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Environmental news, expensive oil, dismissive Greenspan, and no Global warning?

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First of all, Oil is up to $55 a barrell.

Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan disagrees with me that excessive consumption of oil is a problem that we must face sooner rather than later. He says this:

“The impact of the current surge in oil prices, though noticeable, is likely to prove less consequential to economic growth and inflation than in the 1970s.” However, Alan Greenspan warned that the risk of more serious negative consequences would intensify if the oil prices were to increase to “materially higher” levels. Greenspan expressed his optimism regarding the world being able to adjust to the high oil prices by ensuring adequate oil supplies through an eventual transition to other energy sources.

I certainly hope this is the case, but my concerns are that consumption will increase, not only in the US, but also in the developing world, faster than our supply can increase, triggering a global recognition of scarcity that will drive up prices to a point where it will hurt the economy before we are able to efficiently harness other energy sources. My suggestion: buy a VW Turbodiesel and drive 600 miles a tank. Keep your SUV if you like, but drive a smaller vehicle around for day to day tasks. You’ll save money in the long run. :)

In a strange turn of news, the global warming picture may not be as bleak as some have suggested. You may have seen the ‘hockey stick’ graph that indicates the relatively dramatic increase in temperature coinciding with the increase in atmospheric emissions. Here’s a wild one from the MIT Technology review:

But now a shock: Canadian scientists Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick have uncovered a fundamental mathematical flaw in the computer program that was used to produce the hockey stick. In his original publications of the stick, Mann purported to use a standard method known as principal component analysis,
or PCA, to find the dominant features in a set of more than 70 different climate
records. But it wasn’t so. McIntyre and McKitrick obtained part of the program that Mann used, and they found serious problems. Not only does the program not do conventional PCA, but it handles data normalization in a way that can only be described as mistaken.

You can read more about this here, where the report, as well as Mann’s (the developer of the hockey stick graph) response.

I’ve never been quick to dismiss the science behind global warming, and I’m not looking to toss out studies of global warming or debunk it as junk science. Indeed, even if the math is bad, that doesn’t mean that the temperature isn’t trending upwards and that said trend won’t affect our childrens’ lives. But this is a strange development. Hockey isn’t on…it’s not surprising that now the hockey stick is disappearing…

love it, hate it, there’s more of it at Pacetown.

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  • http://www.tude.com/ Hal Pawluk

    Just to pick up from where you left off, Jeremy, here’s an update:

    In a paper published last month in Energy & Environment, a social science journal known for reports critical of climate-change research, Canadian businessman Stephen McIntyre and economist Ross McKitrick of Canada’s University of Guelph charge that the Nature report contains numerous errors regarding temperatures from the past six centuries.

    When corrected, the data suggest the 15th century was actually warmer than today, they say. [Global warming debate heats up Capitol Hill 11/23/2003] (opens in new window)

    Many others disagree with the disagreement (which is probably not surpising, with McIntyre being a businessmand and McKitrick an economist):

    The authors of the Nature paper, led by climatologist Michael Mann of the University of Virginia, respond that the critics botched their analysis, selectively dropping records to invent a warm 15th century and making numerous other statistical mistakes.

    Climate researcher Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. in Boulder, Colo., calls the critics’ complaints “seriously flawed” and “silly.”

    In addition to the Nature paper, about a dozen independent studies suggest the 20th century was warmer than normal, Wigley points out.

    From a statistical viewpoint, “I lean in favor of Mann,” says statistician George Shambaugh. of Georgetown University. “There is an increase in the 20th century that is greater than the cyclical patterns found by either group since 1550. And since the early 1900s, we have been hotter than any time since then.”

    Princeton geoscientist Michael Oppenheimer. compares climate skeptics to tobacco industry scientists who sought for decades to obscure the link between smoking and lung cancer. Arguing over whether man-made global warming exists obscures a more important debate over what steps are possible to moderate its effects, he says. [Global warming debate heats up Capitol Hill 11/23/2003] (opens in new window)

    It looks like the businessman and the economist may have cooked the books, and made more errors of their own.

  • http://www.tude.com/ Hal Pawluk

    Here’s a newer discusssion with links to a number of interesting articles:

    According to McKitrick and McIntyre, the work of Mann et al was riddled with errors, The paper was loudly publicised by the American Enterprise Institute (home of John Lott) and, as you would expect, Flack Central Station. Mann et al produced an immediate rebuttal, and despite many promises of a rejoinder, McKitrick and McIntyre have never responded on the substantive issues.

    This would be par for the course, except that McKitrick somehow managed to attract the attention of Tim Lambert, famous for his demolition of Lott’s shonky research, which purported to show that guns reduce crime. The result: McKitrick’s work is even shoddier than Lott’s.

    In previous rounds of the debate, Lambert has shown that McKitrick messed up an analysis of the number of weather stations, showed he knew almost nothing about climate, flunked basic thermodynamics, couldn’t handle missing values correctly and invented his own temperature scale.

    Bear in mind that McKitrick’s main claim to fame is his assertion to have done a painstakingly careful check of the work of others and to have found numerous errors.

    And Michaels was a reputable climate scientist before he sold out to the fossil fuel lobby.

    The links are worth following up if you’re really into this.

  • http://none.com Bob A. Booey

    Good research, Hal.

  • http://www.tude.com/ Hal Pawluk

    Thanks, Bob – I mistrust just about anything that has even a whiff of “American Enterprise Insititute” attached to it.

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