RealClimate logo

A much more eloquent rebuttal of TGGWS

Filed under: — gavin @ 17 March 2007

Promoted from the comments, the download of the BBC Radio 4 ‘Now Show’ (Mar 16) is available here (at least for now). Key bit starts at about 18min in, (the rest of the show is pretty funny too).

307 Responses to “A much more eloquent rebuttal of TGGWS”

  1. 101
    Steve Bloom says:

    Re #97: At some point we need to remind ourselves that many interlocking feedbacks are involved: GHGs (with water vapor doing the major part of the work as always), albedo, dust clouds, carbon sinks, sea ice, ocean currents, atmospheric circulation patterns, vegetation, plankton, etc. Bear in mind that the entire climate system is being shifted into a different state. *Everything* that can change does change. That certainly makes modeling it difficult, but it turns out to not be impossible:

    I’ve linked it before, but since we’ve been talking ice ages and models on this thread these fresh results are very much worth reading. I’d love to get the opinion of one of the modelers on this, but from my humble POV these results seem very good indeed (although not perfect by any means, plus they avoid dealing with the Mid-Pleistocene Transition).

  2. 102
    David B. Benson says:

    Re #101: Steve Bloom — Yes, many interactions occur. My goal is to keep it simple as long and as far as possible.

    Regarding your link, my amateur reading is that the work is quite good, but with the important exception of the transition from the Eemian (last previous interglacial) to the first stade, which did not model well…

  3. 103
    Hank Roberts says:

    More antarctic drilling info coming in all the time.

  4. 104
    Alvia Gaskill says:

    Hearings Clear Up Misunderstanding About Censorship

    I managed to watch several hours of the House Govt. Reform Committee hearing on scientific censorship of climate change research before C-SPAN cut away to cover the House. The full hearing will probably be shown later. But no matter. It was all a big misunderstanding.

    The hearings were to focus on why the Bush Admin. had deliberately tried to prevent government scientists from giving media interviews on climate change and on the selective editing of important policy documents produced on climate change such that the edits did not accurately reflect the science.

    Witness Phil Cooney, formerly and presently of Big Oil testified he only made changes he thought should be made and that James Mahoney, the then head of the Climate Science program didn’t include most of his changes anyway. No harm, no foul. It was agreed that having an oil man in that position was probably a bad idea, certainly from a PR standpoint.

    Witness George Deutsch, the former NASA press information officer, testified that he was only a messenger boy, telling James Hansen and others what the big boys at NASA HQ on the 9th floor wanted done. Specifically that they didn’t want him to give interviews, especially after the one where Hansen said that 2003? 04? was the warmest year on record. Deutsch, who did not have a college degree at the time of his tenure at NASA and was chastised for misleading people that he had a degree has now graduated and runs a radio call in show for the mentally ill. Not qualified for this one either or competition for Limbaugh?

    Witness James Connaughton, still head of the Council on Environmental Quality praised Dr. Hansen and said that they invited Hansen to make a presentation to them on non CO2 GHGs and this led to the various international agreements to reduce methane. Hansen himself said this was a success.

    But witness Hansen was not living in the same bizarro world as these guys and reminded the committee that obstructing scientists would not make the problem of global warming go away, it would just make it harder to solve. He wouldn’t give a specific amount when asked how much federal money should be spent on solving global warming based on a range of $3 billion (now spent) vs. $350 trillion (amount needed to immediately solve problem in U.S. according to one congressman). He said that more money should be spent on developing renewable energy and not just on nuclear energy, a favorite of Connaughton. The $3 billion figure seems to be quoted a lot more since I exposed the phony $6 billion number claimed by the Admin. for some time, as a lot of hypothetical tax credits and unrelated work spray painted green.

    The hearing went off the paved surface and up a dirt road on several occasions with some time spent debating whether Al Gore’s house is more energy efficient than Bush’s Crawford ranch. Members also agonized over whether it would have been better if Bush had taken the high road on Kyoto or climate change in general.

    The issue of whether Hansen endorsed Kerry for president because he had received a $250K prize from the Heinz foundation came up because Republicans wanted to portray Hansen as a hypocrite since the issue of bought and paid for staff had come up regarding Cooney’s hiring. No evidence was presented that there was any connection with the endorsement of Kerry and Hansen said he supported any candidate who took the issue of global warming seriously, including John McCain.

    There was also some discussion of Hansen’s comparison of the Administration’s censorship of scientists as like that of Nazi Germany and whether this was appropriate. Agreed. He could have chosen a less inflammatory example. USSR, N. Korea, Cuba, Myannmar (a little too esoteric perhaps), Turkmenistan, Iraq (pre-2003), Iran, Libya, Syria, the former E. Germany. Why play the Hitler card when you have Belarus and Zimbabwe to choose from?

    This led to the question of whether government employees have the right to speak out publicly when they disagree with a stated policy. Hansen said this was allowed under the First Amendment.

    And on the subject of debates and censorship, Hansen said he would not censor any of his approx 120 staff on a scientific matter, but he also did not encourage debates with the handful of climate contrarians, since it gives them an apparent equal status and a platform from which to cherry pick facts that would likely confuse a lay audience. Not that anything like that would ever happen.

  5. 105
    Hank Roberts says:

    The people most worried about bird flu fall into two groups — those actively trying to educate the public and improve public health, and those who are improving their personal private property and stocking up what they expect to need when public health and services break down during a crisis.

    The “Reveres” who write Effect Measure commented on this a while back, saying they are not taking up stockpiling and planning for personal survival, they are spending their time and effort trying to educate people about how to prevent the problem.

    I have no problem believing that Mr. Bush’s private ranch is very energy efficient, and likely has all his family needs to be self-sufficient.

  6. 106
    Dave Rado says:

    Piers Corbyn is not a meteorologist. He does not have a PhD and his highest degree is an MSc in astrophysics. Regarding his “forecasts” see here and here.

  7. 107

    Very droll, but some print responses to TGGWS defy satirization , like this one By Jerusalem Post Ed Page Editor Saul Singer —

  8. 108
    Jim Eaton says:

    I would like to thank those who patiently have answered the questions posed by PhilC. You may not convince him, but you have provided the rest of us with a wealth of information and explanation.

    So please correct me if I’m wrong, but this is what I glean from the discussion. We have recovered from past glaciations because orbital variations have started a warming cycle that released, in 800 years or so, CO2 from the oceans and other sources, which resulted in additional warming for thousands of years until CO2 was stable in the atmosphere (since CO2 is not an infinite resource). Then over geologic time, CO2 was sequestered back into the ocean and rocks, cooling the planet.

    But now, we do not have the orbital change driving the warming, but instead the increase in CO2 has resulted in jump starting the warming. The end result should be that additional CO2 will be released as the planet warms, until CO2 again is exhausted from “natural” sources.

    EXCEPT that at this time, we have dumped (and will continue to dump) huge amounts of fossil CO2 into the atmosphere. This fossil CO2, combined with the CO2 that will be released as the oceans warm, will lead to conditions which have not been seen for hundreds of millions of years.

    This suggests to me that it is going to get very, very hot here on Earth, and this with continue for a very, very, very long time.

  9. 109
    Serinde says:

    Re 95: Nevermind ‘magna est veritas, et praevalet’. More like ‘veritas fortis est, et praevalebit’. I sincerely hope that Gore reads RC and has learned from the experiences of others. Monckton is attempting to hook Gore by playing the ‘southern gentleman’ card. Gore should refuse to play this game, not get sidetracked from the real job in hand, and walk away.

  10. 110
    Scott Vinson says:

    Re 29: [What technology presently can replace coal or sequester its exhaust?]

    Considering the abundance of coal and the affordability of its electricity, none that I’m aware of today. But it’s in development, e.g. Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) and Supercritical Pulverized Coal (SCPC). Web searches provide info on these systems. The government consideration I referenced in #24 in conjuction with similar international efforts, driven by science, could result in economic drivers that make these or other similar-purpose systems reality.

  11. 111
    pete best says:

    Re #108, don’t go from a skeptic to a extreme convert. You have the jist of it right but remember all CO2 is doing is trapping more heat that the earth is reradiating back into the atmosphere. This is a known amount (measured in w/m2) and hence at the present moment the warming that is occuring is going to be 3 deg C higher that it was in 1750. The world is not going to roast or die and humans will still survive etc but it will costs millions of people their livlihoods and lives, unfortunately mainly coastal and poor peoples.

    At the present moment in time climate change is deemed to be linear in nature and that is true of CO2 warming, however some of earths other systems such as the Oceans, vegetation and frost/ice will be influenced by this warming and hence additional CO2 could be released into the atmosphere as vegetation, tundra and oceans contain a lot of locked up CO2 in very large amounts. Current climate models take into account many factors, however I do not believe that permafrost melting, rain forest depletion or oceans becomming large scale sources etc are factored in they are mainly based around fossil fuel burning scenarios only I believe but I could be wrong. Additional releases of greenhouse gases from natural sources could render the warming more non linear and then we could see increased warming. This is known as sudden/abrupt/catastrophic climate change and I thought that some of this stuff was going to be in the 4th IPCC report but apparantly it is to attention grabing and alarmist to warrant its inclusion at the present time, maybe the 5th one will add it in.

  12. 112
    PhilC says:

    Thanks to everyone for their replies – I remain skeptical (although strongly object to the term ‘denier’)

    I have a degree in physics and MSc in applied optics – all a bit out of date now but I am familiar with science. I’ve also spent 25 years building commercial software models of relatively simple systems & know how easily they go off in wrong directions when one tiny factor is missed out – in which case, the longer you let them run the more ridiculous their results.

    You can use models to design airplane wings, camera lenses, bridges, buildings etc. but these are very well defined systems. The planet is a part understood living system – massively more complex and to say we can accurately model this is just naive which won’t stop people from making a living out of doing it.

    If you model a plane wing and the plane doesn’t fly you quickly find that the model was wrong but climate models are making predications for 10,20,100, 1000(!) years in the future which conveniently means no one can say they’re wrong. Making them ‘nonfalsifiable’ and a nonfalsifiable theory is not a scientific theory.

    It would be more responsible if predications from these models carried a large notice “this is from a computer simulation and may be wrong” – but they are reported in the newspapers with such certainty, especially when the predictions are dramatic (see the front cover of the UK Independent most days).

    And I still don’t like this T-Co2 lag. If GWT had never been thought up most would simply say that heat produces CO2 end of story but all sorts of other processes have to be introduced so that the Theory still ‘works’.

    Despite all your best efforts many people are skeptical about man-made global warming -why?

    While some people are just contrary by nature, a lot of very sensible people are feeling we are being manipulated into a belief (see the “have you say” discussion page on the BBC website each time this subject comes up – many people just don’t buy it).

    Media reporting of science (in general and GW in particular) is atrocious. Other than “we’ll die, it’s your fault, if you dont believe it you’re being stupid” there is no real public discussion of the theory, no public debates between pro-con, very little chance for the public to really think about it.

    Our lives are now being changed for us with no real discussion. In the UK new “Green Taxes” have been introduced to make things that we have to do more expensive but which have zero impact on any CO2 levels. Our Environment Minister says the debate is over and the spokesman for our liberal party even tried to stop the TGGWS program being transmitted (some liberal).

    If the anti-man-made-global-warming arguments are as weak as you say then put them all on TV and have experts from all sides debate the facts in public and keep debating it in public until every argument is resolved.

    Whatever the truth is it can always standup for itself

  13. 113
    tom says:

    RE# 86.

    Is that a joke,

    It’s ok to overestimate GW??

  14. 114
    Nick Gotts says:

    Re #111 “remember all CO2 is doing is trapping more heat that the earth is reradiating back into the atmosphere.”
    Not so: it’s also acidifying the oceans, with possibly very serious consequences, discussed on this site under the heading “The Acid Ocean â�� the Other Problem with CO2 Emission”; changing the physiology of plants and bacteria and their competitive interactions in complex and incompletely understood ways (it’s often claimed agriculture would benefit as plant growth is increased when CO2 levels are increased in greenhouses, but there are considerable problems in scaling up these results); and reducing oxidation of methane in soil. Those are the other effects I know of. Probably there are others known, and yet others no-one knows about.

  15. 115
    Luke Silburn says:

    Re #108 (Jim Eaton)

    Yes, that’s pretty much how my non-climatologist head understands it.

    The big unknowns for the amplified warming aspects of this problem being
    (i) how large the ‘natural’ carbon reservoirs are
    (ii) what is required to release them
    (iii) how fast they’ll emit to the atmosphere
    (iv) are there any negative feedback mechanisms that might dampen things out


  16. 116
    pete best says:

    Re #113 yes but these effects are not evident in climate models are they. Climate models are not earth models or ecology models but models of heat movement and where it will be warmer (and cooler) in the future not what species are going to die out or how much acidification of the oceans will effect life in them.

  17. 117
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re # 112
    “Despite all your best efforts many people are skeptical about man-made global warming -why?”

    I don’t know, but a significant number of people in the U.S. are skeptical (or deny absolutely) the theory of evolution, and a significant number of people still think Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and posed a serious and imminent threat to the U.S. (Why are people who fight tooth and nail against paying an extra $100 or so in annual property taxes to fund their local school so willing to support a war that could end up costing the country a trillion dollars?). I’m afraid the answer lies more in social psychology than in the absence of public debates – evolution v.s creationist/ID has been debated to death in public forums and I doubt any minds have been changed; the rationale for invading Iraq continues to be debated almost daily on U.S. television news shows and it doesn’t seem that many minds have been changed). There is one goal in a debate, and that is to win the debate – not resolve a complex scientific (or political) issue. The real debate about the details of AGW and the reliability of the computer models is, appropriately, carried out at research conferences and in the pages of peer-reviewed scientific journals.

  18. 118
    Richard Ordway says:

    106 Hank Roberts [[The people most worried about bird flu fall into two groups — those actively trying to educate the public and improve public health…]]

    Let’s look at how the public perceives the threats of Bird Flu, Y2K, Global Warming…and how the scientific community actually warns them.

    People say…oh “those scientists” are always warning of things that don’t come true.

    This is a red herring and often used by people hostile to science. Look at the PROBABITIES that scientists assign to possible events. That is the key.

    Did you EVER hear of the scientific communtity stating thre is a 90% probability that Y2K will happen…no. Perhaps they said it is possible so we have to be serious about it.

    How about bird flu. When one of the spokes-person researchers was pressed about probability of it happening by the press, she stated that she did not feel comfortable doing that…but that the risks were high enough to be taken seriously…

    Now, for global warming…”there is a 90+% chance that it is happening and we humans are causing it and it will continue for at least 100 years.” Paraphrased for the IPCC, 2007

    See the difference. The scientific community tries to qualify the threat level…and is very careful and conservative about trying NOT to “scare people” or make big predictions that if wrong could come back to haunt them.

    Anthropogenic climate change, in other words, is considered to be in a very different threat category than bird flu or Y2K.

  19. 119
    Richard Ordway says:

    #112 Phil [[If the anti-man-made-global-warming arguments are as weak as you say then put them all on TV and have experts from all sides debate the facts in public and keep debating it in public until every argument is resolved]]

    No Phil. You don’t understand how science works. In public debates, truth is utterly unverifiable because one side can make up fake facts to refute actual facts…it is a fool’s game.

    In the juried, peer-reviewed journal process, truth can be and is eventually vetted out.

    Apparently, even you can’t tell from the public debates between Gavin and Lindzen who is telling the truth. Public debates are not useful for determining the truth.

    In the USA, public debates on evolution had many anti-evolutionists winning debates in the 1800s. Evolution is quite provable and yet the truth was not vetted out by public debates.

    The scientific community needed a vetting process that worked…the only thing they found, as troubled as it is, that vetted out the truth was the juried, peer-review journal system. It is a tried and proven system.

    Public debates may raise public awareness of an issue…but whoever is the better liar or debater wins…truth is the loser.

  20. 120
    Ray Ladbury says:

    What you are forgetting when you are bothered by the lag in CO2 increase is the fact that CO2 IS a greenhouse gas–the second most important in terms of its effect here on Earth. It is not reasonable that you could dump gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere (either as part of a natural feedback or via anthropogenic activity) and expect it to have no effect. As another indication that such feedbacks have been important in amplifying solar variability as a driver of climate, consider the article on Milankovitch cycles:
    The gist is that solar forcing is not sufficient to explain the effects seen, so other mechanisms must also be important in amplifying solar effects–best candidate: natural greenhouse gas emissions as Earth heats up.
    In the current case, we know things are different–CO2 is leading temperature, and we know it’s driven by anthropogenic sources of fossil carbon (due to the isotopic abundances). The question is what happens when we get to the point where we trigger the feedbacks that release the natural stores of CO2 and CH4.

    And I 100% agree that the truth will win in this case. In scientific cirles, it already has. Unfortunately, the question is whether we will convince policy makers to respond in time. Decreasing carbon emissions will mean some very significant changes–requiring much higher energy efficiency for everything, diversifying sources of energy toward renewables and away from cheap, dirty coal. And it will mean doing it on a global scale, not just a national scale. For instance, shifting to compact fluorescent or solid state (LED) lighting represents a significant savings in energy (and money), but will take a lot of effort and up-front expense, time and effort. Meeting energy demands with either renewables or nuclear power will take decades. And the problem is that we do not know how long we have until natural ghg emissions kick in and render our efforts effectively meaningless.
    So you see, this is not a simple matter–as in the case of evolution vs. creationism–where science can ignore the few contrarians and not care that a significant proportion of the population remain unconvinced. This is a situation where we have to act soon. The thing is that the answer will be obvious to our progeny, and they will likely judge us harshly for complacently gambling with their future.

  21. 121
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re #120
    Uh oh, now I have to put on my contrarian hat and disagree with Ray’s comment:
    “this is not a simple matter–as in the case of evolution vs. creationism–where science can ignore the few contrarians and not care that a significant proportion of the population remain unconvinced.” (This comment aside, I usually find Ray’s posts very informative)

    We biologist DO care, and are just as frustrated (perhaps even more so?) over that issue as the scientific community (and others) is over the AGW skepticism/denial. When local communities start changing school science curriculum standards and requiring disclaimers in science textbooks to undermine the teaching of evolution, and when our students claim passionately that evolution is a myth, the impact is felt immediately by those of us who teach biology.

    Sorry for going off-topic.

  22. 122
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Hi Chuck, Let me quickly backpedal. I have been known to tilt at the occasional fundamentalist Young-Earth Creationist (YEC) windmill myself. The difference here is that the YECs probably do not pose a direct threat to the infrasturcture of civilization, whereas climate change could well do so. So, while I would have no objection to YECs teaching creationism in their private schools, I would object to the contrarian point of view being passed off as if it were actual Earth Science. The difference is that I can oppose the contrarians without being in violation of the Constitution’s establishment clause. Having said this, I share your frustration every time I read the news and hear about these morons taking a fieldtrip to the Grand Canyon and saying it was created in a matter of minutes during “The Flood”.

  23. 123
    PhilC says:

    re #119
    “No Phil. You don’t understand how science works. In public debates, truth is utterly unverifiable because one side can make up fake facts to refute actual facts…it is a fool’s game”

    I understand very well how science works – but I cant say the same for politics or changing public opinion :)

    Public discussion may expose �fake facts� as such, but at the moment they just do the rounds on the Internet or pop up on Channel 4. People have every right to be able to ask questions because we will be paying higher tax bills and many people in the developing world are to be denied the chance we had to develop.

    Bringing in the evolution debate is irrelevant – that is an argument between two different mind sets that will never and can never agree. You could say it’s a battle between the irrational and rational. The argument about GW should be a discussion between scientists who disagree but could agree and indeed will agree when the long terms facts are available.

  24. 124
    Elizabeth says:


    You say – “a lot of very sensible people are feeling we are being manipulated into a belief”

    Too true. But it’s not the climate scientists who are doing the manipulating.

    Since you feel you’re being manipulated, you might look at what industry is saying. More and more are publicly stating that climate change is real, human caused, and emissions must be reduced. Even that bastion of anti-regulation conservatism, the U. S. auto industry, in recent testimony before Congress, agreed that regulations to reduce greenhouse gases are needed. The same thing is being demanded by many large industries in the U. S. including many power companies and oil companies. The insurance industry has long recognized the increased risk climate change poses to their industry and has begun to change how they insure – or, rather, who they will no longer insure. Are these powerful industries all being manipulated by a bunch of geeky climate scientists (no offense folks)? Or do they know what they’re doing and are acting in their economic best interest?

    Don’t take my word for it. Go to the industry websites. Most of them have a link to climate change.

  25. 125
    Elizabeth says:


    re: 122

    I disagree. The do think the YECs are a threat to the infrastructure of civilization. In order to be a YEC, you have to deny all science – not just evolution, not just biology – but geology, astronomy, physics, etc. I don’t think we can overestimate the damage done to our society by the anti-science/poor science education that has been fostered by certain fundamentalists for over a generation. A public that is largely science illiterate, is easy to manipulate.

  26. 126
  27. 127
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Re #113, “It’s ok to overestimate GW??”

    No, I’m serious. For many reasons. For one, if we act to mitigate GW, when it is not happening, we save lots of money & strengthen the economy (see for some inspiration). However, if we fail to mitigate GW & it really is happening, it would be a long played out world disaster. So, unlike scientists who must strive to avoid false positives (requiring high confidence to make claims, so as to protect their reputations & not become the boy who called wolf), people concerned about life on earth (you’d think) would be striving to avoid a false negative (fiddling while the world burns) on this issue.

    Another reason it’s okay to overestimate AGW from what science is now telling us, is that as the science reports come in year after year, on the whole the trend is “GW’s worse than we thought” (I’ve been following it for 17 years, and that’s the sense I have). So, if we over-estimate the problem, eventually the science will likely catch up with us, and we’ll eventually be right. For just one instance, they underestimated the melting of the Greenland icesheets. However, I’d never gloat, and I sincerely wish I’m wrong on this.

    Another reason is that there are lots of uncertainties (as contrarians like to point out), and those uncertainties cut both ways. I think it’s hard to quanitify just when and to what extent GHGs will be released from melting permafrost and ocean clathrates (though we do know that heat melts ice), or to what extent nature will slow down in absorbing GHGs given the heating going on. Or at what point and to what extent there will be forest fires due to the heating, drying out, and changed wind situations from AGW, causing more GHG releases and reducing sinks.

    So, yes, to be on the safe side, it’s better to overestimate AGW.

  28. 128
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Elizabeth, I think the most we can hope for is to keep the forces of anti-science–be they creationist or denialist–to a tiny and powerless, but hopefully not-too-disgruntled minority. To date we have mostly done that with the YECs. Yes, they occasionally rear their heads in Kansas or Pennsylvania, but nowhere has a school board that imposed creationist standards been re-elected. Where they become dangerous is as part of a coalition–as this magnifies the strength of their small numbers (yes, I know more people say they believe in angels than believe in Angels, but most of these folks can’t name all 4 gospels, either).
    The situation is very different wrt climate change. There is a very good chance that the anti-science types will succeed in keeping us from addressing climate change until all we can do is watch it happen. It is the degree of the threat that is greater

  29. 129
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #123, I sort of agree with you Phil. It looks like we’re going to need taxes, policies, and laws to get people & businesses to reduce their GHGs. Too bad, they could have done so by factor 4 or even factor 10 in some cases (see ) while saving money. But OH NO, they had to drag their heels kicking and screaming like brats for nearly 20 years since we’ve come to understand this problem, and now the hour is growing very late indeed. No more leeway. The do-badders will have to be forced to do good. Afterall, we can’t have people going around ruining the world for everyone else. Too bad indeed. And I blame it ALL on the contrarians and denialists!

  30. 130

    Re 95

    Does invoking Ming Dynasty Annals count as Junk Science ?

  31. 131
    Mike Donald says:

    Thank you Hugh for your reply – much appreciated.


  32. 132
    PhilC says:

    “.. as the science reports come in year after year, on the whole the trend is “GW’s worse than we thought”
    Is this really true? If so, in the past the theory/scientists make predictions, then as time goes by you find that it is consistantly “worse than we thought”.
    This would indicated that your theory has never yet understood the climate well enough to make any predications that work.


    I “sort of” completely and utterly dissagree with you Lynn.

  33. 133
    Darrel says:

    Phil (re #123),

    The evolution debate is perfectly relevant for the AGW discussion, because concerning climate change, it is also a clash between different belief systems. The pure scientific discussions are about “unimportant” details, not about the red line of what’s happening. Someone who is brought up with a belief in unlimited growth, unlimited technical capabilities, freerider-ship, externalizing of costs, nature is here to be used for mankind, taxes are evil, the higher the GDP, the better we’re off, disregard for the wellbeing of others, putting individual gain over communal gain, etc.; someone with such an outlook on life will have as hard of a time to accept the reality of AGW as a creationist has to accept the reality of evolution. Their belief system prohibits it.

    Science happens to back up those with a different belief system. Reality (as approached by the conclusions of scientific endeavour) doesn’t clash with their belief system, so they can accept reality a lot better than those whoe belief system doesn’t allow for such a reality.

    Both the climate change and the evolution “debate” should be a discussion between scientists, but neither are. In both fields, more than enough information is available to make an informed decision, but large groups of people block out this information since it doesn’t match their worldview. And of course there’re still enough missing links and uncertainties in the science that they try to (ab)use to back up their predetermined and unchangeable position.


  34. 134
    pete best says:

    Re 129, Personally with Peak Oil and Gas not that far off now (10 to 20 years) then the price of these fuels will rocket which will demand alternatives as a response. Global Warming is telling us to look into them now and hence maybe its a win win situation all round this time unless of course no alternatives are viable enough to replace fossil fuels as their energy denisty is very great relative to other so called sustainable energy sources.

    This is why governments should be drawing up plans for large scale R&D plans for viable alternative fuels. Only coal is around in abundance and in many countries (energy security) but I doubt that it will fill in for peak oil and gas as you need Oil and Gas to get the coal out of the ground.

  35. 135
    PhilC says:

    Ref# 132

    The implicit comparison of Man-made-GW sceptics to creationists is interesting…

    Surely, relatively rational people should be able to have a reasonable discussion. We can start from the very sensible statement that CO2 has an effect, then move to a discussion of how much that effect will be � it�s an argument of degree not kind.

    To see sceptics in the same camp as creationists may make you feel stronger in *your* rational world view and less interested in listening to anyone else’s rational world view.

    A discussion on the long term effects of CO2 can be a scientific one. What to do about it is a political discussion and if you believe in democracy then people have to decide.

  36. 136
    PhilC says:

    it is not global warming telling us we are going to run out of oil ect. People (including the oil companies) already know it.

    I dont believe that world industry will go on blindly until one day there isn’t any more oil – big companies may have their faults but they do plan ahead, that’s how they got “big”

    “governments should be drawing up plans…” you have more confidence than me in governments

  37. 137
    Alvia Gaskill says:

    Former VP to Speak Inconvenient Truths to Power

    Monday we learned or should have, that you must change the policy to fit the science, not the other way around. Today, we will learn more about why the policy must be changed.

    This morning at 930am EDT and later today at 230pm EDT former VP Al Gore will testify before the U.S. House and Senate on global warming. The hearings will air on C-SPAN3 live and on C-SPAN radio as well as online (not certain about that) and will be shown delayed later today on one of the other C-SPAN channels. Maybe we will find out how green his house is. Heh, heh, heh.

    In the interest of balance or perhaps comic relief, Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg will also appear. If the Republicans decide to act up again as in the case of Dr. Hansen’s appearance, Gore’s slide show may turn into a side show.

  38. 138
    Ray Ladbury says:

    PhilC, In scientific circles, rational discussion should be based on the evidence. The so-called “skeptics” who claim that climate change is not occurring or that humans are playing no role in it have chosen not to deal in evidence, but rather to appeal to the nonexperts via the media. (For example, see the reference to warming on other planets/moons in Lindzen’s closing argument–an argument so specious and transparently false that it casts doubt on his bona fides.) In so doing, they have abandoned rational scientific discussion, and the tactics they have adopted are very like those of the creationists–attacking the established science while advancing no viable alternatives to it.

    Now, I 100% agree there is lots of room to talk about how we deal with this issue. That is politics. The role of science here is to provide a conservative estimate of how long we have to act, the consequences if we do not act and the level of effort required to make a difference. In effect, this is what the community has been trying to do throught the IPCC process and other venues.

  39. 139
    Alvia Gaskill says:

    Gore TV update. C-SPAN3 is webcast live. Here is a link for windows media and the site has one for realmedia.

    Also, I notice that this weblog hasn’t updated its time to DST or is it on CDT? Can’t really complain. The fax machines here, well, I think I’ll wait for a power failure.

  40. 140
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Re: 127. Lynn, I think that risk assessment provides the language you are looking for. In risk assessment, we estimate risk in different ways depending on the purpose we are trying to achieve. It is quite possible to overestimate risk if you are trying to design a robust system that will survive the likely stresses it will face. Thus is is perfectly acceptable to conservatively bound (that is, overestimate) risk if one is trying to ensure the system will work or if one is trying to assess whether a threat is significant. We are currently in the threat assessment stage, and it is fair to say we have established the significance of the threat. The next step is to shave away some of the conservatism in the estimate (eliminate some of the error in our overestimate) so that we can efficiently allocate resources to deal with the threat. Here, it is helpful to have both upper and lower bounds on the risk.

  41. 141
    tom says:


    It would certainlt be prudent to ‘err on the side of caution’ but NOT to exagerrate data on the side of caution. IMO, that is what many alarmists have done.

    It’s essentailly a cost benefit analysis of an EXTREMELY complicated nature.

    If it were as cost free as that group asserts, it’d be a no-brainer. Nobody bleievs it is, especilly given the Kyoto disaster< nobody complying>.

  42. 142
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #141, “If it were as cost free as that group asserts, it’d be a no-brainer. Nobody bleievs it is,”

    Well, anyway, we can start with the low-hanging fruit of cost-effective energy/resource conservation/efficiency, and my electric and other bills took nose-dives, while we actually increased our living standard. So, I know from experience that a typical American household can reduce their energy & resources by at least 1/3 (perhaps even more if they put some thought into it), while saving money AND maintaining their living standard. The same goes for businesses.

    It is just pure wickedness and/or lack of information that prevents this. But since I’ve been trying to tell people about this for over 17 years, with no bites, I think it’s wickedness.

  43. 143
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Many different types of estimates of consequences will be needed, depending on the purpose of the analysis. Given that we are working with a chaotic system, I would say that any possible outcome (e.g. past Earth climate) that doesn’t violate conservation of energy and is not inconsistent with the other known physics is a possibility, wouldn’t you. By those standards, I would say that the IPCC has been conservative indeed. By trying to keep their predictions to the near term, they are indeed focusing on the likely outcomes of climate change–not the worst case outcomes which would probably occur in later centuries of the warming epoch.
    Climate change is certainly established as a credible threat, and expenditures to mitigate its effects are certainly justified at a level commensurate with the risks it proposes–conservatively in the trillions of dollars. Moreover, there are things we can do NOW at relatively low cost that will mitigate the problem and buy us more time. Forget Kyoto if you wish, it was an ill considered venture in that asked nations to act against their own immediate interests. But if you are going to forget Kyoto, replace it with something better, as complacency is never a good policy in the face of a credible threat.

  44. 144
    pete best says:

    Re #136, I did not say it was global warming telling us, not did I say that we were going to run out either so please stick to what I said. Global warming is forcing us to look into alternative energy means to fossil fuels but they are not going away anytime soon and yes part of a Governments strategic remit is to source and provide energy and protect its people and I would say that global warming and energy provision are part of that scheme. Oil companies are Oil companies, not energy companies although I am sure that they will become that.

  45. 145
    Nick Gotts says:

    Re #142 “we can start with the low-hanging fruit of cost-effective energy/resource conservation/efficiency, and my electric and other bills took nose-dives, while we actually increased our living standard. So, I know from experience that a typical American household can reduce their energy & resources by at least 1/3 (perhaps even more if they put some thought into it), while saving money AND maintaining their living standard. The same goes for businesses.”
    Something I recently heard on UK radio 4’s “Today” illustrates why it’s not that simple. The item was about all the food bought and thrown away (there’s an AGW connection, as it mostly goes into landfills and generates methane). The programme monitored a volunteer for a while, and worked out her family was throwing away about £1000 (say $1800) worth of food a year. Her comment was something like: “That could have been holiday flights and the car hire at the other end”. Same with cutting energy bills – for individuals or businesses. What will they do with the money saved? It may be something less harmful, but there’s no guarantee. Try googling “Khazzoom-Brookes postulate”. Monbiot (I think) states this thus: “As energy efficiency improves, people can afford more energy-intensive solutions, so improvements in energy efficiency can actually lead to more consumption, not less.”

  46. 146
    tom says:

    Reality -you are dealing with humans. Lynn, as you point out , we could all cut our electricity bills by a significant amount by simple energy conservations .Yet, we typicaly don’t. even if you had no opinion on GW this would appear to make sense.

  47. 147
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #145, “Something I recently heard on UK radio 4’s “Today” illustrates why it’s not that simple…”

    Of course, it may be more difficult for Europeans to reduce their GHGs, since they only emit half the GHGs as the typical American in the first place.

    And I’m glad you mentioned food spoilage. We have a SunFrost frig ( ), which we bought in 1991. It uses 1/10 the electricity of a regular frig & paid its $2500 cost in about 16 years, both from energy savings AND less food spoilage. Food just does not spoil (except ginger root, which we now keep in the freezer), and we hardly throw anything away. For instance, cilantro lasts for 2+ weeks, and even then it just wilts, but doesn’t go bad!

    When you seek ye first the kingdom of righteousness, all things are added unto you. Be not afraid. And think of all the other problems that get reduced: acid rain, local pollution, etc.

    The first thing we did with our savings was pay off all our debts. Now we’re saving for retirement, and donating more to those poor people Crichton & Lomborg are so concerned about. And it’s only right we do so, since we’re destroying their subsistence through our GHG emissions, so it’s not charity but reparation.

  48. 148
    Nick Gotts says:

    re #147 “The first thing we did with our savings was pay off all our debts. Now we’re saving for retirement, and donating more to those poor people Crichton & Lomborg are so concerned about. And it’s only right we do so, since we’re destroying their subsistence through our GHG emissions, so it’s not charity but reparation.”

    That’s great, and no personal criticism was intended. My point is simply that energy efficiency is nothing like a panacea, and can even make things worse – a major reason I don’t think the “Natural Capitalism” solution will work. Similarly, cheap biofuels, or hydrogen, could force down gasoline prices and so increase demand. You have to force the price of GHG-intensive activities up, or introduce rationing, to be confident of pushing things in the right direction.

  49. 149
    Serinde says:

    Cheap biofuels won’t seriously push up demand because there is a natural level at which their production becomes unsustainable regardless of the price futures: we all have to eat!

  50. 150

    [[Similarly, cheap biofuels, or hydrogen, could force down gasoline prices and so increase demand. ]]

    The price of a commodity dropping because demand is lower is not the same as the price dropping because supply is higher.