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The Guardian’s Editorial

Filed under: — eric @ 8 December 2009

The following editorial was published today by 56 newspapers around the world in 20 languages including Chinese, Arabic and Russian. The text was drafted by a Guardian team during more than a month of consultations with editors from more than 20 of the papers involved. Like The Guardian most of the newspapers have taken the unusual step of featuring the editorial on their front page. The Guardian, the editorial is free to reproduce under Creative Commons.

RealClimate takes no formal position on the statements made in the editorial.


Copenhagen climate change conference: Fourteen days to seal history’s judgment on this generation

Today 56 newspapers in 45 countries take the unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial. We do so because humanity faces a profound emergency.

Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year’s inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world’s response has been feeble and half-hearted.

Climate change has been caused over centuries, has consequences that will endure for all time and our prospects of taming it will be determined in the next 14 days. We call on the representatives of the 192 countries gathered in Copenhagen not to hesitate, not to fall into dispute, not to blame each other but to seize opportunity from the greatest modern failure of politics. This should not be a fight between the rich world and the poor world, or between east and west. Climate change affects everyone, and must be solved by everyone.

The science is complex but the facts are clear. The world needs to take steps to limit temperature rises to 2C, an aim that will require global emissions to peak and begin falling within the next 5-10 years. A bigger rise of 3-4C — the smallest increase we can prudently expect to follow inaction — would parch continents, turning farmland into desert. Half of all species could become extinct, untold millions of people would be displaced, whole nations drowned by the sea. The controversy over emails by British researchers that suggest they tried to suppress inconvenient data has muddied the waters but failed to dent the mass of evidence on which these predictions are based.

Few believe that Copenhagen can any longer produce a fully polished treaty; real progress towards one could only begin with the arrival of President Obama in the White House and the reversal of years of US obstructionism. Even now the world finds itself at the mercy of American domestic politics, for the president cannot fully commit to the action required until the US Congress has done so.

But the politicians in Copenhagen can and must agree the essential elements of a fair and effective deal and, crucially, a firm timetable for turning it into a treaty. Next June’s UN climate meeting in Bonn should be their deadline. As one negotiator put it: “We can go into extra time but we can’t afford a replay.”

At the deal’s heart must be a settlement between the rich world and the developing world covering how the burden of fighting climate change will be divided — and how we will share a newly precious resource: the trillion or so tonnes of carbon that we can emit before the mercury rises to dangerous levels.

Rich nations like to point to the arithmetic truth that there can be no solution until developing giants such as China take more radical steps than they have so far. But the rich world is responsible for most of the accumulated carbon in the atmosphere – three-quarters of all carbon dioxide emitted since 1850. It must now take a lead, and every developed country must commit to deep cuts which will reduce their emissions within a decade to very substantially less than their 1990 level.

Developing countries can point out they did not cause the bulk of the problem, and also that the poorest regions of the world will be hardest hit. But they will increasingly contribute to warming, and must thus pledge meaningful and quantifiable action of their own. Though both fell short of what some had hoped for, the recent commitments to emissions targets by the world’s biggest polluters, the United States and China, were important steps in the right direction.

Social justice demands that the industrialised world digs deep into its pockets and pledges cash to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, and clean technologies to enable them to grow economically without growing their emissions. The architecture of a future treaty must also be pinned down – with rigorous multilateral monitoring, fair rewards for protecting forests, and the credible assessment of “exported emissions” so that the burden can eventually be more equitably shared between those who produce polluting products and those who consume them. And fairness requires that the burden placed on individual developed countries should take into account their ability to bear it; for instance newer EU members, often much poorer than “old Europe”, must not suffer more than their richer partners.

The transformation will be costly, but many times less than the bill for bailing out global finance — and far less costly than the consequences of doing nothing.

Many of us, particularly in the developed world, will have to change our lifestyles. The era of flights that cost less than the taxi ride to the airport is drawing to a close. We will have to shop, eat and travel more intelligently. We will have to pay more for our energy, and use less of it.

But the shift to a low-carbon society holds out the prospect of more opportunity than sacrifice. Already some countries have recognized that embracing the transformation can bring growth, jobs and better quality lives. The flow of capital tells its own story: last year for the first time more was invested in renewable forms of energy than producing electricity from fossil fuels.

Kicking our carbon habit within a few short decades will require a feat of engineering and innovation to match anything in our history. But whereas putting a man on the moon or splitting the atom were born of conflict and competition, the coming carbon race must be driven by a collaborative effort to achieve collective salvation.

Overcoming climate change will take a triumph of optimism over pessimism, of vision over short-sightedness, of what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature”.

It is in that spirit that 56 newspapers from around the world have united behind this editorial. If we, with such different national and political perspectives, can agree on what must be done then surely our leaders can too.

The politicians in Copenhagen have the power to shape history’s judgment on this generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it. We implore them to make the right choice.

663 Responses to “The Guardian’s Editorial”

  1. 201
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    This is great. Too bad not all newspapers printed it.

    However, let’s not put all our eggs in the Copenhagen basket. I truly wish world governments do the right thing (I’ve already heard the rich nations are planning to shaft the poor nations in the deal…power is all afterall). But even if all governments on earth put forth their full efforts to combat global warming — by reducing GHGs from their own government facilities and taxing carbon and giving incentives for their citizens to become energy/resource efficient/conservative (not only giving subsidies and tax-breaks for doing the EC (environmentally correct) thing, but also making sure EC products and measures are easily available — everyone should have an option of getting alternative energy and clean public transit) — the rest of us, the citizens of the world, will need to implement the vast majority of these measures. There is no silver bullet and it won’t be easy like reducing CFCs, with the consumers hardly knowing what was going on.

    As one person cried here a few weeks ago something like “they’re going to make me pay higher energy bills :(” Well, yes, I responded, if you and others absolutely positively refuse to reduce, reuse, recycle, go on alternative energy, precycle, and a myriad of other measures, then yes, you will be spending more money. And there will be denialist ideologues who will refuse to do the EC things, and pay the higher prices, just to spit in the face of the world.

    So really governments can only inspire, incentivize, and facilitate — though these actions are sorely needed to structurally facilitate our actions. The ball on this issue has always been most squarely our court, the citizens of the world, and we have to use a shotgun approach with hundreds of tiny silver bullets (some big, like SunFrost frig, electric cars, solar roof panels, etc) shot over and over again on a daily basis.

  2. 202
    Jim Ryan says:

    Gavin,

    If you have the time could you address the weblinked article by Melanie Phillips from #181.

  3. 203
    Jim Ryan says:

    Sorry, I meant #171.

  4. 204
    Maxwell Demon says:

    I am not a scientist and I’ve never posted here, but I regularly check this website for news on climate change. That said, here’s my $.02 on the editorial and some of the comments.

    I agree with the general message of the editorial (i.e. I am convinced, as much as a layman can be, that human-driven climate change is happening and that actions must be taken), but not with some of the tone. As some have mentioned, there are alarmist notes to the editorial that don’t fit the scientific nature of the issue.

    As I see it, the facts are not as clear as stated in the editorial (hence the caveats in IPCC materials and the use of likelihood intervals). Nevertheless, in view of the high probability that climate change is caused largely by human activity and that measures may be implemented to restrict its effects, I endorse the newspapers’ call for action.

    On a side note, I am sincerely convinced that most of those actions are a basic imperative of a fair, conscious and sustainable society. Rational and more efficient use of resources, avoiding their exhaustion; transfer of funds from developed countries to developing countries; decrease of the economy’s energy intensity and shift to renewable rather than finite and geographically-constrained sources; these all make sense irrespective of climate change.

    A change of paradigm is in order so that some degree of comfort may be preserved in a time when there are 6 billion (human) souls on this piece of rock, most of which living in undescribable conditions but increasingly aware of the wealth reserved to us lucky few and ever more demanding of their fair share of the pie.

  5. 205
    SecularAnimist says:

    Edward Greisch: “Nuclear power is by far the safest, lowest CO2 and cleanest.”

    Sigh.

    That statement is wildly untrue. And yet, in the midst of this orchestrated onslaught of arrogant, ignorant denial of AGW, and the heinous, vicious Swift-Boat style attacks on the integrity of climate scientists, I almost feel a nostalgic fondness for the pro-nuclear zealots.

    I categorically disagree with them: nuclear power is neither a necessary nor a particularly effective solution to the problem of global warming. So there is no need to even debate whether or how to deal with the very real dangers and problems of nuclear power.

    But at least nuclear proponents recognize that there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

    How much better to be arguing with folks about solutions, then arguing with denialists about the existence of the problem.

  6. 206
    Wildlifer says:

    Eric in 192,
    By “CRU scandal,” I assume you mean the scandalous nature by which the MSM has failed to pursue the facts and have enabled the distortions?

  7. 207
    Steve Fish says:

    Comment by EL — 9 December 2009 @ 1:48 PM:

    I am confused about your response to BPL. You say that reducing energy usage is foolish and that renewable energy technology is not sustainable. Because fossil fuels are getting more expensive as sources are depleted and developing world demands are rising, what is your solution?

    Some questions: Doesn’t the fact that there are countries (e.g. Japan) that use much less energy per person than the U.S., but have a higher standard of living than the U.S., suggest that reducing energy usage can be accomplished? There is a variety of potential renewable energies that could be developed, so which ones are limited by materials (be sure to consider recycling and emerging improvements)? If there are renewable technologies that would ultimately be limited by materials, does this mean that they shouldn’t be used at all? Can’t you think of ways to reduce energy usage that would not cause harm to the poor classes?

    Steve

  8. 208
    Timothy Chase says:

    Paul wrote in 193:

    The meaning of the word “Trick”. I didn’t know this was a word in the science community for when you’ve found your way around something that was difficult. That sounds like a deception to normal people.

    If someone asks you what 20+21+22+…2n-1+n, you don’t have to add it all up. You just calculate 2n+1-1. If someone asks you whether 173529 is divisible by 3, you don’t have to do the longhand division. Instead just add up the digits (the sum is 27) and check to see whether that is divisible by 3. These are math tricks — which make it a great deal easier to determine the answer to a question.

    Then there are memory tricks, such as associating a person with an object in order to remember their name. Or as the Ancient Greeks would do, associate different parts of a speech with different places in a building, such that when giving the speech one could help oneself to recall the next topic by imagining oneself walking through the building.

    In programming there are tricks that one does in order to get things done quickly. For example, in reading data from Excel you could have several lines of code resulting in a loop where each cell within a given region is read individually by an executable or DLL.

    I had a friend — a good programmer — who did it that way. 6000 cells took 6 seconds — which resulted in a delay that customers wouldn’t have been used to or willing to tolerate — before a menu would show up in reports downloaded into a spreadsheet. However, if in the executable’s process one declared a variant and set it equal to the value of the range (rngMyRange.Value) the whole process to less than a millisecond — and instead of using several lines of code the whole thing could be done in a single line of code. The “trick” worked like “magic.”

    Taking generic approaches that are easily adapted to new problems is another sort of trick that is common in programming. In carpentry cutting with the grain would be a “trick.” A meat butcher who always cuts between the bones rather than through them keeps his blade sharp, works quickly and with a great deal less effort — and therefore can be said to “know a trick.”

    There is a “trick” in which you can twist your arm two full turns — and illustrate a principle involving rotation in three-dimensional space. It comes from an old European folk dance. There is a “trick” in which you can take a piece of paper no larger than a standard 8.5X11 and cut a hole in it that is large enough to drive your car through.
    *
    All of these tricks work like magic. In fact a programmer might like to think of himself metaphorically as a wizard who can make things which take hours or minutes take minutes or seconds. He might also think of the code through which he does this as an “incantation,” and when searching for a bit of code using Google he might recall how primitives thought that if you knew the name of a thing you could control it. (No, I do not play D&D.)
    *
    Of course a magician is able to make something seem like magic — but will do so by “tricking” the eye or the mind. In this we can see a little bit of both meanings.

    Unfortunately climate scientists are up against magicians who are very practiced in the latter sort of “trick.” For decades they were able to create the appearance of scientific doubt regarding the relationship between tobacco and cancer — even though the science had been in for decades. I have listed a few of the clans of magicians who have practiced this sort of dark art (both with respect to tobacco and global warming) just recently:

    CRU Hack: More context, comments 594 and 602.

    It is what they are expert at, whether the subject has been tobacco and cancer, CFCs and ozone, sulfur emissions and acid rain, or carbon dioxide and global warming, having dabbled in their art for decades. No wonder scientists — who perform a quite different art — are oftentimes at a disadvantage. They are up against magicians who are quite skilled at casting spells of illusion and paralyzing doubt, and of making a thing look like its opposite.

  9. 209
    Timothy Chase says:

    Paul wrote in 193:

    The meaning of the word “Trick”. I didn’t know this was a word in the science community for when you’ve found your way around something that was difficult. That sounds like a deception to normal people.

    If someone asks you what 2^0+2^1+2^2>+…2^(n-1)+2^n, you don’t have to add it all up. You just calculate 2^(n+1)-1. If someone asks you whether 173529 is divisible by 3, you don’t have to do the longhand division. Instead just add up the digits (the sum is 27) and check to see whether that is divisible by 3. These are math tricks — which make it a great deal easier to determine the answer to a question.

    Then there are memory tricks, such as associating a person with an object in order to remember their name. Or as the Ancient Greeks would do, associate different parts of a speech with different places in a building, such that when giving the speech one could help oneself to recall the next topic by imagining oneself walking through the building.

    In programming there are tricks that one does in order to get things done quickly. For example, in reading data from Excel you could have several lines of code resulting in a loop where each cell within a given region is read individually by an executable or DLL.

    I had a friend — a good programmer — who did it that way. 6000 cells took 6 seconds — which resulted in a delay that customers wouldn’t have been used to or willing to tolerate — before a menu would show up in reports downloaded into a spreadsheet. However, if in the executable’s process one declared a variant and set it equal to the value of the range (rngMyRange.Value) the whole process to less than a millisecond — and instead of using several lines of code the whole thing could be done in a single line of code. The “trick” worked like “magic.”

    Taking generic approaches that are easily adapted to new problems is another sort of trick that is common in programming. In carpentry cutting with the grain would be a “trick.” A meat butcher who always cuts between the bones rather than through them keeps his blade sharp, works quickly and with a great deal less effort — and therefore can be said to “know a trick.”

    There is a “trick” in which you can twist your arm two full turns — and illustrate a principle involving rotation in three-dimensional space. It comes from an old European folk dance. There is a “trick” in which you can take a piece of paper no larger than a standard 8.5X11 and cut a hole in it that is large enough to drive your car through.
    *
    All of these tricks work like magic. In fact a programmer might like to think of himself metaphorically as a wizard who can make things which take hours or minutes take minutes or seconds. He might also think of the code through which he does this as an “incantation,” and when searching for a bit of code using Google he might recall how primitives thought that if you knew the name of a thing you could control it. (No, I do not play D&D.)
    *
    Of course a magician is able to make something seem like magic — but will do so by “tricking” the eye or the mind. In this we can see a little bit of both meanings.

    Unfortunately climate scientists are up against magicians who are very practiced in the latter sort of “trick.” For decades they were able to create the appearance of scientific doubt regarding the relationship between tobacco and cancer — even though the science had been in for decades. I have listed a few of the clans of magicians who have practiced this sort of dark art (both with respect to tobacco and global warming) just recently:

    CRU Hack: More context, comments 594 and 602.

    It is what they are expert at, whether the subject has been tobacco and cancer, CFCs and ozone, sulfur emissions and acid rain, or carbon dioxide and global warming, having dabbled in their art for decades. No wonder scientists — who perform a quite different art — are oftentimes at a disadvantage. They are up against magicians who are quite skilled at casting spells of illusion and paralyzing doubt, and of making a thing look like its opposite.

  10. 210
    Titus says:

    When I read: “56 newspapers in 45 countries take the unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial”

    This in the face of ClimateGate and the increasing disbelief of AGW within science and the public:

    Conspiracy is confirmed…….

  11. 211
    Tom Dayton says:

    Paul, regarding the word “trick,” there is a good, concrete, and totally convincing (and amusing) treatment in a recent video posted on DeSmogBlog. But it seems to have been partially covered by a new video on clean coal, at least in the browser I’m having to use at this moment.

  12. 212
    Theo Hopkins says:

    @ forlornhope:

    “There is quite a lot of discussion here on how we can respond to climate change. There is a legitimate concern on the political right that it is being used as a Trojan horse for left oriented policies. This is certainly the case in Europe.”

    I don’t think the European left is using climate change as a “Trojan horse”. The European left argue openly for left orientated policies. There are no ‘reds under the bed’ here – we are dancing on the duvets. Using climate change is not the way to go about it. Open argument is the way that these things are done. Trojan horse stuff smells of conspiracy theory. And I write as someone who wishes left (social democratic) orientated policies.

  13. 213
    Steve Runge says:

    If the dire predictions of AGW were proven, there’d be no question or debate except about how to prepare or adjust.

    I know a lot of people have responded to the inanity of this assertion, but I’ll add to the pile-on just for fun:

    Ah, it’s a beautiful picture of humanity you paint with your unexamined assumption: people automatically respond to that which is “proven” by unanimously acquiescing to the power of truth.

    If it were that simple, there’d be no arguments that lasted over 2 minutes. We’d all live in peace and harmony, and we’d all be scientists or logicians, spending our lives contentedly meditating on axioms and theorems, and testing every assertion with reasoned analysis and close empirical observation. There would be no churches, temples, or mosques, and childrens’ fairy tales would take the form of “Once upon a time, there was a land where people believed things that weren’t proven…” The only disagreements would be about the degree of certainty that should lead to action, but these disagreements would be debated calmly, and without rancor.

    Perhaps there’s a more likely explanation that AGW hasn’t been accepted: that a) people don’t generally want to hear unpleasant truths, and b) powerful & well-funded groups have put on a concerted campaign to smear good science by making emotional appeals to item a. It’s also possible, as has been pointed out many times here, that a good scientist (a person schooled in cautious, limited statements of contingent conclusions) isn’t the best person to communicate with people who demand absolute certainty before they’re willing to act.

    It never ceases to amaze me how gullible the so-called “skeptics” are, but I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. If you concentrate your entire measly quotient of skepticism at one target, many other causes for doubt might escape your attention.

  14. 214
    Chris Dudley says:

    Failure to adopt a 350 ppm target in the editorial, a target which has gotten some support here, is a good reason not to endorse the editorial, but thanks for reprinting it.

  15. 215
    Kris Aydt says:

    #193 said, “The science community needs a PR machine …”

    Unfortunately, I think this is completely true. Accurate, sustantive and meaningful science is being obliterated in the public venue by distortion campaigns. It’s shameful. But organization of PR and clear statements of objective truths seems sorely needed.

  16. 216

    I hope I’m not breaking many netiquette laws here with this “off topic”:

    Does anyone remember of an online debate promoted by something (I think it was NAS, but may have been other thing, even British), in a bulletin board format, a single topic? (Well, much like blog comments too, but with only one post) It went only for a certain time limit, then it was closed.

    I’m sorry to ask it here, but I was not having luck with google (even though I never tried the “i’m feeling lucky” button), and if this is not something my mind is making up, it’s very likely that someone around here does know. Thanks.

  17. 217
    David B. Benson says:

    Peter Prewett (150) — Aerosols are being studied; some tend to warm (black carbon) and others (sulfates) to cool.

  18. 218

    Floccina, the editorial may not be “climate science,” but is it more or less correct? After all, RC does also discuss policy to an extent.

    Let’s look at the statements you cite:

    [Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. ]

    “Ravage” is vague, certainly, and loaded. Yet even the conservative AR4 arguably supports the term by considering, however soberly, probably consequences that could reasonably be construed as involving the “ravaging” of this or that. And logically, prosperity and security are both at risk–the US Department of Defense climate change scenarios very seriously consider consequences in the latter area, for example.

    [The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. ]

    Seems pretty hard to argue with this to me–the warming trend of the last 30 years is the prime datum, but the increasing amount and quality of research on impacts done over roughly that span has been quite startling. That’s conventionally “one generation,” no?

    Certainly, the impacts may become more apparent yet–but hopefully not (or not all) by manifestation as the “new reality.”

    [last year’s inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. ]

    Well, if the Stern report is anything like correct, we will see serious economic dislocations as a result of AGW. Would the events of 2007-8 not exemplify “economic dislocation?” That’s all that’s claimed, as I read the editorial statement.

    [Yet so far the world’s response has been feeble and half-hearted.]

    There’s NO arguing with that–emissions have been running at the high end of the IPCC projections. (Well, maybe we should argue that “feeble and half-hearted” is a charitable description of the mitigation actions so far.)

    In sum, this statement is an editorial–that is, a piece implicitly including endorsement of certain value judgements and usually including an implicit call to action–not a scientific paper. I don’t see why RC shouldn’t comment on it as such.

  19. 219
    Alex J says:

    We would certainly be pissed at past generations if they had wrecked our quality of life with a casual, nonchalant approach to country and world. But at this point, I think humanity will pretty much deserve what it gets.

  20. 220
    AC says:

    You (and by default the moderator) have to be kidding that the tree ring divergence problem is addressed in TAR3. The page you cite says this: “There is evidence, for example, that high latitude tree-ring density variations have changed in their response to temperature in recent decades, associated with possible nonclimatic factors (Briffa et al., 1998a).” P131 That hardly says the tree data suggests the temperature goes down when the local temperatures actually goes up.

    [edit]

    [Response: Yes, it says exactly that. – gavin]

    That’s a demonstrably false statement. Using your logic, that statement also says that tree data suggests temps go up when local temperature goes down. And that tree data suggests that temps do nothing when local temperature goes up. Etc. Etc. Etc.

    I guess if you believe, a priori, that the CO2 forcing equation reflects the real world behavior of the complex globe, then you can convince yourself that you’re justified in treating supporting evidence pretty lightly? After all, in that case, the null hypothesis is that man-made CO2 is the cause of dramatic global warming.

    That’s one way to do “science”!

    [Response: Science has these things called ‘citations’. That’s the name and date in brackets at the end of a statement that usefully gives the source and background for that statement in a way that saves you having to copy out the whole thing. It really is a time saver. – gavin]

  21. 221
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    When evaluating the usage of words like “trick” the trick is to know a little about how scientists communicate.

  22. 222
    Paul says:

    Seriously people…

    environmentalists love to point towards the dangers of AWG, and seem to think that the solution doesn’t get taken up because people are lazy or greedy.

    However, reducing emissions as drastically as is needed right now before the technology has advanced further… what are the risks and dangers of that? What cost are you willing to pay to prevent how much global warming? Setting the economy back 20 years to save 1o? 3 years for 10o? Somewhere in between?

    The entire economy of the world depends on energy consumption. The only other way to make things happen is with muscle power, which doesn’t employ many people (well, at any high standard of living at least). Reducing emissions means reducing energy use- which means more then fewer cheap flights… it means fewer people working. More efficient technologies can mean less emissions per unit of production, but that effect is allready seen in their productivity.

    Any of these plans will have a cost, and no matter how much you want to gloss over it, that is the reason that politicians aren’t moving, because the cost is unbearable until the technology catches up.

  23. 223
    Snorbert Zangox says:

    Dutch scientists have performed yet another study that demonstrates that the loss of ice on Mt. Kilimanjaro has been the result of natural climate changes. http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/dutch-gore-wrong-on-snows-of-kilimanjaro/

    An abstract of the article is at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v462/n7273/abs/nature08520.html

    [Response: Did you even read the study your are linking to? It’s talking about changes on the 10,000 year timescale, not decades. Straw. Grasp. – gavin]

  24. 224
    Dave K says:

    About Nuclear. yes, that is the best alternative for now. A large percentage of North America emissions are from the production of electricity.(not SUV’s)
    If not for Three Mile Island and the resulting Hollywood created hysteria around it(China Syndrome) we could have been in a much better carbon shape by now.

  25. 225
    Deep Climate says:

    Now turning to somewhat related subject of the dark side of newspapers, (as promised) – the full story on the infamous NRSP open letter of two years ago:

    Hmmm … the quote and URL is being caught in the SPAM filter!

    So you’ll have to click through (unless a moderator can fix it).

    http://www.deepclimate.org

  26. 226
    Dave K says:

    When oil hits $200/barrel (and I believe it will sooner than you think) that will be the biggest motivator of all. This is what will drive real innovation.
    I live in Canada, great place if you can handle the climate.
    Do I enjoy hearing my furnace run for 7 months of the year..NO! Is there any easy alternative to that right now…NO! Do I want to pay a carbon tax to hear that furnace run…NO!
    Several years ago I spent 5 months in Arizona over the winter, what a great place. During those five months I had to neither hear or cool the apartment I was in, the utility bills were heaven compared to what I was used to.
    Now..if any of you can get me a green card I would be more than happy to leave the frozen north and happily reduce my carbon foot print.
    Note: This last few week here it has hit lows of -38C with snow and blowing snow…….aaaaargh. get me outa here!

  27. 227
  28. 228
    Rod B says:

    Theo Hopkins (191) says, “Throwing half-bricks at Al Gore looks just stupid to most….”

    I actually agree. Though he doesn’t help himself or his credibility by going on television and describing the temp of the earth a few kilometers down in the “millions” of degrees. Like he’s putting his own “KICK ME” sign on his own back.

  29. 229
    Frank says:

    Note the ambiguities in the only scientific part of the article: “The world needs to take steps to limit temperature rises to 2C, an aim that will require global emissions to peak and begin falling within the next 5-10 years. A bigger rise of 3-4C — the smallest increase we can prudently expect to follow inaction — ” Is this 2 degC above present day temperatures or above pre-industrial temperatures? Emissions reductions need to be much greater (2-fold?) for the latter objective than the former. What do they mean by “prudent”? Is it “prudent” to take out an expensive insurance policy against the possibility that climate sensitivity is greater than 3 for doubled carbon dioxide? (Developing countries aren’t going to buy such an “insurance policy” unless the developed world pays all of the cost.) Or is it prudent because 90% of climate change scenarios cost far more than emission reductions? Is the goal of 85% reduction “prudent” and why? IMO, it would be prudent to take action appropriate for a climate sensitivity of 2 and increase our measures when we are more certain what the future holds. For example, after temperature has been returned to rising at the expected 0.2 degC/decade.

  30. 230
    hello says:

    Re the “trick” discussion – yes, it’s commonly used to mean “an elegant shortcut”. But, keep in mind, a shortcut that’s demonstrably identical to the longer solution, via mathematical proof, algorithmic equivalence, etc.

    This usage demands that the correct answer already be known, and shown to be accurate.

    So Phil Jones means “we already know that the temperature is spiking, and this is just a trick to show that without having to go through all the effort we’ve already gone through.” Yet what’s being discussed is a visual graph. If there’s another graph that shows this, where’s the need for a “trick”? Why the need to, as he says, “hide the decline”? Where exactly is the right answer already shown – and why not graph that data?

    Doesn’t hold up, gents – brownie points for effort, though!

  31. 231

    Buckaroo Banzai asks,

    … an online debate promoted by something (I think it was NAS, but may have been other thing, even British), in a bulletin board format, a single topic? (Well, much like blog comments too, but with only one post) It went only for a certain time limit, then it was closed.

    Sounds like Potential Energy, from the UK Institute of Physics back in 2006.

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  32. 232
    SecularAnimist says:

    Alex J wrote: “But at this point, I think humanity will pretty much deserve what it gets.”

    Be that as it may, humans are not the only sentient beings on Earth.
    The rest of the biosphere surely doesn’t “deserve” what we humans are inflicting on this planet.

  33. 233
    Paul Beckwith says:

    Global climate change should really be called Global Ocean Change. Ocean acidification and stratification with a doubling of dead zones each decade(some now due to ocean warming instead of fertilizer run-off) is one of the most worrying climate issues and could lead to Canfield Oceans that no longer support life (as in the Permian extinction).

    With political will the world mobilized to face the threat of World War II very quickly; with a similar mobilization to slow down and reverse climate change we can hopefully prevent the worst of the projected effects. I do not think this political change will happen until the world can clearly see an unambiguous negative effect due to climate change, such as an Arctic with no ice in a few short years (followed by an accelerated warming). Even the “average Joe” will see that something is amiss in the world…

  34. 234
    Lyle says:

    RE #193 good you have put your money…
    I have looked at solar and it does a 20 year payout where I live (Tx) which is a bit long (also local pud doesn’t go for this solar stuff, 1 house in town has it). I don’t irrigate at all, believing native vegetation should be able to survive what mother nature throws at us. The last drought in Tx was not as bad as the 1950 one. Actually there is an idea I have had, take the battery pack for a plug in hybrid out of the car, put it in a box in the house, and use it to load shave. Size it for say a 24 hour power failure to run essential services (refrigerator and freezer and a couple of lights). Above that charge the box at night, and either power the house or sell back to the grid at peak times. Building home boxes would increase the volume and bring the costs down for plug in hybrids as well.

  35. 235
    Patrick 027 says:

    Re 216, Vendicar Decarian – that was a nice verbal trick!

  36. 236
    Skip Smith says:

    @168. Hi Gavin, let’s try again. The quote you said addresses the divergence issue is:

    “There is evidence, for example, that high latitude tree-ring density variations have changed in their response to temperature in recent decades, associated with possible nonclimatic factors (Briffa et al., 1998a).”

    They’re being deliberately vague here. “Changed” in what way? How could anyone who didn’t already know about the divergence issue read that and know what it was supposed to mean?

    I’m not saying the IPCC was “unaware” of the divergence issue. I’m saying the IPCC was deliberately obscuring the issue.

    [Response: It’s an assessment report not an encyclopedia nor a introductory textbook. There is a reason why they have citations. – gavin]

  37. 237
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Comment by Frank — 10 December 2009 @ 5:44 PM:

    “IMO, it would be prudent to take action appropriate for a climate sensitivity of 2 and increase our measures when we are more certain what the future holds. For example, after temperature has been returned to rising at the expected 0.2 degC/decade.”

    So we should check the weather each morning and decide if any response is appropriate?

  38. 238
    David B. Benson says:

    Frank (229) — Read Mark Lynas’s “Six Degrees” and then rethink what is prudent in face of potential future risks. Here is a review of the book:
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article1480669.ece

  39. 239
    Didactylos says:

    Completely Fed Up said:

    > “After much hunting, I found a primary source that compares global costs and that I am inclined to trust more than anything else I could find. It is “A Review of Electricity Unit Cost Estimates” from the UK Energy Research Centre.”

    And does that include the cost for recycling?

    No.

    The decomissioning?

    No.

    Evidently you failed to read either the report, or what I said about it. The figures I provided do include decommissioning costs AND waste management costs. It states this explicitly.

    “And does that include the cost for recycling?”

    Yes.

    “The decomissioning?”

    Yes.

    Levelised unit cost estimates are defined as “the ratio of total lifetime expenses versus total expected outputs, expressed in terms of the present value equivalent”.

  40. 240
    Hank Roberts says:

    For AC 10 December 2009 at 3:0 PM
    and Skip Smith 10 December 2009 at 6:0 PM

    http://www.google.com/search?q=how+to+read+a+science+journal+article

    The advice given about how to prepare to read, and how to proceed when reading, is even more applicable to the IPCC publications, in which each paragraph may summarize many journal articles.

  41. 241
    Didactylos says:

    SecularAnimist said:

    …I almost feel a nostalgic fondness for the pro-nuclear zealots.

    I categorically disagree with them: nuclear power is neither a necessary nor a particularly effective solution to the problem of global warming. So there is no need to even debate whether or how to deal with the very real dangers and problems of nuclear power.

    I, in my turn, wish that the anti-nuclear folks could discover that the CND battle is behind us, and that nuclear power no longer means nuclear weapons. You won. The world is disarming. Slowly and with the occasional misstep – but heading in the right direction.

    I don’t think I’m a nuclear zealot. On the other hand, I’m young enough not to associate nuclear power with all the bad things that happened. Even that bogeyman of nuclear power, Chernobyl, was absolutely negligible when compared to other energy sources. In terms of deaths per GWy, nuclear is dwarfed by fossil fuels, and is even less than most renewables.

    I have to agree with other commenters: David MacKay is an excellent resource on this subject.

    “At the same time, we must not let ourselves be swept off our feet in
    horror at the danger of nuclear power. Nuclear power is not infinitely
    dangerous. It’s just dangerous, much as coal mines, petrol repositories,
    fossil-fuel burning and wind turbines are dangerous. Even if we have no
    guarantee against nuclear accidents in the future, I think the right way
    to assess nuclear is to compare it objectively with other sources of power.
    Coal power stations, for example, expose the public to nuclear radiation,
    because coal ash typically contains uranium. Indeed, according to a paper
    published in the journal Science, people in America living near coal-fired
    power stations are exposed to higher radiation doses than those living near
    nuclear power plants.”

  42. 242
    Hank Roberts says:

    > hello
    > This usage demands that the correct answer already
    > be known, and shown to be accurate.

    Sorry, you obviously didn’t read the answer.

    Thermometer data — known and shown to be accurate — is exactly what those bad tree ring data points diverge _from_.

  43. 243
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Comment by Skip Smith 10 December 2009 @ 6:33 PM:

    “They’re being deliberately vague here…

    I’m not saying the IPCC was unaware of the divergence issue. I’m saying the IPCC was deliberately obscuring the issue.”

    You’re saying the IPCC is a conspiracy? If you’re not, what do you mean by “the IPCC was deliberately obscuring the issue”? How many IPCC members were in on this? You seem very definite: “They’re being deliberately vague here…”

    You do realize this makes you sound a little nutty?

  44. 244
    Foxy says:

    I don’t doubt the science behind anthropogenic climate change, however I do have reservations about what we should do about it.

    The fact is that no-one even knows if the planet will still be here in 100 years time. There could be an asteroid lurking in deep space on a collision course with us. If there is, it would make all this fussing about the earth warming by a few degress seem meaningless.

    Doing something is not always “better” than doing nothing. Mitigating climate change could even cause even more suffering in the end. No-one truly knows whether it would or not.

    Like all individuals, at some point the human race will become extinct. What difference does it make if it’s in 100 or 100,000 years?
    If you can answer that, then you can say what to do about anthropogenic climate change.

  45. 245

    Nuclear power is far too costly for the free market. Operators could never afford the full liability insurance to cover accidents. In every country there is an enormous government guarantee. In the United States for example there is the Price Anderson Act: the federal government will pick up the costs of any accident over $10 billion. Any cost-benefit of different energy sources should include this.

  46. 246
    Hank Roberts says:

    Foxy, do you look both ways when crossing a busy street?
    If so, why bother?

  47. 247
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    #223, Hi, Snorbert Zangox, long time no see. Remember we used to debate over on Mark Lynas’s page. I remember you said you do many of the EC (environmentally correct) things, such as ride a bicycle. And that’s really what counts, more than agreeing with climate science.

    There are so many AGW mitigation things we can do that just make sense beyond mitigating AGW either by saving money, by mitigating other environmental problems, by mitigating non-environmental problems, and/or by improving health, and/or even by reducing crime (yes, I read about how crime goes down in areas where more people cycle and walk instead of drive cars), not to mention lower taxes, bec less road repairs are needed when people walk or cycle more than drive cars and trucks. And, a vegetarian diet is great not only for reducing GHGs, but also for improving health and preventing cancer, heart disease, and many other ailments.

  48. 248
    dhogaza says:

    The fact is that no-one even knows if the planet will still be here in 100 years time. There could be an asteroid lurking in deep space on a collision course with us. If there is, it would make all this fussing about the earth warming by a few degress seem meaningless.

    This reminds me of my younger sister years ago, a devout evangelical, convinced that the apocalypse would come in her lifetime, wondering if she should bother putting money into a retirement plan.

    I finally convinced her that if she didn’t do so, the consequences about her being wrong about the coming apocalypse would be painful, while if she were right, the fact that some of her money was locked away in a retirement fund would be meaningless.

  49. 249
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Hi Foxy, #244. Hope not many people think like you.

    So, I guess you’d rather have higher energy bills and ill health by refusing to mitigate AGW. And, of course, you’d be missing out on the really great fun in mitigating; the bandwagon would be passing you by. And then what if an asteroid doesn’t strike earth in a few years or decades, and you won’t have all that money saved from mitigating, and you’d be in bad health.

    You might end up the rest of your days in the poor house. Oh yes, that’s right, we don’t have poor houses here in rugged individualist USA — you’d be out on the streets. Well, at least the weather might be warming in winter then :)

  50. 250
    EL says:

    177 – Barton Paul Levenson – “It’s the most serious threat we’ve ever had outside of nuclear war.”

    And we can not get our minds off the problem long enough to focus on the solution. Why bitch and whine about global warming when we could put our minds to use and find processes that saves people money and reduces carbon emissions at the same time?

    People are not going to accept the science until they see disaster unfold before their eyes, and some will not accept it even then. That is a fact jack. Do you know how many older theories are still floating around that people do not accept? There are many people that think the earth is only 6,000 years old! If we are going to do anything about global warming, it will need to involve ideas that are economically sound.

    We could find small things to save people money that could have a large accumulated impact on CO2 emissions. We also must do something about these material problems in Solar and wind. If solar technology could be developed using abundant materials, we would be in great shape. At that point, people’s beliefs would be unimportant because economics would take care of the problem.

    As long as natural variations are in decline, global warming will be masked. I do not believe there will be political support for anything drastic until we see natural variations on the increase. Until natural variations are moving upward, global warming is going to be confused by many in the general population. This debate about the science will continue forward until the mask is removed. In my opinion, the only solution is to create economically viable technologies. People need to be offered something that can produce lower bills. If we can improve wallets, everyone on the planet will listen.

    Gavin,
    When is the decline on the natural side expected to stop?

    186 – Didactylos – Nuclear technology does have a very high fixed costs (business term). Nuclear is profitable through the long term as the fixed costs associated with production spreads out. Nuclear technology still has variable costs with materials such as uranium that can cause the price of nuclear technology to change as activity increases. The real problem with nuclear technology on an extremely large scale is the variable cost. The extra demand on the materials would shoot up the variable portion of the costs. If we could discover a method to split atoms on materials that are more abundant, it would be a good technology to use for this purpose. Personally, I think solar and wind technology has the best chances on the materials side.