also diversified his estate so he also receives income from businesses using buildings on the estate, as well as his many tenants.

    https://anewnatureblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/viscount-matt-ridley-the-new-king-coal/

    Since you’re the most cited econometrician in the Stern review, it might be preferable if you’d pay due diligence to these numbers.

    ***

    Also, why do you let people call you an economist? I thought you said:

    I am an econometrician, by the way.

    http://andrewgelman.com/2014/05/27/whole-fleet-gremlins-looking-carefully-richard-tols-twice-corrected-paper-economic-effects-climate-change/#comment-167656

    Many thanks!

  445. Richard,
    Wow, you’re doing the full disclosure. Outed twice in one day. That’s quite something. You must be very proud?

  446. Willard says:

    I forgot this other gem:

    Ridley owns a number of active coal mines, most notably Shotton opencast mine and Brenkley lane. Shotton currently covers 342ha with 6 million tonnes of coal. It is still expanding: the latest extensions will yield another 550000 tonnes of coal. Brenkley lane is 244ha with 2.9 million tonnes of coal to be extracted. Other Blagdon mines, such as the Delhi mine, have already been worked out.

    https://anewnatureblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/viscount-matt-ridley-the-new-king-coal/

    Compare and contrast:

    I have a financial interest in coal mining on my family’s land. The details are commercially confidential, but I have always been careful to disclose that I have this interest in my writing when it is relevant; I am proud that the coal mining on my land contributes to the local and national economy; and that my income from coal is not subsidized and not a drain on the economy through raising energy prices.

    http://www.mattridley.co.uk/blog/coal-interests.aspx

    This is technically true, as Single Farm and Rural Developments are not coal interests.

    Look, Gremlins!

  447. @Wotts
    I did not contribute much apart from sending Andrew in the wrong direction.

  448. Eli Rabett says:

    Now some, not Eli to be sure, might think that pointing out that somebunny can have other sources of support than direct employment is not defamatory to anyone, esp when not mentioning any names. Case in point is Willie Soon who proposed for grants to his employer, the Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory from Exxon and said grants paid his salary (and also overheat to HSAO). That is not defamatory of anything or anyone, any more so than anodyne statements about the sun rising or the effect on global temperature anomalies of increasing greenhouse gases.

    You have hurt Eli’s fee fees Rachel. Beware Beware

  449. Richard,
    Huh? I was referring to what you’re doing here, not what you may have done elsewhere. I don’t really care. You’re pretty much confirming my general impression of you which – as you may have guessed – is not great. I imagine you don’t really care either, though.

  450. Eli Rabett says:

    The interesting thing is that Richard is flailing. Now some, not Eli to be sure, might attribute this to his nature. Not Eli. News of recent events such as the 2009 paper fiasco and the IPCC report and the Tol 300 have crept out into the wider world and his childish play acting does not work quite so well anymore . The Rabett has seen this act before. Like most history it starts as tragedy and ends as farce. Richard is definitely on the steep end of the Pielke Jr. 538 slope. Lubos awaits you at the bottom Richard, you will always have your fans, just no one else will take you seriously.

  451. Rachel M says:

    The topic is Matt Ridley’s latest piece in The Times. I thought I’d paste in something he says:

    The latest IPCC report gives a range of estimates of future warming, from harmless to terrifying. My best guess would be about one degree of warming during this century, which is well within the IPCC’s range of possible outcomes.

    I had a look at the IPCC emissions scenarios and there’s a graph on the Skeptical Science website:

    From the graph (and correct me if I’ve got it wrong), it does look like one degree of warming this century is within IPCC projections if we follow the low emissions scenario of RCP2.6. What does that mean?

    I googled RCP2.6 and found this paper which says:

    Cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases from 2010 to 2100 need to be reduced by 70% compared to a baseline scenario, requiring substantial changes in energy use and emissions of non-CO2 gases. These measures (specifically the use of bio-energy and reforestation measures) also have clear consequences for global land use.

    Wow. Ok. So either Matt Ridley wants us to drastically cut our carbon emissions or his best guess is really not within the IPCC range of possible outcomes at all and he’s just using the IPCC to add some legitimacy to his view.

  452. verytallguy says:

    Having established Tol’s First Law above, I need to disappoint Rachel

    This post is about Matt Ridley so I’d prefer the discussion focus on that instead of on Richard Tol or anyone else.

    by revealing Tol’s second Law (drum roll).

    All systems involving Richard Tol will tend for the role of Tol to move in the direction from participant to subject

    As demonstrated so vividly here

  453. dana1981 says:

    To wrap up, Dr Ridley claimed that his writings inspire others to write about what he wrote. To illustrate his point, Ken, Greg and Dana write about Ridley’s writings.

    Kudos to Matt Ridley for anticipating that when he repeats long-debunked zombie science myths, people will write about it.

    Dr Ridley claimed that there have been more attempts on his character than on his arguments. To underline his point, Pitchfork Anonymous smears his name.

    Who is Pitchfork Anonymous? Substantiate this claim please.

    Anyone who points out the irony of all this receives the same treatment.

    Irony from the man who attacks anyone who dares criticize his shoddy work. #FreeTheTol300

  454. dana1981 says:

    Wow. Ok. So either Matt Ridley wants us to drastically cut our carbon emissions or his best guess is really not within the IPCC range of possible outcomes at all and he’s just using the IPCC to add some legitimacy to his view.

    Yep I made that point in my post yesterday Rachel 🙂

  455. afeman says:

    Rustication has its advantages. At least the beer in Pilsen is good. Boulder, too, come to think of it.

  456. Rachel M says:

    Dana,
    Yeah, great article. I read it and got the idea from your article. There are lots of things to criticise in Matt Ridley’s writing and I thought this one was worth highlighting. I see people defending him but what’s the defence for that particular quote?

  457. Willard says:

    Viscount Ridley declares his interests thus:

    Blagdon and Blyth estates in Northumberland, with income from farming, forestry, commercial property, residential property, leisure, coal and clay mining.

    http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/lords/viscount-ridley/4272

    Historians seem a bit less concise:

    Matthew White and Nocholas Ridley soon became closely associated, both in their business dealings and in their civic responsibilities. White was Mayor of the city in 1691 and in 1703, and Ridley held the same office in 1688 (the year of the Glorious Revolution) and again in 1707 – another suspicious year when the Treaty of Union with Scotland was signed and peace came at last to the troubled border. Together Matthew White and Nicholas Ridley built up an extensive interest in the coal trade, acquiring mines at Blaydon, Willington, Benton, Byker [11] and Heaton [15, 35/12] and Jesmond [35/13]. Matthew White extended his interests north of the city, buying the Blagdon estates in 1700. There is no description of the existing manor house of that date, but it stood on the site of the present one and traces of it remain in the cellars where there is still a fine stone chimney piece, carved with the White coat of arms. The exact date of the present house is unknown. Matthew White died in 1716 and his son, the second Matthew White, married in 1718 Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of John Johnson, another wealthy merchant who owned land and coal at Bebside. It is more than likely that it was he who built the house as Bourne, the Newcastle historian writing in 1736 says:-

    “Since the present gentleman was the possessor, Blagdon vastly surpasses what it was formerly; and whether we consider the stateliness of the house, the grandeur of the avenue, the beauty of the gardens, or the art and ornament of the curious fish ponds, we shall find them exceeded by few in the whole country.”

    http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/rd/a03999d2-8ed3-4974-b5d2-53c5c8e0e4da

    ***

    Both the declaration and the historical account fail to mention that our Lord’s estate produces around the sixth of UK’s coal.

  458. Willard says:

    Speaking of peerage and nepotism leads me to wonder if Lord Ridley read Pikkety and if so, what is his opinion.

    Following Richard’s hint, here it is:

    Gremlins make all this cohere, somehow. Must be some kind of universal law of reciprocity.

  459. Willard says:

    Another tweet:

    Gremlins found this gem:

    Well, knock me down with a feather. You mean to say that during three decades when the government encouraged asset bubbles in house prices; gave tax breaks to pensions; lightly taxed wealthy non-doms; poured money into farm subsidies; and severely restricted the supply of land for housing, pushing up the premium earned by planning permission for development, the wealthy owners of capital saw their relative wealth increase slightly? Well, I’ll be damned.

    http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/inequality-is-falling,-globally.aspx

    The Government Made Northern Rock Do It.

  460. Michael 2 says:

    pbjamm says: (January 21, 2015 at 4:51 pm) “Michael I double-dog-dare you to provide links to those competing theories of climate.”

    I suspect tens of thousands of studies exist over hundreds of years trying to explain “climate”. In fact, rain dancers probably have theories. As I understand it there’s about 50 different theories of “the pause” which itself is just one small part of climate theory.

    “What is with the scare quotes?”

    (1) It indicates self-appointments rather than my concurrence. Essentially anyone can claim to be a “climate scientist”. (2) It indicates focus on the word or phrase, “climate scientist” rather than the concept to which it refers, climate scientist, which is not universally defined — it may mean someone with a degree, someone with an interest, someone actually employed studying some facet of all the many branches of science that influence climate in some way, and a few persons that study ALL of it and have a degree that says “Climatology”.

    While trying to find who was the first PhD in Climatology I found this:
    http://educate-yourself.org/cn/globalwarmingdeception05feb07.shtml

    He’s the first Canadian PhD in Climatology, or so he claims; but I have become interested in who was the very first PhD in Climatology and how such a thing can become “bootstrapped” — it appears he must confer the degree on himself and define what it means.

    I found this sentence interesting: As Lindzen said many years ago: “the consensus was reached before the research had even begun.”

    Since that was written in 2007 quite a lot of research has been concluded and I am quite happy that the science is not settled. There would be thousands of unemployed scientists and college professors were it ever “settled”.

  461. Willard says:

    The next paragraph shows that Piketty’s argument must hit home:

    My point is that a good part of any increase in wealth concentration since 1980 has been driven by government policy, which has systematically redirected earning opportunities to the rich rather than the poor. Look at our energy policy: thanks to the allegedly left-wing energy secretaries Ed Miliband and Ed Davey, we pay double or treble the going rate for land-hungry projects such as wind, wood and solar energy, all of which results in rewards going to the owners of property. Try getting through a dinner party in the shires these days without somebody waxing lyrical about the subsidised “payback” on wood-chip boilers or solar panels. The upper class has a welfare dependency problem as well as the underclass.

    http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/inequality-is-falling,-globally.aspx

    No declaration of interest there. No mention of Single Farm and Rural Developments grants. No mention of coal revenues.

    Gremlins must have erased all these details.

  462. jsam says:

    Ah, Willard, I see what you mean. So, by Ridley-itis, because Piketty is attacked Piketty must be correct. It’s so obvious when you think about it. I’ve been Ridleyed.

    I guess the only appropriate response for climate science is to see error and not say anything. Yes, that’ll work.

    Damn the tag. It doesn’t work.

  463. verytallguy says:

    Willard,

    you are having fun.

    It might (or might not) be of note that of the Lords on the GWPF trustees, at least the couple I’ve checked both list being a trustee of the GWPF as a non-financial interest.

    Perhaps an enquiry to see if there were any benefits in kind from their charitable generosity might be in order.

    Matt Ridley (uniquely I believe) is both a Lord and on the academic advisory board of the GWPF which allows us to check his disclosure against it.

    His interest in that regard is unlisted, either as financial or non-financial.

    Perhaps someone should enquire if he is obliged to add it in either capacity.

    Please carry on.

  464. verytallguy says:

    Oh, and discovered during research, on the subjects of democracy and deference.

    Matt Ridley, nepotist, failed banker and spreader of climate disinformation on behalf of the politcal lobby group the GWPF now sits on the Science and Technology Committee of the House of Lords in the British Parliament.

    The UK parliament website cannot enlighten me as to how I, a British citizen, might exercise my democratic right to remove him from this position. It does, however, ensure that I know the correct form of address for “the Mattster”:

    Viscount
    Beginning of email/letter… Dear Lord X
    End of email/letter… Yours sincerely
    Envelope… The (Rt Hon.* the) Viscount X

    http://www.parliament.uk/business/lords/whos-in-the-house-of-lords/how-to-address-a-lord/

    I am most grateful.

  465. verytallguy says:

    ATTP,

    saw your tweet. It would be very instructive to post your nutter emails on line.

    And I have to say, Richard has behaved like the most egregious arse. [mod:redacted]

    At least, though, by Ridley’s logic, in order to provoke him to behave in such a way, you must be right 🙂

  466. Rachel M says:

    VTG, are you sure you put the [mod:redacted] in the right place there?

  467. verytallguy says:

    Rachel,

    Yes, certain. You wouldn’t have wanted to see what it replaced. It was uncivil.

  468. vtg,

    It would be very instructive to post your nutter emails on line.

    So far, only the one. Maybe everyone else will be well behaved and that’s all I’ll get.

  469. jsam says:

    I’m very Ridleyed. My wife and I just had a discussion. Ahem.

    I informed her that because she attacked me I must be right.

    She failed to see my logic. How odd.

    Oh, and I lost.

  470. dana1981 says:

    Rachel – yes, I think that was the worst point in Ridley’s horrid article. He’s trying to sound credible by claiming that his beliefs are consistent with the IPCC range of projections. Except his belief (1°C warming over the next century – under what emissions scenario he doesn’t say) is only consistent with RCP2.6, which is an aggressive emissions reduction scenario. He doesn’t mention this, then he has the balls to argue against aggressive emissions reductions.

    If Ridley wants to argue the IPCC temp projections are wrong, then he should just do that. But to claim his beliefs are consistent with the IPCC projections is just a gross distortion. It also irritates me that he doesn’t specify what emissions pathway he’s talking about or advocating for. He just has this general ‘no worries’ attitude that sounds a lot like support for the type of business-as-usual path that the IPCC says will most likely lead to >3°C warming.

  471. Rachel M says:

    The discussion about Matt Ridley jumping a sinking ship and not really taking any responsibility for the failure of Northern Rock reminds me of something in the news recently where the boss of Network Rail chose not to accept his annual bonus because of the transport disruption over the Christmas period last year:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/network-rail-boss-mark-carne-to-reject-bonus-this-year-after-christmas-train-travel-shambles-9950139.html

  472. Willard says:

    > So, by Ridley-itis, because Piketty is attacked Piketty must be correct.

    I’m not quite sure about that one, jsam, for I’m not sure I’d like to stand against McCloskey all the way:

    Her central point: “trade-based betterment,” (she wisely avoids “capitalism” to emphasize that the focus on “capital” is about a hundred years out of date) has raised living standards by factors of 30 or more — much more if you think about health, freedom, lifespan, tavel, etc. unavailable at any price in 1800; it has led to much greater equality in many things that count, such as consumption, health and so on; and stands to do so again if we do not kill the goose that laid these golden eggs.

    http://johnhcochrane.blogspot.com/2014/12/mccloskey-on-piketty-and-friends.html

    If the Chicago School did not exist, we would need to invent it.

    There is this fig leaf, though:

    This is not to say that no one in rich countries such as the United States is unskilled, addicted, badly parented, discriminated against, or simply horribly unlucky. George Packer’s recent The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (2013) and Barbara Ehrenreich’s earlier Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (2001) carry on a long and distinguished tradition telling the bourgeoisie about the poor, back to James Agee and Walker Evans, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1944), George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), Jack London, The People of the Abyss (1903), Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives: Studies among the Tenements of New York (1890), and the fount, Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845). They are not making it up. Anyone who reads such books is wrenched out of a comfortable ignorance about the other half. In fictional form one is wrenched by Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (1939) or Farrell’s Studs Lonigan (1932-1935) or Wright’s Native Son (1940), or in Europe, among many observers of the Two Nations, Zola’s Germinal (1885), which made many of us into socialists. The wrenching is salutary. It is said that Winston Churchill, scion of the aristocracy, believed that most English poor people lived in rose-covered cottages. He couldn’t imagine back-to-backs in Salford, with the outhouse at the end of the row. Wake up, Winston.

    Sadly, we also see this gem: “The science writer Matt Ridley has offered a persuasive reason for the (slight) rise in inequality recently in Britain.” followed by the very same “feather” quote we provided earlier. I guess that due diligence and all that is a bit too much to ask of an “economist, historian, and rhetorician who has written sixteen books and around 400 scholarly pieces on topics ranging from technical economics and statistics to transgender advocacy and ethics”:

    http://www.deirdremccloskey.org/

    Beyond the great “let’s all blame it on government” kumbaya, perhaps she also missed the Lord’s parenthetical remark:

    [T]he Office for National Statistics confirms that the Gini coefficient (an income distribution index) of inequality in this country is actually lower now than it was 25 years ago (though it’s higher than it was 35 years ago in the confiscatory tax regime of the 1970s).

    http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/inequality-is-falling,-globally.aspx

    If our lukewarmer has learned anything from ClimateBall ™, it’s to choose his time windows wisely.

  473. Michael 2 says:

    That was an exercise in futility. It appears “climatologist” is a job description, not a degee; although it also appears degrees started to appear in 2001. The University of Delaware offers a PhD in Climatology and its course catalog appears rather formidable.

  474. Michael 2 says:

    Addressing Willard’s commentary on jsam’s comment “So, by Ridley-itis, because Piketty is attacked Piketty must be correct.”

    Relates to an old saying, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”; which is probably true only in the case of binary thinking. A more nuanced approach is that “the enemy of my enemy might also be my enemy”, a truth revealed by playing the game of “Risk” where everyone is your enemy but you form temporary alliances as seems advantageous.

  475. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Rachel, Carne was pushed into that. He had been interviewed a day earlier on the Beeb about his bonus and had insisted that he would be taking it, justifying his decision with a load of tortuous flannel worthy of a politician. Whoever interviewed him did a good job. I can’t remember who it was, but he/she at one point said something like, ‘C’mon, people are going to look at your total pay package and think £35k is peanuts to someone like you and doing without it would be a painless gesture that’d make a lot of unhappy people a little bit less unhappy, so why not do without it?’ Cue more flannel from Carne.

    His aides must have told him he sounded like a complete ****. Complete U-turn within 24 hours.

    (Incidentally, Carne’s £675k pa is about what Lord Stevenson got as chairman of HBOS, which sinecure occupied about two working weeks of his year, he said. £50k/day for overseeing the collapse of Scotland’s oldest bank. Nice.)

    (Incidentally, part deux: I was somewhat tiddly when I said last night that people like Stevenson should have some of their unearned banking wealth removed. Retrospective legislation is always wrong, so such measures should be verboten unless already legally sanctioned – which they weren’t and, AFAIK, aren’t. More shunning and shaming would have been nice, though.)

  476. Rachel M says:

    Vinny,

    Sometimes our actions matter more than our motivations. It doesn’t really matter why Carne did it because he still did it. Why didn’t Matt Ridley and others do it too? Of course it’s never too late to make amends ….

    Also, the train debacle is peanuts compared to the £27 billion of tax payer money used to bail out Northern Rock.

  477. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Rachel, so get in a time machine and take whoever it was who interviewed Carne with you and go back a few years and get him/her to interview Ridley. Shunning, shaming and the Beeb at its best seems to work.

  478. Willard says:

    A counterpoint to McCloskey’s and also our Lord’s sugarcoating:

    I think, ultimately, I agree with McCloskey: economics, properly constructed, is a historical discipline. This, to me, implies that it is rooted in real world events and their interpretation. The problem with that interpretation is that ideological worldviews intrude. Inevitably. Inescapably. McCloskey has a particular worldview. It is a right of center view. It is a view that denies the rights of people to address what they perceive as social wrongs through modern democratic means. Those modern democratic means being the government. It denies that any wrongs can exist because the spirit in the sky is so all seeing and powerful it will right them before they appear.

    The tradition in which McCloskey sits, denies forcibly and very loudly that the government can play any role whatever in the economy. It has constructed an entire intellectual edifice – Smith-Say-Mises-Hayek-Friedman et al – to enforce that denial. It has sought to interfere in the democratic process in order to neuter any influence that process might have.

    And this surely cannot be lost on anyone: the triumph of that tradition post-1980 has wrought not a great surge in wealth, but a great stuttering that has now fallen into what many of McCloskey’s allies are calling a great stagnation. The very system-we-cannot-name and which is the giver of all gifts is, apparently, failing to give in the same degree of abundance that it once did. The leap forward, upon which McCloskey leans so much in her defense of rightish economics, appears to be in a somewhat halting mode.

    https://rwer.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/mccloskey-disses-democracy/

  479. Michael 2 says:

    BBD says: (January 22, 2015 at 3:15 pm) “What is the public position of the University of…”

    I presume this is a rhetorical question 😉

  480. Willard says:

    After lauding Matt’s idea that hominids rock because they could trade some, and the other one about rational optimism, Bill pays due diligence to Matt’s claims about Africa:

    Mr. Ridley spends 14 pages saying that everything will be just fine in Africa without our worrying about negative possibilities. This is unfortunate and misguided. Is his optimism justified because things always just happen to work out? Or do good results depend partly on our caring and taking action to prevent and solve problems? These are important questions, and he doesn’t answer them.

    […]

    Mr. Ridley dismisses concern about climate change as another instance of unfounded pessimism. His discussion in this chapter is provocative, but he fails to prove that we shouldn’t invest in reducing greenhouse gases. I asked Ken Caldeira, a scientist who studies global ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science, to look over this part of the book. He pointed out that Mr. Ridley celebrates declining air pollution emissions in the U.S. but does not acknowledge that this has come about because of government regulations based on publicly funded science, which Mr. Ridley opposes. As Mr. Caldeira rightly observes, “It is a wonder of development that our economy can grow as air pollution diminishes.” What is true of the U.S. case, I’d suggest, can be true of the world as a whole as we deal with the challenges posed by climate change.

    The Rational Optimist would be a great book if Mr. Ridley had wrapped things up before these hokey policy discussions and his venting against those he considers to be pessimists. I agree with him that some people are overly concerned with potential problems, and I hadn’t realized that this pessimism was so common in rich countries over the last several centuries. As John Stuart Mill said in 1828, in a quote from the book that I especially enjoyed: “I have observed that not the man who hopes when others despair, but the man who despairs when others hope, is admired by a large class of persons as a sage.”

    http://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/Africa-Needs-Aid-Not-Flawed-Theories

    Reading back Mill to a Libertarian gets bonus points in my book.

  481. Eli Rabett says:

    Richard has other issues and may need to play defense for a while.

  482. Joshua says:

    ==> “Richard has other issues and may need to play defense for a while”

    “Chill.”

    Classic.

  483. Willard says:

    Since Ridley’s rational optimism touches something Bowles & Gintis wrote about, I wondered if Gintis reviewed Ridley. Of course he did:

    The title of this book is clearly a reference to Richard Dawkins’ famous “The Selfish Gene.” One of the most amazing develpments in evolutionary and developmental biology in the past couple of decades is that evolution is just as much about cooperation as it is about competition. In particular, several authors, including Maynard Smith and Szathmary, Michod, and Keller (see his Princton U Press collection) have analyzed the development of multicellular organisms in a conflict/cooperation framework. The result is quite unfavorable to Dawkins’ approach.
    This book mentions the problem, but disposes of it so rapidly that virtually nothing of interest can possibly get through to the reader. Rather, this book is about the problem of replication error in copying dna. Ridley argues that the level of complexity of organisms is limited by their ability to sustain highly accurate copying, and that humans are about at the limit of this ability.
    This is a interesting argument, but to my mind it isn’t earth-shattering and it doesn’t require a whole book to tell. Of course, you will learn a lot of biology in the telling (if you didn’t know it already), and Ridley is a very good writer.
    Ridley flirts with eugenics in the policy section of the book, lamenting that modern wealth, technology, and medicine allows lots of defective genes to proliferate in society, but he does not recommend doing anything about it—such as forcing people to abort imperfect fetuses. He argues that cloning shouldn’t replace sexual reproduction because, whatever the value of sexual reproduction (Ridley is agnostic, but favor Kondrashov’s model), it’s clearly valuable. But we don’t need a book or copying accuracy of dna to tell us that.
    In sum, nothing monumental here, but very nice if you want to learn a little about how modern biologists think, and what they think about.

    http://www.amazon.com/review/R1LNR72008W9ZL

    So Gintis goes meh. He still gives him a 3 stars. Those who disregard style should take note.

    Gintis’ Amazon reviews are amazing. A new kind of literature.

  484. Steven Mosher says:

    “Richard has other issues and may need to play defense for a while.”

    man that author has some conspiratorial ideation goin on.

  485. Eli Rabett says:

    Even paranoids have enemies

  486. Marlowe Johnson says:

    Willard,

    I found this review particularly helpful. Thanks for the pointer 😉

    “Life becomes truly meaningful only when you have a Danco Universal Toilet Flapper. The chain is particularly useful, especially if you attach this gizmo to you toilet. If you want to wear it around your neck, I suggest a longer chain.”

  487. Bwana_Mrefu says:

    Matt Ridley’s problem is that he is an Irrational Optimist. As Rachel and Dana have pointed out, in his piece he assumes we will magically ride along the 2.6 curve, whilst advocating actions that will put the World on the 8.5 model. He has been doing this for a while now. His argument seems to be “well, things like the ozone hole never got as bad as those scientific phonies said.” Perhaps his antagonism towards regulation means he has forgotten about The Montreal Protocol?

  488. Marco says:

    Bwana, ignoring that we took action against many of “false scares” is quite common.
    I have once been involved in a discussion(not online, so can’t show it) where the responses were more or less as follows:
    Acid rain was just a fake scare. It wasn’t nearly as bad as people claimed.
    Yeah, emissions were reduced, and for what? It wasn’t as bad.
    Just look at the forests today! They are just fine, that’s my evidence acid rain was a fake scare.
    But that’s what I just said, we didn’t really need to reduce emissions, because it was just a fake scare.

    You also see this with the polar bears, who are possibly(!) doing better than 40 years ago, because hunting has been diminished mainly through regulation – which then leads some people today to claim that since polar bears are doing better than 40 years ago, they are not going to be in trouble due to climate change.

  489. Bwana_Mrefu says:

    Marco, actually Ridley has regularly pulled out the polar bear argument as “proof” that climate change is over estimated

  490. victorpetri says:

    @Bwana
    That’s untrue, he pulled it out as proof that the negative effects of climate change are over estimated.

  491. Bwana_Mrefu says:

    Victor, you are – of course – right. Still my overall point is unchanged, I think: he is ignoring that this is an effect of regulation

  492. BBD says:

    Polar bears ‘prove’ nothing at all about CC. Marco is correct to point to the other factors affecting bear populations. A point that needs making whenever deniers of the seriousness of the problem of CC make misleading use of bear population statistics.

  493. victorpetri says:

    I actually don’t think the jury is out whether polar bear populations are actually improving.

  494. Bwana_Mrefu says:

    jsam, Victor. Thanks for the info – more evidence of the irrational optimism of MR.

  495. jsam says:

    It’s a bit like the Lewis and Curry paper. If you start with optimistic assumptions you will reach optimistic conclusions.

    One needs to challenge the assumptions. Their optimism is dubious at best, but probably baseless.

  496. BBD says:

    victorpetri

    I actually don’t think the jury is out whether polar bear populations are actually improving.

    Polar bears hunt off sea ice. As Arctic sea ice extent decreases during the course of the century, bear populations will collapse.It’s simply a matter of time.

  497. victorpetri says:

    @Willard,
    Thanks for mentioning that reviewer, of the few books I’ve read that he has, I totally relate to his reviews, making him an excellent source for new reads.
    @Bwana,
    Don’t look at me for confirmation on Ridley bashing, I like his writings.

  498. jsam says:

    Ridley writes well. Propagandists often do.

  499. Willard says:

    > OK, wth this guy you quote is Mark Ridley!

    You mean I’m quoting Gintis reviewing Ridley’s book on DNA where he flirts with eugenics but knows how to put boundaries like a gentleman, victorpetri.

    Glad you like his reviews, never mind that some call him a Marxist:

    Explaining the commercial/bourgeois revolution would force Bowles and Gintis to clarify their ambivalent and ambiguous position on market societies. As former Marxist economists, they often denigrate the moral culture of market societies. And yet they have been involved in some cross-cultural research that shows that primitive societies that engage in some market exchange have stronger norms of fairness and trust than those with little market integration. Recently, in the Boston Review (May/June 2012), Bowles and Gintis have argued that markets promote morals. But in this book, they say nothing about this.

    http://darwinianconservatism.blogspot.com/2012/06/against-altruism-bowles-gintis-and.html

    That criticism is a bit unfair, which is unsurprising considering Arnhart’s perspective, which seems to spring mostly from political or moral philosophy. It is I think well known that for these authors morals follow the technological means to justify, promote, and sometimes enforce them. To take an example that solves the Ridlean riddle he tasks these authors to solve elsewhere in the post, humans became humans when they could throw weapons. This had an impact on social and political structures two milion years ago, and still matters to this day. Cooperative behavior evolved from the threats of being “audited” from afar.

    Their idea of strong reciprocity means people are willing to weaken their own utility to fight against free riders. Gintis thus explains very well blog behavior, including mine, and also indirectly Matt’s tentatives to rationalize his privileges.

    If the pen is mightier than a sword, imagine a keyboard connected to the Internet.

    PS: Oh, and yes, it’s not Matt, but Mark. As Russians say, believe it, but check it 😉

  500. victorpetri says:

    @Willard,

    No, you don’t understand, the book is from Mark Ridley, not Matt Ridley.
    Crazy coincidence has an other British Ridley writing books on evolution as well.

    MATT Ridley, I remember to be firmly against eugenics, would be surprising if it were otherwise when you consider him to be libertarian.

  501. BBD says:

    Cooperative behavior evolved from the threats of being “audited” from afar.

    Wonderful.

  502. Willard says:

    A review of the real Matt, this time:

    Given that Ridley aims his book at a lay audience, he’s set himself a hard task. A survey that wanders over so much turf demands a good editorial eye as well as an ability to pitch quantitative arguments in plain English. As a writer Ridley mostly rises to the challenge. He explains subtle ideas in prose that is remarkably free of jargon and needless detail. But as a critical thinker, someone who serves as a skeptical guide to a literature, Ridley falls short. While this is always bad it’s particularly worrisome when dealing with cooperation. For this is one of those literatures that’s riddled with exaggerated, contradictory and half-supported claims. One of those places, in other words, where one most needs the services a synthesist who aims for a balanced portrait, one that subtly adjusts for the inflated claims of enthusiasts. When surveying a field for the lay reader, it is, to a good extent, an author’s ability to strike this equipoise that determines whether his book falls into the camp of serious, judicious works or into the camp of mere cheerleading. Ridley’s book, alas, lands squarely amidst the pom-poms.

    http://new.bostonreview.net/BR22.5/orr.html

    Another one to praise Matt as a writer, but to feel underwhelmed by the thinker. This time it’s from Allen Orr, who himself has style and gusto. This may explain why Matt’s a rational optimist more than an optimistic rationalist.

    Such optimism gets you straight to Matt’s main point:

    Ridley lays his thesis out in terms that are about as unambiguous as you can get:

    It is the claim of this book that the answer to an old question–how is society possible?–is suddenly at hand, thanks to the insights of evolutionary biology. Society was not invented by reasoning men. It evolved as part of our nature. It is as much a product of our genes as our bodies are.

    This is a big claim and any reader of these words expects to hear about a pretty darned amazing discovery in evolutionary biology. The answer is, after all, suddenly at hand. But as the reader turns the pages, he gets more than he bargained for. For as soon as he’s told about one answer, he’s treated to yet another. In the end, so many answers are suddenly at hand that one feels a desperate shortage of hands. We are treated to Trivers’s theory of reciprocity, Frank’s commitment model, Boyd and Richerson’s conformity model, Hawkes’s social attention theory, and so on. The problem is that these ideas don’t necessarily work together and Ridley’s efforts at synthesis are less than heroic.

    Op. cit.

    I think Orr gets the Riddler better than anyone else I’ve seen so far:

    The strange thing is that Ridley admits all this. To his credit, he makes no attempt to hide these theory problems nor the lack of evidence for reciprocity. He just refuses to have the sort of reaction to it that you’d expect. His enthusiasm, his utter confidence that “the insights of evolutionary biology” have cracked the problem of “how society is possible” remains unshaken. This is surely the strangest thing about Ridley’s book. There’s a bizarre disconnect between his reportage of often troubling facts and his relentlessly upbeat attitude about them. To say that he’s assured or undespairing is a colossal understatement. Here, for example, is how he rhapsodizes about his favorite dilemma: the Prisoner’s Dilemma, he gushes, led the way to “one of the most exciting discoveries of recent years: nothing less than an understanding of why people are nice to each other.” This despite the above long litany of worries.

    Op. Cit.

    While I don’t share Orr’s skepticism regarding tit-for-tat (read his exchange with Gintis for more on that), I urge you to read his review. Matt’s rhetorical shortcuts are well exposed. Better, they are patched so we can see what Matt should have done instead. Such constructive criticisms are very rare.

  503. Willard says:

    > No, you don’t understand, the book is from Mark Ridley, not Matt Ridley.

    I agree, victorpetri. Mark, not Matt. I think you misunderstand what I’m doing right now.

    Thank you for noticing.

    ***

    It would be easy to show that Ridley’s flavor of sociobiology hints at social Darwinism. It might be a bit harder to show that social Darwinism is a kind of libertarian eugenic. Wanna bet?

  504. victorpetri says:

    @Willard,
    Ridley distantiate from those critiques here:
    http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/john-gray's-confusion.aspx

    If one would try to inject a bit of optimism that would be a bit more quantified and less conceptual, I could recommend Goklany’s Improving State of the World (warning: publisher Cato)
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Improving-State-World-Comfortable/dp/1930865988
    Which is an absolute gem in statistics and graphs.

    I could recommend the Ultimate Resource by Julian Simon, which of course is the cornucopian’s bible, but his theory of infinite resources will probably have many of you foaming at the mouth and in seizure, so I won’t.

  505. Willard says:

    Not sure to what “these critiques” refer, victorpetri.

    I could say that citing Goklany and Julian Simon right after recalling “but polar bears” lacks originality, but I won’t.

  506. jsam says:

    Glokany, Eschenbach, Ball. Just like “Godel, Escher, Bach”..

  507. victorpetri said:

    “I could recommend the Ultimate Resource by Julian Simon, which of course is the cornucopian’s bible”

    So you’re a cornucopian … how precious.

  508. Willard says:

    For reference, here’s a link to Gray’s critique, which does not appear in Ridley’s response, with a parting shot which is not unrelated to what we’ve said earlier:

    Three years after savers began queuing outside Northern Rock, western finance capitalism is in a worsening crisis, with the bailing out of an insolvent banking system leading to insolvency in government. At the same time, the ideology that legitimated this breed of capitalism is as powerful as ever. As non-executive chair of Northern Rock in the years leading up to its collapse, Matt Ridley can hardly have failed to reflect on the crisis; but there is no sign of him having learned anything from it. He devotes less than a page of The Rational Optimist to the crisis, blaming it on “government monetary and housing policy”. The implication is clear: if only governments had not tampered with the market, all would have been well.

    http://www.newstatesman.com/books/2010/08/ridley-climate-evolution-ideas

    There’s no response to that accusation in Ridley’s honest broker dance. Nor is there any occurrence of the word “China” whence China provides the perfect counterexample:

    Disdainful or ignorant of the past, Ridley is uninterested in the forces that shape events. He writes hundreds of pages about the wealth-increasing virtues of free markets, but allots post-Mao China only a few lines. This brevity is symptomatic, as China falsifies Ridley’s central thesis; the largest burst of continuous economic growth in history has occurred without the benefit of free markets. Wealth has been created as never before, not as a result of evolutionary change, but as a product of revolution and dictatorship.

    For Ridley, rationality has nothing to do with checking that his beliefs are true. If awkward facts crop up, he ignores them. China is one such fact; another is climate change. He does not exactly deny the existence of global warming, but leaving scientific evidence aside, he invokes the spectre of the world’s poor. Developing countries need industrial growth, so global warming is beside the point: “The richer they get, the less weather-dependent their econo­mies will be and the more affordable they will find adaptation to climate change.” Here, a demotic appeal to sympathy is combined with dogmatic disregard for real-life conditions. In Africa, the Indian subcontinent and the small Pacific nations, some of the world’s poorest societies are already suffering from climate change. Telling them they need more economic growth is not very helpful when they are being destroyed by drought or rising sea levels. In these circumstances, it is Ridley’s gung-ho progressivism that is beside the point.

    Op. Cit.

    Ridley mocks the case of Africa, which means in Ridley’s world that they must hit home:

    This remark, worthy of Marie-Antoinette, could not be more wrong. The suffering caused by climate change is (and is predicted by the IPCC for decades to continue to be) minuscule compared with the suffering already being caused by preventable problems: malaria, malnutrition, indoor air pollution, dirty water.

    http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/john-gray's-confusion.aspx

    This is a simple rebuttal: “Gray’s wrong because I’m right.” I’m not sure how borrowing from the Lomborg Collective’s arsenal could ever be convincing. It would still be interesting to know how Matt evaluates the threat of terrorism around the world, considering its size compared to poverty.

    ***

    There’s more in Gray’s criticisms than what Ridley addresses. Worse, Matt’s response to the accusation of social Darwinism rests on a redefinition of the contractual terms:

    This vile accusation could not be farther from the truth. I have resolutely criticised both eugenics and social Darwinism in several of my books. I have consistently argued that both policies are morally wrong, politically authoritarian and practically foolish. In my new book I make a wholly different and more interesting argument, namely that if evolution occurs among ideas, then it is ideas, not people, that struggle, compete and die. That is to say, culture changes by the mutation and selective survival of tools and rules without people suffering, indeed while people themselves prosper. This is precisely the opposite of social Darwinism in the sense that it is an evolutionary process that enables the least fit people to thrive as much as the fittest.

    http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/john-gray's-confusion.aspx

    However, Gray never suggested that social Darwinism was a social policy:

    As the subtitle of his book indicates, Ridley sees free markets as part of the evolutionary process. This is not evolution of the kind bio­logists understand, however. “Humanity is experiencing an extraordinary burst of evolutionary change, driven by good old-fashioned Darwinian natural selection,” he writes. “But it is selection among ideas, not genes.” Like Rich­ard Dawkins, another neo-Darwinian missionary, Ridley is a believer in memes – units of meaning that supposedly explain human development. Applying the idea to economics, he writes that “whole economies evolve by natural selection”. Just as biological evolution works by bringing together the genes of different individuals, cultural evolution occurs “when ideas meet and mate” in market exchange. “Exchange is to cultural evolution as sex is to biological evolution,” he writes. The history of humankind is no more than the working out of this simple equation.

    Gray clearly identifies its target: the socio-pop evo theory the Riddler sells fits quite well into what has been dubbed social darwinism. Unless Ridley has something more than simple rebuttal, Gray’s point stands, since he clearly identifies that Ridley talks about meme stuff as if it was more than an allegory. So if there’s misrepresentations between the two, they don’t come from the non-optimist side.

    Incidentally, this is where Gintis’ remark that those who “analyzed the development of multicellular organisms in a conflict/cooperation framework” came up with a “result” that “is quite unfavorable to Dawkins’ approach” and to Ridley’s, this time the Matt one.

    ***

    TL;DR — the Riddler does with arguments what he preaches with memes. He memes Dawkins’ fable. He memes the honest broker dance. He memes the Lomborg Collective’s false dilemma. Now, he’s meming the lukewarmer’s gambit.

    The Riddler’s a good memer.

  509. Willard says:

    I’ve underlined Gray’s argument regarding China. In all fairness, I should also add that Gray’s idea that China’s growth rests on dictatorship may be a stretch:

    In 1978, a group of farmers in a Chinese village called Xiaogang wrote a secret contract and hid it in the roof of a mud hut.

    They were afraid the document might get them executed. Instead, it wound up completely transforming the Chinese economy.

    On today’s show, we travel to Xiaogang, and hear the farmers’ story.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/01/13/145184551/the-friday-podcast-the-secret-document-that-transformed-china

    To be more precise, which is not tough considering the low-rated ClimateBall ™ game we’re following, China became a mixed economy like every successful ones to date following an experiment where they gave more individual rights regarding property to a few.

    This in no way condones our Lord’s entitlements, it goes without saying.

  510. victorpetri says:

    @WHT
    Yes I am.
    @Willard
    How it can possibly be that you fail to see strength of the argument that economic growth is much more effective to help poor people than through battling climate change, is frankly beyond me.
    Specifically short term, as mentioned in your example, the coming few years, climate change will not be any different if fossil fuel use would be stopped this very day, and developing countries stand to gain a lot by the 5-10% economic growth they by en large are enjoying now.

    Long term however, you guys have me convinced it is worth losing economic growth in order to battle climate change.

  511. Willard says:

    > How it can possibly be that you fail to see strength of the argument that economic growth is much more effective to help poor people than through battling climate change, is frankly beyond me.

    I disagree, victorpetri: I’m sure you can recognize this as a false dilemma between Grrrrowth ™ and something you don’t even mention.

    Even by your peddling standards, you should acknowledge that it was not what I was talking about.

  512. I find that cornucopians have a deep confliction over the free market and how it adapts to changes in the environment coupled with a resentment over any “rational” analyst who is simply looking at the numbers and publicly explicating the reality of the situation.

    A current case in point is the painful case of the Bakken tight oil reserves. Here we clearly have a situation where the free market responded to the depletion of conventional oil reserves by raising the possibility of extracting from high-cost and low-quality secondary reserves. So far, so good — massive amounts of debt notwithstanding.

    Yet, those of us that know how to read decline curves and understand how to apply mathematical techniques such as convolution understand that the Bakken is really just a flash-in-the-pan boom-and-bust cycle that will play out in a few years. Take a look at my final TOD post here

    The fact that victorpetri recommends Julian Simon indicates that he is against analysis. To him, all that matters is that the free-market adapts at the current moment and that projections are for losers. Unless, of course, the projections are made in back-room board meetings. Heaven forbid that these are discussed in public. That’s the confliction. OK to discuss this in a corporate setting but not in public.

    And now we have Matt “King Coal” Ridley who apparently has an estate that sits atop coal reserves, yet we know that the UK is clearly in decline with respect to the North Sea oil reserves, and so we know which side his bread is buttered on. Spare me the dramatics.

    Matt Ridley himself says ” I deliberately do not argue directly for the interests of the modern coal industry and I consistently champion the development of gas reserves, which is a far bigger threat to the coal-mining industry than renewable energy can ever be. So I consistently argue against my own financial interest.”

    victorpetri should really not have opened the cornucopian can-of-worms. The spin that Ridley is capable of should not be under-estimated. All a cornucpian has to do is apply the “Debbie Downer” tag to the opposition and the “Rational Optimist” succeeds.

  513. Willard says:

    For the others, let’s recall what Gray says about what is beyond victorpetri:

    Here, a demotic appeal to sympathy is combined with dogmatic disregard for real-life conditions. In Africa, the Indian subcontinent and the small Pacific nations, some of the world’s poorest societies are already suffering from climate change. Telling them they need more economic growth is not very helpful when they are being destroyed by drought or rising sea levels. In these circumstances, it is Ridley’s gung-ho progressivism that is beside the point.

    So Gray’s argumentation is: demotic appeal to sympathy, dogmatism, irrealism, and irrelevant gung-ho progressivism.

    My own argument is different, except for the demotic appeal to sympathy. It is that the Lomborg Collective’s overall argument rests on a false dilemma, cf.:

    [T]his argument [the Lomborg Collective’s and the Riddler’s] sells well because it combines three ingredients. First, it reminds something that is plausible: we must tackle other societal challenges, which are important and less expensive. Second, it provides a dilemma: either we tackle these challenges or suppress carbon emissions. Third, this dilemma implies that if you are for suppressing carbon emissions, you are against tackling other societal challenges.

    There is an obvious problem with this argument. If these important societal challenges are inexpensive, tackling them should not prevent us from suppressing carbon emissions. When trying to put forth a dilemma, one usually tries to argue that doing both prongs is impossible. Lomborg can’t do that, since he wants to convey the idea that not trying first to solve important societal problems would be inhumane, as they cost next to nothing compared to cutting carbon emission.

    The simplest way to deal with Lomborg-like arguments is to agree with the most plausible premises and rebut the dilemma. We could also put Lomborg’s societal matters into perspective: no environmental challenge matters if there is no environment left.

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/1581464321

  514. victorpetri says:

    You dont tell them they need economic growth. Growth is just the surest and fastest way to improve their condition. And its no pipedream, its happening now. I am sure your favorite reviewer would agree.

  515. jsam says:

    We can grrrow and still deal with climate change. Building sea defences is conservative stimulus.

  516. victorpetri, if you believe that I think climate change is somehow more important than gradual depletion of non-renewable natural resources, then you really don’t understand the greater problem.

    I don’t know who came up with the idea that climate change awareness is excellent cover for weaning ourselves off of high-grade fossil fuels, but the mass-psychological reasoning behind it is quite impressive.

  517. BBD says:

    Thanks to Willard’s diligence, we have a link to H. Allen Orr’s review of Ridley’s book The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation. It seems there are recurrant themes in his work. Hobby-horses, even:

    In fairness, I should say that Ridley devotes only a few pages of his book to politics and that these are prefaced by a sensible warning about how easily one can slip into the trap of thinking that science translates readily into politics. But this is followed by a humble admission that the “new `gene-tilitarian’ understanding of human instincts” might be able teach us a thing or two about political philosophy after all. Ridley, I fear, is being far too modest. As it turns out, the new gene-tilitarian view makes all kinds of recommendations:

    “If we are to recover social harmony and virtue [writes Ridley], if we are to build back into society the virtues that made it work for us, it is vital that we reduce the power and scope of the state. That does not mean a vicious war of all against all. It means devolution: devolution of power over people’s lives to parishes, computer networks, clubs, teams, self-help groups, small businesses–everything small and local. It means a massive disassembling of the public bureaucracy. Let national and international governments wither into their minimal function of national defence and redistribution of wealth (directly–without an intervening and greedy bureaucracy). Let Kropotkin’s vision of a world of free individuals return. Let everybody rise or fall by their reputation. I am not so naive as to think this can happen overnight, or that some form of government is not necessary. But I do question the necessity of a government that dictates the minutest details of life and squats like a giant flea upon the back of the nation”.

  518. John Hartz says:

    I cannot help but wonder if the “cornucopians” do not live in an alternate universe. Here’s an example of what’s happening here on planet Earth on the African contintent.

    NTUNGAMO DISTRICT, Uganda, Jan 13 2015 (IPS) – A report published last month by the Montpellier Panel – an eminent group of agriculture, ecology and trade experts from Africa and Europe – says about 65 percent of Africa’s arable land is too damaged to sustain viable food production.

    The report, “No Ordinary Matter: conserving, restoring and enhancing Africa’s soil“, notes that Africa suffers from the triple threat of land degradation, poor yields and a growing population.

    The Montpellier Panel has recommended, among others, that African governments and donors invest in land and soil management, and create incentives particularly on secure land rights to encourage the care and adequate management of farm land. In addition, the report recommends increasing financial support for investment on sustainable land management.

    More Than Half of Africa’s Arable Land ‘Too Damaged’ for Food Productionby Busani Bafana, Inter Press Service (IPS), Jan 13, 2015

  519. John Hartz says:

    Oops!

    I meant to embed the link to the Montpellier Panel’s report, “No Ordinary Matter: conserving, restoring and enhancing Africa’s soil“ into my prior comment. Here’s the link to the report:

    http://ag4impact.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/MP_0106_Soil_Report_LR1.pdf

  520. Willard says:

    Grrrowth is whatever one pleases, victorpetri. It works for everyone, everywhere, anyhow, at any cost. Appealing to it makes everything appealing, including social Darwinism.

    Only a populist writer like the Riddler would equivocate an economic truism with his own libertarian pipedream, a pipedream that surreptitiously transmutes his aristocratic lineage into some kind of gene-utilitarian merit.

  521. Rachel M says:

    Richard Branson thinks we need to protect the environment to protect the economy:

  522. Steven Mosher says:

    The riddler.
    Right up there with chewbacca.
    And piltdown
    And the monktopus.

    Funny how that works.

  523. verytallguy says:

    Rachel,

    he owns an airline, and is promoting spaceflight as a leisure activity.

  524. pbjamm says:

    @victorpetri – So we need to act in the long term but in the short term we should refrain from acting as it might inhibit immediate economic growth? Dont all long term actions begin in the short term? Your position is one that will always be contrary to taking action if the short term consequences are negative. Future persons wrangling with the issues will be able to say the same thing “Of course we should eventually do something! But now is not the time because economic growth is too important.” lather, rinse, repeat
    At least until the consequences of all the inaction are dragging down the economy. Of course at that point the expense may be too great with the economy circling the drain.

  525. Joshua says:

    ==> ““If we are to recover social harmony and virtue [writes Ridley], if we are to build back into society the virtues that made it work for us, it is vital that we reduce the power and scope of the state. ”

    Quite fascinating.

    By what measure does he determine that social harmony and virtue need to be “recovered?”

    By what measure does he determine that this supposed loss is caused by the size of the state (and, for example, not the quality of the state)? W/hat mechanism does he propose to reduce the “size of the state?” Would he suggest eliminating the democratic process of policy development?

    And how does he determine that the inverse of the past is predictive of the future: even if the “size of the state” caused this decline in harmony and virtue (I wonder if he knows any blacks, any women, any homosexuals, any poor people, etc.), how does he know that reducing the size of the state will achieve his desired outcome? Might the method of reducing the size of the state be relevant?

    It just kills me when people who climb on a high horse and self-describe as champions of science, and who are concerned about “corruption” among scientists , display reasoning that is as nakedly subjective as it gets.

  526. ligne says:

    vp: “How it can possibly be that you fail to see strength of the argument that economic growth is much more effective to help poor people than through battling climate change, is frankly beyond me.”

    if that’s the case, then presumably we in the West should be cutting back on our own emissions as hard as possible (to minimise the impacts of climate change), while not requiring the developing world to immediately follow suit. or is this another instance of “what is good for the Syndicate is good for all”?

  527. Willard says:

    > Funny how that works.

    Another flawed-ulent theory may be forthcoming:

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/tagged/stevedoesnickname

    Funny how photographic memory works.

  528. Michael 2 says:

    Rachel M says: (January 22, 2015 at 11:51 am) “The taxpayer did not have to pay for my failed enterprise.”

    While I agree with you, I am a little surprised that you are the one making a libertarian argument.

    A failed startup could produce unemployment and consequent triggering of government benefits. Furthermore, the lost tax revenue by those former employees will likely show up as a “cost” in the odd way that governments do accounting:

    Jsam says “no man is an island”, libertarians say all men are islands and Obama says you didn’t build that. 🙂

  529. ligne says:

    Joshua: “W/hat mechanism does he propose to reduce the “size of the state?””

    i believe the currently favoured approach is to hand it it all away to party donors at a bargainlicious price.

  530. BBD says:

    A failed startup could produce unemployment and consequent triggering of government benefits.

    Nah. You kill the ex-workers and sell them to the meat processing industry, which in the UK doesn’t care.

  531. Rachel M says:

    VTG,

    … he owns an airline, and is promoting spaceflight as a leisure activity.

    Yes, I know. I find it refreshing to see someone who would have a motive to deny climate change and advocate for business as usual but he doesn’t. I like that.

    He’s also got the Carbon War Room: https://carbonwarroom.com
    and
    http://www.virginearth.com

    I don’t know if they’re any good. I haven’t had much of a look.

  532. BBD says:

    Rachel

    Please, no more Branson links. You don’t want to do that.

  533. Rachel M says:

    M2,

    While I agree with you, I am a little surprised that you are the one making a libertarian argument.

    That reminds me of another thing that irritates me about Matt Ridley. He’s a libertarian, right? This means he values personal responsibility. I value personal responsibility too (I’m not really of any political persuasion by the way as there are things I value from all sides although the likes of Matt Ridley and Tony Abbott might have put me off conservative politics for good).

    Personal responsibility means, I think, that we take responsibility for our actions and we can be held accountable for them. So Matt Ridley, you would think, would want to be held accountable for his role in Northern Rock. But he takes no responsibility for it whatsoever and denies that he had anything to do with it. This does not seem to be in keeping with his political philosophy.

    I also want to say that I lost my cool in this thread and I’m sorry about that. There’s something about Ridley that really gets to me. I’m astonished that he had the nerve to refer to the government as a parasite after he was chairman of a bank that got a £27bn bailout from the “parasite”. And I’m also astonished that he’s in the House of Lords despite all of this and that he gets a platform in The Times. His most recent article is also mostly whining and has uncorrected mistakes. I have zero respect for the man.

  534. Willard says:

    Speaking of Richard Branson made me think of looking at Jstor for reviews about the Red Queen book. First hit is a review by Ernestine Friedl, which I won’t blockquote, lack of time:

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/682410

    After the obligatory curtsey about how well Ridley writes and a reformulation of his main thesis, Friedl observes that the evidence for his conclusions are not always persuasive. For instance, she digs up a reference of Pérusse (with an é) 1993 whom, at least according to Ridley, provides evidence that rich, higher-status males have more children. What Pérusse rather found is that males may have more opportunities, but that this potential for reproduction was fruitless. On that regard, Québec is just like any other state Rosling studied, which leads to the opposite conclusion, i.e. women prosperity decreases demographic explosion. Like other critics, she also finds that Ridley errs by ignoring our cultural heritage and by pitting nature and culture advocates against one another, a false dichotomy.

    In any event, this kind of analysis may be of interest to those who are into deep psychology.

  535. Willard says:

    Another intermisssion:

  536. Michael 2 says:

    Rachel, the personal responsibility part is difficult, and I don’t mean just from a morality aspect. It might not be wise to be the only moral person in the room and I think the correct answer in that scenario is to leave the room. It becomes a lose/lose situation.

    By wise I mean that society recognizes (or not) the value of morality by rewarding it appropriately. Suppose a particular bad outcome was the product of many guilty people, but only one has the honor to take responsibility. Does he or she atone for the sins of the others equally or more guilty? Well, yes, that is exactly the case and goes back to Judaism and the “scape goat”. It allows society to “reboot” and let sleeping dogs lie. Liars and thieves can from that moment become honorable; at least it is an opportunity to do so, an “amnesty”.

    But the “scape goat” needs to be legitimate; in Judaism he had to be unblemished so that he could bear your guilt rather than his own.

    In my youth, a man taking that kind of responsibility would have been held in high esteem. He wouldn’t be given another captaincy of course, but in lieu of that, something even better perhaps. The story of Job is relevant to this concept. Praise and punishment sometimes concurrently.

    I wonder if today someone taking that kind of responsibility would be held in contempt as an idealistic idiot. But the action of taking responsibility needs to be “real”, not like in the Clinton white house when “the buck stops here” and then evaporates with nothing done. That’s not taking responsibilty, it is erasing responsibility.

    The banking industry is competitive and has always been competitive. What that means is that a bank with adequate reserves, that is not highly leveraged, simply cannot compete in the marketplace. It cannot exist.

    ALL banks in the first half of the first decade of 2000 millenium were highly leveraged, sometimes absurdly so, as in collateralized derivatives, where debt itself is the collateral for yet more debt.

    Entire nations were rolling in make-believe capital, Iceland in particular, such that IceSave’s liability was five times Iceland’s entire GDP. That’s a debt that cannot be paid back. In fact, hardly any of the collateralized debt can be paid back because the crash erased the real value on which all that debt was leveraged. It’s gone; back to the vapor it came from in the first place.

    Every time you use your credit card, “money” is created — the debt you created is collateral and increases the money supply (or a particular kind of money, anyway). If everyone paid their debts, the global economy would almost certainly crash spectacularly as the money supply dwindled to nothing.

  537. BBD says:

    M2

    You make a powerful argument for regulation of the banking industry. As we have seen, without sufficient externally-imposed constraints, it gets out of hand and damages itself and everything around it.

  538. Michael 2 says:

    I got a little off-track there. Sometimes while researching examples I forget what exactly I was going to say more succinctly.

    Most bank bailouts aren’t for the CEO, they’re for the salvation of depositors, with a particular reference to England bailing out its citizens that lost money in the IceSave crash. There’s no legal requirement to do so, it was honorable for a government to step in and rescue its citizens since, at least in part, its negligence allowed the situation to exist. Naturally, England demands Iceland to pay, but that’s clearly impossible — the citizens of Iceland didn’t create that situation (it was a private bank) and in any case the debt is five times their GDP anyway.

    The darling of western liberalism, George Soros, made a portion of his fortune manipulating English currency:

    http://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/08/george-soros-bank-of-england.asp

    That’s incredible. A billion dollar profit from a single trade. It’s like going to a casino with borrowed money. If you lose, you declare bankruptcy and someone else pays. If you win, you pocket the profit after paying back the loan. What’s not to love about it?

    At least in the stock market you are gambling against other gamblers so there’s hardly any ethical issues. But gambling on currency touches the lives of ordinary citizens that have no say in the consequences.

  539. Michael 2 says:

    BBD says: “You make a powerful argument for regulation of the banking industry.”

    This is where I depart from “true” libertarian — I have a doubt that such a thing should exist as a banking industry. But I recognize that without such a thing no modern economy could exist. Still, I lean toward nationalized banks rather than private — Iceland being a terrible example of it.

  540. BBD says:

    But I recognize that without such a thing no modern economy could exist.

    Of course. But the object of the regulatory exercise is to stop the tail from wagging the dog. In a fit of irrational exuberance.

  541. Steven Mosher says:

    “Another flawed-ulent theory may be forthcoming:”

    Racehorse is right up there,

    http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/09/24/of-men-and-nicknames/

  542. Ridley’s book Red Queen borrows from the Looking Glass, judging by his quote “Life is a Sisyphean race, run ever faster toward a finish line that is merely the start of the next race”

    An oil analyst, Rune Likvern, cleverly described the production in the Bakken oil fields as the Red Queen in action. As it turns out, since each of the fracked well depletes so rapidly it becomes necessary to develop more and more over time to cover production depletion losses from those just a few years old. But what happened was that there was so much venture funding that the overall production got goosed and too much came onto the market in the past year. Thus we see a collapse in the prices at the pump. With that comes the cutting back in new production due to dwindling profit margins. Yikes … but what happens to the rapidly depleting old wells?

    We really haven’t even begun to see what is in store for the price roller-coaster. This is not what Ridley had in mind for his Red Queen. Ridley admits to “Half the ideas in this book are probably wrong.” . The reality is that we are running faster and faster to desperately try to stay in the same place.

  543. Michael 2 says:

    I’ll take a break but I wanted to respond to VTG first:

    verytallguy says: (January 21, 2015 at 9:41 am) “his beliefs are expected by Lewandowsky: that endorsement of a laissez-faire conception of free-market economics predicts rejection of climate science”

    There’s no bet like a safe bet: Climate Science -> Global Mitigation -> Socialism/communism -> Rejection by Libertarians.

    But it’s in good company: Climate Science -> Global Mitigation -> Tax everything (*) -> Rejection by Almost Everyone.

    * A carbon tax has incidence on everything whose manufacture or transportation at any point involves fossil fueled energy; which is of course nearly everything; this skews the economy and touches everything else so far untouched by the tax. Nobody escapes.

  544. Michael 2 says:

    I spoke too soon. The only way I can not respond is to not read comments as well-intentioned as this one:

    WebHubTelescope says: “climate change awareness is excellent cover for weaning ourselves off of high-grade fossil fuels”

    Until such time as you’ve all shot your wad and nobody cares about “climate change”. Then you no longer have cover, no longer persuasion.

  545. Joseph says:

    ALL banks in the first half of the first decade of 2000 millenium were highly leveraged, sometimes absurdly so, as in collateralized derivatives, where debt itself is the collateral for yet more debt.

    Nope, Michael, not all banks were highly leveraged. The only ones that went under and had to be bailed out were those that invested in housing related securities.

  546. BBD says:

    The reality is that we are running faster and faster to desperately try to stay in the same place.

    Bloomberg:

    The G20 group of major economies spend $88 billion a year on fossil-fuel exploration, five years after pledging to phase out industry subsidies, a study showed.

    Spending of $17 billion and $11.3 billion by state-backed oil companies Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Petroleo Brasileiro SA are the biggest components in the funding compiled by the Overseas Development Institute and Oil Change International. The total also includes subsidies and tax breaks from governments, and public financing through development banks.

  547. > I have a doubt that such a thing should exist as a banking industry.

    You might need to visit that place, M2:

    It’s the 2011 Porcupine Freedom Festival, known to its friends as PorcFest. It’s the summer festival for people who think we should return to the gold standard and abolish the IRS.

    We wondered how you make that work in real life. How do you, say, buy breakfast without involving the government? It’s not easy.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/06/29/137478762/the-tuesday-podcast-libertarian-summer-camp

  548. John Hartz says:

    The prospects for the countries of the world to reach a meaningful agreement in Paris to address manmade climate change may indeed be brightening.

    DAVOS, Switzerland – On the heels of data showing that last year was the hottest on earth since record keeping began, business leaders, politicians and scientists at the World Economic Forum redoubled their calls to combat climate change.

    In panels and private discussions, executives and legislators were comparing notes on the growing economic cost of changing weather patterns, and debating what practical steps could be taken in the near term.

    At the same time, corporate leaders implored governments to come to a broad agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will take place in Paris at the end of the year.

    Leaders in Davos Urge Quick Action to Alter the Effects of Climate Change by David Gelles, New York Times, Jan 23, 2015

  549. We return to our program.

    Here’s an interesting format for a review:

    Any book that argues that things can only go on getting better, on average and for everyone, for ever and ever, sounds like a cheery read. And Matt Ridley’s latest book The Rational Optimist: How prosperity evolves is nothing if not long on good cheer, as we discovered when we met him recently to talk about the book.

    Pessimism, however, is likely to set in when you find that his optimism depends on dismissing, or at least cherry-picking, research findings on important aspects of global warming.

    This is why we decided to show some of those assertions to a group of experts from around the world. They were happy to comment – and to be quoted. What they say is tough going, forensic and definitely not for the faint-hearted. Enjoy.

    Here is the extract, taken from Chapter 10, p 339-341.

    http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/culturelab/2010/06/matt-ridley-comments.html

    These pages cover coral reefs and ocean (yes, Latimer) acidification. The commenters are: Andy Ridgwell, who distilled all the facts and conclusions to see up to where he can agree with the Riddler; Andrew Knoll, who could not bother to comment except to note the usual false dilemma between these issues and others like overfishing, and with the gem I like optimists, but they can be dangerous friends; Chris Langdon, who recalls at length why “the declining pH of the surface ocean is one of the most firmly established facts in climate change science”; Jelle Bijma, who dismisses everything: “the man does not understand the differences in ocean carbonate chemistry controls on short and long timescales, and he compares apples and eggs”; and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, who notices the obvious cheerful bias from the Lord.

    The first comment is from Matt his self. Here’s where he tries pull a Richard:

    [T]his critique by five scientists only confirms the accuracy of each of the statements in this section of my book, The Rational Optimist. After reading their critiques, I stand even more firmly behind my conclusion that the threats to coral reefs from both man-made warming and ocean acidification are unlikely to be severe, rapid or urgent.

    The five guys just shot Gremlins. Gremlins don’t matter. They don’t exist. I was right, rightier than ever.

    Chill.

  550. Michael2 said:


    Until such time as you’ve all shot your wad and nobody cares about “climate change”. Then you no longer have cover, no longer persuasion.

    No cigar on that one. The idea is of the existential threat and what people can do to combat existential threats. To certain pundits, the thinking goes is that the ability of the human psyche to rally around fighting climate change is an easier task than to grapple with the permanent loss of high-grade fossil fuels. The former is more hopeful, while the latter is more depressing.

    This is not my idea but one that I have seen proposed to justify classifying climate change as a more important issue than say peak oil.

    The reality is that the “No Regrets” policy comes to the rescue. With No Regrets in place, you have a double-barreled mitigation policy. One can kill two birds with one stone by going the alternative renewable energy route. If it doesn’t help with climate change then at least we have a remedy for fossil fuel depletion. No regrets in 3 out of 4 cases of the logical truth table.

    The problem with Michael 2 and victorpetri and their ilk is that they are bringing knives to a gun-fight when it comes to arguing their case

  551. This:

    may illustrate Gintis’ point about throwing weapons.

    Is the keyboard mightier than a bow?

  552. The No Regrets policy actually has three legs. Besides climate change and peak oil, one has to consider the suffocating pollution problem that China is faced with. That gives no regrets to 7 out of the 8 positions in the logical truth table. In only one case out of the 8, that of all three of (1) high-grade fossil fuel depletion not panning out, (2) global warming not panning out, and (3) pollution-free coal being the future lead to our alternative energy policy being the wrong one.

    What are the odds of dodging all three of those bullets? Only in a cornucopian’s mind perhaps.

    Incidentally, it is actually worse than 1/8 because of the effects of poor EROEI of low-grade fossil fuels. So that even if we have an abundance of low-grade fossil fuels, the greater carbon emissions will worsen AGW and pollution. This makes it a real systems problem and one in which the collective behavior needs to be considered.

  553. Don’t know if Matt knows these other kings of coal:

    Hey, remember “Freedom Industries,” the nice folks who spilled an assload of toxic coal-cleaning chemicals into the Elk River in West Virginia a year ago, poisoning the drinking water for roughly a third of the state? We all enjoyed the antics of their CEO, Gary Southern, who swigged bottled water while telling reporters he was far too tired to answer their boring questions about “safety” and “damage.” Then we were rather pleased when he was arrested and charged with being a big time crimer. Corporate malfeasance: ENDED!

    Oh, except that a bunch of the other executives of Freedom Industries got the band back together and are polluting West Virginia all over again.

    http://wonkette.com/573694/same-jerks-who-poisoned-west-virginia-back-with-new-name-new-toxic-spills

  554. BBD says:

    Is the keyboard mightier than a bow?

    Per the video, it all depends on the user.

  555. An interesting letter by DeSmog UK:

    Season’s greetings and congratulations on the recent planning applications for further coal mines on your estate. I am writing about these developments for DeSmog UK and would be very grateful if you could provide some clarification on a small number of points.

    1. Publicly available documents say that you have an estimated 5.4m tonnes of coal at Shotton and a further 2.9m tonnes at Brenkley Lane. This is a total of 8.3m tonnes. Is this coal that remains in the ground today, or the total amount found at your estate historically?

    2. Documents published by H.J Banks state that 300,000 tonnes can now be mined at the Shotton Triangle Extension and 250,000 at Shotton South West sites. Are these amounts in addition to the 8.3m tonnes described at Question 1?

    3. globalCOAL is giving the current price of coal at £73.17 per tonne (which I understand, historically, is low). Is this a price you would recognise? If not, where would you price a tonne of your own coal?

    4. If you have 8.3m tonnes of coal and the value is £73.17/tonne the total value would be £607,311,000. Is this a fair estimate, and if not what would your estimate be?

    5. If the globalCOAL price is correct, the STE planning application will allow the mining of coal worth £21,951,000 by the end of 2017. The SSW planning application has allowed the mining of a further £18,292,500 of coal by the end of 2017. That works out at £13,414,500 worth of coal per year. Together with the 8.3m tonnes mentioned above, this comes to a total £647,554,500 worth of coal. Is that a fair estimate and if not what would your estimate be?

    […]

    https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1383683/letter-the-viscount-ridley-dl.pdf

  556. Meet the charming chihuahua named Dorrie, who chased a few squirrels before getting this lovely painting entitled The Meet at Blagdon:

    A souvenir:

    So it turns out that Blagdon Hall has been owned by the White Ridley family ever since 1698. Many generations of men with the last name White or Ridley have lived there, and most of these men had the first name Matthew. At first, the Whites and the Ridleys were Baronets, which is the lowest rank of nobility you can have, but people still have to call you “Sir.”

    After a while, one of the Ridleys got promoted to Viscount, which is one step up from Baron. I don’t know how these things happen because the whole British nobility thing is very mysterious to me. But I do know that many of the Ridleys served in Parliament, which made them pretty important.

    http://piperbasenji.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-meet-at-blagdon.html

  557. A brochure with the tagline Revitalising Land Through Surface Mining, featuring Slag Alice:

    http://www.banksgroup.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/APPENDIX-1-BANKS-RESTORATION-BROCHURE.pdf

    Warning: this is a big document.

  558. Joshua says:

    Personally, I think that those who profit from coal mining deserve all the money they get – since they serve as proof that capitalists are concerned about nothing other than saving starving children in Africa.

  559. Curry has long ago jumped the shark by allowing Rob Ellison to do top-level posts.
    http://judithcurry.com/2015/01/23/planetary-boundaries-tipping-points-and-prophets-of-doom/

    “The problem as defined is that these declines owe much more to poverty and lack of development than climate change.”

    This post also follows in line with what Joshua just said: “serv(ing) as proof that capitalists are concerned about nothing other than saving starving children in Africa”. You see, if everyone was just rich like the rest of us westerners, we wouldn’t have any of these problems. Capiche?

    My theory is that Rob Ellison is an Aussie nephew of Curry’s hubby from down-under “Webby” Webster, so he is allowed a long-leash to spread the FUD. Probably wrong theory but consider Ridley’s admission that “Half the ideas in this book are probably wrong.”

  560. Rachel M says:

    I’m going to take a break for few days. I’ve got lots of work to do this weekend and am feeling disappointed with all of this. Play nicely while I’m gone!

  561. jsam says:

    Even the Adam Smith Institute is moving from “it isn’t happening” to “we should do something, but it must be a market solution because…grrrowth”.
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2015/01/25/nick-stern-is-wrong-climate-change-is-not-the-largest-market-failure-the-world-has-ever-seen/

  562. Bryan says:

    Greece election: Anti-austerity Syriza wins election

    Well here is something we can all be happy about.
    People back to work
    Food on the table
    Bankrupt austerity economics thrown in rubbish bin

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30975437

  563. jsam says:

    By the logic of Ridley it would appear that Bob Ward has thrashed Richard Tol.
    http://richardtol.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/radical-greens.html

    He gets very excited over nasty a comment in the Guardian. And, yes, it was nasty. I flagged it for moderation myself and I’m sure I wasn’t alone. But to complain about that comment whilst ignoring the specks of spittle on Watts, Nova, HH, Breitbart… No mention Spencer comparing his opponents to Nazis… And even just yesterday’s call for prosecution of climate scientists by Monckton in climatedespot – to ignore all that requires a great deal of neck. Thankfully Richard has that in abundance. 🙂

    I take it the real complaint is twofold. Respectable venues for those who explicitly or implicitly accuse climate scientists of fraud are slowly drying up. And the atmosphere on blogs has changed. It used to be that denialists could comment and long explanations would ensue. Buut these explanations were shrugged off and the self-same nonsense by the self-same sock puppets would appear again and again.Denialists are now be called out, openly, as conspiracy theorists, deniers and jerks – much as they have treated others.

    It is always amusing and slightly loathsome to see the culprits playing the victims.

    Bob Ward seems to be winning.

  564. jsam,
    It is quite a remarkable article. I particularly like this sentence

    There are now elements in the environmental movement who are so worried about the state of the planet that they have lost all sense of proportion.

    This in an article that seems to associate criticism with the behaviour of the Taliban and Boko Haram. I’m guessing he ran it past Tim Ball before publishing.

    Another classic line is:

    This is alarming for those at the receiving end of their mindless wrath.

    Although Richard, you and I (and many others I would imagine) agree that a comment suggesting that someone should be beheaded is unacceptable. Apparently, Richard has no problem with comments appearing to suggest that people should consider killing themselves. It’s a free world, so each to their own.

  565. OPatrick says:

    This seemed particularly deranged to me:

    The Buddhas of Bamiyan were blown up by the Taliban in 2001. In 2014, Greenpeace activists damaged the Nazca Lines.

    I did wonder at the time if anyone would try to make the connection between the Taliban’s deliberate and permanent destruction of the Buddhas and Greenpeace’s somewhat thoughtless actions which may, unintentionally, have caused some minor damage to one area of the Nazca Lines. I didn’t see anyone going that far, I think even those most anxious to be affronted recognised that this would be too obviously hyperbolic.

  566. Joshua says:

    And there’s this, from William Happer:

    Has there ever been a movement in human history that did not present itself
    as an ethical cause? Ghengis Khan supposedly informed his victims: ‘I am the
    punishment of God. If you had not committed great sins, God would not have
    sent a punishment like me upon you!’

    In this report Andrew Montford summarizes the unexpected outcomes of
    a modern cause, the jihad against atmospheric carbon dioxide.

    http://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2015/01/Unintended-Consequences2.pdf

    Nothing like exploiting terrorism and brutality against millions of Muslim women for the sake of scoring points in the climate wars.

    And I now need to add Ghengis Khan to the list of comparisons (some previous favorites are McCarthy, Lysenko, Machiavelli, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao, H*tler,.) used by people who are so concerned about being called deniers

  567. Willard says:

    > Ghengis Khan supposedly informed his victims:

    He stole it from Pulp Fiction:

    http://slipsum.com/

  568. Rachel M says:

    OPatrick,

    I skim-read Richard Tol’s article and I can remembering feeling a bit confused when I read that paragraph: why is he bringing up two completely different topics one sentence after the other? Obviously I’m a bit slow or maybe naive for not thinking someone would try to make such a comparison. Thanks for pointing it out!

  569. OPatrick says:

    Rachel, Richard Tol seems to be descending to standard ‘sceptic’ tactics of throwing anything that might have tangential relevance at the wall and hoping people will think some of it sticks. Maybe he’s never really ascended beyond that. This recent comment in the Guardian annoyed me. There seems only one purpose, which doesn’t have anything to do with increasing understanding of the issues.

  570. Joshua,
    Yes, I read through some of Andrew Montford’s Unintended Consequences report. The foreword by Happer is impressively bonkers (not quite as bonkers as Tol’s latest masterpiece, but bonkers nonetheless) but the report itself could be summarised as

    Here’s a whole list of policies that didn’t work as expected and did more harm than good and they’re all the fault of those with whom I disagree.

    There must be a secret whine manual that the GWPF gives to all those with whom it is associated. It probably starts with pretend you’re 7.

  571. lord sidcup says:

    Further to my comment of 20 Jan regarding Matt Ridley dogmatically maintaining for 21 years that AGW will mean a 1 degree temperature over a century (despite his claims to the contrary), I am pleased to note via Twitter that Richards Betts is taking an interest in Ridley’s past Economist articles. Ridley is being very evasive.

  572. Rachel M says:

  573. lord sidcup says:

    Thanks for posting that Rachel.

  574. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @OPatrick
    The Maldives are rapidly gaining experience with the sort of technologies will allow them to cope with future sea level rise. How does studying recent & relevant trends not contribute to an increased understanding?

  575. OPatrick says:

    Richard Tol, does anyone think that there are no technologies that would allow adaption to sea level rise, within reason? It would be perfectly reasonable to discuss whether these strategies were viable for the Maldives given the projections of sea level rise, to consider the costs of doing this and who would bear those costs. Your comment did not do this. It was designed, I posit, to give the impression to a lazy reader that there is uncertainty about whether the Maldives are experiencing problems from sea level rise and implying that somehow the reclamation of land balances out the problems they are experiencing as a consequence of sea level rise.

    Incidentally, your article linked to above is gibbering nonsense and suggests that any comment you make deserves to be treated with the utmost scepticism when considering the motivations behind it.

  576. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @OPatrick
    Sorry for giving that impression. The articles make clear, I thought, that these projects are explicitly designed to cope with future sea level rise, and that is definitely what my friends who consult for the local authorities tell me. If all governments were as pro-active as the Maldivian then sea level rise would be much less of a concern.

  577. OPatrick says:

    Sorry for giving that impression.

    I do not believe that you are.

  578. OPatrick,
    You probably have to realise that Richard T. has real trouble with reading comprehension. For example, it appears that he has managed to interpret an IPSO ruling which included,

    [Bob Ward] had not been engaged in a smear campaign.

    as

    IPSO ruled that a “smear campaign” is a perfectly fine description of Mr Ward’s work.

    Of course if Richard had said IPSO ruled that it is fine to describe Mr Ward’s work as a “smear campaign”, that might have been okay as the ruling is essentially saying that the Daily Mail is allowed to report on Richard Tol’s interpretation of Bob Ward’s work. Of course, it might be tricky for Richard to do so, as that could be tantamount to acknowledging that a reasonable interpretation of the IPSO ruling is that it’s okay for the Daily Mail to write an article illustrating that a senior economics professor is a bit of a Richard. 😀

    This Bishop Hill comment thread is also a corker. With some notable exceptions, it includes people trying to justify Richard’s interpretation of the IPSO ruling. It also includes Richard saying

    Note that economics etiquette has that you first try yourself before approaching the author.

    Which I agree with, but it applies to all areas of research, not just economics, and explains why the standard “skeptic” “give me all your data and codes NOW” is not the norm. It also includes people whining about how difficult it is to be a “skeptic”. To be fair, I do have some sympathy with that. Maintaining this kind of level of double standards can’t be easy. 😀

  579. OPatrick says:

    You probably have to realise that Richard T. has real trouble with reading comprehension.

    I don’t believe that he does.

  580. OPatrick,
    Yes, I have a suspicion that you’re correct.

  581. Joshua says:

    ==> “Note that economics etiquette has that you first try yourself before approaching the author.”

    I guess that Richard has a real problem with Nic Lewis:

    Joshua | July 5, 2011 at 8:21 am |
    I would suppose that the authors of the study in question might have some insight as to a potential misrepresentation of their data and findings.

    Have they been asked to comment on Lewis’ analysis?

    Nic Lewis | July 5, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    I didn’t ask Forster and Gregory to comment on my analysis in advance. I thought that would put them in a difficult position, as they were Contributing authors for chapter 9 of AR4:WG1 and, presumably, accepted (at least tacitly) the IPCC’s treatment of their results. The thrust of my post is very much consistent with what they wrote in their 2006 paper.
    I have drawn the post to their attention.

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/07/05/the-ipccs-alteration-of-forster-gregorys-model-independent-climate-sensitivity-results/

    BTW – I love the argument from Nic, that writing that post at Judy’s and inviting Judith’s denizens to conduct a smear campaign was done to avoid putting Forster and Gregory in a “difficult position.”

    That looks to me like Nic was Richarding.

  582. aTTP,

    The full sentence is

    The Committee acknowledged the complainant’s position that he had not been engaged in a smear campaign.

    That doesn’t tell, whether IPSO thinks that there was an smear campaign or not. That tells only that IPSO acknowledges that Ward claims that he was not engaged in a smear campaign – or is there something wrong with my reading comprehension?

    In my reading IPSO did not take a position on that, but accepted that Ward and Tol have different views on that and that it was not inappropriate for Daily Mail to tell about Tol’s views on the issue.

  583. Pekka,
    Yes, that’s my point. The IPSO did not rule that a “smear campaign” is a perfectly fine description of Mr Ward’s work. They ruled that it’s okay to report on a dispute in which one party is accusing the other of a smear campaign.

  584. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Wotts
    You should read the ruling in connection with the complaint: Ward explicitly and repeatedly asked IPSO to rule on the veracity of my allegation. In their defense, the Daily Mail emphasized that there was prima facie evidence of the allegation. IPSO rejected Ward’s claim (apart from a detail).

  585. Richard,
    If you think I really care, you’d be sorely mistaken. My personal view – irrespective of the IPSO ruling – is that your claim of a smear campaign against you is pathetic and childish.

  586. The way people behave in public affects very much, what others say about them, and even more, how they themselves perceive that.

    Leaving names out, we can see this on both sides of the spectrum.

  587. Pekka,
    Absolutely. There do seem to be some, though, who think that they should be allowed to say whatever they like without criticism, and that any form of criticism is an attack or some kind of smear campaign. Of course, given that these people are also the ultimate defenders of free speech means that they should have at least no problem with people pointing out the irony in their position.

  588. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Wotts
    And that is based on your careful review of all the evidence?

  589. Joshua says:

    This is beautiful.

    Here’s what Richard says:

    ==> ” IPSO rejected Ward’s claim (apart from a detail).”

    And here is what the document says:

    On this point, the Committee found that the newspaper had failed to take care not to publish misleading information; the article was significantly misleading and requiring of remedial action.

    So according to Richard, who seems to generally be very concerned with activist scientists who make misleading statements, a newspaper publishing an article that was “significantly misleading” is just a “detail.”

  590. Richard,
    It’s based on many things. Partly that. Partly simply interacting with you over the last two years. And partly, it’s just an opinion that you’re, of course, welcome to ignore and almost certainly will. It just seems, to me at least, the hallmark of a bully. From what I’ve seen, you have no problem with being highly critical of others and then you whine when anyone is critical of you. Given your behaviour, and the recent behaviour of Matt Ridley, maybe you could confirm whether or not the GWPF has a special manual on how to whine when criticised.

  591. Joshua says:

    Pekka –

    With the caveat that it happens on both sides, don’t you agree that Richard’s behavior is counterproductive towards the goal of furthering reasonable engagement?

    You frequently talk about the behavior of scientists having an effect of undermining public trust. Would that not apply to Richard’s behavior in this situation? ‘

  592. jsam says:

    By the Rules of Ridley it would appear Bob has won. The more he is attacked the more correct he must be.

  593. Richard S.J. Tol says:

    @Joshua
    That is about what the Mail wrote about what Ward said. Rose had truncated Ward’s “small but terribly important” to “small” …

  594. Let’s just remind ourselves that whatever the actual truth of the matter, Bob Ward is not alone in disagreeing with Richard’s claim that the corrected data do not materially affect the results. And although I’m loathe to appeal to authority, a Harvard Professor of Statistics and Political Science (with almost 50000 citations), is not someone who’s views one would normally simply dismiss. Hence, my view that accusing Bob Ward of a smear campaign seems somewhat over-the-top.

  595. Joshua says:

    Richard –

    The article was slanted to be misleading. There was a clear intent to mislead about Ward’s evaluation of the significance of the errors. Your effort to hide behind semantics, to avoid the more significant issues in play, is transparent.

    Rose has a history of such. He’s a climate warrior, who subjugates the science to advance a partisan climate agenda. It completely undermines your concern about misleading science that you would align yourself with Rose’s deliberately misleading reporting.

    Judith justifies Rose’s misleading reporting on from a perspective that somehow it creates a balance with what she sees as misleading on the other side.

    IMO, there is no such balance. There is no law of physics that shows how being misleading on one side balances what is misleading on the other. IMO, what happens is that the science gets buried more deeply under shit.

  596. Joshua,
    Yes, I do think that Richard could contribute in a much more useful way to the net discussion. That takes, of course, some effort and time that may have other uses as well, but with the amount of participation, I do think that he could contribute in a more useful manner.

    In economics strongly divergent opinions are not rare. One way of learning that is to read Krugman’s op-eds in NYTimes. Quite often he condemns harshly other well known economists of different political background. I’m sure these economists have similarly negative opinions about Krugman. The differences in the views of the people working with Nicholas Stern at the Grantham Institute at LSE and many other environmental economists, including Tol, are real, and there are understandable reasons for that. When differences of that strength combine with the importance of the climate issue, it’s not surprising that accusations abound.

  597. Joshua says:

    ==> “Yes, I do think that Richard could contribute in a much more useful way to the net discussion.”

    Thanks for that, Pekka.

    ==> ” One way of learning that is to read Krugman’s op-eds in NYTimes. Quite often he condemns harshly other well known economists of different political background.

    Although I view Krugman’s general political orientation favorably, I think that the connection you’re drawing is apt in that he shares what is, IMO, a counterproductive view towards rhetoric with Richard.

    There’s no inherent reason why disagreements about economic analyses should be accompanied by tribalistic rhetoric.

  598. verytallguy says:

    Tol’s 1st law:
    However obnoxious you anticipate Richard Tol’s behaviour to be, he will immediately exceed that level.

    Tol’s 2nd Law
    All systems involving Richard Tol will tend for the role of Tol to move in the direction from participant to subject

  599. Joshua,

    There’s no inherent reason why disagreements about economic analyses should be accompanied by tribalistic rhetoric.

    You forgot, “and there’s no reason why it should be accompanied by cartoons mocking those with whom you disagree” (here’s my hoping that Krugman hasn’t used a cartoon to mock Milton Friedman 😀 ).

    My interest in taking this much further is largely non-existent. Given that even Andrew Montford and many on Bishop Hill also think that Richard’s interpretation of the IPSO ruling is flawed, there is no great reason for Richard to maintain his position. Also, given that those who are cheering him on are largely irrelevant (apologies to those who are doing so, but it’s probably true) Richard’s status would – IMO – improve where he to somewhat reverse his position on this topic. I was going to add more, but I’ve probably already wasted time suggesting the above.

  600. John Hartz says:

    Methinks its time to apply the Grandchild Rule* to this comment thread.

    *If your grandchild were to read this thread 25-years from now, would he/she find anything of value?

  601. Gator says:

    Time spend discussing with Richard Tol is time wasted and lost. He’s proven over and over and over that he is not interested in substantive discussion. How many times are you going to let him pull away the football?

  602. OPatrick says:

    Pekka:

    Yes, I do think that Richard could contribute in a much more useful way to the net discussion. That takes, of course, some effort

    It takes time to not write gibbering nonsense?

  603. Joshua says:

    OPatrick –

    He did say effort, not time. I think it does take effort to not follow the reflexive, tribalistic path of least resistance. Or at least a deliberate focus.

  604. To follow up on this, don’t forget there’s also the recent document produced by Frank Ackerman. There’s also the blog post by Grant McDermott (an Economics PhD student). So, if there is a smear campaign, it’s more than just Bob Ward.

  605. jsam says:

    “So, if there is a smear campaign, it’s more than just Bob Ward.”

    Let the conspiracy ideation commence.

  606. jsam,
    I saw that. Another “stop being mean to me” article. To be fair, some of the comments that are highlighted are atrocious, but it really pisses me off when people use these atrocious comments from individuals to make dome kind of broader point and to imply that all their critics are behaving in this way. If you don’t like being criticised, stop writing articles that are full of nonsense.

  607. The reason that he is such a [Mod : impolite] is because he says stuff like this:


    But I also think current ‘renewable’ sources such as wind and ‘biomass’ are ruinously expensive and totally futile. They will never be able to achieve their stated goal of slowing the rate of warming and are not worth the billions being paid by UK consumers to subsidise them.

    He doesn’t seem to understand that the UK (and the whole world) is in a predicament with respect to expecting high-quality fossil fuels to provide energy in the future.

    Rose is more of an impediment than anything else, and he will get absorbed in the relentless move away from FF. Climate change or not.

  608. John Carter says:

    “””My middle-of-the-road position.” — Matt Ridley.

    Such a bastardization of the term. Ridley’s position is a little extreme given the basic science. The people who don’t even acknowledge that a multi million year increase to the total GWPe of long term GGs (and even to just CO2 alone) when climate is ultimately an expression of energy and these gases are what make life on this planet what we know it and more of them absorb and trap more energy, are practicing some sort of voodoo under that peculiarly talented ability of humans to sound and believe themselves to be highly logical, while in fact being intensely irrational and incredibly ill informed. (Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are two great examples that leap to mind.)

    Middle of the road might be defined here by public perception (and even then he’s pushing it a little bit – maybe – but as a science journalist, and thus supposedly knowledgeable and objective – and ABLE to be reasonably objective on or understanding of, the science, he’s really pushing it.

  609. Marco says:

    I think the graph shown here shows what Ridley means with “middle-of-the-road”:
    http://tiny.cc/kdvktx
    It’s being somewhere in-between the two distributions.

    Or, alternatively:

  610. Pingback: A juvenile tactic? | …and Then There's Physics

  611. Pingback: Rude and touchy | …and Then There's Physics

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