2:00PM Water Cooler 10/2/14

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

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Hong Kong

Government offices, including C.Y. Leung’s office, surrounded by protesters [BBC].

Leung says he will not step down, delegates Carrie Lam, his second-in-command, to talk with protesters [ChannelNewsAsia]. This after Hong Kong Federation of Students leader says they’re open to talks, mentioning Lam [Bloomberg].

Former White House advisor: “Beijing is not going to lose.” Democracy advocates should focus on the makeup of the panel that vets candidates [WaPo].

Mainlander reactions mixed; some notice not only the protests, but also the lack of litter. Others say Hong Kong has a good life, so why make trouble, or democracy is chaotic [NPR]. Or that protesters are spoiled and gullible, and should fold their umbrellas and go home [Foreign Policy]. There’s also a #FirstWorldProblems response — What have you got to worry about? — at least from some shoppers [Quartz]. Tour groups to Hong Kong have been cancelled [Telegraph].

PRC also worried about protests over labor conditions, the environment, land grabs, ethnic tensions [Businessweek]. Counter-strategies include censorship and “cutting the head off the serpent” (jailing the leaders). I can’t help but think that reactions to the protests by mainland Chinese might vary by, er, class.


Readers, do you need explainers on this? I’ve been watching this story since 2010, and the issues are a lot like landfills, to me, so I assume how the pieces fit together is clear. But I could be wrong!

In shocker, chemical companies don’t want to disclose the composition of fracking fluids [Scientific American]. Because what could go wrong?

In second shocker, study claiming that PA fracking did not contaminate landowner’s well “might have used incomplete and inaccurate test information” [Post-Gazette].

Driest headline in the world, ever: “Ohio fracking waste issues go beyond chemical disclosure” [Midwest Energy News]. Indeed they do. Read the whole thing and be appalled. Fortunately, it’s not like Ohio is at the head of a major watershed. Oh, wait….

MIT grad creates online exchange for used fracking water [Xconomy]. If only they could figure out how to make more of it!

Fracking boom could lead — cough, cough — to frack sand operations in 12 more states; handy map [International Business Times].

Exxon to activists and the state of New York: “Hydraulic fracturing has been responsibly and safely used by the oil and gas industry for more than 60 years, but the process isn’t without risks” [AP]. Alrighty then.

And fracking is a pure play in guar [WSJ].


Up to 100 may have been exposed to Ebola virus in Dallas [Reuters]. The patients contacts are being traced [Times].

Texas Health Commissioner: “We have tried and true protocols to protect the public and stop the spread of this disease” [USA Today]. Well, let’s hope the CDC does better than the Secret Service, or the HHS, and better than… Well, just about any other of our “jalopy institutions” I can think of right now, with the possible exceptions of the US Post Office, which delivers my mail, come what may, and the Social Security administration (hat tip to well-known communists Ben Franklin and FDR, respectively).

Stats Watch

Gallup US Payroll to Population, September 2014: Workforce participation has risen slowly, from 66.6 percent in July to 67.2 percent in September. Gallup’s measure of underemployment has remained flat through September. Workforce participation continues to be lower in 2014 than in prior years, but has continued to increase steadily since July [Bloomberg].

Jobless Claims, week of 9/27: Steady decrease of workers drawing unemployment benefits, pointing “solidly at improvement underway in the labor market” [Bloomberg]. Feh. Commit this chart to memory, because that is the operational definition of “improvement” for these guys.

Factory orders, August 2014: “flat order growth for the nation’s manufacturing sector” [Bloomberg].

News of the Wired

  • Obama did give Secret Service head Julia Pierson the dreaded vote of confidence yesterday, but isn’t throwing her under the bus the very next day just a little crass? [WaPo]
  • Vivid picture of radio links to planes going dead as fire, set by suicidal communications technical, spread in FAA headquarters [Bloomberg]. Let’s hope there aren’t a lot of suicidal technicians controlling other bits of major infrastructure. Because I tell ya, if I were working for one of these “jalopy institutions” — and that means all of them — with lousy wages and a crapified job description, I could end up the same way; a lousy job market is known to increase suicides, in fact.
  • Cuomo kept himself in the loop with New York election commission, exactly as he did with the Moreland Commission [Daily News]. Wait, aren’t these independent organizations?
  • Foreign trade tribunals undermine state sovereignty on resource extraction [“Undermined,” Foreign Policy]. Gee, ya think?
  • Returning the gut biome to hunter-gatherer days with a fecal transplant [Human Food Project]. Brave science, like the guy who drank a beaker full of H. pylori to prove the theory that peptic ulcers were caused by bacteria.

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant, from the Missouri Botanical Gardens:

Bumble on Obedient Plant

I had such an excellent time this summer at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, so I’m wondering if readers have photos of plants in the botanical gardens of their own states? (Of plants I mean, and not of gift shops or fountains, I am compelled to add out of due diligence).

Talk amongst yourselves!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. diptherio

    Re: Ebola Outbreak

    Do we see why we should care about everyone having access to healthcare and sanitary living conditions now??? DO WE???

    I wonder how many people will have to die horrible deaths before we figure out that health care is NOT something we should be leaving to the tender mercies of the market? How big of a stick will we need to be whacked with before we figure out that we’re all floating along on the same little dingy-in-space and that we don’t have the luxury anymore of ignoring “other people’s problems,” no matter what the likes of Elon Musk (that’s an actual name?…sounds more like a fancy deodorant) might think?

    We’re all in this together and ain’t none of us getting off in the foreseeable future, save through the ol’ one-way exit of the tomb. Figure it out, people!

    1. abynormal

      Doctor dons Ebola protection suit to protest CDC

      Today 11:45a Two days after a man in Texas was diagnosed with Ebola, a Missouri doctor Thursday morning showed up at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport dressed in protective gear to protest what he called mismanagement of the crisis by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

      Dr. Gil Mobley checked in and cleared airport security wearing a mask, goggles, gloves, boots and a hooded white jumpsuit emblazoned on the back with the words, “CDC is lying!”

      “If they’re not lying, they are grossly incompetent,” said Mobley, a microbiologist and emergency trauma physician from Springfield, Mo.

      Mobley said the CDC is “sugar-coating” the risk of the virus spreading in the United States.

      …there went our neighborhood.

      1. abynormal

        its Not Funny (but i can only imagine our fearless yeehaws at the airport)
        Dr. Gilbert Mobley, MD, practices Emergency Medicine in Springfield, MO at Dr Gil’s Immediate Care. Dr. Mobley received his medical degree from Med Coll Of Ga Sch Of Med, Augusta Ga 30912.

        Specialty: Emergency Medicine
        Gender: Male
        Years of Experience: 32

        1. psychohistorian

          I am getting a feature, not a bug feeling about this Ebola situation.

          And I don’t like it at all. Makes me wonder if Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” of the early 70’s may partially describe what 2015 might be like. I read somewhere that you only need to lose 10-15% of the folks keeping our complex world working and societal collapse becomes imminent.

          Ebola could be a twofer for the elite. A bit of genocide and near perfect control established worldwide…….or they could die along with the rest of us….We all fall down.

          1. HopeLB

            Other countries have banned flights from the areas of outbreak.
            From Washingtonsblog,

            “In July, Congressman Alan Grayson called for a travel ban from Liberia and other hot zone countries, to be lifted 90 days after the last case of Ebola is reported.”

            Also the Univ of Thailand believes they have developed a vaccine.

      2. Joe

        From the NYT:
        Delay in Dallas Ebola Cleanup as Workers Balk at Task>

        DALLAS — More than a week after a Liberian man fell ill with Ebola and four days after he was placed in isolation at a hospital in Dallas, the apartment where he was staying with four other people had not been cleaned and the sheets and dirty towels he used while sick remained in the home, health officials acknowledged on Thursday afternoon.

        Even as the authorities were reaching out to at least 80 people who may have had contact — either directly or indirectly — with the patient, Thomas E. Duncan, while he was contagious, they were scrambling to find medical workers to safely clean the apartment.

        Ahhh… The magic of for profit medical care.

        1. Bart Fargo

          According to CNN, the “scrambling” to find people to clean the apartment was because several of the contractors the authorities contacted refused to take the job. Sure makes me feel safe knowing the CDC apparently doesn’t have such a capability itself.

          1. abynormal

            Ridcully was beginning to show certain signs. If he had been a volcano, natives living nearby would be looking for a handy virgin.
            Terry Pratchett

          2. Joe

            That is pretty much what I figured. I guess the powers that be think that people making minimum wage are going to be jumping at the chance to put their lives at risk. This is what happens when everything must be privatized and contracted to the lowest bidder.

            This is 1 case of Ebola in the U.S.A. and look at how well it is being handled. Now multiply times thousands. I shudder at the thought.

      3. jim

        What is the likely hood that Ebola can be transmitted to humans from infected pets. Are we seeing any contagion amongst the animals in Africa?

        1. abynormal

          yep, From Aug. 27th
          Dr. Stephen Korsman of the University of Cape Town’s medical virology division tells News 24 that dogs can be infected with the Ebola virus but that “infections appear to be asymptomatic.”

          “This means that dogs won’t get sick, but they still could carry a potential risk through licking or biting,” Korsman explained to News 24.

    2. Peter Pan

      No doubt that President Obombmer has a military solution (police SWAT Air Force?) for this problem within the USA. Again, I wonder how far “weaponized pink mist” can travel in the atmosphere?

    3. Johnny Lunch Box

      Remember the days when the CDC would expose folks at the airport gates with influenza so as to track how fast it would spread and where it would spread to. Oh happy days. Remember when Regan announced on national TV that the Aids virus was contained to bath houses in San Francisco and was only a concern to Gay folks. OOOF Dah!! When was the last time any one heard any honest news from our Government. It just seems to be us and them and Them is the They people.

      1. Ernesto Lyon

        The CDC is owned by pharma. They got an ebola vax for us all. Very expensive, but so important.

        $500/jab * 300,000,000 North Americans = real money

        1. jrs

          Is the ebola treatment even for us all (u.s. inhabitants I mean) or just for the 1%? Ok there is no ebola vaccination as of yet I don’t think but there is the medicine they gave the first ebola patients to be brought back to the U.S.. What happened to those patients? All better now? Best to keep one’s eye on that ball.

          1. Bart Fargo

            The patients given ZMapp in the US all survived, but two others who were given the drug overseas still succumbed to Ebola.

    4. Septeus7

      Quote: I wonder how many people will have to die horrible deaths before we figure out that health care is NOT something we should be leaving to the tender mercies of the market?”

      Billions, cause Markets and Freedom! Go Die now.

    5. JGordon

      On the other hand, social species that are in overshoot are often rolled back, by mother nature, via pathogens. While the process will unfortunately be unpleasant, we can’t say that it will be bad for the ecology of the planet. I’m saying that while stocking up on buckets of fruit juice and anti-inflammatory meds by the way.

      Incidentally, I was amazed yesterday when I saw the director of the CDC blatantly lying about how confident he was that ebola was contained. If these guys don’t give a crap about their credibility even 2-3 weeks out from now, then it’s probable that nasty stuff is coming fast.

    6. Gobbel

      Easy for you to say. You don’t have to implement Ebolacare in Africa. Activists tend to be sayers rather than doers.

      You probably think $1 trillion would be enough. Or that many skilled doctors would rush at the chance to go to Africa. Most the doctors there, the real doctors capable of decent care, are missionaries. You probably don’t like that fact, but it points out that good doctors aren’t going to go quietly to undeveloped places simply because you say things that make you feel warm inside.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If you believe in
      1. more social spending
      2. less overall government spending

      then, the only decent thing left to do to achieve both goals is to reduce military/security spending.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        But if you only believe in

        1. more social spending,

        Then as surely as night follows day, that while you might get more social spending, military/security spending will go up even more, unless you restrain overall government spending.

      2. optimader

        “reduce military/security spending:
        Allows the weighted average 2.) to occur;
        which remediates the need for much of 1.)

        All MIC spending in excess of what constitutes fidelity to an honest national defense is purely waste that could have been allocated to wealth generation for a healthy middle class.
        MIC excess is equal to aggregating value-added resources (raw mat’l + human labor) into a pile and burning them to ash.

        It’s pitiful that most people seemingly don’t get it.

    1. weevish

      Ya gotta love the way the propaganda gets massaged to fit the desired message. When concerns about resource limits need to be assuaged by the bubble blowers, it’s “Look at this great new technology we’ve cleverly invented that will give us more oil than we know what to do with! Pay no attention to the fact that it’s only profitable because of sky-high oil prices.”
      But when environmental issues arise, it becomes “Quitcher worryin! We’re experts because we’ve been doing this forever!”

  2. TimR

    Replying to comments from a few days ago…

    optimader- That’s lucky of you to know somebody working in the field, I envy that direct field data of species Scientistus. I do have a friend of a friend who works for NASA, and does some sort of mapping related to AGW — it may just be graphic presentations of data rather than the research itself, I’m not sure. He’s very passionately sold on AGW though, and when I see him on rare occasions when he’s in town, it seems difficult to broach the topic in a calm and reasoned way. I’ve seen him get into big threads on Facebook with people, and it just seems too much like going up against a zealot. But I do feel more knowledgeable about the overall propaganda model involved nowadays, so I might debate him on it if I get a chance.

    Also, some years back I met someone with a degree in climatology, and he said that, yeah, the system is too complex to say anything with certainty, but still, he felt it *might* be true, and anyway it would be a good thing to do, to reduce carbon emissions and all. Sort of like Banger- “Let’s not risk it!” Well, that is not quite an air-tight argument to take to the public, is it. There are lots of risky things we could invest billions in — maybe we should drop everything and direct all resources to protecting against meteor strikes. Etc.

    “I had dinner this weekend w/ a friend that has done 15 science seasons on Antarctica and I asked him how the PIG research is coming along (which they are only beginning to understand).”

    “only beginning to understand” — Seems to support my view that it’s not a clear cut case, no?

    Also, I’m questioning the human effect on climate change, its magnitude and certainty; not that there might be climate change going on. Obviously the earth’s climate has gone through hot and cool periods over the ages.

    1. optimader

      The term AGW is an interesting one.
      Most (rational) people will accept Climate is always changing. Think of it as a vector, it has force and direction which is a result of the summation of all the natural process inputs. Humans are a part of Nature, albeit a uniquely sentient part. The contention that Human inputs should somehow have the unique property of being immune to contributing force and direction to the Climate Vector seems prima fascia absurd.

      The study of the PIG is not so much a case of trying to ascertain the Vector direction, they know that -it’s melting, they are working on predicting force and importantly it’s rate of change.

      Human influence on global climate is all about rate of change not whether or not our behavior has a contribution –that cow is out of the barn at this point. What is important about human’s contributions are that the intensity affects the Climate Vector rate of change, and importantly, are the ONE set of inputs into the natural process that are allegedly (modestly) controllable, that gets into a test of our sentient bit.

      SO the thorny bit is very small incremental, but inexorably warmer conditions, which may sound insignificant, say 0.05degC or whatever, have a fundamental affect on either side of 0deg C. When the average days on the plus side of 0 degC start crowding out the average number of days below 0deg C, expect changes everywhere else.

      1. zapster

        The trouble is, it’s *not* “small and incremental”– it’s blazingly, and unprecedentedly fast. That’s what’s terrifying. Changes such as these don’t happen naturally on century scales, they happen on millennial scales. At this speed, nothing can adapt fast enough, and the danger of extinction of all higher-level life on the planet is astronomical.

        Ignoring it over manufactured “doubts” that serve to maintain the power status quo at the expense of the rest of us is breathtakingly stupid.

    2. LifelongLib

      The climate is definitely changing. My mom has lived in the same town in the Pacific Northwest for over 70 years, which now has a number of outdoor restaurants. She said that would have been impossible when she moved there in 1942, the climate was just too cold and wet. I myself can remember “pea soup” fogs from my childhood there in the 1960/70s, which were gone by the time I moved away in 1980.

  3. lightningclap

    Thanks for not including the Post Office among “jalopy institutions”. They do a wonderful job for me (except the supervisors, who seem to hover around looking like they need something to do).

    So far the ebola outbreak in Africa has been totally out of control. The cases here really could turn out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, with our tenuous house of cards already on the brink of collapse. Which TV network should I watch for accurate information?

  4. TimR

    Banger September 29, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Flimsy? So you are willing to play Russian roulette with your progeny’s future based on what? The fact greenhouse gases aren’t greenhouse gases? That 95% of scientists oppose you because they are all con-artists and politicians? Now, I don’t disagree that group-think exists in many situations but, in my experience, it tends to be less prevalent among scientists who are real sticklers for details and nerdy. And here’s what I don’t get about those that think scientists are con artist after a fast buck–do you know that it is much more lucrative to be on the side of Big Energy? I have worked for those guys in the past and they pour money out of their coffers like there’s no tomorrow–they’ve got the finest and most intense lobbying presence in Washington outside of the MIC. If I wanted to make a ton of money and I was a scientist I would sign up with them.

    It’s incredibly naive of you to suggest that we can just trust the experts on this one because scientists are “real sticklers for detail and nerdy.” This ignores the general critique of science as an institution as voiced by Thomas Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) and others.

    (For good historical examples of how political and social pressures can influence scientists, I recommend Gary Taubes’ _Good Calories, Bad Calories_. It’s actually quite a page-turner despite being a huge tome. You will not view nutrition science (or science generally) quite the same after reading it.)

    Being a stickler for detail doesn’t help if every detail you get is being fed into a false paradigm.

    A massively complex holistic system such as the environment has to be abstracted down into some manageable form by us puny humans. There are a number of choices to be made in how one chooses to interpret the data, and woebetide you if you take the Ptolemaic route in a Copernican world. The data can always be adjusted to fit the model, but that does not mean you’ve got the right model.

    And I don’t think scientists are “con artists after a fast buck” (kind of loose characterizations you’re flinging around there.) Following Denis Rancourt, I suspect their subconscious biases and motives are not that different from laypeople in their socioeconomic class — they want to be financially “comfortable,” have at least comparable status to those in their peer group, and “make a difference” without risking too much personally. And AGW is the safe, institutionally favored position to take. Bonus: you get to play at saving the planet.

    (Probably there are factions among the powerful on this issue, as you have discussed elsewhere on other matters, but my sense is that the “core” part of the elite complex sees AGW as a major part of its political agenda. It seems to be a massive sophisticated psy-op, which the “educated” classes are very susceptible to, since the scientists are viewed as sacred priests, and to doubt them would mean to doubt everything.)

    1. armchair

      I’m just not convinced that I should stop listening to the science because of Kuhn’s critique and some massive tome on nutrition.

    2. Vatch

      I doubt that a majority of the Power Elite or the Oligarchs wish to reduce the output of carbon dioxide or methane. If such a powerful group reached a consensus on an issue such as this, they would find a way to make their desire a reality. There’s a vast amount of money to be made from coal, petroleum, and natural gas, and that’s what matters to most of those people.

      What should be done? Even if a person does not accept anthropogenic global warming, there are plenty of other good reasons to do much of what global warming activists advocate.

      Coal contains many poisons, such as thorium, mercury, acidic sulfur compounds, and various hydrocarbons. We don’t want to breathe that stuff, nor do we want the waste in our drinking water. Modern methods of coal mining, such as mountain top removal mining, are extremely destructive. So coal should be rejected.

      The petroleum market funds a wide range of terrorist operations, and although automobile pollution is less severe than it used to be, there are still pollutants being emitted by cars. These pollutants, as well as similar pollutants emitted by the combustion of heating oil, cause a wide range of health problems.

      Natural gas fracking is very destructive — this is often discussed here, so I won’t go into any details.

      One way to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and methane is to reduce the number of people who use fossil fuels. Population reduction (by reducing the birth rate, not by increasing the death rate) has numerous benefits. A poor family with two children has a better chance of reducing their living expenses than a poor family with a larger number of children. That applies to middle class families, too. A smaller world population will be less at risk for famine, fresh water shortages, and resource wars.

      So even if a person rejects anthropogenic global warming, there are good reasons to do most of the things that the global warming activists recommend.

      1. optimader

        corollary, just because “oligarchs” come to embrace AGW (because they can turn a penny into a dime) doesn’t mean AGW is untrue, nor does it mean their profit motivated alt. energy solutions are evil

        1. Vatch

          You are correct. There’s profit in renewable energy sources and insulation, too. But for now, I suspect the majority of the “big boys” prefer fossil fuels.

        2. hunkerdown

          Yes. Oligarchs will latch on to whatever rationalization is convenient. It just happens they and the green bourgeoisie are in a better position to profit from climate weirding now (by such as cap-and-trade), whereas twenty years ago it was the riff-raff and the DFHes who would have stood to gain the most.

    3. Scylla

      I really get a kick out of you.

      You are essentially embarking on ad hominem here. You are not arguing the science. You are not disputing any facts. You are offering no substantive counter arguments. All you are doing is slowly walking around the bush and attacking the character and motivations of the researchers. Others are being too kind. You are contributing nothing and all you are doing is waving your arms in an attempt to distract good people from productive discussions that are actually based upon fact and logic.

      I have seen people like you carpet bomb comments with nonsense like this before. Nice try, but I think most everyone here see you for what you are.

    4. Yves Smith

      You are getting major troll points by bring up an issue from a thread days ago that is completely unrelated to anything in this post or ANY news link.

      Do this one more time and I will assume you are paid for.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I did, thank you!

      Adding, in fact the link I used was from Foreign Affairs (what, didn’t they already know?) So I think it’s interesting you’ve got a parallel source in the Meyerson. Maybe light is dimly dawning in DC (except for the people who set this up, of course; they already know).

  5. TimR

    Jagger asked what specific bits of science I find questionable. I’m not a scientist and I’m not immersed in the minutiae of it. Really my skepticism is based on the propaganda and mass manipulation surrounding this issue, and my understanding of the elites’ long term agenda (e.g. as foreshadowed by Huxley’s Brave New World, and as documented by establishment historian Carroll Quigley in Tragedy & Hope: A History of the World in our Time)

    Most of our public debates are faux debates, in that we spend all of our time (on this issue) debating global warming, when the real debate should be: Do we want the totalitarian centralized global “utopia” the elites are planning? Because AGW is only a means to that end.

    Going back to Walter Lippmann, the public is not to be trusted with actual policy planning — they can argue about whether they buy the propaganda line or not (and we’ll make fun of them and have our media lackeys ridicule anyone who doubts the Pravda) but we don’t actually discuss our plans with the peasants.

    That said, Jagger, this essay by Rancourt seems to shred the science of AGW and make it a complete joke (as well as addressing the more interesting issue of the social aspects of science.)

    I like this quote, not on the science but on the sociology of science:

    Scientists are simple beings. In general, they have not studied politics or sociology or human history. They have had to specialize and to confine their methods and questions to those that are specific to their chosen fields. Outside of their disciplines, they construct a world view largely from the same sources as most middleclass citizens; the mainstream media and popular culture. Their main comparison points are colleagues just like themselves that they meet at specialized conferences and in staff lounges.

    At the same time, scientists, like the rest of working people, often search for a sense of doing something meaningful at work. They look for ways that their work might have broader societal implications, even though it is most often very specialized and has narrow applications. Ecologists and environmental scientists like to consider that they might help society to better treat the environment.

    Science is a social construction and scientists must be seen by their peers as contributing “positively” to their fields and must mainly cooperate in order to get along and get ahead. This has the effect of creating an impetus for scientific consensus. Contrary positions are rarely deep or long lived and a lot of mileage is extracted from going along and echoing the dominant paradigms or opinions. Once something becomes popular, a scientist can repeat it without new supporting evidence comfortably and without awakening the ire of reviewers. Such statements are made in the introductions of scientific articles in order to motivate the specialized work or are made in giving broader (and more tenuous) interpretations or are made in the conclusions of papers to suggest possible implications of the specialized work.

    Global warming has now become just such a popular theme among ecologists and environmental scientists. As a result, whereas specialized researchers in climate change itself continue to debate global warming and its many facets and continue to critique each others’ methods, data, and conclusions, most articles in scientific journals that mention global warming do so gratuitously – in a non-critical, superficial and self-serving way. Observers of science must therefore be careful in simply counting opinions expressed in the introductions and conclusions of scientific articles.

    1. Banger

      When people conduct risk assessment they have to rely on the best info available at the time and cannot afford to spend a lot of time personally investigating each area of expertise involved. Our best people tell us there is a danger so we make our risk assessment based on what they tell us as best we can. Saying scientists are unconsciously motivated is certainly true but, from my own study of ecology I know that small changes in conditions can seriously influence conditions in complex systems. I know something about the temperature data and the unprecedently fast melting of ice in the artic. I know the theoretical effect of greenhouse gases and other issues including a level of rapid change and high stress on many ecosystems due to toxins, development and so on which puts the tipping point in various ecological systems much closer. Thus we have an increased chance of serious positive feedback loops even without the effect of greenhouse gases. A simple risk assessment would tell us we should take some kind of action on this matter particularly that, from a political point of view the carbon lovers, who coincidentally are some of the nastier humans might lose some clout and that I itself would create a better world. We are seriously risking not just getting hotter but catastrophe.

    2. different clue

      Reality is the stuff that stays real no matter how hard you wish it away, or wave it away, or pray it away.

      Or deconstruct it away.

      “You can’t bullshit the ocean, you dig? It isn’t listening.”

  6. Jim Haygood

    CNN Money’s Fear & Greed Index registers 3 (extreme fear) on a scale of 100:


    Since retail investors are nearly always wrong, the appropriate response to their panic is to mortgage the house, back up the truck, and pile on stocks till the bumper drags on the pavement.

    Yowza … J-Yel’s got yer back with ZIRP, while her sidekick Stanley Fischer (our first Zambian-American Fed board member) chairs an ad hoc committee that’s vigilantly scanning for bubbles. Not even a hint of foam yet!

      1. Jim Haygood

        Investors Intelligence has published a survey of advisor sentiment since the mid-1960s. AAII has surveyed its members (retail investors) since 1987. Both of these gauges go from optimism at market peaks to pessimism at washout bottoms … meaning that you should do the opposite at extreme readings.

        CNN’s sentiment reading of 3 sounds too extreme. Maybe it is contaminated by a small sample size, or a mathematical error. AAII’s survey shows 35.4% bullish, 33.7% neutral, and 30.9% bearish. All of these are neutral levels.

        1. MikeNY

          I’ll say it’s too extreme. What was it in March of 09, -100,000? As I recall back then, the VIX was multiples higher.

          Smells like pollution by a small data set….

      1. wendy davis

        I really love them, and love growing them. I’d said in the email that I wouldn’t mind a photo credit, but that it wasn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. ;)

  7. Noni Mausa

    We might wonder why billionaires and trillionaires would want to amass more money, more property, more power and control. Not just greed, I think. Rather, I think they are looking ahead and stocking their lifeboats for a time, not far distant, when they will need to deal with the collapse of the ecosystem, the need to move to kindly lands, while controlling the efforts of the 99% (soon likely to be decimated) towards their own benefit.

    It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a couple of thousand 99 percenters, or more, to support a single plutocrat. As disaster (disease, flooding, earthquakes, drought and more) comes over the horizon, more rigid control of those thousands is going to be necessary to maintain their standard of living. Or just their living.

  8. ambrit

    Am I the only one declassee enough to see the fecal transplant piece and think; “Eat s— and live mother—er!”

    1. gordon

      Maybe. But a recent “Catalyst” (a science show) episode from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is an interesting parallel – without the turkey baster. Dr B.Marshall (who showed how Helicobacter Pylori was responsible for stomach ulcers) is now suggesting that that bug might help avoid some allergies. Like the Human Food Project piece, it’s all about our excessively clean interiors.


      It is interesting to note that Dr. Marshall, who (with some colleagues) put a lot of ulcer drugs out of business, now is developing an anti-allergy medication. From the Big Pharma point of view, what you lose on the roundabouts you gain back on the swings!

  9. Ronald Pires

    You knw you have a failed tate when the gvernent can’t eve ask what fracking oluters are troing away.

    [Please fixthese boxesso the don’t drp so many of the letters I type.]

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