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Although I don’t know if forest management is a good analog for economics, I do think it is instructive with respect to whether we should want the government to institute “cures” for global warming.

AMEN, Greg. My goodness. I was in high school during the Rodeo-Chediski Fire and saw dozens of families lose their homes and land to the blaze...and those were just the people I knew personally. Now the fact that the Wallow fire is eating up the most gorgeous timbered areas of the state makes my stomach hurt.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!
Greg please write on this weekly...just take all the other examples you mentioned in this article and write one piece a week on each of them. We need to be reminded that governments are instituted for specific purposes and should not be allowed to go beyond them due to ideology, religion and the US Consitution primarily but also because of utter, complete and systemic INCOMPETENCE!
Remind us so we can do better in the future.

Actually the forest people know perfectly well how best to prevent these megafires, or at least make them less devastating. Where proper thinning in the White Mountains was allowed to take place, the damage was far less severe and recovery will not take as long. They've been doing this kind of management for decades; it's not a new strategy. But it takes money, the will to do it, and perseverence against enviro lawsuits. We should start calling them charcoal huggers.

After visiting with a top offcial of the Arizona forestry agency, I was saddened to learn of a lot of personnel corruption within the system.

Time for Governor Brewer to take some folks aside, get the scoop about what's going on and do some firing - there's a pun there.

From what I gathered, there needs to be some thinning of the incompetent and corrupt cronies and underlings in the system before there is any hope for this agency.

Better management of the forest and the forest management system.

Go get 'em Jan!

Wall Street employed some of the most brilliant physicists, mathematicians, computer programmers and other scientists and spent hundreds of millions of dollars to try to model the financial markets – just a small sector of the economy. The Wall Street quants were smarter than the climate modelers, they were motivated by huge financial incentives, and they were backed by multi-billion dollar investments. The quants were convinced they had successfully mastered the markets. Yet they crashed and burned. The quants’ sin was hubris; there is no adequate word to describe the sin of the climate modelers.

The problem is not that we don't know how to manage forests, the problem is that we are not allowed to do so. If we want to manage forests, we just need to do what the Indians did. The biggest myth ever perpetrated is that the Indians did not interfere with nature when in fact they wholeheartedly manipulated nature to their advantage, and fire was a big tool for them.

In the book "1491," author Charles Mann writes that the Indians "reshaped entire landscapes to suit their purposes. A principal tool was fire, used to keep down underbrush and create the open, grassy conditions favorable for game. Rather than domesticating animals for meat, Indians retooled whole ecosystems to grow bumper crops of elk, deer, and bison. The first white settlers in Ohio found forests as open as English parks—they could drive carriages through the woods. Along the Hudson River the annual fall burning lit up the banks for miles on end; so flashy was the show that the Dutch in New Amsterdam boated upriver to goggle at the blaze like children at fireworks. In North America, Indian torches had their biggest impact on the Midwestern prairie, much or most of which was created and maintained by fire. Millennia of exuberant burning shaped the plains into vast buffalo farms. When Indian societies disintegrated, forest invaded savannah in Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Texas Hill Country."

Those same techniques would work today, but the "environmentalists" would never let us use them.

YM

Evil is a good word to describe something that has only one function.

Look at Lake Taho for a perfect example of enviros missing the mark. The environmentalists fought prescribed burns, clearing of trees, etc. around the lake prior to the fire in 2007. After the fire in 2007, the residents and environmentalists realized they had done more damage than they did good, and are now allowing prescibed burns.

Bottom line, you have to let the natural cycle, or as close to the natural cycle as possible, play out to maintain a healthy forest. You have to let it burn so the soil fills with nutrients, and the trees come back stronger.

It has been my observation that almost all government workers (especially as you go higher up the food chain) believe they are smarter than every one else and that it takes government to "get the job done." We've come a long way (down) from our Founders.

"My real point is that forests--while inherently complex systems--are not nearly as complex as economies, or for that matter climates."

I would disagree completely. Nothing is more complex than nature, even if you narrow it down to one ecosystem. We're finding out more and more each and every year about the natural world.

Not to say economies are not complex, they certainly are and it is near impossible to quantify much of it.

Craig, I'm sorry you see the hard work done on climate change by the scientific community as a sin. Maybe you're wiser than me and you can explain how the consensus among scientists is wrong, or how they are intentionally try to push an ideological or partisan agenda.

Tim, not to devolve the conversation into AGW and related minutiae, it is not the consensus of climate scientists which is wrong - it is the science. A consensus is not proof, and as we know now, the consensus is extremely flimsy and far from unanimous.

Likewise, it is not the work climate scientists have done which is sinful, rather it is the implication of this highly questionable work, and what they wish to do with it to drive an economic agenda designed to eliminate economic liberty and impose top-down controls. Greg draws his parallel to forest management there.

It is the hubris that man can control and predict complex dynamic systems which comprises our current economic and "climate change" dilemma, and some are deliberately pushing the statist agenda "solution", and some are just along for the unwitting ride.

One wonders if Keynes developed a General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Forest Management...

As I drive among the flooded homes in Dakota Dunes in South Dakota, and travel along the Missouri River (yes, interstate 29 is closed north of Omaha - deep under water), I also have to ask: If the govt can't even figure out how much water they have in the snow pack, coupled with the heavy rains, and then release some of the water out of the upstream dams (designed to prevent this very thing) in a timely fashion (they were advised in Feb this would happen), how in the world will they handle Health Care - or anything, for that matter....

I'm sorry, MesaEconoguy, but you didn't really explain how the scientists are wrong, how they (and by they I mean the scientists who actually studied and worked in these fields) are not in consensus, or how their work is suspect. It's the same story each and every time from deniers.

Their facts are wrong!
Why?
Because!
What are your facts?
We don't have any, but their facts are wrong!

Tim, here is a very quick list: the scientists likely are wrong about 1) the runaway positive feedback process (extremely rare), 2) the causality of CO2 concentrations (Gore's Really Big Chart, where CO2 appears after temperature increases, not before), and 3) McIntyre & McKittrick's dismantling of Mann's statistically laughable "hockey stick."

I'm missing a whole lot, and this is the wrong thread for this ddiscussion, so do your own research: http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2007/07/table-of-conten.html

I do not rule out that the warmist alarmists could in fact be right, but it is extremely unlikely given current evidence, and they are behaving like a bunch of guilty children attempting to hide something, rather than engaging in the skeptical scientific process, not to mention being fully emotionally and monetarily invested in their belief system.

And the top down remedies the propose will fail, and relegate millions to poverty.

Very much the same can be said of Paul Krugman's economic silliness, and others.

The Wall Streeters knew that their models were wrong when they lost billions of dollars because the markets didn't behave as modeled. The climate modelers should know they are wrong when their forecasts for the last 15 years of steadily increasing warming have been contradicted by flat temperatures. They should also have known something was wrong when the adjusted historical data shows no medieval warm period.

The glaciers started receding worldwide about 200 years ago. Glacier Bay in Alaska didn't even exist when Captain Vancouver explored the coast in 1794. The glacier extended all the way to the Pacific Ocean. http://www.glacierbay.org/glaciers.html

In the Alps, receding glaciers expose villages buried by the same glaciers during the little ice age 200-400 years ago. There are enormous natural processes at work that the climate modelers don't understand, so they ignore them.

Is there man-made global warming? Yes, probably a little, maybe one degree Celsius a century. Is this a cause for alarm? Not really, the earth is still not as warm as is was during the Medieval warm period, which was a time of global agricultural improvement. Can we really do anything to stop man-made global warming? Not without enormous, potentially fatal, economic consequences.

In case you think I'm making things up, here's a link to the US Geological Survey Map for historical Glacier Bay ice cover:

http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2001/07/glacierbaymap.gif

You see, this is where the conservative argument loses me. I checked out the Coyote blog and there very first paragraph connected the validity of the scientific data to the policy proposals made by liberals. The two shouldn't be connected if you want an honest discussion about the scientific merits of anthropogenic climate change. Scientists aren't the ones approaching the media or the public with solutions.

Craig, the data collected shows that the last two decades are the warmest decades ever recorded and are likely warmer than any time for thousands of years.

Both of you are grasping at straws, but where is the data? Show me where the scientific data supporting your side of the argument. My side is a matter of public record and supported by every major scientific institution and organization on Earth. Where is your evidence that the scientists are doing this for partisan or ideological or monetary gain?

You both assume a number of things without supporting evidence, use anecdotal or isolated incidents to further your arguments, and cherry-pick studies (very few, by the way, compared to the hundreds they attempt to debunk) to suit your worldview.

Tim
I guess that you have blinders on. Again, the world-wide glacial data shows that the glaciers began receding around 1800 or so, long before CO2 increases. I showed you one US Government map that is consistent with the data. I am not going to write a paper summarizing the data from around the world to help you get your head out of the sand.

Here’s the satellite data for global surface temperature temperatures for the last thirty years by the PHDs that know the data better than anyone. Global temperature increases are minimal over the last 30 years. Satellite data covers the globe and is not biased by urban heat island effects.

http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/

“the data collected shows that the last two decades are the warmest decades ever recorded and are likely warmer than any time for thousands of years.” You are relying on Mann’s hockey-stick temperature reconstruction. I guess you consider history to be nothing but anecdotes. The Vikings lived in Greenland and the English grew grapes during the medieval warm period. Then, the glaciers advanced during the little ice age. If the reconstructed temperature data from tree rings do not agree with the historical record, then the reconstruction is wrong.

Consensus among scientists does not mean a theory is correct. I won’t bore you with the historical scientific consensuses that have proved to be laughably wrong. Further, the global-warming consensus is far less broad among the physicists, mathematicians, and statisticians that actually work in the field.

Finally, the best test of a model is its predictions. So far, the models’ predictions have been woefully wrong.

Anthony Watts at surfacestation.org has a collection of photographs of the official weather stations. By his count 90% do not meet the applicable standards. I cannot say if that is correct, but the photographs show stations near air-conditioner exhausts, on roofs, and in asphalt parking lots.

The station in Tucson is in a parking lot now, but has a long record going back to when it was surrounded by dirt. Oddly enough, Tucson has seen an official increase in temperature.

As an aside: many have probably seen the news that scientists have apparently misunderstood static electricity these past 250 years or so. But climate models are no doubt fine because there is a “consensus.”

Sorry -- it is surfacestations.org (i.e., its plural)-- but now that I am back -- it's not just the locations that render the data suspect, but the fact that there have been equipment changes over the years (i.e., changes in how the data is collected).

I’ve not yet read the report, but Mr. Watts has a 31 page pdf file detailing his findings.

I have blinders on Craig? You're citing a guy who says intelligent design is a scientific theory more credible than evolution.

And again, you didn't address any of my points other than talking about the medieval warming period. Yeah, I know it existed, but the scientific data overwhelmingly states that the Earth is now warmer than that period.

Tim,

Ad hominem attacks are the lowest form of debate. Spencer's credibility in his field is undisputed. Newton was also an alchemist; does this invalidate his three laws of motion, his laws of optics, or his invention of calculus?

You are the one ignoring points and resorting to ideological, ad-hominem, and straw-man arguments. I never blamed the scientific "consensus" on ideology or funding. I said that the historical and atmospheric data contradict the data relied on by modelers. I said that the models have failed the most basic test - they don't forecast accurately. I conceded at least some man-caused global warming.

Now, let's assume you are right and man-made global warming is an issue. The problem is that (and now I will get political) the solutions proposed by liberals would be extraordinarily expensive, would cripple the world's economies, and would do almost nothing to reduce the models' forecasted rate of warming.

Tim,

Mesa Econguy referred you to Warren Meyer's libertarian blog "Coyote Blog". If you are really interested in this subject and prepared to think for yourself, go directly to Warren's Climate Skeptic page.

http://www.climate-skeptic.com/

Roy Spencer is certainly a brilliant astrophysicist, but his credibility is damaged when he touts a theological argument as a scientific theory. No serious scientist would dispute that in today's world.

Since the studies done by Mann et. al in 1998, there have been three studies that have disputed the findings and twelve that have more or less verified the results.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/09/hockey-stick-michael-mann-steve-mcintyre

Modeling isn't a perfect science and it has been wrong, except that many of the models have underestimated the effects of climate change rather than come far short of the forecasts.

I just don't understand why conservatives cling to the handful of scientists (plenty of them credible) while an overwhelming majority of scientists agree that man is causing climate change and it is a big deal. It's like clinging on to the handful of doctors and health specialists that said smoking isn't bad for you when the entire medical establishment has declared smoking to be harmful.

As for the political side of the issue, I think doing nothing and not seeking an end to fossil fuel energy is also an issue of national security, economic prosperity, and basic morality. I don't really know what it will look like, but I have a few ideas on how to start. I know I don't like most of the ideas coming from either side.

Tim, you clearly need help interpreting both scientific and macroeconomic metadata, along with a little humility that you juuuuust might be wrong.

You also clearly need a significant introduction to emergent order and complexity.

Well, neither of you are doing anything to help with that, so who's got the problem here?

I think that his proposals make sense... They passed the Senate, and even though it can't be a 100% proof of their value, I still think that they definitely deserve a try.

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