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[Marxism] Global warming

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Subject: [Marxism] Global warming
From: Louis Proyect <lnp3@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 29 May 2009 15:39:59 -0400
Delivery-date: Fri, 29 May 2009 13:07:12 -0600
List-archive: <http://lists.econ.utah.edu/pipermail/marxism>
(I was asked to post this by Paddy, but I certainly don't agree with it. 
What did Voltaire say?)

To: "CCNet-News" <CCNet-News@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, May 29, 2009 5:13 PM
Subject: CCNet Xtra: Lies, Damned Lies, And Statistics


 > CCNet Xtra – 29 May 2009 -- Audiatur et altera pars
 >
 > LATEST CLIMATE SCARE: A METHODOLOGICAL EMBARRASSMENT
 > ----------------------------------------------------
 >
 >
 > There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
 >     --Benjamin Disraeli
 >
 >
 >
 > Climate change kills about 315,000 people a year through hunger, 
sickness and weather disasters, and the annual death toll is expected to 
rise to half a million by 2030, a report commissioned by the 
Geneva-based Global Humanitarian Forum (GHF) said on Friday.
 >    --Reuters, 29 May 2009
 >
 >
 >
 > This report is a methodological embarrassment and poster child for 
how to lie with
 > statistics. The report is worse than fiction, it is a lie.
 >      --Roger Pielke, Jr., Prometheus, 29 May 2009
 >
 >
 >
 > With time running short ahead of Copenhagen, analysts say many 
details of the new deal to succeed the existing Kyoto Protocol beyond 
2012 may be left vague. Options in some of the draft texts include 
simply putting off decisions until 2010 or even 2011.
 >     --Reuters, 29 May 2009
 >
 >
 >
 >
 > (1) LATEST CLIMATE SCARE: A METHODOLOGICAL EMBARRASSMENT
 >    Roger Pielke, Jr., Prometheus, 29 May 2009
 >
 >
 > (2) COPENHAGEN DRAFT TEXT: PUTTING OFF CLIMATE DEAL UNTIL 2011?
 >    Reuters, 29 May 2009
 >
 > (3) EU HOPES FOR AMERICAN CARBON $BILLIONS FADE
 >    Environmental Leader, 29 May 2009
 >
 >
 > ===========
 > (1) LATEST CLIMATE SCARE: A METHODOLOGICAL EMBARRASSMENT
 >
 > Prometheus, 29 May 2009
 > 
<http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/a-methodological-embarassment-5314>
 >
 > Roger Pielke, Jr.
 >
 > I am quoted in today’s NYT on a new report issued by the Global 
Humanitarian Forum which makes the absurd claim that 315,000 deaths a 
year can be attributed to the effects of rising greenhouse gas 
concentrations. Here is what I said:
 >
 > Roger A. Pielke Jr., a political scientist at the University of 
Colorado, Boulder, who studies disaster trends, said the forum’s report 
was “a methodological embarrassment” because there was no way to 
distinguish deaths or economic losses related to human-driven global 
warming amid the much larger losses resulting from the growth in 
populations and economic development in vulnerable regions. Dr. Pielke 
said that “climate change is an important problem requiring our utmost 
attention.” But the report, he said, “will harm the cause for action on 
both climate change and disasters because it is so deeply flawed.”
 >
 > Strong comments I know. Shoddy work on disasters and climate change 
is the norm, unfortunately, and something I’ve been closely following 
for well over a decade. I have no illusions that this latest concoction 
will be repeatedly cited regardless.
 >
 > Below are my comments to the NYT upon reading the report (cleaned up 
and formatted). Caution, strong views ahead.
 >
 > Let me apologize for the length of this reply. But it is important to 
be clear and to set the record straight.
 >
 > Let me say first that human-caused climate change is an important 
problem requiring our utmost attention. Second, the effects of 
disasters, particularly in poorer countries, is also an important 
problem that to some degree has been overlooked, as I have argued for 
many years.
 >
 > However, I cannot express how strongly I feel that this report has 
done a disservice to both issues. It is a methodological embarrassment 
and poster child for how to lie with statistics. The report will harm 
the cause for action on both climate change and disasters because it is 
so deeply flawed.
 >
 > It will give ammunition to those opposed to action and divert 
attention away from the people who actually need help in the face of 
disasters, yet through this report have been reduced to a bloodless 
statistic for use in the promotional battle over climate policies. The 
report is worse than fiction, it is a lie. These are strong words I know.
 >
 > 1. Let me first start by noting that the same group that did the 
analysis for the UN, the Geo-Risks group in Munich Re, earlier this year 
published a peer-reviewed paper arguing that the signal of human-caused 
climate change could not presently be seen in the loss data on 
disasters. They wrote (emphasis added):
 >
 > It should be noted when assessing the results of both this paper and 
Schmidt et al. (2008) that it is generally difficult to obtain valid 
quantitative findings about the role of socioeconomics and climate 
change in loss increases. This is because of criteria such as the 
stochastic nature of weather extremes, a shortage of quality data, and 
the role of various other potential factors that act in parallel and 
interact. We therefore regard our results as being an indication only of 
the extent to which socio-economic and climate changes account for the 
increase in losses. Both studies confirm the consensus reached in May 
2006 at the international workshop in Hohenkammer attended by leading 
experts on climate change and natural catastrophe losses.
 >
 > I co-organized the Hohenkammer workshop (referred to in the quote 
above) with Peter Hoeppe of Munich Re and that workshop concluded (among 
other things):
 >
 > Due to data-quality issues, the stochastic nature of extreme event 
impacts, the lengths of the time series, and various societal factors 
present in the disaster loss records, it is still not possible to 
determine what portion of the increase in damage may be due to climate 
changes caused by GHG emissions.
 >
 > and
 >
 > The quantitative link (attribution) between storm/flood loss trends 
and GHG-induced climate changes is unlikely to be determined 
unequivocally in the near future.
 >
 > On p. 84 the GHF report itself says:
 >
 > However, there is not yet any widely accepted global estimate of the 
share of weather related disasters that are attributable to climate change.
 >
 > One would think that would be the end of the story. However, to fill 
in for the fact that there is no accepted estimate, the report conjures 
up a number using an approach that is grounded in neither logic, 
science, or common sense.
 >
 > 2. Specifically, to get around the fact that there has been no 
attribution of the relationship of GHG emissions and disasters, this 
report engages in a very strange comparison of earthquake and weather 
disasters in 1980 and 2005. The first question that comes to mind is, 
why? They are comparing phenomena with many “moving parts” over a short 
time frame, and attributing 100% of the resulting difference to 
human-caused climate change. This boggles the mind. The IPCC itself says 
that 30 years are needed for the detection of changes in the climate 
system, and this time frame does not even reach that threshold. More to 
the point earthquakes and weather events do not have the same 
variability and earthquake disasters affect only a small part of the 
total inhabited area of the earth, whereas weather disasters occur much 
more widely. The assumption that weather disasters should track 
earthquake disasters is flawed from the outset for both geophysical and 
socio-economic reasons.
 >
 > An alternative, more scientifically robust approach would be to look 
specifically at weather-related disasters, and consider the role of 
socio-economic changes, and to the extent possible, try to remove that 
signal and see what trends remain. When that has been done, in every 
case (US floods, hurricanes, Australia, India TCs, Latin America and 
elsewhere, all in the peer-reviewed literature) there is not a remaining 
signal of increasing disasters. In other words, the increase in 
disasters observed worldwide can be entirely attributed to 
socio-economic changes. This is what has been extensively documented in 
the peer reviewed literature, and yet — none of this literature is cited 
in this report. None of it! Instead they rely on this cooked up 
comparison between earthquakes and weather related disasters.
 >
 > (Consider also that in no continental location has there been an 
observed increase in tropical cyclone landfalls, and yet this accounts 
for almost all of the windstorm disasters cited in the report. The 
increase must therefore be due to factors other than geophysical 
changes. This fact renders the
 > comparison with earthquakes even more meaningless).
 >
 > Munich Re’s own peer-reviewed work supports the fact that 
socio-economic factors can explain the entire increase in global 
disasters in recent decades.
 >
 > Consider that in 2005 there were 11 earthquakes magnitude 7 or higher 
and in 1980 there were 14. by contrast, 1980 was a quiet weather year, 
and 2005 was very active, and included Katrina.
 > Source
 >
 > 3. The report cites and undates the Stern Review Report estimates of 
disaster losses, however, in a peer-reviewed paper I showed that these 
estimates were off by an order of magnitude and relied on a similar sort 
of statistical gamesmanship to develop its results (and of course this 
critique was ignored):
 >
 > Pielke, Jr., R. A., 2007. Mistreatment of the economic impacts of 
extreme events in the Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate 
Change, Global Environmental Change, 17:302-310. (PDF)
 >
 > This report is an embarrassment to the GHF and to those who have put 
their names on it as representing a scientifically robust analysis. It 
is not even close.
 >
 > Best regards,
 >
 > Roger
 >
 > ==========
 > (2) COPENHAGEN DRAFT TEXT: PUTTING OFF CLIMATE DEAL UNTIL 2011?
 >
 > Reuters, 29 May 2009
 > 
<http://in.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idINTRE54S28N20090529?sp=true>
 >
 > By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
 >
 > OSLO (Reuters) - About 170 nations will meet in Germany next week to 
work on a new United Nations climate treaty with hopes for progress 
pinned most on ways to raise billions of dollars to help poor nations 
cope with global warming.
 >
 > The June 1-12 talks between senior officials in Bonn will be the 
first to review formal draft texts about a sweeping U.N. deal due to be 
agreed in Copenhagen in December to involve all countries in fighting 
global warming.
 >
 > Over 120 pages of draft texts indicate deadlock between rich and poor 
nations on a core dispute over how to share out curbs on greenhouse 
gases, released mainly by use of fossil fuels.
 >
 > To avoid that standoff, finance could be an area to build confidence.
 >
 > "One thing that can usefully be done is finance -- working out how 
funds can be mobilized for developing nations would be a huge positive 
influence on the negotiations," Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate 
Change Secretariat, told Reuters.
 >
 > "If there's no movement on emissions then maybe an agreement can be 
made on finance," he said.
 >
 > The Bonn meeting is the second of six U.N. climate talks due this 
year, including Copenhagen.
 >
 > Developing nations such as China and India say the rich have stoked 
warming since the Industrial Revolution and should do far more to cut 
emissions by 2020.
 >
 > Hit by recession, developed nations are wary of promising deeper cuts.
 >
 > Seventeen major emitters said they made progress in Paris this week 
on how to find cash to help the poor rein in emissions and adapt to 
climate change, based on a Mexican proposal for a "Green Fund" that 
would raise at least $10 billion a year.
 >
 > GREEN FUND
 >
 > The Mexican plan foresees raising cash from all nations, based on 
factors such as their historic and present emissions and gross domestic 
product. That would make the United States and Europe the top contributors.
 >
 > Cash would go to projects including wind or solar power or to 
protecting forests as part of the global deal meant to prevent ever more 
heatwaves, floods, disease, species extinctions and rising sea levels.
 >
 > With time running short ahead of Copenhagen, analysts say many 
details of the new deal to succeed the existing Kyoto Protocol beyond 
2012 may be left vague.
 >
 > "Everyone agrees that there is going to be a lot of work to be done 
after Copenhagen, no matter what," said Alden Meyer, of the Union of 
Concerned Scientists.
 >
 > Options in some of the draft texts -- for instance whether to allow 
credits for investments in capturing and storing emissions from 
coal-fired power plants in developing nations -- include simply putting 
off decisions until 2010 or even 2011.
 >
 > FULL STORY at 
<http://in.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idINTRE54S28N20090529?sp=true>
 >
 > ==========
 > (3) EU HOPES FOR AMERICAN CARBON $BILLIONS FADE
 >
 > Environmental Leader, 29 May 2009
 > 
<http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/05/29/global-carbon-markets-in-discord-as-emissions-projections-rise/
 
  >
 >
 > Just as the United States warns that global carbon dioxide emissions 
may rise 39 percent by 2030, there appears to be discord as to whether 
the U.S. and the European Union will be able to integrate carbon trading 
markets.
 >
 > With demand from non-developed countries like China and India using a 
presumed 73 percent more energy between 2006 and 2030, global energy 
demand could jump 44 percent, according to reports from the U.S. Energy 
Information Administration.
 > By 2030, global carbon emissions may rise to 40.4 billion metric 
tons, compared to 29 billion tons in 2006. Liquid energy demand, 
including gasoline, would reach 107 million barrels a day by 2030, up 
from 85 million in 2006.
 >
 > It should be noted that these projections are based on no legislative 
changes to cap emission levels or other initiatives to reduce the use of 
fossil fuels.
 >
 > Meanwhile, European carbon traders cited the difficulty in alligning 
the European Union’s emissions trading program with a U.S. cap-and-trade 
scheme, reports Reuters.
 >
 > The EU hopes to have a linked global carbon market by 2020. By 2013, 
the EU would like to see national schemes in all countries belonging to 
the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with 
those linked together by 2015.
 >
 > The main challenge is in developing systems that are compatible, said 
David Corregidor, deputy director of environment and climate change at 
Spanish power utility Endesa.
 >
 > Additional hurdles include the existence of carbon price caps in the 
U.S. market, while the EU has none. Also, nations differ on preferred 
trading units and emissions reductions targets.
 >
 > FULL STORY at 
<http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/05/29/global-carbon-markets-in-discord-as-emissions-projections-rise/>
 >
 >
 > ----------------
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 >
 >
 >
 >
 >
 >


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