Open thread

open thread

Again, my apologies for non-attendance. Please use this for your interesting forays into politics, difficulties of the Christchurch rebuild and global economics. Otherwise the follow-the-thread police could slap fines on your host or (equally painful) throw the book at him.

Views: 116

44 Thoughts on “Open thread

  1. Andy on 13/10/2015 at 10:50 am said:

    Ah, enough rope to hang ourselves..
    Thanks Sir, most kindly

  2. Richard Treadgold on 13/10/2015 at 10:55 am said:

    Heh, heh. You’re welcome. There’s more where that came from!

  3. Richard C (NZ) on 13/10/2015 at 11:05 am said:

    Open thread – woo hoo!


    ‘Welcome Comrades: 21st Century Eco-Socialism Conference at UCSB’

    By Michael Greer (@thetalentscout), Posted on October 12, 2015 by Steve Milloy

    “System Change, not Climate Change”

  4. Richard C (NZ) on 13/10/2015 at 11:29 am said:

    Re Eco-Socialism vs next credit crunch. From the previous thread and abbreviated:

    The Eco-socialists are about to get what they want but they really have no idea what they will be really getting. They will NOT be getting Eco-socialist utopia. Socialist re-distribution thrives on other people’s money (gushing flows of it), but that paradigm is failing fast. The debased financial fuel that once drove the productive sector (think industry, manufacturing, exporting, agri/horti culture etc) that provides the wealth for Socialists to redistribute no longer creates growth (massive recession looming now instead). These are the sectors that Eco-socialists want to close down but what is left? Public sector jobs but what and who will pay for that?

    Debt Rattle October 11 2015

    First article from Debt Rattle link:

    ‘The world economic order is collapsing and this time there seems no way out’

    Will Hutton, Saturday 10 October 2015

    Europe has seen nothing like this for 70 years – the visible expression of a world where order is collapsing. The millions of refugees fleeing from ceaseless Middle Eastern war and barbarism are voting with their feet, despairing of their futures. The catalyst for their despair – the shredding of state structures and grip of Islamic fundamentalism on young Muslim minds – shows no sign of disappearing.

    Yet there is a parallel collapse in the economic order that is less conspicuous: the hundreds of billions of dollars fleeing emerging economies, from Brazil to China, don’t come with images of women and children on capsizing boats. Nor do banks that have lent trillions that will never be repaid post gruesome videos. However, this collapse threatens our liberal universe as much as certain responses to the refugees. Capital flight and bank fragility are profound dysfunctions in the way the global economy is now organised that will surface as real-world economic dislocation.


    Some of the other featured articles:

    • Central Bank Cavalry Can No Longer Save The World (Reuters)

    • Quantitative Frightening (Economist)

    • Beijing’s Market Rescue Leaves China Stocks Stuck in the Doldrums (WSJ)

    • Fed Officials Seem Ready To Deploy Negative Rates In Next Crisis (MarketWatch)

    • IMF: Keep Interest Rates Low Or Risk Another Crash (Guardian)

    • Last Time This Ratio Soared Like This Was After Lehman Moment (WolfStreet)

    • Why We Shouldn’t Borrow Money From The Future (John Kay)

    • Euro Superstate Won’t Save Dysfunctional Single Currency: Ex-IMF Chief (Telegraph)

    • The Real Fight To Win The International Currency Wars (Telegraph)

    • When Pension Funds Go Empty, All Bets Are Off (NY Post)

    # # #

    The Eco-Socialist, Social Justice Warriors wont know what has hit them – think of a world where your wedding ring finger is cut off for the gold that is on it.

    We’re heading for a new world economic order but forget about an Eco-socialist utopia.

  5. Richard C (NZ) on 13/10/2015 at 12:08 pm said:

    Richard T, what has been your observations re the job losses at Glenbrook steel mill?

    ‘Waiuku community react to job losses at NZ Steel’s Glenbrook mill’


    I characterized this as a “Green dream come true” in the previous thread. However, if you extrapolate all these cutbacks and closures around the world because commodity prices have crashed then the effect on communities is massive, or will be when the process escalates.

    NZ steel is laying off 100, Solid Energy proposes to close the Huntly East mine, with the loss of over 60 jobs:

    I worked on Huntly East mine surface structures as a drafty donkey’s years ago and have done a lot of other work in Huntly since so I know a bit about the place and people but nothing about Waiuku.

    Mining and construction is first to feel the brunt (Caterpillar is laying off 10,000) but it wont end there. When credit dries up I fear for the BOP, it is covered in kiwifruit vines on trellises and employs an extra 20,000+ during harvest (and much imported overseas labour now too, especially for night shifts). I’m wondering if the growth industry of the future will be pulling out the vines and planting other crops – kiwifruit is not an essential staple and relies on trade credit for shipping to market.

    When the contraction sets in overseas kiwifruit sales will plummet I’m thinking.

  6. Richard C (NZ) on 13/10/2015 at 12:34 pm said:

    >”if you extrapolate all these cutbacks and closures around the world…..”

    That’s the unwinding of this process (think Detroit):

    ‘Analyzing the Benefits and Costs of Economic development projects’
    [University of North Carolina]

    How Will a Development Project Affect the Local Economy?

    The first question in assessing whether a development project is worthy of some amount of
    public investment is, What economic benefits will the project create for the community? These
    benefits are most often measured in terms of employment, income, and output (business revenues
    or sales).

    In 2006 Google announced it would build a $600 million data center in Lenoir (Caldwell
    County), N.C. This project provides a useful illustration for how to assess and interpret the estimated
    economic effects of a new business location. Google is expected to employ 210 workers at
    the facility itself. While these 210 jobs will be directly supported by the day-to-day operations of
    the new facility, the North Carolina Department of Commerce estimates that Google will create
    a total of 582 jobs statewide.1 If Google is directly supporting only 210 workers, how can the
    total employment expected to come from the new facility be nearly 600?

    Economic Impact Analysis

    The primary quantitative technique used to estimate the economic benefits of a proposed development
    project is economic impact analysis. Economic impact analysis estimates how changes
    in economic activity, such as a new business locating in a community, will affect the wider local
    or regional economy. If the prospective business requires a new facility to be built, the construction
    phase of the project will create a stimulus effect locally that can be captured in an economic
    impact analysis.

    Once a new facility is operational, a business such as Google will spend money directly on
    certain items, including (1) payroll, (2) service contracts with local vendors, and (3) local purchases
    of supplies and equipment. When a business makes such direct expenditures, it sets in
    motion a series of additional spending flows throughout various sectors of the local economy.
    For example, the purchase of goods and services from local suppliers supports the hiring of
    workers at those firms and enables those firms to purchase additional inputs from their suppliers
    situated further down the supply chain. In addition, the company’s employees earn salaries
    and wages, some of which they will spend on local goods and services in a wide variety of industries.
    That spending helps support workers in those industries who also will spend portions of
    their incomes locally, and so on.

    Using this logic, a typical economic impact analysis estimates
    the total impact of a change in economic activity2 as the sum of effects on three different levels.

    •• Direct effects are the initial changes in employment, income, or output that trigger the first
    round of spending (e.g., the value of a firm’s initial change in payroll or production).

    •• Indirect effects are the changes in employment, income, or output in subsequent rounds
    of re-spending that arise through purchases from local supplier industries (inter-industry

    •• Induced effects are created when payrolls increase and workers in affected industry sectors
    spend more on local goods and services (household spending effect).

    Taken together, the indirect and induced impacts can be thought of as the “ripple effect” of
    the initial change in economic activity. These additional impacts on a community or region
    can be estimated by applying a ratio called a multiplier to the direct effects of new economic
    activity.3 The multiplier measures the total increase in employment, income, and/or output
    across all economic sectors per each new job created directly or per each dollar increase in earnings
    or business sales. The multiplier gauges how an initial change in consumption by end-users
    or “final demand” in one sector translates into changes in the wider economy.4 A change in one
    sector of the economy affects many others.

    The total economic impact, then, is the sum of the direct, indirect, and induced effects.
    Returning to the Google example, the total employment impact is estimated to be 582, which
    includes the initial employment of 210 that will be directly supported by the new facility. Based
    on these numbers, the employment multiplier for the Google project is 2.77 (582 divided by 210).
    The correct way to interpret Google’s employment multiplier is that for every job the facility
    creates directly, an additional 1.77 new jobs will be created statewide.5 In other words, Google’s
    direct employment of 210 will produce an additional 372 indirect and induced jobs for a total
    employment impact of 582. While exceptions might exist, as a rule of thumb, multipliers will
    rarely exceed 3.0 at the state level and 2.5 at the local level. Multipliers much larger than this
    should be considered with caution.

    Multipliers vary considerably by industry sector. Some industries have larger multiplier
    effects than others because they buy more of their inputs locally and sell goods outside the
    region. Industries that export or sell goods and services to businesses and households located
    elsewhere bring new money into the local economy. Thus, applying one standard multiplier to a
    project’s direct effects is a rather crude way to estimate economic impacts. More precise estimates
    can be generated using advanced modeling techniques that take into account the varying
    degrees to which different industries purchase from local suppliers and export goods and
    services outside the local area.

    # # #

    The opposite of a multiplier is a divisor.

  7. Richard C (NZ) on 13/10/2015 at 12:55 pm said:

    EastPack to invest $15m in Bay [kiwifruit] plants – Sep 23, 2014

    They’ve done that and there’s another $8 – 10m since then I think. All Class I fruit is exported and totally dependent on Zespri marketing and financing of shipments. Only Class II & III is sold domestically and to Australia and Pacific Is i.e. trade risk is massive.

    EastPack is the largest post-harvest operator and a grower owned coop.

  8. Richard C (NZ) on 13/10/2015 at 2:28 pm said:

    Waiting for Collapse: USA Debt Bombs Bursting”

    by William Edstrom, September 23, 2015

    It’s been so easy the past 15 years for local governments in the USA, state governments, government authorities, corporations, banks, hedge funds and the US Federal government to simply say how many millions, billions or trillions of dollars they wanted, pay some high priced call accountants to fill out some paperwork with fine print and voila, millions, billions and trillions of dollars in borrowed money simply appeared. It has been that easy!

    Now, the government in the USA owes $46 trillion, US corporations owe $15 trillion, US individuals owe $13 trillion plus there are $315 trillion in outstanding Wall Street derivatives. (Few Americans know what a derivative is, but we as a nation are on the hook for up to $315 trillion in additional debt because of these derivatives.) These debt figures continue to escalate with each passing month.

    Detroit and Puerto Rico have only just begun the debt bombs bursting in the USA, the USA’s slow motion economic collapse. Who’s next? I’m going to tell you about some US local and state governments that have too much debt and are ripe for debt collapse along with a few US government authorities and corporations that borrowed too much money and are also ripe for debt collapse.


    Most likely to be first up to collapse are some US cities like Atlantic City NJ, Chicago IL, Newark NJ and Paterson NJ. If you’ve studied cost accounting at a graduate level, did cost accounting work and you look at publicly available financial data from these cities, it’s like looking at nightmare on main street parts I, II, III and IV about to happen.

    Counties most likely to collapse first include Kanakee County IL and Perry County KY. BASF’s decision, in September 2015, to close their nylon and epoxy unit at their Kanakee IL factory is yet another accelerant to the debt collapse of Kanakee County IL

    Without a doubt, the State of Illinois is the US state most likely to collapse first. Followed by, most likely, New Jersey. Tied for 3rd place for US states most likely to collapse are: Arizona, California, Kentucky and Michigan.

    Many government authorities will collapse including many schools, school districts and hospitals. Among the most likely authorities to collapse first are the East Liverpool City Hospital in Ohio, Citrus Memorial Hospital in Citrus County FL, the Detroit Public Schools, Pontiac City MI public schools and some universities like Ashland University in Ohio, Dowling College in NY, Franklin Pierce University in NH, the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences and the University of Puerto Rico (UPR)

    Higher education in the USA is a bubble. That bubble is bursting. Universities most likely to financially collapse and scale back (or close down) first include Ashland, Dowling, Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences, Franklin Pierce and UPR.

    Public school districts most likely to collapse next include: Charleroi Area School District(SD) in PA, East Allegheny SD in PA, Frazier SD in PA and York City SD also in PA.

    The hospitals most likely to financially collapse next include: Blue Mountain Hospital District in OR, East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare Systems, Guadalupe Regional Medical Center in TX, Indiana County Hospital Authority in PA, West Jefferson Medical Center in LA and Whidbey Island Public Hospital District in WA.

    1 out of 7 corporate bonds are classified as junk with a high risk of imminent default. Many of these corporations are Fortune 1000 corporations on the verge of financial collapse during the USA’s current financial nosedive. [see long list]

    Banks which paid their executives too much money, loaned trillions in debts that cannot be repaid; over 2,000,000 more Americans will become unemployed due to the most likely to collapse first banks like: Bank of America (NC based, 220,000 employees, $525 billion debt plus trillions in derivatives), Bank of Nova Scotia (90,000 employees, Canada based bank operating in USA too, $104 billion debt plus trillions in derivatives), Capitol City Bank & Trust (Atlanta GA), Citibank (NY, 240,000 employees, $490 billion debt plus tens of trillions of dollars in derivatives), Community Choice Financial (530 check cashing branches, 4,000 employees, $0.5 billion debt), Doral Bank (San Juan PR), Edgebrook Bank (Chicago IL), First Data Corp. ($30 billion debt, Atlanta based, 23,000 employees), First National Bank of Crestview, FL, Frontier Bank (Palm Desert CA), Goldman Sachs (NYC based, 35,000 employees, $400 billion in debt plus tens of trillions of dollars in derivatives), Highland Community Bank (Chicago IL), Northern Star Bank (Mankato MN), Nelnet (Nebraska based, 3,500 employees, $29 billion debt), Ocwen (GA based mortgage corporation, $6.2 billion debt, 11,500 employees), Premier Bank (Denver CO), Squaretwo Financial (Denver based, 5,000 employees, $1+ billion in debt), SG Structured Products, part of Societe Generale, a French bank operating in the USA (150,000 employees worldwide, $400 billion debt plus tens of trillions of dollars in outstanding derivatives) and Wilton Holdings (Bermuda based life insurance corporation, $0.3 billion in debt, only a few employees).

    # # #

    Not just USA:

    The world economic order is collapsing and this time there seems no way out’

    Will Hutton, 10 October 2015

    China’s banks are, in effect, bust: few of the vast loans they have made can ever be repaid, so they cannot now lend at the rate needed to sustain China’s once super-high but illusory growth rates.

    ‘Chinese Cash Flow Shocker: More Than Half Of Commodity Companies Can’t Pay The Interest On Their Debt’

    by Tyler Durden on 10/02/2015

    To be sure, both the size (the gargantuan CNY22 trillion) and the deteriorating quality (the surge in “uncovered debt” companies) of cash flows, was generally known. What wasn’t known were the specifics of just how severe this bubble deterioration was for the most critical for China, in the current deflationary bust, commodity sector.

    We now know, and the answer is truly terrifying. Macquarie lays it out in just three charts.

  9. Andy on 13/10/2015 at 3:33 pm said:

    Climate change raises cat threat

    Vulnerable native species may face further risk as climate change makes more of our country hospitable to stray cats, a researcher says.

    In a new study in the journal Applied Geography, Unitec natural sciences lecturer Dr Glenn Aguilar used species distribution modelling to describe areas highly favourable to stray cats, and then investigated what effects a warmer climate would have.

    Under one grim 2070 model, climate change could widen the range of areas suitable for feral cats, bringing them closer to conservation hotspots in new places like the central North Island, and the top and central areas of the South Island

    What is a “grim model”?

  10. Richard C (NZ) on 13/10/2015 at 6:12 pm said:

    >What is a “grim model”?

    A fairy tale, as compiled by the Brothers Grimm.

    Cats would be a new one I think, the closest I know of involved either a frog or a goose.

  11. Andy on 13/10/2015 at 7:48 pm said:

    Isn’t it great that you can have a career supported by Grimm Models (sic) that are literally just stories

    Beats actual work, I guess

  12. Richard C (NZ) on 13/10/2015 at 8:26 pm said:

    Gold Is Not Money = October 7, 2015

    Gold Is Not Money, Part 2

    By: Steve Saville | Mon, Oct 12, 2015

    I opened a blog post on 7th October with the statement that gold was money in the distant past and might again be money in the future, but isn’t money in any developed economy today. I then explained this statement. The post stirred up a veritable hornet’s nest, in that over the ensuing 24 hours my inbox was inundated with dozens of messages arguing that I was wrong and a couple of messages thanking me for pointing out the obvious (that gold is not money today). The negative responses were mostly polite*, but in many cases went off on a tangent. Rather than trying to respond individually, this post is my attempt to rebut or otherwise address some of the comments provoked by the earlier post on the same topic.

    In general, the responders to my earlier “Gold Is Not Money” post made the same old mistakes of arguing that gold is an excellent long-term store of value, which is true but has nothing to do with whether gold is money today, or confusing what should be with what is. Some responders simply asserted that gold is money because…it is. Not a single responder provided a practical definition of money and explained how gold fit this definition. That’s despite my emphasis in the earlier post that before you can logically argue whether something is or isn’t money, you must first have a definition of money.

    Due to the fact that many different things (salt, tally sticks, beads, shells, stones, gold, silver, whiskey, pieces of paper, etc.) have been money in the past, a reasonable definition of money MUST be based on money’s function. Also, the definition must be unique to money. In other words, when defining money you must start with the question: What function does money perform that nothing other than money performs?

    “General medium of exchange”, meaning the general enabler of indirect exchange, is the function performed by money and only by money within a particular economy. Now, there are certainly pockets of the world in which gold and other items that we don’t normally use as money in our daily lives do, indeed, perform the monetary function. For example, there are prisons in which cigarettes are the most commonly-used medium of exchange. It is certainly fair to say that cigarettes are money within the confines of such a prison, but I want a definition that applies throughout the economy of a developed country. Gold is not money in the economy of any developed country today, although there could well be small communities in which gold is money.

    I’ll now address some of the specific comments received in response to my earlier post, starting with the popular claim that there’s a difference between currency and money, and that although gold is no longer a currency it is still money. The line of thinking here appears to be that currency is the medium that changes hands to complete a transaction whereas money is some sort of esoteric concept. This is hardly a practical way of thinking about currency and money. Instead, it appears to be an attempt to avoid reality.

    A more practical way of thinking about the difference between currency and money is that almost anything can be a currency whereas money is a very commonly-used currency. In other words, “currency” is a medium of exchange whereas “money” in the general medium of exchange. The fact is that gold is sometimes used as a currency, but it is currently not money.


  13. Richard C (NZ) on 14/10/2015 at 9:06 am said:

    U.K. Telegraph: Judges Planning to Prohibit ‘Climate Skepticism’

    by Gene Koprowski, October 13, 2015

    A report in the U.K. daily The Telegraph indicates that an international panel of judges is planning to prohibit talk of “climate skepticism.” The article by Christopher Booker said the legal change was endorsed by Prince Charles of the U.K., and would revolutionize the concept of free speech once and for all. “Including senior judges and lawyers from across the world, the three-day conference on ‘Climate Change and the Law’ was staged in London’s Supreme Court. It was funded, inter alia, by the Supreme Court itself, the UK government and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP),” Booker reported. “As one of the two UN sponsors of its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, UNEP has been one of the main drivers of alarm over global warming for 40 years. The organiser and chairman of the conference was the Supreme Court judge Lord Carnwath, a fervent believer in man-made climate change, who has worked with the Prince of Wales for more than 20 years, and with UNEP since 2002.”

    The keynote speech for the event was given by Philippe Sands, a lawyer who works with former U.K. First Lady Cherie Blair and a professor of law at University College, London. “Since it is now unlikely that the world will agree in Paris to a legally binding treaty to limit the rise in global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees C from pre-industrial levels, his theme was that it is now time for the courts to step in, to enforce this as worldwide law,” Booker reported.

    Sands’ idea certainly elevates the concept of “judge-made law” to a new level. Now judges apparently don’t even need to have a case before them to rule on interpretations of law; they can choose to act like legislators, and make up their own laws, as they see fit. The due process implications are astounding here as are questions of separation of powers and independence of the judiciary.

    Judges plan to outlaw climate change ‘denial’

    A semi-secret, international conference of top judges proposed to make illegal any opinion that contradicted climate change

    By Christopher Booker, 11 Oct 2015 (Well over 5000 comments)

    We might think that a semi-secret, international conference of top judges, held in the highest courtroom in Britain, to propose that it should be made illegal for anyone to question the scientific evidence for man-made global warming, was odd enough to be worthy of front-page coverage.

    Last week I mentioned that the Prince of Wales had sent a message to this conference calling for the UN’s forthcoming climate meeting in Paris to agree on “a Magna Carta for the Earth”. But only a series of startling posts by a sharp-eyed Canadian blogger, Donna Laframboise (on Nofrakkingconsensus), have alerted us to what a bizarre event this judicial gathering turned out to be (the organisers even refused to give her the names of those who attended).


  14. Richard C (NZ) on 14/10/2015 at 9:14 am said:

    Armed EPA Agents? The Truth Is Way Out There

    Written by Gene J. Koprowski, American Spectator on 13 October 2015.

    According to a report released last week by a watchdog group called Open the Books, the EPA has spent millions of dollars recently on guns, ammo, body armor, camouflage equipment, and even night-vision goggles to arm its agents in the war on polluters.

    The Illinois-based investigative group examined thousands of checks totaling more than $93 billion from 2000 to 2014 by the EPA, and its auditors indicate that about $75 million is authorized each year for “criminal enforcement” of America’s clean air and water laws. This includes cash for a cadre of 200 “special agents” that engage in SWAT-style ops.

    “We were shocked ourselves to find these kinds of pervasive expenditures at an agency that is supposed to be involved in clean air and clean water,” said Open the Books’ founder, Adam Andrzejewski, a former candidate for governor of Illinois. “Some of these weapons are for full-scale military operations.”

    Some of these military operations have been reported in the media. Two years ago, the EPA was involved in an armed raid at a small town in Alaska where miners were accused of polluting local waters, as Fox News reported that EPA “armed agents in full body armor participated.”

    The EPA’s own website describes the activities and mission of the criminal enforcement division as “investigating cases, collecting evidence, conducting forensic analyses and providing legal guidance to assist in the prosecution of criminal conduct that threatens people’s health and the environment.”

    Don’t blame President Obama for this alone. The EPA was first given police powers in 1988 during the Reagan era. These days, EPA also conducts joint projects with the Department of Homeland Security as it engages in what a media report calls “environmental crime-fighting.”

    “For more than 30 years,” according to the EPA website, “there has been broad, bipartisan agreement about the importance of an armed, fully-equipped team of EPA agents working with state and federal partners to uphold the law and protect Americans.”

    # # #

    >Two years ago, the EPA was involved in an armed raid at a small town in Alaska where miners were accused of polluting local waters”

    ‘How the EPA managed to spill 3 million gallons of mining waste into a Colorado river’

    by Brad Plumer on August 10, 2015

    Why wasn’t the EPA SWAT Team called out on this?

  15. Andy on 14/10/2015 at 9:30 am said:

    The EPA Swat team reminds me of this Audi ad shown at a Super Bowl

    The irony is that it is a German diesel car they are advertising,

  16. Richard C (NZ) on 14/10/2015 at 9:59 am said:

    Heh, “Green Car of the Year” Audi A3 TDi – Schadenfreude is fun (how appropriate is that?).

    “hoist on their own petard” in youtube (printable) comments now that it has come back to bite them.

    Good one Andy, a greenwash disaster.

  17. Richard C (NZ) on 14/10/2015 at 10:33 am said:

    Green Car of the Year

    I own a green car. I saw a white one advertised but by the time I got there it had been sold. So I bought bought the other green one that was still on the lot.

  18. Richard C (NZ) on 14/10/2015 at 10:44 am said:

    And no, my green car is not red on the inside.

  19. Richard C (NZ) on 14/10/2015 at 12:18 pm said:

    Quote of the week:

    “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.” ― Socrates

  20. Andy on 14/10/2015 at 1:27 pm said:

    From that article

    “Georgia Tech’s Judith Curry – a prominent climate denier – attacking both me and the scientists.”


    ” Sadly, Dr. Soon is just a small cog in a massive climate-denial machine”

    Fruitloops …

  21. Richard C (NZ) on 14/10/2015 at 1:31 pm said:


    Some notes on a public lecture given in the United Kingdom Supreme Court on 17 September 2015 by Philippe Sands QC, Professor of Law, University College London.

    Robin Guenier, October 2015

    Professor Sands believes that climate change is “one of the greatest and most vital challenges of our age” and asserts that in view of its “real and imminent challenges … the international courts shall not be silent”.

    These are honourable sentiments. However, he also believes the way for the courts to make a contribution – the “single most important thing [they] could do” – would be “to settle the scientific dispute”. And to do so by “finally scotching claims” that he thinks are not based on established fact.

    But, for the courts to purport to settle a legitimate scientific disagreement, would strike at the essence of the Scientific Method – the basis of scientific practice for over 150 years. It would risk bringing international law into disrepute.

    Professor Sands may consider that a risk worth taking. However he might perhaps note that it’s not disputes about science that are making it so difficult to reach a global agreement to reduce GHG emissions. The problem derives from the understandable wish of the developing countries – responsible for about 70% of global GHG emissions and comprising 82% of the world’s population (including virtually all the world’s poorest people) – to develop their economies and to eradicate poverty. Following China’s example, they believe that the provision of reliable, affordable energy, derived largely from fossil
    fuels, is the best way of achieving these goals. And the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change specifically entitles them to give such action overriding priority.

    Discussion comments here (Paul Matthews’ blog):

    Robin Guenier on Philippe Sands

  22. Richard C (NZ) on 14/10/2015 at 1:37 pm said:

    Robin Guenier, October 12, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    Paul: you say – “No response yet from the learned professor himself.” Not quite true:

    I sent my notes to Professor Sands, inviting him to comment – copied to Professor Liz Fisher, Professor of Environmental Law at Oxford and one of the organisers of the symposium. Both have replied.

    Here’s his: “Thank you very much indeed for getting in touch. I am a strong believer in competition amongst ideas, and welcome yours in that spirit. Best PS”

    And her’s: “Dear Robin Thank you for these. I am glad you found the lecture stimulating. Yours Liz”

    They don’t seem over-interested in debate.

  23. Richard C (NZ) on 14/10/2015 at 2:19 pm said:

    Robin Guenier on Philippe Sands

    4. It would seem from the above that disputes about the science are at best only marginal to any consideration of why more is not being done to curtail emissions. Nonetheless Professor Sands believes that “the single most important thing [the Court] could do is to settle the scientific dispute”
    (Page 14 of his text).

    That seems to me to be an extraordinary assertion: not just because of the relatively marginal importance of scientific disputes in this context – but in particular because of his view that a court of law should be the final arbiter of an unresolved and purely scientific question. Yet he goes further: having noted that some “scientifically qualified, knowledgeable” people, despite “a broad emerging consensus”, are unconvinced that mankind’s actions were the main cause of recent atmospheric warming,
    he says – and, interestingly, this is not in his text – “the courts could play a role in finally scotching those claims”. He added that a finding of fact on such a matter “would be significant and authoritative”.

    A few observations:

    (a) Of the possible “first tier” of “central factual issues” that Professor Sands suggests might be addressed by the Court (Page 14 of his text), it’s only about one – whether mankind’s actions were the main cause of
    recent atmospheric warming – that there is serious disagreement.13 (b) In December 2013, the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Select Committee held an inquiry concerning the 5th Assessment
    Review (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the “IPCC”). (Its most recent report from which is derived the Synthesis Report referred to on Page 5 of Professor Sands’ text.) One of the
    Committee’s questions was this:

    “To what extent does AR5 reflect the range of views among climate

    I provided written evidence to the Committee in a paper that covered (i) warming of the climate system, (ii) human influence on climate and (iii) the implications of continued GHG emissions.14 Since then I have seen nothing that challenges my conclusion that, despite claims of consensus, there is insufficient evidence of the views of climate scientists to give a reliable answer to the Committee’s question.

    (c) Scientists who consider that key aspects of climate science are uncertain may well be in the minority. So they should perhaps be encouraged that something that was a minority view at law (Lord Atkin’s
    view in Liversidge v Anderson) “is now widely accepted as correct” (see Page 21 of Professor Sands’ text). Surely lawyers would not deny to science something that they welcome for the law?

    (d) In any case, science’s escape from the tyranny of consensus and authoritative opinion was a major achievement of the Enlightenment. This is well illustrated by these quotations from Thomas Huxley (“Darwin’s Bulldog” whose Oxford debate with Bishop Wilberforce in 1860 established the pre-eminence of the theory of Darwinian evolution):

    The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin.

    In science, as in art, and, as I believe, in every other sphere of human activity, there may be wisdom in a multitude of counsellors, but it is only in one or two of them.

    The ultimate court of appeal is observation and experiment… not authority.

    Based on these principles the scientific method became the indispensable tool of science.15 Should that now be subordinated to the authority of a court of law however distinguished? I really don’t think so. And it’s a principle that applies equally to the opinions of the IPCC – see Page 5 of Professor Sands’ text.16

    # # #

    >Should [the scientific method] now be subordinated to the authority of a court of law however distinguished?


  24. Richard C (NZ) on 14/10/2015 at 2:27 pm said:

    The judge [Lord Carnwath], the presidential hopeful and some strange conflicts of interest

    Oct 7, 2015 by Bishop Hill

    Donna Laframboise has been doing some interesting research [hotlink] on the Climate and Law conference recently held by the UK’s Supreme Court. It seems that as well as Philippe Sands, several other judges used the occasion to advance their environmentalist views.

    Prominent among them was Lord Carnwath,

    Carnwath is an interesting chap >>>>>>

  25. Richard C (NZ) on 15/10/2015 at 8:02 am said:

    ‘France’s top weatherman sparks storm over book questioning climate change’

    Philippe Verdier, weather chief at France Télévisions, the country’s state broadcaster, reportedly sent on “forced holiday” for releasing book accusing top climatologists of “taking the world hostage”

    By Henry Samuel, Paris, 14 Oct 2015

    Every night, France’s chief weatherman has told the nation how much wind, sun or rain they can expect the following day. Now Philippe Verdier, a household name for his nightly forecasts on France 2, has been taken off air after a more controversial announcement – criticising the world’s top climate change experts.

    Mr Verdier claims in the book Climat Investigation (Climate Investigation) that leading climatologists and political leaders have “taken the world hostage” with misleading data. In a promotional video, Mr Verdier said: “Every night I address five million French people to talk to you about the wind, the clouds and the sun. And yet there is something important, very important that I haven’t been able to tell you, because it’s neither the time nor the place to do so.” He added: “We are hostage to a planetary scandal over climate change – a war machine whose aim is to keep us in fear.” His outspoken views led France 2 to take him off the air starting this Monday. “I received a letter telling me not to come. I’m in shock,” he told RTL radio. “This is a direct extension of what I say in my book, namely that any contrary views must be eliminated.”

    The book has been released at a particularly sensitive moment as Paris is due to host a crucial UN climate change conference in December. According to Mr Verdier, top climate scientists, who often rely on state funding, have been “manipulated and politicised”.

    He specifically challenges the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, saying they “blatantly erased” data that went against their overall conclusions, and casts doubt on the accuracy of their climate models. The IPCC has said that temperatures could rise by up to 4.8°C if no action is taken to reduce carbon emissions. Mr Verdier writes: “We are undoubtedly on a plateau in terms of warming and the cyclical variability of the climate doesn’t not allow us to envisage if the natural rhythm will tomorrow lead us towards a fall, a stagnation or a rise (in temperature).”

    The 330-page book also controversially contains a chapter on the “positive results” of climate change in France, one of the countries predicted to be the least affected by rising temperatures. “It’s politically incorrect and taboo to vaunt the merits of climate change because there are some,” he writes, citing warmer weather attracting tourists, lower death rates and electricity bills in mild winters, and better wine and champagne vintages. Asked whether he had permission from his employer to release the book, he said: “I don’t think management liked it, let’s be honest.” “I put myself via this investigation on the path of COP 21, which is a bulldozer, and we can see the results.”

    The book was criticised by French newspaper Le Monde as full of “errors”. “The models used to predict the average rise in temperatures on the surface of the globe have proved to be rather reliable, with the gap between observations and predictions quite small,” it countered.

    Mr Verdier told France 5: “Making these revelations in the book, which I absolutely have the right to do, can pose problems for my employer given that the government (which funds France 2) is organising COP [the climate change conference]. In fact as soon as you a slightly different discourse on this subject, you are branded a climate sceptic.” He said he decided to write the book in June 2014 when Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, summoned the country’s main weather presenters and urged them to mention “climate chaos” in their forecasts.

    “I was horrified by this discourse,” Mr Verdier told Les Inrockuptibles magazine. Eight days later, Mr Fabius appeared on the front cover of a magazine posing as a weatherman above the headline: “500 days to save the planet.” Mr Verdier said: “If a minister decides he is Mr Weatherman, then Mr Weatherman can also express himself on the subject in a lucid manner. “What’s shameful is this pressure placed on us to say that if we don’t hurry, it’ll be the apocalypse,” he added, saying that “climate diplomacy” means leaders are seeking to force changes to suit their own political timetables.

    According to L’Express magazine, unions at France Television called for Mr Verdier to be fired, but that Delphine Ernotte, the broadcaster’s chief executive, initially said he should be allowed to stay “in the name of freedom of expression”.

  26. Richard C (NZ) on 15/10/2015 at 8:27 am said:

    ‘Clouding the debate over climate change ‘

    The new U.N. chairman knows economics, not science

    By Tom Harris – – Tuesday, October 13, 2015

    Last week, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) held a news conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia, to introduce South Korean bureaucrat Hoesung Lee as its new chairman. Mr. Lee’s remarks to the press demonstrated that he is sadly out of touch with the actual status of today’s climate science.

    This is not surprising. Although Mr. Lee said, “The hard science of climate change will remain the foundation of the IPCC’s work,” he has practically no hard science training or experience. Instead, he has a doctorate in economics and a career as an economist, IPCC insider and environment professor. Yet, when Jill Peters, weather broadcaster for Belgium Television, referred to Mr. Lee as a “climate scientist” in her question at the news conference, he did not correct the mistake.

    Bob Carter, former head of the School of Earth Sciences at James Cook University in Australia, commented: “The idea that an economist can make a suitable chair for an IPCC-type organization is misguided. The basic issue is a scientific one. Yet we now have another chairman who will be generally unaware of the complexities inherent in climate science and, in particular, of the high degree to which scientific advice about global warming has been corrupted by those with an interest in perpetuating needless alarm.”

    Lee C. Gerhard, senior scientist emeritus at the University of Kansas, and past director and state geologist of the Kansas Geological Survey, summed up the situation well: “The appointment by the U.N. of Lee as chair of the IPCC is yet another attack by the U.N. war on science. His green credentials are impeccable, but his scientific credentials are non-existent.”


  27. Richard C (NZ) on 15/10/2015 at 8:49 am said:

    ‘A Supreme Court justice and the scary plan to outlaw climate change’

    An imaginary problem could soon have real consequences in international law

    James Delingpole, 10 October 2015

    How do you make an imaginary problem so painfully real that everyone suffers? It’s an odd question to ask, you might think, but it’s one that has been exercising some of the brightest minds in the legal firmament, led by no less a figure than Lord Justice Carnwath of the Supreme Court.

    Last month, at an event whose sinister significance might have passed unnoticed had it not been for the digging of Canadian investigative blogger Donna Laframboise, Carnwath contrived to nudge the world a step closer towards enacting potentially the most intrusive, economically damaging and vexatious legislation in history: an effective global ban on so-called ‘climate change’.

    The setting was a rather dull-sounding symposium Carnwath organised at King’s College London called ‘Adjudicating the Future: Climate Change and the Rule of Law’. We don’t know the names of the ‘leading judges, lawyers and legal academics’ from 11 nations who attended because the organisers won’t disclose them. What we do know, though, is that you and I helped pay for this three-day shindig: among the sponsors were the Supreme Court, Her Majesty’s government and (publicly funded) King’s College London.

    So far, so very dreary. It probably wouldn’t have got into the news at all if the Prince of Wales (Carnwath used to be his attorney general) hadn’t published a letter of support, urging the judiciary to play a ‘crucial role’ in preventing ‘the disastrous consequences of global warming’. But as ever at these grey convocations where men we’ve never heard of decide our future behind closed doors, the devil lies all in the detail.

    We can see this in the opening speeches, viewable online and described by Laframboise as ‘among the most terrifying 90 minutes I’ve ever witnessed’. If you’ve the stomach to sit through the faux-judicious burblings, you’ll see what she means: here are leading, influential, international lawyers proposing to reject the scientific method, bypass democracy and permanently shut down the climate debate by declaring ‘global warming’ illegal under international law.

    It sounds absurd. Impossible even. But already there is local precedent. This summer, in response to a case brought by a green activist group called the Urgenda Foundation, a Dutch court ruled that the Netherlands government must drastically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in order to save future generations from the effects of dangerous climate change. Central to the court’s decision — and widely quoted in its ruling — was the allegedly accepted scientific wisdom that the world simply cannot be allowed to heat up by more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels without disastrous consequences.

    Had that court done its homework, it would have discovered that the 2°C figure was the arbitrary invention, at the height of the climate scare in the 1990s when the world still was actually warming, of a neo-Malthusian activist-scientist called Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (who also advised the Pope on his recent, controversial encyclical on the environment). Schellnhuber has himself admitted: ‘Two degrees is not a magical limit. It’s clearly a political goal. The world will not come to an end right away in the event of stronger warming, nor are we definitely saved if warming is not as significant. The reality, of course, is much more complicated.’

    Indeed it is. There is evidence to suggest that even were the planet to heat up to 2.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the benefits — for example in increased crop yields — would outweigh the drawbacks. But no one really knows because global climate is a chaotic system which remains ill-understood even by the ‘experts’. Only a fortnight ago, a new study was published revealing that the oceans are producing, abiotically, unexpectedly vast quantities of isoprene, a volatile organic compound known for cooling properties. No wonder then, that with discoveries like this being made all the time, the alarmists’ doomsday computer models are continually failing to accord with reality: there’s still so much stuff out there that the scientists don’t know.

    Which, of course, is precisely what is scary about this scheme being cooked up by Carnwath and his green fellow travellers in the judiciary. What they are proposing is to ignore the uncertainty, act as if the ‘science’ really is ‘settled’ and close the argument forever, using the sledgehammer instrument of the International Court of Justice.

    This was the shameless proposal of Carnwath’s keynote speaker, Philippe Sands QC. By making the ‘2°C target’ an ‘obligation under international law’, he suggested, the UN’s General Assembly could impose ‘obligations to reduce emissions, including if necessary by phasing out altogether certain emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases’.

    Since carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of almost every industrial process, you can perhaps imagine the chaos such legislation would cause. It would be great news for lawyers like Sands, of course, and an endless excuse for litigation by the likes of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. But for businesses and nation states on the receiving end, it would be a disaster.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, for no reason that any alarmist scientist has ever managed plausibly to explain, there has been no actual ‘global warming’ for nigh on 19 years. This point ought not to need reiterating. The only reason it has to be — with Groundhog Day regularity, unfortunately — is in order to counter the specious propaganda of an overmighty green establishment embracing everything from the Obama administration and the Vatican to the BBC and, now, it seems, certain members of our famously neutral and apolitical senior judiciary.

  28. Hope the move is going well RT. Moving’s a beeeatch. Take care of your back and your fluids. And your lovely wife.

  29. Richard C (NZ) on 15/10/2015 at 8:08 pm said:

    Trivia file.

    Deutsche Bank, a bank with assets worth more than Italy’s GDP, has declared the need to adjust the results for the third quarter of 2015 to reflect losses of almost €6 billion. Details of the reasons for these losses are not yet available but it is well known that the bank has an anomalous concentration of derivatives in its portfolio: $75 thousand billion (about €65 thousand billion!), equivalent to 20 times Germany’s GDP.

    And then.
    In 2007, China banned Buddhist monks from reincarnating without government permission. According to State Religious Affairs Bureau Order N0. 5, applications must be filed by Buddhist temples before they can recognize individuals as reincarnated tulkus. This law deemed to be “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.”

  30. Richard Treadgold on 15/10/2015 at 10:30 pm said:


    Hope the move is going well RT.

    Thanks for the kind sentiments, mate. We’ve been ultra busy, though the move, if it happens, won’t be for a month or so after the buyer goes unconditional on Waiuku. You chose a good day to mention it; the auction was held this evening. The sale hasn’t been concluded yet but it should be tied up within 48 hours. The result so far is pleasing. Then it’s into the Bay of Plenty. Wahoo! Large house, good views, three lively grandchildren, lots of garden space, home-grown oranges and other citrus, several sheds (man cave!), plenty of redecorating to do, free kiwifruit from the orchard over the fence, and handy beaches for the kontiki or maybe a boat. Not to mention getting in on the ground floor of a new property surge around Tauranga. Perhaps.

  31. Andy on 21/10/2015 at 9:26 am said:

    More from the trenches:

    Group vows to continue fight against coastal hazard LIM listings

  32. Andy on 22/10/2015 at 3:53 pm said:

    Not about climate

    “The Death of Europe”
    by Daniel Greenfield

  33. Andy on 22/10/2015 at 5:26 pm said:

    “Secretary of State John Kerry thinks Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and anyone else who doubts the existence of man-made global warming have disqualified themselves from ever holding public office”

    Read more:

  34. Richard C (NZ) on 22/10/2015 at 7:57 pm said:

    LIM listings.

    “Burwood-Pegasus councillor David East was comfortable with the revised wording on the LIM reports, but believed the council ultimately needed to put the Tonkin & Taylor report to one side and commission a fresh study into the coastal hazards facing the city.”

    So the T&T report was not fit for purpose. Does the CCC get a refund?

  35. Andy on 22/10/2015 at 8:03 pm said:

    The T&T issue is work in progress, mostly meetings I am not privy to.

    I will share any public info as I get it though

  36. Richard C (NZ) on 22/10/2015 at 8:31 pm said:

    >”“The Death of Europe”

    Talked to a young male Danish backpacker at work today. Among a few other things I asked him about Danish unemployment, he said welfare was an easy option and he seemed to think the govt had it all in hand. Now tonight I read in that article:

    “27% of Moroccans and 21% of Turks in the Netherlands are unemployed. It’s 27% in Denmark for Iraqis. And even when employed, their average income is well below the European average. Critics pointed out in the past that a multicultural America can’t afford the welfare states that European countries have. Now that those same countries are turning multicultural, they can’t afford them either.”

    I think my Danish workmate (an electrician) may be in for a shock when he gets back (he seemed oblivious to the above). Even given Denmark’s highly educated workforce (they are paid to study by govt) and their impressive production e.g. satellite electronics for NASA and a fully automated sawmill machine installed in Katikati just up the road from here (Denmark has no forestry), also all the Maersk ships in and out of MtM, the Danish culture and welfare he has been accustomed to is changing radically and quickly.

    It will be a whole new “standard” of living, and not for the better as per the article.

    Also overheard a young European female backpacker (don’t know her nationality) who had been in contact with her Aunt in Germany. Big topic was the 300,000 migrants entering Germany in one week.

  37. Richard C (NZ) on 24/10/2015 at 10:54 am said:

    ‘When You Need Courts to Settle Science, Then Science Isn’t On Your Side ‘

    October 16, 2015 Daniel Greenfield, Frontpage Mag (“Inside every liberal is a totalitarian screaming to get out”)

    Courts can use scientific evidence to make a decision in a case, but courts don’t define scientific facts. A judicial conference which calls on courts to settle a scientific debate is troubling.

    When you’re calling on courts to settle “scientific disputes”, you’re not engaged in science, but in totalitarian control of science. When you want to censor critics using the power of government, you’re just another dictatorship.

    Environmentalism has mostly been a tool of state power. The Global Warming craze has made a lot of well connected people very rich, but also offers the opportunity to exploit an imaginary crisis for a level of control over people’s lives without precedent in human history.

    This isn’t about science. It’s about money, ideology and power.

  38. Andy on 30/10/2015 at 2:14 pm said:

    Australia’s breakdown king David Pocock more concerned with climate change than facing All Blacks

  39. Andy on 03/11/2015 at 4:14 pm said:

    From the “it’s worse than we thought” department

    Climate change to melt away ski seasons

    OMG, children just won’t know what snow is. It will be a rare and exciting event.

  40. Richard C (NZ) on 03/11/2015 at 7:56 pm said:

    Heavy snowfall in California

    But don;t worry, climate change will melt it away.

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