Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The actual IPCC Working Group II report is online!

The full report is here.
It looks like I've got my evenings reading material.

HT: Prometheus

Monday, April 9, 2007

Plug it in, fire it up, Mr. President

From the Detroit News:

"Credit Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally with saving the leader of the free world from self-immolation."

HT: Junkscience

Saturday, April 7, 2007

East Africa Greens Up from Heavy Rains

I'm not sure how this relates to the IPCC WGII Summary but I hope it's good news for our friends, the Masai.

Friday, April 6, 2007


I am a moron (or getting forgetful in my senescence)

The science blog Climateer was started on Feb. 2, 2007 the day the IPCC WG I Summary was released. That same day I linked to the blog of Lubos Motl (asst. Prof. Physics, Harvard).

Through a tortuous series of links I find that Prof. Motl wrote that day:

"Also, the report has changed some standards how to evaluate the confidence in science. Instead of 95% or 99% confidence intervals, they use 90% confidence. The probability that "A" (anthropogenic) belongs to "GW" (global warming) is 90%, the report effectively says: the verbal form of "more than 90%" is "very likely", according to a footnote.
In all other branches of science, such a "high" confidence level would be viewed as a hint to start to consider a speculative hypothesis as a remote possibility: even the recent Higgs signal has a higher confidence.
In climate science, 90% (calculated by not exceedingly transparent methods) is apparently enough to close the debate. ;-)Just to remind you, 90% is the probability that a randomly chosen digit such as 7 is not equal to 7. :-)."

I obviously read his post and this morning, thinking such profound insight could spring fully formed only from my own highly evolved consciousness, started babbling on rather than giving one simple link. Sorry.

(maybe) I Am Not A Moron

at least out to two standard deviations.

I found a (Warning: Anthropogenic causation skeptic ahead) blog post which raised some of the same statistical questions that I had in the post below. This blogger was referring to the WG I Summary released in February but the IPCC terminology is the same in both.

First read: The IPCC WG II Summary for Policymakers

To quote Vinnie Barbarino "I'm so confused"
Starting with the top of the second page. This Summary refers to a report that hasn't been released yet:
"A full consideration of observed climate change is provided in the IPCC Working Group I Fourth Assessment."

By the middle of page two we're off to language I didn't learn in high school statistics:
"That Assessment concluded that “there is high confidence 3"; dutifully following footnote 3 to:

"Endbox 2. Likelihood and confidence language

In this Summary for Policymakers, the following terms have been used to indicate: the assessed likelihood of an outcome or a result:

Virtually certain > 99% probability of occurrence, Extremely likely > 95%, Very likely > 90%Likely > 66%, More likely than not > 50%, Very unlikely < 10%, Extremely unlikely < 5%.

The following terms have been used to express confidence in a statement:

Very high confidence At least a 9 out of 10 chance of being correct, High confidence About an 8 out of 10 chance, Medium confidence About a 5 out of 10 chance, Low confidence About a 2 out of 10 chance, Very low confidence Less than a 1 out of 10 chance."

Where is the 95% confidence interval? It's not a probability statement.

The confidence interval is the range where you expect something to be. By saying "expect" you leave open the possibility of being wrong. The degree of confidence measures the probability of that expectation to be true.

The degree of confidence is linked with the width of the confidence interval. It's easy to be very confident that something will be within a very wide range, and vice versa. Also, the amount of information (typically related with the sample size) has an influence on the degree of confidence and the width of the confidence interval. With more information you will be more confident that "the thing" will be within a given interval. Also, with more information, and keeping a given degree of confidence, you can narrow the interval.

An example:
In a given city a survey is made. The question is: "Do you prefer Coke or Pepsi?" 60% answer Coke, and 40% answer Pepsi. So an estimation is that, in this city, 60% prefer Coke. Does it means that 60% of the population in this city prefer Coke? No unless the survey had been answered by all the population. However, you can be somewhat "confident" that the actual proportion of people choosing Coke will be within some interval around the 60% found in the sample. How confident? How wide is the interval?

If the survey is based on a sample of 100 persons, you can be 90% confident that the actual proportion of Coke will be between 52% and 68%. Also, you can be 99% confident that the actual proportion will be between 48% and 72% (for the same sample size, more confidence, wider interval).

If the survey had been on a sample of 1000 persons instead of 100, you could be 90% confident that the actual proportion is between 57.5% and 62.5% (compare with 52% and 68% for the same confidence with a sample of 100. Larger sample, narrower interval for the same degree of confidence). And you could be 99.99998% (let's say 100%?) confident that the actual proportiion will be between 52% and 68% (compare with a degree of confidence of 90% for the same interval with a sample of 100. Larger sample, better degree of confidence for the same interval).

This Summary for Policymakers looks more like a political document than a scientific one.

The IPCC and Climate Change

The early version of the WG II Summary for Policymakers is out.
Here's the link. I'm going to read it before deciding whether to post on the science site or here.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

An Inconvenient Tax - Issue #1

From the Carbon Tax Center.
They talk about accomplishments to date and ask for money.

HT: Environmental Economics

Monday, April 2, 2007

EPA Global Warming

I think it's fair to let the Volokh Conspiracy have the last word (for today). Scroll down.

Supreme Court ruling on Mass. v. EPA

SCOTUSBLOG has the opinion, and many links.

EPA and Global Warming

The Jurist at The Pitt law school has the Appeals Court decision which was reversed today.

The Climate's Changed at the Supreme Court

Ann Althouse warns "Just you wait for the next post"

Global Warming and the Supremes

The Energy Roundup has links and reactions.

The Volokh Conspiracy also has a second post.

Justices: EPA Can Control Car Emissions

From the Washington Post:

Supreme Court-Global Warming

Here's the New York Time's first read on the decision.

EPA CO2 Supreme court ruling

The Volokh Conspiracy is quick off the mark:

[Orin Kerr, April 2, 2007 at 11:45am] Trackbacks
Supreme Court Decides "Global Warming" Case: The Supreme Court handed down its decision in the "global warming" case, Massachusetts v. EPA, and it looks like a significant victory for environmental interests. Stevens managed to keep Kennedy on board, so it was a 5-4 ruling that will make the EPA go back and reconsider the petition to regulate greenhouse gases. There were two forceful dissents filed in the case. Chief Justice Roberts dissented on standing, joined by Scalia, Thomas, and Alito. Justice Scalia dissented on the merits, joined by Roberts, Thomas, and Alito. I'll let others with more expertise offer commentary on the major issues in the case, but there's one minor side issue that I found somewhat amusing. In his majority opinion, Justice Stevens relies in part on a 1907 case for his view that the presence of a state in litigation alters the standing thresholds. Chief Justice Roberts objects to this in his dissent, and Justice Stevens inserted a footnote in the majority opinion with this response to Roberts:
THE CHIEF JUSTICE accuses the Court of misreading Georgia v. Tennessee Copper Co., 206 U. S. 230 (1907), see post, at 3–4 (dissenting opinion), and “"devis[ing] a new doctrine of state standing,"” id., at 15. But no less an authority than Hart & Wechsler’'s The Federal Courts and the Federal System understands Tennessee Copper as a standing decision. R. Fallon, D. Meltzer, & D. Shapiro, Hart & Wechsler’s The Federal Courts and the Federal System 290 (5th ed. 2003). Indeed, it devotes an entire section to chronicling the long development of cases permitting States “"to litigate as parens patriae to protect quasisovereign interests—i.e., public or governmental interests that concern the state as a whole."” Id., at 289.Chief Justice Roberts responds:
The Court seems to think we do not recognize that Tennessee Copper is a case about parens patriae standing, ante, at 17, n. 17, but we have no doubt about that. The point is that nothing in our cases (or Hart & Wechsler) suggests that the prudential requirements for parens patriae standing, see Republic of Venezuela v. Philip Morris Inc., 287 F. 3d 192, 199, n. (CADC 2002) (observing that “parens patriae is merely a species of prudential standing” (internal quotation marks omitted)), can somehow substitute for, or alter the content of, the “irreducible constitutional minimum” requirements of injury in fact, causation, and redressability under Article III. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992). Does anyone with the latest edition of Hart & Wechsler handy want to weigh in?

Supreme Court-EPA

Even Instapundit doesn't have it yet.
Mr. Reynolds does have this, however. Very timely.

The race is on to develop a commercially viable car that can travel 100 miles on a gallon of gasoline.
The same group that awarded $10 million to a team that built the first private spacecraft to leave the earth’s atmosphere is expected to announce today the rules for its automotive competition.
The group, the X Prize Foundation, says that the automotive contest, expected to carry a prize of more than $10 million, could have a significant effect on the automobile industry by speeding up efforts to use alternative fuels and reduce consumption. The average fuel economy of vehicles sold in the United States has remained nearly stagnant — around 20 miles a gallon — for decades.
“The industry is stuck, and we think a prize is perfect to disrupt that dynamic,” said Mark Goodstein, executive director of the Automotive X Prize. “Failure is frowned upon in this industry, and that doesn’t make for big advances. It makes for incrementalism.”
You could get a 100 mpg car now (""If you combine a clean-burning diesel with a hybrid electric drive system in a lightweight car, I think 100 mpg is doable.") but we need better. Plus, there's this spinoff: "However, working out the requirements of a 100-mpg car makes it clear just how feasible it would be to build, say, a 75-mpg car--for far less money."
UPDATE: This isn't quite what the X-Prize is looking for, but it's pretty cool.

Carbon Dioxide is Pollution

From the Wall Street Journal Energy Roundup

This is a really, really big deal. I'm off to check some law blogs, more later.