Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Obama Grows the Economy While Shrinking the Deficit - Thats How We Do It

The economic recovery is real, and even though it's not spectacular, it's getting there.
The good news is that the economy grew at a 5 percent annual pace in the third quarter this year, revised up from the 3.9 percent that the Commerce Department had previously estimated. It's the best quarterly growth since 2003, and, on the heels of the 4.6 percent growth in the second quarter, it's also the best six months the economy has had in that long. The even better news, though, is that this growth, unlike every other uptick the past few years, looks sustainable.
This isn't a blip. It's a boom.
Well, at least by the sad standards of this slow and steady recovery. The truth is that for all the hype and headlines about every little head fake, the economy has just been chugging along at the same 2 percent pace the past few years. Sometimes it's grown a little bit faster than that when companies have had to restock their inventories or sell more overseas. And sometimes it's grown a little slower than that when the opposite has happened, or when, like last winter, Arctic conditions have kept people in their homes and out of stores. But, as you can see above, growth has been remarkably consistent if we look at it over the past year, and not quarter, to smooth out these regular ups and downs.
The economy's 2.7 percent growth the past 12 months actually isn't the fastest of the recovery, but it is the best. You can see that if we strip out the volatile inventory and net export numbers to get something that goes by the catchy name of final sales to domestic purchasers. It shows us the economy's underlying strength in terms of consumer spending, government spending, and private investment. Basically, how much of today's growth we can expect to continue tomorrow. And that's also grown 2.7 percent the past year, a post-crisis high. Most of that's due to stronger consumers, who thanks to the combination of lower unemployment and less debt, are finally in decent enough financial shape to start spending a little bit more. That's only going to continue now that job growth is picking up, and plummeting gas prices are taking money out of the pump and putting it in people's pockets.
It's been awhile, but this is what a virtuous circle looks like.
Even the bad news here is kind of good news. The housing market, you see, continues to be stuck somewhere between depressed and the doldrums. Residential investment only added 0.1 percentage point to the economy's 5 percentage points of growth, and that's despite years of inactivity that's somehow left us close to a housing shortage. At some point, as un-and-underemployment decline to more normal levels, twentysomethings are going to move out of their parents' basements—sometimes stereotypes are true—and we're going to need to start building again. This recovery, in other words, still has room to grow. We might even stop hating it.
Well, let's not jinx things.

This Is What a Successful Presidency Looks Like

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Are you embarrassed?

Terry, Rich and Crazy Rich....are you not embarrassed?  Are you not embarrassed that you fell for a cause using the mantra of settled science when there was none....where the conclusions of this settled science were used in an attempt to force draconian changes in our society, severely limiting the possibility of future prosperity when in truth this was nothing more than another attempt at societal control...that you bought into hook, line and sinker?  Are you not embarrassed that the right was exactly right....that climate change is overwhelmingly influenced by natural factors, the science was too vague and too unwell studied to make such momentous conclusions?  At what point do you admit the error of you basic beliefs....that if we would just let the government control us just a little more...everything would be perfect.  Socialism has failed, the economic recovery (anemic as it may have been) is mostly due to the governments invention of money and the industriousness of American industry, not the mega planning and faux compassion of Progressive governance. 
The idea that "Climate science is settled" runs through today's popular and policy discussions. Unfortunately, that claim is misguided. It has not only distorted our public and policy debates on issues related to energy, greenhouse-gas emissions and the environment. But it also has inhibited the scientific and policy discussions that we need to have about our climate future.
My training as a computational physicist—together with a 40-year career of scientific research, advising and management in academia, government and the private sector—has afforded me an extended, up-close perspective on climate science. Detailed technical discussions during the past year with leading climate scientists have given me an even better sense of what we know, and don't know, about climate. I have come to appreciate the daunting scientific challenge of answering the questions that policy makers and the public are asking.
The crucial scientific question for policy isn't whether the climate is changing. That is a settled matter: The climate has always changed and always will. Geological and historical records show the occurrence of major climate shifts, sometimes over only a few decades. We know, for instance, that during the 20th century the Earth's global average surface temperature rose 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Nor is the crucial question whether humans are influencing the climate. That is no hoax: There is little doubt in the scientific community that continually growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, due largely to carbon-dioxide emissions from the conventional use of fossil fuels, are influencing the climate. There is also little doubt that the carbon dioxide will persist in the atmosphere for several centuries. The impact today of human activity appears to be comparable to the intrinsic, natural variability of the climate system itself.
Rather, the crucial, unsettled scientific question for policy is, "How will the climate change over the next century under both natural and human influences?" Answers to that question at the global and regional levels, as well as to equally complex questions of how ecosystems and human activities will be affected, should inform our choices about energy and infrastructure.
But—here's the catch—those questions are the hardest ones to answer. They challenge, in a fundamental way, what science can tell us about future climates.
Even though human influences could have serious consequences for the climate, they are physically small in relation to the climate system as a whole. For example, human additions to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by the middle of the 21st century are expected to directly shift the atmosphere's natural greenhouse effect by only 1% to 2%. Since the climate system is highly variable on its own, that smallness sets a very high bar for confidently projecting the consequences of human influences.
A second challenge to "knowing" future climate is today's poor understanding of the oceans. The oceans, which change over decades and centuries, hold most of the climate's heat and strongly influence the atmosphere. Unfortunately, precise, comprehensive observations of the oceans are available only for the past few decades; the reliable record is still far too short to adequately understand how the oceans will change and how that will affect climate.
A third fundamental challenge arises from feedbacks that can dramatically amplify or mute the climate's response to human and natural influences. One important feedback, which is thought to approximately double the direct heating effect of carbon dioxide, involves water vapor, clouds and temperature.                     
Scientists measure the sea level of the Ross Sea in Antarctica. National Geographic/Getty Images
But feedbacks are uncertain. They depend on the details of processes such as evaporation and the flow of radiation through clouds. They cannot be determined confidently from the basic laws of physics and chemistry, so they must be verified by precise, detailed observations that are, in many cases, not yet available.
Beyond these observational challenges are those posed by the complex computer models used to project future climate. These massive programs attempt to describe the dynamics and interactions of the various components of the Earth system—the atmosphere, the oceans, the land, the ice and the biosphere of living things. While some parts of the models rely on well-tested physical laws, other parts involve technically informed estimation. Computer modeling of complex systems is as much an art as a science.
For instance, global climate models describe the Earth on a grid that is currently limited by computer capabilities to a resolution of no finer than 60 miles. (The distance from New York City to Washington, D.C., is thus covered by only four grid cells.) But processes such as cloud formation, turbulence and rain all happen on much smaller scales. These critical processes then appear in the model only through adjustable assumptions that specify, for example, how the average cloud cover depends on a grid box's average temperature and humidity. In a given model, dozens of such assumptions must be adjusted ("tuned," in the jargon of modelers) to reproduce both current observations and imperfectly known historical records.
We often hear that there is a "scientific consensus" about climate change. But as far as the computer models go, there isn't a useful consensus at the level of detail relevant to assessing human influences. Since 1990, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, has periodically surveyed the state of climate science. Each successive report from that endeavor, with contributions from thousands of scientists around the world, has come to be seen as the definitive assessment of climate science at the time of its issue.
There is little doubt in the scientific community that continually growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, due largely to carbon-dioxide emissions from the conventional use of fossil fuels, are influencing the climate. Pictured, an estuary in Patgonia. Gallery Stock
For the latest IPCC report (September 2013), its Working Group I, which focuses on physical science, uses an ensemble of some 55 different models. Although most of these models are tuned to reproduce the gross features of the Earth's climate, the marked differences in their details and projections reflect all of the limitations that I have described. For example:
• The models differ in their descriptions of the past century's global average surface temperature by more than three times the entire warming recorded during that time. Such mismatches are also present in many other basic climate factors, including rainfall, which is fundamental to the atmosphere's energy balance. As a result, the models give widely varying descriptions of the climate's inner workings. Since they disagree so markedly, no more than one of them can be right.
• Although the Earth's average surface temperature rose sharply by 0.9 degree Fahrenheit during the last quarter of the 20th century, it has increased much more slowly for the past 16 years, even as the human contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen by some 25%. This surprising fact demonstrates directly that natural influences and variability are powerful enough to counteract the present warming influence exerted by human activity.
Yet the models famously fail to capture this slowing in the temperature rise. Several dozen different explanations for this failure have been offered, with ocean variability most likely playing a major role. But the whole episode continues to highlight the limits of our modeling.
• The models roughly describe the shrinking extent of Arctic sea ice observed over the past two decades, but they fail to describe the comparable growth of Antarctic sea ice, which is now at a record high.
• The models predict that the lower atmosphere in the tropics will absorb much of the heat of the warming atmosphere. But that "hot spot" has not been confidently observed, casting doubt on our understanding of the crucial feedback of water vapor on temperature.
• Even though the human influence on climate was much smaller in the past, the models do not account for the fact that the rate of global sea-level rise 70 years ago was as large as what we observe today—about one foot per century.
• A crucial measure of our knowledge of feedbacks is climate sensitivity—that is, the warming induced by a hypothetical doubling of carbon-dioxide concentration. Today's best estimate of the sensitivity (between 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit and 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit) is no different, and no more certain, than it was 30 years ago. And this is despite an heroic research effort costing billions of dollars.
These and many other open questions are in fact described in the IPCC research reports, although a detailed and knowledgeable reading is sometimes required to discern them. They are not "minor" issues to be "cleaned up" by further research. Rather, they are deficiencies that erode confidence in the computer projections. Work to resolve these shortcomings in climate models should be among the top priorities for climate research.
Yet a public official reading only the IPCC's "Summary for Policy Makers" would gain little sense of the extent or implications of these deficiencies. These are fundamental challenges to our understanding of human impacts on the climate, and they should not be dismissed with the mantra that "climate science is settled."
While the past two decades have seen progress in climate science, the field is not yet mature enough to usefully answer the difficult and important questions being asked of it. This decidedly unsettled state highlights what should be obvious: Understanding climate, at the level of detail relevant to human influences, is a very, very difficult problem.
We can and should take steps to make climate projections more useful over time. An international commitment to a sustained global climate observation system would generate an ever-lengthening record of more precise observations. And increasingly powerful computers can allow a better understanding of the uncertainties in our models, finer model grids and more sophisticated descriptions of the processes that occur within them. The science is urgent, since we could be caught flat-footed if our understanding does not improve more rapidly than the climate itself changes.
A transparent rigor would also be a welcome development, especially given the momentous political and policy decisions at stake. That could be supported by regular, independent, "red team" reviews to stress-test and challenge the projections by focusing on their deficiencies and uncertainties; that would certainly be the best practice of the scientific method. But because the natural climate changes over decades, it will take many years to get the data needed to confidently isolate and quantify the effects of human influences.
Policy makers and the public may wish for the comfort of certainty in their climate science. But I fear that rigidly promulgating the idea that climate science is "settled" (or is a "hoax") demeans and chills the scientific enterprise, retarding its progress in these important matters. Uncertainty is a prime mover and motivator of science and must be faced head-on. It should not be confined to hushed sidebar conversations at academic conferences.
Society's choices in the years ahead will necessarily be based on uncertain knowledge of future climates. That uncertainty need not be an excuse for inaction. There is well-justified prudence in accelerating the development of low-emissions technologies and in cost-effective energy-efficiency measures.
But climate strategies beyond such "no regrets" efforts carry costs, risks and questions of effectiveness, so nonscientific factors inevitably enter the decision. These include our tolerance for risk and the priorities that we assign to economic development, poverty reduction, environmental quality, and intergenerational and geographical equity.
Individuals and countries can legitimately disagree about these matters, so the discussion should not be about "believing" or "denying" the science. Despite the statements of numerous scientific societies, the scientific community cannot claim any special expertise in addressing issues related to humanity's deepest goals and values. The political and diplomatic spheres are best suited to debating and resolving such questions, and misrepresenting the current state of climate science does nothing to advance that effort.
Any serious discussion of the changing climate must begin by acknowledging not only the scientific certainties but also the uncertainties, especially in projecting the future. Recognizing those limits, rather than ignoring them, will lead to a more sober and ultimately more productive discussion of climate change and climate policies. To do otherwise is a great disservice to climate science itself.
Dr. Koonin was undersecretary for science in the Energy Department during President Barack Obama's first term and is currently director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University. His previous positions include professor of theoretical physics and provost at Caltech, as well as chief scientist of BP, BP.LN +0.42% BP PLC U.K.: London GBp473.30 +2.00 +0.42% Sept. 19, 2014 4:43 pm Volume (Delayed 15m) : 48.98M P/E Ratio 12.52 Market Cap GBp86.58 Billion Dividend Yield 5.04% Rev. per Employee GBp2,758,750 09/19/14 Business Leaders Relieved Afte... 09/17/14 As Scotland Votes on Independe... 09/15/14 U.K. Companies Donate Little t... More quote details and news » where his work focused on renewable and low-carbon energy technologies.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Global warming....not. Hey Al, we should all be swimming now...right?

The U.N. no longer claims that there will be dangerous or rapid climate change in the next two decades. Last September, between the second and final draft of its fifth assessment report, the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change quietly downgraded the warming it expected in the 30 years following 1995, to about 0.5 degrees Celsius from 0.7 (or, in Fahrenheit, to about 0.9 degrees, from 1.3).
Even that is likely to be too high. The climate-research establishment has finally admitted openly what skeptic scientists have been saying for nearly a decade: Global warming has stopped since shortly before this century began.
First the climate-research establishment denied that a pause existed, noting that if there was a pause, it would invalidate their theories. Now they say there is a pause (or "hiatus"), but that it doesn't after all invalidate their theories.
Alas, their explanations have made their predicament worse by implying that man-made climate change is so slow and tentative that it can be easily overwhelmed by natural variation in temperature—a possibility that they had previously all but ruled out.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ron Suskind

I have been reading Ron Suskind's book Confidence Man, and it is quite an education regarding the financial crisis.  However, considering the detail he uses to describe events, for example a private conversation between Elizabeth Warren and Obama, which, almost requires a complete disclosure by either party.  He better be telling the truth, which I think is impossible.

It is however, gasp, making me a bit more understanding of Liberal policies, he offers such non confrontational presentations of "progressive" viewpoints that they are almost palatable. 

It also seems to describe a very smart Obama.


He describes the whole of the Bush presidency as a reflection of the last months, which by any objective measure not a proper description.  The financial crisis, actually it was much more complex that just a financial crisis, was a long time in coming with many parties at fault, mostly people who started buying homes they could not afford and financial institutions investing in products they did not understand.  Much of the Bush presidency was prosperous.

Obama's signature legislation, Obamacare, is intended to make an inefficient system....better.  The point made in the book was that there was no correlation between level of care and outcomes, something now which must be addressed day after day in my profession (not delivering care, just documenting care).  The lack of logic and analysis is....not smart.  It is going to make things worse.  The most efficient system is for the consumer to pay for what they receive.  Obamacare is the opposite. 

The cure they chose to apply?  Transferring responsibility for care to yet another entity (Accountable Care Organizations) further removes the receiver of heath care from the payer of health care.

Also, if outcomes (money spent for benefit), is going to be applied to Medicine, should it not be applied to other concerns, specifically Poverty?

While I admire his change of heart regarding Gay and Lesbian issues, his missed opportunity to heal race and have us move beyond (which ultimately is going to require black people to say, apology accepted, lets move on) is really, really regretful.  He could have changed the conversation to, "we are all in this together", yet chose feed the fire of oppression and entitlement.

For me his lasting legacy will be the enlargement of the entitlement state.

On another note, the inconvenient truth about An Inconvenient Truth, is the graph that Gore showed with the hockey stick (and the models projected to show a flooded earth) has not happened and should have by now.  After 6 years of unfettered Liberal Green, is the problem better?  Crisis averted?  Did the miniscule number of electric cars stop the tide and prevent disaster or did it just not happen.  Climate change is mostly a poorly studied and politically biased theory.  As in all things, the economic and personal desires of a free people is the best way to cure such ills (Tesla).

The belief that a controlling entity can manage complex problems, poverty, race, percentage of rich/poor, environment, never ceases to amaze in its immaturity.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


The world cup is a Liberal thing.

When does game end?  Kind of...sorta...ends.   Well we keep track, and we add stuff on at the end and...

There are no commercial breaks!  Sell something already.

So America...team USA!, gets a tied in the last (sort of) 7 seconds to....Tie!  And they advance?

What a bunch of BS!   We Conservatives need rules, and end of game time management and...your out if lose


Its freaking boring!

Saturday, April 12, 2014