Monday, November 28, 2011

The sex pay gap

According to Gaby Hinchcliffe in The Grauniad, we have managed to solve the pay gap between women and men.
According to official statistics released last week, the pay gap between men and women—that barometer of shifting power between the sexes—has quietly shrunk to a record low and among younger women has shot clearly into reverse. Women in their 20s now earn a solid 3.6% more on average than men their age, after narrowly overtaking them for the first time last year. The rise of the female breadwinner, it seems, was no blip, but the beginning perhaps of a social and sexual sea change.

Of course, Timmy has been banging on about this for some time now. And, as he says, there are two main reasons for any existing gap.
Overall it is in favour of men but that’s down to two things.
  1. Overall is comparing women in their 50s etc, people who did not receive the same education or career opportunities as the men of their age group. This is a problem that will be solved simply by time.

  2. Motherhood. The pay gap appears at the average age of primagravidae. We don’t actually have a gender pay gap any more. We have a motherhood pay gap. To change this you’re going to have to change biology and good luck with that in a mammalian species.

So, can we please declare this problem over and get on with solving some of the others that plague us?

All of which makes Jerry Hayes's article at Dale & Co. (a pretty site full of high-profile writers who know bugger all about anything) look like precisely what it is—a pathetic whinge backed up by no evidence whatsoever.
So how does Cameron woo the women back to the ballot paper? Simple. Show that they are being treated equally and fairly and that means, shock horror, that they should get paid the same rate for the same job that men do. It is hard to believe that in 2011 Britain the pay gender gap can still be up to 20%. It is a national disgrace.

Jerry Hayes is, apparently, "a former Conservative MP and leading barrister defending and prosecuting high profile cases", so it's no wonder that he is a clueless twit.

Unfortunately, his article is typical of that site—a mess of anecdote and personal opinion with not a single link to any evidence whatsoever. And whilst Jerry might be right that the law, as a profession, is full of useless, bigoted arseholes, this is hardly news, is it?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Twitter battle...

Your humble Devil has crossed swords with Richard Murphy on Twitter. I thought that my readers might be interested in the exchange...
Tell me, @richardjmurphy — you have since said that your tax avoidance was wrong. Have you since paid back the arrears that you "owe"…?

@devilskitchen Nonsense! I had HMRC come to my house and asked if I could pay additional rates - and they refused - because none are due

Quite right. Because tax avoidance is legal—tax evasion is illegal. But Richard advocates that avoidance should be illegal too.
@devilskitchen Let's put it another way - I walk my talk on tax compliance - so enough of your nonsense!

Really? I think not.
@RichardJMurphy So you do not seek to minimise your tax liability? And, despite advising others how to, you have not done so yourself? Ever?

@RichardJMurphy So, Richard, none of this is true?… And this isn't you?…

@devilskitchen I've explained that time & again & that I would not do in the same way again. So what? I can change my mind. That's maturity

@devilskitchen I'm sure I have never ever sought to minimise my tax bill - it's an absurd thing to do - and I'd never recommend it to anyone

So, Richard Murphy has never sought to minimise his tax bill? Your humble Devil and his readers know that this is a lie. Not just a dissemblance, but an outright lie.

Richard has sought to minimise his tax bill, by forming limited companies, paying low wages to avoid employers NICs, paying dividends in order to reduce income tax, etc. Murphy's assertion above is just not true. At all.

His argument at the time was that he had changed—he had come to realise that such arrangements were wrong. So, because I am a thoroughly nice chap, I decided to let him admit this. In 2010, Richard protested that he had changed since he was... Er, 27. About 20 years before Richard Murphy wrote this article in the Observer advising people how best to avoid tax...
@RichardJMurphy So, you are 53? In 2005, when you were 47, you were happy to take money to write an article advising people to minimise tax.

@RichardJMurphy You wrote that "I have come a long way since I was 27 – thankfully".… But not that far, eh, Richard?

@devilskitchen Since it appears you know the answers to all the questions you're raising - all provided by me - shall we stop wasting time?

@RichardJMurphy Well, why don't you stop wasting everyone's time by hypocritically condemning tax avoidance whilst profiting by it?

@RichardJMurphy That's a rhetorical question, by the way. I suggest that you stand for Parliament—you'd fit right in.

@RichardJMurphy You're fatally compromised—like your Union paymasters, milking us for over £113m per annum. Time for dinosaurs to retire.

I make that—along with the rest of the Murphy's Law archive—about 83,000 to 1 in my favour...

Congratulations to Ben Goldacre

Look at Ben... No wonder he's smiling—he's won a gold star for cleverness!

It's so nice to see Dr Ben Goldacre—champion of science and scourge of dodgy-report pedlars—join some socio-economic dots, as he has on Twitter today.

Well, actually, he's part-way there: his first Tweet approvingly quotes the TUC-backed Touchstone blog as an authority on public sector pay—presumably because he thinks that what they have to say is not in any way biased...

the self-pitying fantasy emerging among middle class ppl that their friends in public sector get a better deal is wrong

The blog post in question, of course, only concentrates on actual wages rather than all the benefits—such as gold-plated pensions. It seems rather hypocritical for the self-appointed scourge of selective statistic-quoting scientific studies to so uncritically cite such a source as "evidence" although, to be fair, Goldacre does mention another benefit of working in the public sector... [Emphasis mine.]

there are some terrible problems in the public sector - like, for some insane reason we don't sack shit people - but salary is not one.

Of course, for those working in the public sector, the fact that "we don't sack shit people" is a benefit: it's only a one of those "terrible problems in the public sector" if you actually have to use the so-called services. As the Daily Mash so succinctly puts it...
Businesses also fear that if public sector workers’ demands aren’t met, they may look for jobs in the private sector, costing billions in incompetence-related mistakes.

But that's not really what this little article is about. No, I come to praise Benny-boy, not to bury him. Because, you see, Dr Ben then makes a connection—all on his ownsome, without any help. Which I think is just lovely.

also, public sector pay is "geographically inelastic". private sector wages in London are a third higher. public sector, marginal weighting.

Yes, Ben—and...? Oh look—he's got it!

this has interesting consequences. personal experience only, but i think the public sector attracts better quality ppl outside of london.

Oh, well done! Well done, Ben. Have a gold star, and I shall tell your mummy how clever you've been today...

You see, what Benny has done is to independently reach the same conclusion as this Centre for Economic Performance Report [PDF]—which was published in January 2008.

I highlighted it—whilst filleting Kerron "voice of the delectable Left" Cross—after Timmy wrote about it at the Adam Smith Institute blog under the title of Centralisation kills!*.
What the authors did was look at the quality and productivity of nursing across the country, this being measured by the percentage of those admitted to hospital after a heart attack (AMI) who died in the subsequent 30 days. As we're all told so often of the connection between (relative) poverty and bad health we would expect the rates to be higher in poor areas. Quite the contrary: the richer the area surrounding the hospital the worse the survival rate. The reason for this is that nurses' wages are set centrally, to be the same (with very little geographic variation) right across the country. However, wages in general are not the same across the country:
Pay for nurses and physicians in NHS hospitals, which provide almost all hospital care in the UK, is set by a central review body that sets pay scales in which there is limited regional variation. The variation that exists does not fully reflect the wages differentials in the external labor markets in which the staff are employed. Regional pay differences are considerable in the UK. For example, female white-collar wages in North East England are about 60 percent lower than in Inner London and these persist after controlling for human capital characteristics and other factors.

It isn't that wages are too high in low wage areas, but that they are too low for nurses in high wage areas. This leads to both a shortage of people willing to do the job itself and hospitals relying upon agency staff who are not constrained by the national pay scale: but agency staff are, by the very nature of their shift by shift employment, unlikely to know the systems and hospitals as well as permanent. The end effect is:
A 10 percent increase in the outside wage isassociated with a 4 percent to 8 percent increase in AMI death rates.

That is, where hospitals cannot pay the going rate for trained staff because of the national pay setting, people die. All in the name of equality no doubt, for a job's worth the same amount of pay where ever it is to some people. The only solution to this is to abolish such national pay rates and allow local employers to pay what they need to attract the staff they desire.

So, well done Ben Goldacre, for understanding some basic economics and applying it—even if he is some years behind. Perhaps the good doctor will now campaign against the national pay deal because the downsides are pretty unpleasant for those poor bastards who have to use his beloved public sector services...
All of which rather puts into perspective the current wrangles over national bargaining for police pay, other public sector workers, even the negotiations with civil servants and doctors. We shouldn't be having such national problems because we shouldn't be having such national negotiations in the first place. For centralisation of pay bargaining kills people.

Yes, the national pay deal—negotiated and backed by the Unions who are about to go on strike—actually kills people unnecessarily.

We have had a report showing this for nearly four years now: instead of allowing the union bosses to call the shots with strikes, perhaps we should actually prosecute them for corporate manslaughter. Or murder. I'm not fussed.

Perhaps I should write to Ben and ask if he would support such a campaign?

It should be easy if phrased right, e.g.
Dear Ben, will you back my campaign to imprison union leaders responsible for the national pay deal, or are you actually in favour of the NHS needlessly killing its victims patients...?

Now, if we could just teach Ben about the problems with the National Minimum Wage then we might actually make some progress. Unfortunately, Ben has not replied to my Tweet pointing this out...

* And both the ASI link and the report had changed since I wrote that post, so I spent an inordinate amount of time tracking it down this morning. I have corrected the links there and, of course, here.

Of pension pots and piss-takers

As we all must know by now, a number of unions are striking at some point at the end of this month; I haven't kept track of which ones because, fundamentally, I have bugger all interaction with the state and so don't expect to notice anything except a bunch of molly-coddled parasites mouthing off in the centre of London.

The main driver for this "super-strike" is that the government has pointed out that the gold-plated, defined-benefit, public sector pensions are utterly unaffordable and intends to change the terms of the deal. Finally.

Not that they are intending to switch away from defined-benefit pensions—oh no! What they are proposing is that public sector workers pay in an extra 3% of their salary towards their absurdly generous retirement salaries. And this is, apparently, a problem.

One thing to note is that the private sector, both employers and employees, are being forced to contribute an extra 8% minimum towards their derisory state pension schemes—making the public sector's 3% increase for their defined-beneft schemes look, frankly, pathetically paltry.

But listen to any public sector worker whinge and you'd think that every third one of them was being sent to a gulag, not being asked to pay a fraction closer to what they should be. You can see these parasitical fools commenting on blogs (as well as hear them in person), saying things like this...

"But we already pay, like, 9% of our salaries towards our pension. We're just asking to get what we've paid for."

Really? OK, let's have a look at some facts, shall we?
A nurse retiring on a salary of £34,200 after 40 years would receive a pension of £22,800. To obtain that level of income from a private sector pension at current annuity rates, a worker would need to amass a pension pot of £600,000, the Treasury said.

According to pensions experts at Hargreaves Lansdown, a private sector worker on the same income who saved the average of 9 per cent of salary into a pension over a career might build a pension pot of £258,000.

They estimated that to save £500,000 into a private pension, a worker would need to start by setting aside £600 a month from the age of 23. Someone who earns £40,000 and puts aside 9 per cent into a workplace pension is only saving £300 a month.

So, here's a message to public sector workers—I am happy for you to receive what you have paid for. And that is a pension pot of rather less than £250,000. And when you retire, you can take that pension pot and invest it in an annuity pension, as the rest of us are forced to do (by law).

And the earlier you retire—and we all know that public sector workers have a tendency to retire rather earlier than everyone else. Presumably because of the stress associated with filing forms in triplicate—the less your pension income will be.

That is what the rest of us have to do. And, as you say, you only want what you've paid for.

Oh, wait—you don't want that?

Oh right! You don't actually want what you paid for? Oh yes, you want what you were promised—even though it was patently unaffordable?


As Carpsio says...
Is all this tax necessary? Well that depends on your political stance. Some would argue that it isn’t enough, others that it is too much. You can ignore the latter, because they’re borderline communists, but the fact is that I don’t have a say in the matter – it just is. Certainly there’s no-one pressing the case for lower taxes that I can vote for. And now we owe the world about £14 squazillion we’re not going to turn into the Cayman Islands anytime soon. We’ve moved barely an iota from the age in which you’d pay your tithe to the Lord of the Manor regardless of how rotten your turnip harvest had been or how many of your kids had pegged it with tubercolosis.

But among the ways in which it is spent are on the pensions of public sector workers. Do I wish them a ruinous old age of poverty and want? Of course not. Do I think that every one of them is a worthless mouth or an unproductive presence on the planet? Equally no. Do I think that I should not only foot the bill for their wages, but for a retirement that is way beyond my own means to afford as well? Thrice no. As Samuel L Jackson might put it: “fuck that shit”.


So go ahead and strike—see if anyone gives a crap. In the meantime, I hope that you have many more strikes and lose many, many days of your wages.

And in the meantime, we will be working out the best way to stop your union bosses stealing yet another £113 million of our cash in order to organise you—and to pay their fat salaries.

So, with all due respect (very little), fuck you all.

UPDATE: as a number of commenters have pointed out, the Telegraph have done their figures wrong. The nurse could only receive a maximum pension of half her salary—roughly £17,000.

The general point still stands, however, since the Guardian's rather detailed calculator estimates that in order to reach the desired amount of 50% of salary—assuming 40 years of contributions, 20 years to live after retirement, a 7% return, and 4% inflation—the nurse would have to pay £485 per month, every month, from the age of 20.

Even on £34,000, £485 per month (from a take-home salary of £2,123) represents a contribution of nearly 23% per month—rather higher than the standard 9%–12.5% paid by public sector workers.

UPDATE 2: this little calculator (with some pretty graphics), estimates that our nurse would have to pay in 14.7% of her income—some £416.50 per month—in order to reach £17,000 per year retirement income (assuming no lump sum, of course).

If she wanted the maximum 25% lump sum of roughly £93k, and have a pension income of £17,000, those contributions would need to rise to £462.97 (16.34% of £34,000).

I stress, again, that these payments need to be every month—whether the nurse is earning £20,000 at 20 or £34,000 at 60. So, whilst £416.50 is only 14.7% of £34,000, it is more like 25% of £20,000.

UPDATE 3: I loved this quote from GrahamO at the Tritalk Forum...
What genuinely makes me sick is when people who are protected from the consequences of their own incompetence, inefficiency and stupidity try to blame private companies for not paying enough. Only public sector morons do this as they are used to a world of money growing on trees called the private sector, and they have never been affected until now, by the realities of the economics of the world.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

ClimateGate 2

(N.B. It's me, the P-G)

So it's time for another UNFCCC junket waste of taxpayers money vast addition to CO2 emissions to fly in the bigwigs and their entourages conference so that means it's time for our friendly insider to release another batch of incriminating correspondence. Anthony Watts is now surmising that these are genuine.

For new readers, here's my handy summary of why the first batch was important. I still stand by every single word of it.

The hunt is now on for the snippet that crystallises the whole thing, the "Hide the decline" moment if you will. My favourite so far:

<1682> Wils:

[2007] What if climate change appears to be just mainly a multidecadal natural
fluctuation? They’ll kill us probably [...]

No Pressure, eh Wils.

As this is covered absolutely everywhere that matters, I shall not dwell on this further except to note the final line of the ghastly (and for good measure this time heavily implicated) Richard Black's news item reporting this new release:
A police investigation into the hack is still ongoing.
If only Richard. If only...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Climategate II

Just as things were getting a bit dull around here—y'know, apart from the impending collapse of Western social democracy—it seems (via The Englishman) that FOIA has been hard at work again.

Yes, yet another load of emails between everyone's favourite corrupt climate scientists has been posted in various comment threads around the 'net.

Some 500,000 emails—with 220,000 encrypted—are contained within the .zip file*, and they are even more damning than the last lot.

Threads are currently on-going at:

Feel free to submit others.

The leaker (or thief?) introduces the latest revelations with this prefix...
/// FOIA 2011 — Background and Context ///

“Over 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day.”

“Every day nearly 16.000 children die from hunger and related causes.”

“One dollar can save a life” — the opposite must also be true.

“Poverty is a death sentence.”

“Nations must invest $37 trillion in energy technologies by 2030 to stabilize
greenhouse gas emissions at sustainable levels.”

Today’s decisions should be based on all the information we can get, not on
hiding the decline.

This archive contains some 5.000 emails picked from keyword searches. A few
remarks and redactions are marked with triple brackets.

The rest, some 220.000, are encrypted for various reasons. We are not planning
to publicly release the passphrase.

We could not read every one, but tried to cover the most relevant topics such

And so follows a small selection of the emails... [Apologies for the lack of formatting: will sort later...—DK]
/// The IPCC Process ///

<1939> Thorne/MetO:
Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical
troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a
wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the
uncertainty and be honest. Phil, hopefully we can find time to discuss these
further if necessary [...]

<3066> Thorne:
I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it
which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run.

<1611> Carter:
It seems that a few people have a very strong say, and no matter how much
talking goes on beforehand, the big decisions are made at the eleventh hour by
a select core group.

<2884> Wigley:
Mike, The Figure you sent is very deceptive [...] there have been a number of
dishonest presentations of model results by individual authors and by IPCC [...]

<4755> Overpeck:
The trick may be to decide on the main message and use that to guid[e] what’s
included and what is left out.

<3456> Overpeck:
I agree w/ Susan [Solomon] that we should try to put more in the bullet about
“Subsequent evidence” [...] Need to convince readers that there really has been
an increase in knowledge – more evidence. What is it?

<1104> Wanner/NCCR:
In my [IPCC-TAR] review [...] I crit[i]cized [...] the Mann hockey[s]tick [...]
My review was classified “unsignificant” even I inquired several times. Now the
internationally well known newspaper SPIEGEL got the information about these
early statements because I expressed my opinion in several talks, mainly in
Germany, in 2002 and 2003. I just refused to give an exclusive interview to
SPIEGEL because I will not cause damage for climate science.

<0414> Coe:
Hence the AR4 Section dismissal of the ACRIM composite to be
instrumental rather than solar in origin is a bit controversial. Similarly IPCC
in their discussion on solar RF since the Maunder Minimum are very dependent on
the paper by Wang et al (which I have been unable to access) in the decision to
reduce the solar RF significantly despite the many papers to the contrary in
the ISSI workshop. All this leaves the IPCC almost entirely dependent on CO2
for the explanation of current global temperatures as in Fig 2.23. since
methane CFCs and aerosols are not increasing.

<2009> Briffa:
I find myself in the strange position of being very skeptical of the quality of
all present reconstructions, yet sounding like a pro greenhouse zealot here!

<2775> Jones:
I too don’t see why the schemes should be symmetrical. The temperature ones
certainly will not as we’re choosing the periods to show warming.

<1219> Trenberth:
[...] opposing some things said by people like Chris Landsea who has said all the
stuff going on is natural variability. In addition to the 4 hurricanes hitting
Florida, there has been a record number hit Japan 10?? and I saw a report
saying Japanese scientists had linked this to global warming. [...] I am leaning
toward the idea of getting a box on changes in hurricanes, perhaps written by a

<0890> Jones:
We can put a note in that something will be there in the next draft, or Kevin
or I will write something – it depends on whether and what we get from Japan.

<0170> Jones:
Kevin, Seems that this potential Nature paper may be worth citing, if it does
say that GW is having an effect on TC activity.

<0714> Jones:
Getting people we know and trust [into IPCC] is vital – hence my comment about
the tornadoes group.

<3205> Jones:
Useful ones [for IPCC] might be Baldwin, Benestad (written on the solar/cloud
issue – on the right side, i.e anti-Svensmark), Bohm, Brown, Christy (will be
have to involve him ?)

<4923> Stott/MetO:
My most immediate concern is to whether to leave this statement ["probably the
warmest of the last millennium"] in or whether I should remove it in the
anticipation that by the time of the 4th Assessment Report we’ll have withdrawn
this statement – Chris Folland at least seems to think this is possible.

/// Communicating Climate Change ///
<2495> Humphrey/DEFRA:
I can’t overstate the HUGE amount of political interest in the project as a
message that the Government can give on climate change to help them tell their
story. They want the story to be a very strong one and don’t want to be made
to look foolish.

<0813> Fox/Environment Agency:
if we loose the chance to make climate change a reality to people in the
regions we will have missed a major trick in REGIS.

<4716> Adams:
Somehow we have to leave the[m] thinking OK, climate change is extremely
complicated, BUT I accept the dominant view that people are affecting it, and
that impacts produces risk that needs careful and urgent attention.

<1790> Lorenzoni:
I agree with the importance of extreme events as foci for public and
governmental opinion [...] ‘climate change’ needs to be present in people’s
daily lives. They should be reminded that it is a continuously occurring and
evolving phenomenon

<3062> Jones:
We don’t really want the bullshit and optimistic stuff that Michael has written
[...] We’ll have to cut out some of his stuff.

<1485> Mann:
the important thing is to make sure they’re loosing the PR battle. That’s what
the site [Real Climate] is about.

<2428> Ashton/
Having established scale and urgency, the political challenge is then to turn
this from an argument about the cost of cutting emissions – bad politics – to
one about the value of a stable climate – much better politics. [...] the most
valuable thing to do is to tell the story about abrupt change as vividly as

<3332> Kelly:
the current commitments, even with some strengthening, are little different
from what would have happened without a climate treaty.
[...] the way to pitch the analysis is to argue that precautionary action must be
taken now to protect reserves etc against the inevitable

<3655> Singer/WWF:
we as an NGO working on climate policy need such a document pretty soon for the
public and for informed decision makers in order to get a) a debate started and
b) in order to get into the media the context between climate
extremes/desasters/costs and finally the link between weather extremes and

<0445> Torok/CSIRO:
[...] idea of looking at the implications of climate change for what he termed
“global icons” [...] One of these suggested icons was the Great Barrier Reef [...]
It also became apparent that there was always a local “reason” for the
destruction – cyclones, starfish, fertilizers [...] A perception of an
“unchanging” environment leads people to generate local explanations for coral
loss based on transient phenomena, while not acknowledging the possibility of
systematic damage from long-term climatic/environmental change [...] Such a
project could do a lot to raise awareness of threats to the reef from climate

<4141> Minns/Tyndall Centre:
In my experience, global warming freezing is already a bit of a public
relations problem with the media


I agree with Nick that climate change might be a better labelling than global

What kind of circulation change could lock Europe into deadly summer heat waves
like that of last summer? That’s the sort of thing we need to think about.

/// The Medieval Warm Period ///

<5111> Pollack:
But it will be very difficult to make the MWP go away in Greenland.

<5039> Rahmstorf:
You chose to depict the one based on C14 solar data, which kind of stands out
in Medieval times. It would be much nicer to show the version driven by Be10
solar forcing

<5096> Cook:
A growing body of evidence clearly shows [2008] that hydroclimatic variability
during the putative MWP (more appropriately and inclusively called the
“Medieval Climate Anomaly” or MCA period) was more regionally extreme (mainly
in terms of the frequency and duration of megadroughts) than anything we have
seen in the 20th century, except perhaps for the Sahel. So in certain ways the
MCA period may have been more climatically extreme than in modern times.

/// The Settled Science ///

<0310> Warren:

The results for 400 ppm stabilization look odd in many cases [...] As it stands
we’ll have to delete the results from the paper if it is to be published.

<1682> Wils:
[2007] What if climate change appears to be just mainly a multidecadal natural
fluctuation? They’ll kill us probably [...]

<2267> Wilson:
Although I agree that GHGs are important in the 19th/20th century (especially
since the 1970s), if the weighting of solar forcing was stronger in the models,
surely this would diminish the significance of GHGs.
[...] it seems to me that by weighting the solar irradiance more strongly in the
models, then much of the 19th to mid 20th century warming can be explained from
the sun alone.

<5289> Hoskins:

If the tropical near surface specific humidity over tropical land has not gone
up (Fig 5) presumably that could explain why the expected amplification of the
warming in the tropics with height has not really been detected.

<5315> Jenkins/MetO:
would you agree that there is no convincing evidence for kilimanjaro glacier
melt being due to recent warming (let alone man-made warming)?

<2292> Jones:
[tropical glaciers] There is a small problem though with their retreat. They
have retreated a lot in the last 20 years yet the MSU2LT data would suggest
that temperatures haven’t increased at these levels.

<1788> Jones:
There shouldn’t be someone else at UEA with different views [from "recent
extreme weather is due to global warming"] – at least not a climatologist.

<4693> Crowley:
I am not convinced that the “truth” is always worth reaching if it is at the
cost of damaged personal relationships

<2967> Briffa:
Also there is much published evidence for Europe (and France in particular) of
increasing net primary productivity in natural and managed woodlands that may
be associated either with nitrogen or increasing CO2 or both. Contrast this
with the still controversial question of large-scale acid-rain-related forest
decline? To what extent is this issue now generally considered urgent, or even

<2733> Crowley:
Phil, thanks for your thoughts – guarantee there will be no dirty laundry in
the open.

<2095> Steig:
He’s skeptical that the warming is as great as we show in East Antarctica — he
thinks the “right” answer is more like our detrended results in the
supplementary text. I cannot argue he is wrong.

<0953> Jones:
This will reduce the 1940-1970 cooling in NH temps. Explaining the cooling with
sulphates won’t be quite as necessary.

<4944> Haimberger:
It is interesting to see the lower tropospheric warming minimum in the tropics
in all three plots, which I cannot explain. I believe it is spurious but it is
remarkably robust against my adjustment efforts.

<4262> Klein/LLNL:
Does anybody have an explanation why there is a relative minimum (and some
negative trends) between 500 and 700 hPa? No models with significant surface
warming do this

<2461> Osborn:
This is an excellent idea, Mike, IN PRINCIPLE at least. In practise, however,
it raises some interesting results [...] the analysis will not likely lie near to
the middle of the cloud of published series and explaining the reasons behind
this etc. will obscure the message of a short EOS piece.

<4470> Norwegian Meteorological Institute:
In Norway and Spitsbergen, it is possible to explain most of the warming after
the 1960s by changes in the atmospheric circulation. The warming prior to 1940
cannot be explained in this way.

/// The Urban Heat Effect ///

<4938> Jenkins/MetO:
By coincidence I also got recently a paper from Rob which says “London’s UHI
has indeed become more intense since the 1960s esp during spring and summer”.

<0896> Jones:
I think the urban-related warming should be smaller than this, but I can’t
think of a good way to argue this. I am hopeful of finding something in the
data that makes by their Figure 3.

<0044> Rean:
[...] we found the [urban warming] effect is pretty big in the areas we analyzed.
This is a little different from the result you obtained in 1990.
[...] We have published a few of papers on this topic in Chinese. Unfortunately,
when we sent our comments to the IPCC AR4, they were mostly rejected.

<4789> Wigley:
there are some nitpicky jerks who have criticized the Jones et al. data sets –
we don’t want one of those [EPRI/California Energy Commission meeting].

The jerk you mention was called Good(e)rich who found urban warming at
all Californian sites.

<1601> Jones:
I think China is one of the few places that are affected [urban heat]. The
paper shows that London and Vienna (and also New York) are not affected in the
20th century.

<2939> Jones:
[...] every effort has been made to use data that are either rural and/or where
the urbanization effect has been removed as well as possible by statistical
means. There are 3 groups that have done this independently (CRU, NOAA and
GISS), and they end up with essentially the same results.
[...] Furthermore, the oceans have warmed at a rate consistent with the land.
There is no urban effect there.

/// Temperature Reconstructions ///

<1583> Wilson:

any method that incorporates all forms of uncertainty and error will
undoubtedly result in reconstructions with wider error bars than we currently
have. These many be more honest, but may not be too helpful for model
comparison attribution studies. We need to be careful with the wording I think.

<4165> Jones:
what he [Zwiers] has done comes to a different conclusion than Caspar and Gene!
I reckon this can be saved by careful wording.

<3994> Mitchell/MetO:
Is the PCA approach robust? Are the results statistically significant? It seems
to me that in the case of MBH the answer in each is no

<4241> Wilson:
I thought I’d play around with some randomly generated time-series and see if I
could ‘reconstruct’ northern hemisphere temperatures.
[...] The reconstructions clearly show a ‘hockey-stick’ trend. I guess this is
precisely the phenomenon that Macintyre has been going on about.

<3373> Bradley:
I’m sure you agree–the Mann/Jones GRL paper was truly pathetic and should
never have been published. I don’t want to be associated with that 2000 year

<4758> Osborn:
Because how can we be critical of Crowley for throwing out 40-years in the
middle of his calibration, when we’re throwing out all post-1960 data ‘cos the
MXD has a non-temperature signal in it, and also all pre-1881 or pre-1871 data
‘cos the temperature data may have a non-temperature signal in it!

<0886> Esper:
Now, you Keith complain about the way we introduced our result, while saying it
is an important one. [...] the IPCC curve needs to be improved according to
missing long-term declining trends/signals, which were removed (by
dendrochronologists!) before Mann merged the local records together. So, why
don’t you want to let the result into science?

<4369> Cook:
I am afraid that Mike is defending something that increasingly can not be
defended. He is investing too much personal stuff in this and not letting the
science move ahead.

<5055> Cook:
One problem is that he [Mann] will be using the RegEM method, which provides no
better diagnostics (e.g. betas) than his original method. So we will still not
know where his estimates are coming from.

/// Science and Religion ///

<2132> Wigley:

I heard that Zichichi has links with the Vatican. A number of other greenhouse
skeptics have extreme religious views.

<4394> Houghton [MetO, IPCC co-chair]:
[...] we dont take seriously enough our God-given responsibility to care for the
Earth [...] 500 million people are expected to watch The Day After Tomorrow. We
must pray that they pick up that message.

<0999> Hulme:
My work is as Director of the national centre for climate change research, a
job which requires me to translate my Christian belief about stewardship of
God’s planet into research and action.

<3653> Hulme:
He [another Met scientist] is a Christian and would talk authoritatively about
the state of climate science from the sort of standpoint you are wanting.

/// Climate Models ///

<3111> Watson/UEA:
I’d agree probably 10 years away to go from weather forecasting to ~ annual
scale. But the “big climate picture” includes ocean feedbacks on all time
scales, carbon and other elemental cycles, etc. and it has to be several
decades before that is sorted out I would think. So I would guess that it will
not be models or theory, but observation that will provide the answer to the
question of how the climate will change in many decades time.

<5131> Shukla/IGES:
["Future of the IPCC", 2008] It is inconceivable that policymakers will be
willing to make billion-and trillion-dollar decisions for adaptation to the
projected regional climate change based on models that do not even describe and
simulate the processes that are the building blocks of climate variability.

<2423> Lanzante/NOAA:
While perhaps one could designate some subset of models as being poorer in a
lot of areas, there probably never will be a single universally superior model
or set of models. We should keep in mind that the climate system is complex, so
that it is difficult, if not impossible to define a metric that captures the
breath of physical processes relevant to even a narrow area of focus.

<1982> Santer:
there is no individual model that does well in all of the SST and water vapor
tests we’ve applied.

<0850> Barnett:
[IPCC AR5 models] clearly, some tuning or very good luck involved. I doubt the
modeling world will be able to get away with this much longer

<5066> Hegerl:
[IPCC AR5 models]
So using the 20th c for tuning is just doing what some people have long
suspected us of doing [...] and what the nonpublished diagram from NCAR showing
correlation between aerosol forcing and sensitivity also suggested.

<4443> Jones:
Basic problem is that all models are wrong – not got enough middle and low
level clouds.

<4085> Jones:
GKSS is just one model and it is a model, so there is no need for it to be

/// The Cause ///

<3115> Mann:
By the way, when is Tom C going to formally publish his roughly 1500 year
reconstruction??? It would help the cause to be able to refer to that
reconstruction as confirming Mann and Jones, etc.

<3940> Mann:
They will (see below) allow us to provide some discussion of the synthetic
example, referring to the J. Cimate paper (which should be finally accepted
upon submission of the revised final draft), so that should help the cause a

<0810> Mann:
I gave up on Judith Curry a while ago. I don’t know what she think’s she’s
doing, but its not helping the cause

<3594> Berger:
Many thanks for your paper and congratulations for reviving the global warming.

<0121> Jones:
[on temperature data adjustments] Upshot is that their trend will increase

<4184> Jones:
[to Hansen] Keep up the good work! [...] Even though it’s been a mild winter in
the UK, much of the rest of the world seems coolish – expected though given the
La Nina. Roll on the next El Nino!

<5294> Schneider:
Even though I am virtually certain we shall lose on McCain-Lieberman, they are
forcing Senators to go on record for for against sensible climate policy

/// Freedom of Information ///

<2440> Jones:
I’ve been told that IPCC is above national FOI Acts. One way to cover yourself
and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the

<2094> Briffa:
UEA does not hold the very vast majority of mine [potentially FOIable emails]
anyway which I copied onto private storage after the completion of the IPCC

<2459> Osborn:
Keith and I have just searched through our emails for anything containing
“David Holland”. Everything we found was cc’d to you and/or Dave Palmer, which
you’ll already have.

<1473> McGarvie/UEA Director of Faculty Administration:
As we are testing EIR with the other climate audit org request relating to
communications with other academic colleagues, I think that we would weaken
that case if we supplied the information in this case. So I would suggest that
we decline this one (at the very end of the time period)

<1577> Jones:
[FOI, temperature data]
Any work we have done in the past is done on the back of the research grants we
get – and has to be well hidden. I’ve discussed this with the main funder (US
Dept of Energy) in the past and they are happy about not releasing the original
station data.

These climate scientists are frauds and charlatans, willing to subvert the process of science in order to further their own careers. We can only assume that they do not go into politics because they themselves are so corrupt and repulsive that even our home-grown shits would never accept them into the den of foetid venality that is known as the House of Commons.

Their politicking is costing us colossal amounts of cash. More importantly, as FOIA points out, every single pound that they divert to their projects is a pound that does not go to saving a human life. But—hey!—those lives are only those of black and brown people, eh?

It's much better that Pete and Mike and Phil—and their evil WWF and political conspirators—can continue to peddle their lying bullshit than that an African person be able to eat (or, more pertinently, get a vaccine), eh?

* Can anyone point me to a live version: the old link seems to be bust.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The FIFA Poppy hoo ha - yeah but no but yeah

N.B. It's me, The P-G

Right. it's a while since I have had to come out of hiding to tell everyone what's what, but seeing as it is Armistice Day today and it's been in the news, it's time I did so.

Here is your important P-G corrective for today. Repeat after me:
FIFA is right, but for the wrong reasons.
Jon Snow is wrong, but for the right reasons.

And just for the record, completeness and rather pleasing symettry,
Theresa May is wrong for the wrong reasons.
The right reason is that wearing a poppy is and must be a voluntary act of remembrance and thanksgiving to those who gave their lives in the defence of our freedom.

Thus, FIFA is right to object to a poppy being embroidered on the England players shirts - it destroys the voluntary nature of the act. They are wrong however to suggest that the wearing of a poppy is a political act.

Conversely Jon Snow expounds on the right reasons. Here he is in the linked article:
"Additionally there is a rather unpleasant breed of poppy fascism out there - 'He damned well must wear a poppy!'.
He is right to point this out. Those who declare that you MUST wear a poppy are wrong.
However, he is a tosspot for then refusing to wear the poppy. It is as though he thinks the "poppy fascists" have thereby tainted the poppy and he must rise above it. In this he is wrong.

So here's what should have happened:
  • Once FIFA kicked up a stink, the FA - and for good measure the Duke of Cambridge - should have confirmed that the wearing of the poppy is voluntary and run up a batch of shirts without it.
  • The players then make their own choice of shirt. If they choose the one with the poppy, it's clearly their own choice
  • Wait for FIFA to try to take action against any player that does so choose...
Players get to wear the poppy, the FA avoids a row and stands up for the individual freedom - the defence of which is the whole flipping point - and FIFA gets to look stupid.
For good measure, just imagine the value of those original shirts with poppies: if players do stick their necks out, those shirts become extremely powerful symbols in support of the whole thing. Auction them off in aid of the Poppy Appeal and everyone really does win.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Fracking hell

Counting Cats has a good article up about the hysteria surrounding shale gas fracking. As an amusing diversion, I thought that I'd have a look at Frack Off—the campaign site for those with absolutely fuck all idea about science or economics.

These morons do not seem to be simply against fracking, mind you...
The UK is also threatened by a massive expansion in opencast coal mining, deep water oil drilling in the North Sea, Coal Bed Methane and a new generation of even more dangerous nuclear power stations.

So, essentially, these people are against any kind of reasonable power supply at all. So, please, when your granny freezes to death this winter—either because she can't pay the fuel bills, or because the super wind turbines have failed to actually deliver any power—do remember to send a Thank You card to Frack Off.

Personally, however, the most eloquent monument to the complete stupidity of those running Frack Off is the comment that they have let stand on their front page. It purports to be front a Gillian Craig and runs thusly: [Emphasis mine.]
From the first time I heard about this operation some months ago I was concerned, not having a scientific mind in any way whatsoever but quite a logical one, I started questioning about the void left by fracking and then finding out that the void is filled with water, which is not the natural substance to replace gas in the void created. Water is not a solid substance and will move and soak away, I am certainly not surprised that earth tremors have been associated with this practice. STOP IT NOW

There you go people—"water is not a solid substance". Whereas, of course, gas is. Er...

Still, Gillian Craig is right about one thing: she really doesn't have "a scientific mind in any way whatsoever"—although her claim to have "quite a logical one" is belied by the sheer, rampant stupidity of her remarks.

What's really funny, though, is that if you note the link, you'll see that Gillian's spouting is comment #11—but it is the only one that appears on that page. Which means that this was the best comment that they could find and that at least another 10 disappeared down the memory hole (presumably because the commenters disagreed with Frack Off).

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all that you need to know about the arseholes at Frack Off: that they don't tolerate free speech, they tout the stupidity of people like Gillian Craig, they are pig-ignorant about science and economics, and that they think that 2,700 people dying of cold every winter just isn't a big enough death toll.

What a lovely bunch they must be.

This is science fiction...

In an on-going argument with Martin Ford, Timmy (writing at Forbes) describes a situation that will be familiar to those who read a particular type of science fiction.
For a job, an income, isn’t in fact what any of us humans want. What we want is the ability to consume (consume houses, food, clothes, cars etc, all of which are now being made by machine recall) and and income and or a job are only methods of achieving that. So, if the machines are doing all of the work then, well, who is going to be consuming the output? As there’s only us human beings to do so I pretty much guess that it will be us human beings consuming all of the output. And if we’re able to consume all of this output being produced by the machines then why would we care about having a job or an income? We get to consume without either, don’t we?

All of our material needs are being fulfilled by the machines. We are thus able to be:
A farmer in the morning, a laborer in the afternoon, and a philosopher in the evening.

We’re able to be communists in short. Potter around growing a tomato or two in the morning (nothing quite like it for the spirit, to actually nurture and grow a plant then eat the produce), labour a little in the afternoon at that tennis backhand or lay the crazy paving (yes, the machine could and would do it better and faster but the spiritual rewards of hand work are, as we are told, considerable) and in the evening we can yammer with our friends over silliness (that is what philosophers do, yes, yammer with friends over sillinesses?).

A world in which the machines made everything would be a world in which there was no shortage of anything and in such a world what on earth would any of us actually desire a job for?

Of course, for anyone who has ever read any of Ian M Banks' Culture novels, this whole scenario will be entirely familiar.
The Culture is characterized by being a post-scarcity society (meaning that its advanced technologies provide practically limitless material wealth and comforts for everyone for free, having all but abolished the concept of possessions), by having overcome almost all physical constraints on life (including disease and death) and by being an almost totally egalitarian, stable society without the use of any form of force or compulsion, except where necessary to protect others.

And, indeed, it seems to be a rather desirable way in which to live. Although, having said that, most of The Culture novels are about how that society spends its time interfering in less developed societies...

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Time to look to the future

It is time to face some hard facts.

Whether Greece holds a referendum, and whether or not its people vote yes or no, is irrelevant: the country is bust.

The Eurozone countries are pledging €1 trillion, €2 trillion... It doesn't matter: none of them have the money in the bank—or, indeed, the credit line—to pony up on their fantasy. No, not even Germany—which will soon struggle to service its own colossal debts.

The last hope of Merkel and Sarkozy was the Chinese—and they, sensibly, declined. The governments of the EU must attempt to recapitalise the European banks when they themselves have no capital.

Only the other week, several governments had to bail out three European banks who have almost all, as yet, failed to write down their EU state debts.

I have said it before and I will say it again: the social democratic model is bust—it is time for this country to cut its losses and look forwards—to prevent bankruptcy in the short term, and to promote prosperity and freedom in the long to medium term.

So, how do we do that?

The first step that this government needs to take is to announce immediate withdrawal from the EU—with the first step the immediate cessation of any payments to the EU (including MEPs salaries, etc.). This is a process that will take some time in any case—so better sooner than later.

There are three main drivers for this course of action:
  1. to ensure that we are not on the hook for any more Euro bailouts—we are going to need every single penny that we can possibly save for the next steps;

  2. to enable this government to take immediate and radical steps to reduce regulations on business—those that trade with Europe will need to continue abiding by the EU's rules, of course. However, since only 10% of our trade is done with the EU, that will considerably lighten burdens on businesses—especially the SMEs that create the most jobs and growth in the economy.

  3. to be able to open dialogue with every other country in the world in order to gain advantage in uni- and multi-lateral trade agreements—something that we cannot do whilst part of the EU (which has total control over trade policy). Britain already has an advantage in being part of the loose network of countries known as the Commonwealth—a band of national states that roughly share the Common Law legal system and, in many cases, the same language.

    The aim should be to promote totally free trade throughout the world. Even if other countries will not acquiesce, then we should immediately declare the free movement of goods and capital through this country.

All of these measures will take time—so the best time to start is now.

The EU

Our erstwhile partners in the EU will not take too many steps against us—with the balance of trade in our favour (as far as negotiation is concerned), we can ensure that the 10% of trade that we do with them is not adversely affected. However, the medium term aim is to reduce that proportion.

The simple fact is this: we have placed far too many of our export eggs in one basket: now the bottom is falling out of that basket and we are about to loose an awful lot of cash. In negotiating uni-lateral deals with the other 150-odd countries around the world, we can minimise any future disruption.

Foreign Aid

The next step will be to reduce any foreign aid—unless used as a bargaining chip with solid economic gains attached.

Our money must be made to work for the monetary interests of the British taxpayers—not for the vanity projects of MPs. And nor can we afford to hand over colossal amounts of cash in order to insulate other people from the disastrous decisions of their own governments. That may sounds harsh, but we simply cannot.

The only way in which these various tyrannical governments around the world will be brought to heel—and brought to heel they must be—is if we make it extraordinarily clear that we will help their citizens to trade with us, and that's all.

I think that we will find that this will bring about property rights and free trade in some of the more backwards parts of the world far more swiftly than any "humanitarian" or "debt-foregiveness" interventions will.


We should also withdraw from or severely renegotiate our relationship with the IMF. As with many other supranational organisations of which we are part, our presence at the "top table" seems merely to mean that we hand over huge chunks of money with absolutely no return (other than enabling our puffed-up peacocks of politicians to strut about like they own the fucking world).

Further, since the appeal to the Chinese has failed, it is now inevitable that the Eurozone will now appeal for funds from the IMF: this will mean, despite Osborne's blandishments, that we will suddenly be indirectly bailing out the Euro.

If we are to help out other countries, it will be on our terms and for our own advantage—neither for theirs nor that of the corrupt technocrats and bureaucrats of the IMF, UNESCO and all those other unaccountable world government structures.

On the home front

So, we need to boost business—especially SMEs—in this country. The simplest way to do this is to drop taxes on business, and on capital investment.

So, as I stated earlier, we are going to need some cash and a very sound business plan. Because we are almost certainly going to have to borrow some money ourselves. And we'll have to tread very carefully.

The first step will be the immediate sacking of the top three grades of civil servants (at least), and the voluntary retirement of anyone who would like to get out before the real cuts happen.

The next step is to cut National Insurance by 1% for employees and 8% for employers. Why this difference? Simple—there are far fewer employers creating jobs than there are employees looking to fill vacancies.

VAT (or its post-EU equivalent) can stay where it is—we need some income and, as I have said before, I believe consumption taxes (with the exemptions for "necessities") are the closest to voluntary that you can get.

Capital Gains taxes—for returns on money invested in businesses within the next three years—should be cut to 15%, with the expectation that they will rise thereafter. This should stimulate capital investment now, when we most need it.

Corporation Tax for businesses turning over less than £5 million should be reduced to 15% also. R&D tax relief at the current level will continue to apply.

Plans to introduce a universal Flat Tax, with high Personal Tax Allowance, will be set in motion with a legislation to be moved at the end of three years.

The National Minimum Wage will be reduced to £2.50 per hour, with Local Authorities empowered to set a suitable top-up precent for their own area. In other words, Westminster Council might decide to bring that up to £8 per hour, whilst East Yorkshire might maintain it at the national rate. This will start to prepare Local Authorities for more autonomy over the next few years.

As far as energy policy goes, government backing for fracking for the production of gas will be immediately granted, ensuring Britain's supply of cheap, low(ish)-carbon energy. Planning permission for gas-fired power stations will be fast-tracked through the process, to ensure that we can take advantage of this wonderful new energy source.

Finally, the NHS will be reserved for essential medical work only, with all funding for non-essential treatments and "preventative" advertising campaigns, etc. slashed to nothing. The government will also start renegotiation of PFI contracts, with the backers involved quite openly threatened with default if concessions are not made.


The above measures are designed to provide a quick kick up the arse to the economy, and to help businesses in the short term. In the medium to long term, a number of other radical steps will be taken (which I shall expand on in a following post)—the above, however, should buy us some breathing space.

Much of it requires the state to act in a ruthless, devious and occasionally downright dishonest manner—however, I believe that both the short-term crisis and the medium-term gains merit it. And reparations—in the form of higher growth and productivity—will be made apparent, eventually.

I'm sure that I've not covered everything, but it's a start—and I commend the measures outlined above to the House.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Quote of the Day

... comes from the re-invigorated Conservative Party Reptile, on the subject of the Greek referendum on the bailout package.
What the referendum is, essentially, is a requirement that the Greek people act like adults and take a bit of responsibility for the future of their own country. I don't imagine that this will be terribly popular.