Monthly Archives: November 2011

Climategate II (second part)

Climategate 2

It is still early to tell what will come out of this second batch of emails. A quick scan suggests it confirms the impression given by the first emails. Taken from the list of quotes provided with the emails, and verified whether the quote indeed comes from one of the emails:

On the IPCC:

– Peter Thorner 

“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.”

– Timothy 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.”

– Phil Jones:

“Getting people we know and trust [into IPCC] is vital – hence my comment about the tornadoes group.”


On Public Relations (for those who wonder how “global warming” came to be “climate change”):
– Bo Kjellen:

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

On inconvenient data:

– Henry Pollack:

“it will be very difficult to make the MWP [Medieval Warm Period] go away in Greenland.”

– Rachel 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.”

On the Urban Heat Island effect:

– Rean Guoyo to Phil Jones:

“[…] 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.”

On models:

– Tim Barnett:

 “Right now we have some famous models that all agree surprisely well with 20th obs, but whose forcing is really different.  clearly, some tuning or very good luck involved.  I doubt the modeling world will be able to get away with this much longer” 

– Phil Jones:

“Basic problem is that all models are wrong – not got enough middle and low level clouds.”“GKSS is just one model and it is a model, so there is no need for it to be correct.”

As we speak, many are looking into the newly released emails. Soon we’ll see if they only confirm what is already known, or if new scandals will arise.

Further Reading:

The whole climategate saga is not easily appreciated unless one spends many hours on several blogs. Fortunately, there are now a few books explaining the events. Of these I can fully recommend “The Hockey Stick Illusion” by Andrew Montford.

For McIntyre’s experiences, one can best go to his own blog; climateaudit.org. Then there are also wattsupwiththat.com, www.noconsensus.wordpress.comand www.bishop-hill.net, the last one being the blog by Andrew Montford.

For an active climate scientist who started supporting global warming, but has become more skeptical over the years, see Judith Curry’s blog.

There are also pro-global warming sites, one of them run by the very scientists whose emails have now been published a second time: www.realclimate.org. But be careful: In one of the newly released emails,  Michael Mann, one if its founders and main contributors says of it:

“the important thing is to make sure they’re loosing the PR battle. That’s what the site [Real Climate] is about.”


Climategate II in context

     Tenemos la fortuna de que Vincent Wolters, uno de los mayores expertos en el Climategate en España, nos explica qué es el Climategate y qué consecuencias tiene el Climategate II que se ha revelado recientemente.
     En esta primera entrega nos explica qué es el Climategate, en la segunda nos desvelará las aportaciones más suculentas del Climategate II.

    


Climategate 2 In Context

On November 22, 2011 a second “miracle” occurred: a link to a file called “FOIA2011.zip” appeared on several of the prominent skeptic blogs: climateaudit.org(1),  wattsupwiththat.com(2), the AirVent (3), Tallbloke’s Talkshop (4) and JoNova(5). This time it didn’t take people long to realize it’s importance, and it was soon picked up by the skeptic blogosphere.  The file contains over 5000 emails between scientists, most of who are in the global warming camp. It also contains 23 documents, an encrypted zip-file, and a message, that reads:

“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 fewr emarks 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.


The message continued with a list of quotes taken from the emails. Each quote is accompanied by the number of the email it is taken from.

The emails themselves definitely look real, as acknowledged by the University of East Anglia (UEA), where they were taken from, on their website. They have issued a statement condemning the release, but confirming their veracity (4).

At the time, November 2009, when the emails were taken from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the UEA, only a subset of a bigger collection was released. It seems this time another set of emails from that same collection has been released. This means no email can be more recent than November 2009. The encrypted zip-file might contain the full collection, but since the password has not been made public, so far we can only guess. Anyone interested in having a look at the file, can download it here (5), or use the searchable database here (6).


Climategate 1 – When, What, How?

The first release of emails, that we can now in retrospect call “Climategate 1”, occurred on November 17, 2009. Initially the link to the file went unnoticed. When its contents were understood and verified, it went viral on the blogosphere. It contained over 3000 documents, and over 1000 emails between climate scientists. Up to this date it remains unclear how the file ended up in the hands of those who published it. Some think it must be a hacker, others are convinced it’s an insider. The name of the file “FOIA2009” seems to refer to the requests made to the CRU under the  Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) (more on this below). The case is still under investigation by the Norfolk police.   


Leading Up To Climategate 1

    It all started with the “Hockey Stick”, a temperature reconstruction based on tree rings, by Michael Mann and others, published in the 2001 IPCC report. This graph showed more or less flat temperatures up until the last century, when they suddenly started rising dramatically. A clear sign of global warming. Or was it? Stephen McIntyre (of climateaudit.org; he started the blog to defend himself against attacks by climate scientists) got curious, and started investigating. He dug into the “Hockey Stick”, and over the years expanded to other proxy-based reconstructions, and to the actual temperature record based on thermometers. His findings, and the obstruction he met from climate scientists are described in detail on his blog.
       One of the things he was after, was the raw data used by the CRU to calculate their global temperatures. After friendly requests and much hassling, Phil Jones, the head of the CRU, would not give in. He would not share his data, stating in one of the emails:

“The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone”

This email was of course not sent to McIntyre, but to close colleagues of Jones. Nevertheless, McIntyre found out about the FOI-Act, and started sending in requests, helped by loyal readers of his blog. This in turn led to an internal FOI process at CRU, that finished the 13th of November. A few days later, on the 17th, the file “FOIA2009” was made public, the last email being from the 13th.  


Lessons From Climategate 1

First, a short overview of the theory of anthropogenic global warming. It rests on four pillars:

  1.  The green house equation, that states that an increase in green house gases such as CO2 leads to an increase in temperature. This equation is however very basic, and does not take into account feedback loops and other effects. So in order to really be able to predict warming, three more pillars are needed. 
  2. The temperature reconstructions that cover one or two millennia. 
  3. The global temperature based on data from temperature stations. 
  4. And the models, that predict warming for the future. 

    All these last three pillars are important to the theory, and the emails deal with aspects of all three of them.


The emails gave a close look at how climate scientists at CRU and other institutes operated. Many of them were very prominent in the global warming movement: lead authors of the IPCC, and heads of research institutes, scientist involved in proxy reconstructions, in global temperature calculations and in climate models. They were not a few rotten apples, but the crème-de-la-crème of climate science.

The picture that emerged was not pretty. There was talk of corrupting the peer-review process, of deleting data, of “dishonest presentations”, and other practices that go against the spirit of science. The emails also showed that many of the criticisms levied by the skeptics were correct. Doubt was expressed about the ability to correctly model the climate. But all this was kept internal, only to be seen by those part of the “Team”, the group of climate scientists promoting the theory of global warming. Articles by skeptics expressing criticism were rejected or delayed as long as possible. Their own articles were given special treatment to make sure they could be included in the IPCC reports, and those reports themselves were made to downplay uncertainties.

Science is done via articles, not emails, so one could argue that however bad some scientists come across in their emails, the science itself still stands.  But this point of view is too simple. It neglects how the peer-review process has been undermined. It also neglects that the emails show that some articles are known to be incorrect, not only by skeptics, but also by climatologists supporting the notion of global warming. And it overlooks the general unscientific attitude displayed some climatologists.
(To continue on Climatgate II second part)

Why The EFSF Will Fail

Vincent Wolters; gran amigo y gran economista, explica en pocos párrafos (párrafos en inglés, eso sí), porqué el Fondo Europeo de Estabilidad Financiera (el Fondo de Estabilidad Financiera) fracasará:

Why The EFSF Will Fail
How The EFSF Works:
The European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) was set up in order to provide relief to countries that are in difficulties. It has no money, but borrows money on the market when needed, so that it can lend that money to a country in distress. The country cannot borrow on the market itself, because the interest rate it will be charged is too high. All euro zone countries participate in the EFSF, but most important are the highest rated countries. The idea is that the EFSF will be able to borrow for a lower rate, because of guarantees by the AAA-countries: Germany, France, Holland, Austria, Finland and Luxemburg. Without such guarantees the EFSF would have to pay a high rate itself, and would not be able to lend out money at a low rate.
So far there have been 3 phases of the EFSF:

1- As of May 2010: Guarantees by participating countries up to 440 billion euro, expected lending capacity 250 billion euro, because not all participating countries have the highest rating (AAA). As soon as the EFSF lends out more than is guaranteed by AAA-countries, the rating of EFSF cannot be AAA anymore, and the interest requested of it will go up, thereby rendering it useless.

2- As of July/October 2011 guarantees have been raised to 780 billion, resulting in a lending capacity of 440 billion.

3- End of October 2011 a plan has been announced to increase EFSF’s lending capacity to 1 trillion, supposedly by “leveraging”: EFSF won’t guarantee 100% anymore but only e.g. 20%.

Will Leveraging Do The Trick?
Suppose the guarantee is indeed 20%. This means that the first 20% loss to the EFSF-bond will be absorbed by the AAA-countries. An example: a bond bought for 100 goes down to 85: there is no loss to the bond holder, as this falls within the 20% margin. Now the bond loses more value, and it is worth only 79. This time the bond holder does suffer a loss, albeit of only 1. Ofcourse, the bond could go down much further, especially in case of a default by a country in distress.
So given a 20% guarantee, then with only 100 billion guranteed by the AAA-countries, 500 billion could be lent out. Or at least in theory, because it may very well be that the EFSF will not succeed in collecting 500 billion from the market for a reasonable interest rate. After all, 20% is far from 100%, so it’s unlikely the EFSF will get an AAA rating under such a scheme.
The 20% is not fixed yet and is subject to change. Bit by bit it is being raised by the proponents of the EFSF. Originally it was 20%, then “4 to 5 times leveraging”, which means a guarantee of 20-25%, and shortly after that was raised to 3 to 4 times leverage, i.e. 25-33% guaranteed. So the leverage factor is not clear yet, just as all other details have not been filled in.
With all this uncertainty, it will probably be hard for the ESF to raise money. But there are parties that may be convinced in other ways than conventional loan conditions like interest rate and term. Examples are trade agreements or diplomatic support. Hence the plea to non-EU countries to participate, like India, Brazil, China, Japan. Although phase 3 has so far only been a vague idea, those in charge have undertaken a trip to China in order to raise money for the fund. The Chinese haven’t fallen for it; neither have the Indians or the Brazilians. The Japanese have, but only for a meagre 300 million.
So much for the leveraging idea. I’ll continue with the analysis on the assumption of a 100% guarantee.
Can The EFSF Be Increased Enough?
To be effective, the EFSF has to have sufficient money. However, the EFSF cannot be increased indefinitely. There are 2 limiting factors (that are ofcourse interrelated):
1-    The money has to be borrowed on the financial markets, which means that it depends on sufficient supply.
2-    The higher the EFSF, the higher the amount guaranteed by the participating countries. This again puts pressure on their rating, thereby creating the very problem that was supposed to be solved in the first place.
 
To put a fund of 1 trillion in perspective, let’s compare it to some numbers:
       The total GDP of the euro zone is 12,5 trillion
       The total debt of the euro-countries is 7,8 trillion.
       The total debt of the AAA-countries is 4,3 trillion.

So raising the EFSF to 1 trillion means (supposing a proportional increase of current guarantees):
       Raising an amount equal to 8% of total GDP.
       At a 100% guarantee by the AAA-countries, their collective debt would increase by almost 1/4, in case they would have to live up to that guarantee.
       Specifically for NL: the guarantee would reach 100 billion. That is 27% of its public debt, and 17% of its GDP.
       Specifically for FR: the guarantee would reach 360 billion. That is 22% of its public debt, and 18% of its GDP. France is not in a postion to undertake such an extra debt, as it has now already had to cut government spending in order not to loose its AAA status.


All in all, raising the EFSF to 1 trillion with a 100% guarantee seems next to impossible. Hence the plan with the 20% guarantee. But as outlined above, that is most likely not to  work either. It is much riskier, so the market will require a higher interest rate, thereby defeating the original intent of the EFSF.
Contributions by Non-AAA Countries To The EFSF?
So far the non-AAA countries have not been taken into account, as their guarantees can not lead to an AAA status for the EFSF. But let’s take a closer look at those countries.
In descending order of the size of their guarantees, both currently and when the EFSF would be increased to a trillion on a 100% basis, the six biggest non-AAA countries are:
  1. Italy: 139 billion, would become 316 billion.
  2. Spain: 93 billion, would become 211 billion.
  3. Belgium: 27 billion, would become 61 billion.
  4. Greece: 22 billion, would become 50 billion.
  5. Portugal: 20 billion, would become 45 billion.
  6. Ireland: 12 billion, would become 27 billion.
It’s clear no help can be expected from them. They are the very countries for which the EFSF has been erected. Ireland, Portugal and Greece are already on life support. Italy and Spain are next in line. Belgium is probably the one in best shape, which rather says it all.
The rest of the non-AAA countries are all smaller than Ireland, and amount only to a few percent of the total EFSF fund. Conclusion: it really comes down to the 6 AAA-countries.
Ok, But What IF We Do Have A Trillion?
Now suppose somehow, somewhere, the  trillion will be scraped together. Will it be enough? Some has already been promised to Ireland and Portugal, so let’s say there is 800 billion left. That might, or might not, be just enough for Spain. For Italy at least 50% more will be needed.

So in short, the EFSF is fantasy. If it is continued anyway, then the only effect will be to increase the risk of contagion – especially for France. Afterall, countries are financially linked even tighter, so they are more likely to be contaminated.

Meanwhile the interest rate on Italian bonds is increasing, in spite of daily intervention by the ECB. Italy will need more than a trillion to be saved, and as the above analysis shows: that’s unlikely to be available. This means soon there will be another crisis, bigger than the one with Greece, and with only 2 options: Italy goes bankrupt and leaves the Euro, or the printing presses at the ECB will do overtime to come up with the missing trillion.

Given Draghi’s short trackrecord (1,25%) and his nationality, I have a suspicion what his preference will be. Let’s see if the Germans will wake up in time.


Intervención "Libertad Constituyente"

   A continuación les dejo mi intervención en “Libertad Constituyente” el programa presentado por Juan Carlos Barba en Radio Libertad. Intervienen David Serquera, Juan Carlos Barba, Ángel Gimeno, Antonio García Trevijano, y un servidor, Luis Espinosa Goded (que no Leandro, que es un tipo que tiene unas intervenciones de nivel).

Muchos son los temas que quedan por tratar, pero espero poder explicar en futuras entradas en el blog porqué no es buena idea la deuda ni la monetarización; o porqué la inflación no es la solución a ninguno de nuestros problemas.


El problema de la representación sigue irresoluto

       Los indignados de Sol se hicieron famosos gracias a su “No nos representan” dirigidos a los políticos del stablishment.
      Ahora bien, cuando intentaron ellos mismos actuar como representantes fueron incapaces de resolver el problema de la representatividad: ¿A quién representaban los #indignados de Sol? ¿Obtuvieron más cobertura mediática que apoyo social? ¿Tenían alguna legitimidad? ¿alguna legitimidad democrática?

> ¿A quién se representa?
          ¿En nombre de quién y con qué legitimidad hablaban los indignados de Sol? Es más, ¿quién hablaba en nombre de los indignados de Sol? Tras muchos “No nos representan” el problema de la representatividad se reveló como un problema complejo. Los indignados optaron por una portavocía compartida y rotativa, y lo que es más importante, una portavocía que ejercía meramente como transmisora de los acuerdos (pocos y ambiguos, recordemos) adoptados en la asamblea; lo que hacía especialmente complejo sus intervenciones en los medios y la aclaración de su mensaje mismo. Y es que el mensaje era por su misma naturaleza ambiguo y poco claro.

           >El dilema entre el mandato imperativo y el mandato representativo:
         Mandato imperativo es aquel por el que el representante de un colectivo acude ante la asamblea con la autorización de decir aquello -y solo aquello- aprobado previamente por aquellos a los que representa.
       Mandato representativo es aquel por el que el representante acude ante la asamblea con la potestad de negociar en nombre de aquellos a los que representa.
      Desde las cortes medievales, tanto en Inglaterra como en España el mandato imperativo se mostró inoperante ya que los representante debían ir de la asamblea general a los municipios o estamentos por los que habían sido elegidos sin llegar nunca, entre posta, negociación o viaje,  a acuerdo o conclusión alguna.           Es por ello que las democracias funcionan desde hace unos seis siglos por mandato representativo.
      Sin embargo esto (también esto) parecían desconocerlo los acampados en Sol, y yo mismo fui testigo de apasionadas discusiones sobre aquello que podía o no podía decir el representante de una comisión particular ante la asamblea general.


Es fácil llegar a consenso en negativo pero es imposible marcar un objetivo común.

Todos estamos de acuerdo en que la situación debería mejorar. Pero cada uno tiene una idea distinta de cómo debiera ser esa mejora. Así, a la hora de criticar el sistema, o de hacer un slogan contra la situación imperante se pueden concitar muchas voluntades; sin embargo, si lo que se pretende es definir un modelo de cambio o un objetivo común se descubrirá que las opiniones sobre qué reformas realizar para mejorar divergen de manera radical.

Es por esto que todas las proclamas salidas de Sol fueron o deliberadamente ambiguas (algo parecido al programa del PP en estas elecciones) o directamente inexistentes o indefinidas; y es que las opciones son dos: o pocos con objetivos bien definidos o muchos con objetivos ambiguos.


Las asambleas (de cierto tamaño) son inoperantes.


Una asamblea es la deliberación abierta y conjunta por parte de los miembros de la comunidad. Por definición en una asamblea ciudadana no se puede impedir a nadie acceder y difícilmente se puede impedir a alguien participar. Por eso mismo las asambleas se convierten en inoperantes a partir de cierto tamaño, ya que no hay ni posibilidad física de agrupar a mucha gente en un mismo espacio, ni posibilidad temporal de escuchar la opinión de un cierto número de personas por muy breves que sean sus intervenciones.
Las asambleas de Sol fueron una bonita experiencia asamblearia, pero también la constatación práctica de que las asambleas son inoperantes. Se trataron muchos temas, pero de muy pocos de ellos se llegó a conclusión alguna, y siempre se fue post-poniendo cualquier solución a la asamblea siguiente, siendo un ejercicio permanente de debate y procastinación.
Así, sobre la decisión más importante para la acampada como era su permanencia misma, los acampados de Sol votaron durante varias semanas entre tres opciones: A) Permanecer indefinidamente acampados B) levantar el campamento C) Aplazar hasta la próxima votación la decisión. Como cualquiera se podrá imaginar, fue la opción C) la que fue salió una y otra vez como vencedora, pues era la única que, en realidad, no comprometía a nada y provocaba la indefinición y la inoperancia propia del asamblearismo.


Las revoluciones las comienzan los mencheviques y las terminan los bolcheviques.

         Toda revolución es un cambio; y todo cambio puede ser moderado o radical, a mejor o a peor. Y normalmente las revoluciones no las terminan quienes las comienzan (pues suelen acabar muertos en ellas); sino aquellos más dispuestos a realizar transformaciones radicales, no tan solo moderadas mejoras.
         La persistencia histórica es apabullante: casi siempre que hay una revolución, ya sea la Rusa o la Francesa, las del 48 (1848 se entiende) o las de del 68 (1968) siempre las comienzan los moderados, un grupo disconforme pero no partidario de cambios radicales ni de la violencia ni de la sangre; y las terminan aquellos que ya estaban organizados, aquellos que quieren a toda costa el cambio, que quieren la destrucción y están dispuestos a causar los mayores estragos.
         Así en el caso del movimiento 15M en las primeras jornadas había una mayoría de ciudadanos con ideas más bien vagas y moderadas; sin embargo en las últimas semanas cada vez tenían mayor presencia los grupos más radicalizados que optaban por propuestas y formas cada vez más expeditivas.
         No es que el movimiento 15M fuese propiamente una revolución ni que llegase a ser violento, pero sí muchos de sus miembros creían que estaban haciendo una revolución y algunos cuestionaron la no-violencia por la que abogaba una mayoría.

En la anarquía hay peligro de abuso de la fuerza.

           Si no hay autoridad el uso de la fuerza queda en manos del más fuerte, pues es él el único que tiene la fuerza.
         Así, si se expulsa a la policía de la Puerta del Sol la Plaza queda sin autoridad, y por consiguiente son más vulnerables los que allí se quedan a dormir. Para muestra esta noticia que indica que el Grupo de Feminismos denuncia agresiones en la Acampada Sol.
         Pues habían expulsado a la Policía de la Puerta del Sol y no habían delegado en ninguna autoridad para el uso legítimo de la fuerza, no tienen autoridad a la que recurrir ni medios para repeler la violencia.
         Estas agresiones no tardaron ni un mes en producirse en pleno centro de Madrid, una capital europea en el 2011. Es importante regular el uso legítimo de la fuerza antes de expulsar a la autoridad competente, pues en el cambio se pueden producir abusos.


La política existe pues la sociedad no puede tan solo deliberar

         ¿Qué es la política? Es el arte de tomar las decisiones de lo que en común tienen los miembros de una comunidad. Esto es, la política se encarga de una parte de los asuntos de los ciudadanos. Una parte mínima según los liberales, una parte mayoritaria según las izquierdas, pero una parte tan solo en cualquier caso.
         Por eso los ciudadanos no pueden dedicarse tan solo a tomar las decisiones que les afectan en común. Por un lado han de dedicarse a producir, se necesita mucho capital acumulado para poder dedicar parte de los recursos de la sociedad a organizarse, y como toda organización, cuantos menos recursos se dediquen a la organización y más a los fines de ésta más eficiente será esa organización. Así, una sociedad cuántos menos políticos y menos tiempo dedique a la política y más productores y más tiempo dedique  a la actividad productiva más próspera será. Amén de que cuanto más tiempo tengan los ciudadanos para sus propias actividades más satisfechos estarán.
         La Acampada de Sol era exclusivamente política y de una actividad política muy exigente. Los acampados tenían reuniones o asambleas desde pronto por la mañana hasta tarde a la noche, constantemente votando, deliberando y decidiendo. Era una sociedad eminentemente política; y como tal muy improductiva, tan solo se podía sostener gracias a consumir los recursos que les aportaban los ciudadanos que no participaban en la acampada.
         La política se ejerce, desde el inicio de las sociedades complejas por delegación (sea esta democrática o no). Pues es completamente imposible por ineficiente que todos nos dediquemos siempre (ni tan siquiera mayoritariamente) a la actividad política.