December 1st

Hilary Rodham Clinton, now 72, said on the Graham Norton Show on Friday that she is seriously thinking about entering the race for the Democratic nomination for President. Give me a break. The race is a total mess and is helping ensure Donald Trump’s re-election next November 2020. The very fact that Jo Biden, now 77, is still the front runner strikes me as an indication that the party wants to lose in 2020. Not only is he a little befuddled, but he also does not seem to be connecting with the millennials and younger voters who could push the democrats to victory.

Elizabeth Warren, who is clearly both smart and potentially electable, is being pushed out along with the other women in the race. Pete Buttigieg, at just 37, is a smart, focused and intelligent guy who stands a chance. But the bankers who seem to own the democrats favour Jo – someone they think they can manage.

Meantime, two billionaires – Bloomberg and Stayer – are also running for the democrats, presumably to stop the conversation about the need to eliminate the billionaire class.  Neither deserves a moment of our attention. They should use their funds to challenge Trump and support either Warren or Buttigieg.

Trump, who continues to blunder around the world like a bellicose buffoon with bouffant hair, is headed for an impeachment trial which will help his 2020 chances as far as his base is concerned. Increasingly erratic, bellicose and bizarre, Trump has rebuilt the GOP as a Charles Manson like cult which will support him even when he lies and threatens the security of the United States.

Brace yourselves for four more years of the Tweeting Trumpkin.

December 3rd

Judith Curry is one smart scientist. Former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, she is a leading climate scientist, often criticized by the “evangelicals” since she adopts a Karl Popper like approach to science. Here is an extract from an op ed she crafted on the current climate change “policy” conversations taking place in Madrid:

“For the past three decades, the climate policy ‘cart’ has been way out in front of the scientific ‘horse’. The 1992 Climate Change treaty was signed by 190 countries before the balance of scientific evidence suggested even a discernible observed human influence on global climate. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol was implemented before we had any confidence that most of the recent warming was caused by humans. There has been tremendous political pressure on the scientists to present findings that would support these treaties, which has resulted in a drive to manufacture a scientific consensus on the dangers of manmade climate change.

Fossil fuel emissions as the climate ‘control knob’ is a simple and seductive idea. However this is a misleading oversimplification, since climate can shift naturally in unexpected ways. Apart from uncertainties in future emissions, we are still facing a factor of 3 or more uncertainty in the sensitivity of the Earth’s temperature to increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We have no idea how natural climate variability (solar, volcanoes, ocean circulations) will play out in the 21st century, and whether or not natural variability will dominate over manmade warming.

We still don’t have a realistic assessment of how a warmer climate will impact us and whether it is ‘dangerous.’ We don’t have a good understanding of how warming will influence extreme weather events.  Land use and exploitation by humans is a far bigger issue than climate change for species extinction and ecosystem health. Local sea level rise has many causes, and is dominated by sinking from land use in many of the most vulnerable locations.

We have been told that the science of climate change is ‘settled’. However, in climate science there has been a tension between the drive towards a scientific ‘consensus’ to support policy making, versus exploratory research that pushes forward the knowledge frontier. Climate science is characterized by a rapidly evolving knowledge base and disagreement among experts. Predictions of 21st century climate change are characterized by deep uncertainty.

Nevertheless, activist scientists and the media seize upon each extreme weather event as having the fingerprints of manmade climate change — ignoring the analyses of more sober scientists showing periods of even more extreme weather in the first half of the 20th century, when fossil fuel emissions were much smaller.

Alarming press releases are issued about each new climate model prediction of future catastrophes from famine, mass migrations, catastrophic fires, etc. Yet, these press releases don’t mention that these predicted catastrophes are associated with highly implausible assumptions about how much we might actually emit over the course of the 21st century. Further, issues such as famine, mass migrations and wildfires are caused primarily by government policies and ineptitude, lack of wealth and land use policies. Climate change matters, but it’s outweighed by other factors in terms of influencing human well being.

We have been told that climate change is an ‘existential crisis.’ However, based upon our current assessment of the science, the climate threat is not an existential one, even in its most alarming hypothetical incarnations. However, the perception of manmade climate change as a near-term apocalypse and has narrowed the policy options that we’re willing to consider.

We have not only oversimplified the problem of climate change, but we have also oversimplified its ‘solution’. Even if you accept the climate model projections and that warming is dangerous, there is disagreement among experts regarding whether a rapid acceleration away from fossil fuels is the appropriate policy response. In any event, rapidly reducing emissions from fossil fuels and ameliorating the adverse impacts of extreme weather events in the near term increasingly looks like magical thinking.

Climate change – both manmade and natural – is a chronic problem that will require centuries of management.”

Powerful stuff and realistic review of the real state of the science – a science of deep uncertainty.

This broadly reflects my own position, based on two decades of serious reading of the climate scientific literature. I am also a big fan of Bjorn Lomborg and his analysis of the policy pursuits of governments.

I understand why so many are anxious and want action, but let us do more of the right thing rather than be herded down a path which will make little difference.

December 12th

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening.

Today the British electorate go to the polls and will determine what kind of government, if any, they will end up with. Odds favour a small majority (between 20-30) for Borish Johnson, but tactical voting could lead to either a hung parliament (and many would like to see this) or a small Labour Party majority. We will know mid-day Friday UK time just how this will pan out. Whatever happens, the election has intensified tribalism, post-truth fact-free claims on all sides and ridiculous policy positions which all know will never be implemented. I really feel sad for my friends and relatives who have to live through this nonsense.

Meantime, Israel will go to the election for a third time this year to see if they can create any kind of government, preferably one in which the Prime Minister is not charged with corruption or genocide. Time for change.

Harvey Weinstein, former movie mogul and predator, has offered a US$25 million settlement to a group of some thirty women who have accused him of sexual assault. The key parts of the deal are that he does not have to admit that he did anything wrong and that none of the $25million is from him (insurance money). What kind of a deal is this, one might ask, when someone who offers to pay settlements for sexual assault does so on the basis of guilt-freedom? A small group of accusers will have nothing to do with this deal. Good for them.

In the US, the House will soon vote on impeaching Vladimir Trumpkin for being Donald Trump, loudmouth mob boss-like President of the US – the liar in chief . Rather than harm him, there is a school of thought that this will actually help him win the US Presidential election in 2020. His “base” don’t but any of the “high crimes and misdemeanours” stuff and think he has been chosen by God to serve, God obviously preferring someone with bone-spurs to someone with intelligence. Nothing much will come of all this, since the Senate will do as the Trumpkin wishes. All this is made worse by democrats not being able to identify a clear front runner and by too many billionaires getting in the way. Happy Trump-mass America.

The good news comes from Finland. There, the new Prime Minister, Sanna Marin (34)  and her key allies in cabinet are all female, young and smart. Iceland too has a young, female and smart Prime Minister – Katrín Jakobsdóttir (43). The contrast between Finland / Iceland and the US/UK is striking. The other good news comes from Liverpool where, once again in a nail-biter, Liverpool are in to the final 16 of the Champions League.