It won’t surprise you to learn that this Heartland was the primary source my latest sceptic foe used. You guys were “lefty scientists” to him. This is the primary problem with looking at science through a political frame.
Where is the promised post regarding Hadley/GISS discrepencies? And if you have any extra time, you might post on what attention climate science is paying to alternatives to “emissions reduction” as a response to the potential for catastrophic warming.
What purpose can possibly be served by this topic? The people whose noses you are tweaking don’t already know how you feel about them?
According to ExxonSecrets.org, the Heartland Institute describes itself as “the marketing arm of the free-market movement” and has received $791,500 from ExxonMobil since 1998. The Heartland Institute is in no way a scientific organization. It is a propaganda mill.
The success of the fossil fuel industry’s multi-million dollar, years long campaign of propaganda to disinform the American public about the reality of global warming cannot be underestimated. They successfully delayed serious action to reduce emissions (and the consumption of their products) by ten or twenty years at least. With ExxonMobil alone reaping annual profit approaching 40 billion dollars, the payoff for the paltry millions they’ve paid outfits like Heartland has been huge.
But not as huge as the cost of that lost time will be to all of us.
Don’t your employer(s) usually play for conference fees and travel?
It would be fun to submit a “results pending” abstract and see if they still pay if the talk gives them a result they don’t like-
I think one of the mojor differences between this adn real scientific conferences is that at real conferences, talk are generally chosen based on abstracts describing the experimental or observational methods, but often the results are partially or wholly unknown by everyone except the speaker when the talk begins.
Why not go and debate in person with those that don’t agree with you? I struggle with the attitude on both sides of this important issue that refuses to have an intellectual conversation with the other side. Much of the written discussion on this topic tends to talk PAST each other and not TO each other. Both sides say that the other side is driven by ulterior motives and both sides call the other side to be the equivalent of dunderheads.
At nearly every conference (and surely this one as well) the floor is open to questions. Go to the conference, pick a particularly erroneous statement by the presenter and ask them to reply to the evidence that you would like to present. Listen to their answer and POLITELY explain where you think that person is incorrect.
The problem is that science should not be viewed through any frame, it should jsut be science. Dr. Hansen’s arguments have pointed this out very well. The Public affairs offices should not be propaganda offices, they should be reporting offices.
“Public Affairs Offices should be staffed by career professionals protected by civil service rules, not headed by political appointees.”
It is hard to fathom, at this point in time, with the level of knowledge and indicators, and understanding, that anyone would want to confuse the issue of global warming… considering all the risks and costs?
Do they think they will be immune to the economic strains?
The arguments are so contrary to solid reasoning and logic as well as the profoundly work of the relevant science organizations around the world and its resultant aggregate understanding.
The cost of delay only increases the cost of needed solutions and further strains or erodes the economic system they seem to be trying to protect.
Maybe they think the politicians, to whom they have contributed so much, will always side with them?
Maybe they think they are immune to large changes in the climate system?
Maybe they think that delaying this will give them time to make enough money to ensure their security in the future?
Maybe they don’t have objective financial advisers?
Maybe they don’t understand the nature of lawsuits to come?
They seem comfortable with waiting. The unfortunate part is that everyone has to pay for their delays, even people that have no idea that ‘they’ even exist.
The moral questions will eventually be raised. In the mean time developing relevant understanding of relevant facts must continue. That is the best offense.
I am thankful for realclimate.com and all the wonderful work done by every climate scientist that is digging for the facts and putting them in context with the paleo reality, so we can get this right and get the facts and understanding to the people.
Re #1. Not sure what your point is Mark. Are you saying that RealClimate is part of the problem? That they are “looking at science through a political frame”? Can’t agree with you there.
There are those who believe in the IPCC and peer-reviewed science, and those who don’t. Those who don’t aren’t real scientists — they can’t be convinced by any evidence. Their conclusions aren’t tentative and testable.
Conservatives and fossil fuel companies have politicized this — not RealClimate or the IPCC.
Pat Michaels also gave a nice little talk at my departments seminar series, aimed at all the earth and atmospheric science students with the goal of interdisciplinary education. He did so for a hefty fee. It reminded me of a traveling show…
It’s amazing how much money and time is being thrown around with media attention – money and time which should be devoted to learning more about our (potential) impact on the climate and whether or not there is actually any way we are significantly impacting it.
Sean O. Scientific debate takes place between the pages of scientific journals and in the hallways of real scientific conferences–you know, the ones where papers are refereed by experts in the field, not conference donors. There are no two sides to this issue–at least not two scientific sides. There are almost no scientific papers published that dispute the anthropogenic causation of climate change, and those few that are published are mostly not by climate scientists (e.g. Scafetta and West). There’s no middle ground here, Sean. It’s science or anti-science. Choose.
I guess you don’t understand that there is simply no point in attempting an intellectual conversation with the other side when the other side has repeatedly demonstrated that it quite clearly is not at all interested in having an honest intellectual conversation about the facts and science of climate change, that it is quite willing to buy, cherry pick, bend, distort, and even outright fabricate “evidence” to support its position, and that it is quite willing to bald face lie in the process.
Sean O (#4), Raypierre has addressed this very point in the previous article: It’s a no win situation. If you accept [the invitation to debate] you give the appearance that these skeptics have something to say that’s actually worth debating about — and give their bogus ideas more publicity. If you decline there are all sorts of squawks that “X won’t debate!” or implications that scientists have declared “the debate” (whatever that is supposed to mean) prematurely closed when in fact it is “just beginning.”
Go! Help the media understand that there are many (well, 400 or so) deluded souls out there that think they are scientists but that do not, in fact, understand AGW. Just make sure your contract ensures that can correct any errors in their versions of your material.
The way I see it, they will use this conference to introduce all the arguments brought to the table; and they will ignore the relevance of the relevant science, and merely present the conflicting views.
By giving each opposing argument equal time and relevance they can successfully keep the argument alive and keep the policy makers from getting the relevant understanding. On the relevant science side the evidence indicates that we have severely departed from natural variability and trend. ON the irrelevant science side they are still using fog generators.
Their main goal is to keep the argument alive and ignore relevance. This way they can have a big conference and make lots of claims like ‘so and so’ says this and ‘so and so’ disagrees, so climate scientists still can’t agree that there is really a problem.
Of course they can also say things like ‘so and so’ was invited and didn’t show up so ‘so and so’ who is supposedly an important climate scientist that thinks global warming is human caused, didn’t want to face the scientists that did come.
It will basically be a festival for disinformation potentials. They will take all the propaganda they foment and generate from the conference and disseminate it throughout the media in order to confuse the public and the policy makers as much as possible.
Agree. I’d rather see the scientists wasting their time :-) here on RC, where there is at least a partly receptive audience, than lending false legitimacy to a propaganda event.
(Wasn’t AEI the gang that invented the Iraq disaster, Richard Perle et al.? Nice job folks.)
Comment by Martin Vermeer — 30 Jan 2008 @ 11:42 PM
I think you guys should sign up. Each person pick a skeptical talking point. For example,
1) DO events. Should be a big hit with that croud. Aren’t most Realclimate contributers on the list of “500 scientists” that supposedly endorse “unstoppable global warming?
2) Temperature Record (UHI, global warming has “stopped”)
3) “Iris”, recent Douglas/Spencer/Christy papers.
4) Solar and cosmic rays
5) The difference between what happened thousands of years ago (or millions) over thousands of years to what is happening, and will happen over the next 100 years. I’ve found that the most insurmountable talking point with the public is the idea that “the climate changed in the past, therefore . . . global warming is a fraud.” You know, “my mother died from natural causes, therefore, a bullet to the head will never kill me.” That kind of thing.
Donate the speaking fees to charity.
And if, for some reason, the “financial sponsers” don’t select your talks, you can do a post breaking down who got to speak and who didn’t. After all, as the great philospher Marc Morano once said, “Remember, there is nothing to fear from a free open scientific debate.” Certainly, the EPW minority blog wouldn’t cover such a onesided event . . .
Thank you for your replies to my earlier comment. However, I do not agree with Raypierre that non-discussion is the correct course. One does not give credence to another’s point of view by discussing it in a public setting. Rather, one gives credence to another’s point of view by NOT discussing it openly.
By ignoring the conference (or other venues) you simply give the other guy an ability to completely and totally control the message. Then you complain about that message after the fact. This is a perfect example of talking PAST the other person rather than TO the other person. My “definition” of talking PAST someone is that they say something and then in an entirely different venue, at another time, and to a different audience, a response is given. This isn’t dialog.
The ability to over-excite and exaggerate claims is not unique to the skeptics. Even Mr. Gore made some fairly outlandish “inferences” in his political movie. These “embellishments” probably did as much harm to the discussion as they did help it because they were not discussed and debated at the time of statement. My point is that allowing a statement to be said without immediate discussion only allows those that hear it to believe it as complete truth.
So I see nothing wrong with someone attending a talk by Mr. Singer (or one of the others that will be speaking) and politely but directly challenging any mis-statements that may have occurred in the discussion. While that conversation may not sway Mr. Singer, it may at least allow someone else in the audience to think more on the subject before they are swayed by a one-sided argument.
This site regularly challenges views directly. I am sure that there will be those that challenge this view and that discussion is appropriate and welcome. I am simply suggesting that it is equally correct for a conference that is sponsored by Heartland.
But, what the heck, it’s safer than diesel exhaust.
Mice breathed either downtown LA freeway air or the same air filtered to remove the ultrafines. The mice breathing freeway air had 55% more plaquing and the plaques were 25% bigger than the filtered air mice. And it all happened pretty quickly.
It could be a very interesting “climate” conference. This should make the headlines in all the leading US newspapers, as well as the evening TV news. The Americans will just lap this up, believing everything hook line and sinker
[Response: Actually, I don't think it will make any mainstream news. They have moved on from this kind of rubbish. Expect lots of blog activity demanding 'debate' though... - gavin]
Comment by George Robinson — 31 Jan 2008 @ 1:03 AM
There’s also desmogblog.com which has a search function in it. And good articles.
Thank you for your replies to my earlier comment. However, I do not agree with Raypierre that non-discussion is the correct course. One does not give credence to another’s point of view by discussing it in a public setting. Rather, one gives credence to another’s point of view by NOT discussing it openly.
But does one grant them an advantage if one lets them choose the forum and set the terms of the discussion? And if they choose to let an honest climatologist present his views, this will simply be one of numerous presentations in a forum which places politics above science. It will lend a respectability to the forum itself, giving that forum a form of capital which the owners could not acquire by themselves.
It may be appropriate to debate even someone like Patrick Michaels — given the right forum — although I would strongly recommend giving it a great deal of thought before choosing to actually do so. However, I believe that the present situation is fairly clear-cut. The most productive thing which can be accomplished at that forum would probably best be handled by well-informed members of the audience (preferably without PhDs) who bring with them well-chosen questions — but they can in all likelihood expect to be shut down as soon as they become too inconvenient.
I am from Portugal; recently I have found an unexpected denialist in the portuguese academic comunity. I read an interview and attendend one of his presentations. I am an economist but I found it relatively easy to confront him with what I think were plain misrepresentations to say the least. He is a big name here in Portugal and usually people tend to be reverent. He actually is a member of the American Meteorology Society. That´s why he astonished me with his claims.
His presentation (partly in english): http://lisboaenova.org/pagina/images/stories/Ponto%20de%20Encontro/2008/24012008/Apresentacao_DelgadoDomingos_24012008_Final.pdf
He said such things as water vapour being the most important GHG; Combating CO2 emissions being such thing as an ideology, etc.
There are several things which are give-aways that this is “no ordinary scientific meeting.” The first is that they’re trying to deal with a ship which has sailed. By and large, the media, major corporations (including Big Oil), most governments, and the public have accepted the well-established science of anthropogenic climate change. The focus now is on the policies, engineerings, and economics of dealing with the problem. I guess these folks are trying to influence policy-making in the only ways they know how.
Second is the fact the pitch to the media and policymakers. I don’t see much of a pitch to scientists, when this is supposedly a conference about the science.
Third is the limited registration of 500 for a “major international conference,” especially when said 500 can include members of the public.
Fourth is the fact that the speakers list and topics, even for plenary sessions, have yet to be set—for a “major” conference occurring at the beginning of March! Heck, they seem to be still looking for speakers! Not much time for peer review of submissions. (I know, I know: “What peer review?”) And some of the remarks on the website about the conference are just plain laughable, like this gem from the “Background” page: “Actual surveys of climate scientists and recent reviews of the scholarly literature both show the so-called ‘skeptics’ may actually be in the majority of the climate science community. They do not lack scholarly credentials or scientific integrity, but a platform from which they can be heard.” I guess the peer-reviewed literature platform just ain’t cutting it anymore!
Sean O., you clearly misunderstand something important.
Scientific research is not a “point of view”
> One does not give credence to another’s point
> of view by discussing it in a public setting.
Look who’s most eager to have “debates” — the people who don’t have _publications_ in the scientific work.
This was true of the tobacco “advocacy science” crap, is true of the religious “intelligent design” stuff, and, is true of the “anything but effective action” political response to ocean chemistry and atmospheric physics research as the effects of rapid fossil fuel use come in.
If there were any scientists able to argue in the literature that the ocean’s pH is not changing fast they’d publish. If there were any scientists able to argue that continuing to harvest codfish and salmon while the populations crash, they’d publish. If there were any scientists able to argue that there’s a “no effects” safe amount of small particle air pollution, they’d publish.
Debate is the last refuge of a prescientific scoundrel, it would appear on the evidence.
The question is whether it’s possible to _have_ a scientific culture, in this species, or not.
Remains to be seen. “Where is everybody intelligent” is the Fermi Paradox.
Note the Fermi Paradox applies on as well as off Earth.
There’s a reason why the formal verbal debate is not one of the normal tools of science: it is a completely inappropriate way of resolving scientific questions. Such debates privilege rhetorical facility and appeals to existing prejudices in the audience over logic and evidence: that’s why politicians love them. There’s also a reason why real scientific conferences require papers to be submitted months in advance, and sent out to referees: if you don’t do this, your programme will be full of garbage, because only those who cannot get their papers into real scientific conferences will want to speak. Tell me, if the creationist/ID crowd were to organise a “conference” in the same way as the AGW denialists, complete with lack of peer review and similar distortions of the state of expert opinion, would you say prominent evolutionary biologists should take part? Speaking of which, this post reminds me of the response apparently used as standard by Robert May when invited to debate prominent creationists (though perhaps few have the combination of eminence and ego required to make use of it): “That would look great on your CV, not so good on mine!”. [Note to US readers: "CV" is British (and maybe Australian) for "resume" (with an acute accent over the final "e").]
[Response: Most scientific conferences in climate require only an abstract and a registration fee. There is no pre-screening at AGU or EGU for instance - so anyone can go and present if they want. They fact that there are only a trickle of contrarian abstracts (one or two out of thousands) is an eloquent a demonstration of their lack of scientific bona fides in the community. - gavin]
There is more than enough opportunity to engage in scientific debate within the pages of refereed scientific journals and at real scientific conferences. If a true skeptic had something to say, they could say it there. They do not–instead opting for the editorial pages of conservative rags (not exactly good sources of science) and “public debates”.
Biologists have been debating creationists since the time of Darwin. Thomas Huxley earned the epithet “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his fierce debating style. Still 49% of Americans believe in the Biblical creation myth as literal truth. I don’t call that progress.
Public debates bring out the worst in the anti-science types–even those who are nominally scientists, like Lindzen. They will trot out arguments they know are bogus to score points. Debate does not work when the two sides play by different rules. Scientists must stick to the truth or they cease to become scientists. Anti-science has no such scruples.
Put another way: “You cannot reason a man out of an opinion into which he was not reasoned to begin with.”–variously attributed to Ben Franklin and Johnathan Swift
Maybe a scientist or two who doesn’t have a financial incentive ought to show up and help them out with the facts,like for example that eleven of the last 12 years(1995-2006) were among the 12 warmest on the instrumental record of global surface temperature since since 1850.(IPCC Summary for Policymakers.In Climate Change 2007:The Physical Science Basis.)
I have wasted a substantial chunk of my time for the last 3 years dealing with so-called sceptics.
The problem with what you suggest is where you have a party in a debate who do not want to debate
honestly, but is determined to obfuscate in order to support a pre-determined position.
I’ve virtually stopped “debating” this issue now, in favour of leaving the ongoing physical process
of anthropogenic global warming to address the doubts and concerns of those who consider themselves
sceptics. They can say what they want: The physical reality is immutable; the longer they hang on, the
more ridiculous they become. By the way I don’t think your implicit assumption that there is a valid
debate about the reality of human driven climate change bears analysis. To see where the real debates
are see something like Dr Pierrehumbert’s recent post on the Cretaceous, it’s in the detail of climate change, not the broad acceptance of it’s reality and that it’s likely to be at least problematic.
I think Borat will be superfluous at such a gathering. ;)
Perhaps the best answer to the call for debates is to return to real debate, with rules and judges. The fact of the matter is that laymen are not more able to “judge” the credibility of complex climatology than we are able to judge the proof of the four color theorem, or the correctness of string theory. What we need are a panel of judges to decide who won, just like we have in school debates.
How about a debate judged by a panel of Nobel laureates in the physical sciences? With teams doing the debating, one or two speakers and a gang of others online pulling up references, graphs, and validating statistical interpretations.
Interestingly, all the audience could find to criticise was the 50 year long record of radiosonde data. They failed to see that Singer’s argument that because the models are wrong then AGW is not happening is a non-sequitur. In fact, because the models are wrong, we now find that AGW is proceeding faster than the models predict :-(.
RC: Whilst I am a devotee of your scientifically-focused posts, and I admire your ability to persevere in face of the attacks from the Heartland Institute and like-minded mouthpieces, this article does not fit your profile. It would have been better to let the meeting happen, acquire some abstracts, press releases, and even presentations (depending on how they are published) and then rip them efficiently, relentlessly, and heartlessly into the shards of dishonest propaganda that they truly are. I.e., you do your best work attacking the message, not the misguided and misbegotten messengers. I have no respect for the shills that will attend this meeting, and I respect RC, so I urge you to (as much as possible) take the high road. I know your opponents won’t, and by their actions we will know them for what they are.
“The purpose of the conference is to generate international media attention to the fact that many scientists believe forecasts of rapid warming and catastrophic events are not supported by sound science, and that expensive campaigns to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not necessary or cost-effective.”
A quick question: Is it real climate’s position that there are no competant and unbaised scientists who would agree with the statement, “forecasts of rapid warming and catastrophic events are not supported by sound science.”
From my perspective as a layman it seems to me that “forecasts of rapid warming and catastrophic events” are based on climate models that have not been thoroughly verified and that necessarily make assumptions about many important aspects of the climate that are poorly understood (e.g. clouds, precipitation, the possible iris effect and water vapor feedbacks). Moreover, it seems to me that the climate models themselves estimate a wide-range of uncertainty about the future that range from relatively insignificant warming to catastrophic warming. So is it that unreasonable to say that the predictions may be the best we can develop now, but are not yet on a sound scientific basis?” It does not seem to me that a scientist who would emphasize these points would fall within the same category as cigarette lobby scientists.
Tim, what you’re thinking of is a refereed journal.
The process simply can’t be done at break-dancing speed suitable to television. It happens at the speed of thought, not faster, sometimes taking months to get details looked into.
Unlike debate, where the ‘thoughts’ are pre-canned and spring-loaded on triggers, and it’s considered utterly wrong to stop and think, let alone agree on a point that could be argued in any way.
The real question, I submit, is which _media_ and journalism people are getting invitations to this fancy affair along with the politicians.
And isn’t this basically a way of giving a lot of politicians a fancy good time in a New York hotel, without having to disclose any of it as payments by lobbyists for the industries putting up the money?
Someone should look up what else might be going on in the hotel, or the area, at the same time that warrants funding lots of politicians to be there. Good room service?
Have you considered holding a ‘counter-conference’? You could host panel discussions on the same topics as the Heartland’s circus and invite the media to cover it. And if it were held at a university in New York it wouldn’t necessarily be prohibitively expensive. This could be an opportunity to reach a lot of people hungry for real information, not the toxic fluff served up by the denialists. I think the contrast between scientists and loons would be apparent even to laypeople.
I know it would be a chore/challenge/expense to host but I, and I’m sure others, would contribute to offset expenses. And I’m sure you would get a lot of volunteers to help.
The problem is that general physics/geophysics, etc. knowledge is not sufficient. The judges have to be experts themselves–and that is what is going on at conferences and in journals anyway. A “public” debate would not be edifying for the public and adds nothing to the scientific process. The system ain’t broke. The public just needs to become sufficiently knowledgeable that they can tell the real scientists from the vendors of snakeoil.
The anonymously authored Real Climate article above is a disappointing smear job — i.e., you have nothing to say substantively, so you attempt to smear your intellectual opponents. Many of the world’s leading climate scientists from some of the world’s most prestigious universities will be giving presentations. Rather than behaving like children and throwing mud at them, perhaps you might behave like adults and discuss the science. Of course, that will never happen because open and honest debate is what you fear most.
I never thought I would see the day when scientific debate and inquiry, conducted by some of the most credentialed scientists in the world, would be considered a bad thing. But that is what happens when people are afraid of the truth.
Al Gore in one day rakes in more honorarium money than all of our speakers combined. Nevertheless, we have offered to pay his usual honorarium to speak at our conference, but have not heard back from Mr. Gore. We have invited Real Climate’s Michael Mann to come and speak at our conference, but Mr. Mann also has failed to respond to our invitation.
Unlike Real Climate, we do not attempt to stifle scientific inquiry. Instead, we encourage it. We are equal opportunity investigators of science. As the Real Climate article above notes, we have invited many members of Real Climate to come and give presentations. It is odd that Real Climate is invited to discuss the science in a professional, scholarly environment, yet throws stones from afar, where they do not have to subject their claims to scientific scrutiny.
Perhaps Real Climate will abandon their fear of public discourse, and will reconsider their decision to decline our invitation to speak at the conference. After all, isn’t honest and open scientific discussion a good thing? Please send me an email at email@example.com and, as my prior emails indicate, I would be happy to add you to our conference lineup.
With warmest regards,
[Response: The level of chutzpah in your comment is breathtaking. Our 'substantive' additions to the scientific knowledge is well attested to by our publications in the peer reviewed literature and is subject to scientific scrutiny every day. I will even venture to make a prediction that the number of peer-reviewed papers on climate science we have collectively authored in the last 5 years will be substantially more than all of your speakers put together. Honest and open scientific discussion is greatly to be wished for, and in fact, happens all the time. I don't recall ever bumping into you at a real conference (AGU/AMS/EGU), but should you ever go, you'll see it how it works first hand. Your institute plays no role in that because your approach is the anti-thesis of scientific inquiry - your conclusions have been decided before you look at the evidence. When you decide to stop abusing the scientific process for political gain, then perhaps we can talk. - gavin]
Paul contends: “From my perspective as a layman it seems to me that “forecasts of rapid warming and catastrophic events” are based on climate models that have not been thoroughly verified and that necessarily make assumptions about many important aspects of the climate that are poorly understood (e.g. clouds, precipitation, the possible iris effect and water vapor feedbacks). ”
Where on Earth are you getting your information? Rapid warming has already occurred. New York City was snow-free in January for the first time in 75 years. Arctic sea ice nearly disappeared this summer. Both alpine and polar glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. These are empirical facts, not model predictions.
And while global climate models do indeed have uncertainties, the role of CO2 in causing warming is not uncertain at all. All the available science–from paleoclimate studies to laboratory IR spectroscopy measurements supports it.
Paul, I don’t need to know the know the mass of a graviton to know that if I drop an apple it will fall. Likewise, I don’t have to know every detail of aerosol forcing or the role of clouds to know that if I add CO2–which persists in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, mixes at all altitudes, etc–things will heat up. Some results are robust and don’t depend on every detail of the models.
BOULDER, Colorado, January 28, 2008 (ENS) – Icy Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic is not half as icy as it was just 50 years ago. Ice caps on the island’s northern plateau are 50 percent smaller in area than they were in 1950 due to warming temperatures and are expected to vanish by the middle of the century, according to new research from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Radiocarbon dating of dead plant material emerging from beneath the receding ice show the Baffin Island ice caps are now smaller in area than at any time in at least the last 1,600 years, said geological sciences Professor Gifford Miller of CU-Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.
“Even with no additional warming, our study indicates these ice caps will be gone in 50 years or less,” he said.
Located just west of Greenland, the 196,000 square mile Baffin Island is the fifth largest island in the world. Most of it lies above the Arctic Circle.
The study also showed two distinct bursts of Baffin Island ice cap growth beginning about 1280 A.D. and 1450 A.D., each coinciding with ice core records of increases in stratospheric aerosols tied to major tropical volcanic eruptions, Miller said.
The unexpected findings “provide tantalizing evidence that the eruptions were the trigger for the Little Ice Age,” a period of Northern Hemisphere cooling that lasted from roughly 1250 to 1850, he said. …
Paul wrote: “… from my perspective as a layman it seems to me that ‘forecasts of rapid warming and catastrophic events’ are based on climate models that have not been thoroughly verified and that necessarily make assumptions about many important aspects of the climate that are poorly understood …”
Rapid warming is not a “forecast”. Rapid warming is already being empirically observed. Catastrophic events are not a “forecast”. Catastrophic events, including unprecedented heat waves and droughts, are already occurring all over the world.
It is true that these empirically observed facts have shown the models to be flawed, since the observed effects are more extreme and are occurring more rapidly than forecast by the models.
The inherent uncertainty of the models and their forecasts is additional reason to move quickly and aggressively to mitigate anthropogenic global warming, not a reason to delay — especially since the necessary measures (phasing out fossil fuels in favor of maximally efficient use of clean, renewable, sustainable energy sources; reforestation; and organic agriculture) have numerous other benefits that more than offset any costs.
Comment by SecularAnimist — 31 Jan 2008 @ 12:27 PM
If you ever expect the voting public to act on your scientifc interpertations, then you need to be willing to debate these issues in a forum that the voting public can attend.
[Response: I give talks in public, generally for free, all the time. The number of the 'voting public' at this event will be minimal. - gavin]
$1,000 for a talk? $10,000 for a paper? As a Ph.D. student, I am a bit offended at how cheap they value my soul (and reputation).
Comment by Louis-Philippe Caron — 31 Jan 2008 @ 1:02 PM
Look at it from thier point of view. If you were convinced the whole world was jumping onto the alarmist bandwagon, while environmentalists swim in rising oceans of cash, what methods would you use to combat the hysteria? Hold a non-scientific climate science conferance? Produce a movie? Organize concerts across the globe to increase awareness?
[Response: No. I'd write serious papers, have serious conversations, go to serious conferences. That's how scientific arguments go. If I were a politician or an advocate then I'd try some of those other things, but I wouldn't pretend they were science. However, their tactics are self-defeating. If they truly think that the solutions proposed are not optimal, they need to suggest better solutions. Denying there is a problem at all makes it impossible for them to be taken seriously when solutions are discussed. - gavin]
I have a question based on the snow event going on in China. It occurs to me that AGW theory predicts more precipitation; do the models account for some of that falling as snow, causing the albedo to flip? In other words, increased snow cover would be a negative feedback.
I’m just wondering how that’s handled.
[Response: The models make snow if it's cold enough, and snow cover persists if it doesn't melt. However, though I haven't looked in detail, the warming signal almost certainly overwhelms any potential increased deposition of snow signal (this is not something I've seen though) since snow cover goes down pretty robustly. - gavin]
So who got the invitation? Can it be forwarded? I nominate Eli. That would be fun to watch. I think Raypierre should go so he can have a pleasant chat with Marc Morano. Maybe some starving grad students should take up the challenge. $1,000 will buy a lot of Ramen noodles.
The main page says:
“Discounts for registration are available for journalists and students to encourage their attendance. Free admission and travel and hotel scholarships are available to elected officials, scientists, economists, and policy experts who are recommended by sponsors and track chairmen.”
Suppose one knows an elected official who actually understands climate change issues and is supportive of actions to do anything about it. Suppose one contacted them, and suggested that:
(a) Here is a chance to experience firsthand attempted politicization of science in action.
(c) If you actually hear anything that makes sense, write it down and let’s discuss it when you get back.
(d) And besides, it’s a free trip to NYC, on Heartland.
Anyway, I think there are politicians who have been convinced by science, but at least some do not understand the nature of the opposition as much as they might, and actually attending such an event might actually be useful to them. This is *not* to attempt debates, which are totally impossible in such a venue.
The one worrisome piece is the “recommended by sponsors and track chairman.”
I’d try this on a few of the local legislators … but I’m in California, and I suspect such people will have a hard time getting recommended…
Those who received an invitation to this conference, and feel qualified to speak on the the topic of anthropogenic warming, might have accepted the invitation AND formally requested to speak on the topic of a submitted abstract. Given the Heartland Institute’s agenda the latter would probably be denied, but let them go on the record with that denial. This approach might provide some kind of paper trail – a big trail if enough people tried it – showing that this meeting is not an open invitation for dialogue.
“Rapid warming is not a “forecast”. Rapid warming is already being empirically observed.”
I guess the question it is a question as to what one considers rapid warming and for what period. Using the instrument record and cherry picking starting dates, it is possible to show no warming, some warming, or relatively fast warming.
I’ll tell you, that money looks awfully good to a temp clerical worker like me. Maybe I could put together some inane piece of crap in formal manuscript format and register. If I could do it under an assumed name, that is…
As one who also suggested the AGW proponents must debate within public forums (and according to public forum rules, not formal debating or true scientific discourse rules), I need to weigh in. I think Sean has very valid arguments, but in the broadset sense. Any of the public forums mentioned above will have these guys at a disadvantage, but some can be handled, others pose a more difficult problem. I think this conference has far too many cards stacked them.
At first I thought Oh! Goody. I can go someplace and get support for my (scientific) skeptism. Unfortunately I then went to Heartland Institute’s website. Neve could get much past the pop-ups and advertising of everything, it seems, other than scientific stuff. (Maybe because they imply their site is still under partial construction…..)
Paul said, “Using the instrument record and cherry picking starting dates, it is possible to show no warming, some warming, or relatively fast warming.”
Again, where are you getting this. Any reasonable statistical analysis over time periods not dominated by “noise” shows we are still warming. Any fool can lie with statistics. What takes skill is using them to illustrate the truth. Or, as Andrew Lamb might have said of the denialists: [They] use statistics like a drunk uses a lamp pole–for support rather than illumination.
Here’s what I don’t understand. OK, let’s say you’re with the Heartland Institute. You believe in free markets, and presumably you understand them at some level. You are apalled at the prospect of liberal-commie-pinko-fag-junkie-liberal-environmentalists destroying the free market in response to climate change. So, do you trot right out and say that the free market can handle the challenge and propose free market solutions and harness the creativity of corporate America? NO! Instead, you attack the science–which you don’t understand and which if pretty much a lead-pipe cinch. Not only does this appear to be attacking where your strengths arent, it appears to be driven by a deep insecurity as to whether free markets are up to the challenge. It’s as if you don’t really believe in the power of free markets and are just hoping no real challenges will come along and expose you. Pretty pathetic.
Test your preconcieved notions by reading the last words of that newspaper report about the Science article —
“In the Science report global warming and water, Barnett and his colleagues said that two-thirds of the measured climate change in the past 50 years has been “human-induced” – a conclusion Milly argued is understated.
Does your reaction on reading that reveal any bias about what you want to believe? Does it lead you to be curious what’s in the actual published _Science_ article? I hope you want to read the real thing.
Don’t trust second-hand reports, read for yourself.
Again, where are you getting this. Any reasonable statistical analysis over time periods not dominated by “noise” shows we are still warming. Any fool can lie with statistics. What takes skill is using them to illustrate the truth.
Tamino did graphs that show quite eloquently there is no legitimate reason for claiming that the warming has stopped earlier today:
Paul said, “Using the instrument record and cherry picking starting dates, it is possible to show no warming, some warming, or relatively fast warming.”
“Again, where are you getting this. Any reasonable statistical analysis over time periods not dominated by “noise” shows we are still warming. Any fool can lie with statistics. ”
I haven’t questioned that the average global temperatures are increasing. I just question whether it is accurate to characterize the warming as “rapid”.
The rate of warming since 1860 is not especially rapid. The rate of warming since the 1930′s is not especially rapid. The rate of warming over the last ten years is not especially rapid. If you choose to look at warming rates since the late seventies, this is more concerning. Even so, as I understand the data, the warming rate of the last three decades is not substantially greater than the rate of increase from 1915 to 1945.
The point of my original post was that the alarming scenarios are the results of global climate model projections. Some one responded by saying that “Rapid warming is not a “forecast”. Rapid warming is already being empirically observed” I am not so sure. It depends on what one considers “rapid” and what period one is observing.
“And while global climate models do indeed have uncertainties, the role of CO2 in causing warming is not uncertain at all. All the available science–from paleoclimate studies to laboratory IR spectroscopy measurements supports it.”
I agree that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and increased CO2 emissions have likely caused some global warming. The extent that CO2 will cause future global warming is not well understood. The IPCC projections/scenarios show a range of uncertainty from relative modest warming (i.e. 1.1 degree by 2100) to extreme warming (6.4 degrees by 2100) under the scenario that assumes rapid economic growth. Furthermore, the range of uncertainty reflected in these scenarios suggests to me that we do not have a good answer to how much of the current observed warming has been caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
Conferances meant to sway popular opinion are a function of a free market. (I assume you are using the term meaning ‘without government interferance’)
Holding a conferance with a one sided debate so that media can quote these ‘experts’ is no more deplorable than producing a one sided movie for pop-culture to reference. 
[Response: The free market has nothing to do with scientific-sounding deceptions. The interesting thing is that true free marketeers are very strongly of the belief that distortions in markets caused by unpriced externalities cause inefficient allocations of goods. Since the cost of climate change is just such an externality, you'd think they would be clamouring for a carbon tax, and indeed many free market economists do (including Lomborg, Tol, and Nordhaus for instance). Heartland is much more interested in protecting special interests than in applying real free market economics to the problem. - gavin]
“The free market has nothing to do with scientific-sounding deceptions.”
On the contrary, a free market has everything to do with scientific truths, as well as scientific sounding deceptions. The market doesn’t care if its a lie or a truth. The hope in the free market is that people will be informed enough to distinguish between the two.
Many that believe in a free market are the same that are against socialitic ideas like carbon caps and credits.
[Response: You appear to be confusing free speech with free markets. They are not synonymous and they do not have much to do with each other. One is a political freedom, the other an economic one. You right to lie and dissemble is not connected in the slightest to the regulation of markets to prevent monopolies or the role of environmental regulations in pricing externalities. That you confuse the two is unfortunate. - gavin]
Walt, yes, they do. Check how long the snow stays on what area of ground, and compare it to the average annual snow cover over the long term for that latitude, and see if it makes a difference in the total. Weather is a blip. Longterm seasonal change is a feedback.
James M. Taylor of the Heartland Institute posted: “Unlike Real Climate, we do not attempt to stifle scientific inquiry. Instead, we encourage it.”
Unlike Real Climate, your organization has received $791,500 from ExxonMobil since 1998. None of that money funded any “scientific inquiry”. It funded deliberately and thoroughly dishonest propaganda campaigns with the explicit purpose of deceiving the American people about the scientific reality of anthropogenic climate change, so that the public would not demand mitigation measures that would reduce Exxon-Mobil’s profits. Heartland Institute is not a scientific organization. It is a propaganda mill funded by the fossil fuel industry.
No amount of debating, lying, confusing the truth, bickering and all that is going to change the fact of anthropogenic global warming. No matter how much any oil company invests money and energy into “meetings.”
Figen Mekik: “No amount of debating, lying, confusing the truth, bickering and all that is going to change the fact of anthropogenic global warming. No matter how much any oil company invests money and energy into ‘meetings.’”
No, but it can keep the public ignorant and confused about the fact of anthropogenic global warming for years, and has, until very recently, been extremely successful in doing so, thereby delaying public demand for phasing out fossil fuels, and thereby prolonging the period of accelerating consumption of fossil fuels and the associated trillion-dollar profits of the fossil fuel corporations.
Exxon-Mobil’s multi-million dollar investments in “debating, lying, confusing the truth, bickering and all that” — such as the nearly $800,000 they have paid to the Heartland Institute in the last ten years — have paid off many, many times over. To the grave detriment of all humanity, and indeed all life on Earth.
There should be a law against misleading communications such as this conference invitation and the mail I copied in my post.
[Response: No there shouldn't. The answer to bad information is better information. Prior restraint is more trouble than it is worth. But people should not hesitate to call out such rubbish when they see it. - gavin]
Re: 71 Paul, read what you just wrote: “The extent that CO2 will cause future global warming is not well understood. The IPCC projections/scenarios show a range of uncertainty from relative modest warming (i.e. 1.1 degree by 2100) to extreme warming (6.4 degrees by 2100) under the scenario that assumes rapid economic growth.”
The uncertainty is in the growth scenario assumed, not the physics of the greenhouse gasses. More growth=more greenhouse gasses=more warming–and yes it is an equation.
And if you do not think warming is rapid now, then when do you think warming has occurred more rapidly–and note what happened to species diversity during such paleoclimate epochs.
You grassy knoll folks are hilarious, “Unlike Real Climate, your organization has received $791,500 from ExxonMobil since 1998″. You say that like it is a lot of money. Cripes, it wouldn’t fund the GISS for a week, or pay Al Gore’s energy bills over the 10 years in question. You do realize how foolish you sound caterwauling over 79k/yr, don’t you?
[Response: Actually it would fund the GISS modelling effort for just under two months. - gavin]
Re 72, Ah, yes, it was only a matter of time before somebody tried to equate what the Heartland Institute is doing to Al Gore’s (the political right’s bete noir) short-lived movie career. But Michael, last I saw, Al Gore was not a scientist and did not putport to be. Hell, he doesn’t even play one on TV. Last I saw, he was a private citizen.
Yeah, but climate change been berry, berry good to Al. Got him an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize, and there’s a bet on the books that pays 100:1 if he gets the Presidency, too at some point. BTW, the bookies have lowered the odds on that one from 12:1 to 8:1. But you know what, none of it would have happened if any politician from the right had been willing to stand up on stage and say we have to address climate change. Mr. Gore was very fortunate that his political enemies didn’t have the foresight to take away the moral and scientific high ground.
Now the question in my mind is whether they will have the hindthought to see that opposing the laws of physics isn’t such a good idea and maybe inject some ideas for dealing with climate change that wouldn’t offend their free-market sensibilities quite so much.
Peter Thompson, 79 K/yr sounds pretty damn good to a post doc doing climate science. Yes, it’s not a lot of money–enough to pay for a hack to spread disinformation full time. What always amazed me is how cheaply some folks will sell their honesty.
Ray said “The uncertainty is in the growth scenario assumed, not the physics of the greenhouse gasses. More growth=more greenhouse gasses=more warming–and yes it is an equation.”
This statement is simply false. The range of uncertainty is for the same economic scenario (i.e. rapid economic growth) and reflects uncertainty in the climate models. My source is the IPCC report itself. The report provides different ranges for alternative forcing scenarios. There is no simple equation for the effect of doubling CO2 concentrations because the expected climate response is based largely on the effects of positive feedbacks, which are currently not well understood. The impact of CO2 without feedbacks can be determined by formula, but the results are not particularly alarming.
Re 47; Mr. Taylor’s scathing diatribe is evidence that the decibel level is rising, especially by those whose purpose is to try to prevent the public from accepting the fact that the consensus of climate scientists have come to believe that AGW is occurring. They apparently feel that once the general public becomes aware of this, their cause will take a fatal blow. Ergo the loud protests from that corner.The “sound science” phrase is tell tale evidence that this effort is directed toward the aforementioned objective. It’s part and parcel of the party line.
True scientists might just as well speak at a debate on whether the Earth is either billions of years old or 6000 years old. Why dignify such assertions by indirectly acknowledging them with their attendence.
Timothy Chase (#69) says “Tamino did graphs that show quite eloquently there is no legitimate reason for claiming that the warming has stopped earlier today”. I can assure you that where I live the warming did indeed stop earlier today. I expect it to start up again tomorrow morning, though.
Peter #83: So, you’re saying that the payments would only be a problem if they were significantly higher, meaning a little bit of bought PR spin (read: fabrication with the intent to mislead the public) is OK? Or would any amount of money spent that way be acceptable?
James Taylor suggests that this conference will be loaded with high caliber scientists, may be, who dares challenge MIT’s enfant terrible Professor Lindzen and MSU Gurus such as Christy? But do they have a better temperature projection batting record rivaling Hansen which have predicted this warming since the 80′s… Especially now that most proud contrarians acknowledge Global Warming, it took a while, but they are on board the Global Warming Arctic Ocean cruise ship soon to be without Icebreaker escort, will they admit the error of their ways in projecting a cooling? Perhaps admitting errata will improve their batting stance, and actually predict some accurate climate? As some of their major league peers have already done…
Its hard to expect a prediction home run from contrarians when they never got to first base in the first place.
Just a note on what Hank wrote in #31. When asked whether he thought that there was extraterrestrial intelligent beings, Fermi replied “where are they” which goes well with Gandhi’s response when asked what he thought of Western civilization, “It would be a good thing”.
At Ray Ladbury: Where on Earth are you getting your information?
I love baseless speculation! I’d guess Paul visited Roger Pielke Jr. Blog, clicked the link to William Briggs new blog, and watched the four videos by Bob Carter.
Carter’s discussion is purely statistical from the point of view of a geologist. The gist of the argument is that, from a geological perspective, the current state isn’t that much of an outlier. The things Carter says appears technically true, particularly if you account for uncertainty in the geological record. The difficulty is that Carter uses “not unusual” in the same sense that a person with an IQ of 140 isn’t an not unusual. If you look around a bit, you’ll find plenty of these people. You’ll even find some with IQ’s of 150!
Also, the issue of cause and effect is entirely missing in the Carter’s talk.
Thank you Gavin, for your prompt reply dismissing the ‘oughta be a law’ notion above.
“The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.” H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)
Why don’t you – and every other legitimate climate scientist you know – call their bluff: perhaps the media would be interested in how many of you are turned down (and what evidence you had intended to present)!
… and the Heartland Institute’s history of endeavors is also well-documented:
Although Heartland calls itself “a genuinely independent source of research and commentary,” its has been a frequent ally of the tobacco industry can be documented by searching the industry’s internal document archives.
Roy E. Marden, a member of Heartland’s board of directors, was until May 2003 the manager of industry affairs for the Philip Morris (PM) tobacco company, where his responsibilities included lobbying and “managing company responses to key public policy issues,” which he accomplishes by “directing corporate involvement with industry, business, trade, and public policy organizations and determining philanthropic support thereto.” In a May 1991 document prepared for PM, Marden listed Heartland’s “rapid response network” as a “potential spokesperson” among the “portfolio of organizations” that the company had cultivated to support its interests.  ….
Re #42 – “It does not seem to me that a scientist who would emphasize these points would fall within the same category as cigarette lobby scientists.”
I think people are missing the point about the cigarettes, Fred Singer (mentioned in the article) was a “cigarette lobby scientists” and has been a prominent shill for the fossil fuel industry.
Quoting from his wikipedia entry – “Singer is also skeptical about the connection between CFCs and ozone depletion, between UV-B radiation and melanoma and between second hand smoke and lung cancer and proposed that the Martian moon Phobos is a space station built by Martians.”
The IPCC projections/scenarios show a range of uncertainty from relative modest warming (i.e. 1.1 degree by 2100) to extreme warming (6.4 degrees by 2100) under the scenario that assumes rapid economic growth.
Are you sure? I read the original IPCC report and cannot find this. In the WG1 Executive Summary it says
“The multi-model mean SAT warming and associated uncertainty ranges for 2090 to 2099 relative to 1980 to 1999 are B1: +1.8°C (1.1°C to 2.9°C), B2: +2.4°C (1.4°C to 3.8°C), A1B: +2.8°C (1.7°C to 4.4°C), A1T: 2.4°C (1.4°C to 3.8°C), A2: +3.4°C (2.0°C to 5.4°C) and A1FI: +4.0°C (2.4°C to 6.4°C).”
So the extremes are indeed 1.1 and 6.4 degrees, but for different scenarios.
In Figure 10.24 I again see the range of (roughly) 1.1 – 6.4 degrees, but again for different scenarios.
(And note that these are increases relative to 1980-1999, not relative to pre-industrial, i.e., already realized warming comes on top of this.)
Again, where did you get your numbers?
Anyway, for the sake of argument, why would you want to believe in 1.1°C rather than 6.4°C? Isn’t it prudent decision making to prepare for the most likely outcome (i.e., 4.0°C for the A1FI emissions scenario), and at least take into account the worst-case possibility?
Consider also this: the mean global increase in temperature is just a number, although a popular and useful one. As you correctly note, the CO2 forcing effect is precisely computable from theory and hypothesis free; it’s the feedbacks that bring in the uncertainty. So, when in spite of recklessly pumping out CO2, we still don’t see more than 1.1 degs average warming, that means that some powerful negative feedbacks are almost canceling out the initial forcing. It could be water vapour (although this feedback is currently thought to be well understood) or cloud cover. It could be that the distribution of water vapour changes, e.g., making the tropics more arid and a better radiator (and those peasants living there just out of luck). Or the large-scale distribution of clouds changes due to a changing global circulation pattern.
What I am getting at, is that 1.1 deg warming for this scenario is not “a small climate change”: rather, it is a huge, and hugely intrusive, climate change that just happens to be almost thermally neutral ;-)
Either you have not looked at the aggregate science or I am left to suspect that you are naive and/or ignorant of the relevant data? Your own words are strongly indicative.
You state regarding real climate: “you have nothing to say substantively”.
Obviously you have not read the material on this web site. Maybe, you have apparently written these words based on your view of a single article and not the aggregate work on the site, the preponderance of evidence deeply discussed and considered?
“Of course, that will never happen because open and honest debate is what you fear most.”
If you had read the large numbers of articles on this web site as well as the evidence presented by our own governments scientists much of which is referenced here, you would realize that all they do here is open and honest debate, albeit in a scientific manner of consideration and analysis.
You don’t seem to understand that credentials are less important that evidence, whether it be in fact or proxy. For example, you may be able to get an expert in infectious diseases to comment on Global warming… but how is that relevant? You can get a writer to comment on global warming… but how is that relevant?
You say that you “do not attempt to stifle scientific inquiry” I would like to see substantial evidence of that. Your words indicate to me, when considered in the context of the argument, and the apparent context indicated on your web site, that your goal may very well be to stifle relevant scientific inquiry and/or confuse the issues regarding evidence and understanding with your “most credentialed scientists in the world”. I would love it if I am wrong, so please do prove me wrong. Are these “credentialed scientists” really presenting relevant work?
You state that you encourage scientific inquiry. But I am concerned that you may not understand what the word relevance means? You say “We are equal opportunity investigators of science.” Please feel free to read my thoughts on that matter above in post #19.
Please prove me wrong. I would love to be wrong. I look forward to the media output from your conference proving me wrong. If it weighs the relevance of the evidence in context, with relevant arguments and relevant studies that are holistic, “open and honest’ in their scope… well, I very much look forward to that. Keep in mind though that when I say honest, I also mean honorable. I’d really love to see your media output from the conference meet that criteria.
You state: “It is odd that Real Climate is invited to discuss the science in a professional, scholarly environment”. If you really want to discuss this in a “professional, scholarly environment”, then instead of having your own little conference, you should have had them all submit their papers at the AGU in December… or are you unaware of the AGU?
You state: “After all, isn’t honest and open scientific discussion a good thing?” Of course it is. For me, I like evidence, so I will anxiously await reading the output from your conference to see if it is honest and open. I am just suspicious, so, please prove me wrong.
On your affiliated web site http://www.globalwarmingheartland.org/ you have a section called Debate challenge Issued by: Dennis Avery (an agricultural analyst); Chris Horner (an attorney); Steven Milloy (JunkScience.com and DemandDebate.com); Lord Christopher Monkton (A consultant and Journalist). Not exactly “credentialed scientists”. Look, people pick their bias based on their interests, abilities and even limitations. Honor, of late, is rarely a part of the equation unfortunately. Open mindedness without undue bias is also hard to find sometimes. Depends on where you are or what environment.
People may like to confuse issues for their particular reasons. But science is not about confusion, it’s about seeking the truth through open minded questions, examination, verification, reason and relevance. It is unfortunate that some wish to obfuscate the relevant science with obtuse arguments that have less relevance in the context of aggregate reality. Even the skeptics will eventually realize what is going on, it’s just that the longer we wait the more costly it will be. In the mean time it is up to those that understand to hold the line of integrity.
With best regards,
Gavin, thanks for your note as well. I wrote mine before I scrolled down to see yours. I strongly support your response to this person. Their site has an article saying Crichton is Right? Is Michael Crichton one “of the world’s leading climate scientists “?
Thank you for your response on that issue. The facts show that we have departed from natural variability and significantly altered the forcing in the atmosphere. We all know that we have already warmed, it’s not a prediction, it’s simple fact. All these current effects are not some mysterious future, they are not a forecast, this is happening now.
If you examine the paleo record you would notice that actually we were supposed to be going into an ice age. I’m not an expert, but the facts and proxies together show that we have altered the natural cycle and the forcing level. It’s pretty obvious. Just put it in perspective with past cycles and forcing. Questioning whether it is rapid is in my opinion, not the argument. but if you consider that we probably should be cooling without anthropogenic influence, then this warming is more than rapid; it is a complete reversal of the natural trend. That is worse than rapid.
SInce this is a nonlinear event, and the IPCC are conservative by the nature of the method, you can more than reasonably expect that their estimates are exactly what they are supposed to be, conservative. Your questions regarding whether it is caused by GHG’s… well, you need to study this more. You think it’s not alarming, but that question is too easily subject to bias of perspective. It sort of depends on what you consider alarming or rapid change. This warming is clearly rapid in its potentials and its relationship to paleo records.
What do you mean by alarming? If you mean significant changes to economic capacity related to resource availability and allocation, increased climate energy and momentum of weather systems influenced by climate change, latitudinal climate shift altering regional weather patterns, economic strains based on the climate region shifts, more frequent intense droughts, floods, hurricanes, tornados, snow storms, human migration, national identities being strained to the point of increased tensions that could lead to cross national tensions and regional conflicts based on resource scarcity possibly leading to the temptation to use nuclear weapons as tensions increase… or did you mean something else by alarming.
I’m not being ‘alarmist’ I didn’t do that analysis. It came from other sources. Please read:
The links at the bottom of the article on the centrist site include the security reports from the Center for Naval Analysis; The German Advisory Council on Global Change and the Center for Strategic International Studies.
Re 82 (Ray) and 86 (Paul)
IPCC WG1 SPM, Table SPM 3, p.13:
Scenario – Best estimate (Likely range)
Constant rate 2000 – 0.6 (0.3-0.9)
B1 – 1.8 (1.1-2.9)
A1T – 2.4 (1.4-3.8)
B2 – 2.4 (1.4-3.8)
A1B – 2.8 (1.7-4.4)
A2 – 3.4 (2.0-5.4)
A1FI – 4.0 (2.4-6.4)
Thus, the 1.1-6.4 range is the extreme of “likely range” of all scenarios ; if the “rapid economic growth” is the A1FI, the range is 2.4-6.4.
The evidence suggests that if anything, the models underpredict positive feedbacks. And even for model predictions, distributions of temperature ranges are skewed right, especially as we go into the future–and the 3 degrees represents the a median number. The fact that you take comfort in uncertainty just indicates that you don’t understand the science or the statistics.
I’m getting a little sick of the antics of the likes of the Heatland Institute.
If these people have an issue with the currently accepted scientific view of recent climatic change, they can bloody well play by the rules if they wish to be taken seriously. This doesn’t include organising your own conferences. This means, perhaps, toddling off to a real conference, submitting an abstract and discussing their views with the rest of the relevant scientific community. Maybe they could present a paper/abstract and have their current thoery discussed. Maybe they could cite their evidence for their current thinking. Perhaps building up a decent publication record would help.
But no. They don’t play by the rules that the rest of us have to (and nothing is quite so scary as defending your research work in front of an audience of your peers… except maybe killer bees). They organise fun, sponsored events like this, which will accomplish nothing, and in my eyes, further reduce what little integrity that the likes of Lindzen and Cristy have left.
It’s high time we let this lot pontificate in their own time, on their own, and got back to work on reducing the amount of Greenhouse gases being emmitted into the atmosphere.
I would like to make a correction to a prior post. I suggested that the entire range of uncertainty reflected in the rapid growth scenario from the IPCC is based on model uncertainty. In fact, while the projections in the rapid growth scenario reflect similar economic and population growth assumption, they do appear to include a range of forcings based on different assumptions regarding future technology and energy use patterns. So some the uncertainty reflected in the scenarios does to a degree reflect differences in forcing assumptions.
However, my basic point that there is a considerable range of uncertainty in the GCM is correct. I think this uncertainty is reflected in the following post by raypierre on this blog. He writes:
“The current crop of models studied by the IPCC range from an equilibrium sensitivity of about 1.5°C at the low end to about 5°C at the high end. Differences in cloud feedbacks remain the principal source of uncertainty. There is no guarantee that the high end represents the worst case, or that the low end represents the most optimistic case. While there is at present no compelling reason to doubt the models’ handling of water vapor feedback, it is not out of the question that some unanticipated behavior of the hydrological cycle could make the warming somewhat milder — or on the other hand, much, much worse. Thus, the question naturally arises as to whether one can use information from past climates to check which models have the most correct climate sensitivity.” http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/12/natural-variability-and-climate-sensitivity/langswitch_lang/wp
“The fact that you take comfort in uncertainty just indicates that you don’t understand the science or the statistics.”
I don’t necessarily take comfort in the uncertainty, but I think it is important to acknowledge that it exists. If we knew for certain that a doubling of CO2 concentrations would lead to the high end of the estimates, it would be reasonable to pursue much more drastic policies. Given the level of uncertainty, however, I think it is reasonable to pursue more prudent, less drastic policy. Moreover, it is important to recognize the science is not settled as many frequently claim.
What an interesting discussion!
Diddnt know much about exxon and heartlands fundings, and ill look into them more now.
I love the workl that you guys do here, keep showing us the science, and keep being honest!
Im involved with an organisaton called GLACIER. (Global Legal Action on climate and International Environmental Responsability.
We are relatively new,and are composed of environmental economists and lawyers. We may have technicalities we need to go over, before our court cases (June 5th). Do you mind if we have any questions we can ask you, the contributrd to Realclimate?
Let me know! Also any of you located in Montreal Canada,or nearby?
[[If we knew for certain that a doubling of CO2 concentrations would lead to the high end of the estimates, it would be reasonable to pursue much more drastic policies. Given the level of uncertainty, however, I think it is reasonable to pursue more prudent, less drastic policy.]]
But with real uncertainty in the results to worry about, “less drastic” would not be “more prudent.” You don’t plan for everything coming out okay, you plan for the worst and hope for everything to come out okay.
[[ Moreover, it is important to recognize the science is not settled as many frequently claim.]]
The details are not settled. That global warming is A) real, B) anthropogenic, and C) a serious problem is indeed settled.
Paul says, “Moreover, it is important to recognize the science is not settled as many frequently claim.”
That depends on what you mean by “the science”. If you mean the forcing due to greenhouse gasses–that is settled. Add CO2 to the atmosphere and it will be warmer than it would be otherwise. That there are positive feedbacks is also settled. Now, where there is less certainty is the magnitude of the positive feedbacks. However, I would suggest that if you present a physical system to a knowledgeable physicist and say that it has positive feedbacks of unknown magnitude, the reaction of said physicist is much more likely to be “Holy S***!!” than it is to be “Well, just flip the switch and it probably won’t blow up.” Moreover, the fact remains that the skew of the distributions favors higher forcing more than lower forcing. See: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/10/the-certainty-of-uncertainty/langswitch_lang/wp
More disturbing, there is evidence that not all positive feedbacks are reflected in the models–e.g. outgassing of CO2 and CH4 from thawing permafrost, etc. So the science is sufficiently settled to say with a high degree of confidence (>90%) that if we keep adding CO2 to the atmosphere, the positive feedbacks will eventually kick in and tear the system from any control we currently exercise. Anyone who takes comfort in the fact that we don’t know whether this tipping point comes in 1 year or in 50 years is a fool
Re Paul @ 105: “If we knew for certain that a doubling of CO2 concentrations would lead to the high end of the estimates, it would be reasonable to pursue much more drastic policies. Given the level of uncertainty, however, I think it is reasonable to pursue more prudent, less drastic policy.”
The logic of your last statement escapes me, and does not strike me as at all a prudent course to take risk management. It certainly does not seem to be the course chosen by the insurance industry. Given the level of uncertainty, and the fact that we do not know for certain that a doubling of CO2 concentrations will NOT lead to the high end of the estimates, it is reasonable and more prudent to proceed taking the high end estimates into account.
This is a great post. While those of us in science understand what normal conference procedures are, much of the public, and students, don’t. If a bunch of people (usually white guys–sorry) talk at a podium with power points and have graphs and a good vocabulary, at an event called a conference, then it looks and smells somewhat like the legitimate thing.
It’s very important to point out the differences in content, process, and agendas here. Thanks!
Jim Eager writes: “Given the level of uncertainty, and the fact that we do not know for certain that a doubling of CO2 concentrations will NOT lead to the high end of the estimates, it is reasonable and more prudent to proceed taking the high end estimates into account.”
I didn’t say that we should not consider the high end estimates. My position that we should also take the low-end estimates into account and this should give us pause before we aggresively pursue very expensive abatement policies. If we knew that the high-end estimates were certain, this would certainly justify more aggressive policy. The uncertainty creates very difficult policy decisions that should be acknowledged.
Mr Levinson writes: “The details are not settled. That global warming is A) real, B) anthropogenic, and C) a serious problem is indeed settled.”
As indicated in quotation above from this blog the low-end models considered by the IPCC estimate a climate sensitivity for doubling CO2 to be 1.5 degrees. As I understand the data, we are about half-way to a doubling of pre-industrial CO2 levels and have experienced a .7 degree increase in temperatures. So with the low-end sensitivity estimate we can expect about another .8 degree increase for the full doubling. It is not clear to me that this would be a big problem. Accordingly, if the low-end estimate is credible, I am not sure that it has been established that global warming is a major problem. It is potentially a major problem, but I don’t think this has been fully established.
Is the low-end estimate credible? Well, it was a model that was deemed worthy of consideration by the IPCC according to the real climate post I cite above and as was candidly noted by the post’s author, “There is no guarantee that the high end represents the worst case, or that the low end represents the most optimistic case.”
Ray writes: “That there are positive feedbacks is also settled.” I am not sure that this has been settled, but I’ll admit I not expert on this. But I do know that there must also be “negative feedback” because we are still here. A system with only “positive” feedback is unstable and will result in runaway ever increasing temperatures. Since this has never happened, there must be “negative” breaks that have operated in the past.
Ultimately, I think the better question is whether the net feedbacks in the climate system are postive or negative and how large the net feedbacks are. The range of climate sensitivities in the climate models indicate that this is not a settled question. The IPCC acknowledges that it is not known whether the feedbacks from cloud are positive or negative. So I would think this is still an open empirical question.
Ulimately, I think it is openly acknowledged that there are great uncertainties in the global climate models. There are a wide range of estimates of the amount aerosols that have and are being emitted into the atmosphere and the magnitude of their effects. There is a wide-open question regarding whether clouds are a net positive or negative feedback.
I agree with Paul on this small point. I’m not comfortable with the uncertainty either.
Mostly because all the models seem to be wrong and all the indicators I see show that global warming is going much faster that the models, and accelerating.
#107 Barton re. Paul
Thanks for pointing that out. To put it another way: if Paul were lying on a table with a giant ax with a blade three feet wide above him and he could not move from under the blade, and the rope that held the blade was being eroded (at an uncertain rate? (even though he (and a large group of scientists) could see it eroding), and there were a panel of scientific advisers (from around the world giving him a consensus view) advising him on the reality of the situation by observations of fact and proxy analysis…
If he were to use his arguments regarding uncertainty, I wonder which action he would tend towards, I wonder if he would think it more prudent to use less drastic policy and keep him under the ax, or more prudent policy that might get him out from under the ax, even though it might cost him something, but at least not his life?
Well put. Since the uncertainty is in the projections of speed of acceleration of a not linear event that seems to clearly have positive feedbacks winning against negative feedbacks… how can any reasonable person say I think it is reasonable to pursue more prudent, less drastic policy.” when faced with known forcing levels already above the natural cycle of variability?
Thank you for that perspective as well. His argument really does not fit the criteria of ratiocinative. Critical thinking skills seem to be missing here. If he really were under the ax (as we all are in global warming), from a risk management perspective, preparing for the least of the potentials is a bit naive.
Paul, as has already been asked, where are you getting your data? Even if you are only looking at IPCC data which indicates even at the lower end changes that will have significant impact on the human economic system? And, how can you continue your line of thought in the face of ‘clear and present danger’ to our entire economic system through accelerating strains on the entire system, and models that, as you have pointed out, are uncertain (albeit all indicating to be wrong on the lower end of the scale) meaning we are warming faster than the models by all reasonable and relevant facts and presumption, based on the non-linearity and number of positive feedbacks and tipping points that will cause further acceleration beyond what we are already experiencing, one of which we probably already crossed in 2007 (there is no reasonable explanation to indicate that the rapid ice loss in the Arctic was not a random blip, it went to far outside of the natural variability)?
Paul, I am really interested in more relevant arguments from you. Please do address these matters with relevance.
Your answer seems to say “if the models say there will be more snow, then there will be.”
We are referring here to seasonal snow, not permanent snow. My question is, are we modeling potential increases to seasonal snow, and is this being matched against observation? Since this is a year-to-year phenomenon, can this level of detail be extracted from model results?
My specific question pertains to whether or not this has the potential to be a negative feedback, and whether or not the models are consistent with observation in this regard.
[Response: There are uncountable numbers of links with the climate system that potentially provide feedbacks of both signs. You can outline any number of them in a logical sense (as you have done), but without any quantitative estimate of its importance when weighed by other potential links, it is impossible to assess how important or unimportant it is. The models provide one set of consistent estimates. In those models, snow cover decreases with increasing temperature – implying that the positive feedback related to snow->rain or increased snow melt dominate over a potential intensity->snow cover link. The models could certainly be queried to assess whether there is any sign that snow cover persistence increases due to intensity of snow fall events (you’d need the 6 hourly data and you’d want it from late 20th, mid 21st and end 21st Century runs and from a few different models). I have no idea whether that would demonstrate the link you are interested in – but if you think it worth investigating, go ahead. If you wanted to assess it in the real world – that is trickier. You could look at snow cover statistics and see whether you can separate the temperature and snowfall intensity effects – but the data available might not be up to it. Bottom line, the net effect is positive, not negative – but looking into the details could be worthwhile. – gavin
On Blog activity:
Denialists not only show off on their own denialism blogs or are trolling news blogs. (For a crass recent example see http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/24/earth-scientists-express-rising-concern-over-warming/#comments )
E.g. I’m a member of an Internets forum where people gather for a completely different cause (freedom from religion). Still, typical AGW denialist discussion showed up there regularly till last November. Perhaps I’ve finally ridiculed them off or perhaps they suddenly stopped watching Fox News – but it tells me denialism is still alive and kicking even in real (non-troll) Internet folks.
Comment by Florifulgurator — 1 Feb 2008 @ 12:35 PM
Re: #114 inline response
Thanks for taking the time to walk me through this. One more question: if the year to year observed change in seasonal snow cover is not matched against interim model results, would there not be a potential of “getting it wrong” with regard to the negative feedback potential of this effect?
I understand your answer that there are a host of positive and negative feedbacks in the models. My question is, are we matching the interim results with year to year observations, to confirm that these feedbacks are being expressed correctly within the models?
Is it anybody’s job to look at the output data in this way, to look backward and compare to observation with regard to specific effects such as snow cover?
Thanks again for taking the time.
[Response: Lot's of people do this kind of thing, though I don't of anybody looking specifically what you've suggested. But sure, if you find a relationship in the real world that suggests this is a real phenomenon, then looking for similar relationships in the model is a perfectly valid test. - gavin]
Re Paul @112: “I didn’t say that we should not consider the high end estimates. My position that we should also take the low-end estimates into account and this should give us pause before we aggresively pursue very expensive abatement policies. … As indicated in quotation above from this blog the low-end models considered by the IPCC estimate a climate sensitivity for doubling CO2 to be 1.5 degrees.”
Given the recent observed acceleration in melting of both Arctic sea ice and glacial ice on both Greenland and the West Antarctic peninsula, and given that the IPCC specifically states that their scenarios assume NO increase in the rate of melting, continuing to insist that the low-end projection is tenable is simply not supportable.
Paul, same question — where are you getting what you believe?
You post ideas here as though they were facts, but you provide no source or cite.
If this were a debate or rhetorical exercise, readers would know to expect puffery.
In a science forum posting false statements isn’t a legitimate tactial exercise. It shows either you fell for someone who fooled you (“once, shame on him ….”), or that you haven’t developed the basic skeptical routine of checking what you think you remember is true (“Fool me—you can’t get fooled again”).
You’ve got to check what you believe. Look these things up. Science _changes_ and memory fails.
And nonscientists use words like “positive feedback” to mean anything from applause to operative reinforcement to thermal runaway. Look up the ideas as used in climate work.
Dano reminds us there is no “wisdom” button on the search bar. But you can approximate that if you stick to Scholar, or check the references and footnotes from a source like Wikipedia’s http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_feedback
– void the PR and second hand opinion sites (the ones that don’t have sources or cites).
A good reference librarian will help you learn to check cites, discover subsequent mentions of a source and updates.
Please: the next time someone changes the RC blog software, could they revert to the format as of a week ago?
at the beginning of the post, rather than “Comment by XYZ” the end.
This was superior to the new style, as it lets one quickly know:
a) Yes, this person always has something useful to say.
c) This person has never once said anything that was useful, skip now.
Greasemonkey+killfile doesn’t work on RC, unfortunately, or I would do this automatically, when I can.
Sometimes, I catch up on an iPhone, and the current style makes it noticably harder.
Since “Recent Comments” seems broken right now, I note that feature *really* helped iPhone browsing, because it quickly takes you to the end of a discussion, rather than the beginning (and then requiring a lot of scrolling. A really nice feature would be an extra pointer at the top of each article to the most recent post, or change “Recent Comments” to show a list of the most recent threads, showing one the last thread in each post, which quickly alerts the reader to threads worth looking at.
[Response: We've had some performance issues recently, and so we are on a slightly reduced service until it gets worked out. Maybe by the end of next week. Thanks for you patience. - gavin]
Paul, A proper risk analysis must take into account both the probability of an event P(E) and its consequences or cost C(E). Since, in the real world, we are always dealing with probabilities rather than certainties, what is usually done is to integrate
over all possible events. Thus, an improbable event can dominate the risk if its costs are sufficiently severe. In this analysis, good models limit rather then exacerbate risk, since they are often the only way we have to know whether a particular event is credible. Without the models, do we know whether we will render the oceans deadzones? No. Do we know that we won’t render agriculture impossible, dooming billions of our progeny to starvation? No. Do we know that we won’t wipe out most of the species on Earth? No. We can’t limit risk, and unlimited risk is more of a problem than high risk. Ask an insurer whether he will insure a high risk proposition, and he will weigh the risks and come back with a cost that is appropriate. Ask him to ensure a proposition where risk cannot be bounded, and he will laugh in your face.
Failing models to limit our risk, we can look to paleoclimate, but we don’t find much comfort. The PETM was a warm period probably brought on by a rapid increase in CO2, and it corresponds to a mass extinction. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleocene-Eocene_Thermal_Maximum
In risk mitigation, one is justified to expend resources up to the potential Risk–but if that cannot be bounded…
You refer to drastic measures, but who has proposed anything drastic? Carbon limits? Carbon trading? Carbon taxes? Mandated increases in fuel and energy efficiency? Increased R&D spending to find new energy sources and mitigation solutions? Planting trees? Hell, these are not draconian. Most would be a positive boon to the economy.
If you want to see draconian measures, wait until the next Cat5 hurricane hits the US or we have an abnormally high sea-level rise or… It is incumbent upon us to take sensible measures NOW while the cold light of reason prevails rather than wait until severe changes begin to happen and actions are driven by panic.
Heartland Institute wrote: “We are equal opportunity investigators of science.”
Science means submitting your work to refereed journals around the world and accepting the world feedback if you are printing falsehoods in your papers.
These words of yours are attempting to confuse the American voting public. Science is science is science…not what you want it to be for your own purposes.
Having been involved in the scientific community for over eleven years at a major federally funded research lab, I can’t believe what you are saying. It is like a parallel universe compared to what I live in where facts actually matter.
While I am happy to know that Mr. Taylor advocates “honest and open scientific discussion” and that heartland believes they, “are equal opportunity investigators of science”, I am puzzled by certain statements in their conference page:
Global Warming: Crisis or Scam?
The debate over whether human activity is responsible for some or all of the modern warming, and then what to do if our presence on Earth is indeed affecting the global climate, has enormous consequences for everyone in virtually all parts of the globe. Proposals to drive down human greenhouse gas emissions by raising energy costs or imposing draconian caps could dramatically affect the quality of life of people in developed countries, and, due to globalization, the lives of people in less-developed countries too.
The global warming debate that the public and policymakers usually see is one-sided, dominated by government scientists and government organizations agenda-driven to find data that suggest a human impact on climate and to call for immediate government action, if only to fund their own continued research, but often to achieve political agendas entirely unrelated to the science of climate change. There is another side, but in recent years it has been denied a platform from which to speak.
Odd allegation/considerations at best considering the policies noted during the Bush administration http://www.uscentrist.org/news/2007/hot-air-in-media/ which is well known. There is plenty of congressional testimony on the subject and the guy that wrote all those notes had to be dismissed, even though he was doing such a fine job of helping with the administration policy of repressing the science behind global warming.
Mr. Taylor obviously has not reviewed the evidence since he is still calling this “the theory of man-made global warming” on his web page. He must still be confusing the models with the evidence.
Models are great at putting evidence in perspective and certainly indicative. The evidence is overwhelming that this global warming is man-made, not a theory.
If he believes the text as written, he seems to indicate that he believes that the developed world will not have any economic impact from this human caused global warming event. Arrogant and naive based on any reasonable analysis by security experts. Doing nothing will have accelerated economic impact that would better fit is draconian descriptor.
Mr. Taylor, I implore you to be “open and honest ” and look at the evidence. You will not see the forrest through the trees (data through the science) if you remain in the fog of external non scientific opinion and agenda. The models will help you understand more about the potentials, especially as we come to understand better the non linear aspects and the positive feedbacks as we blast (rapidly on the geologic time scale) through the tipping points.
Ray Ladbury wrote to Paul: “You refer to drastic measures, but who has proposed anything drastic? Carbon limits? Carbon trading? Carbon taxes? Mandated increases in fuel and energy efficiency? Increased R&D spending to find new energy sources and mitigation solutions? Planting trees? Hell, these are not draconian. Most would be a positive boon to the economy.”
It is important to consider that what are typically described as “costs” of AGW mitigation measures are actually transfers of wealth from one sector of the economy (such as the fossil fuel corporations) to other sectors of the economy (such as efficiency improvements and clean, renewable energy technologies).
According to the Associated Press, a new United Nations report projects that “global investments of $15 trillion to $20 trillion over the next 20 to 25 years may be required “to place the world on a markedly different and sustainable energy trajectory.’” (And it’s worth noting that those amounts are less than the world’s military spending which is over $1 trillion per year, half of that by the USA alone.)
But that $15 to $20 trillion is not just cost — for someone, it’s profit. It’s a huge transfer of wealth from the fossil fuel industry to other sectors of the economy. And preventing — or at least postponing as long as possible — that transfer of wealth is what the Heartland Institute and its ExxonMobil-funded ilk are all about.
I would like to provide some perspective on the numeric temperature data such comment # 98 and others.
Over the last 10 years my local climate has warmed. This is barely detectable in the local temperature data with the best statistics, and not something that can be stated with a high degree of confidence from available instrumental temperature data. However, average nectarine harvest date has moved forward by 10 to 14 days depending on the variety, and the tangerine harvest date has moved forward by almost 4 weeks. This year’s fruit tree bloom dates (based on bud swell and bud break) are almost two full weeks ahead of the bloom dates for the same trees in the period 1997-2000. (Not counting some anomalous Jan 2008 pear bloom.) And, this was the first time that I had seen red spider mites active in January. Thus, a statistical review of plant and animal behavior endpoints gives a much better than 95% confidence that our climate is warming (at least in this part of California) regardless of the ambiguity of the instrumental temperature data.
This means that a miniscule change in average temperature can have a real impact on agricultural and ecological systems. This requires agricultural practices such as spray dates, irrigation dates, and beehive placement dates be adapted. It changes availability dates for fruit, and there by changes needs for storage, processing, and transportation. It changes the dates that the processing plant needs to hire labor. Heck, it means that farmers have to change their vacation plans.
Climate warming is ongoing in California and is having real impacts on your food supply.
Re Richard Ordway @ 123: “”Science means submitting your work to refereed journals around the world and accepting the world feedback if you are printing falsehoods in your papers.”
First you have to do the science to submit. But the Heartland Institute does not do scientific research. From it’s own website:
“The Heartland Institute is a national nonprofit research and education organization, tax exempt under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code, and founded in Chicago in 1984. It is not affiliated with any political party, business [sic], or foundation.
Heartland’s mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. Such solutions include parental choice in education, choice and personal responsibility in health care, market-based approaches to environmental protection, privatization of public services, and deregulation in areas where property rights and markets do a better job than government bureaucracies.”
This is clearly a sham conference organised for political purpose with nothing what so ever to do with the science of climate change.
“It’s a huge transfer of wealth from the fossil fuel industry to other sectors of the economy.”
I take wealth to mean money.
The fossil fuel industry, nor any other industry, generates wealth out of nothingness. Its wealth comes solely from its customers. Wealth is obtained only if someone is buying the products and services offered by any industry.
And, importantly, a part of that wealth is returned to the stockholders. Part also goes to finding/development of additional products and services that customers need for their health and safety.
REf 126 Aaron writes “Thus, a statistical review of plant and animal behavior endpoints gives a much better than 95% confidence that our climate is warming (at least in this part of California) regardless of the ambiguity of the instrumental temperature data.” I wonder if I might be permitted to pick a nit. I suggest it is more accurate to used the past, rather than the present, tense. Instead of “the climate is warming”, it is more accurate to say “the climate has warmed”. This relates to the last discussion on RC on GISS versus HAD temperature data.
“The experts who will speak at the event represent a global community of scientists and policy analysts who question the theory of man-made climate change. They contend there is no consensus in the scientific community that human activity is the cause of global warming.
Scientists, economists, and policy experts whose work has focused on some dimension of climate change, particularly challenging popular misconceptions about the causes, extent, and consequences of the modern warming, will present a side of the debate often ignored by the mainstream media and shunned by government bodies.”
The confirmed speakers are:
[I have abbreviated affiliations -Erika]
Summa Development Limited.
University of Pretoria, South Africa
Competitive Enterprise Institute
The Heartland Institute
International Climate Science Coalition
Auckland, New Zealand.
Department of Economics
University of Guelph
University of Virginia
Viscount of Brenchly
former Policy Advisor to Margaret Thatcher
Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor
Meteorology and Oceanography
Florida State University
Department of Earth Sciences (paleoclimatology)
Department of Meteorology
Oregon State University
Comment by Erika Engelhaupt — 1 Feb 2008 @ 5:26 PM
Jim Cripwell enquires: ” Instead of “the climate is warming”, it is more accurate to say “the climate has warmed”. ”
That’s interesting, Thanks for pointing that out. There is another bit of text on that page that stands out:
“The conference is being organized by The Heartland Institute, a national nonpartisan think tank based in Chicago.”
If this is a non partisan think tank why are they advertising for “The Conservative Political Action Conference” on their web site… Such a phrase in contest might cause one to wonder if they are really nonpartisan? Others would know better.
Last year’s little girl exhaling CO2 at a dandelion was ahead in the iconic silliness sweepstakes until you scored an offside goal with : “To put it another way: if Paul were lying on a table with a giant ax with a blade three feet wide above him and he could not move from under the blade, and the rope that held the blade was being eroded (at an uncertain rate?… I wonder which action he would tend towards,”
His predicament more realisticly resembles a horizontal Promethus bound, threatened with crushing by the daily drop of another cubic millimeter sand grain into the pile atop him.
With radiative forcing growing at the rate of three microwatts per square meter, one fears he may perish of boredom before the butter knife of Damocles descends.
“It’s a huge transfer of wealth from the fossil fuel industry to other sectors of the economy.”
Fossil fuels are the foundation for the society we have today because the provide energy at very little cost. Any carbon tax or similar measure is designed to increase the cost of fossil fuels and allow other forms of energy to complete. What this means that everyone will pay more for energy. This will mean a lower standard of living no matter what spin GW advocates want to put on it. It is NOT a simple transfer of money from one sector to another.
I have a general question for all GW advocates:
Reducing CO2 emissions is an impossible task. It will not happen as long as the world population is growing. If you are right then that means disaster is ahead for humanity. So my question is: wouldn’t you rather be wrong? If you would rather be wrong they why do you waste so much time vilifying the people that examine holes/gaps in the CO2 hypothesis? If you would rather be wrong shouldn’t you encourage those people even if you believe it is a waste of time?
[Response: Let's follow the logic here. "Fixing the problem would be hard, therefore I'm much happier agreeing with people who say there's no problem". This is, to put it bluntly, juvenile. Ignorance and deception have never worked constructively to solve any problem, yet you would have us encourage exactly that? No-one wants human-caused climate change to happen - but dealing with reality is a sine qua non of rational behaviour. - gavin ]
Re Comment #131 where Ms. Engelhaupt quotes an excerpt from a press release on the conference which states in part:
“The experts who will speak at the event represent a global community of scientists and policy analysts who question the theory of man-made climate change. They contend there is no consensus in the scientific community that human activity is the cause of global warming.”
Here’s what republican pollster and advisor Frank Luntz wrote to republican members of Congress a few years ago:” The scientific debate is closing but has not yet closed. There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science.Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming in the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that scientific issues are settled their views about global warming will change accordingly.”…..” The most important principle in any discussion of global warming is your commitment to sound science.”
Now here’s President Bush:” When we make decisions,we want to make sure we do so on sound science,”
Remember the quote early in the original post?
“The purpose of the conference is to generate international media attention to the fact that many scientists believe forecasts of rapid warming and catastrophic events are not supported by sound science,…..”
This is the playbook- promote the canard that there is no scientific consensus on global warming among scientists, and promote their commitment to sound science, which is their cynical mantra to pay lip service to the scientific aspects of the issue.
CO2 fertilization without changes in warmth (or light) do not generally affect bloom dates or time to maturity. In my small scale operation, changes in operations such as mulching practice have a much larger effect. Last fall my mulching was intended to keep the ground cool and to delay bloom. Nitrogen fertilization can affect bloom date. Again, last fall I withheld nitrogen to retard bloom date. I was, and still am very concerned about a late frost killing the buds.
The bud break reflects an integration of the recent weather. This morning’s data points say that the nectarines think that this January was warmer than last January despite the fact that we had more “chill” hours. (We did have fewer “frost hours”) Bud break only indicates climate change when it demonstrates a clear trend over a period of years. In a stable climate, bud break would be on a consistent date plus or minus 3 or 4 days. Instead, every year for the last 8 years, it is has been a day or two earlier every year. My journal says this year’s bloom is earlier than any year except 2005, and about 10 – 14 days ahead of the 1997-2000 baseline and 30 to 40 days ahead of nearby orchards in the 1880 – 1920 time frame, although that comparison is not reliable because they were growing different cultivars. Nevertheless, I have a trend that is now more than 6 standard deviations off of the 1997-2000 baseline. Yes, that suggests that the climate has warmed. However, I have no evidence that the trend has suddenly stopped or changed direction. Therefore, “the climate is warming” is also likely correct.
[ I will even venture to make a prediction that the number of peer-reviewed papers on climate science we have collectively authored in the last 5 years will be substantially more than all of your speakers put together. - gavin]
However quantity doesn’t mean quality…
[Response: Fair enough, as a rough guide to quality or at least influence, citations in ISI are a good metric. Therefore, I will also predict that the RC papers are cited far more extensively, both in total and per paper. - gavin]
Thank you for your response but I think you missed my point.
I did not say that change would be difficult. I said it would be impossible as long as the world population is growing. That means disaster is ahead no matter what if you are right.
That said you should also recognize that there is always uncertainty in any science and there is a non-zero probability that you are completely wrong. Given the stakes involved you should be interested in encouraging good science that seeks to prove you wrong.
I realize that not all skeptical science is good science but you do seem to trash every alternate viewpoint with equal vigour. I even agree that this conference is an exercise in advocacy rather than science. However, the topic made wonder what areas of research would be worth pursuing using good scientific techniques that could demonstrate that the GW hypothesis is wrong. i.e. where are the areas of greatest uncertainty that could contain the fact(s) that force everyone to reconsider the magnitude of the CO2 effect on climate?
[Response: I am all for encouraging good science. Not much of that on offer at this conference though. If you want to see good science in the face of uncertainty, go to the SORCE solar meeting in Santa Fe next week, or the DOE Aerosol workshop next month, or the Climate Modelling Summit in the UK in May - places where real scientists are debating stuff at the cutting edge. Your statement is however a little confused - "the GW hypothesis" is a rather ill-defined concept. Since it is universally acknowledged that the planet has warmed, 'global warming' is not going to shown to be wrong. Nor will the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas whose concentrations are rising because of human activity. Constraining the magnitude of the effects however is a reasonable pursuit and lots of people are doing it - some well (Annan, Allen, Murphy, Forest, Knutti), some not so well (Chelyk, Schwartz) and some very badly (Idso, Monckton). If there will be any (extremely unlikely) major revisions to our knowledge on the subject it will come from the first group, not the last. - gavin]
I don’t suppose you’d be surprised by this. Who knows, Heartland may even write some of the papers themselves!
James M. Taylor, a member of Heartland, in an article published in the Chicago Sun Times, “quoted” a paper on the Himalayan glaciers, written by Fowler and Archer in the Journal of Climate, in which it was claimed that evidence shows that “global warming alarmists are wrong”. However, the quote was made up! probably written off the top of Taylor’s head, for the sake of trying to make a case that was already so dismal only an idiot could fathom it.(Well, obviously so, for the same reasons we can infer that this “scientific” meeting is bogus) probably written off the top of Taylor’s head, for the sake of trying to make a case that was already so dismal only an idiot could fathom it.
The article, by the way, was in response to Gore’s book, “The Assualt on Reason”. Hey, I haven’t read it, but I’m sure it wasn’t the work of a mountebank.
If you are referring to #124 I thought it gave some good context though. In relation to the geologic time scale this is a very rapid event as far as I can tell. The ax represents the challenges and inevitability if we don’t do anything.
Not sure where the three microwatts per square meter comes from (in what time frame?). The general models show the forcing around 1.6 W/m2. I saw a siddall chart recently that I think came from NASA that showed forcing up around 2.9 W/m2; anything in that range is largely outside of the natural variability of what we should be at (considering a normal interglacial is usually around 0.1 W/m2), by all accounts. So boring is not a descriptor I would use when one sets this in the context of the geologic time scale.
I’m sorry you think it is silly though. I meant it in all seriousness. From everything I am looking at, it looks like this is going to be a very challenging period in our human history. I don’t think there is any event in the past that can even come close to what we have done here on a human scale at least.
Does anyone have the current or latest modeled/accepted or observed estimates on the forcing level?
[QUOTE]“Reducing CO2 emissions is an impossible task. It will not happen as long as the world population is growing. If you are right then that means disaster is ahead for humanity. So my question is: wouldn’t you rather be wrong? If you would rather be wrong they why do you waste so much time vilifying the people that examine holes/gaps in the CO2 hypothesis? If you would rather be wrong shouldn’t you encourage those people even if you believe it is a waste of time?”[/QUOTE]
I think gavin was far too kind in speaking of what logic you’re supposed to get out of this. For one thing, there are countless people working in nuclear, wind, geothermal, solar, hydro, tidal energies, better vehicles, etc who would disagree with the notion that “reducing CO2 emissions is an impossible task.” Infrared radiative transfer is not too concerned with the debates, technologies, economics, etc of what we are doing down here- bottom line, if we keep adding more CO2, there will be warming in the future, and too much of it will not be a good thing.
I would certainly like to be wrong, and I would think that everyone else who accepts AGW hopes that as well, but science is not always convenient, and there is a lot of historical evidence that the truth, and what we want the truth to be are usually not the same. Scientists are warning people that “if you keep doing x, then y will happen.” If people are skeptical that is fine, and I’m not sure anyone thinks scientific skepticism is a bad thing; it is just that thanks to a growing delusionosphere, ‘skepticism’ in the climate science community has become synonymous with blatant manipulation of evidence, and just all around sloppy work.
Justin, mighty strong claim about the Chicago newspaper article.
Can you cite that story by headline, date, page, byline, anything that would help to find a copy in a local library, or point to a copy of the article somewhere online? Flat out faking quotes isn’t exactly rare, but it’s not just laughed off yet, even in an election year. I tried the newspaper and did not find it by keyword; they only have a 30 day cycle for keeping articles online. It’s the same name as the Heartland person visiting this thread.
[Response:This might be relevant - possible source here. - gavin]
#131, Thanks Erika, Did any of these presenters make a climate projection, forecast or prediction? I recognize a few names, as far as I know, none have had any success or worse never bothered trying. They are at best like unspecialized film critics, will remain so, until they actually make a successful temperature projection. Based on their acknowledged beliefs, they can never make a good one anyways.
Re Raven @ 137: “Fossil fuels are the foundation for the society we have today because the provide energy at very little cost.”
Unfortunately, we now know that low cost is an illusion and that the real cost is actually very much higher.
Raven: “Any carbon tax or similar measure is designed to increase the cost of fossil fuels and allow other forms of energy to complete. What this means that everyone will pay more for energy. This will mean a lower standard of living no matter what spin GW advocates want to put on it.”
Yes, it will, at least in the short term, but seeking to preserve our current profligate, wasteful lifestyle in the face of diminishing resources and a growing population is not only unsustainable, it is the antithesis of adaptation to a changing climate.
Raven, On what do you base your claim that reducing CO2 emissions is impossible? Do you contend that there are no other viable energy sources and that we cannot develop any? If so, I think you are wrong. The enemy of human progress is not the lack of ingenuity, but rather complacency.
And of course, we would rather be wrong about anthropogenic CO2 being the culprit. However, as scientists we have to go with the evidence–and all of the evidence points to CO2. No one has developed even a germ of a credible alternative–and believe me it’s not for lack of trying. Please check out Spencer Weart’s History of Global Warming–the link’s on the front page.
That 2.9 W/M2 forcing took ~ 10 exp 5 days to accrue- America is 84,000 days old and the Industrial Revolution antedates ours by decades . Dividing the CO2 share of whichever estimate of anthropogenic forcing to date into the number of days since 1750 or thereabouts yields a result in microwatts/m2.
As with any form of inflation, it’s the integral that counts.
Chicago newspaper — Article no longer available.
Heartland — Nothing found searching.
AMS — Email sent to inquire
Scholar search: September 2006 American Meteorological Society Journal Climate “Glaciers are growing” confounding “global warming alarmists” Himalayan – did not match any articles.
… a pattern shared by much of the Indian subcontinent but in direct contrast to both GCM projections and the narrowing of DTR seen worldwide. This divergence commenced around the middle of the twentieth century and is thought to result from changes in large-scale circulation patterns and feedback processes associated with the Indian monsoon.
The impact of observed seasonal temperature trend on runoff is explored using derived regression relationships. Decreases of ∼20% in summer runoff in the rivers Hunza and Shyok are estimated to have resulted from the observed 1°C fall in mean summer temperature since 1961, with even greater reductions in spring months. The observed downward trend in summer temperature and runoff is consistent with the observed thickening and expansion of Karakoram glaciers, in contrast to widespread decay and retreat in the eastern Himalayas. This suggests that the western Himalayas are showing a different response to global warming than other parts of the globe.
Well …. doesn’t seem likely they’d say what they were quoted as saying in that publication, given the abstract. Tone’s way off to be real. I’ll dig further if the author from Heartland, or the AMS, don’t reply, maybe email the authors of the paper, though I have no proof this is the _right_ paper, that’s up to the Heartland guy to confirm or correct.
Nobody’s twigged to this before now? Or is it just a joke, puffery?
Justin [#144], mighty strong claim about the Chicago newspaper article.
Can you cite that story by headline, date, page, byline, anything that would help to find a copy in a local library, or point to a copy of the article somewhere online? Flat out faking quotes isn’t exactly rare, but it’s not just laughed off yet, even in an election year. I tried the newspaper and did not find it by keyword; they only have a 30 day cycle for keeping articles online. It’s the same name as the Heartland person visiting this thread.
You can find a copy of the prop-aganda piece here:
Alarmist global warming claims melt under scientific scrutiny
June 30, 2007
BY JAMES M. TAYLOR
(substitute dots for the asterisks)
… and you can find the beginning of a discussion of the prop-aganda piece and the paper that it manufactured a quote from (entirely out of thin air, actually, doesn’t deserve to be called a misquote, and doesn’t measure up to usual Young Earth Creationist standards) here:
A couple of clarifications. First about feedback. The simplest feedback is linear instantaneous feedback. For linear instantaneous feedback of strength F, the response to an initial change (in the AGW case, direct radiative forcing for CO2 + other GHG) os size T becomes:
T2=T/(1-F) ; F=1 implies a runaway system. This implies that whatever percent of models produce F>=1 have very high costs associated with them.
Of course a real system is more complicated. The feedback is not instantaneous, some of it is pretty quick. Water vapor responds to warming in a week or two. Albedo feedback, due to snow and ice cover changes, and due to changes in vegetation can take decades. Induced emissions of other greenhouse gases can take much longer, in some cases up to several hundred years. If these feedbacks are known, an integro differential equation could then be solved to determine the response to a unit change as a function of time. One of the implications of this is that we could cross a slow response bifurcation point (tipping point), and not realize it until much later.
The second subject has to do with mitigation costs/benefits. It was mentioned that our military budget was nearly $1T last year. A good chunk of our foreign military apparatus is tied up defending access to oil. Even ignoring the military cost, the US oil import bill was roughly $400B in 2007, and will be much higher in 2008. Even disregarding GW, there would be significant cost savings from efforts to reduce our oil demand. Secondarily, there is the opportunity to become a leader in technology for low/no carbon energy technologies. These technology exports could be very important in the future. Our efforts would be much better spent embracing the future, then trying to hold it back.
Might make a slight disclaimer on an earlier post when I said that computer models were in my opinion quite accurate based upon the quality of data they use. Here are some facts in relation to sea level rise and artic sea ice retreat. The data from the IPCC which the world govs are currently using is highly erronious and misleading. Case in point..Artic sea ice is retreating much faster than shown on the 18 leading computer models used by the IPCC in preperation for it’s watershed 2007 assesment. Another words they are far from understanding even the macro mechanics behind artic sea ice retreat. The extent of the melt is 30 years ahead of what the IPCC predicted! Also ACTUAL world sea level rise is much faster than any of the IPCC computer models indicate. What does this tell you?? If on the otherhand some computer models show faster than current conditions and other models show less than current conditions you could draw an average and be fairly confident in predicting the situation in say 20 years..but if all the models are way too consevative what confidence does anyone have in their predictive powers. To me it clearly shows that the mechanics of climate are far more complex than anyone has realised before, it’s seems almost the case that the more you know the less you actually know.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 2 Feb 2008 @ 2:26 AM
Re #147 Gavin’s links: I’m depressed. Do we as a species even deserve to survive?
Please cheer me up, someone.
#150 Raven, On what do you base your claim that reducing CO2 emissions is impossible?
You can’t change human nature.
Substantial CO2 reductions are not possible without a substantial increase in the cost of energy which would result in substantial reduction in the standard of living for the average person. This will make it politically impossible to impose any measures that actually accomplish the desired goal – especially if the regulatory regime makes people believe that others are not being asked to make equivalent sacrifices (which is what will happen if the developing world is allowed to emit with impunity). The only real option on the table is adaptation and a blind hope that the consequences won’t be as bad as some predict.
Ironically, high oil prices may do more to reduce CO2 emissions than any carbon trading scheme because oil prices are set by the laws of supply and demand rather than government fiat. This forces people to accept the higher prices whether they like it or not.
#150 No one has developed even a germ of a credible alternative–and believe me it’s not for lack of trying.
I see the argument that ‘CO2 must be the culprit because we have no alternate explanation’ to be the weak point of the CO2 hypothesis because it presumes that our knowledge of the climate is complete enough to determine whether other explanations are likely to exist. If the CO2 hypothesis is refuted it will because someone comes along and provides that alternate explanation (be it solar, comic rays, ocean currents or something completely unexpected). The process of finding alternate explanations often produces junk (look up phlogiston theory) and sometimes goes no where but sometimes the unexpected is uncovered (e.g. bacteria and ulcers). I don’t expect anyone who is convinced by the evidence today to change their mind; however, I do not see why it is necessary to fling so much vitriol at those who are willing to look for alternatives.
(aside: when I talk about refuting the CO2 hypothesis I am not talking about refuting the basic GHG theory – I am only suggesting that others might be able to show that the magnitude of the effect is much smaller than now believed).
Re: reducing CO2 while world pop is growing is an impossible task? I do not think anything is impossible when enough people are unified in tacking this dilemma. While the world pop is growing certainly does not make the task easier and ‘logic’ says it would be much more difficult with more mouths to feed and more people stamping their carbon footprint on this already well trodden world. What will have to happen is that all countries especially the developing countries will need cost effective means to reduce their emissions. If the transition from changing to a ‘dirty’ country to a ‘clean’ one spells economic ruin for that country I dont think there would be many takers. So back to nature ways of reducing CO2 in my opinion are the most sensible. Break the western world’s obsessive mindset that more is better and make do with less..you cannot have rampant consumerism with an urgent need to cut CO2…those two are incompatible! Food must be produced and eaten locally, Electricity production must be solar/wind/geothermal/nuclear and hydro (where applicable). An effective and uncompromising carbon trading scheme must be adopted now, much more far reaching education amongst laypeople on ways to minimise pollution and waste. Modernising factories(carbon trading scheme). Manufacturing as much as is humanly possible biodegradable without resulting in additional CO2 production. I could rattle off at least another 20 ways without even having to think… So yes I do think the task is possible..but not without total comittment by every government and council on this planet. The USA cannot do it alone..China cannot do it alone, Europe cannot do it alone..the only way to get CO2 under control in say onother 100 years..(yep that’s how long it takes) is by every earthy citizen working together..that’s the only way!!
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 2 Feb 2008 @ 3:01 AM
I suppose the chaps at the worldclimatereport.com will attend that conference -at least on the sidelines- though their current position seems to be that indeed, global warming is on, and anthropogenic emissions of CO2 are a cause. Their latest post, by the way, is interesting : CO2 emissions are a simple function of population growth, so nothing can be done, QED, and of course, I suspect they will keep trying to find reasons why, apart from that discovery, nothing should be done.
I have a question : since the planet appears to have consistently absorbed and immobilised approximately half of our CO2 emissions (a bit less lately, though, it seems), could a relative stagnation of the amount of absorption at the current level occur should emissions start decreasing fast, thus somewhat delaying the rise of global temperature?
Comment by Francois Marchand — 2 Feb 2008 @ 5:48 AM
Isn’t the USA the strangest of countries. It has the means, the economic abilities and the technologies to reduce Co2 emissions significantly but then of course it does not have the political will. An interesting book I read called “why do people hate America?” speaks volumes about the USA and its position in the world, its history, its religion (which seems particuarly important and politically wrecked) and imperial status and its paranoia and indifference to the workings and opinions of the rest of the world.
I guess that global warming is treated no differently politically, just another one of them pesky problems to deal with at some point but not at the expense of the USA’ position as numero uno power across the globe.
The attendees at the conference may wish to consider the venue in which the conference is being held. It is perhaps fitting that Manhatten has been chosen for such an important gathering because Manhatten may evolve to become a climate change icon.
Perhaps the conference plenary event could address the location in terms of sea level rise. The conference chairman may guide the delegates to put 5 metres into here
so that delegates would gain a direct appreciation of the climate-change relevance of the Manhatten locale and the evolving view over the rising waters in the coming decades.
For those delegates appreciative of visual perspectives, the Manhatten-under-x-metres pictures on http://www.architecture2030.org may provide a useful insight and talking point over conference dinner. Those delegates with a civil engineering background may wish to bring to the attention of fellow diners the aromatic cornocupia that may be expected as the sea rises and pushes through the sewerage systems.
A strange celebration is called for. The strange celebration of the creation of an iconic moment, when a certain group of people have a wonderful opportunity to think about the actual place and moment they are at and to consider together how it may change in the months and years to come.
Hopefully (and that is very hopefully), there will be a double celebration, as the delegates, on proper reflection, realise their disgrace.
once we’re doing numbers, let’s do them right, OK?
Your computation for 2.9 W/m2 and 100,000 days gives 29 µW/m2/day, not 3 :-)
That’s assuming linear behaviour. Exponential, more realistic with a time constant of 30 years, gives ten times more: 265 µW/m2/day, or 0.1 W/m2/yr. Note the unit. I suppose in S.I. units it would have to be in W/m2/s… now that‘s going to be little.
[[That 2.9 W/M2 forcing took ~ 10 exp 5 days to accrue- America is 84,000 days old and the Industrial Revolution antedates ours by decades . Dividing the CO2 share of whichever estimate of anthropogenic forcing to date into the number of days since 1750 or thereabouts yields a result in microwatts/m2.
As with any form of inflation, it’s the integral that counts.]]
You guys kill me with the ExxonMobil rants, you really do. Someone mentioned that over the last 10 years EM has funneled 16 million to various groups. Why don’t you check how much they have “funneled” to universities? To charities? Here is a newsflash. EM had a profit of $40,600 Million in the last year. If EM was really concerned about countering the AGW scare, don’t you suppose that they could come up with more than that over a decade?
Have any of you people ever set foot outside an ivory tower and taken even one breath of real air?
Raven: Fossil fuels are the foundation for the society we have today because the provide energy at very little cost. Any carbon tax or similar measure is designed to increase the cost of fossil fuels and allow other forms of energy to complete. What this means that everyone will pay more for energy. This will mean a lower standard of living no matter what spin GW advocates want to put on it.
It seems to me that you have made an (unstated) assumption that we will be unable to find non-fossil-carbon forms of energy and that we cannot reduce our overall consumption of energy without reducing our standard of living. Neither of these assumptions bears out under careful scrutiny.
There are renewable energy sources that we have just begun to exploit: solar, wind, geothermal. We have not invested heavily in these technologies because fossil carbon was cheaper. Cheaper because it was allowed to dump its garbage into the common atmosphere. Cheaper because the political instability and wars it caused were charged to different accounts. Even today, the US spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined. If we didn’t need guaranteed access to mid-east oil, do you really think we would be in Iraq? If you include the military costs, the price of US oil consumption nearly doubles.
The reduced-standard-of-living meme amuses me, especially when it comes from ardent capitalists. Last spring, I needed to replace my heat pump. I decided that my lowest carbon footprint replacement would be a high-effeciency heat pump with propane as secondary fuel. I can’t do a good back-of-the-envelop calculation of carbon savings, but I do know that I’m saving money. And I’m reasonably sure that when the propane kicks in, the 98% efficient furnace is using less carbon than a coal fired generator combined with transmission losses. My current guess is that the payback time for the extra cost of the high efficiency features is less than 10 years. The expected life of the system is 20-30 years. I’d call this an investment, not a reduction in my standard of living. I can tell the same story about my Prius: it saves a ton of carbon a year, ~$750 a year in gas, payback time ~7 years. Investment! So why aren’t folks who champion capitalism shouting this from the rooftops?
Zombie attacks might increase due to global warming, study shows
January 31st, 2008
A new study by scientists has suggested that zombie attacks might increase if the current projections of global warming are realized. “If the earth gets warmer, it means longer springs, summers, and falls, and shorter winters,” said John Carpenter-Romero, Ph.D., a zombie-ologist who co-authored the study. “And shorter winters means more time for the undead to prey on the populace.”
Dr. Harrister, the other co-author, and head of Zombie Robotics at Wayward Robot, Inc., explained that cold winters typically stalled the walking dead. “It is well known that zombies can’t operate in cold weather. It freezes their brains.”
The pair calculated a 32.782412% increase in zombie attacks if CO2 increased to twice its pre-industrial rate. “Clearly, this is a very troubling result,” said Dr. Harrister, “If we don’t do something soon, the streets will be filled with blood.”
Dan Hughes wrote: “The fossil fuel industry, nor any other industry, generates wealth out of nothingness. Its wealth comes solely from its customers. Wealth is obtained only if someone is buying the products and services offered by any industry.”
Not sure what your point is. Of course the wealth of the fossil fuel industry comes from its customers. If those customers reduce their consumption of the fossil fuel industry’s products, and instead buy other forms of energy from other industries, that will diminish the fossil fuel industry’s wealth. If that shift from fossil fuels to non-CO2 emitting sources of energy is as rapid and extensive as effective AGW mitigation requires — ie. CO2 emissions must peak within a few years and then rapidly decline to near-zero by mid-century — it will represent a huge transfer of wealth from the fossil fuel industry to other sectors of the economy. The purpose of the fossil fuel industry’s disinformation propaganda about global warming is to delay and slow down that transfer, by keeping their “customers” ignorant and confused about the grave harms and even graver dangers of continued consumption of their products.
In order to deal with a bully, confront them and make your point clear. To do otherwise is to show weakness. Please stand up and say “I don’t need your lunch money and you cannot have mine”. The alternitive is to say ” I will not play because this is not my ball”.
By an odd coincidence, I’ve been to Hunza, and I would like to know if those citing the river volume stats mentioned the increasing irrigation draw off from the hydro projects sponsored by the Aga Khan Foundation and related development groups. Two canals were begun in 1996
After reading this topic (and after a few glasses on wine) I emailed Monckton:
“What do you possibly have to offer the scientific community? This Heartland “science” conference is a joke. What are you going to argue? It’s the sun? Water vapor perhaps? The level of disinformation spread by you and your pals is shameful.”
In hindsight this was a bit over the top and maybe disrespectful. Nonetheless Christopher Monckton replied:
“Thank you for getting in touch. You do not explain what points in my published work on climate change you disagree with, though it seems that you do disagree. You ask what I have to offer the scientific community. When I first wrote publicly about the climate, I received 1,000 emails, of which a substantial proportion were from scientists round the world, some of them eminent, who have grave doubts about the official theory of anthropogenic “global warming” and were very grateful that these doubts had been expressed, since they themselves were under official pressure not to speak out. Several scientists, including the most eminent in the field, maintain regular communication with me to exchange ideas and to ask for scientific source documents. I have also assisted in the drafting of peer-reviewed papers to add clarity and logic to the presentation of scientific arguments, and my contributions are acknowledged in the text of the relevant papers. And I am conducting my own (admittedly rather inexpert) researches, which have revealed numerous errors and inconsistencies in the IPCC’s methodology for calculating the magnitude of the effect of greenhouse-gas enrichment on temperature. I attach a draft of a paper for the technically-minded layman that I’m currently working on. In parallel with this, I lead an international team of scientists which is currently working on a rigorous re-examination of the climate sensitivity question from the ground up, with a view to eventual publication in a peer-reviewed journal if the results prove compelling enough.
For what it’s worth, my provisional conclusions are as follows: that the science presented by the IPCC is in numerous respects demonstrably defective and in several areas dishonest; that it has substantially exaggerated the imagined problem; that it has excluded eminent scientists who disagree with it (one of whom, the world’s foremost expert on the malaria mosquito, will be visiting me next week); that it ruthlessly suppresses all dissent; that its publications are not peer-reviewed in the accepted sense of the term; that its reports provide no sound scientific basis for any alarm whatsoever about the influence of humankind on the future evolution of the climate, which will be negligible and largely beneficial; that the failure of global temperature to rise in a statistically significant sense over the whole of the past decade is no accident, but is a consequence of the ending of the 70-year-long solar Grand Maximum, during which the Sun was more active and for longer than at almost any similar previous period over the whole of the past 11,400 years; that it is only marginally more likely that the climate will warm over the next century than that it will cool; that the warming, if it occurs, will be unlikely to exceed one-third of the IPCC’s central estimate; that even if the IPCC’s central estimate were correct the consequences for sea level would be negligible; that all other consequences of warmer weather worldwide are generally beneficial; that, though there are many environmental problems, our influence on the climate is too small to be one of them; that it would be profoundly unwise to adopt any of the mitigative measures proposed by the IPCC, which would merely have the effect of transferring jobs, economic prosperity and carbon emissions away from the West and into China, India and other third-world countries where environmental controls are nothing like as stringent as they are here; that any attempt to restrict fossil-fuel use by third-world countries will have the effect of keeping them poor, so that their populations will continue to increase; and that, therefore, the net effect of attempted mitigation – which would of course have no appreciable effect on the climate and would hence be entirely futile – would be to increase the “carbon footprint” of humankind in the medium to long term, without reducing it in the short.
These are among the points that will be reviewed and discussed at the climate conference in New York, where the emphasis will not be on proselytization and preaching but on quiet conversation about the science. Many of the world’s leading climate scientists will be present, and they will represent a wide range of disciplines and opinions. There will also be laymen like me, who are invited because their influence and experience as policymakers may help to clarify some of the issues.
Finally, you mention “disinformation” which you say I have been spreading. If you would be kind enough to make a list of any points in my published papers at http://www.scienceandpublicpolicy.org which are scientifically inaccurate, supplying in each instance a reference to a peer-reviewed scientific journal which establishes that what I have said is in error, unless there are scientific papers that give another opinion I shall of course be happy to make corrections and see to it that they are posted. That is how true and honest science is done. – M of B”
I was quite surprised to get any response at all and I have to say I was impressed by the level of thought put into the response.
The question I have is, does anyone have any information on this”
“but is a consequence of the ending of the 70-year-long solar Grand Maximum, during which the Sun was more active and for longer than at almost any similar previous period over the whole of the past 11,400 years;”
I have been unable to find any data about the 70 year cycle.
“Any carbon tax or similar measure is designed to increase the cost of fossil fuels and allow other forms of energy to complete. What this means that everyone will pay more for energy. This will mean a lower standard of living no matter what spin GW advocates want to put on it.”
If the carbon tax is offset by an equal reduction in other taxes, the increase in the cost of energy will be mostly offset by the tax reductions. Replace the US federal income tax with carbon tax generating equal revenue and there would be a significant shift from carbon fuels to alternate sources of energy plus extensive energy conservation. A change in tax structure of this magnitude would need to be spread over at least 5-10 years.
Any proposal to implement a carbon tax should always be revenue neutral and include an offsetting reduction in other taxes.
I gather from reading some of the comments and links above that “skeptics” are now claiming Kevin Trenberth as one their own. Now that is really funny. I wouldn’t be surprised if some in the Realclimate crew soon find themselves being quoted as questioning the reality of anthropogenic global warming.
Re Raven #143: the thing is that Nature does not have such a thing as an “alternate viewpoint.” Only the best effort to understand Nature deserves consideration. Although it always might be wrong, at least it is the best we can come up with and, contrarily to what the “skeptics” say when taking the conspiracy theory route, it is always up for change in light of new evidence or better understanding. Anything that stems from the intent of reaching more pleasant conclusions, which you seem to suggest should be done, is rubbish. It may be occasinally be right, but by accident only.
Comment by Philippe Chantreau — 2 Feb 2008 @ 6:53 PM
Russell Seitz (#151) says “As with any form of inflation, it’s the integral that counts”. That’s true, but only with a judicious choice of integration interval. The inflationary effect on the US dollar from 1785 to the present is of no practical concern to any of us, but the current rate of inflation (yes, integrated over an interval that isn’t vanishingly small) is. Similarly with sea level change from, say, the end of the Cretaceous to now: I’m much more interested in the current rate of change and its derivative than the integral. Of course, one can go too far: Richard Nixon, running for reëlection, famously used a third derivative, saying that the rate of increase of inflation was decreasing. Contrary to popular belief, the third time derivative was called the “jerk” even before Nixon’s statement.
pete @152. I suppose a lot of Americans would take umbrage at your remarks. But I’ve lived my entire 56 years here, and am fighting those same destructive attitudes every day. Rest assured, there do exist at least some Americans who understand the issues, and are working to change the causes.
Thanks for the order of magnitude check- I evidently still dream in the English system, and shouldha reached for a pencil, a calculator and a FTIR spectrophotometer with a gas cell. But please note that the current ( 2007) CO2 share of the 2.9 watt anthro forcing is 1.53 W, so can we call today’s real time CO2 bracket creep ~15 microwatts per day?
The energetically disposed can extrapolate as far as they like but Martin’s 30-year compounding to 100 milliwatts a year entails a rather sanguine view of hydrocarbon reserves
“Justin, mighty strong claim about the Chicago newspaper article.
Can you cite that story by headline, date, page, byline, anything that would help to find a copy in a local library, or point to a copy of the article somewhere online? Flat out faking quotes isn’t exactly rare, but it’s not just laughed off yet, even in an election year. I tried the newspaper and did not find it by keyword; they only have a 30 day cycle for keeping articles online. It’s the same name as the Heartland person visiting this thread.”
I emailed both the newspaper and Taylor at the time, needless to say I got no response!
Hank Roberts (#31):” Sean O., you clearly misunderstand something important.
Scientific research is not a ‘point of view’”
Philippe Chantreau (#177) “the thing is that Nature does not have such a thing as an ‘alternate viewpoint.’”
This all reminds me of how The Australian (climate-denialist newspaper) sneers at what they call “post-modern” approaches to education and history. Yet when it comes to climate change, they seem to think science depends on your point of view. I have quite a good hit rate on letters to The Australian, but they skip the ones that point out this sort of inconsistency in their position.
Raven (#137): “Any carbon tax or similar measure is designed to increase the cost of fossil fuels and allow other forms of energy to complete. What this means that everyone will pay more for energy. This will mean a lower standard of living no matter what spin GW advocates want to put on it.”
Your assumption is that industries are incapable of adapting to a new cost-regulatory framework. Almost every attempt at mitigating harmful industries (tobacco, asbestos, CFCs) has been accompanied by dire predictions of economic cost which have usually been way off the mark. Further, new technologies such as efficient solar may make it possible to deliver power cost-effectively to places not economic to service with existing technologies. For example, an isolated village may not be viable to grid-connect, and very expensive to service with a small generator burning fossil fuels. The drive to produce more cost-effective solar has brought the cost down to $1/watt (see e.g. http://www.nanosolar.com/ and http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/dec/29/solarpower.renewableenergy); if we can find an efficient way of storing power, we have a solution that will bring power to remote areas for the first time.
European countries and Japan have long discouraged inefficient energy use compared with the US. Guess which country’s motor industry keeps landing in a deep hole whenever oil prices spike?
Energy efficiency is not a cost; if we pursue efficiency at the same time as low emissions technologies there is good reason to predict that there will not be a net loss of standard of living, and some reason to predict an improvement.
There’s a “Grand Solar Maximum” roughly 1000-750 years “BP” mentioned. “BP” (“before present”) may mean before 1950, don’t assume it’s before the date of paper. Nothing later that I found. I doubt it’s what Monckton means. Why not ask him for a cite? He may not have published his paper yet.
#80 SecularAnimist: Exxon-Mobil’s multi-million dollar investments in “debating, lying, confusing the truth, bickering and all that” — such as the nearly $800,000 they have paid to the Heartland Institute in the last ten years — have paid off many, many times over. To the grave detriment of all humanity, and indeed all life on Earth.
Assuming XOM made $2T over these 10 years, this is on par with a school teacher making $50,000/year donating $0.20 to a cause over 10 years. And you hammering them for it.
A little overblown, don’t you think?
Companies that are interested in changing perceptions and opinions won’t even blink at a $250M ad campaign. Pretending $800K will do anything significant to change opinions is silly.
“If the carbon tax is offset by an equal reduction in other taxes, the increase in the cost of energy will be mostly offset by the tax reductions.”
This is a myth. It is not possible to have a revenue neutral carbon tax. To be effective carbon taxes must raise the cost of energy to make alternatives viable. This means the government does not collect any carbon tax revenue if people switch to alternatives. As people switch to alternatives the government will have to increase taxes to maintain its revenue stream. The net result is a reduction in disposable income as people are forced to spend a larger % of their income on energy.
You can look at it another way: increasing the cost of energy increases the cost of all goods and services. For example, all retail businesses include the cost of transportation in their prices. Increasing the cost of energy increases these costs. Reducing the average tax burden will not help businesses where transport costs are a significant percentage of their costs. This will show up in price increases that are added onto the additional energy costs that inviduals are forced to pay. Again the net result is a reduction in standard of living.
Governments realize this and that is why no democratic government has done anything more than token gestures.
Any post Kyoto agreement is also doomed to fail because developing countries will demand a right to emit more CO2 and developed countries cannot accept those terms because it would undermine the competitiveness of their industries (i.e. companies will always find it cheaper to move to developing countries where they can emit with impunity).
It is a Catch-22 situation that will never be resolved becauses the risks of AGW will always be theoretical until they happen. At that point adaptation is the only option.
#175 Brian Ellerby: If the carbon tax is offset by an equal reduction in other taxes, the increase in the cost of energy will be mostly offset by the tax reductions. Replace the US federal income tax with carbon tax generating equal revenue and there would be a significant shift from carbon fuels to alternate sources of energy plus extensive energy conservation.
You assume politicians will be able to pass up the chance to monkey with the system. The recent “rebate” winding through government right now is nothing more than taking money from those that have it and giving it to those that don’t. Today, the top 10% of earners are shouldering 69% of non-corporate income tax bill versus about 47% in 1979. Every single big endeavour the US faces is yet another opportunity for the governemnt to keep pushing that 69% figure higher.
I always do find it interesting that most of the believers seem to be pleased with the idea that energy costs will rise, standards of living for those that they believe are more gluttonous than they will fall, and generally that the frantic pace of keeping up with the joneses will slow.
But there is a very real chance that once we get off of oil, that after a few decades of hiccups we’ll see energy costs fall below that of oil, and in fact keep sliding to an order of magnitude or more below that of oil. Huber notes that oil extracted today from 2 miles of ocean depth, 4 miles of rock, and 6 miles of horizontal drilling costs less than oil extracted from just 60 feet of earth a century ago.
So, assume we get off the teat of oil and onto something new and we’re just starting up the optimization curve and that costs fall so fast over the next few decades that the entire world can live like the top 10% in the US lives today. We can all drive mega SUVs that make current SUVs look like economy cars. Oceans waters can be desalinated with ease and pumped across continents, deserts are watered and productive, and on and on. Presumably rising world education will help with population.
To me, that’s all a good thing as long as every gets fed. But I know a lot of folks for which that would be a disaster, and they aren’t sure why, or at least they won’t say why.
Ray Ladbury write in another post: You believe in free markets, and presumably you understand them at some level. You are apalled at the prospect of liberal-commie-pinko-fag-junkie-liberal-environmentalists destroying the free market in response to climate change.S o, do you trot right out and say that the free market can handle the challenge and propose free market solutions and harness the creativity of corporate America?
Actually, most skeptics I know and read indeed believe the free market will handle this fine. The problem is on the other side of the fence there are those that continue to warn that the free market CANNOT handle this and that the government must intervene. And that’s when skeptics usually get scared.
Just curious, but what do you think of McKitrick’s propsosal to tax carbon emissions based on 3 year moving average of tropospheric temperature change? I’d actually be for any tax that is tied to something measurable, and in fact goes away if the anomoly goes away.
Re: #166: The point is not how much or how little ExxonMobil funnels into denialist operations, but the dishonesty of the whole thing, which is intentional, by design, and known to the EM leadership.
A few years ago I was asked by someone on an unrelated forum about several technical details on AGW. I decided to find out for him as he seemed genuinely interested though borderline sceptical. Googling for the info turned out to be an extremely painful operation in a landscape littered with denialist sites propagating the basically same set of untruths in endless variation. Only part of these sites were (as I now know) EM-sponsored; apparently there are lots of folks happy to lie for ideological reasons without anybody paying them — poor sods.
RC has since then made my life a bit easier :-)
What especially got my blood pressure up was the attitude problem these folks have with the truth*. They will cherry-pick from the literature, selectively quote, distort, and even make it up as needed. And then, the same lie spreads through the denialist ecosystem (“denialosphere”), turning up first on all but the most careful googling. Those $16M of EM blood money** were well spent.
I realize that EM is a big organization where the left hand doesn’t always know what the right hand is doing. But the above explains perhaps why even a legit, peer reviewed science paper was looked at with some suspicion because of EM sponsorship: the paper on the Antarctic ice volume during the Cretacaean (see raypierre’s recent article). You can’t blame the scientists for being wary.
* Perhaps I’m just weird for attaching so much significance to the factual truth, when hardly anybody else does. Please tell me I’m weird. The funny thing is I’m an atheist, but this I do believe in.
** Yep, blood money, just like the sponsorship of tabacco-related denialism by Philip Morris, involving to a remarkable extent the very same people. All this is now well documented for those wanting to know and caring to find out. It cries to high heaven that none of the ‘seven dwarves’ got jail time.
Why a Carbon Tax Wont Work
As they stand all carbon tax proposals are simply robbing the masses and putting their cash someplace else. The basic effect is to increase living costs while rather stupidly anticipating that all these dollars will see ‘market forces’ drive the proletariat to a point of fiscal desperation wherein they suddenly ‘as if by magik’ from the depths of their fiscal gloom adopt more sustainable life styles.
The signals are all wrong. The carbon tax take will go to government, and governments seem to be most reluctant to spend money building the requisite alternative energy, industrial, social and economic structures to initiate and sustain this change. “Its not government’s job,” they say “…this change should be left to the private sector.” But Big Business tenaciously hangs on to business as usual, and happily spends money where government pays – look at how much money has been spent on the disastrous biofuel diversion – with food prices world-wide escalating as crops go to pointless ethanol production. But with a carbon tax what ever initiatives Big Business comes up with for a more sustainable lifestyle (subsidised by the tax payer or otherwise) will be taken up very slowly by citizens because the carbon tax will simply increased living costs so far that any new approach to transport, to heating, indeed to life as we know it will be unaffordable.
The meagre weekly trading surplus of the ‘average’ citizen cannot extend to paying the consequences of a carbon tax on top of everything else – on top of escalating food costs, escalating transport costs and all the rest. It cannot be done if that part of the household spend simply goes down a hole. If we take more from them, (from us!) we cannot expect the population at large to jump from an old to a new lifestyle – not tomorrow, not next year and not even by the time Greenland and the West Antarctic have given us two (or will it be four?) metres of see rise by 2100 (or will it be by 2050?).
But a Carbon Rebate system would leave the money (and hence the power) where it is best used – in the hands of the consumer. The rebate would be in the form of a tax-like levy on all truly non-sustainable energy used, but the money so diverted would rest in the individual’s carbon rebate account. The individual can then utilise the credits in that account to purchase and install truly sustainable options. For most, such an approach would probably see a solar water heating panel on every dwelling within a year and full self-sufficiency in domestic energy within five years – including powering a modest electric car. Corporations would enjoy exactly the same system (the playing field must be level), and they too would see the benefits of retrieving these rebates as the real price of fossil fuelled energy increases when peak oil starts to bite.
This Carbon Rebate system places the power with the consumer, with the people, and removes it from the reluctant and sadly inept hands of the governments and their corporate cronies.
For everybody who uses the credits the benefit is reduced dependency on external energy supplies and reduced emissions. Within ten years the national power reticulation systems would simply be handling the instantaneous peak input loads imposed by the surplus energy from millions of individual energy generators – be they wind, solar of local hydro schemes. And the grid would be distributing this power to a constantly diminishing bulk demand as households and corporations utilise their carbon rebates and power their operations with certified ‘green’ solutions.
And that will be a win for individuals, a win for businesses small and big, a win for humanity and hopefully a win-in-time for mother earth.
> the rate of increase of inflation was decreasing.
Wait a minute. Isn’t “carbon intensity decrease” a third derative too?
“The carbon intensity of the United States economy, which is the amount of carbon emitted per dollar of inflation adjusted GDP, has decreased at a rate of about 2 percent per year. The decline in the carbon intensity of the United States’ economy was caused both by increased energy efficiency, particularly in the manufacturing sector, and structural changes in the economy with growing contributions from sectors such as services with lower energy consumption and carbon intensity. The service sector is likely to continue to grow. Accordingly, carbon emissions will likely continue to grow more slowly than GDP.”
The energetically disposed can extrapolate as far as they like but
Martin’s 30-year compounding to 100 milliwatts a year entails a rather
sanguine view of hydrocarbon reserves
No extrapolation involved. This is current forcing growth rate, based on exponential behaviour. I get, including the 2 -> e correction above, 162µW/m2/day or 60mW/m2/yr for a 30 year doubling (or 43 years times-e) time parameter.
[[Today, the top 10% of earners are shouldering 69% of non-corporate income tax bill versus about 47% in 1979.]]
Oh, I pity them. It must be really hard being in the top 10% of income earners. You know, I’m a compassionate guy. I really want to share their pain. So I volunteer to be in the top 10% of income earners myself. No, don’t try to thank me. All in a day’s work.
What is worse than this? The fact that the IPCC predictions about global warming seem ridiculously optimistic. This summer almost the entire Polar Sea except for some small bream along North Greenland and surroundings may be ice-free. See:
Matt #187- what on earth do you think will rplace oil and let us all drive SUV’s and run desalination plants? At the moment, working industrial scale fusion is 30 or 40 years away if it works. Barring a miraculous and unforeseen brekthrough in physics, which by the very nature of the beaast is not guaranteed, I see no way in which we will be so energy rich.
Actually, most skeptics I know and read indeed believe the free market will handle this fine. The problem is on the other side of the fence there are those that continue to warn that the free market CANNOT handle this and that the government must intervene. And that’s when skeptics usually get scared.
Which supports the belief of many that skepticism, for many, isn’t really rooted in concerns about the accuracy of the science, but rather in the fact that the truth conflicts with their political beliefs.
Someone ought to forward the announcement to the Daily Show. They can submit some goofy abstract of some sort, and then deliver a goofy paper, all with cameras running. And since the “conference” is in New York, it is jut a cab ride away.
It is a shame that the writers are still on strike, or I would send this off to them right now.
Assuming XOM made $2T over these 10 years, this is on par with a school
teacher making $50,000/year donating $0.20 to a cause over 10 years. And
you hammering them for it.
A little overblown, don’t you think?
How would you react if your teacher paid $0.20 for a cyanide pill to slip into your tea?
Just curious, but what do you think of McKitrick’s propsosal to tax
carbon emissions based on 3 year moving average of tropospheric
temperature change? I’d actually be for any tax that is tied to
something measurable, and in fact goes away if the anomoly goes away.
Way too noisy… the main argument for carbon tax over cap-and-trade is cost predictability.
European countries and Japan have long discouraged inefficient energy use compared with the US. Guess which country’s motor industry keeps landing in a deep hole whenever oil prices spike?
There are renewable energy sources that we have just begun to exploit: solar, wind, geothermal. We have not invested heavily in these technologies because fossil carbon was cheaper. Cheaper because it was allowed to dump its garbage into the common atmosphere. Cheaper because the political instability and wars it caused were charged to different accounts. Even today, the US spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined. If we didn’t need guaranteed access to mid-east oil, do you really think we would be in Iraq? If you include the military costs, the price of US oil consumption nearly doubles.
We build toilets rather than dump our waste in the street.
A clean environment is part of a standard of living.
Costs are still real even if external.
Raising fossil fuel prices decreases dependence on ME oil and sends less wealth to loony dictators, it also means less economic suffering as oil runs out and buys some time to prepare for that eventuality. Military costs, energy security, factor into ‘standard of living’.
Meantime at least the West is absurdly rich compared to any point in history. Fossil fuels are so cheap we put plastic widgets in cereal packets, so what does a ‘reduced standard of living’ mean and is it important?… trading plastic widgets for a cleaner environment and all the above?
The problem isn’t that the rich cannot afford the taxes, or even the fairness of it all. But it is unhealthy for a democracy when the majority of the citizens don’t see government as a service they are reluctantly paying for, but rather as a provider of services and money that only other people pay for. Each citizen should have a real stake in funding government so that there is an incentive to act as a check on government spending and power.
Raven, So, which chromosome is it that encodes our inate need to consume fossil fuels? It must have been a mutation that occurred some time during the last 200 years or so. What an astoundingly myopic view! Do you really think that there are no possible alternative energy sources that could satisfy demand? Not solar, wind, nuclear, biofuels, tidal, geothermal, hydroelectric…all together? Yes, these are daunting challenges, but if they are not met, it will be because of the type of complacency you advocate, not due to lack of human innovation.
As to a carbon tax, there is no reason why it could not be a long-term boon for the economy. If proceeds went toward subsidizing nonfossil fuel energy sources and development of new technologies for saving and generating energy. Then over time, as economies of scale and new technologies reduce prices, subsidies and R&D efforts can be reduced. Not only does this reduce greenhouse emissions, such an effort will be essential as oil reserves are depleted in any case.
On the other hand, it is by no means clear whether “adaptation” will even be possible in a world of 9 billion people given the likely effects on agriculture, environmental quality and extreme weather events.
Re #187 [Matt] “Actually, most skeptics I know and read indeed believe the free market will handle this fine. The problem is on the other side of the fence there are those that continue to warn that the free market CANNOT handle this and that the government must intervene. And that’s when skeptics usually get scared.”
Exactly: they just can’t stomach this inconvenient truth!
Also, Matt, although I don’t have the exact figures, I think you’ll find the “top 10% of earners” in the USA have greatly increased their share of income between 1979 and today, and the increase in wealth inequality has been even greater. Stop pretending the US is in danger of galloping social ism!
Re #189. [Martin Vermeer] Well said, Martin! Also worth asking why, if ExxonMobil’s funding of climate denialism is too small to have an effect, they continue to do it? You’d think they might have noticed by now that this funding is attracting a certain amount of negative publicity. Normally, corporations do not want to get involved in politically-tinged controversy – bad for business, old boy.
[[Today, the top 10% of earners are shouldering 69% of non-corporate income tax bill versus about 47% in 1979.]]
This is the problem with trying to discuss both economic and AGW in unscientific forums. You can throw out a few random, but accurate, statistics that support your point of view without putting them in perspective. The statistic is accurate, but adding in the fact that the average tax rate of the top 10 percent has decreased from 23.49% to 18.84% from 1980 to 2005 puts a different spin on it.
Comment by Garth M. Greenan — 3 Feb 2008 @ 11:40 AM
Matt says: “Assuming XOM made $2T over these 10 years, this is on par with a school teacher making $50,000/year donating $0.20 to a cause over 10 years. And you hammering them for it.”
Actually, the issue is not the amount, but that the tax is target toward LYING. Money spent telling people what they already want to hear can be quite effective.
You claim that so-called skeptics believe that the free market can handle climate change. OK, so where are their proposals other than claiming it isn’t happening? I would welcome free market alternatives, but I’ve heard none that are actually viable–other than cap-and-trade, which comes closest to a free-market solution.
The problem I see in the entire discussion is that those of an economic bent seem to want physics to solve the problem (either by repealing the law of conservation of energy or by geoengineering), while those who understand the science seem to insist that the solution has to come by changes to the economy. Now there are good reasons for economists and businessmen to distrust economic solutions–economic models frankly aren’t all that accurate, and social engineering has a pretty piss poor track record. On the other hand, they look at climate models and see lots of uncertainties and it LOOKS like there’s wiggle room. Unfortunately, the uncertainties don’t have to do with the effects of greenhouse gasses, and the uncertainties aren’t likely to cancel out the effects of CO2 in the long run. It is a virtual certainty that adding CO2 will make things warmer long term. What the uncertainties do is make it unlikely that we can successfully model the unintended consequences of geoengineering solutions other than decreasing CO2 production. On the other hand, the economic models are sufficient to tell us a few fundamentals about the economy, but they will not tell us about the unintended consequences of a switch away from fossil fuels. Of course without such reliable forecasts, such uncertainty is bound to give pause to any responsible economist.
So we have the unfortunate situation of economists questioning science they don’t understand and scientists proposing solutions whose economic implications they have not comprehended. At some point, the economists have to accept that there is something to the science and that there are considerable risks to future economic stability. Likewise scientists have to accept that there are reasons why markets tend to work efficiently and that futzing with them too much destroys that efficiency. Maybe then we can make progress, and given the potential instabilities in the system, we need to make progress soon.
A tax indexed to 3 year moving averages is a tax on weather. Indexing it to the daily forcast would be just as effective. The market measures have to reflect the realities of the physics–and it’s the physics of climate, not weather.
Lawrence Coleman (160) says, “….So yes I do think the task is possible…but not without total comittment by every government and council on this planet. …the only way to get CO2 under control in say another 100 years..(yep that’s how long it takes) is by every earthy citizen working together..that’s the only way!!”
Noble thought. You say it’s possible; then impose requirements that are impossible, or at least ain’t going to happen, ever.
Re: The multiple posts regarding carbon tax and emissions reduction:
Welcome to the real discussion. I would like to encourage you to continue this debate at my new blog, engineeringclimate.blogspot.com, where I wish to gather all those who believe they have a stake in the outcome of the political decisions which will be made to offset AGW.
My two thoughts, just sticking to basics:
1. There will be no year-to-year emissions reductions in the next decade, and perhaps twice that long. Where will we be in relation to major tipping points by then? If a Plan B is needed at that point, we will need to be working on it from now til then, in order to be prepared for any eventuality.
2. Carbon taxes will cause major social upheaval. Even if we found a way to keep basic energy costs within reach of all, the scheme for doing so has yet to be described; tax credits for low income people is a sham, because low income people do not pay income taxes now. So, they would need an actual government handout. In other words, the artificial increase in the cost of fuel will turn large numbers of people into wards of the state.
Now that may be alright with you; after all, it’s for the greater good, salvation of humanity and all that. However, you ought to consider the lives which will be affected by these policies. These are people such as you and me. You or I might find ourselves unable to pay for basic energy. Certainly many people all over the world will suffer this fate. And since all alternatives are even more expensive than fossil fuels, there will be no way out of the trap.
I have said that we must seriously analyze ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere. This would obviously be a home run, and would negate the above two issues. I also believe that our actual ability to avoid catastrophic warming hinges on our ability to remove CO2 once it is already in the climate system. I see very little chance that we will change course soon enough to get there with emissions reductions.
Think it through: without viable, affordable alternatives, what we are talking about is slowing down economies. Even if some nations agree to do so, others will not. Those who do will suffer the consequences, which will result in lower standards of living and hellishly expensive energy. Yum, what a recipe.
Climate science must get busy looking for ways out of this situation which do not require mankind to take a giant leap backward, which is almost certainly an impossibility (especially for planning purposes).
We have the capacity to take on this science and engineering challenge, and in my view we must make the effort.
Please join me, and let’s take this discussion forward toward real solutions. I believe it matters greatly to us all, and deserves to be grounded in complete reality.
Matt, jus out of curiosity, how much of the wealth do those 10% hold? Could it be anything more than 69%? If it is , I’m going to have a hard time having any sympathy.
Comment by Philippe Chantreau — 3 Feb 2008 @ 4:09 PM
Thanks for the heads up. I came across this conference today while looking for the WIPEC conference in Washington the same week. I won’t go, and will blog about it myself on tonysclimateblog.blogspot.com.
this is what I think you should do. Go to the conference, but think of it as entertainment of sorts. Perhaps you could pick up a few of James Taylor’s tricks and present something entirely bogus but entirely funny (to certain laid back people) — like the infamous cowsmic ray hypothesis.
b) ExxonMobil made more money last year, but on lower total shipments of oil+gas.
c) Chevron reduced its production estimates for 2008 by 5%.
It is completely unclear to me that real GDP can continue growing over the next 50-100 years, especially in the US, although Canada should be OK longer. Regardless of the numbers, many goods are non-substitutable: cheap iPods won’t help much when one needs to move earth for dikes or build steel-and-concrete seawalls, after petroleum gets really expensive.
Personally, I think Ayres&Warr, or Charles Hall & co have a much better handle on this than many mainstream economics.
Re 188 (Martin Vemeer): Please don’t ever try to compare oil companies to tobacco ones. If asked to decide between a nicotine buzz or lung cancer, I know what I’d choose. If asked to choose between some warming in the climate, or the cheap abundant energy that fuels the whole of Western civilization then… the question is a little more complex. Those nasty oil executives, trying to trick you into having living a comfortable, wealthy life…
I still have a couple of friends that sometimes get distracted by the smoke and mirrors of arguments made to promote inaction on climate change. I always struggle to come up with concise statements for reasonably smart people that do not have scientific backgrounds. It can seem hard to counter the “well what about so and so that said this about…” followed by some reference to supposed science that I know they really don’t understand enough to have any credible opinion about it’s validity. Here is my attempt at coming up with my own personal case for why we need to take action. Can some of the people more knowledgeable with the real science tell me if I’m making any scientifically false arguments here or leaving myself open for refutation? Perhaps someone knows of or could propose a better summary argument? Again, I’m looking for a way of making the case to intelligent, yet non-scientific people.
- The poles of the earth are showing unmistakable signs of warming. This is a measurable fact. Glaciers and polar ice are melting faster than ever seen.
- CO2 does reflect infrared radiation. This is a fact which can be demonstrated in a lab very easily. It is not a theory or hypothesis. More CO2 in the atmosphere, all else being equal, would cause heat to be trapped due to this IR reflection. No one credible would argue this.
- Unfortunately, all else will never be equal. For instance, warmer temperatures cause more water evaporation, which causes more clouds, which reflects sunlight countering to some extent the heat trapping.
- The argument that there is nothing to worry about counts on mitigating feedbacks such as this, which are the less understood processes, to counteract the better understood process… CO2 traps heat. All the major efforts to model these processes predict that the sum total will be warming.
- Yes, climate models do not yet perfectly predict the changes that are being observed. The models predict warming significant enough to cause serious problems to human wellbeing and economic stability. The fact that the changes have been happening even more quickly than the models predict certainly would seem to strengthen the argument that any mitigating feedbacks are not likely to solve the problem.
- The overwhelming majority of scientists that study fields directly related to climate agree that the magnitude of the dangers faced and the likelihood that human GHG emissions will cause these outcomes is sufficient that significant efforts should be devoted to reducing emissions.
- Credible scientists are now warning that sea levels could potentially rise several feet by the middle of the century. Not all scientists yet agree this is the most likely outcome. However, just as the military plans for potential threats that have yet to completely materialize, the magnitude of the damage that this outcome would produce demands that plans be made to deal with the possibility… either remove the risk or plan for the consequences.
Re Phillip Duncan @ 218: “- The poles of the earth are showing unmistakable signs of warming. This is a measurable fact. Glaciers and polar ice are melting faster than ever seen.”
True. In fact, both he predicted and measured rate of warming is even *faster* at the poles than the rest of the planet.
“- CO2 does reflect infrared radiation.”
Nope. CO2 (and H2O) *absorbs* and is excited by infrared energy. It later relaxes from this excited state, either through collision with another gas molecule, thereby raising the temperature of the atmosphere, or by emitting infrared energy in any direction. The IR energy can then 1) be absorbed by another CO2 (or H2O) molecule, keeping it in “play” within the atmosphere, 2) reach the surface and warm it, or 3) escape the atmosphere to space, thus cooling the atmosphere. Note that the first two actions lead to warming. In reality, there can be a long chain of the first two actions before the third occurs, thus leading to a net warming of the atmosphere.
I suggest you read the “The Carbon Dioxide Greenhouse Effect” section of Spencer Weart’s “The Discovery of Global Warming” @ http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html
(Second link under the Science Links in the right-hand column of the RealClimate home page)
“- Unfortunately, all else will never be equal. For instance, warmer temperatures cause more water evaporation, which causes more clouds, which reflects sunlight countering to some extent the heat trapping.”
Clouds have both a cooling effect (reflective of incoming solar energy) and warming effect (they trap sensible heat and absorb outgoing infrared energy). The question is do these opposed effects largely cancel each other, or is there a net positive (warming) or negative (cooling) forcing, and by how much.
“- Yes, climate models do not yet perfectly predict the changes that are being observed. ”
True. If anything they have been too conservative in that some already observed effects were not predicted to occur this early.
If you take the Danish web page linked by Karsten at #193 and use the Danish – English web page translator at http://gramtrans.com/ you can get a better translation than my rudimentary Danish can provide.
Worth reading. Might affect the sea ice odds a little… ;-)
Reality Check for Jim — it depends. Sometimes the costs are paid by the rich of the country, or civilization, who stand to lose the most if the country, or civilization, falls. Sometimes the costs are charged to the war effort and paid by sorting it out afterward. Sometimes the costs are extracted from Nature’s hide.
There’s a lot more to civilization than capitalism.
There’s a lot more to life than civilization.
There’s a lot more to ecosystems than life.
Maybe because it would be a waste of their (RC moderators and other climatologists) precious time – the skeptics’ claims have been refuted time and time again in the scientific literature and popular press; nothing will change their minds, so why bother trying to do so at one of their conferences, where they (skeptics) control the agenda?
Posts such as Jim’s which gloss over the very real issues of inadequacy and hardship, represent a very troubling tendency of some within the AGW movement to behave as though they have all the answers, so we can just skip the analysis.
Although it is true that mankind has shown a historical tendency to stick its head in the sand, it strikes me that many people in this discussion believe they are rising above that tendency, when they are in fact perpetuating it.
Pretending that emissions reduction are a certifiable solution to AGW is every bit as fanciful as pretending that there is no problem in the first place.
Here is a paper that refers to the current “Solar Grand Maximum”, although let Christopher Monckton know that the current one has now been going for 80 years, not 70 (at least according to this paper):
What is being referred to is Solar Activity as measured by sunspot numbers. No doubt Monckton thinks there is a correlation between sunspot numbers and global temperature since 1650. The problem for those who want to link warming to solar activity is that there is no plausible explanation as to how sunspot numbers could actually be linked to planetary warming. The current “Grand Maximum” has not been associated with an increase in solar irradiance, particularly in the last 30 years.
Re #217 Greg: but you are being lied to… and you believe the lies. “The matter is a little more complex”, yeah sure. That’s precisely the meme they are trying to plant. Fear, uncertainty, doubt.
You’re being told lies, on a matter of consequence (one way or the other) if not to you, then to your children and grandchildren. Doesn’t that make you mad?
…and when your anger wears off, let’s talk about the science issues, which are indeed “a little more complex”. And for which we have the chance of a snowflake in hell of ever sorting them out if not within the peer review, replication based culture of science.
Why do you think EM et al. do not resort to that approach here, while they most certainly do so when they have a material interest in the correct outcome, like when prospecting for oil and gas? You tell me.
#226, I would add a question to the Antarctica Sea ice expert as well. Was there ever any multi-year sea ice which survived the summer? Familiar with where I live, multi-year ice in the Arctic is disappearing fast. Judging GW by winter ice extent is not advisable. It will take a far greater increase in temperature world wide before the wide area around the North Pole will be ice free during darkness.
Anyway, all those folks that argue — like Jared Diamond BTW, very recognisable claim :-) — that we cannot give up our fossil fuel based lifestyle: have you actually read the IPCC WG3 report, or even its summary for policy makers? It’s at http://www.ipcc.ch, real easy. Quote, for a moderately aggressive mitigation scenario:
“In 2030 macro-economic costs for multi-gas mitigation,
consistent with emissions trajectories towards
stabilization between 445 and 710 ppm CO2-eq, are
estimated at between a 3% decrease of global GDP and
a small increase, compared to the baseline (see Table
SPM.4). However, regional costs may differ significantly
from global averages (high agreement, medium evidence)
(see Box SPM.3 for the methodologies and assumptions
of these results).”
The “small increase” is related to so-called “low hanging fruit”, things we just should bother to properly organize but won’t actually cost us anything — except some of our illusions.
The 3% is interesting. 3% is less than what most countries of the world expend on military defence, on a promise of “security” that is often at least as uncertain and speculative as is climatic security. Decision making under uncertainty is the normal state of human affairs; welcome to life in the big city. And no country has yet gone bankrupt over 3% GDP defence spending.
3% is also the annual growth rate of many countries’ economies. So, we’d still be getting wealthier year over year — only, one year later than would otherwise be the case. Cry me a river.
[[If asked to choose between some warming in the climate, or the cheap abundant energy that fuels the whole of Western civilization then… the question is a little more complex. Those nasty oil executives, trying to trick you into having living a comfortable, wealthy life…]]
Global warming will cause massive disruption of our agriculture and economy. “Some warming in the climate” doesn’t begin to describe it. Continuing business as usual will NOT allow you to “liv[e] a comfortable, wealthy life.” It will mean a sudden crash followed by mass poverty and death. Please read the IPCC AR4 report.
[[there is no plausible explanation as to how sunspot numbers could actually be linked to planetary warming.]]
Actually, due to the especially bright “faculae” surrounding sunspots, the sun really is a bit brighter in periods with lots of sunspots. But, as you note, there hasn’t been any trend in solar output for a long time, so it can’t account for the recent sharp upturn in global warming.
#227 Your comment, Matt, has quite driven me off-thread and likely into getting expelled as a troll. But it seems you have fallen for a late chief magistrate’s fantasy about welfare queens riding around in Cadillacs because of your sad pick in dorm buddies. You leave out of your account of the inpecunious living off the grand amassments of the hard-working wealthy the many, many down-at-the-heels teachers and lab-rats who, for the love of discovering some new thing and relaying it to our youngsters, have worked hundred hour weeks for much of their lives. I don’t know what Columbia pays top scientists (indeed I am prejudiced agin it, ’cause it’s one of two sheepskin tanneries which tosseed my old man out of its graduate school), but I’ll bet the sum won’t come near the forebearance of one of the principals of this blog.
I’m sorry I popped off. But with such hard times on the way and every resolution,–miles of walking for a gimpy oldster–providing pain it should be apparent we are all under strain and have somehow to keep conversations temperate.. Carbon tax, in my opinion should be punitive
so that some grandchildren may survive. True, I’m prejudiced, in that I have four. Statistically, as far as I can tell, no one will have an edge except those who are already gardening enough to get themselves through the temperate zone winter,–anmd my grandkids ain’t.
Please! We have to work our ways murkily through. We will bump into each other. So? I’m sorry I got angry, Matt. It is likely a punitive carbon tax will cause pain. In my opinion it will not cause as much pain as loading the atmosphere ever more.
[Response: This thread is getting out of hand. I've deleted some out-of-line posts and responses, so please no more. - gavin]
Comment by Juola (Joe) A. Haga — 4 Feb 2008 @ 6:56 AM
I’d like to know just how much confidence you RC folks have in your own science. Are ready to put your own money where your mouth is?
I’m willing to bet you $100K (proceeds to go to charity) that sea levels will not even rise 10 cm in the next 10 years. Mr. Gore prophesizes 6 meters – and soooooooon. Heck, I’m cutting that number by 60! No takers? At which sea level rise would you be willing to bet? 5cm? 3cm? 5mm?
My guess is that even the most hard-core alarmists among you wouldn’t touch this bet even with a 10-foot pole.
Here in Germany I have yet to find a single alarmist (and there are many here) who is willing to jump on this bet. Not Greenpeace, not GermanWatch. Not even Mr. Ramstorf.
“No one really knows what the climate / sea level will do.”, is the reply I often get. So much for faith and confidence in scientific models!
[Response: Maybe you'd like to actually check what IPCC or Gore actually said before you set up a bet. Your numbers are far in excess of any projected change in the next 10 years (current rates are ~3-4 cm in 10 years). Any bet depends on what your hypothesis is - do you think sea level rise will be zero, or are you assuming a continuation of current rates? If the former, then you should be offering a bet if SLR goes above 2 cm/dec. If the latter, you have to find someone who has projected short term rates significant higher than current trends. I'm not aware of anyone who has. - gavin]
Re Gavin in #56: “Though I haven’t looked in detail, the warming signal almost certainly overwhelms any potential increased deposition of snow signal.”
Could you give us a numerical, IPCC-like probability estimate for “almost certainly”? Would it be more than extremely likely (95 %) or rather less than “about as likely as not” (33-66% probability). If you have to vote to find out the group’s average opinion, take your time.
re #1 “lefty scientists” You should point out that The UK Hadley Centre Scientists are all employees of UK Ministry of Defence…AKA the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force – the ones helping out the US in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that Hadley Centre was established by Mrs Margaret Thatcher…even the most diehard neocon would struggle to brand her as a lefty!!.
Funnily enough in the UK the Hadley Centre is occasionally critiscised as being right wing and global warming science was an excuse to shut down coal mines and break the power of the leftie trade unions.
Micheal’s finishes by saying:
“Midway through the Post’s page-long article comes a statement that “these new findings come as the Arctic is losing ice at a dramatic rate.” Wouldn’t that have been an appropriate place to note that, despite a small recent loss of ice from the Antarctic landmass, the ice field surrounding Antarctica is now larger than ever measured?”
Perhaps in passing one might, but actually it’s not directly relevant and certainly not absolutely needed. Micheal’s has already noted that models suggest an increase of mass in Antartica because of it’s situation, which differs substantially from the Arctic, I made a few points about this here: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/05/more-on-the-arctic/index.php?p=442#comment-50880 Micheals seems to me to imply we should expect the same changes at both poles – we should not.
Back to another point Micheal’s raises:
“We see the same problem with hurricanes and global warming. Their strength and numbers vary considerably from year to year. 2005 was the most active year ever measured in the Atlantic Basin, while 2007 was one of the weakest in history. How do you find the fingerprint of global warming amidst such variation?”
The problem with that statement is that nobody with an understanding expects the GW signal to dominate year to year changes. GW is not the only factor influencing weather, although it’s become dominant on a decadal scale. Finding such signals amongst noise is what I use maths for in digital signal processing, the climate scientists use maths to a similar end in their field.
Re: 208 Rod B. You’re a logical guy, make your own conclusion to what I said. The path I was on was this. This is a defining challenge for ALL of humanity, if we chose to embrace this challenge we have a fighting chance of gradually getting on top of the problem but this will be an pan-generational task. The groundwork has to be started..the infrastructure, the engine for change must be built in our lifetime and carried through to our kids and their kids. We cannot take our eye off the big picture (the sustainabilty of planet earth) for a moment and let our egos or vested interests once again take the upper hand. Personally I do not think we are up to the challenge, we dont appear to be mature enough (and don’t rattle off all the great environmetal innovations which the USA has created) America only produces 25% of emissions. It’s the rest of the world that has to come to party big time. There should be free interchange of ideas, inventions and intellectual property between countries!. BUT..the IPCC has to get real..and produce computer modelling that accurately shows whats happening NOW so Govs know what time frame to work with(allocation of federal funding etc).. with 18 of the leadng IPCC computer models still being way too conservative, this obviously is no good at all for it’s credibility at all levels.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 4 Feb 2008 @ 8:37 AM
Matt, I have an AS in Chem Engineering Technology, a BS and MS in Chemistry, and a BA in Anthropology and Sociology. I’ve worked part or full time during three of those degrees. I’ve worked with low income minorities as a dishwasher,and I’ve worked for Fortune 500 executives. They were all human beings and all had human frailties. And within about a minute I found this NYTimes article on line http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/29/business/29tax.html suggesting that the income gap really is widening. Just a matter of picking your statistics I guess. I’ve seen and lived with both ends of the economic spectrum man, and your characterization of the poor may be comforting to you, but it mischaracterizes a lot of your fellow human beings. And the thing about wind, tides, solar, and improved use of energy use is that when some idiot screws up, as they inevitably will, and circumvents some safety feature of one of the non-nuclear solutions mentioned here…. when someone screws up a non-nuclear system, they aren’t as likely to contaminate huge swaths of living space or agricultural land as happens with major nuclear mishaps. Just saying. And regarding your characterization of non-nuclear dreams as fairy tales…there are plenty of strange beliefs in the nuclear community as well. I’ve seen evidence there and elsewhere of the belief in a supernatural ability of certain people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps without a stable platform to pull from, without many developmental steps along the way and without any human interactions. Astounding.
Re: Pierre Gosselin, I dont know how you plucked 10cms in 10 years out of thin air – although based upon observable sea level rise it will be probably be higher than the IPCC predicted based on the dubious nature of the models they are using but not 10cms. It depends on the rate of melt of Greenland, Antartica, Ellesmere and the Baffin islands, Canada and the european and tropical glaciers, whether they will melt at a linear rate or reach a tipping point and disintegrate almost before our eyes. It depends where you take the sea level reading from as well, the equatorial regions will record a higher reading than the artic and temeperate regions due to the obliqueness of the earth due to it’s rotational speed. In fact more and more pacific islands are being swamped right at this moment.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 4 Feb 2008 @ 10:31 AM
All due respect to a man I really dig, but for Eli to compare changing from using plastic bags to cloth bags, to making the world’s poorest people pay even more for basic energy than they already do (and making it impossible to provide any energy at all to many more), is a bad combination of smug, trite and tone deaf.
Let’s have a real conversation about the good and bad of the AGW movement’s pet plan, and let’s compare that plan to other alternatives.
I am fully invested in this aspect of the AGW issue. I believe that, very soon, this will be the dominant area of discussion. My major concern is that we do not rush into commitments which may make thing s worse.
Believe it or not, Bush’s stance regarding Kyoto has begun, to me, to seem prudent.
Pierre Gosselin seemingly pulls the figure of 6 meters in a decade seemingly out of thin air, but 6 meters is actually quite a common figure chosen as alarmist in the rarified (and evidently oxygen poor) environment of the denialosphere. However, even here I couldn’t find anybody who accused Al of predicting such a rise in a decade. No matter. Being a denialist means never having to check your facts.
It was quite clear what Gore intended by showing a 6m rise.
In any case, at what SLR are you willing to put your money down?
The point of this exercise is to ascertain the level of confidence in your own science. Good science demands high levels of confidence.
A good bridge engineer will have no qualms about being the first to walk across the bridge he himself designs and deems as “secure”.
Frankly, I am sure the sea level rises you have in mind are a long long way from being “catastrophic”.
[Response: Indeed it was. Gore's statement was that if either Greenland or WAIS melted completely, sea levels would rise 6m. This is completely true. It is also relevant - the last time that the planet was as warm as many of the scenarios put us in 2100, sea level was 4 to 6m higher (125,000 years ago). The uncertainty is not the eventual rise but how fast it gets there - a few centuries or less is likely to be catastrophic, a millennia or more - not so much. Your idea about what constitutes good science is also wrong. Good science demands that you be able to specify your confidence - not what the level is. SLR estimates in the near term are more uncertain than temperature rises but that uncertainty is mostly on the up-side. - gavin]
Pierre Gosselin, First, these are CLIMATE studies, and climate doesn’t really manifest on scales much less than 20-30 years. Bets on timescales less than that might as well be on tomorrow’s weather forecast. Second, are you a fricking mind reader? Because Al Gore never said anything about decadal scales.
Third, I would love to be there as you explain to people whose homes have been swamped by a record tidal surge that the sea level rise wasn’t catastrophic. Pierre, the sea level rises are already having effects on low-lying areas. That’s reality. Why don’t the two of you take some time to get acquainted.
Greg wrote: “If asked to choose between some warming in the climate, or the cheap abundant energy that fuels the whole of Western civilization …”
Walt Bennett wrote: “… making the world’s poorest people pay even more for basic energy than they already do …”
The era of cheap, abundant fossil fuels is coming to an end for the simple reason that they are being depleted. To the extent that we continue burning fossil fuels, we are going to have to transition to lower quality fossil fuels, which are more difficult, expensive and environmentally destructive to extract and yield less net energy.
The dichotomy that you present — a costly transition to non-fossil fuel energy sources vs. endlessly burning cheap abundant fossil fuels — does not exist. It is false for two reasons: efficiency and clean renewable energy technologies are not as expensive as you suggest, and endlessly burning cheap fossil fuels is not an option.
As fossil fuels inevitably become more expensive, and then scarce, we will have to transition to other sources of energy anyway. Global warming is another reason to make this transition. The sooner we do so the better it will be for everyone.
The alternative is decades of “resource wars” to control the dwindling supplies of high quality cheap fossil fuels (e.g. Middle Eastern oil) against the backdrop of AGW-driven global ecosystem collapse and climate chaos.
Re: 247 Ok! granted Pierre might be a bit naive and the fact that he cant seem to see the wood for the trees but I also believe that the understanding of the science of climatology has a long way to go..even the use of dedicated supercomputers crunching trillions of bits/sec..they are only as good as the algorythms you feed them. There are still many many geologic/meterological/climatic variables out there that we still dont know or appreciate the relative weighting of..and it seems many of these variables are very important indeed. I bet Gavin would agree that considerably more federal funding and grants be allocated to the climate sciences and for more tertiary positions to be availiable. More data collections units in more places in the sea, in the artic, high in the atmosphere..all over the place so you know whats going on with the weather moment by moment. So Pierre is simply saying put your money where your mouth is. The higher the quality and quantity of data collected the better..then it’s up to the likes of Gavin et-al to reverse engineer and find out how the beast ticks. Shame about the figures Pierre carelessly bandies about and the standpoint which he takes but with regard to accuracy of forcasting and predicting..it is vital we improve it.
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 5 Feb 2008 @ 10:22 AM
By all means there’s a lot more to understand about climate. But we’re talking here about changes on the right side of the decimal point, not the left side. The most important contributors are pretty well nailed down.
Of course my concern for the many millions who struggle to survive (including me) is honest. It is not their fault that industry and runaway expansion led us here. If they had been offered better choices (or ANY choicea) they would have gladly seized them. Certainly those with access to fossil fuel energy are better off than those without.
We cannot simply ignore the insane burden a further increase in those costs would engender.
As for your comment, SA, that market forces are driving the increase in costs, yes they are. My concern is that the AGW movement intends to make that situation much worse by taxing carbon in some way so as to make alternatives more cost-competitive. This is of course market interference, and will do nothing to improve the lives of the millions of poor to which we are all referring.
My premise is that CO2 will continue to rise for 10-20 or more years, no matter what policies are enacted. So, we will still be looking for real solutions at that time, except that the situation will by then be incredibly urgent. Meanwhile, the standard of living for who knows how many, but certainly millions and perhaps hundreds of millions, will plunge.
Why aren’t we working on THAT? And if we are, somebody please point me to where that is being done.
The models are so uncertain that they call what might happen
in the future: “scenarios”. There’s a reason why they use the word “scenario”, and not forecast.
Look at the last 500 milion years. 90% of this time the temperature and CO2 were much higher than today. We live in a low-temp and low-carb time that is abnormal for the Earth.
Comment by Pierre Gosselin — 5 Feb 2008 @ 12:48 PM
I expect a schoolteacher on a limited budget to donate to causes that do good. It is not the amount; it is the intent of the work supported.
Big oil puts a good deal of money into good science, not all of which is published. That they would put any money, what-so-ever into any activity that was not transparent, and not intellectually honest is a stain on their virtue.
Ultimately, every organization needs a reputation for honesty. Ultimately, every stain speaks volumes at the wrong time.
will enable you to discover that billions are currently being invested in bioenergy, most of it in such a way that the world’s poorest will tend to benefit in the availablity of clean, inexpensive biofuels.
Re #253 Pierre Gosselin “Look at the last 500 milion years. 90% of this time the temperature and CO2 were much higher than today. We live in a low-temp and low-carb time that is abnormal for the Earth.”
And your point is? Current organisms and their global distributions are adapted to recent temperatures and concentrations. So are human cultures and economies. Both biological and cultural processes can potentially track climatic change, but the speed at which they can do so is limited, while the potential rate of change over the next few decades is very high.
Re Pierre Gosselin @ 253: “Look at the last 500 milion years. 90% of this time the temperature and CO2 were much higher than today. We live in a low-temp and low-carb time that is abnormal for the Earth.”
But it is entirely “normal” for our own physiology, and for that of the agricultural and animal species that we depend on, not to mention the fact that everything we call civilization developed and was constructed in the current “abnormal” period, as you put it.
Pierre, did you even bother to read a summary of what the IPCC did? The uncertainty enters mainly from inability to predict future anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
And your weak squib of: “Look at the last 500 milion years. 90% of this time the temperature and CO2 were much higher than today. We live in a low-temp and low-carb time that is abnormal for the Earth,” might be a comfort to any dinosaurs hiding away on a remote island somewhere, but one might point out that a complicated civilization supporting ~6-9 billion people was not around 500 million years ago. Or did you think “The Flintstones” was a historical documentary?
Thanks for the link. I will have a look. My concern with anything called “Bio-” is that it leads to such things as we have now, with the skyrocketing cost of corn becoming an immediate burden to people in places such as Mexico, where corn meal is a staple. By extrapolation, either the product or the farmland become more expensive as they are bought up by the biofuel industry. Since mankind’s energy needs will only grow, and since land is finite, this is also not a long term solution, and in the short term can wreak havoc on subsistence level humans.
We need to keep on thinking; we need much better ideas, and we need them as soon as possible.
The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.
You can take over governments, organisations and corporations, but you will never take over Nature. Limiting CO2 emissions will not amount to a hill of beans in the grand scheme of things.
We’ve always adapted to change, and this time we are technically equipped like never before to adapt far more rapidly and easily. The oceans will rise some day again, and the only thing we will be able to do will be to step back to higher ground. Limiting CO2, changing light bulbs and replacing the rainforests with bio-crop fields will not appease the climate gods. Eventually, the oceans will retreat, and we’ll have the opportunity to take back the beaches.
Structures should not be built on the shores if we know oceans are rising. That’s their own (the owners’) fault.
As for existing buildings, we have plenty of time to leave them.
The oceans will not rise like Al Gore has prophesized. They’ll be plenty of time to step back.
which is less enthusiastic about bioenergy prospects than BioPact.
However, the matter of land, etc., availability for growing enough food, animal feed and also biomass for bioenergy has been studied. The prospects are very good that there is enough, with about half of all energy needs coming from biomass (in about 50 years), the other half from wind, solar, etc. Getting there appears to be messier than some had hoped for…
Re Pierre Gosselin @ 260: “We’ve always adapted to change, and this time we are technically equipped like never before to adapt far more rapidly and easily.”
Pierre starts out begging for bets that sea level won’t rise at a rate pulled out of his hat, then tries to invoke 500 million years of paleoclimate to claim that the current warming is just an anomalous blip, and then hints that human activity can have no appreciable effect on climate either way, and finally, even if it’s getting warmer and sea level does rise we can adapt.
Typical bafflegab from the denialsphere. Nothing new to see here, folks, let’s move along.
You rarely get an Honorarium for giving a talk, then you aren’t very good. Having your travel and lodging costs is normal also. People do attend “real” conferences for gain, politial and financial. They go so that they get know and can get better positions at better universities. Now this conference is still a load of crap, but your “reasons” are for calling it that just as bad.
[Response: It depends very much on the field. Expenses are normal, honoraria happen mainly for out-of-field presentations, or private functions. No one gets honoraria for going to AGU/EGU/AMS meetings. And frankly, speaking at out-of-field conferences is not relevant for career progression. - gavin]
[[ 90% of this time the temperature and CO2 were much higher than today. We live in a low-temp and low-carb time that is abnormal for the Earth.]]
So what? We’re adapted for THIS climate, as is our agriculture and our economy. Who gives a damn what climate the dinosaurs enjoyed, unless you’re a palaeontologist? A warmer Earth might be nice, but the transition from here to there might involve death and property destruction on a grand scale. That’s usually considered a bad thing.
The point of this exercise is to ascertain the level of confidence in
your own science. Good science demands high levels of confidence.
A good bridge engineer will have no qualms about being the first to walk
across the bridge he himself designs and deems as secure”.
You have the load of the evidence backwards. We are walking across a bridge that nobody has declared safe, and many believe on good grounds to be unsafe. Your principle (known as the prudence principle, and in medicine attributed to Hippocrates) should be applied to causing climate change, not to mitigating it.
“My concern is that the AGW movement intends to make that situation much worse by taxing carbon in some way so as to make alternatives more cost-competitive. This is of course market interference, and will do nothing to improve the lives of the millions of poor to which we are all referring.”
Oh great. Any action at the government policy level is obviously “market interference”, and is therefore axiomatically bad. That’s what you want, isn’t it? The only “alternative plans” you’ll accept are those which involve doing nothing at the policy level?
Duly noted #238! Hey who can tell me who the scientist was who wrote that east Antarctic ice growth paper the sceptics cited as well you know. Iowa State? I can’t find him in any search I’ve concocted. Rutgers? Thanks!
Re # 263 JCH’s request to Pierre G.: “Please quote Gore’s exact words.”
If I might answer for Pierre G., Gore actually said (as Gavin pointed out in # 247), “If Greenland melted or broke up and slipped into the sea – or if half of Greenland and half of Antarctica melted or broke up and slipped into the sea, sea levels worldwide would increase by between 18 and 20 feet.”
Pierre G.: Note that he said “If…”, and no time frame was mentioned. What is misleading or false about Gore’s statement?
I have said that we must seriously analyze ways to remove carbon from
Let’s start with removing the stuff from smokestack exhaust gases. The atmosphere is the next step. Learn to walk before learning to run.
As I earlier argued, none of this geo-engineering stuff is on the critical path, and they either require technologies that would have to be developed anyway in connection with mitigation, or science that we are developing anyway in connection with merely even understanding the climate system. After that, actual execution would be trivial by comparison.
So, you have an interesting hobby, but not very relevant to the theme of this forum :-) I suppose I should commend you for taking that discussion elsewhere.
It’s becomming more and more obvious Pierre’s understanding is half baked or less. As jumped on by many readers..human’s weren’t around 500mil years ago..we have evolved gradually to live happily (for most of us) in this period..this ‘abnormal’ period! One other thing..climate change is happening faster than nearly every mammel can adapt to..we humans have evolved large brains especially the frontal cortex..to do with cognitive thinking, so we probaby will somehow adapt by hook or by crook to more extremes of weather that IS happening as we speak Pierre..but at what cost! Quality of living for one. 6 bil people jostling for a foothold on a shrinking land mass, food crops being climatically destroyed..etc..etc. You indicate that science will save us “we are technically equipped etc”)..er..techology wont be our knight in shining armour..rather techology will be a good courier boy!!! Our lifestyle will be what determines our survival! We have to learn to live sustainably on earth..we all have. Our biosphere is no thicker than a single coat of varnish on a basket ball..it is the thinnest film you can imagine..it does not take that much anthropenic abuse to change it forever. If our abuse of our atmosphere causes down the track conditions like you mention 500mil years ago..humanity would be all but wiped out..you can bet your bottom dollar/euro on that !!
Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 6 Feb 2008 @ 1:48 AM
You consistently avoid dealing directly with my concerns.
I have spoken with people who have deep knowledge of the coal industry. They say that there are myriad, expensive and as yet unresolved aspects to CCS. Your post did not indicate that you are aware of any of those; are you? If so, how did you decide that you were comfortable that those issues can be resolved? What made you so sure that these can be dealt with in a cost effective way in time to make a difference vis a vis critical tipping points?
What made you satisfied that this path alone is sufficient?
Did anybody watch the history on PBS of Grand Central Station? Sick of steam trains in the city, they set a deadline for electric trains. It was electric trains or no trains. Suddenly, there were electric trains. Were they a lot costlier than steam trains? I would bet they were a whole bunch more costly than steam trains. I think you will find that New Yorkers and people who worked in New York were more than willing to pay extra to get rid of the nastiness of steam locomotives.
People talk on and on about costs. A great deal of it is illusionary.
JCH says “People talk on and on about costs. A great deal of it is illusionary”
Have you seen the numbers? I have seen no cost analysis. I have read that we will be needing something like 40% reductions of CO2 emissions by 2050. How do we get there without significant cost and disruption?
Comparing that effort to electrifying rail lines is somewhat simplistic, although your point that people are willing to absorb some cost is true. I imagine there were combinations of taxes to pay for infrastructure and ticket increases to pay for equipment.
Still I say, that is not a comparison to what is being proposed, where the cost of basic energy will be artificially inflated.
Re #278 [Walt Bennett] “I have spoken with people who have deep knowledge of the coal industry. They say that there are myriad, expensive and as yet unresolved aspects to CCS… What made you satisfied that this path alone is sufficient?”
Walt, Martin didn’t say CCS alone would be sufficient – he just pointed out that if you want to remove CO2, it’s going to be a lot easier to remove it where it’s in high concentrations (e.g. power station emissions) than in low (the atmosphere). If we can’t get CCS working, the chances of any geoengineering approaches to removing CO2 from the atmosphere becoming effective are close to nil.
Walt, the thing about geoengineering is that there are no viable strategies at present. We may be able to develop them…but they will take time. In the mean time, we are faced with a system with positive feedbacks that could at any point render all our efforts moot. So, the only way to buy the time we need to develop strategies of coping and mitigation is to conserve now.
It is important to understand that not only do new techniques need to be developed, they need to be validated. At present, the only way to do that would be with modeling, and the models are not sufficiently mature that I would bet the farm on much of anything other than reducing ghgs.
Walt Bennett wrote: “They say that there are myriad, expensive and as yet unresolved aspects to CCS.”
There are also myriad, expensive and even more unresolved aspects to “geoengineering” — not only the scientific understanding that we don’t have, to even know how to do it effectively and safely; and not only the technological capabilities that we may not have, to implement any geoengineering scheme that science might eventually identify as possibly effective and safe; but also the political problems of getting “the world” to agree to going forward with any such scheme. Yet you seem to think that geoengineering is likely to be more successful than CSS (and other more readily available mitigation solutions including efficiency and rapidly growing alternative energy sources like solar and wind). That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
Walt Bennett wrote: “Have you seen the numbers? I have seen no cost analysis. I have read that we will be needing something like 40% reductions of CO2 emissions by 2050. How do we get there without significant cost and disruption?”
According to the Associated Press, a January 2008 United Nations report suggests that “global investments of $15 trillion to $20 trillion over the next 20 to 25 years may be required ‘to place the world on a markedly different and sustainable energy trajectory.’”
That is no more than the $1 trillion per year that the world’s governments currently spend on the military.
The money that goes into developing and deploying efficiency and clean renewable energy technologies is not just a “cost”. It’s an investment in the New Industrial Revolution. And there will be those who prosper from it, just as individuals and corporations have prospered from fossil fuels, or software, or aerospace. For example, China is poised to become a world leader in the manufacture of photovoltaics, a market that is growing exponentially all over the world.
The barriers to AGW mitigation and a clean, sustainable energy future are not technical or scientific. They are institutional and political. Those who are profiting enormously from the status quo — and their allies in government — don’t want transformative technologies to shift wealth from their industries (fossil fuels, conventional gasoline automobiles, etc) to the emerging, post-carbon new industrial sectors (eg. wind turbines, photovoltaics, biofuels, ultra-high efficiency and zero-net-energy buildings, electric cars, etc).
Walt Bennett (280) — Actually, just now the cost of energy is artifically deflated by treating the atmosphere and the oceans as carbon dioxide cess pools; externalities.
Reasonable proposals include using biomass to produce charcoal via pyrolysis or biocoal for hydrothermal carbonization. In either case sequester the result in abandoned mines or carbon landfills. One study suggests a cost of about US $70–80 per tonne. This cost ought to be met by a fossil carbon tax on those burning fossil carbon, in an ideal world.
To put these costs in perspective, South African coal spot prices are currently running US $ 100–120 per tonne. Looks to me that there is a definite market for biocoal…
Comment by David B. Benson — 6 Feb 2008 @ 12:54 PM
Interesting article on ExxonMobil:
Hmmmmm. 16 Million in funds “funneled to skeptical scientists, and 71 Billion in taxes. The US government is likely the biggest funder of AGW research, so I’ll go out on a very short limb and suggest that they are responsible for more mon for AGW than for skeptics by an order or two of magnitude.
I don’t know about that. Manhattan is an island; so is the earth.
Define disruption. We’re having a bit of disruption right now. Why is one disruption, the one we know is coming, any different than the one you fear is coming?
The point is, the arbitrariness of the electric train ultimatum allowed the market to adjust quickly to a new cost structure, as it usually does when it has a reliable environment. If old New York had Mayor GW insisting the switch to electric trains be voluntary, the unpredictable cost structure would have left them with no reliable environment in which to make rational infrastructure investment decisions.
People are critical of ExxMob. ExxMob actually went quite green during the last energy crisis. The government pulled the rug out from under those investments, and ExxMob lost a huge amount of money. One reason why that happened was market regulation did not, and still does not, force the cost of energy to be reflected in its price. Not much rational can result from that: like huge houses in faraway suburbs, gas guzzlers, hot tubs, illegal immigration, etc. So I do not agree it is an artificial inflation. What we’ve been experiencing is a decades long, artificial deflation.
If CO2 mitigation is law, then the market will have a reliable environment in which it can adjust costs smoothly. Arbitrary CO2 mitigation will force something that currently has an irrationally high cost, an illusion, to adjust downward. My favorite candidate is land and real estate, for which I think current prices are absolutely nuts. So the poor you are worried about will have to conserve energy, and I can think of no moral reason they should not (in Houston a doctor was on the news yesterday complaining about his 915 dollar natural gas bill – he’s pledging to conserve now), and they will also likely enjoy something which will suddenly be a little cheaper – maybe basic housing or soda pop or bottled water. They may also enjoy the benefit of new work in low skill, entry-level jobs that produce or rely upon alternative energy, or reduce fossil fuel usage – like picking cotton and gathering other forms of cellulose, or hoeing.
No market leaves money on the table. Because energy has been irrationally cheap for decades, others have moved in to absorb that cost savings into the prices of their products. I think you will find it hiding in real estate. If not there, it’s somewhere. And the market, if given a reliable way to make the adjustment, will drive it out. That is why the disruption will be far less than you fear. It will be a recession, and we are going have those no matter what. When it’s chewed through the rotten meat, there will be growth – as there always is.
CO2 mitigation will basically for the price of energy to reflect its cost. That’s actually good for the free market as it’s the rational price, and it will spawn rational economic decisions. Something the energy market hasn’t had since the days immediately after WW2.
Walt and David,
Also, what do you expect would happen to the price of oil if there weren’t an entire navy devoted to keeping the sea lanes open, as well as army and marines enforcing a degree of stability in energy producing areas. American military expenditures are effectively a subsidy that keeps fossil fuel prices artificially low.
CCS is a boondoggle which may never work. It is an assumption to say “it’s going to be a lot easier to remove it where it’s in high concentrations”. It may turn out to be easier and simpler to do it another way. What way is that? I don’t know. My point is, the effort may well turn out to be necessary, and any cautious approach to AGW solutions should consider that.
You make my point, in a way. You concur that CCS is immature, and you sense as I do that we may pass tipping points while waiting for it to become viable. You then express the view that “the only way to buy the time we need to develop strategies of coping and mitigation is to conserve now.”
And my question is, what if THAT strategy fails, as it is likely to?
And then we get into the pain and suffering we pass on to those who are least able to absorb the artificially increased cost.
Which brings us back around to, we need better ideas and we need them soon. I agree that this will take time, which is why it is so important to get busy. We probably have a decade or less to make a serious start in the direction of removing CO2 from the atmosphere, one way or another. I don’t believe we have as long as Dr. Hansen has said. What we know so far is that models lag nature when it comes to some positive feedbacks; not a reassuring sign for “how far off” the tipping points are.
SA wrote “There are also myriad, expensive and even more unresolved aspects to “geoengineering”” and “you seem to think that geoengineering is likely to be more successful than CSS (and other more readily available mitigation solutions including efficiency and rapidly growing alternative energy sources like solar and wind). That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”
I agree that there are many more unknowns than knowns about geoengineering at this point. I continue to state that we MUST learn how to engineer the climate; we are already affecting climate and we must do it better. I know where you stand on that. We simply disagree.
I believe that CCS (not CSS) and emissions reductions are equally immature and nowhere close to having been proved feasible as policy responses to AGW. I advocate hedging our bets by looking at actual ways to remove atmospheric CO2. I strongly believe it will come down to either we find a way to do it, or we simply waltz past the tipping points.
I have severe concerns regarding biomass as a replacement for fossil fuels, which I have already expressed. Perhaps in combination with other sources, it can be useful, and perhaps it can even be a “geoengineering” solution for actually removing CO2 from the atmosphere. I know that Dr. Hansen has touched on this.
This part of the discussion is worthy of further pursuit. Such ideas as this might be “win-win” if managed correctly. Lots of concerns about supply and demand, though, affecting other sectors.
“Oh great. Any action at the government policy level is obviously `market interference’, and is therefore axiomatically bad. That’s what you want, isn’t it? The only `alternative plans’ you’ll accept are those which involve doing nothing at the policy level?” — me
“You consistently avoid dealing directly with my concerns.” — Walt Bennett
As far as I can tell, the US Government generally funds *research* (in the normal sense of the word), and the answers come out the way they come out in the peer-reviewed literature, assuming they don’t get hacked by politcal hacks. At least, that’s the impression I’ve gotten from the many scientists I’ve talked to over the years. :-)
EM does fund research [as in Stanford's GCEP], but it is unclear that funding denialist thinktanks is actually funding *research* in any normal sense of the word.
Walt, don’t argue it with me, argue it with the authors of the 2005 IPCC Special Report on Carbon Capture and Storage. I take it you’ve read this, and have a critique you can point me to, or summarise here?
Walt, when you say “We need to get busy,” what is it specifically that you think needs to be done that we aren’t doing. People are looking at more energy efficient products and strategies. People are investigating carbon capture. People are trying to develop alternative energy technologies. People are trying to improve climate models so they can maybe validate any geoengineering ideas the are developed. What else would you suggest?
#15 cosmo: “If wonder if Borat could be encouraged to give a talk …”
A tad obvious. Maybe his distant relative Tarhub should give it a go …
On a different note, I got into an email exchange with one of the denial crew and it ended up with his view that he was suspicious of “socially motivated scientists” who move into politics. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If your professional opinion is that there is evidence for concerted mitigation, you are “socially motivated” or “political” if you try to do something about it. If you sit back and do nothing, it’s your fault when disaster befalls. (I’m curious as to how the “leave it to the free market” crew aren’t “socially motivated” and “moving into politics”, but never mind.)
So I’d say carry on as before and don’t worry too much about them.
David Benson wrote: “Nobody is expecting that all energy needs are going to be met just from bioenergy (although in principle this could be done).”
Humanity can obtain ample energy to sustain a prosperous and comfortable, technologically advanced, and optimally energy-efficient civilization indefinitely, from clean, renewable energy sources: solar, wind, geothermal, and sustainably produced agricultural biofuels.
For example, the January 2008 issue of Scientific American has an article entitled “A Solar Grand Plan”, whose authors argue that “a massive switch from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants to solar power plants could supply 69 percent of the US’s electricity and 35 percent of its total energy by 2050 … If wind, biomass and geothermal sources were also developed, renewable energy could provide 100 percent of the nation’s electricity and 90 percent of its energy by 2100.”
At the same time we can draw down the already dangerous levels of anthropogenic excess CO2 in the atmosphere through large-scale reforestation and organic agriculture.
Solutions are at hand. The obstacles are not scientific or technical, or for that matter economic — in fact the solutions will be the drivers of the New Industrial Revolution and sustainable, equitable economic growth in the 21st century. The obstacles are institutional and political. The primary obstacle is the entrenched wealth and power of the old dinosaur technologies who want to delay their inevitable demise, and keep the trillions of dollars in profits flowing, until the last barrel of oil and the last lump of coal has been burned.
re Peter Thompson (285), just for the record, the referenced article is referring to corporate income taxes only. If you look at all taxes, incl. sales, property, excise, etc, ExMob paid over $100B in 2006. And no escrow for Hillary’s plan to “get those profits” through some sort of added tax, I presume.
Philip Machanick (294), a detail nit clarification that might reflect a big difference. I, too, am nervous about “socially motivated scientists” that get into the political arena. But the big word there is “socially” which implies that the scientist has other cultural agendas hiding in his/her science. I, even as a skeptic, have no nervousness in the least, and have suggested, with “science motivated scientists”, to coin a phrase, getting politically involved because they are doing what they must to get some scientific-based action, stemming from their research — even if I disagree with some of it.
I don’t know if your correspondent was making this distinction. If not, you’re probably right in your assessment.
This conference is already getting a fair amount of play on discussion groups where AGW/CC is debated (we may be laymen, but we know how to sweep the web, both sides, for the cherry-picks), and I think it’s safe to assume that the press is on to it as well. The global warming is a cat fight supreme, and the press loves to cover that sort of thing.
So make that day a cat fight. Be there. That’s what advocates do. You climate scientists might not want to be advocates, but the times, and this debate in particular, call for it, nothing to be done about it but participate, or make sure someone representing your viewpoint is there participating. Be preemptive, call press conferences, print handouts, canvas. Make sure it’s written about in the papers, get on TV. Have some fun with it, but make sure the very serious message of climate rationality is heard. I understand the “I won’t ratify that with a response” perspective, but you must be advocates, and a vigorous advocate is an opportunist. This conference is an opportunity. Please, debunk the debunkers.
Suggested talking point: one problem with this whole AGW/CC debate is that only members of the human species get to take part in it. Talk to the OTHER animals on the planet! I’ve been very impressed by some of the Parmesan stuff on habitat shift, wildlife species’ response to observed climate change, etc., and I’m sure there’s other solid studies supporting the AGW premise. People need to see this stuff and be informed as to it’s connection to observed change, and how nothing else explains it all so well – Occum’s Razor! – as anthropogenic global warming and climate change.
Pretending that emissions reduction are a certifiable solution to AGW is every bit as fanciful as pretending that there is no problem in the first place.
Emissions reductions may or may not be sufficient, but are you arguing that it is not necessary? And environmental engineering approaches (apart from CCS) are strictly theoretical; what encourages you to think their development of will not be subject to the same political inertia that has hampered R&D in renewable energy?
Think it through: without viable, affordable alternatives, what we are talking about is slowing down economies. Even if some nations agree to do so, others will not. Those who do will suffer the consequences, which will result in lower standards of living and hellishly expensive energy. Yum, what a recipe.
There is a big difference between “slowing down economies” and “lower standards of living”. To use a crude example, both the fine for running an oil tanker aground and causing a large slick, and the payments to salvage and remediation companies to sort it out, both contribute to GDP, because the money to pay both has got to come from somewhere and that cost is eventually passed to the consumer. Meanwhile an unemployed parent is doing a fantastic job raising his children and maybe helps look after others’ children on an informal basis, performing an useful service to the community. Yet the first makes the economy grow; the second doesn’t.
Similarly, the large commercial farmer making use of cheap synthetic fertilisers, with his big contract with the supermarket, boosts the economy; a bunch of keen allotment growers using permaculture techniques, swapping or bartering their produce, does not. But the first causes eutrophication of local watercourses as a result of phosphate run-off, and his topsoil is eroding fast because little organic matter is going back into it. The latter, on the other hand, get exercise, fresh air, and the pleasure of growing your own and making a load of friends.
OK, it’s a bit simplistic, but really, economic growth is far from everything. I’d prefer controlled, steady economic contraction now as we work out less resource-intensive, more localised ways of living to the prospect of an economic (and political) implosion when a combination of environmental stresses and resource depletion suddenly comes to a head, paralysing our long food and energy distribution chains in a matter of weeks.
Rod B., Yes there are social activist scientists–both on the right and on the left. Science on the other hand is politically neutral, because the differing politics of the individuals tends to cancel out. Moreover, the surest way to diminish your influence as a scientist is to be perceived to have “an agenda”. It doesn’t matter whether that agenda is a political philosophy, a commercial interest, nepotism or a pet theory. “Well, we know he has an agenda,” is one of the quickest ways to dismiss a rival’s argument, and if there is a grain of truth to it, you’re dead as a scientist. It’s fine to have a political perspective in your private life, but if it creeps into your scientific perspective, it is a liability.
My observation is that the leftward bias in climate discussions arises not from any bias of the scientists or the science, but rather from the fact that conservatives have been absent from discussions about how to handle the issue. In general, those of a conservative bent have wasted a lot of time and energy attacking solid science that they often do not understand rather than trying to come up with solutions that won’t knock the economy off the rails. This has worked out very well for Al Gore, but it probably isn’t the best use of their talents, or the best way to guard their interests.
I don’t want to see contraction, steady or otherwise! There’s no reason we can’t maintain GDP, and employment, but produce less carbon dioxide along with it; e.g. by a switch from goods to services. It might well be that many Americans could get by with lower income, but selling that kind of thing to them would take a major change in the culture, and is just not in the cards for the time scale we’re dealing with. And no one wants their income reduced by being laid off, and that’s what has happened for the past 200 years when economies contracted.
I will add that the U.S.A. is blessed with the potential for ample solar and wind power. Other countries will need to use largely bioenergy solutions. This is thought to be possible and in such a way that everyone can have enough energy, but none to waste.
Ray (301), I agree (and you said it better than I). One clarification: I certaintly don’t have any problem with scientists who are making scientific arguments in the political/societal arena also having other beliefs or political leanings, and espousing those; so long as they don’t mix up the two.
I think that we are seeing new talking points from the great denialist mothership: Concede that the climate might be changing, but assert that nothing can be done about it, and that even trying will bring about massive economic contraction. I think this is an act of desperation that will fail–Americans are technophiles at heart. Indeed, the advance of technology that will be needed to achieve meaningful reductions in CO2 could actually be a positive boon to the global economy. We can win America over by promising cool new toys.
280. A cost of BAU can be defined in terms of the number of nuclear reactors submerged by the rising sea level. The cost to the Chernobyl economy of the Cernobyl disaster was 100% of the Chernobyl economy. The cost of BAU is probably 100% of the world economy … well before 2100. Those who are sceptical of the necessity of emergency mitigation should give a clear explanation of how they propose to deal with burial-at-sea of the nuclear industry and the reduction in habitability of the planet. Mitigation makes sense to me!
The expansion of the world and the US economies is based on increasing use of cheap fossil fuels. Even if we froze CO2 production at today’s levels we would have a recession. Of course there are other sources of energy but they are far too small to make up for the growth in fossil fuel combustion.
There are a set of videos here which explains the problem of growth. (Click on “This video is a response to …” to see the following episodes.) It is mainly addressing the problem of Peak Oil but it is relevant to what will happen if we stop consuming oil before Peak Oil is reached, which controlling global warming implies.
It is dishonest to claim that the economic growth that has happened since the Industrial Revolution can be maintained without the continued destruction of the world’s store of fossil fuels.
Ray, I think the opposite could end up being true. The belief and reliance upon new toys could be an achilles heel. Reading the posts on RC is sort of like reading Popular Mechanics in the 1950s. Lots of technology fairy tales are perhaps being told.
All I know, every field I ever farmed was once farmed with animal and human power, and the yields, once you factor in the type of seeds they used and the absence of modern fertilizers and pesticides, were not that much less. They produced astonishing surpluses, and exported food all over the world – and burned not one drop of gasoline or diesel. And that is no fairy tale. We already know how to live without burning huge amounts of fossil fuel. The companies that are now ExxonMobil were global energy companies before use of the automobile became prevalent. They shipped their products all over the world in oil tankers that were powered by sails, and their executives and managers grew filthy rich.
As JCH implies, we are going to have to go back to farming with horse and human power, because there will be no oil left. But worse, the yields will drop. In the 1960 there was a Green Revolution when it was found that fertilisers from oil and irrigation powered by oil could double the yield. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Revolution Without that oil, Asian countries such as India, will find that their production of food is halved and famine will return.
Of course without oil to produce fertilisers and power irrigation food prices in the US will also soar. But it will not just be rural society that will be disrupted. Urban society is based on cheap oil, with large hypermarkets supplied by oil fueled trucks. The shoppers all travel many miles in their autos to reach the hypermarkets. When oil is not available they will have to walk from their homes to those shops across large empty parking lots. And the same problem will apply to their to their jobs where, rather than travel on the freeways, a new system of public transit will have to be created. The homes people have now will have to be moved, the supermarkets broken up into small evenly spread shops, and the offices and factories relocated.
This applies whether we are reducing the oil counsumption, because we want to kick the habit to which we have become addicted, or because we wish to avoid the dangers of global warming, or because we have just plain run out of oil. Whichever it is, we really have to face up to the fact that we have spent our inheritance of fossil fuels, and we and our children are doomed to poverty :-(
Alastair and JCH, It is simply a fallacy to state that because prosperity in the past century relied on cheap fossil fuels, that prosperity will end if we do not. Economies change, and the engine of change is human ingenuity, not raw materials. Who would have guessed that one of the most important revolutions of the latter half of the 20th century (electronics) would be derived from sand…or that one of the next century’s would rely on soot (source of carbon nanotubes). The key to success is admitting the problem exists, quantifying and bounding the risks and getting the smart poeple working to solve it.
Does this mean I think we’re in the clear. No. I think we are in the soup, not because human ingenuity is up to the task, but rather because human stupidity and complacency are dedicating themselves to thwarting ingenuity.
Alastair, Although the end result might be the same, presumably human stupidity and complacency might be remediable, and since this should be a constant struggle in any case, we lose nothing by trying. Likewise, increasing reliance on green energy technologies, increasing conservation–and yes JCH increased reliance on human power–are all things we should be doing anyway to improve our environment and national security. They also buy time for human ingenuity to develop solutions. We have no guarantee of success. Success is never guaranteed in any endeavor that is worthwhile. But to abandon civilization as a lost cause buys us nothing.
This is what’s behind Heartland’s flurry of vaguely worded press releases — all with language associating desmogblog with ‘money laundering’ and a “20 year sentence” — carefully not mentioning that Heartland opposed the language in the law for years, or that it was slipped into an unrelated conference committee markup last October, or that it’s being used to arrest citizens of other countries for businesses legal in the rest of the world.
I can’t tell you what it’s about, the spam filter won’t allow discussion of this issue at all.
Rod, dear, did you even read the editorial? Is it the Globe and Mail you consider prejudiced? Or the libertarian notion that you should be able to do [not allowed to be typed] if you want to in the US?
The editorial begins:
“The U.S. crackdown on [something], a crusade that seems to involve arresting law-abiding citizens of other countries and threatening them with long prison terms, continues to claim new victims. The latest are Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebvre, two Canadian businessmen …”
Did you get as far as that and think about what the actual law is and the actual offense is and why Heartland isn’t telling you what happened here?
Or why Heartland changed from being opposed to this for years, to supporting it, now that it’s been used to arrest someone whose politics they want suppressed?
I wouldn’t jump on Patrick Micheal’s Km/miles confusion (I was brief and may have appeared terse), it’s an easy mistake to make. Indeed in restrospect the graph I expressed doubts about at Cryosphere Today is OK – I was posting quickly at lunch.
I occasionally amuse myself answering the questions I can here and by doing “drive-bys” elsewhere. But my position now on the whole is to leave the ongoing physical process to answer the doubters. I’ve wasted enough of my life on so-called sceptics.
[[The expansion of the world and the US economies is based on increasing use of cheap fossil fuels. Even if we froze CO2 production at today’s levels we would have a recession.]]
Sorry, I don’t agree. We can switch power sources. There’s no reason economic growth can’t continue using renewable resources. In the long run I would like to see employment decoupled from economic growth, or growth decoupled from physical production. I think the latter is probably much easier to achieve.
[[And you know, it’s not like getting more exercise is a bad thing.]]
In case you’ve never done it, farm labor on a non-tractor farm is a backbreaking, dawn-to-dusk effort which shortens lifespans and stops farm laborers from having much of a life. We don’t need to see a return to that.
Try weeding or planting a garden for one hour. Then imagine doing it for fourteen hours, but walking longer distances, and carrying heavy packs of seeds, fertilizer, or tools.
Rod, did you read the quote from the Globe and Mail editorial? (The quote I linked to is the only free source I know online now.)
Heartland is blatting out “money laundering” while carefully never citing the law used, their own arguments against such laws in the past, and the fact that the US has already lost international arbitration over the law in the WTO. Not to mention omitting all libertarian arguments made against the law.
Seriously, even if you agree with the software text filter here that [that which cannot be typed] is wrong in the USA, while respectable and legal in the rest of the world, the way Heartland is spinning this is shameful.
Here’s the principle Heartland offends, even assuming Heartland considers the guy’s a scoundrel for funding DeSmogBlog with his money and likes having him locked up for 20 years for violating this law against [cannot be typed here]:
“The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.” – H L Mencken
“In case you’ve never done it, farm labor on a non-tractor farm is a backbreaking, dawn-to-dusk effort which shortens lifespans and stops farm laborers from having much of a life. We don’t need to see a return to that. …”
My Great Grandfathers never walked behind a plow. They had modern farm equipment that was pulled by their prized mule teams, and most of their machinery had seats. One died at 96 and the other at 89.
I think what you are saying is very incorrect. I doubt the Amish are brow beaten by their personal trainers about getting off their couches to do some exercises, and I rather doubt their life expectancy, outside of genetic diseases that are a function of their unique population characteristics, is much different than the average American.
Suggesting hard work shortens life spans is preposterous. Sedentary lifestyles are another matter.
Ray Ladbury (327) — But not horses, donkeys, burros and mules, AFAIK. Different digestive tract.
Comment by David B. Benson — 12 Feb 2008 @ 1:34 PM
Ray – cattle produce methane and burp it – whole big plumes of the stuff. It’s a unique aspect of their digestive process. Horses and mules have a very different digestive system, and produce materially less.
Do you believe mules (by far he most versatile draft animals), in numbers sufficient to do the same work, would produce more GHGs than the roughly 3.5 billion gallons of diesel fuel that runs through America’s tractors and other field machinery each year? You would also have to add up the GHGs expended to create the raw materials and manufacture those tractors. Side with Rush if you want, my bet is with the Missouri mule – they’re only half an ass whereas Rush is 100% pure.
The loss of oil wouldn’t be the end of the world, even if you couldn’t compensate to keep your cars. If necessary, we can simply run agriculture the way it was run back in the late 19th century in the Midwest, and ship the produce and grain via railroads like back then (I’m not holding out hope for the Great Plains after watching “Six Degrees”). There will be less grain and produce, but then, we have a lot of potential slack if necessary – just stop feeding so much of it to the livestock industry.
As for the main post, this is definitely starting to ape what is happening with the creationists. Parallel faux-conferences are especially a strong warning sign.
Just to be historically correct, it’s beyond the 19th Century. Animal power remained an important aspect of agricultural production right up until the end of WW2. The President of the United States was a proficient teamster. So were a lot of the farm boys who became B-29 pilots.
In general, mules and horses don’t do well in the tropics. Most agricultural work is done by cattle or related beasts, if it is not done by human hands. This is true in rural China, too. I remember when I was in the Peace Corps in Africa, the idea of using draft animals was still considered innovative in West Africa. All I’m saying is, that’s a lot of methane, especially if we’re talking about feeding 9 billion people + their draft animals.
Even in the US, Old Amish still do without tractors. However, I think it takes approximately an acre of pasture to feed a horse, so horses are not likely easy replacements in big mid-West farms for 400HP combines.
Worldwide, a lot of poor farmers will *never* have diesel tractors… although I have hopes for electric tractors, once the volumes get up, and they ought to be a lot easier to support and maintain at the ends of long supply chains.
The news tosses a good deal of water on the biofuel fire. Unfortunately, the reports are subscription only and while there were a number of pirated copies flowing in email due to the electronic publication of the news last week, the perfectly awful figures still deserve some reporting. For example, the New York Times story on the reports ignored ugly figures like the percentage losses in feed crops contrasted with increases in emission, perhaps figuring correctly that the average reader is too stupid and easily bored to tolerate them. Since the Times has been a cheerleader for miracle alternative energy solutions, the reports were surely hard for it to swallow. One could imagine the nervous gulping in the paper’s second sentence. It noted that ethanol mania, therein called the “benefits of biofuels,” had come under attack and that the articles in the magazine would “add to the controversy.”
Yeah. Report “the controversy” – that’s the spin. We still got those ADM ads scheduled?
“Even in the US, Old Amish still do without tractors. However, I think it takes approximately an acre of pasture to feed a horse, so horses are not likely easy replacements in big mid-West farms for 400HP combines. …”
Every single field in my home state was/could have been worked by horse or mule teams. There are few new fields. Through trial and error, the early settlers quickly determined what land was good for crops and what land was more suitable for pasture. Minnesota, as a for instance, is not bigger than it was when it was settled. That I know of, it has few new acres. The entire state is more than capable of maintaining draft animals sufficient to raise statewide crops and to deliver them to the railroads. We know this because they already did it – in the 20th Century.
Draught animals [yes, of course; I grew up on a farm, and I have detailed records from 1850-1900, so I have a pretty good idea what they were doing.]
In 1900, 40% of the US population were farmers, compared to ~2% now. Farmers have traditionally had large families to get the work done. Amish have large average family size (~7 kids).
JCH: assuming nothing but animal power, what’s your model for the percentage of the US population that needs to return to farming? Do you have a model in mind for resizing the farms to match animal-only sizes? [In MN, average size in 1900 was about 170 acres, now it's 340, about the same as Iowa. Kansas is 700+ acres, Nebraska is over 900 acres.]
In today’s TNYT (The New York Times), on page A20 is a quarter-page advert sponsored by the Heartland Institute announcing their forthcoming ‘conference’. The adevert states “Can 19,000 scientists be wrong about global warming? 19,000 scientists have signed a petition saying global warming is probably natural and not a crisis.”
The advert contains some of the names: many list no degree, several are M.D.’s, not scientists (Disclosure: two of my children are practicing medicine); I vetted the first on the list, a Robert K. Adair. It appears he is a retired professor of physics (from Yale), who did particle physics. On the web he seems most well-known for the physics of baseball.
So yes, Heartland Institute, 19,000 ‘scientists’ can be wrong. Seriously wrong; possibly deadly wrong for their grandchildren.
Comment by David B. Benson — 14 Feb 2008 @ 4:40 PM
David Benson, Gee, if MDs can start calling themselves scientists, can I start practicing medicine?
Any physicist who has ever taught premeds learned to dread that class. Don’t give a damn about what they learn, only the grade. I’ve had doctors actually look at my profession and say, “Physics, huh? Boy I never could get the hang of that…” On the other hand, there are doctors–usually among the best–who have a good feel for the scientific method. It is safe to assume those on the Heartland’s list are not among them. One of the first things you learn in science is don’t take a strong position on a subject you don’t understand.
Re #339 John Mashey “Do you have a model in mind for resizing the farms to match animal-only sizes?”
Interestingly, Cuba has done exactly this since the collapse of the USSR led to drastic oil shortages: broken up a lot of the big state farms, and usufructed the land to families and cooperatives (i.e., they don’t pay rent and I think have reasonable security of tenure, but don’t legally own and so can’t sell the land). Much of the fruit and veg is grown on small, previously waste plots in cities and suburbs. Very little synthetic fertiliser or pesticide is used. The number of farmers has risen sharply, and farming is now among the best-paid occupations (better than medicine for example). They use oxen for most of the work formerly done by tractors. (Why not horses or mules? I don’t know.)
Rod, you’ll notice that I did in fact say that most good doctors have a good understanding of the scientific method. The majority do not.
Another joke: What do you call the med student who graduates at the bottom of his class? Doctor.
Today’s NY Times has a quarter page ad (pg. A18) for the 2008 International Conference On Climate Change on March 2-4 in NYC, by the Heartland Institute, which blares “Can 19,000 scientists be wrong about global warming?” Bet your arse they can! Especially if there are a vast majority who are not climate scientists, which I strongly suspect.
The ad includes the statement that ‘The world’s largest gathering of global warming “skeptics” will take place in New York City ……’. Well it might be that, but how many of these skeptics will know what in blazes they’re talking about? Many of them may just as well have gotten their science degree from K-Mart as far as climate science is concerned. Expect a lot of smoke and mirrors talk with a number Orwellian phrases such as ‘sound science’ sprinkled in.
The latest issue of the Proceedings of the (U.S.) National Academies of Sciences has an interesting article about how people respond to a collective risk when personal sacrifice is required:
The collective-risk social dilemma and the prevention of simulated dangerous climate change.
Milinski,M. et al, PNAS February 19, 2008, vol. 105, no. 7, 2291-2294
Will a group of people reach a collective target through individual contributions when everyone suffers individually if the target is missed? This “collective-risk social dilemma” exists in various social scenarios, the globally most challenging one being the prevention of dangerous climate change. Reaching the collective target requires individual sacrifice, with benefits to all but no guarantee that others will also contribute. It even seems tempting to contribute less and save money to induce others to contribute more, hence the dilemma and the risk of failure. Here, we introduce the collective-risk social dilemma and simulate it in a controlled experiment: Will a group of people reach a fixed target sum through successive monetary contributions, when they know they will lose all their remaining money with a certain probability if they fail to reach the target sum? We find that, under high risk of simulated dangerous climate change, half of the groups succeed in reaching the target sum, whereas the others only marginally fail. When the risk of loss is only as high as the necessary average investment or even lower, the groups generally fail to reach the target sum. We conclude that one possible strategy to relieve the collective-risk dilemma in high-risk situations is to convince people that failure to invest enough is very likely to cause grave financial loss to the individual. Our analysis describes the social window humankind has to prevent dangerous climate change.
The WSJ pillories RealClimate in http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120390556121489679.html
while honoring B. Lomborg, P. Michaels and W. Soon.
“The authors of the blog Real Climate don’t engage the issues raised by the conference but instead attack it as stuffed with shills. When Heartland experts tried to respond to those charges, they were blacklisted from the comments section of the Real Climate Web site.”
Will a group of climate scientists do a technical analysis of the conference and publish the review? Perhaps such a review should be followed with a book written in simpler language that voters and policy makers can understand.
[Response: Standard WSJ opinion page fare. Taylor responded to the piece and his response was replied to. He made one further comment which was personally directed at me and which I declined to post. No other comment was ever received and no blacklisting was done. I agree with your premise though, the evidence of 'genuine contributions' will likely be thin on the ground. - gavin]
[Response: John Fund is a scoundrel and a knowing purveyor of disinformation. Nice to see that we've gotten under his skin enough that he had to call us out by name. I guess we're doing something right! -mike]
Today’s TNYT, on page A11, has an almost-full page ad by The Heartland Institute for their get-together next week. It is now subtitled “Global Warming: Truth or Swindle”, making it a little hard to understand why Dr. Yuri A. Izrael is willing to be a speaker.
Oh well, just thought this big advert ought to be mentioned here.
Comment by David B. Benson — 27 Feb 2008 @ 4:50 PM
The ad referred to above in today’s(2/27) NYTimes includes a statement in bold “This event proves there is no scientific consensus on the causes or likely consequences of global warming.”
No it doesn’t. Holding an event on any hypothesis doesn’t constitute proof of it’s truthfulness. The only thing it proves is that those who wrote and or approved of this wording have no understanding of what constitutes a scientific proof, or(heaven forbid) are wilfully distorting what does.
It’s surprising that those in attendance who are sincere among skeptics, tolerate this kind of nonsense.
I am a bit confused about the difference in how the two proxies correlate with storm frequency. You write:
…the coral proxies show a positive correlation to wind shear over the MDR, but a negative correlation north of it. …The sediment proxy shows a positive correlation to wind shear over the MDR and no correlation north of it.
So how do we get from this to the statement that the two proxies are corrleated to wind shear in opposite directions? If both of them are positively correlated to wind shear over the MDR, and outside of the MDR one is negatively correlated and the other uncorrelated, I fail to see the difference in the direction of the relationship. Help me out here! (And yes, I have studied statistics). What am I missing?
[Response: This comment was posted to the wrong thread--it has been relocated (w/ a response) in the comment thread for this post]
Comment by Robert Bauserman — 28 Feb 2008 @ 1:49 PM
A near insignificant nit, Lawerence. While I’m not in the position of defending Heartland, they said there was no proof of a consensus, not AGW. Though it was worded a bit oddly.
The claim of “disproving” the consensus is even more demonstrably false that any claim they make about anthropogenic climate change. By any measure–number of experts, number of publications, number of citations–the consensus that humans are causing the current warming epoch is overwhelming.
Gavin wrote in #25: “Actually, I don’t think it will make any mainstream news. They have moved on from this kind of rubbish. Expect lots of blog activity demanding ‘debate’ though… ”
The science press certainly has moved on, but I think the “scholarships” (including a free weekend stay in a luxury Manhattan hotel) being offered to elected officials may be an attempt to get the conference covered by the mainstream press. We’ll see how many they get and how the coverage goes.
I don’t know, Don.I’m well aware that the purpose of the meeting is not to dispute global warming, but to make the media aware that many scientists don’t support the anthropogenic part,ergo CO2 and other GHG reductions aren’t necessary.
If Heartland thinks that there is no proof of a consensus, they ought to check out this essay in “Science” magazine from several years ago. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686
A consensus has existed for a number of years.As the author states toward the end of her article:
“Many details about climate interactions are not well understood, and there are ample grounds for continued research to provide a better basis for understanding climate dynamics. The question of what to do about climate change is also still open. But there is a scientific consensus on the reality of anthropogenic climate change. Climate scientists have repeatedly tried to make this clear. It is time for the rest of us to listen.
Comment by Lawrence Brown — 29 Feb 2008 @ 11:39 AM
“(including a free weekend stay in a luxury Manhattan hotel) being offered to elected officials…” — Heartland
Today’s topic is a vital alert that I hope will percolate through channels to every officeholder and/or sincere civil servant, during an era of political transition.
Indeed, it may also be pertinent to some members of the Republican establishment. For we are about to discuss a danger and an opportunity that cross party lines. We’ll be dealing with traits like honor and pragmatism, cynicism and patriotism, cynical self-protection… and courage.
While negotiating the ethical and political minefield that is Washington, always remain wary of a particular worst-case scenario… one that can systematically undermine even the most well-meaning politicians.
Rod, I said that it is easier to demostrate that a claim of “no consensus” is false than to demonstrate the falsity of a claim that the climate isn’t changing. The former involves only counting–# of experts, # of articles, # of citations… Choose your metric. The contrarians lose.
Ray, you make a valid point. But then it all depends on how the subjective “consensus” is defined.
Rod, no, not strongly. Not if you stick to actual professionals and peer reviewed work, rather than Google search results or such. I’ll leave you to do your own research on this, as you don’t seem to like me rubbing it in :-)
Rod, there is nothing subjective about any of the metrics I have suggested–all that is required is a count. The only subjectivity is what percentage do you require before you define the agreement as consensus. If 90%, we’re there. If 99%, we’re there. We might have trouble at the 99.5% level, but then so would relativity, quantum mechanics and evolution–possibly even the Copernican Solar System.. Consensus does not mean universal agreement. It is the threshold for scientific truth precisely because some people in any field are contrarians, and will disagree just to disagree (e.g. Lindzen).
Martin and Ray, yes, that’s all probably accurate. Though it still requires what (one of the things) I’ve been fussing about. That is to simply define all of those not in agreement and not part of the consensus away as being unworthy for some reason or another — some maybe valid, some requiring some deep digging to find enough unworthiness. All of the 20, or 150, or 1598, or 19,000 (pick your list) just don’t make the grade and are declared, in Al Gore’s words e.g., “simply outliers” — except the one or two token guys that are held up to show objectivity. Ergo 99.9+% consensus.
But, alas. Our different preceptions are destined to remain as such…..
BTW, I would agree with the need for you protagonists to press that point in the battle for the hearts and minds in the real world, even if it were not 100% accurate (for who can tell that, really). If you were to admit, say for discussion, that the “consensus” was 74%, the powers that are — especially those leaning the other way, would pounce all over you and quickly turn that 26% into Mt. Everest. Scientists who don’t exploit all uncertainty to the fullest will not win, even if they are completely accurate — until of course when it would be too late (this all having been discussed on another RC thread). Which, BTW #2, is what is lacking in most of your criticism of Lindzer, et al.
Rod, you are missing the point. It doesn’t matter how many scientists agree. Rather, it matters what the evidence says. Even if 99.9% of scientists start off with one position, they will have to change if the evidence does not back them. Likewise, the theory that best explains the evidence will be the one that does the best job of generating new hypotheses and fertile areas of study–leading to publications, citations in the literature, and eventually converts. The failure of the contrarians to publish and to have what few publications they do have cited in future work is the most eloquent testimony to the sterility of their ideas and approach. That is what we mean by consensus–not an arbitrary decision of “who” is worthy.
Look, Rod, scientists want to succeed, and that means publishing. Theories that lead to publications–i.e. progress in understanding–get adopted. Those that do not advance understanding get left behind. Once pretty much everyone agrees a particular approach is a dead end, you have consensus.
Climate change skeptics met in New York over the weekend. All the big names were there, Singer, Michaels, etc. Revkin reports in the NY Times that “The meeting was largely framed around science, but after the luncheon, when an organizer made an announcement asking all of the scientists in the large hall to move to the front for a group picture, 19 men did so.” That’s only 19, out of several hundred people. The rest were presumably “some of the wealthiest and most powerful political actors in the nation”, including “anti regulatory campaigners and Congressional staff members”. They are misusing the language and authority of science to promote an anti-regulatory political agenda. Isn’t this glaringly obvious at this point?
Singer is quoted as saying he “doesn’t do predictions”. No wonder. After being on the wrong side of tobacco, CFC, ozone, and global warming debates, I’d be wary of making more predictions also.
Hank, Good point. They probably wouldn not want their picture taken–precisely why we should have done so. As to educating the power brokers, I’m afraid that they only respond to two stimuli–amassing more power or eradicating threats to the power they have.
Having spent a lot of time in Africa, I can say that there are always folks who will seek to profit from disaster, rather than avoiding it or mitigating it. When you tell such people that sea levels will rise, all they can think about is buying up all the high ground.
I am still curious as to why Lindzen (apparently) was not there. Anyone know?
Also, I have a thought about perhaps why only nineteen “scientists” came forward for the group photo. They probably realized this photo would be used in ads, literature and on the web to promote the conference and its aims. Many who might attend would not want to be identified with that. So we can at least conclude that no more than nineteen wanted to be publicly identified with the conference. Kind of pathetic.
Re #371: (Ron Taylor) “So we can at least conclude that no more than nineteen wanted to be publicly identified with the conference. Kind of pathetic.”
Kind of? Have the “conference” organisers released the photo? If so, it should be posted, appropriately labelled, on every possible noticeboard and website! Alongside a photo from the largest real climate change conference, of course.
Come to think of it, if they haven’t released and don’t release it, we could post the latter photo alongside a blank space, appropriately labelled!
Dennis Avery, US
(director of the Center for Global Food Issues, Hudson Institute)
Franco Battaglia, Italy
(professor of environmental chemistry at the University of Modena)
Robert Carter, Australia
(“Professor Carter, whose background is in marine geology, appears to have little, if any, standing in the Australian climate science community;” well known climate change skeptic)
Richard Courtney, UK
(Technical Editor for CoalTrans International (journal of the international coal trading industry), was a Senior Material Scientist of the National Coal Board and a Science and Technology spokesman of the British Association of Colliery Management)
Joseph d’Aleo, US
(retired meteorologist & well known climate change skeptic)
Fred Goldberg, Sweden
(associate professor at the Royal School of Technology in Stockholm)
Vincent Gray, New Zealand
(founding member New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, which has the stated aim of “refuting what it believes are unfounded claims about anthropogenic (man-made) global warming.”)
Klaus Heiss, Austria
(economist, Science & Environmental Policy Project)
Craig Idso, US
(founder and chairman of the board of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, funded by Western Fuels and Exxon Mobil)
Zbigniew Jaworowski, Poland
(professor at the Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection in Warsaw & global warming skeptic)
Olavi Karner, Estonia
Madhav Khandekar, Canada
(retired Environment Canada meteorologist, on the scientific advisory board of Friends of Science, published in Energy & Environment)
William Kininmonth, Australia
(past head of head of Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology’s National Climate Centre, known Australian climate change skeptic; listed as “Director of the Australasian Climate Research Institute,” but the Institute is listed as simply a trading name for “Kininmonth, William Robert”, and is based at his private residence)
Hans Labohm, Netherlands
(economist, author of Man-Made Global Warming: Uravelling a Dogma)
Christopher Monckton, UK
(we all know his lardship; connected with the Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI), formerly the Frontiers of Freedom’s Center for Science and Public Policy, which promotes the views of global warming skeptics)
Lubos Motl, Czech Republic
(theoretical physicist who works on string theory and conceptual problems of quantum gravity)
Tom Segalstadt, Norway
(head of the Geological Museum within the Natural History Museum of the University of Oslo, IPCC reviewer)
S. Fred Singer, US
(Whom we also all know; former space scientist and government scientific administrator, runs the Science and Environmental Policy Project and has been connected with numerous conservative think tanks, including Cato, American Enterprise Institute, and of course, the tobacco industry)
Dick Thoenes, Netherlands
(emeritus professor of chemical engineering, Eindhoven University of Technology, co-author of Man-Made Global Warming: Uravelling a Dogma)
Anton Uriarte, Spain
(professor of Physical Geography at the University of the Basque Country)
Gerd Weber, Germany
(works for the ‘Gesamtverband des Deutschen Steinkohlenbergbaus’ (Association of German coal producers))
“And who are you that we should care one whit about your opinion?”
Sounds like something has gotten under their skin just a wee bit.
Or maybe they were underwhelmed with the press and public exposure that they got.
Revkin’s Dot Earth blog observation (link above in 373) that Heartland’s skeptic and denial circus couldn’t agree even among themselves is all too typical of groups of people who are by constitution contrarians.
Jim Eager pointed out: “Revkin’s Dot Earth blog observation (link above in 373) that Heartland’s skeptic and denial circus couldn’t agree even among themselves is all too typical of groups of people who are by constitution contrarians.”
It is also typical of pseudoscience–when you abandon evidence as your guide, you are bound to stumble down blind alleys in the resulting darkness.
I have been an expert witness in the field of civil engineering a number of times, and seen many other expert witnesses testify as well. Every time, the attorney for the “other side” attacks the professional qualifications and experience of the witness, and, if possible, tries to make links to personal and financial motivations, all in an effort to discredit and marginalize the testimony in the eyes of the judge and jury.
All of you scientific posters here have done a fabulous job of attacking the other side, on all levels, but you’re arguing the wrong case. You see, the “case” is not whether GW is occuring, or even whether it is caused by manmade CO2, the case is whether it is a “crisis” warranting draconian (and government mandated) actions. Even the average joe (who happens to be both judge and jury) knows these measures will cause him significant economic pain. Therefore, it is purely human nature that the burden of proof for a “crisis” becomes substantially higher. The sceptics know that, and I think very few of you do. You can totally discredit the other side and win technical point after technical point, but you still lose the case. Average joe isn’t giving up his big house and big car running on cheap (coal fired) electricity and cheap (petroleum) fuel if all you’ve are some computer model predictions and trend graphs, but can only show relatively mild and “manageable” current impacts. No harm, no foul, wait and see.
I’d say you have some valid points, but you paint far too cynical a picture of human behavior.
Of course there are lots of people who won’t give up their wasteful energy ways until they get slapped in the face with hard consequences of global warming. Likewise, there are lots of people who don’t give up smoking when the doctor says “You could get cancer” — in spite of all the graphs and charts that prove the doctor is right. They hold out until the doctor says “You’ve got cancer,” and there are a few people who don’t quit even then.
But we have to recognize the very broad range of human attitudes and behaviors. I know people who, on the very day (back in the 60s) that the surgeon general announced the health risks of smoking, quit. I know one fellow who took his cigarette pack and put it on the mantle, told his wife & kids to leave it there — it was his reminder how dangerous it was, and he was never going back.
If the scientific community presented evidence so strong that even to dispute it would only make one look like a fool, and nobody disagreed it was real and dangerous, there’d still be those who would resist action (like the smoker who won’t quit even if he gets cancer). But there are also a lot of people who have already changed their habits. Do you think CFL light bulbs would be on the shelves at your local stores if people weren’t responding to the threat of AGW? Would legislation to block more coal-fired plants even be considered? Would the Toyota Prius have sold so fast that, last year at least, if you wanted to buy one you had to get on a waiting list?
In the case of smoking, the clear and unambiguous statement of the surgeon general was a big motivator. In the case of AGW, the clear and unambiguous waffling of the Bush administration, together with its emphasis on the economic risks of taking action, has been a big de-motivator. With the right leadership we in the U.S. would be doing a lot more, not only in terms of government action but for personal action as well. If John F. Kennedy were president today, and eloquently and passionately appealed to people’s sense of moral obligation to the future, things would be a lot different. We could use some real leadership on this issue.
The unrealistic thing is to expect “society” to switch from one binary state — resistance — to another — activism. Instead we can expect the distribution of responses to shift, sometimes slowly and by small amounts. And every little bit helps.
re 381: ” Therefore, it is purely human nature that the burden of proof for a “crisis” becomes substantially higher. The sceptics know that, and I think very few of you do. … Average joe isn’t giving up his big house and big car running on cheap (coal fired) electricity and cheap (petroleum) fuel if all you’ve are some computer model predictions and trend graphs, but can only show relatively mild and “manageable” current impacts. No harm, no foul, wait and see.”
You may be right, of course, re the expert witness argument and the “average” Joe (at least, the average American Joe – note that most of the other industrialized countries tend to have a much deeper appreciation for the problems we’re facing, due in part to a long-standing emphasis on science education). And I have been making a parallel argument in conversations regarding the reaction to AGW, though more along the historical evidence that suggests humans rarely react to a crisis until it is upon them in tangible, unmistakable form. This problem is likely exacerbated by the economic model that drives the U.S., built on short-term profit that ignores long-term consequences (and decades ago, we used to laugh at the Soviets and their 5-year plans). If you doubt this, you need only look at the mess the real-estate bubble is creating which, ironically, seems to be paralleling Japan’s economic downturn in the 90s.
At the same time, I think an argument could be made, at least in an ideal world, one would hope that corporations, with all their innate power and the assumed desire to remain profitable, would have acted on this problem and help to drive us in a direction that would prepare us for what we are going to face. Likewise, government, ostensibly elected to serve the needs of the people, would likewise act in a prudent and concerned fashion to maintain the integrity of the body politic.
Sadly, this is not an ideal world.
But I would take issue with you re what you essentially describe as the innate selfishness that informs the “average Joe”. I believe we’re witnessing something of a sea change in the public’s perception of AGW. Polls suggest that more and more we are accepting the phenomena as real and something to be addressed. I found it interesting to open the Sunday travel section in my local rag to discover tour business to Greenland is growing as more and more people wish to witness some of the most obvious effects of AGW in action. I also found it interesting that the Heartland Institute’s conference has apparently failed in its obvious goal – to attract media attention. This was particularly evident when I read yesterday that they played the Al Gore card – the founder of the Weather Channel suggested that Al Gore should be sued for airing his views! That, at least, got the media’s attention. Otherwise, the conference has been pretty much a non-event.
You wrote: “You can totally discredit the other side and win technical point after technical point, but you still lose the case..”
Not really. In court cases, if your evidence is compelling, if you show a pattern of ongoing falsehoods and misrepresentations by the opposing side, a judge or jury will take notice. And even average American Joes, usually undereducated in science thanks to our government’s woefully inept handling of education, is beginning to connect the dots on this.
It still may be difficult to get them to make the sacrifices necessary to address this – of that I have no doubt. But I believe that what you are more and more having to deal with now is not combating the skeptics – it’s getting people to take the next step from acceptance to taking action. So the real question is not whether we’re going to do something about it. The question is whether we will do so in time.
Awful lot of commentary for such a “non-event.” Do you think the conference offered $1000 because funding for views not in line with your community’s “Great Leap Forward” plans is scarce?
Jim Eager pointed out: “Revkin’s Dot Earth blog observation (link above in 373) that Heartland’s skeptic and denial circus couldn’t agree even among themselves is all too typical of groups of people who are by constitution contrarians.”
It is also typical of pseudoscience–when you abandon evidence as your guide, you are bound to stumble down blind alleys in the resulting darkness.”
Is the point of a conference on “science” for all the attendees to leave “agreeing among themselves”?
“Every single field in my home state was/could have been worked by horse or mule teams. There are few new fields. Through trial and error, the early settlers quickly determined what land was good for crops and what land was more suitable for pasture. Minnesota, as a for instance, is not bigger than it was when it was settled. That I know of, it has few new acres. The entire state is more than capable of maintaining draft animals sufficient to raise statewide crops and to deliver them to the railroads. We know this because they already did it – in the 20th Century.”
Rare to see a comment that so exquisitely identifies the political aims of some of your supporters. No less than the complete de-industrialization of…Minnesota…then the world!
Re guy @ 385: “Do you think the conference offered $1000 because funding for views not in line with your community’s “Great Leap Forward” plans is scarce?”
No, it’s because hard science in line with Heartland’s views is scarce.
“Is the point of a conference on “science” for all the attendees to leave “agreeing among themselves?”
No, the point of a conference on science (note the absence of quotes) is to expose scientific ideas to the scrutiny one’s peers within the scientific community. There was scarcely any climate change science–or science of any kind, for that matter–presented at Heartland’s circus, and hardly any scientific peers in attendance. Perhaps that’s because it was not a conference on science, but an ideological and politically motivated publicity and propaganda fest,
“Rare to see a comment that so exquisitely identifies the political aims of some of your supporters.”
Projection is not becoming. For Heartland and its supporters it’s all about political aims.
guy (385) — I doubt that is a ‘political aim’. Rather just an observation.
But indeed, if using horses proves more economic than a diesel tractor running on biodiesel, I am sure that farmers will do so. (I suspect that the biodiesel powered tractor is the better choice in most locations in the U.S. however.)
I’m in my 70’s and have long ago given up following flavor of the day trends. You ask, “Do you think CFL light bulbs would be on the shelves at your local stores if people weren’t responding to the threat of AGW?”. My answer is that I looked at the cost benefit numbers and bought a few for those areas where the inconvenience of poor light and slow warm-up didn’t matter—and in passing some are now on the market that are a lot better, but until the price comes down to where it’s a financial advantage —forget it!!! So, I for one will categorically say that I wouldn’t buy anything in response to the threat of AGW. Others may, but then I’ve learned that often the crowd follows anything that moves, and that includes all those cuddly bears and crashing king sized ice-cubes. (I’ve also spent a working lifetime in the broadcasting business and I full well understand the basic principle that people are most easily persuaded about things they know the least about.)
But you speak of the need for a new Kennedy to, “…eloquently and passionately appealed to people’s sense of moral obligation to the future….” Okay, let’s cut to the chase and get real serious here about the moral issue you are alluding to. You tell me what the temperature of the world is going to be in 30 years ( or 50, 100—you name it) if every person on earth followed the lead of Al Gore—in what HE ACTUALLY DOES (i.e. his carbon footprint) and not what HE SAYS the rest of us should do. And then you give me a moral argument that we all shouldn’t live like Gore or Suzuki. If you don’t want to pick on big AL, then do the calculation on the basis of the average footprint of that gang of hangers-on-to-the-public-tit that recently met in Bali. I’ll quickly admit I don’t know how to read the math or a lot of the big words involved in physics or statistics et al, but I sure as hell can spot a hypocrite by just listening to and watching him in action–it’s easy, they just don’t act like they say we should. So Tamino, considering that the real person is portrayed in actions rather than words, you tell me why Al Gore and David Suzuki and the IPCC world travel club are not convinced by your reasoned scientific arguments for AGW.
Tamino: I know people who, on the very day (back in the 60s) that the surgeon general announced the health risks of smoking, quit.
Doubtful. There is a reason my father’s generation called them “coffin nails” long before the SG outlined the risks. That terms goes back at least to to 20′s. Do you think an autopsy was never done on a smoker and non-smoker that lived away from city pollution? This was routinely being done over a hundred years ago. The risks we widely known for a long time.
If the scientific community presented evidence so strong that even to dispute it would only make one look like a fool, and nobody disagreed it was real and dangerous, there’d still be those who would resist action (like the smoker who won’t quit even if he gets cancer). But there are also a lot of people who have already changed their habits.
We already have those that fully belive the warning about AGW and have NOT changed their living one iota. In fact, they’ve consumed more and more and more once they’ve become aware of the problem. Bono believes in AGW but makes jokes about it citing the needs of being a rock star. Prince Charles continues to charter jumbo jets for his entourage. Laurie David continues to fly private jets and keep two houses. Stin’s wife send a private jet to fetch a pair of forgotten shoes. Sheryl Crowe puts of concerts that require 10′s of thousands of people a night drive 20+ minutes to hear her music. If the biggest believers arent’ changing, what do we make of this?
Those examples above are akin to the SG smoking a cigarette on TV while reading a report about the dangers.
Do you think CFL light bulbs would be on the shelves at your local stores if people weren’t responding to the threat of AGW? Would legislation to block more coal-fired plants even be considered? Would the Toyota Prius have sold so fast that, last year at least, if you wanted to buy one you had to get on a waiting list?
You haven’t asked anyone to do anything painful yet. To allow everyone the world to produce the same amount of CO2 means that US and EU need to reduce >90%. CFL? It’s a 1-2% savings. Prius? it’s a 20% savings over an SUV. But a typical prius driver wouldn’t have been driving an SUV, they would have been driving a civic. So the sacrifice was much, much smaller.
Nobody has been asked to do anything the least bit painful yet. That they respond and do the easy stuff is not surprising. We love to do easy things and feel like we’re making a difference. It’s kind of like cancer “run for the cure” races. If running cured cancer, we’d have cured cancer by now. But see how many healthy people want to be given drugs to see if they get cancer and their willingness drops.
So, ask people to do something meaningful (and painful) to fight AGW and see how they respond. You will be dissappointed.
With the right leadership we in the U.S. would be doing a lot more, not only in terms of government action but for personal action as well.
We had the father of the AGW movement in elected office, and he didn’t do much to get Kyoto (or anything of substance to change AGW) humming in the US did he? In fact, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and 93 other senators voted AGAINST Kyoto. Your assertion that the right leadership would have changed things requires a massive stretch.
From another Ron in his 70s. Do you really equate personal responsibily with following the herd?
As far as Gore is concerned, no leader I know of has done more to reduce his carbon footprint. He is working hard to bring about systemic changes that would enable him, as well as the rest of us, to lower our carbon footprints much more.
For me, the issue is my (and everyone else’s) great grandchildren. My heart aches when I think of the kind of world we seem likely to leave them. Your perspective is much too common to realistically hope that it might be otherwise.
I see that cynicism is as prevalent as ever, and that attacks against Al Gore are still a mainstay of those who wish to resist action. I’m not surprised at such intransigence. I never claimed, or believed, that inspiring leadership would reach you.
None of you has even addressed the important parts of my comment: 1. Society doesn’t switch from one binary state of response to another; 2. The right leadership can make a huge difference. As for the 2nd point, I wasn’t talking about Al Gore.
Political columnist “writing a ‘science’ column” now. Doesn’t check cites. Doesn’t cite sources. Doesn’t quote people carefully. Doesn’t notice criticism. Spin, spin, spin. Perfectly normal for a political point-of-view blogger, which he still is. Mislabeled.
This article apeared in the National Post a sort of righty paper from Toronto, where I live the winter has been very snowy but not really cold like it was when I was a kid. Is this article regular BS or is there something to it??
I am always curious as to what is so hard to understand about “signal and noise”, or “trend and fluctuation” or “long term and short term” or “climate and weather.” Do people not getting these things, like ignoring La Nina, take themselves seriosuly??
Re Matt @ 391: “But a typical prius driver wouldn’t have been driving an SUV, they would have been driving a civic.”
This one was and otherwise would have been driving an AWD Subaru wagon, which it turns out would have been a better choice in the northern climate that I live in, at least this winter. Still, I know I’m saving over 20% in fuel costs, even in the winter.
392 Ron Taylor: As far as Gore is concerned, no leader I know of has done more to reduce his carbon footprint.
Really? Dubya (when not in the whitehouse) lives in a comparatively modest 4000 square foot house that relies on pipes buried 300 feet in the ground to heat and cool his house. He has a 25,000 gallon cistern that collects rainwater for landscape irrigation. He didn’t just add this stuff after a newpaper article wondered about waste. He’s had it for a long time.
Al Gore collectively has 16,000 feet of living space in 3 homes in 3 states (largest is 10,000 square feet). We’ve all read about his $30,000 annual utility bills…
I’d say Dubya is quite a bit greener than Al. And bush tends to achieve this by actually REDUCING, rather than just paying a premium for the privilege to keep using at rediculous levels.
Tamino and others, pointing out a fact about someone is NOT attacking that person. You could call it rude perhaps…but it’s not attacking. Especially if that person has built quite a fortune on a particular platform.
Everyone here likes to point out when someone has received funding from Exxon or similar. Do you consider that an attack, or stating a fact relevant to the discussion?
Apropos the character assassination of Al Gore: First, whether he lives in 4000 sq. ft. or 16000 sq. ft. is irrelevant. The inaction of a few does not excuse your personal complacency. Second, the reason Al Gore has a soap box to stand on at all is because no politician on the right had the courage to stand with him in alerting people to the risks we face from climate change–not John McCain, not James Baker nor any of the other responsible, intelligent conservatives who have long been convinced that climate change is a serious issue. While making a few muted statements, they abandoned the moral high ground to Al Gore–who took it and ran with it. It is to them that Al Gore owes his Oscar and his Nobel Peace Prize, and it is because of conservative resistance to science that his still could have a chance to one day become president! Moral: Never try to defend the indefensible, and denial of climate change is indefensible.
I said nothing about Dubya. The only thing I have read indicates he has gone totally green in Crawford, which raises the question about why he is doing nothing from a policy perspective. Owes special interests, maybe? I really don’t know. But whatever he is doing personally means next to nothing, since he is the leader of the free world and has been a negative force on global policy action on this issue for years. How can you dare hold him up as a positive example on global warming?
About Gore, I do not know where you get your “facts.” But what I have read before and just confirmed on Snopes is that he buys all his energy from renewable sources. I do the same, using the New Jersey Clean Energy Program. How about you?
Ron Durda (#390), for a guy in your 70′s you sure adopt a most astoundingly puerile mode of reasoning. The personal emissions of Al Gore or any other single person are completely insignificant. Neither the science nor the politics of climate mention them. Unless of course you’re looking for an excuse to ignore the science and try to make a nice red herring out of them for political purposes. CO2 is well mixed in the atmosphere. The thing that matters is total emissions, and the resulting concentrations. If anything at all matters about Al Gore, it would be his effect on total emissions. Anyway, that’s what any sincere, level-headed person must conceded, whether or not they like his personality or politics.
And by the way, whatever you think of the light from CFL’s, their financial advantage is inarguable. (A “blind” test wherein subjects didn’t realize what was producing their ambi*nt [spam filter objects to that word!] light would be most interesting–I don’t notice anything special in my living room, and I’m middle-aged and read constantly.)
I attended this conference, so I can add some perspective that RC seems not to be presenting. It was never intended to be purely a scientific conference. Elements of it were, but other parts were very focussed on policy. Heck, th President of the Czech Republic spoke there. Enthusiasts like myself were invited. Doesn’ sound like it was ever intended to be a strictly scientific conference.
Also, the assertion that the Heartland Institute is a front for the petroleum industry is completely unfounded. Less than 5% of its funding comes from oil companies.
Re Carl Wolk @ 407: “It was never intended to be purely a scientific conference.”
That much is clearly stated in the RC article that this thread stems from, when it quotes from Heartland’s letter of invitation:
“The purpose of the conference is to generate international media attention to the fact that many scientists believe forecasts of rapid warming and catastrophic events are not supported by sound science, and that expensive campaigns to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not necessary or cost-effective.”
Carl Wolk: “he assertion that the Heartland Institute is a front for the petroleum industry is completely unfounded”
The Heartland institute is a front for libertarian resistance to government regulation of any kind. Their questioning and denying of climate change is based on this ideology, not on science.
No, Jim, because Heartland changed course 180 degrees on the law regulating deleted deleted (words deleted to evade the allowable-thoughts-filter feature of the blog software), you know what sort of online payment system I mean. OR click the link.
The draft provided for the government to review everyone’s deleted records every month, putatively only to identify any deleted transactions with internet deleted services. That idea dropped out. (But they get your phone records now, same difference.)
Heartland did a 180 degree turn and started applauding that law, they quit calling it an intartube gumbling law and started calling it a deleted-laundering law. Utter hypocrisy, using big government to shut down political speech while serving big US deleted interests that are protected.
Why? Because two of the Canadians whose business it affected had been donating profits to the Canadian DeSmogBlog that assesses — the fossil fuel industry’s PR. Heartland cackled and crowed.
Heartland serves the fossil fuel industry. Don’t doubt it. They abandoned what seemed a principled opposition to a law and embraced it once they realized it could be used to shut up and lock up one of the Canadians funding a Canadian blog critical of — one of Heartland’s major funders, the fossil fuel industry.
A few questions for you Carl:
What are you an “enthusiast” about?
Where does the other 95% of H.I.’s funding come from?
How should the scientists of RC react to a conference whose objectives include the generation of media attention for a minority point of view whose scientific underpinnings are, at best, shaky?
I’m thinking of it in these terms: How would I consider a conference gathering a bunch of people with varying degrees of expertise in medical science (ranging low or non existent for some) arguing against the risks of smoking and presenting small areas of doubt in the research here and there as proof that those risks are not significant. Furthermore, that conference would be organized not by any medical or scientific organization but by what amounts to a business advocacy group. I know exactly how much attention I would devote to it and how much value the conclusions reached there would carry for me (zero and zero). Perhaps that’s because I’m a health “enthusiast.”
Comment by Philippe Chantreau — 8 Mar 2008 @ 12:00 PM
“Also, the assertion that the Heartland Institute is a front for the petroleum industry is completely unfounded. Less than 5% of its funding comes from oil companies. …” – Carl Wolk
What percentage comes from the airline industry, or the trucking industry, or the coal industry, or the utility companies?
And how do young managers and executives in the above types of companies figure out where to give their money? Do you think just maybe the bright little brown nosers check out where the company is giving its money, and follow suit?
According to http://www.heartland.org/NewYork08/newyork08.cfm, the organization only receives 16% from corporations.
Philippe Chantreau said:
“How should the scientists of RC react to a conference whose objectives include the generation of media attention for a minority point of view whose scientific underpinnings are, at best, shaky?” They should react and attack the science and not try to destroy debate by writing false information to try to shut down debate.
Secondly, while I reject the idea that Heartland is a tool of the petreoleum industry, if it is, it doesn’t render the scientists’ findings false. Even if every single skeptic scientist was funded by oil money, it doesn’t make their arguments false. The AGW side of things gets tons of money from liberal and environmentalist organizations, yet it doesn’t render their arguments false. Debate the science, don’t supress debate.
[Response: You are confusing the noise generated by Heartland with debate. Debate goes on every day in every scientific venue I've ever visited. You cannot debate someone who will not listen to anything you have to say and entertains no doubt about their position. Heartland are not a neutral party here - and attempts to whitewash agenda-driven contrarianism with the mantle of free speech worls fine in the courtroom, but it cuts no ice in a real scientific conference. - gavin]
Carl, you claim the mantle of skeptic. Well, a skeptic makes judgements on the basis of evidence, so what specific evidence would you have to see to believe humans are changing the climate? If you cannot cite a specific void that could conceivably be filled by future observation or theory, then how can you claim to be a skeptic?
Re #412: To add to Gavin’s response, it’s also the case that not one scrap of new science was presented at the conference, and that what little prior science was presented was mostly of the pseudo variety.
393. “…attacks against Al Gore are still a mainstay of those who wish to resist action.”
Al Gore is a red flag, in my humble opinion. The moment someone brings up the sunject of Gore is the moment when they admit they have no interest in real discussion re Climate change, AGW, the merits of climate skepticism as it is currently being practiced and so forth.
It is an admission that, in the end, they understand they have nothing to offer, and instead are reduced to the equivilant of yelling “boogieman”!
Funding, since the discussion is on, although it probably belongs at DeSmogBlog.
- direct funding from fossil energy companies,
- direct funding from family foundations, at least some of which have fortunes built on fossil energy ownership,
- indirect funding through all sorts of other entities, of which some clearly comes from fossil energy companies, some clearly doesn’t, and much is muddy.
1a) Direct, as in ExxonMobil’s funding of various entities over the years.
1b) Indirect, where one or more companies fund an entity, and then it funds something further along, as in:
Western Fuels Association ->
Greening Earth Society ->
Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (Idso), although I think they also got some directly from ExxonMobil.
In any case, Greening Earth sent some money -> Heartland. Would that count as coming from a fossil company?
Of course, the same approaches were used for cigarettes, i.e., like TIRC.
2) Family foundations (which is almost certainly the far larger fraction of funding of most of these things compared to direct fossil company funding, although as we’ll see, it isn’t easy to tell.)
Here’s sourcewatch page for Heartland. See Foundation Funders section, of which at least several (Koch, Scaife) have oil as one of their fortune’s bases.
3) Complicated combinations
For those really interested in more, I found Sascha Meinrath’s blog, which offers Full donor lists from 2003, and a 2004 tax return.
The 20003 document was called “Recent xxx Donors”, and is 3 pages long, with hundreds of donors I don’t recognize offhand. I did notice:
BP Amoco Foundation, ExxonMobil Foundation, General Motors Foundation,
American Petroleum Institute, Asphalt Institute, Chevron, Citgo Petroleum, Exxon Mobil Corp, Ford Motor, General Motors, Greening Earth Society [which you'll recall was Western Fuels], Occidental Chemical, Philips Petroleum, Philip Morris, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco, Union Carbide.
I have no idea of the provenance of this material, but it looks real. It is of course, very hard to known how the money flows and who’s behind all these things, as some are obvious, but a lot aren’t.
The 2004 IRS form is of interest. On Page 15, we find that the Board of Directors included Walter Buchholtz of ExxonMobil and Thomas Walton of General Motors.
“The AGW side of things gets tons of money from liberal and environmentalist organizations,”
Name ‘em – and give specifics of their funding and who and what is being funded, seeing as you seem so sure of yourself…seems to me most of the science that has uncovered the problems associated with AGW is funded by government and/or educational organizations.
Perhaps you could share which liberal organization is funding Jim Hanson and NASA, for example?
“Even if every single skeptic scientist was funded by oil money, it doesn’t make their arguments false.”
That’s right. But what does make their arguments false can be found here on this site, described in detail. Further, it is an obvious red flag when NEARLY ALL so-called skeptics are found to be funded in one way or another by industries with a vested interest in doing all they can to acting against addressing with AGW. That’s the real problem – there is hardly anyone outside of this funding circle with expertise in climatology that argues against the reality of AGW.
It’s the elephant in the room, so to speak, and try as you might to deflect attention from it, you can’t.
The only interesting scientific presentation I witnessed at the Heartland affair was Spencer’s, though his co-author’s were absent, and the Q&A was minimal because of the audience size- they saved it for the closing event.
Too bad RC did not appear to enlarge the audience’s curiosity as to the disconnect between atmospheric physics and Monckton & Miskolczi’s mathematical minimalism – there were 5 program tracks and it would have needed as many actual skeptics to conduct a running reality check on what was uncritically adduced and accepted
Dr. Seitz, did you hear anything questionable said, and how did you question what you heard? I’m assuming you at least count as one genuine skeptic conducting a running reality check on what was uncritically adduced and accepted. Did you have any impact?
As the saying goes, “if a person will lie about one thing, they’ll lie about anything.” The urban legend about AEI and the supposed $10,000 bribe” has been thoroughly debunked on the AEI website, was formally retracted by one of the two papers that ran the article (only the Guardian, known for it’s ridiculous environmental reporting refused to retract) and has no credibility among those who know the institution, or the people involved at all. The fact that “RealClimate” which is supposedly devoted to truth-telling would perpetuate this slander should warn readers that the rest of what they say is untrustworthy as well.
[Response: Might I recommend in future simply pointing to your response (it's here) so that people can decide for themselves rather than flinging around unfounded accusations of slander and dishonesty. That slightly undermines your claims to be honest brokers in the climate policy debate. Indeed, you might find your reputation among climate scientists could be enhanced if you treated us with a little more courtesy. - gavin]
Re #424 [Kenneth P. Green] I’ve taken a look at the AEI site – yes, looks like a pretty straightforward bribe offer to me, even as they present it. The $10,000 is offered for a 7-10,000 word (or longer) paper, with no requirements whatever for it to be a “a research project involving the review of a large amount of dense scientific material, and the synthesis of that material into an original, footnoted and rigorous article” as Christopher DeMuth claims on the AEI website, and no information whatever on how, if at all, the paper will be reviewed. The AEI’s aim, I think, is fairly clear: pretend there is still a scientific controversy over AGW, and on whether we need to do anything about it. For this purpose, clearly they would need some real scientists as well as denialists – hence the attempt to recruit Steve Schroeder. Congratulations to The Guardian for refusing to retract.
The Weather Channel founder Mr Coleman was the only person of perhaps some credit making noise at this conference, having succeeded with multiple blogs, however he rather use lawyers than expand on an intellectual discourse as to why AGW is a “fraud”…
Typical of some TV meteorologists spouting out words without taking the time
to elaborate, surprising anti weather Channel which has become a pillar of virtue with this subject… However complaining that those who take enormous time to reason with people are engaged in some elaborate plot to get rich, is beyond ignorance, especially of those who have spent so many hours, without greed as an incentive… It is as low as it gets, dirty politics has consumed the contrarians, having failed to find one reasonable theory disproving AGW.
The recent Heartland conference is having its intended effects here in Little Rock, where the county’s governing body – the Quorum Court – is considering a proposal to call on the governor to postpone approval of any new coal-fired plants in the state until we get the recommendations from a governor’s commission on climate change, currently meeting. A conservative member of the Quorum Court – a physics teacher at a local private high school – is opposing the resolution and attended the conference. I assume his costs were covered by Heartland, which promised to do so for “elected officials.” He has swamped the other members of the QC with literature from the conference, which has had the effect of giving cover to any who were already leaning toward denial of GW. When I testified before the legislative sub-committee recently, at least one member was primed with questions that clearly came from Heartland via the physics teacher. Questions and comments included: How explain the recent cooling? (My response: The climate record is a noisy one. One can draw no conclusions from a few years of data.) It could be the Sun… we know there is a correlation between sunspots and global temperature. (Not recently, and not one that will begin to explain the temperature rise of the past century.) Shouldn’t scientists keep an open mind on this issue…isn’t that they way science is supposed to be done? (Not about everything. It would be anti-science to keep an open mind over whether the Earth revolves around the Sun, or vice versa. AGW is not that well established but the basics are solid.)
We think the proposal will pass but Heartland is making it more difficult by magnifying existing doubt. I am trying to find out more about what talks were given at the conference and what attendees brought home. This blog topic has been helpful, but any more info on specifics regarding the conference would be good.
Lawrnce, I sympathize. This is the standard tactic from the anti-science types. Try to cast doubt on the science; play up uncertainties; use the very self-correcting character of science against it; and so on. All we can do is try to educate people about the meaning and importance of scientific consensus. At this point, there really is no alternative theory to anthropogenic causation of climate change. Those few papers that are published that question anthropogenic causation are based on misunderstandings of the science or on completely speculative–and mostly discredited–mechanism, and we just wait for the thud and then the silence (in the scientific community) that greets their publication. Not one professional society of scientists or engineers currently challenges anthropogenic causation–not even the the American Association of Petroleum Geologists!
So du courage, and hopefully this cartoon will sustain you in your time of need:
Re: Ray #430, I am surprised you are not aware of the solar alternative to the AGW hypothesis. If the “self correcting” character of the science shows that the models have errors and correlated biases larger than the less than 0.8W/m^2 energy imbalance they are attempting to attribute, why shouldn’t it be used “against it”.
FYI, the NASA chief in retracting his climate statements has characterized AGW “almost as a religious issue”.
[[ I am surprised you are not aware of the solar alternative to the AGW hypothesis.]]
He is aware of it, as is nearly everybody else on this blog and in the climatology community. Scientists don’t generally take it seriously as an alternative because the evidence for it is so weak and the contrary evidence is so strong.
1. There has been no clear trend in sunlight for 50 years. We know because we’ve been measuring it from satellites like Nimbus-7 and -8 and the Solar Maximum Mission. Here’s a table of Total Solar Irradiance for the last 400 years with a chart:
If solar output has been flat for 50 years, it can’t have caused the sharp upturn in global warming of the last 30.
2. Increased sunlight would heat the stratosphere first, since that is where ozone absorbs solar ultraviolet light. But the stratosphere has been cooling, something predicted by the climate modelers on the basis of increased greenhouse gases. Some of the cooling is due to ozone depletion, but not enough to account for all of it quantitatively.
3. Increased sunlight would heat the equator most, since that is the region that is “full on” to the sun on average throughout the year; the poles would lag behind. Google “Lambert’s cosine law” for the mathematical details. Instead we’re seeing “polar amplification,” which, again, was predicted by the climate modelers on the basis of increased greenhouse gases.
4. Increased sunlight would affect daytime temperatures more than nighttime (duh). Instead, nighttime temperatures have increased more. This is predictable from increased greenhouse gases, which would suppress heat loss at night, but not with increased sunlight.
5. Those who say it isn’t sunlight at issue, but the sunspot cycle, or solar magnetic fields, or solar modulation of galactic cosmic rays, have missed the fact that those measurements pretty much track TSI. There’s no trend in cosmic rays, either, for the past 50 years. And sunlight does, in fact, affect climate on long time scales, and that correlation is to TSI, not to anything else.
Martin, You are succumbing to what I call the “Chinese Menu” approach to climate modeling, where you choose one from column A, once from column B, etc. until you make up the effect. That’s not the way climate modeling works, precisely because different forcers have different uncertainties associated with them. Climate models try to minimize the number of adjustable parameters they have by determining the strengths of the forcers independently of the data they are trying to fit. The data then provide validation or falsification of the model. Forcing due to CO2 and greenhouse gasses are amont those with the least uncertainty. Thus, there is virtually no chance that discovery of another forcer would change their contribution. Rather, the more uncertain forcers would likely give–e.g. aerosols, clouds, etc.
Your reference to a “solar alternative” is telling, as this putative mechanism is not at all well established at present. All you have are some ideas people are batting around, and they can’t even agree on how it depends on solar activity.
For what it’s worth, Michael Griffin is an engineer with zero expertise in climate. He did not dispute that humans were causing climate change, but merelhy said he thought we could adapt. And it is typical of anti-science types to accuse scientists of religiosity when after all the scientists have all the science on their side.
1) You are quite correct that solar forcing can’t explain the sharp upturn in temperature in the last 30 years. Solar forcing may well explain the warming, just not the shape of the curve, because the aerosols responsible for the midcentury cooling delayed the response to the plateau in solar activity reached circa 1940. If you are familiar Solanki’s work you know that this plateau in solar activity is one of the highest in the last 8000 years and less than 8% of comparable periods would last past the year 2050. The climate commitment works of Wigley and Meehl show that temperature and sea level responses take decades and centuries respectively.
2) Greenhouse gasses have been increaing, so the cooling should be expected, solar activity has been flat on scales larger than the solar cycle, so the stratopheric warming would already have occurred prior to 1940. No mystery there. There is a lot of recent work showing that the solar coupling to the stratosphere, even over just the 11 year cycle is greater than previously thought.”The magnitude of the observed decadal ozone changes (20%) is much larger than any previously reported solar cycle effect in the atmosphere up to this altitude.” http://www.atmos-chem-phys.org/6/1835/2006/acp-6-1835-2006.pdf
3) Camp and Tung have shown that there is polar amplification in the solar signature as well. Full text of several of their papers is available at:
4) Hopefully noone is saying that CO2 will have zero effect, it and H2O will increase the nightime temperatures. The null hypothesis for short term attribution over periods of a few decades should probably be about one third each for GHGs, solar and internal variation. Note that since solar is more coupled to the daytime, when temperatures and thus partial pressures of water vapor are higher, the H2O positive feedback should also be higher.
5) If you have read Foukal, you would know that even over the last two cycles of good data, that bright area/sunspot models only explain about 80% of the variation. We don’t know how valid such models are in other solar activity modes from this small sample.
Re: Ray Ladbury, Yes, the solar mechanism is not well established, yet, but there are strong trends in the literature, especially vis’a'vis a stratosphere coupling and in regard to model failures to reproduce the solar signatures found in the observations on many scales. But positive feedbacks to GHG forcings are also not well established, outside the models except by assuming they are the same as solar and aerosol climate sensitivities. Models are just not ready to attribute a fraction of a watt/m^2 in energy imbalance.
Martin, since the feedbacks tend to be mostly thermally activated, why would they not be the same as for solar or any other forcer? Again, you are assuming everything is equally uncertain–and it ain’t. The strengths of the forcers are determined from a variety of data, and the strength of CO2 forcing is well determined from a variety of different datasets and analyses. True, we still have a lot to understand about clouds and aerosols. Greenhouse gasses and insolation are pretty well nailed. So given that it is warming (and it is), this says that greenhouse gasses will continue to present a problem.
Ray, Since the heat from the different forcings is coupled to the climate differently in geographical and vertical distribution and timing, the feedbacks will be activated differently. Heat added to areas of low absolute humidity will probably have less coupling to the climate system, since it will be radiated into space at night, whereas heat added several meters into the ocean will likely be more strongly coupled to the climate system. Radiative forcing that causes chemical changes such as increased ozone may have altered the climate system in ways more significant than can be accounted for by its thermal effects alone.
CO2 radiative forcing and trends may be well understood, but there is not good model independent validation of feedbacks and climate sensitivity to this distribution of forcing. And the model based implementations of well mixed GHGs couple them to the whole mixing layer of the ocean as if they were just like the visible spectrum and penetrated 10s of meters instead of microns. Models have been tuned to reproduce the recent warming despite being unable to reproduce the solar cycle signature on the climate, so we can have little faith in model derived GHG sensitivity.
Solar variation is poorly understood, understanding of its coupling to the stratosphere is still rapidly changing, and there are significant subtleties to how solar coupling to the tropical oceans impacts convection and the whole climate system including spawning planetary waves that impact stratospheric heat transport.
In a nonlinear system, the null hypothesis should be different climate sensitivites to forcings coupled to the climate in different ways, not the same sensitivity.
[Response: There's a fair amount of nonsense in this statement which I'm sure others will discuss, but the misunderstanding regarding the way the atmosphere is coupled to the ocean is particularly severe. On the subject of response to the solar cycle, it turns out that the impression that models are bad at this largely comes from people never having looked carefully at the right models. K.K. Tung presented some very important analyses of the AR4 models that include the solar cycle forcing, and many of them do indeed reproduce the observed cycle and its geographic pattern quite well. Right now it's just an AGU poster, but no doubt it will be a paper before long.It's another question whether a model needs to pass the solar cycle test in order to do well at longer time scales, but the message is clear that there's no case for missing physics regarding the way the solar cycle -- and by inference longer term solar activity changes -- affect climate. --raypierre]
Regarding coupling to the oceans, the climate sensitivities to the different forcings is probably highly dependendant on the individual strengths of that coupling. It is clear that energy deposited meters below the surface can’t have as immediate an impact on land surface temperatures as energy deposited in the surface skin layer, foam or spray, even though the ultimate, cumulative impact may be far greater.
[Response: This is a different paper from the result I was referring to. The new work reported at AGU analyzed the expression of the solar cycle in the AR4 archive. Models do indeed vary greatly in their sensitivity to solar forcing, and it will be interesting to track that down. --raypierre]
I was at the ICCC as a videographer. First of all, not many scientists there denied that global warming is happening. The questions were whether or not it was being caused soley by CO2, if not then what else could be causing it and, whether or not it is CO2, is it being caused by humans? Also, whether or not it is being caused by humans, is it a bad thing?
An oceanographer was able to show that ocean temperature precedes CO2 levels (due to greater water solubility of CO2 in cooler rather than warm oceans). If the cause is the oceans and not CO2, than why are we focused on cutting CO2 emissions? Maybe we should be focused on trying to keep the oceans temperature the same.
Why is no one arguing that? Because it’s rediculous. We can’t control the temperature of the oceans no matter how much we try, yet that would have a far larger affect on the warming climate than cutting humans’ measely CO2 emmisions.
I use warming oceans as ONE example. There are too many other variables that affect the atmosphere.
The best any scientist can say is, “Sure, the climate is warming but I don’t know exactly why.”
There is one more GLARING thing that I would like to point out: The climate has had MASSIVE climate change in the past, long before human existence, far more dynamic than what we are experiencing now.
Based soley on that point, how can anyone be truly alarmed that the climate changes. It CHANGES. That’s what it does.
The best we can be is a little uneasy that there are aspects of our existence that we can not control and that we do not understand at the moment. Where am I wrong?
[Response: We've heard all of this many times before. OK people, let's help Mr. Eric in his quest for knowledge. Please tell him where he's wrong. --raypierre]
Eric, This is horse puckey. Think about it. You say, “The climate has had MASSIVE climate change in the past, long before human existence, far more dynamic than what we are experiencing now.”
That, sir, is precisely the point. Human civilization, indeed human society, has never experienced anything like the changes we are starting to unleash. ALL of the infrastructure of our civilization was developed during the past 10000 years of exceptional climatic stability. And now, as the human population soars to 9-12 billion, we are changing the environment to the point where much of our agricultural, transport, health, water and social infrastructure may simply cease to function. What is more, the climate has many positive feedbacks, and if these kick in in earnest, we will have no control whatsoever.
Finally, your assertion that we don’t understand the mechanism of climate change is just flat wrong. The theory of climate is pretty mature. Yes, there are aspects we don’t understand, but they are not significant enough to invalidate what we understand well–greenhouse forcing. Increase greenhouse gasses and you’ll warm the climate. Warm the climate and you’ll decrease predictability. Now, I ask you, in a world of 12 billion people, how can less predictability be a good thing?
I tried to reply, Ray, and my comment got flagged as spam and deleted. Again. And since I have no way on God’s green Earth of finding out what in the message hit the miserably stupid AI the wrong way, aside from taking out each successive word until the mutilated post gets through, I don’t think I’m going to bother any more.
Re Eric @ 438: “An oceanographer was able to show that ocean temperature precedes CO2 levels (due to greater water solubility of CO2 in cooler rather than warm oceans).”
Eric, this is indeed true, and no one here will tell you otherwise. The problem is what the oceanographer likely did not tell you, namely that as CO2 was emitted from the warming ocean when the last ice age ended, that added CO2 induced yet more warming since CO2 is a greenhouse gas. I’ll wager that he did not even tell you that as the atmosphere warmed, more water vapour also evaporated from the warming ocean, which lead to even more warming since water vapour is also a greenhouse gas. This is known as a feedback because it is a result of and amplifies the initial warming, caused at the end of an ice age by changes in solar isolation as a result of changes in Earth’s orbit and angle of axis. We know the added greenhouse gas amplified the warming because we know that the change in insolation is not sufficient by itself to end an ice age, it simply is not powerful enough.
The other thing I am certain that the oceanographer did not tell you is that adding CO2 to the atmosphere independent of insolation changes, as humans are doing today, will produce warming, just as it did when the CO2 came from a warming ocean.
Take home message: Beware of those who explain only part of the story. It takes the whole story to understand what is going on.
Actually he did mention water vapor. He (and actually most others there) mentioned that water vapor is the number 1 green house gas. In your guys eyes- true or false? Most of them mentioned feedback as well.
Also, almost nobody there (aside from Dr. Vince Grey and maybe a couple others) denied that adding CO2 to the atmosphere is causing warming. I can’t remember the exact numbers, so maybe you guys can help me out.
1.How much CO2 are humans putting into the atmosphere?
2.How much CO2 is naturally occuring?
3.How much is human caused CO2 warming the atmosphere?
4.Has there been an increase or decrease in natural causes of CO2 and how much on either side?
If I could get that data or find it somewhere, from a source that YOU guys trust (they showed the data but something tells me you guys would find something wrong with it) I’d appreciate it.
And one last question for this post:
In your eyes (whoever would like to respond) is the warming that we have seen in the past century greater than any other warming we have seen since the last ice age?
If you really want to understand this, go the the Start Here link on the front page and commence your education. Spencer Weart’s history is a good place to start. If you want a somewhat condensed view the Wikipedia article below is a reasonable start. Keep in mind that CO2 has several characteristics that increase its effectiveness as a greenhouse gas–especially it’s long residence time in the atmosphere and the fact that it is well mixed even into the stratosphere. These factors significantly increase its contribution and make it easier to look on water vapor’s more variable contribution as a feedback.
1)Humans are responsible for virtually all the increase in ghg since about 1750–some by burning fossil fuels, some by burning forests/land use, cement production… About half of what we put into the atmosphere stays there. Half goes into the oceans–but this is changing as the oceans’ ability to absorb more is beginning to decrease).
2)Current atmospheric concentration is abotu 385 ppmv, whereas pre-industrial levels were pretty stable at about 280 ppmv. The difference is all from humans~38-40% increase.
3)Directly, about 1.5 Watts, but this warming causes increased evaporation, outgassing of ghgs and other positive feedbacks. Effectively, you get about 3 degrees C warming per doubling of CO2.
4)Natural sources is a little bit vague. However, if what you are asking is how much of the increase in CO2 is due to human activity, the answer is virtually all of it. We know this because of the way the isotopic composition of carbon in the atmosphere is changing–the new carbon has to be from a fossil source.
As to your last question, the warming has been both rapid and sustained–it is remarkable by any standard over the last 10000 years.
Re Eric @ 442 “Actually he did mention water vapor. He (and actually most others there) mentioned that water vapor is the number 1 green house gas. In your guys eyes- true or false?”
Eric, this is true, because there is far more water vapour in the atmosphere than there is CO2. However, once again, that’s only part of the story.
First, since the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere is limited by temperature, if more water vapour is added without also increasing temperature it will just condense and then precipitate out.
This means water vapour as a greenhouse gas can only act as a feedback, not a forcing.
CO2, on the other hand, is not limited by temperature and does not condense and precipitate out at normal Earth temperatures, and so it can accumulate in the atmosphere almost indefinitely if the rate of emissions exceeds the rate at which it is absorbed by the the biosphere and ocean. This is exactly what we have been measuring since 1958, and have measured in ice cores for years prior to 1958. This means CO2 can act both as a feedback if it is added due to a naturally warming ocean, OR as a forcing if added directly, as we are currently doing by burning large and increasing amounts of fossil fuels.
Second, as Ray pointed out, the amount of water vapour decreases with altitude as temperature falls, while CO2 remains well mixed into the stratosphere. Thus, water vapour is the dominant greenhouse gas only in the lower to mid troposphere, while CO2 dominates above the mid-troposphere.
Eric: “1.How much CO2 are humans putting into the atmosphere?”
In addition to Ray’s link to the wiki page,which you may be suspicious of, here is a link to the US Dept of Energy’s Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC): http://cdiac.ornl.gov/
Last time I looked up the figure, human activity–not including respiration but including all industrial and land-use activity–generates around 29 Gt (29 billion tonnes) per year of CO2. Since 1750, the start of the industrial revolution, we have increased atmospheric CO2 by over 38%, or by more than one third, half of that since 1950. We know, roughly, how much fossil fuels are burned every year, so we can easily calculate how much CO2 we emit every year. We know that fossil-fuel-generated CO2 is accumulating by measuring the ratio of carbon 14 in atmospheric CO2. That ratio is falling because fossil fuels are so old that they contain very little carbon 14.
Not only that, but other greenhouse gasses are also increasing, including methane, nitrous oxides, and CFCs, which did not exists until we created them.
Eric: “2.How much CO2 is naturally occuring?”
I think you need to do some reading about the carbon cycle. You might start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_cycle
Bottom line, natural carbon sinks (biosphere, ocean) absorb virtually all naturally released CO2, plus about half of what humans generate from burning fossil fuels, which is why it is accumulating.
Eric: “3.How much is human caused CO2 warming the atmosphere?”
See Ray’s answer.
Eric: “4.Has there been an increase or decrease in natural causes of CO2 and how much on either side?”
No, it’s pretty stable on the non-human side of the ledger since temperatures stabilised after the last ice age, but that will change as it gets warmer and the oceans are able to absorb less CO2, and other natural CO2 sinks become net emitters. We are already starting to see some of these feedbacks. Otherwise the only significant natural addition to the normal short to medium term carbon cycle is volcanic activity, but it adds less that 1% as much as human activity does each year, even in a year with a big eruption.
Eric: “In your eyes (whoever would like to respond) is the warming that we have seen in the past century greater than any other warming we have seen since the last ice age?”
I agree with Ray. There have been periods when it was nearly as warm in some regions, but both the current global change and the rate of change is unlike what the paleo record shows since the end of the last ice age, and we know for certain that CO2 is now higher than anytime BEFORE the last ice age.
Jim, Thanks for expanding on my rather cursory answers. One minor quibble: We know the carbon is from a fossil source via the C-13 content, not the C-14 content. C-14 would be an excellent indicator were it not for the spike that occurred circa middle of the last century (Hmm, wonder what that could have been… Hint: One might say the C-14 mushroomed).
OTOH, the atmospheric nuclear tests provided an excellent laboratory for tracing the progress of carbon in the oceans. Moral for the optimistic scientist who doesn’t like lemonade: It life hands you nuclear fallout, use it as a tracer.
Thank you for the links, it helped me sort out some ideas.
Land temperature averages have poor reputations.
Sea level from satellites may be the best single short term global climate indicator. However the data is not long enough to well sample longer trends such as El Nino, La Nina, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, glacier melting, and the move of ice from North Pole to South Pole.
“you need to know if there’s a trend or a change?”
The change in trend is indicated by a sequence of new inputs significantly different from the model prediction.
“Or do you believe it’s possible to do market timing?”
I do. (Trend is your friend.) Look for a chart with least residual error; Take daily, weekly, monthly charts; then bet if all indicate same direction.
Last year, 2007, the snow stayed longest on the nearby mountain in 30 years, according to my neighbor. Frost free days one month later than usual (March 22) per local plant nursery. And in July we will be paying a carbon tax, (Vancouver, Canada), because of the Global Warming consensus.
“University of Virginia climatologist Dr. Patrick Michaels thinks global warming promoters are in a panic, and with reason. In a commentary piece distributed by the Cato Institute, Michaels predicted that by the end of the year 2007, the satellite temperature record will show a statistically significant global cooling trend. “If the Kyoto protocol doesn’t pass in the heat of this particular moment,” he says, “it never will.”
One reason Michaels is so confident is the nosedive that satellite readings took at the end of 1998. Last year, the El Niño pushed both surface and satellite-based temperature readings to record levels. By November, however, satellite readings had already dropped to levels typical of the 1979-1997 trend, i.e. a slight cooling”