Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Bigly and Brexit

I am Jack's complete lack of surprise, but at least we're trying to hit bottom. Late August 2015 I remarked to an American friend that if the US could elect Reagan in the 1980s then Trump could be elected in the 2010s. Unfortunately he laughed. But really it only hit home yesterday afternoon when I wrote to my Dad, "Let's hope that this time the Americans are less stupid than the British." I felt a deep sinking feeling that, for sure, Trump was going to win. Why? The Americans' one remaining small act of deference to the British, is to act just that little bit more stupid.

I wrote to someone a little while ago that if Brexit is the Apocalypse then Trump will be Armageddon. But I'm not so sure about that now. I'm hoping that this is the Dead Cat Bounce of the angry white man and that when such evil is exposed to the light of truth it will wither and die. Of course it is up to us to do the exposing to make sure that happens.

Some people are wittering about the death of democracy, but it is much worse than that - it is the death of reason (as in the Enlightenment) that actually matters. 

Very amused by Trump's speech in which he promised to follow Japan's lead and use concrete to solve all the problems. What you do is borrow and print a lot of money, and use it to buy concrete and employ companies controlled by the yakuza to build things that you do not need. The results are ugly and bad for the environment, but jolly good for employment. And the US has so much more space than Japan, it could keep this up for practically ever! The less amusing part was Trump's "reaching out" to everyone and promising to be nice to everyone who is nice to him. In my experience, people who claim to be "reaching out" will consider any form of constructive criticism as a direct attack. 

The internet suggests that pictures of cute cats are the answer, but I tried that for Brexit, and it didn't work. So, instead, here's some construction, which, curiously is occurring in extremely Democrat Boulder within currently Democrat Colorado... and of course it is happening for reasons of prosperity rather than politics. Not that this is necessarily the best thing either - I tend to think that if there is great growth somewhere, then somewhere else someone is being enslaved.



And is Bigly also going to become an actual word now that Brexit has become one?


Steve Bloom said...

Has embiggen made it in? If so it would be only fair to do bigly.

It would be fair to be surprised at the actual outcome since literally everything had to go just right for Trump in order for him to win, noting that Clinton won the popular vote. Trump's voter data team has gone public, and their own results show a late surge for Trump exactly tracking the late email business. IMO the exoneration by Comey just did more damage by keeping the issue in the limelight right to the end, and was intended to do so. It's worth noting that Democratic presidents of late have made a consistent practice of appointing Republicans as FBI Director. Republicans do not reciprocate. That the FBI as an institution would see a Trump presidency as an opportunity to return to their post-9/11 glory days is entirely no surprise.

Trump's presidency will be interesting in various ways, but the one I'll be watching most closely is the extent to which he feels any obligation to help Congressional Republicans enact their stated agenda, recalling that a lot of that agenda is not so good for the marginal voters that elected Trump. Early in the Obama administration those Republicans blocked a similar proposal by Obama as (they said) a matter of principle. Recall that most of those same Republicans were trying to decapitate his campaign not that long ago, so I doubt he feels obligated to do them any favors. Rather, he will believe they owe him favors.

Going so far as to import Yakuza to oversee the big public works program might go against Trump's protectionist stance, but I suppose anything is possible in this brave new world.

Well. Right up your alley, I do believe. Views appreciated!

Steve Bloom said...

Hitting bottom on climate policy might have its benefits in the long run, although it's not really clear that Trump will take things as far as his limited campaign rhetoric on the subject implied. But already yesterday we saw the political leadership here in CA (a bigger economy than the UK, recall) promise much stronger action on climate. And let's not forget that "all of the above" Obama was very late to the climate policy party, and even then took and proposed steps that failed to rise to the actual challenge. Clinton wouldn't have been an improvement.

Hank Roberts said...

Now what?

Someone at RC just asked about it:

Nonlinear climate sensitivity and its implications for future greenhouse warming

Tobias Friedrich1,*, Axel Timmermann1, Michelle Tigchelaar2, Oliver Elison Timm3 and Andrey Ganopolski4

1International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA.
2Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
3Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University at Albany, Albany, NY 12222, USA.
4Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany.

↵*Corresponding author. Email: tobiasf{at}

Science Advances 09 Nov 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 11, e1501923
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501923

Hank Roberts said...


Global mean surface temperatures are rising in response to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. The magnitude of this warming at equilibrium for a given radiative forcing—referred to as specific equilibrium climate sensitivity (S)—is still subject to uncertainties. We estimate global mean temperature variations and S using a 784,000-year-long field reconstruction of sea surface temperatures and a transient paleoclimate model simulation. Our results reveal that S is strongly dependent on the climate background state, with significantly larger values attained during warm phases. Using the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 for future greenhouse radiative forcing, we find that the range of paleo-based estimates of Earth’s future warming by 2100 CE overlaps with the upper range of climate simulations conducted as part of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5). Furthermore, we find that within the 21st century, global mean temperatures will very likely exceed maximum levels reconstructed for the last 784,000 years. On the basis of temperature data from eight glacial cycles, our results provide an independent validation of the magnitude of current CMIP5 warming projections.

Steve Bloom said...

Just to note that the paper itself is open access.

James Annan said...

Yes I'd seen the sensitivity thing but only looked briefly. Will have a more careful read later.

Agree that Clinton wouldn't have been great on climate - no leader has been, pretty much round the world - but there is still a better choice vs a worse one. Plenty of gallows humo(u)r at NCAR, there is the theoretical possibility Trump won't be as bad as he speaks but not a whole lot to rein him in if he is.

jules said...

>It would be fair to be surprised at the actual outcome since literally everything had to go just right for Trump in order for him to win, noting that Clinton won the popular vote.

I'm not pretending that I predicted the result. I wouldn't have been very surprised either way. Upset I can understand but what is interesting is how surprised everyone seems to be. The polls were within 3-4% and that's their margin of error. I think it is probably the usual failure to understand other people's world view..

jules said...

> Going so far as to import Yakuza to oversee the big public works program might go against Trump's protectionist stance, but I suppose anything is possible in this brave new world.

I was obviously too subtle - suggesting generalised corruption...

Steve Bloom said...

Andreas Schmittner says too sensitivity high since LGM temp used is too low.

It's OK, Jules, we have our own Yakuza. Mostly not referring to mafia, rather to the Bushies who did so very well with loose government contracts in Afghanistan and Iraq. They will be lining up at the trough even now. Some of them even have tattoos!

If what happened in Canada and Oz is any indication, Trump will go after climate science funding directly. Sadly the public won't revolt against that, meaning that the only defense is the Senate. That's a realistic hope, but some pretty nasty cuts seem inevitable nonetheless, not just to climate science but to environmental sciences generally.

If things pan out that way in the budget process next year, I'm going to try to include a research funding stream in my 2018 CA initiative. It will help a little.

Steve Bloom said...


'"There will be “enormous casualties among climate change activities,” the Trump insider said. But, he added, “Trump doesn’t want to turn his back on climate change.”'

Science/obs? Mitigation/adaptation programs?

Seems clear the latter is included, especially the Clean Power Plan, but this could be interpreted as not-terrible news for science.

The comments about encouraging more natural gas development are interesting given all the noise Trump made about trying to revive coal and nuclear. As noted, cheap gas is murder on both, and gas is already very cheap.

I'm not going to have too much of a sad re the CPP since it was weak enough on its own terms and relied quite a bit on substituting gas for coal anyway. Leaving solar/wind subsidies untouched is the cherry on top.

I wish it were possible to be as hopeful about social policy.

Tom C said...

"Late August 2015 I remarked to an American friend that if the US could elect Reagan in the 1980s then Trump could be elected in the 2010s."

This is an astonishing claim and represents well why Trump won. Whether you agree with Reagan or not, he was well informed and on balance a very successful president. He was involved with politics for decades and was a successful governor of California. You might want to read a real biography of the man before you commit anything else so asinine to print.

Your sentence reflects both elite smugness and ignorance, and it is this toxic combination that drove many US voters to elect anyone other than an establishment Democrat, even if he is a reprobate and demagogue

James Annan said...

"Reprobate and demagogue"? I'd have thought he was right up your street, based on the comments you leave here. Oh, maybe you meant them as compliments...

Tom C said...

Oh, very clever.

I did not vote for Trump, but instead for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. I think she is seriously misguided, but at least understands that it is corruption and abandonment of the rule of law that dooms a country.

But, back to the point. What is your source for information regarding Reagan that would put him on par with Trump? Which of his policies or actions put him beyond the pale? Have you actually read a serious biography of the man, by either a supporter or critic? You would be amazed at how much respect he commands from even those historians basically antagonistic to his politics.

Absent any data, your comment reeks of self-congratulatory smugness, which, as I pointed out, was what drove huge segments of the populace to hold their noses and vote for Trump.

Steve Bloom said...

Reagan's anti-environmentalism alone is enough to allow comparisons with Trump. We'll see if the latter manages a match in terms of war-mongering. The crazy NSA appointment isn't a good sign. Overall Trump does seem worse than Reagan, but it's arguable that each was as bad as the times allowed. Reagan still does win "best anagram in class."

Those nose-holders certainly exist, but as Trump got the entirety of the regular Republican vote they have to be the opposite of "huge." The Comey vote seems to have been rather more important. Perhaps that was via the nose-holders, but I suspect the result was more one of driving down Clinton's vote.

Tom C said...

Warmonger? Remind me which wars he mongered.

Are we talking about the guy that made peace with the Soviet Union? Or someone else?

Steve Bloom said...

You're right, no actual nuclear exchange ensued.

But hmm, Reagan's arming of the anti-Soviet Afghan mujahadeen certainly became a gift that keeps on giving to this day. I seem to recall a small outfit called "The Base" being especially helpful to us. Their leader even visited the White House!

There was also some minor unpleasantness in several Central American countries. To this day, everyone there is very grateful for Reagan's efforts. Kept cocaine plentiful and cheap, too, which some folks in Medellin were happy to help facilitate.

Good times.

StevenS said...

Reagan appointed James Watt as Secretary of the Interior, you unmemorious ******. Yes, i've read biographies, *and* I lived through his reign. We can trace much of what is very wrong with the US today, back to it.