Disinformation? You want it, IREA’s got it

While interesting, the letter is also a little disappointing. Many utilities, companies, and even politicians, have actually started to think about how to deal with the climate change challenge in a serious manner. This kind of retrograde ostrich-like behaviour seems so… 90’s. However, in among the distortions there are statements that reflect the real (and valid) concerns of the utilities – that their reliance on coal-powered generation renders them vulnerable to any carbon emission tax or cap and trade system. Bringing these groups around will require support for diversification of energy sources, forward thinking on future possibilities for carbon sequestration, and assurances that they won’t be uniquely burdened. They will probably never like this, but it may be possible make them accept it.

It is also worth stating that the existence of this kind of campaign does not in and of itself imply that the arguments used by Michaels and co. are bunk (they mostly are, but that can be shown with reference to the literature). But it does imply that one needs to be sure of ones sources. To paraphrase John Betjeman, any quote from Michaels should probably be followed with ‘So spake the industry’s P.R.O, A man who really ought to know, For he is paid for saying so’.

Update: Ford has denied directly funding the CEI ads (see comments below). Maybe IREA got this information from the same place they got their science?…

Page 2 of 2 | Previous page

128 comments on this post.
  1. Catherine Jansen:

    It’s quite amazing that an energy *co-operative* was able to spend its members money in this way. And no, it doesn’t prove that Michaels’ arguments are nonsense, but it does connect the dots very nicely!

  2. Arthur:

    The link to the actual letter seems to be broken.

    [Response:Fixed. sorry! – gavin]

  3. James Hrynyshyn:

    If that link isn’t working, this one should be:
    http://www.desmogblog.com/system/files?file=IREA-memo.pdf

  4. DrSinker:

    What’s the deal with Michaels? Is UVa in such a way that they need to keep him on as a research prof?

  5. Chris Rijk:

    The current link in the “(see Seth Borenstein’s piece yesterday)” bit goes via Google News (a service I find very useful) but wouldn’t it be better to give a direct link to the final destination:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/27/AR2006072701058.html

    It accepts direct links, so I assume the use of Google News redirect was unintended.

  6. savegaia.de:

    I suggest a website specialy dedicated to counter these kind of sad frauds.
    Frauding from a group of greedy individuals who do not represent anykind of majority.
    “Hej wake up we waited long enough its not the 90s anymore!”
    Point out the connection to the industries and the lack of reputation and the consensus.

    The money from the industrie vs the science. If the message gets out to the public about the plans from these companys, who support fraud on science, the image and reputation of all connected sources (companys, individuals, politicans), will be hit very bad in PR relation.

    So the more logical choice for an automobile manager is today to go for E85, biogas basicly alternative renewable energy resources!

    If you from the coal indurstie, fine use your company money wisley to invest in allready avaiable alternative renewable energy resources. In long terms this will satisfy much more as poluttion is low and maybe even the costs.

    Of course the state should support any effort into these kind of alternative technologies(by taxing low, by giving money to build up infrstructers and such kind of things).

    The public opinion is on the side of the science, preventing AGW by reduceing of fossil fuel combustion and everything related. This is why Wal-Mart made a testimoney for zero emissions and more! Thats why lately california surveys shows a strong belive in AGW and a influx in news on the media.

    The topic will not go away and it will become much stronger as heatwaves and natural devasting process are proceeding, fed by our emissions.

    2006 was the 1st heatwave which could be considered as a global event, allready killed many humans world wide! Now imagine a slightly increase with the temperature of these new “we have to get used to it” heatwaves events, beside this it gets more frequent.

  7. cbone:

    Do you apply the same level of skepticism when environmental groups provide funding for studies?

    [Response:Which studies would they be? -gavin]

  8. cbone:

    Re: #7
    Gavin,
    It was a hypothetical question. Is the source of a scientist’s funding alone enough to discredit all of their work? It would seem the answer is yes if industry provides the money. I am curious if that same standard can be applied when the source of funding is from an environmental orginization? (Since they too like industry have a vested interest in the outcome of the work they are funding.)

    [Response: I specifically stated above that the source of the funding doesn’t in and of itself make an argument bunk. These arguments can (and should) be assessed on scientific grounds. However, environmental groups do not have a vested interest in the exsitence of global warming – there are of course many other environmental problems they could be (and are) dealing with – but they do not stand to gain personally if global warming is more serious. However, energy companies do have a real vested and financial interest in the possibility of emission reductions. Making an equal-and-opposite comparison is not valid. – gavin]

  9. Mark Shapiro:

    It used to be difficult to discuss climate science with the interested public without getting involved in the political or economic implications.

    It is now imposible.

    And so (for me at least) it is useful to acknowledge this directly. I don’t know how to reword last sentence of the “About” statement at the top of the RC home page, but some qualification could help.

    BUT, the opening for this topic actually comes from the Wegman report and the Barton hearings, from their social network analysis. Wegman asked if peer review and coauthorship patterns affect the credibility of climate science. The IREA question is whether money affects the credibility of climate science. It is a line of analysis started by exxonsecrets.org, Ross Gelbspan and others. Scientists, like all citizens, can ask “cui bono”.

    I’m a little naive about the sciences of network analysis and corruption, but the United States Congress thinks they’re important in climate science analysis.

    Let’s follow their lead.

  10. caerbannog:

    re #8

    Gavin,
    It was a hypothetical question. Is the source of a scientist’s funding alone enough to discredit all of their work? It would seem the answer is yes if industry provides the money. I am curious if that same standard can be applied when the source of funding is from an environmental orginization? (Since they too like industry have a vested interest in the outcome of the work they are funding.

    If said funding results in puff-pieces in advocacy publications rather than research papers in peer-reviewed journals, then one should consider the work discredited. Perhaps you can point us to some of the industry-funded work challenging global warming that has been published peer-reviewed journals (as opposed to publications like National Review, WorldNetDaily, etc…). Or perhaps not…

  11. Dave Dardinger:

    cbone may have been a bit inprecise in his remark, but I think he was making a good point. The point is that, having now read the letter you kindly link to, it’s clear that IREA is financing an advertising campaign, not “studies” in the sense of Climate Science studies. Therefore it’s fair to compare it to public relations / advertising campaigns done by environmental groups. (I would hope you don’t need to have such campaigns explicitly pointed out to you.) Of course, any publicity campaign needs to consider ways to multiply the affect of the actual money spent on advertising and lobbying, and this translates into media interest. I would hope you’d agree that the media is much, much more favorable to the pro-AGW side than the anti-AGW side. Therefore, it’s not surprising that those who would be hurt by the implementation of a Kyoto-like regime in the US, for instance, would find it necessary to spend money to get their message out.

    It’s not a case of disinformation, as you rather one-sidedly put it. It’s a case of an attempt toward balance. You think AGW is proven, I don’t. You certainly have a right to post a thread like this one, but what’s the point if it isn’t that others don’t have such a right? Who exactly are you attempting to influence and to what purpose? Those who agree with you on AGW aren’t going to need to be updated as to a publicity campaign by those you all disagree with in the first place. And those of us who are skeptical of AGW are only sorry that such paltry sums are available to counter the overwhelming pro-AGW media coverage.

    [Response: Michaels is not an ad agency – he advertises himself as a scientist. If ‘balance’ was the goal, where are the funds going to showing that gravity is really global sucking? Where are the funds for ‘balance’ on the whole flat vs round Earth argument? Be serious. You and I and every one else knows exactly why this is going on. – gavin]

  12. David A:

    Careful — Ford have denied they funded the CEI ads. Not sure about GM

  13. Hank Roberts:

    Please link to Ford’s actual response, I want to know exact words.

    [Response: Possibly this is what is being referred to: http://www.terrapass.com/terrablog/posts/000267.html – gavin]

  14. David A:

    Ford’s response is here if you scroll down, sorry for the long link
    David

    http://www.desmogblog.com/industry-memo-claims-controversial-ad-campaign-financed-by-gm-and-ford

    [Response: Thanks, I’ll update the text accordingly. – gavin]

  15. Hank Roberts:

    Here’s a testable prediction by Dr. Michaels, I think, a natural experiment has been performed in the past week:

    “Michaels … was an author of the 2003 climate science “Paper of the Year” awarded by the Association of American Geographers, for the demonstration that urban heat-related mortality declined significantly as cities became warmer.”

    http://www.cato.org/people/michaels.html

    Has anyone audited his work on this lately?

  16. Karen Street:

    Re the answer to #8: However, environmental groups do not have a vested interest in the exsitence of global warming – there are of course many other environmental problems they could be (and are) dealing with – but they do not stand to gain personally if global warming is more serious.

    Environmental groups do collect donations, more with some positions than with others. If it turns out that opposing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a bigger money source than increasing the CAFE standards (which environmentalists have put little effort into, though it will ultimately do more to protect ANWR), and that reconsidering opposition to nuclear power and transgenic crops puts donations as risk, do we have reason to think that financial interests may affect decision-making?

  17. Lynn Vincentnathan:

    I’ve been promoting individual action to mitigate GW, but this in no way precludes action at all levels & in all spheres (afterall, the contrarians are working overtime to disprove AGW): home, work, church, school, city, state, country, world. Offering solutions, showing support for reducing GHGs, which I hope the members of that electricity co-op will do, and (now I add) showing support for honest, objective science.

    Anyway, the publicity from this fiasco is great — people can now see the underside of the beast.

    I wanted to pass this on. There will be a rally for climate justice and truth telling from NOAA Leadership, August 26, 12-3, in Silver Spring, MD. If interested, you can contact Anne Havemann (anne@chesapeakeclimate.org) for more information.

    I joined their little group last December for a hybrid car rally when I was in DC for a conference. They are very nice people. So if you live close & are concerned about how science is being twisted and blocked, this might be for you.

    Sad that it’s come down to needing body counts at rallies to try and get what we should have had in the first place: objective, honest science.

  18. Eachran:

    Thanks Hank Roberts for cheering me up on post 15. I was getting so depressed to see the likes of Lomburg and Michaels appearing on this site like ghosts from the Marie Celeste.

  19. Karl Sanchez:

    It seems to me that CEI would know who’s sponsoring its ads. As Ford says, “Ford has supported many Competitive Enterprise Institute initiatives over the years,” which would mean that Ford monies are part of the budgetary fund that CEI would use to pay for producing its ads. Ford just happens to have had the foresight to put together the handy PR statement it used as evidence it’s not a part of the current campaign–a very nice fig leaf. When one looks at Ford’s behavior in the marketplace as compared with Toyota, it’s clear they don’t care about producing a vehicle that is more environmentally friendly on a mass production basis, and seem happy about losing both market share and profits.

  20. Lynn Vincentnathan:

    Re #16, first of all, environmental groups are nonprofit, and their staff get set salaries.

    Second, the staff are committed environmentalists, most of whom could make more money in other fields.

    Third, Robert Kennedy Jr (at NRDC – Natural Resource Defense Council) doesn’t need more money! Same probably goes for Teddy Roosevelt’s grandson at PEW.

    Fourth, the organizations wouldn’t need so much money, if our government & contrarians would stop being such bad boys & just do the EC (environmentally correct) thing.

    Fifth, if environmental organizations do not fight for the environment, who will? There are plenty of people fighting for industry & profits. Even so, ED (Environmental Defense) & NRDC & RMI (Rocky Mountain Institute) have worked with industry to help them become EC & save money, and much prefer that option than taking matters to court. I think the Montreal Protocol was based on a model developed by an ED staff member.

    Sixth, Michael Crichton’s sinister portrayal of mainstream environmental groups in SOF is way off base & insulting, bordering on slander. Let’s keep things in perspective: the real evil-doers are the ones who kill and harm people (usually with impunity) through environmental harms.

  21. Lynn Vincentnathan:

    Oh, and I forgot to add that I looked into the Alar apple fiasco in the 70s while doing my thesis in the 90s. NRDC took stats from how it affected adults (fairly minor) and used a fudge factor to figure how it would affect children (since agencies were only testing for adults, not children — as if children don’t eat apples).

    NRDC’s fudged stat raised alarm & people stopped buying alar apples, but it turned out NOT to be a false alarm. Recently the EPA started testing for children, and their figure came out very close to NRDC’s figure — no significant difference. So NRDC was correct, even if the apple industry suffered. Which is regrettable, but why did they use the stuff when it was only for appearances to make apples redder (no other benefit), and there had been indications it might be dangerous?

    But the upshot was that NRDC got a bad name for a decade or so because of that, for being false alarmist — when all along it turns out they were correct.

    This just goes to show that environmental organizations do NOT to have to exaggerate. There are plenty of serious problems out there.

  22. Dan Allan:

    Seems like the skeptics are out in force in this thread.

    M. Crichton, in an essay / screed several years ago, made an interesting comparison between the global-warming “alarmists” and advocates who tried to tell us that second-hand smoke was harmful, when in fact the evidence suggests that it is not.

    There are a couple of problems with his argument. The most glaring is that he is 100% wrong about second-hand smoke – as a major recent study concluded. It is directly linked to asthma, among other things. The other problem is that showing that one scientific viewpoint was incorrect (in this case it wasn’t) does not mean some other, entirely unrelated viewpoint is wrong.

    All of this brings me to my own analogy (which others have made as well): the disturbing similarity between business interests denying that tobacco was harmful, and producing their own junk science to support their contention, and the energy companies now investing money in distorting science on another major issue for society. The tobacco companies were wrong, millions of people died prematurely due to their lies.

    In my judgment (being of the party that lacks “moral clarity”, whatever that means), what the tobacco executives did was tantamount to mass-murder. I wonder what the energy executives are going to think of themselves, are going to tell their grandchildren, when it turns out they are wrong as well.

    Best all.

    Dan

  23. Brian Gordon:

    Re: 15: Warmer cities = “lower urban heat-related mortality,” according to Dr. Michaels.

    I’m sure this is very reassuring to the 15,000 people who died in the recent European heat wave (2003?) and to the dozens dying in the US and Europe in the current heat wave.

    From the IREA letter: “The last component is the political arena, and that is where this issue will be finally resolved.”

    Unless, of course, AGW is real and has the effects predicted, in which case the “issue” may well be “resolved” by riots, famine, plagues, and ultimately, general, all-around death.

  24. Joel Norton:

    Thanks for the very informative piece. I believe that humankinds response to Global Warming will come down to politics. I would be interested in seeing more articles focusing on how the scientific community can effectively deal with propaganda tactics and political idealogy.

    Thanks again for your excellent site.

  25. Jim Harrison:

    In my experience, corporate response to the threat of new regulation is often schizophrenic. When the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 came on the scene, for example, some utility management people proposed to fight the regs in the courts while the engineers concluded (rightly) that they could comply without serious financial loss. What struck me at the time was that these contrasting responses frequently occurred inside the same companies – corporations may be persons in the eyes of a law; but, like political parties, they are unstable coalitions internally. Thus at the same time some utility managers contest the reality of global warming, their planning people are probably just assuming that limiting emissions will be a cost of doing business in the future.

  26. Hank Roberts:

    >15, followup.
    The paper Michaels got an award for, which his bio calls “the demonstration that urban heat-related mortality declined significantly as cities became warmer.”
    Description found here:
    http://www.unh.edu/stateclimatologist/csg/papers.htm

    Robert E. Davis (University of Virginia) with P.C. Knappenberger, W.M. Novicoff, and P.J. Michaels

    “Decadal changes in summer mortality in U.S. cities”
    International Journal of Biometeorology 47:166-175
    (Coauthor Knappenberger participates in RC, you here?)

    This is supposed to be a link; anyone able to open it?
    http://springerlink.metapress.com/app/home/contribution.asp?wasp=m5uc84pqxl7yuj9a9xaw&referrer=parent&backto=issue,6,7;journal,7,37;browsepublicationsresults,234,532;

    In other news:

    FRESNO, Calif. Jul 27, 2006 (AP)â�� Corpses piled up at the morgue Thursday, and aid workers went door-to-door, checking in on elderly people in hopes of keeping the death toll from California’s 12-day heat wave from rising.

    California coroner’s offices said the number of deaths possibly connected to the heat wave climbed to 98.

    In Fresno County’s morgue, the walk-in freezer was stuffed with bodies, with some piled on top of others, said Coroner Loralee Cervantes. With limited air conditioning, employees worked in sweltering heat as they investigated at least 22 possible heat-related deaths.

    “It’s never been like this in my years here,” Cervantes said. “This is really tragic.”

    The mercury dropped slightly in some areas, with Sacramento dipping below 100 for the first time in 12 days, but Fresno hit 105 and Bakersfield reached 107.

  27. David Iles:

    There seems to be no end to this debate. We will be quibbling about climate change as our cities flood, our farmlands dry up and blow away, and our forest ignite and turn to hot ash.

    If we want our children and grand children to survive, let alone have any kind of quality to their lives we will need to develop international strategies to end co2 emission rapidly, we will need to do a thorough examination of our current farming practices and food distribution systems and the ways we obtain and use fresh water.

    This letter points our biggest challenge namely the capitalist mindset. If greed and short term self interest continue to be our most actionable values and if we hold to the farcical notions of the ever expanding economy and free markets (which are not at all free but inevitably are strongly bias towards those with the most wealth) we are dead along with many of our fellow species here on this gorgeous and generous gift of a planet that we share.

    In a world where oil companies profit hugely from warfare (follow the support and the money being made from the conflicts in the middle east and see who is raking it in) which is arguably one of the largest, most wasteful uses of our energies, and the above sort of mudding of the waters of issue like global climate change continue to hold sway. It is clear our false notions of individual survival of the fittest politics and gamesmanship – although exciting – is not suited to long term survivability.

    The subtext for all of the global warming critics-for-hire is that, everything is actually ok please go back to the mall and continue to shop.

  28. Eachran:

    OK you lot, so what are we going to do about this mess ? Carbon taxes probably and fast, together with geo-engineering, improved carbon sinks and a spot of bio-engineering on the human species (smaller bodies less testosterone and bigger heads – perhaps more women).

    It is interesting seeing calculations on the cost to the economy of doing the right thing when doing just that is the only option available other than extinction. Incidentally it will cost a lot to clean up our wonderful planet but I for one would prefer natural air conditioning to the artificial variety.

    Mr Cline, who wrote the discussion paper for the Copenhagen Consensus and the rejoinder to his critics, has some interesting things to say about the costs to get out of this human made mess. You can find it on the Copenhagen Consensus website. Fixing the problem is quite expensive, but I prefer to look at it in this way : society is about doing things together to improve our lot in a collective way, collectivity, solidarity and social intercourse really make us happier. The cost of working together is no cost at all.

    When we have cooperated to put the planet back on track then we all need to pool our resources to get ourselves off this rock before we all fry.

    Does anyone know of anyone collecting ideas to fix things please? Because, being a nutty sort of person I have lots of ideas about everything. I drive my family friends and aquaintances mad.

  29. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    Sure, I do.

    Someone from Exxon-Mobil was on my website just last night, referred from here, over to the usenet, and then they downloaded the works. They seemed particularly interested in my bismuth iodide paper. Unfortunately, bismuth is about as rare as platinum, but it’s a lot less expensive. There are always metal ammonia solutions and phosphorus too. Lots of solid state avenues remain unexplored, but but flailing around doing combinatorial analysis of alloys and compounds is like shooting in the dark. We have a fairly good theory now – BCS-BOSE – BEC-BCS – Boson-Fermion, call it whatever.

    http://www.lifeform.org/bion.htm

    http://www.lifeform.org/rocket.htm

    Go ahead. Go nuts. I’m not sure if that will help, though.

  30. cp:

    The more critics you get, the more you “proofread” your work and this is not a bad thing, if you ask me. I understand that science is science, but if an explanation seems logical it should be considered. I find it reasonable to believe that global warming is an issue, but the other side also has some good explanations and models from time to time. Interpretation of scientific facts can change. Climate change, like many other things, found its way in political agendas and that was very bad, because people may think about it in terms of politics (ecology is sooo “Hippy”, they say).
    The untrained public finds almost every explanation logical, by the way, so it’s up to the scientists to prove that it’s not a matter of funding, by providing sound science and be able to support it when challenged. That’s what counts for the non scientific public, not impressive titles and political campaigns.

  31. Kgrandia:

    To compare or make an assertion that there is some kind of conspiracy on the side of the environmental movement to fund science of their own making is a little wild when you consider the notorious Exxon’s Q2 profits were just reported to $10 billion. How could the environmental movement ever mount a campaign against a giant like Exxon, who has reportedly spent $8 million on the climate change skeptic movement?

  32. Dan:

    re: 30. Not exactly. The valid “critics” are already there in the form of the scientific peer-review process. Not those (especially those without any scientific credentials) who take pot shots in the grey literature, the WSJ, or industry/politically sponsored web sites. The sound science is there and well-supported/documented. It is those who are taking the pot shots that have extremely little by which to stand on scientifically. Every major scientific society in the world (yes, the world; it is not hyperbole) supports the science behind global warming.

  33. Dan Hughes:

    I do not understand the arguments about Big Oil, and ‘wealthy’ persons, profiting because of a lack of restrictive policies relative to use of hydrocarbon-based fuels. Big Oil is ‘big’ first and foremost only because there is demand for its products and services. We are that demand, not the Big Oil companies. Big Oil, and all other ‘Big Bads (insert your favorite here)’, do not operate in a vacuum. In the absence of demand they will not be Big. One especially striking aspect of the recent arguments is that it seems that those who have reaped the most benefits from our present energy-supply systems are among those that use energy (create demand) for applications that are in no way necessary. I use a personal computer, have audio and video systems and other electronic ‘toys’, car and other modes of transport, comfortable heating when needed, etc., for examples.

    Additionally, as is readily seen in many markets, profit margin is not necessarily a function of size. Many companies have established very profitable niche markets. Many companies have much larger profit margins than the ‘Big Oil’ companies; these latter run at about 10% to 12% of gross revenue. And, although I have never been in management, I can easily see that managing a smaller company can potentially be very much easier than managing larger enterprises. At the same time many of these smaller companies make larger profit margins.

    In the case of energy and hydrocarbon fuels, a necessary and absolutely vital service is being performed. These vital services cannot, and will not, simply be ‘cut down to size’. There is frequently presented real-world evidence that energy generation and distribution systems in several industrialized countries run at the margins; usually at peak-demand times in extreme weather conditions. Additionally, when this occurs we see the tragic results in deaths of human beings. Not all deaths result directly from the lack of energy services, but some preventable deaths do occur.

    Decreasing our dependence on hydrocarbon fuels will be a major undertaking; probably unequaled in history. The vital services and products must continue to freely flow as very significant changes are developed and implemented on enormous scales. And not only for the already-industrialized countries. All humans on the planet, present and future, must absolutely have the opportunities and benefits that have been realized in the industrialize countries.

    So far it seems that actually-viable, real-world solutions to dependence on hydrocarbon fuels do not exist or are subject to other political, non-scientific debates. Demands for energy services and products will only continue to increase in the future all over the planet. Existing energy production systems will be required to continue to operate as additional systems are developed and implemented. Simply cutting off supply is not viable. Taxes on the supply will of course be passed on to the consumers of energy products and services, and these taxes will generally fall on the people who can least afford them. As demand is not elastic the ‘Big Oil’ companies will continue to be ‘Big Oil’. The ‘Big Oil” elites and ‘big-oil-based wealthy’ will continue to as if nothing has happened and all us regular people will pay. What is missing from the let’s-change-Big-Oil community are actual solutions that will, additionally, successfully operate in an manner that ensures an equal burden in the real world.

    The time scales for change-over to other fuel sources are very long; on the order of several decades. And this would only occur on such a short time frame if some kind of required mandate is forced upon all the people on the planet. Under such conditions it is always those that have-not who suffer and pay an unfair share, while the ‘haves’, which very likely includes everyone reading this, make out like bandits.

    True scientific and engineering research cannot be influenced by the funding source; the math will not allow solutions to be influenced by political agendas. News releases and soft-sciences aspects can be tailored to meet almost any agenda; we see this every day from all sides. The climate-change research community is probably entirely funded by public sources. In the United States about 55% of these public sources come from industry, including ‘Big Oil’.

    The only “Big’ organizations that get big in the absence of demand are government bureaucracies. These seem to operate on momentum alone because there are no stopping criteria. In the case of climate change we hear daily that ‘the science is settled’. Yet we at the same time hear, with alarm, that ‘funding is being cut’. In a private enterprise setting this would not be allowed to occur. When a problem is solved work does not continue on the problem. Implementation of the solution is the next process.

  34. Mark Shapiro:

    Re 28 – Eachran: “Does anyone know of anyone collecting ideas to fix things please?”

    Yes. Amory Lovins at the Rocky Mountain Institute, http://www.rmi.org , has been working on this since 1973 or so. RMI’s latest book “Winning the Oil Endgame” has 300+ pages of ideas, it’s available free for download, and they don’t even include public transit! Their latest newsletter, also free, shows how they’re working with Wal-Mart to make them much more energy effficient and eventually fossil-free. RMI pushes efficiency as profitable even if you assume AGW costs nothing. And, RMI’s economics is basically libertarian, so it’s good to toss the RMI name to Cato and CEI, who could agree on the economics.

    Gar Lipow is writing a book on how to make the economy fossil free profitably. And try the Innovation Modelling Comparison Project, a German project showing how the economics could be done.

    Chin up! And remember to be nice to coal miners — they’re afraid of us, and they needn’t be.

  35. Eduardo:

    Savegaia:

    the 2006 heat wave was not global. We in the Southern Hemisphere have been cooling since long time (in my city, Córdoba since 1987, and you should check New Zealand…), and the little warmth we had recently corresponds to our version of the Indian Summer you have in the USA. A thermal inversion aided when it produced a quite usual Zonda wind runnig eastwards from the Andes. The Zonda is a very warm wind.

    BTW, there are still more than 5000 trucks blockqued in Andean pass to Chile at Cristo Redentor by one of the biggest snowstorms ever seen. Of course, blame Global Warmnig. Forecast for tomorrow is 0º C (at 34º S) and -4º C for the next day.

    Not much global warming down here… We hoped to have some, but unfortunately it keeos cooling.

  36. Jody Clarke:

    Dear Gavin,

    IREA was not correct when it stated in its letter that Ford and GM funded our ad campaign. At our news conference May 17, we made it clear that we produced and were airing the ads without any involvement from our donors. Some news stories erroneously inferred a corporate connection to our ads, which we believe may have led to the error in the IREA letter.

    Regards,

    Jody Clarke

    Vice President for Communications

    Competitive Enterprise Institute

    1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW Suite 1250

    Washington, DC 20036

    Direct: 202.331.2252 Cell: 703.863.9021

    Fax: 202.331.0640 Email: jclarke@cei.org

    http://www.cei.org

    Blog: http://www.ceiopenmarket.org

    http://www.controlabuseofpower.org

    http://www.bureaucrash.com

  37. cp:

    re 32

    This is correct as far as the scientific community is concerned but it doesn’t really apply to the general public. You may have as many well documented proofs as you like, but this will only work among scientists. If you need some changes in people’s behaviour, energy consumption and other details which may help with climate change, it’s the people outside of scientific societies you’ll have to persuade and they do tend to believe what seems logical to them. Unfortunately, logical often means well presented.
    I’m not reading Journals and the like,I can’t understand most of the jargon there, but I’m reading the daily papers. How are you going to persuade me that you are not part of a political agenda and make me avoid things that lead us to climate changes?

  38. Stephen Berg:

    Re Gavin’s: “If ‘balance’ was the goal, where are the funds going to showing that gravity is really global sucking?”

    Isn’t it “Intelligent Falling” instead of “global sucking”?

  39. Javier Gonzales:

    ABC News broke this story yesterday, although they are entirely too fair to Lewandowski, I think:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/GlobalWarming/story?id=2242565&page=1

  40. Peter Williams:

    Who is Absudamatov?

    Lewdandowski refers in his letter to the Russian scientist Khabubulo Absudamatov.

    A web search on Absudamatov gets tons of hits – lots of news articles about how we are due for another cold spell due to 200-year solar variations in output.

    I have to say as an astrophysicist that I have never heard of the guy. Of course that alone doesn’t mean anything, but I can’t find him (even considering the variations in transliterating from the Cyrillic) in the primary literature databases. Basically this guy does not seem to exist in peer-reviewed literature, nor even on arxiv.org which is NOT peer-reviewed.

    Anyway this comment is a sideline to the main issue here, but just be aware of this. It started with an article on newsru.com, picked up by mosnews.com on Feb 6 of this year. You will probably hear more about how this solar expert (???) has shown that the world is going to get cooler in the next few decades.

    I for one prefer to get my info on the Sun from my friends at the Max Plank Institute, Harvard-CfA, the National Solar Observatory, and so on. And, more to the point, I prefer to get my info on the significance of solar forcing on climate variation from climatologists and not solar scientists (being an astrophysicist myself I can tell you that being an expert on the Sun does not qualify you to know anything about how solar activity affects the Earth).

    It is well-known that the Sun’s activity undergoes variations, including what looks like a periodic variation on a roughly 200-year timescale. This isn’t news. In fact, it’s an important thing to know if you do radiocarbon dating. Solar activity is not the same as solar output (luminosity), however.

    It’s an old idea that variations in solar output are large enough to drive most of the warming this century, and as I understand it this has been rather thoroughly debunked. Apparently this old canard just won’t die, however.

  41. vaughan:

    I think another analogous situation was with the findings and then “skepticism” about the use of lead in gasoline. The auto/oil companies fought that and won for many, many years. The paint industry as well (lead paint was known to be toxic in the 1910’s–it was outlawed in New Zealand by the 1920s–here in the US the paint lobby kept it going till the 1970s). Eventually the cost/benefit analysis showed that the cost of treating and caring for inner city kids who would be made mentally retarded due to lead poisoning was greater than the cost to industry to take the lead out of gas.

  42. Peter Williams:

    P.S. Solar forcing probably is important at some level – I didn’t mean to imply that it wasn’t – but with a few notable exceptions in the astrophysics community (e.g. W. Soon?) most astronomers I know think this is small compared with anthropogenic effects, for the warming in the post-industrial age. And after all, the ones to ask are the climatologists, not the astrophysicists; we just have to remind them about solar variation, which they are well aware of.

  43. Hank Roberts:

    >15, >26
    Updating 26:
    ————–
    (AP) At least 132 deaths, mostly elderly residents, were likely linked to a nearly two-week heat wave in California, county coroner’s offices reported Friday.

    The big jump from a day earlier came primarily from Los Angeles, Merced, and Stanislaus counties, where coroners struggled to keep up.

    “This is unprecedented for the county,” said Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services spokesman David Jones. The county typically suffers one heat-related death a year, he said. On Friday, he reported 29 deaths in a survey by The Associated Press.

    The state’s elderly may have underestimated the potential for harm…..
    ———

    Anyone who can check into the article cited in #15, please comment:
    “… the 2003 climate science “Paper of the Year” awarded by the Association of American Geographers, for the demonstration that urban heat-related mortality declined significantly as cities became warmer.”
    link provided, this one, doesn’t have the article:
    http://www.cato.org/people/michaels.html

  44. Dan:

    re: 37 What a minute. So the lies, mistruths and slander by various people with blantant political agendas such as George Will, Crichton and the oil company-funded types constitutes “logic”? How backwards is that? Science and its results are the logic here, without any political agenda. It is fundamental. To treat them as equal is simply absurd.

  45. pr ciszewski:

    How can a average layman check resources from an article in their local news paper via the internet to see if they have published peer reviewed articles? I am specifically interested in James O’Brien and Philip Klotsbach. I am researching the Keay Davidson article in the SF Chronicle July 25th… Scientists split on heat wave cause…

    As a layman reading newspaper articles and having a healthy amount of distrust with the media, the peer review process seems like a very good litmus test for measuring credibility.

    I have learned a great deal from reading this thread, thank you.

  46. Dan:

    re: 35. See http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/mann2003b/hemisphere.jpg.
    Per the article, “conclusions for the southern hemisphere… are limited by spareness of the available proxy data.” However, the trend does not support the idea that it is cooling there.

  47. wayne davidson:

    OK the heat waves , note “s” , simultaneous and pervasive, originate from places in the world which were more than +5 C above normal on a consistent basis during last winter, need not look at city thermal Islands in the middle of the Arctic archipelago or lake Superior! I’m very curious about which thermal dynamic new law, the anti-gw folks are proposing in order to confirm that these warm days are nothing short but part of a normal cycle. If it is warm everywhere, it is because “average” temperatures were pushed upwards world wide in the NH. A text book definition, as someone proposed about GW. The disinformation stems from a personality war, when a publisher pits one view against another, by emphasing on personalities rather than science. When it comes down to facts and solid explanations, personalities should melt like snow in summer.

    Going to observe the sun now, spotless like the “little ice age” , in a time where its hot everywhere. Capich cycle theorists?

  48. cat black:

    I’ve been thinking lately that, if things really do go as badly as they might in the environment, we may be seeing the last of politics as we’ve come to know it. By that I mean, the absolute long-term end of special interest driven political obfuscation, monied access to power, and moral and ethical fence sitting. In all areas, not just environmental protection.

    If things go badly enough then once we’ve emerged from the near/total collapse of everything we’ve collectively worked toward over 1,500 years (assuming we emerge at all) intelligent people are going to recognize that their political systems have failed them at a time when they were most needed. Further, they will recognize the mechanism for failure and will be looking at serious, fundamental, structural changes in government and especially in the formation, operation and regulation of corporations (which I suspect now are skipping gaily into the jaws of a monster). I will not prognosticate further; any one of us could come up with a dozen such trajectory models over the morning coffee.

    I only say this in this particular forum as a way to recognize that while AGW may have become wrapped up with policial machination, this may not turn out to the benefit of those creating the package. The Law of Unintended Consequences is no doubt in play.

  49. Mark Bahner:

    “However, environmental groups do not have a vested interest in the exsitence of global warming – there are of course many other environmental problems they could be (and are) dealing with – but they do not stand to gain personally if global warming is more serious.”

    Sort of like how the authors at Real Climate don’t stand to gain personally if global warming is more serious?

  50. S Molnar:

    Re #32: “Every major scientific society in the world (yes, the world; it is not hyperbole) supports the science behind global warming.” Let’s not get carried away here: the British Mycological Society has not taken a position on the issue.

    Re #34: Gar Lipow has already written his book; now he needs a publisher:
    http://www.nohairshirts.com/
    Any publishers out there? Based on the available excerpts and some of his other writings I would guess it’s quite marketable. Then again, most of the books I buy struggle to break into the Amazon top one million list, so a second opinion might be in order.

  51. cbone:

    Who said that environmentalism wasn’t a big business too..
    http://tinyurl.com/4ybqe

    “Although environmental organizations have accomplished many stirring and important victories over the years, today groups prosper while the land does not. Competition for money and members is keen. Litigation is a blood sport. Crisis, real or not, is a commodity. And slogans and sound bites masquerade as scientific fact.”

    “National environmental organizations, I fear, have grown away from the grass roots to mirror the foxes they had been chasing,” said environmental author Michael Frome, at a wilderness conference in Seattle last year. “They seem to me to have turned tame, corporate and compromising.”

  52. Mark A. York:

    Gavin, the false argument they use is they do so because of contributions. Any fool could see that the comparision between the Sierra Club and an major utility is an excercise in imbalance. It works on a large number of people.

  53. Robin Johnson:

    The folks working and managing most industries reflexively don’t like being told what to do. Worse, since most “safety/health” technology exists long before its mandated, the failure of an industry to voluntarily adopt a health or safety measure without a government mandate implies they are “bad” people. Most folks don’t want to be bad people – so they deny it (internally and externally). So they argue that the costs of a measure is excessive compared to the benefit and hence bad for the economy or somehow restricts liberty. Its just human nature. And yelling at them doesn’t help. It just reinforces the “I’m bad so I’ve got to deny it” syndrome.

    So, we had auto unions, auto companies and those “tree hugging” Democrats from the midwest opposing seat belts, pollution controls [the only reason the lead was taken out of the gasoline was because it fouled the catalytic convertors not for safety concerns about the lead]. Diesel exhaust was unregulated until THIS year. Lead in paint. Indiscriminate use of pesticides. Asbestos in brakes and fireproofing. The examples are virtually endless and highly predictable.

    For years, various politicians and commentators screamed for “Cost Benefit Analysis” for health and safety rules. You never hear that anymore. You know why? Everytime the NIH, OSHA or EPA did a cost benefit analysis for a proposed rule – the benefits so dwarfed the costs it was simply embarrassing.

    The trouble is the benefits are to society as a whole while the costs are borne by a specific industry. Of course, in most cases, the costs are just passed onto the consumer – who doesn’t recognize the “benefit” either and this generates a level of denial and resentment. Amusingly, most industries benefit from mandated costs. All their competitors have to do it. The companies can point to the gov’t for the reason they had to raise prices. For utilities, the PSCs “rig” the rates so that the utilities make 15% profit. So if costs go up – rates have to go up – so if the margin remains the same – they actually make more money.

    In some cases, rival industries will push a particular health and safety rule to “harm” their competitors. For example, if you own low sulfur coal mines or natural gas reserves – you’ll push rules to limit sulfur emissions causing your “energy rivals” who own high sulfur coal and oil shales to suffer and increasing demand for your product. Same goes for ethanol and MTBE.

    So what’s my point?

    Some folks say “its all about the money”. But its not always – even for profit driven corporations. Seemingly irrational behavior abounds the human experience. This needs to be kept in mind when dealing with intractable opponents. Humans only change behavior in response to force or reason. Force is usually a lot more work than reason but it just seems simpler. When companies act irrationally, we need to try reason and meanwhile rally others to apply pressure (force) as necessary.

  54. Glen Fergus:

    Please can we stop suggesting a Carbon Tax? New taxes have been political death since the Domesday Book. We’re talking about private consumption of a public resource, namely the 100-year buffering capacity of the world’s oceans. We mostly regulate such things by licensing, not taxation – things like fishing, shooting, grazing on public lands. Licenses usually involve license fees, time limits and take caps. And they are often tradeable.

    So it should be a Carbon Emission License, and yes, cap and trade.

  55. cp:

    re 44

    In principle, you are right, but try and explain about peer reviews to people who know nothing about sciences or have no access to bibliography but still have the right to vote or otherwise affect the business world. They may be illiterate or educated but with a theoretical background and no interest in sciences whatsoever… Should we exclude them from information? Or voting?
    I think it would be better if more of the “correct” science found its way to the mass media. One way to do this, is to reply to the “false” one that already occupies much of their pages and air time. My grandma and grandpa don’t even know who Chrichton is – Well, I don’t, either, but I can google it, I suppose :)
    What I’m trying to say is that it should be made clear to everyone without a special scientific education that it has nothing to do with political opposition to their favourite candidate.

  56. Dan:

    re: 50. Who is getting carried away? From illconsidered.blogspot.com:
    The list of scientific institutions that have all concluded there is a real danger:
    NASA GISS http://www.giss.nasa.gov/edu/gwdebate/
    NOAA http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/globalwarming.html
    IPCC http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/index.htm
    NAS http://books.nap.edu/collections/global_warming/index.html
    SOCC http://www.socc.ca/permafrost/permafrost_future_e.cfm
    EPA http://yosemite.epa.gov/OAR/globalwarming.nsf/content/index.html
    UK RS http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/page.asp?id=3135
    AGU http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/climatechangeresearch_2003.html
    NCAR http://eo.ucar.edu/basics/cc_1.html
    AMS http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/jointacademies.html
    CMOS http://www.cmos.ca/climatechangepole.html
    http://nationalacademies.org/onpi/06072005.pdf
    Every major scientific institute dealing with climate, ocean, atmosphere agrees that the evidence says the climate is warming rapidly and the primary cause is human CO2.
    See also this joint statement endorsing the conclusions of the IPCC issued by the Australian Academy of Sciences, Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts, Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of Canada, Caribbean Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, French Academy of Sciences, German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina, Indian National Science Academy, Indonesian Academy of Sciences, Royal Irish Academy, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy), Academy of Sciences Malaysia, Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and Royal Society (UK).
    http://www.royalsociety.org/displaypagedoc.asp?id=13619

  57. pat neuman:

    Re: 56.

    Dan,

    Not every major scientific institute dealing with climate, ocean, and atmosphere agrees there is that the climate is warming rapidly and the primary cause is human emissions of CO2. A major exception not on your list is the National Weather Service (NWS). NWS has a staff of 5,500 with contacts to media, local governments and other federal agencies, and it has resources to do outreach, training and forecasting of weather and climate within all the states. Your list included NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), but NCDC has no day to day contact with the public and media staff. NOAA’s NWS is the agency the public goes to on weather and climate. From my experience, when I worked for NWS until July 2005, NWS managers officially told people that global warming was too political and controversial for their office to deal with, but unofficially NWS managers and senior meteorologists were telling the public there was no global warming problem. Similar statements were made by many of the State Climatologists.

    Originally the state climatologist in each state in the United States
    was a federal employing working for NOAA, as described in the article called: History of the State Climatologist in New Mexico posted at:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ClimateArchive/message/3440

  58. Francis Massen:

    Re #8: “However, environmental groups do not have a vested interest in the existence of global warming (Gavin)” and #16:
    In my opinion, quite the contrary is true: here in Luxembourg, GW is one of the pillars supporting Greenpeace and many of it’s more spectacular actions (it is not acid rain and Waldsterben any more…). Environmental groups do need (real or putative) local and global dangers for their surviving!
    BTW, I note that discussions starting with a very precise point (as the funding of Dr. Michaels here) tend to drift rapidly to the overall and much broader discussions of energy use, decarbonization, taxes, etc. Could a bit more severe editing by RC staff keep the discussions on the track laid out at the starting block ?

  59. Eachran:

    Thanks Thomas Lee Elifritz and Mark Shapiro, I shall pursue in due course and I really dont mind going nuts.

  60. Bruce Marshall:

    re: 57
    “unofficially NWS managers and senior meteorologists were telling the public there was no global warming problem. Similar statements were made by many of the State Climatologists.”–

    Pat, why do you suppose this is so? That is, why this systematic “bias” (if that’s what it is)?
    (My limited experience with such individuals is consistent with your generalization.)

  61. Dan:

    re: 57. Pat, I understand what you are saying but I disagree that the NWS is “major scientific institute”. Thus they would not be on the list anyway. NWS, while a part of NOAA, does not do much basic research as compared to other the various branches of NOAA, eg. ARL, etc. My point is that a skeptic can not cite any major scientific research institute (here or abroad) that does not agree that the climate is warming and the primary cause is anthropogenic emissions of CO2. Certainly/unfortunately the NWS is not saying anything officially one way or the other; but at least it is also not agreeing with skeptics. That said, I have heard a NWS employee express their personal opinion in a public presentation in a way that would please skeptics. Perhaps then it is good that the NWS does not express itself officially. ;-)

    As for NCDC, at least they do have good scientific information on the provided link.

    Thanks again to Coby for the list and links that I copied from his blog.

  62. John L. McCormick:

    WHO determines the Geoengineering forum is now closed.

    That is an arbitrary decision and does not respect the fact contributors were still in active discussion even if it was not of the highest quality.

    At least the issue is more relevant than the now-sufficient horse whipping of IREA.

  63. pat neuman:

    re 61, 60

    Dan,

    Research and development for weather, climate and hydrologic modeling and prediction are important NWS responsibilities and tasks which should include climate change influences. The field offices are led by research scientists in headquarters offices. NWS Headquarters offices have research and development responsibilities in climate, hurricanes, severe weather, hydrology, and day to day weather forecast modeling. The NWS field offices in weather prediction and hydrology also have research and development components for when not much is happening operationally.

    Bruce, the systematic bias might be explained by recognizing that meteorology in the US has been led by a group of senior men at Universities and government agencies which includes UW Madison’s Reid Bryson, Colorado State’s Roger Pielke Sr and William Gray, Virginia State’s Patrick Michaels, John Christy, Taylor at Oregon State, and others, many of them having served as State Climatologists and senior members of the American Meteorologic Society (AMS). Being a member of AMS has been a positive element on a resume, and for having a listened to voice on climate, including the downplaying of climate change and anthropogenic global warming. The way to get career advances has not included work related to climate change. The way to get the boot has.

  64. Mike Neuman:

    The “systematic bias” against telling the truth about the global warming threat is well imbedded in the U.S.’s economic and political economy in Washington and in corporate America. It starts with big industry. The primary greenhouse gas feeding industries are big oil, coal and natural gas; the secondary GHG feeding industries are the automobile, trucking, airline and utility industries, who burn the fuel; and the third level of industries dependent on continued emissions of GHGs are the road building, advertising and mass media industries. All of them have a stake in maintaining the status quo on fossil fuel burning. They also contribute campaign money to our politicians in Washington to see that things don’t change significantly from what’s in their best interest. Global warming and reduced fossil fuel burning is obviously not in their best interest, so they put pressure on the politicians to keep quiet about it, or speak out against it. The Bush administration (who directs the activities of the U.S. Department of Commerce which controls the National Weather Service) and most other politicians are heavily depended on campaign contributions from these industries, so they listen to them and honor their requests. No doubt that is why there is a system level avoidance by NWS officials to report global warming as a problem, we less suggesting that anything meaningful need be done about it.

    Another example – we (the public) have still not found out what Vice-president Dick Cheney and the heads of the major energy-related corporations discussed during a meeting held at the beginning of Cheney’s first term in office. Bush announced his objection to the Kyoto Treaty shortly thereafter. Any bets on what was discussed at the meeting?

  65. Karl Sanchez:

    Re #58, if there were no environmental crises, would there be environmental activist groups? At the end of the 19th century it was noted that the prodigious consumption of resources must result in a movement to conserve them along with a few of the more scenic landscapes in the US. This movement was started politically by Teddy Roosevelt, which is why he’s on Mt Rushmore. Another of TR’s policies was to try to rationalize US Big Business’s drive toward devouring itself and radicalizing the working class–The Square Deal. If there hadn’t been industrialisation, there would have been no need of a conservation movement. The current environmental movement resulted in response to the depredations of industry and its control of government. If industry had been environmentally responsible from its outset, would there be an environmental movement today? Would we have AGW? Acid rain? Thinning ozone layer? Innumerable types of cancer?

    And despite its attempt to disassociate Ford and GM from its (CEI) propaganda, I stand by the logic of my earlier statement: Ford and GM monies finance CEI operations; thus, Ford and GM help finance all CEI proaganda (donations go into a general budget, payments for propaganda come from the same budget). If I donate to GreenPeace, the money goes toward financing all operations; same when Ford, GM, or anything else donates to CEI.

  66. Dan:

    re: 63. Yes but the point was that the NWS does not conduct global warming/climate change research, which was the original intent of the listing of scientific agencies who either do or at least have policies on it which support the scientific consensus. Certainly NWS does research on weather forecasting and hydrological issues. For example, my local NWS office has done work on freezing rain forecast issues.

  67. pat neuman:

    re 63.

    Dan,

    Please look at it this way. The point that NWS does not conduct climate change research does not make it right for them to ignore climate change in the development of their procedures to help save life and property. NWS models and predictions involve weather, hurricanes, flooding and water supplies. For example, it was obvious to me that the timing of spring snowmelt was changing from 1980-2000. Thus I wanted to do research as part of my senior hydrologist responsibility in putting together NWS Upper Midwest Spring Flood Outlooks. I was not allowed to do that by supervisors at the NWS North Central River Forecast Center (NCRFC) and NWS directors. Do you agree with NWS supervisors and directors that climate change in the Upper Midwest is too political and controversial for NWS NCRFC hydrologists to research?

  68. Dan:

    Pat, I can’t answer that simply because I nor anyone else reading here do not have enough information to do so. You may think it is obvious because of your personal involvement but that is your opinion from one perspective. I certainly won’t attack the NWS for not conducting climate change research per se. I would though if they had a policy that specifically flies in the face of the scientific consensus. I do not see that. If there is one, please post a reference to it.

    This has steered off course from the original content which was that skeptics do not have any climate, oceanic, or atmospheric scientific institutions here or abroad behind them. And that includes the NWS.

  69. Dan:

    Post-script to 68. I meant to add that NWS models and model output statistics (for example, the ETA MOS) are regularly updated for various reasons, some technical and some scientific. While not specifically designed to reflect climate change, it does become incorporated in a de facto manner. I beleive the ETA MOS was designed using model data from April 2000 through September 2003.

  70. pat neuman:

    re 68.

    Dan, you wrote in 56 that: … Every major scientific institute dealing with climate, ocean, atmosphere agrees that the evidence says the climate is warming rapidly and the primary cause is human CO2. …

    In 57 I disagreed with that statement because I view NWS as a major institute dealing with climate, ocean, atmosphere but NWS does not agree that the evidence says the climate is warming rapidly and the primary cause is human CO2.

    In 68 you said that you can’t answer the question (below) simply because you nor anyone else reading here does not have enough information to do so.

    The question was/is:
    Do you agree … that climate change in the Upper Midwest is too political and controversial for NWS NCRFC hydrologists to research?

    However, you are correct that our discussion has steered off course from the original content. I was simply trying to point out that I believe your statement in 56. was incorrect.

  71. Dan:

    re: 70. Yes, I answered your question. I stand firmly by the scientific consensus as evident by the national and world-wide agencies,including NOAA, listed in post #56. To repeat what I wrote in #66, the NWS does not conduct global warming/climate change research nor do they have any written policy on it that I am aware of. If you are aware of one, please post it. That is the issue. My statement in #56 stands. The NWS is not listed as it does not conduct global warming research. Just because they do not conduct climate change research does not mean it is due to political or controversial reasons. Especially when other branches of NOAA do conduct such research.

  72. tom:

    54. Carbon Emission License. Brilliant. I’m going to use that term from now on.

    Me: Excuse me sir, do you have a license to drive that Hummer?

    Hummer, owner: Sure, of course I do. I have a driver’s license.

    Me. Ahem. No, I’m talking about a Carbon Emission License. Sorry, but I’m going to have to call the Department of Carbon Emissions (DCE) and have your vehicle confiscated.

  73. Hank Roberts:

    >71:
    “National Weather Service Mission: “The National Weather Service (NWS) provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts …”
    http://www.weather.gov/climate/climate_resources.php?wfo=fsd

  74. Grant:

    Re: #72

    I have the solution to the global warming problem.

    Make the CEO and board members of Exxon, Western Fuels, etc. all stand in line at the DCE to get their carbon-emission licenses. Be sure to staff the DCE with former DMV workers. That way, they’ll *never* get their licenses.

  75. pat neuman:

    re 71:

    Excerpt —

    The research by Chris Landsea of the National Hurricane Center challenges two studies published last year by other respected
    climatologists.

    One of the studies, by Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of
    Technology, was considered the first major research to challenge the
    belief that global warming’s affect on hurricanes was too slight to
    accurately measure and that climate change likely won’t substantially
    change tropical storms for decades. — End of excerpt —

    New report disputes global warming’s effect on hurricane strength
    http://www.bradenton.com/mld/bradenton/news/breaking_news/15147214.htm

    Dan,

    In 71 you wrote: … the NWS does not conduct global warming/climate change research …

    If that is true than how does Chris Landsea of the NWS National Hurricane Center do research on hurricanes without conducting global warming/climate change evaluation when the consensus is that global warming is happening and that the oceans are warming?

  76. savegaia.de:

    Question regarding “Nuclear Power Plants”.

    Is Nuclear Power contributing to greenhouse gas emissions?
    Is there a solution to these kind of issues – power plant constructer figuring out lately?
    (see “Heatwave shuts down nuclear power plants” http://www.guardian.co.uk/Observer/world/story/0,,1833620,00.html )
    If my first question is positive could someone please point out how much?

    Cause news such this item appear:”Nuclear power is problematic in many ways, but it doesnâ��t contribute to the greenhouse effect, so its supporters now make greenhouse arguments.”
    source – http://www.annistonstar.com/opinion/2006/as-insight-0730-0-6g28p5555.htm

  77. John Hunter:

    I know that this is now rather old news, but the subject of this thread reminds me very much of the Annual Reports put out by Western Fuels Association Inc. a few years ago. The 1998 and 2000 Annual reports are available, with a commentary at:

    http://people.aapt.net.au/~johunter/greenhou/home.html#new3

    (note that some of the organisations involved in the network surrounding Western Fuels have moved on and therefore some of the links no longer work).

    One thing that amazed me at the time was the overtness with which the company was prepared to indulge in “advocacy”.

  78. Dan:

    re 75. Pat, I saw that news article yesterday too. Thank you, I stand corrected with regards to the NHC. Perhaps the NHC has different research rules compared to NWS field offices. There still is no apparent policy statement on climate change from the NWS, one way or the other.

  79. George Landis:

    I am curious whether or not this blog was as outraged, or even noticed, the $250,000 given to Dr. Hansen by John Kerry and his wife prior to the 2004 election, where Dr. Hansen endorsed Kerry publicly several time during some of his scientific speeches.

  80. Hank Roberts:

    A few more NWS links, lest anyone think they aren’t available:
    National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center
    http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/information/who_we_are/mission.shtml
    http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/MJO/enso.shtml

  81. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    [edit]

  82. pat neuman:

    re. 78

    Dan,

    From what I can tell by your comments yesterday you have experience in a NWS Weather Forecast Office (WFO). I am unsure of your knowledge pertaining to NWS River Forecast Centers (RFCs). There are 13 NWS RFC offices in the US, which are considered field offices along with the 120 or so WFOs. RFC staff have been required to do research, develop and calibrate their own river forecast procedures along with their higher priority operational forecast responsibilities. In recent years, most RFCs have adapted a new suite of river forecast procedures developed at the NWS Office of Hydrology. RFC staff are encouraged to add procedures to the suite of models which staff at other RFCs could also use. Each RFC is responsible for the calibration of snow, soil moisture/runoff and routing models for their area of responsibility. The NWS North Central River Forecast Center (NCRFC), located in Chanhassen MN, has river basin area in parts or all of 13 states in the Midwest, northern Great Plains, southern Manitoba and the upper Great Lakes drainage. Based on what I have experienced while a senior hydrologist specializing in snowmelt runoff, from 1980-2000, I felt it was important to study climate change in the Upper Midwest in order to evaluate model parameters (melt factors and evapotranspiration demand coefficients) as the seasons changed with climate in progress. In addition, the output used for the NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction System (AHPS) shows probabilities of exceedance and other statistics, which are based on using historical time series of precipitation and temperatures for each year (six hour mean areal time series from 1950-1999 are considered equally likely for the future run period). I think it is important that users understand the assumptions in the model for flood and low water predictions. The assumption that the time series for each year from 1950-1999 is equally likely is flawed when considering that climate change has been happening, with increasing climate and hydrologic change ahead of us. The users don’t understand that the assumptions are invalid. Furthermore, in calibration of the model parameters for snowmelt and runoff, a best fit is impossible with one set of parameters when we know that hydrologic climate change has been happening along with atmospheric climate change. For additional information the references shown at the bottom of the report below may be helpful. Thank you for your interest.

    Earlier in the Year Snowmelt Runoff and Increasing Dewpoints for Rivers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota, September 11, 2003
    http://www.mnforsustain.org/climate_snowmelt_dewpoints_minnesota_neuman.htm

  83. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Re #28 and “This letter points our biggest challenge namely the capitalist mindset.”

    The old Soviet Union was not capitalist, and it was an environmental disaster. China is technically Communist, and they’re burning coal like crazy. Don’t confuse an environmental problem with the “class struggle.”

    -BPL

  84. Hank Roberts:

    Chuckle. And it’s capitalists helping fund and supply the equipment for China’s next hundred coal plants.

    For example, just at random from Google (this stuff bears watching for the climate scientists — if they want to model future CO2 one of the inputs for the model should be old style coal plants already committed, already funded, and already invested in. That’s generally available info but I wonder if it’s going into the models as fine-grained as it’s available.

    If so, the model change info could be provided to the potential investors before they make their commitment to the old designs, on a plant by plant basis.

    It might even be required due diligence for investors to consider model climate change information if it were readily available specifically per plant/investment.

    That’d be amusing.

    PDF file:

    Coal Fired Electricity Generation in Asia
    Vijay Sethu Executive Director
    Project & Structured Finance, Asia
    ANZ Investment Bank, Singapore
    23 April 2004
    CONFERENCE ON COAL INDUSTRY INVESTMENT
    http://iea.org/Textbase/work/2004/coal/VijaySethu.pdf.

  85. Ron Taylor:

    Re 84

    Your comment about “required due diligence of investors” took me back to a December 12, 2005 Business Week article: “The Race Against Climate Change.” It is an illuminating overview of steps already underway in the business world to adapt to climate change. The following excerpts address only the due diligence issue:

    “One new twist in the whole discussion of global warming is the arrival of a corps of sharp-penciled financiers. Bankers, insurers, and institutional investors have begun to tally the trillions of dollars in financial risks that climate change poses. They are now demanding that companies in which they hold stakes (or insure) add up risks related to climate change and alter their business plans accordingly. For utilities like Cinergy that could mean switching billions in planned investments from the usual coal-fired power plants to new, cleaner facilities…

    “…Corporate directors and officers are protected from personal liability for mismanagement by so-called D&O policies. If executives at companies that hold the policies don’t take stock of their environmental risk exposure, they could be on the firing line for mismanagement — with insurers picking up the tab…

    “That’s why climate change is causing insurance companies to ally with institutional investors, banks, and rating agencies. Together they are pushing companies to start thinking about greenhouse emissions as a material risk, just like other forms of financial risk that can impair future earnings. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM ), for instance, is helping analysts and bankers model the impact of carbon on the banks’ clients. “Global warming is on the radar screen of a lot of financial institutions,” said Denise Furey, senior director of Fitch Ratings Ltd., at a recent climate conference.””

    Incredibly, the government continues to live in its self-imposed bubble of denial. The business world cannot afford the luxury of ignoring reality, so it is moving ahead. I urge everyone interesting in the solution to the AGW problem to read this article for some encouraging news.

  86. Hank Roberts:

    Here it is:

    http://businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_50/b3963401.htm

    Yep. From my notes on the 2nd day of House Energy hearings last week (not guaranteed verbatim, typed while listening):

    Stupak: You and the NAS panel, are you telling us forget the Hockey Stick and Medieval Warm period, that is a diversion, are you telling us …..?

    Cicerone: … all the other evidence shows us that the climate’s changing, the human hand is there, …everything we know … it’s going to continue as long as we continue to load up the atmosphere with greenhouse gases.

    Stupak: do you think it’s useful for us to hold hearings on just one study…..?

    Cicerone: I hope it’s being useful. I’ve never seen this kind of interest before. …. This could be the beginning of even more serious interest. I’ll wait and see what happens …..

  87. Hank Roberts:

    > 80, nice illustration of trusting PR sources for your disinformation, but you can look these things up.

    Where did you get your quotes? The only places I see these mistakes is at some of the PR “advocacy” sites, not on the sites of record.

    Why do you trust your sources instead of the primary references from which you can get accurate information?

    “prior to the 2004″ — in March 2001
    “by John Kerry and his wife ” — by the Heinz Foundation

    You can look this stuff up:
    http://www.heinzawards.net/speechDetail.asp?speechID=6

    Quoting:

    “Senator Heinz … wanted to hear all sides of the global warming story and to find a balanced approach. He was a strong environmentalist, but he also worked to improve the economy of Pennsylvania and the nation. He realized that these goals need not conflict. He was thoughtful, or, as a scientist, I like the word objective.

    “In the current [early 2001, remember!] issue of Audubon Magazine, I suggest that the President appoint a commission of scientists, businessmen, consumers, and environmentalists to recommend actions to slow global warming. We can take common sense steps to do that. Our industry and our technology hold the key. We should reduce air pollution including low level ozone and soot, improve energy efficiency, and develop renewable energy. Collateral benefits improve public health and reduce dependence on foreign energy sources justify the cost. This practical approach could gain bipartisan and international consensus for addressing climate change. It’s the kind of approach that John Heinz would have advocated.”

    Good idea. Should’ve been listened to.

  88. Dan Hughes:

    The discussions about a Carbon Emission License (CEL) for big industries that produce hydrocarbon-based fuels continues to have the focus backwards.

    This table, http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/mecs/mecs2002/data02/excel/table1.1_02.xls, indicates that for the US in the year 2002 the energy consumed by the suppliers of hydrocarbon-based fuels was as follows:

    Petroleum and Coal Products 6,799 trillion BTU (6.799 E12 BTU)
    Which is made up of
    Petroleum Refineries 6,391 trillion BTU (6.391 E12 BTU
    Coal Products 408 trillion BTU (0.408 E12 BTU)
    This last quality is not actually given in the table because the error bounds are too large. These numerical values can be converted to SI (Joules), but the original tables uses BTU.

    Apparently, coal production requires very little energy; maybe this lets Western Fuels off the hook. And this makes sense in these days of mine-mouth power plants and unit-train shipments from mine mouth to power plant (WY to GA, WY to NH, WY to everywhere). Coal is basically mined, transported, minimally processed (crushed and then ground to a fine powder) and then used for energy production in a boiler. Petroleum products, on the other hand, require very significant amounts of processing to convert them into forms that are useful by user-consumers (the demanders).

    The table, http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/txt/stb0201a.xls, indicates that for the US in the year 2002 the total energy consumed was

    Total Energy Consumption 97,966,872 billion BTU (97.966872 E15 BTU)

    Where the total energy consumption (the demand) includes the sectors of residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, and electric power generation.

    Let’s take energy consumption as a very good indicator for carbon-based emissions.

    With the information given above it is readily seen that CO2 emissions by big hydrocarbon-based fuels suppliers is small in comparison to the CO2 emissions produced by the demanders for its products. Some simple calculations follow to support this statement.

    The total consumption figure above includes the first above for Petroleum and Coal Products consumption. If this latter value is subtracted from the total this leaves, 91,167,872 billion BTU. Thus the energy consumption, and carbon emissions, by the users (demand) of hydrocarbon fuels exceeds that used to produce the products (supply) by about 13.4 times. The Petroleum and Coal Products industry uses about 7% of total energy consumption, and thus produces about 7% of the emissions. The coal-industry part is tiny indeed.

    How can we illustrate the outcome of big hydrocarbon fuels producers failing to be issued a CEL. Hmmm, how can we do this in a simple manner. Oh, go turn off the electric and gas mains to your place of residence, don’t use any hydrocarbon-fuel-based transportation, don’t buy any food for which hydrocarbon fuels are used to produce, don’t drink any water for which hydrocarbon fuels are used to pump the supply to your house, turn off your computer, iPod, cell phone, video systems, audio systems, home entertainment systems, game systems, etc, etc, etc. Or, simply call your energy-supply utilities and tell them to drop you as a customer; come out and cut the wires to your house, unplug your meters and take them away. If enough of us do this, carbon-based emissions will be reduced. Go ahead, give it a shot. For an additional learning experience, make a list of all the things in your life that do not use in any way, directly on indirectly, energy and all other products and services based on hydrocarbons. It shouldn’t take long as the list will be amazingly short. Here’s a hint. Every single product and service that you use has required energy for its development, production, transportation, retailing, and operation and maintenance. I know for absolute certain that no one reading this will ever take this suggestion.

    A CEL, or Carbon Tax, will represent very regressive taxation. Many people can barely afford their energy bill for even the necessities for a reasonable life. They do not have the ‘toys’ that probably everyone reading this have.

    Carbon Emission License should be issued to the users (demanders) of the products and services of the big hydrocarbon industry. Not the industry (suppliers). Licenses are issued to the end user, not producers. And in the case of hydrocarbon-based fuels, the producers are responsible for only a small amount of the substance that you are proposing to license.

    If you do not agree with the numbers used in this post, please supply others that correct my approach and conclusions.

    As an attempt to avoid additional censorship by RC I have included numbers that relate directly to the thread that this post addresses. How RC can claim to be peer-reviewed-paper focused and at the same time discuss fiction novels, newspaper stories, editorial columns, press releases, and post comments that do not make sense at even the simple-arithmetic level is a mystery to me. It’s usually a good idea to remember, “Those you refuse to do arithmetic are doomed to failure.”

  89. Simon Donner:

    It’s worth noting to people that the “Canada Free Press” mentioned in the letter is a right-wing website, and is not to be confused with the Canadian Press, Canada’s legitimate wire service.

  90. Mikel Marinelarena:

    Re 23, 35 and others:

    Am I the only one to think that mid-latitude heat waves (or mild winters for that matter) are pretty much unrelated to Global Warming? Whenever you hear of such a heat wave just check the isobar charts and you’ll see that 1) A persistent high pressure system has been on that region in summer or 2) Winds have been steadily bringing tropical or continental air to the region in question. A real indication of an accelerated GW would be heat waves not caused by any of those phenomena but I haven’t read of any really.

    Of course if anyone could point me to a reliable study linking GHGs-enhanced global warming to a change in wind patterns so as to make those two situations more frequent I’d be obliged.

  91. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    The hypothesis has only recently been tabled that global warming is changing the global dynamical characteristics of weather, resulting in broader cloud free high pressure systems, and stronger narrower low pressure troughs, producing a weather related climate feedback effects, which promote rapid warming from simple solar irradiance related heating within those high pressure systems, and more widespread rain training and flooding events within the cold fronts. Yet another feedback effect is increased water vapor and aerosol content of the atmosphere, creating more widespread spontaneous cumulonimbus generation and associated tornadic activity.

    We simply do not have the computational and space based observational resources in place to quantify these kinds of global weather changes.

    NOAA and NASA … where are you?

  92. Ron Taylor:

    Re 90

    Mike, have a look at this
    http://www.underwatertimes.com/news.php?article_id=41052130896

  93. Leonard Evens:

    Re #90:

    If I understand correctly, global warming doesn’t act through esoteric mechanisms. Heat waves still involve the same weather phenomena they always did. What changing the radiative behavior of the atmosphere does is to change the odds. So in a world with increased geenhouse gas concentrations, we might expect more heat waves or heat waves involving higher temperatures, but the primary mechanisms bring those about would be the same. Could one of the RC experts comment?

  94. wayne davidson:

    #90 I think Lindzen amongst others brought it up, using this argument against Global Warming, but in fact it is rather a good point for it. As the world warms up, temperature/pressure differences would diminish between one warmer region from another colder one, then there would be less winds. This in turn triggers sluggish and slow more persistent High/Low pressures, Highs during the summer time are hot zones, where you will find a heat wave or two.

  95. Brian Gordon:

    Re: 28 (Eachren):
    “Fixing the problem is quite expensive, but I prefer to look at it in this way : society is about doing things together….

    “Does anyone know of anyone collecting ideas to fix things please?”

    It is a myth that conservation costs money; it *saves* money (and many other things, including us). This has been proved repeatedly all over the world. However, our current economy and most industries are geared toward plunder, not sustainability, so changing the economy disadvantages the wastrels (auto, oil, coal, etc).

    Amory Lovins et al: “Natural Capitalism”: chock full not only of ideas, but actual working examples showing how sustainability is less costly.

  96. Barkley Rosser:

    For those of you hyperventilating about the reputed wickedness of Patrick Michaels, I have not noticed anyone commenting on the fact that he now accepts that global warming is occurring, and that it is at least partly due to anthropogenic causes. His current line is that average global temperature is rising linearly. This puts him on the low side compared to most other observers, but he is no longer the pure skeptic that he once was and that most seem to still think he is.

    [Response: That’s a very good point that often gets overlooked. It’s worth pointing out as well that his estimate of the linear change to be expected has risen over the years as well (it was ~0.1 deg/decade ten or so years ago, now it’s 0.17 deg/decade). – gavin]

  97. Ike Solem:

    RE #93 – I certainly don’t claim to be an expert, but we can recognize that the natural variability of climate and weather is pretty high. The well known extreme weather event called ‘The Perfect Storm’ is what I think of as an example of how natural variability can produce severe events.

    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories/s451.htm

    From the forecaster, Bob Case:

    “When a low pressure system along the front moved into the Maritimes southeast of Nova Scotia,” Case reflected, “it began to intensify due to the cold dry air introduced from the north.” Case added: “These circumstances alone, could have created a strong storm, but then, like throwing gasoline on a fire, a dying hurricane Grace delivered immeasurable tropical energy to create the perfect storm.”

    As AGW causes an increase in the intensities of these underlying features, such as stronger high pressure systems and more frequent and intense hurricanes, you’ll get an increase in the chance that such events will happen to co-occur, and the resulting interaction can form very severe events. The perfect storm had a 50-ft swell, but it also generated 100-ft ‘rogue waves’ at the same time – a ship could survive many hours of 50-ft waves, but not one 100-ft wave. Similarly, 2-ft seas might occassionally generate a 4-foot wave. These ‘rogue waves’ within the system are a result of wave crests lining up on top of each other; it’s all systems within systems.

    We are storing up more energy in the climate system; we should expect a lot more nasty surprises, and plan accordingly.

  98. Hank Roberts:

    And there’s always something — has your local public water system switched from chlorine to chloramine yet, for disinfection? If so you’ve gotten the warning not to use tap water for your fishbowl.

    Have you also gotten the warning that water from the fire hydrants now — when it runs down the storm drains into the local watershed — is going to kill all the fish there, too?

    We just got that in our area after the last big heatwave — the Fire Department is now on notice that what they’re pumping out of the fire hydrants is a toxic chemical and they should keep it out of the storm drains.

    And there are people opening hydrants all over the country during this heatwave.

    “Collateral Damage” adds up fast when there are many, many factors and nobody has a grasp of all of them. And that’s the nature of civic life nowadays.

  99. Max Jorgensen:

    What are the literature sources “that the arguments used by Michaels and co. are mostly bunk”?

  100. Eli Rabett:

    I think Pat could be in more trouble than he knows. The letter implies a direct conflict of interest with his state position.

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2006/08/pat-michaels-cashes-in.html

  101. Hank Roberts:

    >99

    Try reading this one, then the newspapers:

    http://www.int-res.com/abstracts/cr/v22/n2/p175-184/
    CR 22:175-184(2002) – Abstract
    Decadal changes in heat-related human mortality in the eastern United States
    Robert E. Davis, Paul C. Knappenberger, Wendy M. Novicoff, Patrick J. Michaels

    “… the populace in cities that were weather-sensitive in the 1960s and 1970s have become less impacted by extreme conditions over time because of improved medical care, increased access to air conditioning, and biophysical and infrastructural adaptations. This analysis counters the paradigm of increased heat-related mortality rates in the eastern US predicted to result from future climate warming.”

  102. Roger Smith:

    “What are the literature sources “that the arguments used by Michaels and co. are mostly bunk”? ”

    You can start by searching for the Michaels/Hansen debate a few years back, and read Michaels’ opinion pieces where he routinely misquotes Hansen.

    It’s up to you to decide whether it’s bunk.

  103. Ike Solem:

    Under business-as-usual scenarios, CO2 is supposed to reach 550 ppm by 2050 – that’s ignoring the possibility that CO2 emmissions will dramatically increase for reasons like permafrost melting or damage to the biological carbon sink. The predicted effect, again assuming that the models haven’t missed any big climate surprises, is from about 2C to 6C – but that’s a global average. A more useful number would be the temp change for every 10 degrees of lattitude, and an estimate of the total extra energy stored in the climate system as a result of AGW. These estimates are produced using very advanced modelling systems; see http://www.hpcwire.com/hpcwire/hpcwireWWW/03/0711/105503.html for a description of the Earth Simulator, for example.

    Michaels, at 0.17/decade, predicts that the change by 2050 will be less then 1C – nothing to worry about. This means that we can keep on burning dirty coal like there’s no tomorrow. That’s the desired result – it is reassuring, non-alarmist, and entirely untrue. A lovely result, desperately in need of some supporting data, which sadly just isn’t there. Meanwhile, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are looking more and more wobbly – contrary to just about all scientific opinions of some time ago, before the data from the field came in.

    Sooner or later, we have to stop burning fossil hydrocarbons and switch to closed-loop material systems for energy storage and conversion. Doing this sooner is much wiser then doing it later. The worst effect of this massive public relations effort by the fossil fuel industry is that it is preventing the US government and public from preparing for the inevitable increased rate of ‘natural disasters’ – but if we start planning for these disasters, then everyone will believe that AGW is real. Catch-22.

  104. Dan:

    re: 99. Generally it is the other way around. Michaels et al. usually post their comments and arguments about peer-reviewed articles on web sites, in grey literature, and in other non-peer-reviewed places such as the WSJ.

  105. Peter Bjorn Perlso:

    7: “Do you apply the same level of skepticism when environmental groups provide funding for studies?”

    Allow me to correct that; it should be:

    “Do you apply the same level of skepticism when governments provide funding for studies?”

    After all, it is indeed funny to see how the environmentalists balk at the idea of eeevil corporations funding scientists (because these Corps have an interest in not being taxed or regulated), but the criticism is absent when politicians fund scientists, even though most of the politicians (the reds and the greens) have an inherent interest in taxing the same businesses/Corps, or even private individuals more than they do now?

    Just look at Al Gore’s proposed carbon tax, which would amount to 50 cents per gallon of gas sold, all over the USA: Assuming that one gallon of crude oil gives one gallon of gas (wrong, I know, but I don’t have the numbers of the quantities of cracking products crude oil gives, handy), and knowing that the US imports around 22 million barrels of crude oil per day, and one barrel is equal to 42 gallons we get:

    22*10^6 * 42 * .50 $ = 462 million use Dollars pr day. That is approx. 168 billion dollars into the state coffers per year.

    People, this is serious money we’re talking about, even considering the already gargantuan multi-trillion US state budget, and I’m pretty sure that Gore would consider those funds handy for his other political objectives.

    But in short, please do everybody a favor and drop the notion that because scientist X is funded by Corp Y, he is baaad, and when Scientist Z is funded by the government, he is gooood. That’s simply a primitive way of breaking it down, and it annoys me to see such thinking on this otherwise excellent website.

    – PBP

  106. Hank Roberts:

    The problem is with businesses funding advocacy/PR firms to convince people the scientists — whoever they may work for — can’t be doing honest work.

    There is good science coming out of industry. We may wonder what isn’t coming out, and selective publication has its problems. But the problem isn’t primarily businesses funding scientists — although the history of the tobacco industry points out significant problems with that.

    Science published in peer reviewed journals with disclosure of financial and other conflicts is how this works. The degree to which it can be replicated and leads to interesting results is the value — it’s incremental information.

    People here often point out industry funding — but of work that’s not peer reviewed and published in “advocacy” venues.

    Do you have any quarrel with that distinction?

  107. Hank Roberts:

    > $168 Billion

    Trivial — scarcely worth the cost of collecting amounts like that, apparently.

    “the New York Times discovered last week that the government plans to eliminate almost half of the Internal Revenue Serviceâ��s 345 [estate tax] lawyers …. The IRS reports that the gross tax gap — the difference between what taxpayers are obligated to pay, and what they actually pay — surpasses $300 billion every year…. estate-tax lawyers are the most productive tax-law enforcement staff at the IRS, finding an average of $2,200 of taxes owed but not paid to the government each hour that they work.”
    http://newstandardnews.net/content/index.cfm/items/3482/printmode/true

  108. Jeffrey Davis:

    That is approx. 168 billion dollars into the state coffers per year.

    People, this is serious money we’re talking about

    Compared to what? We’ve got around a 12trillion GDP. That’s ~1.4%. Compare that to the bottomless pit of a certain un-necessary war.

    And, as a the sayings go, “A stitch in time saves nine” and “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

    So, roughly, folklorically speaking, that’s a savings of between (8 * 168) billion and (15 * 168) billion.

  109. Brian Gordon:

    Not to pile on, and I’m certainly no lover of big government, but I have noticed that an awful lot of the government-funded scientists keep producing work that is the opposite of what the (U.S.) government would like. This rather contradicts the point that scientists are pumping up GW to get more grants.

  110. Peter Bjorn Perlso:

    108:

    “Compared to what? We’ve got around a 12trillion GDP. That’s ~1.4%. Compare that to the bottomless pit of a certain un-necessary war.”

    I’m comparing to the total US tax revenue, which is around 30% of the total US GDP.

    And regarding the Iraq war, it has just reached 300 bln $. (http://nationalpriorities.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=182) Running for 3 years, that means around 100 bln $/yr. A carbon tax ala the one I mentioned would easily finance the war effort, but thats beside the point of the debate…

  111. Peter Bjorn Perlso:

    109: “Not to pile on, and I’m certainly no lover of big government, but I have noticed that an awful lot of the government-funded scientists keep producing work that is the opposite of what the (U.S.) government would like.”

    Interesting! Could you cite any examples?

  112. Hank Roberts:

    > 111
    If your school has a librarian, you can ask for help finding news articles to get you started on the very basic history questions like this. Look up the name “James Hansen” in a newspaper or magazine index going back a decade or more, for example.

  113. Hank Roberts:

    >111
    This too: http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/index.php/csw/details/nasa-budget-cutback/
    “Removing “understand and protect our home planet” from the NASA mission statement this year …. The President’s 2007 budget request for NASA’s Climate Change Science Program activities is 22% below the Fiscal Year 2004 spending level”-more like 30% adjusting for inflation”

  114. Brian Gordon:

    Re: 111: Yes – every scientist who works for a publicly-funded university, or organization such as NASA.

  115. John E Pearson:

    re 96:

    A linear function of time with a slope that increases with time, eh? Sounds almost non-linear!

  116. Peter Bj������¸rn Perls������¸:

    112:

    Thanks, but I’ll try my luck with Google. My school does have a library, but it’s not oriented toward natural sciences, instead it’s for computer science… :/

    114:

    “Re: 111: Yes – every scientist who works for a publicly-funded university, or organization such as NASA.”

    That’s not very helpful. I am looking for specific examples of reserach results the goes against the policy that selected politicans advocate.

  117. Dan Hughes:

    Given that ‘the science is settled’ a decrease in funding seems to be appropriate. Research, development, and implementation of solutions should begin to receive funding.

    See also:

  118. Hank Roberts:

    “See also” is Pielke’s reposting of the Sustainability study I’ve linked here and at Stoat the past few days, but he’s lost the context. He’s got a tangential point — but he’s using the study to argue against arguments for change because people don’t entirely understand the timing of results.

    I’d argue we need better explanations, not less of an attempt to explain consequences over time.

    You’re arguing the opposite of the point — “do nothing soon” — which is just backwards.

    People may not immediately understand why there’s a lag in what we do, but there are immediate paybacks to immediate actions.

    It’s the grandchildren who’ll get the benefit of climate change if we moderate our behavior now.

    More immediately, there are immediate benefits to everything we can do now:
    http://web.mit.edu/jsterman/www/
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/118/2/493?ct=ct
    http://www.sustainabilityinstitute.org/fellows/Report%20W3%20C2.htm
    http://www.sustainabilityinstitute.org/

  119. Mark Bahner:

    “Under business-as-usual scenarios, CO2 is supposed to reach 550 ppm by 2050…”

    Who in the world thinks that the CO2 concentration will be that high? Would they like to bet?

  120. Hank Roberts:

    Kids, don’t be satisfied with rhetorical questions.
    Google is your friend.
    Let’s use Mark’s question in 119 as an example.
    First, he’s quoting the extreme worst case, “business as usual” — it’s a scenario, a “what if this goes on” worst case. It’s not a “prediction” unless you believe people don’t learn anything from history. (Google that idea, for extra information).

    So. Note when the scenario was published, look at reality since then to begin assessing whether it’s still (can I say likely? probable? Google “James’ Empty Blog” for help finding the right words to use here).

    Would anyone have bet that nobody would be smart enough to do anything to change the way business was usually being done, done, starting when that scenario was written?

    You can get a better answer than this quick sketch, I’m just noting how to approach rhetorical questions if you’re interested in science. If not, ask a debate coach for different answers.

    http://www.covis.northwestern.edu/geosciences/activities/GLOBAL_WARMING/co2.html
    http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/graphics/sio-mlgr.gif
    http://www.jamstec.go.jp/frcgc/research/d5/jdannan/betting.html
    http://www.reason.com/rb/rb040306.shtml
    (cut and paste the next one, the web forum tool here chokes on commas)
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1552092,00.html
    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/climate_change/000462betting_on_climate.html

  121. Hank Roberts:

    Oh, this is good. Very good:

    http://scienceblogs.com/drcharles/2006/08/a_timeline_tracing_the_origins.php

    “Some idiot releases a video on YouTube in which Al Gore appears as a sinister figure, brainwashing penguins and boring movie audiences by blaming the Mideast crisis and Lindsay Lohan’s skinny waist on global warming.

    “The film is released by someone calling themselves “Toutsmith.”

    “The Post Gazette reports that an email sent by “Toutsmith” can be traced back to a computer registered to DCI Group. DCI group is a public relations and lobbying firm. Its clients include oil company Exxon Mobil Corp.

    “DCI runs Tech Central Station, an opinion Web site that aims to raise doubts about the science of global warming and about Al Gore’s film. It promotes the rare skeptical scientist on talk-radio shows and compensates them for editorials they write to major newspapers.

    “The video gets a lot of hits after sponsored links on Google start appearing when users type in “Al Gore” or “Global Warming.” The ads, which don’t disclose their sponsor, are taken down shortly after The Wall Street Journal contacts DCI Group.

    “You get mad. You decide to join in the greening of America, even if it’s too late, because that’s the right thing to do.

    ——- end quote—–

  122. Hank Roberts:

    >119, 120
    This also may help. Mark, you might want to make that bet; the IPCC scenario comes in a bit low, at least in the charts used at the bottom of this page:
    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/features/senate/page6.html

    But don’t bet on into later years without serious research; the increase goes on for a long time, hundreds of years, before Earth finds a new equilibrium:
    http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/14922/

  123. John L. McCormick:

    RE: # 121

    Mark Bahner, you said:

    “Under business-as-usual scenarios, CO2 is supposed to reach 550 ppm by 2050…”

    Who in the world thinks that the CO2 concentration will be that high? Would they like to bet?

    I sure wouldn’t take that bet.

    Using the NOAA CO2 Trends, at

    http://www.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccgg/trends/

    Recent Monthly Global Mean CO2, I extrapolated the 2005 global CO2 measurement of 378.8 ppm and added the 2.56 ppm increase 2005 over 2004 to each subsequent year out to 2050.

    To my great relief the possible CO2 total in 2050, (assuming China, India, US AND EU decide to cap CO2 emission rate at 2005 levels)is only 494 ppm CO2. Why does the IPCC want to scare us with that high estimate?

    Thanks for clearing this up for us. I know I’ll sleep better knowing the BAU estimate was grossly exaggerated. We all owe you, big time.

  124. Hank Roberts:

    John McCormick — please check the IPCC scenarios and see if you’re right in assuming the IPCC scenario said 550ppm by 2050, before you sleep better.

    Ike, same request — would you please double check the source you got that value, which you posted in #103, against the IPCC source?

    Why? I think it’s a typo. Or maybe it’s starting from a decade ago when fossil fuel was being burned faster than now? Anyhow, cite please?

    See the two links I posted in #122.

    The second link discusses: “the stabilisation of atmospheric CO2 concentrations at 750 ppm (by 2250) and 550 ppm (by 2150), in relation to a scenario of unmitigated emissions.” (Business As Usual is unmitigated.)

    The basis for the paper? Here are some of those numbers:

    “The climate change scenarios were derived from simulation experiments conducted with the HadCM2 global climate model and forced with the IPCC IS92a, S750 and S550 emissions scenarios.”

    (“S” means stable CO2 at 750ppm and 550ppm — still perhaps possible.)

    This is like a ballistic trajectory, not steerable, just moving according to the laws of physics once on its way — the fossil fuel already burned “launched” a huge increase in CO2.

    That’s going to keep heating the planet for centuries _already_committed_.

    Think of sitting in a bathtub, you’ve filled it with water too hot for comfort, hotter than your body temperature.
    http://web.mit.edu/jsterman/www/StermanSweeney.pdf
    http://www.opendemocracy.net/content/articles/2455/images/bathtub.gif
    You’ve opened the drain now but you’re still adding water from the tap. Will you overheat? It depends on what you do with the spigot — that’s the only control you can change. The drain’s fixed (as long as we don’t lose the biosphere, it’ll keep soaking up CO2 as fast as it did — and that’s not as fast as we are adding it now.)

    I defer to the experts on whether the Arnell article is productive, it was published in 2002 using the old IPCC info. I’m using it here as an illustration.

    Note how long this goes into the future. It’s those descendants of y’all’s we’re making decisions for now by what we do in the next few decades:

    “… the IS92a emissions scenario. An emissions pathway which stabilises CO2 concentrations at 750 ppm by the 2230s delays the 2050 temperature increase under unmitigated emissions by around 50 years. The loss of tropical forest and grassland which occurs by the 2050s under unmitigated emissions is delayed to the 22nd century ….”

    This is basic physics over long time spans, and almost nobody actually understands it.

    See if you do:

    If we reduce what we burn, the atmosphere reaches 750ppm CO2, but not til the 2230s. Under “business as usual” we get a temperature increase by 2050 that can be delayed if we reduce what we’re burning now, so it’ll be that hot by 2100.

    This is like adding water to a tub faster than it drains — or like bowling — or ballistic missile launching.

    Once released, it moves according to the laws of physics and we can’t call it back.

    We’ve already thrown a given amount of CO2. Nature can’t recycle it for centuries; while it’s in the atmosphere Earth heats up. Basic physics.

    Our only choice is how fast we keep filling the tub/throwing more bowling balls/launching more ballistic missiles. What’s on its way is going to do damage for a long time to come.

  125. John L. McCormick:

    RE #124,

    Hank, without investing more time in finding the actual language in the IPCC 2001, I am satisfied the IPCC assessment, published in 2001, concludes that if no precautionary action is taken, carbon dioxide concentrations will rise by 2050 to between 450 and 550 ppm.

    My comment to Mark was intended as a poke at his challenge which I read as dismissing the likelihood of BAU increasing CO2 concentration to 550 by 2050.

    If I included CO2 equivalent gases (about 16 percent of CO2), we would be talking about a much higher estimate of climate forcing gas concentrations by 2050.

  126. Jake Meffley:

    Very interesting thread here, especially since I am an IREA member (customer) and have been close to this story from the beginning. Compared to the many posts here from very well informed people of science, I am a rank amateur.

    What I DID say, however, should not be forgotten. It is NOT up to a non-profit coop to spend its ratepayers funds on debunking global warming science. The general manager of IREA has no business entering this discussion and using our money to do it. There is another story here that tends to get missed in all the discussion of global warming.

    How can a Rural Electric Association get so far removed from the democratic control of its members that its General Manager and Board of Directors think they can authorize this level of funding for something so questionable? It may not be illegal but it surely is unethical.

    Some of us have begun to organize members of IREA into a group we call “IREA Voices” – renewing IREA one voice at a time. Our group has started a blog at http://mountainpower.blogspot.com . Take a look and make a comment or two. We welcome your comments and discussion on global warming but our main focus is to generate interest among IREA members to take the time to speak up, join together and help us move IREAs management to become the most progressive REA in the country!

    If your life and the lives of all those you love might be endangered by the impact of global warming and if you thought you had the slightest chance of preventing or diminishing that possibility, what would you do?

    Do something… do something now.

  127. Bryan Pratt:

    The forth purpose IREA was formed (as many CO-OPs have been), stated in (our) IREA’s Articles of Incorporation, Article II (d) was to assist its members to wire their premises and install therein electrical and plumbing appliances, fixtures, machinery, supplies, apparatus and equipment of any and all kinds and character… etc. IREA states this ‘purpose’ was to sell electricity. If these “electrical appliances” are to conserve electricity and/or enable members to generate a portion of thier own power they, IREA management, want nothing to do with it. Rather lame “co-op” mentality if you ask me. Time for IREA management and members to come of age and pull their heads out of the coal bin.

    I would love to be able to buy my neighbors excess solar or wind power. There will come a time!

  128. Hank Roberts:

    “Deceiving us has become an industrial process” — Teresa Nielsen Hayden, as cited here:

    http://pages.prodigy.net/thomasn528/blog/2006_08_20_newsarcv.html#115573804040419389

    “… we’re looking at a kind of industrial scale metaspam here, cookie cutter organizations that create the illusion of huge support with relatively little real human activity at the heart of it. And the prospect of a paid, IT-weaponized army of shills skewing the public discourse on political issues of the day is at least a wee bit more disturbing yet.

    “It’s not unthinkable and it’s not implausible. As Teresa Nielsen Hayden once wrote:

    Deceiving us has become an industrial process.

    “But at least uncovering that can be a community process. So: is anyone else getting political comments tracing from the 151.200.70.* IP address group? Maybe it’s not happening — but I’ve got a way to make sure on my site, and that’s to ban future comments tracing to that address group and to the astroturfing P.R. company that owns it.”