Blogobooks

Via Miriam, I see that Bad Science (Ben Goldacre’s column in the Grauniad) is now a book (pre-publication); so is Tim Worstall’s though he may not be so happy with the “31 used & new available from £0.01”!

More amusingly (again via M) is Hairy Pooter 7, which although not yet published already has 5 5-star reviews (sample: “I feel that will will be worth all 5 stars when it comes out so I have gave it such”) and a sales rank of… yes, you guessed it, 1.

Rubbish software

I’ve just used Peoplesoft to do my forward job plan for the year. Around BAS, PS is notorious for being unintuitive and annoying in the way it forces you to do things, and I feel the same. But the odd thing is that, when I got home, I realised it hadn’t taken me long at all to actually do – rather less time than the old way.

So this is a curious example of software whose interface is so badly written that although it functions fairly passably, it annoys everyone who uses it with a false impression of unusability.

Costs of Stabalisation

James Annan makes two good points in a comment, which I’ll reproduce here:

Actually, it looks like Stern chose a rather optimistic cost of stabilisation, 1/3 of the cost that JQ estimated, although of course JQ does his best to backtrack and excuse Stern on that score.

I wonder how things look if instead of a single figure, Stern had used a probabilistic range a la climate sensitivity pdf. Using the methods in widespread use for sensitivity, I bet it would be easy to conclude that “it cannot be ruled out” that stabilisation would be catastrophic for the economy, even if this is not considered likely. What price risk-aversion now?

The first one I’d forgotten (or perhaps just wasn’t very interested in). The second is fun: suppose we do decide on stabalisation at 500 ppmv. Then, as JA points out, its unreasonable to assume a given cost of 1, 2 or 5%. Its no better known (probably worse known???) that the climate sensitivity. So you must use a PDF for it. Which then allows the possibility of very high values (unless you artificially remove them).

Actually I know almost nothing about what is considered a reasonable cost of stabalisation, or how well its considered known. Quickly looking through JQs post that JA refs, I think that his estimates asssume fossil fuels are substitutable. Suppose they aren’t. Suppose a 60% cut requires forgoing vast swathes of economic activity (so the M11 would be much quieter… hurrah!). But measured in pure economic terms, that would be a large cost.

World faces hottest year ever, as El Niño combines with global warming!?!

Not my headline, but from The Independent”, seeking to keep to its reputation as most environmentally overhyped paper. A combination of global warming and the El Niño weather system is set to make 2007 the warmest year on record with far-reaching consequences for the planet, one of Britain’s leading climate experts has warned. Although the actual quote from Phil Jones is El Niño makes the world warmer and we already have a warming trend that is increasing global temperatures by one to two tenths of a degrees celsius per decade. Together, they should make 2007 warmer than last year and it may even make the next 12 months the warmest year on record which is rather more cautious.

Meanwhile, in another article the misreading of Stern continues: Sir Nicholas Stern’s Treasury report two months ago has helped to discredit the argument that action to stop climate change will be prohibitively expensive. Thanks to his analysis, we now know that it will cost us far more if we do nothing. One of the things that Stern didn’t change much was the std costs of doing something. He just put the costs of doing nothing rather higher. So the expense of action remains much the same.