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What if you held a conference, and no (real) scientists came?

Filed under: — group @ 30 January 2008

Over the past days, many of us have received invitations to a conference called “The 2008 International Conference on Climate Change” in New York. At first sight this may look like a scientific conference – especially to those who are not familiar with the activities of the Heartland Institute, a front group for the fossil fuel industry that is sponsoring the conference. You may remember them. They were the promoters of the Avery and Singer “Unstoppable” tour and purveyors of disinformation about numerous topics such as the demise of Kilimanjaro’s ice cap.

A number of things reveal that this is no ordinary scientific meeting:

  • Normal scientific conferences have the goal of discussing ideas and data in order to advance scientific understanding. Not this one. The organisers are suprisingly open about this in their invitation letter to prospective speakers, which states:

    “The purpose of the conference is to generate international media attention to the fact that many scientists believe forecasts of rapid warming and catastrophic events are not supported by sound science, and that expensive campaigns to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not necessary or cost-effective.”

    So this conference is not aimed at understanding, it is a PR event aimed at generating media reports. (The “official” conference goals presented to the general public on their website sound rather different, though – evidently these are already part of the PR campaign.)

  • At the regular scientific conferences we attend in our field, like the AGU conferences or many smaller ones, we do not get any honorarium for speaking – if we are lucky, we get some travel expenses paid or the conference fee waived, but often not even this. We attend such conferences not for personal financial gains but because we like to discuss science with other scientists. The Heartland Institute must have realized that this is not what drives the kind of people they are trying to attract as speakers: they are offering $1,000 to those willing to give a talk. This reminds us of the American Enterprise Institute last year offering a honorarium of $10,000 for articles by scientists disputing anthropogenic climate change. So this appear to be the current market prices for calling global warming into question: $1000 for a lecture and $10,000 for a written paper.
  • At regular scientific conferences, an independent scientific committee selects the talks. Here, the financial sponsors get to select their favorite speakers. The Heartland website is seeking sponsors and in return for the cash promises “input into the program regarding speakers and panel topics”. Easier than predicting future climate is therefore to predict who some of those speakers will be. We will be surprised if they do not include the many of the usual suspects e.g. Fred Singer, Pat Michaels, Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer, and other such luminaries. (For those interested in scientists’ links to industry sponsors, use the search function on sites like sourcewatch.org or exxonsecrets.org.)
  • Heartland promises a free weekend at the Marriott Marquis in Manhattan, including travel costs, to all elected officials wanting to attend.

This is very nice hotel indeed. Our recommendation to those elected officials tempted by the offer: enjoy a great weekend in Manhattan at Heartland’s expense and don’t waste your time on tobacco-science lectures – you are highly unlikely to hear any real science there.


452 Responses to “What if you held a conference, and no (real) scientists came?”

  1. 151
    Pops says:

    There’s an irony lurking here – the recent huge profits of the oil companies are due in part to the success of those who are working hard to prevent them from expanding their operations.

  2. 152

    #145 John

    That 2.9 W/M2 forcing took ~ 10 exp 5 days to accrue- America is 84,000 days old and the Industrial Revolution antedates ours by decades . Dividing the CO2 share of whichever estimate of anthropogenic forcing to date into the number of days since 1750 or thereabouts yields a result in microwatts/m2.

    As with any form of inflation, it’s the integral that counts.

  3. 153
    Hank Roberts says:

    Chicago newspaper — Article no longer available.
    Heartland — Nothing found searching.
    AMS — Email sent to inquire
    Scholar search: September 2006 American Meteorological Society Journal Climate “Glaciers are growing” confounding “global warming alarmists” Himalayan – did not match any articles.

    Scholar search:

    Aha, this hits:
    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?num=10&hl=en&lr=&newwindow=1&safe=off&q=Fowler++Archer++Journal++Climate+September+2006++American+Meteorological+Society++Glaciers+++Himalayan+&btnG=Search

    This would appear to match — authors, issue, and subject. But all I have is the abstract online, so I can’t be sure the quote isn’t in the full text.

    http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-abstract&doi=10.1175%2FJCLI3860.1&ct=1

    The last part of the abstract says:

    —–excerpt—-

    … a pattern shared by much of the Indian subcontinent but in direct contrast to both GCM projections and the narrowing of DTR seen worldwide. This divergence commenced around the middle of the twentieth century and is thought to result from changes in large-scale circulation patterns and feedback processes associated with the Indian monsoon.

    The impact of observed seasonal temperature trend on runoff is explored using derived regression relationships. Decreases of ∼20% in summer runoff in the rivers Hunza and Shyok are estimated to have resulted from the observed 1°C fall in mean summer temperature since 1961, with even greater reductions in spring months. The observed downward trend in summer temperature and runoff is consistent with the observed thickening and expansion of Karakoram glaciers, in contrast to widespread decay and retreat in the eastern Himalayas. This suggests that the western Himalayas are showing a different response to global warming than other parts of the globe.

    —–end excerpt—–

    Well …. doesn’t seem likely they’d say what they were quoted as saying in that publication, given the abstract. Tone’s way off to be real. I’ll dig further if the author from Heartland, or the AMS, don’t reply, maybe email the authors of the paper, though I have no proof this is the _right_ paper, that’s up to the Heartland guy to confirm or correct.

    Nobody’s twigged to this before now? Or is it just a joke, puffery?

  4. 154

    Re Taylor article on Glaciers

    Hank Roberts (#147) wrote:

    Justin [#144], mighty strong claim about the Chicago newspaper article.
    Can you cite that story by headline, date, page, byline, anything that would help to find a copy in a local library, or point to a copy of the article somewhere online? Flat out faking quotes isn’t exactly rare, but it’s not just laughed off yet, even in an election year. I tried the newspaper and did not find it by keyword; they only have a 30 day cycle for keeping articles online. It’s the same name as the Heartland person visiting this thread.

    You can find a copy of the prop-aganda piece here:

    Alarmist global warming claims melt under scientific scrutiny
    June 30, 2007
    BY JAMES M. TAYLOR
    web*archive*org/web/20070702165321/http://www.suntimes.com/news/otherviews/450392,CST-EDT-REF30b.article

    (substitute dots for the asterisks)

    … and you can find the beginning of a discussion of the prop-aganda piece and the paper that it manufactured a quote from (entirely out of thin air, actually, doesn’t deserve to be called a misquote, and doesn’t measure up to usual Young Earth Creationist standards) here:

    Making Sense of Greenland’s Ice, comment #51
    10 July 2007 at 3:25 PM
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=458#comment-36960

  5. 155

    Off-topic…

    Six Degrees to appear on National Geographic Channel

    http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/sixdegrees/index.html

    PS

    With my earlier post, I was required to break the address (using the asterisks) due to a canned meat catcher.

  6. 156
    Thomas says:

    A couple of clarifications. First about feedback. The simplest feedback is linear instantaneous feedback. For linear instantaneous feedback of strength F, the response to an initial change (in the AGW case, direct radiative forcing for CO2 + other GHG) os size T becomes:
    T2=T/(1-F) ; F=1 implies a runaway system. This implies that whatever percent of models produce F>=1 have very high costs associated with them.

    Of course a real system is more complicated. The feedback is not instantaneous, some of it is pretty quick. Water vapor responds to warming in a week or two. Albedo feedback, due to snow and ice cover changes, and due to changes in vegetation can take decades. Induced emissions of other greenhouse gases can take much longer, in some cases up to several hundred years. If these feedbacks are known, an integro differential equation could then be solved to determine the response to a unit change as a function of time. One of the implications of this is that we could cross a slow response bifurcation point (tipping point), and not realize it until much later.

    The second subject has to do with mitigation costs/benefits. It was mentioned that our military budget was nearly $1T last year. A good chunk of our foreign military apparatus is tied up defending access to oil. Even ignoring the military cost, the US oil import bill was roughly $400B in 2007, and will be much higher in 2008. Even disregarding GW, there would be significant cost savings from efforts to reduce our oil demand. Secondarily, there is the opportunity to become a leader in technology for low/no carbon energy technologies. These technology exports could be very important in the future. Our efforts would be much better spent embracing the future, then trying to hold it back.

  7. 157
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    Might make a slight disclaimer on an earlier post when I said that computer models were in my opinion quite accurate based upon the quality of data they use. Here are some facts in relation to sea level rise and artic sea ice retreat. The data from the IPCC which the world govs are currently using is highly erronious and misleading. Case in point..Artic sea ice is retreating much faster than shown on the 18 leading computer models used by the IPCC in preperation for it’s watershed 2007 assesment. Another words they are far from understanding even the macro mechanics behind artic sea ice retreat. The extent of the melt is 30 years ahead of what the IPCC predicted! Also ACTUAL world sea level rise is much faster than any of the IPCC computer models indicate. What does this tell you?? If on the otherhand some computer models show faster than current conditions and other models show less than current conditions you could draw an average and be fairly confident in predicting the situation in say 20 years..but if all the models are way too consevative what confidence does anyone have in their predictive powers. To me it clearly shows that the mechanics of climate are far more complex than anyone has realised before, it’s seems almost the case that the more you know the less you actually know.

  8. 158
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Re #147 Gavin’s links: I’m depressed. Do we as a species even deserve to survive?
    Please cheer me up, someone.

  9. 159
    Raven says:

    #150 Raven, On what do you base your claim that reducing CO2 emissions is impossible?

    You can’t change human nature.

    Substantial CO2 reductions are not possible without a substantial increase in the cost of energy which would result in substantial reduction in the standard of living for the average person. This will make it politically impossible to impose any measures that actually accomplish the desired goal – especially if the regulatory regime makes people believe that others are not being asked to make equivalent sacrifices (which is what will happen if the developing world is allowed to emit with impunity). The only real option on the table is adaptation and a blind hope that the consequences won’t be as bad as some predict.

    Ironically, high oil prices may do more to reduce CO2 emissions than any carbon trading scheme because oil prices are set by the laws of supply and demand rather than government fiat. This forces people to accept the higher prices whether they like it or not.

    #150 No one has developed even a germ of a credible alternative–and believe me it’s not for lack of trying.

    I see the argument that ‘CO2 must be the culprit because we have no alternate explanation’ to be the weak point of the CO2 hypothesis because it presumes that our knowledge of the climate is complete enough to determine whether other explanations are likely to exist. If the CO2 hypothesis is refuted it will because someone comes along and provides that alternate explanation (be it solar, comic rays, ocean currents or something completely unexpected). The process of finding alternate explanations often produces junk (look up phlogiston theory) and sometimes goes no where but sometimes the unexpected is uncovered (e.g. bacteria and ulcers). I don’t expect anyone who is convinced by the evidence today to change their mind; however, I do not see why it is necessary to fling so much vitriol at those who are willing to look for alternatives.

    (aside: when I talk about refuting the CO2 hypothesis I am not talking about refuting the basic GHG theory – I am only suggesting that others might be able to show that the magnitude of the effect is much smaller than now believed).

  10. 160
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    Re: reducing CO2 while world pop is growing is an impossible task? I do not think anything is impossible when enough people are unified in tacking this dilemma. While the world pop is growing certainly does not make the task easier and ‘logic’ says it would be much more difficult with more mouths to feed and more people stamping their carbon footprint on this already well trodden world. What will have to happen is that all countries especially the developing countries will need cost effective means to reduce their emissions. If the transition from changing to a ‘dirty’ country to a ‘clean’ one spells economic ruin for that country I dont think there would be many takers. So back to nature ways of reducing CO2 in my opinion are the most sensible. Break the western world’s obsessive mindset that more is better and make do with less..you cannot have rampant consumerism with an urgent need to cut CO2…those two are incompatible! Food must be produced and eaten locally, Electricity production must be solar/wind/geothermal/nuclear and hydro (where applicable). An effective and uncompromising carbon trading scheme must be adopted now, much more far reaching education amongst laypeople on ways to minimise pollution and waste. Modernising factories(carbon trading scheme). Manufacturing as much as is humanly possible biodegradable without resulting in additional CO2 production. I could rattle off at least another 20 ways without even having to think… So yes I do think the task is possible..but not without total comittment by every government and council on this planet. The USA cannot do it alone..China cannot do it alone, Europe cannot do it alone..the only way to get CO2 under control in say onother 100 years..(yep that’s how long it takes) is by every earthy citizen working together..that’s the only way!!

  11. 161
    Francois Marchand says:

    I suppose the chaps at the worldclimatereport.com will attend that conference -at least on the sidelines- though their current position seems to be that indeed, global warming is on, and anthropogenic emissions of CO2 are a cause. Their latest post, by the way, is interesting : CO2 emissions are a simple function of population growth, so nothing can be done, QED, and of course, I suspect they will keep trying to find reasons why, apart from that discovery, nothing should be done.
    I have a question : since the planet appears to have consistently absorbed and immobilised approximately half of our CO2 emissions (a bit less lately, though, it seems), could a relative stagnation of the amount of absorption at the current level occur should emissions start decreasing fast, thus somewhat delaying the rise of global temperature?

  12. 162
    pete best says:

    Isn’t the USA the strangest of countries. It has the means, the economic abilities and the technologies to reduce Co2 emissions significantly but then of course it does not have the political will. An interesting book I read called “why do people hate America?” speaks volumes about the USA and its position in the world, its history, its religion (which seems particuarly important and politically wrecked) and imperial status and its paranoia and indifference to the workings and opinions of the rest of the world.

    I guess that global warming is treated no differently politically, just another one of them pesky problems to deal with at some point but not at the expense of the USA’ position as numero uno power across the globe.

  13. 163
    mg says:

    The attendees at the conference may wish to consider the venue in which the conference is being held. It is perhaps fitting that Manhatten has been chosen for such an important gathering because Manhatten may evolve to become a climate change icon.

    Perhaps the conference plenary event could address the location in terms of sea level rise. The conference chairman may guide the delegates to put 5 metres into here

    http://flood.firetree.net/

    so that delegates would gain a direct appreciation of the climate-change relevance of the Manhatten locale and the evolving view over the rising waters in the coming decades.

    For those delegates appreciative of visual perspectives, the Manhatten-under-x-metres pictures on http://www.architecture2030.org may provide a useful insight and talking point over conference dinner. Those delegates with a civil engineering background may wish to bring to the attention of fellow diners the aromatic cornocupia that may be expected as the sea rises and pushes through the sewerage systems.

    A strange celebration is called for. The strange celebration of the creation of an iconic moment, when a certain group of people have a wonderful opportunity to think about the actual place and moment they are at and to consider together how it may change in the months and years to come.

    Hopefully (and that is very hopefully), there will be a double celebration, as the delegates, on proper reflection, realise their disgrace.

  14. 164
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Russell #151,

    once we’re doing numbers, let’s do them right, OK?

    Your computation for 2.9 W/m2 and 100,000 days gives 29 µW/m2/day, not 3 :-)

    That’s assuming linear behaviour. Exponential, more realistic with a time constant of 30 years, gives ten times more: 265 µW/m2/day, or 0.1 W/m2/yr. Note the unit. I suppose in S.I. units it would have to be in W/m2/s… now that‘s going to be little.

  15. 165

    Russell Seitz posts:

    [[That 2.9 W/M2 forcing took ~ 10 exp 5 days to accrue- America is 84,000 days old and the Industrial Revolution antedates ours by decades . Dividing the CO2 share of whichever estimate of anthropogenic forcing to date into the number of days since 1750 or thereabouts yields a result in microwatts/m2.

    As with any form of inflation, it’s the integral that counts.]]

    Why are you assuming the increase is linear?

  16. 166
    Peter Thompson says:

    You guys kill me with the ExxonMobil rants, you really do. Someone mentioned that over the last 10 years EM has funneled 16 million to various groups. Why don’t you check how much they have “funneled” to universities? To charities? Here is a newsflash. EM had a profit of $40,600 Million in the last year. If EM was really concerned about countering the AGW scare, don’t you suppose that they could come up with more than that over a decade?

    Have any of you people ever set foot outside an ivory tower and taken even one breath of real air?

  17. 167
    Ian McLeod says:

    When will RealClimate write an article about science? Arguing about AGW or natural warming is boring. A political thrust and parry with little value. Stick to science and win back lost community.

  18. 168
    Tim McDermott says:

    Raven: Fossil fuels are the foundation for the society we have today because the provide energy at very little cost. Any carbon tax or similar measure is designed to increase the cost of fossil fuels and allow other forms of energy to complete. What this means that everyone will pay more for energy. This will mean a lower standard of living no matter what spin GW advocates want to put on it.

    It seems to me that you have made an (unstated) assumption that we will be unable to find non-fossil-carbon forms of energy and that we cannot reduce our overall consumption of energy without reducing our standard of living. Neither of these assumptions bears out under careful scrutiny.

    There are renewable energy sources that we have just begun to exploit: solar, wind, geothermal. We have not invested heavily in these technologies because fossil carbon was cheaper. Cheaper because it was allowed to dump its garbage into the common atmosphere. Cheaper because the political instability and wars it caused were charged to different accounts. Even today, the US spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined. If we didn’t need guaranteed access to mid-east oil, do you really think we would be in Iraq? If you include the military costs, the price of US oil consumption nearly doubles.

    The reduced-standard-of-living meme amuses me, especially when it comes from ardent capitalists. Last spring, I needed to replace my heat pump. I decided that my lowest carbon footprint replacement would be a high-effeciency heat pump with propane as secondary fuel. I can’t do a good back-of-the-envelop calculation of carbon savings, but I do know that I’m saving money. And I’m reasonably sure that when the propane kicks in, the 98% efficient furnace is using less carbon than a coal fired generator combined with transmission losses. My current guess is that the payback time for the extra cost of the high efficiency features is less than 10 years. The expected life of the system is 20-30 years. I’d call this an investment, not a reduction in my standard of living. I can tell the same story about my Prius: it saves a ton of carbon a year, ~$750 a year in gas, payback time ~7 years. Investment! So why aren’t folks who champion capitalism shouting this from the rooftops?

  19. 169
    pete says:

    Zombie attacks might increase due to global warming, study shows
    January 31st, 2008

    A new study by scientists has suggested that zombie attacks might increase if the current projections of global warming are realized. “If the earth gets warmer, it means longer springs, summers, and falls, and shorter winters,” said John Carpenter-Romero, Ph.D., a zombie-ologist who co-authored the study. “And shorter winters means more time for the undead to prey on the populace.”

    Dr. Harrister, the other co-author, and head of Zombie Robotics at Wayward Robot, Inc., explained that cold winters typically stalled the walking dead. “It is well known that zombies can’t operate in cold weather. It freezes their brains.”

    The pair calculated a 32.782412% increase in zombie attacks if CO2 increased to twice its pre-industrial rate. “Clearly, this is a very troubling result,” said Dr. Harrister, “If we don’t do something soon, the streets will be filled with blood.”

  20. 170
  21. 171
    SecularAnimist says:

    Dan Hughes wrote: “The fossil fuel industry, nor any other industry, generates wealth out of nothingness. Its wealth comes solely from its customers. Wealth is obtained only if someone is buying the products and services offered by any industry.”

    Not sure what your point is. Of course the wealth of the fossil fuel industry comes from its customers. If those customers reduce their consumption of the fossil fuel industry’s products, and instead buy other forms of energy from other industries, that will diminish the fossil fuel industry’s wealth. If that shift from fossil fuels to non-CO2 emitting sources of energy is as rapid and extensive as effective AGW mitigation requires — ie. CO2 emissions must peak within a few years and then rapidly decline to near-zero by mid-century — it will represent a huge transfer of wealth from the fossil fuel industry to other sectors of the economy. The purpose of the fossil fuel industry’s disinformation propaganda about global warming is to delay and slow down that transfer, by keeping their “customers” ignorant and confused about the grave harms and even graver dangers of continued consumption of their products.

  22. 172
    pbview says:

    In order to deal with a bully, confront them and make your point clear. To do otherwise is to show weakness. Please stand up and say “I don’t need your lunch money and you cannot have mine”. The alternitive is to say ” I will not play because this is not my ball”.

  23. 173

    Re 152
    By an odd coincidence, I’ve been to Hunza, and I would like to know if those citing the river volume stats mentioned the increasing irrigation draw off from the hydro projects sponsored by the Aga Khan Foundation and related development groups. Two canals were begun in 1996

  24. 174
    Adam says:

    After reading this topic (and after a few glasses on wine) I emailed Monckton:

    “What do you possibly have to offer the scientific community? This Heartland “science” conference is a joke. What are you going to argue? It’s the sun? Water vapor perhaps? The level of disinformation spread by you and your pals is shameful.”

    In hindsight this was a bit over the top and maybe disrespectful. Nonetheless Christopher Monckton replied:

    “Thank you for getting in touch. You do not explain what points in my published work on climate change you disagree with, though it seems that you do disagree. You ask what I have to offer the scientific community. When I first wrote publicly about the climate, I received 1,000 emails, of which a substantial proportion were from scientists round the world, some of them eminent, who have grave doubts about the official theory of anthropogenic “global warming” and were very grateful that these doubts had been expressed, since they themselves were under official pressure not to speak out. Several scientists, including the most eminent in the field, maintain regular communication with me to exchange ideas and to ask for scientific source documents. I have also assisted in the drafting of peer-reviewed papers to add clarity and logic to the presentation of scientific arguments, and my contributions are acknowledged in the text of the relevant papers. And I am conducting my own (admittedly rather inexpert) researches, which have revealed numerous errors and inconsistencies in the IPCC’s methodology for calculating the magnitude of the effect of greenhouse-gas enrichment on temperature. I attach a draft of a paper for the technically-minded layman that I’m currently working on. In parallel with this, I lead an international team of scientists which is currently working on a rigorous re-examination of the climate sensitivity question from the ground up, with a view to eventual publication in a peer-reviewed journal if the results prove compelling enough.

    For what it’s worth, my provisional conclusions are as follows: that the science presented by the IPCC is in numerous respects demonstrably defective and in several areas dishonest; that it has substantially exaggerated the imagined problem; that it has excluded eminent scientists who disagree with it (one of whom, the world’s foremost expert on the malaria mosquito, will be visiting me next week); that it ruthlessly suppresses all dissent; that its publications are not peer-reviewed in the accepted sense of the term; that its reports provide no sound scientific basis for any alarm whatsoever about the influence of humankind on the future evolution of the climate, which will be negligible and largely beneficial; that the failure of global temperature to rise in a statistically significant sense over the whole of the past decade is no accident, but is a consequence of the ending of the 70-year-long solar Grand Maximum, during which the Sun was more active and for longer than at almost any similar previous period over the whole of the past 11,400 years; that it is only marginally more likely that the climate will warm over the next century than that it will cool; that the warming, if it occurs, will be unlikely to exceed one-third of the IPCC’s central estimate; that even if the IPCC’s central estimate were correct the consequences for sea level would be negligible; that all other consequences of warmer weather worldwide are generally beneficial; that, though there are many environmental problems, our influence on the climate is too small to be one of them; that it would be profoundly unwise to adopt any of the mitigative measures proposed by the IPCC, which would merely have the effect of transferring jobs, economic prosperity and carbon emissions away from the West and into China, India and other third-world countries where environmental controls are nothing like as stringent as they are here; that any attempt to restrict fossil-fuel use by third-world countries will have the effect of keeping them poor, so that their populations will continue to increase; and that, therefore, the net effect of attempted mitigation – which would of course have no appreciable effect on the climate and would hence be entirely futile – would be to increase the “carbon footprint” of humankind in the medium to long term, without reducing it in the short.

    These are among the points that will be reviewed and discussed at the climate conference in New York, where the emphasis will not be on proselytization and preaching but on quiet conversation about the science. Many of the world’s leading climate scientists will be present, and they will represent a wide range of disciplines and opinions. There will also be laymen like me, who are invited because their influence and experience as policymakers may help to clarify some of the issues.

    Finally, you mention “disinformation” which you say I have been spreading. If you would be kind enough to make a list of any points in my published papers at http://www.scienceandpublicpolicy.org which are scientifically inaccurate, supplying in each instance a reference to a peer-reviewed scientific journal which establishes that what I have said is in error, unless there are scientific papers that give another opinion I shall of course be happy to make corrections and see to it that they are posted. That is how true and honest science is done. – M of B”

    I was quite surprised to get any response at all and I have to say I was impressed by the level of thought put into the response.

    The question I have is, does anyone have any information on this”

    “but is a consequence of the ending of the 70-year-long solar Grand Maximum, during which the Sun was more active and for longer than at almost any similar previous period over the whole of the past 11,400 years;”

    I have been unable to find any data about the 70 year cycle.

  25. 175
    Brian Ellerby says:

    Raven re: #137

    “Any carbon tax or similar measure is designed to increase the cost of fossil fuels and allow other forms of energy to complete. What this means that everyone will pay more for energy. This will mean a lower standard of living no matter what spin GW advocates want to put on it.”

    If the carbon tax is offset by an equal reduction in other taxes, the increase in the cost of energy will be mostly offset by the tax reductions. Replace the US federal income tax with carbon tax generating equal revenue and there would be a significant shift from carbon fuels to alternate sources of energy plus extensive energy conservation. A change in tax structure of this magnitude would need to be spread over at least 5-10 years.

    Any proposal to implement a carbon tax should always be revenue neutral and include an offsetting reduction in other taxes.

  26. 176
    Leonard Evens says:

    I gather from reading some of the comments and links above that “skeptics” are now claiming Kevin Trenberth as one their own. Now that is really funny. I wouldn’t be surprised if some in the Realclimate crew soon find themselves being quoted as questioning the reality of anthropogenic global warming.

  27. 177
    Philippe Chantreau says:

    Re Raven #143: the thing is that Nature does not have such a thing as an “alternate viewpoint.” Only the best effort to understand Nature deserves consideration. Although it always might be wrong, at least it is the best we can come up with and, contrarily to what the “skeptics” say when taking the conspiracy theory route, it is always up for change in light of new evidence or better understanding. Anything that stems from the intent of reaching more pleasant conclusions, which you seem to suggest should be done, is rubbish. It may be occasinally be right, but by accident only.

  28. 178
    S. Molnar says:

    Russell Seitz (#151) says “As with any form of inflation, it’s the integral that counts”. That’s true, but only with a judicious choice of integration interval. The inflationary effect on the US dollar from 1785 to the present is of no practical concern to any of us, but the current rate of inflation (yes, integrated over an interval that isn’t vanishingly small) is. Similarly with sea level change from, say, the end of the Cretaceous to now: I’m much more interested in the current rate of change and its derivative than the integral. Of course, one can go too far: Richard Nixon, running for reëlection, famously used a third derivative, saying that the rate of increase of inflation was decreasing. Contrary to popular belief, the third time derivative was called the “jerk” even before Nixon’s statement.

  29. 179
    Thomas says:

    pete @152. I suppose a lot of Americans would take umbrage at your remarks. But I’ve lived my entire 56 years here, and am fighting those same destructive attitudes every day. Rest assured, there do exist at least some Americans who understand the issues, and are working to change the causes.

  30. 180

    164
    Thanks for the order of magnitude check- I evidently still dream in the English system, and shouldha reached for a pencil, a calculator and a FTIR spectrophotometer with a gas cell. But please note that the current ( 2007) CO2 share of the 2.9 watt anthro forcing is 1.53 W, so can we call today’s real time CO2 bracket creep ~15 microwatts per day?

    The energetically disposed can extrapolate as far as they like but Martin’s 30-year compounding to 100 milliwatts a year entails a rather sanguine view of hydrocarbon reserves

    As to

  31. 181
    Phil. Felton says:

    “Justin, mighty strong claim about the Chicago newspaper article.
    Can you cite that story by headline, date, page, byline, anything that would help to find a copy in a local library, or point to a copy of the article somewhere online? Flat out faking quotes isn’t exactly rare, but it’s not just laughed off yet, even in an election year. I tried the newspaper and did not find it by keyword; they only have a 30 day cycle for keeping articles online. It’s the same name as the Heartland person visiting this thread.”

    I emailed both the newspaper and Taylor at the time, needless to say I got no response!

  32. 182

    Hank Roberts (#31):” Sean O., you clearly misunderstand something important.

    Scientific research is not a ‘point of view’”

    Philippe Chantreau (#177) “the thing is that Nature does not have such a thing as an ‘alternate viewpoint.’”

    This all reminds me of how The Australian (climate-denialist newspaper) sneers at what they call “post-modern” approaches to education and history. Yet when it comes to climate change, they seem to think science depends on your point of view. I have quite a good hit rate on letters to The Australian, but they skip the ones that point out this sort of inconsistency in their position.

    Raven (#137): “Any carbon tax or similar measure is designed to increase the cost of fossil fuels and allow other forms of energy to complete. What this means that everyone will pay more for energy. This will mean a lower standard of living no matter what spin GW advocates want to put on it.”

    Your assumption is that industries are incapable of adapting to a new cost-regulatory framework. Almost every attempt at mitigating harmful industries (tobacco, asbestos, CFCs) has been accompanied by dire predictions of economic cost which have usually been way off the mark. Further, new technologies such as efficient solar may make it possible to deliver power cost-effectively to places not economic to service with existing technologies. For example, an isolated village may not be viable to grid-connect, and very expensive to service with a small generator burning fossil fuels. The drive to produce more cost-effective solar has brought the cost down to $1/watt (see e.g. http://www.nanosolar.com/ and http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/dec/29/solarpower.renewableenergy); if we can find an efficient way of storing power, we have a solution that will bring power to remote areas for the first time.

    European countries and Japan have long discouraged inefficient energy use compared with the US. Guess which country’s motor industry keeps landing in a deep hole whenever oil prices spike?

    Energy efficiency is not a cost; if we pursue efficiency at the same time as low emissions technologies there is good reason to predict that there will not be a net loss of standard of living, and some reason to predict an improvement.

  33. 183
    Hank Roberts says:

    > solar Grand Maximum

    There’s a “Grand Solar Maximum” roughly 1000-750 years “BP” mentioned. “BP” (“before present”) may mean before 1950, don’t assume it’s before the date of paper. Nothing later that I found. I doubt it’s what Monckton means. Why not ask him for a cite? He may not have published his paper yet.

    http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2003AM/finalprogram/abstract_65936.htm

    Teme, thank you for the pointers ( Teme — 2 February 2008 @ 12:15 PM) above both to the full text paper, and to the debunking of the Heartland guy’s quote.

  34. 184
    matt says:

    #80 SecularAnimist: Exxon-Mobil’s multi-million dollar investments in “debating, lying, confusing the truth, bickering and all that” — such as the nearly $800,000 they have paid to the Heartland Institute in the last ten years — have paid off many, many times over. To the grave detriment of all humanity, and indeed all life on Earth.

    Assuming XOM made $2T over these 10 years, this is on par with a school teacher making $50,000/year donating $0.20 to a cause over 10 years. And you hammering them for it.

    A little overblown, don’t you think?

    Companies that are interested in changing perceptions and opinions won’t even blink at a $250M ad campaign. Pretending $800K will do anything significant to change opinions is silly.

  35. 185
    Raven says:

    #175 Brian Ellerby

    “If the carbon tax is offset by an equal reduction in other taxes, the increase in the cost of energy will be mostly offset by the tax reductions.”

    This is a myth. It is not possible to have a revenue neutral carbon tax. To be effective carbon taxes must raise the cost of energy to make alternatives viable. This means the government does not collect any carbon tax revenue if people switch to alternatives. As people switch to alternatives the government will have to increase taxes to maintain its revenue stream. The net result is a reduction in disposable income as people are forced to spend a larger % of their income on energy.

    You can look at it another way: increasing the cost of energy increases the cost of all goods and services. For example, all retail businesses include the cost of transportation in their prices. Increasing the cost of energy increases these costs. Reducing the average tax burden will not help businesses where transport costs are a significant percentage of their costs. This will show up in price increases that are added onto the additional energy costs that inviduals are forced to pay. Again the net result is a reduction in standard of living.

    Governments realize this and that is why no democratic government has done anything more than token gestures.

    Any post Kyoto agreement is also doomed to fail because developing countries will demand a right to emit more CO2 and developed countries cannot accept those terms because it would undermine the competitiveness of their industries (i.e. companies will always find it cheaper to move to developing countries where they can emit with impunity).

    It is a Catch-22 situation that will never be resolved becauses the risks of AGW will always be theoretical until they happen. At that point adaptation is the only option.

  36. 186
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Re: 180: One correction to my calc. 30 years is the doubling time of atmospheric excess CO2, whereas I should have use the times e time, which is a little longer.

  37. 187
    matt says:

    #175 Brian Ellerby: If the carbon tax is offset by an equal reduction in other taxes, the increase in the cost of energy will be mostly offset by the tax reductions. Replace the US federal income tax with carbon tax generating equal revenue and there would be a significant shift from carbon fuels to alternate sources of energy plus extensive energy conservation.

    You assume politicians will be able to pass up the chance to monkey with the system. The recent “rebate” winding through government right now is nothing more than taking money from those that have it and giving it to those that don’t. Today, the top 10% of earners are shouldering 69% of non-corporate income tax bill versus about 47% in 1979. Every single big endeavour the US faces is yet another opportunity for the governemnt to keep pushing that 69% figure higher.

    I always do find it interesting that most of the believers seem to be pleased with the idea that energy costs will rise, standards of living for those that they believe are more gluttonous than they will fall, and generally that the frantic pace of keeping up with the joneses will slow.

    But there is a very real chance that once we get off of oil, that after a few decades of hiccups we’ll see energy costs fall below that of oil, and in fact keep sliding to an order of magnitude or more below that of oil. Huber notes that oil extracted today from 2 miles of ocean depth, 4 miles of rock, and 6 miles of horizontal drilling costs less than oil extracted from just 60 feet of earth a century ago.

    So, assume we get off the teat of oil and onto something new and we’re just starting up the optimization curve and that costs fall so fast over the next few decades that the entire world can live like the top 10% in the US lives today. We can all drive mega SUVs that make current SUVs look like economy cars. Oceans waters can be desalinated with ease and pumped across continents, deserts are watered and productive, and on and on. Presumably rising world education will help with population.

    To me, that’s all a good thing as long as every gets fed. But I know a lot of folks for which that would be a disaster, and they aren’t sure why, or at least they won’t say why.

    Ray Ladbury write in another post: You believe in free markets, and presumably you understand them at some level. You are apalled at the prospect of liberal-commie-pinko-fag-junkie-liberal-environmentalists destroying the free market in response to climate change.S o, do you trot right out and say that the free market can handle the challenge and propose free market solutions and harness the creativity of corporate America?

    Actually, most skeptics I know and read indeed believe the free market will handle this fine. The problem is on the other side of the fence there are those that continue to warn that the free market CANNOT handle this and that the government must intervene. And that’s when skeptics usually get scared.

    Just curious, but what do you think of McKitrick’s propsosal to tax carbon emissions based on 3 year moving average of tropospheric temperature change? I’d actually be for any tax that is tied to something measurable, and in fact goes away if the anomoly goes away.

  38. 188
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Re: #166: The point is not how much or how little ExxonMobil funnels into denialist operations, but the dishonesty of the whole thing, which is intentional, by design, and known to the EM leadership.

    A few years ago I was asked by someone on an unrelated forum about several technical details on AGW. I decided to find out for him as he seemed genuinely interested though borderline sceptical. Googling for the info turned out to be an extremely painful operation in a landscape littered with denialist sites propagating the basically same set of untruths in endless variation. Only part of these sites were (as I now know) EM-sponsored; apparently there are lots of folks happy to lie for ideological reasons without anybody paying them — poor sods.

    RC has since then made my life a bit easier :-)

    What especially got my blood pressure up was the attitude problem these folks have with the truth*. They will cherry-pick from the literature, selectively quote, distort, and even make it up as needed. And then, the same lie spreads through the denialist ecosystem (“denialosphere”), turning up first on all but the most careful googling. Those $16M of EM blood money** were well spent.

    I realize that EM is a big organization where the left hand doesn’t always know what the right hand is doing. But the above explains perhaps why even a legit, peer reviewed science paper was looked at with some suspicion because of EM sponsorship: the paper on the Antarctic ice volume during the Cretacaean (see raypierre’s recent article). You can’t blame the scientists for being wary.

    * Perhaps I’m just weird for attaching so much significance to the factual truth, when hardly anybody else does. Please tell me I’m weird. The funny thing is I’m an atheist, but this I do believe in.

    ** Yep, blood money, just like the sponsorship of tabacco-related denialism by Philip Morris, involving to a remarkable extent the very same people. All this is now well documented for those wanting to know and caring to find out. It cries to high heaven that none of the ‘seven dwarves’ got jail time.

  39. 189
    Nigel Williams says:

    Why a Carbon Tax Wont Work
    As they stand all carbon tax proposals are simply robbing the masses and putting their cash someplace else. The basic effect is to increase living costs while rather stupidly anticipating that all these dollars will see ‘market forces’ drive the proletariat to a point of fiscal desperation wherein they suddenly ‘as if by magik’ from the depths of their fiscal gloom adopt more sustainable life styles.

    The signals are all wrong. The carbon tax take will go to government, and governments seem to be most reluctant to spend money building the requisite alternative energy, industrial, social and economic structures to initiate and sustain this change. “Its not government’s job,” they say “…this change should be left to the private sector.” But Big Business tenaciously hangs on to business as usual, and happily spends money where government pays – look at how much money has been spent on the disastrous biofuel diversion – with food prices world-wide escalating as crops go to pointless ethanol production. But with a carbon tax what ever initiatives Big Business comes up with for a more sustainable lifestyle (subsidised by the tax payer or otherwise) will be taken up very slowly by citizens because the carbon tax will simply increased living costs so far that any new approach to transport, to heating, indeed to life as we know it will be unaffordable.

    The meagre weekly trading surplus of the ‘average’ citizen cannot extend to paying the consequences of a carbon tax on top of everything else – on top of escalating food costs, escalating transport costs and all the rest. It cannot be done if that part of the household spend simply goes down a hole. If we take more from them, (from us!) we cannot expect the population at large to jump from an old to a new lifestyle – not tomorrow, not next year and not even by the time Greenland and the West Antarctic have given us two (or will it be four?) metres of see rise by 2100 (or will it be by 2050?).

    But a Carbon Rebate system would leave the money (and hence the power) where it is best used – in the hands of the consumer. The rebate would be in the form of a tax-like levy on all truly non-sustainable energy used, but the money so diverted would rest in the individual’s carbon rebate account. The individual can then utilise the credits in that account to purchase and install truly sustainable options. For most, such an approach would probably see a solar water heating panel on every dwelling within a year and full self-sufficiency in domestic energy within five years – including powering a modest electric car. Corporations would enjoy exactly the same system (the playing field must be level), and they too would see the benefits of retrieving these rebates as the real price of fossil fuelled energy increases when peak oil starts to bite.

    This Carbon Rebate system places the power with the consumer, with the people, and removes it from the reluctant and sadly inept hands of the governments and their corporate cronies.

    For everybody who uses the credits the benefit is reduced dependency on external energy supplies and reduced emissions. Within ten years the national power reticulation systems would simply be handling the instantaneous peak input loads imposed by the surplus energy from millions of individual energy generators – be they wind, solar of local hydro schemes. And the grid would be distributing this power to a constantly diminishing bulk demand as households and corporations utilise their carbon rebates and power their operations with certified ‘green’ solutions.

    And that will be a win for individuals, a win for businesses small and big, a win for humanity and hopefully a win-in-time for mother earth.

  40. 190
    Hank Roberts says:

    > the rate of increase of inflation was decreasing.

    Wait a minute. Isn’t “carbon intensity decrease” a third derative too?

    Aha:

    ——-
    “The carbon intensity of the United States economy, which is the amount of carbon emitted per dollar of inflation adjusted GDP, has decreased at a rate of about 2 percent per year. The decline in the carbon intensity of the United States’ economy was caused both by increased energy efficiency, particularly in the manufacturing sector, and structural changes in the economy with growing contributions from sectors such as services with lower energy consumption and carbon intensity. The service sector is likely to continue to grow. Accordingly, carbon emissions will likely continue to grow more slowly than GDP.”
    ——–
    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2007/20071113_carbon.html

    Nixon’s jerk.

  41. 191
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Re #164 Russell (again):

    The energetically disposed can extrapolate as far as they like but
    Martin’s 30-year compounding to 100 milliwatts a year entails a rather
    sanguine view of hydrocarbon reserves

    No extrapolation involved. This is current forcing growth rate, based on exponential behaviour. I get, including the 2 -> e correction above, 162µW/m2/day or 60mW/m2/yr for a 30 year doubling (or 43 years times-e) time parameter.

  42. 192

    Matt says:

    [[Today, the top 10% of earners are shouldering 69% of non-corporate income tax bill versus about 47% in 1979.]]

    Oh, I pity them. It must be really hard being in the top 10% of income earners. You know, I’m a compassionate guy. I really want to share their pain. So I volunteer to be in the top 10% of income earners myself. No, don’t try to thank me. All in a day’s work.

  43. 193
    Karsten J. says:

    What is worse than this? The fact that the IPCC predictions about global warming seem ridiculously optimistic. This summer almost the entire Polar Sea except for some small bream along North Greenland and surroundings may be ice-free. See:

    http://www.dmi.dk/dmi/kun_tynd_vinteris_tilbage_paa_nordpolen

    (in danish)

  44. 194
    guthrie says:

    Matt #187- what on earth do you think will rplace oil and let us all drive SUV’s and run desalination plants? At the moment, working industrial scale fusion is 30 or 40 years away if it works. Barring a miraculous and unforeseen brekthrough in physics, which by the very nature of the beaast is not guaranteed, I see no way in which we will be so energy rich.

  45. 195
    dhogaza says:

    Actually, most skeptics I know and read indeed believe the free market will handle this fine. The problem is on the other side of the fence there are those that continue to warn that the free market CANNOT handle this and that the government must intervene. And that’s when skeptics usually get scared.

    Which supports the belief of many that skepticism, for many, isn’t really rooted in concerns about the accuracy of the science, but rather in the fact that the truth conflicts with their political beliefs.

    Thank you for stating it clearly.

  46. 196
    Eric says:

    Someone ought to forward the announcement to the Daily Show. They can submit some goofy abstract of some sort, and then deliver a goofy paper, all with cameras running. And since the “conference” is in New York, it is jut a cab ride away.

    It is a shame that the writers are still on strike, or I would send this off to them right now.

  47. 197
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Assuming XOM made $2T over these 10 years, this is on par with a school
    teacher making $50,000/year donating $0.20 to a cause over 10 years. And
    you hammering them for it.
    A little overblown, don’t you think?

    How would you react if your teacher paid $0.20 for a cyanide pill to slip into your tea?

  48. 198
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Just curious, but what do you think of McKitrick’s propsosal to tax
    carbon emissions based on 3 year moving average of tropospheric
    temperature change? I’d actually be for any tax that is tied to
    something measurable, and in fact goes away if the anomoly goes away.

    Way too noisy… the main argument for carbon tax over cap-and-trade is cost predictability.

  49. 199
    Lazar says:

    Philip Machanick:

    European countries and Japan have long discouraged inefficient energy use compared with the US. Guess which country’s motor industry keeps landing in a deep hole whenever oil prices spike?

    Tim McDermott:

    There are renewable energy sources that we have just begun to exploit: solar, wind, geothermal. We have not invested heavily in these technologies because fossil carbon was cheaper. Cheaper because it was allowed to dump its garbage into the common atmosphere. Cheaper because the political instability and wars it caused were charged to different accounts. Even today, the US spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined. If we didn’t need guaranteed access to mid-east oil, do you really think we would be in Iraq? If you include the military costs, the price of US oil consumption nearly doubles.

    Indeed.
    We build toilets rather than dump our waste in the street.
    A clean environment is part of a standard of living.
    Costs are still real even if external.
    Raising fossil fuel prices decreases dependence on ME oil and sends less wealth to loony dictators, it also means less economic suffering as oil runs out and buys some time to prepare for that eventuality. Military costs, energy security, factor into ‘standard of living’.
    Meantime at least the West is absurdly rich compared to any point in history. Fossil fuels are so cheap we put plastic widgets in cereal packets, so what does a ‘reduced standard of living’ mean and is it important?… trading plastic widgets for a cleaner environment and all the above?

  50. 200
    B Buckner says:

    BPL 192:
    The problem isn’t that the rich cannot afford the taxes, or even the fairness of it all. But it is unhealthy for a democracy when the majority of the citizens don’t see government as a service they are reluctantly paying for, but rather as a provider of services and money that only other people pay for. Each citizen should have a real stake in funding government so that there is an incentive to act as a check on government spending and power.


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