Proper Analysis

Over the years, several people have pointed me to Willis Eschenbach’s Skating Under The Ice, and it’s very, very  good.  Of late, however, this post has (and should have) become a landmark in the seemingly-endless debate on climate change, in that Willis applies an age-old accounting principle to the issue of carbon dioxide levels, thus:

Now, for me, discussing the “social cost of carbon” is a dereliction of scientific duty because it is only half of an analysis.
A real analysis is where you draw a vertical line down the middle of a sheet of paper. At the top of one side of the paper you write “Costs”, and under that heading, you list the costs of whatever you are analyzing … and at the top of the other side of the paper you write “Benefits” and beneath, you list those benefits. This is what is called a “cost/benefit analysis”, and only considering only the “Costs” column and ignoring the “Benefits” column constitutes scientific malfeasance.

…and then, in brilliant detail, he shows the other half.  It’s a very long read, but if you don’t do it all, you’re doing yourself a disservice.  His conclusion is stunning:

[T]he benefit that we get from emitting that additional tonne of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is an increase in goods and services of $4,380 … which dwarfs the assumed social cost of carbon of $40. When we do an actual cost/benefit analysis, the result is almost all benefit.

I admit that I had only thought in vague terms about this topic, because I always took it for granted that social benefit came from industry, and that the greater the industry, the greater the benefit.  What I had never done was quantify  the benefit;  and now I don’t have to, because now it’s been done, irrefutably.

Bravo.

Finally, Fall

Looks like today (September 20) is going to be the last day of summer, temperature-wise (91°F) here in north Texas.  Unless the weather folks have cocked it up completely, temps are dropping into the 70s over the weekend (with autumn showers coming in), and it seems unlikely that the mercury will climb much over 80°F even after the showers have gone.

Yes, British- and Euro Readers:  a daytime high temperature in the high 70s and low 80s (22-27 in your stupid Celsius thing) is what passes for autumn Over Here.  You may now eat your livers.

At least we’ll henceforth be spared the stench of lizards frying on the sidewalks.  Until next May, that is.

I am SO glad summer has passed.  Even by our standards, it was a monster.

Good Timing

Looks like I picked the right time to stay at The Englishman’s cottage in Boscastle (i.e. in December last year):

Fifteen flood warnings have been issued by the Environment Agency, most of which are concentrated in Cornwall and the south west of England.

And lest anyone think I’m being facetious:

The Boscastle flood of 2004 occurred on Monday, 16 August 2004 in the two villages of Boscastle and Crackington Haven in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The villages suffered extensive damage after flash floods caused by an exceptional amount of rain that fell over eight hours that afternoon. The floods were the worst in local memory. A study commissioned by the Environment Agency… concluded that it was among the most extreme ever experienced in Britain. The peak flow was about 140 m³/s, between 5:00pm and 6:00pm BST.

Granted, the British government has built all sorts of anti-flooding drains and such in Boscastle since then, but I’m still nervous. Government works are not always infallible, as a certain city in the Mississippi delta found out a few years back.

Not Here

Apparently, much of Britishland was smacked by rain storms and snow, with concomitant flooding etc. right before Thanksgiving*:

However, lest anyone be afraid that Yer Humble Narrator was thus afflicted, allow me to show the local conditions yesterday:

…and the view down my “street” yesterday morning at 8am:

Yes, that is blue sky up above the hill on the left. I had to explain the phenomenon to some of the locals, who’d never seen it before and were frightened.

Lest anyone think that the weather in Brigadoon-On-Sea is lovely, however, I should point out that the wind coming in from the sea was so strong (straight into my face, in this pic), I actually staggered a bit while walking back down to the cottage.

I love it here.


*I know they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving Over Here. I was just putting a date on the thing.

Temperature & Climate

From Comments under yesterday’s post:

I’m curious about how you feel about Cornwall as regards temperature and climate.
You’re from South Africa via Texas most recently and I think of you as a hot place guy. Does Cornwall feel cold to you? I see someone in shirtsleeves in the 4th photo down and that’s how I “feel” the UK, as a warm-ish place, even in November.

To answer the easy question first: no, Cornwall doesn’t feel cold to me. Remember that I lived in Chicago for over a decade, so I know what “cold” is. It can get quite chilly in Cornwall when the wind blows (which is quite often), but the Gulf Stream stops the wind from the biting cold of, say, those coming in off the North Sea (which are dreadful). The only reason I put on a coat at all is in case it starts to rain; otherwise I’d be walking around if not in shirtsleeves, just a henley or similar long-sleeved tee shirt. When it rains, that’s another story — but then once again, having just come south from Scotland’s freezing rain, Cornwall in the rain is chilly rather than icy. (This may change in January, of course, but sadly I won’t be here to see it.)

Although I used to live in Johannesburg and now live in Texas, I’m not a hot-weather kind of guy. In fact, the only thing* which gets me down about Texas is the heat. Johannesburg has a different kind of heat, of course: even though the daily summer high is around 90-95°F, the relative humidity is 5% — whereas in Texas, a 95°F day generally means 90% humidity, which I frankly find unbearable.

The travel writer Bill Bryson loves it Over Here, by the way. He describes it as a climate that really only requires one type of clothing, which can be worn pretty much all year round (with layers added or subtracted as needed, and a rain jacket and winter coat the only other accessories).

I agree absolutely. Right now, the indoor temperature in the cottage is 68°F, which I find pleasantly cool (and the only reason I’m wearing slippers is that the stone flooring is icy cold underfoot). Outside, the temperature at 10:30am local is about 54°F on its way up to 57°F, and tonight’s low is predicted to be 52°F. When I went out for fish & chips last night, I wore only sweatpants, a henley and a fleece waistcoat called a gilet** (pronounced “jhillay”), and I was quite comfortable.

Actually, I’m a cool weather kind of guy. And if it’s raining and a little chilly, that’s certainly the weather in which I prefer to travel, especially in Britishland and Yurp: the tourists are few and the inclement weather keeps the streets clear of lots of people. When I was in Bath back in sunny August, the place was knee-deep in people — place looked and sounded like a combination of Beijing, Bakersfield and Bucharest at midday — whereas when I went back to Bath a week or so ago, with the seasonal damp and chilly air, the place was comparatively deserted and most accents in the street were Somerset. (And the steak ‘n kidney pies and hot sticky-toffee puddings were all the tastier. Nom nom nom.)

So I’m loving this climate, while I can. In ten days’ time I’ll be exploring the south of France with Longtime Friend and Former Drummer Knob (who lives there), so it’s probably not going to be like this, more’s the pity. But later I’ll be back in Britishland — to be specific, London — in time for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, where apparently it’s going to be one of the coldest winters in memory.

Can’t wait.


*also the lack of scenery in Texas, but that’s not relevant here.

** the gilet is probably the only item of clothing which I’d regard as absolutely indispensable Over Here. It can be worn as an outer garment or under a coat or rainjacket, and it’s one of the few items where one should never skimp on price. On the advice of Mr. Free Market, I paid about $30 for my Jack Pyke, which isn’t regarded as top-of-the-line by the people who know about such things — see here for an example of a “good” one — and I haven’t looked back since.

Come to think of it, when I get back to Texas, I’ll put up a post of essential clothing when traveling in Yurp during the fall and winter.