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Inhofe’s last stand

Filed under: — gavin @ 7 December 2006

Part of me felt a little nostalgic yesterday watching the last Senate hearing on climate change that will be chaired by Sen. James Inhofe. It all felt very familiar and comforting in some strange way. There was the well-spoken ‘expert’ flown in from Australia (no-one available a little closer to home?), the media ‘expert’ from the think tank (plenty of those about) and a rather out-of-place geologist. There were the same talking points (CO2 leads the warming during the ice ages! the Medieval Warm Period was warm! it’s all a hoax!*) that are always brought up. These easy certainties and predictable responses are so well worn that they feel like a pair of old slippers.

Of course, my bout of nostalgia has nothing to do with whether this was a useful thing for the Senate to be doing (it wasn’t), and whether it just provided distracting political theatre (yup) in lieu of serious discussion about effective policy response, but even we should sometimes admit that it is easier to debunk this kind of schoolyard rhetoric than it is to deal with the complexities that actually matter. The supposed subject of discussion was ‘Climate Change in the Media’ though no-one thought to question why the Senate was so concerned with the media representations (Andy Revkin makes some good points about it though here). Senators have much more effective means of getting relevant information (knowledgable staffers, National Academy of Science reports, the presidential office of Science and Technology etc.) and so this concern was concievably related to their concern with public understanding of science….. or not.

Naomi Oreskes did a good job on the context and provided useful rebuttal to a frankly ridiculous claim that contrarians were not getting any air time on the networks. One point she could have raised was that when Patrick Michaels made the same complaint to CNN – that their climate news stories weren’t ‘balanced’ – a quick scan of their interviewee lists revealed that the scientist most frequently on CNN …. was none other than Michaels himself. A result somewhat at odds with his standing in the community or expertise, but ample evidence for the ‘false balance‘ often decried here.

As for the scientific content, with the sole exception of Dan Schrag’s statements, it was a textbook example of abuse of science. Two exchanges summed it up for me. In the first, Bob Carter insisted that CO2 always follows temperature for the ice age cycles (which are paced by the variations in the Earth’s orbit and for which CO2 is a necessary feedback) and seasonal cycle (related mainly to Northern hemisphere deciduous trees) . Both statements are true as far as they go – but they don’t go very far. Was Carter suggesting that the 30% increase in CO2 decreased after 1940? or that it has stopped increasing in recent years (since he appears to also believe that global warming stopped in 1998?). As an aside by his criteria it also stopped in 1973, 1983 and 1990…. only it didn’t. Of course, if this wasn’t what he meant to imply (because it’s demonstrably false), why did he bring the whole subject up at all? Surely not simply to muddy the waters….

The second great example was Carter making an appeal to authority (using NASA and the Russian Academy of Science) for his contention that world is likely to cool in coming decades. Of course scientists at NASA are at the forefront of studies of anthropogenic climate change so a similar authority would presumably apply to them, and the Russian Academy was one of 11 that called on the G8 to take climate change seriously, but let’s gloss over that inconsistency. The nuggets of science Carter was referring to are predictions for the next couple of solar cycles – a tricky business in fact, and one in which there is a substantial uncertainty. However, regardless of that uncertainty, NASA scientists have definitively not predicted that this will cause an absolute cooling – at best, it might reduce the ongoing global warming slightly (which would be good) (though see here for what they actually said). Two Russians scientists have indeed made such a ‘cooling’ prediction though, but curiously only in a press report rather than in any peer-reviewed paper, and clearly did not speak for the Academy in doing so, but never mind that. Of course, if Carter seriously thought that global cooling was likely, he should be keen to take up some of James Annan’s or Brian Schmidt’s attractive offers – but like the vast majority of ‘global coolers’, his money does not appear to be where his mouth is. It’s all classic contrarian stuff.

With the new Senate coming in January, it seems likely that this kind of disinformational hearing will become less common and more climate policy-related hearings will occur instead. These won’t provide as much fodder for us to debunk, but they might serve the much more useful function of actually helping craft appropriate policy responses.

Ah… truly the end of an age.

* If needed, the easy rebuttals to these talking points are available here, here and here


221 Responses to “Inhofe’s last stand”

  1. 151
    Sashka says:

    Re: #147

    Whatever sets off the CO2 increase

    You don’ think it’s important? It it weren’t CO2 would be able to set off the planet on a run-away course.

  2. 152
    James says:

    Re #147: “…since we know the present warming is artificial.”

    I think that should be rephrased a bit for correctness. What we _know_ is that, in contrast to previous warmings, the measured increase in atmospheric CO2 is artifical. Just add up all the fossil fuels that have been burnt, figure out how much CO2 was made, and see if the numbers match. Isotope ratios and such provide supporting evidence.

    That the current warming is artifical is a deduction from the known properties of CO2 and the measured increase in its concentration.

  3. 153
    SecularAnimist says:

    This may not be too far off-topic on a thread about Senator Inhofe … here is an interesting bit about science fiction writer Michael Crichton, a prominent AGW denier who claims that anthropogenic global warming is a hoax perpetrated by “environmentalists”, who has been invited by Senator Inhofe to testify before the Senate Environment Committee, and was invited to the White House to discuss climate change with President Bush:

    Global Warming Denier Michael Crichton Fictionalizes Critic as Child Rapist
    By Paul Kiel
    Talking Points Memo
    December 14, 2006

    Quite a guy, that Michael Crichton.

  4. 154
    Sashka says:

    Re: #140

    According to the Stern Review on the economics of climate change recently published by the UK government, the economic costs of failing to reduce CO2 emissions enough, quickly enough, to address anthropogenic global warming, will be far greater than the costs of doing so.

    Forgive me but anything coming of the UK government (climate-wise) is of zero interest for me. These people believe that GW is a greater threat than terrorism. This is beyond the scope of intelligent discussion.

    For comparison, the chief economist of our company (which is a huge global organization, so he is not just an ordinary Joe but apparently a first rate expert) recently delivered internal presentation on economic effects of climate change. It should be noted that our company doesn’t have a direct stake in the outcome of the GW debate or policy decisions. In 30 minutes he didn’t say anything stupid or misleading (contrary to my expectations) unlike any other non-professional I heard so far. His conclusions (and he was all over himself emphasizing the uncertainties of his analysis) were that moderate emissions controls would be beneficial for economy while drastic measures (downsizing to 90% of current level) would be detrimental.

    With regard to your disparaging comments about the scientific accuracy of Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth, which other commenters have already pointed out are completely incorrect

    Other posters who stood up to defend Al Gore’s film so far didn’t demonstrate any understanding of the issue on which I have criticized him. Notably, Michael Tobis who does understand, chose not to comment on that. Nor did the moderator who approves my posts.

  5. 155
    Grant says:

    Re: #153

    This is the first I’ve heard of such an allegation, and I think we should all withold judgement until the accusation has been verified or contradicted. But if it’s true, it’s certainly a new low.

  6. 156
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    re #132, yes, methane (e.g., from cattle) is a more powerful GHG, tho it’s duration (before it degrades to CO2+) is much shorter — 10 years, compared to CO2′s hundred, thousands, even up to a hundred thousand years.

    Nevertheless, in searching for ways to reduce my GHGs I became a vegetarian, because meat production (not to mention flatulant cattle) is highly GHG instensive (including energy for pumping water), I believe perhaps something like (wild guess, I can’t really remember) 10 or 20 times more GHG emission for a lb of beef protein than for an lb of plant protein (like soy beans).

    So, yes, for those serious about reducing their GHG emissions, it’s necessary to reduce meat consumption (say, by half, at least) AND driving, etc. This isn’t an “either/or” situation, we have to do ALL we can, whether it is of big or just a little help.

  7. 157
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #132, as for the IPCC adjusting estimates downward, that was covered here on RC earlier. It is the upper end of the climate SENSITIVITY (not the lower end – which I believe was raised up) that was adjusted downward — the sensitivity to a standardized increase in CO2, which I think is 2 times the pre-industrial level. And the reason the high end has been adjusted downward & the low end upward is because they are gaining more certainty & the confidence interval is narrowing (I think).

    That, however, says nothing about what the CO2 levels will be in 2100 & hence does not predict the upper limit to the warming — which depends on whether or not we cease & desist from this ghastly earth-warming experiment & whether or not nature starts kicking in its own GHGs as a response to the warming. Both cases are looking very bad — our emissions are increasing a lot, and permafrost is melting faster than anyone expected, and some ocean methane hydrates are at shallower depths than anyone thought (closer to the warming waters). So who knows what the CO2 levels will be in 2100 — not to mention the warming, which will also be impacted by an iceless dark Arctic ocean acting as a big heat absorber.

    As for sea rise, one of RC’s scientists, Stephan Rahmstorf, just came out with an article stating the IPCC may be underestimating the sea rise. See: http://www.climateark.org/shared/reader/welcome.aspx?linkid=65045

    At any rate, I consider the IPCC reports fairly conservative in their estimates, AND each succeeding report comes back with “it’s worse than we thought” type information on the whole. Just stick your finger to the wind & see which way it’s blowing. You don’t have to be a weather man or rocket scientist.

  8. 158
    Chuck Booth says:

    RE #153-4

    Oh, it’s been authenticated:

    In “Jurassic President,” Michael Crowley critiqued Michael Crichton’s State of Fear. Crichton fired back in his latest book, Next, by naming an unsavory character “Mick Crowley.” But before Crichton wrote books, he wrote for TNR; his first published essay was a 1969 piece on sci-fi and Kurt Vonnegut.
    10:38 a.m., 12.14.06
    http://www.tnr.com/

    Here is the link to Crowley’s response in TNR: http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20061225&s=diarist122506

  9. 159
    Joseph O'Sullivan says:

    One of the scientists who testified, Dan Schrag, has an op-ed about the hearings in the Boston Globe.

    On a swift boat to a warmer world
    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2006/12/17/on_a_swift_boat_to_a_warmer_world/

    Rodger Pielke Jr. also has it on his blog.
    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/climate_change/001027climate_change_heari.html#comments

  10. 160
    SecularAnimist says:

    Sashka wrote in #154:

    Forgive me but anything coming of the UK government (climate-wise) is of zero interest for me.

    That’s a classical ad hominem fallacy, and also a glib way to avoid dealing with information that challenges your preconceived ideas. Do you understand who Nicholas Stern is? Are you suggesting that his group’s analysis of the economic consequences of global warming is a politically motivated document, or is in some other way not credible? Do you have any actual reason for that, other than that you don’t like his results?

    These people believe that GW is a greater threat than terrorism. This is beyond the scope of intelligent discussion.

    Anthropogenic global warming is an existential threat to the human species. Terrorism is not — not even nuclear terrorism. About the only threat comparable in magnitude to the effects of AGW would be a global thermomuclear war involving the US, Russia and China firing off thousands of hydrogen-bomb-carrying ICBMs at each other.

    According to the World Health Organization, global warming killed 150,000 people in the year 2000 and that number could double in the next 30 years if current trends are not reversed.

    The idea that terrorism is a threat to humanity comparable to global warming is beneath intelligent discussion.

  11. 161
    Dr. J says:

    As for your bet proposals, as I have stated before, mine as an AGW skeptic are paying off like a slot machine. 2006 will again not surpass 1998, so I have now won 7 and had one tie (2005, if you believe Hansen, I gave them a push on it) since I made my bet with the believers in 1999, not one loss.

  12. 162
    Grant says:

    Re: #161

    Your bet is a scam, your argument is a sham. It plays on the statistical naivete of your adversaries, and on the silly notion that greenhouse gases are the only factor affecting global temperature. Ever hear of “el Nino”?

    So here’s a bet for you: the 1998 global average temperature will be exceeded, both in HadCRU and GISS data, no later than 2012. What sum do you propose? Be advised: I’m a statistician.

  13. 163
    caerbannog says:

    Also Re: #161

    Looking at the average temperature of just the atmosphere (while ignoring the inconvenient fact that the oceans carry far more heat energy than the atmosphere does) is disingenuous cherry picking. A true accounting of the Earth’s “temperature” cannot be made without including the oceans’ contributions. The fact that the 1998 El Nino event “spiked” the atmospheric temperature by dumping some of the Pacific Ocean’s heat energy into the atmosphere does not in any way undermine the scientific case for global warming.

  14. 164
    Modest Mouse says:

    re #154

    What an extrodinary idea: Having no interest in what Stern (a distinguished economist who has been chief economist of the World Bank)says because his report was commissioned by the UK Government; whilst a 30 minute presentation by the company’s chief economist is the real deal.

  15. 165
    Dan says:

    re: 161. Wow, talk about an embarassing, gross abuse and misunderstanding of the basic concepts of statistics and significance. Greenhouse gases are not the sole influence on global average temperatures. However, the overall trend is unequivocable.

  16. 166
    Dan says:

    Meanwhile, Monckton appears to have hit a new low with gross mistruths in his attacks on Senators Rockerfeller and Snowe:
    http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/12/18/prnw.20061218.DCM029.html

    His comment about skeptic’s peer-reveiwed science is quite rich.

  17. 167
    Grant says:

    Re: #166

    How hypocritical of Monckton to accuse Rockefeller and Snowe of inhibiting free speech, when he himself threatened a lawsuit against the WikiPedia rebuttal of his denialist diatribe.

  18. 168
    Sashka says:

    Re: #164

    What does that have to do with the length of the presentation? What matters is how much time did he spend working on it (seems like a lot) and how qualified he is (seems like as good as anybody). The reason why I tend to believe him more is that he wasn’t paid to arrive at any fixed conclusion.

    [Response: No-one in the scientific debate is paid to come to a particular conclusion, with the possible exception of Pat Michaels who practises 'advocacy science' whatever that is. And while I'm here, I'll remind you and all other particpants to keep their comments substantive and polite - even about the UK Govt. Everything else gets deleted. - gavin]

  19. 169

    re 160 Secular Animist advises us that “Anthropogenic global warming is an existential threat to the human species. Terrorism is not — not even nuclear terrorism. About the only threat comparable in magnitude to the effects of AGW would be a global thermomuclear war involving the US, Russia and China firing off thousands of hydrogen-bomb-carrying ICBMs at each other.

    According to the World Health Organization, global warming killed 150,000 people in the year 2000 and that number could double in the next 30 years if current trends are not reversed.”

    If he means “an existential threat ” to be a threat to continued human existence this makes no quantitative sense – roughly a hundred times more people presently die of natural causes each year, and a single nuclear device could easily outstrip the present WHO estimate- which may itself be exaggerated.

  20. 170
    Roger Smith says:

    Thanks for the Lord Monckton link. I liked this one the best:

    Of Britain’s Royal Society, a State-funded scientific body which, like the Senators, has publicly leaned on ExxonMobil, Lord Monckton said, “The Society’s long-standing funding by taxpayers does not ensure any greater purity of motive or rigour of thought than industrial funding of scientists who dare to question whether ‘climate change’ will do any harm.”

  21. 171
  22. 172
    Neal J. King says:

    171: Monckton’s legal threats

    The Monckton anti-article was under development at a Wikipedia site for some time. Apparently, Monckton got wind of it and apparently made threatening noises to Wikipedia management. The legal counsel for Wikipedia left a note on the page suggesting that this use of Wikipedia might be inappropriate, and might also expose contributors to liability for libel. There was some discussion on this point, but the step was taken to consider the action of deleting the page. After about a week of discussion on that topic, that action was taken. So I don’t think there’s a page to point you to; maybe someone more familiar than I with Wikipedia can still find something.

    The material developed has been salvaged, however. Personally, I am not too concerned about the Wiki site: My own feeling was that, although the historical record provided by Wikipedia allows detection of sabotage by hostile editing, it still demands eagle-eyed care. I would much rather develop the article within a closed group and make it available for review when it’s reached a level of stability.

    However, that does bring us back to the question of how to make the arrangements. If someone has a website on which access could be controlled to some extent, that would make things easier.

  23. 173
    Sashka says:

    Re: #168 (comment)

    Gavin, you do make an exception for Pat Michaels, and for Michael Crichton and for Senator Inhofe and so forth. You trash whoever you think deserves it and you feel good about it, right? Obviously it’s your blog and you are making whatever rules you want but can’t you just recognize that I didn’t say anything more offensive about UK gov-t that you said about certain individuals? Since when economic estimates of remote events belong to the realm of scientific debate? At best it’s an exercise in creative accounting.

    [Response: My concern is mainly to maintain a non-zero signal to noise ratio. When discussion gets to the point where people are being sweepingly rude, it doesn't tend to suddenly become serious again. Economics is not our principle focus here, but efforts to prevent it have proved futile, so I'll go with the flow. Economics does have a tendency to bring out more entrenched positions and therefore a quicker descent to pure noise, thus I pay more attention to the level. With respect to my own comments, I'll clearly admit that I don't have much respect for Inhofe's, Michaels' and Crichton's scientific reasoning (for which there is much supporting evidence), but I have no opinion or interest in their overall mental state, competence or worth. I'd wager you feel similarly. All we ask is that people keep the level up. If you want no-holds barred back and forth there are plenty of places on the web for that and I'd wish you the best of luck. Just don't do it here. -gavin]

  24. 174
    savegaia says:

    Ah ok thank you,
    and i found this article Last Updated: 12:14am GMT 05/11/2006
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/11/05/nosplit/nwarm05.xml
    and 1 version of his “calculations” is linked and another is here http://meteo.lcd.lu/globalwarming/Monckton/apocalypse_cancelled.pdf

    Maybe this paper needs a debunk?

    Btw in the article is an easteregg “pinochio” from a microsoft advert :p

    Cheers

  25. 175
    Manboy says:

    Sashka,

    The trashing Michaels, Crichton and Inhofe may have received here is wholly deserved. They grossly misrepresent science to fit their agenda. I’m surprised that you should complain about trashing the above individuals. Besides, RealClimate has presented valid arguments as to why their message should be dismissed.

    Btw, did you hear that Crichton named a character in his next book titled “Next”, after a political writer in DC, a real person, who criticized Crichton’s previous book, “State of Fear” ?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/14/books/14cric.html?_r=1&ref=books&oref=slogin

    “On Page 227 Mr. Crichton writes: “Alex Burnet was in the middle of the most difficult trial of her career, a rape case involving the sexual assault of a two-year-old boy in Malibu. The defendant, thirty-year-old Mick Crowley, was a Washington-based political columnist who was visiting his sister-in-law when he experienced an overwhelming urge to have anal sex with her young son, still in diapers.”

    The real person’s name is Michael Crowley, he’s a Washington based political reporter… Would you also complain that Crichton creates a character that resembles a real person by name and is a sex offender in the book ?

    Nexus 6 writes :

    “Michael Crichton is perhaps the greatest writer alive today. His character development surpasses that of Shakespeare. His plots out-rollick Tolkien. His masterful endings put Memento and The Usual Suspects to shame. With State of Fear he exposed global warming for the fraud it is. His latest novel, Next, will be remembered throughout history as one of humanity’s finest.

    Well, maybe not. But I’m too scared to say otherwise, – cause I don’t want to appear as a character in his next novel…”

    http://n3xus6.blogspot.com/2006/12/michael-crichton-legend.html

  26. 176
    Joeph O'Sullivan says:

    RE Gavins’s response to #168

    Advocacy science is not science. Its representing fact (sometimes misrepresenting facts) in a way that advances someone’s objectives that are outside what science can show us. Its usually political.

    I have no problem in giving the facts to advance a political agenda, but make sure you are true to the facts. Schneider’s website has a good explanation of this. RPK Jr also makes a good point about this, just be sure to read his papers on this before you dismiss him as a skeptic.

  27. 177
    Modest Mouse says:

    re #168

    It is the idea that a substantial review can be discounted just because it was commissioned by a government that I find extraordinary

    The Stern review was announced in July 2005 and was produced by a core team of 23 people. It invited submissions from all interested parties and involved visits to countries outside UK. In other words it is a serious piece of work.

    In a similar way I imagine all large comapnies are trying to forecast the impact of climate change on their business. But I would not automatically think that the company guy was going to have a better handle on the truth or a wider outlook.

    Governments sponsor huge amounts of valuable information and then put it in the public domain. You cannot dismiss all of it with a wave of the hand as if it is inevitablly tainted.

    What politicians do with the information is another matter

  28. 178
    Dr. J says:

    So Grant as a statistician, would you also bet that before 2012 there is a year that is the coolest of the last 15? I don’t see how your bet proves AGW, the true believers think only of CO2 and reject scientists like myself “obfuscating” the issue by pointing to the numerous other factors that effect climate and the possibility that CO2 is not the majority cause of climate change. I merely offered my true believer scientist friends a place to put their money where their mouths were, and thus since CO2 is rising and has been for over 100 years, then temps should follow most of the time at least if CO2 is the majority cause of the warming. But again, since I made that bet, egged on by my friends who believed 1998 was not an anomaly but the true trend (as reported by the press and breathlessly panicked NASA scientists at the time) I have won almost every year. So do you have a better bet than a random walk one time payout?

  29. 179
    Sashka says:

    Re: #177

    I’m not dismissing all governments in one sweep. It is just this particular government because it’s already proven its – I’m trying to be polite – inadequate attitude.

  30. 180
    SecularAnimist says:

    Sashka wrote in #179: “It is just this particular government because it’s already proven its – I’m trying to be polite – inadequate attitude.”

    And that remains an ad hominem fallacy just as it was when you first stated it, regardless of whatever in the world you mean be asserting that the UK government has an “inadequate attitude” regarding anthropogenic global warming. Do you have any substantive criticism of the Stern report?

  31. 181
    SecularAnimist says:

    Russell Seitz responded in #169 to my comments in #160:

    If he means “an existential threat” to be a threat to continued human existence this makes no quantitative sense – roughly a hundred times more people presently die of natural causes each year, and a single nuclear device could easily outstrip the present WHO estimate- which may itself be exaggerated.

    I was making two separate points in contrasting global warming with terrorism in my comment.

    1. By “existential threat” I do indeed mean that anthropogenic global warming is a threat to the continued existence of the human species — and indeed to all life on Earth, in the extreme worst case. Among other things, AGW threatens to wipe out agriculture, eliminate fresh water supplies for billions of humans, and destroy the oceanic food web from the phytoplankton on up. If all of the various GW-reinforcing feedbacks kick in — increased absorption of solar energy by ice-free Arctic waters, release of massive amounts of carbon and methane from thawing permafrost, decreased absorption of CO2 due to global die-off of phytoplankton, etc — then the Earth could be in for an epochal mass extinction of most of its life. Terrorism — even nuclear terrorism — is not remotely a threat of this magnitude.

    2. Contrast the (probably conservative) WHO estimate of 150,000 deaths per year from AGW with the number of deaths per year attributable to terrorism. AGW is already killing more people than terrorism.

  32. 182
    Grant says:

    Re: #178

    So Grant as a statistician, would you also bet that before 2012 there is a year that is the coolest of the last 15?

    No. I’ll bet there isn’t.

    I don’t see how your bet proves AGW, …

    Duh! That was my point: that your bet is meaningless. You’re the one who brought the subject up.

    … the true believers think only of CO2 and reject scientists like myself “obfuscating” the issue by pointing to the numerous other factors that effect climate …

    Now you’re being disingenuous. I (and several others) pointed out the folly that takers of your bet are probably under the false impression that CO2 is the “only game in town.” The climate scientists who run this site are constantly posting about the “numerous other factors” that affect climate. To paint AGW believers in the climate science community as ignoring other factors is a classic “straw man” argument.

    As to whether we’ll go above 1998 or below 2000 (the lowest global average T in the as-yet-incomplete 15-year interval 1998 to 2012 according to HadCRU), it depends more on those “other factors” than on the long-term trend. If we get a big el Nino, we’ll top 1998 (in fact we’re likely to even without), but if we have a massive volcanic eruption we’ll go below 2000.

    If you want to dispute AGW, you should find arguments other than a statistically-stacked deck.

  33. 183
    Dr. J says:

    OK Grant, then you have no other bet I take it?

  34. 184
    Chris O'Neill says:

    Dr. J wrote:

    “As for your bet proposals, as I have stated before, mine as an AGW skeptic are paying off like a slot machine. 2006 will again not surpass 1998, so I have now won 7 and had one tie since I made my bet with the believers in 1999″

    There must be plenty of gullible fools around. How much have you won?

  35. 185
    John McCormick says:

    Folks, how about we park this running monologue on winning bets against our children’s future.

  36. 186
    CobblyWorlds says:

    Re #184, Chris O’Neill,

    I’ll second that, anyone accepting such a year-on-year bet is in danger of seeming foolish.

    Dr J.
    “… the true believers think only of CO2 and reject scientists like myself “obfuscating” the issue by pointing to the numerous other factors that effect climate … ”

    As far as I can see the only ‘belief’ based show in town is the contrarist “It must be anything, but it cannot be CO2″ belief set.

    And betting year to year on a process that is decadal in scale is about all the contararists have left (aside from extensive deployment of straw-men). We can play the ‘when is the end of the trend’ game for virtually any year-to-year period from ’76 onwards. But each time the blips turn out to be blips and the temperature keeps going onwards and upwards. http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A_lrg.gif
    1983 – oh look the trend has ended!
    1990 – oh look itâ??s ended again!
    1998 â?? lets compare every subsequent year to that (lets not â?? lets use at least a 5 year windowed average on the data before we look at it, then we can avoid wasting everyone’s time with a plethora of nonsense.)

    My bet:

    Global Average Temperature (NASA GISS) will keep on going upwards on a decadal basis, at least until atmospheric CO2 levels cease to increase. Why do I think that? Because the theory of AGW by enhanced greenhouse gasses suggests that, and I cannot sustain a reasonable argument against that theory.

  37. 187
    Eli Rabett says:

    The INTERNET is the ultimate existential medium, you are who you claim you are, you do what you claim to have done, and you can say you won a hundred bets. Woofing on the internet is kind of like punching marshmellows, at best silly. Having seen Dr. J in action at Andrew Dessler’s blog (I hate Gristmill btw, bad move Andrew and Coby) he is a fine practicioner of the art.

    That being said, how about a bet that goes there will be no year between 2006 and 2012 that is globally colder than any year between 1975 and 1990 using the GISS surface record data set for both.

  38. 188
    Dan says:

    Meanwhile, where Inhofe roosts:

    “Washington Warming to Southern Plants”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/19/AR2006121901769.html

  39. 189
    Dr. J says:

    I have not won enough money (approx. $100/year) to help in my retirement from this bet, merely enough to cause my friends to consider that CO2 is but a minor contributor to GW. I said consider, they all still firmly believe that CO2 is the major factor (above 60%). I know that Mr. Rabett and of course others, can arrange bets that provide them extremely high odds of winning, or that push the payouts into decades rather than real time. I will not take those bets, I too know something of statistics and probabilities and trends and random walks. The real issue could be that when another global cooling trend starts, like happened from 1945-1975, then where will all of you be? I suspect that will happen soon, but of course have no idea when. That bet could be one I would consider, since that would certainly put the stake in the heart of this AGW Dracula that wants to suck the economic blood out of the world for political gain.

  40. 190
    Dan says:

    re: 189. In other words, there is absolutely no peer-reviewed science to back up any of your claims/bets/suspicions. Thank you for making that clear.

  41. 191
    Eli Rabett says:

    Obviously Dr. J is rooting for Michael Berube’s “We are all giant nuclear fireballs now” party to come to power, complete with show trials and cage matches.

    Still, let us look at the offer again: “would you also bet that before 2012 there is a year that is the coolest of the last 15″. As formulated there is ambiguity whether the years between 2006 and 2012 are included in the evaluation period. The problem is with the language, not statistical. I would take a bet that says that between now and 2012, inclusive, the annual global temperature will NOT be lower than in any year between 1993 and 2006 as judged by the NASA/GISS surface temperature record. I would even reformulate it to agree that if there was no large volcanic eruption (El Chichon or larger) between 2006 and 2012, then the baseline would start in 1994. In the case of a significant nuclear exchange we would all have other things to worry about.

  42. 192
    Steve Reynolds says:

    Re 180> Do you have any substantive criticism of the Stern report?

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20954347-31478,00.html :
    Apparently recognised authority on the economics of climate change, William Nordhaus of Yale does.

    Nordhaus feeds into the Stern model a climate impact in 2200 that causes damage equal to 0.01 per cent of output in 2200 and continues at that rate.

    He then asks how large an economic impact would be justified today to avoid this damage starting after two centuries. His answer is that a payment of 15 per cent of current world consumption (about $US7 trillion) would pass Stern’s cost-benefit test.

    “This seems completely absurd,” Nordhaus says, as indeed it is. “The bizarre result arises because the value of the future consumption stream is so high, with near-zero discounting, that we would trade off a large fraction of today’s income to increase a far-future income stream by a very tiny fraction.”

  43. 193
    mark schneeweiss says:

    Sashka,

    I’m rather proud of the UK government (for once!), actually. The Stern Report helps to shoot down the myth that ‘we can’t afford to address AGW’, in a language the markets can understand.

    Stern suggests that the reality is that ‘we can’t afford NOT to address climate change.’ Even our esteemed climatologists would struggle to make that statement, with confidence.

    This is a step forward for the debate, and also for RC, where climatological arguments are often easily rebutted, but economic ones have frequently been a bit of a stumbling block.

    Of course, it is one thing publishing reports, and another acting on them. In the field of ‘talking the talk’, but not ‘walking the walk’, the UK really does lead the world! Hopefully the next Prime Minister will be better than the present incumbent, in this regard.

    None the less, the Stern Report is easily the most comprehensive and exhaustive attempt to frame the issues, in terms of the economics, that we have yet seen.

    Name me one other country that has contributed as much as UK, to the AGW debate. We may not be doing a tremendous amount on a practical level (sadly, its mainly window dressing for now), but boy, are we talking about it!

    I’ve just ‘bigged-up’ my own government over AGW, which is weird, because i seem to spend most of my days ‘dissing’ their behaviour. Strange days!

    It must be the effect of England’s hottest year since at least 1659 (thats 348 years!). Not just a little bit warmer, either. A full half of one degree of ‘clear water’ between this year, and the next hottest!

    regards, Mark S

  44. 194
    William Astley says:

    RE: 156 “yes, methane (e.g., from cattle) is a more powerful GHG, although it’s duration (before it degrades to CO2+) …(is less)
    Nevertheless, in searching for ways to reduce my GHGs I became a vegetarian, because meat production (not to mention flatulent cattle) is highly GHG insensitive (including energy for pumping water) …

    Good news, one less worry. Methane levels have stopped rising in the atmosphere.

    American Scientist, 2006 November-December issue.

    “The concentrations of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have both risen dramatically since the start of the industrial revolution, but unlike it more familiar green-house gas cousin, atmospheric methane has recently stopped increasing in abundance. … wasn’t entirely unanticipated, given that the rate of increase has been slowing for at least a quarter of century. …Yet the IPCC has predicted many of its conclusions on scenarios in which methane concentrations would continue to grow. Thus the recent stablization of methane levels is something that some scientists are trying very hard to explain.”

    The American Scientist article includes a number of unproven hypotheses as to why CH4 levels have stabilized: Reduced rice farming in China; An increase in tropical storms that creates NOx components high in the atmosphere (NOx components react with CH4 and destroy CH4.); As well as the old standby, an increase in pollution (again NOx)

  45. 195

    Re “the true believers think only of CO2 and reject scientists like myself “obfuscating” the issue by pointing to the numerous other factors that effect climate and the possibility that CO2 is not the majority cause of climate change.”

    Probably because the chance of that being true, in the light of what we know now, is so miniscule that it can be safely ignored. Perhaps the “majority” cause of global warming is heating pads under the surface of the Earth left there by aliens? That’s possible too, but most scientists will spend very little time on it.

  46. 196
    Chris O'Neill says:

    Dr. J wrote:

    “I have not won enough money (approx. $100/year) to help in my retirement from this bet,”

    Unfortunately their aren’t enough gullible fools around to make a lot of money. Considering that the record virtually only ever gets broken by El-Nino years or thereabouts and El-Ninos only happen every 4 years or so, taking a 50:50 bet on something with at least a 75% chance of happening is a great way to make money. Global warming makes little difference to the odds of winning until the average warming rate becomes much higher than it is now. Global warming presents a great opportunity to make money off people who don’t know the basics of climatology.

    ” merely enough to cause my friends to consider that CO2 is but a minor contributor to GW.”

    Yes that’s all they’ll be thinking about.

  47. 197
    Sashka says:

    Re: #192

    There you go. Thank you, Steve. Not that I had a lot of doubts but it’s nice to be able to refer to an authority.

  48. 198
    Ron Taylor says:

    Re 189 //…that would certainly put the stake in the heart of this AGW Dracula that wants to suck the economic blood out of the world for political gain.//

    I find this statement puzzling. Recognition of the AGW problem has been brought about by the work of climate scientists, with the vast majority in agreement. So what possible political goal commonly held by virtually all climate scientists could be driving, indeed, determining the outcome of their work?

  49. 199
    Sashka says:

    There’s an interesting article in today’s NY Times:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/21/business/21pollute.html?ei=5094&en=7fc0948e4baa5965&hp=&ex=1166763600&partner=homepage&pagewanted=print

    Here’s one quote to pique your curiosity:

    Under the program, businesses in wealthier nations of Europe and in Japan help pay to reduce pollution in poorer ones as a way of staying within government limits for emitting climate-changing gases like carbon dioxide, as part of the Kyoto Protocol. Among their targets is a large rusting chemical factory here in southeastern China. Its emissions of just one waste gas contribute as much to global warming each year as the emissions from a million American cars, each driven 12,000 miles.

    Is anybody impressed?

  50. 200
    Neal J. King says:

    192, 197: On Stern and discounting the future

    As pointed out in the article, Stern sets a near-zero discount on future costs. This is opposite to what Lomborg does: he discounts future costs according to more usual financial calculations.

    It is not at all clear to me that Lomborg is right and Stern is wrong, on this matter. The problem with discounting is that ANY result, however bad, can be discounted into insignificance over enough time. That doesn’t mean that it’s no longer a disaster, it just means that it’s a disaster for your great-grandchildren instead of for you.

    A rationale for using discounting in financial calculations is that, instead of spending to prevent an expense now, you could put the money in the bank and collect interest on it; and then you could have all the money ready to pay off the future expense, in the future.

    As long as all the consequences are purely financial, this would not seem to be an unreasonable rationale. But if there are true environmental disasters (“end of the world” scenarios), this wouldn’t make much sense.


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