Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Rightful Place of Science? Within the Bosom of the Democratic Party

In the current Issues in Science and Technology Dan Sarewitz has an essay titled "The Rightful Place of Science" available here in PDF. Dan is a brilliant writer and a creative genius. It is amazing that he is not a major columnist for a leading newspaper or magazine.

Here are a few excerpts from his excellent piece on science and politics in the Obama era:

On Obama's stem cell policies:
. . .there is nothing at all anti-science about restricting the pursuit of scientific knowledge on the basis of moral concerns. Societies do this all the time; for example, with strict rules on human subjects research. The Bush and Obama policies differ only as a matter of degree; they are fundamentally similar in that neither one cedes moral authority to science and scientists. When it comes to embryonic stem cells, the “rightful place of science” remains a place that is located, debated, and governed through democratic political processes.
On Obama's decision to terminate Yucca Mountain's site characterization:
All of the major Democratic presidential candidates, seeking an edge in the 2008 election, opposed the site; shutting it down was one of Barack Obama’s campaign promises, which he fulfilled by cutting support for the program in the fiscal year 2010 budget, an action accompanied by no fanfare and no public announcement.

At this point it is tempting to write: “It’s hard to imagine a case where politics trumped science more decisively than in the case of Yucca Mountain, where 20 years of research were traded for five electoral votes and the support of a powerful senator,” which seems basically correct, but taken out of context it could be viewed as a criticism of President Obama, which it is not. But the point I want to make is only slightly more subtle: Faced with a complex amalgam of scientific and political factors, President Obama chose shortterm political gain over longer-term scientific assessment, and so decided to put an end to research aimed at characterizing the Yucca Mountain site. This decision can easily be portrayed in the same type of language that was used to attack President Bush’s politicization of science.
On science as a political carrot:
When President Obama was urgently seeking to push his economic stimulus package through Congress in the early days of his administration, he needed the support of several Republican senators to guard against Republican filibuster and to bolster the claim that the stimulus bill was bipartisan. Senator Arlen Specter, who suffers from Hodgkin’s disease, agreed to back the stimulus package on the condition that it includes $10 billion in additional funding for NIH. For this price a vote was bought and a filibuster-proof majority was achieved.

Now there is nothing at all wrong with making political deals like this; good politics is all about making deals. What’s interesting in this case is the pivotal political importance of a senator’s support for science. If Senator Specter (who, perhaps coincidentally, underwent a party conversion several months later) had asked for $10 billion for a new weapons system or for abstinence-only counseling programs, would his demand have been met?
Bottom line:
And so perhaps we have now discovered the rightful place of science: not on a pedestal, not impossibly insulated from politics and disputes about morality, but nestled within the bosom of the Democratic Party. Is this a good place for science to be? For the short term, increased budgets and increased influence for the scientific-technological elite will surely be good for the scientific enterprise itself. Serious attention to global environmental threats, to national energy security, to the complex difficulties of fostering technological innovation whose economic outcomes are not largely captured by the wealthy, are salutary priorities of the Obama administration and welcome correctives to the priorities of his predecessor.

But ownership of a powerful symbol can give rise to demagoguery and self-delusion. President Bush overplayed the national defense card in pursuit of an ideological vision that backfired with terrible consequences in Iraq. In turn, a scientific-technological elite unchecked by healthy skepticism and political pluralism may well indulge in its own excesses. Cults of expertise helped bring us the Vietnam War and the current economic meltdown. Uncritical belief in and promotion of the redemptive power of scientific and technological advance is implicated in some of the most difficult challenges facing humans today. In science, Democrats appear to have discovered a surprisingly potent political weapon. Let us hope they wield it with wisdom and humility.
Do read the whole thing.

Should NCAA Adopt Rooney Rule?

On our blog, dre cummings and Roger Groves have written extensively about the Rooney Rule, an internal NFL rule which requires that NFL teams interview minority candidates for head coaching positions and which (as Cumberland law prof Marcia McCormick wrote about on Workplace Prof Blog earlier this month), now also requires that teams interview minority candidates for senior football operations positions. Thought it's difficult to show "causation" there has been a marked increase in the number of African-American head coaches since the league adopted the Rooney Rule. For some terrific background on the history and goals of the Rooney Rule, check out Temple law prof Jeremi Duru's article in the Virginia Sports and Entertainment Law Journal and dre cummings' article in the Thurgood Marshall Law Review.

Interestingly, the NCAA has not adopted the Rooney Rule. Over on NCAA Double-A Zone blog, Marta Lawrence has a good piece on the NCAA's position. Here's an excerpt:

* * *

While the Rooney Rule has worked to help diversify the NFL coaching ranks, NCAA President Myles Brand and Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Charlotte Westerhaus maintain a similar rule for college athletics won't work.

"The 'Rooney Rule' is an interviewing rule," writes Westerhaus in a recent blog post. "More candidates than ever before were interviewed last fall without an interview mandate similar to the 'Rooney Rule' and without the possibility of sanctions for noncompliance. What was the end result? Only four African Americans were hired as head football coaches of color in Division I FBS. This simply is not good enough.

"The NCAA is not opposed to equal opportunity within the interview process. But what is needed now is an end to side-stepping the crux of the hiring dilemma. Interviewing is not hiring. What is needed is more hires of head football coaches of color, not mandated interviews and the continued perpetuation of false hope."

* * *
To read the rest, click here. To read a law review article advocating that the NCAA adopt the Rooney Rule, see Michael Nicholas' article in the Virginia Sports and Entertainment Law Journal.

Tropical Cyclone Damages in China

A new paper has been published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society titled 'Tropical Cyclone Damages in China: 1983 to 2006" by Zhang et al. available here in PDF. The paper finds no trends in either tropical cyclone landfalls or in normalized damage, as indicated in the following two figures from the paper.

The paper concludes:
The direct economic losses and casualties caused by landfalling tropical cyclones in China during 1983–2006 are examined using the dataset released by the Department of Civil Affairs of China. . . The direct economic losses trended upward significantly over the past 24 yr. However, the trend disappears if considering the rapid increase of the annual total GDP of China, suggesting that the upward trend in direct economic losses is a result of Chinese economic development. There is no significant trend in tropical cyclone casualties over the past 24 yr.
What does this mean? This means everywhere that scholars have looked and published results in the peer-reviewed literature (including the United States, Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, China, India, non-China East Asia, and Australia), there have been no trends identified over the periods of record in either landfalling tropical storms or their damage.

Even though this is what the peer reviewed literature says, acknowledging as much is enough to get you labeled a "denier." We do live in interesting times.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Does Henry Waxman Understand Offsets?

In an interview with Montel Williams Henry Waxman (D-CA) explains his view of offsets (thanks TBI):
It doesn't make a difference that a coal-burning powerplant has to reduce its emissions if they have to do it by reducing their own coal, that could be more costly than just buying an offset and we still get the same environmental result. The environmental result is achieved, we do it in a way that would impact the economy in the easiest manner, and at the same time we're providing renewable fuels and greater efficiency and opportunities to get cars on the road that will pollute less.
This sort of thinking is exactly why Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) thinks that coal burning can proceed unaltered under the Waxman-Markey cap and trade regime:
. . . we provide two billion tons of offset each year during the life of the program. Those offsets would enable electric utilities like AEP (American Electric Power) to invest in forestry, agriculture and projects like tropical rain forest preservation in order to meet their CO2 reduction requirements under legislation. Therefore, they can comply with the law while continuing to burn coal.
Similarly German environment minister Sigmar Gabriel explained that more coal burning power plants need not increase emissions thanks to cap and trade:
. . . the emissions trading scheme would limit the level of emissions. “You can build 100 coal-fired power plants and don’t have to have higher CO2 emissions,” said the environment minister.
Are Waxman, Boucher and Gabriel correct? Is there some magical property of cap and trade regimes that allow coal burning to continue or even to increase while emissions are reduced? If so, what luck we have!

Of course not. Offsets allow the perpetuation of the business as usual energy system while enabling a convenient fiction that offsets are decreasing in a counterfactual manner future emissions that would have occurred absent the offset. Rep. Waxman is only correct if by "environmental result" he means "the environmental result as defined by my 1,500 page climate bill which includes a complex array of accounting mechanisms that conflate avoiding hypothetical future emissions with actual emissions reductions based on the provision of many, many billions of extra allowances that are created and awarded for taking a range of actions to re-distribute wealth in many places thereby gaining an emissions allowance credit that did not otherwise exist as part of the actual cap." If by "environmental result" Rep. Waxman, means an actual reduction in then emissions generated by economic activity in the United States, then his statement is simply wrong and misleading.

I wonder how long this charade will go on.

Senator Inhofe Takes What is Given

Updated: 30 June 12:50PM, See bottom

In the comments DeepClimate points us to his blog (thanks DC) where he discusses a Fox News article reporting how Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) has ordered an investigation into EPA's handling of the Alan Carlin situation:
A top Republican senator has ordered an investigation into the Environmental Protection Agency's alleged suppression of a report that questioned the science behind global warming.

The 98-page report, co-authored by EPA analyst Alan Carlin, pushed back on the prospect of regulating gases like carbon dioxide as a way to reduce global warming. Carlin's report argued that the information the EPA was using was out of date, and that even as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have increased, global temperatures have declined.

"He came out with the truth. They don't want the truth at the EPA," Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla, a global warming skeptic, told FOX News, saying he's ordered an investigation. "We're going to expose it."
Deep Climate, along with Gavin Schmidt and a few of our commenters, seem to think that some combination of the following facts would justify deviating from standard regulatory procedures in a federal agency (and DeepClimate even suggests that Carlin should have been fired long ago by EPA):

1. Alan Carlin is an economist.
2. James Inhofe (R-OK) is reviled among those wanting action on climate change.
3. Carlin's submission is full of nonsense and cribbed marterial from websites written by people with a connection to the fossil fuel industry.
4. FoxNews reported on Inhofe's investigation.

For purposes of discussion, lets posit that all of 1 through 4 are true. Unfortunately for DeepClimate and Gavin Schmidt, they are all irrelevant because in U.S. federal agencies there is no "bogus" clause, no "denier" clause, no "Republican" clause that they can invoke to make arguments they don't like simply go away. Senator Inhofe of course knows this and will exploit the Carlin situation as much as he can, and in the process will give it far, far more attention than it would have received had EPA officials simply decided not to give Carlin's submission special treatment. In fact, I'd argue that it would have never been an issue without the special treatment. Now it can be used to fire up Inhofe's base and keep various dubious arguments in play.

When will folks learn that climate change, as important as it is, does not mean that basic democratic principles and procedures arbitraily get thrown out the door? And from a more crassly political perspective, when will they there is nothing to be gained by "protecting" a process from unwelcome information (especially when that process requires full disclosure), and much to be lost from efforts to defend the indefensible, even if you believe in the righteousness of your cause.

I am sure that from this episode some will blame Senator Inhofe for his efforts to sow opposition to action on climate change, which of course he is doing, but they should also recognize that his job is made a lot easier by his political opponents who served up Carlin on a silver platter.

Update 30 June 12:50

In the comments Jim Bouldin asks about standard regulatory procedures. The image below is from a 1981 book on rulemaking titled "A Blueprint for Regulatory Reform" by P. McGuigan. The relevant court case cited is Ethyl Corp. v. EPA, 541 F.2d 1, 36 (D.C. Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 426 U.S. 941.

More on American Needle

As Mike noted below, the Supreme Court granted cert today in American Needle v. NFL and will review the Seventh Circuit’s holding that the NFL and its teams act as single entity when promoting NFL football through licensing teams’ intellectual property. We have been tracking and discussing this case since the district court ruled for the NFL back in October 2007 (and then debating it in the Tulane Mardi Gras Moot Court Competition), and I wanted to emphasize one point as we continue to follow this case through the Supreme Court: The NFL—and other professional sports leagues in the U.S.—have a tremendous amount to gain from the Supreme Court’s decision, but not much to lose.

First, let’s start with a little background. The Seventh Circuit’s opinion is an outlier. Until American Needle, every appellate court (and virtually every court) to address the issue held that professional sports leagues are not single entities and are thus subject to scrutiny under Section 1 of the Sherman Act. The Seventh Circuit went against the grain, stating in American Needle that the single entity status of sports leagues “should be addressed…one facet of a league at a time,” and concluding that the NFL acts as a single entity when collectively licensing NFL teams’ intellectual property.

Both American Needle and the NFL then filed petitions for cert with the U.S. Supreme Court. American Needle’s argument is simple—the Supreme Court should hear the case and reverse it because the Seventh Circuit’s holding conflicts with over 50 years of case law in other circuits. The NFL’s argument is more complex. Because it won the case before the Seventh Circuit, the NFL is seeking an expansion, not a reversal, of the decision. The NFL is thus arguing that professional sports leagues are single entities for all purposes, and thus should be completely exempt from Section 1 scrutiny. In the alternative, the NFL claims that professional sports leagues should be deemed single entities with respect to all of their “core venture functions.” Of course, the NFL will then claim that virtually every decision they make constitutes a “core venture function.”

I will address the merits of the underlying arguments over the next few months, but let’s get back to my original point. An expansion of the Seventh Circuit’s holding would be a huge win for professional sports leagues. Depending on the scope of the Supreme Court’s decision, leagues could be free to make decisions regarding the location and ownership of teams, contraction of franchises, television restrictions, intellectual property licensing, etc., without fear of attack under Section 1 of the Sherman Act. Taken to its most unlikely extreme, the Supreme Court could extend the single entity protection to cover all decisions made by a league, including salary caps, player drafts, free agency rules, and other player restraints.

Despite what some are saying, however, a reversal of the Seventh Circuit’s decision would not be a catastrophic loss for the NFL. Over at profootballtalk.com, Mike Florio claims that
the stakes are high. If the Supreme Court rules that the league and its teams do not constitute a single entity for antitrust purposes, then all exclusive marketing arrangements likely would be scuttled. For example, EA would likely lose exclusive rights to the team names and logos for the Madden video game — and the league would lose the extra money that comes from exclusivity.

I think Mike does great work over there, but his observation on this one is a bit misleading (but, Marc Edelman has a great comment in that post). The issue before the Supreme Court is not whether the NFL’s exclusive licensing arrangement is legal under the antitrust laws. The issue is whether the licensing arrangement should even be subject to scrutiny under the antitrust laws. If the NFL wins, they escape Section 1 scrutiny. If the NFL loses, their arrangement will then be analyzed under the rule of reason, where a court will weigh the procompetitive benefits of the agreement versus its anticompetitive effects.

There is no reason to believe that the Supreme Court’s rejection of the single entity argument makes it any more (or less) likely that American Needle would prevail in the underlying antitrust case (or that a suit against the exclusive deal with EA would be successful). Rather, it only subjects the NFL to the same antitrust scrutiny they have been subjected to for the last 50 years. American Needle could win the underlying case, but only if it could prove that the anticompetitive effects of the NFL’s exclusive apparel licensing deal outweighed its procompetitive benefits.

Thus, while a win for the NFL in the Supreme Court would have significant implications, a loss merely gets us back to the way we were before the Seventh Circuit’s outlier in American Needle.

Clive Crook on Cap and Trade

Today, Clive Crook in the FT has the best post-W-M analysis I've seen. Here is an excerpt:

Mr Obama aims to keep his promises, which is admirable. Unfortunately, there is a problem. This is not, as many Republicans argue, that neither issue requires forthright action. Both do. The problem is that the bills emerging from Congress are bad and Mr Obama does not seem to mind.

The cap-and-trade bill is a travesty. Its net effect on short- to medium-term carbon emissions will be small to none. This is by design: a law that really made a difference would make energy dearer, hurt consumers and force an economic restructuring that would be painful for many industries and their workers. Congress cannot contemplate those effects. So the Waxman-Markey bill, while going through the complex motions of creating a carbon abatement regime, takes care to neutralise itself.

It proposes safety valves that will ease the cap if it threatens to have a noticeable effect on energy prices. It relies heavily on offsets – theoretical carbon reductions bought from other countries or other industries – so that big US emitters will not need to try so hard. It gives emission permits away, and tells utilities to rebate the windfall to consumers, so their electricity bills do not go up. It creates a vastly complicated apparatus, a playground for special interests and rent-seekers, a minefield of unintended consequences – and the bottom line for all that is business as usual. . .

The president has cast himself not as a leader of reform, but as a cheerleader for “reform” – meaning anything, really, that can plausibly be called reform, however flawed. He has defined success down so far that many kinds of failure now qualify. Without hesitating, he has cast aside principles he emphasised during the campaign. On healthcare, for instance, he opposed an individual insurance mandate. On climate change, he was firm on the need to auction all emissions permits. Congress proposes to do the opposite in both cases and Mr Obama’s instant response is: “That will do nicely.”

The White House calls this pragmatism. Never let the best be the enemy of the good. Better to take one step forward than blah, blah, blah. The argument sounds appealing and makes some sense, but is worth probing.

First one must ask whether the bills really do represent progress, however modest. As they stand, this is doubtful, especially in the case of cap-and-trade. Then one must ask whether the US will get to where it needs to be on climate change and healthcare via a series of small steps. Perhaps the country has just one chance in the foreseeable future to get it right. The White House has said as much: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Botch these policies this time, and it may be years before Congress can start again.

A White House that is more interested in promotion than in product development has another great drawback: it squanders talent. Mr Obama has impeccable taste in advisers: he has scooped up many of the country’s pre-eminent experts in almost every area of public policy. One wonders why. On the main domestic issues, they are not designing policy; they are working the phones, drumming up support for bills they would be deploring if they were not in the administration. Apart from anything else, this seems cruel. Mr President, examine your conscience and set your experts free.

The greatest waste of talent in all this, however, is that of Mr Obama himself. Congress offers change without change – a green economy built on cheap coal and petrol; a healthcare transformation that asks nobody to pay more taxes or behave any differently – because that is what voters want. Is it too much to ask that Mr Obama should tell voters the truth? I think he could do it. He has everything it takes to be a strong president. He is choosing to be a weak one.

This is What Victory Looks Like?

In his column today, Paul Krugman goes nuts over the Waxman-Markey vote and equates voting against Waxman-Markey with being a "climate denier" and with committing "treason." In a spectacular display of intellectual incoherence, Krugman at once conflates views on science with views on politics (and vice versa) and fails to consider the possibility that there are many perfectly sound reasons to think that Waxman-Markey is a stinker of a bill.

Makes me think that I'd hate to see his reaction if the bill had lost.

U.S. Suprme Court Grants Cert in American Needle v. NFL

Earlier this morning, the Supreme Court released its order list, which included notice that it has granted cert in American Needle v. NFL. The Seventh Circuit held earlier this year that the NFL can enjoy single entity status -- and thus immunity from Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act -- for limited purposes (namely, apparel sales). Until American Needle, leagues with franchises that are separately owned had traditionally been viewed as joint ventures, and thus subject to Section 1. Although U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan recommended that the Court not grant cert, it has done so anyway. It should make for a very important and interesting case.

For other Sports Law Blog coverage on American Needle, click here. For other news from the Supreme Court today, check out the outstanding Supreme Court of the United States Blog.

Q&A with Tom Fuller

1. Could you summarise your view of global climate change for us?

I provided such a summary in testimony I gave before the U.S. Congress in 2006, and it remains pretty much my current view. Here are my take-home points from that testimony:
1. Human-caused climate change is real and requires attention by policy makers to both mitigation and adaptation – but there is no quick fix; the issue will be with us for decades and longer.

2. Any conceivable emissions reductions policies, even if successful, cannot have a perceptible impact on the climate for many decades.

3. Consequently, costs (whatever they may be) are borne in the near term and benefits related to influencing the climate system are achieved in the distant future.

4. However, many policies that result in a reduction in emissions also provide benefits in the short term unrelated to climate change.

5. Similarly adaptation policies can provide immediate benefits.

6. But climate policy, particularly international climate policy under the Framework Convention on Climate Change, has been structured to keep policy related to long-term climate change distinct from policies related to shorter-term issues of energy policy and adaptation.

7. Following the political organization of international climate change policy, research agendas have emphasized the long-term, meaning that relatively very little attention is paid to developing specific policy options or near-term technologies that might be put into place with both short-term and long-term benefits.

8. The climate debate may have begun to slowly reflect these realities, but the research and development community has not yet focused much attention on developing policy and technological options that might be politically viable, cost effective, and practically feasible.
You can read about these points in more depth at this PDF.

2. If you were a member of Congress, would you vote for the current cap and trade legislation?

The legislation that passed the House last week (Waxman-Markey) is, to paraphrase, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), a stinker. Even many of those who supported it did so while holding their noses. As a matter of policy it deserves no one’s vote. As a matter of politics, if I were a Democratic member of the House I would likely have voted for the bill to please my party and the president, unless I were from a closely held district with agriculture, fossil fuel, or other similar interests. In that case I would have asked the president and the party for permission to vote against it. So long as the bill passed the president would understand. If I were a Republican member I would almost certainly vote against the bill, unless of course my district were to be the beneficiary of oodles of cap-and-trade pork from the bill.

It is of course easy to play the “how would I have voted” game when you don’t represent anyone and don’t have to run for re-election in 2010;-)

3. Who in the debate is playing fairly and who is not? (I have not yet gotten a complete answer to this question from your father, Stephen Schneider or Bjorn Lomborg--maybe you'll be the first...)

I’m not sure I understand this question, but I'll give it a go.

Many people, on all sides of the climate debate are very sincere in their views and work hard to express them as best they can. But among many, especially in the blogosphere where differences in perspectives are magnified and common courtesies seem to be forgotten, there is too often little willingness to accept the fact that different people have legitimately different views. People often forget that it is OK to agree to disagree. At the same time there are of course people on all sides of the debate who misrepresent information deliberately, attack people’s character, and worse. Having been on the receiving end of some of these tactics I guess I’d say if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. But we should all try to elevate the quality of debate.

As far as playing “fair” in my experience in the blogosphere there are (remarkably) only two websites that have refused to allow me to comment on their site, even when they are discussing my work, and those sites are run by Joe Romm (Climate Progress) and Gavin Schmidt (Real Climate). They can run their sites as they wish, of course, but their actions speak loudly. Why are these guys afraid of open discussion?

More broadly and significantly, I have little sympathy for those who use legitimate processes such as journal peer review and government advisory reports to advance personal or political agendas. This is a failure of process and those in leadership positions who oversee those processes. The systematic misrepresentation of my research in climate science reports provides a troubling example of this sort of failure.

4. Is climate science such an elite field that experts in other domains cannot offer qualified commentary? I'm thinking of Freeman Dyson and Ivar Giaever, specifically.

Of course not, (but I did have to Google Ivar Giaever before answering;-). If it were then no one could comment on the subject as no one is an expert is all aspects of climate change, which involves expertise ranging from demographics to economics to energy technologies to clouds to oceans to ecosystems to cryospheric dynamics and on and on. No one has this comprehensive expertise, though many are very qualified on important parts of the issue. Balancing authority and inclusion is a central challenge of democracies, and I tend to favor inclusion over authoritarianism, but many others will disagree (especailly on the climate issue).

Dan Sarewitz of ASU documented a public dispute between John Holdren and Tom Wigley from a few years back on this question in an excellent paper. Wigley was arguing for a narrow definition of expertise, Holdren for a broader concept. My views on this are similar to Holdren's. Of course, the credential card is often played as an appeal to authority in public debates to discredit someone or their views, without having to actually engage the substance.

5. As a citizen, do you believe that President Obama's energy program takes the right direction, commits the correct level of resources, and is likely to be beneficial for this country?

I think that President Obama has a powerful vision for where he wants the country to go and I admire and support his energy policy ambitions. However, thus far the main vehicle for achieving those ambitions is, as I mentioned above, a stinker. Getting policy to match political ambitions can be a tough task. In this case the policy is nowhere close.

6. Has the energy of tropical storms increased or decreased over the past 30 years? Are there regular cycles to tropical storm strength, and how does this affect your answer?

You can see data on tropical cyclone energy (measured over a 24-month period using a metric called ACE) from Ryan Maue's website. You can see from the graph below that, in Maue's words, "the recent downturn in global TC energy is nearing record low levels of inactivity."

7. Has the actual number of tropical storms increased or decreased over the past 30 years? Are there regular cycles to tropical storm numbers, and how does this affect your answer?

The answer depends on what basin you look at, what time period and on judgments about data quality. Here are a few peer-reviewed papers that try to address this question: here and here and here in PDF. But if it is landfalls that you are interested in, then there have been no long-term trends documented, anywhere.

8. What prescriptions would you offer to zoning regulations, building permits, architectural standards and community siting to make American communities more resilient to the impacts of large scale weather-related events?

This is a huge question with many answers that I cannot begin to do justice to here (though if you are interested I have written much on flood and hurricane policies). The most important general answer is for communities (where most of these decisions are made) to understand the risks they face and the uncertainties in that risk, and to ensure that their policies match up. Too often this sort of evaluative question gets hung up on questions of risk and leaves out the questions of policy. In general, U.S. disaster policy is based on the idea that risks should be subsidized by the public with predictable consequences. I recommend Rud Platt's book, Disasters and Democracy: The Politics Of Extreme Natural Events, which I reviewed here.

9. The government report has, you say, mischaracterised your research. How would you rephrase their comments so that it would accord with your published work?

It was not just a single government report, but multiple reports by the US government and the IPCC. The misrepresentation has been systematic. The US National Science Foundation, along with government's of Germany and the UK, as well as Munich Re, supported a 2006 workshop in Hohenkammer, Germany to develop a consensus, scientific perspective on the factor leading to the dramataic increase in disaster costs around the world. We reached a consensus and it still holds. I don't see any reason for a major assessment report to ignore the Hohenkammer conesensus or present conclusions counter to it without a justification. Here are our 20 consensus statements (full report here):
The focus of the workshop was on two central questions:

• What factors account for increasing costs of weather related disasters in recent decades?
• What are the implications of these understandings, for both research and policy?

To be clear about terminology, we adopted the IPCC definition of climate change. According to the IPCC (2001) climate change is
“Climate change refers to a statistically significant variation in either the mean state of the climate or in its variability, persisting for an extended period (typically decades or longer). Climate change may be due to natural internal processes or external forcings, or to persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use.”
The IPCC also defines climate variability to be
“Climate variability refers to variations in the mean state and other statistics (such as standard deviations, the occurrence of extremes, etc.) of the climate on all temporal and spatial scales beyond that of individual weather events. Variability may be due to natural internal processes within the climate system (internal variability), or to variations in natural or anthropogenic external forcing (external variability).”
We use the phrase anthropogenic climate change to refer to human-caused effects on climate.

Consensus (unanimous) statements of the workshop participants:

1. Climate change is real, and has a significant human component related to greenhouse gases.

2. Direct economic losses of global disasters have increased in recent decades with particularly large increases since the 1980s.

3. The increases in disaster losses primarily result from weather related events, in particular storms and floods.

4. Climate change and variability are factors which influence trends in disasters.

5. Although there are peer reviewed papers indicating trends in storms and floods there is still scientific debate over the attribution to anthropogenic climate change or natural climate variability. There is also concern overgeophysical data quality.

6. IPCC (2001) did not achieve detection and attribution of trends in extreme events at the global level.

7. High quality long-term disaster loss records exist, some of which are suitable for research purposes, such as to identify the effects of climate and/or climate change on the loss records.

8. Analyses of long-term records of disaster losses indicate that societal change and economic development are the principal factors responsible for the documented increasing losses to date.

9. The vulnerability of communities to natural disasters is determined by their economic development and other social characteristics.

10. There is evidence that changing patterns of extreme events are drivers for recent increases in global losses.

11. Because of issues related to data quality, the stochastic nature of extreme event impacts, length of time series, and various societal factors present in the disaster loss record, it is still not possible to determine the portion of the increase in damages that might be attributed to climate change due to GHG emissions

12. For future decades the IPCC (2001) expects increases in the occurrence and/or intensity of some extreme events as a result of anthropogenic climate change. Such increases will further increase losses in the absence of disaster reduction measures.

13. In the near future the quantitative link (attribution) of trends in storm and flood losses to climate changes
related to GHG emissions is unlikely to be answered unequivocally.

Policy implications identified by the workshop participants

14. Adaptation to extreme weather events should play a central role in reducing societal vulnerabilities to climate and climate change.

15. Mitigation of GHG emissions should also play a central role in response to anthropogenic climate change,
though it does not have an effect for several decades on the hazard risk.

16. We recommend further research on different combinations of adaptation and mitigation policies.

17. We recommend the creation of an open-source disaster database according to agreed upon standards.

18. In addition to fundamental research on climate, research priorities should consider needs of decision makers in areas related to both adaptation and mitigation.

19. For improved understanding of loss trends, there is a need to continue to collect and improve long-term and homogenous datasets related to both climate parameters and disaster losses.

20. The community needs to agree upon peer reviewed procedures for normalizing economic loss data.
10. On a scale from 1-10, where 1 is not at all important and 10 is of the highest importance, where would you rank global climate change in terms of its likely impact on human development? Please feel free to explain.

Climate change as a very important topic, and one that I have devoted a good part of my career to working on over almost two decades. So I would fairly obviously and self-servingly give it a high ranking on your scale, probably a 10. But there are also many other issues that are 10s as well, such as health and disease, wars and famine, nuclear proliferation, energy security, economic stability and growth and so on. The challenge of policy is not to identify one issue that is more important than all others, but to craft policy responses that are effective and efficient, given that we have to do many things at the same time. So yes climate change is important, but we have to move beyond exhortation to actual development of effective policy options, and my view is that far more time is spent on the former than the latter.

Top 10 Things I liked about Prometheus

A guest post by Sharon Friedman aka docpine aka Sharon F.

1. We could keep up with the latest in the "big" climate science (as in GCM, IPCC) world in minutes a day. This comes in handy at work “hasn’t the A2 emissions scenario been proven to be way underestimating current conditions?”. Cocktail parties- not so much.

2. We could have discussions only other science policy wonks are interested in.. My model estimates the density of science policy wonks in the US is about 1 per 100 square miles. So without a virtual meeting place, we are likely to never interact except in hubs such as D.C. Those of us who spent time in D.C. can fondly remember our time worshipping at the Temple of Science (the NAS building) through virtual wonkhood.

3. We could interact between science policy practitioners in the real world and academics. What if medical researchers never spoke to actual doctors or got feedback on their research and how it applies in the real world? Whoops, forgot, most sciences do operate that way. This is actually pretty rare, and immensely mutually beneficial.

4. People were civil and respectful and dialogue led to deeper understanding. People would call each other on questionable claims and assumptions without the called upon leaving in a huff. I have tried to comment on some natural resource issues in online newspapers and magazines; the dialogue there seldom has to do with the exchange of ideas but rather clobbering people with accusations about their motives. Our level of civility is darn rare, in my experience.

5. One of my personal pet peeves is a project I am working on at work that is consistently portrayed incorrectly in the press. I have a hypothesis that the more invalid claims, the less likely it is that a venue provides an opportunity to comment below the story.. I like Prometheus because any claims are subjected to discussion and validation.. always. Including stories where comments are not a part of the orginal site.

6. I could find kindred spirits about downscaling not being the essential approach to think about the future; how can downscaled climate models be essential when downscaled economic models are not? Where else could you talk about whether knowing you don’t know is better than thinking you know and really not knowing?

7. People from all disciplines engaged and brought their perspectives. One of the discussions I thought was great was when economist, chemists and other started talking about how they deal with modeling and testing the results of models in their fields.

8. We could talk about science policy being about more than how much money is in the NSF, NIH, DOE and DOD research budgets (who else is supremely tired of hearing about this?)

9. Roger calling people on how they can be purveyors of “objective science” and deal snarkily with those who disagree: where else could that happen?

10. My fellow Prometheites.. respectful, thoughtful , insightful, questioning and contributing to my knowledge and thought development.

Here’s a virtual glass of Golden City Brewery Legendary Red Ale against a virtual background of Einstein’s Statue to Roger and all you fellow Prometheites!

(dis)Comfort Bike Blues

Only two weeks left until I return to the US, where the Co-Habitant, our two kitties, and our small flock of bicycles await me expectantly!

That is the good news. The bad news, is that I will not be cycling for the remainder of my stay in Austria. Apparently, I have managed to mildly injure myself by cycling too fast and too much (60-80 km rides) on a bicycle that was not designed for it. I was warned that this could happen, but my enthusiasm for the trails got the best of me and I did not heed the warnings. Now I need to take a break and heal completely, if I want to be able to cycle for the rest of the summer. Grrr.

So I guess this is Good-bye to the rental comfort bike I have been riding here for the past 2 months. We've had some good times together, but she just was not made to cope with my demands.

It's not that comfort bikes are categorically "bad" bicycles. Short trips feel marvelous, and they can handle a wide range of town and country terrain. But the longer the trip and the faster you attempt to ride, the more you begin to feel the limitations of their anatomy. Whereas the road bike is built for speed, the mountain bike for off-road use, and the Dutch-style bike for utility, the comfort bike manages to combine components of all three in a way that provides the full benefits of neither.

Clever Cycles has an excellent article that compares the anatomies of different types of bicycles and explains why comfort bikes can feel the opposite of what their name suggests:
Ergonomically, I think comfort bikes ...are sort of a disaster. They have the steep-ish seat tube angle of a mountain bike, and simply bring the bars much closer and higher... This results in a very shallow torso angle so the buttocks can’t help much with pedaling. You see riders of these bikes bobbing their torsos forward with each pedal stroke trying vainly to enlist more muscles to the aid of their smoking quadriceps. The saddles are appropriately broad to support the upright rotation of the pelvis, but all that broad tragic squishiness leads to chafing because the seat tube angle puts the pedals too nearly below the hips. A common compensation is to set the saddle too low, which only makes the other problems worse.
This describes exactly the problems I was having with the rental hybrid. At first it feels quite comfortable, as it does give you a fairly upright posture. But the longer you cycle, the more you feel that the seating tube angle, the handlebars, the space between the different parts of the bike, etc., all sort of work against you rather than for you as you attempt to go long distance, climb a hill, or pick up speed. And, if like me, you keep at it despite feeling the bike's limitations, the inevitable results are pain and possible injury.

If you are shopping for a bicycle, be aware that what are called "comfort bikes" do not have the same construction as traditional relaxed frame bicycles such as the old English 3-speeds and the Dutch-style bicycles.

It will be difficult not riding a bike for 2 whole weeks now that I've gotten so used to it! But no doubt this period of velo-abstinence will make me appreciate the bicycles waiting for me at home all the more.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Who Cares About Integrity of Process When There are Political Points to Score?

In January 2006 I wrote a post titled "Let Jim Hansen Speak" in which I called the actions of the Bush Administration to limit the ability of NASA"s most famous scientist to speak out on policy matters "incredibly stupid." This week the blogosphere has been mildly excited (here and here) about an EPA economist named Alan Carlin whose comments on the EPA endangerment finding were buried by his superiors, i.e., not submitted as part of the internal EPA review process, as a matter of concern about how they would be received politically.

This post discusses issues of process related to the ability of civil service experts to have their voices heard on matters of policy related to administration political priorities. As I argued in the similar case of Jim Hansen in 2006, EPA's actions to limit Carlin's ability to have input are simply put, incredibly stupid, for the exact same reasons that NASA's actions under the Bush Administration to try to muzzle Hansen were also incredibly stupid. Here is how I see the Carlin issue:

1. It is without a doubt that his views were suppressed, in the sense that his superiors did not allow them to be included as part of the formal internal EPA review process. That fact is clear from the following email obtained and released by the Competitive Enterprise Institute:

2. For purposes of this discussion of process I am willing to stipulate that the substance of the review materials provided by Alan Carlin are in the words of fellow government civil servant Gavin Schmidt of NASA in a post implicitly condoning the EPA actions,
a ragbag collection of un-peer reviewed web pages, an unhealthy dose of sunstroke, a dash of astrology and more cherries than you can poke a cocktail stick at.
3. I further note that Alan Carlin is not Jim Hansen, most obviously in terms of visibility, but also in the fact that Hansen is a climate scientist and Carlin is an economist. But there is an interesting symmetry in that with respect to the issues of suppressed comments Hansen is a scientist whose offending comments were on economics and policy, whereas Carlin has expertise in economics and policy and is commenting on aspects of climate science.

The relevant question of process is whether the submission's content (#2) or the author's characteristics (#3) justify the actions observed in #1, that is, refusing Carlin the opportunity to have a voice in the EPA review process. This question is exactly parallel to the circumstances involving Jim Hansen and the Bush Administration. My judgment is that #2 and #3 should be irrelevant to #1 -- As I concluded with Hansen, EPA should let Alan Carlin speak. Based on my quick reading of his submission (available here in PDF), Carlin's work poses little threat to the climate science community or the Obama Administration's political agenda. By contrast efforts to keep Carlin's views out of the public record could be much more politically significant (as was the case with Bush Administration and Jim Hansen).

But they probably won't be because the various political camps in the climate debate pretty much operate under an "ends justify the means" mentality these days, and that means that some acts of suppression will be judged more acceptable than others and everything will fall out along pre-existing political cleavages, with little attention or concern about the integrity of process, except among thos seeking to score a few political points. So the same people who complained about Hansen being suppressed under the Bush Adminstration will defend the supression (or more likely just ignore it) in Carlin's situtaion, and vice versa. The climate debate is predictable if nothing else.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bicycles in Vienna, Part IV: Mixte Galore

Continuing with the theme of the previous post, I am showing off some Mixtes that I've been encountering around the neighborhood. After seeing all the amazing make-over photos on Cyclofiend and Chic Cyclist, I now find myself looking at these bikes with a predatory attitude! -- imagining what they would be like with custom paint jobs, Brooks saddles, cork grips, etc. For example, I am seeing the one above in a dark, luscious forest-green, with the head tube painted off-white to set off the lugs...

In Vienna there is a fairly heavy presence of 1970s - early 1980s roadbikes, in comparison to, say, 3-speeds and cruisers from the same era. I am guessing that this is because of the steep hills. A large portion of the roadbikes have mixte frames.

The interesting thing is, that these are not conventional mixte frames, but a special breed that I have only seen in Europe so far and not in the US: Notice that the top tubes on all the bikes posted above are curved rather than straight.

Here is a more "conventional" mixte, with straight tubes, for comparison:

And here is a curved one again:

Most of the mixtes I see here are fitted with relaxed style handlebars, rather than drop handlebars. Almost all have fenders and rear racks. These are definitely used as commuters. The one on the first photo in this post even ha a skirtguard! Personally, I do not think that a skirtguard looks good on a mixte, but it is interesting to see it nonetheless.

The curved top tubes give these mixtes a super-feminine and graceful look that I find appealing, especially in combination with the yummy vintage pastel colours they come in.

For more photos of bicycles in Vienna, see:
Bicycles in Vienna: Part I
Bicycles in Vienna: Part II
Bicycles in Vienna: Part III
Vienna City Bikes
Viennese Cyclists
Critical Mass Chic

Friday, June 26, 2009

Catching Up with Links

* Brandon Jennings, a 19-year-old who earned over a million dollars playing basketball in Italy last season, was drafted 10th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in last night's NBA draft, ahead of a number of high-profile college players. Significance? Some believed that Jennings risked hurting his draft status by playing abroad and away from the TV coverage that players receive at top college programs. I never found that concern particularly persuasive, since NBA teams regularly scout Europe and other parts of the globe, and I presume teams are most interested in drafting the best available player or the player best fitting team needs--rather than the most well-known player (and fans' recognition of drafted players didn't help the Cavs after drafting Trajan Langdon at #11 in 1999 or the Bobcats after drafting Adam Morrison at #3 in 2006 or the Nets after drafting Ed O'Bannon at #9 in 1995 etc.). For more on Jennings, see Jeff Goodman's "Jennings' Experiment Pays Off."

* Steve Wieberg and Marlen Garcia have an interesting piece connecting the "one and done" phenomenon of college basketball (where a player attends college for one year in order to satisfy the NBA's eligibility restriction) and corruption at several marquee college programs.

* Contained within the seemingly ubiquitous coverage of Michael Jackson's death, Chad Finn of the Boston Globe has a good feature on a chain of events that began in 1985 with the Sullivan Family, which owned the Patriots, financing Jackson's "Victory" tour and ended with Bob Kraft buying the Patriots (which in turn lead to Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, and three super bowls).

* Jeff Levine has a good piece on the Biz of Hockey on the Coyotes/NHL recent litigation.

Reilly at Liberty

Photos of the muppet stallion playing the fool in his paddock this morning ...

Muppet take off 1
Muppet canters
Muppet into the sun
Muppet trots
Muppet trots (sun photo)
Muppet canters
Muppet handstand
Less muppety moment
Back to muppetness
Muppet sprint!
Muppet nose ground drag
Muppet has lift off!
Yeah, he's a dork! But I do luff him lots and lots.

Eastern Hancock Team Camp

This week we had another SportsLeader Team Camp. This time with Eastern Hancock High School - a public school east of Indianapolis.

They brought 28 players, 4 coaches and 4 dads plus we had 5 other men observe and help in different capacities.

Toward the end of the camp I asked them to write what they liked best about the camp on an index card. Most of the players mentioned the same elements, which is no surprise. Some mentioned various aspects. Here are some of the stats:

"The competition" - 11 players
"Team bonding" - 10 players
"The Campfire" - 8 players
"The public speaking presentations" - 4 players
"The cold shower" - 3 players
I had never before witnessed such a passion for a cold shower. I guess 93 degree weather helps.
"Dodgeball" - 2 players
"Movie Clips" -1 player

Here are a few complete comments:

"I liked the team bonding and the competition atmosphere. I also liked the opportunity to lead my teammates to victory. It was a humbling and motivating experience." - SS# 12 QB

"I liked how this team camp allowed our team to both work together and compete against each other. I also liked how it brought us closer together not only as a team but as a family." - CN# 44

"I liked the team bonding because it's almost impossible for any team to get the type of bonding that we have without attending a camp like this." - Sam Pfaff # 6

"I liked the fact that our team actually opened up verbally and physically supported each other." - JD #63

"I liked the running, the campfire, the marshmallows and the people." - JTM #86

"I enjoyed it when we had our time to talk in front of the team. Some of the stories were very interesting."
- KC # 8

"I liked the challenges because it brought me and my teammates closer together. It felt like they were working for me and I worked for them. I just really liked the whole thing overall. It brought me closer to these guys."
- JG # 82

"I liked being out here having fun with all my friends." - KP # 3

For Those of You Interested in the W-M Vote

E&E Daily has a nice breakdown of where the votes are and who is on the fence on the Waxman-Markey "jobs bill" in this PDF. If it is brought to a vote, then you can assume that the votes to pass are all lined up. If there is a delay, for any reason, there remains some uncertainty. My guess is that it has the votes and will pass. There is little political risk for Democrats to vote for the bill as conventional wisdom holds that it can't get through the Senate. On the other hand, not voting for it guarantees offending Congressional leadership and the President. On this basis I'd be very surprised if the Democrats cannot line up the needed votes.

Next week I'll discuss what happens after Waxman-Markey.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Nick's latest sketch

A little while ago now my friend Paula in Auckland tragically lost her beloved 'one in a million' posh pony, Tarji. As many of us know, losing a best friend can have devastating effects and can render us completely useless to all around us whilst we do battle with the grieving process. Paula is no exception to this and I felt completely helpless knowing exactly what she was going through but being unable to help. I desperately wanted to do something to, in some small way, make her feel just the tiniest bit better so, I commissioned the other half to do a sketch! I contacted Paula's mum and arranged for a digital photo to be sent through and Nick went about and worked his magic off the photo provided and the end result can be seen below.

RIP beautiful 'posh pony', forever in the hearts of those whose joy it was to know you and in the minds of those who were never lucky enough to experience your beauty first hand.

Magic Mixte Makeover

While looking up some information on Mixte frames, I came across a before-and-after story on Cyclofiend that took my breath away. So I'd like to share it here, and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did. All images are from cyclofiend.com and are linked to the original source.

The bicycle pictured below is a 1980s Cilo mixte, discovered by Mr. Chern outside a cafe.

Hot pink frame. Awkward-looking silver fork. Overall construction seems unremarkable. And oh, that 80's-style neon lettering! I would have walked on by and not have touched this thing with a 10 foot pole.

Thankfully, Mr. Chern knew better than that.

He bought the bicycle from the owner. And then... And then he did this to it:

Yes, I believe an "OMG" would be perfectly appropriate here. Squealing too. The transformation is unbelievable. Here are some close-ups:

Notice the lugs! The lugs! The cream and bordeaux combination is mouthwatering. And that gorgeous lever on the left is a Shimano Arabesque shifter.

Mr. Chern, that is a lovely, lovely bicycle! Thank you so much for bringing such a beautiful thing into the world!

Read more about this project here and here on Cyclofiend.

DAY ONE-- Eat Taco Bell. DAY TWO-- Shit brains out.


NPR has a story on The Breakthrough Institute (where I am a senior fellow) and their views on climate change. It is worth a listen (here) or read (here).

TBI has the best and most comprehensive analyses of the Waxman-Markey Bill available and you can see those here.


I will be AWOL for a few days as I fly down to Buenos Aires to catch my nut.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The New Anti-Tobacco Legislation, Sports Events and Commercial Speech

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act signed by President Obama's earlier this week contains provisions that should be of more than passing interest to those involving sports sponsorship. As has been widely reported, the legislation (found in 111 P.L. 31, 123 Stat. 1776) asserts Food and Drug Administration jurisdiction over tobacco products and will finally give that agency the power to regulate tobacco products. Additionally, and significantly for those in the sports industries, the legislation prohibits tobacco-related sponsorships of sports and entertainment events.

This legislation serves as a crowning achievement of the efforts by anti-smoking advocates to stop individuals, notably teenagers, from starting the habit. These advocates can feel justly proud of their accomplishment. A great deal of this legislation makes sense, especially giving the Food and Drug Administration jurisdiction over tobacco and the increase in warnings to be found on such products. However, as someone who lauds the goals of a smoke-free America, some of the advertising restrictions may be constitutionally suspect and will likely be challenged.

The law codifies previous bans on outdoor advertising within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds and certain print advertising to black-and-white text. In a limitation directly involving sports, the legislation prohibits manufacturers, distributors, or retailers from distributing or causing to be distributed any free samples of smokeless tobacco "to a sports team or entertainment group;" or "at any football, basketball, baseball, soccer, or hockey event or any other sporting or entertainment event determined by the Secretary [of Health and Human Services] to be covered by this subparagraph."(sec. 102a)

In its introduction, the legislation notes that "[t]hrough advertisements during and sponsorship of sporting events, tobacco has become strongly associated with sports and has become portrayed as an integral part of sports and the healthy lifestyle associated with rigorous sporting activity."

While tobacco company sponsorship has gradually decreased for major sporting events, a ban on sponsorships could jeopardize the viability of smaller events in jeopardy. Such a limitation, along with the billboard advertising restrictions -- could also affect the commercial speech rights and may be unconstitutional.

I come to this conclusion with great reluctance, because in the past, I advocated a ban on tobacco advertising (see SUNY v. Fox -- The Dawn of a New Age of Commercial Speech Regulation of Tobacco and Alcohol, 9 Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal 61 (1990). But since then, commercial speech protection has increased because the Supreme Court has applied the prevailing standard with greater scrutiny. That standard, known as the Central Hudson test is a complex variant of the “intermediate” scrutiny test found in time, place and manner restriction cases and requires that the government’s interest in regulating the commercial speech must be “substantial;” the regulation “directly advances the governmental interest asserted;” and the regulation “is not more extensive than is necessary to serve that interest.” In recent years, the courts have questioned governmental regulation of commercial speech involving liquor regulations and billboards, applying the last two prongs of the test was heightened scrutiny. In a case closely on point, the court, in 2001, concluded in Lorillard v. Reilly that a Massachusetts regulation banning "outdoor" advertising for tobacco products as the law failed the fourth part of the Central Hudson test. Some members of the court expressed interest in scrapping Central Hudson in favor of a strict scrutiny test. I wonder if the sponsorship ban in this legislation would be able to survive the "intermediate scrutiny-plus" standard of Central Hudson as applied by the courts over the last decade.

Constitutional challenges to portions of this law are likely and the sports industry should pay attention.

You are Invited to an Upcoming Talk at Berkeley

The Efficiency Illusion and other Energy Myths: Why Cap & Trade Won't Work -- and What Can"

Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., University of Colorado, Professor in the Environmental Studies Program and a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)

Wednesday, July 1st, 6:00-7:30PM
Giannini Hall Room 141 (campus map)
As climate policy gets debated in Washington and around the world, Roger Pielke, Jr., an expert on science and environmental policy, will argue that the current climate policy framework rests on faulty assumptions about energy efficiency and the decarbonization of the global economy. Pielke is lead author of a controversial 2008 Nature article, "Dangerous Assumptions," which argued that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change based its policy analysis on highly optimistic assumptions about future efficiency gains and also missed the recarbonization of the global economy, due largely to the turn back to coal led by China and India.

Pielke will argue that such flawed assumptions lead many analyses to routinely double-count emissions reductions achieved through energy efficiency, and ignore the actual history of technological change, making the challenge of decarbonization seem easier and less costly. The result, he argues, is that the policies we are debating are far from up to the challenge of stabilizing concentrations of greenhouse gases at levels now deemed acceptable. Pielke will lay out an alternative framework for action on climate change, one focused on technology innovation, adaptation, and decarbonization of the global economy.

Exercise gives you energy, but you end up too tired to use it.

Land of the Lost (Don't take kids)

Walked out after twenty minutes, how the heck this got a PG rating (In NewZealand) I will never know and why the heck did the trailer promote this as a family fun movie.

The jokes were very very grubby and very inappropriate for anyone under 13. The language was shocking, this was suppose to be a kids movie???????

Im no prude, and some gross out movies are funny (for adult audiences), but the jokes in this movie was just disgusting, and well just plain dirty.

The good people at Hoyts at Riccarton (cinema here in NewZealand) were Brilliant, first class, they apologized, gave us free vouchers, and recommenced night at the museum which we had seen but we went in anyway, so all was not lost.

Adventures with Shellac: Cork Grip Yumminess!

If you love the rich butterscotch look of shellacked cork grips, but are worried about the DIY factor, fear no more. We gave it a shot, and it really is quite easy. Here we go:

Rodney the vintage Roadster came with these original Raleigh black grips. Although they look nice and we like to keep original parts, neither of us can stand the feel of plastic grips. So we decided to experiment with cork. Rivendell makes it seem so simple and fun!

Well, here is a "naked" cork grip. So far so good! The Co-Habitant secured the grips with strong double-sided tape, but most recommend to glue the grips. He rode the bike with the unshellacked grips for a while to see what this felt like. The unfinished grips feel good, but they get dirty very easily and are not protected from the elements. We wouldn't want ratty, filthy grips. Plus the colour needs some spicing up.

Here comes the shellac. Amber. This is from the hardware store, nothing fancy. Generic 1" paintbrush.

Here the first coat of shellac is being applied. This stuff is fast drying, so the work should be done fairly quickly.

Second coat of shellac. As you apply 2-3 thin coats, you will see the colour gradually grow darker, richer, and warmer. Uneven patches on the surface get smoothed out. Three thin coats should be enough, and you can always touch it up if you notice some unevenness later.

We decided not to add twine or tape to these grips, but to keep things clean and minimalist on the vintage black Roadster. The first photo in this post is the final result!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Snatch & some good snatch tips

Swing/swing/snatch triplets 20kg: Ca 3/3 for 3 min. Focus on form and double bend.

Snatch 20kg: 5/5
" " 24kg: 5/5, 30/30, 20/20, 10/10

Super/drop-set oa swings, 5 reps per weight; two times 40kg-24kg-20kg R/L

Oa pulls 60mm roll handle:
42kg: 1/1
44,5kg: 1/1
47kg: -/- (lifted but no clear lockouts)
42kg: 1/1 x 3 (no rests)

Also, experimented with flips vs corkscrews in snatch both on the way up and down. The flip-over is nice too.

The triplets are nice. Remember this old post?

Great tips on snatch
The snatch video asked for by Kukka, yielded great results. I got some good viewpoints of Mark and MKSSchinabeck.
They can be summed up as follows:
-Over-head stability should be improved (timed oh-holds, shallow oh-squats, observation)
-Grip, there is a difference in grip right and left hand (observation). Building grip - heavier oa swings.
- I also got a suggestion about the double knee bend used by many GS-lifters. In my experience the double knee bend makes my grip tire quickly. On the other hand it saves a lot of effort for upper body. Maybe this situation changes if I adjust my grip technique. I will follow and evaluate that (double bend can be practiced with swings).

If you are a KB-nerd like me, you might want to check the original comments yourself for some more info.

Ps! Check out Schinabeck's training log. He is an RKC who is also coming closer to his candidate master of sports (CMS) degree every day. Marks, no link necessary :-).

New Toys at Work

My workplace bought in some sledges to break the wooden center post in the windows in case of fire evacuation via windows. So, I have done some occasional finger walking and levering with those. They are only 6lb, no way I can lever lift thes by the far end (90cm).