Come on you guys in the interests of fairness and so that we don’t suffer from preposterous reactionary legislation (especially in small countries like New Zealand) please, please, please calm down the hype that this issue is causing. At least Mike Hulme had the decency to do that:
Scientists should take the lead, not politicians, economists, activist, and especially not Hollywood.
Biggest joke of the decade on climate change was this idiosyncratic article making it onto the Nature website (Nature!!!??):
Earth System Science: The warming hole
The upcoming IPCC working group 1 report highlights something interesting about global climate trends – the eastern United States is an anomaly. For a blob centered roughly on Alabama (and encompassing DC and the white house), things haven’t got significantly warmer between 1901 and 2005. It looks like the only other place in the world for which that’s true is over the water just south of Greenland.
In more recent years, the eastern US hasn’t fallen victim to warmer days (though it has seen warmer nights). The most significant change is that it’s wetter. More cloudy days over the capital might not be hammering home the message that climate change is real and the world is getting warmer…
Posted November 11, 2006 04:57 AM
I agree that geo-reverse-engineering is ludicrous, but surely this one rates as “the Boldest impractical policy idea” (PNAS!!):
Angel R. Feasibility of cooling the Earth with a cloud of small spacecraft near the inner Lagrange point (L1). Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2006 Nov 14;103(46):17184-9.
Best piece of hoping on the bandwagon? (Science!!)
Balanya J, Oller JM, Huey RB, Gilchrist GW, Serra L. Global genetic change tracks global climate warming in Drosophila subobscura. Science 2006 Sep 22;313(5794):1773-5.
The Great Warming is another fine documentary in public release. Much smaller budget, and therefore much lower profile. But soon to be out on DVD (mid-February). There’s an ambitious bi-partisan coalition (spanning greens to evangelicals) around using the movie as a catalyst towards making climate the dominant issue in the 2008 U.S. elections (the Climate Elections).
While this is the season of good cheer and a time to allow light to reign, this thread can accommodate a bit of reality as well.
Let 2006 be recognizes as the year Southern Australia confronted the pain of global warming.
The following three short pieces will not make a convincing scientific argument that Southern Australia’s drought is being driven by a warming planet but municipal governments are facing the grim reality their water supplies could run out by the end of next year if significant rainfall does not occur.
The water availability “tipping point” may have passed for major cities like Melbourne, Canberra and Sidney.
Comment by John L. McCormick — 27 Dec 2006 @ 1:02 PM
Mike Hulme’s editorial represents one view (an optimistic one). James Lovelock’s book Gaia’s Revenge represents another view (a pessimistic one). Please don’t assume that just because Hulme is calling for restraint, his viewpoint is correct.
Suppose — just for the sake of argument — that Lovelock is right and Hulme is wrong. Then maybe some “reactionary legislation” wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
When you say “please, please, please calm down the hype,” you *assume* that the current rhetoric is “hype.” What if it’s not?
Your : “Boldest impractical policy idea:
entry suggests RealClimate may be in the running for a Robert Burns Award for Unsober Introspection.
The item’s link reveals Gavin’s deeply shocking opposition to geoengineering notions “regardless of their merit or true potential,” because they ” are often seized upon by people who for various reasons do not want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Who would have suspected RealClimate’s committment to a one solution policy agenda ?
I suspect Al Gore should also share the ‘Most revealing insight into the disinformation industry (fiction)’ award with Christo Buckley’s _Thank you for smoking_ , because the truthiness disconnect between what Al has to say and half of the graphs in _An Inconvenient Truth_’s slideshow would do credit to Marc Morano.
[Response: Your selective quotation of my Geo-engineering piece places you pretty high on the Morano scale as well. Readers can go check, but the actual line (in context) was: “The paper is being published in Climatic Change, but unusually, with a suite of commentary articles by other scientists. This is because geo-engineering solutions do not have a good pedigree and, regardless of their merit or true potential, are often seized upon by people who for various reasons do not want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” which is obviously true and has nothing to do with my policy inclinations. We generally do not make recommendations for policy here since it tends to divert and distract from discussing the science (which is what we know most about). -gavin]
Make that a cognitive dissonance award- warning sign still under construction.
I am amiably agreeing that RealClimate’s erstwhile commitment to defining the problem ought to preclude dismissing proposed solutions out of hand- the salient thing about deliberate geoengineering being that it has no track record
“resumed increase in ocean heat content”
Levitus states that the “warming is not yet statistically significant” through the first 3/4ths of 2006 (a bit different flavor than what you suggest here). If this holds through the entire year, this also means that there is not a “statistically signifiant” TOA radiative imbalance through this period. I would consider this rather “surprising”, as most if not all the models do not predict that the ocean heat content at the beginning of 2007 would be close to the value in 2000. This means that there has been very little actual global warming (or net TOA radiative imbalance) in these seven years.
1)Failure of CO2 capture and storage to be recognised in the Clean Development Mechanism- it will not now be considered for another 2 years- thank you Brasil and others for this!.
2)Undermining of the European Emissions Trading Scheme by introducing too generous allowances and giving allowances away rather than auctioning them. Special thanks, surprisingly, goes to Germany.
3)Still no serious concerted and effective action on reducing CO2 emissions from G8, OECD or the top 20 greenhouse gas emitters. All leaders- thank you
4)Increasing lock in of new coal burning plant which is not designed to be capture ready. This lock in will persist into mid-century. Thankyou to all the countries building new coal fired power plant without it being capture ready
5) We have now lost the chance of stabilising the atmosphere below 450ppm- and we are now very close to missing 550ppm- but the urgency of the situation does not seem to register in an effective way with the public or governments. All governments and public elligible to vote but chose the wrong lifestyle or political agenda- thank you
1)Storage of carbon dioxide captured from land based industrial sources in geological formations under the sea bed is now accepted (Nov. 2006) by the London Convention and its Protocol. The strongest argument being that ocean acidification from anthropogenic CO2 released to atmosphere is the greatest threat to the ecosystems of the world’s oceans- far greater than the very slight local risk that might arise if a sub sea bed geological storage site leaked. Thank you scientific advisors to the LC and the countries and civil servants who helped make this amendment to the Annex happen.
2)Stern Review- it’s a no brainer that the cost of preventing greenhouse gas emissions now is a far better option than trying to deal with them, or their consequences, later. Many scientists have consistently given this message for years. But it is a much stronger message when an international economist of such status says it- even if it takes him 100s of pages of information to get there!. Thank you Sir Nicholas Stern- lets hope that your report does not just gather dust!
3)An inconvenient Truth- well done Al Gore!- please translate into all the main languages of the world, please give free DVDs to all schools- or allow free download of the movie over the web. Your movie only has a very short shelf life because things are changing so fast. So you might as well give it away if its in your power to do so.
Nick Riley wrote in #12: “well done Al Gore!- please … give free DVDs to all schools”
Laurie David, the producer of Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth, has already offered to donate 50,000 free DVDs of the movie to the National Science Teachers Association to distribute to science teachers across the US. The NSTA rejected the videos.
Why? According to Laurie David:
At hundreds of screenings this year of “An Inconvenient Truth,” the first thing many viewers said after the lights came up was that every student in every school in the United States needed to see this movie.
The producers of former vice president Al Gore’s film about global warming, myself included, certainly agreed. So the company that made the documentary decided to offer 50,000 free DVDs to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) for educators to use in their classrooms. It seemed like a no-brainer.
The teachers had a different idea: Thanks but no thanks, they said.
In their e-mail rejection, they expressed concern that other “special interests” might ask to distribute materials, too; they said they didn’t want to offer “political” endorsement of the film; and they saw “little, if any, benefit to NSTA or its members” in accepting the free DVDs […] there was one more curious argument in the e-mail: Accepting the DVDs, they wrote, would place “unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters.” One of those supporters, it turns out, is the Exxon Mobil Corp.
… NSTA says it has received $6 million from [Exxon Mobil Corp] since 1996, mostly for the association’s “Building a Presence for Science” program, an electronic networking initiative intended to “bring standards-based teaching and learning” into schools, according to the NSTA Web site. Exxon Mobil has a representative on the group’s corporate advisory board. And in 2003, NSTA gave the company an award for its commitment to science education.
NSTA’s list of corporate donors also includes Shell Oil and the American Petroleum Institute (API), which funds NSTA’s Web site on the science of energy. There, students can find a section called “Running on Oil” and read a page that touts the industry’s environmental track record — citing improvements mostly attributable to laws that the companies fought tooth and nail, by the way — but makes only vague references to spills or pollution. NSTA has distributed a video produced by API called “You Can’t Be Cool Without Fuel,” a shameless pitch for oil dependence.
An API memo leaked to the media as long ago as 1998 succinctly explains why the association is angling to infiltrate the classroom: “Informing teachers/students about uncertainties in climate science will begin to erect barriers against further efforts to impose Kyoto-like measures in the future.”
Science teacher and journalist John Borowski has documented other “educational” materials distributed at NSTA conferences:
Project Learning Tree’s Energy module, supported by API’s Red Cavaney who wants ANWR opened, opposes the Kyoto Treaty, and wants more public land opened to energy exploration.
Lesson plans, coloring books, free coal samples from the American Coal Foundation – minus any substantive discussion, let alone mention of climate change.
Lessons and videos from a group that was called the “Greening Earth Society,” funded by the Western Fuels Association. The message of the film was firm and academically clear: There is no human-induced climate change.
Borowski further documents the close relationship between the NSTA and the fossil fuel industry:
In 2003, [NSTA Executive Director] Gerald Wheeler acted as an executive producer on a ten-part video funded by ConocoPhillips, and 20,000 of those copies were shipped out! The American Petroleum Institute heralded the release with a statement on their web site. “The Search for Solutions [is a] multiple winner of the Telly Award for outstanding programming … The videos are designed to capture the attention and imagination of junior high and high school students.”
I downloaded the “teaching materials” and saw a potpourri of fossil fuel endorsements. My favorite is a 3-page teaching sheet on “Finding Oil” that ends with “Let the drilling begin.” ConocoPhillips is a powerful member of the API powerhouse of fossil fuel interests and is very determined to open more federal waters to oil drilling […] in an April 22, 2003, news release: “The partnership between the National Science Teachers Association and ConocoPhillips has produced a very valuable tool for our nation’s science teachers,” said Gerald Wheeler, NSTA Executive Director. “The Search for Solutions video series brings their students vivid, real-life examples of the nature of science and technology, a much-needed resource.” And ConocoPhillips received the ultimate endorsement for their Trojan horse foray into our schools: with compliments and help from the biggest science teachers’ organization!
So, there is no need to ask Al Gore to distribute free DVDs of An Inconvenient Truth to schools, since he and his producer Laurie David are already willing to distribute 50,000 free copies!
Instead, what is needed is for scientists like the contributors to this site to write to Gerald Wheeler and ask him to reconsider the NSTA’s alliance with the fossil fuel industry, to stop distributing (not to mention co-producing!) the fossil fuel industry’s climate change denialist propaganda disguised as “science education”, and to support actual science (not to mention the survival of the human species) by accepting Laurie David’s offer to distribute the DVDs.
The above-quoted passages are from John Borowski’s detailed articles on this subject, and a Washington Post op-ed by Laurie David, which are linked below. This is must reading for anyone — especially scientists — concerned about educating the public about the realities of global warming.
Biggest Disconnect between Fact and Opinion Award goes to….the Wall St. Journal. Once again, the reporting today has a story on the listing of polar bears and runaway coal-fired powerplant construction in China. Both (one short and one longer) are up to the high standards of WSJ reporting in general. The story in July on the Texas electrical utility TXU’s plans for a heap of coal-burning plants was another great bit of reporting. Turn to the editorial page and it’s a different story. And my favorite letter to the editor was one that trashed FedEx for investigating ways to improve the fuel efficiency of its fleet and then hauled out the malaria-DDT canard. Two for one!
Great website and commentary, I check in regularly, thanks for all you do!!! Just thought it would be nice to also provide a link under An Inconvenient Truth in your FP article. Here it is: http://www.climatecrisis.net/.
Re “Instead, what is needed is for scientists like the contributors to this site to write to Gerald Wheeler and ask him to reconsider the NSTA’s alliance with the fossil fuel industry, to stop distributing (not to mention co-producing!) the fossil fuel industry’s climate change denialist propaganda disguised as “science education”, and to support actual science (not to mention the survival of the human species) by accepting Laurie David’s offer to distribute the DVDs.”
If someone will get together a petition, I’ll gladly sign it. I have no science credentials, but pressure from the general public might help as well.
The hockey stick still holds true in accordance with the data.
Is there enough fossil fuels to do serious climate harm ?
What happens when we attain peak Oil and then shortly after Peak Gas ?
The cost of fossil fuels is likely to increase between now and 2010 due to aforementioned peaking of gas and oil
I hope that no one latches onto Methane Hydrates as an energy source?
Where are the alternatives to fossil fuels and where is the political economic and scientific will to implement them (if they exist) and hence head of climate change?
Can the world meet energy requirements for the 21 st century, cut greehhouse gases at the same time (not at the moment), and increase economic prosperity for all ? Answer – ITS UNLIKELY in the timeline required to offset climate change
Contrary to environmentalists beliefs Wind, Wave, Tidal, solar (photovoltaic) are not the panacea that we are told they are, we need to roll these technologies out en masse big time and now to alleviate any of the CO2 impact we are having and that means giving it to China, India and Brazil, no chance of that is there?
Oil companies will continue to prospect for new sources of Oil and Gas rather than focusing on delivering alternatives to them in the main. Sure alternatives will be researched in accordance of making them look good in the eyes of the public but will it be too little too late.
Again here comes the marketing message from the suppliers of so called green goods and even the politicians but beware for it will be a marketing message only in the main. Sure we have some good things out there that use less energy but not enough and never by as much as they say.
Thanks Real Climate for this years debates and stories, it has been fascinating stuff and has increased my understanding and appreciation of the complexities of climate science greatly.
Two other questions:
Is there a good reason for the lack of hurriances this year (dust from the Sahara dampening the storms maybe) to make the science there a bit more concrete?
Is there drought in southern australia possible Co2 related or a cylce?
Pete, you asked: [drought in southern australia possible Co2 related or a cycle?]
Australia is on the losing end of El Ninos. The WMO and NOAA El Nino updates indicate a slow-forming El Nino is observed in the tropical Pacific. Australian meteorologists link El Ninos to periods of very low rainfall in southern Australia.
Possibly, this forming El Nino also had an impact on formation of tropical storm systems in the Western Atlantic this past hurricane season.
Australian drought could also be intensified by the poleward shift of the subtropical jet being pulled by the tightening Antarctic polar vortex. A cooling polar area and warming elsewhere is spinning the vortex faster which pulls southward the winds and pressure belts that deliver Australiaâ??s winter and spring rains.
The Antarctic lower stratosphere appears to be cooling by about 0.5 C/decade though readings only go back 2 or 3 decades. The cooling can be attributed to ozone depletion and increased atmospheric CO2. The 2006 Antarctic ozone hole is experiencing some of the strongest stratospheric ozone depletion seen in recent years. The depletion has persisted well into October 2006 and ozone amounts are lowest seen in the 21-year observation record. Partial column ozone amounts in this layer declined from an average of 125 Dobson Units in July/August 2006 to 1.5 DU on October 6..a 99% loss of ozone.
The stratospheric cold contributes to formation of the polar stratospheric clouds which act as catalysts for activating chlorine and bromine compounds responsible for Antarctic ozone destruction. Despite compliance with the Montreal Protocol, there remain sufficient quantities of these compounds available to remove ozone.
A continuing very cold lower stratosphere and lingering El Nino could combine with warming and drying Southern Australian earth surface to worsen and perpetuate the continentâ??s drought.. from cycle to chronic.
I only know what I read.
see # 6 for the following and other citations
“What is Causing The Rainfall Declines Over Southern Australia – Ozone, Climate Variability or Climate change?”
Comment by John McCormick — 28 Dec 2006 @ 10:11 AM
I hope you’ll forgive a somewhat off-topic question:
What are the criteria that distinguish weather phenomena from climate phenomena? I understand the Mark Twain definition of “Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get”, and that the two terms are interrelated, but in discussing AGW with my skeptical friends this question keeps coming up. For example, is El Nino a weather phenomenon or a climate phenomenon?
I would think that duration is a factor; a drought that lasts a year is weather, but one that lasts a decade or more may be a climate change. But is there an accepted duration at which point it changes status? Predictability should also be a consideration with weather forecasts being near-term and climate being long-term. It isn’t possible today (12/28/2006) to confidently predict the date, intensity and track for the first hurricane of 2007 (weather), but forecasts can be made for the 2007 hurricane season (climate). What other criteria are important?
My thanks to all of the RC contributors and commentors. This really is an informative and, yes, entertaining website. Wishing you success in all your endeavors in 2007.
While I don’t agree with the general tone or most of the characterizations in this comment I do agree that RC seems too dismissive of geo-engineering (being awarded the ‘boldest impractical idea’ award certainly gives that impression) at least as a stop-gap solution to global warming.
I’ve just finished reading James Lovelock’s ‘The Revenge of Gaia’ in which the author discusses the idea (originally Budyko’s) of injecting sulfer dioxide in the stratosphere by way of commercial aviation and sulpher in jet fuel. This ‘geo-engineering’, while certainly having its drawbacks as mentioned in other RC posts, could be turned on and off relatively easily and would mimic the Pinatubo cooling effect.
This idea among others should be taken seriously as unintentional geo-engineering in the form of fossil fuel burning has gotten us to where we are now with respect to AGW and purposeful geo-engineering may be necessary to avoid a meltdown during our transition to a sustainable relationship with the Earth’s climate.
Re #8 and #22
If they don’t already have, geoengineers need an ethical code analogous to Hippocrates’ advice to physicians: “As to diseases, make a habit of two things â?? to help, or at least to do no harm.” (Epidemics, Bk. I, Sect. XI), and
“I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.”
(Hippocratic Oath) http://tinyurl.com/twqxd
In this case, the “patient” would be planet earth and its inhabitants. It’s difficult for me to believe injecting sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere (or dumping iron filings into the tropical Pacific to sequester CO2) could be done with the reasonable assurance that the benefits will outweigh the risks.
On Geo-Engineering: See Jim Oberg’s book “New Earths”. This book is about “terraforming”, which means making Mars and other planets habitable. Terraforming is engineering on a much grander scale than what has been proposed as geo-engineering.
Suppose we make a self-sustaining colony on Mars just before earth becomes uninhabitable due to AGW. All of the AGW deniers on earth would die and be unable to mine more coal in that case. Nature or Gaia could then begin healing the earth. The martians [formerly earthlings] would then have the opportunity to terraform earth back to being earthlike. The martians could then re-colonize earth. There is an organization dedicated to just this proposition. See: http://lifeboat.com. There is a race between AGW and space colonization. Support the Space Elevator. See: http://www.liftport.com.
Re #24. http://www.peakoil.net just confirms my worst fears that climate change will be relegated to irrelevent once Peak Oil and Gas hit due to people becomming very cold and not being able to afford to get to work. Unfortunately politics and economics play a greater role in family life then does the environment.
It is imperative even if climate change was not a issue that humanity gets its energy act togther for life after fossil fuels. However this does not seem to be sinking home and I fear that humanity will not be transitioning to anything else due to its own short sightedness and intrinsically odd systems that politics and economics now work by, namely that of free market economics.
Re “Contrary to environmentalists beliefs Wind, Wave, Tidal, solar (photovoltaic) are not the panacea that we are told they are, we need to roll these technologies out en masse big time and now to alleviate any of the CO2 impact we are having and that means giving it to China, India and Brazil, no chance of that is there?”
Wind power is already competitive with fossil fuels, and wind generation reached 1% of US electricity generation this year. Europe is going into it in a big way.
Re “Is there a good reason for the lack of hurriances this year (dust from the Sahara dampening the storms maybe) to make the science there a bit more concrete?”
There wasn’t a “lack of hurricanes,” though the conservative blogosphere is busily repeating this distortion. There was a lack of hurricanes IN THE UNITED STATES. There were more than usual in Asia. The US is not the whole world.
Wind is fickle and does not diminish the need for Fossil Fuels apparantly due to its fickle nature which is a shame really although I am sure that other complementary technologies can help here. Maybe wind will soon be truely competetive but it is not that which truely matters but the nature of wind itself.
I meant to say Atlantic Hurricanes or they are not known as hurriances in other parts of the world but typhoons I believe and other names besides I am sure.
See the Independent article, “Review of the year: Global warming:
Our worst fears are exceeded by reality,” by Connor and McCarthy (emphasis mine):
“It has been a hot year. The average temperature in Britain for 2006 was higher than at any time since records began in 1659. Globally, it looks set to be the sixth hottest year on record. The signs during the past 12 months have been all around us. Little winter snow in the Alpine ski resorts, continuing droughts in Africa, mountain glaciers melting faster than at any time in the past 5,000 years, disappearing Arctic sea ice, Greenland’s ice sheet sliding into the sea. Oh, and a hosepipe ban in southern England.
“You could be forgiven for thinking that you’ve heard it all before. You may think it’s time to turn the page and read something else. But you’d be wrong. 2006 will be remembered by climatologists as the year in which the potential scale of global warming came into focus. And the problem can be summarised in one word: feedback.
“During the past year, scientific findings emerged that made even the most doom-laden predictions about climate change seem a little on the optimistic side. And at the heart of the issue is the idea of climate feedbacks – when the effects of global warming begin to feed into the causes of global warming. Feedbacks can either make things better, or they can make things worse. The trouble is, everywhere scientists looked in 2006, THEY ENCOUNTERED FEEDBACKS THAT WILL MAKE THINGS WORSE – A LOT WORSE.”
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 29 Dec 2006 @ 9:47 AM
Re # 18, individual technologies are not panaceas. Nothing in itself is a panacea for GW, just as no one action is causing GW. There are no silver bullets, no single heroes in this movie.
So I’ve developed a “Little Way of Environmental Healing,” in which individuals do all that they can to combat it, no matter how small, including taking a hanky to wipe hands in public restrooms, rather than using paper towels. Getting an energy efficient frig, such as SunFrost ( http://www.sunfrost.com ) can make a family’s electric bill take a nose-dive, as it did for us (we bought ours in 1991 & it’s already paid for itself, also by preserving veggies nearly forever — less waste), and it’s going on to save us $$hundreds a year. And remember each product has a GHG component (in resource extraction, shipping, manufacture, shipping, overhead, retailing), so buying the same needed product with a smaller “carbon emissions factor” also helps reduce GHGs. We need a shopper’s carbon guide. And water needs energy to pump & heat it, so anything that can reduce our consumption of it, like a low-flow showerhead (which saves $2,000 over its 20 year lifetime), is great.
By these ways, a typical American household could, say, reduce their GHGs by at least 1/3, perhaps 1/2 cost-effectively (saving money). Then with all that money saved, they could start investing in alternatives, such as getting their electricity from 100% wind energy with Green Mountain Energy ( http://www.greenmountain.com ) at about $5 extra a month (since they’ve alread cut their KWHs to bare minimum), and maybe even go on to buying an electric car — oh, yeah, that’s right, they’ve crushed them…..
Meanwhile maybe GE will start producing EVs, and the other alt energies will come on line.
Wind is intermittant, but windfarms located throughout a state and/or coupled with solar fields could help that problem (in business they call it “diversifying the portfolio”).
And re cost competitiveness, if there were a level playing field (all subsidies & tax-breaks added in), alt energy would come much closer to competitive. Then if fossil fuel externalities were factored in–harms to environ, acid rain, dead lakes/forests/soils, corroded property & lungs, local pollution real costs (from small particulate matter & toxins), military protection of supplies & diplomatic wheeling-dealing costs, etc. etc–alt energy would likely prove much cheaper. We do pay for a lot of these things April 15th or in health bills & lost wages, so they aren’t exactly free lunches.
Now, I’m not saying it’s all up to individuals, but it needs to be done at the individual, household, local biz & gov, state & fed gov, & international gov & multinational biz levels. Anyway, individuals are not off the hook, since they are the consumers, voters, and drivers of these “structures of high GHG emissions.”
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 29 Dec 2006 @ 10:34 AM
Regarding Australia and warming – how about snowfall on Christmas in southern Australia and Tazmania (this is like snowfall on June 25th in South Carolina.)
WRT 24 and 25 There is a real difference between base load, and full demand. Nuclear and gas are good for baseload. Solar and wind for peak demand. Solar is strongest during summer days when peak demand is highest. Wind, during winter nights when heating is called for.
Re #31- no its not comparable with the S. Carolina- the Southern Ocean is colder than the Atlantic Ocean of the SW US.
Re #26 & #28- true, wind is not comparable in price or with the delivered capacity of fossil power generation- if it was, then wind would not need the huge subsidies it gets here in Europe- including the UK (about Â£1bn/annum)- which is the best place in NW Europe for wind power!. Many parts of the world are unsuitable meteorlogically for wind anyway. So fossil will dominate, like it or not, for several decades to come.
As oil peaks gas will increasingly be used to make liquid fuels(GTL). Oil shales and tar sands will also be deveolped and coal will be liquified to make synfuels. Also gas reserves which are dominatly CO2 (e.g like Natuna) will be developed. This all points to CO2 capture and storage (CCS) being an absolutely essential technology if we have any hope of stabilising at or below 550ppm CO2 equivalent. CCS by itself cannot do it alone- we also need renewables, nuclear and reduced energy demand through efficiencies all working together. But without CCS we will not make it either. This is the reality that many purists fail to realise.
The issue of stabilising CO2 is paramount- and not being biassed about the technologies of how we get there is an essential thing to grasp. Lets hope that in 2007 that revelation permeates everyone.
By the way- readers may be interested in the following link about a large ice shelf that has broken free in the Arctic- another key event in 2006?
South Carolina isn’t surrounded by polar ocean.
Don’t confuse weather with climate; the prediction is for more extreme weather, and for a warming climate. At this point the variations in weather are, at any single location, greater than the warming from climate change. Weather is getting more variable as climate warms. The warming signal emerges from the global averages over time, not at any single point.
Nat’l Public Radio in the US is reporting the ice shelf story at the moment, though it happened a while back:
“The Ayles Ice Shelf – 66 square kilometers (41 square miles) of it – broke clear 16 months ago from the coast of Ellesmere Island ….” — found with Google News.
NPR gave some of the history as found here: http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic39-1-15.pdf (the ice loss has been happening for more than a century, but the last bits of the old ice age ice sheet are going fast now
“… a total of 48 square km … calved from Milne and Ayles ice shelves between July 1959 and July 1974…..”
I of course believe global warming is occurring. I live in north central Maryland. While I remember one year without snow, it has never hence occurred. This winter so far, the average daily high temperatures haven’t fallen below 40°F. As we edge into January, the average seems to be rising. Today, the high temperature is 51°F! I believe the south is defintely moving north. Palm trees could have survived our “winter” so far.
Comment by Katheryn Kenyin — 29 Dec 2006 @ 2:21 PM
re: 28. There was not a lack of hurricanes in the Atlantic this past season. That is another poor media and “blogosphere” distortion. It turned out to be an average year for the number of storms. Which is remarkable considering the developing El Nino and the ingestion of dry, Saharan air off the coast the Africa. Both should have led to a below-normal number of hurricanes. Yet it still ended up average. Which is consistent with modeling and other data that indicate the hurricane season baseline is rising in response to climate change.
Ah, so the wind blows strongest when demand is at a peak. Who knew?
Wind is handicapped by being undispatchable. On a levelized basis, and without subsidies or consideration of CO2 externalities, it’s twice as expensive as coal in the US. It’s also more expensive than Gen 3 nuclear reactors are projected to be.
An earlier poster wrote:
4)Increasing lock in of new coal burning plant which is not designed to be capture ready. This lock in will persist into mid-century. Thankyou to all the countries building new coal fired power plant without it being capture ready.
There’s a new CO2 capture technology based on absorption into chilled ammonia/ammonium bicarbonate solution that’s supposed to be half as expensive per unit of captured CO2 as current amine absorption technology. If this pans out it could be retrofitted onto existing powdered coal plants.
Paul, Your comments about retrofit of pulverised coal plants- it’s not so simple as that. You need space to fit the capture plant- not all have this. This means siting plant with space around it. I recently visted China’s most efficient and cleanest PF plant (near Xiamen, it is still being built and will be around 6GW capacity when completed (it’s already 3.8GW) but it has no space for capture plant to be retro-fitted and it is doubtful (though not certain) that appropriate geological storage is available nearby.
You need plant built with access to the appropriate geology for storage. Also- if you build plant that produces an flue gas emission of around 14% CO2 concentration, as is currnetly the case for PF, that’s a huge amount of flue gas you have to process. The largest coal plant in Europe (DRAX #4MW capacity (emits <17Mt CO2 annum) produces about 2kt of CO2/hour which is diluted in other gases (mailnly nitrogen). To capture that amount and process all that exhaust gas is a huge challenge regardless of halving the cost of amine scrubbing. You also have to protect the absorbants from SOx etc..to a much higher standard than current SOx scrubbing does.
We need to press on urgently with oxyfuel and precombustion scrubbing, so as to reduce the amount of gas and pollutants to be scrubbed, as well as save on the energy penalty of dealing with flue gas at atmospheric pressure.
Paul Dietz wrote in #38: “Wind is […] without subsidies or consideration of CO2 externalities […] twice as expensive as coal in the US. It’s also more expensive than Gen 3 nuclear reactors are projected to be.”
In the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC, I buy 100% wind-generated electricity through PEPCO Energy Services, and it is only slightly more expensive than PEPCO’s “standard service” which is about 57% coal, 35% nuclear, 5% natural gas, and 1% oil. It is certainly not twice as expensive.
What would nuclear power cost today “without subsidies” — without the hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies that it has received for half a century?
What will these “Gen 3” nuclear reactors (which exist only on paper) cost — without the billions of dollars in subsidies that the nuclear industry is demanding from the taxpayers to build them?
The “subsidies” that wind power has received to date are miniscule compared to the historic and ongoing subsidies to nuclear power — and to the fossil fuel industry, for that matter.
In fact, private investment is pouring into renewable energy — wind and photovoltaic electricity, and biofuels — and all of these technologies are growing rapidly. They have a lot more potential than most people realize, not only in the US but particularly in the developing world.
“Since 2000, global wind energy generation has more than tripled; solar cell production has risen six-fold; production of fuel ethanol from crops have more than doubled; and biodiesel production has expanded nearly four-fold. Annual global investment in “new” renewable energy has risen almost six-fold since 1995, with cumulative investment over this period nearly $180 billion.”
Photovoltaics: In 2005, global production of photovoltaic (PV) cells – which generate electricity directly from sunlight – increased 45 percent to nearly 1,730 megawatts, six times the level in 2000. (See Figure 1.) Cumulative production, at just over 6,090 megawatts by the end of 2005, has increased on average 33 percent a year since 2000, making solar power the world’s fastest growing energy source. Japan remains the leading PV producer. The 833 megawatts manufactured there in 2005 represent an increase of 38 percent over 2004 levels and more than the entire world produced just two years earlier.
Wind: Global wind power capacity jumped 24 percent in 2005, reaching nearly 60,000 megawatts at the end of the year. (See Figure 1.) Wind energy generation has more than tripled since 2000, making it the world’s second fastest growing energy source after solar power. The estimated 11,770 megawatts of wind capacity added in 2005 was 41 percent above the previous record annual addition set in 2003. For the first time since the early 1990s, the United States installed more wind power capacity than any other single country. An estimated 2,431 megawatts were added, bringing the U.S. total to 9,149 megawatts – trailing only Germany and Spain.
Biofuels: Production of fuel ethanol, the world’s leading biofuel, jumped 19 percent in 2005 to 36.5 billion liters, continuing a growth surge that began in 2000. Ethanol, produced mainly from sugarcane and corn, accounts for more than 90 percent of the world’s total biofuel production. Biodiesel, derived from plant oils, is the main other type of biofuel; its output shot up 60 percent in 2005. Overall, biofuels now account for about 1 percent of the global liquid fuels market. The United States produced 16.2 billion liters of fuel ethanol in 2005, nearly surpassing Brazil to become the world’s largest fuel ethanol producer. These two have dominated the ethanol market since the 1980s and accounted for almost 90 percent of the output in 2005.
In a year full of extremely grim news of observed climate change that is much more rapid and extreme than scientists had predicted, the rapid growth of clean renewable energy technology is definitely good news.
Here’s one for the “year in review”: The greatest turnaround: the Bush administration is considering putting polar bears on the threatened species list.
Environmentalists were gleeful, because it means their habitat will have to be protected, which means we’ll have to mitigate global warming.
Of course, it was NRDC that brought suit and forced the issue. And then, acc to the news cast I watched, the Sec of Interior was very adamant about ruling out native hunting and……….well, oil drilling as factors in threatening the polar bears (leaving global warming as the only remaining cause). And then, of course, they are only going to talk about it and review the issue for a year, so, well, maybe it wasn’t really such a big turnaround afterall.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 29 Dec 2006 @ 4:54 PM
Cold southerly outbreaks are not uncommon in Tasmania or New Zealand over Christmas and the New Year. We’ve had a few this year. Not warm where I live at the moment, either.
I watched people making snowmen at the top of the Crown Range Road (about 1100m – between Wanaka and Queenstown, SI, NZ) on Jan 2 or 3, 2000.
Local weather wisdom suggests that the good weather arrives in February, just as the school summer holidays end. That’s when I’ll be off to the beach…
More interesting still is the question of what will become of the barley crops that testify to Greenland’s post-Medieval Warming: there is no exotic nation so Godforsaken that it cannot find an export market for its beer, and Iceland has long and shamelessly been flogging ‘Icelandic’ vodka made from grain imported from Bulgaria and points south- http://adamant.typepad.com/seitz/2006/10/eric_the_green_1.html
Gavin wrote in response to Lubos Motl #44: “Nice try”
I clicked the link. Gavin, your restraint is superhuman.
[Response: Motl is so wrong on almost every conceivable point he tries to make regarding climate that my restraint is merely a reflection of my unwillingness to venture into his Augean stables for fear of what a herculean task it would be to try and set him straight. Alas, I am not blessed with any of the heroic qualities required. – gavin]
Re #38: Why not compare apples to apples? That is, if you’re going to figure subsidies into the cost of wind or nuclear power, then why not figure them into the cost of fossil fuel power, too? How much do you figure it would cost the average coal-fired plant to remove the CO2 from its waste stream, instead of dumping it on the public?
Cost of CO2 capture and storage on average coal plants.
Not much compared to all the other costs which you pay for electricity delivered through the grid to your home (at least in the UK). I got my bill this morning. It already has included in it the subsidy for green electricity- which I have to pay as a consumer- so you could argue that if I buy low emission coal based electricty (I have actually chosen green electricity), I could transfer that subsidy cost to that power source.
As a domestic customer I pay a range of prices depending on the time of day. They are Â£0.1837, Â£0.0993 and Â£0.0426/Kwh. Average clean coal (which would mean PF post combustion capture on existing plant) would add around Â£0.02-0.03/Kwh to the price. With plant built from new with capture in the design then the cost might fall by Â£0.005. Of course this assumes current technologies and we would expect costs to fall as more plant was built and the infrastructure put in to store CO2. In the UK our coal burning palnt is very inefficient. New plant would have an efficiency increase of around 10% so that would offset a lot of the cost of capture- if you use our existing fleet as the baseline
In the USA and Australia electricty prices are amongst the cheapest in the world so consumers there would notice this price rise much more than those of us in Europe. In Europe the grid companies, retailers and the tax man get several bites which puts the final price up. We even pay tax on tax!- the final tax take is Value Added Tax at 5%- which is charged on top of the rates given above (which already have other taxes built in).
Put another way clean coal cost is comparable with nuclear and onshore wind.
There is a good table of cost ranges in the UK Energy Review annexes.
In my view consumers can cope with higher prices-we have proved it here in the UK. We have had major rises in electricity here- not just because of all the factors I mention above but also because our primary gas prices are amongst the highest in the world and gas is now used for a large amount of our power generation here in the UK (hence people are getting nervous about our gas dependency- especially as our own N. Sea fields deplete)
UK Gov Energy Review (July 2006)http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/review/page31995.html
RE #44, Lubos Motl’s blogspot entries, I think the most telling is:
“The most ‘dangerous’ technological idea that could mean that even the climate change won’t be enough to establish the world government and cripple the world’s economy: Artificial volcanos.”
What the denialists fear (perhaps more than death itself, or the undermining of life-supports for a large chunk of biota) is the loss of freedom and the collapse of wealth. No one wants to live as an impoverished prisoner. Better even to die.
Another thing I found from my studies is that flood victims (who are in areas most likely to be flooded again and more extensively via GW), are the least likely to believe in GW — a surprising finding for me, and I can only explain it this way: being a flood victim is really horrible, and the idea that it will happen again, and wasn’t just a fluke, is cognitively and emotionally unbearable.
Another thing, I ran into an complete-denialist at an Xmas party — he (a medical doctor) was absolutely certain GW was definitely not happening. His only argument was that funding goes to scientists who find out a problem, not to those who find there’s no problem. He didn’t allow me to speak much, but I did get in my favorite argument about scientists needing 95% certainty to make claim and thus being overly cautious (they need to avoid false positives in order to protect their reputations — which is understandable), while those living in the world (environmentalists, potential victims) would want to follow the “medical model” of avoiding false negatives, and would be concerned about possible problems at a much lower standard of certainty (a doctor would not tell her patient that there is only 94% certainty the lump is cancerous, so we won’t operate).
The only other parting shot I could get in was that I’ve found that people with children are less likely to believe in GW, than people without children, because GW is such a horrible problem to contemplate for future generations that there’s a huge cognitive dissonance about it (I haven’t done a study, it’s only my sense of things); the man has three small children.
Alas, re the granting argument, I could have just gotten the hostess and had her explain: she gets huge $million grants from NIH for diabetes studies, and complains bitterly that a large chuck goes up into the UT system (not to our campus), a large chunk goes to our campus (but not her project), and only a fraction goes to her project, and none of it raises her salary one iota. So there! A consultancy fee from Exxon goes directly into the contrarian’s pocket and is added on top of the salary, unlike grant money.
Plus it sounds weird to say that GW doesn’t exist because money is being granted to study it – like the tail is wagging the dog. One would rather think that GW is a problem, and therefore studies on it continue to be funded, unlike cold/chemical fusion studies (for which I would guess the funds would have died down). Are granting agencies so stupid as to continue to fund bondoggles indefinitely? You’d have to believe that to believe that man’s argument, but even then it still doesn’t disprove GW.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 30 Dec 2006 @ 10:46 AM
Re #49 “People with children are less likely to believe in GW”
– we have 5- all boys, and most of my colleagues working on sorting the GW problem out have kids- so your anecdotal experience does not hold true with ours. Having children actually makes us more concerned about GW because its future generations that will be impacted the most if we do not get a world wide grip on stabilising emissions very soon. Indeed, I find it a fantastic privilege to be working in an area where our kids appreciate what we do and can see a direct relevance to their everyday and future lives- especially since science and technology is not really attracting youngsters here in the UK as a career (all sorts of reasons for that!).
Re #48- which was my post on CO2 capture and storage and cost of fitting to “average coal plant”
I forgot to mention the following link which describes all the CO2 capture and storage technologies and a strategy for the UK of how we might deploy them.
The Golden Wedgie Award for the double back flip and pike executed stylishly by PM John Howard of Australia – who went overnight from being an ardent climate sceptic to a true believer for whom the only possible solution is nuclear energy – a wedge, as a correspondent in ‘The Australian’ today put it, into the heart of the Australian Labour Party’s left wing. He hopes.
On Geo-Engineering, only a 5% increase in total photosynthesis will offset current fossil fuel CO2 flows. I would think a 10% increase is not that hard to achieve, especially if genetic engineering was applied to the problem.
#51- I was in Australia when the Stern Review came out and was inetrviewed by the press there. It was interesting watching the TV reports. With such terrible drought conditions and the Howard Gov. in an election year it was interesting to see the debate over GW unfold in the media. One interesting debate was in Newcastle (NSW) where wine growers are against further coal development as the drought is damaging their vineyards and threatening jobs- but with the coal producers saying new mines are needed for local jobs.
To be fair the Howard Government- despite not signing up to Kyoto, has supported more R&D on low emission technologies than many countries (including those that have signed Kyoto!) and the Australian Gov. claim they are on track to meet their target (as if they had been in Kyoto). I see a high degree of commitment in Australia to deal with the problem of GW.
It’s still 2006, so here are the most convoluted, illogical arguments re GW:
In response to those who claim that global warming could not possibly be caused by human GHG emissions, because there were no SUVs around during past warmings (only hybrids?):
About past warmings, they could not have happened, because there were no climate scientists then, and the only reason there’s global warming today is because we have climate scientists today, and mainly because we have climate science grant-funding agencies, who keep funding the science. A simple matter of cause & effect. Ergo (I think I’ve lost track of my illogic), both sides of the issue are wrong, and it’s all maya. Or, is it everyone’s right? Whatever.
Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 30 Dec 2006 @ 1:05 PM
Lubos’s site explained why climate sensitivity is one degree, and (as I read him) his method makes sense given the assumptions: he created a twin for each carbon dioxide molecule in the atmosphere, with no other change, and measured the difference in temperature.
That’s a thought experiment, of course. But using quantum mechanics, it’s imaginable.
Too simple for me to have imagined. I’d have been attached to the idea that the carbon had to come from somewhere and be going somewhere.
Of course if the physicists can do this in practice, our problems are solved.
Re #48: If I’m figuring the exchange correctly, your electric rates don’t seem markedly higher than what I’m paying (in the western US). Though we don’t have rates varying by time of day, your middle rate would be about $0.15/Kwh, and last I looked mine was around $0.12/Kwh.
As for the capture of CO2 from power plants, you’d have a lot of work to convince me that it could be done at all, much less at an affordable price. It seems like another hydrogen economy scam, the false promise of a just-around-the-corner future technology that somehow never materializes.
James, you are right on the money with your comment:
[As for the capture of CO2 from power plants, you’d have a lot of work to convince me that it could be done at all, much less at an affordable price. It seems like another hydrogen economy scam, the false promise of a just-around-the-corner future technology that somehow never materializes.]
Consider the 2005 CO2 emissions from US coal-fired power plants is approximately 2.44 billion tons. The voume is about 268 cubic miles of gas to collect, pressurize and pipe to distant geologic formations for burial each year..every year..(for how many years?).
Scam or nonsense. Take your pick.
Comment by John L. McCormick — 30 Dec 2006 @ 6:48 PM
Re #57: “CO2 capture and storage is already happening- its not science-fiction…”
Sure, CO2 can be injected into wells – I think it’s a fairly common technique used to increase recovery from marginal oil wells. The injection isn’t the hard part, though you might have problems finding enough suitable formations to hold several billion tons – that’s just this year’s production, so be prepared to do it again next year, and the year after that – and transporting the CO2 to those places. But the real problem, I think, is finding an economically and technically feasible way to capture the CO2 from an exhaust gas stream.
And “…you can use hydrogen burning turbines to generate electricity so the hydrogen economy is closer than you might think!”
Well, duh! Building a hydrogen-burning turbine is a no brainer. A standard natural gas model would probably do an acceptable job; if not, NASA has lots of experience with hydrogen-burning rocket engines. Burning H2 is no problem. The big question is where to get it. There aren’t any hydrogen wells, you know, so you either have to react coal or natural gas, which releases more CO2 per unit energy than using the fossil fuels directly, or you have to make it by electrolysis, where again it’d be far more efficient to use the electricity directly. Then you have numerous problems of building a safe & reliable transport & delivery infrastructure. Even if you’re willing to pay the cost of that, you’re stuck with the fact that H2 is a gas at normal temperatures, so it needs to be either compressed to very high pressures or liquified at very low temperatures to have an effective energy density. Both of those processes take lots of energy, which means your delivery infrastructure is going to be very inefficient.
It takes much less energy to capture a mole of CO2 from its diluteness in the atmosphere, as a carbonate, than is yielded by its formation in oxidizing a mole carbon. Schemes to pressurize and pipe it may indeed be nothing but “scam or nonsense”, but they aren’t the whole of the carbon sequestration deal, and other parts are neither.
Converting CO2 into biomass requires a dozen or more nutrients, esp. nitrogen and phosphorus – where do you propose these will come from? And, even if increasing photosynthesis could reduce atmospheric CO2 levels, what do you do with the new biomass? It must somehow be sequestered (e.g., buried in sediments at the bottom of the ocean), or it will eventually die and decompose, releasing the CO2 back into the environment. If you are going to propose simplistic solutions to complex problems, at least think through the underlying logic and the scientific principles involved.
This site shows carbon mass flows of 5.4 GigaTons/year from fossil fuels, 120 GigiaTons/year from Land photosynthesis and 107 120 GigiaTons/year from ocean photosynthesis. So fossil fuel combustion is < 3% of photosynthesis.
2006, the year when we connected positive feedback loops to abprupt climate change / as happend a few times in earth history. Diffrence now is the speed of emission.
As in 29# quotes from the independent article, id like to add these quotes>
The scientists investigated what would happen if they tinkered with 11 of the world’s biggest computer models of the complex climate-carbon cycle. They wanted to simulate what would happen to the carbon sinks on the land and the ocean for each model as the world gets warmer. All the models agreed that as the world heated up, the ability of the land and the oceans to keep on absorbing carbon as efficiently as they have in the past 200 years gets appreciably worse.
In other words, we cannot rely on planet Earth to be so accommodating in terms of mopping up half of our carbon pollution. But could something even worse happen? Could these carbon sinks turn into carbon sources? The answer is yes. Many models suggest that the terrestrial biosphere could become a net carbon producer by the mid 21st century. Signs are that it is already happening in some parts of the world.
o land photosynthesis-respiration (120/yr in and out of plants)
o ocean (phytoplankton) photosynthesis-respiration (107/yr in and out of phytoplankton)
Notice the “in and out” part; this refers to the amount that goes in a cycle through the system, hence causing no net change in the atmospheric CO2 concentration. That’s why CO2 was reasonably stable at around 270 ppmv for the last 11,000 years or so. Increasing photosynthesis 5% will only mean 5% more CO2 coming out of and going in to the atmosphere — no net change.
Note that later the same site states:
o land-use changes (1.6/yr to atmosphere)
o fossil fuel burning (5.4/yr to atmosphere) â?? large flux
Note the “to” with no “from.” These processes give a net flux, which is why the concentration has risen to 380 ppmv today.
I’d like to see more education in how to consume LESS of everything. We Americans now live in larger homes (average 2500 sf compared to 1000 sf), drive more cars, buy more pre-packaged food and drinks, including water, in disposable plastic (made from oil). During the 70’s energy crisis, the airwaves were full of guidelines to reduce consumption. Alternative sources are certainly important, but we could take a lesson from our European peers and developing nations to consume less. Sometimes I walk through stores like Walmart and think “who is buying all this stuff?”
Most hypocritical governmental behavior: Giving lip service to renewable and alternative energy while refusing to actually fund such science:
“In addition to the earmarks, failing to pass the 2007 budget bills also means the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, CO won’t receive expected increased funding. NREL was slated to receive a funding increase between $6 and $10 million. The lab also would have seen additional money from dedicated funding for solar, wind, hydrogen and biomass research.”
Most hypocritical university behavior: Stanford’s “Global Climate and Energy Project”. The Major Sponsors control all patents for a minimum of five years and also have final say in what projects are funded – the Sponsors being Exxon, Schlumberger (oilfield services), General Electric (mostly nuclear) and Toyota. So much for the free flow of information! It is the height of hypocrisy for Stanford to accept such terms from Exxon, the leading funder of the climate denialist groups.
Stanford says this: “Global Climate and Energy Project sponsors include private companies with experience and expertise in key energy sectors. The sponsoring companies will contribute significant financial resources (anticipated up to $225 million over a decade or more), technical expertise, and insights concerning eventual deployment of energy technologies.”
Meanwhile, ExxonMobil will be plowing over $100 billion into the search for new oil and gas reserves over the coming decade – all while they get to control the direction of renewable energy research at Stanford at a relative cost of 1/5 of 1%.
The statement by Exxon that so irked the Royal Society was this: “While assessments such as those of the IPCC have expressed growing confidence that recent warming can be attributed to increases in greenhouse gases, these conclusions rely on expert judgement rather than objective, reproducible statistical methods…”
That was from Exxon’s “Corporate Citizenship Report” which also highlights the deal with Stanford. While it is to be expected that major oil companies would behave in this manner, Stanford should know better.
re: 68. “In addition to the earmarks, failing to pass the 2007 budget bills also means the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, CO won’t receive expected increased funding. NREL was slated to receive a funding increase between $6 and $10 million. The lab also would have seen additional money from dedicated funding for solar, wind, hydrogen and biomass research.”
There is a silver lining here in that it refers to NREL “increased funding” as opposed to no funding at all. In other words, they should at least receive baseline funding. That is far better than other unfunded mandates and other research earmarks which will likely recieve nothing as things look right now.
Of course, it was NRDC that brought suit and forced the issue.
The Center For Biological Diversity (Arizona) was lead plaintiff, joined by others. A great organization.
And then, of course, they are only going to talk about it and review the issue for a year, so, well, maybe it wasn’t really such a big turnaround afterall.
It is. The Endangered Species Act calls for the year planning and public comment process. Those who’ve sued want the opportunity to toss stones while USF&W puts things together.
And if the administration tries to back out of the settlement, the Court will enforce it.
This doesn’t represent any change of heart on the Bush administration, just a recognition of the legal realities. His dad’s administration tried to illegally overrule the USF&W scientific finding regarding the northern spotted owl in the late 1980s. By law, it’s the scientific finding which drives listing. The result was an injuction issued by a federal court which stopped nearly all logging on federal lands in the PNW virtually overnight. W’s administration knew they couldn’t win this case, the ESA is unambiguous regarding listing once the professional staff of USF&W issues its scientific finding of the status of the species in question.
Re “There is a silver lining here in that it refers to NREL “increased funding” as opposed to no funding at all. In other words, they should at least receive baseline funding. That is far better than other unfunded mandates and other research earmarks which will likely recieve nothing as things look right now.”
No increase in funding is effectively a decrease. We’ve got 3% inflation.
RE: I met a sceptic at Xmas. I have two Republicans in my family down here in Florida and both cite the exact same things headlined by one Grand Theme: They hate Al Gore and thus, it must be bunk by default. One cited biased FOX Milloy propaganda, myth of global cooling:wrong then and now, liberal media hype and the like, and a NASA report on the sun cycle that claimed nothing he thought it did. The jury’s still out and there is no consensus he said with complete confidence. Gavin’s explanation on the hockey Stick MM controversy was “just one spin on it” to him.
I thought public understanding of the AGW problem actually improved in 2006. But then I read this story in the NYTimes this morning and thought, oh-oh, these people are going to lull the public back to sleep again. The results of the research are alarming and it is not being alarmist to report them.
See Scientific American: The Political Brain – A recent brain-imaging study shows that our political predilections are a product of unconscious confirmation bias – by Michael Shermer http://tinyurl.com/yeanlf
“confirmation bias, whereby we seek and find confirmatory evidence in support of already existing beliefs and ignore or reinterpret disconfirmatory evidence…”
We need to find a way around this hard-wired pre-disposition to deny the “inconvenient truth” of global warming.
In Australia, Prime Minister Howard has gone from global warming denial to “we need to build nuclear power stations”. At the same time his government is refusing to fund research for some promising geo-thermal projects (renewable base-load electricity from radioactive decay within granite) and had to be hounded by a TV station into restoring funding for solar power initiatives.
A simple question about the NYT article. Does the denialist side have any scientific credibility left. No, thought not. In which case the “middle ground” may be a politically meaningful description, but what it really is is the least possible action that needs to be taken.
Once more members of the climate science community are not thinking before speaking. Enunciating nuance in the middle of a knife fight is not a survival tactic.
In Australia, Prime Minister Howard has gone from global warming denial to “we need to build nuclear power stations”. At the same time his government is refusing to fund research for some promising geo-thermal projects (renewable base-load electricity from radioactive decay within granite)
That’s good. In the teeth of the best watchdogs and gadflies public oil and gas money can buy, nuclear has gone from 526.1 million tonnes-of-oil-equivalent in 1995 to 627.2 million in 2005 (7-MB BP statistical compendium). If hot dry rock were the same sort of threat to civil servants’ incomes, they’d be slipping front groups money to talk about radon and its indirect daughter, Litvinenko’s bane, 210-Po. It is difficult to extract heat from rocks in which it is coproduced with 222-Rn without also extracting the 222-Rn.
You can always ask the denialists what they think about the fossil fuel industry spending hundreds of millions of dollars on public relations efforts aimed at burying the global warming issue, or why the state of funding for renewable energy research in the US is so poor (compared to say, pharmaceutical-sponsored university research). As far as convincing the people who won’t believe anything that Al Gore has to say… we could use better basic science education in this country, as well as more journalists with at least some scientific training – enough to allow them to point out the glaring inconsistencies in the climate denialist’s arguments, at least. How many times have you heard “we can’t blame any single event on global warming” – what does that mean? Can we blame two independent events on global warming? How about three? Ten? A hundred? Can you blame someone’s lung cancer on their lifelong tobacco habit? Or is that also an isolated event, which cannot be attributed to anything? The timing and track of Katrina may very well have been dependent on the flapping wings of an African butterfly, but the intensity was predictable.
Katrina was strengthened because it encountered a tounge of warm deep water in the Gulf – so how did that tounge get there? More heating of the sea surface due to the higher concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere led to anomalously high temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico. The oceans are warming; here’s the SST anomaly for December 2007, for example. (Note the absence of depth profile temperature information, which would tell you something about the heat content of the oceans).
The only option is to use carbon-neutral renewable energy resources in place of fossil fuels (including nuclear). This means that fossil fuel markets will shrink away to nothing… thus all the public relations efforts, which extend from politicians to grade schools to universities to the TV, radio and newspaper outlets.
Re “See Scientific American: The Political Brain – A recent brain-imaging study shows that our political predilections are a product of unconscious confirmation bias – by Michael Shermer”
Michael Shermer believes in sociobiology. I don’t. The human evolutionary specialization is flexibility of behavior. The whole point about human beings is that we’re NOT prisoners of our genes. We have free will.
At least we’re free to think so (grin). Today’s NYT Science (registration required) has a decent short article on that. One of the brain researchers quoted there sounds a lot like Freud, saying we have “free will in the form of a veto power over what we sense ourselves doing. In effect, the unconscious brain proposes and the mind disposes.” Or at least can.
Some of our neighborhood kids are involved in gaming (sports or video) — not as players, but as statisticians. They could grow up to be expert handicappers or gamblers, or to be scientists. We can hope.
Ike I couldn’t agree more. What they do though is all cite the same denialist argument. All they need is one Ph.D who disagrees and they all cite him in unison. See:
“I understand that people who do not live in the north generally have difficulty grasping the concept of too many polar bears in an area. People who live here have a pretty good grasp of what that is like to have too many polar bears around.
This complexity is why so many people find the truth less entertaining than a good story. It is entirely appropriate to be concerned about climate change, but it is just silly to predict the demise of polar bears in 25 years based on media-assisted hysteria.”
Dr. Mitchell Taylor Canadian polar bear biologist
And even his crticism isn’t as great as the denialists claim, but it’s good enough for them. Twain was right: a lie can travel around the world while the truth is putting its boots on.
Re “See Scientific American: The Political Brain”
Humans have a powerful evolutionary instinct to demonise their adversaries, in a world of intense competition for limited resources it’s a powerful survival tool.
Re: 86 “Well I have to thank the folks who run this blog for this thread. The leading post reveals a lot of highly useful data.”
I am assuming your tone is sarcastic. Apologies if I am wrong.
The topic began with the words, “A lighthearted look at the climate science goings-on over the last year”
Although hard science reputedly turns its collective nose up at social science, officially data can be quantitative or qualitative. This, I would say, is qualitative and concerned with the social, or human aspects of the issue.
And aren’t scientists allowed to be human? Even at Christmas?
Perhaps we should balance it with a round up of most useful research from 2006. Any offers?
RE: #88 – It was not sarcastic. In fact, you hit the nail in the head – that post reveals significant sociological information. That is precisely what was valuable about it. And it was entertaining to boot.
Re #85 ” only 15% of human behavior is genetically driven.”
I can’t see how a simple figure like this pulled out of the air can be considered sound.
I would say that virtually all human activity is a result of one or another basic instinctive motivation, but that this instinctive motivation has more socially/culturally obvious motivations layered on top.
In the AGW debate I find the science interesting, but I find the various positions people have taken, and the reasons for them taking those positions fascinating.
Consider some of the arguments that are proposed and promoted by well-qualified scientists in the denialist camp:
Global warming stopped in 1998.
The calculation that supposedly shows that Manâ??s contribution amounts to 0.12% of the GH effect.
The Khilyuk and Chilingar paper in Environmental Geology, and the fact it was passed for publication.
There are claims in these arguments that I think even my 10 year old daughter could refute, so why do these well qualified people make these claims? Consider the following possibilities:
1. These arguments are actually far sounder than I realize
2. These scientists are far stupider than I realize
3. They are lying when they say they believe in these arguments
4. Some other factor, surely something very powerful, has destroyed their ability to examine the evidence with any objectivity.
I think we can accept that peoples political position influences their views on AGW, there seems to be a high correlation between conservative politics and having a denialist perspective, and also between liberal politics and having an alarmist perspective, but why?
It seems whichever side you’re on in the AGW debate your opponents want to attribute your motives to money, infact my observation is that just about everyone has a strong and genuine belief in the legitimacy of their own position, and people from all sides are prepared to put in considerable amounts of their own time promoting their views.
Respectfully disagree. Certain industries and allied industries, based upon their own methods of accounting, believe they have an enormous financial stake in the direction of public policy on this issue, which in turn is greatly affected by the way in which the public and policymakers apprehend the underlying scientific evidence on this issue as it continues to unfold.
For many of the corporate players in the climate change arena, it is a demonstrable fact that their primary interest is money and they admit this fact. For them to not have this interest would be to fail to respect and defend the fiduciary interests of their shareholders as they perceive them.
I agree with your comment, but oil executives are not the people I was referring to. Iâ??m talking about the Bob Carterâ??s, and Lord Monktonâ??s of this world, who have a passion for fighting AGW arguments quite independent of oil industry interests. They use oil industry money to promote their cause if they can get hold of it, but generally this money goes into promoting the cause, not their own pockets, the number of denialist sites on the web attest to how far this money is made to go.
There is extraordinary passion displayed by both alarmists and denialists in the AGW debate, it’s a topic that I think can be traced back to how our instincts affect the way we interact in society.
Did you know that chimpanzees practice politics? Even a relatively weak male can climb to be head of state by grooming (literally) the electorate, if he can win enough support, he can bring about a popular uprising to remove the current leader, so I suggest that politics is in our genes.
The conservatives (denialists) in a society see themselves as being near the top of the heap, mechanisms that bring about major social changes are likely to be bad for their position, in comparison the liberals (alarmists) see such mechanisms as an opportunity to bring about social change to their advantage, examples of how conservatives fight against such changes can be seen all over the place, from giving women the vote, to civil rights legislation, to gay marriage, etc.
To denialists the proposed changes to address AGW (Kyoto) can be seen as such a mechanism.
If we accept that these ancient instincts still govern much of our action, it is not hard to see how our more immediate social concerns can be more important to us and affect our attitudes to a much greater extent than less immediate, less tangible concerns. The result is that we believe that others overstate or understate these environmental concerns for political reasons, and we instinctively respond in kind.
RE: 98. A short endnote, if the moderators allow it:
Perhaps your explanation describes some folks, but certainly not myself and many others.
I view climate change strictly as a matter of science, primarily physical science. The human response to this science is an entirely separate matter that indeed pivots to some degree on the factors you describe.
I believe it is very dangerous to discuss climate change as a social issue or a social cause or to associate it with the purely human, social issues you describe above. One cannot abolish or amend the laws of physics the way one can, to use your example, amend the laws which state who can vote and who cannot vote.
Conflating the scientific study of climate change with being an “alarmist” is wrong at a profound level, ie. that a person who expects the physical world to behave in the manner predicted by physical laws is an “alarmist.”
Sigh, Doug, there are three sides in the AGW debate; I believe Alarmists and Denialists are both driven by politics, the mainstream, which includes you and I, as you say, is based on the physical science.
BPL, you stated that you don’t believe in Sociobiology and also that it is “largely crap.” I would be grateful if you could run through the reasons you have for denying its scientific validity.
You state that “The human evolutionary specialization is flexibility of behavior.” I would have said that our prime specialisation is brain power, and how this has allowed us to develop tool use (actually the ability to use tools to make tools) and speach. Obviously another vital aspect to building a civilisation is our instinctive primate social behaviour.
Our adaptability is obviously also useful to us, but that adaptability still falls within the boundaries drawn by our primate instincts.
Hank, I’m not sure if you are for or against my argument.
I’m saying that Monkton’s AGW denialism is politically based, he sees AGW as a socialist/greenie bandwagon, a tool used by those he opposes to upset the present order.
His site shows that much of his business philosophy is also politically based, I see no evidence of him profiting from oil industry support for his position of AGW.
Re “BPL, you stated that you don’t believe in Sociobiology and also that it is “largely crap.” I would be grateful if you could run through the reasons you have for denying its scientific validity.”
Okay, let me give you a simple example. Sociologists observed that incest taboos are widespread in human society. Sociobiologists spoke up and said it was genetic. Sociologists pointed out that incest is widespread in some areas despite the taboos. Sociobiologists said, well, that’s what you should expect, since breeding with a close relative means more of your genes will be present in the next generation.
It’s untestable. Any evidence at all is evidence for the hypothesis. And that’s exactly ALL sociobiology has produced for the past thirty years — untestable just-so stories. There haven’t been any real-world applications at all that I know of, and for any phenomenon, you can find sociobiologists on each side of it. That’s not science, that’s astrology.
We all carry a model of our world around in our heads, learning is principly a process of adding bits to that model, as we get older the model becomes more complex. Nobody builds a model that is truely objective, as being right about the real world, and maximising the chances of passing on your genes are not only not the same thing, but often at odds.
The result is our learning is biased in a way that involves improves our chances of reproducing often by increasing our status amongst our peers, who share these views.
There is a second way that we can learn, we can come to realise that a part of our model has become inconsistent with later information, if this involves minor changes to the model that don’t conflict with that shared by our peers, it’s no problem to make the nesseccary changes, if however incorporating this later information involves major changes to the model, infact it conflicts with aspects of the model we can consider core beliefs, we face a major internal battle to make the changes as it involves dismantling major sections of the model and rebuilding, on an external level if this involves changing a position we have advocated and a belief shared by our peers, it can involve lose of face and lose of status, and on an instinctive level, lose of status is a major blow.
The result is that we can persist in believing insomething eg. AGW nothing but a greenie/socialist bandwagon, as long as our peers (especially our immediate peers) do, despite it being so in conflict with later information,
Regarding incest, I think you will find that it is healthier for the gene pool if it doesn’t occur, but still better for each individuals genes to maximise their own chance of successfully reproducing. Being social animals, breaking societies taboos, with the likely consequences, usually is a large enough disinsentive.
In your final paragraph, If I were to substitute the words “climate science” and “climate scientists” for “sociobiology” and “sociobiologists” it becomes a typical AGW denialist statement. To me both versions carry the same misconceptions. Presumably as you are advocating that AGW denialists are acting rationally in an objective sense, (while I am advocating they are acting rationally in an instinctive sense), both statements are scientifically sound?