Sunday, January 14, 2007

Situational Science


The major issue of "global warming" is not whether it is or is not occurring (although one could ask if a 30-year downward trend followed by the current 30-year upward trend is a "trend" or "oscillation"), but what are all of the human influences on any climate change and what can and should be done to manage it.

A couple of the issues I have "discussed" at other sites include questions about the accuracy of the data from decades ago which is being compare with today's data, the consistency of data being collected over the past decade or even day-to-day, and the influence of land use changes, as the human population has doubled, on regional climates... and, hence, the impact on the data that would have been gathered from those regions as the land uses changed.
Most comments in response to those questions are that the questions are totally irrelevant because there is a "consensus".

For those who failed English, "consensus" does not necessarily mean "unanimity" or even "agreement". The way it is used in this arena simply means "the judgment arrived at by most of those concerned "... in other words, it represents a majority of opinion.
Consensus, therefore doesn't necessarily mean "all the facts." In science, at best it means that there is "evidence." It also means that there is some degree of "disputing evidence." Those who dispute the "consensus" must do so on the basis of rigorous study, not faith such as those who want "intelligent design" considered as an alternative to evolution. The disputer or skeptics or minority must have measureable, test-worthy alternative positions.
This is not necessarily the case with economics or social sciences or politics. Here, "expert" opinion is sometimes all that is relied upon... by those who feel comfortable with that opinion. Selective facts are the basis for opinions and, often, policies. Thus, those who have selected facts from consensus positions are those who want to disregard other facts as they form their opinions. Here, in the political arena, the "consensus" on global warming is interpreted by some as "we must take immediate and drastic action now to avoid disaster within the next 50 years."

Some responses are even less well thought out than a simple dismal of the questions as being irrelevant. From the Economist's View:

Bruce Hall;

I guess you're in favor of "situational science".


Ah, "situational science"....

It's science if "my" scientists interpret data one way and situational science if "your" scientists interpret it another.

That's about the same as saying "peer reviewed" is only valid if I accept the pronouncements of "my" scientists, but "peer reviewed" means "irrational skeptics" if they are "your" scientists.

Let's not get into the "Intelligent Design" arena which is not a matter of scientific interpretation of data... or even different data sets... but rather "belief" versus "scientific methodology".

It's those kinds of insinuations that reflect the "religious ferver" of the "true believers" of anthropogenic-driven global warming... and leads to the next step of demanding that billions of dollars be spent in a unilateral (U.S./Europe - "developing" world exempt) effort to "undo" man-made global warming now... because we can't wait for the data to be thoroughly examined and move from the football-poll "consensus" approach to "scientific agreement." Remember, you are supposed to be addressing issues of "hard science", not economics as the basis for making economic decisions.

"Situational"... indeed!

I'm fairly certain that the comment about "situational science" came as a result of the "Doonesbury" comics... see Jan. 14, 2007. It all goes back to my earlier post.

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CO2 Cap and Trade

There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
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- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
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Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)