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  1. The least clear statement to me was;

    “We’re uncertain about the magnitude of climate change, which is inevitable, because we’re talking about reaching levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere not seen in millions of years. The recent doubling of many modelers’ predictions for 2100 is itself an illustration of the scope of that uncertainty; who knows what revisions may occur in the years ahead.”

    What is he refering to here? Surely not a doubling of climate sensitivity estimates?

    Comment by JK — 11 Apr 2010 @ 1:33 PM

  2. Perhaps MIT?
    http://globalchange.mit.edu/pubs/abstract.php?publication_id=990

    Probabilistic Forecast for 21st Century Climate Based on Uncertainties in Emissions (without Policy) and Climate Parameters

    by Sokolov, A.P., P.H. Stone, C.E. Forest, R.G. Prinn, M.C. Sarofim, M. Webster, S. Paltsev, C.A. Schlosser, D. Kicklighter, S. Dutkiewicz, J. Reilly, C. Wang, B. Felzer, J. Melillo, H.D. Jacoby (January 2009)
    Joint Program Report Series, 44 pages, 2009

    Superseded by Reprint 2009-12
    Abstract

    The MIT Integrated Global System Model …. new projections are considerably warmer than the 2003 projections, e.g., the median surface warming in 2091 to 2100 is 5.1°C compared to 2.4°C in the earlier study. Many changes contribute to the stronger warming …. if recently published data, suggesting stronger 20th century ocean warming, are used to determine the input climate parameters, the median projected warning at the end of the 21st century is only 4.1°C. Nevertheless all our simulations have a very small probability of warming less than 2.4°C, the lower bound of the IPCC AR4 projected likely range ….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Apr 2010 @ 2:03 PM

  3. Oops, missed the obvious — the updated version is here:
    http://globalchange.mit.edu/pubs/abstract.php?publication_id=2003
    (the bit I quoted above from the abstract is the same in the later version)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Apr 2010 @ 2:06 PM

  4. Krugman,NYT’s,Al Gore and Dr Hanson all on your side, how impressive !! Now that makes me want to be a believer..

    [Response: These people appear to base what they believe on the evidence, rather than on what others do or don't think. Being scientists, we find it difficult to respect people -- like you evidently -- who are able to look at scientific knowledge only through the lens of politics.--eric]

    Comment by Bob — 11 Apr 2010 @ 2:18 PM

  5. “breath of fresh air this morning in the New York Times Magazine”

    Prof. Krugman (not Mr.) posted it on the 5th April so maybe the moral of the story is read the NY newspaper not the weekend magazine.

    [Response: I'm a professor, but they still call me Mister. - David]

    I recommend his book “Conscience of a Liberal” and still wondering about his following comments :-

    “A carbon tariff would be a tax levied on imported goods proportional to the carbon emitted”

    Hat tip to Eli Rabbet and his simple plan. But would it cause trade wars?

    “without the Gulf Stream, Western Europe would be barely habitable”

    That seems to me pushing it a bit. A bit tin foil hat (er – I am a fan of the man – apologies if I’m wrong), but what would the UK climate be without the Gulf Stream? Muscovite/East coast Canada? Say if Britain had a Moscow/ECC climate rougher sure, if I can wear the TF hat, but not barely habitable?

    “climate modellers have sharply raised their estimates of future warming in just the last couple of years.”

    By how much may I ask again?

    Comment by Mike Donald — 11 Apr 2010 @ 2:19 PM

  6. The whole “for English majors” trope to imply innumeracy and/or scientific illiteracy is a gross generalization and a tired, over-used device. Students of the humanities manage to introduce culture to the ignorant without marketing it as “Culture for computer science majors” or suchlike.

    I understand you want to present the content as accessible to the non-special!st, and what you want is to convey that message without implicitly belittling people whose field of study differs from yours. Maybe you could get some help with this rhetorical problem from someone better with words . . . an English major, perhaps?

    [Response: Strictly speaking the class is intended for people who are not majoring in science. The humanities division does not offer classes especially tailored for people who are not majoring in humanities; everybody takes the same classes. I won't risk belittling anyone by trying to draw conclusions from that. David]

    [Response: Not to argue with my good colleague David Archer here but you may be pleased to know that at University of Washington where I teach we actually do have classes that are the equivalent of "English for science majors that really need to learn how to write." It would be a good thing if more of our science majors would take these classes!--eric]

    Comment by Robert — 11 Apr 2010 @ 2:33 PM

  7. Bob says: 11 April 2010 at 2:18 PM

    Now isn’t that the archetype of a post that has no utility? Why is it here?

    [Response: To spawn the thread, allow people like yourself the opportunity to share your insights. David]

    Mike Donald says: 11 April 2010 at 2:19 PM

    I can’t say exactly what Prof. Krugman intended to convey with his remark on a “barely habitable” UK, but it strikes me that folks in the UK accustomed to the present regime would indeed find a shift to something resembling Moscow a bit hard to swallow and certainly a severe adaptation challenge. I suppose many non-hominid species would find it crisply uninhabitable in the most technical sense of the word, too.

    [Response: Yes, as another poster said, the gulf-stream 'shutdown'-->Moscow's climate in London -- is a huge overstatement. If there's one place where I would agree with those who claim that there is too much 'alarmism' about climate change going around, it would be on this subject. Gulf stream shutdown not going to happen (it's a wind-driven current, and the winds are not going to stop. There's more to it than this of course, but I wish folks would learn a bit more about it, instead of sounding like a Hollywood film. A good place to start would be Carl Wunsch's legitimate skepticism on this issue, and Gavin's solid and thoughful response here. Incidentally, Carl Wunsch is a skeptic in the best sense of the word.--eric]

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 11 Apr 2010 @ 3:02 PM

  8. “He also seems to have missed the recent revelation that what really matters to climate is the total ultimate slug of emitted CO2″

    This is a true revelation (it follows from the long residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere), but not a recent one. The first comprehensive analysis of the warming limit/carbon budget/carbon “slug” (I haven’t used that term before) approach was a book I worked on with Florentin Krause and Wilfred Bach that was first published in 1989, republished in 1992 as Krause, Florentin, Wilfred Bach, and Jonathan G. Koomey. 1992. Energy Policy in the Greenhouse. NY, NY: John Wiley and Sons.

    For a more recent summary, see my post on climate progress last December: http://climateprogress.org/2009/12/06/copenhagen-two-degrees-warming-target/

    Overall, Krugman did a very nice job summarizing the economics.

    Comment by Jonathan Koomey — 11 Apr 2010 @ 3:31 PM

  9. Yabbut

    Yabbut

    Krugman is an economist … not sure what Friedman is … but I know he can see lights at ends of tunnels and in 6 months we will really know …..

    They may be ‘big names’ who have embraced global climate change as inevitable, and as have I, but in going to them for technical confirmation and evidence you have stepped back from the real experts.

    [Response: On politics and economics they are the experts. David]

    Comment by croghan27 — 11 Apr 2010 @ 3:44 PM

  10. This is where the article (and most writings on the subject) completely misses the point and it never gets back on track:

    But is it possible to make drastic cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions without destroying our economy?

    And of course, the answer must be that it’s possible. There is a small chance it is (serious action, that is), although it doesn’t seem likely, but even this is if you focus on climate change as the only issue threatening civilization, while it may not even be the first one to catch up with us. When you consider all the aspects of our global ecological overshoot, the logical and inevitable conclusion is that we can’t have nothing resembling our economy if we want to prevent collapse, and whoever says otherwise pretty much has no idea what he’s talking about. For, among many other reasons, the simple fact that our current economy is based on exponential growth, and it is exponential growth that by definition leads to overshoot.

    But, of course, you will never see economics Novel prize winners say this in NY Times

    Comment by Georgi Marinov — 11 Apr 2010 @ 4:04 PM

  11. An interesting article; another economist entering the Climate Change fray. On another site: Bart Verheggen’s begun March 2nd and run through today,”Global Average Termperature Increase GISS, HadCRU and NCDC”, an economist, VS of Norway argued that the correct approach to assessing a time series data set like temperature over time, is to determine the presence of a unit root. Once the presence of a unit root is known in the time series data set, one knows which is the correct statistical approach. In the instrument data set, he determined that indeed a unit root/near unit root was present which meant that the use of Ordianry Least Squares statistics are invalid. VS of Norway went on to demonstrate that the instrument temperature data set falls entirely within natural causation parameters. This means that what has been recorded can be viewed as all being attributed to natural variation in temperature. Although climate models work best with the addition of CO2 as a forcing, to statistically determine causation, a cointegration statistical approach is necessary to observe the CO2 signal. Todate there is no such approach. From reading the entire month long 1500+ comments, many of the staticians providing statistics power to climate science which has linked temperature and CO2 had not considered determining the presence of a unit root in this time series data set, assumed there was not a unit root, and proceeded with using Ordinary Least Square analysis. By the tone of many of the commentators, this assumption has now led to a lot of red faces, rightly so. I would like to see the cointegration approach to observe the CO2 signal in the temperature data set noise. Otherwise, I am left with an eyeball approach to the temperature trend beginning from the middle of the 1600′s, depth of the Little Ice Age to 2100 and maybe see a further 0.6 degree Celcius rise. The burning question then becomes: “what is the cost of doing something when that something is not related to what you are trying to change?” I believe that is called: opportunity lost cost.

    Comment by RiHo08 — 11 Apr 2010 @ 4:05 PM

  12. Robert, I believe the course is literally for non-science majors. Are you just looking for something to be outraged about?

    The course “focuses on a single problem: assessing the risk of human-caused climate change. The story ranges from physics to chemistry, biology, geology, fluid mechanics, and quantum mechanics, to economics and social sciences. The class will consider evidence from the distant past and projections into the distant future, keeping the human time scale of the next several centuries as the bottom line.”

    That’s not being patronising. That’s simply looking at global warming from a different angle, without lots of science prerequisites.

    You say “Students of the humanities manage to introduce culture to the ignorant” – well, thank you for just describing all scientists as ignorant. I’m sure the rudeness was unintentional. And you are wrong – I have never seen any evidence of the arts reaching out to introduce culture to science students. Fortunately, science students are not philistines, and seek out whatever elements of culture that interest them. For some, this will be the traditional arts, from ballet to Shakespeare. For others, it is a wider interpretation.

    Comment by Didactylos — 11 Apr 2010 @ 4:07 PM

  13. Krugman argues that cap-and-trade, unlike carbon taxes, has the political advantage of free allocation. But any allowance allocation formula — including free allocation — can be applied equally well to the allocation of tax revenue. Why does Krugman (or for that matter, Congress) not recognize this point?

    Krugman’s praise for the U.S. acid rain program is somewhat muted, perhaps because he recognizes that a system that currently prices SO2 emissions at a level roughly one-tenth of original price expectations — and one-hundredth of the economically justifiable price — is fundamentally irrational. Had the program been implemented as a fixed-price sale of allowances at the original price expectation level — with revenue allocated according the same formula that was adopted for allowance allocation — the program would have been no less politically viable and the regulatory incentive might have motivated widespread deployment of the best available control technologies, resulting in up to 20,000 fewer premature deaths annually. The implications for global climate regulation are obvious.

    Krugman asserted, in his rebuttal to James Hansen, that “… altruism cannot effectively deal with climate change. … climate altruism must take a back seat to the task of getting such a system in place.” Krugman is, in effect, advocating abolishment of the voluntary renewables market. He is also implying that vehicle manufacturers should not be able to claim environmental benefits for their low-emission vehicles — any such claim would constitute false and misleading advertising in the context of cap-and-trade. But a more fundamental point that Krugman misses is that carbon taxes support, but do not rely on, “climate altruism”. Taxes are fundamentally a price incentive, just like carbon trading but without market volatility.

    Hansen would probably agree with Krugman’s assertion that “the only way to get people to change their behavior appropriately is to put a price on emissions,” but behavioral change can also be motivated by making low-carbon commodities and services less expensive. For example, in the context of electricity generation the decarbonization incentive of a moderate carbon fee could be multiplied tenfold if the fee revenue is used primarily to subsidize new-source renewable energy. Krugman’s “Ramp” versus “Big Bang” conundrum would be resolved: A “Ramp” in carbon fees could finance a “Big Bang” in renewable-energy expansion via subsidized price support (similar to Germany’s feed-in tariff program).

    Krugman offers 8000 words of canonical economic dogma, but he does not offer a viable strategy for breaking the political deadlock on climate policy. The “only-game-in-town” argument for cap-and-trade no longer works. What might work would be a shift from dogmatism to pragmatism. Before we can phase out coal, we have to stop new coal. That does not require a high carbon fee on all energy sources; it only requires a high fee on new sources. But before we can stop new coal, we need to have economically viable, low-carbon substitutes. Price incentives in the form of “carrots” — subsidies for new-source renewable energy — could be much more effective and politically viable than “sticks” while renewable energy markets are in their nascent phase.

    Pragmatism should be guided by clear policy objectives, which Krugman’s dogmatism lacks. Accepting his argument (echoing Weitzman) that the “risk of catastrophe, rather than the details of cost-benefit calculations, makes the most powerful case for strong climate policy”, should the fundamental objective of climate policy be to (a) achieve a predetermined (and politically compromised) emission target at the lowest possible cost, or (b) achieve the lowest possible emissions at acceptable cost? Rather than providing clear policy guidance on this question, Krugman — like everyone else in his profession — just seems to just bend in whatever direction the political winds are blowing.

    Comment by Ken Johnson — 11 Apr 2010 @ 4:10 PM

  14. Re: #6: Climate Change for Nonscientists, perhaps? I appreciate your point — but the simple fact is, we can’t teach science to nonscientists, such as humanities students, the same way we teach it to science students. In the former the information and arguments are overwhelmingly mathematical; in the latter, we tend to make the information and arguments plausible, not rigorous.

    Connecting to Eric’s comment in #4, I would say that Gore and Krugman do indeed base their belief on evidence. However, evidence for them is not the scientific sort — rigorously mathematical (though no doubt Krugman is indeed capable of mathematical rigor) — but the consensus sort. In other words, neither are able to evaluate the science on its detailed merits. Rather, I would wager they recognize that the extraordinary success of the modern enterprise of science gives it street credit. Hence, when NAS, AGU, AMS,APS, ACS, AAAS and dozens more of the world’s most prestigious scientific organizations tell us we’ve got a problem, they take that level of consensus as evidence. And justifiably so.

    There are the rare non-science students with whom we can be more scientifically rigorous in the classroom — typically such students take honors courses in this subject. But for the rank and file non-science student, it is indeed important to distinguish.

    Comment by robert davies — 11 Apr 2010 @ 4:24 PM

  15. I like the Krugman article on the whole, but is the following a fair statement? Let’s be clear. We’re not talking about a few more hot days in the summer and a bit less snow in the winter; we’re talking about massively disruptive events, like the transformation of the Southwestern United States into a permanent dust bowl over the next few decades.

    Permanent dust bowl? Over a few decades? Is that the part of the “Southwestern United States” that is already desert, like the Mojave or Imperial Valley? Or is he including Oklahoma?

    [Response: There were droughts in the pre-instrumental past, such as during medieval times, which were much more severe than the dust bowl. There is a relict dune field in Nebraska called the Sand Hills, now I guess part of our grain belt. David]

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 11 Apr 2010 @ 4:36 PM

  16. I think criticizing Krugman’s slips on the science of global warming is beside the point. He is an economist, and it is his arguments about the the cost of ac ting vs. not acting that are most relevant. His most important point is that placing a price on carbon emissions by the most politically feasible effective method is feasible and that the cost of doing so won’t wreck world economies.

    [Response: I really didn't want to sound critical of Mr. (Prof.) Krugman. My first draft was all sweetness and light, but then I and some of my realclimate colleagues just couldn't help ourselves. It's what Mr. Profs. do I guess. David]

    I liked his argument that it was st range that “free market conservatives” who seemed to think that the market could solve pract ically any problem have decided that the market can’t deal with climate change by imposing a cost on carbon emissions.

    Overall he

    Comment by Leonard Evens — 11 Apr 2010 @ 4:36 PM

  17. #7 Thanks Doug and Eric,

    I heard that the Gulf Stream is dependent on the Earth’s rotation rather than Global Warming. That true? Having suffered literally innumerable posters pronouncing XYZ I’d appreciate the real deal.

    [Response: We've discussed this a few times (and links therein). - gavin]

    My upshot comment is that in the unlikely event of the GS Shutting down-etc. would London and Western Europe, at worst, have the climate of Oslo, or Trondheim? (Or Murmansk?)

    Perhaps Professor Krugman’s implying “barely economically viable”. Given the damage to the World’s economy from the $100mill a year implausible deniability brigade it wouldn’t surprise me GW will hurt worse.

    Comment by Mike Donald — 11 Apr 2010 @ 4:37 PM

  18. I’ve read Jim Hansen’s grandchildren book as I suspect Prof Krugman also has. I find very little difference between Krugman’s piece and Jim’s recommendations, except for nuclear power. Hansen believes that liquid metal reactors are the only chance to replace coal based power and thus to leave most of nature’s carbon in the ground. Krugman ignores nuclear – probably to avoid attacks from the Union of concerned “Scientists” that so annoyed Hansen. IMO, at a very high level, Hansen and Krugman agree.

    [Response: Come to think of it, I guess I was reacting to Krugman in his role as a journalist. Lots of other journalistic types had access to Hansen's book, too. Finding something that Hansen had written that seemed sensible and insightful wouldn't have blissed me out nearly as much as reading Krugman's article did. David]

    With regard to the confusion regarding climate sensitivity etc., I believe Prof Krugman was refering to an assessment that Hansen describes in his book (Chap 5 Target Carbon Dioxide: Where should Humanity Aim”. In 2007, Jim was asked where the “dangerous” CO2 level really was by Bill McKibben. Jim had been thinking about that for quite awhile and he used the question from Bill and others to re-examine paleo-climate data. He arrives at 350 ppm with several caveats by considering long term forcings in addition to the more usual short time forcings. In the book he references Hansen et al, Target Atmospheric CO2: Where should Humanity Aim”, Open Atmospheric Science Journal,http://www.utafoundation.org/Climate_change/Hansen_091708.pdf if anyone wants the peer-reviewed version

    Comment by John Peter — 11 Apr 2010 @ 4:55 PM

  19. RiHo08,
    One of many things you ignore in your comment is that Krugman is commenting within his expertise as an economist, while VS was so far out of his depth as to be laughable. I notice that you also somehow failed to cite the very thorough debunking given to his treatment by Tamino:
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/03/11/not-a-random-walk/

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/03/16/still-not/

    I might suggest that it is a mistake to ignore basic physics here. The basic physics says that if you add CO2 to the atmosphere, the climate will warm. The paleoclimatic data agree. The six or so independent temperature records all show trends consistent with the evidence. Phenological and ice-melt data are also supportive. There is no evidence that suggests a significant deviation from the current consensus model of Earth’s climate. It is extremely difficult for me to understand how one can suggest we are not warming the planet if they have even a shred of respect for the evidence.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 Apr 2010 @ 5:16 PM

  20. Re 11 RiHo08

    VS’s arguments has been well dealt with here by Tamino:
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/03/11/not-a-random-walk/

    I don’t have great stats skills to comment myself, but from reading that discussion, VS’s approach doesn’t seem to hold up.

    Comment by Johnmac — 11 Apr 2010 @ 5:23 PM

  21. Re #11: VS is a persistent crank who will keep talking as long as there’s an audience. People with the unrealistic expectation that such cranks can be persuaded by facts will indeed tend to get red-faced.

    RiHO08, over the course of many years as a somewhat radical environmentalist I’ve found it essential to develop an ability to discern cranks and crank ideas even when I’m being told things I’d like to be true. You might be able to learn something from my experience.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 11 Apr 2010 @ 5:25 PM

  22. > SM … Southwestern … dust bowl
    http://www.inkstain.net/fleck/?p=4513
    http://www.inkstain.net/fleck/?p=4516

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Apr 2010 @ 5:38 PM

  23. The fatal flaw in Krugman’s approach comes early on:

    In fact, once you filter out the noise generated by special-interest groups, you discover that there is widespread agreement among environmental economists that a market-based program to deal with the threat of climate change — one that limits carbon emissions by putting a price on them — can achieve large results at modest, though not trivial, cost.

    As usual, the economist with no biological training makes a fundamental physical error – failure to look at ecological externalities from the scientific perspective. This is to be expected, since academic economists aren’t required to learn basic science – biology, chemistry, physics, etc. While Krugman discusses externalities, he then blithely moves on to cap-and-trade – but what are the externalities there?

    More importantly, the only way to offset fossil fuel emissions is to bury an equivalent amount of carbon in some geologically stable form – graphite bricks would be a good way to go. However, the costs of doing this are so ridiculously high that noone could afford to purchase “pollution permits.” It’d be far cheaper to close the coal plant and build gigawatt-scale solar with energy storage than to make graphite out of CO2.

    That’s not the only major error. Krugman also seems incapable of distinguishing between biological carbon emissions and fossil fuel carbon emissions. It’s a basic issue – photosynthesis uses atmospheric CO2 as the basic building block, and when burned, photosynthetic fuels return the CO2 to the air. That’s true carbon neutrality.

    This is the physical reason that “cap-and-trade” is nonsense. Anyone who looks more carefully sees that it is little more than a smoke-and-mirrors game, much like the fraudulent Futuregen “carbon capture plant” – which actually appears to be a coal gasification plant for gasoline production, not a zero-emissions anything.

    Hence, what is really needed is a program that strips all subsidies from fossil fuel programs and transfers them to renewables. Climate scientists and economists who don’t understand this basic fact and who are running around promoting “clean coal” and “cap-and-trade” are actually doing far more harm than good.

    Krugman’s comments about “environmental economists” are also off base. What are needed are economists who have a broad background in ecology, biology, physics and chemistry, and who are willing to admit that modern economic theory is massively flawed and requires major reforms if it is to ever be of any real use – other than as a public relations tool. The difference? Environmentalists are social activists; ecologists are trained scientists.

    The problem is that Krugman really tiptoes around the externalities. Those are costs associated with the transaction that are borne by other parties not directly involved in the transaction. If the dictator of some Third World country agrees to a resource extraction deal with ExxonMobil, and it results in massive pollution, than the people of that country do not benefit, but rather experience great hardship. From the ecological perspective, a few more dollars for Exxon investors are meaningless – it’s the water supply, the food supply – and hence, the climate – that count most for the long-term survival of the local human population.

    Thus, you need to look at the entire ecological picture when analyzing the long-term effects of any particular transaction. The effects may be zero, or they may be immense (as in global warming). Economists, however, have refused to take this step. Their academic departments are strictly segregated from those of natural and physical sciences, and their students are not expected to learn these subjects – which is why they say so many ridiculous things.

    As far as global warming, it was clear by the 1990s what the trend was. Even here, Krugman blows it – the whole “apocalyptic” argument seems specious. We’re likely to see more intense storms, flooding and drought doing the most damage over the short term. Sea level rise will move much slower. The world will become a less hospitable place for human civilization, and people will be in general more impoverished then they are now – UNLESS they take real steps to adapt right now. However, it’s not apocalypse, more like steady degradation.

    What adaptations refuse to admit, however, is that the first critical step in any adaptation effort is to eliminate fossil fuel combustion as an energy source, and to pursue international agreements aimed at that goal.

    This obvious fact is one that our establishment climate scientists find difficult to acknowledge – but there’s no way around it.

    [Response: Ike. I think everything you say is thoughtful, and might even be right (I'm no expert on the economics or policy). But why the statement about "establishment climate scientists" and what they "find difficult to acknowlege". Who is this monolithic group, and what is it they (we?) won't acknowldge? I might even agree with you if I had a clue what you are talking about. Perhaps you are saying that they (we?) don't acknowledge that we really have to cut fossil fuel combustion to zero; if so, first of all many scientists I know *do* believe that and acknowledge that belief, and second, that isn't adaptation, it's mitigation. So I'm pretty confused about what you are trying to say. Please clarify (and try to do it with casting everyone as part of the 'establishment' (whatever that is)). Thanks! --eric]

    Comment by Ike Solem — 11 Apr 2010 @ 6:03 PM

  24. 22, Hank Roberts, thanks for the links.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 11 Apr 2010 @ 6:14 PM

  25. Another issue is the effort by Krugman to put anyone who opposes his cap-and-trade scheme in the same boat as climate denialists and Sarah Palin:

    Let’s leave aside those who dismiss climate science altogether and oppose any limits on greenhouse-gas emissions, as well as those who oppose the use of any kind of market-based remedy.

    How would Krugman have dealt with slavery, one wonders… perhaps a market-based mechanism? High taxes on slave sales would encourage slaveowners to keep their “slave families” together, so that mothers wouldn’t have to see their children sold into slavery – at least, there’d be fewer such sales because of the market incentives.

    A new mentality is required – one that views ecological destruction as a crime, just as human slavery is now viewed as a crime:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/apr/09/ecocide-crime-genocide-un-environmental-damage

    British campaigner urges UN to accept ‘ecocide’ as international crime.

    Proposal to declare mass destruction of ecosystems a crime on a par with genocide launched by lawyer.

    Juliette Jowit, Friday 9 April 2010

    This is probably going to be the only effective long-term strategy – market-based mechanisms and “clean fossil fuels” are just propaganda cover for business-as-usual.

    [Response: To be fair, he's not putting them in the same boat. He's putting them in two different boats. I'm also not sure he's saying that the anti-market people are wrong; he may just believe that they are not going to get anywhere without working within the system, which, like it or not, is international market forces (with a good measure of demagoguery and back door politics thrown in of course).--eric]

    Comment by Ike Solem — 11 Apr 2010 @ 6:18 PM

  26. Ray Ladbury says: 11 April 2010 at 5:16 PM

    I was going to ask, does the economist VS RiHo08 mentions acknowledge the difference between practicing in his own field versus applying the same tools he’s accustomed to using in another arena entirely while failing to include the fundamentals of that new and foreign venue?

    The situation reminds me of a house painter attempting to paint a still life with his accustomed roller, or– to avoid an implied pejorative comparison– an artistic painter trying to cover a house with a palette knife. Both activities involve paint (statistics) but the subjects and practices involved are quite different, not to mention that one arena (artistic painting, economics) is relatively unconstrained or at least is dominated by mutable human factors while the other (house painting, climate science) is subject to some hard physical constraints.

    I did not realize RiHo08 was referring to the same matter Tamino addressed. The nut of VS’ claim is that the behavior of global temperature should and does resemble a random walk, a startling claim, a misconception Tamino corrects in elaborate detail. For those wondering what it’s all about, you may choose to skip over the 1,500 comments RiHo08 mentions and instead cut to the chase at Tamino’s site as linked by Ray Ladbury.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 11 Apr 2010 @ 6:30 PM

  27. Ike Solem @23

    Intellectually, altruistically you may have missed Krugman’s point:

    “…What about the case for an emissions tax rather than cap and trade? There’s no question that a straightforward tax would have many advantages over legislation like Waxman-Markey, which is full of exceptions and special situations. But that’s not really a useful comparison: of course an
    idealized emissions tax looks better than a cap-and-trade system that has already passed the House with all its attendant compromises. The question is whether the emissions tax that could actually be put in place is better than cap and trade. There is no reason to believe that it would be… altruism
    cannot effectively deal with climate change. Any serious solution must rely mainly on creating a system that gives everyone a self-interested reason to produce fewer emissions. It’s a shame, but climate altruism must take a back seat to the task of getting such a system in place…

    Comment by John Peter — 11 Apr 2010 @ 6:31 PM

  28. I went back to the thread on the Gulf Stream and there was a comparison of Alaska and Norway. The location in Alaska is east of Siberia rather than the Atlantic Ocean. A more sensible comparison would be London and Vancouver I would think. So on that basis Europe is about 2C warmer than the same latitudes in western North America.

    Comment by David Stern — 11 Apr 2010 @ 6:49 PM

  29. @ RiHo08 says:

    Please see our work on applying cointegration analysis and other time series econometrics to the climate issue which has largely (but not totally) been ignored by the climate science community. Here are all the relevant papers.

    http://www.sterndavidi.com/topics.html#cli

    Comment by David Stern — 11 Apr 2010 @ 6:58 PM

  30. concerning the American southwest: the Colorado River is already badly overallocated and the regional models i’ve seen are not encouraging. Las Vegas is at the bottom of the priority ladder and is already in deep trouble. Its most recent plan to take water from desert communities was shot down by the courts. Its ongoing project of lowering its intake pipes to reduce the size of the dead pool in Lake Mead is a stopgap measure. Higher priority users, like the farmers in Imperial Valley (who grow boatloads of vegetables all year round) aren’t particularly interested in selling. The recession may actually be doing Las Vegas a favor, giving it time to do more water planning.

    That’s only short term, though. Come 2060 and thereafter, it looks like the water users on the Colorado are going to need to find a way to reduce substantially their aggregate annual use. That’s going to hurt, a lot.

    Comment by Francis — 11 Apr 2010 @ 7:02 PM

  31. David (response@18)

    If truth be told, I much prefer Archer to either Krugman or Hansen ;)

    Comment by John Peter — 11 Apr 2010 @ 7:41 PM

  32. Prof. Krugman’s NYT magazine cover story today, Congressional appearance by Joe Romm*, and a push to get a climate/energy bill through the US Senate. Things are happening and it’s time for all to be ready for the “skeptical” firestorm. We saw what happened pre-Copenhagen, so I can imagine what’s coming up. It’s a lot to ask, but I hope the experts are available to explain the science. The think tanks will be ready to influence policy, so it is important to have the truth out there.

    While parsing the science in the Krugman piece (we do agree with his overall conclusions about the science, right?), let’s not lose sight of his economic arguments. Will Congress come through with a perfect bill? Doubt it, but if we expect international cooperation, we need something to show that the world that the US is serious about making progress.

    * For policy discussions, Climate Progress is a must-read site.

    Comment by Deech56 — 11 Apr 2010 @ 7:42 PM

  33. Eric – As an example of the problem with economists today, consider the claim that tankers of iron compounds can be used to fertilize the oceans and draw down atmospheric CO2. This notion has been thoroughly debunked by oceanographers and biologists – see Falkowski, Chisholm, etc.

    That didn’t keep it from being included in many proposed economic “market mechanisms” – despite the fact that this would do nothing to reduce the conversion of geological carbon deposits into atmospheric & oceanic CO2. This kind of thing is why we shouldn’t let economists design climate policy.

    There’s a good discussion of the scientific flaws in the PR claims on that issue here:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/05/thin-soup-and-a-thin-story/comment-page-1/#comment-32068

    However, what economists like Krugman seem to do is to take these claims at face value and then make economic prognosis on the basis of their unquestioning acceptance of said claims.

    This, you must admit, is a serious problem – and it’s fairly obvious that the lack of scientific training is what prevents economists from being able to assess these claims.

    As a result, nonsensical claims about offsets get tossed around in many spheres. Here in California, for example, there’s a big political push for fossil-fueled desalination plants. The proponents claim that they can offset such emissions by buying wind energy from Nevada, etc.

    However, physically, every carbon atom that exits the geological reservoirs is an addition to the recirculating carbon dioxide pool. Solar power doesn’t put that atom back in the ground in stable form. If you want zero-emission desalination, you can’t use fossil fuels. If you want to see how to do desal using sunlight, see what Saudi Arabia and IBM are up to.

    Now, if you could make solid graphite bricks and use those to offset fossil fuel emissions, well, that might work. Graphite is quite stable under typical conditions – but going from CO2 to graphite is energy intensive.

    So, to be as clear as possible, what I’m saying is that if economists had a scientific understanding of the carbon cycle, they’d rule out most of the proposed trade-able offsets as being ineffective or fraudulent.

    So, in this sense, I suppose I’m promoting a market-based mechanism that accurately reflects the true costs of offsetting fossil fuel emissions. However, economists like Krugman can’t tell the difference between a true offset (which is very hard to create, as in graphite bricks) and a bogus claim by some ambitious trader. In reality, the price of offsets would be so high that no fossil fuel operation would be able to buy said offsets without going bankrupt. This is not good policy either, is it? All it does is enrich the sellers of offsets at the expense of everyone else – with no guarantee that the money would go to renewable energy development.

    A far better policy is to strip the direct government subsidies for fossil fuels (are those market-based subsidies?) and transfer them to renewable energy, along with other short-term and long-term incentives, all aimed at replacing fossil fuel systems with renewable energy systems.

    Now, as far as the “establishment” issue – here we are talking about things like the Department of Energy budget issues – as well as the general reluctance of those who are dependent on federal funding to challenge official government policy. If climate scientists got together as a group and insisted that their academic institutions set up renewable energy research institutes (along the same lines as any other organized research unit), they would clearly be bucking the academic establishment. Of course, for this to happen, funds would have to be available – and that’s a DOE issue. Ever look at that budget? It’s pretty shocking to see how they spend their money, let me tell you.

    As another example of the “establishment” problem, why haven’t the climate scientists who work for Stanford University revolted over Exxon’s control of their “Global Climate and Energy Program”? Is this the kind of timid behavior one can expect from “our establishment climate scientists”? Yes, there are exceptions – but every exception from Hansen on down comes with a price – you’ll be attacked, as Hansen was. You guys at RC have seen plenty of that, correct? However, you would think that preserving the independence of scientific institutions would be a motivating factor here…

    Anyway, that’s what I was getting at with that phrase. If more scientists were as vocal about explaining their work (and the need for independent control of the direction of research) as the folks at realclimate are, we’d probably have well-funded renewable energy research institutes at many universities – but that still hasn’t happened.

    P.S. John Peter – It’s not about altruism, either – it’s about switching the energy base off fossil fuels. That’s a technical issue, and although it’s easy to argue it’s also a moral necessity, I’d say it has more to do with basic survival, particularly in marginal areas that are already heavily stressed by climate change.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 11 Apr 2010 @ 8:30 PM

  34. What if our economy was not built on competition? Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom talks about her work on cooperation in economics.
    (hat tip to Metafilter)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Apr 2010 @ 8:35 PM

  35. SM@15
    Interesting tree ring study here that rather relates to the SW U.S., particularly considering the current condition of Lake Mead

    Comment by flxible — 11 Apr 2010 @ 8:53 PM

  36. I have read up (some) on how climate models work and why it is reasonable to take their projections seriously. But, I have no clue why I should have any confidence in economic models. I would love to find some expository account on economic modeling.

    Comment by Mike — 11 Apr 2010 @ 9:10 PM

  37. Re Eric’s reply to #6: “English for science majors that really need to learn how to write.” I hate to be pedantic (no, I lie: I love to be pedantic), but that should be “English for science majors who really need to learn how to write.” As any mathematics major (liberal arts, but neither science not humanities) could tell you.

    Comment by S. Molnar — 11 Apr 2010 @ 9:14 PM

  38. 28, Francis: Come 2060 and thereafter, it looks like the water users on the Colorado are going to need to find a way to reduce substantially their aggregate annual use.

    That might be, but for California I think the way forward is solar-powered desalination. That’s independent of the environmental threat of permanent Southwest dust bowls in other states. It does assume that CA gets moving, instead of talking of the need to adjust.

    25, Ike Solem: A new mentality is required – one that views ecological destruction as a crime, just as human slavery is now viewed as a crime:

    Slavery still exists on a large scale, as I expect you know. Likewise, prohibiting “ecocide” would most likely be enforced only in the EU and US (and some others), further enhancing the competitive advantage of China and India. A case in point would be Burma: boycotting Unocal has led to the takeover of Burmese oil by Sinopec, without improving the lot of even a single Burmese slave (“drafted”) laborer. See also Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria, where slave labor exists and Chinese dominate the oil purchases.

    The idea that 3B people in developing nations would commit economic suicide to follow the US and EU is absurd, or at least doubtful.

    A serious thought has to be given to growing the developed economies while substituting other energies for fossil fuels. Cap and trade, taxing CO2, direct subsidies or combinations of all three might work; prohibiting “ecocide” isn’t likely to make a positive difference.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 11 Apr 2010 @ 10:01 PM

  39. Re Ike Solem – about the issue of crime, I disagree in general. There is a big difference betwee owning slaves and emitting greenhouse gases. If only one person burned a little coal, no one would really care about global or regional effects – maybe some local neighbors and some downstream interests would have a problem, or not, depending on how the ash is handled, how the coal was obtained, etc, but in so far as the CO2 emissions are concerned, no big deal. But owning a slave, or commiting murder, or theft, or … etc, these all cause a significant problem (of varying sizes) for at least someone. The problem with CO2 is that so many people are contributing small amounts and they add up to something huge. It’s the amount that matters.

    Of course, when CO2 is regulated, violating those regulations should be subject to fine or other penalty, depending on the nature of the violation.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 11 Apr 2010 @ 10:24 PM

  40. Re Francis – “That’s only short term, though. Come 2060 and thereafter, it looks like the water users on the Colorado are going to need to find a way to reduce substantially their aggregate annual use. That’s going to hurt, a lot.”

    I think eventually there should be a (mainly) solar-powered water desalination and pumping network. Can double as electricity supply to load matching service (storage).

    Re –
    “[Response: There were droughts in the pre-instrumental past, such as during medieval times, which were much more severe than the dust bowl. There is a relict dune field in Nebraska called the Sand Hills, now I guess part of our grain belt. David]”

    I can imagine some will say – well if it could happen anyway, why bother. So just to clarify, is this correct?: we have reason (models, paleoclimate)to expect that such natural climate variations will be some combination of smaller or less likely (I’d add less rapid over the same magnitude of change, but for millenial to centennial changes, I’ve gotten a different impression) in any given time period relative to the certainty of AGW and, though with some uncertainty overall and in particular with specific regional uncertainties, greater certainty that there will be signficant regional effects, and also, that because at least ecosystems and their supporting biodiversity, if not economies (which are affected by ecosystems) are evolved to handle some range of conditions, and/or because of ________, costs shoulde tend to increase nonlinearly with change (so that even if, for AGW changes of the same magnitude as probable natural changes, there were as much chance as AGW changes of the same magnitude as natural changes canceling each other or adding to each other regionally (setting nonlinearities aside for the moment) would still have a nonzero expectation adaptation cost, and also, that while uncertainty in future natural changes exists, the uncertainty is not saturated; uncertainty in AGW adds to uncertainty in total and is thus reduces the benifit of proactive adaptation (??) – Would this be correct and is there any good source on this subject (that ties it together)? (I’ve found myself lacking some background knowledge on the subject of centennial-to-millenial scale climate fluctuations, and though I could try to find out for myself, it seems more efficient, and a good insurance policy, to ask when the opportunity presents itself.)

    —-

    So I’m on page 4 of Krugman’s article now, some thoughts:

    “The political logic seems to be that the oil industry thinks consumers won’t blame it for higher gas prices if those prices reflect an explicit tax. ”

    The statement suggests a potential for a type of problem with markets (PS don’t interpret this to mean that I am against markets; overall I think they’re good to have, just not good to refuse sensible regulation and some other public policies/programs. It makes more sense to pay for expensive fuel to bus kids to school then to shut down busses and force people to pay more money for a less efficient way (for conditions where walking/bicycling is impractical) – People might tend to assume something is fair and feel they are being ripped off by ‘someone’ when made to pay more when it is simply the facts of reality that are ‘ripping them off’ (and the consumer reaction might be different because of the distinction?)

    “Politically speaking, doling out licenses to industry isn’t entirely bad,”

    As long as there isn’t preferential treatment to the big established firms, I’m partially begrudgingly somewhat okay with it. Actually that’s true even with that problem, just less so.

    “It’s also worth noting that the Waxman-Markey bill, a cap-and-trade setup for greenhouse gases that starts by giving out many licenses to industry but puts up a growing number for auction in later years,”

    Okay, I don’t mind a ramp-up time to what amounts to a tax.

    The problem with just giving out licenses is that it doesn’t send the full price signal through the full economy – it could make a sector more emissions-efficient but might miss the opportunity to make the whole economy more efficiently use that sector.

    Also, I hope CO2 licences can be converted to CH4 licenses with the proper exchange rate, because there’s no reason to fix the relative proportions of emission sources. For that matter, all net CO2(eq) emission sources should compete for the same pool (As opposed to giving cement special treatment, etc.).


    “Second, climate models predicted this well in advance, even getting the magnitude of the temperature rise roughly right. While it’s relatively easy to cook up an analysis that matches known data, it is much harder to create a model that accurately forecasts the future. So the fact that climate modelers more than 20 years ago successfully predicted the subsequent global warming gives them enormous credibility.

    And also, it’s at least somewhat harder to cook up a matching analysis if one is commited to keeping the model physics realistic.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 11 Apr 2010 @ 11:28 PM

  41. It would be useful, I think, if you could respond to Comment 13 by Ken Johnson. He raises a number of fundamental points — all unanswered to date, as far as I can determine, by proponents — about the continuing advocacy for cap and trade by Krugman (and also, by some major national environmental groups) as the centerpiece program for pending congressional action.

    Because some Congressional advocates for C&T seem willing to trade away existing authority retained by EPA and the various states to restrict GHG emissions as pollutants under the Clean Air Act, the stakes are enormously high.

    If Ken Johnson is correct that C&T is at best likely to achieve only minimum goals (albeit at low cost) that may prove entirely inadequate to achieve climate stability, then what are we doing?

    To disclose: Ken Johnson and I have done some work together on climate policy.

    Thanks much.

    Dan Galpern, Attorney
    Western Environmental Law Center
    Eugene, Oregon

    Comment by Dan Galpern — 12 Apr 2010 @ 12:18 AM

  42. “Krugman’s four reasons why it’s dubious to compare costs of climate mitigation to adaption didn’t include the unfairness, that the people paying the costs of climate change would not be the same ones as reap the benefit of CO2 emission”

    I wonder why this is repeatedly asserted. It is actually totally wrong if you consider the scenarios; they all assume a constant growth of 2% /yr at least ending with a multiplication by at least 8 by the end of the century and a reduction by 5 or 6 of inequalities.The fossil fuel consumption must double or triple to reach dangerous warming level. Who the hell will benefit from this increased fossil fuel consumption? OCDE countries consumption per capita is stagnating and even decreasing since most of the fundamental needs are fulfilled , and we can expect some improvement in their use (although much less than a factor 4 i fear). So of course mainly poor people, like in China now, would benefit from an increase of FF consumption ! China growth has allowed hundreds of millions of people to escape poverty, and of course this would also be the result of a doubling or tripling of FF consumption – who else could burn them?

    Comment by Gilles — 12 Apr 2010 @ 1:33 AM

  43. An critique on Paul Krugman,

    somewhere he wrote that we should “spend our way out of recession”, which is obviously nonsense because overconsumption is the exact reason, not salvation of the economic crises. He also supports (or supported) the dubious “stimulus package”, which makes the crises mostly worse…

    He also wrote an article “Unhelpful Hansen” where he said “cap and trade” is only option of reducing carbon, not carbon tax, or carbon tax + 100 % dividend, which is necessary according to Hansen…

    Comment by Alexander Ač — 12 Apr 2010 @ 1:44 AM

  44. Other thing. I have a real problem in thinking that a Nobel prize economist could do such a big mistake, but I need an explanation on a very simple paradox. When Krugman and other speak about the “cost” of mitigation, for instance here “The Congressional Budget Office, relying on a survey of models, has concluded that Waxman-Markey “would reduce the projected average annual rate of growth of gross domestic product between 2010 and 2050 by 0.03 to 0.09 percentage points.” That is, it would trim average annual growth to 2.31 percent, at worst, from 2.4 percent. Over all, the Budget Office concludes, strong climate-change policy would leave the American economy between 1.1 percent and 3.4 percent smaller in 2050 than it would be otherwise.”

    It assumes that the gain in efficiency brought by a better use of FF would leave all the rest unchanged. But I don’t see why ! improving the use of FF allow to use them for more things, and first all these poor people who need them. So it actually increases the growth. If it were possible, it wouldn’t have a COST, it is a BENEFIT (actually that’s exactly what happened in the last 30 years, when FF consumption per capita has remained constant and the growth of GDP has only be obtained thanks the improving of their use). In other words, improving FF use has NEVER resulted in a lower consumption at a world scale , although it has some times for the richest countries where all basic needs were fulfilled , because they are always enough poor people who need to use them more. You know, these poor people who are supposed to suffer more from GW without benefitting from FF : this is the true paradox : why wouldn’t we leave them use the FF we have spared? (and how could we avoid that !!)

    Comment by Gilles — 12 Apr 2010 @ 1:48 AM

  45. David, I think this correction of Krugman was a little off the mark:

    “The extinctions at the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum, for example, were mostly limited to foraminfera, single-celled shelly protozoa living at the sea floor, not really a ‘mass extinction’ like the end Cretaceous when the dinosaurs got feathered.”

    He said:

    “But there are at least two reasons to take sanguine assessments of the consequences of climate change with a grain of salt. One is that, as I have just pointed out, it’s not just a matter of having warmer weather — many of the costs of climate change are likely to result from droughts, flooding and severe storms. The other is that while modern economies may be highly adaptable, the same may not be true of ecosystems. The last time the earth experienced warming at anything like the pace we now expect was during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, about 55 million years ago, when temperatures rose by about 11 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of around 20,000 years (which is a much slower rate than the current pace of warming). That increase was associated with mass extinctions, which, to put it mildly, probably would not be good for living standards.”

    The PETM was indeed an extinction event even though it was of lesser magnitude and differently characterized than e.g. the K-T event that you mention. While the PETM was e.g. good for mammals as a whole (lots of new species and groupings got their start then, including primates), plenty of species did bite the dust. Interestingly a major factor in the speciation seems to have been enhanced dwarfism due to high CO2 levels, although longer-term some very large species resulted only to be wiped out by the next extinction event, the late Eocene cooling. The situation for foraminifera was similarly complex, as some thrived even while anoxia wiped out the deep-ocean species. (My source is this excellent recent review article comparing the various extinction events and analyzing the role played by climate in them.)

    [Response: Actually, I'm not happy with extinction rate in the past as a proxy for how bad things could get for us as a society in the future. This question came up on an NRC panel on ocean acidification that I was involved with -- do the extinctions during the PETM tell us anything about how much the changing pH in the ocean would affect, say, fisheries? Not really, I don't think. There are a lot of negative impacts that stop short of full-blown extinction. The droughts that wiped out the Mayan civilization, or the dust bowl that drove 85% of the Oakies to migrate, didn't extinguish any species that I know of. On the PETM itself, my understanding is that biologically the most important event then was not extinction but rather the first occurrence of the hoofed mammals. Not really all that scary sounding. David]

    Also, I assume your “dinosaurs got feathered” remark was tongue in cheek (the birds got their feathers long before then), but it may be confusing for some readers.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 12 Apr 2010 @ 2:13 AM

  46. RiHo08,

    The points VS (not of Norway) was making about the statistical interpretation are not as clear cut as you make them out to be. The limitations of OLS on data with a near unit root is well taken, but to claim that the temperature just changes stochastically, within bounds that are very far off what one would expect just from natural variability, is not convincing: Many parameters of the earth system are simultaneously showing signs of warming, plus there’s still a positive radiation imbalance at the top of the atmosphere: The earth hasn’t even warmed up yet to the full extent that the change in forcing implies. In other words, it’s unphysical to claim that the temperatures just walk around randomly within very wide (and thus essentially meaningless) bounds: It goes against conservation of energy. See also http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/03/18/the-relevance-of-rooting-for-a-unit-root/

    And for a more ironic take on the issue http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/a-rooty-solution-to-my-weight-gain-problem/

    See also the recent comment by economist David Stern on the last mentioned thread:

    “Please see our work on applying cointegration analysis and other time series econometrics to the climate issue which has largely (but not totally) been ignored by the climate science community. Here are all the relevant papers.
    http://www.sterndavidi.com/topics.html#cli
    Yes there are unit roots probably in the temperature time series but they are there due to the temperature being driven by the greenhouse gas series that almost definitely have unit roots in them.”

    (Apologies for this off topic reply)

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 12 Apr 2010 @ 3:02 AM

  47. I’m not quite sure what the atmospheric lifetime of CO2 has to do with the economic analysis. The integrated models that economists use for comparing costs and benefits account for the science of CO2 removal from the atmosphere.

    I recognize that Krugman is making an argument for action. But it’s important to recognize the subjective and value-laden nature of the economics. You can reasonably argue that given our clear lack of concern over international development, there is a weaker argument for strong mitigation in developed countries. The fairness issue can also be interpreted as concentrating on the welfare of the poor now, rather than being concerned about the welfare of future generations, who may be substantially richer than we are now. Additionally uncertainty over climate change science can also be interpreted as a suggesting a policy of wait-and-see. The decision on how to respond to this strikes me as being entirely subjective.

    To me, the issue of Weitzman’s fat-tails is not entirely satisfactory. You could use the “fat-tail” argument for presumably any potentially catastrophic outcome, e.g., bioterrorism, nuclear war, asteroid collision etc. Why are the fat-tails of climate change any different?

    We shouldn’t forget that mitigation is expensive in terms of opportunity costs, which is a fundamental part of economic thinking. Spending trillions of dollars on renewable energy could be spent on education, reducing inequality, etc. This fact has to be faced up to, and not obscured by talking of fractions of reduced GDP growth.

    Comment by Thomas Bewick — 12 Apr 2010 @ 3:17 AM

  48. @23, Ike.

    I think you are miscomprehending Krugman’s take on this. He’s a realist, he knows that in a perfect world we would stop combusting fossil fuels altogether. He knows that’s not going to happen, but that instead we should severely limit our CO2 output, for which he as an economist argues cap-and-trade would work well (to those saying the licenses are too cheap right now, consider that it is important where you place the cap). The physical reality is that global warming will cause a lot of hardship, the conomical reality is that changing our behaviour will take time. What you seem to be proposing isn’t even close to realistic.

    In the rest of your post you make the same mistake as climate cranks do, asserting superiority over a science you know nothing of, nor pretend to. Climate cranks also attempt to debunk all of climate science by stating that we need more climate scientists trained in “real math” who admit that their field is “massively flawed”. Cap and trade is clearly not just smoke and mirrors, and if it was, I’d like to hear actual arguments for it, instead of just your personal dislike of economists.

    Comment by wds — 12 Apr 2010 @ 3:30 AM

  49. Ike Solem (#23, 25),

    You’re confusing matters. Cap-and-trade, like a carbon tax, is a means of lowering carbon emissions by making it more costly to pollute. Whether it promotes a switch from coal to renewables + energy efficiency, or promotes the retrofitting of coal plants with carbon capture and storage, is left up to the market. You clearly don’t think CCS for coal is economically viable – neither do I – so there’s no reason why a cap-and-trade system, in principle, would promote CCS rather than a switch to solar. If it’s the shortcomings of Waxman-Markey you want to discuss, with its dollop of subsidies for CCS, be specific. As to your rhetorical question, “cap-and-trade – (…) what are the externalities there?”, I don’t know – what are the “externalities” of a cap and trade system?

    The Guardian article makes rather fanciful representations about the prospects for an international crime of ecocide, not to mention making it applicable to climate change resulting from peaceful economic development. Such a strategy is not an alternative to market-based instruments, it’s very hard to imagine it proving more effective even in the long run, and in all likelihood it would leave us twiddling our thumbs for twenty years or so while the lawyers deliberate.

    Comment by CM — 12 Apr 2010 @ 4:19 AM

  50. RiHo08 (11),

    Please note that when I subject an OLS regression of dT on ln CO2 for 1880-2008, and then perform Cochrane-Orcutt iteration on it to compensate for autocorrelation in the residuals, I still wind up with 60% of variance accounted for when rho has dropped to an insignificant level.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 12 Apr 2010 @ 6:01 AM

  51. Maybe Ike knows something about Krugman that I don’t, but it seems to me that his reading is harsher than really required.

    For instance, Ike take issue with this sentence:

    Let’s leave aside those who dismiss climate science altogether and oppose any limits on greenhouse-gas emissions, as well as those who oppose the use of any kind of market-based remedy.

    It sounds like a simple exclusion to me, not even necessarily a dismissal–basically, “OK, these are bones I don’t have time and space to pick here.” It’s certainly not a statement of equivalence, as Eric points out.

    I also don’t understand Ike’s dismissal of Krugman’s–well, not only Krugman’s–concept that cap-and-trade is an efficient method to price the environmental “externalities.” Why couldn’t this work?

    It seems that Ike wants a more regulatory approach, criminalizing “ecocide.” I think that’s a defensible idea, but it isn’t going to happen anytime soon, I’m afraid. And it’s not either equivalent to, nor exclusive of, some economic restructuring in order to price those “externalities” which is the point of the Krugman piece.

    That said, I think Ike really has put his finger on a central point when he brings up the question of the limits to growth. He’s not the first, of course, but the discussion of this doesn’t seem to me very widespread, though it’s ever more urgent. Conventional economic theory does posit unlimited economic growth as normative and desirable–and it does seem to me that the physical possibility of this paradigm is at best undemonstrated. Very possibly Ike is right that the academic culture of economics contributes to the neglect of this question, by failing to insist on better training in the physical sciences.

    The central question to me seems to be, is economic growth possible within tight physical constraints? In principle, I’d think it should be, given that many goods and services are relatively intangible, and don’t obviously require increased physical inputs in order to increase in value. And of course we’ve seen instances of technology actually decreasing physical inputs while increasing utility.

    But this is all at the hand-waving level. There’s a real need for both detailed analyses, and big-picture critiques.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 12 Apr 2010 @ 7:35 AM

  52. Re David’s reply to #40: I agree that describing the PETM as an extinction event is incomplete, but since the PETM remains the most apt worst-case analogy for our relatively near future, how should we refer to it? The speciation was certainly a good thing for mammals as a whole (in terms of diversity), but at the same time it was a very bad thing for many species and for the individuals caught up in the speciation. Perhaps we can look at mass extinction events as a marker for widespread environmental disruption, but I think that’s more or less what Krugman did. Do you have a better way to put it?

    [Response: I just don't want lack of extinction to be interpreted as hunky-dory, was my only point. Diversity is one thing, the agricultural infrastructure of a complex civilization is another. David]

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 12 Apr 2010 @ 10:12 AM

  53. http://www.greatchange.org/images/catton-3.gif

    ” The future portion of Panel B depicts what supposedly might happen if, as is advocated by those who have become just enough ecologically aware to sound the alarm, the nations of the world succeed in halting growth very soon…. persons who oppose the “steady state society” idea insist that such a transition would be intolerable; many of them also insist that it is not necessary. But even the advocates … assume that … growth has not yet overshot carrying capacity. If overshoot has already occurred (or must occur because of demographic and technological momentum already generated), then the model depicted in Panel B is already obsolete, whether or not such a transition to equilibrium might once have been feasible.

    Resistance to abrupt change … probably means the curve could not be … as shown in Panel B anyway. Sociocultural (and economic) momentum would tend to make Panel C more realistic…. We may come to feel guilty about stealing from the future, but we will continue to do it. Overshoot will further aggravate the reduction of carrying capacity. Crash must follow. The greater the overshoot, the greater the crash….

    … Hence, in Pane D, “carrying capacity” has been represented by two different curves. A major fraction of the recent, apparently high carrying capacity for human high-energy living must be attributed to temporary resources —i.e., non-renewable fossil acreage, the earth’s savings deposits. … serious overshoot, induced by temporarily high composite carrying capacity, will at least temporarily undermine even the sustainable component. “Energy plantations” for example s. So “temporary carrying capacity” is shown actually dipping below the horizontal line for a while, before it recovers and becomes again simply “carrying capacity”. The lesson from Panel D is that crash caused by the exhaustion of phantom carrying capacity by Homo Colossus could preclude a later cycle of regrowth.

    Either way, the past shown in Panel D more nearly accords with ecological history that do the pasts shown in Panels A, B, or C. The future hypothesized by Herman Kahn’s think-tank group is dangerously optimistic because it is based on the least realistic past. But the pasts shown in Panels B and C are also less realistic than the past shown in Panel D. The futures shown in Panels B and C are therefore also probably somewhat “optimistic” —although it seems necessary to enclose the word in quotation marks, because even the Panel B future seems dismal, and the Panel C future seems disastrous.
    ….
    Our best bet is to act as if we believed we have already overshot, and do our best to ensure that the inevitable crash consists as little as possible of outright die-off of Homo Sapiens. Instead, it should consist as far as possible of the chosen abandonment of those seductive values characteristic of Homo Colossus. Indeed, renunciation of such values may be the main alternative to renewed indulgence in cruel genocide. If crash should prove to be avoidable after all, a global strategy of trying to moderate expected crash is the strategy most likely to avert it.
    ——
    excerpts found at:
    http://www.greatchange.org/footnotes-overshoot-graphs.html

    from:

    Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change
    William R. Catton, Jr., 1982
    ISBN: 978-0-252-00988-4
    http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/63fae3tq9780252008184.html
    ——

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Apr 2010 @ 10:51 AM

  54. Ike Solem @31

    There’s nothing “wrong” with altruistic physics, it’s just that a free market economist like Krugman does not believe it can effectively deal with climate change. So far, e.g. Copenhagen, Paul seems to be correct.

    Change we can believe in is not technical, it is political. From a physical science belief it is obvious that we must switch the energy base off fossil fuels before we destroy the climate. From a free market belief the market will switch the energy base from fossil fuels when the market is ready to do so.

    The heavily stressed marginal areas affected by climate change (so far) are in our neighbors’ back yards. Adding altruism to physical science is not enough, in Krugman and Hansen’s view, to affect the required energy switch. Krugman suggests politics as usual, Hansen prefers non-violent protest. Do you have yet another way?

    Comment by John Peter — 12 Apr 2010 @ 11:11 AM

  55. Dan Galpern says: 12 April 2010 at 12:18 AM

    …some Congressional advocates for C&T seem willing to trade away existing authority retained by EPA and the various states to restrict GHG emissions as pollutants under the Clean Air Act, the stakes are enormously high.

    Hmm, and once traded away, ever so hard to claw back. I suppose the point is that if political power of this kind is to be exchanged for cooperation, the thing being traded for better be worth it.

    As well, some of the actors involved in such a trade probably are not wholly committed to the objective of the trade, rather to changing the regulatory landscape, with other ends in mind.

    Dan certainly caused my eyebrows to shoot up.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 12 Apr 2010 @ 11:37 AM

  56. Re: S. Molnar’s comment about `who’ vs. `that’. My wife (a computational linguist) tells me that `that’ is acceptable in the relevant sentence. The issue is whether or not ‘need to know how to write’ is a restrictive or non-restrictive relative clause, i.e., whether or not the clause is necessary for the sentence to have its intended meaning. She, and I, would tend to use `who’ in that context, but `that’ is also `correct’.

    Of course, what is `correct’ changes over time. there is a similar distinction between `which’ and `that’, which she tells me is thought to be a recent invention. In particular it was not followed by Wordsworth and Shakespeare.

    Comment by Leonard Evens — 12 Apr 2010 @ 11:43 AM

  57. More market options may be all they’ll offer or imagine could be possible
    That doesn’t mean that’s what will work or what’s needed.
    Look at the financial markets.
    There’s no irony like history.

    Felix Frankfurter (November 16, 1934) to William O. Douglas:

    “… you’ll put the whole prestige of the federal government behind financial transactions that are too complicated or supported by too much power to be stopped by the officials that would pass on them. It’s awfully easy to write these nice laws for control. I think your lawyer-banker friends would write them for you.” He concluded, “tax ‘em, my boy, ‘tax em.”

    from
    “The Rhetoric and Reality of the American Dream: Securities Legislation and the Accounting Profession in the 1930s”
    Barbara D. Merino Alan G. Mayper
    It was originally found at http://panopticon.csustan.edu/cpa99/html/merino
    in various versions at various sites.
    It is now paywalled: http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/cpac.2000.0432

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Apr 2010 @ 2:31 PM

  58. I have a two bones to pick with Krugman’s article, and then a final comment:

    1) His treatment of the DICE model of William Nordhaus. He uses this as an example of how folks have tried to estimate the costs associated with letting climate change proceed apace without mitigation. But these kinds of studies should not be taken seriously.

    The level of warming at which an ecological and/or climate tipping point is triggered is virtually impossible to predict with a high degree of confidence, so these models invariably ignore them entirely. Otherwise they could not get an answer out the other end. But the real danger of climate change is precisely the triggering of such tipping points, which can cause extraordinary economic damage if they occur.

    For example – the world’s coral reef systems appear to be seriously stressed by the amount of warming that has already occurred. Coral reefs are very productive – what happens if the reef systems are destroyed? Who knows? And that’s the point – it’s a guess. We can’t know how much warming the reefs can take until they die, nor can we well predict the impact on the world economy, although the potential for large losses is obvious. Trying to incorporate these kinds of dynamics would render the exercise of attaching a cost to warming impossible, so such non-linearity is ignored, thereby rendering the model useless.

    These models are quite simply a joke, and should not be part of the debate. To assign the cost of warming of 4.5 degrees F at 2% of global world product is simply absurd.

    [Response: For what it's worth, as a non-economist, I agree with you completely. David]

    2) His assumption of future economic growth out to 2050 of around 2.3%. This is fantasy, not a prediction of future reality.

    I’ve already touched upon the potential for catastrophe that climate change poses for the world economy. But we have to add to that the other threats to growth which we are rapidly approaching – depletion of non-renewable resources, unsustainable exploitation rates of renewable resources, and the trashing (literally) of the biosphere. I’m talking peak oil, peak coal, declining water tables, soil erosion, the great garbage patch in the Pacific ocean, etc.

    This all boils down to the fact that the earth is finite. Just like the atmosphere is not capable of absorbing an infinite amount of CO2 emissions without changing the global energy budget, there is only so much oil and coal in the ground to extract and burn to power our economies. Only so much toxic sludge and agricultural runoff that the ocean can absorb before they result in dead zones, etc.

    The economic assumption of perpetual growth is about to run smack dab into planetary limits. The growth that Krugman takes for granted in his article will not materialize. In fact, it’s quite likely, even assuming that climate change will have no ill effects on the world economy, that global production will be SMALLER in 2050 than it is today.

    3) I like Krugman. He looks at evidence before forming conclusions. He is far, far better than most of our country’s current high profile public intellectuals and talking heads. He’s got integrity and tries to think things through.

    Still, he just can’t seem to break out of the standard economic thinking at times. At one level, who can blame him? He is an economist, after all. But traditional economics is simply no longer a helpful lens through which to view the world and understand our current predicament.

    Modern economics came of age and matured in a world of cheap, abundant energy, a world in which the earth essentially was an infinite source of resources and an infinite sink for our pollution. But the human ecological footprint is no longer small in relation to the carrying capacity of the planet. In a world of expensive and declining energy supplies, of contaminated spaces, growth can not continue, and the economist does not have much to say that is helpful unless he/she is willing to revisit some of the past assumptions of the discipline. Some economists (ecological economists) are doing that – Charles Hall, for instance, is one that I know of. Krugman, despite all of his strengths, is not yet in that camp.

    Comment by zeroworker — 12 Apr 2010 @ 5:01 PM

  59. (off topic)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfA1LpiYk2o&feature=channel

    Check out Peter Sinclair’s latest “Climate Crock of the Week” and he really obliterates Lord Monckton

    He’s apparently doing a live webcast on this Thursday April 15th.

    Comment by floundericiousWA — 12 Apr 2010 @ 5:18 PM

  60. Hank Roberts @53

    Krugman from a couple of years back on APO.
    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/15/oil-numbers/

    Comment by John Peter — 12 Apr 2010 @ 5:37 PM

  61. Kevin McKinney @ 51:

    That said, I think Ike really has put his finger on a central point when he brings up the question of the limits to growth. He’s not the first, of course, but the discussion of this doesn’t seem to me very widespread, though it’s ever more urgent. Conventional economic theory does posit unlimited economic growth as normative and desirable–and it does seem to me that the physical possibility of this paradigm is at best undemonstrated. Very possibly Ike is right that the academic culture of economics contributes to the neglect of this question, by failing to insist on better training in the physical sciences.

    The central question to me seems to be, is economic growth possible within tight physical constraints? In principle, I’d think it should be, given that many goods and services are relatively intangible, and don’t obviously require increased physical inputs in order to increase in value. And of course we’ve seen instances of technology actually decreasing physical inputs while increasing utility.

    It is not possible, because nobody has yet found a way to decouple economic growth from consumption of physical stuff – you can have people shuffling numbers on a computer screen but you still have to feed those people.

    That said, this is only half of the problem, the other part is population growth. How much resource use grows is determined by population growth and economic growth. Clearly, you can’t have resource use grow forever, in fact you can’t have it be constant either because they are non-renewable. Which means that we either have to conserve to the extreme until we find substitutes or there will be no civilization in a few hundred years at most. And conservation means drastic reduction of population and unneeded consumption plus maximum recycling, but recycling is never 100% possible.

    Of course, we have an economic system that not only posits, but requires unlimited growth to simply exists, and without growth it falls apart. Why is that is what any sane human being would ask given that even with the current economic downturn there is absolutely no reason why anyone should starve – there is enough food and fuel for everyone to be fed, housed and clothed. There isn’t enough for everyone to have an SUV, a McMansion and a vacation somewhere 10,000 miles away though, and there will not be enough even for food for everyone in the not so distant future, which means we have to downsize.

    All of the above should tell you how meaningful the whole disciple of economics is. You can’t claim to have priority over decision making if you fail to account on the most basic level for the fact that you live in a world governed by the laws of physics first, but this is exactly what’s happening

    Comment by Georgi Marinov — 12 Apr 2010 @ 5:48 PM

  62. Regarding the PETM so-called mass extinction. While that period maybe had a normal rate of extinctions, I dunno, an entire order of mammals became extinct; such cannot have happened very often: “There are 19 orders of mammals in the world.” from
    http://www.cftech.com/BrainBank/OTHERREFERENCE/ANIMALWORLD/OrderMammals.html

    Comment by David B. Benson — 12 Apr 2010 @ 6:17 PM

  63. zeroworker @58

    You need to update your “facts”

    1- Paleo-climate tipping points have been established recently by Hansen and others.

    2- Krugman says in the NYT piece we are supposed to be discussing:

    “…What has caught on instead is a variant that most economists consider more or less equivalent: a system of tradable emissions permits, a k a cap and trade. In this model, a limited number of licenses to emit a specified pollutant, like sulfur dioxide, are issued. A business that wants to create more pollution than it is licensed for can go out and buy additional licenses from other parties; a firm that has more licenses than it intends to use can sell its surplus. This gives everyone an incentive to reduce pollution, because buyers would not have to acquire as many licenses if they can cut back on their emissions, and sellers can unload more licenses if they do the same. In fact, economically, a cap-and-trade system produces the same incentives to reduce pollution as a Pigouvian tax, with the price of licenses effectively serving as a tax on pollution…”

    How you interpret that to mean Krugman and other Pigouvian economists depend on unlimited resources beats me.

    3- Before damning with faint praise, I suggest you try reading the article you are supposedly reviewing.

    Comment by John Peter — 12 Apr 2010 @ 6:28 PM

  64. New ‘Climate Minute’ Video: The Greenhouse Effect

    #23 Ike Solem

    I have made the argument to answer the question of market forces vs. subsidized development, though I should refine the statements:

    5) Shouldn’t we concentrate on enabling new technologies and businesses to develop needed technology and methods to solve this problem by enabling market forces to drive solutions?

    • Fee & Dividend provides the best of both worlds. A progressively increasing fee drives incentive to develop new technologies and methods to achieve the goal of reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
    1. By avoiding subsidizing the development we avoid allowing the policy to become a political football that politicians and corporations will fight over.
    2. Reducing the fight over funds reduces the inefficiency of political corporate development.
    3. Anyone that is even slightly familiar with the ability of government and corporate subsidy knows that it generates a large bulk of competing proposals that are lobbied at policy maker level by the corporations that want the money. This typically causes many less efficient, less effective, and sometimes even absurd technologies to be developed with taxpayer money. More often than not, these technologies are ineffective.
    4. Reducing or eliminating the subsidy impels the corporations to only develop solutions that will be meaningful to the market reality. That saves the taxpayers money and produces better solutions. Don’t be fooled.

    My main point here is that allowing the politicians access to the fee distribution to renewables increases the risk of ineffective expenditure that is caught up in the mire of special interest funding that is the lure of all politicians in the bait and switch of campaign finance and influence of political position.

    Allowing the market forces to drive the innovation gleans the fat from the equation. this in turn enables more highly efficient and effective methods and solutions. Unfortunately we can not afford as much waste as we have become accustomed to at this juncture.

    There is no one way though and we need to consider political reality as well as dire need.


    VIDEO: A Climate Minute
    The Greenhouse Effect
    History of Climate Science
    Arctic Ice Melt


    Our best chance for a better future ‘Fee & Dividend’
    Understand the delay and costs of Cap and Trade
    http://www.climatelobby.com/fee-and-dividend/
    Sign the Petition!
    http://www.climatelobby.com

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 12 Apr 2010 @ 6:37 PM

  65. post #26 to Paul Krugman’s POA blog:
    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/15/oil-numbers/

    “…There are no solutions for this that include the current levels of population and standard of living, let alone any growth in either. And that is simply an unacceptable conclusion to everyone.”

    Comment by John Peter — 12 Apr 2010 @ 7:04 PM

  66. Re my comment #62: I disremebered and failed to check. Some families of mammals became extict during PETM; not so unusual. The only order of mammels to become extinct (so far) is
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Multituberculates
    in the early Oligocene.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 12 Apr 2010 @ 7:16 PM

  67. I’ve always claimed the internet is a dangerous place. I received the following a few minutes ago. Names have been removed to protect the (not so) innocent:

    ——– Original Message ——–
    Subject: FW: OUR OWN OIL – You better sit down before reading this one….
    From:
    To:
    CC:

    OIL

    Here’s an interesting read, important and verifiable information :

    About 6 months ago, the writer was watching a news program on oil and one of the Forbes Bros. was the guest. The host said to Forbes, “I am going to
    ask you a direct question and I would like a direct answer; how much oil
    does the U.S. have in the ground?” Forbes did not miss a beat, he said, “more than all the Middle East put together.” Please read below.

    The U. S. Geological Service issued a report in April 2008 that only
    scientists and oil men knew was coming, but man was it big. It was a
    revised report (hadn’t been updated since 1995) on how much oil was in
    this area of the western 2/3 of North Dakota , western South Dakota , and extreme eastern Montana …… check THIS out:

    http://bakkenshale.net/bakkenshalemap.html

    The Bakken is the largest domestic oil discovery since Alaska ‘s Prudhoe
    Bay, and has the potential to eliminate all American dependence on foreign
    oil. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates it at 503 billion barrels. Even if just 10% of the oil is recoverable… at $107 a barrel, we’re looking at a resource base worth more than $5..3 trillion.

    “When I first briefed legislators on this, you could practically see
    their jaws hit the floor. They had no idea..” says Terry Johnson, the Montana Legislature’s financial analyst.

    “This sizable find is now the highest-producing onshore oil field found
    in the past 56 years,” reports The Pittsburgh Post Gazette. It’s a
    formation known as the Williston Basin , but is more commonly referred to as the ‘Bakken.’ It stretches from Northern Montana, through North Dakota and into Canada .. For years, U. S. oil exploration has been considered a dead end. Even the ‘Big Oil’ companies gave up searching for major oil wells decades ago. However, a recent technological breakthrough has opened up the Bakken’s massive reserves…. and we now have access of up to 500 billion barrels. And because this is light, sweet oil, those billions of barrels will cost Americans just $16 PER BARREL!

    That’s enough crude to fully fuel the American economy for 2041 years
    straight. And if THAT didn’t throw you on the floor, then this next one
    should – because it’s from 2006!

    U. S. Oil Discovery- Largest Reserve in the World

    Stansberry Report Online – 4/20/2006

    Hidden 1,000 feet beneath the surface of the Rocky Mountains lies the
    largest untapped oil reserve in the world. It is more than 2 TRILLION
    barrels. On August 8, 2005 President Bush mandated its extraction. In
    three and a half years of high oil prices none has been extracted. With this motherload of oil why are we still fighting over off-shore drilling?

    They reported this stunning news: We have more oil inside our borders,
    than all the other proven reserves on earth. Here are the official estimates:

    - 8-times as much oil as Saudi Arabia

    - 18-times as much oil as Iraq

    - 21-times as much oil as Kuwait

    - 22-times as much oil as Iran

    - 500-times as much oil as Yemen

    - and it’s all right here in the Western United States .

    HOW can this BE? HOW can we NOT BE extracting this? Because the
    environmentalists and others have blocked all efforts to help America
    become independent of foreign oil! Again, we are letting a small group of
    people dictate our lives and our economy…..WHY?

    James Bartis, lead researcher with the study says we’ve got more oil in
    this very compact area than the entire Middle East -more than 2 TRILLION
    barrels untapped. That’s more than all the proven oil reserves of crude oil in the world today, reports The Denver Post.

    Don’t think ‘OPEC’ will drop its price – even with this find? Think
    again! It’s all about the competitive marketplace, – it has to. Think OPEC just might be funding the environmentalists?

    Got your attention yet? Now, while you’re thinking about it, do this:

    Pass this along. If you don’t take a little time to do this, then you
    should stifle yourself the next time you complain about gas prices – by
    doing NOTHING, you forfeit your right to complain.

    ——–

    Now I just wonder what would happen in this country if every one of you
    sent this to every one in your address book.

    By the way…this is all true. Check it out at the link below!!!

    GOOGLE it, or follow this link. It will blow your mind.

    http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=1911
    <http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=1911 >
    ************************************

    AGW may be a bit more successful than peak oil…

    Comment by John Peter — 12 Apr 2010 @ 7:38 PM

  68. Question for the experts: Why is knowing the yearly rainfall total (July 1 thru July 1) seemingly a state secret? I just spent three hours on the internet trying to find it, and I’m no laggard on the net, and finally had to call the local weatherman who told me such information does not exist, HOWEVER if I really want to know I could subscribe to the local paper and add up the amounts daily or go to the local library and dig up every newspaper for the last ten months and do some adding. WTF?

    After three hours this is the closest thing I found: http://www.cnrfc.noaa.gov/awipsProducts/RNORR4RSA.php

    Unfortunately though, it only mentions a few places in my state of California.

    Okay, I suspect that someone here knows how to find it for particular localities. I’m ignorant, could you clue me in?

    Comment by Ron R. — 12 Apr 2010 @ 7:48 PM

  69. @John Peter

    I did follow that link, and I did google it, and the numbers are nowhere near what you list. The USGS estimates that 3-4 billion barrels of oil are technically extractable (with today’s technology). That’s not a tiny number, but it is hardly going to bring OPEC to its knees.

    Comment by mrtin — 12 Apr 2010 @ 8:25 PM

  70. Ron R. says: 12 April 2010 at 7:48 PM

    Annual amounts also strangely lacking but monthly quantities for many, many places are available here:

    World Climate

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 12 Apr 2010 @ 9:11 PM

  71. Re #6 and the response. I always enjoyed the electives I had to take while tackling a chemistry degree. The easy A’s and B’s in history, sociology, pscyh. etc. helped with the old GPA when competing in classes drawn from the top 10% of the high school graduating class the Institute of Technology.

    Comment by philc — 12 Apr 2010 @ 9:14 PM

  72. 43: The spending your way out of a recession is standard economics 101 stuff. Recessions happen because the demand for goods is less than the economies ability to produce, and people start getting laid off, plus profits drop. Then others who still have jobs and income cut back on spending just in case. Without demand for goods economic activity (jobs) severely contracts. Savings in and of itself is not a net good for society, investment in useful productive capacity is. Physical investment requires both savings, and the (usually profit driven) incentive to spend the saved funds on productibe assets. But during a recession funds are simply hoarded, not invested in future productive capacity. This is done both because of fear (if I lose my job I might need that money), and lack of confidence that the investment will pay off (uncertainty about future demand).
    Now, you may be legitimately concerned with ecological-economics, we are clearly spending down our eco-capital, and that has to be reversed. The problem with the standard economics is the assumption of exponential growth, which we know can only ocurr for a finite time interval.

    (67) You are listening to exaggerations and half truths. The Bakken shale is very low permeability, and it is pressure driven flow through a permeable medium that determines flow rate (and the economics of production). Low permeability implies very low flow rates from wells, and that adversely affects the economics of producing it. The Bakken is not a recent discovery (I had a crud lob sticking geophones in the ground (seismic surveys) for that play back in 77). Production has been gradually ramping up, but until very recently rather slowly. The combination of better horizontal wells, and hydrofracking has improved in the last year or so, so that production is only now increasing rapidly. Conservatives try to blame tree huggers for everything, but in this case it was techical and economic constraints on the ability to recover this oil. Even with the rapidly advancing technology, we shouldn’t count on getting more than a few percent recovery. It is still a bright spot for domestic oil, if we can get a million barrels per day from the Bakken, and a similar amount from new offshore drilling, we can probably maintain roughly our current rate of domestic production (about half the 73 peak) for perhaps a decade or two.

    Comment by Thomas — 12 Apr 2010 @ 9:16 PM

  73. John Peter says: 12 April 2010 at 7:38 PM

    That sounds like the same Forbes who will sell you the plans for the magnetohydrodynamic fuel filter that gets you 241 gallons per mile in your 1967 Buick, the one you could buy if only the oil companies had not bought the patent.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 12 Apr 2010 @ 9:16 PM

  74. JohnPeter@66 – That is old “news”, it got some contrarions all aflutter a couple years ago. As mrtin points out the extractable amount estimated in the Bakkan formation is less than 4 billion barrels – that would be about a 6 month supply for the US, IF every drop of it proves out. And that production would be spread over 20 years or more. And it would mess up a lot of water in the process. Get better information here and send an answer to your fanciful email friend including that link.

    Comment by flxible — 12 Apr 2010 @ 9:32 PM

  75. Re 13. I find the reference to http://environmentalintegrity.org/pdf/publications/Dirty_Kilowatts_2007.pdf interesting. According to this paper the SO2 reductions in coal powered plants didn’t result in any real decreases until 2006. How is it that the sulphate aerosols reductions from these plants have been identified as the cause of cooling in the ’70′s and early 80′s.?

    The argument that a “small” tax on carbon applied to subsidize new source renewable energy is a bit disingenuous. The net effect is to replace low cost sources of energy with high cost sources of energy. Regardless of how the new sources are funded, they still are more costly. What it does do is shove the costs downstream, much like deficit spending. The money has to come from someone. Subsidized alcohol from corn is a good example. When all is said and done, it is at best carbon neutral in fossil fuel terms, cost a lot of money, and raised prices of food across the world, leading to famine and starvation among those least able to afford it. We can’t afford too many mistakes like that again.

    The first question to ask is: are there any renewable energy sources that are fossil carbon neutral? What do they cost? Do they have any hope of becoming cost competitive with fossil carbon? Nuclear is one option, although the plants are very expensive because the best developed option(light water reactors)have to be built very big. But they last many years and operators have shown that they can be rehabbed and rebuilt at much less cost than building new, so the plant can essentially last forever. Solar panels are relatively expensive, but they do, over their lifetime produce significantly more energy than it takes to make them. On the downside they need base load capacity and or storage facilities to balance out the energy production. Probably the best candidate I’ve seen is the cyanobacteria that makes petroleum as it’s storage fat. The native strains are too slow growing to be economic right now, but that will be fixed if it is energetically possible(the enzyme processes may not be able to be made more efficient when producing something as energy dense as petroleum). But the candidates for replacement of coal and oil are slim in the foreseeable future.

    BTW, I think the US should be in line for some praise. In several reports I’ve seen, the continental US is now a net carbon sink.

    Comment by philc — 12 Apr 2010 @ 9:49 PM

  76. @mrtin, possibly John Peter is suggesting that the internet is a dangerous place because of rubbish like the stuff on US oil he had just received.

    Incidentally, even if a trillion barrels of oil suddenly bubbles up on the white house front lawn, it would only delay peak oil by at most 20 years, probably less once the price plummets and China, India etc start using at US rates.

    Comment by david — 12 Apr 2010 @ 10:05 PM

  77. John Peter @ 67:

    Two things:

    1. EROEI (hint: very low for shale, tar sands and anything that has to be extracted from rocks with very low porosity such as the Bakken)

    2. Technically recoverable resources (second hint: only a tiny fraction of the original oil in place)

    Just a little bit of oil geology literacy is needed to appreciate these things

    mrtn @ 69:

    The USGS estimates that 3-4 billion barrels of oil are technically extractable (with today’s technology). That’s not a tiny number, but it is hardly going to bring OPEC to its knees.

    It’s not a tiny number, this is correct. However, to put in perspective, the world uses 30 billion barrels of oil every year. The US alone uses twice those 3-4 billion barrels every year. So it’s 6 months supply

    The combination of wishful thinking plus total ignorance about the actual numbers involved provides a fertile ground for such myths

    Comment by Georgi Marinov — 12 Apr 2010 @ 10:33 PM

  78. That’s enough crude to fully fuel the American economy for 2041 years
    straight.

    Oh, and also, I have to comment on this:

    Even if somehow magically that much oil came into existence out of nothing, it would not power any economy for 2041 years. For two reasons:

    1. If we want a stable world, it will be global demand that will determine how much of that oil will actually be used in the US and how much of it will be exported – the best example is the UK which could have hoarded its North Sea oil and gas but instead exploited it as fast as it could, selling it to the world markets and as a result after its peak, it is becoming a net importer of gas and oil now. Unless the dominance of free market ideology is to stop in the US (hard to see it happening given that it is an even bigger religion than Christianity here), such hypothetical US oil will be extracted and sold to oil-thirsty China and India as fast as it could be

    2. Which is related to the second point: Any calculation of how much resource there is left based on current consumption is completely meaningless because it ignored the fact that demand will be growing in the future. The IEA was projecting 120 million barrels of oil a day demand (and supply) two or three decades from now before the reality of Peak Oil forced them to start gradually reduce that number each year (as it became clear that this supply will never come into existence). Of course, it is highly unlikely that we will ever pass 90 million barrels of oil a day production, but this is what the demand would look like if the oil was available. And it would not stop there.

    BTW, I don’t know where you got the 2041 years number from, this would imply some 15-20 billion barrels of original oil in place in the Bakken shale, which is simply not true, but even if this was true it would not be 2000 years, it would be a lot less than that, due to exponential growth in consumption.

    People always forget about growth, to their peril

    Comment by Georgi Marinov — 12 Apr 2010 @ 10:46 PM

  79. Without pointing fingers, let me state that comments posted here to the effect that economic theory and/or economists favor unlimited growth are ignorant hogwash.

    Economics comes in two flavors, microeconomics which deals with needs and macroeconomics which deals with the distribution of limited resources. Basic to economic theory is the law of diminishing returns; “Sometimes referred to as variable factor proportions, law of diminishing returns states that as equal quantities of one variable factor are increased, while other factor inputs remain constant, ceteris paribus, a point is reached beyond which the addition of one more unit of the variable factor will result in a diminishing rate of return and the marginal physical product will fall.” which would seem to imply limits to just about anyone who reads it.

    The 20 voluntary National Standards for Economics, made available by the National Council on Economic Education(NCEE), comprise an organized list of economics topics suitable for grades 1-12. The NCEE’s 51 key economics concepts focus on the portion of that list common to all U.S. State requirements for high school economics. One of these, economic growth, is described: “Economic growth occurs whenever people take resources and rearrange them in ways that are more valuable. A useful metaphor for production in an economy comes from the kitchen. To create valuable final products, we mix inexpensive ingredients together according to a recipe. The cooking one can do is limited by the supply of ingredients, and most cooking in the economy produces undesirable side effects. If economic growth could be achieved only by doing more and more of the same kind of cooking, we would eventually run out of raw materials and suffer from unacceptable levels of pollution and nuisance. Human history teaches us, however, that economic growth springs from better recipes, not just from more cooking. New recipes generally produce fewer unpleasant side effects and generate more economic value per unit of raw material….”
    Economic growth is definitely resource limited; economics consists of trying (through technology) to make the best of what we have.
    In concert with trying to teach some physical science to many of our economists perhaps we might try to teach some economics many of our physical scientists.

    Comment by John Peter — 12 Apr 2010 @ 11:00 PM

  80. Thanks Doug (#70). Still that’s not quite what I had in mind. Those look to be average rainfalls for particular areas. What I am hunting for are up-to-date totals for the rain year. We’ve had so much rain since October that I was trying to see what it came to.

    It’s a conspiracy I tell ya! ;-)

    Comment by Ron R. — 12 Apr 2010 @ 11:52 PM

  81. Hmmm, perhaps this is it:

    http://www.cnrfc.noaa.gov/monthly_precip.php

    But the figure is gives is out of whack (by about six inches) from the number the weatherman told me (which he says he gets from a private source).

    OK, now that I’m officially OT, here’s a link that I thought others here might appreciate:

    http://www.orgonelab.org/cart/yweather.htm

    I actually put up a weatherstick the other day, which I read somewhere is possibly made from a balsam fir Abies balsamea tree, apparently it’s a trade secret, and it does indeed respond to the weather. I’m no so sure yet whether it actually responds ahead of time though.

    Comment by Ron R. — 13 Apr 2010 @ 12:16 AM

  82. mrtin@69 Thomas@72 Doug Bostrom@73 flxible@74

    Thanks guys,

    I won’t buy the stock. The email is based on a get rich quick oil gamble from 4 years back. Today’s investment touter claims “..You see, the Bakken isn’t just an exploration gamble anymore. That time has passed. In fact, it is now being developed at an incredible pace. According to state officials, production could reach almost half a million barrels before 2015…much closer to reality – Thanks Thomas

    David@76 is correct, I received the email earlier today, including the reference to the 2006 report of 4 years ago. The sad fact is that the email (dissing environmentalists) is still being passed around. Almost as long lived as CO2.

    According to Jim Hansen (grandchildren pg 203) he had an email problem with the “Union of Concerned Scientists” – BTW nary a scientist on their board – refusing to give Jim their member list. They had emailed a critical mis-characterization of one of Jim’s Kyoto papers. Tough.

    Isn’t it amazing the crap that floats around the internet. Watch your backs, emails are cheap and can do a lot of damage.

    Almost makes the MSM look like pussy cats – whatever.

    Comment by John Peter — 13 Apr 2010 @ 12:19 AM

  83. philc@75 “BTW, I think the US should be in line for some praise. In several reports I’ve seen, the continental US is now a net carbon sink.”

    You wish. Too bad those reports concern the natural processes of the continent, not the behavior of it’s residents.

    Comment by flxible — 13 Apr 2010 @ 12:23 AM

  84. Experiment: You put some bacteria and some sugar into a test tube and seal it. The population of bacteria grows exponentially until the sugar is gone. Then all of the bacteria die. WE are the bacteria.

    53 Hank Roberts: Reference: “Now or Never” by Tim Flannery 2009
    page 2: We have already exceeded Earth’s carrying capacity by 25%
    We can hope that C is the correct answer. If you study population biology, you will see that most populations of organisms oscillate. The alternative is to crash to zero. Crashing to zero keeps becoming more probable. Do not imagine that we are somehow better than other species.

    The only way to continue expansion is to expand into space some time ago. A small colony in space may save us if “late comers” are unable to reach the colony. Late comers would overload and destroy it. Colonies thru-out the outer solar system could support 100 Billion people eventually, but not now, and not average people. Once we make the leap to space big, we can take the entire galaxy, eventually, but not in a time of crisis. Space is a harsh environment and space will force evolution.

    54 John Peter: Another way: The opposite of altruism is more “altruistic” to the species. The escape route must be destroyed once the colony on Mars is big enough to sustain itself and before it becomes overcrowded. A thing is its opposite: Bad is good. A pandemic could save us. A colony on Mars cannot support more than a very few highly capable people. The environment on Mars can support ZERO people at the moment. If we can make it support a few, a few more will kill it. Neither politics as usual nor non-violent protest is likely to accomplish anything. Hansen should run for the US senate. Our present system, plutocracy, cannot last long. But how to change it and to what I don’t know right now. If we had 67 scientists in the senate, it might work.

    58 zeroworker is correct in saying “traditional economics is simply no longer a helpful lens through which to view the world and understand our current predicament.” Forget about the economy. Civilization is likely to collapse, and soon. Economic theory will be forgotten in the collapse.
    Reference: “Heart of Dryness” by James G. Workman, 2009, page 40: “The Sahara keeps moving south at thirty miles per year. … Each year, China loses a Rhode Island-sized parcel of fertile land to desert;”. The end of food is the end of civilization.

    Why do you suppose E.T. has not arrived? Answer: ETGW

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 13 Apr 2010 @ 2:32 AM

  85. FYI on Peak Oil

    Joint Operating Environment
    Joint Forces Command

    Energy section begins on page 24

    http://www.jfcom.mil/newslink/storyarchive/2010/JOE_2010_o.pdf


    A Climate Minute The Greenhouse EffectHistory of Climate ScienceArctic Ice Melt


    Our best chance for a better future ‘Fee & Dividend’
    Understand the delay and costs of Cap and Trade
    http://www.climatelobby.com/fee-and-dividend/
    Sign the Petition!
    http://www.climatelobby.com

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 Apr 2010 @ 2:35 AM

  86. I was under the impression that non-global Cap & trade schemes as suggested by by Krugman had been discredited.

    Of the businesses that are involved, these subject governments to intense politically lobbying which then over-subscribe free carbon allowances which lead to windfall profits for the companies involved. Worse still, participants are allowed to import goods and outsource labour from non-complaint countries that do not subscribe to carbon limits at all. They are also allowed to offset their emissions there, effectively paying developing countries to reduce emissions so they can increase theirs, but this sometimes results in payments for projects that might had happened anyway! The net effect is an increase of consumer energy prices whilst having virtually no influence on reducing the rate of increase in global carbon emissions.

    Other market-based schemes are claimed to be superior to the EU trading system. However, any scheme is only as effective as the loopholes. Any successful mechanism must be global in scope, with the limits or tax levels dictated by the environmental objectives free from business lobbying or political pressure.

    Comment by Stephen Latham — 13 Apr 2010 @ 3:23 AM

  87. Deech (32),

    I’m going with people from CREDO today to talk to some of Senator Casey’s staffers. The thrust is to get the senator to support letting EPA regulate carbon dioxide. Wish us luck.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 13 Apr 2010 @ 4:17 AM

  88. AA (43),

    The stimulus package appears to have worked, if you go by empirical evidence. It was exactly the type of situation that calls for a Keynesian stimulus–high unemployment, low capacity, prices stagnant or falling. By increasing aggregate demand, production ramped up. It worked. Inflation hasn’t gotten any worse than it was. In some situations, extra spending is EXACTLY what the government should do. It just shouldn’t do it in all cases, e.g. when employment is high and inflation is a problem.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 13 Apr 2010 @ 4:24 AM

  89. philc (75),

    You’re forgetting wind and solar thermal power.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 13 Apr 2010 @ 4:39 AM

  90. #19 VS was so far out of his depth as to be laughable

    #20 VS’s approach doesn’t seem to hold up

    #21 VS is a persistent crank who will keep talking as long as there’s an audience

    #26 For those wondering what it’s all about, you may choose to skip over the 1,500 comments RiHo08 mentions and instead cut to the chase at Tamino’s site as linked by Ray Ladbury (http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/global-average-temperature-increase-giss-hadcru-and-ncdc-compared/

    On the other hand, you may want to make up your own mind by reading the thread in question, because (for example):

    #29 Please see our work on applying cointegration analysis and other time series econometrics to the climate issue which has largely (but not totally) been ignored by the climate science community.

    #46 While Bart Verheggen (the ourchangingclimate blog host) understandably adopts a “physics trumps econometric statistics” position, I’d be surprised if he wasn’t uncomfortable with the comments above from #19 and #21.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 13 Apr 2010 @ 6:25 AM

  91. In my last post
    “(http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/global-average-temperature-increase-giss-hadcru-and-ncdc-compared)” should appear after “thread in question” not after “Ray Ladbury”. Sorry.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 13 Apr 2010 @ 6:48 AM

  92. John Peter #67: The worst thing about your Bakken story is the link at the end of the article takes you to USGS where the figure for recoverable oil is only “3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels”, and this is in the first sentence.

    Beware of posting or sending on stuff that arrives in your inbox without verifying.

    Comment by Philip Machanick — 13 Apr 2010 @ 7:24 AM

  93. 75: philc says: “How is it that the sulphate aerosols reductions from these plants have been identified as the cause of cooling in the ’70’s and early 80’s.?”

    Say what?

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 13 Apr 2010 @ 8:06 AM

  94. From page one of the article:

    “In fact, once you filter out the noise generated by special-interest groups, you discover that there is widespread agreement among environmental economists…”

    Um, aren’t environmental economists a special-interest group? Or are they just the only ones not making “noise?”

    Thank goodness the accountant from Greenpeace is here – we were just getting static from the other guys.

    Comment by Frank Giger — 13 Apr 2010 @ 8:26 AM

  95. Simon, by what mechanism would you suggest statistics should change the underlying physics?

    If the result of some repeatable physical process happens to form some statistical anomaly (root unit) that supposedly invalidates the physics, which do you think is right? How can some after-the-fact way of looking at the data change what was actually observed to happen?

    It’s pretty annoying to hear deniers claim “all you’ve got are models, you don’t have any real world data” and then rally around someone who says “Never mind the data, this model says it’s invalid”

    Bart has it right, physics trumps statistics.

    Comment by David Miller — 13 Apr 2010 @ 8:53 AM

  96. Edward Greisch@84

    I like your “colony on Mars” example. Hansen uses Mayflower II coming to earth in 2025 from Claron, 40 light years away. So much for the escape route.

    I’d always believed that the opposite of “altruism” was “greed”. I would hope your Mars settlers could leave greed behind, but I’m not sure how. A challenging view by Paul Berman can be found at http://demosophia.mu.nu/archives/169849.php

    As far as Senators are concerned, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute talk with the average voter”. Substitute “scientist” for “voter”.

    58. Sorry, there is no “economic” assumption of perpetual growth. Mathematical, astronomical, physical perhaps – but not economical.

    Comment by John Peter — 13 Apr 2010 @ 9:31 AM

  97. Stephan Latham@86

    I thought Krugman fixed the number of licences and let their price vary.

    Comment by John Peter — 13 Apr 2010 @ 9:33 AM

  98. Phillip Machanick@92

    Point well taken. I’ll try to do better in the future

    Comment by John Peter — 13 Apr 2010 @ 9:36 AM

  99. Paul Krugman wrote: “In fact, once you filter out the noise generated by special-interest groups, you discover that there is widespread agreement among environmental economists”

    Frank Giger wrote: “Um, aren’t environmental economists a special-interest group? Or are they just the only ones not making noise? … Thank goodness the accountant from Greenpeace is here – we were just getting static from the other guys.”

    With all due respect I think you are having a programmed knee-jerk response to the word “environmental”.

    As in “environmentalist = dirty hippie”.

    Do you really think an “environmental economist” is “an accountant from Greenpeace”?

    Do you know anything about the discipline of environmental economics?

    Environmental economics is a subfield of economics concerned with environmental issues. Quoting from the National Bureau of Economic Research Environmental Economics program: “Environmental Economics [...] undertakes theoretical or empirical studies of the economic effects of national or local environmental policies around the world [...]. Particular issues include the costs and benefits of alternative environmental policies to deal with air pollution, water quality, toxic substances, solid waste, and global warming [...]”

    The main academic and professional organizations for the discipline of Environmental Economics are the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE) and the European Association for Environmental and Resource Economics (EAERE). The main academic and professional organization for the discipline of Ecological Economics is the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE).

    Maybe those are the folks that Krugman is talking about, not “accountants from Greenpeace” … ya think?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Apr 2010 @ 10:01 AM

  100. #95 David Miller

    “Simon, by what mechanism would you suggest statistics should change the underlying physics?”

    Nothing changes the underlying physics, but it could be that econometrics applied to actual observations might provide illumination in areas where the inferences from physics are uncertain (clouds, oceans, etc). Chaos is not an easy subject.

    Any scornful dismissal of the possible usefulness of statistical mathematics in climatology may be premature, and unworthy of a scientist.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 13 Apr 2010 @ 10:16 AM

  101. > Frank Giger
    > Environmental economics

    Good grief. Look, here’s an example of environmental economics, relevant to several ongoing threads here.

    Sulfur dioxide emissions decreased. How much of that was due to the Clean Air Act requirements being implemented, versus how much was due to the cost of shipping? There are many tradeoffs; to grossly oversimplify, between buying and shipping cheap high-sulfur coal from open pit mines in Wyoming, versus expensive low-sulfur coal from underground mines in West Virginia. Some of the costs are paid with money, some with individual health, some with public health, some in damage to the ecology, some in emission of mercury and thorium and other heavy metals.

    Here’s just a tiny bit of that:
    http://dandelion-patch.mit.edu/people/jpmonter/papers/publishedpapers/JEEM98v36p26.pdf
    That’s some of what environmental economics looks at.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Apr 2010 @ 10:40 AM

  102. Simon, econometric methods have been used in climatology for a very long time.
    It’s not a new idea.
    Search:
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=Econometric+analysis+global+climate+change
    Example: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1364-8152(98)00094-2

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Apr 2010 @ 10:47 AM

  103. simon abingdon says: 13 April 2010 at 10:16 AM

    Any scornful dismissal of the possible usefulness of statistical mathematics in climatology may be premature, and unworthy of a scientist.

    Yes, but what VS and others appear not to notice is that you need a grounding in both statistics and climate to produce useful applications of statistics to the field of climate science. VS’ failure to include physical constraints in his concept speaks of his dedication to statistics while also talking of his ignorance of the field in which he was applying his tools. Tamino on the other hand has good statistical faculties coupled with a reasonable grounding in the topic of climate, which is why he was so easily able to demolish VS’ hypothesis.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Apr 2010 @ 11:01 AM

  104. #63 John Peter

    >>How you interpret that to mean Krugman and
    >>other Pigouvian economists depend on unlimited
    >>resources beats me

    I’ve never said they depend on unlimited resources, only that they assume continued growth. From the article in question (see, I really did read it after all!):

    >>The Congressional Budget Office, relying on a survey
    >>of models, has concluded that Waxman-Markey “would
    >>reduce the projected average annual rate of growth
    >>of gross domestic product between 2010 and 2050 by
    >>0.03 to 0.09 percentage points.” That is, it would
    >>trim average annual growth to 2.31 percent, at
    >>worst, from 2.4 percent.

    Call me crazy, but it looks like Dr. Krugman expects the economy to grow about 2.3% every year between now and 2050.

    Comment by zeroworker — 13 Apr 2010 @ 11:02 AM

  105. #79 John Peter

    >>Without pointing fingers, let me state that comments
    >>posted here to the effect that economic theory and/or
    >>economists favor unlimited growth are ignorant hogwash.

    As one of the ones who I’m sure you’re referring to (without pointing fingers), let me respond.

    This might actually be correct. However, I think one can be forgiven for such a view if one listens to a mainstream economist. They usually take a growing economy as a given (excepting short term reversals like recessions).

    As I’ve already mentioned, Krugman strongly implies in the article that kicked off this discussion that he expects the economy to grow through 2050. Why refer to the CBO study if you think it’s rubbish?

    Secondly, in the context of the current economic situation, Krugman is on record as saying he supports large current government spending (going into debt) because we can handle the debt load. Part of his reasoning is the economy will continue to grow, reducing the debt burden over time.

    And Krugman is by no means an outlier – he’s as mainstream as an economist can get.

    So even if you’re right in theory, in practice the economists generally don’t seem to be taking limits to growth too seriously. At least not yet.

    P.S. I also want to point out that at the end of my original comment I mentioned at least one economist, and one branch of economics, that does indeed recognize limits. Would it be impolite to suggest you read a posting in full before commenting?

    Comment by zeroworker — 13 Apr 2010 @ 11:18 AM

  106. Krugman’s thinking on climate has been evolving.

    For instance, in July 29 2008 he wrote this: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/29/economics-of-catastrophe/?pagemode=print where he describes the debate on climate that was taking place at that time, in the economic circles he floats in, as represented by the positions of Bjorn Lomborg and Weitzman. This partial sentence depressed me at the time: “Suppose there is a 99% chance that Lomborg is right”. Any legitimization of Lomborg tends to depress me. Krugman’s concluding remark: “The question is, can we mobilize people to make modest sacrifices to protect against low-probability catastrophes in the distant future?”. I have never thought that the risk of climate change was a low probability of catastrophe. Call me pessimistic.

    He’s come a long way.

    In this recent work, Krugman challenges modern convervative ideologues. He points out that they often “express a deep, almost mystical confidence in the effectiveness of market incentives…[i.e.] the magic of the marketplace… that…can deal with all kinds of limitations, that technology, say, can easily overcome any constraints on growth posed by limited reserves of oil or other natural resources.”

    Then he hits them:

    “Why do they think the marketplace loses it magic as soon as market incentives are invoked in favor of conservation?”.

    My day brightened up a bit after reading the article.

    Comment by David Lewis — 13 Apr 2010 @ 11:27 AM

  107. 99, SecularAnimist: Paul Krugman wrote: “In fact, once you filter out the noise generated by special-interest groups, you discover that there is widespread agreement among environmental economists”

    Sadly, widespread agreement among economists does not betoken very great accuracy in any claims that they may agree on.

    104, zeroworker: Call me crazy, but it looks like Dr. Krugman expects the economy to grow about 2.3% every year between now and 2050.

    No, that’s just the average growth rate over decades.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 13 Apr 2010 @ 11:32 AM

  108. zeroworker says: 13 April 2010 at 11:02 AM

    This assumption that we’re capable of producing compound growth ad infinitum bothers me, too. It works while we’re filling the globe and coasting on stored resources, but what about when this temporary phase we’re in ends? The future appears to be approaching with ever increasing speed and in fact that’s the desired outcome according to economists’ projections of compound growth.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Apr 2010 @ 11:48 AM

  109. I find Krugman’s reasoning vague and imprecise here. The problem for him is emissions and his solution is cap-and-trade. One should not need anything else and singling out coal makes no sense in that context. The market should decide which fuel to cut the most. Hansen has, sensibly, singled out coal in the past because he believed there was a lot of it and oil would run out. But, he has since revised his views after considering tar sands and oil shale as potential fuels and much larger carbon reservoirs. For activists picking targets, coal makes since. But for lazy Krugman who wants the market to do all the work, there is no reason to pick a fuel.

    He also touts trading in sulfur emissions as a success because it cut emissions and at a lower cost than initially estimated. But this is strange indeed. Other methods might have been more successful and we have merely generated an actual cost through the effort but other methods might have cost less particularly considering that some of the dirtier plants are in populated areas and are also injecting mercury into the local environment. Health costs might have been reduced by closing plants that could not be easily fitted with scrubbers if there were people nearby. The market may be magical in its workings, but it is also too stupid to avoid local minima that are more costly than an approach that includes some thought and planning.

    There are reasons to pick out paths for reducing the use of each fossil fuel that are not based on emissions alone but Krugman does not hit any of them here. Cutting reliance on oil helps avoid a trade deficit. Ending the use of coal reduces mining deaths especially if the unsafe mines are shut first. Natural gas infrastructure might be reused with renewably produced gas and so encouraging more gas use now may save in the long run. An emissions market cannot address these issues.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 13 Apr 2010 @ 12:04 PM

  110. #102 Hank

    “econometric methods have been used in climatology for a very long time”

    As I read it Hank (Wikipedia), cointegration dates only from 1987.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 13 Apr 2010 @ 1:21 PM

  111. #103 Doug Bostrom

    “you need a grounding in both statistics and climate to produce useful applications of statistics to the field of climate science”

    Really? Why should (for example) the identification of a deterministic trend in a time series depend on the field of study?

    Comment by simon abingdon — 13 Apr 2010 @ 1:28 PM

  112. #107 Septic Mathew

    104, zeroworker: Call me crazy, but it looks like Dr. Krugman expects the economy to grow about 2.3% every year between now and 2050.

    No, that’s just the average growth rate over decades.

    Yes, I could have worded it better. I should have said “grow at an average rate of 2.3% every year between now and 2050″.

    In any event, the larger point remains valid – that Krugman expects a generally growing economy through at least 2050, at which time world economic output will be ~125% larger than it is today.

    I find that fantastical.

    Comment by zeroworker — 13 Apr 2010 @ 1:37 PM

  113. Simon, try Google Scholar. You’ll find earlier citations.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Apr 2010 @ 2:11 PM

  114. well, that settles it than:

    http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2009/01/29/2009012961002.html

    Comment by Ibrahim — 13 Apr 2010 @ 2:36 PM

  115. #113 Hank

    “try Google Scholar. You’ll find earlier [before 1987] citations”

    Tried, didn’t find. First 10 entries in Google Scholar searching for “cointegration” had years 1990, 1988, 1991, 1991, 1995, 1991, 1987, 1987, 1999, 1993. All these dates look pretty recent to me, but I’m only eyeballing.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 13 Apr 2010 @ 2:49 PM

  116. 108 Doug Bostrom says:

    This assumption that we’re capable of producing compound growth ad infinitum bothers me, too. It works while we’re filling the globe and coasting on stored resources, but what about when this temporary phase we’re in ends? The future appears to be approaching with ever increasing speed and in fact that’s the desired outcome according to economists’ projections of compound growth.

    When that temporary phase ends, what follows is collapse of industrial civilization, drastic reduction of population and societal complexity, with all the associated unpleasantness. It is inevitable. The question is are we going to do it in an organized way so that the accumulated scientific knowledge and expertise that will allows us to live better than our stone age ancestors lived survives, or we let nature force it on us in which case it happens in a much more violent and chaotic way, all that knowledge disappears and since there will be no more concentrated resources which to drive the reaccumulation of such knowledge, it disappears forever.

    Comment by Georgi Marinov — 13 Apr 2010 @ 3:28 PM

  117. “Why should (for example) the identification of a deterministic trend in a time series depend on the field of study?”

    By virtue of having changed what determines the trend to MAKE the deterministic trend.

    Temperature/Pirate numbers graphs doesn’t make the temperature depend on the paucity of high seas raping and looting.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 Apr 2010 @ 3:33 PM

  118. zeroworker@105

    Thank you for your courteous and thoughtful answers.

    Economic theory and economists do not cause mankind’s fixation on “unlimited growth”. This fixation stems from greed, a human characteristic that can be very destructive. Socrates, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and many, many others addressed this human failing long before there were any economists or economic theories.

    Economists attempt to make society’s expectations of growth more realistic, or at least they should. If anything, they can be a solution to the problem, not a cause. Do not kid yourself, the underlying cause is greed.

    Congressional Budget Office is a political construct created to evaluate laws, existing and proposed. It is, by accepted legislative convention, the final arbitrator of official “numbers”. Paul Krugman is a pragmatic thinker. He must use CBO numbers, or get the numbers changed, to be effective within the U.S. Government.

    It would be as foolish for me to try to argue against “debt load”, public or private, as it would be to deny the second law of thermodynamics. Both seem to be pretty well established. By using quantitative easement and setting low interest rates our national bank is trying to do its job to avoid as much pain as possible stemming from the real limits to asset growth. Within these caveats, I agree with your second points.

    I apologize for any misunderstanding I may have caused with my statement regarding faint praise.

    If you believe there are too many economists, I probably would agree. I you can only find one or a small group of thoughtful economists, I disagree. Actually Harry Truman, when he was president, told his staff to find him a one- armed economic adviser. Truman was sick and tired of hearing “on the other hand”.

    Comment by John Peter — 13 Apr 2010 @ 3:54 PM

  119. 118 John Peter says:

    Economic theory and economists do not cause mankind’s fixation on “unlimited growth”. This fixation stems from greed, a human characteristic that can be very destructive. Socrates, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and many, many others addressed this human failing long before there were any economists or economic theories.

    Actually this is quite a shallow and superficial view of things. Which is also the reason why Socrates, Shakespeare, Tolstoy have very little of meaning to say about human nature, in contrast to evolutionary biologists.

    The fixation on growth is indeed a basic human characteristic, but so is true for pretty much every organism on this planet. Because evolution selects for the best replicators and behavior has been greatly influenced by that. In our case, two aspects of behavior are or of primary importance – one has to do with our primal reproductive instincts, i.e. the urge to maximize the number and chances of surviving of your offspring (note that it isn’t just the number that’s maximized), the other one has to do with the way we select individuals from the other sex to mate with. Both of them urge us to hoard as much resources as possible, because this is advantageous to our us and our offspring and because when we compete for mating with the best individuals from the other sex, how much resources we have managed to hoard is a primary determinant of our success in that competition. As result it is how much stuff we have relative to the next guy, not how much stuff we have relative to what we actually need that determines how much stuff we want. Which means that we basically never have enough stuff.

    There is a way to get out of the second part of this trap (i.e. we could be competing based on other things than possession of material stuff), and other cultures around the globe have managed to that in certain circumstances, but those cases have been rare and few and it doesn’t mean that they were also able to get out of the first part. And there will be no sustainable societal system that is not designed to control all those ultimately self-destructive urges in us.

    Modern economics is a particularly twisted and convoluted way of codifying human behavior, with the added bonus of completely ignoring the physical limits of the environment most of the time.

    Comment by Georgi Marinov — 13 Apr 2010 @ 4:59 PM

  120. He also seems to have missed the recent revelation that what really matters to climate is the total ultimate slug of emitted CO2, implying that unfettered emission today dooms us to more drastic cuts in the future or a higher ultimate atmospheric CO2 concentration, which will persist not just for “possibly centuries”, but almost certainly for millennia.

    To the unwary such statements imply that climate forcing agents other than CO2 are not very important. But if there are significant climate feedbacks in coming decades brought about by increased temperatures, this may bring dangerous feedbacks. Slowing temperature rises in the short term is best done by controlling forcing agents that have short lives. Methane and black carbon are obvious candidates so no beef, no diesel cars, no smoky cooking stoves.

    I have heard an influential science policy advisor say that by the time peak temperature occurs any methane released now will have been removed from the atmosphere by natural processes so it will not affect global warming at the all-important peak temperature – the peak aimed for was a 2 degrees Celsius rise.

    This view was based on Myles Allen’s “Towards the trillionth tonne”. You reference this in the piece linked to in your text, which argues that emissions of a trillion tonnes of CO2 will raise the Earth’s temperature by about 2 degrees Celsius. One (mistaken?) interpretation of “the trillionth tonne” is that since 1750 anthropogenic emissions have been half a trillion tonnes so we have just got to restrict emissions to a further half trillion tonnes and we will keep within the dangerous 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise.

    I know scientists don’t like making risky guesses but for climate feedbacks that are “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns” and that’s the best we have. Taking these into account means cutting short term forcing agents as quickly as possible even at the expense of relaxing on the CO2.

    In the longer run CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere by geo-engineering but only if the human race survives more-or-less intact.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 13 Apr 2010 @ 5:11 PM

  121. I found Krugman’s piece pretty impressive. As a “lukewarmist” myself, I actually have no problem with a “ramped” approach to the issue, over decades, and with plenty of opportunity to change course at regular intervals as developing research and experience either does or doesn’t seem to warrant it.

    Comment by geo — 13 Apr 2010 @ 5:14 PM

  122. #117 Completely Fed Up

    “By virtue of having changed what determines the trend to MAKE the deterministic trend”. Means what exactly? How about an example?

    “Temperature/Pirate numbers graphs”. Is there a time series here somewhere?

    Comment by simon abingdon — 13 Apr 2010 @ 5:19 PM

  123. simon abingdon says: 13 April 2010 at 1:28 PM

    You already know where you can find the answer to your question but an answer is not what you’re looking for, you’re looking for somebody to return your serve. Guess what? The game ended weeks ago. “VS” recognized that, gathered up his own racket and balls and flounced off the court. Read the thread at the link.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Apr 2010 @ 5:38 PM

  124. Georgi Marinov@119

    Tolstoy. Shallow?

    Tolstoy speaks about our human nature of greed. The nature of greed is that it is never satisfied. Greed is tied to the concept of self worth. We seek things and power because we know that people will then praise and admire us and that is how we find our self worth, i.e. in the eyes of others. But people soon forget our past accomplishments and we have to keep on seeking new things to keep up our self worth.

    How Much Land Does A Man Need? http://www.katinkahesselink.net/other/tolstoy.html

    ***

    Is this part of another blog also shallow?

    ”Human nature is a complex thing. There are many factors that affect it, many factors that help create it and drive it. Through virtue and vice it becomes the driving force behind most humanity. There are prominent features, however, and I do plan on discussing them. Through my observations I noticed that one of the features that stand out most out of all others is avarice. Greed. Greed is a despicable force that most being revolves around, the centrifugal force that drives humanity. I will concede the point that it is not simply the only force, yet cannot say without being forced to question my own ideals that it is not one of the greatest forces in human nature. By speculations I’ve noticed that the majority of people I pass, though their motives remain their own, show signs of intense avarice and self-centered desire. In my passing through public I see people placing themselves on a pedestal, most of the time without even noticing that they are doing so. Yet greed is a general term. It can be divided rightfully into three topics and likely each of those topics can be broken down further. However I will simply take these three categories into which greed can be divided and give brief speculation on each. Materialistic value, lust for power and self-centeredness are all different types of greed and do dabble within the other parts of human nature to which the name sin has been applied. I wish simply to inform when speculating on these, not to disregard humanity and call us animals. I find that simple knowledge, awareness of the various types of greed and other such vices of human nature aid in avoiding them. To know how people are self-centered, for example, allows those who know to avoid such faults. Yet at the same time I who write this, who exclaim that knowing helps to put aside can admit that I am not free of greed myself. If I was it would not be human, for as I stated many times greed is a chief aspect in human nature…” http://www.redroom.com/articlestory/the-properties-greed-human-nature

    ***

    Finally – Survival of the fittest, a natural law, might even show that greed extends beyond mankind as anyone who has observed young biological life, flora and fauna, could testify to.

    Growth may fulfill some human needs, but it’s way down the list from greed.

    Comment by John Peter — 13 Apr 2010 @ 6:24 PM

  125. 112, zeroworker: I find that fantastical.

    Why? It’s a simple extrapolation of the last 40 years.

    Do you think that the world will run out of stuff for humans to make things out of? It will run out of humans before that happens. The Boeing 787 is 50% carbon composite by weight. By 2050 cars will be made of carbon composite, as will water purification equipment. I don’t know when commercial and combat aircraft will be battery-powered, if ever, but you can get battery-powered models (fixed and rotary-winged) that have good performance, better performance than WWII combat aircraft.

    I mention those as illustrations of change, and the possibilities of more change. Whether electrical wires are ever to be mass-produced from graphene I don’t know, but it looks now like graphene could be an excellent substitute for aluminum and copper.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 13 Apr 2010 @ 6:42 PM

  126. I did some googling at the Congressional Budget Office website, and found the following –
    Your search – “zero growth economy” site:cbo.gov – did not match any documents.
    Your search – “zero economic growth ” site:cbo.gov – did not match any documents.
    Results 1 – 2 of 2 from cbo.gov for “economic growth ” “physical limits”
    Doering,“Physical Limits of CMOS [Complementary Metal Oxide ...
    http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=3448&type=1
    "Physical limits on large buses in narrow suburban streets and low average ..."
    http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=5970&type=1
    Your search - "economic growth " "peak oil" site:cbo.gov - did not match any documents.
    Results 1 - 3 of 3 from cbo.gov for "economic growth " "resource depletion". (0.34 seconds)
    Search Results

    1.
    Greening the National Accounts
    IV - CURRENT EFFORTS TO ESTIMATE NATURAL RESOURCE DEPLETION AND .... Among the issues are the effect of environmental protection on economic growth, ...
    http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=4886&type=0
    2. [PDF]
    CBO PAPERS
    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – View as HTML
    Edward F. Denison, Trends in American Economic Growth 1929-1982 (Washington, …… Problems can also arise when estimating natural resource depletion. In …
    http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=4886&type=1
    same paper – 2 links – from which I quote -

    Robert D. Reischauer Director March 1994
    “Ecological catastrophes can appear as short-term economic stimuli because many of the negative effects on recreation, wildlife, and future harvests of fish and timber, for example, are not recorded.”
    “First, the national accounts do not reflect changes in environmental quality and natural resource reserves. When compared, investment and depreciation data are supposed to tell decisionmakers whether the nation is maintaining its productive assets, but the data ignore most changes in natural resources and the environment.”
    ” net domestic product (NDP). NDP is what remains after enough has been set aside to maintain the capital stock; it constitutes a recognition that one cannot maintain a consumption level by drawing down the stock of capital. The accounts do not, however, allow for the impact of output on the condition of mines, forests, soil, air, and water quality.”
    “The environment disposes of waste by absorbing by-products of output and consumption. Because there are no market transactions in payment for these services, the accounts do not treat the environment as a factor of production. They implicitly assign a value of zero to these services.” Forever?
    “There may be some differences in measurement techniques because of the special nature of various forms of natural capital assets. For example, no amount of investment will increase the
    amount of a finite (nonrenewable) resource; however, money can be spent to discover additional supplies.” Ad Infinitum?

    3. [PDF]
    Energy Policy Alternatives
    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – View as HTML
    aided the U.S. economic growth through the 1960s has peaked. Oil imports have risen rapidly to ….. treat resource depletion as a separate goal, it is dis- …
    http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=11105&zzz=40287
    This paper from 1977 predicted oil consumption in 1986 would be ~80 quadrillion BTU, or 40 million barrels per day of domestic production, and 20 quadrillion BTU or 10 MBPD of imported oil(20% of the total). Actual 1986 US production was 8.68 MBPD (http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=MCRFPUS2&f=A), imports were 6.22MBPD (http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=PET&s=MTTIMUS1&f=M), or 42% of the total. Not a stellar prediction.

    “Results 1 – 10 of about 1,810 from cbo.gov for long term economic growth. ” versus 2 papers, one 16 and the other 33 years old.

    The real physical limits to resources and the implications for economic growth aren’t very high on the CBO radar.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 13 Apr 2010 @ 6:51 PM

  127. Is this part of another blog also shallow?

    Yes, everything that never goes beyond the standard vocabulary and concepts we use to describe human behavior and never mentions any biological factors is highly likely to be superficial. Which is why the vast majority of what we consider “classics” is not only useless but in fact quite harmful as every new generation is being indoctrinated into the same fairy tale nonsense.

    Comment by Georgi Marinov — 13 Apr 2010 @ 7:00 PM

  128. From the introduction to
    OUR ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT
    Wackernagel and Rees; New Society Pub., 1996; ISBN 0-86571-312-X

    “Some years ago, I read of a species of tiny woodland wasp that lives on mushrooms. It seems that when a wandering female wasp chances upon the right kind of mushroom in the forest, she deposits her eggs within it. Almost immediately, the eggs hatch and the tiny grubs begin literally to eat themselves out of house and home. The little maggots grow rapidly, but soon something very odd happens. The eggs in the larvaes’ own ovaries hatch while still inside their immature mothers. This second generation of parthenogenic grubs quickly consumes its parents from within, then breaks out of the empty shells to continue feeding on the mushroom. This seemingly gruesome process may repeat itself for another generation. It doesn’t take long before the entire mushroom is over-filled by squirming maggots and fouled by their bodily wastes. The exploding population of juvenile wasps consumes virtually its entire habitat which is the signal for the largest and most mature of the larvae to pupate. The few individuals that manage to emerge as mature adults then abandon their mouldering birthplace, flying off to begin the whole process over again.

    We wrote this book in the belief that the bizarre life-cycle of the mushroom wasps may offer a lesson to humankind. The tiny wasps’ weird reproductive strategy has apparently evolved under extreme competitive pressure. Good mushrooms—like good planets—are hard to find. Natural selection therefore favored those individual wasps and reproductive traits that were most successful in appropriating the available supply of essential resources (the mushroom) before the competition had arrived or became established.

    No doubt human beings also have a competitive side and both natural and sociocultural selection have historically favored those individuals and cultures that have been most successful in commandeering resources and exploiting the bounty of nature.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Apr 2010 @ 7:09 PM

  129. Georgi Marinov@127

    How do you tell it doesn’t go beyond if you haven’t read it?

    Comment by John Peter — 13 Apr 2010 @ 7:32 PM

  130. 125 Septic Matthew says:
    13 April 2010 at 6:42 PM
    112, zeroworker: I find that fantastical.

    Why? It’s a simple extrapolation of the last 40 years.

    This is the problem – it is a simple extrapolation. Simple extrapolations aren’t exactly the best way to predict the future

    Do you think that the world will run out of stuff for humans to make things out of? It will run out of humans before that happens.

    The second sentence is quite ironically correct, but only as far as complete running out of stuff goes. Because the humans will be gone because there will not be enough stuff for them to make things out of. Remember, when populations overshoot, the size of the population reaches its maximum just before the collapse. At that point, if unaware of the fact that they have overshot, its members will be thinking “Look, we’re doing great, we’ve never been more numerous”. Well, that’s technically true, but it is how long you can sustain this for that matters

    The Boeing 787 is 50% carbon composite by weight. By 2050 cars will be made of carbon composite, as will water purification equipment. I don’t know when commercial and combat aircraft will be battery-powered, if ever, but you can get battery-powered models (fixed and rotary-winged) that have good performance, better performance than WWII combat aircraft.

    They will never be battery-powered because batteries weigh too much for this purpose. Synthesizing hydrocarbons from C02, H20 and sunlight is a better option.

    I highly doubt that they will never use any aluminium, but it doesn’t really matter, you can make them out of 100% carbon, if you don’t have fuel to run them on, and energy to make those carbon materials, there will be no airplanes. Of course, in reality there will be no airplanes for the much more mundane reasons that when millions are dying of starvation, building more B787s will not be on top of the priority list

    I mention those as illustrations of change, and the possibilities of more change. Whether electrical wires are ever to be mass-produced from graphene I don’t know, but it looks now like graphene could be an excellent substitute for aluminum and copper.

    And as usual you completely ignore the limits to growth and the time we have left that will make such change impossible.

    Comment by Georgi Marinov — 13 Apr 2010 @ 7:37 PM

  131. Hank Roberts@128

    Greed is not unnecessary…

    Comment by John Peter — 13 Apr 2010 @ 7:39 PM

  132. Hank Roberts says: 13 April 2010 at 7:09 PM

    And then there are the Sandtiger sharks, the ultimate in fully evolved libertarianism.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 13 Apr 2010 @ 8:11 PM

  133. John Peter:

    The point of the mushroom wasp analogy is this:

    “In general, solutions to Fermi’s paradox come down to:
    – Life is difficult to start and to evolve to an intelligent and technologically advanced stage and we’re the only one in the galaxy.
    – Advanced civilizations destroy themselves on short timescales.”
    http://www.fermisparadox.com/Possible-answers-to-fermi-paradox.htm

    “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya …?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Apr 2010 @ 8:13 PM

  134. FWIW, my take on “greed vs. sociobiology” is that you can’t usefully mistake either for a philosophical silver bullet.

    Human nature (soi-disant) is not truly unitary, but complexes of competing values: “Should I sleep? I’m a little tired. . . but I’m a little hungry too–and I wanted to see about. . .” And so at higher levels of abstraction as well.

    But we do need to find a way out of always needing “more”–especially insofar as that “more” puts us on a collision course with fundamental environmental limits. It is not, and will not, be easy to figure out what that means for human societies.

    Random examples: Does the proscription Ike proposed somewhere up-thread on “ecocide” help? Do we need to consider more carefully the doctrine of the Buddha that desire creates unhappiness? Do we need to sublimate “real” progress via “virtual” progress? Channel energy-intensive “progress” off-planet?

    Hell if I know. . . but I do know that people whom I’ve known who were relatively less-dependent on ever-increasing “more” were happier than their fellows. Maybe there’s a wider lesson in that.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 Apr 2010 @ 8:55 PM

  135. ““Temperature/Pirate numbers graphs”. Is there a time series here somewhere?”

    http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 Apr 2010 @ 8:57 PM

  136. PS THAT was an example.

    Deterministic graph produced by someone making s*it up.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 13 Apr 2010 @ 8:59 PM

  137. #125 Septic Matthew

    Why? It’s a simple extrapolation of the last 40 years.

    Yes, even an extrapolation of the last 150 years, but the future will not be like the past. Over the last 150 years, energy was abundant and cheap. It will not be so in the future. Take a look at The Oil Drum web site for excellent information on peak oil. But resource depletion will be a general problem, not limited to oil.

    In the past, the Earth was able to absorb our pollution without causing ecological breakdown. It will not be so in the future (since you’re reading RealClimate, you should have at least an inkling of what I’m talking about).

    In short, in the past we had not yet hit planetary limits. We are hitting them now, therefore the future will not be like the past, therefore extrapolating economic growth out another 40 years is fantastical.

    Comment by zeroworker — 13 Apr 2010 @ 9:27 PM

  138. #123 Doug Bostrom

    Doug, I was indeed looking for you to “return my serve” because you made the assertion in #103 that “you need a grounding in both statistics and climate to produce useful applications of statistics to the field of climate science”.

    Recent threads have not clarified my understanding sufficiently to answer this question, which I now restate:

    Given any extensive set of data, can raw mathematics determine whether there is an underlying trend, regardless of the field in question?

    Comment by simon abingdon — 14 Apr 2010 @ 3:35 AM

  139. Hank Roberts@133

    I feel lucky, blessed, and agnostic – what else for a skeptic. I believe there exist many things I understand, many things I do not understand and many, many many more that I could not understand. Each collection seems quite dynamic to me which adds a little pleasure to my trying to keep them straight…

    I have no more (or less) problem with Fermi’s paradox than with Zeno’s; my inclination would be to combine the two so that I would only have to contend with the single resulting (super?) paradox. Perhaps if each try we can only go halfway towards discovering ET, universal existence is more rational after all.

    I believe in free market capitalism with greed as a requirement for success. I interpret evolution and survival as subsets of this belief – which likely is why Three Penny Opera is my bible.

    Science is my “thing” – art is a mystery to me. Cruising the internet to search for expressions that might allow me to communicate an understandable answer for you, I discovered “The art of Literature and the Science of Literature” http://www.theamericanscholar.org/the-art-of-literature-and-the-science-of-literature/

    As a long time student of pattern recognition, I find it a fascinating attempt.

    Comment by John Peter — 14 Apr 2010 @ 3:42 AM

  140. “extensive ordered set of data”, to be a little more precise.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 14 Apr 2010 @ 4:30 AM

  141. Thomas (73) – I agree that our path is unsustainable… and I still think that increased spending as cure to economic crisis is crap.

    Barton (88) – Ok, I know that stimulus package DID HELP regarding jobs etc (but preferentially banks…), but how can this be desirable or sustanable, simply looking at the increasing DEBT of USA (and of other countries for that matter)? (just google “global debt time bomb”)

    I recommend reading of just few post over at the AutomaticEarth.blogspot.com or at TheOilDrum.com for more details…

    if “recovery” was not coupled with increasing debt, I would (maybe) buy the idea of “stimulus package”…

    best,
    Alex

    Comment by Alexander Ač — 14 Apr 2010 @ 4:52 AM

  142. My 2c in the discussion simplistic as it may be. This is nothing we don’t all already “know”. There are a number of factors at work here but the base problem today is overpopulation. Turns out that the use and even overuse of natural resources for the benefit of one’s own species is perfectly natural. All species do it as far as possible for them. With attrition in ‘mind’ every form of life ever trying to maximize its chances for its survival. Each tries to leave as many of its kind as it can. Thus growth, competition and even selfishness are natural. From the individual to the species.

    Thing is, in the natural world each species is a part of an evolved ecosystem long evolved into a rough self-perpetuating ‘balance’ and as such is subject to the natural limitations that evolution has created. Sometimes predators, sometimes disease, sometimes territory and geography, sometimes natural disaster etc. Species limit each other, and it has worked out well that way for a long, long time.

    WE, on the other hand, due to a set of unique circumstances, have recently largely removed ourselves from the laws of nature and now breed out of control. We do this in ignorance. Our strong genetic drive, like those of other species, continues to compels us ever onward (and upward) as if there were only a relatively few of us around and the world were still wide open for our expansion.

    But knowledge came and with it medicine to extend life and therefore breeding times. The convenience of industrialization, following the ‘path of least resistance’ law that nature follows, made the extraction of resources easy. Coal and then the the discovery of oil drove the engines of industrialization and population growth naturally followed right on its heels.

    It was inevitable that resources would not hold out forever (despite what Libertarian Julian Simonesque types delude themselves into believing). What’s happening to fisheries are one example. That same selfishness which once ensured our growth now threatens our survival as nations war with each other for them, still driven by an innate ‘drive to survive’. When other ‘issues’ we as a species have are factored in such as our innate fear of ‘monsters’, (based on vestigial genetic memories) which in prehistoric times were simply other carnivore species (and later ‘demons’), we see the decimation of wildlife all over the world. We have a driving need to “cleanse” the forest and thus the world of them and for us.

    We all see the elephant in the living room, our numbers are exploding. Overpopulation touches just about every other major issue we have. From resource depletion and habitat destruction to species extinction to pollution to war. It will only get worse as time goes by unless we as a species suddenly wake up and see the concrete wall we are rapidly speeding toward. It would go against our basic nature to decide as a species to slow down and then stop and put it in reverse, but we have also developed an ability to understand. True, a lot of people, perhaps most, comfortable in their delusions simply don’t want to know ‘the truth’ on any number of issues. That self-delusion may well lead to our termination as a species. Sadly though, it would probably also lead to the termination of many, many others as well.

    Comment by Ron R. — 14 Apr 2010 @ 10:48 AM

  143. Do we also have an innate drive to self-destruct? I wonder sometimes.

    Comment by Ron R. — 14 Apr 2010 @ 10:51 AM

  144. Supposing cap&trade. This will reduce demand for oil & coal in some countries. Will this reduced demand result in less oil and coal being extracted worldwide? Can anyone point me toward an analysis that estimates the total reduction in carbon to the atmophere as a result of C&T ?

    Comment by krog — 14 Apr 2010 @ 10:52 AM

  145. “Will this reduced demand result in less oil and coal being extracted worldwide?”

    It will pay for unaccounted externalities and make alternatives attractive enough to persue despite having to build new infrastructure to take advantage of it that current old-time incumbents amortised over many decades.

    As the desire for fossil fuel as merely an energy source declines (remember, until the British Navy moved from coal to oil powered navy, there was little for oil wells to be used for, except to poison farmland), the carbon-heavy uses will be reduced.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 Apr 2010 @ 11:00 AM

  146. “Do we also have an innate drive to self-destruct? I wonder sometimes.”

    Accountants.

    Trust me on this.

    Accountants.

    Ball-achingly afraid that someone somewhere is getting money that they can’t get.

    How else do you work out a rationale for the copyright cartels actions against copyright restrictions (on them) and the abuse of law to persue even the most miniscule chance of winning money off someone else.

    Heck, when something isn’t being produced any more, why is “pirating” it wrong?

    BECAUSE IT’S SOMEONE ***ELSE*** MAKING MONEY FROM IT.

    That they weren’t making any is irrelevant.

    Patents are exactly the same thing now too.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 Apr 2010 @ 11:03 AM

  147. As biologist Lynn Margulis says, our survival as a species now depends on our (quickly) making an evolutionary leap from species competition to species cooperation. But as ever, it’s about self preservation.

    Comment by Ron R. — 14 Apr 2010 @ 11:21 AM

  148. krog : 144 :”Supposing cap&trade. This will reduce demand for oil & coal in some countries. Will this reduced demand result in less oil and coal being extracted worldwide?”

    In my opinion, not at all. Reducing the demand (which has never been really obtained by this method up to now) would make the price to sink, and it will of course annihilate any supplementary cost associated with cap and trade, and benefit to all activities that aren’t submitted to it.

    Anyway, even if a reduction of the demand could be achieved (which is following the above argument not guaranteed at all), I don’t see anything that could prevent to use the spared fossil fuels just a little bit later. Given the very likely bell shape of the fossil fuel consumption in the XXIth century, the overall effect would only be to flatten a little bit the bell – without any fundamental reason that the integral below it would change at all. Meaning much probably that the integral over 100 years would hardly change as well.

    Comment by Gilles — 14 Apr 2010 @ 11:28 AM

  149. Simon, see Robert Grumbine on detecting trends, or any introduction to statistics. The answer takes some vocabulary, because the answer is an assessment of probability, not simply yes or no.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Apr 2010 @ 11:35 AM

  150. “Reducing the demand (which has never been really obtained by this method up to now) ”

    Aren’t you supposed to try something before you can even start to work out whether it worked or not?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 Apr 2010 @ 12:03 PM

  151. simon abingdon says: 14 April 2010 at 3:35 AM

    Against my better judgment:

    With all the proper caveats and escape clauses, yes, of course; a set of numbers can be evaluated to recognize a trend in the value of those numbers. But the numbers alone tell us nothing of the meaning behind the trend, nothing of from where it is coming, whither it is going or why, whether it can continue or must stop. That’s essentially where VS ran off the rails and why and how his hypothesis was taken apart by Tamino. VS implied that his treatment had predictive power that was in fact lacking due to his insufficient knowledge about the origins of the numbers.

    There’s not going to be any final word on this, really, not in the grand scope of things but in this little microcosm I’m done, last word goes to you.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 14 Apr 2010 @ 12:10 PM

  152. Robert @ 6

    “The whole “for English majors” trope to imply innumeracy and/or scientific illiteracy is a gross generalization and a tired, over-used device. Students of the humanities manage to introduce culture to the ignorant without marketing it as “Culture for computer science majors” or suchlike.”

    Speaking as someone who switched majors from humanities to science (way back in the day) I have a slightly different take. For the most part, I’ve seen the “for English majors” bit used descriptively even playfully, but lets be clear, the two areas are not equal in terms of accessibility. Most anyone with a little fortitude and a good dictionary can pick up and read among the greatest works of literature ever written, even if they won’t appreciate them with the same depth as an English prof.

    Physics in particular is another matter, I’ve seen students in related science graduate programs struggle in futility with the opacity of physics papers in first tier journals. This is not to denigrate the humanities. Just the human condition is the human condition, the world of science, however, is ever expanding in all its aspects. And that’s not to deny that there are scientists who could do with a heavy dose of culture.

    Now, seriously, if somebody wrote a climate science book in the “for Dummies” series would you be offended? On the other hand, maybe we should as a culture be ashamed at our increasing immersion in a simulacrum contemptuous of rationality. In any case, you can overdo repackaging courses just for the sake of keeping them sounding fresh.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 14 Apr 2010 @ 12:31 PM

  153. “With all the proper caveats and escape clauses, yes, of course; a set of numbers can be evaluated to recognize a trend in the value of those numbers. But the numbers alone tell us nothing of the meaning behind the trend, nothing of from where it is coming, whither it is going or why, whether it can continue or must stop.”

    Can I just emphasize this section:

    “whither it is going”

    Trend analysis doesn’t tell you where it’s going, it’s only going to tell you where it’s going if it does the same things now as it did in the past.

    You CANNOT trend analyse the mandelbrot set. You CANNOT trend analyse Langton’s Ant.

    And NO TREND ANALYSIS can help you decide how to change things in the future, because that very change ruins the trend analysis you’re using.

    But it is a great thing to do if you’re of the mind that we should do NOTHING about AGW apart from “survive the result” because you’re not then changing the future.

    Though they’re also unwilling to admit that change is inevitable in climate because BAU changes the climate.

    If they were honest about their intent, they would have 100% reduction in human production of CO2e. Only at that point is the past going to be closest to the pattern of the future that trend analysis relies upon.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 Apr 2010 @ 1:08 PM

  154. Apologies for not putting a “smiley” after the jibe about Greenpeace accountants.

    And not all hippies are dirty. Some of them disguise themselves as regular people. But they’re still hippies.

    ;)

    On a serious note, I’m very shocked to see a call to criminalize CO2 emissions. “Ecocide” as defined in the article for inclusion to the ICC is so broad anything qualifies. Any “harm” to the environment – which is to say any alteration – is punishable, including every step taken before the harm. If someone pours raw sewage into a creek, it’s the farmer at the market that gets charged as well, since he grew and sold the food.

    All the more reason why not signing on was one of the best moves of the last three US Presidential administrations (Clinton, Bush, Obama).

    Being dragged in front of a UN court for taking a Sunday drive for no reason at all and having the judge from Zimbabwe or the Sudan pronounce sentence (with a fine lecture about the rule of law and human rights) doesn’t sound very reasonable.

    Comment by Frank Giger — 14 Apr 2010 @ 1:55 PM

  155. #151 Doug Bostrom

    “last word goes to you.”

    Doug, thanks for your response. I think I might now know more than the little I did before. Regards simon

    Comment by simon abingdon — 14 Apr 2010 @ 4:10 PM

  156. I have to agree with Frank Giger at 154.

    I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d ever be writing a sentence like that.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Apr 2010 @ 4:12 PM

  157. Frank Giger says: 14 April 2010 at 1:55 PM

    Frank, forgetting for a moment the absurd notion that people will be thrown into jail for taking a Sunday drive and ignoring how much that reminds me of the recent and startlingly analogous circus regarding imaginary “Death Panels” here in the U.S.A., your remark about sewage was an excellent way of showing how reality might actually operate in the case of criminalizing willful and egregiously abusive emissions of C02.

    Now, if I inadvertently have a sewage pipe terminating or leaking in some inappropriate place I might expect to be notified of that. If it’s a drip, I’ll get a little notification, a little warning. I’ll be penalized if I choose to ignore the problem, the more so if I’m stubbornly intransigent.

    On the other hand, if I’ve got an enormous sewage disposal problem I’m fully aware of and then decide to ignore societal conventions and good by dumping this sewage in a creek, causing significant measurable harm as well as in the process conspiring to delay any rectification of the destruction I’m causing, I can expect a loud notification, a powerful threat and likely a penalty right out of the gate. If I then choose to ignore the civil sanctions I’ve exhausted by sheer stubbornness or perhaps greed I can fully expect to be found criminally liable and would not be able to make a reasonable case why not.

    That’s how things work today, with sewage. Why should it be different for a different pollutant?

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 14 Apr 2010 @ 4:50 PM

  158. #154 sounds more like Limbaugh, Beck or Alex Jones to me. Scare people with phantom fantasies about “The UN” and “The NWO”, make them suspicious (narrowed eyes) and that will color their views on environmentalists (dirty hippies/environmental wackos) and protecting the environment. It’s on a par with death panels.

    We really ought to be further along in the game than that by now.

    Comment by Ron R. — 14 Apr 2010 @ 4:53 PM

  159. Patrick O27, you might want to talk to fellow climate denialist Joe Bastardi about this slavery-global warming issue. He recently appeared on the Colbert Report:

    Colbert: Joe, you believe that there should be a Lincoln-Douglas style debate about global warming.

    Bastardi: Yes, I do.

    Colbert: Now, what was that original debate about?

    Bastardi: What? Lincoln and Douglas? About many things.

    Colbert: It was actually about slavery. Brenda, I agree with Joe here. There should be a Lincoln-Douglas style debate here – why are you pro-slavery? Why do you want to keep the glaciers chained to the North Pole? When Joe and I want to free them into the North Atlantic?

    [laughter]

    As far as what Patrick claims, that “There is a big difference between owning slaves and emitting greenhouse gases” – well, no. Plus, I don’t think I said “emitting greenhouse gases” – I think I said burning fossil fuels

    Why does this matter? Well, the biosphere emits around 15 times as much CO2 per year as does fossil fuel consumption – but the biosphere also absorbs that same amount of CO2 each year. You and I are breathing out CO2 and taking in organic carbon (food) created originally via photosynthesis, with the carbon source being the atmosphere. However, this is a steady-state situation, and the atmospheric CO2 level doesn’t change as a result (unless you are talking about the glacial cycles, in which small imbalances play a role – over thousands of years).

    So, the comparison is between buying and selling and using slaves and buying and selling and burning fossil fuels, for starters.

    Now, Patrick 027, are you claiming that dumping pollutants into the air, water and soil is a “victimless crime”? You are clearly doing harm to any individuals who have to deal with the results. What about the inhabitants of the drowning Pacific islets? They certainly can claim personal injury, can’t they?

    Why do you think they shouldn’t be able to bring criminal and/or civil cases against the major emitters of greenhouse gases?

    Comment by Ike Solem — 14 Apr 2010 @ 5:28 PM

  160. Doug, you need to read closer. It’s not the polluter himself that gets pulled in front of the ICC – it’s the guy that sold the food that got turned into sewage as well.

    If an oil tanker ruptures, who’s to blame? Well, the drilling company for pulling it out of the ground in the first place, and not just the drunken captain! Everyone in the production chain is made liable in the ecocide theory.

    For CO2 emissions, that’s everyone using fossil fuels. There is no limit to how it could be applied. Pick a target, any target – and that person will fit the charges.

    Comment by Frank Giger — 14 Apr 2010 @ 7:17 PM

  161. Frank, your theory is askew. It may be that the captain of the Exxon Valdez was personally to blame but the ship was Exxon’s. Further, they hired that captain, so it was ultimately their responsibility.

    BTW, Do you have a link about farmers being convicted of growing food that led to sewage pollution?

    Comment by Ron R. — 14 Apr 2010 @ 7:35 PM

  162. #148. Then my point is that C&T may shift around the end user. But it will move us no closer to a solution. The only thing that might reduce the amount of carbon put into the atmosphere over the relevant period would be substantial taxes at the point of extraction. Consumer taxes are just political fluff that lead to economic inefficiency. The use of fossil fuels would no longer be allocated according to market price, but according to political influence.

    Comment by krog — 14 Apr 2010 @ 7:59 PM

  163. Frank Giger says: 14 April 2010 at 7:17 PM

    Frank, where we’ll end up is with C02 being treated more or less as pollutant, more or less along a continuum of perceived harm and with greater or lesser penalties being attached to its emission in a way that is intended to escape accounting procedures and is substantially willful, malicious and/or intended for illicit material gain.

    Despite C02 being recognized as a pollutant, the structure of law and regulation around C02 emissions will at the end of the day acknowledge and foster the concept that C02 is a part of our economy demanding toleration for some period of time, yet must be eliminated as swiftly as possible, if possible.

    The ramp of discouragement against emitting C02 will be very long and with a very gentle slope. At one of the slope will be encouragements to use energy sensibly– cheery reminders to do something obvious and attractive– as we already see. On the other end of the slope will be a jail cell waiting for somebody with the brass to fake for material gain sequestering or otherwise disposing of a tremendous amount of C02, or to conspire in emitting a substantial quantity of C02 in a manner designed for concealment and intended to defraud an accounting system for C02 emissions.

    Most of us live at the smart, non-larcenous end of the hill.

    It’s the same structure and continuum we use and most of us accept today for a myriad of situations where common sense and regulations touch on a broad swath of society and our economy.

    Nothing new. Nobody’s going to dragged from behind the wheel while wearing their Sunday best by jackbooted government agents.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 14 Apr 2010 @ 9:29 PM

  164. People can. People do.

    “The best conservers were residents of single-family homes, who used nearly 30% less water as compared with February 1997.”

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-water-savings14-2010apr14,0,458868.story

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Apr 2010 @ 9:42 PM

  165. Fossil CO2 is the pollutant, not biological CO2. You can tell the difference in that fossil CO2 emissions don’t contain any 14C. This is just a basic carbon cycle issue.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 14 Apr 2010 @ 11:27 PM

  166. CFU ; you focus on an incident remark that is not the core of my argumentation. I didn”t say that the fact it has never been done proved that it was impossible. I said that it was very unlikely to work because nothing in the modern economy limits the growth, so nothing prevents to use the spared fossil fuels to increase the growth – and of course nothing prevents to use spared fossil fuels later. And the fact that a decrease of global fossil fuel use has never been achieved is at least a hint that this theory is correct.

    Concerning the near impossibility to reach the goal of continuing the growth with an improvement of 20 ( !!) of the carbon intensity of the economy in 40 years (!!!) :
    http://earlywarn.blogspot.com/2010/04/it-cant-possibly-be-that-easy.html

    Comment by Gilles — 15 Apr 2010 @ 12:50 AM

  167. 137, zeroworker: but the future will not be like the past. Over the last 150 years, energy was abundant and cheap. It will not be so in the future. Take a look at The Oil Drum web site for excellent information on peak oil. But resource depletion will be a general problem, not limited to oil.

    Even under G.W. Bush the production of energy from non-hydro renewable sources grew by a factor of 8, and the growth rate is slightly higher now. For a while, energy will become more expensive, then it will become cheaper again as manufacturing of solar and wind devices (and other production) becomes more proficient. At least, that’s what has been happening recently. As for the claim that “resource depletion” will limit growth, there is no particularly good reason to think that is inevitable. In order to think that material resource limitations will necessarily inhibit growth you have to believe that human ingenuity will solve no problems. In between total pessimism and technocornucopia, a 2.5% mean growth rate for 4 decades is quite reasonable. With bridges made from recycled plastic (I didn’t make that up, its a DARPA achievement), aircraft made from carbon composites, and fuel made from municipal waste (solid and sewage) the future will not “be like” the past; it also will not be more destitute.

    Sunlight is used to power the breaking of the C=O bonds in CO2 and to provide C=0 for fuel production and C for manufacturing graphene and carbon nanotubes. It’s small scale, like fiber-optic cable and semi-conductor fabrication 30 years ago. There is sufficient sunlight to power these operations on a huge scale. Now that fabrication techniques are in operation, scaling up is no more impossible than was the scaling up of auto production 100 years ago.

    What will actually happen is not known, but what is known is that a sustained 2.5% growth rate is reasonable based on what has happened in recent years, over the last decade, over the last several decades, and over the last centuries.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 15 Apr 2010 @ 12:56 AM

  168. 130, Georgi Marinov: They will never be battery-powered because batteries weigh too much for this purpose. Synthesizing hydrocarbons from C02, H20 and sunlight is a better option.

    Second sentence is probably true, at least based on what I have read lately. First sentence is probably false: as I mentioned, power-to-weight ratios in models are already better than power-to-weight ratios in early aviation, and are getting better. To me, you are like a guy looking at WWI aircraft and betting that trans-oceanic flight will always be impossible. Or perhaps like the fellows at IBM who in the early 1950s thought that there would not be demand for more than 10 computers.

    As for limits to growth, China has already exceeded the limits identified in the 1970s, and still people believe in limits to growth. Paraphrasing my last, the two false extremes are the belief that all problems will be solved and the belief that none of them will be solved. It looks like, by 2020, the US and the EU will each get at least 25% of electricity from non-hydro renewables (and at least a few percent more than now from nuclear). Whenever it happens, the 25% milestone will require all these projections to be revised. Meanwhile, Krugman’s projection of 2.5% per annum sustained growth is the most sensible projection.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 15 Apr 2010 @ 1:10 AM

  169. Frank Giger, et al,

    Noone’s getting dragged in front of the International Criminal Court for peacetime pollution. Noone will, either.

    After WW II, the Holocaust, and the UN Charter, it took half a century, Bosnia, and Rwanda, for a draft international criminal statute to become the Rome Statute of the ICC (1998). The ICC has jurisdiction over crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and (should they ever get around to defining it) the crime of aggression. War crimes include, among many other things, intentionally launching an attack knowing it will cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment beyond military necessity, in the context of international armed conflict (article 8.b.iv). (A broader conception of environmental damage as an international crime was mooted in the drafting process but abandoned in the face of opposition from governments.)

    No, Sunday driving doesn’t quite cut it. Nor are governments likely to reopen the statute to penalize Sunday drivers, or Exxon, or themselves for polluting as a part of normal peacetime economic activity.

    A newspaper report about one environmental activist’s pipe dream is being bandied about because it feeds into the fantasy life of the death-panel, black-helicopter, pry-it-from-my-cold-fingers, the guvmint’s-gonna-come-right-into-your-living-room-and-take-your-light-bulbs-away crowd.

    Comment by CM — 15 Apr 2010 @ 3:55 AM

  170. What’s clear (but not surprising) is that many posting comments are not that up to speed re the policy or econ work that has been going on re this subject for many years. I’d strongly recommend three sources to get started. Rob Stavins at Harvard has a excellent blog: http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/analysis/stavins/

    MIT’s Center for Global Change has done good work on the economics and science, with an interesting quantification of the risks: http://globalchange.mit.edu/

    And finally, for more general stuff re environmental economics — sort of a Realclimate lite for the enviro econ set — http://www.env-econ.net/ (they don’t do science though)

    Comment by Kevin — 15 Apr 2010 @ 8:32 AM

  171. Gilles, if you could be convinced you were wrong, would you admit the possibility exists that things could be different than you think they are?
    Specifically, if you found that our actual burning of fossil fuel and CO2 production dropped for several years, would you then consider it possible that this could actually happen?

    http://www.ecoequity.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/figure1.jpg

    Or would you go on saying it’s never happened so it never can happen?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Apr 2010 @ 9:53 AM

  172. Gilles — okay, did you look?

    Now, here’s the caption and source:

    “Figure 1: The century’s emissions to date (the grey area, showing the emissions drop that accompanied the great recession), the 350 pathway (the top of the red area), a 2°C pathway consistent a 75% chance of keeping warming below 2°C (the red line), and a “G8 style” pathway (the thin black line) consistent with the aim (popular among the elites) to halve global emissions by 2050. Also shown (the big numbers), are the number of Gigatonnes of CO2 that each step in this sequence of ever less adequate targets would add to total cumulative emissions.

    This graphic, which well represents the methods and conclusions of current science, shows that a global 350 ppm emissions pathway (illustrated here with a 2011 global emissions peak and global 2020 emissions that are 42% below 1990 levels) is extremely challenging. It also shows a 2°C pathway (the red line), one that has a reasonable if not comforting chance of actually meeting the 2°C target. And, most importantly, it shows the “G8 style” emission pathway (global 2050 emissions projected to be 50% below 1990 levels), the one that was almost written into the Copenhagen Accord, the one which the elites persist in calling a 2°C pathway.”

    http://www.ecoequity.org/2010/01/after-copenhagen/#more-699

    No one’s saying it’s easy.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Apr 2010 @ 9:54 AM

  173. “166
    Gilles says:
    15 April 2010 at 12:50 AM

    CFU ; you focus on an incident remark that is not the core of my argumentation.”

    You keep changing your statements, ignoring your past statements if they no longer achieve your aim of denying.

    “I didn”t say that the fact it has never been done proved that it was impossible.”

    You have several times before.

    “very unlikely to work because nothing in the modern economy limits the growth, so nothing prevents to use the spared fossil fuels to increase the growth”

    Nothing says we have to increase or maintain fossil fuel use. Since there’s a thousand fold excess of energy available and extractable, why use a limited resource, especially one with such an unwelcome side effect?

    After all, slavery was very efficient, yet we don’t use it. Well, OK, we DO use it, but we call it the Free Market In Jobs, aka Capitalism. However the fact that we don’t admit that this is just an attempt to achieve slavery without calling it that shows how we don’t want to use slavery, despite its ability to increase economic output.

    You just assume that it is very likely that we will still use as much oil even if we don’t use it for energy.

    I (and most thoughtful people) consider it highly unlikely.

    “And the fact that a decrease of global fossil fuel use has never been achieved is at least a hint that this theory is correct.”

    See Hank’s post.

    Not knowing what’s going on has never stopped you making statements as if they were true before, though.

    “Concerning the near impossibility to reach the goal of continuing the growth with an improvement of 20 ( !!) of the carbon intensity of the economy in 40 years (!!!) :”

    Easy peasy.

    40% reduction could be done by refusing to waste the energy we currently use. Two-three years. Easy. If people with the power (which = money in a capitalist system) wanted us to do it.

    Bare reduction in use can halve the needs yet again. That could be done in half a generation no problem. 10-15 years.

    So we’ve gone from 90% fossil fuels, 10% carbon neutral to 24% fossil fuels (remember: no need to make the cuts in anything other than fossil fuel use), 10% carbon neutral WITH NO INCREASE IN CO2 NEUTRAL GENERATION.

    If over 40 years we can’t triple the CO2 neutral generation capacity, we’re not trying. 40 years we won’t even have doubled our population, so from 34% of current generation, 10% of which is renewables, we now need maybe 50%. 40% from renewables, 10% from fossil fuels.

    There’s a 9-to-1 reduction.

    Ignoring the capacity of technology to mitigate the CO2 load of power generation from fossil fuels over 40 years. Do you think it’s not possible to reduce that by half over that time?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 15 Apr 2010 @ 10:14 AM

  174. Kevin, let’s take a look at Rob Stavins from Harvard on cap-and-trade:

    Despite all the hand-wringing in the press and the blogosphere about a political “give-away” of allowances for the cap-and-trade system in the Waxman-Markey bill voted out of committee last week, the politics of cap-and-trade systems are truly quite wonderful, which is why these systems have been used, and used successfully.

    As a matter of fact, the only so-called “success” of cap-and-trade is said to be the removal of sulfur from diesel fuel, correct? Sulfur allowances were used in a market-based trading scheme which resulted in refineries reducing the sulfur content in their fuel. That’s the only putative example of cap-and-trade working as advertised, yes?

    However, what’s curious here is that while the sulfur content of diesel fuel sold in U.S. and European cities has indeed fallen, this has been matched by a rise in the sulfur content of ship bunker fuel. The sulfur wasn’t removed, it was simply put into a different fraction of the oil refinery distillates. Hence, ship sulfur emissions have increased – but this has a lower effect on the air quality of cities, unless those cities have busy shipping ports.

    Hence, while California diesel fuel for vehicles has a sulfur limit of 500 parts per million (.05%), the sulfur content in marine bunker fuel is typically limited at 1.5% (15,000 parts per million). That’s the physical reality – it’s called mass balance. The sulfur has to go somewhere, and it costs energy to extract it.

    All cap-and-trade did with sulfur, in reality, is to redistribute it. So, the one historical argument that cap-and-trade relies on is quite bogus, wouldn’t you agree?

    So, how is cap-and-trade supposed to work for fossil CO2?

    When you extract and burn fossil fuels, you are taking carbon out of stable geological reservoirs and pumping it into the actively recirculating carbon pool – and the active reservoirs include the atmosphere, biomass, oceans, & soils. This is called the carbon cycle, which is linked to the hydrological and nitrogen cycles, particularly with respect to biomass and soil levels.

    A spectacular example of the failure of economists to understand these scientific issues can be seen in Canada, where the Canadian forests were supposed to serve as an “offset” for Alberta tar sand production. However, due to the changing climate (warmer drier winters in particular) pine beetles have devastated the forests, causing them to dump an estimated 74 megatons CO2 equivalent into the atmosphere.

    Now, Canadian politicians with ties to the Alberta oil interests had hoped to use “forest storage of CO2″ to offset the emissions from their tar sands projects. Those oil sands emissions can be counted two ways – on site only, which accounts for all the natural gas consumed in the tar sand process, or the complete picture, which includes the emissions produced by the oil refineries that process syncrude into gasoline, and also the emissions from the vehicles that consume that syncrude. Canadian politicians and economists prefer not to account for these downstream emissions, however – a matter of political expediency which again ducks scientific reality.

    Similar issues arise with forest-based “carbon offsets” all over the world. These are NOT stable long-term reservoirs for CO2, so they should be eliminated from the carbon trading program – along with any other biomass-type approach (dumping tankers of iron into the oceans to promote algal growth comes to mind).

    So, how does one generate a real fossil CO2 offset, Kevin? There’s only one way – you have to bury an equivalent amount of CO2 in a geologically stable form, one that won’t be recirculating through the atmosphere, oceans, soils and biomass. That means you have to convert the CO2 (a gas) back to some more solid from – graphite, perhaps. However, the cost is too high, energy-wise, for this to ever be a practical solution.

    For example, if you wanted to capture all the emissions from a big coal plant, you’d probably have to build another power plant just to do this – say, a big nuclear power plant, a giant solar array, a large wind farm – but if you did that, why even bother with the fossil fuels? Just use the energy as is, and forget about coal and oil.

    Hence, economists like Rob Stavins who are promoting this cap-and-trade approach seem completely divorced from physical reality – but then, they never had to learn anything about physics, chemistry or biology in the course of their academic careers, did they? That’s why they are constantly embarrassing themselves on these issues.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 15 Apr 2010 @ 10:38 AM

  175. 160, Frank Giger: . It’s not the polluter himself that gets pulled in front of the ICC – it’s the guy that sold the food that got turned into sewage as well.

    It’s not a large part of any fuel solution, perhaps 5%, but illustrative of widespread deployment of relatively small scale installations: sewage is now feedstock (pun intended) for fuel. What’s more, there are multiple technologies for making the fuel.

    To recapitulate:

    1. There are multiple technologies being adopted to make fuel or electricity from municipal solid waste;

    2. There are multiple technologies being adopted to make fuel or electricity from sewage;

    3. There are multiple technologies being adopted to make fuel and electricity from sunlight;

    4. There are multiple technologies under development for carbon capture and storage, including reforestation;

    5. There are multiple technologies being adopted for making biofuels (ethanol, butanol, diesel) from cellulose;

    6. There are multiple technologies (hardware plus strains) for harvesting biofuels (diesel, butanol, ethanol) from vats of microbes, some of them salt-tolerant;

    7. There are multiple technologies for desalinating water;

    8. There are multiple strains of seed-oil based biofuels (palms, camelina, jatropha), some of them salt-tolerant;

    9. There are multiple designs of turbines for harvesting the energy in wind;

    10. There are multiple designs of nuclear power plants that produce little radioactive waste (and none that can be made into explosives, though all waste could be made into a dirty bomb, as can mercury, cyanide and other toxins.)

    It is simply not the case that humans are doomed to an energy-poor or water-poor existence. Exactly who will produce the energy (South Africa, EU, US, China, Brazil, India, Japan, etc) and who will best manage water ( South Africa, EU, US, China, Brazil, India, Japan, etc) isn’t known, but there is no good reason to predict that no one will develop anything.

    As a bonus, there is 11: multiple designs for small-scale fusion (though none are net producers of power yet) and for fusion-fission hybrids, in addition to the more conjectural large-scale fusion facilities (under test or under constructioin.)

    and even more: 12, multiple designs for increased efficiency in all uses of energy.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 15 Apr 2010 @ 11:49 AM

  176. Ike Solem says: 15 April 2010 at 10:38 AM

    Ike’s forgetting that cap and trade as it applies to sulphates was implemented and used for reducing emissions from coal-burning electrical power generation plants, not liquid fuels. Too bad, because all his subsequent discussion becomes moot, rather pointless and not at all believable.

    Meanwhile, he’s also forgetting that accounting for the costs of carbon emissions is intended to level the playing field for other more modern and up to date technologies.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 15 Apr 2010 @ 11:55 AM

  177. (Different Kevin here.)

    Ike (#174), you’re confusing me a bit–the goal of cap-and-trade wrt sulfur emissions wasn’t to lower the total emissions globally–it was to mitigate acid rain in the US. Which it did, right? Is there a harm resulting from the greater sulfur content in bunker oils that you reference? (Admittedly, if the scheme were intended to affect global levels, it would be a closer analog to our present dilemma.)

    This is the story I’m familiar with:

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/Presence-of-Mind-Blue-Sky-Thinking.html?c=y&page=1

    I don’t see anything to do with diesel oil or Europe here.

    I’m also confused about your contention that forest-based offsets are a bad idea. The boreal, like the tropical rainforest, has in fact been essentially stable over the last 10,000 years or so, AFAIK. Now both are suffering seriously deforestation at human hands, rendering that stability merely historic. (Of course the rain forest is the more critical of the two.) Why does it not make sense to provide economic incentives to reduce this source of CO2 emissions? IIRC, AR4 has them as pretty significant.

    Another point–you’ve been very pessimistic, here and elsewhere, about the potential of CCS. I don’t (yet) have a “personal position” on the matter, though I’ve been skeptical about CCS generally. What about such reports as this:

    The first step in CCS is to capture CO2 at the source and produce a concentrated stream for transport and storage. Currently, three main approaches are available to capture CO2 from large scale industrial facilities or power plants: (1) post-combustion capture, (2) pre-combustion capture, and (3) oxy-fuel combustion capture. For power plants, current commercial CO2 capture systems could operate at 85%-95% capture efficiency. Techniques for capturing CO2 have not yet been applied to large power plants (e.g., 500 megawatts or more).

    Post-Combustion Capture

    This process involves extracting CO2 from the flue gas following combustion of fossil fuels or biomass. Several commercially available technologies, some involving absorption using chemical solvents, can in principle be used to capture large quantities of CO2 from flue gases. U.S. commercial electricity-generating plants currently do not capture large volumes of CO2 because they are not required to and there are no economic incentives to do so. Nevertheless, the post-combustion capture process includes proven technologies that are commercially available today.

    Source: http://www.eoearth.org/article/Carbon_capture_and_storage

    Wrong, misleading, slanted–just overly optimistic? Or is there something to this?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 15 Apr 2010 @ 11:56 AM

  178. Hat tip to Ike Solem’s blog for:

    http://www.hks.harvard.edu/presspol/publications/papers/discussion_papers/d49_pooley.pdf
    How Much Would You Pay to Save the Planet? The American Press and the Economics of Climate Change

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Apr 2010 @ 12:33 PM

  179. #167 Septic Matthew

    At this point I think we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    Comment by zeroworker — 15 Apr 2010 @ 12:45 PM

  180. Ike (#174) — you are incorrect. Cap and trade was used successfully in phasing lead out of gasoline in the U.S. as well as in the reduction of ozone depleting chemicals in the U.S. It was used successfully in lowering SOx from U.S. power plants beginning in the 1990s and again in lowering NOx. It can and will work in lowering CO2 emissions. It does so by applying a price to CO2, which is then factored into every investment and consumption decision throughout the economy. In this way, the lowest cost reductions are made via changes in technology or shifts in consumption. Looked at another way, the least valuable sources of emissions are reduced first — methane emissions from a landfill (least valued) will reduce before emissions from an ambulance. There is nothing magical about it. Simply saying because it has only been applied in a particular case does not constitute proof that it will not work in other cases.

    Comment by Kevin — 15 Apr 2010 @ 2:41 PM

  181. Krugman has a lot of ability… yet he often seems to step back from some of the obvious conclusions his own logic and analysis lead him towards, because they inevitably pose very fundamental questions about the very structure of our socio/economic system, which some call free market capitalism, and others, corporate/state capitalism. One profound question Krugman chooses to ignore, for obvious reasons, is, does capitalism survive in a low growth, low energy intensive, society?

    Comment by Michael K — 15 Apr 2010 @ 3:00 PM

  182. CFU : “Easy peasy.
    40% reduction could be done by refusing to waste the energy we currently use. Two-three years. ”
    Sorry, how can you change in two or three years the carbon intensity by 40 % , without impacting the growth?? be serious please.
    “Bare reduction in use can halve the needs yet again. That could be done in half a generation no problem. 10-15 years.

    Bare reduction – as I understand it – means less consumption and thus no growth, but a recession. If you accept recession, there is of course no problem to reduce the amount of fossil fuels as much as you want : it’s enough to live like people who consumes currently the amount of fossil fuels you’re targeting. Of course this possible (it happened during Argentine and Soviet crisis for instance). There is no point to discuss here.

    Comment by Gilles — 15 Apr 2010 @ 4:28 PM

  183. Kevin (180), cap and trade was responsible for lead-free gasoline and keeping CFCs out of the atmosphere??? That does not match my recollection at all. Both were simply outlawed. The fact that to ease the burden (and stretch it out a bit) subsidies were created, some of which looked a little like cap and trade, doesn’t change the cause and effect.

    [Response: SO2 was regulated by a cap and trade mechanism in the US, while CFCs were phased out by mandate. Lead-free gasoline was priced out of the market through a tax mechanism in the UK at least, not sure what was done in the US. Cap-and-trade has been successfully used before if that was the point of the comment. - gavin]

    Comment by Rod B — 15 Apr 2010 @ 4:45 PM

  184. 181 Michael K says:
    15 April 2010 at 3:00 PM
    Krugman has a lot of ability… yet he often seems to step back from some of the obvious conclusions his own logic and analysis lead him towards, because they inevitably pose very fundamental questions about the very structure of our socio/economic system, which some call free market capitalism, and others, corporate/state capitalism. One profound question Krugman chooses to ignore, for obvious reasons, is, does capitalism survive in a low growth, low energy intensive, society?

    Of course it doesn’t, but a mainstream economist can not say that. Which is why economics is a pseudoscience – it relies on a set of underlying assumptions that can not be shown to be correct (in fact they demonstrably aren’t) and that aren’t subject of revision.

    But there is another, much more sinister reason for why he can’t say that. The whole house of cards is built on the assumption that future growth will repay today’s debt. The reason why people wake up every morning, they go to work and they do it is that they have faith in the correctness of this assumption, because it gives them hope for a “better” future (where “better” means more material possessions), retirement, etc. If someone with sufficient authority (say, Obama) comes out today and says “Look, we have overshot the carrying capacity of the planet / we have reached the limits to growth, we’re running out of oil and other resources, we’re wrecking the climate, we have to scale down, no more growth” this faith will disappear in an instant, and with it, the whole economic system collapses immediately, as the foundation of faith in future growth it is built on disappears. Which will momentarily cause our society to spiral into probably irreversible chaos, because 99.9% of people are completely unprepared to hear such a message, so their reaction will be one of anger, confusion, and most likely violence.

    So even if you had the power to come out and state these things clearly, it may not be advisable to do so as it will trigger societal collapse almost immediately

    Comment by Georgi Marinov — 15 Apr 2010 @ 5:09 PM

  185. http://ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/reprint/75/4/344.pdf is a good summary on the history of leaded gasoline in the US.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Apr 2010 @ 6:15 PM

  186. And this one,
    http://www.urbanleadpoisoning.com/Kovarik%20%20W%202005%20%20Ethyl%20and%20Intl%20Public%20Health%20Disaster.pdf
    which focuses on the way decades of cautionary scientific knowledge disappeared from the public record after the 1920s, not to be rediscovered until the predicted effects began to be documented in the 1970s.

    “… Even the court decision backing EPA’s ban on leaded gasoline in 1976 said: ‘It is only recently that we have begun to appreciate the danger posed by unregulated modification of the world around us.’3
    The historical vacuum surrounding leaded gasoline was so complete that when the city of Chicago banned all sales of leaded gasoline in 1984, the New York Times said the ordinance was the first of its kind. In fact, the Times itself had covered city and state bans on leaded gasoline in the mid-1920s.5,6
    These examples reflect a historical amnesia that is typical in the field of environment and public health policy, particularly so in this case. They also reflect the personal and social costs of having to repeat history when it is forgotten….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Apr 2010 @ 6:19 PM

  187. Georgi Marinov #184 you’re right and wrong. Right that we have overshot the carrying capacity for the continuance of the biosphere as a whole. What comes to mind now is that old Italian saying, “feather by feather the goose is plucked”.

    Others though, I have Libertarians and Republicans in mind here, the kind of people who spin for CATO, AEI, CEI, the US Chamber of Commerce etc. believe, rightly, that the earth still has lots more resources to exploit for our use. Lots more forests to cut down, lots more land to wrest from other species for development and agriculture, lots more coal to mine, lots more mountains to level. And that’s true, that is IF we wish to go forward as if other species simply do not exist or do not have a right to continued existence. We can simply take it all for ourselves and watch them slip away, one by one, into the eternal night of extinction.

    “the technological optimists are probably correct in claiming that overall world food production can be increased substantially over the next few decades…[however] the environmental cost of what Paul R. and Anne H. Ehrlich describe as ‘turning the Earth into a giant human feedlot’ could be severe. A large expansion of agriculture to provide growing populations with improved diets is likely to lead to further deforestation, loss of species, soil erosion, and pollution from pesticides and fertilizer runoff as farming intensifies and new land is brought into production.
    http://tinyurl.com/3956w3

    Bush had on board a guy by the name of Terry Anderson who seriously proposed auctioning off the national parks to the highest bidder and at least one that I know of of the above mentioned think tanks is all for that (Cato).

    “Our burgeoning population and urban way of life have been purchased at the expense of vast ecosystems and habitats. … It’s no accident that as we celebrate the urbanization of the world, we are quickly approaching another historic watershed: the disappearance of the wild.” – Jeremy Rifkin
    http://tinyurl.com/y2dvf2f

    We have overshot the carrying capacity of our planet when our continued growth must be purchased as the expense of other species simple right to exist. We are past that point.

    http://www.well.com/~davidu/extinction.html

    There are certain powerful people who have no love of, or respect for nature nor understanding of how intimately connected we are to other species, and they to each other. John Muir wrote of them as having “a perfect contempt for nature”. These people envision a world of wall to wall construction towering into the sky jam packed with people living in a “utopia of technology”. Some of them wouldn’t even mind seeing this planet wither and die. They have their sights set on the stars. I know, I’ve talked to them. They delude themselves into thinking that space travel and terrafoming of other planets are just around the corner. This planet exists simply for what we can rip out of it right now. It’s obscene.

    Comment by Ron R. — 15 Apr 2010 @ 7:37 PM

  188. On the other hand some of us think that maybe we should perhaps begin, oh I don’t know, thinking about and maybe even discussing nationally and globally limiting our numbers. Maybe now is a good time to get serious about population – while we still have something left to preserve.

    Or we can just let the future happen and the chips fall where they may.

    Comment by Ron R. — 15 Apr 2010 @ 7:44 PM

  189. What’s possible?

    http://earthsky.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/a-focus-on-japan.jpg

    Wow.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Apr 2010 @ 12:15 AM

  190. 188, Ron R: maybe we should perhaps begin, oh I don’t know, thinking about and maybe even discussing nationally and globally limiting our numbers.

    Where you been these last few decades? Every nation with a growing economy has a declining fertility rate, and some without growing economies have declining fertility rates. Japan and Russia have fertility rates below the replacement rate, as perhaps do France and Germany (at least the populaces of European descent.) Eminentoes like Ehrlich and Holdren wrote about forced sterilization in democratic countries in the 1970s. Every woman in the world who has learned to read has learned about birth control pills. In China and India there has been a demonstrable effort to reduce the numbers of girl children. Discussion and action are well underway.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 16 Apr 2010 @ 12:21 AM

  191. Mrugman is… a bourgeois economist, a talented one, but still bourgeois. What this means is that he cannot, or won’t, follow what his observations and logic lead him towards, if that means questioning the fundamental structures of state capitalism and the dire consequences of business, more or less, as usual for the biosphere, and clearly, by exstention… us.

    Whether or not people would react with total hysteria, leading to a collapse of our economic and social system, if they were told the “truth”, is, I believe, highly debatable. Surely it depends on exactly how they were told the truth?

    In theory, if we lived in real, and functioning, democracies, it should be possible to discuss reality and, even at this late stage, change course in a calm, rational and effective manner. Are we really just slaves to our fate and nothing more?

    But, but, but, this does mean examining the most deeply held and core values of state, corporate, capitalism, which means challenging the most sacred dogmas we live by, and talking about power in society, who has it and who doesn’t and why, and where does power come from, does it come from votes, or from the access to and control of vaste wealth?

    Comment by Michael K — 16 Apr 2010 @ 2:50 AM

  192. “Bare reduction – as I understand it – means less consumption and thus no growth, but a recession”

    Nope, bare reduction is bare reduction in use of energy.

    If I walk to the shops, there is no recession caused because I didn’t use my car. But I HAVE managed bare reduction.

    If I carpool, that reduces use.

    Still not a precursor to recession.

    See, you’re back on your schtick of “Fossil fuel use is economy growth”.

    Bollocks.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 Apr 2010 @ 3:20 AM

  193. Doug Bostrom

    You might actually want to read the threads in question, before making factually incorrect statements. I didn’t ‘run off’ because of Tamino, I quit contributing, a full two weeks after our argument ‘ended’, because it made no point to continue discussing these (elementary!) statistics on Bart’s blog.

    I explained the argument ad nauseam, but apparently people still like to stick their own definition. E.g. as far as I can see in the most recent comments, to Bart ‘stochastic trend’ still means that there is no ‘determinism’, even though I explained why this is not the case at least five times. People also don’t seem to understand that a near-unit root process, in small samples, needs to be treated a as a pure unit root process, instead of a trend-stationary one.

    The general level of statistical illiteracy is amazing. While the IPCC report starts with a comparison of (misspecified) ‘statistical trends’, nobody seems to have any clue about what a ‘trend estimate’ actually represents formally, and why trend estimation is not an ad hoc exercise where you can just pick the assumptions you like.

    In any case, my story with Tamino ended when *he* ran off, after performing a spurious regression (reference to formal proof of where he messed up, under link below), in order to ‘debunk’ me.

    Here’s an overview of our ‘argument’, including my reply to both his blog entries:

    http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/global-average-temperature-increase-giss-hadcru-and-ncdc-compared/#comment-1643

    Get your facts straight, Doug.

    Best, VS

    Comment by VS — 16 Apr 2010 @ 6:27 AM

  194. “to Bart ’stochastic trend’ still means that there is no ‘determinism’, even though I explained why this is not the case at least five times.”

    Stochastic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stochastic

    “A stochastic process is one whose behavior is non-deterministic”

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 Apr 2010 @ 10:48 AM

  195. Completely Fed Up says:
    16 April 2010 at 3:20 AM

    Nope, bare reduction is bare reduction in use of energy.

    If I walk to the shops, there is no recession caused because I didn’t use my car. But I HAVE managed bare reduction.

    If I carpool, that reduces use.

    Still not a precursor to recession.

    See, you’re back on your schtick of “Fossil fuel use is economy growth”.

    Bollocks.

    Actually if everyone reduces their energy use, this will cause a recession because GDP will automatically fall because of that. Energy costs money and it counts as GDP as do all the expenses made while generating it.

    Of course, this isn’t entirely relevant to the claim that you can grow the economy without fossil fuels. Of course you can in theory, the problem is that you can’t in practice as there aren’t any other energy sources in sufficient abundance and with similar characteristics to support growth. Which, in turn means that growth will end soon no matter what we do. However, even if there was another vast energy source to tap, it would still not be advisable to grow the economy because there are dozens of other limits to growth that will makes sure that we collapse after we overshoot them.

    Comment by Georgi Marinov — 16 Apr 2010 @ 11:24 AM

  196. 194, CFU: “A stochastic process is one whose behavior is non-deterministic”

    A stochastic process is one whose behavior is not predictable given what is known. It may still be deterministic. The twinkling of stars, to pick one example, is caused by variations in atmospheric density whose causes are known (and measurable in particular cases to correct for them), but for which incomplete knowledge prohibits accurate prediction in most cases. Another example is radioactive decay, which appears random but may be deterministic with unknown causal mechanism. On this, your wikipedia entry appears to be not fully informed.

    Another example closer to the interests of Real Climate is weather, which is unpredictable despite many deterministic components because not all of the deterministic links are completely known in time to make the predictions.

    This debate about randomness, knowledge, and indeterminism has been going on for over 200 years, and it is clearly not the case that empirical randomness implies non-determinism or acausality.

    192, CFU: Nope, bare reduction is bare reduction in use of energy.

    And to extend that idea, reduction in the use of energy entails reductions in expenditures on energy (because generally reductions in demand produce reductions in price), which can produce capital available to invest in other enterprises, which then grow. There is no guarantee that converting to renewable energy supplies will necessarily lead to faster growth in material wealth, and the near-term cost may be tangible, but the long-term advantage of renewable energy supplies is that we won’t run out of them, whereas we clearly will run out of coal, oil and natural gas eventually. The limits that we are up against already have driven up the price of fossil fuels, whereas recent developments have driven down the costs of the renewables. It is impossible to say exactly when and at exactly what costs the conversion to renewables is optimal, but it is about now and at about the current prices. Also unknowable is the exactly optimal rate of conversion, but even the fossil fuel companies are investing in renewable fuels, as are diverse groups in every industrialized nation and most industrializing nations.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 16 Apr 2010 @ 11:35 AM

  197. PS for those outside the USA, here’s how the political system works:
    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2010_04/023373.php

    “When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made the laughable argument that the Wall Street reform legislation would “institutionalize” bailouts, there was one key upside: he was lying well in advance of Paul Krugman’s next deadline.

    The NYT columnist doesn’t disappoint …”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Apr 2010 @ 11:58 AM

  198. VS says: 16 April 2010 at 6:27 AM

    Thanks for the pointer to the thread.

    Here’s where you ran off the rails:

    In other words, global temperature contains a stochastic rather than deterministic trend, and is statistically speaking, a random walk.

    Sure, if you put on your statisticians goggles and look at an isolated series of data they’re going to look like a random walk to you, how could I argue with that? But more importantly and the heart of the objections and rebuttal by Tamino you inspired, viewing the picture with goggles that remove all but statistical information is going to leave you ignorant of what creates and conditions the the signal you’re looking at

    By way of example, just a little distance into your second reply to Bart you swerve into what sure looks like speculation substituting for subject expertise:

    Given the hypercomplex and utterly chaotic nature of the Earth’s climate, and the non-experimental nature of observations it generates, I don’t see any other way of verifying/testing [by statistical methods] a model trying to describe or explain it.

    Climate is “utterly chaotic?” No.

    I’m quite sure you’re a statistical whiz, but you don’t know what you’re talking about when it comes to climate. That’s the basic problem with your assertion. Statistically sound, surely, but meaningless.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 16 Apr 2010 @ 12:24 PM

  199. By the way, VS, I wonder if you followed up on the following remarkable threat you made against another participant in the thread you pointed me to:

    You Dr. [redacted], are a disgrace to your institution and a disgrace to science. I seriously considering compiling all this I have on you and submitting it to some ethics commission at [redacted] University.

    Hmm. I think I’ll back away gently now and suggest simply that you publish your findings. That’s probably the best course and you seem quite confident so I suppose you’ll not have any trouble.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 16 Apr 2010 @ 12:40 PM

  200. “A stochastic process is one whose behavior is not predictable given what is known.”

    Or what is knowable.

    Emergence. cf Langton’s Ant.

    Now, if you don’t know now to determine the future state, how is it deterministic?

    Ask God?

    Your point is right but irrelevant.

    The second half of your post is better put than I would do it.

    I wonder if Gilles will listen.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 Apr 2010 @ 12:44 PM

  201. Gavin (183), a minor clarification: I think when one extols the history and benies of cap and trade they really ought to use cap and trade examples.

    Comment by Rod B — 16 Apr 2010 @ 12:55 PM

  202. “Sure, if you put on your statisticians goggles and look at an isolated series of data they’re going to look like a random walk to you”

    More importantly, a random walk around WHAT?

    The locus of that random walk is determined by the forces involved.

    The eponymous random walk still generally leads to home, because the force that moves him (he’s drunk) is “I wanna go home now”.

    The random walk of the air molecule has a loci determined by local energy and density patterns. This is how such random stochastic processes cause on average, the Ideal Gas Laws.

    This may be what Septic Matthew meant with his comment (in which case, sorry for the kick).

    E.g. when it comes to ***Chaos*** and ***Chaotic*** (and ultimately ***random***), you have deterministic issues.

    However, and this is what Doug showed far better and Septic missed completely, is that you can’t determine this with ***statistics*** ***alone***. You have to know the ***processes***.

    This is why statisticians working on the temperature graph fit periodic functions and state that we’re cooling.

    Because they are asserting that the only determinant of the graph is the small set of figures displayed.

    Smart people who know their physics know that they have to assert what processes exist that are known and how will they determine the loci the data points are expressing.

    THEN you can use your statistician to work out how much of that determining process can be fitted to the graph and the residuals thereof.

    Then the physicist comes back in with the next determining process to fit the residuals.

    Until all the knowns are accounted for.

    The change in CO2 accounts for 72% of the change.

    200% of that change is human induced (half isn’t going in to the atmosphere).

    AGW.

    But you can’t just ignore the processes as the statisticians like VS want to do. Because there’s no deterministic process in a purely stochastic series.

    The only deterministics are the processes working therein.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 Apr 2010 @ 12:58 PM

  203. “Actually if everyone reduces their energy use, this will cause a recession because GDP will automatically fall because of that.”

    No it won’t.

    “Energy costs money and it counts as GDP as do all the expenses made while generating it.”

    So why are all the rich people saving money????

    PS: Bollocks. Unless you’re burning money, energy is not money.

    OK, for the *ENERGY COMPANIES* there will be a recession. Which is why they fight it *and* also invest in renewables.

    Maybe you work there in which case your assertion has some merit in your specific case.

    Not for the vasty majority though.

    “as there aren’t any other energy sources in sufficient abundance”

    did you miss that glowy bright thing that turns up in the morning each day???

    “and with similar characteristics to support growth.”

    What? Electrons from wind farms won’t move electric cars or something? Wrong shape?

    Are you a sock for Gilles?

    “Which, in turn means that growth will end soon no matter what we do.”

    If we sit on our collective arses going “there’s no fuel like fossil fuel”.

    How about NOT doing that?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 Apr 2010 @ 1:03 PM

  204. “Here’s an overview of our ‘argument’, including my reply to both his blog entries:

    http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/global-average-temperature-increase-giss-hadcru-and-ncdc-compared/#comment-1643

    Get your facts straight, Doug.

    Best, VS”

    I went to some links and found this from Mar 4: http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/global-average-temperature-increase-giss-hadcru-and-ncdc-compared/#comment-1216 “In other words, global temperature contains a stochastic rather than deterministic trend, and is statistically speaking, a random walk.”

    From the overview link you provided: “**I’m not claiming that temperatures are a random walk.”

    How can I get the facts straight?

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 16 Apr 2010 @ 1:22 PM

  205. 200, CFU: Now, if you don’t know now to determine the future state, how is it deterministic?

    Because you might be able to learn how to determine the future state. That is the hope in weather/climate forecasting. In the case of correcting telescopic images for atmospheric variability, they did in fact learn how to correct. You can’t know that something is deterministic until you learn how to predict it accurately, but neither can you know something is not deterministic just because you can not predict it now.

    202, CFU: This is why statisticians working on the temperature graph fit periodic functions and state that we’re cooling.

    I do not know about all other statisticians, but my claim is that there is so much random variability that we can not now honestly claim to know which predictions are the most dependable. The possibility of a long period of non-warming can not be ruled out, and is included in the models of Latif (ca 5 more years) and Tsonis (ca 20 more years), each of whom believes in AGW. The problem with depending on the physics is the implicit assumption (sometimes explicit) that nothing else important remains to be learned. What could it be? I can only conjecture: (1) a really good detailed physical explanation for the start and end of the Little Ice Age would help; (2) a really good explanation for the (apparent) covariation of earth temp changes with changes in the integrated activity of the sun. Covariation nearly always implies causation, but the mechanism may be too indirect to be of any use, and may be in the opposite direction from what is first thought. (3) More decisive knowledge than what we have now about the effects of CO2 on plant growth. As CO2 increases plants store more of the insolation energy in carbon bonds (perhaps 10% to 15% more), but an estimate of the quantitative effect on temp is lacking. (4) More precise knowledge than we now have about the ways in which earth’s radiation deviates from the idealizations — all laws are approximations, and for something as complex as the GCMs, the errors in the approximations accumulate. The difference between 1C of warming and 0C or 2C is a little over 1/300 th of the base temp, so random variabilities in the measurements on which the model parameters are based are larger than the effects being predicted.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 16 Apr 2010 @ 2:42 PM

  206. Completely Fed Up says:
    16 April 2010 at 1:03 PM
    “Actually if everyone reduces their energy use, this will cause a recession because GDP will automatically fall because of that.”

    No it won’t.

    “Energy costs money and it counts as GDP as do all the expenses made while generating it.”

    So why are all the rich people saving money????

    PS: Bollocks. Unless you’re burning money, energy is not money.

    OK, for the *ENERGY COMPANIES* there will be a recession. Which is why they fight it *and* also invest in renewables.

    Energy companies comprise a big enough sector of the economy to make sure that if energy usage falls by half, there will be a recession, just because this will mean that the money that passed through it will be cut by half and this will cause a drop of GDP by a few percentage points at least. GDP is mostly neutral to what is good for society.

    Maybe you work there in which case your assertion has some merit in your specific case.

    I don’t.

    “as there aren’t any other energy sources in sufficient abundance”

    did you miss that glowy bright thing that turns up in the morning each day???

    Did you miss the fact that you have to cover a few millions square kilometers of the planet’s surface with solar panels to harvest the amount of energy needed to power the current economy? And that you will have to do it again and again every 20-30 years as they age and have to be replaced. And that the economy in 50 years is projected to be a lot bigger due to growth?

    “and with similar characteristics to support growth.”

    What? Electrons from wind farms won’t move electric cars or something? Wrong shape?

    Electrons from wind farms will move cars. But they will not move airplanes and heavy agricultural and construction machinery because of the weight of the batteries.

    “Which, in turn means that growth will end soon no matter what we do.”

    If we sit on our collective arses going “there’s no fuel like fossil fuel”.

    How about NOT doing that?

    Growth is God and we have to worship it no matter the consequences, right?

    Comment by Georgi Marinov — 16 Apr 2010 @ 3:36 PM

  207. “Energy companies comprise a big enough sector of the economy to make sure that if energy usage falls by half, there will be a recession,”

    Nope.

    The money the energy companies USED to get will get spent elsewhere.

    Can I point you to here for elucidation:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_broken_window

    Or is this why NOT buying an SUV is unamerican and why crappy milage is NECESSARY for American Prosperity?

    “Did you miss the fact that you have to cover a few millions square kilometers of the planet’s surface with solar panels to harvest the amount of energy needed to power the current economy?”

    Did you know that is bollocks:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/10/an-open-letter-to-steve-levitt/

    “That’s a square 231 kilometers on a side, or about the size of a single cell of a typical general circulation model grid box.”

    “And that you will have to do it again and again every 20-30 years as they age and have to be replaced.”

    Uh, any building needs to be rebuilt. Please pick something that makes a difference.

    The ROI is far far shorter, so your problem is no problem at all.

    “But they will not move airplanes and heavy agricultural and construction machinery because of the weight of the batteries.”

    Aye. Neither will Diesel. Or Tarmac. Or coal. Or gas.

    How much of the world energy budget goes to aircraft?

    Do you have ANY clue?

    Here’s one: not a lot.

    We also have biodeisel and other high octane organic and synthetics whose creation can be carbon neutral. So even that small amount, if we decide that it’s removable, can be removed.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 Apr 2010 @ 4:22 PM

  208. “I do not know about all other statisticians, but my claim is that there is so much random variability that we can not now honestly claim to know which predictions are the most dependable.”

    The random variability doesn’t accumulate.

    The trend does.

    YOU may not be able to honestly claim, but people who do this for a living can. Try reading their work.

    Here’s a link:

    http://www.ipcc.ch

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 Apr 2010 @ 4:25 PM

  209. “200, CFU: Now, if you don’t know now to determine the future state, how is it deterministic?

    Because you might be able to learn how to determine the future state.”

    And we may get saved by Aliens who give us Jump Gate Technology and we’ll be having rampant sex with cute alien women throughout the galaxy, and isn’t THAT what man has always dreamed of? Come on, Kif, I’m asking here.

    You can’t determine the future state.

    So it’s not deterministic.

    To BE deterministic, you would have to be able to determine the future state.

    I would have hoped this would be http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tautology

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 Apr 2010 @ 4:27 PM

  210. Georgi, I notice that you silently drop the assertion of millions of km2 taken up just to meet our current demands.

    Given that one pillar of your edifice relied on the impracticality of millions of km2 taken up and your new attempt includes how expensive it is (so should, logically have been an equivalently larger problem when you thought it millions), aren’t you going to go off and consider if you have other things REALLY wrong?

    One pillar has tumbled.

    Maybe that house isn’t strong enough to last.

    Get someone to look at it.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 16 Apr 2010 @ 4:39 PM

  211. See, this is what I struggle with:

    “Actually if everyone reduces their energy use, this will cause a recession because GDP will
    automatically fall because of that. Energy costs money and it counts as GDP as do all the expenses
    made while generating it.”

    (#195)

    It doesn’t seem obvious to me that this is necessarily true–what do people do in order to reduce their
    energy use? If they spend more money in order to save that energy, then it would seem that GDP may in
    fact grow. (Ignoring, firmly, any questions about money supply and all that.)

    I really think that we forget how deeply cheap energy has affected not only our economy, but our culture. For instance, electronic repair: a large proportion of consumer electronics are essentially disposable,
    because cheap energy and mass production render them too cheap to repair. Similarly in a number of areas: human labor is priced out of large chunks of the economy.

    What happens if energy becomes more expensive again, relative to other inputs? Less of some things, no
    doubt. Perhaps, however, more of others.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 16 Apr 2010 @ 5:08 PM

  212. 200, CFU: The second half of your post is better put than I would do it.

    Thank you. I hoped when I wrote it that it would fit in with your thoughts.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 16 Apr 2010 @ 5:15 PM

  213. Septic Matthew (205) — I’m not sure what date to use for the start of LIA, but the end is traditionally taken to be 1850 CE with the end of glacial advances in the Alps. So look at Law Dome CO2 data from about 1500 CE to 1850 CE and use a sensitivity of between 2.3 K and 3 K. That’ll account for much of LIA I think. In addition, during the Maunder Minimum reduce the temperature by about 0.7 K based on the analysis of the solar cycle of Tung & Camp (2007?). Finally, determine the volcano forcings over the same time; the should be enough available at GISS about forcings to enable you to do this, although you probably need some good tables of volcano dates and VEIs. There are several web sites for this last.

    I opine that the above three forcings are enough to explain all but internal variability; AMO for that long ago might be obtainable, but if not, just consider internal variability as unexplained variance.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 16 Apr 2010 @ 5:23 PM

  214. CFU, take it the other way.

    There ARE plenty of people who walk to the shop, just because they don’t have a car. These people ALREADY have a low fossil fuel consumption – but also of course a low purchasing power, and a low contribution to GDP. So start from the average standard of living of current people having the “good” FF consumption (four times less than a US citizen? or 10 times maybe?).

    Now try to answer these simple questions :
    * is the life of these people optimal for you, and if not, what is missing following you to have a good life ?
    * which of the “missing” things do not require more fossil fuels ?

    Comment by Gilles — 16 Apr 2010 @ 5:48 PM

  215. 209, CFU

    Here is another example of “deterministic random variation”, namely random assignment in clinical trials. First, lots of things are known to affect health outcomes, and without expressly trying to the people who conduct the trials will usually arrange so that the people who have the most favorable predicted outcomes will be given the favored treatment; or perhaps, the expt treatment will only be given in hopeless cases. Each of those makes it impossible to fairly judge the effect of treatment. So patients are randomly assigned to treatment groups, which results in a whole slew of deterministic relationships being at random within and between groups, the only systematic difference being the drug treatment. Secondly, the “random number generator” is a deterministic process that results in “random numbers”, meaning numbers that can not be predicted in any way except by running the program. They are called “pseudo-random” sometimes, but empirically they are as random as anything that has ever been observed.

    208, CFU: The random variability doesn’t accumulate.

    Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.

    208, CFU: Try reading their work.

    You should avoid statements like that. There is no need to make an opponent into an enemy.

    209, CFU: And we may get saved by Aliens who give us Jump Gate Technology and we’ll be having rampant sex with cute alien women throughout the galaxy, and isn’t THAT what man has always dreamed of? Come on, Kif, I’m asking here.

    You should avoid statements like that. Right now nuclear decay is random; we may learn enough some day to predict which nucleus will decay next, and then nuclear decay won’t be random. Empirically, the appearance of random variation is not sufficient evidence that it is not generated by a deterministic process. Heartbeat variation looks random, but interbeat intervals are negatively correlated and not-exponentially distributed; heartbeat variation might be a deterministic chaotic process that is not completely understood. As far as I have read lately, you can’t tell.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 16 Apr 2010 @ 6:13 PM

  216. VS, the assumption of a linear trend is anything but ad hoc. It is in fact what we expect to see from the logarithmic forcing due to an exponentially rising CO2 content. That’s physics, and it fits the data pretty well. There is certainly a random variation about that trend–just as there is random variation (sometimes quite large) about generally rising market indices over the past 100 years or so. I suspect that if you applied your analysis to stock prices, you’d be recommending we all sell immediately. No offense, but I’ll stick with physics on this one.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Apr 2010 @ 6:39 PM

  217. Septic Matthew, while I agree that random behavior can be generated by deterministic processes, I have to take issue with the following: “Right now nuclear decay is random; we may learn enough some day to predict which nucleus will decay next, and then nuclear decay won’t be random.”

    Ain’t gonna happen. We understand nuclear decay. It is a purely quantum process. It occurs when a nucleus pops a W boson out of the vacuum and the boson changes the flavor of a meson and an electorn and neutrino. I commend to you the Theorems of one John Bell, who placed pretty tight limits on hidden variables in quantum mechanics.

    Again, in the physical world, I’ll tend to go with physics. That’s why a random walk for global temperatures won’t fly.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Apr 2010 @ 6:46 PM

  218. Completely Fed Up says:
    16 April 2010 at 4:39 PM
    Georgi, I notice that you silently drop the assertion of millions of km2 taken up just to meet our current demands.

    Given that one pillar of your edifice relied on the impracticality of millions of km2 taken up and your new attempt includes how expensive it is (so should, logically have been an equivalently larger problem when you thought it millions), aren’t you going to go off and consider if you have other things REALLY wrong?

    One pillar has tumbled.

    Maybe that house isn’t strong enough to last.

    Get someone to look at it.

    Actually you got totally wrong because you fail to actually understand what you read, or, alternatively, you are too ignorant of the real situation. First, the numbers you quoted were for total ELECTRICITY consumption, not for total energy consumption, which is more than 3 times higher, and a lot of it consists of oil, which can not be fully replaced by electricity. I was talking about electricity here. Second, you completely ignore the issue if EROEI, because if the EROEI of solar panels is twice as low as that of fossil fuels, which is about the case, then you are actually getting half as much energy as you need from the same quantity of electricity you produce. So we have a factor of at least 6 difference already. But we haven’t finished. The 231x231km assumes 15% conversion efficiency, however you only get 15% with solar panels that use the kinds of elements that aren’t in particular abundance like tellurium and indium. If you are to cover the areas we are talking about, you will not be able to do that because of shortage of raw materials for the purpose, which means that you will have to use the less efficient ones that only get 8-10% at most. In addition, you have to rebuild the entire electrical grid, especially if you are to put these panels in the desert. And you have to do against the background of an economy falling apart due to Peak Oil. It is indeed hard to see this happening, and much harder to see it being repeated, because when it has to be repeated many other resource limits will have also hit. However, because your point is that not only can we do that, but we can do it at an even bigger scale so that we can also support future growth, which is an even bigger lunacy.

    In the end, you can’t have exponential growth in a finite physical system, it is as simple as that. If you think you can, eventually you collapse, the hard and ugly way

    Comment by Georgi Marinov — 16 Apr 2010 @ 6:52 PM

  219. 217, Ray Ladbury: Ain’t gonna happen. We understand nuclear decay. It is a purely quantum process. It occurs when a nucleus pops a W boson out of the vacuum and the boson changes the flavor of a meson and an electorn and neutrino. I commend to you the Theorems of one John Bell, who placed pretty tight limits on hidden variables in quantum mechanics.

    You are claiming that what isn’t known (how to predict radioactive decay) can’t be known because of what is known (how it happens); and because what is known isn’t sufficient to make the predictions. Bell’s theorem needs to be revisited by someone with a deep understanding of Simpson’s paradox.

    I am doubtful that we can ever predict nuclear decay, but it is not more difficult intrinsically than studying entanglement — where also a random outcome can be predicted perfectly given knowledge of another random outcome.

    Obviously I do not know what will be discovered in the next 100 years, but your writing reminds me of Albert Michelson’s prediction that future developments in physics would consist of learning constants to extra precision. Bell’s theorem is equivalent to a proof, ca 1890, that the laws of physics proved that the precession in the perihelion of mercury could never be modeled.

    People know a lot about the deterministic processes that govern gene expression. But when using gene expression data to diagnose cancer, or when breeding better crops, gene expression is random across samples or seeds. Random variation vs. deterministic variation is a false dichotomy, because what is random and what is predictable depends in many cases on what else is known. There is a school of thought that it depends entirely on what else is known, but that idea can’t be tested.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 16 Apr 2010 @ 7:16 PM

  220. 213, David B. Benson

    You might be right, but it would be better to have all the details filled in and substantiated.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 16 Apr 2010 @ 10:11 PM

  221. Septic Matthew:”You are claiming that what isn’t known (how to predict radioactive decay) can’t be known because of what is known (how it happens); and because what is known isn’t sufficient to make the predictions.”

    The “how to predict radioactive decay” is a math problem, not a problem of understanding the process or theory. As far as I know – it is certainly true for quantum theory for electronic structure of atoms and molecules.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 16 Apr 2010 @ 10:38 PM

  222. I should add that what is to be predicted is the probability per unit time per nucleus. As decay is random, it is arguable that the idea of predicting individual decays is nonsense.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 16 Apr 2010 @ 10:43 PM

  223. Septic Matthew #190 said Every nation with a growing economy has a declining fertility rate, and some without growing economies have declining fertility rates

    See http://www.worldometers.info/

    You’ll notice that the numbers are going up, Up, UP. Scroll down and watch the earth’s resources going up in statistical smoke. Down farther and see forests and species disappearing. People can speculate about world population growth ending on its own in the future but it’s just that, speculation. The obvious trend is MORE.

    Discussion and action are well underway.

    When is the last time you heard any American politician talk seriously about the problem of world overpopulation and overconsumption? Maybe there have been but I can’t think of any (maybe Kucininch). I do remember Dick Cheney saying something to the effect that conservation is not the American way. No, I don’t think that we are taking the issue seriously.

    Comment by Ron R. — 17 Apr 2010 @ 2:27 AM

  224. SM (219),

    It’s not a question of an inadequate theory or not having good enough instruments. If quantum mechanics is correct, you can NEVER determine when one nucleus will decay, or that another won’t. It’s outside the set of things that can be known empirically.

    We know quantum mechanics is correct because it explains such diverse things as why nuclei decay and why the sun shines. We also know it from the fact that we can build radios and PCs and scanning tunneling electron microscopes that work.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 17 Apr 2010 @ 4:39 AM

  225. Ray Ladbury (216) says:

    “VS, the assumption of a linear trend is anything but ad hoc. It is in fact what we expect to see from the logarithmic forcing due to an exponentially rising CO2 content. That’s physics, and it fits the data pretty well. ”

    Actually, the whole point is that this (overly simple) hypothesis doesn’t fit the data ‘pretty well’ when you apply proper formal methods for relating the series. For an example of how *not* to do it, see Tamino’s spurious regressions (his ‘Still Not’ post) and the references to the (formal) proofs which, in conjecture with formal test results, indicate that these regressions are indeed complete nonsense (listed in my reply to his ‘debunkation’).

    It also doesn’t fit (formally) with the other climatological variables (e.g. solar irradiance, sea level heights, all GHG forcings, etc) that all test positively for unit roots (i.e. are not stationary). Having temperatures being (trend-)stationary would severely complicate, if not (almost) invalidate, any statistical relationship (i.e. formally derived correlation) between global mean temperatures and these variables, that arguably drive it in some way or another.

    Now *that’s* unphysical.

    Empiricists should pause and reflect before dismissing the results of formal handling of observations. Statistics is *not* an enemmy of physics. In fact, given the non-experimental nature of the observations we are dealing with, statistics is a (positive) scienitist’s best friend.

    Quit the bunker mentality, and read the thread in question with an open mind. The only thing disputed is how trends are currently ‘determined’ within climate science. This is a (purely) methodological issue. Furthermore, my calculations/estimates/simulations regarding the ARIMA(3,1,0) stochastic trend specification, which are strawmanned here as my ‘main claim’, only served as a tool in my (side-)discussion with Eduardo Zorita (about his 2008 GRL paper). This too, I explained multiple times in the thread.

    I guess that confirmation bias is what prevented everybody from looking a bit harder: “Oh, trend-stationary fit, great, just as we expected! No need to test for the underlying assumption of trend-stationarity!”.

    As a side note, shouldn’t it be obvious that these fitted straight lines are nonsense? Look at the 15-20 year long debate between ‘warmists’ and ‘deniers’ on where the ‘trend line calculations/estimation’ should start (i.e. are we in a ‘cooling’ or ‘warming’ trend at the moment?). This debate will never (ever) end because it is not conducted on the basis of formal results, but on the basis of ‘informed opinions’ (yes, phenomenological models too are ‘informed opinions’, until they are formally tested).

    Best, VS

    Comment by VS — 17 Apr 2010 @ 5:04 AM

  226. “First, the numbers you quoted were for total ELECTRICITY consumption, not for total energy consumption, which is more than 3 times higher”

    So still not a few millions.

    PS did this delay happen because you had to pop off and confer with confederates?

    Also note

    1) that the scenario didn’t have high-end estimates of efficiency
    2) Not just solar PV is needed
    3) we don’t need 100%, didn’t you read? 60% if we just were less profligate with our energy. 48% if we cut back on unnecessary uses.

    Your “three times” is now irrelevant.

    Stop propping that pillar up with chalk.

    “In the end, you can’t have exponential growth in a finite physical system, it is as simple as that.”

    Strawman.

    Who cares? This doesn’t make use of fossil fuels inevitable and unavoidable (therefore making your byline “so why not use it all up now and to hell with the descendants”, you misanthrope).

    If THAT was the house you were building, you’ll need the roof, floor, walls and several other items first. The ones you’ve used have nothing to do with the house you’re building.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 17 Apr 2010 @ 6:56 AM

  227. “Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.”

    But that accumulation doesn’t cause wider divergence from the loci.

    If a bubble in a pot releases vapour, the extra energy is lost and the pot cools slightly.

    Each bubble is a random emerging process and not predictable.

    Yet the random walk doesn’t continue further deviations from the boiling of the water.

    Neither can it make the boiling pot freeze.

    Your argument is right in the most pointless manner possible.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 17 Apr 2010 @ 6:59 AM

  228. “There ARE plenty of people who walk to the shop, just because they don’t have a car. ”

    And plenty more people doing so will have more effect.

    And NONE OF THAT POST means that reducing energy use means a recession, any more than reduced use of the horse and cart caused one.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 17 Apr 2010 @ 7:01 AM

  229. Septic Matthew,
    OK, I can tell from your post #219 that you haven’t even bothered to look up Bell’s Theorem and are now, in fact, bullshitting.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell%27s_theorem

    All Bell’s Theorem says is that if you introduce “hidden variables” that explain the random nature of quantum mechanics, that the resulting theory will not reproduce the predictions of quantum mechanics–in other words, that randomness is in fact inherent to quantum theory. And the evidence sure looks as if quantum mechanics–especially the random part–is correct.

    You are falling victim to your own experience of statistics. However, quantum mechanics is different. I would recommend that you familiarize yourself with it a bit before merely applying your past experience. It is not that you are not in good company–Einstein did the same thing. It’s just that in this case, Einstein was wrong.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Apr 2010 @ 8:13 AM

  230. Completely Fed Up @ 226

    I can not understand why so many people suffer from such a severe lack of basic reading comprehensions skills.

    I can not imagine how anyone who has such would read my posts and think that I am somehow advocating the continued use of fossil fuels. To begin with, I am talking about Peak Oil/Gas/Coal, limits to growth, and other such things all the time. Where the idea that I am pro fossil fuels came from?

    The point I am making is that it is a delusion to think that you can convert to renewables, do it on time to make Peak Oil not an issue and continue BAU with respect to everything else. It takes a truly deluded mind to look at the data and not reach the same conclusion.

    Comment by Georgi Marinov — 17 Apr 2010 @ 9:20 AM

  231. “And NONE OF THAT POST means that reducing energy use means a recession, any more than reduced use of the horse and cart caused one.”
    Of course they will. Automotive industry represents a fair part of a modern economy , and less use means less cars produced a year. And if you employ the money to other things, you have to demonstrate that it won’t be associated with any fossil fuel consumption – which is hard to imagine. And you have also to explain clearly why people rich enough to buy a car wouldn’t do it – which is obviously not common around the whole world.

    You didn’t answer my question : given that the energy intensity is not much different from one country to another (there are differences of course, but the US one is close to the world average), starting from the current standard of living associated with a FF consumption low enough (= the one you would like for everybody), how could they much improve their standard of living without increasing their FF consumption?

    If you can’t clearly answer this question, I will consider that you basically agree with me : it is not possible to decrease substantially the FF use without decreasing the GDP (which of course is a defensible option : it is advocated by the proponents of “de-growth” – although I can hardly imagine how this could be achieved).

    Comment by Gilles — 17 Apr 2010 @ 11:37 AM

  232. 229, Ray Ladbury: All Bell’s Theorem says is that if you introduce “hidden variables” that explain the random nature of quantum mechanics, that the resulting theory will not reproduce the predictions of quantum mechanics–in other words, that randomness is in fact inherent to quantum theory. And the evidence sure looks as if quantum mechanics–especially the random part–is correct.

    Bell’s theorem predicts the rank orders of pairs of probabilities. It does not take into account Simpson’s paradox, which is that observed rank orders can be reversed conditional on unobserved but potentially observable conditions. This is explained well in the book “Statistics” by Freedman, Purvis and Pisani, using the Berkeley graduate school admissions data as an example. Without intentionally doing so, Bell assumed that the rank orders can’t be reversed conditional on the hidden variables. That’s why I wrote that Bells’ theorem should be revisited by someone with a deep understanding of Simpson’s paradox.

    If I may return the ad hominem compliment, you really should study more about conditional probabilities and conditional distributions, not to mention statistics more generally. You repeatedly assert without foundation that what you don’t know can’t possibly matter because what you do know says so. In the history of science and technology, that has seldom been adequate. If I were advocating deployment of perpetual motion machines, or claiming that the second law of thermodynamics proves civilization has reached its limit, that would be one thing. But for most of what I have addressed, there is much that is not known with sufficient accuracy.

    227, cfu: But that accumulation doesn’t cause wider divergence from the loci.

    Wider than what? And over what time span? Random walks always produce surprisingly large deviations from the expected value over surprisingly large time spans: that’s why investors get suckered into betting on “trends” that are not trends. Revisit Jean Perrin’s experiments on Brownian motion: no particle stays near the expected value most of the time, where “near” is small compared to the s.d. Let me recommend some books: by Oksendal “Stochastic Differential Equations” (elementary); by Crauel and Gundlach (eds.) “Stochastic Dynamics” (less elementary, but focused on Stratanovich ); by Arnold “Random Dynamical Systems” (even less elementary respects, still but focused on Stratanovich integrals.)

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 17 Apr 2010 @ 12:08 PM

  233. I have to leave, but I thank you for all of your rejoinders, links and book recommendations.

    Matt

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 17 Apr 2010 @ 2:17 PM

  234. Septic Matthew, It is one thing to say that we may at some point better understand a phenomenon–be it climate or radioactive decay. It is quite another thing to say that future developments will render our current understanding in a mature field of study utterly incorrect. What Bell’s Theorem says is that randomness is fundamental to quantum mechanics–that is is not a result of complexity or deterministic chaos, but rather a characteristic of the fundamental processes at the quantum level. There could be a theory that someday explained the random nature of these processes. Bell’s Theorem says that this theory would not be quantum mechanics and would not reproduce the phenomena explained by quantum mechanics. Given that quantum mechanics has been verified to an astounding degree of precision, that doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for hidden variables–and Ed Simpson ain’t gonna be much help to you.

    In a similar manner, it is very unlikely that CO2 sensitivity will be found to be significantly below 2 degrees per doubling. There is simply to much evidence against that proposition. Do you seriously think that we’ll come across a treasure trove of data and find that CO2 cools rather then warms the planet? If you do, I would suggest that it is YOU who needs to revisit Simpson’s Paradox.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Apr 2010 @ 3:23 PM

  235. Gilles, again an excluded middle: people can buy *more efficient* cars and use less energy. If the value of the more efficient cars is comparable to the older, less efficient models, then no economic loss will result. (In principle, economic gain could result, at least from the point of view of the auto industry.)

    Energy is not equal to money.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 17 Apr 2010 @ 3:44 PM

  236. Gilles problem is evident in the repeated use of phrases like “which is hard to imagine” and “I can hardly imagine how …”.

    Comment by flxible — 17 Apr 2010 @ 4:40 PM

  237. Ron R (223): You’ll notice that the numbers are going up, Up, UP. Scroll down and watch the earth’s resources going up in statistical smoke. Down farther and see forests and species disappearing. People can speculate about world population growth ending on its own in the future but it’s just that, speculation. The obvious trend is MORE.

    BPL: The world’s population growth rate in 1960, the year I was born, was 2.2% per year. It is now 1.1% per year. That’s an improvement.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 18 Apr 2010 @ 5:44 AM

  238. VS (225): Look at the 15-20 year long debate between ‘warmists’ and ‘deniers’ on where the ‘trend line calculations/estimation’ should start (i.e. are we in a ‘cooling’ or ‘warming’ trend at the moment?). This debate will never (ever) end because it is not conducted on the basis of formal results, but on the basis of ‘informed opinions’ (yes, phenomenological models too are ‘informed opinions’, until they are formally tested).

    BPL: The debate ended in 1935, when the 30 year standard for climate trends was adopted for reasons that had nothing to do with global warming.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 18 Apr 2010 @ 5:48 AM

  239. Hm. It looks like ‘Simpson’s Paradox’ explains the notion VS is promoting re cooling!
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/47/Simpson%27s_paradox_continuous.svg/220px-Simpson%27s_paradox_continuous.svg.png
    (illustrating a declining trend across eight data points, or two rising trends picking just the first or last four of them)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Apr 2010 @ 9:41 AM

  240. VS@225
    While I agree that statistics is not an enemy of physics. Rather, it is a tool to illustrate physical reality. But like any good tool, it has to be subordinated to that reality. What that means is that a statistician who wields the tools of his craft without understanding the physics will produce bullshit.

    Tamino, who understands both the physics and the statistics, showed this pretty convincingly by demonstrating that your conclusion of a unit root was not robust–as expected from the physics. If you are truly interested in contributing to the understanding of climate, I would suggest that you take some time off from pontificating about statistics and learn some of the physics. It’s not so bad, it only took me, with a PhD and 20 years experience, a couple of years to grasp most of it. Or you can continue to bullshit. Your choice.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 18 Apr 2010 @ 10:34 AM

  241. “Gilles, again an excluded middle: people can buy *more efficient* cars and use less energy. If the value of the more efficient cars is comparable to the older, less efficient models, then no economic loss will result. (In principle, economic gain could result, at least from the point of view of the auto industry.)”

    I totally agree, I didn’t say that no improvement of fossil fuel use was possible, I even said that the growth (per capita) of the last 30 years was entirely due to it since the energy use per capita has remained approximately constant.

    The point here is exactly what you mentioned yourself : with more efficient cars, what can prevent more people to buy more cars and cancel the efficiency gain by more users? we don’t miss candidates ! generally speaking, the curve of fossil fuels consumption has been more or less constantly growing (except during strong recessions but it has recovered rather rapidly after) , and it will probably limited only by their growing extraction cost. Why would this be changed with an improved efficiency ? I don’t see any reason why it would have grown with an efficiency X and not with an efficiency Y > X. The flaw in your reasoning is obvious : you reason with a constant amount of cars (or generally of produced goods). But there is no reason why an improved efficiency would not allow MORE people to use MORE goods with a constant fuel consumption. It has always been the case, and it will much likely be the case. Yes I say “in my opinion” , because I do not pretend being the only one knowing the Holy Truth. But it doesn’t mean that I’m wrong. If you think so, give a good argument.

    Comment by Gilles — 18 Apr 2010 @ 10:53 AM

  242. > with more efficient cars, what can prevent more people to buy more cars
    > and cancel the efficiency gain by more users?

    Paying actual costs including the externalized costs.
    Carbon tax. This is a generally effective approach, and
    so one greatly resisted by those who don’t want such control.

    Frankfurter (November 16, 1934) to William O. Douglas:

    “Turn your attention … to an instrument of control far more powerful–resourcefully and skillfully formulated devices of federal taxation, graduated according to size, as it were of the big corporations…. It’s awfully easy to write these nice laws for control. I think your lawyer-banker friends would write them for you.” He concluded, “tax ‘em, my boy, tax ‘em.”

    quoted in: The Rhetoric and Reality of the American Dream: Securities Legislation and the Accounting Profession in the 1930s Barbara D. Merino, Alan G. Mayper
    originally found at http://panopticon.csustan.edu/cpa99/html/merino
    Now paywalled by a publisher.

    Our recent financial market gyrations suggest he was quite correct in his advice.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Apr 2010 @ 12:15 PM

  243. “Of course they will. Automotive industry represents a fair part of a modern economy ”

    As did the production of the Hansom Cab Company.

    Or indeed, slavery.

    MASSIVE economic issue, slavery.

    Yet, after abandoning horse and carriage and slavery, economies have managed to reach new peaks of value.

    You’re repeating the same old shit.

    Money and energy are not the same.

    Using less energy doesn’t lead to an economic collapse.

    Do you have ANY example where that was the case?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 18 Apr 2010 @ 2:46 PM

  244. “I can not understand why so many people suffer from such a severe lack of basic reading comprehensions skills. ”

    That’s OK, just learn how to read properly, Georgi.

    “I can not imagine how anyone who has such would read my posts and think that I am somehow advocating the continued use of fossil fuels.”

    I don’t: I’ve told you off for going “there’s no way we can stop using fossil fuels” because that is fuel (pun intended) to asshats like Gilles who love to see increased fossil fuel use.

    I really can’t understand how someone can complain about the lack of thought of others by yourself when you display such inability to listen to your own codswallop.

    “The point I am making is that it is a delusion to think that you can convert to renewables,”

    Why? All you’ve said is “you’d use millions of km2 of land” when that wasn’t true, said “ah, but we’d have to rebuild”. Then complained that you need three times that anyway, then ignore the fact that we can reduce.

    Your point just seems to be repeated repetition (pun again intended) of the same cry “you can’t do it”. When you’ve been so very wrong on the basics, you refuse to think maybe you have other stuff wrong too.

    ” do it on time to make Peak Oil not an issue”

    ” and continue BAU with respect to everything else.”

    Can I call your mind back to your original statement:

    “I can not understand why so many people suffer from such a severe lack of basic reading comprehensions skills. ”

    What do you think “we can reduce our energy needs to 60% just being less wasteful” means “BAU”?

    Try reading.

    “It takes a truly deluded mind to look at the data and not reach the same conclusion.”

    You mean the data of “a few million square km” which turns out to be 1/16th of 1 million…?

    You failed to look at that data.

    Probably because you don’t like the conclusion.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 18 Apr 2010 @ 2:53 PM

  245. BPL #137, this is how Optimum Population Trust addresses that question.

    the global birth rate is falling, but world population is still increasing by about 77 million a year and will continue to increase for a long time. A population can grow faster than it did a few years before even if its birthrate is falling – this is partly due to the ‘compound interest’ effect of births – just as 5 per cent interest added to 00 produces the same result (50) as 4.878% on 25, so a lower birth rate can result in the same, even larger numbers, if the base population is still increasing.http://www.optimumpopulation.org/opt.faqs1.html

    But let’s say that population bottoms out at the 9 to 10 billion some assert will happen for the middle of the century, that’s still way more than the earth can sustain for long according to population scientists.

    According to Russell Hopfenberg “human population increases are a function of increased food availability.” http://panearth.org/WVPI/Papers/CarryingCapacity.pdf

    IOW, as long as we have the means to grow food, by taking yet more and more land from other species we will continue to grow. Where does that leave the rest of earth’s 99.999% of species? Out in the cold.

    How many people do we really need on this planet? Some species now number in the hundreds and some in the thousands. We are now closing in on 7 billion of us!. If we know that at some point we have to stop populating if we want to preserve this planet isn’t it better to do so while we still have something left worth saving or do we wait until the last minute, when it’s all gone? Why must we always do that?

    Peter Raven, former President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), in their work AAAS Atlas of Population & Environment, says “Where do we stand in our efforts to achieve a sustainable world? Clearly, the past half century has been a traumatic one, as the collective impact of human numbers, affluence (consumption per individual) and our choices of technology continue to exploit rapidly an increasing proportion of the world’s resources at an unsustainable rate. … During a remarkably short period of time, we have lost a quarter of the world’s topsoil and a fifth of its agricultural land, altered the composition of the atmosphere profoundly, and destroyed a major proportion of our forests and other natural habitats without replacing them. Worst of all, we have driven the rate of biological extinction, the permanent loss of species, up several hundred times beyond its historical levels, and are threatened with the loss of a majority of all species by the end of the 21st century.http://atlas.aaas.org/index.php?sub=foreword

    Comment by Ron R. — 18 Apr 2010 @ 5:07 PM

  246. Hank Roberts :”Paying actual costs including the externalized costs.
    Carbon tax. This is a generally effective approach, and
    so one greatly resisted by those who don’t want such control.

    You’re in a complete paradox. As I said, the most obvious way of reducing FF use is to reduce the standard of living (or the GDP). But you insist that it is not the only solution and that we could keep on growing while reducing FF. It means that you think that growing is a good thing. Nice. And now you want a growth but you want to limit the number of people having a car. A very strange situation indeed, in which more and more people would get richer .. but no one would use his money to but things other richer people can have ! that’s full economy-and sociology fiction.

    Carbon tax is only a toy for rich people thinking that they will save the world by giving money in penitence; for the vast majority of the world, it is a total incongruity.

    CFU :”Yet, after abandoning horse and carriage and slavery, economies have managed to reach new peaks of value.”

    Only by increasing a lot the energy consumption !! gosh, how can you be so blind ? so it’s perfectly contradictory to assume growth is good, and at the same time think that we will limit the access to which allows it. There will be always people much poorer than you : how can you expect forbidding them to access your way of life if they can , and how could you justified it ?

    remember : economic growth is just due to the fact that nobody sees any objection in living like people earning just 1% more than them, one year after.

    I’m afraid that your blindness comes from the fact that you seem to imagine that the world shares the concerns of american people, which is only the case for 5% of the population. 80 % just want to access the basic comfort, and I do not see how you can prevent them to do it if they can.

    Comment by Gilles — 18 Apr 2010 @ 5:44 PM

  247. Gilles, please don’t attribute your ideas _or_ their polar opposites to me.
    The era of growth is long gone; we’ve lost almost all the big animals and fish in the past fifty years! We’re in an extremely fast collapse right now. All we have is ‘money’.
    The notion that ‘money’ or GDP measures growth is nonsense; mostly it measures stripmining.

    http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/63fae3tq9780252008184.html
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZkwewR69w8
    http://forum-network.org/lecture/overfishing-and-collapse-coastal-ecosystems

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Apr 2010 @ 7:38 PM

  248. To add to Hank’s #247 comment, “A country could cut its forests and deplete its fisheries, and this would show only as a positive gain to GDP, despite the loss of capital assets. If the full economic value of ecosystems were taken into account in decision-making, their degradation could be significantly slowed down or even reversed. From the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment http://www.greenfacts.org/en/ecosystems/#3

    Comment by Ron R. — 18 Apr 2010 @ 10:34 PM

  249. #241–Gilles, if people were buying more efficient cars that cost more (presumably because fuel costs had risen), then there is no obvious reason that they would buy more cars than at the previous lower prices.

    Is it possible that they drive more miles, knowing that the cost per mile has decreased? Sure, but since people don’t usually drive just for the sake of driving, cost is only one factor–presumably their actual need to travel hasn’t changed.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 18 Apr 2010 @ 11:33 PM

  250. HK :”he notion that ‘money’ or GDP measures growth ”

    ??
    Growth (in my English at least) means “increase of a quantitative parameter”. If it is not GDP, what is it ? GDP doesn’t “measure” growth, it IS the growing quantity.
    Now if you think that growth is almost over (an opinion that I would readily share), then you’re saying that all IPCC are bogus (an opinion that I also would readily share). Strangely enough, IPCC economists simply ignore all consequences of resources depletion (including energy, but not only). For them, only the average temperature could have an effect on the world !

    Comment by Gilles — 19 Apr 2010 @ 12:44 AM

  251. “Gilles, if people were buying more efficient cars that cost more (presumably because fuel costs had risen), then there is no obvious reason that they would buy more cars than at the previous lower prices.”

    KMcKinney : are you aware that two thirds of people in the world don’t have a car AT ALL ? do you have a good reason for which they, and the 2 or 3 billions more people in the coming decades, would never buy one if they can ? especially if – as IPCC believes – their purchasing power is multiplied by 10 or so within 100 years ?

    Comment by Gilles — 19 Apr 2010 @ 12:48 AM

  252. “CFU :”Yet, after abandoning horse and carriage and slavery, economies have managed to reach new peaks of value.”

    Only by increasing a lot the energy consumption !!”

    Nope, the horse and cart were inefficient.

    Port Talbot Steelworks reduced their energy use to 1/5th.

    Their production increased but didn’t increase fivefold.

    Net reduction.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 19 Apr 2010 @ 3:00 AM

  253. “remember : economic growth is just due to the fact that nobody sees any objection in living like people earning just 1% more than them, one year after. ”

    Remember, capitalism results in those with the money wanting more and more of it.

    Think of the high and increasing disparity between the high earners in the US.

    This results in inefficiencies in the market.

    Same thing happened in the 1920 recession in the US: the poor became migrant and the rich cut back on what they spent, hoarding it.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 19 Apr 2010 @ 3:02 AM

  254. Gilles, you never answered my question :”Do you have ANY example where that was the case?”

    Come on, where did lack of energy cause a recession?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 19 Apr 2010 @ 3:11 AM

  255. “249
    Kevin McKinney says:
    18 April 2010 at 11:33 PM

    #241–Gilles, if people were buying more efficient cars that cost more (presumably because fuel costs had risen)”

    Also, given Gilles stance is that if you don’t spend more money on something like fossil fuels, you’re going into recession, wouldn’t this be how Gilles would get you OUT of a recession?

    He’s not listening to his own tripe.

    Why are we?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 19 Apr 2010 @ 3:33 AM

  256. “Once the last tree is cut and the last river poisoned, you will find you cannot eat your money.”
    (Traditional saying, referenced by writer Joyce McLean in the Globe and Mail, 1989.)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Apr 2010 @ 4:02 AM

  257. A vague, undefined concept such as “standard of living” is not a good starting point for anything more than an opinionated discussion. Is the ability to drive an overlarge car down the highway at NASCAR speeds part of one’s definition of “standard of living”? Is the ability to build, design and live in houses that take no notice of or advantage of locally available energy sources (light and wind ) part of the definition of “standard of living”. I grew up in an old farm house that relied on wood and coke for heat and hot water. Until I had to reveal this fact to my grammar school classmates, whose homes were all heated with oil or gas, I was not aware of any disadvantage in that situation. And, for a while, I had the advantage of being able to use the coke fired water heater as a retort for my early experiments in metallurgy. And when my parents found out, I discovered from them just how close I had come to obliterating myself. Lot of useful learning there… And isn’t it odd, that so many people take their few precious days of vacation each year to go back to nature to go camping, with wood fires and all the privations inherent in that past time. My point being that “standard of living” entails basically all of human activity, it is too massive a concept to honestly reduce to a three word sound bite,it is relative, and the human animal is fantastically adept at engineering solutions to problems. Getting wrapped around the axle defending a philosophy built on the squishy muck of over vague concepts is, IMHO, a waste.

    Comment by Steve P — 19 Apr 2010 @ 6:54 AM

  258. “do you have a good reason for which they, and the 2 or 3 billions more people in the coming decades, would never buy one if they can ?”

    Because they don’t need one?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 19 Apr 2010 @ 9:26 AM

  259. Gilles, #251–

    >are you aware that two thirds of people in the world don’t have a car AT ALL ?

    I assume that’s a rhetorical question?

    We were talking about cars, don’t blame me that they were the topic.

    >do you have a good reason for which they, and the 2 or 3 billions more people in the coming decades, would never buy one if they can ?

    Yes, I think I do: they are inefficient, expensive (particularly if your predictions come to pass) and unnecessary in principle for many of the purposes for which they are currently used. As energy becomes more and more a limiting factor (raising its relative price) we may be expected to find less wasteful, less expensive ways to accomplish the necessary tasks of life.

    I’ve been fortunate enough in the last several months to be able to cut my driving drastically. The impact on my life has been highly positive, in terms of safety, time and budget. Talk about a win/win/win! I’d like to see urban and transportation design develop to let many more people experience such a transition–and to allow the non-motorized 2/3s to avoid blind alleys down which we “more fortunate” ones have foolishly allowed ourselves to be stampeded.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 19 Apr 2010 @ 10:20 AM

  260. An interesting coincidence, violating the Bell inequality in the generation of random numbers:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100414134542.htm

    I thought that it was too good not to pass on. I make no claim about its ultimate provenance or relevance to anything. Just a coincidence.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 19 Apr 2010 @ 11:21 AM

  261. “>do you have a good reason for which they, and the 2 or 3 billions more people in the coming decades, would never buy one if they can ?

    Yes, I think I do: they are inefficient, expensive (particularly if your predictions come to pass)”

    If my predictions come to pass, obviously the number of cars will be limited by the availability of FF. Not by altruism and to save the mankind, but more prosaically by the usual selection criterion, unfortunately : rich people can afford them, poor people can’t. So I agree with “expensive” , but not with “inefficient” (if it were due to their “inefficiency”, it would be the rich people who would take other, more “efficient”, means of transportation !). But in that case, there is nothing particular to do to limit the amount of fossil fuels : the problem will be more one of social justice, to share as fairly as possible (if this means something in the current world) , the limited amount that the nature leave us to consume. Which I advocate of course.

    Comment by Gilles — 19 Apr 2010 @ 11:52 AM

  262. CFU, 18 April 2010 at 2:46 PM, plus other reiterations says:

    [using offensive language that IMHO should cause the filter to automatically reject the comment without further ado (MODERATOR PLEASE TAKE NOTE) ]

    “Using less energy doesn’t lead to an economic collapse.
    Do you have ANY example where that was the case?”

    Easily granted that using a bit less energy will not lead to an economic collapse, since efficiency gains are there for the taking. But your question obviously fails to get at the points that matter.

    No one has an example (yet) of what will happen after we use up the heritage of millions of years of fossil solar energy in a few centuries, perforce reach peak production, and face a steady decline to effectively zero use of fossil energy. The current world technological civilization is unique in this respect. We (some of us) are trying to increase each year the use of truly renewable energy. By definition, after a time all that we use will be renewable.

    We do have examples of previous civilizations that lived on renewable energy, with enough energy left over after basic needs to create wonderful cultures. None of them supported many billions of people, much less many billions of people as rich as the top billion is today. We don’t know how to do that with renewable energy. Anything high-tech, including current windmills, various solar technologies, not to mention the internet, depends utterly on not falling below a threshold level of specialization and interdependence. Where is the threshold? I don’t know, and you don’t either.

    It might turn out, for example, that it is possible to stay above that threshold indefinitely with a population of one billion. You still have to contemplate how to get there, and there are no good ways to get to one billion fast. Even if you hope to stay above the threshold with ~7 billion, you still have to make windmills and solar power collectors WITHOUT using fossils, except a bit at the beginning. We are hardly even trying that part yet.

    Comment by Ric Merritt — 19 Apr 2010 @ 12:06 PM

  263. “Easily granted that using a bit less energy will not lead to an economic collapse, since efficiency gains are there for the taking. ”

    Didn’t answer the question.

    Epic. Fail.

    Please try again.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 19 Apr 2010 @ 12:31 PM

  264. “If my predictions come to pass”

    But basing the fate of humanity’s survival assuming eternally you’re right.

    Well dozens have tried to show where you’re wrong.

    But you’re mind is closed.

    Keep dreaming, kid.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 19 Apr 2010 @ 12:34 PM

  265. #183 (Rod B) … seems long ago by now … in any case, re your surprise/doubt that cap and trade was applied to phase out lead from gasoline and ozone depleting chems. This was true in the U.S., not globally. See: http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/analysis/stavins/?tag=leaded-gasoline
    and for more detailed discussion re how the mechanism works: http://www.hks.harvard.edu/fs/rstavins/Papers/Handbook_Chapter_on_MBI.pdf

    Comment by Kevin — 19 Apr 2010 @ 12:41 PM

  266. SM, if you would take the time to read the links that you post, you’d realize you’re posting stuff unrelated to climate science. You must be copying from a wacko who’s disproving climatology using his own personal physics and mathematics, if it claims it’s relevant to climate science. That ain’t. It says:

    “Bell tests performed in recent decades on entangled systems have shown such inequality violation, and thus confirmed the nonlocality of quantum mechanics.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Apr 2010 @ 2:58 PM

  267. CFU :”Well dozens have tried to show where you’re wrong.

    But you’re mind is closed.”

    I’d like to know which kind of obviously “wrong” prediction I am supposed to do. Would you bet on anything that you think I’m predicting and won’t happen ?

    Comment by Gilles — 19 Apr 2010 @ 3:05 PM

  268. On automotive efficiency: to clarify, I’m talking about economic and energy efficiency for a given transportation system–not “efficiency” (taken to = convenience?) for a given individual.

    For the latter, cars may be efficient–for the former, not so much, though they offer a lot of opportunities for profit.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 19 Apr 2010 @ 4:24 PM

  269. 266, Hank Roberts: SM, if you would take the time to read the links that you post, you’d realize you’re posting stuff unrelated to climate science.

    I did realize that we’d gone far afield, from “empirical random variation” to nuclear decay to Bell’s Theorem, but I did not introduce Bell’s theorem. I was amused to read today the apparent experimental demonstration of a violation of Bell’s theorem just the day after saying that I thought it had hidden assumptions, and so shortly after I said I was going to stop posting here.

    By now you all know my schtick:

    there’s more random variability than warmers want to admit, hence less reliability in their predictions than they want to admit;

    there is lots of energy to be harvested in the upcoming decades, so we can wean ourselves off fossil fuels;

    there are lots of opportunities for reforestation and biofuels with salt-tolerant species and other species;

    there are important gaps/unknowns in climate science;

    there is plenty of technology for desalination of water, and plenty of power to do it with;

    there is reason to hope that CC&S might work;

    AND,

    there is lots of evidence that AGW might be occuring just as warmers believe, hence reason to invest in mitigation and research.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 19 Apr 2010 @ 4:46 PM

  270. SM, Bell’s inequality is violated in, and demonstrates, quantum entanglement.
    Know the biggest thing yet shown to exhibit that effect?
    Hint, smaller than a planet. Relation to climatology?
    get out the butterfly net. (Papilio tempestae)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Apr 2010 @ 5:27 PM

  271. SM, the so-called “violation” of Bell’s inequality is in fact saying that the process is completely random–the exact opposite of what you were claiming. It says there are NO hidden variables. That is what makes the code unbreakable. If there were hidden variables, you could break it.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 19 Apr 2010 @ 8:20 PM

  272. An interesting paper developing the right (for me of course) ideas about rebound effects, quoted by TheOilDrum

    http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/documents/sewp185 (pdf, 238 Ko)

    Comment by Gilles — 20 Apr 2010 @ 12:24 AM

  273. “I’d like to know which kind of obviously “wrong” prediction I am supposed to do.”

    Yup, you aren’t even listening to your own crap.

    “Reducing fossil fuels will result in recession”.

    It’s wrong.

    You don’t even admit you’re saying it, THAT is how blind you are.

    Comment by Comletely Fed Up — 20 Apr 2010 @ 2:50 AM

  274. Kevin (265), that’s a bit misleading. Cap and trade (or similar) was used to mitigate the changeover required by the legislation which outlawed the use of lead in gasoline and the manufacture, use, or even storing R12. The law gets credit for the demise. Stretching C&T’s worth (and it was helpful) in these cases to try to show how great it will be ala AGW is not credible.

    Comment by Rod B — 20 Apr 2010 @ 10:08 AM

  275. CFU#273 : please quote me correctly, I never stated that as a quantitative prediction at a 1% accuracy. I said first that the amount of improvement is limited and can be only made at a slow rate, and second that any improvement will be soon used to increase the wealth with a given amount of fossil fuels. So they will not result in a decrease of FF use worldwide, but rather to an increase of the amount of goods they produce, and even of their global production rate (since all improvements in the technique tend to make them more accessible, and cheaper).
    It’s not enough to say “it’s wrong”. If you don’t see the correlation between receding FF consumption and economic recessions, I suggest you to wear new glasses.

    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/images/fig-2.jpg

    and I’m still waiting for any measured correlation between increase of average temperature on the globe and any economic recession !!! strange “scientific” attitude : what is obviously measured is wrong, and what is not measured is true !

    Comment by Gilles — 20 Apr 2010 @ 10:50 AM

  276. “CFU#273 : please quote me correctly, I never stated that as a quantitative prediction at a 1% accuracy.”

    Strawman.

    Never said you gave any accuracy.

    I said you gave nothing showing it was true AT ALL.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 20 Apr 2010 @ 11:29 AM

  277. “If you don’t see the correlation between receding FF consumption and economic recessions, I suggest you to wear new glasses.

    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/images/fig-2.jpg

    Correlation != Causation.

    What is the causal link? If it’s “energy”, then that doesn’t have to be fossil fuel.

    That there is no causal link can be found by considering how Port Talbot Steelworks reduced energy use AND made more money.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 20 Apr 2010 @ 11:31 AM

  278. I am no longer engaging with the conveniently anonymous CFU, whose postings are increasingly offensive, recalcitrant, deliberately evasive, and eye-rollingly numerous. These issues are so hard that lack of humility and thoughtfulness tends to make contributions worse than useless.

    A troll’s a troll, no matter what policy or opinion direction they approach from. If I were the moderator, I would lower the boom.

    Comment by Ric Merritt — 20 Apr 2010 @ 11:45 AM

  279. > Gilles
    > If you don’t see the correlation between receding FF consumption
    > and economic recessions, I suggest you to wear new glasses.

    You pick fossil fuel use and recession, but you ignore a war or two, the destruction of oil fields, the collapse of the USSR, the collapse of the codfish stocks, and much else.

    You can always find correlations between any two things.
    Eyeballing pictures of charts is ….

    Oh, why bother.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Apr 2010 @ 11:58 AM

  280. You never did, Riccy.

    PS would it be OK then if I stated that Gilles needed investigation into fraudulent work on behalf of paid fossil fuel lobbyists?

    This doesn’t seem to get your hackles up when such accusations are made to, for example, 17 IPCC scientists, by Inholfe.

    So you should be fine with that, hmm?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 20 Apr 2010 @ 12:12 PM

  281. PS One post only, which was “HE’S OFFENSIVE TO ME!!! SHUT HIM UP!!!” isn’t really “conversing. So how you can “continue” is hard to fathom.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 20 Apr 2010 @ 12:15 PM

  282. From the paper Gilles points to:

    > d) sustainability is incompatible with continued economic growth
    > in rich countries; and
    > e) a zero-growth economy is incompatible with a debt-based monetary
    > system.

    No problem with these. Ecologists have been pointing out for a very long time that economics without biological constraints is imaginary, and that contractual debts that require stripmining ecologies are stupid.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Apr 2010 @ 1:23 PM

  283. Good news, if Peter Ward is proved right; multicellular life is waiting to spread as new niches are opened up:
    http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7007/8/31/abstract

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Apr 2010 @ 1:42 PM

  284. Hank,

    “a) zero-growth economy is incompatible with a debt-based monetary system.”

    This is typical crank stuff. Macroeconomics is somewhat counter-intuitive but people seem to feel they don’t need to get aquainted with the discipline before regaling us with their populist theories.

    Comment by Anonymous Coward — 20 Apr 2010 @ 2:54 PM

  285. AC, say rather that you can’t get growth of an economic system faster than you can replenish the natural stocks on which it’s based without stripmining the resource.

    I recall the suggestion a few decades back that the whaling industry would do better by liquidating all remaining whales, selling their fleet for scrap, and putting the money into financial instruments that promised a much higher rate of return.

    There are people who make contracts based on paying rates of interest far beyond what they can support, and expect to make the money by taking unsustainable resources and turning them into cash.

    Perhaps you could publish something over here, with pointers to how it will be done sustainably?

    http://realclimateeconomics.org/ (not connected to RC, but relevant)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Apr 2010 @ 3:21 PM

  286. Worth a look:
    http://realclimateeconomics.org/briefs/Howarth_Discounting.pdf

    —-excerpt follows (first page; click link for the rest) —-

    Discounting, Uncertainty, and Climate Change
    Richard B. Howarth Dartmouth College
    April 2009

    • Climate change policy is often evaluated by discounting the future benefits of emissions abatement at a high (6%) discount rate. This suggests that greenhouse gas emissions should continue to grow and that the welfare of future generations should receive comparatively little weight.
    • Economic theory supports the use of low (≤ 1%) discount rates in the evaluation of precautionary policies based on decision-makers’ aversion to risk and uncertainty.
    • The use of a low discount rate supports aggressive steps to stabilize global climate and also upholds the principles of intergenerational fairness.
    Some Fundamentals

    In the theory of cost-benefit analysis, the discount rate represents the return on investment required to justify the expenditure of scarce social resources. This in turn reflects decision-makers’ impatience or time preference – the degree to which they prefer to receive benefits in the present rather than the future.

    In the economics of climate change, one key argument is that the future benefits provided by greenhouse gas emissions abatement should be discounted at a rate equal to the average return on a typical private-sector investment (Manne, 1999). The rationale is that resources should be allocated to uses that provide the greatest benefits to society. Historical data suggest that typical private-sector investments yield real (inflation-corrected) returns of 6% per year (Nordhaus 1994). Yet the use of a 6% discount rate has strong consequences in the evaluation of climate change policy regimes. It implies that:

    1. No more than $0.003X should be spent today to avoid environmental impacts that would impose $X of damages one century in the future.
    2. Greenhouse gas emission should be allowed to grow at a robust rate.

    In one example of this approach, Nordhaus and Boyer (2000) find that carbon dioxide emissions would rise by 64% between 2005 and 2105 given optimal climate change policies. Under business-as-usual, emissions would rise by 85%. The inference is that it is better for society to bear the long-term costs of climate change than the short-run costs of climate stabilization. This conclusion contradicts the primary goal of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change ….

    —-end excerpt—–

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Apr 2010 @ 3:25 PM

  287. Hank,
    Like I said, macroeconomics is somewhat counterintuitive. A monetary system isn’t like a household or a corporation. It doesn’t have revenues or expenses. It has no bearing on people’s net indebtedness or on discount rates. And it’s utterly irrelevant to sustainability.

    Comment by Anonymous Coward — 20 Apr 2010 @ 3:51 PM

  288. Hm, who should I listen to, an anonymous guy on a blog, or the economists at realclimateeconomics?

    I’ll think it over and get back to you.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Apr 2010 @ 4:29 PM

  289. Maybe here:
    http://ase.tufts.edu/gdae/Pubs/wp/08-02EcologMacroEconJuly08.pdf
    GDAE Working Paper No. 08-02 Ecological Macroeconomics
    Abstract
    … Current macroeconomic theory is heavily oriented towards an assumption of continuous, exponential growth in GDP. The historical record shows GDP growth is strongly correlated with a parallel record of increasing fossil energy use and CO2 emissions. A path of reduced carbon emissions would require major modifications in economic growth patterns. ….
    A reclassification of macroeconomic aggregates is proposed to distinguish between those categories of goods and services that can expand over time, and those that must be limited to reduce carbon emissions. This reformulation makes it clear that there are many possibilities for environmentally beneficial economic expansion. New forms of Keynesian policy oriented towards ecological sustainability, provision of basic social needs such as education and health care, and distributional equity can provide a basis for a rapid reduction in carbon emissions while promoting investment in human and natural capital.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Apr 2010 @ 4:33 PM

  290. Also interesting:

    [BOOK] The Economics of the Yasuni Initiative: Climate Change as If Thermodynamics Mattered

    JH Vogel – 2010 – books.google.com
    … thermodynamics brings into focus the legitimacy of a ‘carbon debt’ that starts to tick with the first report of the IPCC in 1990 … Graciela Chichilnisky has worked extensively in the Kyoto Protocol
    process, creating and designing the carbon market that became international law in 2005 …

    http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=fviQUtyNJQIC&oi=fnd&pg=PR11&dq=macroeconomics+%22climate+change%22&ots=RT3ugatXSS#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Apr 2010 @ 4:53 PM

  291. CFU:”That there is no causal link can be found by considering how Port Talbot Steelworks reduced energy use AND made more money.”
    You persistently miss the point, but I’m getting tired to repeat it. Of course the energy intensity has constantly improved, just because it would be silly to give up a way of producing goods with less energy and adopt another one that needs more energy. So on average things can only improve. But what you miss is that this improvement results on average of an INCREASED consumption just because it would also be silly not to seize the possibility of producing still more goods with the same energy, and in fact with MORE energy, because all processes have improved, including energy production. If you don’t understand that, you don’t understand the story of the industrial civilization and the origin of growth. And if you don’t understand the origin of growth, you can’t understand why it comes to its end : the exhaustion of cheap energy and the eventual decrease of its efficiency; overwhelming the progress we can make in its use.

    Sorry, I’m tired to say it again and again. Wait only for a few years and you’ll understand.

    Comment by Gilles — 20 Apr 2010 @ 6:02 PM

  292. “You persistently miss the point, but I’m getting tired to repeat it.”

    It would require you to make one to be able to repeat it.

    “Of course the energy intensity has constantly improved, just because it would be silly to give up a way of producing goods with less energy and adopt another one that needs more energy.”

    You’ve never said that before. Again, not repeating. You’ve always said that non-fossil fuels couldn’t be used and that reducing use meant we’d produce more and undo any reduction.

    “But what you miss is that this improvement results on average of an INCREASED consumption ”

    See.

    This is bollocks.

    “just because it would also be silly not to seize the possibility of producing still more goods”

    The McDonalds “super size me” attitude. No wonder there’s a landfill problem.

    And it would be FAR MORE SILLY to reduce energy use and then throw it all away by producing more stuff “just because we can”.

    “If you don’t understand that, you don’t understand the story of the industrial civilization and the origin of growth.”

    Absolultely not true. You’re wrong in what you want others to understand. Therefore not understanding that falsity is no hindrance to understanding industrial civilisation.

    “And if you don’t understand the origin of growth, you can’t understand why it comes to its end :”

    So if we have two scenarios:

    A) AGW mitigation, “recession” as you (falsely) assert
    B) No AGW mitigation “recession” as you assert

    why not go with scenario A, since we’ve never tried widespread solar/wind power in an industrial scenario.

    Nah, you’re blinkered.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 21 Apr 2010 @ 2:48 AM

  293. CFU :”And it would be FAR MORE SILLY to reduce energy use and then throw it all away by producing more stuff “just because we can”.

    Oh, then the mankind has been silly for centuries ! what else did we do ?
    you just seem to think that most people in the world live like american, wasting a lot of energy and eating too much. You just forget that “producing more stuff”, for the vast majority of the world, is only insuring the basic needs , and for many of them, not starving to death. China growth has allowed hundreds of millions of people to escape absolute poverty. Do you think there aren’t many people left in this state now?

    “why not go with scenario A, since we’ve never tried widespread solar/wind power in an industrial scenario.”

    wrong. Denmark, Germany, Spain have settled many windmills. Now they reach between 10 and 20 % of their electricity produced by wind, it is becoming difficult to increase further this ratio because of intermittence. On the total, much less than 10 % of their energy is produced by wind, their carbon footprint is still among the highest in Europe, thermal plants are still unavoidable to fill the gaps, nothing has changed of course for metallurgy, carbochemistry, agriculture, transportations, their (big) cars are still gas-powered, and of course they were hit like the others (and rather worse) by the spike of oil prices and the economic recession. And naturally they couldn’t do the slightest thing to prevent asian countries to use the coal and the oil they could have spared (how and why would they ?). Open your eyes and look at the real world…

    Comment by Gilles — 21 Apr 2010 @ 11:28 AM

  294. Gilles, #293–”it is becoming difficult to increase further this ratio because of intermittence.”

    And yet all these misguided nations–Denmark, Germany and Spain–continue to add wind capacity.

    Odd, that.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 21 Apr 2010 @ 12:09 PM

  295. “Oh, then the mankind has been silly for centuries ! ”

    No, they weren’t trying to reduce energy use.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 21 Apr 2010 @ 12:25 PM

  296. CFU :”Oh, then the mankind has been silly for centuries ! ”

    No, they weren’t trying to reduce energy use.”

    Of course they were, and they have !

    you’re confusing “energy intensity” and “energy consumption”; what I say you is that the only thing you’re doing when you conserve energy is to improve energy intensity (the amount of energy you use for a given service), i.e. an intensive quantity, but there is nothing that controls the extensive quantity of the amount of services , and so the total amount of energy – just to begin with the number of people on the Earth ! what the mankind has ALWAYS done, is to increase the efficiency of energy use (for a given service) and use it to increase the amount of services – and it has had even the effect of increasing the amount of accessible resources.
    The “trick” of economists is to assume a given level of growth, independant of energy efficiency, and so to multiply the energy intensity by a FIXED amount of services, to conclude that diminishing the energy intensity will diminish the total amount of used energy : this is fully wrong, and has never occured at the global scale.

    Comment by Gilles — 22 Apr 2010 @ 12:55 AM

  297. “And yet all these misguided nations–Denmark, Germany and Spain–continue to add wind capacity.”
    Less and less : Denmark’s wind capacity has increased only by 10 % in 6 years. They are clearly close to their asymptote . The others have some margin for progression, but will likely be limited around the same amount (20 % of produced electricity, less than 10 % of total power) for the same intermittence reasons;

    Comment by Gilles — 22 Apr 2010 @ 12:59 AM

  298. In the UK mister is often used instead of professor of doctor:)

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 22 Apr 2010 @ 1:18 AM

  299. “Less and less : Denmark’s wind capacity has increased only by 10 % in 6 years.”

    And you forget your own message:

    #293–”it is becoming difficult to increase further this ratio because of intermittence.”

    Oopsie-doopsie.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 22 Apr 2010 @ 1:06 PM

  300. “Of course they were, and they have !”

    Can you make up your mind.

    First it’s “they’re using more energy” then it’s “they’re using less energy”.

    When you’re telling a lie, it’s usually a good idea to keep to the same story.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 22 Apr 2010 @ 1:07 PM

  301. Gilles need to pay attention to leading edge technologies that address his “intermittence reasons”, some folks do more than opine about problems, they find solutions

    Comment by flxible — 22 Apr 2010 @ 2:13 PM

  302. Gilles also needs to pay attention to updates:

    “Offshore wind turbines with a combined capacity of 577 MW were installed in Europe in 2009 and Denmark accounted for 230 MW of the expansion, the Danish Wind Industry Association said today.

    Denmark-based wind-turbine maker Siemens Wind Power A/S and Vestas Wind Systems A/S accounted for a total 89.5% of the newly installed capacity in Europe.

    At the end of 2009, Denmark had installed a total 305 offshore wind turbines, capturing the first place in Europe, followed by the UK with 287 turbines.”

    http://www.windpower.org/en/news/news.html#549

    I found support for Gilles’ contention that the growth of Danish wind power had slowed in the years previous–however, none of the stories I found attributed the slowing to grid management issues resulting from intermittence. Rather, the issues were basically political–some in the technical sense, as there was apparently a large-scale reorganization of jurisdictions responsible for regulating new projects.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 22 Apr 2010 @ 3:28 PM

  303. Interesting, since one does hear these types of criticisms of the Danish experience:

    http://www.cphpost.dk/business/119-business/48553-oil-industry-behind-critical-wind-energy-report.html

    As a Canadian living in the US, it reminds me of the anti-health care activism/hysteria which so misrepresented Canadian healthcare.

    As far as I can tell, the Danish grid system, which is closely interconnected with Scandinavian systems, works pretty well, using imported power when the wind component is low. Some have alleged that they are forced to “sell low and buy high,” but the information I found doesn’t really support that.

    There are monthly market reports available from the Danish energy marketer Energinet.Dk here:

    http://www.energinet.dk/en/menu/Market/Electricity+market/Market+reports/Market+reports.htm

    It’s amusing to note that since the beginning of the year, Denmark has been in a mostly net-export situation, particularly with Sweden–many of whose nuclear reactors have been down, apparently–and Norway, which, like Sweden, has seen low levels in hydopower reservoirs because the cold temperatures this winter haven’t allowed much snowmelt yet.

    So the “unreliable” wind power has been helping out “reliable” nuclear & hydro. Short-term situation, so it isn’t necessarily all that representative. But it’s still funny.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 22 Apr 2010 @ 3:57 PM

  304. ‘foraminfera, single-celled shelly protozoa living at the sea floor’; sorry to be nitpicky – but that’s foraminifera, not foraminfera. And lots of foraminifera live floating in or just below the surface waters of the oceans (planktonic foraminifera), and not on the sea floor (benthic foraminifera).
    At the Paleocene/Eocene Thermal the bottom dwellers suffered serious extinction (not sure why – some combination on warming, ocean acidification, ocean deoxygenation), whereas the surface floaters (planktonics) show migration of low latitude forms to higher latitudes, as well as rapid evolutionary turnover 9evolution of short-lived species).

    Comment by Ellen Thomas — 22 Apr 2010 @ 8:30 PM

  305. “Can you make up your mind.

    First it’s “they’re using more energy” then it’s “they’re using less energy”.”

    They are using LESS ENERGY for a given good or service and MORE ENERGY in total. Can’t you really understand that ?

    and all efforts to conserve energy improve only the first term, but are silent on the second. Can’t you also understand that ?

    Comment by Gilles — 23 Apr 2010 @ 12:38 AM

  306. “Gilles need to pay attention to leading edge technologies that address his “intermittence reasons”, some folks do more than opine about problems, they find solutions”

    Tell me where and when this “solution” has been applied at a country scale, please. No one advocates serioulsy the use of batteries to regulate a windmill network. The only possible way is to use hydroelectric storage but it encounters basically the same limitation as the hydropower.

    Comment by Gilles — 23 Apr 2010 @ 12:42 AM

  307. “As far as I can tell, the Danish grid system, which is closely interconnected with Scandinavian systems, works pretty well, using imported power when the wind component is low.”
    So in this case the limit applies to the percentage of wind electricity on the global interconnected grid. IF the swedish people had as many windmills as danish ones, they wouldn’t buy them the extra electricity because they would have the same problem. I didn’t say wind energy is useless. I said it’s limited around 20 % of the global electricity consumption.

    Comment by Gilles — 23 Apr 2010 @ 12:45 AM

  308. VS, nice to see you here.

    Admittedly I’m still very confused as to what VS is trying to get across. If it is merely that proper statistical tools should be used in climate science, he’ll find overwhelming agreement I’m sure (at least on the principle).

    Here’re some sources of my confusion:

    “(…) global temperature contains a stochastic rather than deterministic trend, and is statistically speaking, a random walk.”

    He later clarified:

    “I agree with you that temperatures are not ‘in essence’ a random walk, just like many (if not all) economic variables observed as random walks are in fact not random walks.”

    And later still:

    “I’m not ‘disproving’ AGWH here.
    I’m not claiming that temperatures are a random walk.
    I’m not ‘denying’ the laws of physics.”

    Though then he comes up with a stochastic trend specification in which the chances of the temp going up or down are approximately equal (despite a positive climate forcing). Because the boundaries of this stochastic trend estimate are so wide (as to essentially be an ‘anything goes’ model, even though it’s been ‘formally’ specified), it can not (yet) be rejected.

    On the meaning of a unit root, he said

    “a deterministic trend is inconsistent with a unit root”

    And then:

    “it can contain a drift parameter, which indeed predicts a ‘deterministic’ rise in a certain period”

    It must be due to my admitted statistical naivety, but I can make neither head nor tail of it. Most people though seem to interpret it as meaning that the temps vary randomly within certain bounds, and that there is no statistical evidence within the instrumental temp record that the temp is forced up (or down). VS has not countered these numerous claims, leading me to think that he agrees.

    Based on physical considerations (e.g. conservation of energy) I disagree. For much the same reason as I would disagree with someone who would argue that my body weight just changes stochastically without being governed by my personal energy balance (food intake and energy expenditure).

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 23 Apr 2010 @ 7:38 AM

  309. <Tell me where and when this “solution” has been applied at a country scale, please.
    Nowhere–yet. It's "emerging," remember?

    <No one advocates seriously the use of batteries to regulate a windmill network.
    Demonstrably untrue. I'd say $53 million is pretty serious, wouldn't you?

    http://earth2tech.com/2009/05/21/flow-batteries-enervault-quietly-building-energy-storage-for-the-grid/

    Also, flywheel storage for frequency regulation is now in commercial production and operation:

    http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=123367&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1416358&highlight=
    http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=123367&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1401908&highlight
    http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=123367&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1381929&highlight=

    (Note that the California unit is intended to further California's plan to achieve 33% renewable energy by 2020.)

    <The only possible way is to use hydroelectric storage but it encounters basically the same limitation as the hydropower.
    Not really. There are lots of possibilities which may yet become quite practical–one, for example, would be to use the power to dissociate water for hydrogen. (Problems include storage of the hydrogen and conversion efficiency, but these may turn out to be soluble.)

    <[Wind energy is] limited around 20 % of the global electricity consumption.
    That's a current rule of thumb, not a law of physics. It's not clear that it will remain true over larger scales–for example, would wind in Northern Sweden be subject to the same weather systems as Denmark–or with increasing capability to regulate the grid.

    For clarity, I'm not saying that wind is going to be a "silver bullet" for the energy challenge. But neither do I think that the excessive negativism exhibited by many denialist bloggers is warranted.

    If we were to achieve that 20% figure on a global basis, I'd think that quite a wonderful and helpful achievement. It would represent a big reduction in global carbon intensity, and would make the remainder of the problem seem quite a bit more manageable. And I'm crazy enough to think that it actually might happen.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Apr 2010 @ 7:42 AM

  310. “So in this case the limit applies to the percentage of wind electricity on the global interconnected grid.”

    Yes, there’s a limit: a little over 100%

    You missed that Denmark is a net exporter because nuclear wasn’t able to be reliable enough.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 23 Apr 2010 @ 7:58 AM

  311. Gilles, stop reading what you want to read.

    The industrial revolution wasn’t trying to reduce total energy use, whereas we are now, as we know that this waste is detrimental and that refusing to be less wasteful means we have to have bigger cuts in fossil fuel use sooner than otherwise.

    Therefore the “they” you refer to were not trying to reduce energy use.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 23 Apr 2010 @ 8:00 AM

  312. “Tell me where and when this “solution” has been applied at a country scale, please.”

    Tell me how this proves it cannot be done, please.

    Oh, no you don’t do proofs, do you. You just say “if you look at the real world” as if you’re the only person who can see it.

    cf Admiral Nelson and “I see no ships”.

    I also notice that you still haven’t said what industrial need there is for fossil fuels that renewables cannot mange to replace.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 23 Apr 2010 @ 8:03 AM

  313. “It must be due to my admitted statistical naivety, but I can make neither head nor tail of it. Most people though seem to interpret it as meaning that the temps vary randomly within certain bounds, and that there is no statistical evidence within the instrumental temp record that the temp is forced up (or down). VS has not countered these numerous claims, leading me to think that he agrees.”

    Bart,

    This is a nonsensical statement. You could start by defining ‘vary randomly’. Are you referring to the DGP or the underlying mechanism?

    I have clarified this in the thread.

    You authored three blog entries on the topic already, without consulting any econometrics/statistics textbook or the peer-reviewed literature.

    Have you noticed that David Stern’s blog is called ‘Stochastic trend’? That’s precisely what we’ve been discussing.

    Best, VS

    Comment by VS — 23 Apr 2010 @ 3:31 PM

  314. CFU :”The industrial revolution wasn’t trying to reduce total energy use, whereas we are now,”

    Sorry, but no. We aren’t. We try only to improve the efficiency of energy use, but we have no way to control it’s total use. We have no way of preventing chinese and indian people to use more and more fossil fuels – and no right to do it anyway. And industrial civilization has ALWAYS tried to improve energy efficiency , starting with Watt engine compared to Newcomen one.

    ““Tell me where and when this “solution” has been applied at a country scale, please.”

    Tell me how this proves it cannot be done, please.”

    I said : nobody advocates to regulate a windmill grid with batteries. Is it right, or wrong ?

    For industrial needs, I thought I had answered. May be my post disappeared somewhere. Apart from hydropower, we don’t know how to regulate a grid without fossil fuels. Add to this : transportation, metallurgy, heating, carbochemistry (plastics, glues, paintings , insulators, ), cement, glass, paper, … all these cheap commodities are made with fossil fuels, and are necessary for all they so-called “substitutes”.

    Comment by Gilles — 23 Apr 2010 @ 5:47 PM

  315. ““So in this case the limit applies to the percentage of wind electricity on the global interconnected grid.”

    Yes, there’s a limit: a little over 100%

    You missed that Denmark is a net exporter because nuclear wasn’t able to be reliable enough.”

    You obviously don’t understand the problem of intermittence. If everybody around Denmark had the same ratio of wind power, to whom would it sell its excess power ?

    Comment by Gilles — 23 Apr 2010 @ 5:50 PM

  316. VS:

    You’ve been smacked down by Tamino about your unit root fetish. Twice. I, and many others, trust his statistical bona fides (and published studies on climate) more than your blog analysis.

    Bart has been more accommodating, but the story remains the same – you’ve not presented anything convincing in your numerous confused responses to educated lurkers. Your answer above to Bart also doesn’t advance your case and smacks of jejune behavior to the valid criticisms hitherto.

    How about this – write your analysis up and send it to Nature, Science or PNAS. I’m sure even McIntyre would be interested in your ideas and may help you with writing. Such an idea that temperature is a “random walk” will surely sail through the peer review process and should not be restricted to some regional econometrics journal with an impact factor of 0.001.

    So what’s stopping you?

    Comment by Former Skeptic — 24 Apr 2010 @ 1:07 AM

  317. Have you noticed that David Stern’s blog is called ‘Stochastic trend’? That’s precisely what we’ve been discussing.

    Quoting David Stern, who VS knows does not agree with him…

    the reason the series looks like it has a stochastic trend in this time frame is because of the anthropogenic forcing which certainly looks like it has a stochastic trend over this time frame.

    Over this time frame (VS’s favorite one, i.e. the 1880-present instrumental record). As opposed to, say, other time frames, such as recent decades where physics suggests that increased CO2 concentrations combined with flat TSI, aerosol reductions due to clean air legislation in Europe and the US, etc have led to CO2 forcing dominating increased net forcing. Certainly as in “not every time frame”. Certainly not as in “supports the claim that increased CO2 has a very minimal effect on climate”, which VS believes.

    Stern also points out on his blog that not taking into account ocean heat, as VS and his heroes Michael Beenstock and Yaniv Reingewertz fail to do, is unreasonable.

    Another Stern quote:

    If you try to estimate the trend in atmospheric temperature while ignoring this massive storage of heat in the ocean you may fall victim to the classic econometric problem “omitted variables bias”. When you estimate a regression model omitting some important variables that are correlated with those that you include in the regression your estimates of the effects of the included variables will be biased.

    I wrote two papers on this topic. In the papers, I showed that taking into account the build up of heat in the ocean resulted in much higher estimates of the sensitivity of global temperatures to increases in greenhouse gases than when you just use atmospheric temperature to produce an estimate. Also, that just looking at the atmosphere you will estimate that temperature responds very fast to increases in greenhouse gases and that after just a few years the adjustment to a new equilibrium temperature is complete. These are symptoms of omitted variables bias.

    Knowing this, VS, are you truly a victim of the ommitted variables bias, or is it a self-inflicted wound?

    Stern’s work in which he develops a three-layer model (two ocean, one atmosphere) yields a sensitivity of about 3.5K per doubling of CO2, a bit higher than (say) NASA GISS’s current model output which, if I understand correctly, yields a sensitivity per doubling of CO2 of a bit less than 3C.

    VS should be a bit wary of quoting Stern in support of his somewhat veiled denialist conclusions.

    Comment by dhogaza — 24 Apr 2010 @ 9:21 AM

  318. VS,

    I don’t know how many times I’ve asked you to clarify yourself in plain English (instead of stats lingo), and how many times I’ve suggested ways to apply the statistics in ways that make more physical sense. To neither you have responded constructively.

    The former makes it harder for me to understand what you’re getting at. The latter makes it harder for me to believe that you’re interested in constructive knowledge building/cooperation.

    With ‘random’ I’d mean that the tendency for the quantity of interest to decrease or increase is approximately equal, and the direction of subsequent values is essentially unpredictable. I’m sure that’s not a formal definition, nor is it aimed to be.

    What do you mean by it (in plain English, please)?

    Comment by Bart Verheggen — 24 Apr 2010 @ 9:45 AM

  319. I’m sorry if this is a bit OT, but I don’t see any other current thread where it would fit:

    The GW deniosphere has some new ammunition in the form of a short book, Global Warming for Dim Wits: A Scientist’s Perspective of Climate Change, by Dr. James R. Barrante, emeritus professor of physical chemistry at Southern Connecticut State University (http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=5564; the first 25 pages of the book can be downloaded using a link at this site). The book has received high praise from Connecticut’s reigning libertarian commentator, C. Dowd Musca ( http://tiny.cc/j46u3 ), who concluded a recent essay about Barrante by predicting “When the warmists meet their waterloo, few will remember the name James R. Barrante. Those who do will look back fondly on the work of a man who refused to bow to the power-crazed pols and grant-seeking “scientists” who once peddled the laughable notion that man has the power to control the planet’s temperature.” I find it curious that Mr. Musca is very impressed with Dr. Barrante’s PhD in physical chemistry from Harvard, but doesn’t acknowledge that Barrante’s expertise is in x-ray crystallography and superconducting ceramics; Barrante has apparently devoted the past 10 years to researching greenhouse gases, but has not published on the subject in a peer-reviewed scientific literature (according to my Google Scholar search under his name).

    Comment by Chuck Booth — 24 Apr 2010 @ 11:12 PM

  320. Gilles wrote: “I said : nobody advocates to regulate a windmill grid with batteries. Is it right, or wrong ?”

    Short answer: wrong.

    Long answer: Practical pilot projects are being funded now to regulate the output of wind farms using flow batteries. So far, according to the citation I provided above, $53 million has been raised by just one of the companies working in the area. I think that covers “to advocate.”

    Also, (and on a different but related technological front) frequency regulation is already being done using flywheel storage, and the company involved in that venture (Beacon) has their sites on expanding beyond that application (I think to provide short-term peaking.) I find that rather exciting, as I only learned about this technology on this very forum a couple of years ago–and it wasn’t all that far out of the vaporware stage then, IIRC. Now we have limited commercial operation.

    Clearly, what Gilles presents as an inherent unchangeable limit is probably just the current state of the art. That’s an extremely prevalent–dare I say–”tactic” in contrarian discourse regarding renewables, and particularly wind. “There are problems, therefore it can’t ever contribute more than (fill in the percentage.)” But it’s not logical to dismiss a partial solution just because it is partial. We won’t find any silver bullets lying about.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 24 Apr 2010 @ 11:14 PM

  321. “Sites”–I meant “sights,” of course.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 24 Apr 2010 @ 11:15 PM

  322. KMK : “Practical pilot projects are being funded now to regulate the output of wind farms using flow batteries. So far, according to the citation I provided above, $53 million has been raised by just one of the companies working in the area. I think that covers “to advocate.””

    at which time scale ? (or equivalently how long is the autonomy of these batteries , or equivalently what is the cut-off frequency of this low-pass filter ?)

    “Clearly, what Gilles presents as an inherent unchangeable limit is probably just the current state of the art”

    Tell me, which consequence of the GW on the human society is not based on simple extrapolation of the “current state of the art ?”

    Another question : “contrarian ” discourse ? given that I have no interest at all in any carbon-based industry, and that I repeatedly warned that the greatest danger of our modern society will be the exhaustion of its main source of energy , why should I be against renewables ? you just don’t listen to what I’m saying – you place me in your own mental categories without taking into account what i’m really saying.

    Comment by Gilles — 25 Apr 2010 @ 5:22 AM

  323. “Tell me, which consequence of the GW on the human society is not based on simple extrapolation of the “current state of the art ?””

    Tell us, where you pulled the idea that he was talking about GW and not about energy production?

    ‘cos that idea’s still got a lot of brown sticking to it.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 25 Apr 2010 @ 11:35 AM

  324. Gilles: given that I have no interest at all in any carbon-based industry…

    BPL: Except that you originally told us you worked for an oil company.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 25 Apr 2010 @ 12:32 PM

  325. “BPL: Except that you originally told us you worked for an oil company.”

    Stop looking at the truth, BPL.

    That’s not the reality he wants you to see…

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 25 Apr 2010 @ 1:51 PM

  326. BPL: Except that you originally told us you worked for an oil company.

    Sorry, there should have been some misunderstanding, I never did such a thing. Maybe I said once that I was “interested” , but just personally , in the problem of energy – I mean as a basic citizen.

    Comment by Gilles — 25 Apr 2010 @ 2:12 PM

  327. Kevin McKinney (322), I don’t think this is what Gilles meant by flow regulation. It’s one thing to regulate frequency within a few tenths of a hertz with flywheels for short periods or regulate “short term” — like in the millisecond to a second range — energy delivery levels as these new technologies are doing; another thing to handle massive deviations of MWHr’s. Though I could be wrong in my interpretation.

    Comment by Rod B — 25 Apr 2010 @ 2:34 PM

  328. Gilles (322) — Read Mark Lynas’s “Six Degrees” for some of the consequences of global warming.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 25 Apr 2010 @ 4:02 PM

  329. Rod B : of course you’re right.
    David B. : I don’t think there is any scientific assessment that proves that we really have the amount of fossil fuels necessary to reach 6 °C. And go to the poorest countries like Haiti or Chad to see some of the consequences of being deprived of fossil fuels. These are real, not “projections”.

    Comment by Gilles — 26 Apr 2010 @ 1:33 AM

  330. “David B. : I don’t think there is any scientific assessment that proves that we really have the amount of fossil fuels necessary to reach 6 °C.”

    Apart from the scientific assessment that shows that there is enough CO2 to do that with a sensitivity of 2C per doubling…

    ‘course Gullible here can’t see the reality.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 26 Apr 2010 @ 6:17 AM

  331. “Sorry, there should have been some misunderstanding, I never did such a thing.”

    Why is it when I hear gullible say this (as he has several times before and been shown wrong), I’m reminded of Bart Simpson saying (with the proof in his hand) “I didn’t do it”.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 26 Apr 2010 @ 6:20 AM

  332. > go to the poorest countries

    Heck, look at the poorest countries to see how much they’d be deprived by no longer being the dumping place for our old lead-acid batteries and electronics, where people are now poisoning themselves and their land with heavy metals by heating the damned stuff over open flames to melt off the salvageable material.

    What does this prove? Not that they need fossil fuels to keep doing it.

    Look, standard grow-forever economics suggests we may be too stupid to stop ruining the planet. So does the Fermi Paradox.

    Could we think of an alternative?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Apr 2010 @ 12:35 PM

  333. “Apart from the scientific assessment that shows that there is enough CO2 to do that with a sensitivity of 2C per doubling…

    There is no scientific assessment that these fossil fuels can be extracted economically at the required rate. What is the prediction of these “assessments” for oil ? it is currently being disproved – so following the scientific criteria, these assessments are wrong.

    HR :”What does this prove? Not that they need fossil fuels to keep doing it.

    Look, standard grow-forever economics suggests we may be too stupid to stop ruining the planet. So does the Fermi Paradox.

    Could we think of an alternative?”

    Hank, the most likely explanation for Fermi paradox is not that all ET have destroyed their planets, but more simply that they never succeed in producing enough energy to leave it. And there is no alternative to the exhaustion of fossil. So it is the certitude that on the very long term, we have no choice but living without fossil fuels. So what is your scientific assessment of which standard of living we can insure without them, compared to the current scale which goes from approximately 1 for the poorest to 100 for the richest countries ?

    Comment by Gilles — 27 Apr 2010 @ 12:58 AM

  334. “Why is it when I hear gullible say this (as he has several times before and been shown wrong), I’m reminded of Bart Simpson saying (with the proof in his hand) “I didn’t do it”.”

    You’re really obtuse : why should have said something like that here and then denied it ? I wouldn’t be ashamed of having worked for an oil company. I just haven’t. I didn’t even speculate on oil although I participated to forums discussing PO well before the explosion of barrel price (and I can prove that, and if you can read French you’ll see that I never posted anywhere that I worked for any carbon company – many posters on the forum did.Incidentally you’ll see that the current crisis was forecast on these forums well before it happened.)

    I am not this kind of guy, I have nothing to hide, enough with strawman arguments please.

    Comment by Gilles — 27 Apr 2010 @ 1:07 AM

  335. “: why should have said something like that here and then denied it ?”

    Several times before you have.

    Why?

    Nobody knows.

    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=3439#comment-172238
    “But I didn’t say it wasn’t worth trying !”

    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=3439#comment-171458
    “We can (technically ) obviously move away from the fossil fuels-actually we will for sure. I said this will be impossible to keep our standard of living without them.”

    And again on that thread:

    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=3439#comment-171458
    “CFU : “Then why did you say that we couldn’t move from fossil fuels because it would be inconvenient?”

    I don’t see where I said that. ”

    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=3439#comment-171069
    “well, if limiting FF use has strictly no inconvenience, the answer is obvious.”

    And the most recent one: “why should have said something like that here and then denied it ?”

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 27 Apr 2010 @ 5:58 AM

  336. #327–You are correct, Rod. That’s why I tried to be clear in differentiating between the proposed application of the flow batteries for reducing the impact of intermittency on power output, and the use of the flywheels for frequency regulation.

    The larger point here is that there is visibly a rapid evolution of technology to enable renewables to shoulder a greater proportion of electricity generation despite the real (but not insurmountable) challenges resulting from the intermittency problem. Gilles tends to write as if the current state of the art represents a fixed limit; this is evidently not the case. There will be limits, no doubt, but we haven’t yet reached them–even in Denmark.

    Increased use of renewables for power generation is one of the “stabilization wedges” proposed for mitigation of GHG emissions. It’s one that is actually “wedging” up–reduced energy intensity (AKA energy efficiency) is actually another, although the degree of success in the latter has largely been invisible in the media. The fact that we need to make much better progress across the board shouldn’t detract from the progress actually being made. And we definitely shouldn’t allow undue negativism to paralyze us.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 27 Apr 2010 @ 7:34 AM

  337. CFU : “But I didn’t say it wasn’t worth trying !”

    “We can (technically ) obviously move away from the fossil fuels-actually we will for sure. I said this will be impossible to keep our standard of living without them.”

    sorry but there is no contradiction. It is worth trying extracting the best from renewables (actually I don’t see why we wouldn’t); it does not insure that we can succeed in keeping “our” (“our” meaning : the upper 10 % of the mankind in its greatest energy consumption period of its whole history, actually) standard of living.

    “CFU : “Then why did you say that we couldn’t move from fossil fuels because it would be inconvenient?”

    I don’t see where I said that. ”

    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=3439#comment-171069
    “well, if limiting FF use has strictly no inconvenience, the answer is obvious.””

    There is an “IF” “Then”. If there is no inconvenience in giving up FF, why don’t we do it now, and why do developing country increase their FF consumption? do YOU have an answer?

    Comment by Gilles — 27 Apr 2010 @ 8:33 AM

  338. “There is an “IF” “Then”.”

    And nothing except doom and gloom to the idea of doing so.

    Ergo scare people off with your alarmist dogma.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 27 Apr 2010 @ 9:34 AM

  339. Kevin McKinney (336), yes I fully agree that moving to non-FF electric generation is a good thing and that continued diligence in the science and engineering can mitigate the intermittency problem. But it will none-the-less still prove to be a major hurdle that might require people to remember the reliability and availability of electricity as quaint history. Storage and backfilling maybe millions of KWHrs that might be required 3000 miles away (just for today, maybe) isn’t that easy. Solar intermittency is evident. If theoretically all of our electricity is generated by wind and solar I can guarantee that massive long-term blackouts will not be uncommon (though not necessarily common either.)

    Comment by Rod B — 27 Apr 2010 @ 10:28 AM

  340. Kevin McKinney (336), yes I fully agree that moving to non-FF electric generation is a good thing and that continued diligence in the science and engineering can mitigate the intermittency problem. But it will none-the-less still prove to be a major hurdle that might require people to remember the reliability and availability of electricity as quaint history. Storage and backfilling maybe millions of KWHrs that might be required to backfill usage 3000 miles away (today) isn’t that easy. Solar intermittency is evident. If theoretically all of our electricity is generated by wind and solar I can guarantee that massive long-term blackouts will not be uncommon (though not necessarily common either.)

    Comment by Rod B — 27 Apr 2010 @ 10:45 AM

  341. “Alarmist dogma?” I guess if I yelled at you to get off the street as a truck was bearing down on you, you’d disregard my warning as “alarmist dogma.”

    Comment by John Burgeson — 27 Apr 2010 @ 10:52 AM

  342. ““Alarmist dogma?” I guess if I yelled at you to get off the street as a truck was bearing down on you, you’d disregard my warning as “alarmist dogma.””

    Nope, but then again Gullible doesn’t yell about getting off the street as a truck bears down.

    Gullible is yelling “DON’T GO OUTSIDE!!!! THERE ARE TRUCKS THAT WILL KILL YOU !!!!”.

    Alarmism.

    Go have a look.

    Does he show there’s a “truck” (inevitable crash if you don’t use fossil fuels)?

    No, he just scares you that we’ll be screwed because he insists that fossil fuels cannot be replaced.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 27 Apr 2010 @ 1:11 PM

  343. CFU, my “alarmism” consists, for instance, in warning that the Greek crisis could be the beginning of massive failures that could hit ultimately the whole industrialized world. If the increasing price of energy threatens the whole economic growth , that’s exactly what is expected : unbearable debts that cannot be paid back and make state economies collapse. This is expected much sooner, and with much more consequences on the all day life, than a change in temperature in 2050. If you dismiss that as unfounded alarmism, you probably don’t fear anything like that, until the first consequences of climate change , that are expected for western countries in … some decades probably? so maybe we won’t have to wait for a long time before knowing who is right !

    Comment by Gilles — 28 Apr 2010 @ 3:59 PM

  344. 343#–

    Well, if “the increasing price of energy threatens the whole economic growth,” then those who’ve resisted alternate energy sources are doubly wrong-headed.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 28 Apr 2010 @ 9:23 PM

  345. > the most likely explanation for Fermi paradox is not that all ET
    > have destroyed their planets, but more simply that they never
    > succeed in producing enough energy to leave it.

    Bzzzt! You mean never invented radio. Unlikely, eh?
    Nobody’s expecting them _here_, just _noticeable_.
    Big universe. Big galaxy, even.
    Nobody home but us?

    Or nobody smart enough to sustain a civilization for very long?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Apr 2010 @ 11:02 PM

  346. ” then those who’ve resisted alternate energy sources are doubly wrong-headed.”
    To my knowledge, no country ever resisted the most used renewable energy, hydropower, and I see no reason why they should have (even if it led to move millions of people and caused some harm to the environment) .

    Do you think that some people have a special gene making them dislike air kinetic energy and prefer water energy ?
    HK : you don’t seem to know the Fermi paradox, it doesn’t deal with radio emission but with colonizing other stellar systems.

    Comment by Gilles — 29 Apr 2010 @ 1:03 AM

  347. “Do you think that some people have a special gene making them dislike air kinetic energy and prefer water energy ?”

    Do you?

    “CFU, my “alarmism” consists, for instance, in warning that the Greek crisis could be the beginning of massive failures that could hit ultimately the whole industrialized world”

    Which is far more alarmist than saying “we could see irreversible climate change by 2100 if we don’t change now”.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 29 Apr 2010 @ 2:38 AM

  348. “Do you think that some people have a special gene making them dislike air kinetic energy and prefer water energy ?”

    Do you?”

    No I don’t, so I think there are good rational reasons explaining why wind energy never produces more than 20 % of the power, estimated on a whole interconnected grid if there are import-exports.


    Which is far more alarmist than saying “we could see irreversible climate change by 2100 if we don’t change now”.

    You may find it more alarmist. I’m just saying that it will be much more rapidly refutable, so we should know soon if I am unduly alarmist.

    If you’re right, economy should continue to grow anyway in the next decades, either with carbon-based fuels like in IPCC scenarios, or with renewables (which should not impact the growth following you) if we start applying what you’re advocating. In no scenario a strong recession is expected – the current one being only due to some bad behavior of indelicate bankers.

    If I’m right, the problem is much more profound, and crisis should accumulate in the next years, essentially because of peak oil. So we should be able rather rapidly to test who is right.

    Comment by Gilles — 29 Apr 2010 @ 5:29 PM

  349. Gilles @ 348:

    No I don’t, so I think there are good rational reasons explaining why wind energy never produces more than 20 % of the power, estimated on a whole interconnected grid if there are import-exports.

    Please, you’re being intentionally dishonest because we’ve had this discussion before.

    Wind energy doesn’t amount to more than 20% because the turbines haven’t been built. I checked the ERCOT grid just now and wind was 6,225MW of 38,760MW total demand. Now, you might say “Ah-ha! Only 16%”, but I keep seeing turbine blades going by on I-35, so I know they keep on building them. And I’ve seen demand as low as 22,000MW and 6,225MW would have been 28%, which is pronounced “You’re wrong.”

    But keep it up with the “not more than 20%” because one of these days they’ll have built enough more turbines that the answer is more than 20% on a regular basis and I’ll go “Neener-neener”.

    They’re putting up enough wind power here in Texas that I don’t recall the last time I heard anyone talking about building a coal fired plant. I’m sure they do it, but why? Those things take a long time to pay for themselves and coal is going buh-bye.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 29 Apr 2010 @ 8:47 PM

  350. #346–

    Gilles, there is currently a clear resistance to renewables, especially wind power. You encounter it frequently in the blogosphere, sometimes outside it. I suspect that some at least is pure “astroturf”–ie., impelled by interested parties hiding behind a facade of public spirit.

    The hallmarks of such resistance are exaggerated rhetoric (or even actual misinformation) about the cost, (im)practicality and alleged side effects of renewables–eg., bird kills or noise pollution. As with much deniaist discourse, the same arguments resurface time and again, regardless of how often they may have been shown false. And of course, the current state of the art is presumed to be an unchanging verity.

    You may even have had a chance to observe some such commenting yourself, perhaps?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 29 Apr 2010 @ 11:18 PM

  351. You must be thinking of some other Fermi, Gilles:
    http://www.google.com/search?q=fermi+paradox+radio

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Apr 2010 @ 11:27 PM

  352. “Wind energy doesn’t amount to more than 20% because the turbines haven’t been built. I checked the ERCOT grid just now and wind was 6,225MW of 38,760MW total demand.”
    First, you’re confusing installed power and produced energy. As the load factor of windmills is only 25 % , the proportion of wind produced energy is probably two or three times less, around 5 % (i didn’t check). And that explains basically why the will never exceed 20 %. Because once the installed power exceeds the minimum of demand, you have the risk of producing excess energy for nothing, which raises mechanically the marginal cost of new setups. But if you’re limited to the minimum of the demand curve, then you will produce on average only 25 % of the minimal demand, that is 25 % of the ratio of minimal to average demand. So basically you’re limited to these 20 %.
    Personally I am not really disturbed by large windmills, esthetically I mean, and noise and possible effects on birds are probably not worse than other industrial devices. But I think it is fair to recognize that they will never be a solution to the fundamental problem of fossil fuel exhaustion.

    Comment by Gilles — 30 Apr 2010 @ 12:31 AM

  353. Gullible is assuming that the vale is the installed value and not the expected value. Most installations cite the power production NOT the maximum power.

    Just like Solar PV panels are labelled with the expected lifetime rating and, since they degrade slowly, they produce more power than they are rated at the beginning.

    But fundamentalists for fossil fuels will never see that renewables are a replacement.
    They love the money too much.

    Comment by Completeley Fed Up — 30 Apr 2010 @ 3:32 AM

  354. Gilles 352: As the load factor of windmills is only 25 % , the proportion of wind produced energy is probably two or three times less, around 5 % (i didn’t check). And that explains basically why the will never exceed 20 %. Because once the installed power exceeds the minimum of demand, you have the risk of producing excess energy for nothing, which raises mechanically the marginal cost of new setups.

    BPL: What does it cost to produce more energy than you need with a windmill?

    I don’t think you’ve thought this through.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 30 Apr 2010 @ 10:15 AM

  355. HK : please read your own references before posting about Fermi paradox.
    CFU : first my name is Gilles and I don’t see why using a ridiculing nickname helps in anyway to give credence to what you’re saying. Actually it’s just the opposite : it seems that you are not confident enough to be able to argue with rational arguments, without insulting or ridiculing your interlocutor. But I’m not the first one to tell you that. Unfortunately, it has an exact opposite effect to what you think.
    Reading again FCH’s post, he may have referred to instantaneous power. No idea what his MW mean – it is just not contradicting my statement about the average power production over one year.

    Comment by Gilles — 30 Apr 2010 @ 11:34 AM

  356. Because you’re ridiculous, gullible.

    Why else?

    Tell you what, you start being sensible and listen to people when they tell you things or show you stuff and I’ll start treating you with some small amount of respect.

    Deal?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 30 Apr 2010 @ 1:52 PM

  357. Gilles @ 352:

    First, you’re confusing installed power and produced energy. As the load factor of windmills is only 25 % , the proportion of wind produced energy is probably two or three times less, around 5 % (i didn’t check). And that explains basically why the will never exceed 20 %.

    No, that was the ACTUAL OUTPUT, not the nameplate rating.

    Which is also pronounced “You’re wrong.” And I’m not going to explain why the rest of what you wrote is also wrong, but it’s also wrong.

    West Texas wind is frequently a huge fraction of the total ERCOT production these days. Not that it affects me — much of my power comes from my roof, and if I build my solar lab, even more will since the electricity has to go somewhere.

    Wind power is here and is growing. Sucks being you, I suppose.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 30 Apr 2010 @ 3:59 PM

  358. BPL @ 354:

    BPL: What does it cost to produce more energy than you need with a windmill?

    I don’t think you’ve thought this through.

    I suspect that you don’t know enough about how grids work to know that making more than you need has a cost associated with it. It’s called “Balancing Energy” and “Regulatory Services”.

    Fortunately, the grid operators are learning how to do that on the cheap with “Demand Response”, and I’ve got about 2 dozen patent applications at the PTO that deal with things I can’t even describe. But they are very cool, they work and they make it possible to go all the way to 100% on renewables.

    And for Gilles’ benefit, I’m a member of the fairer sex — click link on name and see a picture of me along with a free rant.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 30 Apr 2010 @ 4:03 PM

  359. CFU :”Tell you what, you start being sensible and listen to people when they tell you things or show you stuff and I’ll start treating you with some small amount of respect.

    Deal?”

    I’m afraid you misinterpreted my remarks. I don’t care very much of getting some “small amount of respect” from somebody like you, and I won’t do any effort to please you- it was just an incident remark on the effect you’re producing : giving the impression of somebody who is not confident enough to expose calmly his arguments and who needs to use insult and contempt instead. But that’s your business after all.

    FCH : too bad that you don’t want to elaborate. Maybe texan winds have some special properties that are quite different from all the other ones in the world ? if you know it, could you please indicate me the current values of :
    * the ratio of maximal wind power to installed power
    * the ratio of maximal wind power to minimum demand
    * the load factor (ratio of average power to installed power)
    * the ratio of minimum demand to average demand

    and how high do you hope these ratios can increase ?

    Comment by Gilles — 30 Apr 2010 @ 7:41 PM

  360. sorry FCH for the “he”. In French we say “weaker sex” but “fairer sex ” sounds actually much better. I notice that you seem to be convinced that peak oil is close – I wouldn’t be so confident however that hybrid cars and windmills are enough to save us. Apart from that, as I said, I have no particular affective relationship with windmills, neither love, nor hate.It’s just a way of producing electricity, after all.

    Comment by Gilles — 30 Apr 2010 @ 7:54 PM

  361. “I’m afraid you misinterpreted my remarks.”

    You mean you’ll keep comprehension and rationality at their current value of negative.

    Ah well, stay well gullible.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 1 May 2010 @ 2:58 AM

  362. Gilles @ 359:

    The problem is that your questions embody the conclusions you want to reach. Wind is financially viable under the existing values for all of the things you mentioned — that’s why they are irrelevant. So, whatever the values =are=, wind is financially viable for those values. If it weren’t, people wouldn’t be building turbines the way they are.

    Where “Wind” has problems, most of those problems can be solved with geographically distributing the turbines. The other problems have to do with up and down regulation — keeping consumption versus production balanced instantaneously. Again, that’s a pretty simple feat and there are some cool technologies being developed in those areas.

    And I’m sorry I can’t give you more details — I really do have something on the order of 2 dozen patent applications at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (www.uspto.gov) dealing with this problem and the solutions are very confidential until those applications get published. The solutions my co-inventors and I came up with are so revolutionary, in some instances, that even hinting at what we did would give away the goodies. What I =can= tell you is that I have every confidence we can get the grid to 100% renewables, as well as provide services such as “Black Start” capability.

    The tough problems aren’t bulk power — that’s just fields and fields of turbines, then you have a zillion megawatts of power and you manage it. The tough problem is up and down regulation — matching production to consumption. “Black Start” is another issue we looked at and I think we solved it in a fairly creative manner.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 1 May 2010 @ 12:15 PM

  363. FCH : The tough problems aren’t bulk power — that’s just fields and fields of turbines, then you have a zillion megawatts of power and you manage it. The tough problem is up and down regulation — matching production to consumption.

    Bulk power is also an issue because you don’t need only energy to sustain the society, you need CHEAP energy. Building zillions of windmills that would be essentially useless most of the time would be dramatically expensive, since the cost is entirely due to the infrastructure. And the problem begins with the first windmill that is build above the needed capacity : I mean,the first windmill that produces power that nobody (including possible abroad customers) needs. Who is willing to cut off its own production to manage the inclusion of this one ? I mean, it’s rhetorical of course , one over 100 000 is not a big deal, but the more you build, the more you have this kind of issues.

    I stated that nowhere wind power produces more that 20 % of the total average power of the grid (including interconnections to account for import/export). Is it true, or false ? do you have a counterexample ? and you cited Texas, please indicate me the figures for the ratios I asked you, whether they are relevant or not : they always will have some value !

    Comment by Gilles — 2 May 2010 @ 1:14 AM

  364. Gilles: And the problem begins with the first windmill that is build above the needed capacity : I mean,the first windmill that produces power that nobody (including possible abroad customers) needs.

    BPL: Use the extra electricity to generate hydrogen and use it for fuel. Or to desalinate water. Or to pump water uphill to run turbines during times when the wind quits.

    And where did you get the idea that there’s only a limited demand for electricity? If that’s so, how come we keep building more and more and more generating capacity?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 2 May 2010 @ 1:22 PM

  365. BPL : If you produce so expensive hydrogen that nobody would buy it, I doubt that investors will be very happy. You surely know how cheap hydrogen is produced. For the other part, it is not a question of limited demand, but of installed power for a given demand : it’s the limiting factor for the proportion of average energy produced.

    Interestingly enough, demand for electricity in OCDE seems actually to have peaked these last years due to economic crisis. Let’s wait and see if it starts increasing again .. if.

    Comment by Gilles — 2 May 2010 @ 4:02 PM

  366. Gilles 363: I stated that nowhere wind power produces more that 20 % of the total average power of the grid (including interconnections to account for import/export). Is it true, or false ?

    BPL: False, since Denmark was up to 23% at last count. I suspect you chose the “no more than 20% figure” because that was the Danish fraction at the time.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 3 May 2010 @ 4:57 AM

  367. I was interested in the comments of Mr. Chuck Booth on D. Dowd Muska’s review of my book “Global Warming for Dim Wits.” I would have preferred it if Mr. Booth had actually reviewed the book rather the reviewer or the author. Mr. Booth mentions that while my apparent research centered on Xray crystallography and superconducting ceramics over the years that some how negated any expertise that I might have in other areas of physical chemistry. The implications are that I might not understand the physical chemistry of the greenhouse gas effect because I haven’t published any papers on the subject in peer-reviewed journals over the past ten years. I should point out that I have published any papers on Xray crystallography or superconducting ceramics in the past ten years either. Nevertheless, you better believe that my work on the greenhouse gas effect has been peer reviewed and then some. Moreover, I understand and can teach courses in quantum physics. The greenhouse gas effect and global warming science doesn’t even come close to this in complexity. It still remains to be proven that global temperatures would be any different from what they are today, if humans did not exist on this planet. Until that is done, the idea that humans can affect the climate of the planet is untested science.

    Comment by James R. Barrante — 3 May 2010 @ 2:57 PM

  368. Gilles, I’m really bemused that you seem to think that redundancy in generation capacity is only needed with wind power or other renewables. “Reserve” is needed regardless, yes?–and that doesn’t render the whole enterprise uneconomic.

    At the least, this concept of comparative redundancy cost needs to be quantified.

    And in any case, as I’ve said before, technologies for storing power are developing rapidly, so we must expect that the intermittency issue will be addressed, and will not be limiting at current levels indefinitely.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 3 May 2010 @ 3:47 PM

  369. James R. Barrante (367) — Well, you are about 60+ years out of date.

    And not very observant, either. Look arond you. Are not lots of people burning fossil fuels? Then what happens to the CO2?

    Jeez.

    But maybe you heavily exadurate your expertise. Read “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart, first link in the Scienc e section of the sidebar and find any errors at all to tell us about.

    Go ahead.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 3 May 2010 @ 3:59 PM

  370. JRB 367: It still remains to be proven that global temperatures would be any different from what they are today, if humans did not exist on this planet. Until that is done, the idea that humans can affect the climate of the planet is untested science.

    BPL: You think the composition of the atmosphere would be IDENTICAL with humans absent from the beginning? Or is it that you think the composition of the atmosphere can’t affect the surface temperature? And you claim to understand climate science?

    Which is hotter, Earth or Venus? Why? Please be quantitative and show your work.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 3 May 2010 @ 4:40 PM

  371. 367: James R Barrante says: “you better believe that my work on the greenhouse gas effect has been peer reviewed and then some. ”

    What work? When I look you up in google scholar there is very very little. Almost no citations of any kind. One book that was cited 27 times. Another book that was cited 14 times. A couple of papers with 1 or 2 or 3 citations. I don’t see anything on the “greenhouse gas effect” except a book. Does google scholar not provide an accurate representation of your peer-reviewed publications? WIll some other index give a better indication of your work? If so, what index?

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=James+R.+Barrante&btnG=Search&as_sdt=10000000000&as_ylo=&as_vis=0

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 3 May 2010 @ 6:14 PM

  372. Dr. Barrante, the Google search for your book doesn’t find where you talk about the area where physical chemistry is most straightforward in showing rapid change from fossil fuel use (ocean pH change with increasing CO2, changing solubility of calcite and aragonite). What did you say about that problem? What search words should I use to find that in your book?

    http://www.whoi.edu/OCB-OA/FAQs/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 May 2010 @ 7:04 PM

  373. The extra electricity question is easy to solve.

    Big friggin’ tesla coils. Put up on ridges and let ‘em spark. Bonus: most of the extra electricity will be at night, making quite the light show.

    Hey, it’s gotta be unloaded, right? Let’s discharge it in the coolest way possible.

    ;)

    Comment by Frank Giger — 3 May 2010 @ 7:05 PM

  374. Oh, never mind. I’ve found the comments you’ve left at science websites, like this one: http://oceanacidification.wordpress.com/

    You believe the Earth was created with an atmosphere of 90 percent CO2 and oceans, as this comment suggests?

    http://oceanacidification.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/off-balance-ocean-acidification-from-absorbing-atmospheric-co2-is-changing-the-oceans-chemistry/#comment-2185

    Are you the Barrante who signed the OISM petition?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 May 2010 @ 7:13 PM

  375. Scientist fight!

    With respect, Mr. Pearson, Mr. Barrante has met the bar for published, peer reviewed work in the field of climatology and greenhouse gas effects.

    This strikes to the heart of the problem with the matter of climatology; as soon as one scientist disagrees another says he’s unqualified to do so.

    What if he isn’t? That means whomever made the claim is either lying or isn’t qualified himself – and by extension all the work done by that scientist.

    And all the works that used those as a reference. The sweater on Global Warming is undone by the pulling of the thread.

    If I was cited 36 times in the literature (in a positive way) from two books and three papers, I don’t think “What work?” would be a statement worth response, as it would be self evident.

    Comment by Frank Giger — 3 May 2010 @ 7:22 PM

  376. James R. Barrante,
    The first couple of chapters of your book are available online. I downloaded it and have perused it. It contains nothing but the same denialist zombie arguments we see all the time here. You have no work on climate that I have been able to find. Your writing shows no real understanding of the mechanism behind the current warming epoch.

    So, since you really don’t have anything to teach anyone here about climate, perhaps you can help us with something else. What is it that makes a scientist turn his back on the peer-reviewed literature and the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence and pontificate on a subject far outside his expertise? Now that would be useful to know.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 May 2010 @ 7:36 PM

  377. What Ray Ladbury wrote in comment #376.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 3 May 2010 @ 7:50 PM

  378. 375: Frank: what work? He claims to have published peer reviewed papers on greenhouse gases. I can’t find them. Please show them to me. His publication record is meager as far as reported by google scholar. It certainly doesn’t show any papers that i recognized as being on greenhouse gas warming. Perhaps I am wrong. If so, correct me by providing specific peer-reviewed papers he wrote on the greenhouse effect, not blather.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 3 May 2010 @ 8:53 PM

  379. Results of an ISI Web of Science search on “Barrante J*”:

    1. Title: CHARACTERIZATION OF PRIMARY SECONDARY AND TERTIARY ALCOHOLS USING PROTON MAGNETIC RESONANCE TECHNIQUES Author(s): BABIEC JS, BARRANTE JR, VICKERS GD
    Source: ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY Volume: 40 Issue: 3 Pages: 610-& Published: 1968 Times Cited: 8

    2. Title: PRELIMINARY CRYSTALLOGRAPHIC STUDIES ON SYSTEMS CALCIUM-LANTHANUM-HYDROGEN AND CALCIUM-YTTRIUM-HYDROGEN Author(s): MESSER CE, MILLER RM, BARRANTE JR
    Source: INORGANIC CHEMISTRY Volume: 5 Issue: 10 Pages: 1814-& Published: 1966 Times Cited: 6

    3. Title: INTERNAL MOTION IN ORGANOSILICON-NITROGEN COMPOUNDS
    Author(s): BARRANTE JR, ROCHOW EG Source: JOURNAL OF ORGANOMETALLIC CHEMISTRY Volume: 1 Issue: 3 Pages: 273-285 Published: 1963 Times Cited: 0

    4. Title: ALKALINE EARTH-TANTALUM-OXYGEN PHASES INCLUDING CRYSTAL STRUCTURE OF AN ORDERED PEROVSKITE COMPOUND, BA3SRTA2O9 Author(s): GALASSO F, BARRANTE JR, KATZ L
    Source: JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY Volume: 83 Issue: 13 Pages: 2830-& Published: 1961 Times Cited: 56

    Comment by RP^2 — 3 May 2010 @ 11:13 PM

  380. “Gilles 363: I stated that nowhere wind power produces more that 20 % of the total average power of the grid (including interconnections to account for import/export). Is it true, or false ?

    BPL: False, since Denmark was up to 23% at last count. ”

    Denmark is interconnected with larger grids, so you have to evaluate the proportion of global wind power to the global consumption of the whole grid. Its own production can exceed 20 % if it can sell it, but it couldn’t sell it if the others were also in overproduction. Globally, my threshold holds.

    Kevin : I didn’t state it is uneconomic. I stated it starts to be uneconomic above some threshold. It may be true with other sources for different reasons as well (for instance nuclear is not adjustable enough to make 100 % of the power, but the maximal ratio, approximately reached in France, is around 80 %). So what’s your point ?

    Comment by Gilles — 4 May 2010 @ 1:43 AM

  381. Frank Giger, While I agree that the matter of Barrante’s bona fides penetrates to the heart of the current debate, it does so in a manner that you might not like. I’ve also done a search, not just with Google Scholar, but also of Jim Prall’s comprehensive database of climate related publications and citations. Guess what. No James R. Barrante. Nada.

    So to me the heart of the matter is that when a member of the lay public sees two scientists in disagreement, they look not at their publication records but instead seem to pick the one whose opinion most closely matches their own. So I will ask you: On what basis did you assume an equivalent level of expertise by Dr. Barrante in climate science compared to the thousands of climate scientists who form the consensus?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 May 2010 @ 5:08 AM

  382. “BPL: You think the composition of the atmosphere would be IDENTICAL with humans absent from the beginning?”

    Does he think that the oil wells would drill themselves out of the ground and catch fire? Does he think that the coal would be excavated by Giant Space Moles digging their giant underground cities?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 4 May 2010 @ 8:09 AM

  383. Frank Giger:

    If you are seeking expert opinion on climate and want to evaluate how expert an expert is how would you do it? A quick and easy way is the following. Type their names into google scholar and see what pops up. Here I perform the exercise for you for 2 Real Climate experts followed by Barrante.

    Gavin Schmidt:

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=Gavin+Schmidt&btnG=Search&as_sdt=10000000000&as_ylo=&as_vis=0

    Ray Pierrehumbert

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=RT+Pierrehumbert&btnG=Search&as_sdt=10000000000&as_ylo=&as_vis=0

    Barrante

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=Barrante&btnG=Search&as_sdt=10000000000&as_ylo=&as_vis=0

    Barrante’s publication record is pitiful next to those of Gavin Schmidt and Ray Pierrehumbert. Yet you choose to listen to Barrante and to ignore Schmidt and Pierrehumbert. Why?

    I see no publications on the greenhouse effect by Barrante. He says that his work on the greenhouse gas was “peer reviewed and then some”. At this point I am forced to assume that Barrante’s work on the green house effect was rejected when it was “peer reviewed and then some” since I have been unable to find any record of it.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 4 May 2010 @ 9:27 AM

  384. “Yet you choose to listen to Barrante and to ignore Schmidt and Pierrehumbert. Why?”

    Because he likes what Brrante is saying and doesn’t like what Schmidt and Pierrehumbert say.

    Or was that a rhetorical question..?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 4 May 2010 @ 10:15 AM

  385. “Barrante’s publication record is pitiful next to those of Gavin Schmidt and Ray Pierrehumbert. Yet you choose to listen to Barrante and to ignore Schmidt and Pierrehumbert. Why? ”

    Actually, I made no statement in agreement in disagreement with him, only pointed out that he qualifies as a contributing member of the field of climatology.

    As to where I got his bonafides, it was from Mr. Pearson’s own reply that bemoaned the scarcity of citations in the literature.

    Mr. Barrante may well be wrong in his analysis. This doesn’t mean he isn’t part of the legitimate circle of climatologists. The discussion isn’t on the merit of his positions but on whether or not he’s qualified to have them in the first place.

    What is the bar for publication in an appropriate peer-reviewed journal before one is accepted as a peer-reviewed, published researcher? I would thing one would suffice.

    As to “he’s not as good as Gavin, etc.,” it’s a dry hole. Every field has those that excell and rise to the top, those in the middle, and those on the bottom. The middling author with three published novels isn’t Jack London; but that doesn’t mean he’s not a novelist.

    Not every doctor, for another example, is smart or skilled enough to work at John Hopkin’s. That doesn’t mean that ol’ Doc Thompson in his small rural practice isn’t a doctor, or that he should imediately be told he shouldn’t be listened to at a medical convention or Internet discussion.

    Attacking ideas one disagrees with is one thing; that’s the stuff of scientific debate. Attacking the scientist himself because he disagrees is quite another.

    This site has become obsessed with attacks on climatologists as people rather than on their ideas and the work provided. Shouldn’t it work both ways in comment section?

    The Allegre article is how it should be; an attack on the ideas and methodologies put forward rather than a personal attack. Indeed, it starts with a clear statement that Allegre is a qualified scientist of high regard – and then tears apart what he writes in a logical manner using facts.

    Comment by Frank Giger — 4 May 2010 @ 3:32 PM

  386. “Mr. Barrante may well be wrong in his analysis. ”

    After all this and you haven’t even CHECKED????

    “Attacking the scientist himself because he disagrees is quite another.”

    Uh, ever listened to yourself? Or any of the other perma-trolls here on RC (or any RWN media host)?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 4 May 2010 @ 3:45 PM

  387. lastly: “This doesn’t mean he isn’t part of the legitimate circle of climatologists. ”

    Uh, no.

    What does make him not a part of the legitimate circle of climatologist is that he’s not a climatologist.

    Look at the papers and the journals he’s written in.

    Chemistry.

    On Chemistry.

    Not climate.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 4 May 2010 @ 3:48 PM

  388. Frank Giger says, “As to where I got his bonafides, it was from Mr. Pearson’s own reply that bemoaned the scarcity of citations in the literature.”

    Uh, OK, Frank, this one is just too good to pass up. Here is John’s post in its eitirety:

    John E. Pearson: “375: Frank: what work? He claims to have published peer reviewed papers on greenhouse gases. I can’t find them. Please show them to me. His publication record is meager as far as reported by google scholar. It certainly doesn’t show any papers that i recognized as being on greenhouse gas warming. Perhaps I am wrong. If so, correct me by providing specific peer-reviewed papers he wrote on the greenhouse effect, not blather.”

    Now WHERE THE HELL do you extract from the words John wrote any indication that this man possesses any special expertise on climate or greenhouse gasses?

    I mean, I don’t want to set the bar to high, but shouldn’t we at least require that someone has published a peer-reviewed paper or two on a subject before we admit him to the class of “expert”?

    And if you have a researcher who has been publishing highly relevant, often-cited research, don’t you think maybe he might know just a wee bit more about the subject he’s publishing in that some shmuck we drag in off the street?

    Come on, Frank, don’t defend the indefensible. You’re smarter than that!

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 May 2010 @ 3:53 PM

  389. Frank: I didn’t attack the scientist. I asked him and I asked you “what peer reviewed work on climatology”. Neither of you have presented any. What peer-reviewed paper on climatology has Barrante published? I cannot find any.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 4 May 2010 @ 3:56 PM

  390. The Krugman article states the mainstream environmentalist view about how we know what needs to be done and that we just need to get the political will to do it. Unfortunately it is more than the political will that is needed. I have been long arguing that much that is considered appropriate is not seriously affordable, given the minimial effectiveness of such.

    Today it is reported that “environmental groups” in Germany, whatever that might be, agree to some extent with my arguments. See Wired Magazine article that links to a Bloomberg story: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2010/05/german-enviro-says-evs-plunder-and-pollute/comment-page-1/#comment-76953

    I threw in some comments there which might make it clear what I think, in case anyone might be unclear on my position.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 4 May 2010 @ 4:04 PM

  391. > he qualifies as a contributing member of the field of climatology.

    You left off any “because ….” — where did you find something he published in the area of climatology? The book for children doesn’t qualify, you know.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 May 2010 @ 4:09 PM

  392. PS, recommended reading for Dr. Barrante:
    http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2010/05/03/the-oregon-petition-a-case-study-in-agnotology/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 May 2010 @ 4:33 PM

  393. FG 385: [J Barante] qualifies as a contributing member of the field of climatology.

    BPL: He has no training in the field, has published no papers in the field, and makes statements about the field that are jaw-droppingly ignorant. How does this make him “a contributing member of the field of climatology?”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 4 May 2010 @ 8:43 PM

  394. Wow! I really struck a nerve. Talk about being misquoted. First, I’m a physical scientist, not a climatologist. I never have claimed to have published papers in the field of climatology, nor on global warming. I would be curious to know how many papers Mr. Gore has published in peer-reviewed journals. Yet, believers seem not to question his expertise. I still wonder why it is so important to establish whether or not I’m an expert. Most individuals making the most noise about global warming are not experts. It is clear that their knowledge of physical chemistry of infrared radiation absorption is at best mediocre. Moreover, if you are looking for technical expertise in the “Dim Wits” book, you won’t find it. I made it quite clear (you really should read the book) that the book was written for individuals with little or no science training. As far as “jaw-dropping ignorant” statements are concerned, let me cite a few from some of my detractors. “Aren’t people burning fossil fuels? What happens to all the CO2?” Who cares! Our atmosphere is starving for CO2. It does not and never has controlled the climate – not on a planet covered with 70% water – oops, that pchem, sorry! I’ve studied Spencer Weart. He’s totally wrong! “The earth was created with an atmosphere of 90% CO2 and oceans.” I don’t believe I ever said that. How could I? I wasn’t there.

    Finally, with all due respect, please do not classify me as a climatologist.

    [Response: It's a deal!--Jim]

    I am neither concerned with or interested in what causes climate change. I can only tell you with scientific certainty what doesn’t. I’ll give all you experts a hint. It’s not a thermodynamic energy effect. It’s a kinetic effect. The globe is not a very good blackbody radiator. It reflects too much radiation. Oops. More pchem. Sorry!

    [Response: Oh dear. - gavin]

    Comment by James R. Barrante — 4 May 2010 @ 11:09 PM

  395. “Come on, Frank, don’t defend the indefensible. You’re smarter than that!”

    Come on, Ray, you’re smarter than that.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 5 May 2010 @ 2:49 AM

  396. There is a beautiful quote by the Tin Man in the “Wizard of Oz” that describes the diatribe by individuals above. When asked by Dorothy how he (the Tin Man) could talk, if he did have a brain, the Tin Man replied (I’m paraphrasing) that he knew of numerous people who do an awful lot of talking without brains. Again, as is usual, if you cannot attack the message, you attack the messenger. It appears from my research on a number of you that you are all cut from the same bolt of cloth. So please do not insult me by trying to make me a contributing member in the field of climatology. Bad science is bad science, no matter where it originates. There is no evidence at all, supported by the scientific method, that proves human activity is responsible for global warming, cooling, or the demise of polar bears. And, please, don’t cite me examples such as “but the temperature really started to go up when we started to burn fossil fuels in the 1800s.” If one understood the physical chemistry of CO2′s role in the greenhouse gas effect, one would clearly understand that once the level of CO2 reaches 400 ppm, it no longer is a greenhouse gas. I’ve proven this in my book, but, of course, if you haven’t read the book . . .. This clearly is supported by historical data showing CO2 levels to be as high as 4000 ppm with temperatures the same as they are today. So, Mr. BPL, how much training in physical chemistry have you had? Let me point out that in my 43 years teaching physical chemistry, I never had one environmental “scientist” take the course. Too much math and physics.

    [Response: And no doubt a little bit of magic too. How else could someone explain that CO2 absorbs upwelling IR really well at a concentration of 399.99 ppm but ceases to do so at 400.01 ppm? And why would that happen at exactly 400 ppm? Inquiring minds want to know... - gavin]

    Comment by James R. Barrante — 5 May 2010 @ 6:34 AM

  397. In a recent reference to the “Wizard of Oz”, I referred to a statement by the Tin Man. I meant Straw Man, but you all know that.

    Comment by James R. Barrante — 5 May 2010 @ 7:19 AM

  398. “394
    James R. Barrante says:
    4 May 2010 at 11:09 PM

    Wow! I really struck a nerve. Talk about being misquoted. First, I’m a physical scientist, not a climatologist.”

    So you’re really calling out Frank who said:

    “385
    Frank Giger says:
    4 May 2010 at 3:32 PM

    Actually, I made no statement in agreement in disagreement with him, only pointed out that he qualifies as a contributing member of the field of climatology.”

    Frank has counted you as a climatologist.

    People have complained TO FRANK that you are not.

    Not to you.

    to Frank.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 5 May 2010 @ 8:15 AM

  399. “Who cares! Our atmosphere is starving for CO2. It does not and never has controlled the climate ”

    So please explain the ice ages and the mechanism in and out of one without CO2 controlling the climate.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 5 May 2010 @ 8:16 AM

  400. James R. Barrante says:
    3 May 2010 at 2:57 PM
    you better believe that my work on the greenhouse gas effect has been peer reviewed and then some.

    James R. Barrante says:
    4 May 2010 at 11:09 PM
    I never have claimed to have published papers in the field of climatology, nor on global warming.

    John E Pearson says: Whatever.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 5 May 2010 @ 8:24 AM

  401. Dr. Barrante, you’re thinking like a geologist not a biologist, ignoring the rate of change. This is new science, but old chemistry:

    “FAQs about ocean acidification

    Ocean acidification is a new field of research in which most studies have been published in the past 10 years. … some aspects of ocean acidification research, for example the carbonate chemistry, are intricate and counterintuitive. For these reasons, the media and the general public find some scientific issues or results confusing.

    The U.S. Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry (OCB) program, supported by the European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA), has compiled a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs). These questions were widely distributed to the research community with the request to draft concise replies summarizing current knowledge, yet avoiding jargon. The replies were then subject to an open peer-review and revision process to ensure readability without any loss of scientific accuracy. The response of the community was enthusiastic. In total, 27 scientists from 19 institutions and 5 countries contributed to the whole process ….”

    http://www.epoca-project.eu/index.php/20100222278/What-do-we-do-/News/FAQs-about-ocean-acidification.html

    Rate of change is what’s different now than in past changes.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 May 2010 @ 8:55 AM

  402. 401 Hank Roberts,

    It is entirely logical that the term “ocean acidification” is used to describe a trend where the ocean is less alkaline. We could less pejoratively say, “ocean alkalinity reduction”, but that would not roll off the tongue quite so effectively at Congressional hearings.

    When I listened to Al Gore testify, it looked like he was thinking that something like battery acid was filling the ocean basins. It is not a good thing to excessively fire up our zealousness with such terminology. There are far too many people who are capable of looking up pH and realizing that we are only talking about a slight change in pH, which still leaves the ocean far from acidic. Saying that is acidification sounds like a contrivance to make things sound worse than they are. Get a grip – - we global warming folks should take care not to sound like fear mongers.

    The danger to coral is bad enough. But the thought that the growth of other calcite shelled creatures might be stimulated should also be mentioned. Then the discussion would sound a little more rational, i.e. scientific.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 5 May 2010 @ 10:55 AM

  403. Barrante has apparently lost the ability to tell sense from nonsense: from another blog posting he made:

    “The Medieval Warm Period peaked in about 1250. So we should see the CO2 peak in 1250+800=2050.”

    His book contains the tired canard about CO2 only being 0.03% of the atmosphere, as if the amount of IR-transparent diatomic gases made any difference.

    He doesn’t understand radiative forcing, he doesn’t understand the carbon cycle, he states that “you better believe that my work on the greenhouse gas effect has been peer reviewed and then some” when, in fact, it hasn’t… I feel sorry for the people who waste money on his book.

    Comment by Marcus — 5 May 2010 @ 11:06 AM

  404. Dr. Barrante,

    Please do not announce that you are a physical chemist – you are embarrassing us with your novice mistakes. For example, “If one understood the physical chemistry of CO2’s role in the greenhouse gas effect, one would clearly understand that once the level of CO2 reaches 400 ppm, it no longer is a greenhouse gas.” appears to make the saturation argument. This was solved by Callendar in 1938. I suggest Houghton’s Physics of Atmospheres as suitable reading material.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 5 May 2010 @ 11:36 AM

  405. After being thoroughly educated by Dr. Barrante, I must conclude that in about 5 years when CO2 reaches 400 ppm its greenhouse effect will shut off and we will quickly plunge into a snowball. Who knew?

    Comment by Chris Colose — 5 May 2010 @ 11:51 AM

  406. Jim Bullis
    The term is used in the science for the change in pH of the oceans.
    Your opinion doesn’t change the science or the terminology:

    Anthropogenic ocean acidification over the twenty-first century and its impact on calcifying organisms
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v437/n7059/abs/nature04095.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 May 2010 @ 12:17 PM

  407. ps. the Supplementary Information file is available to the public, although the main article at Nature is paywalled. This sets out the calculations and assumptions for the chemistry:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v437/n7059/extref/nature04095-s1.pdf

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 May 2010 @ 12:27 PM

  408. Ps for Dr. Barrante, this may help:
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/doi/10.1086/145352
    hat tip to: http://agwobserver.wordpress.com/2010/04/03/papers-on-the-theory-of-co2-absorption-properties/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 May 2010 @ 2:29 PM

  409. On acidification and alkalinization: non-climate uses found in the literature for acidification of alkaline solutions, or alkalinization of acidic solutions:

    “We also demonstrated that acroso-mal antigens detected by monoclonal antibodies MN7 and MC41 did not dissolve following the acrosome reaction in pH 5.3 media, but dissolved at pH 6.2. These data suggest that acroso-mal alkalinization during incubation conducive for sp-erm capacitation may function to alter acroso-mal contents and prepare them for release during the acrosome reaction.”

    “Alkalinization of the ur-ine with potassium citrate to a pH of 6.5 to 7 is recommended”

    “Anoxia induced a cytoplasmic acidification from pH 7.6 (aerobic) to 7.4 as measured by 31P-NMR”

    “In the normal Krebs-Ringer solution of pH 7.4, lidoc-aine significantly reduced these relaxations in a concentration-dependent fashion. Alkalinization of pH 7.6 augmented the inhibitory effect of lidoc-aine on these relaxations, whereas acidification of pH 7.2 substantially abolished this effect.”

    Comment by Marcus — 5 May 2010 @ 2:36 PM

  410. James R. Barrante (394) — Truely stunningly ignorant. Do read the Charney et al. 1979 NRC/NAS report:
    http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12181&page=R1
    and then you won’t be at least 40+ years out-of-datee.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 5 May 2010 @ 4:07 PM

  411. JRB 396: If one understood the physical chemistry of CO2’s role in the greenhouse gas effect, one would clearly understand that once the level of CO2 reaches 400 ppm, it no longer is a greenhouse gas.

    BPL: “Physical chemistry???” It’s a quantum effect!

    If you’re talking about saturation of absorption lines, that doesn’t work as a disproof of global warming–something known since the 1940s. Try here for a summary:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Saturation.html

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 May 2010 @ 4:12 PM

  412. JB: There are far too many people who are capable of looking up pH and realizing that we are only talking about a slight change in pH, which still leaves the ocean far from acidic. Saying that is acidification sounds like a contrivance to make things sound worse than they are.

    BPL: If pH is declining, the liquid is “acidifying.” If it is rising, the liquid is “alkalinizing.” And apparently you don’t realize that the “small difference” in pH is on a logarithmic scale, and base 10 logs rather than base e logs at that.

    50% of the coral reefs around the world are already dead. Don’t tell me ocean acidification doesn’t matter.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 5 May 2010 @ 4:15 PM

  413. Gavin wants to know how CO2 can absorb “upwelling” IR at 399 ppm and not at 400 ppm. I’m shocked that he has never heard of the Feynman-Schmidt Effect. It’s a quantum mechanical perturbation, found by R. Feynman et.al. in 1963, that (for CO2) triggers at exactly 400 ppm and stops the carbon and oxygen atoms from vibrating. At that point CO2 ceases to be a greenhouse gas. It’s quite common in superconductions, but at much lower temperatures.

    Mr.(Dr.)(whatever) Pearson. I Googled your name. Very impressive list of publications. Pages and pages of John E. Pearsons. Which one are you? Now Google my name. At last count, I think I had about 25 to 30 pages of citations. I’d ask you to read my text books, but I’m not sure, how is your Japanese?

    For those of you who are not sure of my credentials – why not try reading my book and peer-review it, before labeling me a denier. It’s written for individuals with little training in science. You should be able to handle it.

    Comment by James R. Barrante — 5 May 2010 @ 4:44 PM

  414. BPL 412: Spoken like a true physicist. Now try a little chemistry. If the pH of a solution drops from 8.3 to 7.2, has the solution become more acidic? Try adding water to a basic solution. The pH will drop. How much water will it take to make the solution acidic? I think I read some place that your expertise is science fiction and fantasy? Are you that B.P. Levenson?

    Comment by James R. Barrante — 5 May 2010 @ 5:02 PM

  415. James R. Barrante (413) — Defies belief. AFAIK Rishard Feynman never wrote a paper with (any) Schmidt, certainly not Maarten (a cosmologist) and certainly not about this. Using the search engine locates nothing.

    Put up (a reference) or shut up.

    [Response: Pretty sure he's joking. Even he realises how dumb his original statement was. - gavin]

    Comment by David B. Benson — 5 May 2010 @ 6:37 PM

  416. James R. Barrante,
    Do you have a citation for your “Feynman-Schmidt Effect”. I find none in google, and it is not in any of my P. Chem books.

    Also, now that we have established that you have not published in climate science, perhaps you would care to share some of the publications in your extensive “25-35 pages” of publications, which, curiously, also seem to be missing from Google Scholar.

    Finally, is it seriously your contention that the cause of fallin pH in the oceans is the addition of fresh water? You do realize that this mechanism would require about a significant increase in the volume of the oceans, as well as a significant decrease in density, don’t you? Perhaps you would be so good as to estimate the magnitude of these changes for us so we can test your hypothesis.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 5 May 2010 @ 6:45 PM

  417. 414:
    Wow, are you ever playing a sad game of semantics. You ask “If the pH of a solution drops from 8.3 to 7.2, has the solution become more acidic?” The key word there being “more”, not simply “acidic”. Then you go on with “Try adding water to a basic solution. The pH will drop.” Well, duh, Mr. Chemist. But of course then you classically and subtly drop the qualifier “more” and go with “How much water will it take to make the solution acidic?” Not “*more* acidic”, just “acidic” which you ought to know is less than pH 7.0. And there you go…if you are truly such an expert you would know that you are making the solution less *basic* as it is diluted with your presumably pH 7.0 water in a lab. Or perhaps you were talking about adding actual precipitation in the real world which is of course, acidic to varying degrees. And we clearly see what happens when you add acidic precipitation to water in sensitive streams.
    You claim to be a writer of books for non-scientists. Yet you play silly and incorrect freshman level games with the fundamentals of acids/bases and pH. So much for credentials. And certainly none when it comes to climate science.

    Comment by Dan — 5 May 2010 @ 8:27 PM

  418. > at exactly 400 ppm and stops the carbon and oxygen atoms from
    > vibrating. At that point CO2 ceases to be a greenhouse gas

    and with the cessation of molecular vibration, hell freezes over.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 5 May 2010 @ 9:00 PM

  419. Good grief! There is no Feynman-Schmidt effect. Don’t you see how silly the idea proposed to me was – that CO2 would absorb IR at 399 ppm and not at 400 ppm. Talk about Dim Wits. In our atmosphere, on our planet the amount of IR radiation at 15um is limited. By the time the level of CO2 reaches 400 ppm, the 15 um band has depleted available IR radiation is a distance of about 10 meters (the term saturation is a poor description to what is actually going on). Callendar did not solve the problem in 1938. I think FTIR’s are a little better now then IR instruments in 1938. (Heinz Hug’s recent research).

    414: No semantics. I’m repeating what you people are saying – adding CO2 to the oceans make them more acidic (your words – not mine). I’m assuming Dan has a Ph.D. in chemistry, so he should understand this. The “more” is not important – it’s still ridiculous to say adding CO2 to the oceans make the oceans “acidic” when the pH is still above 7. Duh. By the way, Dan, I am an expert. How many graduate chemistry courses have you taught? The point is simple. Until the pH drops below 7, a solution is not acidic. Will the oceans ever become acidic? Not by adding CO2. Too much bicarbonate. Oceans are highly buffered. pH remains close to 8. Excess CO2 usually reacts with basic salts in the ocean to form things like CaCO3 that precipitate out. By the way, that is where much of the CO2 in our atmosphere ends up. Now acid rain (SO2) and a garbage dump twice the size of the State of Texas in the Pacific certainly could acidify the oceans. Why aren’t environmentalists concerned about that? That’s okey, Dan. I have hundreds of students like you. A little knowledge is dangerous.

    Comment by James R. Barrante — 5 May 2010 @ 9:30 PM

  420. Barrante sez: “why not try reading my book and peer-review it, before labeling me a denier” Well, considering you claim the book was written for “non-scientists” – in fact for “dim wits” – it’s be a suprise if you’d written anything that could be “peer reviewed”. BUT, I took a few minutes to struggle through the freely available first 25 pages, and I’d suggest there’s hardly a sentence in the lot that isn’t standard denialist memes, not to mention being quite intelligent design-ish.

    Interesting that your primary concern right from the beginning appears to be that “global governments are poised to spend TRILLIONS of dollars needlessly”. I wonder, do you have anything to say about the unstainable energy use today and the looming end of cheap energy, or is that some kind of religous misconception as well?

    Comment by flxible — 5 May 2010 @ 9:30 PM

  421. 412 BPL

    Yup, I do understand logarithmic measurements and we are still a long way from acidic, however scientific you want to sound.

    But my point was about presentation and trying to appear rational rather than zealous.

    All this other stuff, come on, this is simply a matter of presentation and not making things overly dramatic. Yes, there is still a problem, but it would be more convincing to try to sound more objective about it all.

    Real people hear the word acidification and they think “acid” like the stuff that burns people, and stuff like that.

    But back to real climate. Does anyone have any way to discuss whether barnacles, clams, etc might grow faster in warmer water and with more CO2? I never get an answer on that. Hm, maybe it is not quite in hand.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 5 May 2010 @ 9:57 PM

  422. James R. Barrante:
    Regarding your saturation conjecture:
    Even if you were correct regarding radiative CO2 saturation at sea level, do you understand the effect on your conjecture from the fact that the density of the atmosphere declines with increasing altitude? I hope most folks here will understand what I am saying without further explanation!

    Comment by Lawrence McLean — 5 May 2010 @ 10:17 PM

  423. 415 Benson and Gavin,

    Gavin, your sanity through all this is heroic. Thank you.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 5 May 2010 @ 10:19 PM

  424. 419 James Barrante,

    You sound like you have been thinking about this stuff, but you have to realize that the “acidifying” folks are making the distinction that less alkaline, where-ever on the scale, is more acidic. I guess that is correct, but it sounds a bit like sophistry to me. For many of us, at least me, it tends to make the “science” sound a bit like zealotry.

    But really, I do sympathize with the decent people trying to get a response to the problem. In fact, I spend all my time working on solutions that I think are meaningful. And yes, we all have our hills to climb; some of us will get up there.

    After a long day of trying, after my fashion, I tend to think the globe might surprise us with reactions that we have yet to understand. Maybe this is fanciful thinking – - and we have to do our part as well as we can.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 5 May 2010 @ 10:34 PM

  425. “The “more” is not important – it’s still ridiculous to say adding CO2 to the oceans make the oceans “acidic” when the pH is still above 7. Duh. ”

    I believe Barrante is showing that his book should have been titled “Global Warming BY a Dimwit”. Did you look at all my references for acidification and alkalinization? It is fairly clear to me (and to most chemists – and I do have two degrees in chemistry) that a solution of pH 8 is “more acidic” than a solution of pH 9.

    Also, think about the quantities of SO2 (a trace contaminant in coal) compared to CO2 (the bulk of coal) that are being added to the ocean – if you think acid rain could acidify the oceans, why don’t you think orders of magnitude more CO2 could do so? I used to help out with elementary school chemistry demonstrations where we’d bubble dry ice through water with an indicator to show how CO2 acidifies water (and then add ammonia to bring the color back).

    And Heinz Hug – you call that “research”? Maybe he should actually try to read and understand some basic textbooks in this area (as, perhaps, should you). At least one major concept he’s missed: “broadening” as in, CO2 absorption spectra are not perfect lines, there’s broadening involved. Saturation is why CO2 forcing is logarithmic and not linear (as it would be at low concentrations). It is a well understood phenomena, and has been taken into account by climate scientists for decades.

    Comment by Marcus — 5 May 2010 @ 10:51 PM

  426. Chris Colose @ 405:

    After being thoroughly educated by Dr. Barrante, I must conclude that in about 5 years when CO2 reaches 400 ppm its greenhouse effect will shut off and we will quickly plunge into a snowball. Who knew?

    No, it will simply snow CO2 since that’s what is going to stop vibrating magically. The air will then contain less CO2 and heat back up again, until all the CO2 is on the ground and it’s hot as Hades from the rest of the greenhouse gases. At this time people will be able to say that Hell actually =has= frozen over.

    On a more serious note, I do see some value in the point Jim Bullis is making — for lay people, “acid” is either “pH of less than 7″ or “Battery stuff that corrodes my driveway.” I think there is a problem with some technical content being =too= technical, and lay people then saying “I was in the water just last week and I didn’t feel like I were swimin’ in no battry acid!”

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 5 May 2010 @ 11:23 PM

  427. Barrante claims using the term acidification with basic pH is nonsensical. I suggest he considers what the usage is in a non global warming related topic: “Acidosis is an increased acidity in the blood. (i.e. an increased hydronium ion concentration). If not further qualified, it usually refers to acidity of the blood plasma.

    Acidosis is said to occur when arterial pH falls below 7.35, while its counterpart (alkalosis) occurs at a pH over 7.45.”

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 5 May 2010 @ 11:56 PM

  428. “Yup, I do understand logarithmic measurements and we are still a long way from acidic,”

    However, you don’t seem to understand CHANGE.

    If something is extremely cold and then becomes merely cold, it is WARMING.

    You, however, would say “Oh no it isn’t!!! We’re a LONG WAY from *warm*!!!”.

    warm != warming

    acid != more acidic

    but if you ADD an acid to a solution, no matter what its original pH, it is now more acidic.

    What do you think carbonic acid is, Jimmy?

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 2:39 AM

  429. James R. Barrante,
    I’ve read the first several pages of your “book”. It’s sad. Really. Nothing but long-dead, zombie arguments reanimated by your ignorance. What is more, the fact that you direct your arguments at the least technical and most vulnerable of audiences–arguments that fly in the face of all accepted science on the subject–pushes you very close to the border of scientific misconduct.

    You have no special expertise in the subject. You have no original arguments. It is clear that you have not even made an effort to understand the science. So, James, prove me wrong.

    How does “natural variability” cool the stratosphere simultaneously with warming the troposphere?

    How do you explain the unmistakable signature of a long-lived, well mixed greenhouse gas in the current warming and in the paleoclimate?

    How do you explain over a dozen separate lines of evidence all favoring a CO2 sensitivity of 3 degrees per doubling?

    How do you justify passing your personal prejudices off as science?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 May 2010 @ 4:53 AM

  430. JRB 413: Gavin wants to know how CO2 can absorb “upwelling” IR at 399 ppm and not at 400 ppm. I’m shocked that he has never heard of the Feynman-Schmidt Effect. It’s a quantum mechanical perturbation, found by R. Feynman et.al. in 1963, that (for CO2) triggers at exactly 400 ppm and stops the carbon and oxygen atoms from vibrating. At that point CO2 ceases to be a greenhouse gas.

    BPL: So why is Venus so hot?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 May 2010 @ 5:35 AM

  431. JRB 414: I think I read some place that your expertise is science fiction and fantasy? Are you that B.P. Levenson?

    BPL: That’s what I do for a living. My “expertise” lies in the 2 years I studied at CMU and 3 years at Pitt, culminating in a dual physics/computer programming B.S. in 1983; my past presidency of the Tripoli Science Association and my numerous papers for Tripolitan and Selenology; and twelve years writing atmosphere models.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 May 2010 @ 5:40 AM

  432. #413
    “Now Google my name. At last count, I think I had about 25 to 30 pages of citations.”

    But only four citations on ISI WoS (That’s four citations, not four pages). One cited 56 times, one 8, one 6 & one never. h index=3

    Comment by Chris S — 6 May 2010 @ 5:44 AM

  433. Hank 418: ROFLMAO! I love it.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 May 2010 @ 5:48 AM

  434. …in addition to the above, the year of publication date of the four citations range from 1961-1968.

    Dr. Barrante one paper every two years for eight years and then nothing for 40+ years, are we meant to be impressed?

    Comment by Chris S — 6 May 2010 @ 5:50 AM

  435. JRB 419: In our atmosphere, on our planet the amount of IR radiation at 15um is limited. By the time the level of CO2 reaches 400 ppm, the 15 um band has depleted available IR radiation is a distance of about 10 meters (the term saturation is a poor description to what is actually going on).

    BPL: ALL layers of the atmosphere radiate, not just the ground. Saturation near ground level does not prevent adding more CO2 from warming the ground further. Once again, I direct you to the paper I wrote on the subject. Please read it and DO THE MATH:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Saturation.html

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 6 May 2010 @ 5:50 AM

  436. #419

    Environmentalists don’t /didn’t care about SO2 emissions and acid rain???? You mean it was industrialists and free enterprise extremists who pushed so hard for restrictions on SO2 emission restrictions and it was environmentalists who attempted to block mitagation legislation????

    Wow. Hooduthunkit. I learn something new every day at RC!

    Comment by JiminMpls — 6 May 2010 @ 6:02 AM

  437. 425: Hmm! I would be interested in knowing where your two degrees are from? Two degrees? You’d never know it. Your statements on acid-base equilibria are moronic. When you add an acid to a base, the reaction produces water. The solution does not become acidic until all the base has been neutralized. As long as the hydroxide concentration is larger than the hydrogen ion concentration, the solution is basic. I think you found your spot in the elementary school. You seemed to have forgotten about experimental boundaries. Bubbling dry ice through water is not quite the same as bubbling dry ice through a solution loaded with calcium salts. Moreover, try bubbling dry ice through a saturated solution of sodium bicarbonate. That’s the difference between SO2 and CO2.

    CO2 forcing is logarithmic because it is. Saturation has nothing to do with it. It just happens to be a first-order process. Saturation has to do with the intensity of the incident radiation. The saturation level of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere is quite different from what it would be on, say, Venus, with a much higher IR intensity at 15 microns. Moreover, if one made the intensity of IR at 15 microns very high (like in a laboratory), the CO2 would probably never come close to saturation (never done the experiment so it’s a guess). Some of you are really arrogant pieces of work. How dare you question Heinz Hug’s research ability! Question his conclusions all you want, but just because you don’t like his results, you question his knowledge or integrity?

    You know. I love debating this stuff. In fact, I welcome it. It’s how some of us learn. The material in my book was peer-reviewed by a number of individuals long before I decided to even write the book. My applied mathematics text is in its third edition. I had it reviewed originally by my pchem prof. I knew he would not be afraid to criticize my work. But not once, did he ever attack me. That doesn’t seem to be the case with AGW supporters. They call us deniers (reference Holocaust deniers), use straw men arguments, rarely have anything intelligent to say about the message, but rather attack the messenger, . . . No one has ever shown me the experimental, scientifically tested (by the scientific method) proof that global warming, climate change, melting ice caps, dying polar bears, you name it is caused by any human activity on the planet. As far as I am concerned, these events are natural and have been occurring long before our species was on this planet.

    Comment by James R. Barrante — 6 May 2010 @ 6:04 AM

  438. “Saturation has to do with the intensity of the incident radiation.”

    Nope. The sun doesn’t shine brighter because we have more CO2 in our atmosphere.

    Saturation has something to do with the height at which light can escape however. And as saturation rises because the proportion of CO2 increases, the release of light at CO2 absorption levels gets higher.

    And as anyone who knows anything about weather knows, the higher you go, the colder it is.

    And, as any physicist knows, the colder it is, the less energy is radiated.

    Therefore as saturation rises, the loss of light reduces, meaning that you have trapped more energy in the system.

    Energy in a system can turn up as:

    1) potential energy
    2) kinetic energy

    undirected kinetic energy in bulk products is known as temperature.

    So as the kinetic energy goes up, temperature goes up.

    I really do hope that the real JRB is being joe-jobbed here, because the one posting here is a vacuous moron, unable to pass playschool, never mind any further education (like junior school).

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 8:31 AM

  439. “You know. I love debating this stuff.”

    Ah:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)

    “In fact, I welcome it. It’s how some of us learn.”

    Not you. Again:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 8:32 AM

  440. OK, Dr. Barrante, please listen to this much:

    You are going through a series of statements that may be new to you but many of us readers here (not scientists, just readers) see over and over.
    We can probably guess where you read them — but it would help if you’d say what your source for them is.

    There are answers to each of them. The confusion about saturation and the notion that after 10 meters all the infrared is blocked is classic:

    Are you thinking of infrared coming IN from above, not up from below? Or up from below but not getting past 10 meters above the ground?
    Are you thinking of CO2 as collecting heat until all the CO2 is heated up and can’t take no more, rather than transferring the heat to oxygen and nitrogen?

    It’s beginner stuff. It’s in other people’s beginner level books on this.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 May 2010 @ 9:02 AM

  441. Also — while many of us do try to stay polite, if you sprinkle a mix of insult and assertion about what you believe the science is, you get that back (we’ll try to tie our more aggressive attack chihuahuas up in the back room, but if they get out, apologies in advance — there are people on all sides of these questions who think ‘irate’ is a convincing argument, and they’re not stifled entirely, just discouraged, here).

    But seriously — you talk about infrared intensity — that sounds like you’re thinking of heat from the sun (more at Venus) coming in through the atmosphere.

    Try to focus on one question at a time. Is that one stated as you believe it to be true?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 May 2010 @ 9:16 AM

  442. James R. Barrante, what is under attack is not YOU, but rather your decision to TELL LIES to children rather than vet your unconventional ideas in the peer-reviewed literature.

    Your assertion that absorption in the 15 micron band is saturated is simply and demonstrably false. First, there is still IR radiation escaping in this band:
    http://www-ramanathan.ucsd.edu/RamAmbio.pdf

    Second, Harries(2001) showed that absorption in this spectral line has increased measurably from 1970 through the late 1990s and has continued subsequently.

    JRB: “CO2 forcing is logarithmic because it is. ”

    Uh, dude, you do realize that if forcing is logarithmic, that absorption can’t saturate, don’t you? Ever look at those absorption lines–pretty thick-tailed. They look more Cauchy than Gaussian.

    Now as to your claim that, “The material in my book was peer-reviewed by a number of individuals long before I decided to even write the book,…” who, exactly were these individuals? How many publications IN CLIMATE SCIENCE did they have? How many times had their CLIMATE SCIENCE publications been cited?

    You are aware that the American Chemical Society disagrees with your arguments:

    http://portal.acs.org/portal/acs/corg/content?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PP_SUPERARTICLE&node_id=1907&use_sec=false&sec_url_var=region1&__uuid=1f2c9549-39ff-4190-9aca-660ef98adab9

    To quote: “There is very little room for doubt that observed climate trends are due to human activities. The threats are serious and action is urgently needed to mitigate the risks of climate change.

    The reality of global warming, its current serious and potentially disastrous impacts on Earth system properties, and the key role emissions from human activities play in driving these phenomena have been recognized by earlier versions of this ACS policy statement (ACS, 2004), by other major scientific societies, including the American Geophysical Union (AGU, 2003), the American Meteorological Society (AMS, 2007) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, 2007), and by the U. S. National Academies and ten other leading national academies of science (NA, 2005). This statement reviews key global climate change impacts and recommends actions required to mitigate or adapt to currently anticipated consequences.”

    Here’s a hint, James, provide some evidence for your assertions, not just vague anti-green slurs.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 May 2010 @ 10:32 AM

  443. The patience extended to Barrante is more than he probably deserves. From his book:

    ‘I am going to re-define a “dim wit” (sic) as someone who believes that greenhouse gases, and in particular carbon dioxide, could actually control the climate. Such individuals generally fabricate their version of science to fit their own agenda.’

    The book is littered with zombie arguments as Ray Ladbury said above (e.g. no warming since 1998). Of the eight references to source material and suggested reading, two point the reader to Monte Hieb and T. J. Nelson. As Ray says: your arguments fly in the face of all accepted science on the subject.

    I think I’ll pass, but another interested reader might catch the one remaining copy of ‘Global Warming for Dim Wits’ at Amazon.co.uk (you’ll need to be fast given its sales rank of 697,577).

    Comment by Nelthon — 6 May 2010 @ 10:44 AM

  444. Dr. Barrante, you’re not relying on the Hug papers at Energy and Environment as your ‘peer reviewed’ sources, are you?

    I find Hug published at E’n'E and the john-daly blog science website.

    E’n'E’s past editor made clear they’re not a science journal.

    E’n'E’s current editor sees no difference between his work and that of the editors of Nature or Science, which ought to raise an eyebrow or two: wattsupwiththat.com/2009/08/27/opportunity-knocks/#comment-178928

    The widely known blog science writer Richard Courtney claims that E’n'E has higher standards than Nature or Science: http://www.politicaldivide.info/globalwarmingskeptics.info/forums/thread-652.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 May 2010 @ 11:58 AM

  445. Dr. Barrante, did you do all the writing yourself, or are some of the arguments in the book ones that were drafted for you and provided to you with assurance they had already been peer-reviewed?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 6 May 2010 @ 12:32 PM

  446. This brouhaha over the term “acidification” is yet another diagnostic of the bankruptcy of climate science rejectionists. The more these people quibble over terms commonly accepted in our parlance, the more obvious it becomes they’ve nothing significant to say about climate.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 6 May 2010 @ 12:41 PM

  447. Dr. Barrante – “By the time the level of CO2 reaches 400 ppm, the 15 um band has depleted available IR radiation is a distance of about 10 meters”

    a. consider the radiation emitted by CO2. Yes, as optical thickness gets large over distances of significant temperature variation, the net radiant flux approaches zero, but that’s not the same as there being no available IR.

    b. consider what happens at 14 um and 16 um. Then consideer what happens at 13 um and 17 um. Then consider what happens at 12 um and 18 um. And if you add enough CO2, you’ll want to consider what happens at 11 um and 19 um. (the term saturation is a poor description to what is actually going on). Callendar did not solve the problem in 1938. I think FTIR’s are a little better now then IR instruments in 1938. (Heinz Hug’s recent research).

    “Will the oceans ever become acidic? Not by adding CO2. Too much bicarbonate. Oceans are highly buffered. pH remains close to 8. Excess CO2 usually reacts with basic salts in the ocean to form things like CaCO3 that precipitate out. By the way, that is where much of the CO2 in our atmosphere ends up.”

    I’m not qualified to address how low the pH can go, but do consider:

    CO2 can only react with H2O and Ca ions to produce CaCO3 when there are Ca ions available. Furthermore, CaCO3 is less likely to precipitate and more likely to dissolve when the pH is reduced (if I’m not mistaken, depletion of Ca ions would have that effect if not buffered by something else. The tendency of CaCO3 to dissolve or not depending on pH is actually a source of the buffering).

    When more CaCO3 (or any carbonate) is dissolved, it can react with CO2 to form bicarbonate ions. This increases the ability of the water to take up CO2 from the air (or reduces the ability to release CO2 to the air). But when CaCO3 comes out of solution, then – when that water reaches the air, it will be more able to release CO2 (or less able to take up CO2). Ultimately, besides organic C burial, what pulls CO2 out of the air and makes carbonate minerals is the supply of ions such as Ca ions from minerals that are not carbonate minerals (via chemical weathering). This is a slow process that tends to balance geologic emissions of CO2 (from exposure and oxidation of organic C, or from CO2 produced by the reaction of carbonates with silicates to produce other silicates and CO2, which is more product favored at higher temperatures found beneath the surface).

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 6 May 2010 @ 1:04 PM

  448. I accidentally got some of my comment mixed up with Dr. Barrante’s; point b should be:

    b. consider what happens at 14 um and 16 um. Then consideer what happens at 13 um and 17 um. Then consider what happens at 12 um and 18 um. And if you add enough CO2, you’ll want to consider what happens at 11 um and 19 um.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 6 May 2010 @ 1:06 PM

  449. Dr. Barrante said:”Callendar did not solve the problem in 1938. I think FTIR’s are a little better now then IR instruments in 1938. (Heinz Hug’s recent research).”

    The error that you and Hug and Barrett are making has nothing to do with how good the instrumentation is. The error is lack of familiarity with the literature which shows where the “saturation” argument is mistaken.

    For example, Barrett’s paper was responded to by John Houghton, whose textbook the physics of atmospheres I suggested you read (and work the problems).

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 6 May 2010 @ 1:23 PM

  450. Either someone is joe jobbing Barrante or the poor man has completely lost (or sold) the plot.

    NOTHING he’s said has anything close to intelligence with it.

    Whoever is posting under that name is just trolling.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 6 May 2010 @ 1:39 PM

  451. Ray Ladbury:

    JRB: “CO2 forcing is logarithmic because it is. ”

    Uh, dude, you do realize that if forcing is logarithmic, that absorption can’t saturate, don’t you?

    And this guy has written a textbook on applied mathematics?

    Comment by dhogaza — 6 May 2010 @ 2:41 PM

  452. I call Poe on Barrante. Can I claim my prize now?

    Comment by Former Skeptic — 6 May 2010 @ 3:20 PM

  453. reworded last part for clarity

    Ultimately, what pulls CO2 out of the air and ocean and makes carbonate minerals is the supply of ions such as Ca ions from minerals that are not carbonate minerals (via chemical weathering). This is a slow process that, along with organic C burial, and geologic emissions of CO2 (from exposure and oxidation of organic C, or from CO2 produced by the reaction of carbonates with silicates to produce other silicates and CO2, which is more product favored at higher temperatures found beneath the surface), completes the geologic branch of the carbon cycle.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 6 May 2010 @ 4:04 PM

  454. Gavin’s response to comment #414 — Aftr G&T one can never be sure. anyway, it does appear that James R. Barrante is suffering from a form of what has been named Motl’s Syndrome.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 6 May 2010 @ 4:07 PM

  455. Just a sidebar:

    It seems, as expressed by many, that the entry ante is peer reviewed publications on climatology by climatologists. Why does this not apply to Gore, Pachauri, Krugman, or even Obama?

    Not saying who is right or wrong; just musing about the rules of engagement.

    [Response: Easy. None of them are attempting to overthrow decades of research and understanding with trivially-wrong back-of-the-agenda calculations. -gavin]

    Comment by Rod B — 6 May 2010 @ 4:35 PM

  456. Rod B., There is a really, really big difference between trying to get the science right as it is presented in the peer-reviewed literature and going 180 degrees against that literature and evidence. And when one goes 180 degrees against the consensus, passing oneself off as an expert in a book FOR CHILDREN, that is beyond the pale. I draw the line at lying to kids. Cross that, and you cease to be a scientist.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 6 May 2010 @ 8:22 PM

  457. 456: Ray: To be a scientist you have to publish in the peer-reviewed literature. Barrant doesn’t. Therefore Barrant is not a scientist. Publishing a couple of papers 4 or 5 decades ago simply doesn’t cut it.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 6 May 2010 @ 8:55 PM

  458. James Barrante you are not a Physical Chemist, and quite frankly I find it disheartening when you fail to understand a basic discussion on ph. Derive the Henderson-Hasselbach equation for the buffer system NH4/NH3.

    Explain the equilibrium constant expression for any acid producing with metal ions.

    Cations with PKa values of less than 14 have what sort of hydrolysis activities. What about a given set of ranges below 14?

    Finally what effect if any does C02 have on solutions? Is C02 acidic?

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 6 May 2010 @ 10:16 PM

  459. number 450, Completely Fed Up I wholeheartedly agree with your statement. He knows less chemistry than a first semester undergraduate chemistry student barely holding onto a C in an Inorganic Chemistry course.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 6 May 2010 @ 10:19 PM

  460. I would recommend Pater Atkins for both P Chem and Advanced Inorganic, but the last time I did that someone read it and had no idea what was being stated:)

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 6 May 2010 @ 10:24 PM

  461. I am getting talkative tonight, so I will just summarize here on this sub-topic many of us are on:

    C02 partially plugs the gap in water cover,and the absorption of IR radiation by water vapor.

    C02 absorbs several different bands of IFR and it changes the solubility of water as well:)Very simple, but very important.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 6 May 2010 @ 11:32 PM

  462. Gavin @ 455: “… trivially-wrong back-of-the-agenda calculations.”

    Lovely phrasing, Gavin! A delightful spot in this amusing thread on Dr. Barrante’s ideas on climate change.

    Comment by Charles — 7 May 2010 @ 1:20 AM

  463. I cannot believe that folks here are seriously addressing this Barrante guy’s, eh, stuff!

    Gavin summed it up: “Oh dear.”

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 7 May 2010 @ 3:42 AM

  464. JRB 437: No one has ever shown me the experimental, scientifically tested (by the scientific method) proof that global warming, climate change, melting ice caps, dying polar bears, you name it is caused by any human activity on the planet.

    BPL: Okay, let me lay it out for you.

    1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas (Tyndall 1859).
    2. CO2 is rising (Keeling et al. 1958, etc.).
    3. The new CO2 is from fossil fuels (Suess 1955, Revelle and Suess 1957).
    4. The Earth is warming (NASA GISS, Hadley CRU, UAH MSU, RSS TLT, boreholes, etc., etc., etc.).
    5. The warming correlates closely with the CO2 (r^2 = 0.76 for ln CO2 and dT for 1880-2008).

    Which of the above do you dispute, and why? And 1-4 OBVIOUSLY proceed from lab work and field observations.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 May 2010 @ 5:03 AM

  465. The IPCC (2007) concludes “Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.” Since 2007, no international scientific body holds a dissenting opinion and some have clarified their position with stronger statements regsarding AGW . For example, see: The Geological Society of America (2010). Keep in mind that these organizations represent the reputations of thousands of their member sceintists so they do not make these statements lightly.

    Dr. Barrante thinks otherwise and has published a book. A search of journal databases (EBSCO Host and Science Direct) shows no hits for any papers by him related to climate change nor greenhouse gas physics.

    There are three possible conclusions the average person can come to when considering the issue of AGW:

    1) An overwhelming majority of international climate experts agree about much of the tenets of AGW and are honest.
    2) An overwhelming majority of international climate experts are ignorant about their own expertise in a sudden and collective manner.
    3) They have all agreed to conspire to delude the billions of folks on the planet and just a very tiny percentage of them (and mostly oil-funded and unpublished) are trying to save us all from this mass hoax.

    Consider these three and then look at The Credibility Spectrum. Dr. Barrante falls between scientists and communicators. He is a scientist but not publishing in the areas that are related to his anti-consensus arguments. So, he is ahead of Albert Gore in credibility but behind Dr. Hansen and others here at RC.

    It appears that there is an extremely low probability that Dr. Barrante is correct and he certainly has not shown extraordinary evidence to support his extraoridnary claims. In fact, much of his “evidence” has been thoroughly debunked by many people many times.

    So what makes Dr. Barrante hold this low probablity view? He is certainly educated and understands scientific method.

    Perhaps he is politically conservative and AGW threatens his world view? Perhaps he is just falling prey to the publications of conservative think tanks and false journalistic balance? Of course, there are many reasons that conservatives should be worried about climate change.

    Or is he suffering from a more advanced form The Dunning-Kruger effect and the climate debate as Freeman Dyson is?

    Or perhaps he has realized that the best way to make a buck is to write a book for everyman that appears to demolish the consensus view? That would be what an intelligent (snake oil) salesman would do.

    Have I missed something?

    Scott A. Mandia, Professor of Physical Sciences
    Selden, NY
    Global Warming: Man or Myth?
    My Global Warming Blog
    Twitter @AGW_Prof
    Global Warming Fact of the Day Facebook Group

    Comment by Scott A Mandia — 7 May 2010 @ 7:54 AM

  466. John@457,
    I would be willing to grant some latitude to someone of long experience who no longer publishes. For instance, Al Bartlett is most definitely still a scientist, although he has shifted his focus to science education. Likewise Leon Lederman. The thing is, though, these guys are quite scrupulous about trying to reflect the consensus. Indeed, we even had one guy in my graduate institution who was nominally a particle theorist who rejected the standard model. He didn’t publish much–partly due to his advanced age, but also because his own pet theories simply weren’t productive. Even so, he, also was scrupulous about labeling his own opinions as differing from the consensus. Still a scientist.

    When you start trying to pass off your own opinions as “the real science,” to lay audiences, and especially to kids, then there ought to be a special place in hell for you. Lying to kids about science is beneath contempt.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 May 2010 @ 8:36 AM

  467. Jacob said:”I would recommend Pater Atkins for both P Chem and Advanced Inorganic, but the last time I did that someone read it and had no idea what was being stated:)”

    I am all for respecting good scientists, but calling them “Father” is a bit too far. :)

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 7 May 2010 @ 8:56 AM

  468. SAM 465: Al Gore studied climatology under Roger Revelle in the ’60s, so he has taken at least one more course in the subject than J.R. Barrante has.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 7 May 2010 @ 10:35 AM

  469. T)P_ hamilton: Peter Atkins even:)

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 7 May 2010 @ 1:31 PM

  470. Re: Barrante’s ravings

    In the first few pages of the preface to his aptly named “Global Warming for Dimwits”, Barrante’s point seems to be that because natural climate changes have generally been slow, it must be true that all climate changes are slow; therefore, the increase in the Earth’s temperature revealed in the global temperature record has not occurred. This is like arguing for the impossibility of heavier-than-air flight as a flock of birds flies by.

    Comment by Jerry Steffens — 7 May 2010 @ 3:40 PM

  471. Gavin and Ray, I find your responses partially surprising. You are saying that the entry ante is peer reviewed publications on climatology by climatologists if one is going against the grain but no such expertise entry ante is required if one is smack dab in the mainstream.

    [Response: Huh? I am unaware that Gore or Kerry are attempting to publish nonsense in the peer-reviewed literature. They generally do a good (if not perfect) job of reflecting what is in the mainstream literature. The contrast to pseudo-scientist clowns like Monckton, Miskolczi, et al. is profound. - gavin]

    Comment by Rod B — 7 May 2010 @ 5:39 PM

  472. Rod, writing _about_ the science can be done effectively by anyone who tries, from grade school science reports on up. Read the work, or trusted reviews of the work, write down the citations, using help from a reference librarian. You needn’t have published in the field to write about it. But that’s writing _about_ it. That’s what citations do for writers.

    Writing _against_ what the science says, by claiming someone out there has peer-reviewed what you write even before you wrote it — is different.

    You understand the difference.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 7 May 2010 @ 6:25 PM

  473. Rod, try reading what I wrote. First, who would you expect to know more about climate science–someone who is actively publishing peer-reviewed research on the subject, or some schmuck you find in a bar or on the AM radio dial? After, publishing peer-reviewed research means that
    1)one is actively trying to understand the climate
    2)one’s peers (who are also publishing) think enough of one’s work to actually read it

    At any given point in time, there will exist a consensus about the state of research. That consensus is generally acknowledged as the best approximation of reality we have. I need not agree with it, and if I am still publishing and contributing interesting perspectives to the literature, I will have some degree of respect among my colleagues. They will listen to my objections to the consensus. And because they are knowledgeable and understand the state of the research themselves, they can make informed judgments about what I am saying. If I have nothing of interest to contribute, why should my colleagues pay any attention to what I say at all. Moreover, because they are knowledgeable, they will know I have nothing to contribute.

    Now, if I am writing for a lay audience, they will likely have no idea of my expertise. They will not be knowledgeable about the state of the art in the field. If I tell them about my own opinion without informing them that it is outside the mainstream, that is dishonest. And if I do so while exaggerating my publication record and expertise, that is doubly dishonest. What I can do is say, “This is what most of my peers belive… and this is why…. However, this is what I believe,… and why I think it is better…,” I am at least being honest.

    To downplay the astoundingly strong evidence favoring the consensus model of Earth’s climate and present a view that is not just outside the mainstream, but at odds with the evidence–and to an audience of children, no less–is simply beyond the pale. It is scientific misconduct of the shabbiest nature. One cannot engage in such misconduct and be trusted as a scientist.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 7 May 2010 @ 9:16 PM

  474. Ray Ladbury # 473, well said sir.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 7 May 2010 @ 11:15 PM

  475. Actually you can be a scientist and be published in non peer review, but the peer review process if preferable for obvious reasons in terms of precision, accuracy and ethics.

    Comment by Jacob Mack — 7 May 2010 @ 11:17 PM

  476. the peer review process is useful only to avoid to fill the scientific literature with useless idiot papers, but it has never been a guarantee of validity for those who pass the filter. It is a marketing criterion, not a scientific one. Its real utility is to allow to sell scientific journals at a high price – most fundamental theories before the XIXth century have been “published” without any referee, they were just discussed among scientists and the most convincing have survived. On the other hand, lyssenkist papers were probably the only ones that survived the refereeing process in biology in the post-war USSR. This is not a good criterion when there is a scientific dispute, the only good arguments are the rational and scientific ones.

    Comment by Gilles — 8 May 2010 @ 2:59 AM

  477. “but it has never been a guarantee of validity for those who pass the filter.”

    Never has the claim been made except as a strawman.

    “It is a marketing criterion, not a scientific one”

    No, it’s how you avoid fooling yourself. This is the 180degree opposite of marketing, which is trying to fool everyone.

    “most fundamental theories before the XIXth century have been “published” without any referee”

    Because there was no scientific paper to peer review for.

    “they were just discussed among scientists and the most convincing have survived.”

    No, the ones with most explicable power survived because they were used in subsequent papers that WERE peer reviewed and those proposals that failed to explain phenomena were dropped or modified.

    “the only good arguments are the rational and scientific ones.”

    Let us know when you start.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 8 May 2010 @ 10:24 AM

  478. I was asking/commenting on the narrow subject of peer review publishing as the entry ante for saying anything. Some believe that to be so, others not. I wasn’t commenting on the worth of any particular post – from a published author or not. I understand that some published authors can still write and speak trash. IMO that puts the requirement to have published for the ante to even play in the proper light. Peer reviewed publishing is a good indicator of credibility, but it’s not perfect and certainly not sacrosanct as some (clearly not all) seem to make it.

    Comment by Rod B — 8 May 2010 @ 11:37 AM

  479. Gilles said:”the peer review process is useful only to avoid to fill the scientific literature with useless idiot papers, but it has never been a guarantee of validity for those who pass the filter. It is a marketing criterion, not a scientific one.”

    Weeding out useless idiot papers is not done for marketing reasons, it is done so that scientists don’t have to waste their time reading crap, or having experiments fail based on the correctness of said crap (which also wastes time). It is an efficiency measure, which is a good thing in ALL occupations.

    The refereeing process in Lysonko’s time was not peer reviewed, but Lysenko reviewed, with the backing of political review.

    Peer review is a great criterion when there is a scientific dispute – soundly argued papers from both sides usually make it through, crap usually doesn’t.

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 8 May 2010 @ 11:55 AM

  480. Rod, you’ve narrowed the subject — narrower than anything anyone has claimed or said — and started to argue with the imaginary strawman.
    Why do this? It gets your name in view repeatedly, but that’s all it does.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 May 2010 @ 1:04 PM

  481. The whole question of scientific credibility is a complicated one. I had a lot of opportunity to observe it in action when I was an editor at a physics magazine in the ’90s.

    Acceptance of work in peer-reviewed journals is an indication that your colleagues at least consider your work worth reading. Ongoing citations over a significant period of time–or at least adoption of your techniques–shows your colleagues likely consider your work useful. All of these things will increase the amount of credence given your opinion(s).

    However, there are more subtle aspects to a scientist’s influence. How helpful is he or she? Is there a willingness to put aside one’s agenda at least temporarily for the sake of common understanding or advancement of the field. And eloquence and insight do play a role–if you can express the consensus more succinctly and cogently than your peers, your arguments will be quoted more often.

    Likewise, there are things you can do to decrease your influence. Refusal to put aside strongly held personal biases or opinions; feuding with colleagues; unethical behavior; failure to publish. These are all poison to your career and influence.

    The best scientists are not those who defy the consensus or those who conform slavishly, but rather those who anticipate where it is heading a few years down the road. This may be because they see weak points that need to be shored up, or because they are early adopters of ideas and techniques, or because they are particularly prescient or insightful. They’re the guys who have lots of people standing around them after they give a talk–and most of them will take time to talk to them..

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 8 May 2010 @ 1:14 PM

  482. Hank, it’s academic but my initial post was narrow, though without careful reading might have been missed.

    Comment by Rod B — 8 May 2010 @ 3:12 PM

  483. > narrow
    Citation needed.

    Rod, you stir up confusion and prolong it in discussions, posting broad-brush statements that people think are a response to the current conversation but you never do relate to what people were talking about,then continuing to stir as people get more confused trying to figure out what you might have been trying to say. It’s a remarkable talent for scrambling conversations.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 May 2010 @ 9:31 AM

  484. 406 Hank Roberts

    I wonder if you actually look at the links you provide; though maybe you are not offering an opinion with the links. They are helpful, but seem to support my position.

    412 Barton Paul Levinson

    The link provided by Hank states that oceans are presently saturated in calcium carbonate and that “acidification” due to CO2 will start to be noticed in the Southern Ocean (and this means way southern) in 2050, maybe, when “acidification” begins to make ocean water not completely saturated such that coral and plankton might have some difficulty forming shells. This effect will get North (meaning less South) into the sub arctic Pacific, whatever that is.

    You and I know that coral has been having a tough time for the last 40 years. You point with certainty to this as demonstration of the effect of “acidification”, as did Al Gore if I remember right. But the scientific study found by Hank tells us that the “acidification” effects will not begin until 2050 or 2100 in parts of the ocean where coral has never had much of a foothold anyway.

    The scientists state clealy what they have found, but are clearly focused on a particular, and important part of the issue. They make no mention of the offsetting effects that I would expect. Not to be critical of focused science, but what we lack is anything approaching a general study that would be a reasonable basis for alarm about this level of “acidification”.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 9 May 2010 @ 5:36 PM

  485. Jim Bullis – “This effect will get North (meaning less South) into the sub arctic Pacific, whatever that is.”

    I’m really suprised at that Jim, one might take a minute to understand the geographic zones being discussed. The Sub Arctic Pacific is the oceanic division directly south of the Arctic [the area most studied by B.C. marine scientists], and the Southern Ocean is south of 60°S latitude.

    As with other effects of climate change, the rate of change is what is relevent with acidification, and it’s effect on the whole system. You might find more useful basic information on ocean acidification here, including:
    “Because of the increase in CO2 entering into the ocean from the atmosphere, the saturation horizons for calcium carbonate have shifted towards the surface by 50-200 meters compared with their positions before the industrial revolution. This means that the zone occupied by undersaturated deep waters is growing larger and the zone occupied by the saturated surface waters is growing smaller.”

    Note the study Hank linked relates to surface waters. Effects have certainly already “begun” in the ocean.

    Comment by flxible — 9 May 2010 @ 10:06 PM

  486. Coral is also stressed by temperatures that are too high.

    Comment by Patrick 027 — 9 May 2010 @ 10:11 PM

  487. Jim, did you even read beyond the abstract of that 2005 paper?
    It was a place to start reading, not the current last word.
    You’ve misstated the science cherrypicking what supports your belief.

    That paper was Cited by 439 other papers, per Scholar.

    The link Flxible gives you is also quite helpful, as is the point that you can’t just look at the surface on this issue.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 May 2010 @ 10:36 PM

  488. Cited by 439– here’s a correct link for that, it got munged somehow above.
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?cites=14688892863103451108&hl=en&as_sdt=2000

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 May 2010 @ 10:38 PM

  489. 485 flxible

    You got me there. I mis-read and made the leap that it was contiguous with the Southern ocean. So yup, in 50 years the problem for the coral will begin. That is what the study linked by Hank says.

    That study also says that the surface ocean is fully saturated with calcium carbonate.

    The quote you offer is telling us that from some unknown level where ocean water went from unsaturated to saturated before the industrial revolution that same transition has risen by 50-100 meters. So the CO2 comes in from the top but its effect comes up from the bottom. I guess it is time for me to look at your link to find out first, how the heck do they know where it was 200 years ago and whether there is any chance this could get to coral which mostly lives in shallow water. I shall return.

    I will also try to figure out why we describe the vast Pacific Ocean as the Sub Arctic Pacific. I need to recheck those words also.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 10 May 2010 @ 2:32 AM

  490. 485 flxible

    re my last at 2:32

    I am back.

    The problems with the explanation at the Ocean Acidification Network are numerous. So many apparent contradictions, undefined scales, pretend quantification, results that are unconvincingly based on climate models of unknown and uncertain validity references that are not available etc., it is not worth much. The most important reference is “in press.”

    Let’s try to find references a little higher than sixth grade quality. Assuming this is the best out there I get a sense that these projections are premature, and far from settled science.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am inclined to expect all kinds of problems. But when the outflow of information starts to sound like hype, damage to credibility makes it harder to sell real results when they come in.

    Comment by Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. — 10 May 2010 @ 3:11 AM

  491. Hank, I occassionally question what appears to me to be crap in sidestream supporting comments in some posts. I suppose that might be construed as scrambling conversations in the vein of by focusing on the supporting crap I’m missing the point that the poster would prefer everyone look at — and just give their crap a pass.

    Comment by Rod B — 10 May 2010 @ 6:24 AM

  492. > Rod B says: 8 May 2010 at 11:37 AM
    > I was asking/commenting on the narrow subject of peer review
    > publishing as the entry ante for saying anything. Some believe
    > that to be so, others not.

    Yeah, yeah, “some” say — so you say. If you could cite an example, I’m sure you would.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 May 2010 @ 10:07 AM

  493. “Some believe that to be so, others not.”

    Well thanks for letting us all know that some people will think one thing and some people will think another thing.

    This will come in handy in future discussions, I’m sure.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 10 May 2010 @ 10:14 AM

  494. No, CFU, it’s worse than you describe it. Rod’s extremely good at slipping in statements that appear to be factual, almost seem to be related to something someone actually said (usually arguing against it) but that don’t actually quote, or point to, or cite any source. He says something that casts doubt or disbelief as though he were stating a real factual argument. Then he goes on and on about it, without ever tying his belief down.

    In this case, he wanted to somehow defend the notion that publishing a children’s book, without citations to good sources for the claims in it, is acceptable — from that he kind of slides sideways to claim that “some” think publishing is required to comment.

    It’s a quick sleight-of-hand trick to cover up the emptiness of the claim he’s trying to make readers think some other people made.

    Strawman argument. Excellent, effective, tactic. Empty of facts.

    If we “educated” children by telling them WHAT to think without giving them access to who says what and how to look it up for themselves — education would be a whole lot less expensive.
    http://cmsimg.freep.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Avis=C4&Dato=20100422&Kategori=BLOG24&Lopenr=100421092&Ref=AR&MaxW=575&Q=75&border=0

    Rod can point to some basis for his beliefs if he has a basis other than what’s in his own mind. It’d make them much easier to discuss and elucidate. If he’s right, I’ll go jump hard on whoever says what he claims “some” say myself. So would you. So would anyone who thinks.
    Having science publications isn’t a prerequisite to comment.

    But I looked for the “some” who say what he claims. I find nothing.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 May 2010 @ 10:45 AM

  495. Rod, let me try to be really clear. I’m not criticizing you, you’ve led conversations into some interesting areas and as a result we’ve all learned more about this stuff, as much as blogging can help.

    I’m criticizing the behavior — wherever it happens, including in my own comments when I fall into it: asserting without giving any basis.

    The “some say” or “theory predicts” assertions lacking citation or any real-world example of anyone who says or predicts whatever is claimed.

    Here’s an example from Chris Colose’s thread of what I’m trying to say:
    http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/greenhouse-effect-revisited/#comment-2041

    This is relevant to the guy’s book for children — publishing claims that can’t be tied down to anything someone actually said, no cite, no source, no basis. My advice, always: help people look it up themselves.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 May 2010 @ 11:28 AM

  496. “Strawman argument. Excellent, effective, tactic. Empty of facts.”

    But effectiveness goes down when you go “yeah, so some people think one thing and some people think another thing. I remain unsurprised”.

    It ought to point out that there wasn’t actually anything said.

    And any attempt to rebut that rather bare assertion (you’ve said nothing) will lead to something being said (which can then be argued over) or a repeat of a different form of nothing said.

    Which can be treated the same way again.

    Argument Munchausen By Proxy: assert that SOMEONE ELSE said something. Then, when you don’t have a rebuttal for the counterpoint, claim that that point should be laid to that SOMEONE ELSE.

    Common denialist tactic.

    Rod just doesn’t bother asserting who that someone is. And, with that last one at least, not even asserting what this “other”‘s point even is.

    Hard to argue when no statement has been made. and therefore worse than you state. Rod B’s statement was not merely devoid of fact, it was devoid of any form of substance.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 10 May 2010 @ 11:41 AM

  497. Jim Bullis @490
    You are too quick to wave away the serious message at ocean-acidification.net

    So many apparent contradictions, undefined scales, pretend quantification, results that are unconvincingly based on climate models of unknown and uncertain validity references that are not available etc., it is not worth much. The most important reference is “in press.”

    > Let’s try to find references a little higher than sixth grade quality.

    That’s just a cheap shot. The site’s sponsors – SCOR, UNESCO IOC, IAEA MEL, and IGBP – are among the top international scientific bodies with oceanography specialization.

    Are you seriously trying to insinuate that this site does not link to authoritative source materials “good enough” for your exacting standards? Time to climb down from your high horse and actually look at what you’re criticizing (“sixth grade quality” indeed!)

    Please go back, look at the main page of http://www.ocean-acidification.net/ and look at the left column. Right below “home”, there is a link to the full text PDF of Cicerone et al 2004, “Priorities for Research on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World.” This report summarizes the results of an SCOR conference in 2004 setting out what problems the assembled experts felt needed the highest priority in continuing research. The paper provides a handy link to complete details of the syposium program with posters, presentations and images:

    http://ioc.unesco.org/iocweb/co2panel/HighOceanCO2.htm

    The paper also lists the over 100 professors of oceanography who took part.
    Maybe you feel their collective wisdom does not surpass your “grade six level”?

    Next in the o-a.net left column is a link to the full text PDF of Orr et al. 2009, Report on Research Priorities for Ocean Acidification arising from the same network’s second symposium in Oct. 2008.

    Third is a link to an entire special issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research, vol. 110, No. C9, 2005 entitled “The Oceans in a High-CO2 World”.
    The link goes to the issue’s TOC which lists 17 peer-reviewed papers on ocean acidification. All “grade six level” I suppose?

    Next under Articles are links to four papers in four different oceanography journals that the site providers judge to be particularly relevant. Did you read any of these, and if so were they no better than “grade six level”?

    Further down the list is a link to Frequently Asked Questions. This is written to be readable by a lay audience, so it is perhaps closer to your “grade six level” in terms of language and complexity level. Yet the first section alone cites 15 sources, 13 from peer-reviewed journals. It also links to their Resources page, which offers materials at a range of levels from basic to highly academic:

    http://www.ocean-acidification.net/Resources.html

    The Monaco Declaration, signed by 155 leading oceanographers, states clearly that these experts believe acidification is a serious crisis.

    Maybe because you’ve studied beyond a grade six level you feel we need to take your dismissive view over that of these top experts in oceanography. Is that what you are hoping?

    Comment by Jim Prall — 10 May 2010 @ 12:32 PM

  498. Jim@490 – If that particular page isn’t comprehensive enough, try links from their home page – or maybe NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory might help – or maybe the European Project on Ocean Acidification. There’s more than a bunch of information out there about it all, it’s likely to be a grave concern much before 2050.

    Yes, the Northern Ocean is “contiguous” with the Southern Ocean, as the surface layers are “contiguous” with the deep. This vast part of the planet is not like discrete landlocked lakes, nominal divisions are relatively arbitrary, some use 5 major divisions, others use only 3, and modifying terms like “subArctic” help when narrowing the area of study. If you consider the original linked abstract was discussing what is a specific small area, and concerned with “surface” water conditions, your global generalizations are tenuous. And we need the definition of surface, for which I wouldn’t presume a particular depth.

    Comment by flxible — 10 May 2010 @ 1:39 PM

  499. “Rod can point to some basis for his beliefs if he has a basis other than what’s in his own mind.”

    Hank, remember: Rod is not even saying it’s in HIS mind. He’s asserting “someone” has it there.

    If you get a good reply on this “someone’s” thoughts, Rod can either say he misstated (and then quickly shift those goalposts), that you’d have to take it up with “them”, or assert that it was actually someone else other than the one you countered.

    All we need do is point out that, rather than being devoid of fact, Rod B’s post there was devoid of ANY SUBSTANCE WHATSOEVER.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 10 May 2010 @ 3:15 PM

  500. Hank, your claim as to what I was defending is 180 degrees out of phase with what I actually said. Does this mean the rest of your post is better directed to yourself as opposed to me??

    Comment by Rod B — 10 May 2010 @ 4:52 PM

  501. Hank (494): “But I looked for the “some” who say what he claims. I find nothing.”

    I figured I was the “some” to who Rod referred to when he said: “> Rod B says: 8 May 2010 at 11:37 AM > I was asking/commenting on the narrow subject of peer review > publishing as the entry ante for saying anything. Some believe > that to be so, others not.”

    OF course I didn’t say that one had to publish in the peer-reviewed literature in order to say anything. I’ve never published a single word on climate. However that isn’t at all what happened and Rod knows it. What happened was a guy that had published 4 papers in his entire career all in the 1960′s and none of them related to anything close to greenhouse gases, climate etc, claimed to be an expert on the greenhouse effect. So yeah, there’s a bar you have to get over. Not to yammer on RC but to be an “expert.” To be an expert in a field you need to be publishing in the field. If you want to overthrow the established wisdom in the field with your revolutionary new theory you have to publish in the peer-reviewed literature. If your theory stands up to the beating it will get in peer-review you’ll be the most popular kid on the block. The guy that we’re talking about, whose name escapes me, was regurgitating stuff that had been shot down a half century ago. Simply put, Rod was being ridiculous.

    Comment by John E. Pearson — 10 May 2010 @ 5:27 PM

  502. > I figured I was the “some” … OF course I didn’t say that …
    Yup; “from that he kind of slides sideways”

    Who he? Oh, some people. You know, them. That kind. Speaking generally.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 May 2010 @ 7:45 PM

  503. Hank, I was simply asserting that some put peer-reviewed publishing in the field by someone trained in the field as a high bar for even entering the discussion. Others don’t make the bar so high. This is evident by reading posts. I saw no useful purpose (and a little rudeness) in naming names and referencing posts.

    Though I admit your general observation in #495 have merit.

    Comment by Rod B — 11 May 2010 @ 8:05 AM

  504. > I was simply asserting that some put peer-reviewed publishing
    > in the field by someone trained in the field as a high bar for
    > even entering the discussion.

    What’s “the” discussion you’re talking about? Not this one here?

    Surely you don’t mean ‘discussion’ by publishing in a children’s climate book baseless claims contradicting known science, claiming “some” peers reviewed the content before the book was written? You wouldn’t defend that, would you? Why, you could use CO2Science for source material and publish their distortions, if you dug a hole and set the “bar” that low.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 May 2010 @ 8:51 AM

  505. Rod B., OK, who should know about a system better than the people who
    a)study it for a living
    b)are obsessed with understaning the system to the point where they have little life outside of work
    c)are acknowledged by their peers (e.g. those similarly exhibiting characteristics a and b) as having insight into the system?

    Put another way: Why waste your time with folks who may have absolutely no idea what they are talking about when you can come to the people whose job it is to understand what is going on? Do you go to a plumber with a blog when you have chest pain?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 11 May 2010 @ 9:24 AM

  506. “Hank, I was simply asserting that some put peer-reviewed publishing in the field by someone trained in the field as a high bar for even entering the discussion.”

    And so what? I call strawman.

    Nobody is saying you have to have peer reviewed publishing to enter the discussion.

    I don’t.

    But if you’re going to teach children YOUR version of the truth then you need to either be following those who ARE plentifully backed up in their theories by peer reviewed work, or be one of those highly-cited masters in the subject yourself.

    You don’t get to teach kids pi = 3 unless you’ve managed to prove that this is so with peer reviewed work. You CAN teach kids pi~3.142 or 22/7 because, for younger children, those values are “right enough” by what other people have proven and your assertion is backed by strong evidence.

    Unlike pi = 3, which is not.

    Neither is JRB’s “work”.

    If he wants to preach his lies to children, he should prove his position first.

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 11 May 2010 @ 9:25 AM

  507. So, why not talk about Krugman, and others, and cite to economic facts?

    What if the facts used aren’t reliable? Who do you cite?

    Try this guy for a contrast to the standard numbers:
    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/gyrobase/john-williams-believe-him-or-not/Content?oid=1725205&cb=2b40e248884183086b3a3c2a559912d7&sort=desc&showFullText=true

    “Americans are learning that perhaps they will have to live with less for a long time to come, and that it’s time to face the facts.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 May 2010 @ 9:32 AM

  508. re: 507

    “Americans are learning that perhaps they will have to live with less for a long time to come, and that it’s time to face the facts.”

    But the reason for that is Peak Oil not cooked numbers. The cost of energy will now act as an automatic choke. As economic activity picks up so will the cost of energy, and that will siphon off the capital needed to kick start an expansion.

    Our current recession is due to the over-leveraged positions ($13 trillion) of the shadow banking world not to Williams’s theory of cooked numbers. Williams strikes me a typical reductionist. “It’s bad and I’ve long said it’s bad.” Yes, things are bad but not for the reasons he provides.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 11 May 2010 @ 1:53 PM

  509. Hank @ 507:

    The problem with people who claim the government consistently over-reports or under-reports is that these supposed systematically too-rosy (or too gloomy) reports cannot be sustained indefinitely. Sooner or later the “power of compounding” causes the bogus claims to be exposed.

    The problem with economic numbers is that they aren’t just numbers — they are assumptions about behaviors that have no =fixed= basis in fact. If a rumour starts tomorrow (or just some bad news), people will respond to that rumour (or bad news) by modifying their behavior in a way that negatively impacts the economy. When some good news comes out, the economy responds positively because people again alter their behavior.

    The question then becomes — this sounds an awful lot like “Psychology”, and the answer is “Yes”, psychology plays a major role in the economy, and what many prophets of gloom and doom (and the other way, too, but the economy supposedly is “very weak” right now) are selling is validation of psychology.

    Comment by FurryCatHerder — 11 May 2010 @ 1:58 PM

  510. Good grief! Are you guys still at it? There was a great movie back when I was in college called “The Hustler” with Paul Newman. You should watch it. I’ve been looking at your site for years and dying to pop in, but never had the right opportunity. Then, miracles, Chuck’s OT thread appeared about my book. You guys took the bait, just as I thought you would. All of you were right on cue. I haven’t had this much fun in ages. Particularly when your little toady, Jacob Mann, jumped in. He put his foot where his mouth is. I probably could sue him for slander. But it’s not worth it. I’m too old.

    I chose not to publish my greenhouse gas research, because it wasn’t worth the grief. I’ve heard the war stories of people who don’t agree with the your side of the story trying to get published. Also, I was too deeply into the work I was doing in X-ray diffraction theory. Yes, I know a little about crystals too, Dr. Ladbury. I found one of the first ordered perovskites back in the ’60s. Anyhoo, BPL, I did read your paper on “saturation.” You should have had it peer-reviewed. I’m still trying to figure out how you can have all the energy “in” equal all the energy “out” and still have the temperature of the system increase. On the other hand, if you are saying that the temperature of layer 1 goes up at the expense of it going down somewhere else in the system, then the system is not at thermal equilibrium and equilibrium thermodynamics doesn’t work. This has been my contention all along. That the greenhouse gas effect cannot be described using equilibrium thermo, because it is a steady state kinetics effect. The atmosphere is never in equilibrium.

    The only person in the group that I feel bad about messing with is Jim Bullis, and I owe him an apology. He was fair-minded and actually treated me with respect. The physicists behaved typically, like a number of my physicists friends in the Physics Department. Me Tarzan, you Jane. What do you know? Like I said, right on cue. John E. Pearson is a mystery. I can’t find anything about him. All I know is that he comments a lot about other people’s work. I’m sure he’s done some original work on his own like most of you, but I’ve noticed over the years, when anyone asks you guys to explain something, you send them to someone else’s work. I actually counted how many times you said, “Go read the literature” to me.

    Finally, I’m not sure how the acid-base stuff got into the argument. I don’t discuss it in my book (you really should read more than 25 pages of book, if you can stand it). Oh, I did mention on page 84 that the CO2 never truly saturates to extinction because the relationship is logarithmic. Yes, I do understand Sturm-Liouville systems and their relationship to self-adjoint operators in quantum mechanics. But getting back to acids and bases, and the toady might learn something here, my point that saying that the oceans are acidifying because they are absorbing CO2 is technically dishonest. One of you used the hot-cold analogy. Hot and cold are relative terms, not absolute terms. This is not true for acids and bases. When something is less basic, it is not more acidic. That is a freshman chemistry understanding of acid-base theory. There is an absolute demarkation point that separates acids from bases and it is not subtle, as one of you pointed out, the pH scale is logarithmic. So my point about ocean chemistry was that when the pH drops from 9 to 8, to say that the solution is more acidic is dishonest. It is less basic, meaning its approaching a neutral state. The pH of the oceans is around 8.4, which is exactly the pH of a saturated solution of bicarbonate (pH = 1/2 (pK1 + pK2)) in the carbonic acid dissociation. It is going to take a lot of CO2 (a lot of CO2) to overcome this buffer system and drop the pH below 7. Could it happen? Absolutely, but I think the excess CO2 will precipitate out as CaCO3 or some other carbonate before this happens. I never heard that the oceans were fizzing in the past. (CO2 is a very weak acid). Acid rain is essentially sulfuric acid which is a strong acid. That’s why I mentioned it. It went over your heads, I guess, I don’t know. You guys seem to fall right into my first chapter, which is entitled, “I Dare You to Teach Me.” I know! You are all physicists. What could a chemist ever teach you. Well, it’s been fun! I think you should get off JRB’s back now and get back to insulting someone else.

    Comment by James R. Barrante — 11 May 2010 @ 2:10 PM

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