Comment fakery at WUWT

toss I must admit that I’m surprised, because up till now I’ve not detected this, or heard of anyone complain of it. Routine censorship, of course, but fakery is a new thing. So:

Potholes In Their Arguments is a post on the recent IMF report. I put in a comment pointing out that it was a bit late to the party, others already having said the same thing (and, I didn’t add, had said it with less verbosity; the prose there is somewhat prolix). That got an unexciting reply, to which I responded:

William Connolley Your comment is awaiting moderation.
May 29, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Plenty of other people got there ahead of you; try http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2015/05/19/imf-report-on-5-3-trillion-in-energy-subsidies-careful-its-not-quite-what-you-think/ for example. Ignorance of prior art is part of what’s holding you lot back.

Notice the date and time; that’s because I cut-n-pasted it straight from the WUWT page after I submitted it. And kept a copy of it, as I’ve learnt to do.

Imagine my surprise when I read the reply, from Willis Eschenbach May 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm:

William Connolley May 29, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Plenty of other people got there ahead of you; try http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2015/05/19/updated-nasa-data-polar-ice-not-receding-after-all/ for example.”

Thanks for an interesting article on the total global sea ice coverage, William. However, I fear I don’t see the relevance to the current discussion…

And now I look at “my comment” on the WUWT page, I discover that it doesn’t say what I wrote. Someone has faked in the wrong link. Oddly enough, my subsequent complaint of fakery didn’t get published.

This seems to me to be below barrel-scraping from AW and his merry gang of clowns. I’ve learnt that they’re often so desperate to “win” that they need to censor those with unwelcome views; but actually faking comments I would formerly have said was beneath even them.

Update

I wondered if I’d somehow made a mistake, implausible as it seems. But no; they really had faked it. How can you tell, for 100% sure, even if you really want to deny it? Because the original has now been silently restored (sigh; now switched back to the original fake). Just to prove how incompetent they are, though, the response to the original fake is still up: here’s an archive (sigh, again; no, that’s not a useful archive) and screen capture:

fake1

Refs

* …into the bucket of jellied eels
* A child’s garden of wikipedia, part I
* Is surfacestations.org dead?
* Regret theory in practice – Bronte Captial.
* The now-retracted Science paper on gay canvassing: he lied about the funding of his study to give it more credibility – um, you could see how that would work.
* No, blog posts cannot replace scientific articles -VV

…into the bucket of jellied eels

fun Hard on the heels of Wegman’s farcical attempt to sue Mashey comes Watts’s incompetent attempt to meat-puppet wiki. If you want to see my comments at WUWT that didn’t survive moderation, you’ll need to read stoat spam or just imagine them; I said nothing that wasn’t obvious. My favourite, I think, was

The context here is wiki; we’re speaking about updating a wiki article, so you need to follow its rules, or just mumble over your beer. Wiki’s rules for reliable sources are WP:RS, which is to say https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources. I don’t actually agree with all that but meh; they’re the rules.

which got snipped as a “policy violation”; I kid you not. Anyway, the backstory:

Willard Anthony Watts (born 1958)[1] is an …

Well indeed, is what? Wiki was having some trouble deciding, as chronicled by me a month or more back. Currently its fairly stable on the delicious

Willard Anthony Watts (born 1958) is a former broadcast meteorologist from the USA,[3] president of IntelliWeather Inc,[4] and founder of the Surface Stations project, a volunteer initiative to document the siting and maintenance of U.S. weather stations.[5] He operates Watts Up With That?, a weather and climate change[6][7] blog that focuses on the global warming controversy and his opinion that the human role in global warming is insignificant. It is described by climatologist Michael E. Mann in The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars as having “overtaken Climate Audit as the leading climate change denial blog“.[5]

(my bold). I’m sure the piece in bold is balm to his troubled soul. That its Mann being cited can only make the balm even more balmy; about the only thing the Watties hate more than being called denialists, is Mann. Naturally, the Mann article doesn’t quote Watts, because there is no symmetry: Mann is a respected and significant scientist; Watts is some blogger. But enough of that, because the focus for today is on the WUWT article. But before we get to that…

WP:COI

AW asserts that Of course, I’m not allowed to make any changes myself, because the Wikipedia rules prevent such things due to potential “bias”. Its not quite true, though squinted at from his distance its arguably true enough not to matter. The actual, complex, rules are at WP:COI if you want to read then. As with everything, though, its less the rules than how you act. And what they certainly don’t do is ban you from going to the talk page and arguing for your preferred version of the article; what stops AW doing that is Fear of leaving his walled garden; the outside world is a scary place.

My advice, though, to anyone with a wiki page about themselves is to not read it. And I take my own advice, to the extent that I don’t know if I still do have a page about me.

AW was somewhat coy about exactly what he thought was wrong with the article; a clear intent to apply a smear was about all. But a nod is as good as a wink to a meatpuppet, no?

[[Watts Up With That?]]

The article is currently fully protected, and like the AW article is in a state that will doubtless delight the Watties:

Watts Up With That? (or WUWT) is a blog dedicated to climate change skepticism or denial[a] created in 2006 by Anthony Watts.[1][2]… Contributors include Christopher Monckton and Fred Singer as guest authors.[4]… and is among the most influential climate change denial blogs on the Internet.[6]

Which, errm, bears an eerie similarity to the version before all the fuss.

Brief war; few killed

After AW’s clarion call, a couple of the troops turned up to fight the good fight. Oefinell kinda qualified the denial a bit (I bet he got spanked by AW in private for that thin effort) and Ponysboy changed “denial” into “skepticism”. That lasted about three minutes before being reverted. Then some anon made a more full-hearted try which lasted almost two minutes. But wiki has seen this kind of stuff before(if 4chan can’t take wiki down, the Watties don’t stand a chance); there’s even a banner for it:

vote

Short Brigade Harvester Boris has a more amusing version, which I encourage you to read.

Semi

And there’s a procedure for it: “semi protection“, which prevents edits by anon, or new, accounts; and allows editing by established accounts. The threshold for an established account is low; its a few days of editing, not a year; its just enough to bounce off the noobs who’ve been sent in to wage holy war.

FWIW, the admin that semi’d it added a note to say that they were possibly too involved to take admin action on the article; but the action was so obviously sensible no-one complained.

Rather more recently that has been upped to full protection (no-one except admins can edit it, and they aren’t allowed to make controversial changes). That’s supposed to allow debate to take place on the talk page and some kind of consensus to emerge.

Will it? Certainly, the two ends of the spectrum will never agree. mostly, its just endless rehashing of the familiar “denialism! Its like holocaust denialism! ZOMG I’m just so offended I could use lots of exclamation marks!!!” versus “denialism is just a word that describes what you’re doing”. Guess which side I’m on.

Surfacestations.org: dead or what?

As noted by me about a month ago, surfacestations.org appears to be a stiff. And, as far as I can tell, no-one gives a toss. I tried tweaking them in the comments, but no reaction; I even called AW’s duff paper a “poor dead stillborn thing” and even that didn’t get a rise. He really must have despaired of it. The wiki article says ”Watts’s Surface Stations project, an analysis of terrestrial US weather stations, was often discussed on WUWT, but became dormant in 2012” which seems fair enough. I did ”ask” at WUWT if they thought there was anything wrong with that; no-one replied.

Its scary out in the real world

My favourite exchange in the WUWT comments was this:

dbstealey May 26, 2015 at 9:14 am:

I would love to ask the person who re-edited that entry to define WUWT as “a blog dedicated to climate change denial” and ask him what he means

William Connolley May 26, 2015 at 9:52 am:

But you can (or at least you could, if you were brave enough to venture out of the walled garden)! Because the wiki page has a talk page, designed exactly for this kind of information exchange. Look, its here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Watts_Up_With_That%3F

But actually, its even better than that, because the wiki page has a history tab (are you sure you’re comfortable with high tech?):

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Watts_Up_With_That%3F&action=history

And if you press that, you can fairly readily find:

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Watts_Up_With_That%3F&diff=664117352&oldid=664101984

and the author of that change has helpfully explained themselves:

“Undo, and restore significant sources removed yesterday, which have been supported by consensus.”

And then further explained themselves on the talk page:

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:Watts_Up_With_That%3F&diff=664116868&oldid=664116022

Do you need to be spoon fed any more?

dbstealey May 26, 2015 at 10:40 am:

I’m happy to see you being spoon-fed here at WUWT. You might learn a lot, if you ever decide to open your mind.

Ta’

(BTW, thanx for the links, but if I want to be spoon-fed mindless propaganda, there are far better sources than yours.)

So they really are afraid to venture out of their safe little zone.

Update: controversial articles

Its often said (well, at least by people who need an excuse for not reading what is written when they don’t like it, but who of course use wiki for all practical purposes) that wiki is fine for non-controversial topics, but rubbish at controversy. But this is wrong; wiki is surprisingly, astonishingly, good at handling controversy. That doesn’t mean that it always deals fairly with individual editors cough but nonetheless the contents are almost invariably good. Not always, but arguably better than anywhere else.

A follow-on from that is the suggestion that it would be better for controversial topics to be split: into “pro” and “anti” pages, sometimes with the additional suggestion that “pro” people aren’t allowed to edit “anti” pages, and vice versa. this is explicitly forbidden by policy, and I think that is correct: if you want to read about global warming you want one article that is as far as possible balanced; you don’t want to read one article that says “its all a myth and a con and black helicopters” and another that says “zomg we’re all going to die” and average the two in your mind; that would be pointless.

Refs

* Septics and skeptics; denialists and contrarians – me, in 2004.
* Climate denial blog-owner Anthony Watts calls his troops to Wikipedia action – Sou.
* In the forest, stoats are scaredy cats-NZ Herald

Bad beekeeping, 2015

At this time of the year, as I cycle past the rape fields (this isn’t a reference to some Balkan horror, just the plant), I take note of the dying of the yellow, for it signifies that the spring recolte is once again due. I measure my life by the passing of such seasons: the winter league; tideway, the summer bumps; and the honey harvest. Today was a bank holiday, so after coxing the dev IV and playing at pairs with Paul, I had time for some beekeeping, and planting a magnolia.

Here are the pre-harvest hives. This underplays the degree of weed; task number one was to hack them out of the undergrowth.

DSC_5073DSC_5074

Here is the result. Its rather modest, just one super’s worth. Note the rather stained gloves; mostly propolis I would imagine. They desperately need renewing; the leather thins, and angry bees would probably have no trouble in getting through. Fortunately today’s bees, though provoked, were kind.

DSC_5084

The super is from the main (slope-roofed) hive. There is a spare on top, but they haven’t filled that. The flat-topped hive survived the winter, much to my surprise, and is now thriving. Alas it has no queen excluder and so is now effectively a brood-and-a-half. They have done a splendid job in filling up empty space with gorgeous comb, but it has an arc of brood across it. I fumbled quite a bit playing with their comb; they were remarkably patient with me.

Speaking of patience, yes I’ve seen the recent wiki-silliness at WUWT; oh, how we laughed.

Update: one week on

I returned the spun frames. As it happened I gave them all to the flat-top hive, which I did first, and left the slopey hive alone; it was looking rather less vigourous; perhaps it had swarmed. For slopey I pulled out the frames with mixed honey and brood and put them on top of the new queen excluder.

Refs

* Bad Beekeeping, 2014. Which reminds me: I got another roof garden this year.

The CIA Is Shuttering a Secretive Climate Research Program?

dt.common.streams.StreamServer So gushes Mother Jones, adding the enticing word “exclusive” to the story. But – weirdly enough, for a confection of spying and science reporting, both of which are normally so reliable – this appears to be a bit garbled. Firstly, the “climate research programme” looks to be more like the CIA had allowed civilian scientists to access classified data—such as ocean temperature and tidal readings gathered by Navy submarines and topography data collected by spy satellites. So, not CIA research at all: just data sharing. And presumably not CIA data mostly; if this is stuff routinely gathered by Navy subs, its presumably Navy data; which the CIA had been given the job of giving out? Hard to be sure. National Journal seems to support my interpretation.

Aside: Peter “Sea Ice Collapse” Wadhams was once heavily into sea ice data gathered from Royal Navy subs. I believe that the Navy didn’t want to just release the data; (a) because they’re just not like that, and (b) because they didn’t want people to know exactly where they had been. But ice thickness without location is useless; so trusted people to look at the data were needed.

Perhaps less gushy – well, a little less – is the NYT with C.I.A. Is Sharing Data With Climate Scientists from 2010, announcing the re-start of the programme now shut down. And it full of scientists – well, actually, mostly just one, Norbert Untersteiner, a perfectly respectable person – saying how valuable all this data is. And I bet if you can get some decent papers out of it, that’s really great. But in terms of overall monitoring, the freely available SSMI/SSMR/AMSR stuff is far more important. So I’m dubious this is any great loss.

FWIW, the only piece of CIA research on climate change that I looked at – A study of climatological research as it pertains to intelligence problems – was rubbish. It was an object lesson in why letting a secretive organisation that didn’t get out much, do research, is a really bad idea. Doubtless asking scientists to go spying would go equally badly.

Refs

* Newly Declassified Submarine Data Will Help Study of Arctic Ice – NSF 1998 press release; thanks to RtS.

Falling out of the clown car, down the stairs and into the electric eel pond

Shamelessly stolen from Brian at Eli’s (this is about plagiarism, after all) is the Ed Wegman, Yasmin Said, Milt Johns Sue John Mashey For $2 Million as reported by JM.

Brian’s

My one semi-serious comment is that this is the quality of the opposition. We ought to be kicking their butt.

is worth a ponder. Arguably, we are “kicking their butt” – any sane government dialogue on the issue acknowledges the reality of GW. All that’s missing is a sane response, viz carbon taxes.

Refs

* Makes retraction watch

Fossil fuels subsidised by $10m a minute, says IMF?

Well, ATTP tweeted it, poor trusting soul that he is, having been unwise enough to believe the Graun’s headline, which segues into text Fossil fuel companies are benefitting from global subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.4tn) a year, equivalent to $10m a minute every day, according to a startling new estimate by the International Monetary Fund. The report itself says:

A key factor in estimating the magnitude of current subsidies is which definition of “subsidies” is used. Pre-tax consumer subsidies arise when the price paid by consumers (that is, firms and households) is below the cost of supplying energy. Post-tax consumer subsidies arise when the price paid by consumers is below the supply cost of energy plus an appropriate “Pigouvian” (or “corrective”) tax that reflects the environmental damage associated with energy consumption and an additional consumption tax that should be applied to all consumption goods for raising revenues. Some studies also include producer subsidies, which reflect the net subsidy given to energy producers (for example, through access to subsidized inputs, preferential tax treatment, or direct budget transfers) although these are typically much smaller than consumer subsidies (OECD 2013).

The difference between pre- and post-tax subsidies is the “externalities” (see-also Agricultural land value as a percentage of GDP, and the comments thereon; note how opposed many were to the concept of externality; perhaps now it turns into a presumed tax on fossil fuels they’ll be happier).

I’m uncomfortable with regarding not imposing externality taxation as a subsidy. In particular, its not a subsidy to the company that extracts and sells the fuel (or at least, only a fraction of it is, since it probably eases their business). Its mostly a “subsidy” to the consumer, who then pays, of course, in terms of the externality. And note that most of the externalities are “local” to the country, rather than global: chiming with what I’ve said before and with Eli’s recent Heartland Institute – Convenient Cognitive Dissonance, they say Most [post-tax] energy subsidies arise from the failure to adequately charge for the cost of domestic environmental damage—only about one-quarter of the total is from climate change. Note that’s merely an issue of terminology: I strongly support the idea that externalities should be internalised, via appropriate taxation.

I’m dubious about

The fiscal, environmental, and welfare impacts of energy subsidy reform are potentially enormous. Eliminating post-tax subsidies in 2015 could raise government revenue by $2.9 trillion (3.6 percent of global GDP), cut global CO2 emissions by more than 20 percent, and cut pre-mature air pollution deaths by more than half. After allowing for the higher energy costs faced by consumers, this action would raise global economic welfare by $1.8 trillion (2.2 percent of global GDP).

This sounds like the free money tree that the FTT people think they’ve found. Those people are definitely wrong; these people I’m less sure about. Discuss. They do say These findings must be viewed with caution (of their findings in general, not just that one).

Anyway, here’s their Key Figure:

subsidy

As you see, pre-tax subsidies, which I’m sure we can all agree are definitely naughty, are declining. Oddly enough, they don’t find any space to mention that in the intro, which concentrates on the post-tax subsidies. Which are going up. Post-tax subsidies are, approximately and by eye, ten times the pre-tax ones.

They note that these large numbers are more than twice as big as their previous numbers, because of (1) expanded coverage of air pollutants… also include damages from nitrogen oxides and direct fine particulate emissions (2) recent evidence from the World Health Organization suggesting air pollution has a greater effect on mortality risk; adjustments for country-specific sulfur dioxide emission rates from coal plants; adjustments for country-specific population exposure to coal plant emissions; adjustments for differences in baseline mortality rates (less healthy populations being more vulnerable to pollution); (3) extrapolation of congestion, accidents, air pollution, and road damage for vehicles; (4) the use of country-specific conversion factors.

The split into regions is what I’ve been waiting for, and comes in figure 7:

regions

As you’d expect, most of the pre-tax subsidies are in the banana republics: the middle east, Russia, and bits of S America with more oil than sense. The bulk of the post-tax subsidies are China, with about 50% and “advanced” (i.e. us), with another 25% (by eye).

That rather tailed off without a conclusion, didn’t it? Well, the conclusion is that explicit subsidies are a small fraction of total externalities.

Refs

* IMF Report On $5.3 Trillion In Energy Subsidies; Careful, It’s Not Quite What You Think – Timmy. He makes more forcefully the point I made rather sketchily: that these aren’t subsidies to fossil fuel companies, but to consumers. But oddly he fails to notice that the bulk of the externality is local pollution, not GW -W]
* Timmy again, pointing to Quantifying the implicit climate subsidy received by leading fossil fuel companies, which is making the same kind of mistakes.

Agricultural land value as a percentage of GDP

Well, here it is:

20150404_FBC717_1

Why am I showing you this? Mostly because its rather striking, partly because it forms part of the things Piketty got wrong thread, but mostly for the relevance to the “infinite growth on a finite planet” type argument. Many people will tell you that infinite “growth” on a finite planet is impossible, though they will usually be a touch vague about the meaning of the word “growth” (see Economics and Climatology? comments). Others will tell you that “economic growth” isn’t necessarily resource constrained, and so infinite growth is perfectly possible.

Refs

* Piketty and the case for land capital – FT Alphaville.
* Land-shackled economies: The paradox of soil – the Economist: “Land, the centre of the pre-industrial economy, has returned as a constraint on growth”.
* So why is it that everyone hates libertarians?
* Bjorn Lomborg demonstrates why universities should steer clear of him – Brian at Eli’s.
* Murphy’s Law? or, Follies of a Finite Physicist by Noah Smith. Taking Tom Murphy’s “economist” apart.
* EconoTrolls: An Illustrated Bestiary
* Paul Krugman’s Quite Right: Just Where Is All The Growth? – Timmy.