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Bubkes

Filed under: — gavin @ 26 June 2009 - (Chinese (simplified))

Some parts of the blogosphere, headed up by CEI (“CO2: They call it pollution, we call it life!“), are all a-twitter over an apparently “suppressed” document that supposedly undermines the EPA Endangerment finding about human emissions of carbon dioxide and a basket of other greenhouse gases. Well a draft of this “suppressed” document has been released and we can now all read this allegedly devastating critique of the EPA science. Let’s take a look…

First off the authors of the submission; Alan Carlin is an economist and John Davidson is an ex-member of the Carter administration Council of Environmental Quality. Neither are climate scientists. That’s not necessarily a problem – perhaps they have mastered multiple fields? – but it is likely an indication that the analysis is not going to be very technical (and so it will prove). Curiously, while the authors work for the NCEE (National Center for Environmental Economics), part of the EPA, they appear to have rather closely collaborated with one Ken Gregory (his inline comments appear at multiple points in the draft). Ken Gregory if you don’t know is a leading light of the Friends of Science – a astroturf anti-climate science lobbying group based in Alberta. Indeed, parts of the Carlin and Davidson report appear to be lifted directly from Ken’s rambling magnum opus on the FoS site. However, despite this odd pedigree, the scientific points could still be valid.

Their main points are nicely summarised thus: a) the science is so rapidly evolving that IPCC (2007) and CCSP (2009) reports are already out of date, b) the globe is cooling!, c) the consensus on hurricane/global warming connections has moved from uncertain to ambiguous, d) Greenland is not losing mass, no sirree…, e) the recession will save us!, f) water vapour feedback is negative!, and g) Scafetta and West’s statistical fit of temperature to an obsolete solar forcing curve means that all other detection and attribution work is wrong. From this “evidence”, they then claim that all variations in climate are internal variability, except for the warming trend which is caused by the sun, oh and by the way the globe is cooling.

Devastating eh?

One can see a number of basic flaws here; the complete lack of appreciation of the importance of natural variability on short time scales, the common but erroneous belief that any attribution of past climate change to solar or other forcing means that CO2 has no radiative effect, and a hopeless lack of familiarity of the basic science of detection and attribution.

But it gets worse, what solid peer reviewed science do they cite for support? A heavily-criticised blog posting showing that there are bi-decadal periods in climate data and that this proves it was the sun wot done it. The work of an award-winning astrologer (one Theodor Landscheidt, who also thought that the rise of Hitler and Stalin were due to cosmic cycles), a classic Courtillot paper we’ve discussed before, the aforementioned FoS web page, another web page run by Doug Hoyt, a paper by Garth Paltridge reporting on artifacts in the NCEP reanalysis of water vapour that are in contradiction to every other reanalysis, direct observations and satellite data, a complete reprint of another un-peer reviewed paper by William Gray, a nonsense paper by Miskolczi etc. etc. I’m not quite sure how this is supposed to compete with the four rounds of international scientific and governmental review of the IPCC or the rounds of review of the CCSP reports….

They don’t even notice the contradictions in their own cites. For instance, they show a figure that demonstrates that galactic cosmic ray and solar trends are non-existent from 1957 on, and yet cheerfully quote Scafetta and West who claim that almost all of the recent trend is solar driven! They claim that climate sensitivity is very small while failing to realise that this implies that solar variability can’t have any effect either. They claim that GCM simulations produced trends over the twentieth century of 1.6 to 3.74ºC – which is simply (and bizarrely) wrong (though with all due respect, that one seems to come directly from Mr. Gregory). Even more curious, Carlin appears to be a big fan of geo-engineering, but how this squares with his apparent belief that we know nothing about what drives climate, is puzzling. A sine qua non of geo-engineering is that we need models to be able to predict what is likely to happen, and if you think they are all wrong, how could you have any faith that you could effectively manage a geo-engineering approach?

Finally, they end up with the oddest claim in the submission: That because human welfare has increased over the twentieth century at a time when CO2 was increasing, this somehow implies that no amount of CO2 increases can ever cause a danger to human society. This is just boneheadly stupid.

So in summary, what we have is a ragbag collection of un-peer reviewed web pages, an unhealthy dose of sunstroke, a dash of astrology and more cherries than you can poke a cocktail stick at. Seriously, if that’s the best they can do, the EPA’s ruling is on pretty safe ground.

If I were the authors, I’d suppress this myself, and then go for a long hike on the Appalachian Trail….


801 Responses to “Bubkes”

  1. 601

    #581 Todd

    The questions remain in the denialosphere because people still don’t understand the relevant contexts involved regarding the data and what it shows.

    If you want to get past the silly arguments, try a new thought experiment. Am I correct in assuming, you’re assuming AGW is a bunch of bad calculations, right?

    How do you explain the cryosphere melting so fast?

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/images/arctic

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/images/greenland

    Antarctica is warming, glacial retreat is accelerating. If the world is cooling, shouldn’t those things be going in the opposite direction. Just think of the thermal energy and inertia it takes to melt all that ice.

  2. 602

    #531 Liz Bockelman
    #556 Fran Barlow
    #599 #549 Rod B

    I agree with SecularAnimist #600

    For another take on it, climate change happens. It can be cooling or warming

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/milankovitch-cycles

    In this case we have climate change that is warming due to human causes, thus anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

    The term ‘global warming’ reasonably describes, by inference, AGW.

    In our current situation, saying global warming is more appropriate since we can no longer enter an ice age due to the amount of imposed forcing

    http://www.ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/forcing-levels

    overriding the natural cycles (Milankovitch).

    Liz, the waffling you are talking about happened in the media. Climate change is still climate change, ‘global warming’ is still when climate change is causing warming. When climate change is causing cooling then it would be called ‘global cooling’. Currently we are warming due to the increased forcing.

    In the natural cycle we would be more stable, earth is now less stable and experiencing a positive bias due to imposed forcing components, aka. greenhouse gases.

    [edit - stop]

  3. 603
    Michael says:

    James 525
    If you’re arguing that healthcare and life expectancy aren’t linked, no need to go any further on that point, we will have to disagree.

    Regardless, the original question had to do with human welfare which encompasses a lot more than just life expectancy. Every one of those public health achievements (on the cdc page you linked) requires either expending energy, or a sufficiently advanced society (which includes large energy expenditures).

    Ditching a car for a bike only produces less energy if you originally had a car. This welfare/energy discussion has more to do with developing countries because most of the world lives below the poverty line and in need of welfare. I doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to center this discussion on the privileged few in the developed world.

  4. 604
    Rod B says:

    I made two errors in my proposition. One, for which I don’t apologize, is that the wording in an exercise like this, as I have learned, must be exacting and precise, but it was off that mark a bit. For the record, the original situation is: Darren in #244 said, “…over the past decade, global atmospheric temperatures haven’t risen…” Mark in 264 said, “…they HAVE been rising…” I meant my clarification question to be simple and asked, “…mean annual anamoly for 1988 was +0.70 degrees C; the mean annual anomoly for 2008 was +0.55 degrees C. Over this “past decade”, is this rising or falling?” The accurate answer is that temp was lower in 2008 than it was in 1998, ergo falling. The almost correct answer came from Igor S (593) who did at least say yes, lower, before going into an explanation why that is mostly meaningless.

    The other error, for which I do apologize, is it seems I don’t have enough fingers. The premise was the past decade, but, as BPL points out, it seems I can’t count past ten since 1998 to and including 2008 is ELEVEN years. I’ll be damned! What’s more interesting, the anamoly in 1999 was 0.43 and in 2008 (TEN years — a real decade) was 0.55. [Out of curiosity, falling or rising? BTW, contrary to some whining, nobody has or had any obligation to answer any of this.]

  5. 605
    Rod B says:

    SecularAnimist (596), HEY! How ’bout me?? ;-)

  6. 606

    #549 Rob B

    You’re saying the term ‘global warming’ is a “PR thing”? It’s important to understand that scientists and media personalities come from two entirely different perspectives. The media tend to the dramatic to sell commercial time and cater to their market base.

    Scientists just talk about things in realistic terms based on the matter at hand, as best they can. They are not trying to market to a base.

    - Climate change is cooling or warming.

    - Global warming is climate change that is warming. Global cooling is climate that is cooling.

    - Anthropogenic global warming is global warming that has an anthropogenic origin (in this case industrial GHG output).

  7. 607
    Rod B says:

    SecularAnimist (600), other than I explicitly said it is NOT dishonest and/or manipulative.

  8. 608
    Doug Bostrom says:

    #573 Todd:

    “As I said, I am not a scientist, but have honest questions about the weaknesses on both sides of this issue. ”

    Are you sure about that? You’re honestly asking a question because you can’t find an answer? A lot of rhetorical questions are asked here. See Rod B as an example. He asks a question, an answer is provided, but he asks the question again, and again. That’s because his question is really a rhetorical artifice.

    #578 Todd:

    “And your assertion that I’m a victim of propaganda is quite unfounded. There are MANY SCIENTISTS (including some who wrote parts of the IPCC report) who disagree with the conclusions reached by the GW proponents. ”

    The second statement contradicts the first. The latter indicates that while you claim to have a simple question about a simple feature of this topic, you’ve devoted enough study to have absorbed some misinformation from a bad source. This makes you appear to be pursuing an agenda having nothing to do with curiousity. You do know that, don’t you?

    #581 Todd:

    “The questions still remain, despite your predilection for attacking the person rather than dealing with the issues.”

    As it happens, Gavin politely answered your original post, way back at #468. Jim Eager answered it again, politely.

    The answer is there, but the question remains because it’s a rhetorical gimmick. Acknowledging an answer will nullify it, which why no such acknowledgment is made.

  9. 609
    Hank Roberts says:

    Rod B, for any new reader who wonders, is persistent.
    Not correct, though.

    More Grumbine Science: Misleading yourself with graphs
    “More of use here (I’ve pointed to these before) from Stoat and Atmos on five year trends. The search also finds some muddlefuddle from WTF. …”

    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2009/03/misleading-yourself-with-graphs.html

  10. 610
    Petro says:

    RodB continues: “The accurate answer is that temp was lower in 2008 than it was in 1998, ergo falling.”

    You have learned nothing, haven’t you? Falling in associated with a trend. Cherrypicking two dates tells nothing about trend.

    Truly, you have more serious problems than wording your questions or counting to 10.

  11. 611
    James says:

    Fran Barlow Says (2 July 2009 at 5:39):

    “It seems to me Mr Reisman that there is something quite curious about treating anthropogenic Co2 as a pollutant and naturally occurring Co2 as not a pollutant.”

    Perhaps this would make more sense if you note that we’ve moved out of the realm of science, and into the realm of legalisms and bureaucracy. You’re quite correct that there’s no effective difference (just slight differences in isotope ratios) between natural and anthropogenic CO2, and that what really matters is total concentration in the atmosphere. But legally defining it as a pollutant allows the EPA to e.g. use existing laws to regulate tailpipe emissions.

    “Ultimately, the world’s carbon sinks will take up and flux Co2 regardless of its provenance…”

    Sure, but ultimately is what, 10,000 years or more? And it’s likely to make the world rather uncomfortable for the next couple of centuries. Perhaps I lack the proper long-term viewpoint…

  12. 612
    Michael says:

    BPL 565

    Yes, human life expectancy was significantly lower before we started using fossil fuels and emitting CO2 en masse. Is there a link?

    Maybe a better way to ask the question:
    What is relationship between human welfare and CO2 emissions?

    Only then can you ask the question:
    If most people get thier health and well-being as a result of burning fossil fuels what will restricting those fuels do to the health and well-being of people?

  13. 613
    Doug Bostrom says:

    #606 John P. Reisman, #549 Rod B, et al:

    Years ago, part of the airline passenger briefing included the words “This aircraft is pressurized for passenger comfort. Should cabin pressure be lost…”

    That was changed to “This aircraft is pressurized for passenger comfort. Should cabin pressure change…”

    A subtle difference introduced to calm the nervous. All the same, the terminology did not affect ultimate fate of the heedless, that is to say suffocation for those who failed to take appropriate steps upon “change” or “depressurization”.

    The dominant driving force of “climate change” as the term is being used in public policy is “global warming”, an average increase in global temperature. Semantic cosmetics don’t really matter; hair-splitting about about subfusc motivations behind the terminology is pointless.

  14. 614
    Michael says:

    Ray 541
    If fossil fuels and renewables are truly interchangeable when it comes to cost and value to the user, why is there so much friction to switch over? Do I have to insert a conspiracy theory here?

    How about we just use reality on the ground. Lets say years ago China had banned coal and oil, and CO2 free were the only energy options they were allowed. Would the Chinese growth rate be where it is today? How about their poverty level? Their life expectancy rate?

  15. 615

    #611 James

    I would argue that the subjectivity of the word ‘slight’ regarding “differences in isotope ratios” requires context to be well understood.

    It is a slight, or possibly no, difference if we are talking long wave infrared absorption.

    It is a massive difference if we are discussing isotopic signature and origin of the molecule.

    Context is key.

    Of course still recognizing Websters definition: CO2 from industrial waste is a pollutant, naturally occurring CO2 is not.

    As to the carbon sink, I do think we can make a difference (don’t know how much) with biomass pyrolysis, but that all depends on how smart the human race chooses to be.

  16. 616
    James says:

    Michael Says (2 July 2009 at 11:45):

    “If you’re arguing that healthcare and life expectancy aren’t linked, no need to go any further on that point, we will have to disagree.”

    I don’t think I went so far as to say there is NO link, just that it’s much smaller than you seemed to be claiming. I have to go along with Benjamin Franklin, who wrote ” It is of the greatest importance to prevent diseases, since the cure of them by physic is so very precarious.”

    “Regardless, the original question had to do with human welfare which encompasses a lot more than just life expectancy.”

    I agree, of course. You were the one who turned the discussion to health care & life expectancy. I think I wrote this earlier, but again, reflect on the fact that economic necessity forces the majority of people in this country to live crammed into cities and suburbs, without access to fresh air, open space, or anything but the merest vestige of a natural landscape (and conditions are worse in much of the rest of the world), while lack of exercise & a diet of processed foods has created an epidemic of obesity and its consequent diseases. Since this has been made possible by abundant fossil fuel energy, it would seem that in these respects energy/CO2 has in fact decreased human welfare.

    “Every one of those public health achievements (on the cdc page you linked) requires either expending energy, or a sufficiently advanced society (which includes large energy expenditures).”

    Not true. First, you’re assuming your conclusion that an advanced society requires large energy expenditures. (Which even if needed don’t have to come from fossil fuels – advanced societies should be able to find other sources :-)) Second, of course everything requires expending SOME energy, but of a level above say the horse & buggy era? Here’s the list:

    Vaccination – Little or no energy. Jenner discovered vaccination in 1796.

    Motor-vehicle safety – A no-brainer, since if you don’t have motor vehicles, their safety is a non-issue. And you use less energy.

    Safer workplaces – Maybe, but not a lot.

    Control of infectious diseases – How does this require much energy? Sanitation, quarantine &c don’t require much energy, antibiotics could be produced without. Eliminating high-speed travel would certainly slow their spread – look at how fast swine flu has spread around the world.

    Decline in deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke – again, no energy required.

    Safer and healthier foods – maybe, but how?

    Healthier mothers and babies – likewise.

    Family planning – No significant energy input.

    Fluoridation of drinking water – OK, there’s one that requires energy for centralized water supply.

    Recognition of tobacco use as a health hazard – zero energy required. Indeed, less than zero, because energy would have been used to plant, harvest, process & distribute a larger volume of tobacco products.

    So out of ten items, only one has a significant energy component, three might require some.

    “This welfare/energy discussion has more to do with developing countries because most of the world lives below the poverty line and in need of welfare. I doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to center this discussion on the privileged few in the developed world.”

    It does make sense. First, because the developed world uses most of the energy and emits most of the CO2. Second, because it bears on the question of what exactly that poverty line means. I don’t have an SUV, a McMansion, big-screen TV (or indeed, a TV period), cell phone, or many other seeming necessities of “civilized” life. Am I living in poverty? If I had all those things, but had to live in Manhattan or LA to earn enough to pay for them, would I rich?

  17. 617

    #613 Doug Bostrom

    Point is well taken. However, I agree and disagree.

    I agree that whether we refer to AGW as ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming’ does not affect the physics.

    I disagree that it does not matter in the public debate; since that affects public opinion and policy makers, and ultimately action regarding mitigation strategies.

    Certainly, you are generally correct from your point of view.

    I would say that the debate is caught up in the semantic cosmetics but the science could care less. On that point, I don’t think it is entirely pointless to clarify understanding between the two contexts.

    I believe reducing the confusion and clarifying the contexts helps people get closer to the reality of the situation.

  18. 618
    Hank Roberts says:

    Michael writes:
    > Lets say years ago China had banned coal and oil,
    > and CO2 free were the only energy options

    You’d be using super-cheap Chinese solar hot water and solar photovoltaic roofing that you bought at Wal-Mart, a decade ago. And they’d be better off as well since they’d be making more money with less pollution.

  19. 619
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Martin V (505), can’t do it either.

    Oh, I can do it all right. The answer is ‘rising’, or equivalently, ‘yes’.

    There. That was easy. Happy now?

  20. 620
    Doug Bostrom says:

    #614 Michael:

    “Lets say years ago China had banned coal and oil, and CO2 free were the only energy options they were allowed. Would the Chinese growth rate be where it is today? How about their poverty level? Their life expectancy rate?”

    Leaving aside for a moment growth rate which is a superset incorporating poverty level and and life expectancy but also a lot of more debatable improvements, it’s not unreasonable to hypothesize that having made such a choice the Chinese might now have a significant technological advantage over those who did not. They might better be prepared to compete in a world where hydrocarbon resources are becoming a limiting factor in success.

    Casting aside hypothesis, Chinese life expectancy has moved upward slightly over the past ten years of explosive economic growth, but not nearly in proportion to their increased carbon emissions. The largest increase in lifespan in China happened long ago, prior to China’s joining the global economy and commensurate need to emit more carbon. It was the result of progressive attention to public health. Their life expectancy might have improved more during the past two decades if they’d not taken attention off medical care and public health in general for their still vast rural population, a problem they’re now working to remedy. So it’s hard at least in the case of China to form a solid connection between carbon emissions and life expectancy.

    With regard to food production, the increasing adoption of nitrogen fertilizer over the past 50 years initially caused a sharp upward spike in productivity but this has flattened of over the past 15 years; increasing use of fertilizer is no longer producing the gains it once did, though presumably the continued increase in fertilizer consumption is driving some portion of their increasing carbon emissions. So apparently no dependable, simple correlation there.

    The poverty level in China has dropped immensely since the late 1970s, but if you look at the distribution of improvement over time versus their carbon emissions over the same period there’s little correlation. The change in poverty level seems to correlate more strongly with policy changes in the governance of the Chinese economy. For a given amount of resource input, the result can be better or worse depending on many factors other than brute force application of physical commodities.

  21. 621
    Doug Bostrom says:

    #617 John P. Reisman:

    I prefer “global warming” myself; it seems to better describe the overall character of the problem. “Cabin pressure change” generally does not mean the cabin pressure is going to increase, heh.

  22. 622
    SecularAnimist says:

    Michael wrote: “What is relationship between human welfare and CO2 emissions?”

    CO2 emissions are already having a detrimental effect on human welfare and continued CO2 emissions will have a catastrophically detrimental effect on human welfare, causing unspeakable misery and suffering, impoverishment and displacement and the deaths of hundreds of millions of people.

    With all due respect, your continued clumsy attempt to equate “CO2 emissions” with “access to energy” as a factor in human well-being is either dishonest or stupid.

  23. 623
    Doug Bostrom says:

    #618 Hank Roberts:

    Funny you should say that. The Chinese have recently mandated solar hot water heat for new construction in many parts of the country and already we see the first tentative landfall of Chinese solar water heating equipment here. Our indigenous solar hot water industry will be gone in 10 years, having suffered from apathy alternating with misguided attempts at stimulation by distorted taxation schemes. We produce the very best, absolutely most expensive solar hot water systems available here. Selective absorbance coatings, low iron glass, amazing efficiency, all to shrink the the size of collectors by 20% while doubling the cost so as to save all that precious roof real estate that we know is already just packed beyond capacity. So sad.

  24. 624
    Liz Bockelman says:

    Thank you all for your comments on my post #531: 531 Gavin, 549 and others Rod B, 551 EL, 552 and others Hank Roberts, 554 Phil Felton, 556 and others Fran Barlow, 559 John Reisman, 561 and others Matt Kennel, 563 Brian Dodge, 569 Barton Levenson, 571 Alan of Oz, 572 Philip Machanick, 577 Mark Says, 580 dhogaza, 585 Anne Van Der Bom.

    I read the FAQs Gavin suggested, and all of your comments; I have yet to visit the wealth of web sites you all suggested, but I will. You comments have been very helpful for me and I appreciate the time it took you to respond. Thanks.

    This is what I’ve come up with:

    “Global warming” or “climate change”, whichever one calls it, is a term used in two separate contexts.

    1) The first context is as the name referring to changes in climate over time, as measured by many and various scientific methods. Scientists’ measurements, over the last 30 years or so, seem to reflect a steady increase in CO2 emissions, which seem to be causing both a rise in temperature and change in ocean ph toward acidity.

    2) The second context is as the term currently being used politically in reference specifically to man-made climate change, which is controversial for at least two groups:

    A) Those who think that governments around the world should take action to reduce CO2 emissions because data collected in the last 30 years indicates that recent changes in climate can be traced to CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels during various human activities.

    B) Those who believe governments’ attempts to reduce CO2 emissions will result in the waste of billions of $$, euros, yen, etc., because of one or more of the following four reasons:

    a) they don’t believe the premise of man-made climate change: they don’t think scientific data collected to date is adequate to prove conclusively that any type of man-made event can result in either the recent fluxuations in climate or the anticipated kinds of drastic climate change, therefore CO2 control would be ineffective at solving the problem
    b) they don’t believe CO2 alone is responsible: they think other variables are as or more likely to be the catalysts or causes for the scientific data collected to date on climate change therefore CO2 control would be ineffective at solving the problem
    c) they believe government efforts to curb CO2 emissions will fail resulting in an unprecedented waste of money and worse economic conditions.
    d) they believe that control of CO2 emissions will include governments making it more costly to use fossil fuels, punishing manufacturing and other commercial types of business for not moving to other forms of energy, even though there are no adequate replacements for fossil fuels available.

    My opinion has changed in that I understand better why CO2 can be considered a pollutant and I think that scientists who insist that excess CO2 is a problem have a valid point.

    I am convinced that climatologists are doing their best to isolate and analyze data necessary to help make a decision. Though I do have my doubts about there being adequate data to draw a valid, long-term conclusion, the prudent action would seem to be to hedge the bet and move toward reducing CO2 emissions.

    How to go about that remains the dilemma.

    I believe it is very likely that governments would waste a large percentage of the money they collected to combat “climate change,” with many individuals in government corruptly profiting from the effort, without any meaningful success at reducing CO2 emissions. I think global political involvement seems like a good idea only because it seems fast and would be high profile. But fast, if ineffective (and corrupt), is really neither productive nor fast. If reducing excess CO2 emissions is important, it is important to do this right, for the long-term.

    My opinion is that a grass roots effort to push for and reward the discovery and implementation of new forms of energy and cleaner ways of using energy that will result in lower CO2 emissions could be most the most successful approach. Individuals around the world are already philosophically ready to reward with investment dollars those companies employing “sustainable” practices, and reducing CO2 emissions could certainly be developed as an investment criteria that fits the “sustainable” overlay.

    Additionally, individuals involved in a grass roots effort would be willing to participate in other potential aids to the situation yet to be named. What about a global initiative to plant of trees and other vegetation to begin to help absorbing excess CO2? There must be some other measures interested and motivated individuals could take.

    The same grass roots push could also be influential in who gets elected to office. The best type of candidate might not be the one who is pushing toward CO2 control legislation as we are seeing now with the “cap and trade (tax)” energy bill. Rather, the best type of candidate might be the one who will be able to avoid corruption, graft, and ploys for personal power, while being able to simultaneously write solid, long-term legislation that rewards new energy ideas that can result in the reduction of CO2 emissions, while also writing legislation that provides for adequate nuclear energy and fossil energy to be developed and used for the near term without punishment. Since, if I understood correctly, scientists point out that the reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere, even if all emissions stopped today, will take decades, I believe positively and steadily moving toward the goal will be most effective for the long-term.

  25. 625
    Doug Bostrom says:

    #624 Liz Bockelman:

    I’m so glad Gavin deep-sixed my reply to your initial post. Well done, Gavin.

    “I believe it is very likely that governments would waste a large percentage of the money they collected to combat “climate change,” with many individuals in government corruptly profiting from the effort, without any meaningful success at reducing CO2 emissions.”

    Remember, corruption emanates from the private sector and targets the public sector. Particularly for publicly traded firms there’s a fiduciary responsibility to deceive and corrupt when shareholders’ money is at stake.

    “I believe it is very likely that governments would waste a large percentage of the money they collected to combat “climate change,” with many individuals in government corruptly profiting from the effort, without any meaningful success at reducing CO2 emissions.”

    Most of the profit from corruption will accrue to the private sector, whose constituents are very careful to see that their investments are not wasted. The bargains they obtain in legislation for spare change are really remarkable. I read a wonderful book some years ago that hinged on a conference on climate mitigation 100 years from now. I wish I could remember the name of it, or the author. In any case it nicely captured the level of corruption that had accrued around competing mitigation schemes, though the climate problem was real enough.

    “Rather, the best type of candidate might be the one who will be able to avoid corruption, graft, and ploys for personal power, while being able to simultaneously write solid, long-term legislation that rewards new energy ideas that can result in the reduction of CO2 emissions, while also writing legislation that provides for adequate nuclear energy and fossil energy to be developed and used for the near term without punishment.”

    Forcing careful accountancy for the real price of carbon emissions is pretty much a requirement for providing help of the kind you mention with the distorting effect and inefficiencies of direct subsidies. Insisting on doing all the numbers is our best bet. In my humble opinion. We’re not going to do that accounting voluntarily; at the end of the day it takes a government with punitive powers to motivate us for some things, such as paying taxes, not trashing our neighbors with pollution, etc.

  26. 626
    Michael says:

    James 616
    No cell phone? I remember what that was like. The freedom!
    …hang on, I need to take this call.

    This could get out of hand so I am just going to pick on your first example.
    Jenner discovered the vaccination concept. Actual vaccinations come from vaccine manufacturers. Vac cine research and development requires industry.

    Lets disregard that for a second and take all of your examples at face value. At bare minimum 9 of them were none to some energy required, with the exception of tobacco. So even if you are James who is very optimistic about the efficiencies we can sustain, the human welfare/energy relationship is a positive one, correct? (Energy use goes up as humans become healthier and live longer.)

    [Response: That is simply ridiculous. You cannot equate the benefits of vaccination to the use of fossil fuel and then use that to argue for no emission cuts. - gavin]

  27. 627
    Michael says:

    “…the developed world uses most of the energy…”

    The concept is human welfare. Rather than spending time talking about what emissions reductions would do to the wealthy in the developed countries lets address the poverty stricken in developing countries. The wealthy should be able to weather higher energy costs and fewer energy options pretty well. It’s the less fortunate who don’t have options and will take the brunt of emissions reduction schemes.

  28. 628
    David B. Benson says:

    Alan of Oz — Not sure what your poitn was to be, but Tung & Cabin (2008) [available from Prf. Tung UW web site] analyze surface temperature variations over sunspot cycles and point out that no exotics, such as GCRs, need be invoked.

    I attempted an analysis in the “Climate sensitivity, Shaviv and Tung et al” (older) thread on the globalchange website, linked on the sidebar.

  29. 629
    Brian Dodge says:

    Alan of Oz 2 July 2009 at 5:50 AM

    I’ve read the Usoskin et. al paper on cosmic ray & clouds, and they generate the global distribution of cosmic ray induced ions(CRII) by modeling. I doubt that will bother the denialists, despite their oft stated contempt for models. I noticed that the change in cloud cover from the minimum to maximum of the solar cycle was 2 percent, much less than the 10% change in CO2, over the period of their study. They also noted and removed in their analysis a downward trend of 0.2 percent per year in tropical cloud cover, which they said could be “…related to physical processes, e.g., a change in the global circulation pattern…”, plus some other suspects- aerosols, instrument calibration. Given that global warming has already led to observed changes in global circulation[1], I’d posit that we will see a decline in tropical cloud cover of ~2% per decade caused by global warming, with plus and minus 1% peaks and valleys around the mean trend caused by solar modulated CRII. After 20 or more years, the peak cloud area at a CRII maximum will be less than the earlier minimum. Tamino may be able to pull any fluctuations in precipitation or temperature this modulation causes from the noise of other processes, but these little ups and downs won’t make the AGW trends go away.

    [1] http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v441/n7089/abs/nature04744.html Vecchi et al “Observed Indo-Pacific sea level pressure reveals a weakening of the Walker circulation. The size of this trend is consistent with theoretical predictions, is accurately reproduced by climate model simulations and, within the climate models, is largely due to anthropogenic forcing.”

  30. 630
    Rod B says:

    “Remember, corruption emanates from the private sector and targets the public sector…,” says Doug B. Really astounding. The big bad private guys doing the picking on the little ‘ole pure virgin government. Really!

    CAPTCHA: clunky meatballs

  31. 631
    RichardC says:

    603 Michael said, “Ditching a car for a bike only produces less energy if you originally had a car.”

    or a scooter. The third world has plenty of IC-powered transport. Preventing starvation and epidemic disease doesn’t take much CO2, and those two things are *all* that’s necessary to bring lifespan up to USA levels (though reaching modern world levels takes a bit more – the USA is 45th in life expectancy.) This is being done in the third world. Not perfectly, but well enough to change the equations. Like most all solutions, this has created a crisis. What does one do with all those old people?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/8131567.stm

  32. 632
    Hank Roberts says:

    Doug wrote:
    > We produce the very best, absolutely most expensive
    > solar hot water systems available here.

    Pointer? I’d rather pay double for those than replace a system in my old age — and solar-preheating for home hot water is the real no-brainer _assuming_ that all that water stays where it belongs. Otherwise, risky.

  33. 633
    Hank Roberts says:

    David Benson mentions:
    > Tung & Cabin (2008) … Prf. Tung UW web site

    Link:
    http://www.amath.washington.edu/research/articles/Tung/journals/solar-jgr.pdf

  34. 634
    Doug Bostrom says:

    #630 Rod B:

    Take 5 minutes, find all the cases of public officials bribing private sector executives. Now, spend 5 minutes finding examples of the opposite situation.

    Why do I bother? It’s good ol’ Rod B, after all.

  35. 635
    RichardC says:

    632 Hank said, “I’d rather pay double for those than replace a system in my old age”

    Oh yes, just like you’d rather buy a solid Detroit car than Japanese [edit]. Who said anything about durability? Or do you have some data?

  36. 636
    Doug Bostrom says:

    #632 Hank Roberts:

    When I say “best”, I mean most efficient at capturing energy from sunlight. That immediately leads to “most expensive”, because wringing the last few percent of efficiency from a panel means turning to relatively exotic materials. It’s not about durability, it’s about misguided perfectionism.

    Unless you live in a very tiny house you’ve got ample roof space. Pursuing the last word in efficiency is a waste of money, sort of like being a high-end stereo enthusiast and paying $1000 for a set of speaker cables to get a vanishingly small return. It’s a hobbyist pursuit.

    Preheating is a no-brainer for most places in the country and yields plenty of benefit. Building a system that produces consistent finished hot water will take most of us off into the weeds, and for usually no good reason unless it’s a true off-grid scenario.

    A real case of where the perfect is the enemy of the good.

    I’m speaking of single family occupancy dwellings here, btw.

  37. 637
    James says:

    Michael Says (2 July 2009 at 13:29):

    “How about we just use reality on the ground. Lets say years ago China had banned coal and oil, and CO2 free were the only energy options they were allowed. Would the Chinese growth rate be where it is today? How about their poverty level? Their life expectancy rate?”

    Ah, but now you’re arguing in circles. It’s highly likely that the Chinese economic growth rate would have been less, but we’re discussing human welfare, no? Without that economic growth, would China be covered with a brown cloud? (Which probably doesn’t do much good for life expectancy.)

    You also seem to be stuck on a purely economic definition of poverty, which I think could do with some re-examination. What’s poverty, not being able to buy that iPod or big-screen TV, or not being able to breathe clean air?

    It might be interesting to look at Chinese life expectancy through say the time of the Opium Wars until the present, and relate changes in life expectancy to events. It’s not a subject I know much about. However, any claim that Chinese economic growth in the last few decades is responsible for increased longevity comes up against the genocide of the Maoist era. If you stop murdering tens of millions of people, of course you’ll increase average life expectancy.

  38. 638
    James says:

    Liz Bockelman Says (2 July 2009 at 14:57):

    “A) Those who think that governments around the world should take action to reduce CO2 emissions because data collected in the last 30 years indicates that recent changes in climate can be traced to CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels during various human activities.”

    Like many people, you basically have this backwards. It’s not that scientists have collected data showing warming, and from it deduced that CO2 is the cause. Rather, we know from first principles – the behavior of CO2 with respect to infrared radiation, first measured in IIRC the mid-1800s and worked out in more detail by Arrhenius around 1900 – that increased CO2 WILL cause warming. The collected data merely confirms that the warming is happening pretty much as predicted.

  39. 639
    Hank Roberts says:

    RichardC, read Consumer Reports; you may have Japan and Detroit confused; you’re looking for longterm reliability numbers.

    Consumer Reports doesn’t have reliability info on solar hot water collectors (yet). See the example below for the kind of specific info you can get now.

    Thanks Doug, that helps. Here’s a DIY guy’s ongoing story (he’s in Australia):
    http://neuralfibre.com/paul/tree-hugging/diy-solar-hot-water

    “… Australia had invented a more efficient solar hot water panel. Of course being Australia we had done nothing about capitalising on the invention, and now they were made in China. Beautiful, nice and cheap, just what I needed….”

    ——
    Same tubing I’ve been looking at. Cautionary.

  40. 640
    James says:

    Michael Says (2 July 2009 at 15:26):

    “Jenner discovered the vaccination concept. Actual vaccinations come from vaccine manufacturers. Vac cine research and development requires industry.”

    But does that industry require large amounts of energy, more than could be derived from say a small hydroelectric plant? No.

    Michael Says (2 July 2009 at 15:27):

    “It’s the less fortunate who don’t have options and will take the brunt of emissions reduction schemes.”

    On the contrary. If you are for instance an Indian peasant farmer or a Mongolian herdsman, your life will likely not change in any significant way. Likewise if you live in a shack in a third-world urban slum. If you don’t have it now, you’ve already adapted to living without.

    The same principle holds, to a lesser extent, in Western society. Groups like the Amish might not even notice a change, while people like me who have chosen a less energy-intensive lifestyle might be slightly pinched. It’s those “wealthy” people who have become utterly dependent on intensive energy use that will scream loudest.

    For a small example, during the recent gas price spike my SUV-driving acquaintances were all whining about the extra couple of hundred dollars they spent on gas each month, while I, driving a car that gets over 70 mpg when I wasn’t biking, was spending maybe $10-20 more. So who hurt the most?

  41. 641
    James says:

    Doug Bostrom Says (2 July 2009 at 18:36):

    “Take 5 minutes, find all the cases of public officials bribing private sector executives. Now, spend 5 minutes finding examples of the opposite situation.”

    Hardly a fair example: it’s like finding examples of people driving to the gas station and pumping gas out of their cars :-)

    Who’s the more corrupt, the private sector executive who offers a bribe, or the public official who takes it? How about the official who actively solicits a bribe, letting it be known that the private sector will be blocked unless the bribe is forthcoming?

  42. 642
    Fran Barlow says:

    #597 John P Reisman
    “It would be more appropriate you address the issue with Merriam Webster. I did not write the definition.”

    I was aware of that, but I felt the point about the definition of pollution was worth raising here given that one of the memes being run by the enemies of mitigation is that “CO2 is not pollution. It’s vital to life”.

    Re: the server gateway — thanks. I discovered that later.

    James #611

    Notes the different contexts (scientific, legal bureaucratic) in which the term pollution is used and says …

    “But legally defining it [CO2] as a pollutant allows the EPA to e.g. use existing laws to regulate tailpipe emissions.”

    Of course, and in so far as it is relevant here, this reflects the EPA’s conception as a regulator of “pollution” rather than as a protector of so much of the biosphere as falls within its power to act. Were it up to me, the “EP” in EPA really would refer to a wholistic endeavour aimed at maintaing the integrity of the biosphere, of which the control of contaminants *and other activities likely to disrupt the integrity of the biosphere* would be parts.

    Fran

  43. 643
    Fran Barlow says:

    Michael #612 asks about the link between human welfare and CO2 emissions. In my opinion, James and Doug have given well argued answers, to which I’d add only the following point: Neither correlation nor sequence imply causation.

    What those who argue in this way need to establish is a clear causal link between the two phenomena and also specify it well enough to mark the point at which the relationship breaks down. Even in cases where there is a causal relationship one sees often enough “diminishing returns”. If you are cold, you put on more clothing. One may say that in these circumstances, that physical comfort and the wearing of clothes are causally related. That doesn’t mean of course that if you keep putting on more clothes, you will keep getting more comfortable. At some point you get no extra benefit and at an even later point you may be less comfortable than if you hadn’t put them on.

    If, as is speculated, the slight increases in CO2 that attended the development of agriculture about 6000 years ago left the world with a milder climate than would otherwise have been the case the analogy may hold for CO2. We spent most of 6000 years benefiting as a species from an increase in atmospheric CO2 to a new stable threshhold between 240 and 280 ppmv.

    What we now know is that going above that higher threshhold, as we are now doing, has begun diminishing the value of the biosphere to our species, and may eventually prove catastrophic. Even if increasing CO2 from 180-220 to 240-280ppmv was on balance, good for us is moot since nobody will have the power to force concentrations back to the pre-agricultural levels or even the levels of the 19th century any time soon. Indeed, it’s almost certain we will exceed 450ppmv before we stabilise global concentrations of atmospheric CO2 and it’s virtually certain that this continuing upward trend will be reflected in serious costs to the human comnunities who encounter it.

    What you are uttering is a classic composition fallacy in which one assumes that the attributes of the part are a microcosm of the whole: some CO2 good, more CO2 better. What you fail to acknowledge is that both the biosphere and the human systems realted to it are complex and dynamic systems in which changes in one part will change the balance between other components of the system — and not necessarily in ways we can infer from the actiojn of those parts in pre-changed states.

    Fran

  44. 644
    Doug Bostrom says:

    #641 James:

    It’s all about partial pressure and the like! Money “wants” to go from where there’s a lot to where there’s less.

    I wonder if from the record of bribery prosecutions we could derive an “Ideal Corruption Law”, akin to PV=nRT? Bribe on offer versus disparity in income versus what’s at stake? Actually I guess we’d be looking at something more like Graham’s law.

  45. 645
    Deep Climate says:

    In World Climate Report yesterday, we have this note about EPA economist Alan Carlin’s “suppressed” piece on the proposed EPA Endangerment Finding.

    CEI did make public the suppressed document, which, as it turns out, reveals that the document’s authors were big fans of World Climate Report (but then, who isn’t!?), relying heavily on many of our own complaints about the EPA’s Proposed Endangerment.

    That’s an interesting choice of words. Instead of “revealing” the heavy reliance on the WCR source, Carlin appeared to studiously hide that reliance, appropriating WCR’s very words as his own without attribution.

    Still, it would be good to know who wrote the WCR blog post that ended up almost word-for-word in Carlin’s piece, so we could credit properly Carlin’s co-author:

    http://www.worldclimatereport.com/index.php/2008/11/19/why-the-epa-should-find-against-endangerment/

    I know that Chip Knappenberger often reads these comments – perhaps he can enlighten us.

    Or, if he prefers, he could comment here:

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/06/28/epas-alan-carlin-channels-pat-michaels-and-the-friends-of-science/#comment-153

  46. 646
    Rod B says:

    Doug Bostrom, you said simply “corruption emanates from the private sector.” No corruption from within the public sector?? Puuleeeseee! (Though you just did quickly restrict your “corruption” to public officials bribing private ones. Nice little feint.)

  47. 647
    Rod B says:

    Fran, then what are you going to do when the EPA finds noise a pollution and all those wind turbines are activities likely to “disrupt the integrity of the biosphere?”

  48. 648
    Fran Barlow says:

    The noise from wind turbines doesn’t disrupt the integrity of the biosphere. I accept that noise at a level that could cause physical harm would constitute “pollution” but given that wind turbine noise is more of a small background hum at distance of about 400m, that falls far short of a reasonable threshhold for measurable harm. It may diminish some people’s property values, but that’s a separate matter.

    Some people claim that they are “visual pollution” but that’s purely subjective.

    Fran

  49. 649
    Doug Bostrom says:

    646 Rod B:

    Did you try the exercise I suggested? The “feint” you imagined was an invitation to compare the flow of money via corruption, to see who is tempted and who is tempting, and half a joke at that. Lighten up.

    In what circumstances can you imagine a public official bribing a person in the private sector? Spelled out, what influence does the person in the private sector have that the public sector person would want to buy? Conversely, what influence does a person in the public sector have that a private person might want to buy?

    James pointed out that a public official susceptible to corruption is sort of “off” from the start, ready to rot. You’d have better to work with that; he’s right.

    My reason for grinding on the topic is rooted in my continued surprise at the susceptibility of the public to swallow the poison pill that their government is contemptible and worse if anything than the private sector. That deception is an integral part of selling the climate change denial message. Gavin for instance carries the reek of corruption because he works for the government; that’s the objective behind the generalized slander. He’s being tarred by publicists.

    As I said earlier, a passionate defender of a private sector entity threatened by a vector change in cash flow and having no other recourse may very likely see themselves as having a fiduciary responsibility to employ deception for the protection of their business. They may call it public relations or some other name, but the tactic is corrupting in itself, corrupting of the public perception of their government. There’s ample evidence that reckless deceit of this kind is practiced by the fossil fuel industry in their desperation to ward off financial threat from AGW.

  50. 650
    John Mashey says:

    re: #573 Todd

    Todd writes:
    “John,

    Concerning your response (#515) to my post (#468):

    The tenor of your post is exactly the reason why there can be no reasonable dialogue on Global Warming. As I said, I am not a scientist, but have honest questions about the weaknesses on both sides of this issue. However, rather than attempt to address the questions, you begin to “talk down” to me, and to chide me for not reading material on your “preferred list”. Most of my learning is done on the internet (before you malign the sources on the internet, I must remind you that RealClimate is ALSO on the internet), looking at both sides and also following the news. In addition, I read science periodicals such as you mentioned.

    At this point, if you would like, you can cite all of the reasons why you are more qualified to dialogue on GW than I. ”

    SIMPLE QUESTIONS & OPINIONS

    If someone asks you for your sources, that is simply a straightforward request for information, which I (and many others) often ask & answer in personal conversations and blog discussions.

    Every discussion, especially if complex, is helped by trying to calibrate people’s knowledge. I spent many years explaining advanced computing technology, but talks differed between {NASA, Boeing, etc} and {local newspaper, my company’s administrative assistants). Those were easy by comparison with discussions for less obvious mixed groups, where one *had* to ask upfront.

    Unlike some others here, I *didn’t* try to tell you where you were getting your views, but rather just asked, since I don’t know for sure.

    If that’s a bad “tenor”, I’m sorry.
    (Although, given that your first post in this thread told Gavin that you “would point out a flaw in his logic”, with no caveats or maybes, on a subject often discussed here, on which Gavin is certainly a high expert, I’m not sure what you mean when you say “tenor”.)

    If you feel that my questions are “talking down”, I’m sorry. Feel free to suggest better equivalent wording.

    I didn’t think I “chided” you for anything. You asked questions that are easily-answered by reading a few introductory books. I didn’t criticize you for that, because finding the right books is not always trivial.
    I recognized your opinions as opinions as opinions.

    There’s no reason you should accept *my* opinions regarding books, but you might look them up in Amazon and see what others said, or ask the opinions of others here, or check the books section here, or Start here. Some of my favorites are by RC authors, and they are modest in not often pitching their own books, but I’m happy to do so.

    BACKGROUND
    In my high school AP history courses, anyone could offer any strong opinion … but if we did that without being able to cite sources, the rest of the class chewed us up. I’ve spent much of my working life where assumptions were challenged, and people were routinely expected to back their opinions with sources and evidence as needed.

    Perhaps you are not used to that, and are offended by the idea that anyone might ask. If so, I’m sorry.

    It is quite possible to learn enough about this topic without being a climate scientist or any kind of natural scientist. Most people aren’t scientists. I’m certainly not, and no expert, although I’m lucky to have talked to patient experts who’ve helped me learn.

    My questions were intended to elicit your sources for *your* views, not claim mine were better, or that I was more qualified.

    But if background matters to you, see how to learn about science.

    Also, you might look at a knowledge scale, my current best guess at a framework for knowledge/expertise.
    On that scale, I suggested 2 books at level K2 and one at K3. If these are too introductory, then it is easy enough to go the IPCC AR4, WG I,starting with the TS. One of the reasons for such a scale is to be able to match suggestions with people’s current level of knowledge, and suggest plausible learning routes.

    These days, I consider myself K4 on a scale of 10 (roughly log base 2). (Up from K2 on earlier versions, not because I’ve learned so much more, but people convinced me that the lower part of the scale was too compressed.)

    “SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH”
    I’m just trying to understand why people believe what they believe, what information sources they find useful and credible, and the pathways (formal and informal) through which information propagates. I sometimes needed to do that professionally and I used to manage cognitive psychologists and the thinking rubbed off on me.

    [S. Molnar @ 523: I don't think I'd call this study of "abnormal psychology", and there is no intent to obtain good statistics. However, dialog is often useful in getting examples to help refine conceptual models.]

    Some people respond (to my usual questions) by saying “I really want to learn more. What should I read? Where do I start?”
    They often say they find blogs are confusing, and I usually agree with them, even regarding the best blogs. It’s very difficult to start building a coherent knowledge framework for oneself by jumping into blog discussions. It’s too much like trying to understand a soap opera or a mystery serial by watching one episode in the middle. :-) So, I suggest a few good books to read before they look at *any* blog, even RC.

    BACK TO THE QUESTIONS

    So, back to the original questions: you have told us:

    1) You look at the Internet.
    Can you be more specific about sites/blogs you find credible/useful?

    2) You follow the news.
    Can you say anything about the mix of TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and which ones you like regarding climate science?

    3) You read science periodicals.
    Can you say which ones you read regularly? And maybe point out a particularly useful article or two?


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