The Year in Review, 2015: The Ascent of the Blowhard

and yet more fantastical pseudo public policy analysis

January: Unicorn promises from the Governor of Wisconsin To quote, “Missed it by *that* much”. From Only 93,200 Net New Jobs Needed in January 2015 to Hit Governor Walker’s 250,000 Jobs Target:

According to WI DWD statistics released today.

dec14pix0a

Figure 1: Wisconsin private nonfarm payroll employment (red), and linear trend implied by Governor Walker’s 250,000 net new private sector jobs pledge (gray). Dashed line at beginning of Walker administration. Governor Walker recommits to 250,000 net new jobs in August 2013. Source: WI DWD, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and author’s calculations.

Since average net job creation in Wisconsin under Governor Walker has been 3.3 thousand, with a standard deviation of 4.7 thousand, the likelihood that the target will be achieved is low.

But then, as a government official wrote to me on May 16, 2012: “The adminstration assumed that the jobs gains would be back loaded — ramping up with time.” So perhaps the ramp will be extremely steep this month!!!

As it turned out, the miraculous surge did not occur, and by my best estimates, the 250K new jobs promise of August 2013 will only be achieved by March 2018, earliest March 2017 using 90% confidence band.

February: More unicorn promises: From Governor Jeb Bush on the Desired Trend in Real GDP:

From Bloomberg, a quote from the Governor’s speech in Detroit:

… I don’t think the U.S. should settle for anything less than 4 percent growth a year–which is about twice our current average.

I applaud the Governor’s aspirations. Here is a plot of what real GDP would have looked like had we had 4% annual growth (log terms) since 1967Q1 (in red), and if we’d had it under the administration of G.W. Bush (green).

jebbushpix1

Figure 1: Real GDP, in bn. Ch.2009$, SAAR (blue) and under 4% growth starting from actual level in 1967Q1 (red), and starting from actual level in 2001Q1 (beginning of G.W. Bush administration) (green). Growth rates calculated as log differences. Source: BEA 2014Q4 advance release, and author’s calculations.

Well, if 500,000/month job creation is the norm (as Governor Mitt Romney asserted), why wouldn’t 4% growth be the norm? Just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it can’t.

February: Mendacious data plotting From The Measurement and Display of Data Series:

What are these series?

compare1

They are log GDP for the first terms of the most recent seven presidencies, SAAR, normalized to the quarter of inauguration.

compare2

Figure 2: Nominal GDP, billions of $, SAAR, normalized to quarter of inauguration of first term for Obama (blue), GW Bush (red), Clinton (green), GHW Bush (black), Reagan (teal), Carter (purple), Nixon (chartreuse). Source: BEA (2014Q4 second release), and author’s calculations.

Some would object that using nominal GDP is misleading. In defense of reporting nominal magnitudes, reader Ironman writes:

It is our practice to always present nominal data because it is the data that doesn’t change as a result of inflation adjustments, which are always arbitrary in practice and are always in need of being updated, since almost all readers prefer that kind of information to be presented in terms of constant, current day dollars. Since we provide the relevant links to all original data sources, anyone who wants to confirm our numbers can get them and not wonder how they have been adjusted. Our readers are a pretty sharp bunch and are pretty capable of adjusting the nominal data to account for whatever measure of inflation they might like to consider, whether CPI-U, GDP deflator, etc.

Here for comparison is real GDP.

compare3

Figure 3: Real GDP, billions of Ch.2009$, SAAR, normalized to quarter of inauguration of first term for Obama (blue), GW Bush (red), Clinton (green), GHW Bush (black), Reagan (teal), Carter (purple), Nixon (chartreuse). Source: BEA (2014Q4 second release), and author’s calculations.

If you can do deflation, and the relevant graphing, in your head…you are a better man than I!

April, let’s outsource the science… From No Time for Scientists – Wisconsin Edition:

With apologies to Mac Hyman …and Andy Griffith

Leaders at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are proposing elimination of the Bureau of Science Services within the department.

From WisconsinWatch:

In a Feb. 25 email, Scott Hull, a section chief in the Bureau of Science Services, asked Mark Aquino, director of the agency’s Office of Business Support and Science, for clarification on remarks made by Secretary Cathy Stepp on a radio show about possible budget cuts and personnel changes for the bureau.

In his Feb. 26 response, Aquino informed Hull that the agency “will go through some form of organizational change that will result in not having a Bureau of Science Services, in an effort to address the legislative perception of research not being well aligned with program needs.”

Why?

The agency’s Bureau of Science Services has recently drawn criticism from state Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst. Tiffany criticized a bureau report on environmental concerns surrounding the now-defunct plan from Gogebic Taconite to build an open-pit iron mine in northwestern Wisconsin. He said the report was biased against the mine.

Tiffany also told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he was not supportive of the bureau doing research related to climate change because the science behind global warming is still “theoretical.”

According to the article, supporters of the Governor’s proposed cuts to the DNR Science Bureau argued that some of the scientific analysis could be undertaken by UW. To me this seems highly unlikely to occur given impending cuts to state funding of the UW system, in addition to the fact that the type of research conducted by DNR is substantially different from basic research conducted at the University (as discussed in the article).

June: And no time for tenured professors either. From Assessing the Rational Agent Response to Elimination of Tenure in Wisconsin State Statute:

Thinking about “Exit, Voice and Loyalty” in Wisconsin

The Joint Finance Committee motion to remove tenure from state statute. Winners of the most competitive research awards the University of Wisconsin–Madison provides to its scholars have made a statement, found here.

We are especially concerned about provision 39 of the omnibus motion, which authorizes the Board of Regents to terminate faculty appointments for reasons of “program discontinuance, curtailment, modification, or redirection.” This is a profound departure from current policy, which allows termination of faculty appointments only for just cause after due notice and hearing, or in the event of a fiscal emergency. If passed into law, this provision would greatly weaken any guarantees of tenure provided by the Board of Regents. In essence, state statute would say that tenure at the University of Wisconsin does not mean what it means at every other institution: a guarantee that university administrators cannot arbitrarily dismiss faculty who have earned tenure through research, teaching, and service.

I have seen some individuals (as far as I can tell, typically not involved in knowledge generating sectors of the economy) who asserted that a move to weaken the protections of tenure would eliminate “dead wood”, and reduce costs.

It strikes me that it is useful to consider a rational agent model of individual decision-making, in response to weakening of tenure protections relative to other academic institutions, in assessing the plausibility of such arguments.

First, agents would make the relevant cost-benefit calculations. As costs (from uncertainty) rise, those agents with the highest value of outside options (relative to costs of moving) would move. On average, one would guess that the most accomplished would then tend to move.

Second, the idea of compensating differentials (look at any intro economics textbook) is relevant. If uncertainty is higher, then rational agents — particularly those coming from outside, perhaps as new hires — would tend to demand a higher salary relative to what otherwise would be the case.

Third, the removal of tenure protections could be taken as a signal by state leaders (in the legislature, in the executive) that the contributions by those involved in the academic enterprise are not valued. If leadership at the state level attempts to stifle dissent, then loyalty is reduced, and exit becomes a more attractive option. (Some will recognize this idea from Hirschman.).

So, if one’s objective were to drive out the most academically successful professors, raise cost per unit output of teaching/research (recalling UW brings in billions of dollars of Federal and other grants), and demoralizing the university faculty, then the JFC’s motion is the optimal route.

August: Prejudice against logs continues! From To Log or Not to Log, Part I:

Reader Mike V castigates me for over-use of logs.

I’m not at all averse to logs, but they have a time an a place. You are trying to point out relatively small changes in income over a short time-series – not the nearly exponential changes in the S&P 500 over the last 100+ years.

Let me provide some examples of where it’s useful to use logs. First, consider the dollar’s value over the course of a year and a half (somewhat less than 100+ years).

dollar_GFC

Source: Federal Reserve Board via FRED.

Now let’s consider trough to peak, and peak to trough, changes. From July 15, 2008 to March 9, 2009, the dollar appreciated 23.34%, using the formula (Q2-Q1)/Q1. From March 9 to December 2, 2009, the dollar depreciated 17.10%, using (Q3-Q2)/Q2. Dollar up by 23.34%, down by 17.10% — one might think the dollar was up overall by 6.24%. But in fact, using the base period formula (Q3-Q1)/Q1, the dollar is up by 2.24%.

One advantage of using changes in log terms is that additivity is retained, as Jim mentioned in an earlier post; using a log approximation of log(Q2/Q1), one finds the appreciation is 20.98%, the depreciation is 18.76%, the net change is 2.22%. And this is exactly what one gets looking directly at the log change from July 15, 2008 to December 2, 2009.

August: From “Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!”:

Source: Donald J. Trump, 6 December 2013.

Here’s some data: Global surface anomaly, year-to-date (June):

YTD_June_global

Source: NOAA

If one dismisses the Trump thesis that global climate change is a Chinese plot (6 Nov 2012) (I guess he saw one too many Frankenheimer movies), then perhaps we pay attention to what econometric models suggest. Here’s one by Jim Stock, et al., which concludes:

The results of this analysis indicate that observed temperature after 1998 is consistent with the current understanding of the relationship among global surface temperature, internal variability, and radiative forcing, which includes anthropogenic factors that have well known warming and cooling effects. Both of these effects, along with changes in natural variables must be examined explicitly by efforts to understand climate change and devise policy that complies with the objective of Article 2 of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to stabilize “greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system.”

August: I don’t even know how to characterize this. From Governor Walker on Responding to the Chinese Economic Situation:

From USAToday:

“Americans are struggling to cope with the fall in today’s markets driven in part by China’s slowing economy and the fact that they actively manipulate their economy,” the Wisconsin governor said in a statement. “Rather than honoring Chinese President Xi Jinping with an official state visit next month, President Obama should focus on holding China accountable over its increasing attempts to undermine U.S. interests.”

Does this mean Governor Walker believes the Chinese aimed to undermine the US economy by deliberately engineering a stock market collapse? I guess if one believed Chinese policymakers were incredibly cunning and devious, this makes some sort of sense. Pursuing this thought, does this imply Governor Walker believes the US Government should force the Chinese government to reflate the Chinese stock market?

Here is Governor Walker in 2013, speaking about opportunities for Wisconsin-China relations:

“This [Wisconsin Center China] strengthens our relationship with China and provides Wisconsin businesses the resources and assistance to pursue export opportunities in this growing market,” Governor Walker said. “Through the years, Wisconsin has built a strong trade relationship with China, and the opening of the Wisconsin Center China will help Wisconsin businesses continue to strengthen our trade relationships and grow export opportunities.”

September: Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker, again! From Countering the Manitoba Menace:

Or, “President Obama, build up this wall!”

From Fox News:

Walker said in an interview that aired Sunday that building a wall along the country’s northern border with Canada is a legitimate issue that merits further review.

Republican candidates for president have often taken a get-tough approach on deterring illegal immigration, but they usually focus on the border with Mexico. Walker was asked Sunday morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether he wanted to build a wall on the northern border, too. Walker said some people in New Hampshire have asked the campaign about the topic.

“They raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So that is a legitimate issue for us to look at,” Walker said.

This is an interesting idea. Consider the distance that would need to be fenced in, or otherwise secured. The US-Canada border stretches over 5500 miles. Merely securing the contiguous 48 border with Canada requires putting barriers over 4000 miles.

new_wall

Source: Eastwood, “How much would it cost to build a wall on the Canada-U.S. border?” Toronto Star, Aug. 31, 2015.

One estimate places the total cost at $18 billion, using the average cost estimate of $5.1 million/mile. The article cites “a report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to Congressional committees in 2009, which examined the construction costs of building fences on the Mexican border in 2007 and 2008.” Since the details weren’t presented, it’s hard to tell if that estimate includes costs associated with design and procurement of the land used for the wall. Other estimates of per-mile cost of building are presented in this Congressional Research Service report (pages 16-24). In addition, there is a maintenance issue, so that the present value cost is much higher than the build cost. From the CRS report:

The Corps of Engineers estimated that Sandia fencing costs per mile would range from $785,679 to $872,977 [in constant 1997 dollars] for construction and $953 to $7,628 per mile yearly for maintenance. Additionally, the Corps of Engineers study notes that the Sandia fence would possibly need to be replaced in the fifth year of operation and in every fourth year thereafter if man-made damage to the fence was “severe and ongoing.” For this reason, in the study the Corps of Engineers noted that the net present value of the fence after 25 years of operation, per mile, would range from $11.1 million to $61.6 million.

To convert to 2014 dollars, one can multiply by 1.48 (the 2014 CPI level is 47.5% higher than it was in 1997).

There are two questions that come to me. The first is the cost-effectiveness of building a physical barrier that impedes pedestrians. I suspect that the benefit-cost ratio is very, very low. The second is whether it’s still a bad idea. After all, spending to build something that is useless is akin to Keynes’s example:

“If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coalmines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again (the right to do so being obtained, of course, by tendering for leases of the note-bearing territory), there need be no more unemployment and, with the help of the repercussions, the real income of the community, and its capital wealth also, would probably become a good deal greater than it actually is. It would, indeed, be more sensible to build houses and the like; but if there are political and practical difficulties in the way of this, the above would be better than nothing.”

[Book 3, Chapter 10, Section 6 pg.129 “The General Theory..”]

Of course, it would be even better if the spending were on something useful like investment in human capital and the like. However, the Governor seems to have an aversion to such types of expenditures that augment potential output.[1] [2]

October: I don’t know how to characterize this, either. From What’s a Debt Limit?:

From Marketplace, an interview with Ben Carson:

Ryssdal: All right, so let’s talk about debt then and the budget. As you know, Treasury Secretary Lew has come out in the last couple of days and said, “We’re gonna run out of money, we’re gonna run out of borrowing authority, on the fifth of November.” Should the Congress then and the president not raise the debt limit? Should we default on our debt?

Carson: Let me put it this way: if I were the president, I would not sign an increased budget. Absolutely would not do it. They would have to find a place to cut.

Ryssdal: To be clear, it’s increasing the debt limit, not the budget, but I want to make sure I understand you. You’d let the United States default rather than raise the debt limit.

Carson: No, I would provide the kind of leadership that says, “Get on the stick guys, and stop messing around, and cut where you need to cut, because we’re not raising any spending limits, period.”

Ryssdal: I’m gonna try one more time, sir. This is debt that’s already obligated. Would you not favor increasing the debt limit to pay the debts already incurred?

Carson: What I’m saying is what we have to do is restructure the way that we create debt. I mean if we continue along this, where does it stop? It never stops. You’re always gonna ask the same question every year. And we’re just gonna keep going down that pathway. That’s one of the things I think that the people are tired of.

Ryssdal: I’m really trying not to be circular here, Dr. Carson, but if you’re not gonna raise the debt limit and you’re not gonna give specifics on what you’re gonna cut, then how are we going to know what you are going to do as president of the United States?

Carson: OK, let me try to explain it in a different way. If, in fact, we have a number of different areas that are contributing to the increasing expenditures and the continued expenditures that are putting us further and further into the hole. You’re familiar I’m sure with the concept of the fiscal gap.

Ryssdal: Why don’t you explain that a little bit, though.

Carson: OK, well, the fiscal gap is all of the unfunded liabilities that the government owes. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, all the departmental programs, all the agency and sub-agency programs extending into the future, which is a lot of money, versus the amount of revenue that we expect to collect from taxes and other revenue sources. Now if we’re being fiscally responsible, those numbers should be fairly close together. If we’re not, a gap begins to occur. We bring that forward to modern day today’s dollars, and that’s the fiscal gap, which sits at over $200 trillion and is continuing to grow. Now the only reason that we can sustain that kind of debt is because of our artificial ability to print money, to create what we think is wealth, but it is not wealth, because it’s based upon our faith and credit. You know, we decoupled it from the domestic gold standard in 1933, and from the international gold standard in 1971, and since that time, it’s not based on anything. Why would we be continuing to do that?

I must confess the lack of comprehension is breathtaking. Dr. Carson would be well advised to read this post.

The entire interview is here.

December: A suprisingly popular policy proposal (at least popular amongst one group). “Donald Trump Calls for Barring Muslims From Entering U.S.”:

That’s the headline from the NY Times. Given this development, I’m going to save Donald Trump some time in writing up the legislation. Here is some handy-dandy text borrowed from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

An Act to Execute Certain Treaty Stipulations Relating to Muslims

Whereas, in the opinion of the Government of the United States the coming of Muslims to this country endangers the good order of certain localities within the territory thereof: Therefore,

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That from and after the expiration of ninety days next after the passage of this act, and until the expiration of ten years next after the passage of this act, the coming of Muslims to the United States be, and the same is hereby, suspended; and during such suspension it shall not be lawful for any Muslim to come, or having so come after the expiration of said ninety days, to remain within the United States.

SEC. 2. That the master of any vessel who shall knowingly bring within the United States on such vessel, and land or permit to be landed, any Muslim, from any foreign port or place, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500 for each and every such Muslim so brought, and may be also imprisoned for a term not exceeding one year.

SEC. 3. That the two foregoing sections shall not apply to Muslims who were in the United States on the XXth day of XXXX, XXXX, or who shall have come into the same before the expiration of ninety days next after the passage of this act…

Although public policy debates have descended to a depressingly low level, my best wishes for a more informed, less-resentment-filled, New Year to all!

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43 thoughts on “The Year in Review, 2015: The Ascent of the Blowhard

  1. Mike V

    I made a list!

    Seriously, though. I did say some pretty rude things in that exchange, and I’d like to apologize for it (albeit, you were condescending as well). However, I stand by what I said regarding the example of comparing cumulative growth in Minnesota & Wisconsin median income.

      1. Steven Kopits

        Nonsense.

        If anthropogenic co2 emissions have doubled and you have no temp increase to show for it over 20 years, you have no acute crisis to point to. The ‘expensive hoax’ thesis is entirely supportable by the data.

        1. steve

          Wisconsin makes up what percentage of the surface area of the planet? Looking at small areas you are looking at weather, not climate.

          1. Steven Kopits

            If you are looking at 20 years of Wisconsin annual data, you are looking at climate, at least on a regional basis. We have discussed the Pause. I have stated the Pause is visible in the Wisconsin data as well, and it is. Indeed, if I start the series after 1994, then I find a decreasing temperature trend for Wisconsin in most years.

            If you are arguing that we have a climate emergency–one last, last, really last chance to save the planet–well, that notion is absolutely unsupported by Wisconsin data stored at the University of Wisconsin itself.

        2. baffling

          steven,
          “If anthropogenic co2 emissions have doubled and you have no temp increase to show for it over 20 years, you have no acute crisis to point to. The ‘expensive hoax’ thesis is entirely supportable by the data.”

          now that is complete nonsense. we have discussed this in the past, so you are not ignorant of the issue. therefore i must infer you are acting as nothing but a shill for the oil and fossil fuel industry. sea level has risen over those 20 years you mention. this is a direct result of global warming. it is extremely dishonest to make a claim that we have not had any warming. you are simply denying the physics of the problem. explain this data with respect to no temp increase.

          http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/sea-level/

          steven, stick to the economics. you are doing science a disservice with your commentary.

          1. Steven Kopits

            Baffs –

            You know my views on climate change. You’ve read my analysis. And you know that I state that temps have been rising at around 0.1 deg C per decade since 1880. This is no less true of Wisconsin.

            It is also true, however, that we’ve seen no warming in the last 17-20 years, and that also shows up in the Wisconsin data. Thus, as I have state above, the data does not support a crisis response to increased CO2 emissions. The numbers just aren’t there. And that’s as true for the Wisconsin data as it is for the satellite data or the Central England data or the New York tide gauge data.

            As for the energy industry: I think it is critical to prosperity, and I have written so many, many times. However, I have also been quite critical of the industry from time to time. Let me here criticize the coal industry, or more precisely, the regulation of the coal industry.

            Under current law, big coal companies have been able to ‘self-bond’ to cover remediation costs. This means they enter an asset retirement obligation on their balance sheet as a liability to cover the costs of some future clean-up of existing mines. This liability is theoretically offset by assets, in the best case with cash or liquid securities, but in practice remains a general obligation of the company. These coal companies are all going bankrupt, so there will be no spare assets to cover remediation, and the taxpayers will have to cover the cost. This is a problem one could see coming a long way off (just like the bankruptcy of GM).

            Given that the Obama administration’s stated objective called to bankrupt the coal companies, and given that the Democrats controlled the House and Senate for two years, this gap in regulation is just stunning. Again, we see the Obama administration laser-focused on ideology without a clue as to the practical implications of certain accounting practices. (Hence my call for economics curricula to include a semester of accounting.)

            We need a remediation law that provides that asset retirement obligations should be fully funded and segregated from company finances. These could be held by the government as in the case of the FDIC; or they could be held by private insurers like Prudential, for example. In either case, the ARO should be funded parallel to the life of the asset (ie, as a function of depreciation claimed) and these funds should exist outside the general obligations of the firm, including in the event of bankruptcy.

            Such funding should apply to all natural resources extraction, manufacturing, and indeed, commercial operations. If we had such a law, we would not have abandoned urban buildings and related blight. If an owner refused to demolish an abandoned building, the government could draw the funds and demolish the building itself.

            As for being a shill of the energy industry, I would disagree. On the other hand, if you called me a shill for prosperity, then I plead guilty. More than anyone else I know, I have argued that the primary role of government is sustainable prosperity. That’s what matters to me.

  2. Julian Silk

    Dear Menzie,

    I agree with you on all of this. But there may be some point in looking at why it is occurring now. Coal prices, which are relevant figures for income in some of the parts of the country where Trump is drawing his support, have fallen from over $75 per short ton for Central Appalachian coal to $43.50 now, as one sees in

    http://www.eia.gov/coal/markets/

    For corn prices, over that time, as one sees in

    http://www.farmdoc.illinois.edu/manage/uspricehistory/USPrice.asp

    for monthly average corn price received per calendar month, it’s even worse. Taking June 2011 as one’s month, there is a fall from $6.38 to $3.67 in price per bushel, and even if one takes January 2011 as the month, the price has still fallen from $4.94 to $3.67. I wish the Democrats would say more about what they want to do to help these people. The people who are supposed to be making sense, who are ideally the ones to fix the problems, aren’t doing it for those who are getting hurt. If the respectable ones don’t do it for you, you try the disreputable ones – you have to try something.

    Julian

  3. Bruce Hall

    One could argue that Wisconsin’s job situation has been exacerbated by the failure of it’s educational system to keep up with states such as Minnesota in producing college graduates, technology-driven businesses, and health care related businesses. But, of course, I wouldn’t suggest that.

    One could argue that the failure of Wisconsin’s educational system has then led to attempts to shake up the status quo to create a greater sense of urgency and responsibility among educators. But, of course, I wouldn’t suggest that.

    One could argue that logs are useful, but quite incomplete measures of relative performance. But, of course, I wouldn’t suggest that.

    One could argue that ignoring the long term climate and beginning analysis during a period of high volcanic activity which cooled the planet … in addition to manipulating actual data so that early data points are lowered and later data points are raised… in addition to ignoring three-dimensional satellite atmospheric data that contradicts the manipulated surface data sets … might not be the best way to analyze climate. But, of course, I wouldn’t suggest that.

    One could argue that Canadians not sneaking over the northern border by the millions while Canadian officials ignore the situation is not the logical equivalent of Mexicans and Latin Americans and Chinese and SW Asians sneaking over the southern border by the millions while Mexican officials ignore the situation. But, of course, I wouldn’t suggest that.

    One could argue that Ben Carson is an accomplished doctor as Barack Obama was an accomplished community organizer which qualifies them for the office of the President. But, of course, I would not suggest that.

    One could argue that people from Syria, Iran, Yemen, Iraq, Gaza, Afghanistan, etc. are predominantly Muslims and are from areas which are hotbeds of Islamic terrorism and should be given special scrutiny or restricted entry. But, of course, I wouldn’t suggest that.

    One could argue that January 1 is an arbitrary point to declare a new year. But, of course, I wouldn’t suggest that.

    Happy New Year!

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Bruce Hall: And all the failures of the Wisconsin educational system show up in 2011M01? Remember, the cointegration analysis implicit in the ECM implies the long run elasticity of Wisconsin NFP employment with respect to national is 0.6. With 2011M01, Wisconsin underperforms even with respect to that relationship…

      On logs — they are not a measure of comparison. They are a mathematical operation. It’s like arguing against pi as a useful number.

      Manipulated surface data? Wow. Just wow.

      Well, glad you’re not arguing these points.

      Happy New Year!

      1. Bruce Hall

        Wisconsin has lagged Minnesota for decades in percentage of college graduates, creation of technology-driven businesses, and health care businesses… all driving growth. Wisconsin, like Michigan, is more solidly entrenched in old-line industries and subject to harder hits during recessions and slower recoveries. U of M has been an engine of change which has helped keep Michigan automotive manufacturers competitive, but there are limits to that impact. Likewise, U of W helps Wisconsin adapt to the 21st century, but doesn’t have companies like 3M or United Health Group, Best Buy, Medtronic, etc. which are technology and health based.

        You can look at these in your spare time 😉
        https://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/has-noaa-once-again-tried-to-adjust-data-to-match-climate-models/
        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/09/24/summary-of-ghcn-adjustment-model-effects-on-temperature-data/
        http://www.coyoteblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/1998changesannotated.gif

        … but, yes, historical data has been adjusted; early data downward, later data upward. Bob Tisdale does extensive analysis of NOAA data.

        No one is arguing that earth hasn’t warmed slightly in the past century. But when compared with previous warm periods (with no SUVs or coal-fired power plants), our present warm period is undistinguished.

        http://phys.org/news/2014-08-global-temperature-conundrum-cooling-climate.html

        1. Menzie Chinn Post author

          Bruce Hall: I still don’t understand — the ECM takes care of the MN outpacing over the 1990-2010 period. Why the break in 2011M01? You haven’t answered this question.

          1. Bruce Hall

            I’m inclined to believe that Gov. Walker created an economic shock to Wisconsin that may or may not be a short term issue. Rather than phasing in changes, he took a cleaver and chopped at what he saw were problems with taxation, pension liabilities, and public unions. So, in that regard, I agree with you that Walker is responsible for at least a fair part of Wisconsin’s slow economic recovery. I don’t have a crystal ball on if/when any of those changes will have a positive effect. Increasing government spending always has an immediate stimulative effect while decreasing taxes tends to simply go to savings or paying down past excessive consumer spending.

            Oddly, Michigan under Gov. Snyder has implemented similar actions to that of Wisconsin under Walker, but the results have been dramatically different. http://www.jsonline.com/business/wisconsin-ranks-37th-in-latest-job-creation-report-b99635739z1-362794841.html

            The unions fought right-to-work, pension reform (http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2015/04/08/michigan-supreme-court-teachers-pension-law/25482791/), tax cuts (https://www.mackinac.org/20890), etc., but the economic change didn’t follow Wisconsin’s pattern. Of course, one might question whether Michigan’s greater recovery might have been due to the disaster that the automotive manufacturers had become and the return to above average sales during 2015.

            It just seems that there is far more to understanding economic change than picking a starting point on a chart.

          2. 2slugbaits

            Menzie To be fair to Bruce Hall, I interpreted his comment about “logs” as referring to the Philly Fed’s log coincident index and not logs in the sense of being mathematical transformations. That said, the rest of his post is a waste of electrons. It’s perfectly clear that he does not understand what an ECM is or how to interpret one. It’s also clear that he doesn’t understand fixed effects models. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the Rick Stryker is the only poster on that side of the political aisle who understands upper level undergraduate econometrics.

      2. CoRev

        Menzie says: “Manipulated surface data? Wow. Just wow. ” Yes, you do need to support your comment, because here is just the latest indicator.
        Before the NOAA SST adjustment: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/01/06/crowdsourcing-a-temperature-trend-analysi/
        After the NOAA SST adjustment: http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/from:2001.33/to:2013/trend/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:2000.9/to:2013/trend/plot/gistemp/from:2001.33/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:2000.9/plot/rss/from:1997/plot/rss/from:1997/to:2013/trend

        Look at how the trends changed NASA/GISS up. HadCRU4 up slightly. RSS still down. For that prior period, but it wasn’t effected by the NOAA adjustment. I just showed the most effected data sets for clarity.

        Its easy to say wow, if you choose to ignore the data. Remember, this is only the latest adjustment. There have been many, many others nearly all showing the same pattern as Bruce Hall high lights.

        1. 2slugbaits

          CoRev True to your conservative fiber, you apparently believe one should never revise or update data anymore than one should revise or update one’s opinions in the light of new evidence. I believe that is a core tenet of modern conservatism. How else to explain your criticism of NOAA for daring to update and revise data?

          And I see that you’re still stuck on satellite data despite the fact that satellite data measures temperatures in the troposphere, not the surface. And the height of the troposphere itself is constantly changing, which requires a lot of data scrubbing in-and-of-itself. Yet I don’t see you criticizing Dr Spencer for that.

          One final thought. Please go out and get yourself some real time series software instead of constantly linking to some half-baked internet toy. Since I actually taught time series analysis (as a guest instructor) to Dr Spencer’s students one semester, I’m hoping that they know better than using the same tools that you point to. I’d hate to think my efforts were in vain.

          1. CoRev

            2slugs, as always wrong again. NOAA’s updates and revisions are almost always uni-directional. Just as Bruce Hall referenced. Time series S/W can not change nor explain the reasons for that , but simple statistical tools can show it.

            This comment is worth Menzie’s WOW! “And I see that you’re still stuck on satellite data despite the fact that satellite data measures temperatures in the troposphere, not the surface. And the height of the troposphere itself is constantly changing, which requires a lot of data scrubbing in-and-of-itself.”
            Issue 1: Explain to us again where climate occurs and changes most? 2 meters off the surface or within the troposphere? Why would anyone studying climate want to know what is happening above 2 meters? Why not limit our climate studies to the height of a tall human?
            Issue 2: I didn’t know that the surface height was not constantly changing,… I guess you want us to ignore the surface temp changes associated with mountain heights?

            I guess your fundamental misunderstandings can be fixed by advanced time series S/W because it can correct every fundamental flaw in the data and your own understanding.. Which brings me to the difference between the surface and satellite data. Their coverage extents are widely different, especially satellites which collect data in those hard to reach areas as well as the same areas of the surface covered by the 2 meter instruments. Hard places, Y’ano, like the atmosphere above 2 meters, where climate occurs.

            In two sentences you have amazed. Again.

  4. Rick Stryker Jr

    Professor Chinn,

    I’ve had to listen to my pop go on and on over Christmas about all the “nonsense” at econbrowser. But when I look at your new years eve post, I can see that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I don’t usually comment but I wanted to support the good work you are doing. These are my New Years wishes that I hope all progressives can get behind.

    1) You’ve been so right about all the climate change denial out there. It’s incredible. But I’m worried that people aren’t focused enough on the stress that all this denial causes. My best bud is a political science major at the University of Massachussetts at Amherst. The last lecture was a real mind blower. The professor said we’re all gonna die:

    “If we continue with our current levels of pollution and carbon emissions, it’s possible that by the year 2050 — just 35 years from now — the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will exceed 500 parts per million, which is twice the level that existed before the Industrial Revolution. And the oceans will have become 150 percent more acidic. We are going to see temperature increases of 3 to 7 percent Fahrenheit, and massive die offs of marine ecosystems, including perhaps most critically coral reefs. Have any of you ever seen a coral reef? It’s possible your children’s children will only be able to look at them in history books – they may no longer exist by the time you have grandchildren.”

    “Within 100 years we could see a 52 percent extinction rate since the industrial revolution alone. In other words, we are in the midst of a sixth mass extinction, one that we are responsible for as a species.”

    Whoa, I’m feeling a lot of stress right now. And I’m not alone. The National Wildlife Foundation put out a special report The Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the United States and they’ve pointed out that the mental health system is unable to cope with the challenge.

    I haven’t signed up for my Obamacare insurance yet and neither have a lot of my friends. I checked and mental health benefits from global warming denial trauma are not covered. How can that be with all the climate change denial out there?

    My first New Years wish is that the President will fix that and make sure these essential mental health benefits are covered. Then, I bet a lot of my friends will sign up.

    2) My second New Years wish involves Donald Trump. Like you and other progressives, I don’t want to listen to what he has to say. Here’s what I do and I what I recommend all progressives can do for 2016: install this handy chrome extension to filter Trump out of your internet browsing. My New Years wish is that all progressives will follow suit in 2016.

    3) My third New Years wish is related to the second. Sure, progressives are working on other technological solutions to filtering out arguments that challenge us or that we don’t like. Soon, we’ll be able to filter out all conservative arguments. But does this really solve the problem? What about conservative books? What about the magazines and the interviews? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be assaulted by that stuff. We’ve got to go for a more radical solution.

    This video shows the strategy of progressive students at Yale University for dealing with the problem of filtering out arguments they don’t agree with. Just repeal the first amendment.

    That’s my third wish for the New Year. Let’s hope that progressives can work together to repeal the first amendment by the end of 2016.

    4) Speaking of amendments, why stop at the first? We know why. The NRA won’t let us repeal the second amendment. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t make some real progress. Here’s my killer idea. First, our President issues an executive order that no one on the no fly list is allowed to buy or own any guns. The Administration has developed some really cool technology to help spy on Israel and those in Congress who disagree with the Administration. Why stop there? Use the technology to get the list of NRA members, the list of all concealed carry holders, and the list of everyone who has gone through a background check for a firearms purchase. Then just issue an executive order putting all of them on the no fly list.

    Problem solved.

    5) The Administration has done some really great work over 2015, ,issuing over 80,000 pages of regulations. But they can do better.

    My final New Years wish is that the Administration will be able to get to 90K pages in 2016.

    Happy New Year to all!

    1. John

      That’s obviously fake. That was written by Stryker-senior.
      But anyway, may I suggest to plant an apple tree, in case you truly believe that the end is near.

      Trump vs. Clinton. That will be the real show in 2016. Oh my.

      Happy new year to all and esp. Menzie !

  5. Rick Stryker Jr

    Professor Chinn,

    I’ve had to listen to my pop go on and on over Christmas about all the “nonsense” at econbrowser. But when I look at your new years eve post, I can see that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I don’t usually comment but I wanted to support the good work you are doing. These are my New Years wishes that I hope all progressives can get behind.

    1) You’ve been so right about all the climate change denial out there. It’s incredible. But I’m worried that people aren’t focused enough on the stress that all this denial causes. My best bud is a political science major at the University of Massachussetts at Amherst. The last lecture was a real mind blower. The professor said we’re all gonna die:

    “If we continue with our current levels of pollution and carbon emissions, it’s possible that by the year 2050 — just 35 years from now — the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will exceed 500 parts per million, which is twice the level that existed before the Industrial Revolution. And the oceans will have become 150 percent more acidic. We are going to see temperature increases of 3 to 7 percent Fahrenheit, and massive die offs of marine ecosystems, including perhaps most critically coral reefs. Have any of you ever seen a coral reef? It’s possible your children’s children will only be able to look at them in history books – they may no longer exist by the time you have grandchildren.”

    “Within 100 years we could see a 52 percent extinction rate since the industrial revolution alone. In other words, we are in the midst of a sixth mass extinction, one that we are responsible for as a species.”

    Whoa, I’m feeling a lot of stress right now. And I’m not alone. The National Wildlife Foundation put out a special report The Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the United States and they’ve pointed out that the mental health system is unable to cope with the challenge.

    I haven’t signed up for my Obamacare insurance yet and neither have a lot of my friends. I checked and mental health benefits from global warming denial trauma are not covered. How can that be with all the climate change denial out there?

    My first New Years wish is that the President will fix that and make sure these essential mental health benefits are covered. Then, I bet a lot of my friends will sign up.

    2) My second New Years wish involves Donald Trump. Like you and other progressives, I don’t want to listen to what he has to say. Here’s what I do and I what I recommend all progressives can do for 2016: install this handy chrome extension to filter Trump out of your internet browsing. My New Years wish is that all progressives will follow suit in 2016.

    3) My third New Years wish is related to the second. Sure, progressives are working on other technological solutions to filtering out arguments that challenge us or that we don’t like. Soon, we’ll be able to filter out all conservative arguments. But does this really solve the problem? What about conservative books? What about the magazines and the interviews? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be assaulted by that stuff. We’ve got to go for a more radical solution.

    This video shows the strategy of progressive students at Yale University for dealing with the problem of filtering out arguments they don’t agree with. Just repeal the first amendment.

    That’s my third wish for the New Year. Let’s hope that progressives can work together to repeal the first amendment by the end of 2016.

    4) Speaking of amendments, why stop at the first? We know why. The NRA won’t let us repeal the second amendment. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t make some real progress. Here’s my killer idea. First, our President issues an executive order that no one on the no fly list is allowed to buy or own any guns. The Administration has developed some really cool technology to help spy on Israel and those in Congress who disagree with the Administration. Why stop there? Use the technology to get the list of NRA members, the list of all concealed carry holders, and the list of everyone who has gone through a background check for a firearms purchase. Then just issue an executive order putting all of them on the no fly list.

    Problem solved.

    5) The Administration has done some really great work over 2015, ,issuing over 80,000 pages of regulations. But they can do better.

    My final New Years wish is that the Administration will be able to get to 90K pages in 2016.

    Happy New Year to all!

  6. Rick Stryker Jr.

    Professor Chinn,

    I’ve had to listen to my pop go on and on over Christmas about all the “nonsense” at econbrowser. But when I look at your new years eve post, I can see that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I don’t usually comment but I wanted to support the good work you are doing. These are my New Years wishes that I hope all progressives can get behind.

    1) You’ve been so right about all the climate change denial out there. It’s incredible. But I’m worried that people aren’t focused enough on the stress that all this denial causes. My best bud is a political science major at the University of Massachussetts at Amherst. The last lecture was a real mind blower. The professor said we’re all gonna die:

    “If we continue with our current levels of pollution and carbon emissions, it’s possible that by the year 2050 — just 35 years from now — the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will exceed 500 parts per million, which is twice the level that existed before the Industrial Revolution. And the oceans will have become 150 percent more acidic. We are going to see temperature increases of 3 to 7 percent Fahrenheit, and massive die offs of marine ecosystems, including perhaps most critically coral reefs. Have any of you ever seen a coral reef? It’s possible your children’s children will only be able to look at them in history books – they may no longer exist by the time you have grandchildren.”

    “Within 100 years we could see a 52 percent extinction rate since the industrial revolution alone. In other words, we are in the midst of a sixth mass extinction, one that we are responsible for as a species.”

    Whoa, I’m feeling a lot of stress right now. And I’m not alone. The National Wildlife Foundation put out a special report The Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the United States and they’ve pointed out that the mental health system is unable to cope with the challenge.

    I haven’t signed up for my Obamacare insurance yet and neither have a lot of my friends. I checked and mental health benefits from global warming denial trauma are not covered. How can that be with all the climate change denial out there?

    My first New Years wish is that the President will fix that and make sure these essential mental health benefits are covered. Then, I bet a lot of my friends will sign up.

    2) My second New Years wish involves Donald Trump. Like you and other progressives, I don’t want to listen to what he has to say. Here’s what I do and I what I recommend all progressives can do for 2016: install this handy chrome extension to filter Trump out of your internet browsing. My New Years wish is that all progressives will follow suit in 2016.

    3) My third New Years wish is related to the second. Sure, progressives are working on other technological solutions to filtering out arguments that challenge us or that we don’t like. Soon, we’ll be able to filter out all conservative arguments. But does this really solve the problem? What about conservative books? What about the magazines and the interviews? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be assaulted by that stuff. We’ve got to go for a more radical solution.

    This video shows the strategy of progressive students at Yale University for dealing with the problem of filtering out arguments they don’t agree with. Just repeal the first amendment.

    That’s my third wish for the New Year. Let’s hope that progressives can work together to repeal the first amendment by the end of 2016.

    4) Speaking of amendments, why stop at the first? We know why. The NRA won’t let us repeal the second amendment. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t make some real progress. Here’s my killer idea. First, our President issues an executive order that no one on the no fly list is allowed to buy or own any guns. The Administration has developed some really cool technology to help spy on Israel and those in Congress who disagree with the Administration. Why stop there? Use the technology to get the list of NRA members, the list of all concealed carry holders, and the list of everyone who has gone through a background check for a firearms purchase. Then just issue an executive order putting all of them on the no fly list.

    Problem solved.

    5) The Administration has done some really great work over 2015, ,issuing over 80,000 pages of regulations. But they can do better.

    My final New Years wish is that the Administration will be able to get to 90K pages in 2016.

    Happy New Year to all!

  7. Bruce Hall

    2slug,

    Some time back, Menzie and I discussed the fixed effects difference between Minnesota and Wisconsin and Wisconsin and the U.S., so why the snarkiness? I believe I also stated with regard to Menzie’s point on ECM that I was inclined to believe that Gov. Walker’s policies created a short-term negative economic shock in Wisconsin, but that I couldn’t understand why similar policies enacted in Michigan didn’t have a similar impact. Are you saying that Wisconsin is structurally more vulnerable to certain policy changes than Michigan? If so, say so. That’s pretty much what I would suspect.

    With regard to scrubbing climate data, there is a lot of “eyeballing” being done … you can argue sophisticated algorithms, but we know better, eh, Dr. Spencer’s teaching assistant? The point is that the “data scrubbing” has systematically raised near term temperatures while lowering earlier data which has the result of accentuating an apparent warming. Much of this is due to extrapolating warmer urban readings into rural areas where weather stations have been shut down. The real problem, of course, is that the satellite data is more consistent than surface temperature data, but less than 3 decades which makes long term trending difficult without the questionable manipulation done to historical surface temperatures. Still greater is the problem of much longer term climate analysis which was part of the article quoting Dr. Liu of UW-Madison.

    Time series trends are interesting, but as I pointed out if you start at a very low value historically, you are likely to get an upward trend in the short term. A longer perspective is apt to show the low point as the anomaly rather than a later high point.

    Anyway, it’s the New Year and there is football awaiting later. Time to put this and myself to bed.

  8. Bruce Hall

    For those of you who are convinced that any objection to NOAA’s manipulation of temperature datasets is simply a failure to understand statistics, I offer these two links:

    1) Admittedly, Judicial Watch is a political-oriented site, but their focus is the free flow of information to prevent the politicization of significant societal issues. This regards NOAA’s reluctance/refusal to provide information regarding the methodology of the dataset adjustments: http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-sues-for-documents-withheld-from-congress-in-new-climate-data-scandal/

    2) Climate Audit is written by a Canadian statistician who has been a thorn in the side of NOAA and NASA because he successfully demonstrates incompetence/negligence in the way data has been analyzed and treated. This should be especially entertaining for 2slugs who finds linear trend analysis to the ultimate expression of mathematical brilliance. http://climateaudit.org/

    But now I’ll digress a bit. 2slug: please explain how historical relationships between North Dakota and the U.S. remain intact with the advent of the Bakken field fracking and the complete dislocation of historical workforce supply and demand as well as housing and other resources affected by that dislocation. Simply establishing an historical statistical relationship does not explain a structural discontinuity or the political policies that may be coincidental to that discontinuity. Furthermore, I hold that such historical relationships are meaningless when such a discontinuity occurs.

    1. baffling

      bruce, sea level and ocean heat content data indicate continued warming of the globe. satellite data that does not correspond to the same should be scrutinized as to why. it makes more sense that corrections are made that correspond to increasing temperatures than corrections which result in the opposite effect. again i ask the deniers, explain the rising sea levels
      http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/sea-level/

      you entire argument rests on a questionable data set.

        1. baffling

          bruce, deniers like yourself continue to ignore the elephant in the room. you want to believe so much in a lack of global warming. but you, and all other deniers, have never been able to reconcile rising sea levels with your denier philosophy. sea levels rise due to water volume expansion and land water runoff. neither are supported by the denier position of no global warming. you need to explain the hiatus within this context-if you can.

          1. Bruce Hall

            No one is denying sea levels rising over the past several centuries, but that began before the so-called AGW occurred. Likewise, temperatures rose before the so-called AGW occurred. Interestingly, NOAA now wants to credit coal burning with the “slow down” in AGW whereas BHO continues to pummel coal producers as the cause of AGW.

            Recently, headlines blared about the 8 metric gigatons of ice melting from Greenland during the 20th century. The cumulative ice mass loss of 8 metric gigatons of ice/snow equates to about 0.3% of the total Greenland ice/snow mass. Hardly enough to inundate the world.

            It’s all how you say it.

          2. baffling

            bruce,
            “No one is denying sea levels rising over the past several centuries, but that began before the so-called AGW occurred. ”

            but there is denial that global warming is occurring. steven kopits stated it directly. corev is enamored by the “hiatus”. you seem to want to create a controversy in the data sets (as does corev), but want it both ways. if you admit to global warming, human caused or otherwise, then the hiatus is a problem for you. i find it fascinating, when pushed, deniers have walked back a bit their denial of global warming-it is undeniable. but they will embrace the hiatus. either we have warming or we don’t.

            the issue at hand, which i have asked deniers repeatedly without receiving a coherent scientific answer, is if we have a legitimate hiatus in global warming, you need to come up with a reason for continued increase in sea levels. the physics does not correlate. if the earth continues to increase in heat content-and rising sea levels are a direct result-then why would you not question the accuracy of the hiatus? increased sea level is a very compelling argument against the accuracy of the hiatus.

          3. CoRev

            Baffled, you constantly make the same mistake: OHC and sea level rise are not the same as surface temperature rise. Because we use different terms different from your favorites, terms selected by the scientists studying the whole climate change issue, you use terms like denier. You are the only one confused here.

            You even mixed metaphors in your response to Kopits:
            “steven,
            “If anthropogenic co2 emissions have doubled and you have no temp increase to show for it over 20 years, you have no acute crisis to point to. The ‘expensive hoax’ thesis is entirely supportable by the data.”

            now that is complete nonsense. we have discussed this in the past, so you are not ignorant of the issue. therefore i must infer you are acting as nothing but a shill for the oil and fossil fuel industry. sea level has risen over those 20 years you mention. this is a direct result of global warming. it is extremely dishonest to make a claim that we have not had any warming. you are simply denying the physics of the problem. explain this data with respect to no temp increase.”

            To answer you simplistic question: There is no sea/ocean in Wisconsin. You are “…extremely dishonest to make a claim..” that has no relationship to your point questioned.

            We’ve had this discussion in the past, and you persist in this attempt to link this phenomenon with surface temperatures while denigrating or ignoring the satellite evidence. You do this while citing the satellite GMSSL data, wanting to have it both ways.

            Because of these basic misunderstandings and your dishonesty, is there any wonder why few want to discuss this pet subject with you? I know I do not.

  9. Bruce Hall

    Baffling, my error. It was not NOAA that said burning coal contributed to global cooling. It was NASA. This was based on the lack of warming in China where coal burning occurs extensively. I just mixed up which government N-word to use. 😉

  10. gelo

    Seems to me (from the comments) the deniers (the other name for neoliberals i guess) have run out of economic arguments and have turned all their attention to the climate change subject,trying to secure the last possible resources on behalf of their bosses…..
    Mine a bit more, so i can check something……
    As for this sick pervert the problem is not that he wants to be president,the problem is that many americans want him as president…(Donald duck quack quack quack)
    Good luck to all….
    Mr.Zulu,Engage

    (We re doomed i tells ya!(Papa Simpson)
    PS:Great article!:):)

  11. Baffling

    Corev, sea level rise and heat content are global measures, much more representative of global behavior than just surface temps. U cherry pick the region to measure

    1. Corev

      Baffled, please stop making the same mistake. Surface and satellite temps are also global. I didn’t pick the metric. Climate scientists did. I presume your cherry pick comment refers to your response to Kopits’ original WI reference.

  12. Rick Stryker

    Baffled,

    You had a question:

    “the issue at hand, which i have asked deniers repeatedly without receiving a coherent scientific answer, is if we have a legitimate hiatus in global warming, you need to come up with a reason for continued increase in sea levels. the physics does not correlate. if the earth continues to increase in heat content-and rising sea levels are a direct result-then why would you not question the accuracy of the hiatus? increased sea level is a very compelling argument against the accuracy of the hiatus.”

    I imagine other people are wondering about that as well.

    The hiatus people are talking about is in the surface temperature anomaly. You are assuming that if the surface temperature increase pauses over some period, then sea level rise must also pause over that period. And therefore, according to you, if the sea level rise has not paused over the most recent period, then the surface temperature must not have paused either.

    But that assumption of contemporaneous correlation between surface temperature and sea level rise is false. Of course, there is some contemporaneous correlation. But the mechanisms by which sea level rises are very complicated and there are significant lags in the process as well, so that past warming can produce contemporaneous sea level increases. These mechanisms include: thermal expansion, and changes in glaciers, greenland ice sheets, antarctic ice sheets, and land water storage. All of these mechanisms have lagged effects. But since thermal expansion is the most important factor, I’ll briefly touch on that.

    The basic physics is that as the ocean warms, assuming a constant mass, the density decreases and the sea level rises. (The mass can increase as well because of the other factors I mentioned.) The amount of thermal expansion of water depends positively for a given heat forcing on the current temperature and the pressure. Heat from the atmosphere enters the ocean surface layers and is then transferred to the deeper ocean, where thermal expansion is greater for a given temperature since the deeper layers are under more pressure. So, the rate of ocean expansion depends on the current distribution of heat in the ocean and how it is changing over time. The ocean can continue this expansion process even if the surface temperature has paused because of the lagged dynamical effects resulting from the previous temperature increases as the heat flows within the ocean. In fact climate scientists predict that the sea level will continue to rise for centuries even if carbon emissions are stabilized, because of the lagged effects of temperature increases.

    Thus, increases in the sea level over the past 15 years or so are not necessarily inconsistent with a hiatus in the increase in surface temperature over that same period.

    1. Rick Stryker

      Baffled,

      By the way, I would also point out that although the rate of sea level rise has not paused, it has slowed down in the last decade. From 1990 to the present, the sea level has been rising at about 3 mm/year. However, that rate of increase has slowed to about 2 mm/year in the last decade or so.

    2. Baffling

      Rick,the important primary factor is when the hear first enters the ocean. Increased heat content corresponds with rising sea levels. There is no time lag on the time scales we are looking at here. This is inconsistent with hiatus. Secondary effects, such as when heat is redistributed, is complicated with a time effect. But its magnitude is much smaller than the primary effects associated with heat accumulation. We are observing domonant primary effects. That is why the data is inconsistent with the hiatus. And this is why those who are focused on a hiatus seen basically in satellite temperature data are in a conundrum. This is the physics at work. And it is not consistent with a hiatus.

      1. Rick Stryker

        Baffles,

        Given your uncharacteristic delay in replying, I thought for once you might have allowed yourself to learn something. But in typical left wing fashion you decided to make up some facts instead.

        As I explained to you–although you won’t listen–sea level rise is an extremely complicated process. There is no simple contemporaneous correlation between surface temperature anomaly and sea level rise. I mentioned that from 1990 to the present, sea level has been rising about 3 mm/year. About a third of that is thermal expansion. We can break that rise rate down into the contributions of the components (1993-2010)

        Thermal expansion: 1.1 mm/year
        Glaciers ex Antarctica and Greenland: 0.76 mm/year
        Land water storage: 0.38 mm/year
        Greenland ice sheet: 0.33 mm/year
        Antarctic ice sheet: 0.27 mm/year
        Greenland glaciers: 0.10 mm/year

        So, there is a lot more to the process than just thermal expansion. Glacier contributions are highly variable on annual to decadal times scales and all these processes have lags.

        The Ocean has a large capacity to store heat compared to the atmosphere and because temperature changes much more slowly in the Ocean, the Ocean buffers atmospheric temperature changes. We can see how temperature changes in the Ocean using a simple physical model. Suppose that

        T0 = current Ocean temperature at depth h in degrees K
        T = future Ocean temperature at depth h in degrees K
        Q = net heat flux between the atmosphere and Ocean
        t= time

        Then, the temperature T follows the differential equation

        b(dT/dt) = -aT+ Q

        where a is the temperature damping rate in the Ocean, 15 W/(K*m^2)

        and

        b = density X specific heat X depth and typical values are

        density = 999 kg/m^3
        specific heat = 4180 J/(kg*K)

        Assuming that the Ocean is in equilibrium, we can set Q = 0 and solve the equation to calculate the time of temperature adjustment as a function of depth to get

        T = T0*exp((-a/b)t)

        For h = 100 m, the shallow part of the Ocean, the e-folding time of adjustment is 0.88 years. For h = 5000m, the deep part of the Ocean, the e-folding time is 44 years.

        Of course, the true situation is much more complex. Because of the abyssal circulation of the ocean, the true e-folding time for temperature adjustment in the deep Ocean has been estimated to be on the order of 1000 years.

        The very slow temperature adjustment of the Ocean implies that it is never in equilibrium with regard to transportation of heat and temperature and volume change. The process of adjustment is extremely complex. When you add in all the other factors besides thermal expansion–glaciers, etc.–you don’t get a simple relationship between atmospheric temperature change and sea level rise.

        Baffles, if you were more familiar with the climate literature you would realize that climate scientists have not tried to dismiss the temperature hiatus by pointing to sea level rise. Instead, the dominant explanation is that the heat is hiding in the deep Ocean, which I’ve commented on before.

        1. baffling

          rick,
          sorry for the delay, i have actually been measuring the sea level and temperature in the pacific of the coast of mexico. hard work but somebody must do the field work.

          at least you are able to provide a competent scientific response to the question posed, unlike responses from deniers such as corev. and i have never denied the complexity of the problem. i very well understand the issue is not straight forward. however, that does not mean one cannot apply simple models to investigate first order effects. thermal expansion coefficients are a function of temperature itself, that is why we get circulatory effects and ice forming on the surface. nevertheless, one can create a simplified model without including this redistribution and still gain an understanding of the observed data. one can consider sea levels a result of thermal expansion in one category, and the various sources of runoff you mention as the other category. global sea level has risen at a fairly consistent rate over the past few decades, when examined in multiyear spans
          http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/sea-level/
          the hiatus is not apparent in this data of sea level rise.

          if we consider the overall sea level rise rate has not changed, and we have not had a change in the second category caused by glaciers, ice sheets, etc, then the first category which includes thermal expansion must continue at its prior rate. since you are basically modeling a sphere, this is not quite correct. in order to maintain constant sea level rise rates, each increasing increment encompasses a slightly larger surface area and volume. you actually need more total volume contribution from each category to continually increment sea levels at the same rate. if one wants to embrace the concept of a hiatus-and many who do embrace the hiatus also embrace the idea that global warming is not occurring, at least for convenience-then one needs to show how this is consistent with even a simple model of rising sea levels. thermal expansion effects actually require slightly more energy for each increment in global sea level rise. a hiatus is not consistent with this type of model, and is not consistent with the observed data as well.

          we can, and certainly should, utilize the more complex models to better understand what is happening around the globe. but lets put to rest this notion of a hiatus and its importance in the discussion. the hiatus simply serves as a distraction to what is really happening around the globe, which is a continuation of heat accumulation on earth.

  13. Bruce Hall

    I find the “climate change” exchanges somewhat amusing, but I understand the concern from an economic standpoint. The real issue is what is at the root of any climate change (can we effectively do anything to prevent further change…) and is it in our best interest in terms of economics, health, and refocusing of resources?

    Virtually all scientists agree that climate is gradually warming; however, some scientists/politicians have made it extremely profitable to become doomsayers. Al Gore is one example ($100 million + on his climate stump speeches while jetting around the country and maintaining a 10K sq. ft. mansion http://www.cbsnews.com/news/2006-al-gore-does-sundance/ — less than a month before we reach the point of no return). There is a lot of money to be made on the Climate Change bandwagon, so it is hard to be too critical of scientists who attempt to get funding from the government for studies linking every possible event to global warming. It boils down to: the earth is gradually warming. We have had wars, drought, deluge, and disease. Therefore, warming is causing wars, drought, deluge, and disease (and don’t forget studies infamously linking volcanoes and earthquakes to warming).

    If we are truly naive enough to attribute virtually every major issue to a slight warming of the earth from a very cold period, then we deserve to have our taxes raised, our energy supplies reduced, and our freedoms highly regulated.

    * Global Warming Effect: Rise in sea levels worldwide (never happened before /sarc)
    * Global Warming Effect: More killer storms (never happened before /sarc)
    * Global Warming Effect: Massive crop failures (never happened before /sarc)
    * Global Warming Effect: Widespread extinction of species (never happened before /sarc)
    * Global Warming Effect: Disappearance of coral reefs (never happened before and no evidence that it is happening now)

    What has happened is that “climate change” has become the cause de la journée for the wealthy and powerful to herd the sheep in the name of protecting the sheep. As Charles Dudley (friend of Mark Twain) said: “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Now we have those who claim to be doing something about it… for a price. Can you spell P R O T E C T I O N R A C K E T?

  14. Bruce Hall

    Sorry about the bold. Didn’t use the to stop it after the first paragraph. Must be global warming/climate change affecting me.

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