Posts tagged ‘Australia’

Warmists and Skeptics Should Agree That This is The Real Scandal in Climate Science

Imagine that for some reason you desperately needed to be under a certain weight.  I am old enough to think of the relatively obscure movie Vision Quest where a high school wrestler is trying to drop two weight classes.  If you were in that situation, what is the first investment you would make?  Exercise equipment?  Nutrition guides?  A personal trainer?  No!  You would invest in a good, accurate scale.  Because without being able to measure the variable (in this case weight) you care about, everything else is worthless.

As trivial an observation as this may seem, the fact is that the world's governments have spent tens, perhaps hundreds of billions of dollars on global warming research and mitigation and have done almost zero to build out and improve a reliable temperature measurement system and historical temperature database.   We have absolutely failed over the last 30 years to substantially improve our actual measurement of the warming we are so concerned about.

There are at least two problems with our temperature data, the first of which I have written about many times before -- our surface temperature measurement infrastructure is full of bad installations whose design and location bear no resemblance to best-practice standards.  The most common problem is that temperature measurement stations are located in places that are subject to a lot of local biases, particularly urban development and heat islands.  I wrote about a classic example I discovered right here in Arizona.  And while the US has taken a few steps to eliminate the most egregious locations, many bad ones still exist.  And problems with the US infrastructure are nothing compared to issues with the infrastructure in other countries.  There still are only a handful of measurement locations in huge continents such as Africa and Antarctica, with quality problems equal to or greater than those in the US.

Parallel to the land surface data, we have a second temperature data set taken from satellites that has nearly as many issues.  Satellite data eliminates some of the problems of the surface data set:  it does not have large gaps in coverage and it is not subject to local biases, such as urban heat islands.  It does have the problem of not actually measuring the surface temperature, but rather the lower troposphere, but this is exactly where computer models predict the largest global warming signal to occur, so it is still useful.  But there have been many under-investment problems here, too.  The history of temperature versions of the UAH satellite temperature data base has many ups and downs that must be corrected -- this satellite fell out of the sky and then this one has sensor drift and then this other one went off course.  Despite the large and vocal role of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in climate research, the database they maintain is a surface temperature database and they seem to do little to support space measurement, leaving it to a few small groups to learn something from the satellites.   It's as big mess, made worse by the political factor of the space temperature database getting lower warming rates and being maintained by a skeptic while the surface temperature databases show more warming and are maintained by folks more pessimistic about warming rates.

To this picture we can add substantial problems with the historical temperature record.  The Hadley CRUT database is generally considered the gold standard in surface temperature records and is used by most researchers.  There are some problems with the database that are hard to fix -- for example, for 1850 there is apparently only 1 temperature station in the database for the entire southern hemisphere, which means half the world's temperature is being extrapolated from one site in Indonesia.  We can't get in a time machine and sprinkle the world in 1850 with more thermometers.  But we can try to take some sort of estimate of the potential error induced by such spotty measurement, something I have never seen done in the CRUT database.  The data in 1850 is always presented as just as solid as that in 1950 (see my last global temperature update).

Apparently, a PHD student in Australia recently audited the CRUT database as his thesis project. Before you get into his results, here is one thing to consider: Literally trillion-dollar decisions are being made based on this database and based on research which uses this database, and no one has bothered to do this previously until some random grad student in Australia gives it a shot?  By the way, it should be noted that once he completed what should have been warmly welcomed by the climate community with a "Dang, can't believe we didn't do that already," he has instead gotten nothing but grief and criticism.

The thesis is paywalled, (just $8, I have bought a copy and am slogging through it now) but Anthony Watt summarizes:

HadCRUT4 is the primary global temperature dataset used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to make its dramatic claims about “man-made global warming”.  It’s also the dataset at the center of “ClimateGate” from 2009, managed by the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University.

The audit finds more than 70 areas of concern about data quality and accuracy.

But according to an analysis by Australian researcher John McLean it’s far too sloppy to be taken seriously even by climate scientists, let alone a body as influential as the IPCC or by the governments of the world.

Main points:

  • The Hadley data is one of the most cited, most important databases for climate modeling, and thus for policies involving billions of dollars.
  • McLean found freakishly improbable data, and systematic adjustment errors , large gaps where there is no data, location errors, Fahrenheit temperatures reported as Celsius, and spelling errors.
  • Almost no quality control checks have been done: outliers that are obvious mistakes have not been corrected – one town in Columbia spent three months in 1978 at an average daily temperature of over 80 degrees C.  One town in Romania stepped out from summer in 1953 straight into a month of Spring at minus 46°C. These are supposedly “average” temperatures for a full month at a time. St Kitts, a Caribbean island, was recorded at 0°C for a whole month, and twice!
  • Temperatures for the entire Southern Hemisphere in 1850 and for the next three years are calculated from just one site in Indonesia and some random ships.
  • Sea surface temperatures represent 70% of the Earth’s surface, but some measurements come from ships which are logged at locations 100km inland. Others are in harbors which are hardly representative of the open ocean.
  • When a thermometer is relocated to a new site, the adjustment assumes that the old site was always built up and “heated” by concrete and buildings. In reality, the artificial warming probably crept in slowly. By correcting for buildings that likely didn’t exist in 1880, old records are artificially cooled. Adjustments for a few site changes can create a whole century of artificial warming trends.

Details of the worst outliers

  • For April, June and July of 1978 Apto Uto (Colombia, ID:800890)  had an average monthly temperature of  81.5°C, 83.4°C and 83.4°C respectively.
  • The monthly mean temperature in September 1953 at Paltinis, Romania is reported as -46.4 °C (in other years the September average was about 11.5°C).
  • At Golden Rock Airport, on the island of St Kitts in the Caribbean, mean monthly temperatures for December in 1981 and 1984 are reported as 0.0°C. But from 1971 to 1990 the average in all the other years was 26.0°C.

The last point about past thermometer adjustments is one I have run into before when I was looking at urban heat islands and their effect on temperature measurement (by the way this is a really great science fair project if you are looking for one).  Past urban heat adjustments seem to imply (by cooling the past more than the present) that urban heat biases on measured temperatures have gone down over time, which defies all logic and experience.

There is a lot more of interest at the link, but it strikes me as shear madness, bordering on fraud, that there seems to have been so little effort put into data integrity of perhaps the single most important non-economic dataset in the world.  I would presume that warmists, who constantly accuse skeptics of being "anti-science" would be the first to line up in favor of investing whatever is necessary in better, cleaner data.  So far, there has only been criticism of the effort.

Postscript:  The temperature adjustment issue is an important one.  In short, as seen below, the magnitude of the temperature adjustments in the US temperature database equal the magnitude of the warming.  In other words, the warming signal comes entirely from the adjustments.  This does not mean the signal is being read incorrectly, but it does mean that getting the adjustments (and their error bars, which no one ever includes) correct is perhaps the single most important issue to a good historical database.

Postmortem on SolarCity

Two years ago, I wrote about the acquisition of SolarCity by Tesla.  I thought this represented near-criminal self-dealing at the time and there has been little since to convince me otherwise.  As I wrote then:

This is honestly one of the weirdest acquisition proposals I have seen in a long time:  Elon Musk's Tesla offers to buy Elon Musk's Solar City.

This makes zero business sense to me.    This is from the press release:

We would be the world’s only vertically integrated energy company offering end-to-end clean energy products to our customers. This would start with the car that you drive and the energy that you use to charge it, and would extend to how everything else in your home or business is powered. With your Model S, Model X, or Model 3, your solar panel system, and your Powerwall all in place, you would be able to deploy and consume energy in the most efficient and sustainable way possible, lowering your costs and minimizing your dependence on fossil fuels and the grid.

I am sure there are probably some hippy-dippy green types that nod their head and say that this is an amazing idea, but any business person is going to say this is madness.  It makes no more sense than to say GM should buy an oil production company.  These companies reach customers through different channels, they have completely different sales models, and people buy their products at completely different times and have no need to integrate these two purchases.  It is possible there may be some overlap in customers (virtue-signalling rich people) but you could get at this by having some joint marketing agreements, you don't need an acquisition.  Besides, probably the last thing that people's solar panels will ever be used for is charging cars, since cars tend to charge in the garage at night when solar isn't producing.

One might argue that some of the technologies are the same, and I suppose some of the battery and electricity management tech overlaps.  But again, a simple sourcing agreement or a battery JV would likely be sufficient.

So what do these companies share?

I went on to discuss several possible reasons for the deal but settled on this one as the best explanation:

I have no inside information here, but this is the best hypothesis I can put together for this deal.  SolarCity has huge cash needs to continue to grow at the same time its operating margins are shrinking (or getting more negative).  They are having trouble finding investors to provide the cash.  But hey!  Our Chairman Elon Musk is also Chairman of this other company called Tesla whom investors line up to invest in.  Maybe Tesla can be our investor!

The reason I call this two drunks propping each other up is that Tesla also is also burning cash like crazy.  It is OK for now as long as it has access to the capital markets, but if it suddenly lost that, Tesla would survive less than 6 months on what it has on hand.  Remember, SolarCity was a golden child just 3 years ago, just like Tesla is today.  Or if you really don't believe that high-flying companies that depend on access to the capital markets can go belly up in the snap of a finger when they lose their luster with investors, I have one word for you:  Enron.

Essentially, I saw the SolarCity deal as a bailout of Musk's and his friends' and family's investments in SolarCity by Musk-controlled Tesla.  Nothing that has happened since has convinced me this is wrong.  The most prominent evidence has been the dog that never barks -- SolarCity, or Tesla Energy as it is called, is almost never mentioned in conference calls and investor communications by Tesla any more -- certainly the rooftop business is not.  The only thing that ever seems to get a mention are a few big standby battery installations in Australia.   Turns out there was a reason (via Seeking Alpha):

This was a dying business when Tesla bought it an insiders all knew it.

Disclosure:  I tend to short Tesla when it reaches the 350/360 level and cover when it drops into the 200's.

Update:  Here is a great timeline of the whole sorry history of the SolarCity acquisition by Tesla.  This paints an even worse picture than I was aware of.

I Like to Hear This

In the past I have been critical of First Solar, like I have most solar companies, for having business models that were almost entirely dependent on huge government subsidies, particularly in Europe.  When these go away, the businesses start to crash.

I have not had time to dig into their financials to look for shenanigans, and to parse out how much is still dependent in some way on either direct subsidies of solar projects or incentives that cause utilities to buy solar electricity at above market rates, but First Solar reversed their large losses to a profit in the last quarter.  I am not sure if this is BS or not, but I like this attitude if true:

The company's cost per watt is the lowest in the industry, but it increased slightly during the quarter, to 72 cents per watt, because of the under utilization of its factories. If the factories had run more, the cost would have gone down, officials said.

Hughes said First Solar is making headway on its plan to target regions of the world with ample sunshine and a need for electricity, where solar power can compete without subsidies that make it cost-effective when compared with traditional energy sources.

Those places include Australia, India, the Middle East and other regions, he said.

That would be terrific.  I would love to see a solar boom driven by real economics and not taxpayer largess.

Food Miles Silliness and the Virtue of Prices

I have written a number of times on the silliness of food miles and the locavore movement (here and here and here).  For some reason the energy and resource intensity of foods is being judged merely on one component - transportation of the end product - which actually is only a tiny competent of food costs (and thus their resource use).  Is it really more environmentally sensitive for us Phoenicians to grow our corn in the Arizona desert, where soils are unproductive and water must be imported from hundreds of miles away, rather than have it grown in the fertile soils of Iowa and trucked in?

Someone in the media, at least in Australia, finally notices:

TWO brands of olive oil, one from Australia, the other shipped 16,000 kilometres from Italy, sit on a supermarket shelf.

Most eco-friendly shoppers would reach for the Australian oil. But despite burning less fossil fuel to get here, it may not be better for the planet.

Contrary to popular belief, ''food miles'', or the distance food has travelled before we buy it, is a poor indicator of our food's total greenhouse gas emissions, or ''carbon footprint''.

More important is the way our food is farmed and produced, and how far we drive to buy it....

It turns out that stuff like economies of scale really matter

''Local food can often have a higher carbon footprint than food from afar,'' says principal researcher Brad Ridoutt.

He says even home-grown vegetables, with ''zero food miles'', do not necessarily have a smaller carbon footprint than those bought in the supermarket.

''With my veggies, I drive to Bunnings to buy fertiliser, and I go away for the weekend and forget to water them, and in the end I only harvest a few things that I can actually eat.

''By contrast, big producers, who can invest in the latest energy-efficient, water-efficient technology, and make use of all the parts of food, can be much more efficient,'' he says.

Of course, transporting food from producer to retailer still burns fossil fuels that release greenhouse gas emissions, in turn accelerating global warming. But freight emissions are only a fraction of those released during production, meaning even imported food, sustainably produced, can have a smaller carbon footprint than local alternatives.

Even the most rudimentary reading of economics should have given greenies a clue.  In commodity products like most foods, prices tend to be driven down to a point that they reflect resources (and their relative scarcity) that went into the product.  The cheapest foods tend to be those that use the least, and least scarce, resources in production.  So buying locally grown food, which often tends to carry a price premium, should have been a flashing red light that maybe this was not the least-resource-intensive choice.

I'd Walk A Mile for a Camel

This has gotten a fair amount of play around the Internet, but it's crazy enough to re-link in case you have not seen it.  A proposal in Australia to earn carbon credits by shooting wild camels.  Because when living, breathing creatures are dead, the environment is protected.  Take that to its logical conclusion.  All that time those folks were clubbing harp seals, they were saving Mother Nature!

Great Moments in Anthropogenic Climate Theories

In the 1860's and 1970's, in the United States, there was a great post-war westward migration.  Many settlers began to try to farm lands west of the 100th meridian.  These normally very arid regions experienced a couple of decades of much greater rainfall during this period.  We know today that this was merely a cyclical variation of the type that is constantly occurring in the climate.  However, people of this time chose to believe that this was a permanent change, attributing the shift in rainfall to anthropogenic effects (any of this sound familiar?)  The saying at the time was that "rain followed the plow."

The basic premise of the theory was that human habitation and agriculture through homesteading affected a permanent change in the climate of arid and semi-arid regions, making these regions more humid. The theory was widely promoted in the 1870s as a justification for the settlement of the Great Plains, a region previously known as the "Great American Desert". It was also used to justify the expansion of wheatgrowing on marginal land in South Australia during the same period.

According to the theory, increased human settlement in the region and cultivation of soil would result in an increased rainfall over time, rendering the land more fertile and lush as the population increased. As later historical records of rainfall indicated, the theory was based on faulty evidence arising from brief climatological fluctuations. The theory was later refuted by climatologists and is regarded as a serious error. In South Australia, George Goyder warned as early as 1865, in his famous report on farming in the state, that rain would not follow the plow. Despite this, until further droughts in the 1880s, farmers talked of cultivating cereal crops up to the Northern Territory border. Today, however, grain crops do not grow further north than Quorn.

The result was eventually disaster for thousands and many abandoned farms in places like Eastern Colorado.  To some extent, the theory had a grain of truth - changes in land use do affect the climate.  For example, the loss of snow on Kilimanjaro is generally attributed (by non Al Gore types) to deforestation in the area.  But as is so often the case, the effects of man's land use tended to be more local (as with urban heat islands in cities) rather than regional, and ended up in this case being small compared to natural variations.

Now He Tells Us -- Gore Figures Out Ethanol is Stupid

A little late Al -- some of us realized this way back when it could have done some good, like before we spent billions of tax dollars and subsidized a stupid industry into being:

ATHENS, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore said support for corn-based ethanol in the United States was "not a good policy", weeks before tax credits are up for renewal.
...
"It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for (U.S.) first generation ethanol," said Gore, speaking at a green energy business conference in Athens sponsored by Marfin Popular Bank.

"First generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small.
"It's hard once such a programme is put in place to deal with the lobbies that keep it going."
He explained his own support for the original programme on his presidential ambitions.

"One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president."
...
Gore said a range of factors had contributed to that food price crisis, including drought in Australia, but said there was no doubt biofuels have an effect.

"The size, the percentage of corn particularly, which is now being (used for) first generation ethanol definitely has an impact on food prices.

"The competition with food prices is real."

A couple of thoughts here.  First, many detractors like myself have made the link between Iowa's role in the Presidential nomination process and support for corn ethanol, but it is nice to see a supporter confirm the link.  Second, I wonder how many other scientific opinions Gore holds where political expediency blinds him to the reality of the data?  I can think of at least one big one....

Ditto Hamburgers

Apparently, the folks in France are at it again, valiantly trying to retroactively create trademark rights that don't exist.  I saw this link below:

Which leads to this site, which says in part:

When it comes to wine, there is no ingredient more important than location. The land, air, water and weather where grapes are grown are what make each wine unique. That is why we, as wine enthusiasts, demand that a wine's true origin be clearly identified on its label in order for us to make informed decisions when purchasing and consuming wine. This ensures we know where our wine comes from and protects wine growing regions worldwide.

Use the form below to sign the petition to protect wine place and origin names:

I hereby sign the Wine Place & Origin Petition. In doing so, I join the signatories of the Joint Declaration to Protect Wine Place & Origin - Champagne, Chianti Classico, Jerez, Napa Valley, Oregon, Paso Robles, Porto, Sonoma County, Tokaj, Victoria, Walla Walla, Washington State and Western Australia - and a growing list of consumers in supporting clear and accurate labeling to better ensure consumers will not be misled by wine labels.

Some countries like Germany cannot use "champagne" or "Cognac" to describe similar products.  Do you know why?  These conditions were actually thrown in to the Treaty of Versailles at the end of WWI.  Since the US never signed the treaty, it and its citizens and growers are not bound by this restriction.

In the same spirit I demand that:  1) Hamburgers only be made in Hamburg 2)  Franfurters can only be made in Frankfort 3) Wiener Snitzel can only be made in Vienna 4) Hollandaise Sauce can only be made in the Netherlands  5) Boston baked beans can only be made in Boston.  Obviously we consumers are all duped, thinking our hamburger was actually made in Germany.  Had I only known!


Pretty Good Climategate Summary

From Christopher Booker at the Telegraph via Anthony Watts

There are three threads in particular in the leaked documents which have sent a shock wave through informed observers across the world. Perhaps the most obvious, as lucidly put together by Willis Eschenbach (see McIntyre's blog Climate Audit and Anthony Watt's blog Watts Up With That), is the highly disturbing series of emails which show how Dr Jones and his colleagues have for years been discussing the devious tactics whereby they could avoid releasing their data to outsiders under freedom of information laws.

They have come up with every possible excuse for concealing the background data on which their findings and temperature records were based.

This in itself has become a major scandal, not least Dr Jones's refusal to release the basic data from which the CRU derives its hugely influential temperature record, which culminated last summer in his startling claim that much of the data from all over the world had simply got "lost". Most incriminating of all are the emails in which scientists are advised to delete large chunks of data, which, when this is done after receipt of a freedom of information request, is a criminal offence.

But the question which inevitably arises from this systematic refusal to release their data is "“ what is it that these scientists seem so anxious to hide? The second and most shocking revelation of the leaked documents is how they show the scientists trying to manipulate data through their tortuous computer programmes, always to point in only the one desired direction "“ to lower past temperatures and to "adjust" recent temperatures upwards, in order to convey the impression of an accelerated warming. This comes up so often (not least in the documents relating to computer data in the Harry Read Me file) that it becomes the most disturbing single element of the entire story. This is what Mr McIntyre caught Dr Hansen doing with his GISS temperature record last year (after which Hansen was forced to revise his record), and two further shocking examples have now come to light from Australia and New Zealand.

In each of these countries it has been possible for local scientists to compare the official temperature record with the original data on which it was supposedly based. In each case it is clear that the same trick has been played "“ to turn an essentially flat temperature chart into a graph which shows temperatures steadily rising. And in each case this manipulation was carried out under the influence of the CRU.

What is tragically evident from the Harry Read Me file is the picture it gives of the CRU scientists hopelessly at sea with the complex computer programmes they had devised to contort their data in the approved direction, more than once expressing their own desperation at how difficult it was to get the desired results.

The third shocking revelation of these documents is the ruthless way in which these academics have been determined to silence any expert questioning of the findings they have arrived at by such dubious methods "“ not just by refusing to disclose their basic data but by discrediting and freezing out any scientific journal which dares to publish their critics' work. It seems they are prepared to stop at nothing to stifle scientific debate in this way, not least by ensuring that no dissenting research should find its way into the pages of IPCC reports.

Know Your Enemy

I want to thank Tom Nelson for the pointer, because I usually don't hang out much at the Socialist Unity site.  But I thought that this post was telling.

While it may be urgent that we create a red green alliance to
strengthen radical social action to stop climate change, our collective
problem is how are we going to do that?

The Climate Change Social Change Conference
held in Sydney Australia during April tried to tackle that
challenge.This was a bold attempt to bring together left and green
activists in order to locate a shared perspective around which we could
begin more consciously organize....

Foster and Perez urged the conference's participants to consider
socialism as the only viable solution to the climate emergency. This
was a persistent theme discussed throughout the three day event as
speakers were drawn from a range of environment movements and
organisations (such as the Australian Greens and Friends of the Earth)
as well as academic specialists "” who preferred solution packages which
were not consciously committed to a socialist transformation of
society..

Now I'm Really Mad at Ethanol Subsidies

OK, I was mad at the waste of tax dollars for ethanol programs that do nothing for the environment or to reduce net fossil fuel consumption.  I was mad that a technology that in no way reduces CO2 production but does introduce radical new land-use-related environmental problems could be sold as an environmental panacea, rather than the corporate welfare it truly is.  I was mad we have decided it is more important to subsidize corn farmers than to continue to provide the world's poor with cheap food.  And I was flabbergasted that Congress could call for production of more corn-based ethanol than is physically possible with our entire corn crop.

But I really am mad now that ethanol subsidies are making craft beers rarer and more expensive to make:

A global shortage of hops, combined with a run-up in barley prices, is
sending a chill through Arizona's craft-beer industry.

The hops shortage threatens to boost prices, cut into profits and close
down brewpubs. It could change the taste and consistency of treasured
local ales.

In Bisbee, "hop heads" already are weaning themselves from Electric
Dave's India Pale Ale. Dave Harvan closed his 7-year-old Electric
Brewing Co. in November, citing the scarcity and high cost of
ingredients.

So why aren't as many farmers growing hops and barley?  Because the government is paying them ridiculous jack to grow corn so we can burn food into our cars:

Papazian attributed the barley prices to ethanol subsidies that have
raised the price of corn, the main ingredient in the alternative fuel.
As a result, farmers have switched to barley for livestock feed, which
has pushed up prices.

The hops situation is more complex. Years of overproduction and low
prices led farmers to replace hops fields with more profitable crops.
Add to that corn subsidies that have caused farmers to replace hops
fields with corn, a drought in Australia that affected yields and heavy
rains in Europe that ruined much of this year's crop.

Really? You Mean CO2 Reduction Has Costs?

New today from the new Australian government, who to date have placed themselves solidly in the catastrophic camp:

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd last night did an about-face on deep cuts to
greenhouse gas emissions, days after Australia's delegation backed the
plan at the climate talks in Bali.

A government representative at the talks this week said Australia backed a 25-40 per cent cut on 1990 emission levels by 2020.

But after warnings it would lead to huge rises in electricity prices, Mr Rudd said the Government would not support the target.

The
repudiation of the delegate's position represents the first stumble by
the new Government's in its approach to climate change.

It Really is a Smaller World

Anthony Watt has a pointer to a nice presentation in four parts on YouTube by Bob Carter made at a public forum in Australia.  He walks through some of the skeptics' issues with catastrophic man-made global warming theory.

What caught my attention, though, were the pictures Mr. Carter shows in his presentation about about 1:30 into part 4.  Because I took the pictures he shows, down at the University of Arizona, as part of Mr. Watts project to document temperature measurement stations.  Kind of cool to see someone I don't know in a country I have (sadly) never visited using a small bit of my work.  Part 4 is below, but you can find links to all four parts here.

French vs. Anglo-American "Imperialism"

For some reason, a portion of our country has adopted France as the standard bearer of "anti-imperialism" (or at least anti-US imperialism). France publicly positions itself similarly, trying to make itself the leader and counterweight to US "Imperialism". I will leave aside for now the argument as to whether the US's recent actions constitute "imperialism". I will instead focus on the French as a role model.

The first thing that struck me was how long the French tried desperately to hold on to their colonial empire. Both the US and Great Britain either liberated or came to an acceptable living arrangement with their major colonies within a few years of the end of WWII. Both seemed to come to terms with the fact that the colonial era was over. The French, in contrast, were still involved in bloody conflicts in Indochina and Algeria to retain their empire through the late 50's and even into the early 60's.

So, I decided to do a little research to understand the relative success of French and Anglo-American colonies. Of course, when judging the success of a former colony, a lot of things come into play, and certainly the freed colony must take a substantial amount of responsibility for its own success and political freedom. However, after a bit of research, it is instructive to see how well prepared for independence Britain, France, and the US left their colonies. Did they leave the country with democratic systems in place and a capable local ruling class, or did they just suck the country dry and try to prevent any locals from gaining any capability.

To make this analysis, I have selected a number of each country's key colonies. Some of the smaller African and island nations have been left out. I also realize that I left off some of the ex-British middle eastern colonies, but I am too tired now to add them back in.

I have used two pieces of data to judge an ex-colony's success. First is GDP per capita, corrected for purchasing power parity, found in the 2003 CIA fact book via World Facts and Figures. The second is the Freedom index prepared by Freedom House.

Continue reading ‘French vs. Anglo-American "Imperialism"’ »