catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Site move news.

with 7 comments

Hello all, Jacques here.

Some time in the next 24 hours I expect that Catallaxy Files will be moved from its current home at WordPress.com to a server I operate. This will involve some disruption, which I will aim to minimise.

Essentially, while this site (catallaxyf.wordpress.com) will remain as-is, the proper address of catallaxyfiles.com will begin to redirect to the new server instead of to here.

Posts and comments that have been made here will be transferred to the new server.

To avoid confusion, I’d ask you all to defer from commenting until the move to the new server is complete. You can go directly to the new server now, if you wish; its direct name is catallaxyfiles.ozblogistan.com.au.

As for recovering the archives, c8to has advised that unfortunately the original database is not available. I have been working on a screen-scraping script, but it is slow and fiddly going. I will keep you all up to date.

Additional: I have tried to lock comments temporarily to prevent any bon mots getting lost in transit.

Update 3.49pm WST: The current posts have been successfully moved to the new server.

Update 5.18pm WST: Looks like DNS has re-propagated; catallaxyfiles.com should be directing you to the new server.

Written by Jacques Chester

January 20, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Lessons from disaster

Pete Boettke from Coordination Problem, formerly The Austrian Economists, posts on the application of  research findings from Katrina and other disasters to Haiti. The bottom line is that recovery from disaster is just another example of development and the same rules apply.

Two of the lead researchers in this project were Russell Sobel of West Virginia University (a leading scholar in empirical public choice) and Emily Chamlee-Wright of Beloit College (a leading scholar of qualitative research in economic development).  I asked both if they would share what they thought were the main lessons from their study of Hurricane Katrina for how to deal with the tragedy in Haiti.

Russ Sobel replied: “Pete Leeson and I argue in our Katrina work that the role of government after a disaster is similar to their proper role in normal times.  Protect rights, create law and order, and let markets get to work in delivering and allocating goods and services. (emphasis added) The stories I’ve heard about the looting and lawlessness there, similar to Katrina, show how the government is failing to do it’s basic job yet again.  After Katrina not only did the government fail at this job, but then it also infringed on the market’s ability to work–a double whammy.”

Emily Chamily-Wright replied: “The theme we ought to hit is “what can outsiders do to tap the capacity of civil society?”. This advice is rather general and abstract, but that is part of the point. Official relief providers can extend their effectiveness by identifying community networks and leaders within those networks that can be the source of local knowledge, authority, and habits of association that can be pivotal to rescue operations, administration of relief and taking the first steps toward recovery.”

Written by Rafe

January 21, 2010 at 8:10 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Glaciergate is worse than you think

Catallaxy has moved. Please comment on this post here.
Tim Lambert points us to this excellent analysis by John Nielsen-Gammon and the Glaciergate story is perhaps even worse than we first thought. This is not just a simple error or transcription problem.

the available evidence indicates that the IPCC authors of this section relied upon a secondhand, unreferreed source which turned out to be unreliable, and failed to identify this source.

Nielsen-Gammon also finds a remarkable consistency between the IPCC statement (on the left in the panel below) and a statement at the India Environment Portal (on the right in the panel below).

The inartfulness of the transfer of verbiage from the IEP to the IPCC explains the first word (“Its”) of the second IPCC sentence: there’s no single noun to which “Its” can refer in the IPCC quote, but in the IEP quote, “Its” refers to “The glacier” (poor English, but singular) in the previous sentence. To me, this is like a fingerprint: I am convinced that the IPCC author paraphrased the IEP article and leaving off or altering the references.

It just doesn’t look good at all.

He is also able to track down a potential origin of the 2035 date (emphasis added).

According to Kotlyakov, the loss of 80% of the extrapolar glaciation on the Earth’s surface will be by 2350, not 2035. And even after 2350 there will still be some glaciers surviving in the Karakoram, the Himalayas, and in parts of Tibet.

There are other errors too.

Recall that the IPCC quote referred to a table. The table lists the retreat of 8 Himalayan glaciers. Only one such retreat is as stated in the WWF report. Another retreat, recorded as 2840 m from 1845-1966, is listed as a rate of 134 m/yr, but the actual rate is 23 m/yr. Whoever did the calculation for the IPCC divided by 21 years instead of 121 years! The rest of the values are from other, unnamed sources.

Lambert’s own analysis is also quite interesting. He looks at the reviewing process itself.

There was no cite at all for the claim and more than one reviewer noted that a citation was needed. If the chapter authors had followed this comment, all would have been well:

I am not sure that this is true for the very large Karakoram glaciers in the western Himalaya. Hewitt (2005) suggests from measurements that these are expanding – and this would certainly be explained by climatic change in precipitation and temperature trends seen in the Karakoram region (Fowler and Archer, J Climate in press; Archer and Fowler, 2004) You need to quote Barnett et al.’s 2005 Nature paper here – this seems very similar to what they said. (Hayley Fowler, Newcastle University)

But the response was this:

Was unable to get hold of the suggested references will consider in the final version

Instead the authors added to a cite to this WWF report, which says

“In 1999, a report by the Working Group on Himalayan Glaciology (WGHG) of the International Commission for Snow and Ice (ICSI) stated: “glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the livelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 is very high”.

And here we see the perils of lazy citing. The IPCC report should have cited the WGHG/ICSI report, but the authors weren’t able to get hold of it. If they had, they would have found that it doesn’t say anything about the glaciers disappearing by 2035. The WWF report authors hadn’t seen the WGHG report either, but relied on this New Scientist story, by a reporter that hadn’t seen the report either, but had talked to the author of the WGHG report.

So Lambert concludes its all about lazy citation. But that isn’t what he has found. The IPCC state that they are unable “to get hold of the suggested references” but that isn’t the WGHG/ICSI report they can’t get hold of. The reviewer is suggesting they get hold of a paper in Nature. Furthermore the reviewer is saying that the peer-reviewed literature is suggesting that glaciers are expanding not melting away. The IPCC ignore that, claim they can’t find a reference in Nature, and then publish the false information anyway.

Written by Sinclair Davidson

January 20, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Will Garnaut and Rudd retract?

The Rudd government’s White Paper into the CPRS at page 2-3 contains this statement now know to be false.

Melting of the Himalayan glaciers. These glaciers feed several of the most important rivers in Asia, which underpin the livelihoods of some of the most populous nations. Decreased freshwater availability could affect more than a billion people in Asia by 2050.

While the government has a disclaimer on the paper, nonetheless the greatest moral issue of our time can’t be based on a lie.

It seems the Garnaut Report also swallowed the Himalayan glacier story. At page 99

After the polar regions, the Himalayas are home to the largest glacial areas. Together, the Himalayan glaciers feed seven of the most important rivers in Asia—the Ganga, Indus, Brahmaputra, Salween, Mekong, Yangtze and Huang. These glaciers are receding faster than any other glaciers around the world, and some estimates project that they may disappear altogether by 2035 (WWF Nepal Program 2005).
Rivers fed from glaciers are projected to experience increased streamflows over the next few decades as a result of glacial melt, followed by a subsequent decline and greater instability of inflows as glaciers begin to disappear altogether, leaving only seasonal precipitation to feed rivers (WWF Nepal Program 2005). Glacial retreat can also result in catastrophic discharges of water from meltwater
lakes, known as glacial lake outburst floods, which can cause considerable destruction and flooding downstream.

But wait, there’s more (at page 147)

The melting of the Himalayan and Tibetan plateau glaciers illustrates the complex nexus of climate change, economic security and geopolitics. Well over a billion people are dependent on the flow of the area’s rivers for much of their food and water needs, as well as transportation and energy from hydroelectricity. Initially, flows may increase, as glacial runoff accelerates, causing extensive flooding. Within a few decades, however, water levels are expected to decline, jeopardising food production and causing widespread water and power shortages.

Sounds terrible. Thankfully we now know that isn’t true. Actually we know a bit more; Walter Russell Mead uses the F-word.

One of the most alarming predictions of the IPCC, the scientific panel that is considered the world’s most authoritative source of information on global warming, turns out to be a total fraud

He says heads should roll. Yes, I think so.
(HT: Noodle)

Written by Sinclair Davidson

January 19, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

US Senate by-election

The Intrade market is predicting a Republican upset in the Massachusetts Special Election.


This is what the market looks like in the last 24 hours.

Update: 6pm price in the election. Does anyone know what time the US polls close? I assume its 6pm.


Update II: Polls close at 8pm US (Boston) time.
Update III: Fox News are reporting that Coakley has conceded.

Written by Sinclair Davidson

January 19, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Who’s in charge here?

with 68 comments

Have you ever been in one of those meetings, on an important subject, when everyone is wandering all over the place, then one person takes charge and the rest want to fight over whether he or she had the authority to take charge,  rather than work on solving the problem?

Seems to be happening in Haiti.

The French seem to have been arguing about clearance for flights evacuating French citizens. I understand that following the SE Asian Tsunami representatives of aid organisations were in some places tripping over each other looking for things to do.

In a crisis, someone’s got to take charge and pretty clearly in Haiti it should be the Americans. They are close and have the resources.

Written by Ken Nielsen

January 19, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

So Tired

with 7 comments

Not the excellent song of the same name by Ozzie Osbourne but rather a blog post by Robert Hall. It’s being sent around by email and makes good reading.

I’m tired of being told that I have to “spread the wealth around” to people who don’t have my work ethic. I’m tired of being told the government will take the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy or stupid to earn it.

I’m tired of being told that I have to pay more taxes to “keep people in their homes.” Sure, if they lost their jobs or got sick, I’m willing to help. But if they bought McMansions at three times the price of our paid-off, $250,000 condo, on one-third of my salary, then let the leftwing Congresscritters who passed Fannie and Freddie and the Community Reinvestment Act that created the bubble help them—with their own money.

I’m tired of being told I must lower my living standard to fight global warming, which no one is allowed to debate. My wife and I live in a two-bedroom apartment and carpool together five miles to our jobs. We also own a three-bedroom condo where our daughter and granddaughter live. Our carbon footprint is about 5% of Al Gore’s, and if you’re greener than Gore, you’re green enough.

I’m tired of hearing people with air-conditioned homes, color TVs and two cars called poor. The majority of Americans didn’t have that in 1970, but we didn’t know we were “poor.” The poverty pimps have to keep changing the definition of poor to keep the dollars flowing.

Written by Sinclair Davidson

January 19, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized